Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Future of Human Rights in the International Arena

As  everyone studying on the SCID programme is aware, every Unit in every Module has an e-tivity, which is generally participation in a discussion board thread. Florence Kayemba Ibokabasi and Iain Blackwood have kindly agreed to one of their excellent posts being uploaded to the SCID Blog. These recent posts were in response to a question about the future of human rights in the international arena. I thought such good posts should receive wider attention. I hope uploading them here encourages other students to also upload their discussion board posts on the SCID Blog. I hope it also generates further and wider discussion of some of the issues that are being addressed in the SCID programme. Thank you very much, Florence and Iain!

Florence Kayemba Ibokabasi:

Human rights agenda appears to have gained traction globally particularly in the South where developing countries are grappling with development and security challenges, leaving governments operating on shoe string budgets which require external assistance based on conditions such as rights based approaches to development programming and policy formulation. This is evident in how the Millineum Development Goals (MDGs), now the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) whose foundation is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, have been largely endorsed globally, with various countries setting up Secretariats and incorporating these goals in their requests for for multilateral or bilateral assistance.

It is important to note that embracing of the human rights agenda might be driven by political interests by the donor and state recipient even when that aid is tied to conditions which may be in violation of the country’s traditions and religious beliefs for example the inclusion of women in security forces in Afghanistan, the suspension of anti-gay laws in Malawi, an ultra conservative and religious country whose anti gay legislation sought to criminalise homosexuality.

It might be worthy to note, that there is an increased awareness of human rights globally even in countries where civil liberties were curtailed for decades such as Libya. This is probably responsible for the uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Burkina Faso where regimes were overthrown due to gross human rights violations that infringed on the right to free speech, the right to life and generally socio-economic rights that affect the well being of the populace. It is evident that the increased awareness of human rights by the new generation of youth has made it harder for governments to carry out human rights violations without resistance from the populace eventually.

The emergence of technology such as social media and i mobile communications  has helped amplify and mobilise the voices of those affected by human rights violations perpetuated by the state.This is quite different from what it used to be more than a decade ago when there were far less platforms to use to hold governments accountable. Traditional media was censored and mobilising citizens for mass action was quite an uphill task particularly in African countries where police and army were being used to silence the voices of those who were oppressed.

Countries, particularly in the South need to uphold the inalienable rights of their citizens as part of a state culture and not necessarily to please the donors. Regional bodies such as the African Union need to hold members to account for human rights violations and support in particular post conflict nations to build institutions and a national culture that respects the rights of citizens. Using external assistance to build such a culture is not sustainable; if our governments could understand that respecting the rights of the citizens helps improve security and enhances development, perhaps they would work harder at ensuring that civil liberties are respected and the socio-economic rights are upheld irrespective of gender, age and race.

iainIain Blackwood:

In response to ‘what you envisage is developing in respect of the place of human rights in the international arena and, which may be quite different, what you would like to see emerging’.  I do not see that there will ever be an International global system, nation states do intervene in and assist failed states in other nations conflicts in times of crisis, if the outcome is beneficial to themselves and their self-interests.  The world will never be a utopia with an International system that controls a Global society (is that not what the UN was set up to achieve some 60+ years ago to preserve world peace).  There will always be wars (which have changed in the way they are now fought, won and lost) and some sort of conflict somewhere in the world, be it for religious reasons, National uprisings, disputes for natural resources in times of hardship and because one country or party has what the other wants, to put it in simplistic terms.

I do agree that nations should remain crucial players and that there is also a North-South divide together with a cultural divide and the North can and does assist the South, but the South also needs to assist itself e.g. corruption, Human Rights and its violations, providing for and protecting its own citizens.  Furthermore, how can the West impose its beliefs on nations that do not want them, but those nations want aid and assistance on their own terms, but lack the know how or resources to do so.  Cultural understanding by the West needs to be better understood when assisting nations.

As has been already mentioned the UDHR is a Global declaration signed by states to protect individuals rights, but is violated on a daily basis by nations to suit their needs and not the needs of their citizens.  If the UDHR is to succeed should not more emphasis be made towards reaching those original aims, but be realigned and to meet todays modern-day needs and meet current world developments?

