Author Archives: uolscid

SCID Blog Stats

Hi everyone, I’ve just looked at the SCID Blog statistics and since this site was created nearly 4,000 people have looked at it and the site has had almost 10,000 views. Thank you all for your posts and comments over the last couple of years – clearly the site is of interest to people beyond those involved in the SCID course.

Please do continue to upload posts and comment on a subject related to security, conflict and international development – it’s great to read your posts and it can help bring attention to some very important issues.

Any ideas on increasing readership are very welcome – the more lateral the better! Let me know if you want discussion threads on the Blog (remembering it’s public) as well as on Blackboard – on any current development, thematic issue or novel approach to understanding and responding to the challenges of conflict and peacebuilding.

For example, this Blog is a good platform for discussing issues tangentially related to but not fully addressed in the SCID course e.g. social media, conflict and peacebuilding; interdisciplinary approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding; bridging macro and micro approaches to conflict resolution and peacebuilding; religion, conflict and peacebuilding; art/music, conflict and peacebuilding; science, technology and conflict/peacebuilding; and geospatial relations and conflict. These would be great topics to discuss so please don’t hesitate – any problems uploading (you need to join wordpress – click on ‘Discover’ if you don’t already have an account) send me your post (

Don’t forget we also have the SCID twitter for you to post any tweets, get in touch and share info/updates – Thanks lately to Nalini Maharaj and Richard Burne for tweets and RTs!

twitter conflict

Image: Israeli data scientist Gilad Lotan who has mapped interactions across Twitter during the Israeli-Gaza conflict – BBC (2014) ‘Twitter’s Map of Mid-East Conflict’, London: BBC, available at, accessed on 15/02/16.

The refugee camp that became a city

An interesting article. Some SCID students have worked here and also written their MSc dissertation on Dadaab, and it would be very interesting to read their views…


When Halima Abdi fled the civil war in Somalia with her young daughter, she hoped her stay across the border in Kenya’s Dadaab refugee camp would be short-lived.

Source: The refugee camp that became a city

Collaborative Monitoring – Afghanistan

Coll Mon.PNGA former SCID student, now working for the United Nations Risk Management Unit (RMU) in Afghanistan, has been in touch to share news on a resource which is likely to be of significant interest to many SCID students. The RMU was established in Afghanistan at the beginning of 2014, is the second of its kind in the UN system, and is based on the original RMU which was established in Somalia (which this former SCID student has also worked for). The Unit aims to help all UN agencies improve accountability, and to better identify and manage programmatic and institutional risks. The Unit also works with Donors, NGOs, and Afghan Civil Society.

One of the key areas RMU Afghanistan has been working on over the last 8 months is what they call ‘Collaborative Monitoring’. The idea is that in recognition of the fact that access to a number of areas is decreasing – primarily due to insecurity – there is a greater need to find effective / creative ways to enable monitoring of projects. The Collaborative Monitoring website was established as one way in which to monitor and manage some of the risks present. It is an open source resource for practitioners, aimed to capture and share information and documents. The site is focused on the context of Afghanistan, however draws from material which can be applied more generally. It is located here:


SSR, Local Ownership & Gender

For an abbreviated version of the recently-published paper I wrote with Anthony Welch and Emmicki Roos, please see the Academic Spotlight Blog of the Centre for Security Governance, available here. Please post any comments or questions.

CSG blog post.PNG

SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Mr Chris Sharwood-Smith – Darfur: A Mission Too Far?

This is the 12th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Mr Chris Sharwood-Smith presents a lecture entitled Darfur: A Mission Too Far?

Online Guest Lecture #12

Chris’ lecture looks at some of the major factors which affected the initial UNAMID deployment as it transitioned from an African Union deployment of 6,000 to an African Union/United Nations hybrid of massive proportions. It examines some of the reasons why there was widespread global criticism for the time it took to get the UN boots on the ground, and how, perhaps, the initial deployment authorised by the UN Security Council was never likely to be achieved.

Click on the link below to access Chris’ Lecture (it is large so it will take a while to download). Please submit any questions or comments within the next two weeks for Chris’ attention and/or discussion by other SCID Panel members, students and staff.

Darfur – A Mission Too Far – Chris Sharwood-Smith

Security Sector Reform and the Paradoxical Tension between Local Ownership and Gender Equality

Dr Tony Welch OBE (member of the SCID Panel of Experts, Senior Fellow of the Centre for Security Governance, Senior Associate of the Folke Bernadotte Academy, and member of the Group of Experts of the 1325 Policy Group), Emmicki Roos (member of the SCID Panel of Experts and Executive Director of the 1325 Policy Group) and I (Eleanor) have just had an article we’ve been working on this past year published in Stability: International Journal of Security & StabilitySecurity Sector Reform and the Paradoxical Tension between Local Ownership and Gender Equality. DOI:

The article analyses the tension or conflict that can exist between the principles of local ownership and gender equality that guide Security Sector Reform (SSR) programmes when gender discrimination and patriarchal values characterise the local environment (and ‘locals’ do not value gender equality). In these situations, international actors may be reluctant to advocate gender equality, regarding it as imposing culturally alien values and potentially destabilising to the SSR process. It is argued, however, that the tension between local ownership and gender equality is deceptive and merely serves to protect the power of dominant groups and disempower the marginalised, often serving to disguise the power relations at play in post-conflict environments and avoid addressing the security needs of those who are often at most risk. The paper concludes that rather than a tension existing between the two principles, in fact, local ownership without gender equality is meaningless. Moreover, failing to promote gender equality undermines the extent to which SSR programmes result in security and justice sector institutions that are representative of and responsive to the needs of both men and women. It can also perpetuate structural inequalities and conflict dynamics and, ultimately, limit the success of SSR and broader peacebuilding processes.

The Forgotten Voices of War: Providing Access to Security and Justice for Male Victims of Sexual Violence – Rinret Dabeng (Student Position Paper)

Today, sexual violence in times of conflict is considered one of the most traumatic and egregious human rights violations. The consequences of sexual violence are deep, that they have the power to destroy individuals and tear communities apart (Nguyen, 2014). While UNSC Resolution 2106 (2013) recognizes that men and boys can be victims of sexual violence, in practice, policy initiatives and programmatic approaches have been based on the misguided assumptions that victims of sexual violence are almost exclusively female. Even when male victims are acknowledged, it is done so in passing, resulting in the minimization of the problem (Carpenter, 2006). The recent recognition of male-directed sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict settings presents us with a unique opportunity to widen the debate on ways to address sexual violence against civilians in post-conflict settings and to recognize male survivors’ needs as a public health and international security issue worldwide (SVRI, 2011). While some of the content of this paper are explicit and disturbing, it has become necessary to dissect the open secrets of war.

Over the last two decades, sexual violence against men has been noted in several armed conflicts, including Burundi, Croatia, Liberia, Rwanda and former Yugoslavia. Data shows that between 1998-2008 alone, male-directed sexual violence was reported in over 25 conflict-affected countries. Since then reports of sexual violence against men has emerged from major conflicts in Libya, Syria, Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic (Sivakumaran, 2007; Dolan, 2014). Sexual violence against men and boys- including rape, enforced rape (in which men are forced to rape or perform other sexual acts against other men), sexual and physical torture such as castration and other forms of genital violence, sexual humiliation such as enforced nudity and enforced masturbation often accompanied by sexual psychological torture and threats, forced incest and sexual slavery is a pervasive feature of armed conflicts worldwide. In some instances, sexual violence against men can be committed with the express intent of causing the victim’s death (Glassborow, 2008; Lewis, 2009) while in others, it is committed with the express intention of transmitting harmful sexual diseases such as HIV/AIDS (Sivakumaran, 2007).

