I’ve spent my entire career on peacebuilding after conflict. Here’s how we avoid becoming a failed state.
U.S. support for the recent Kenyan invasion of Somalia is disheartening for a number of reasons. Perhaps most disturbing, though, is that it provides further proof of a U.S. policy toward Kenya that emphasizes short-term interests in counterterrorism at the expense of long-term commitments to peace and stability. As Kenya’s next national elections approach and the potential for renewed violence in the country increases, the United States can and should shift its priorities toward those that will foster sustainable Kenyan and regional security – rather than those that threaten to undermine it entirely.
In light of major upheavals across the Middle East and the shaky foundations of the global economy, Washington should realize that the last thing it needs is to be dragged into a new and even more destructive war. More importantly, pushing for further sanctions would only embolden Iran to reconsider its very membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), given Tehran’s increasing frustrations with the IAEA. The best solution is to channel this renewed sense of urgency into the diplomatic track by reviving talks and exploring the so-called “step-by-step” option proposed by Russia. This is the best way to avoid a global tragedy. There is still time for proper negotiation.
October 31 marked the tenth anniversary of the momentous UN resolution on women, peace and security—UNSCR 1325. This set a new international standard that requires all parties—the UN, states, and armed militias—to ensure that women participate fully in peace negotiations and post-conflict reconstruction. If this really worked, it would transform our militarized world.
By bringing together local women of different ethnicities in Kyrgyzstan to collaborate on rebuilding their communities, women are addressing the root causes of the violence in their region: years of unaddressed mistrust and separation among ethnic groups, as well as crumbling social infrastructure and welfare systems.
In this fifth annual edition of the “Unified Security Budget,” as with the previous four editions, a non-partisan task force of military, homeland security, and foreign policy experts laid out the facts of the imbalance between military and non-military spending. The ratio of funding for military forces vs. non-military international engagement in the Bush administration’s proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year has widened to 18:1 from 16:1 in the 2008 fiscal year, according to the report.
Peace operations continue to be one of the most visible areas of activity of the United Nations, one which the international organization can have a critical impact. Consider, for instance, that peacekeeping operations are growing. In October 2004, the surge in peacekeeping activity raised the number of peacekeepers to 54,200. The number of civilian police also increased to 5,900 and the civilian staff to 11,600. By the fall of 2005, the 18 operations around the world employed 83,000 troops, police, and civilian personnel – a more-or-less fivefold increase in the field personnel since 2000. By the fall of 2006, the deployment number had reached an all-time high of 93,000 men and women.
At the same time, peacekeeping operations are becoming more complex and comprehensive. In particular, with many of their tasks increasingly focusing on peacebuilding in post-conflict transitions, peace operations are now linked to longer-term development approaches, which call for integrated programs both within and outside the UN system. The UN Peacebuilding Commission was created to meet these new needs by strategically coordinating the actions of the different actors involved in peacekeeping.