Also the use modern communications highlight the needs and requirements of victims and gets worldwide views and condemnation for the images that are viewed but (one only needs to search the web for such images and HU violations that occur of a daily basis), again countries will only intervene if it suits their needs and wants or has an adverse effect on themselves.  Syria is a typical example of who is and who isn’t supporting the fight against ISIL/Daesh.  Which is now a worldwide threat.

To conclude Human rights are a necessity and include all articles as laid out in the UDHR to cover the whole of society, but individuals and states need to be held accountable for abuses (Truth Commissions and Transitional justice, ICC under the Rome statute) and enhance their own development of the UDHR.  Which ultimately would improve security and development and potentially lead to enhanced peace and security.

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 September 2014 intake for completing the whole course – and all the very best with your dissertations.

Best wishes, Eleanor

PhD Funding Opportunities

phd fundingSome of you may be considering studying for a PhD after your Master’s. If so, our College is currently advertising a funding opportunity for Phd scholarships for international students. The full information is here:

The key things to note are:

  • This is for international students only – i.e. non Home/EU.
  • It is for campus based study ONLY (not the PhD by DL).
  • It is a partial scholarship – £5,000 discount on fees over 3 years.

Similar opportunities may arise in the future if you are not due to complete your Master’s this year. Also, the Department generally offers annual funding opportunities for PhD students – it is worthwhile checking our website around Easter (or just before) each year.

If you are hoping to pursue a PhD at some point in the future with us or elsewhere, I’d also encourage you to monitor the websites of the main funders (ESCR, British Academy, AHRC etc.) – details on our website – It might also be worth scoping funding opportunities through companies that might benefit from your research, through philanthropic organisations, or – depending on your nationality – through the EC (Erasmus) or Commonwealth –, and

Best wishes, Eleanor

Places in Conflict & at Peace

Thanks Maren, for sharing this excellent resource (re-blogged below – I’m re-blogging rather than commenting so I can add a few images to give example to my otherwise broad-brushed, unsubstantiated statements below!). I think this resource is an invaluable tool for reflecting upon the way in which we analyse armed conflict as well as the assumptions many of us (as researchers, policy makers and practitioners) have when it comes to armed conflict (being elsewhere, in places labelled fragile, at risk or developing). As you say, it also provides a useful analytical tool for analysing the links between armed violence, organised crime and street gang insurgencies, as well as the impact of globalisation and socio-economic inequalities on conflict and security.

Last week I returned from a trip to the US (Atlanta) and Colombia (Bogota and Medellin). I had only been to the US a few times fleetingly and never visited Colombia before now. The specific places I visited are unique and also not representative of the wider respective countries. However, what particularly struck me was that both demonstrated evidence of massive socio-economic inequalities, high levels of poverty, and anger among some groups towards their respective governments. I was most shocked (though unsurprised) at the extent and nature of the human rights violations and violence against civilians in Colombia, high levels of corruption and collusion between ostensibly opposing groups (government, paramilitary, guerrilla), and the disregard among many of the privileged for the suffering of the marginalised and impoverished (to the extent that you could hardly imagine a conflict was going on in some parts of Bogota).

IMG_4929However, I was more shocked at the tension and aggression which seemed to seep into the corners of everyday life in Atlanta. Here massive billboards portrayed the good life (buy a coke and your life will be meaningful) while people slept on the streets below; there was an onslaught of noise and people who demanded you say how wonderful your day was (OK so I’m a grumpy Brit!); Trump and his vitriol was blaring out from TVs which were everywhere (OK the hotel I was staying in happened to be in the same building as CNN!); people told me how fed up they were with politics and foreigners and women not sticking by their unfaithful men; signs told me I’d have to leave my gun at home if I wanted to get on a plane (which to me is strange in a country not at war, at least on its own soil); and the overwhelming majority of the thousands of participants at the Convention I was attending were white, which smacked of neo-colonialism given the theme was peace, while the majority of people working in the hotels and sleeping on the streets were black. Perhaps I simply didn’t get enough sleep, but I kept seeing messages  about about pride and equity, which took on a disturbingly ironic tone in this context (for contrast the third image is from the National Centre for Civil and Human Rights which was outstanding, moving and highly informative – located in the centre of the business district next to the Coca Cola Museum, which appeared to be significantly more popular among tourists – no comment!).