While the scope and extent of sexual violence against men is unclear, a growing body of anecdotal evidence shows that male-directed sexual violence can occur in any form of conflict and in any cultural context (Russell, 2008). In Afghanistan, the culture of ‘bacha baazi’ (directly translated as “boy for play”) involves men who collectively exploit, enslave and/or rape boys. Young boys are forced to dress in female clothes for the entertainment of other men and are eventually sold to the highest bidder or shared sexually amongst wealthy or politically influential Afghan men including former warlords and government officials (Jones, 2015). In Sri Lanka, male victims of sexual violence have reported being raped anally, often with the use of foreign instruments or forced to perform fellatio or masturbate soldiers or other victims for entertainment (Sivakumaran, 2007). In former Yugoslavia, numerous reports found that victims were forced to bite each other’s testicles off. In addition, cases emerged in which men were held at gunpoint and forced to perform sexual assaults on others, including on family members, others were raped using objects like police truncheons or sticks (UNSCR, 1994). Deliberate genital violence and mutilation through beatings and electroshock in order to prevent reproduction were reported in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Northern Ireland (Sivakumaran, 2007). Reports of mass rape by multiple perpetrators have been reports in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Dolan, 2014; Gettleman, 2009).

Aside from being victimized, male victims of sexual violence are often unprotected by national laws. Up to 90% of male victims of conflict-related sexual violence are from countries that offer no protection for men. 63 countries acknowledge only female victims of rape and 70 states criminalize men who report being raped and in 28 countries, only males (Nguyen, 2014; Dolan, 2014). Indeed, “not only do these frameworks make justice for male victims an impossibility in many countries, they can actively deter first-instance reporting to police and service providers by male victims” (Dolan, 2014:5). Men suffer a myriad of physical consequences such as reproductive health issues, genital and rectal injuries and sexually transmitted diseases (Tewksbury, 2007). They may experience trauma, feelings of shame, confusion, guilt and isolation. They are likely to have suicidal thoughts and even attempt to commit suicide (SVRI, 2011). They often express hostility and in some instances can even become abusive towards their spouses or children in efforts to reaffirm their masculinity (Manivannan, 2013).

A general misconception exists that in conflict and post-conflict settings, women are more likely to be displaced or sexually assaulted, and that men are more susceptible to physical violence and forced recruitment. Such assumptions are both difficult to confirm without the compilation of data that includes the experiences of men and women in humanitarian emergencies. More research on scope of sexual violence, its perpetrators and its victims in order to build a reliable quantitative and qualitative evidence base is needed. Sensitization and public awareness campaigns can be used a method to encourage reporting, identification and punishment of sexual violence against men (Manivannan, 2013). In addition, revised training needs to be provided for all humanitarian, peacekeeping and developmental actors on gender-inclusive and gender-sensitive approaches to responding and preventing sexual violence. Men’s needs for culturally sensitive medical assistance, psychosocial support and reintegration initiatives needs must be addressed in humanitarian programming, including appropriate ways to identify and classify sexual violence against men (Carpenter, 2006). Post conflict-countries should contemplate conducting trials and truth commissions in cooperation with medical and psychosocial interventions. This facilitates reporting and recognition of sexual violence and grants the victim justice by ending impunity. Alongside women, men must be represented in post-conflict and international justice initiatives- and not just as perpetrators (Russell, 2007; Manivannan, 2013). The post-conflict period offers a space to rewrite legislation and review domestic systems so that victims can be afforded access to legal protection and reparations.


Even though both male and female victims of sexual violence experience obstacles in achieving justice, arguably, male victims face even greater challenges than females. These challenges are part of the many reasons that the international community has failed to act affectively to address male sexual violence. Firstly, while no specific definition of gender-based violence has been adopted, definitions in international criminal law, most transitional justice mechanisms and international humanitarian law tend to perpetuate existing gender stereotypes that exclude men as victims and women as perpetrators. Common amongst NGOs, inter-governmental organizations and the victims themselves, these stereotypes only serve to stigmatize men even more and discourage them from reporting crimes committed against them. Under reporting influenced by shame, guilt and emasculation; fear of community rejection and ostracism; and male victims’ misunderstanding of what constitutes sexual assault is arguably one of the biggest challenges to addressing male sexual violence because it creates the illusion that sexual violence seldom experience sexual violence. In addition, medical and mental health professionals, court staff and other stakeholders are not particularly interested in addressing cases of sexual violence (Manivannan, 2013). Victims have reported that they often hold homophobic notions that male victims are gay (Dolan, 2014).

Linked to lack of reporting, under-recognition is another challenge to effective action. Medical and psychosocial professionals and humanitarian workers arwe not appropriately trained to search, identify and classify symptoms of sexual abuse in men. As a result, sexual violence against men is often mis-characterized as physical violence or torture (Sivakumaran, 2007) and profesionals often look for indicators common to women: penetrative rape (Manivannan, 2013). In certain instances, international organizations purposefully do not acknowledge male victims conflict-related sexual violence. The political nature of donor funding from governments or private companies prefer to focus on sexual violence against women. In fact, some NGOs have explicitly stated that their bias for female victims of sexual violence is influenced by their desire to secure and maintain funding (Manivannan, 2013).

Finally, in post-conflict settings, survivors of sexual violence face many challenges to accessing care and gaining justice, further complicated by socio-cultural dynamics such as stigmatization and institutional failures. In the face of weakened state institutions and breakdown in the rule of law, perpetrators of sexual violence are seldom punished by any justice mechanism, leading to a culture of impunity. Impunity is further worsened by lack of reporting and recognition of sexual violence- leading to a vicious cycle of violence and subliminally reinforcing the notion that sexual violence against men is less important (Manivannan, 2010).


Carpenter, R. (2006) ‘Recognizing Gender-based Violence Against Civilian Men and Boys in Conflict Situations’ Security Dialogue 37(1): 83-103. Available through: (accessed on 23 October 2015).

Dolan, C. (2014) Into the Mainstream: Addressing Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys in Conflict, 14 May,, (accessed on 25 October 2015).

Gettleman, J (2009) ‘Symbol of Unhealed Congo: Male Rape Victims’, The New York Times, 4 August, (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Glassborow, K. (2008) ‘Call for Lubanga Charges to Cover Rape’, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, 12 May, (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Jones, S. (2015) ‘Ending Bacha Bazi: Boy Sex Slavery and the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine’ Indiana International and Comparative Law Review 25(1): 63-78. Available through: (accessed through 26 October 2015).

Lewis, D. (2009) ‘Unrecognized Victims: Sexual Violence Against Men in Conflict Settings Under International Law’ Wisconsin International Law Journal 27(1): 1-49. Available through: (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Manivannan, A. (2013) ‘Seeking Justice for Male Victims of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict’ International Law and Politics 46: 635-679. Available through: (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Nguyen, K. (2014) ‘Powerful Myths Silence Male Victims of Rape in War’, Thompson Reuters Foundation, 15 May, (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Russell, W. (2007) Conflict-related Sexual Violence Against Men and Boys, January 2007, (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Sivakumaran, S. (2007) ‘Sexual Violence Against Men in Armed Conflict’ European Journal of International Law 18(2): 253-276. Available through: (accessed on 26 October 2015)

SVRI (2011) Care and Support of Male Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, South Africa: South African Medical Research Council. Available through: (accessed on 26 October 2015).

Tewksbury, R. (2007) ‘Effects of Sexual Assaults on Men: Physical, Mental and Sexual Consequences’ International Journal of Men’s Health 46(1): 22-35. Available through: (accessed on 27 October 2015).

United Nations Security Council (1994) Final Report of the Commission of Experts Established Pursuant to Security Council Resolution 780 (1992), 27 May 1994, (accessed on 20 October 2015).

