Non-Resident Fellow James Traub reflects on the former Secretary-General Kofi Annan's idealism and the vision he had for the United Nations. For a system where "norms mean nothing without the political will to enforce them", a day when Mr. Annan's ideals prevail over political maneuvers is yet to come.
2008 is synonymous with global financial instability. However, as the 10th anniversary of the last global financial crisis draws near, Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan highlights the lessons 2008 held for conflict management. Conflicts in that year, such as in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Georgia, show the risks that new conflicts carry for the international system. While overshadowed by global economic concerns, these unnoticed conflicts prefigured the wars of the coming decade in the Middle East and Ukraine. What ensued was a prevailing period of "strategic turbulence" for conflict management.
Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan analyzes a new study commissioned by Britain's Stabilization Unit, a government office formed in the wake of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He explains that the new report, drafted by independent experts, focuses on how power brokers in war-torn countries strike political deals. The report argues that violence can be "stabilized", if not necessarily brought to a total halt, when political, economic or security elites make concrete bargains over how to divide up power and resources.
According to a recent poll by the Congo Research Group, 74 percent of Congolese support a call by the public and some opposition parties for Kabila to step down immediately and allow for a caretaker government to oversee the organization of credible elections.
According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Congo Research Group and Congolese polling firm BERCI, two opponents of Congolese President Joseph Kabila jointly lead a race to replace him in an election due in December.
Today, peacemakers from organizations like the United Nations are most often trapped between two types of conflict they are unlikely to fix. Some conflicts, like those in Syria and Ukraine, are too geopolitically sensitive for impartial mediators to resolve. Others, like gang wars in Latin America, are too complex and fragmented for outsiders to end. Few seem “just right” for resolution.