I left the US and Colombia reflecting a bit deeper on our assumptions about places in conflict and places at so-called peace; assumptions about the way in which violence permeates most if not all societies and disproportionately affects the marginalised; and assumptions about the engagement of governments in so-called peaceful states in the dynamics of exclusion, violence and indeed conflict.

So, in short, I think we have a lot to learn about conflict by looking at the machinations of societies where there is peace. Conversely, we also have a lot to learn about peace by looking at the efforts many civilians make to protect themselves and their families, promote peace, and create peaceful communities, in places at war (which I hope to write about soon).

Best wishes, Eleanor

Original post by Maren Moon:

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

Dr Punam Yadav -White Sari—Transforming Widowhood in Nepal

Dr Punam Yadav, who delivered the most recent Online Guest Lecture Impacts of Armed Conflict on Women: Lived Experiences of Women in Nepal (which you can still comment on or ask questions of Punam) has recently had an article published in Gender Technology & Development. This article is entitled ‘White Sari – Transforming Widowhood in Nepal‘ (click on the link to open the attachment or you can find online here).

punam articleAbstract: Before the People’s War (1996) in Nepal, widows were not allowed to wear anything other than the white sari, especially in Hindu families. It was a common practice even among highly educated women. Widows were considered impure and carriers of bad luck as a result of which they were excluded from public events, such as weddings and religious ceremonies. This belief system was deeply entrenched in the history of the country spanning thousands of years. However, when hundreds of women became widows during the People’s War in Nepal, they started organizing themselves and resisting the discriminatory practice of the white sari. This article explores how widows of Nepal subverted thousands of years of this oppressive practice. It also examines the challenges that they faced in the era of the white sari and the citizenship benefits that they have achieved after liberating themselves from the shroud of widowhood.



SCID LinkedIn Page

Hi everyone. Further to my recent post about SCID Alumni, I have just created a LinkedIn group for SCID students, alumni, prospective students, staff and members of the Panel of Experts. Please join – it would be a good way to keep in touch on professional matters related to SCID and its area of interest, and link with similar groups and people.

You should be able to find the LinkedIn page if you click here or search for ‘SCID (University of Leicester)’.

Best wishes, Eleanor


America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

The link below  directs readers to a recent article from the  Small Wars Journal. 

While the subject matter falls outside the discipline of post-conflict studies, it nevertheless provides an opportunity for widening understanding on conflict prevention as it intersects with organised crime,  street gang insurgency, transnational threats, proxy actors, and the infiltration and undermining of law enforcement, military, and criminal justice systems. The article also provides a window for examining the dynamics of globalisation and the New Wars paradigm as they potentially threaten  ‘first world’ realities.

America’s Unacknowledged Insurgency: Addressing Street Gangs as Threats to National Security

SCID Alumni

Calling all former and current SCID students. I would be very grateful if you could email me if you would like to be part of the SCID alumni and broader alumni of the Department of Criminology at the University of Leicester. Please email me on with your name and email address. We will then be able to share with you occasional updates, news items and opportunities.

You might also want to join the Department of Criminology Students and Alumni LinkedIn group –

scid 16It would be also great to be kept informed of your news after you graduate from the SCID course, and wonderful for SCID students, alumni, Panel members and staff to remain in contact – not least to continue discussing ideas, issues and developments related to conflict and peacebuilding, share resources and opportunities, and continue to consolidate the community of interests that is built around the SCID programme.

Hoping you are all keeping safe and well,


SCID Panel of Experts – Online Guest Lecture – Dr Punam Yadav – Impacts of Armed Conflict on Women: Lived Experiences of Women in Nepal

This is the 13th Online Guest Lecture by members of the SCID Panel of Experts. Dr Punam Yadav presents a lecture entitled Impacts of Armed Conflict on Women: Lived Experiences of Women in Nepal.