Building Security and Justice After Conflict – Student Position Papers

At the end of the SCID Course, students are asked to reflect upon the whole Course and write a position paper (of about 750 words). The paper should be on an issue related to building security and justice in post-conflict environments that they feel most passionate about which requires attention by, at least an element of, the international community. The postscript to the paper summarises reasons why effective action has not been taken to date. Students are asked to draw on their own experience and knowledge as well as academic material, with the aim of persuading the reader to agree with the position put forward and, if necessary, to act, while displaying academic writing and analytical skills.

Those papers that secured a Merit or Distinction (i.e. above 60%) are reproduced on this Blog (below and on a new page entitled Building Security and Justice after Conflict – Student Position Papers). Congratulations to all students who did so well and to everyone in the March 2014 intake for completing the whole course – and all the very best with your dissertations.

Best wishes, Eleanor

Unity of Effort and Effective Collaboration or Disarray in Practice? – Anthony Thomas


Post conflict peacebuilding, institute and state building is performed by a diverse range of actors, alongside state institutions where strategic objectives and mandates fall under the umbrella of ‘unity of effort,’ integrated with local ownership.  The gap between policy and practice is well documented, and this article will begin with citing the current migration crisis as an exemplar of the strategic and political drive towards an optimistic, constructive and coordinated approach amongst the European states. Furthermore, the article will then study the effectiveness, or otherwise, of cooperation, collaboration and coordination of security sector reform in practice.

Current Position

Cooperation, collaboration and coordination amongst the European entities is fundamental, requiring a multidimensional assignment on the ground to stabilise the situation across Europe, and in order to prevent further humanitarian, psycho-social suffering and tragic loss of life. Resolutions will not be developed without its challenges, implementation likewise. Notably, the Secretary General is urging European leaders to ensure unity, solidarity and responsibility, besides the appropriate assistance to be provided to refugees and migrants, as difficult discussions take place between Europe’s interior ministers on such crisis (The Guardian 2015). In this regard, and the crux of the writers’ argument, will there be solidarity at a strategic and policy level, and how will this be translated into effective action in practice?

The current conflict landscape, coupled with the migration crisis moving across Europe from countries such as Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan are heart rendering, moreover it is complex phenomenon and multifaceted in nature due to ongoing political, economic and social instability. Furthermore, humanitarian institutions, civilian and political leaders are gravely concerned as the social suffering unfolds daily, which is depicted across a range of social and media channels. The route from war to peace for thousands is overwhelming, with peace a distant dream, or such an aspiration that is difficult and dangerous to achieve. As the Secretary-General commented he is concerned regarding the predicament facing migrants who are fleeing conflict and oppression (Ki Moon 2015: n.p.).


Challenges remain, as the drafting and implementation of such strategies being discussed in Brussels may well be problematic. Reinforcing this perspective, Anderson (2011) asserts that turning strategy into realisation in fragile states is complex and challenging, whereas Sedra (2009) argues that there is a division between policy and practice divide with SSR in a post-conflict area. Studying the root causes of such unprecedented migration flows, Donais (2014) argues that institutional capacities can only be restored if national actors undertake ownership during the post conflict period, whereas Hartzell (2011) argues that reform programmes in a post war setting vary owing to the conflict related conditions. Designing such a strategy for the current migration crisis requires a long term vision, underpinned by what Sedra (2010: 6) describes in terms of SSR as a ‘whole of government coordination,’ that demands a structured framework and the coordination of effort between institutions and sectors.

Coordination, Cooperation, Collaboration in the field?

In theatre, strategies, directives, mission mandates and targets are commonplace. Similarly such words as horizontal cooperation, collaboration, coordination, cross cutting and unity of effort reverberates daily. Whilst interconnection, bi-lateral arrangements and common objectives are crucial in a post conflict society, capacity building and local ownership is at times problematic and a noteworthy issue. Coordination, synchronisation and multi donor meetings are abundant, where renamed fora are frequent, underwritten at times by the phrase ‘bottom up approach’ locally owned and driven.

An exemplar of a multi-agency meeting recently was summarised in terms of alignment and coordination with counterparts and donor partners; using a common approach to identify overlaps or collaboration opportunities early on; besides common policy approaches and the need to identify any programming overlaps/conflicts, an outcome many years following post conflict reconstruction and the commencement of many development programmes. Enthusiasm, professionalism and the desire to drive projects and state institutions are evident, however, occasionally subjective agendas and the want to reinvent the wheel is unmistakeable where ‘mission creep’ can ensue. Developing these arguments further, Chetail (2009: 13) asserts, ‘the major operational difficulty lies in coordinating a multitude of civilian and military actors whose areas of expertise are extremely diverse,’ while Hanggi (2009) argues that there most SSR programmes are instigated and financed by multilateral and donor organisations, who impose their knowledge and expertise, and where local resistance is evident, they will use political leverage to progress. Underscoring these observations Oosterveld and Galand (2012) claim:

Another important reason why donors often remain and want to remain in the driver’s seat is because they are usually involved with serious financial commitments often constituting the bulk of the spending allocated for reform initiatives (2012: 201).

Moreover, de Coning (2014: n.p.) argues that a number of actors can interfere too much, where such behaviour or style of engagement becomes intrusion, adding to the fragility of the state.

What needs to be done and why?

Thus, all actors involved in building security and justice in post-conflict environments need to appreciate that SSR programmes or similar reform programmes are complex and multifaceted, requiring all-encompassing engagement, and mindful of duplication of effort. Whilst institutional procedures may be diverse, the World Bank (2006) assert:

Improvement in project selectivity and prioritization would help to limit overburdening of government capacity and enable better absorption of resources (2006: 11).

Consequently, all providers of technical assistance and those concerned with political development should ensure coherence at the strategic and operational level, and not collaborative competition through power dynamics or power relationships. Needless to say there is no one solution or formula to restore security, embed the rule of law or to achieve institutional and social transformation. Success is difficult to define, however, to minimise misunderstanding in practice, state building requires the commitment and political will from the national institutions and the requirement for them to be in the driving seat, embracing and directing the strategies. This claim is further corroborated by Panarelli (2010) who maintains that local involvement is necessary to incorporate issues and priorities.


Anderson, L. R. (2011) ‘Security Sector Reform and the Dilemmas of Liberal Peacebuilding’, Danish Institute for International Studies Working Paper 2011:31, Denmark,, (accessed 22nd September 2015).

Chetail, V. ( 2009) Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: A Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

de Coning, C. (2014) Can the New Deal for Fragile States Live Up To its Promise to Significantly Shift Agency to the Local?,, (accessed 23rd September 2015).

Donais, T. (2014) ‘National Ownership and post-conflict peace building: From principle to practice’. Policy Brief No 43.The Centre for International Governance Innovation., (accessed 23rd September 2015)

Oosterveld, W. and Galand, R. (2012) ‘Justice Reform, Security Sector Reform and Local Ownership.’ Hague Journal on the Rule of Law 4 (1): 194 -209.

Hänggi, H. (2009) ‘Security Sector Reform’, in Chetail V Post-Conflict Peacebuilding: A Lexicon. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hartzell, C.A. (2011) ‘Missed Opportunities: The Impact of DDR and SSR in Afghanistan’. United States Institute of Peace,

Ki Moon, B, (2015) Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the situation facing refugees and migrants in Europe,, (accessed 23rd September 2015).

Panarelli, L. (2010) ‘Local Ownership of Security Sector Reform’, United States Institute of Peace,

Sedra, M. (2009) e – Conference Report: The Future of Security Sector Reform, The Centre for International Governance Innovation,,  (accessed 23rd September 2015).

Sedra, M. (2010) Security Sector Reform 101; Understanding the Concept, Charting Trends and Identifying Challenges, The Centre for International Governance Innovation, Ontario,

The Guardian (2015) Refugee crisis: EU ministers to discuss binding quotas – as it happened,, (accessed 23rd September 2015).

