Srebrenica Rears its Head Once Again

By Steve Saideman

On July 16, a Dutch court ruled that Dutch peacekeepers were partially responsible for the deaths of more than 300 Bosnian Muslims when Bosnian Serbs attacked the Srebrenica “safe haven” in 1995. This is not anything particularly new as the Netherlands has taken its responsibility in this matter far more seriously than pretty much everyone else.

In 2002, the Dutch government fell after its entire cabinet resigned due to a report on events in Srebrenica seven years earlier. Can you imagine an American or Canadian or British government reacting to events seven years earlier after a critical report is released? No. I didn’t think so. Indeed, has anyone in Belgium resigned in the aftermath of Rwanda?

The Netherlands developed a series of reforms to try to prevent a similar disaster in the future. Among these reforms is the Article 100 process in which the parties in parliament must approve of a letter that explains the purposes and means of a military deployment before the troops are sent. In terms of military planning, this is a remarkably transparent process. With that said, it might mean too much legislative influence on what actually goes into a military deployment, but the letter requires a clear statement of purpose, clarity about the rules of engagement and so on.

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Globalization, Poverty and Inequality

By: Yiagadeesen (Teddy) Samy

Published by The Institute of Public Administration of Canada in their Magazine: Public Sector Management Volume 25, Issue 2, Public Service Without Borders

Over the last three decades or so, rapid economic growth in China, India and several other countries in East Asia drove the decline in absolute poverty around the world. The achievement of the first Millenium Development Goal, namely the halving of the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day between 1990 and 2015, would not have been possible had it not been for impressive growth rates in these outward-oriented economies, and especially in China and India.

However, a group of so-called fragile states, many of which are located in sub-Saharan Africa, have been left behind as they failed to embrace and/or take advantage of globalization when compared with more successful regions and countries. Consider the following: sub-Saharan Africa’s shares of world trade and foreign direct investment remain very small and despite falling poverty rates, it is also the only region in the world where the number of poor people has increased in absolute terms (from 205 million in 1981 to 414 million in 2010).

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Re-focusing Canadian aid: Much ado about nothing

By Rachael Calleja and Yiagadeesen Samy

As originally posted at Embassy.

The recent Canadian government announcement to boost the number of countries of focus for its bilateral development assistance from 20 to 25 will not make a big difference to its aid program. While the proposed change is laudable and, if implemented, could improve the effectiveness of Canadian aid by reducing fragmentation, we doubt this latest announcement will have any tangible effect.

Many will debate why the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burma, Benin or Burkina Faso have been added to the list of priority countries, or why Bolivia, Pakistan and Sudan are no longer on the list. But such a discussion is at best useless, and at worst counterproductive, because it distracts us from the real issues of aid fragmentation and effectiveness.

In fact, the parameters for choosing priority countries—based on their need, their capacity to benefit from aid, and their alignment with Canadian foreign policy priorities— are so broad that it is easy for anyone to justify why the 25 countries were chosen.

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Putin’s Cynical Nationalism

By Steve Saideman

It has been a while since I focused on the events in Ukraine, so let’s check in and see where things stand now. The Crimea sham referendum seems to have done the trick—no one is really talking about rolling back Russia’s annexation despite the fact that it challenges international norms (Helsinki Accords, etc.) far more than the support of separatists in Eastern Ukraine. Despite more over-flights over the Baltics and other minor military maneuvers, Russia’s irredentism has remained quite inconsistent—only focused on Crimea and some regions of eastern Ukraine and not aimed beyond.

Still, the good news of the limits of Russia infiltration reminds us that Russia has been quite aggressive. The latest news has Ukraine finally winning some battles against separatist groups, retaking territory and Russia providing far less assistance to the separatists it had inspired, supported, organized, armed and staffed. Indeed, defeated separatists have been denied entry into Russia and have even been shot at. It is almost as if they are being treated like potential immigrants. [1]

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Independence Day from Above the Wall

By Steve Saideman

There are two holidays when an ex-pat American feels most out of place: Thanksgiving (the November one) and the Fourth of July. I have yet to experience the former, as I travel south every American Thanksgiving to be with my family, but this is the thirteenth consecutive Independence Day I have spent in Canada. It has been a long time since I have seen parades and fireworks on July 4. Each year, I do reflect a bit on the State of the Union—not the speech given by the President but where the United States stands.

To be honest, I spent my first few Independence Days in Canada in a state of frustration and embarrassment as the United States was preparing to engage in an ill-considered war that did much damage all around—to the America’s reputation in the world, to the U.S. economy, to the people of Iraq and to the soldiers and marines involved in the fighting.

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Foreign Fighters: what to read to grasp the key issues

By Jez Littlewood

Back in March 2013 I wrote Syria, Western Foreign Fighters and Counterterrorismand concluded that ‘we would be wise to begin thinking about foreign fighters…and what happens to them after their ‘tour of duty’ in Syria and the risks that will emerge once the conflict is resolved and they return home.’ Since then the issue of foreign fighters has forced its way to the top of the intelligence and security agenda of many Western democracies, Canada included.

In the UK ‘more than half of MI5’s anti-terror investigations involve Britons who have traveled to Syria’ according to a March 14 piece in the Financial Times. Australia is rumoured to have over 150 individuals active in the Syrian conflict. And in mid-June Calgary Police Chief indicated that up to 30 individuals from the city are believed to be abroad and that number was likely ‘at the small end of the continuum’; if that is correct, then presumably figures provided in testimony in February 2014 by the Director of CSIS need an upward revision: ‘CSIS is aware of over 130 Canadians who are abroad in support of extremist activities, including approximately 30 in Syria alone.’

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Intervention and the Prospects for Power-Sharing in Iraq

As originally posted at Duck of Minerva.

By Philip Martin

In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, columnist David Brooks advises a U.S. approach to Iraq which uses military force to arm-twist Iraqi elites into forming an inclusive new government, since “if you get the political elites behaving decently, you can avoid the worst.” At Political Violence @ a Glance, Barbara Walter also argues in favor of a negotiated settlement based on power-sharing as the optimal solution to Iraq’s current political fragmentation, an outcome that will supposedly “become increasingly attractive to everyone as the costs and risks of war increase.”

It is true that if moderate elites had more power in Iraq this would reduce the intensity of the country’s domestic political violence; it is less clear, however, that another power-sharing coalition government brokered by foreign interveners is an effective means to this end. For the last decade or more, scholars and practitioners have advocated for inclusivity, integration and power-sharing as the principal solution to the problem of civil war termination, expecting that these arrangements can reassure combatant groups of their participation in the post-war distribution of power, and eventually establish a cooperative model of governance which builds trust and moderation. Yet empirical research on foreign-imposed regimes and the determinants of peace agreement success provides little optimism about the likely effectiveness of these institutional arrangements.

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