Thursday, December 19, 2019
News from Ukraine is focused on its startling presidential election, in which the leading candidate is a comedian whose political role before now has been to play a fictional president in a TV series. Less visible alongside that drama is the country’s process of consolidating the new independence of its Orthodox church after centuries of control by Moscow. Ukraine’s religious independence from Russia is a high-stakes step, one that the Russian government actively opposes, toward a fully independent Ukraine following 300-plus years of Russian domination. In the struggle over control of the church, news accounts and a new U.N. Human Rights Report suggests that Ukraine is mainly—but perhaps not perfectly—preventing acts of intimidation that could increase the risk of violence.
The annual celebration of International Women’s Day engages citizens from all corners of the globe to recognize how far women have come in society—and how much more needs to be done. Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325, a time for the international community to analyze the impact of the Women, Peace and Security (WPS) Agenda.
The autonomous region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is entering a new phase in its quest for peace, almost 20 years after a peace agreement ended a 10-year civil war. Later this year the island will vote in a referendum on greater autonomy or independence from PNG. Unresolved tensions, an unclear referendum timeline, and fears of a return to violence will all impact this tense election process.
Sidi Bouzid and Metlaoui are similarly sized towns in Tunisia’s interior, alike in many respects. They suffer from similar social and economic problems, have a shared tribal heritage, and are centers of political resistance and unrest.
Last weekend’s sudden, one-week postponement of Nigeria’s presidential and state elections—to February 23 for the general elections and March 9 for the state elections—escalated public anxiety amid an already tense political environment. The Independent National Electoral Commission’s (INEC) last-minute announcement, hours before voting was set to commence, cited logistical problems. The delay and its aftermath demonstrate that INEC must immediately improve its transparency and communications. Despite the tensions caused by the delay, the election commission now has the opportunity to rectify flaws and deliver a more credible election.
The irony is stark. Just as U.N. bodies, NGOs and civil society groups started to “Orange the World” in November with activities to mark “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence,” in South Sudan, young men dressed in civilian and military clothing attacked and raped an estimated 150 women and girls. The attack, whose victims included children and the elderly, occurred as the victims headed to a food distribution site in the north of the country near Bentiu in the former Unity state.
The complex battle against ISIS is a useful microcosm of the terrorist threat at large. Territorial defeats have not led to long-term destruction of terrorist groups. The number of extremists has actually expanded over the last decade.
Up an unpaved track, about a two-hour drive from the nearest town in the eastern Andes, sits a small village that could be mistaken for a Colombian hamlet of crude dwellings and vegetable gardens. But appearances aside, something extraordinary is going on here. The outpost’s population, comprised entirely of former guerrillas who fought for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the FARC, is engaged in an unplanned experiment in building peace.
On November 26, 2018, Ukrainian President Poroshenko enacted martial law—for 30 days—in response to Russian naval ships ramming Ukrainian vessels in the Azov Sea and seizing the strategic Kerch Strait. The decision led to concerns that voter rights and civil liberties would be constrained, just a few months before a critical election. Now that the period of increased military preparedness has officially ended, it is time to evaluate the impact martial law had on the upcoming presidential election, scheduled for March 31. USIP recently published an assessment of these elections, identifying conflict drivers, scenarios for violence and recommendations for election violence prevention.
December 9 is International Anti-Corruption Day, and this year’s theme emphasizes unity and mobilizing fellow citizens. Nothing could be more appropriate. While the scale of corruption globally makes for a grim outlook, citizens working together around the world have demonstrated time and again that “people power” is an effective means for confronting fraud and abuse.