World Bank (2006) Progress on Strengthening Collaboration With United Nations Partners in Post-Conflict Countries, International Development Association Operations Policy and Country Services Fragile States Unit,, (accessed 23rd September 2015).


Cooperation, collaboration and coordination are key elements in reconstruction and redevelopment in post conflict settings. Units, agencies and organisations, who have a common interests and goals, should work together in harmony to make their efforts more compatible, effective and efficient, besides implementing a shared vision of security. Furthermore, partnership working allows those to share their skills, knowledge and experience, where decision making is based on a collaborative approach. Such efforts require a structured and accountable mechanism to fulfil the overarching strategic policy, as security in fragile or post conflict state is a prerequisite for social, economic development, human rights and long term peace.

The issues of cooperation, collaboration and coordination are addressed on a regular basis, and will continue in the future. Lessons learned, doctrines, policies and academic articles have covered this topic and attempts made to ensure shoulder to shoulder, and the cooperative implementation of common programmes and cross cutting initiatives. However, and as highlighted previously, post conflict involves a vast amount of partners, regional bodies, donors, civilian and military agencies have different procedures, cultures, languages, mandates and agendas, which is without personal views. Subsequently bridging and bringing together individual institutions is far from simple, and will not be without its challenges in the future. Hence why local / state ownership is a central principle in SSR programmes. The drive and political commitment is required from the beleaguered state and their principal national entities, with the readiness to engage and politically govern, otherwise programmes become weak, unsustainable and lost on the ground, where institutional development in the areas of security and justice fade.

Pursuing Justice for Human Rights Abuses in Post Conflict Societies – Timothy Robinson

This position paper seeks to address the importance of pursuing justice for human rights abuses in post conflict societies. In order to produce an adequate position it is important to define the meaning of human rights in the context of this paper.  Every human being, man, woman or child, regardless of ethnic group, colour, religion, sexual orientation or place of birth, is inherently entitled to be afforded human rights.  This means that every human being has a right to be free from persecution or torture, unlawful imprisonment or execution without due process and judged equally without discrimination (OHCHR, 2015).

The importance of addressing human rights abuses in post conflict societies has created a huge difference of opinion amongst experts and academics who seek to find a solution to the dilemmas associated with the coexistence of justice for human rights abuses and conflict resolution. Since the creation of the International Criminal Court (ICC), those involved in the process of brokering peace between warring factions have argued that actors who are potentially guilty of war crimes are reluctant to negotiate a peace deal or relinquish power for fear of prosecution (HRW, 2009). The aim of this paper is to demonstrate examples of why conflict resolution cannot work without justice and human rights being at the core of its peace initiative. Ignoring human rights abuse in the Sudanese peace negotiations led to further human rights atrocities in Darfur as the Sudanese government believed they could act with impunity (HRW, 2009). The lack of justice for human rights violations in Afghanistan also led to a rise in insurgency, fragile peace and further human rights abuse (Niland, 2010).  I will argue that justice and conflict resolution are not incompatible entities and focus on the idea that if the two worked in unison they may fill the voids that exist in both theories and therefore create a more sustainable peace (Parlevliet, 2010). 

In 2005 a peace agreement was reached in Kenya ending the civil war in Sudan. The UN Security Council did nothing to address the human rights abuses that had taken place during the conflict, for fear of destabilising the peace process (HRW, 2009).  HRW (2009) argue that this resulting impunity may have led to further human rights abuses in Darfur due to the peace negotiations in Nairobi failing to address the issues surrounding accountability for atrocities committed in South Sudan during the conflict.  By the mid-1990s peace negotiations, and consequently peace agreements, were expected to include integrated methods of dealing with the accountability of previous human rights violations.  However, past regimes have often depended on the likelihood of immunity from prosecution.  Without the promise of amnesty from past violations, threats of military aggression leading to a destabilisation of the peace process have frequently led to impending charges being dropped (Popkin, 2000).  This is debatably the reason why the Inter-Governmental Authority Development (IGAD) peace process has refused to include civil rights organisations, thus rendering it impossible for ordinary Sudanese people to bring about cases of human rights abuses.  While human rights abuses in the south may have abated since the signing of the Machakos Accord in 2002, similar crimes against humanity are being committed in Darfur with impunity (Young, 2005).

As part of the US led operation “Enduring Freedom” in 2001, International military powers summoned the help of Mujahedin warlords to overthrow the Taliban. With the help of international actors, the warlords (many of whom had been involved in human rights abuses in Afghanistan’s recent history) were brought into the post-Taliban government.  The inclusion of accused war criminals removed the legitimacy of the new government in the eyes of ordinary Afghans, and brought about an ethos of impunity and illegality (HRW, 2009).  The failure of the government and international actors to prosecute those who violated the human rights of many Afghans has led to a culture that lacks justice and accountability and an abuse of government powers.  The cessation of armed conflict is extremely unlikely until justice and accountability have been restored.   The pursuit of forming government institutions and winning the US led ‘war on terror’ has meant that human rights and justice have been neglected, which has led to continued instability in Afghanistan (Niland, 2010) (HRW, 2009).

Justice for human rights abuses is not at the core of the conflict resolution process because justice can often be a hindrance for peace negotiators when trying to achieve short term objectives within the conflict resolution process. Human rights can often cause an escalation or recurrence of violence, which can lead to warring factions dismissing agreements because of an issue over human rights becoming more important than brokering a ceasefire (Mretus and Helsing, 2006) (HRW, 2009).  During the peace negotiations in Bosnia in 1993 a United Nations official said that the human rights community had hindered a possible peace agreement (Mertus and Helsing, 2006).  The UN official’s reference to ‘the human rights community’ suggests that they are viewed as separate entities.  The statement also indicates that the importance of human rights is not fully recognised in peace negotiations.

It is the author’s opinion that human rights and conflict resolution/transformation should be treated as one entity. This approach is likely to create an accurately coherent analysis of what is required to build sustainable peace (Parlevliet, 2010).  Both Parlevliet (2010) and Nderitu (2010) discuss the gaps between conflict resolution and human rights, and this sheds some interesting light on two concepts that would initially appear to be elements of the same entity.  The fundamental difference between the two is that the human rights viewpoint tends to look at ways in which war is conducted and not the illegality of the conflict itself.  Conflict transformation focuses on other (non-violent) means of finding peace. Dissension between the two may arise when the demands substantiated by the principles of human rights lead to an escalation in hostilities and limit the effectiveness of conflict transformation (Schmelzle and Dubouet, 2010). However, when conflict transformation is viewed from a human rights perspective, it brings about the consideration of who will play a role in government and how governance will be structured (Parlevliet, 2010); this point is relevant to the rise of insurgency in Afghanistan, based on the opinion that the government is illegitimate because of the impunity afforded to its officials for previous human rights violations (Niland, 2010). It is widely thought that a greater emphasis on human rights is essential when considering the restructuring of conflict transformation.  The consolidation of the two will lead to a better understanding of sustainable peace in the aftermath of conflict (Parlevliet, 2010) (Nderitu, 2010) (Schmelzle and Dubouet, 2010).


Human Rights Watch (2009), Selling Justice Short: Why Accountability Matters for Peace, New York: Human Rights Watch, available at

Nderitu, M. (2010), ‘Rethinking Conflict Transformation from a Human Rights Perspective, V. Dudouet and B. Schmelzle (Eds.) Human Rights and Conflict Transformation: The Challenges of Just Peace, Berlin: Berghof Conflict Research, available at, pp.55-64.

Niland, N. (2010). Impunity and insurgency: a deadly combination in Afghanistan. International Review of the Red Cross. Volume 92, No. 880, pp.931-936.

