Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban are teetering on the brink of a major crisis. Since coming into power, the Taliban has defied Pakistan — its main state benefactor during the insurgency against the United States military and the deposed Afghan government. It has done so by challenging the status of the Afghan-Pakistan border and providing a haven to the anti-Pakistan insurgent group the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which has killed thousands of Pakistanis and seeks to establish a Taliban-style, Shariah-compliant state in Pakistan. This has stunned Islamabad, which was operating on the assumption that the Taliban would be beholden to Pakistan out of gratitude for years of support.
Amid ongoing revelations of atrocities committed against Ukrainians at the hands of Russian forces, USIP’s Lauren Baillie says efforts to investigate and prosecute these crimes will require creativity and “the ability to think more broadly about how we bring perpetrators to justice and recognize the unique needs of victims.”
From 2013 to 2018, Sudanese civil society actors carved out a variety of civic spaces that laid the foundation for Sudan’s 2018–2019 December Revolution. This report assesses the factors that gave rise to this remarkable mobilization—in particular how civil society development ultimately enabled the Sudanese opposition to sustain a decentralized, nationwide, and robust nonviolent campaign characterized by widespread mass participation, unity of leadership and purpose, and a commitment to nonviolent discipline—and what it will take to keep the country’s democratic transition on track.
Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine has revived demands that the world repair longstanding weaknesses in the United Nations’ ability to counter wars of aggression. This week’s Russia-Ukraine diplomacy by the U.N. secretary-general, and a surprising vote at the U.N. General Assembly, seem likely to energize those debates and attempts at repair.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has caused massive loss of life and destruction of property, forcing millions to seek refuge in neighboring countries. There is mounting evidence that the Russian military has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity, intentionally attacking Ukrainian civilians. The urgent attention that Western countries have given to Russian war crimes and other atrocities in Ukraine has the potential to provide some accountability for gross violations of human rights as well as to shore up a faltering framework of international human rights law.
The international response to Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine has resulted in the highest level of support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) since its creation 20 years ago. Forty-three states parties to the Rome Statute, the ICC’s foundational treaty, have referred the conflict to the Court for investigation. States — both state parties and non-state parties to the Rome Statute — have stepped up to support investigative efforts through financial resources and intelligence.
Russia’s atrocities against Ukrainian civilians and its escalated warfare in southeastern Ukraine have swept aside last month’s public discussion of peace options as the countries briefly held talks in Turkey. Yet even in the darkest moments, all sides in this war, including the United States and Europe, have strong interests in maintaining channels for negotiation that can be used when opportunity re-emerges. Protecting that interest means understanding and maintaining Turkey’s role in facilitating talks—and its potential to serve more actively as a mediator.
As Russia’s war in Ukraine unfolds, USIP’s Heather Ashby says the United States should “keep an eye on Russia’s security partnerships with [African] countries” and pay close attention to “whether the rise in fuel prices or food scarcity trigger any type of unrest” on the continent.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted several conversations about the concept of “neutrality” in international law and related matters. Although this week’s visits between United Nations Secretary-General Antonió Guterres and Russian President Vladimir Putin and Guterres and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have sparked some hope of reinvigorating peace talks, a settlement seems like a distant prospect. Nonetheless, it is likely that any deal will include provisions for Ukraine’s long-term neutrality in exchange for external states’ security guarantees. But autocrats like Putin often weaponize international legal concepts like neutrality for their own ends. As such, it is vital to reconsider and update global commitments to stabilizing legal frameworks to prevent would-be aggressors from exploiting international law.
In late March, the Ukrainian delegation to the Russia-Ukraine peace negotiations in Istanbul put forward a draft peace agreement. The keystone of this agreement was a mutual defense guarantee, similar to NATO’s Article 5, to protect Ukraine. Treaty-bound guarantors would come to Ukraine’s defense in the event of an attack on the country, in exchange for Ukraine’s neutrality. But it is possible that Ukraine’s borders will be altered as part of a final peace settlement. As such, states should understand the territorial issues at stake and how those issues could trigger any negotiated security guarantee mechanisms.