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.
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.
Ten years ago, stories about endemic violence in the Darfur region of Sudan often made headlines in the West. The conflict there continues sporadically but is all but forgotten today. This month, the Security Council agreed to slash the number of peacekeepers in the joint United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur, or UNAMID, by almost half, with a view to closing the mission entirely in 2020. The decision created barely a ripple beyond the council. Nonetheless, the drawdown of UNAMID potentially marks a turning point for UN peacekeeping operations.
CIC Non-Resident Fellow Richard Gowan writes in his latest World Politics Review article that, as noted in his latest survey of peacekeeping missions, UN operations appear to be entering a new and difficult phase.
Who remembers Aleppo? A year ago, the Syrian city appeared tragically central to international diplomacy. Yet, Syria has slid into the category of persistent conflicts that worry U.N. diplomats but seem irresolvable.
Russia is flexing its diplomatic muscles at the United Nations again. Moscow appears intent on using the U.N. to complicate American efforts to put pressure on North Korea and sow confusion over its own intentions toward Ukraine. Western diplomats should be alert, because Russia is a fine player of the U.N. game.