Parlevliet, M. (2010), ‘Rethinking Conflict Transformation from a Human Rights Perspective, V. Dudouet and B. Schmelzle (Eds.) Human Rights and Conflict Transformation: The Challenges of Just Peace, Berlin: Berghof Conflict Research, available at, pp.15-46.

Popkin, M (2000). Obstacles to Building the Rule of Law in El Salvador: Peace without Justice. Pennsylvania, USA: The Pennsylvania State University Press. p85.

Schmelzle and Dubouet (2010), ‘Rethinking Conflict Transformation from a Human Rights Perspective, V. Dudouet and B. Schmelzle (Eds.) Human Rights and Conflict Transformation: The Challenges of Just Peace, Berlin: Berghof Conflict Research, available at, pp.5-13

OHCHR. (2015). what are human rights? Available: Last accessed 22nd September 2015.

Mertus, J. Helsing, J (2006). Human Rights and Conflict: Exploring the Links Between Rights, Law, and Peacebuilding. USA: United States Institute of Peace. pp.509-512.

Young, J. (2005). Sudan: A Flawed Peace Process Leading to a Flawed Peace. Review of African Political Economy, Imperialism & African Social Formations. Volume 32, No. 103, pp. 99-113

‘Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink’: how the mismanagement of fresh water can act as a threat multiplier within the International Community – Robert Reynolds

As the old maritime mantra in the title clearly reminds us all, the majority of the earth’s surface is covered in bodies of water that remain undrinkable without the heavy industrial input of processes like desalinisation. This has in turn made ‘…securing a reliable supply of clean water one of the most important issues throughout human history’ (The World Economic Forum, 2015: 46), irrespective of the culture or its geographic location.

Since 2012, The World Economic Forum’s research has shown that the concerns relating to the different stresses on the worlds fresh water supplies has consistently appeared in the top five global risks in terms of both likelihood and impact to the international community (The World Economic Forum, 2015). Information cited in the most recent report from the think tank shows a decrease in the availability of fresh water as the most preeminent concern for not only the immediate future but, also the next decade as well. The concern about the accessibility to fresh water was placed above other recognisable media headline topics, including infectious diseases, weapons of mass destruction, interstate conflict and the failure of climate change adaptation. However, according to The World Economic Forum (2015) and the qualitative research that was conducted, the different global causes and effects of these diverse concerns do not occur in strict isolation from one another. The investigation by the body postulated that they are in fact interrelated happenings, with the fresh water theme displaying a moderate to strong interconnectedness with the spread of infectious diseases, profound social instability, large-scale involuntary migration and interstate conflict.

Furthermore, The World Bank has previously suggested that the likelihood of ‘rapidly deteriorating water availability [that] cuts across existing tensions and weak institutions’ (The World Bank, 2011: 35) could drive conflict and increase the threat of violence in weak and fragile states. Alternatively, ratified ‘water treaties have shown signs of success in reducing the risks of violence’ (The World Bank, 2011: 230), especially in areas that suffer from intense resource competition and limited water availability. Yet, in the strictest sense, the access to fresh water is not a direct threat to the security of people or property, however, it can be considered a credible threat multiplier that reinforces and mobilises conventional security threat mediums (Reisinger, 2015), as well as potentially acting as ‘a threat catalyst for [future] conflict’ (Reisinger, 2015: 22).

The absolute importance of water to individuals and nation states is beyond reproach, as it holds a direct primacy as the common denominator in the water-food-energy formula, which is why on several occasions in recent history competition for the resource has negatively influenced interstate relations and led to some severe diplomatic censure (Reisinger, 2015). Specifically, ‘…In 2013, Egyptian President Morsi threatened Ethiopia with war if it continued construction of a dam’ (Reisinger, 2015: 16) that would alter the flow of the Nile, and ‘the border tensions in Kashmir are in no small way a function of water security’ (Reisinger, 2015: 18). Certain elements of the Pakistan administration have even previously went as far as to threaten India with retaliatory nuclear strikes if the upper riparian state alters the flow of the Indus River.

As it stands currently within the global foreign policy climate, major armed conflicts between different states or intrastate actors over freshwater resources ‘[is] extremely rare’ (Gleditsch, 2007: 189). However, previous history has shown that violence over the commodity is not unheard of, and modern ‘empirical research has found some evidence linking water resources to international conflict’ (Stuart and Brown, 2007: 238). Furthermore, if the neo-Malthusian theory about resource consumption is proven correct, and both the national and international policies concerning the ownership and usage of freshwater sources remains unchanged. Then ‘we should expect the competition for resources to get ever fiercer, eventually to the point that it may break the norms of nonviolent behaviour, perhaps even within and between democracies’ (Gleditsch, 2007: 189).

To help avoid these violent and detrimental neo-Malthusian predictions concerning resource scarcity and its potential linkage to future armed conflict, this position paper highlights the importance of maintaining constructive dialogue and cooperation between riparian actors at a local, regional and international level. There is also an urgent requirement to legitimise the necessary international water management and cooperation efforts through the ratification of the UN 1997 Convention of the Law of the Non-Navigational Uses of International Watercourses, something that China still strongly refutes as an infringement towards its national sovereignty (Reisinger, 2015). Finally, future concepts like the water management research project conducted in the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia, which was described in The World Economic Forum (2015), is an excellent example of pre-emptive cornucopian innovation for a shared national resource such as freshwater. The research has provided working models that can successfully track the availability of freshwater supplies using transparent online information, and this in turn has subsequently ‘buil[t] trust in the data [that] is critical for effective policy’ in a multi-stakeholder environment (The World Economic Forum, 2015:46).


The largest issue arrayed against the development and implementation of effective freshwater policy and management systems for local, regional and international community blocs is the severe lack of understanding about the environmental ‘processes that are still well beyond the control of man’ (Gleditsch, 2007: 187). Furthermore, not only is the scientific data that relates to water scarcity and the ‘neo-Malthusian scenario[s] of river conflict’ (Gleditsch, 2007: 182) limited, it is, much like climate change, also full of conjecture and conflicting research conclusions. This ultimately hampers the development of effective frameworks that can or should be universally endorsed by all states worldwide to help improve human security.

However, from a more pragmatic, political perspective, the ratification of treaties concerning transnational resources will always be a difficult bureaucratic undertaking, especially when one party within the process may be much more negatively affected by the changes that are under discussion. The challenge of successfully accommodating all actors during a diplomatic process remains one of the most difficult endeavours for development researchers and practitioners alike. However, with that understood, the seriousness of access to sustainable freshwater in the future cannot be overstated, with the failure in dialogue between opposing riparian claims leading to the potential for armed conflict, particularly as the stresses (be it manmade or natural) increase.


Gleditsch, N. (2007) ‘Environmental Change, Security, and Conflict’ in C. A. Crocker, F. O. Hampson, and P. Aall (eds) Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World, Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 177-195.

Reisinger, A. (2015) ‘Enhancing Global Security through Fresh Water Security’ A Journal of National Security Studies United States Naval War College Spring (2015): 15-24.

Stewart, F. and Brown, G. (2007) ‘Motivations For Conflict’ in C. A. Crocker, F. O. Hampson, and P. Aall (eds) Leashing the Dogs of War: Conflict Management in a Divided World, Washington D.C.: United States Institute of Peace Press, 219-241.

The World Economic Forum (2015) Global Risks 2015: 10th Edition, Insight Report, Geneva: World Economic Forum.

The World Bank (2011) World Development Report 2011: Conflict, Security, and Development, Washington D.C.: The World Bank.

Aiding Security or Securing Aid? – Ian Getty

The securitisation of aid is a concept which has become prominent in recent international dialogue, particularly since 9/11, the “War on Terror” and the emergence of an ideology that sees weak and fragile states as a threat to global security. Much of the debate however has been focussed at a strategic, governmental level and concerns the policy of using aid as a tool for national security and the effect this will have on humanitarian actions.  Howell and Lind describe how US ‘security interests have been sufficient to shape the objectives…and practices of aid policy…in significant ways’ (Howell and Lind, 2009: 719); Orbie and Del Biondo argue that ‘security objectives tend to dominate EU policies’ (Orbie and Del Biondo, 2015: 250); and Hameiri discusses how ‘the most notable trend of recent years in the development of the Australian overseas aid programme has been its “securitisation”’ (Hameiri, 2008).  Much less has been done concerning security and aid at the operational or tactical level, and in this regard two key areas warrant further investigation; the evolving threat to those involved in aid programmes “in the field”; and what measures can be taken to negate this threat whilst ensuring humanitarian norms and standards are maintained.

There can be no doubt that the threat to aid workers has changed, particularly since the end of the Cold War and traditional models of security based on neutrality and “good will” may no longer be effective. Whilst institutions such as the ICRC refer to themselves as ‘specifically neutral and independent’ (ICRC, 1996), increasingly, both aid organisations and the resources they deliver are being viewed by armed groups as legitimate targets, whether it be as symbols of western power, as potential hostages or for purely material gain.  Despite this many organisations continue to conduct operations under a blanket of neutrality, arguing ‘that integrated mission structures undermine the neutrality and independence of humanitarian action’ (Harmer, 2008: 528). Unfortunately there can be serious consequences for the workers themselves and the people they seek to help when this perceived form of protection fails.  On one hand, attacks often lead to the death, injury or imprisonment of the personnel involved and the loss of vital resources, as demonstrated by cases such as the violent deaths of aid workers David Haines, Alan Henning and Peter Kassig at the hands of Islamic State.  On the other, operations may be suspended or become unfeasible, such as was the case with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Afghanistan in 2004 following the targeted killing of five of its workers (Runge, 2004).  As a result, those in need receive nothing whilst the credibility of the agencies involved decreases, resulting in an impact on legitimacy in both the eyes of the people and perhaps more importantly, external donors.

As a result of the new risks posed to humanitarian actors by the changing nature of modern conflict, difficult decisions must be made regarding the protection of those involved. The significance of the principle of neutrality must be considered in relation to the importance of mission success and the safe and efficient delivery of aid, and if necessary must become subordinate to more proactive, effective security measures.  Unfortunately, where the veil of protection provided by neutrality fails, more traditional security approaches must be used to enable the ultimate humanitarian goal to be reached; that of providing assistance where it is most needed.

Whilst the use of armed protection for humanitarian missions has often been balked at, if done correctly it will serve only to increase the effectiveness of humanitarian missions at the expense of a sometimes ineffective and outdated principle.  The benefits of such an approach are fourfold; the success rate for humanitarian enterprises will increase, in turn leading to higher levels of legitimacy, credibility and international interest; the risks to aid organisations and their staff will be vastly reduced; the deterrent effect will be noticeable and will in turn enhance the security of those involved across a wider field; and the ability of armed groups to use vulnerable populations and humanitarian resources for their own ends will be greatly diminished.

As stated above, such a “protected delivery” mechanism is certainly feasible, but only if approached correctly. Military units, such as international peacekeeping forces, will often have the professionalism and capacity to undertake such a task and may lend an air of impartiality in terms of the armed actors operating within a conflict zone, for example through the use of the famous UN “blue helmet”.  Where such forces are unavailable, or impinge on an NGO’s sense of impartiality, there is the option of Private Security Companies, who through their work in Iraq and Afghanistan, have improved vastly in their ability to provide low key risk-management and security solutions.  Funding for such an enterprise is made easier through the increase in coordinated global strategies and whole-of-government approaches, and indeed, in his thesis on this very subject, Peter Voorn highlights the fact that USAID have already embraced NGO-PSC partnerships, whilst organisations such as DfID regularly use these same PSCs to protect their representatives throughout Iraq and Afghanistan (Voorn, 2011).

In conclusion, over recent years conflict has evolved, and this has led to a significant change in the threat facing humanitarian actors. Whilst this threat remains, those same actors must adapt their approach, focussing less on principles which are no longer failsafe and more on practical security solutions which enable aid to be delivered safely to those who desperately need it.


There could be a vast array of reasons given for why an effective partnership between security and humanitarian actors is not the norm, but three major issues appear to stand out. Firstly, there is, as discussed, a focus amongst policy makers, academics and actors within both fields on the securitisation of aid as a strategy for implementing foreign policy and strengthening national security, an approach that only serves to increase the gap between security actors and those with humanitarian aims.  Secondly, the principle of impartiality is a core belief of many aid agencies and is often seen as incompatible with armed groups of any description, a view which many refuse to sway from despite the increasing risks they face in carrying out their work.  Finally, the issue of resources and funding makes a partnership difficult, be it through lack of manpower such as may be the case on peacekeeping operations, or through limited finances ruling out the use of expensive private actors.

However, whilst conflict continues to create large populations of vulnerable people and the threat to those who would help these people increases, a new, coordinated, acceptable-to-all strategy is required to enable humanitarian aid to be delivered, where it is needed, in the safest manner possible.

Reference List

Hameiri, S. (2008) ‘Risk management, neo-liberalism and the Securitisation of the Australian aid program’ Australian Journal of International Affairs 62 (3): 357 – 371.

Harmer, A. (2008) ‘Integrated Missions: A Threat to Humanitarian Security?’ International Peacekeeping 15 (4): 528 – 539.

Howell, J. and Lind, J. (2009) ‘Manufacturing Civil Society and the Limits of Legitimacy: Aid, Security and Civil Society after 9/11 in Afghanistan’ European Journal of Development Research 21 (5): 718 – 736.

Orbie, J. and Del Biondo, K. (2015) ‘The European Union’s “Comprehensive Approach” in Chad: Securitisation and/or Compartmentalisation’ Global Society 29 (2): 243 – 259.

Plattner, D. (1996) ICRC neutrality and neutrality in humanitarian assistance, Geneva: ICRC , (accessed 24th Sept 2015).

Runge, P. (2004) ‘New security threats for humanitarian aid workers’ Social Work and Society 2 (2): 233 – 236.

Voorn, P. (2011) Private security for USAID contractors: assessing a market solution for USAID security issues, , (accessed 23rd Sept 2015).

The Impact of Conflict on Mental Health – Tom Leadbetter

Television and social media has opened the worlds eyes to the human suffering and reality of conflict and for many the consequences of the conflicts currently taking place around the world are only too clear to see (Institute for Economics & Peace: 2015). However, there is another unseen impact of conflict which lasts long after the cessation of hostilities, those who suffer from mental health problems caused by having been witness to or subjected to traumatic events such as sexual violations, massacres, and torture (Silove: 2004). It has a serious negative impact on the populace including poverty, malnutrition, social decline and psychosocial illness and has an adverse effect on people’s physical and mental health causing, anger, depression, psychiatric disorders and social problems. Studies have shown the more a person suffers trauma the more they are likely to suffer from mental health problems (Millar-Tate: 2015). Based on the clear impact of conflict on mental health and the impact of mental health on individuals and society, targeted research needs to be done in order to inform mental health interventions in post conflict states.

The United Nations (UN) has recognised that for social development, mental health is a human right (Shawgi: 2015). Estimates from the World Health Organisation state that 10% of individuals who experience a traumatic event such as conflict will suffer serious mental health problems and another 10% will develop behaviour, resulting in them being unable to function effectively. Women and children are particularly vulnerable due to the changing face of conflict fought within states where antagonists flout humanitarian laws. (Murthy, Lakshminarayana: 2006) Taking the Syrian population of 22.5 million as an example that means there could be up to 4.5million people with potential future mental health problems (World Population Review 2015). Failure to address mental health issues post conflict will degrade efforts to promote post conflict reconstruction and will have an obvious impact on security and justice in post conflict peace building (Montgomery, Rondinelli: 2004). Long-term effects of untreated mental health issues can lead to heart disease, stroke and impaired growth and development in children (Ameresekere, Henderson: 2012).

Unfortunately there are very little studies, which show how a post-country state may deal with post conflict mental health issues (Millar Tate: 2015). One of the outstanding issues continually brought to light by many of the mental health articles was the lack of information on the evaluation of programs and that there were few population studies carried out in conflict areas and low income countries (The World Bank 2003). Millar-Tate (2015) states that even though there are proven links between diminished ability for productive social engagement, no research has been carried out on individuals in the reconciliation process. For a subject that could potentially have a serious impact on a countries progress in post conflict peace building this is staggering.

It is unfortunate but true that any type of mental health issue is underfunded and has a lower priority than physical illness where many organisations focus on the physical and economic impacts of post-conflict peace building (Ameresekere, Henderson: 2010). Almost 1% of the people in the world are currently displaced persons or refugees (Summerfield: 2000) and with more conflicts erupting daily that number will only get higher. Mental health problems both for those who remain in post conflict states and those who leave all have a negative effect on individuals, the country of origin and the receiving country. Failure to address the issues of mental health during peace building will hinder human development, lead to insecurity, break up families and communities and displace populations (The World Bank: 2003).

Mental health problems should be addressed in a post conflict society by improving the mental health provision including further empirical research into the causes of mental health issues in conflict countries to support conflict recovery. Indications show that there are ways to implement cost-effective programs across many different sectors with different approaches. Now is the time for western nations to realise and address the mental health issues, which exist in these conflict countries rather than the indifference currently shown. What is required is targeted research in order to inform and address mental health interventions in post conflict and low-income states. An increased understanding of the issues of mental health in post conflict societies would allow the development of a mental health policy to meet the mental health needs of not only the individual but ultimately the country. Interventions may also contribute to dealing with the anger and depression felt by many survivors of conflict.

Part 2

Mental health is a challenging topic to address throughout the world even in stable, peaceful states. There is also the social stigma of mental health with many stereotypical views and discrimination. This situation is exacerbated by cultural and religious beliefs. Since mental health is also more challenging to diagnose and identify it is often dismissed as a first world luxury or a reaction to stress and suffering. Since many symptoms of mental health disorders also can relate to other physical illnesses it is difficult to clearly provide proof to the average person. Since diagnosis is challenging and proving results of treatment is more difficult most development interventions do not target mental health during post conflict reconstruction. People either don’t understand or organisations want more for their money with tangible results they can show. Dealing with mental health can also be complex and with a scarcity of professionals in a war torn country it is even more difficult. However the fact that it is difficult does not mean that it should not be addressed, only by recognising and dealing with these issues can societies and organisations compile effective policies and strategies to deal with them. The ‘rubber band’ model of mental health used by many aid organisations working off the principle that people would revert back to normal once they had the basic necessities such as food, water and shelter is just not viable nor sustainable (Baingana, Bannon, Thomas: 2005). If the problem is not addressed and underestimated it will lead to a greater number of people to treat with poor health, mental illnesses such as depression all of which is inhibitive to building a successful, peaceful and sustainable country. The outcome may even mean that there is no relapse into post conflict violence.


Ameresekere, M. Henderson, D. (2010) ‘Post- Conflict Mental Health in South Sudan: Overview of Common Psychiatric Disorders. Part 1: Depression and post-traumatic Stress Disorder’. (accessed 15th Aug 2015).

Baingana, F. Bannon, I. Thomas, R. (2005) ‘Mental Health and Conflicts: Conceptual Framework and Approaches’, World Bank Human Development Network. (accessed 17th Aug 2015).

Institute for Economics & Peace. (2015) ‘Global Peace Index’ (accessed 16th Aug 2015).

Millar Tate, A (2015) ‘The Globalised World Post: The Effects of War-Related Mental Health issues on Post-Conflict Reconciliation and Transitional Justice’  (accessed 15th Aug 2015).

Montgomery, D, J. Rondinelli, A, D. (2004) ‘Beyond Reconstruction in Afghanistan: Lessons from Development Experience’ Palgrave MacMillan, New York.

Murthy, S, R. Lakshminarayana, R. (2006) ‘Mental Health consequences of war: a brief review of research findings’, World Psychiatry 5 (1) 25: 30 (accessed 16th Aug 2015).

Sayed, D, G. (2011) ‘Mental Health in Afghanistan: Burden, Challenges and the Way Forward’, The World Bank. (accessed 17th Aug 2015).

Shawgi, M. (2015) ‘Sudan’s Great Depression: Mental illness dangerously ignored by country’s health services’, African Arguments. (accessed 17th Aug 2015).

Silove, D. (2004) ‘The challenges facing mental health programs for post-conflict and refugee communities’ (accessed 15th Aug 2015).

Summerfield, D. (2000) ‘War and Mental Health: A brief Overview’, (accessed 15th Aug 2015).

The World Bank (2003) ‘Social Development Notes, Conflict Prevention and Reconstruction: Mental Health and Conflict’. (accessed 15th Aug 2015).

World Population Review (2015) (accessed 16th Aug 2015).

Well-articulated Policies and Legitimate Local Partners – Qamaruddin Jabarkhiel

It is vital for both a conflict-affected country and its international partners to formulate policies that lead the partnered mission towards sustainable building of security and justice system in a post-conflict environment.   According to Tschirgi, N. (2004:2) ‘….despite over ten years of practice in working in post-conflict countries, governments that actively engaged in peacebuilding still do not have clear, consistent, and well-articulated policies on post-conflict peacebuilding’. The author further argues that ‘Instead, there are general calls for “policy coherence” across issue areas, pleas for “whole-of-government” approaches, and increased mechanism for policy coordination. These, however, do not add up to a strategic peacebuilding doctrine or policy framework’. In the light of such arguments, one can clearly see the negative consequences of the lack of a comprehensive strategic operational and structural conflict-prevention and peacebuilding policy in Afghanistan, one of the major post-conflict recovery missions of the 21st century. Since October 2001, the international community has been involved in Afghanistan conducting both military and civil service operations, all the while expending tremendous amount of financial and human resources. However, the outcome compared to the resources invested is much lower than expected.

In spite of having more than 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) trained, equipped and supported by the international community, most parts in the south and eastern provinces of the country were never secured. As a result, the majority of its population left their home towns and villages and took shelter in major cities. But the ongoing security challenges in Kabul have resulted in the lack of trust and confidence by the Afghan people in ANSF and the Afghan government as a whole.  This lack of confidence has extended to the international community due to its inability to counter the insurgency and international terrorism.  Indeed, the Afghan government’s security policies have been severely criticized by ordinary Afghans, as is reflected throughout their national media.

In addition to the lack of comprehensive strategic policy during this post-conflict mission, the international community did not choose the right partners in the early stage of their intervention. The fighting factions and warlords operating under the name of “Mujahideen” were favored and supported by the international community in their fight against the radical Islamists Taliban movement and Al-Qaida in Afghanistan.  However, this support was given without considering their reputation and years of involvements in a bloody civil war where their actions were often against international human rights.  In fact, many of their leaders were among the top human rights violators.  As noted by  the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) ‘ Women related to men sought by Mujahideen groups, or who have themselves resisted abduction or rape, have been deliberately and arbitrarily killed, sometimes in front of their families, or have been threatened with death by the warring factions’.  RAWA further adds that ‘A family who left Afghanistan in mid-1994 told Amnesty International how one night in March that year, members of General Dostum’s forces had entered their house in Old Mycrorayan area of Kabul and killed their daughter’. Post September 2001, the Mujahideen, including the likes of General Dostum, became major partners of the international community in post-conflict recovery.  Today General Dostum is serving as the first vice president of the country.

In the absence of a coherent policy, both the international community and the Afghan government could not balance their military and civilian operations in a complementary fashion. Due to ongoing insurgency, most of the efforts and resources were focused on the operational prevention where much less attention had been paid to the structural prevention; therefore, the victories of the international and Afghan security forces against Taliban insurgents were not sustained by civil institutions to address the root causes of the decade’s long Afghan conflict. According to Patrick, S. (2011) ‘the U.S. National Strategy for Combating Terrorism commits the United States to diminishing the underlying conditions that terrorists seek to exploit by bolstering state capacities, alleviating poverty and promoting good governance’.   But in spite of all sacrifices and great efforts by the international community, the current security situation and weak justice system continues to impel the country towards uncertainty in all aspects of life. Of particular note, security and basic justice  capacities are decreasing, poverty is at its highest level since 2001, production of illicit crops (mostly opium) is at its highest levels, and the government is one  the most corrupt systems on the globe.

According to The New York Times (2015) ‘Taliban Justice Gains Favor as Official Afghan Courts Fail’. The paper further adds that ‘Frustrated by Western-inspired legal codes and a government court system widely seen as corrupt, many Afghans think that the militants’ quick and tradition-rooted rulings are their best hope for justice’.

In conclusion, it is highly recommended that the international community seriously consider two major points prior to intervention in any conflict affected country:

  1. Avoid use of standard templates as copied from one conflict affected country into another one. Formulate customized policies for implementation of all military and civilian operation which is parallel to the social structure of the target conflict affected country.
  2. Parties such as Mujahideen in Afghanistan, who together do not represent more than 20% of the total Afghan population, have been committing grave human rights violations against the ordinary population of the country for the last almost four decades. There are many other political, tribal, religious, academics and social groups who could better manage the post-conflict recovery if they were afforded the opportunities to partner with the international community. Therefore, it is highly recommended that the international community conduct a multi-dimensional study for better understand the operating environment and key actors therein.

In addition to good intentions, building a secure and functioning justice system, , voicing clear, consistent, and well-articulated policies, and partnering with the right representatives are vital to success. Lessons learned from the past and current post-conflict recovery missions should be embedded into any future such missions.


Tschirgi, N. (2004:2) Post-Conflict Peacebuilding Revisited: Achievements, Limitations, Challenges:, (accessed 12 August 2014)

The Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA):’ (accessed 12 August 2015)

Patrick, S. (2011:9-10) Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security, New York: Oxford University Press

The New York Times (2015):, (accessed 13 August 2015)

Postscript Response:

As Walt, S. (2013) noted that ‘Successful counterinsurgencies require effective and legitimate local partners, however, and we never had one’. The author further explains that ‘if this war had been a real strategic priority, we would have fought it very differently. We would not have rotated commanders, soldiers, and civilian personnel in and out of the theatre as often as we did, in effect destroying institutional memory on an annual basis and forcing everyone to learn on the job’. Therefore, it can be argued that in general the main reasons that why appropriate or effective actions have not yet been taken to address the issues of security and justice is because of the lack of well-articulated policies and reliable partners, which resulted in establishment of corrupt institutions and inconsistencies in implementation of variety programs designed for building effective security and justice system.  Corruption in the security and justice institutions limited the abilities of both sectors to provide basic human security for ordinary citizens and deliver justice. Corruption and inconsistencies in the system caused unnecessary bureaucracy, involvements of security forces in taking bribes and other illicit activities, elevation in the costs associated to the court’s process and difficulties in accessibility to the system.   The international community and the Afghan government could not take necessary steps to counter corruption within the official system, but rather blame social and cultural values, where in reality, there is minimum connection of today’s corruption and historical social and cultural ways of life.  Today’s corruption and lack of institutional capacity is one of the major formal issues in the country which severely affected the ability of both national and international actors in building effective security and justice system in such post-conflict environment like Afghanistan.


Walt, S. (2013) The Real Reason, the U.S. failed in Afghanistan:, (accessed 17 August 2015)

SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Dr David Chuter – Writing Your Essay: Things to Do, Things to Avoid

This is the 11th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Dr David Chuter presents a lecture entitled Writing Your Essay: Things to Do, Things to Avoid.


David’s lecture will be enormously useful to all SCID students when planning, writing and reflecting on feedback on their essays. David provides advice and guidance on how to write an essay with a strong structure, containing a persuasive and logical argument, that responds to the expectations of the University, and which is appropriate in its content, tone and style.

Click on the link below to access David’s Lecture (it is large so it will take a while to download). Please submit any questions or comments within the next two weeks for David’s attention and/or discussion by other SCID Panel members, students and staff.

David Chuter Guest Lecture – Essay Writing

Security Sector in a Law-Based State: A Short Guide for Practitioners and Others – Dr David Chuter

David ChuterIn the link below is a pre-publication book by Dr David Chuter, member of the SCID Panel of Experts, entitled The Security Sector in a Law-Based State: A Short Guide for Practitioners and Others. This is an invaluable resource which provides an outstanding and comprehensive introduction to the rule of law and, specifically, how to manage the security sector in a law-based state, which fills a significant gap in the current literature.

David has very kindly shared his book with us before formal publication. Should you have any comments, please share them with David at If you refer to this work, please cite as follows: Chuter, D. (2015) The Security Sector in a Law-Based State: A Short Guide for Practitioners and Others. Pre-publication edition. Available at (Accessed: [date]).

On behalf of us all, I would like to very warmly thank David for generously sharing this excellent book with us.

Best wishes, Eleanor

SCID Students at Work

Further to a request last year from the University for students to provide photos of themselves at work / study in unusual environments – which tend to be usual environments for SCID students! – Ahmed has kindly provided this photo of him reviewing the referencing guidance (well done!) in Garowe in Somalia. Thank you very much Ahmed.

If anyone else would like to share a photo of themselves studying, it’s always more than welcome.

Ahmed Ali - SCID - Somalia

New Forms of Emancipatory Peace: Arbitrage, everyday mobility and networks

Prof. Oliver P. Richmond Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute, University of Manchester

We know a lot about an emancipatory peace by now, both in terms of war settlements since Westphalia, and in terms of structural violence and inequality after the Cold War. We know that military security and law and order are required. From the…

Source: New Forms of Emancipatory Peace: Arbitrage, everyday mobility and networks

The political economy of Europe’s refugee crisis

A postscript to ‘Where is the Diplomacy?’ – perhaps the answer lies, as might be expected, in that less-than-effective responses to insecurity, conflict and other crises are, in fact, effective in meeting other goals (such as creating conditions in which the general public may be more amenable to further cut-backs in public spending and, possibly, strengthened social control mechanisms).


There has been quite a bit of commentary lately on post-capitalism, or the massive contradictions and unsustainability of predatory casino capitalism. Certainly the evidence of the dysfunctions of capitalism are there for all to see: massive and growing inequality, environmental degradation, the entrenchment of undemocratic regimes, the undercutting of social contracts so that the very purpose of life is reconceptualised into being a consumer, producer, worker, customer and general servant of the market.

Yet we should never underestimate the shape-shifting ability of capitalism. Like the state, another entity whose demise has been erroneously predicted many times, capitalism has been able to adapt to survive. Surely the private sector carried out the ultimate confidence trick in 2008 by having its indebted banks bailed out by public monies? Now, with Europe’s refugee crisis gathering pace, it is possible to see how capitalism will benefit in two quite significant ways.

The first is…

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