Punam’s lecture considers the impact of armed conflict on women, with specific regard to the lived experiences of women in Nepal. The lecture also looks at the changing role of women after the recent conflict in Nepal and concludes that despite sufferings and hardships, women have benefited from the civil war in Nepal. The lecture also argues that programmes to support post-conflict societies need to focus on the emerging needs of people, not just on a narrow definition of recovery – as can been seen when looking at the case of women in post-conflict Nepal.

Punam Yadav Guest LecturePunam is a new member of the SCID Panel of Experts and is currently a Visiting Scholar at the new Centre for Women, Peace and Security at the London School of Economics (LSE). Punam has conducted research widely in the field of gender, peace and security, and her book Social Transformation in Post Conflict Nepal: A Gender Perspective is being published by Routledge in May (2016).

Click on the link below to access Punam’s Lecture. NB Should the presentation not run automatically or the audio not work, please click ‘Save As’ (and then open once you have saved on your computer) rather than ‘Open’. Alternatively try a different browser (Firefox rather than Internet Explorer).

Women and Armed Conflict – February 2016

Please submit any questions or comments within the next two weeks for Punam’s attention and/or discussion by other SCID Panel members, students and staff.

The Centre for Security Governance (CSG)

csg feb 16Hi everyone

I’ve recently had the honour of being invited to become a Senior Fellow of the Centre for Security Governance (CSG). So, I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you a bit about this excellent think tank and the many invaluable resources and opportunities it offers.

The CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank dedicated to the study of security and governance transitions in fragile, failed and conflict-affected states. As detailed on its website, the CSG is based in Canada and maintains a global, multi-disciplinary network of researchers, practitioners and academics engaged in the international peace and security field. The CSG website has a wealth of resources that are of enormous value to the SCID students as well as practitioners and others in this field.

The CSG also hosts free eSeminars, on subjects related to peacebuilding, together with the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA) and Wilfrid Laurier University Global Studies Department (WLU). I would highly recommend participating in these eSeminars and, if unable to, accessing the recordings on their website. Previous eSeminars have been on statebuilding, resource conflicts and displacement in the Middle East, and can be accessed here. The next eSeminar is being held on 26 February (12:00PM to 1:30PM EST) and is on the subject of Climate Change, the Environment and Peacebuilding – so especially pertinent to the final Module of the SCID Programme. The panellists for this event are:

– Dr. Mark Sedra, Centre for Security Governance (Moderator)
– Anna Brach,Geneva Centre for Security Policy (Panellist)
– Dr. Simon Dalby, Wilfrid Laurier University (Panellist)
– Dr. Richard Matthew, University of California at Irvine (Panellist)

More details on this eSeminar can be found here and below.

The CSG also now manages Stability: International Journal of Security & Development. This is a leading open-access journal focusing on security and development challenges in fragile, failed and conflict-affected states. Stability is also unique in that it connects policymakers, practitioners, academics and others with timely, peer-reviewed research on a wide range of issues related to peacebuilding, stabilisation, peacekeeping, statebuilding, crime and violence prevention, development cooperation and humanitarian action. If you are looking for an innovative journal to publish your research, I would highly recommend Stability.

Finally, you may be interested to know that the CSG will be posting a call for internships this Spring, and they have said that they have had good experience in the past with Master’s students and graduates from the UK.

Best wishes, Eleanor



Climate change poses a series of catastrophic threats to the planet, from rising sea levels that could swallow coastlines to the increasing prevalence of drought that could devastate agriculture and fresh water supplies. While these direct environmental challenges are clear and omnipresent, less attention is often paid to the secondary effects of climate change, such as its impact on peace and security dynamics. Climate change is already emerging as a major driver of conflict and insecurity in many parts of the world, and this phenomenon will only worsen in the future as the environmental impacts of the changing climate become more pronounced.

This presents new challenges to the global peacebuilding architecture that have yet to be fully addressed by its key stakeholders. As we enter an era that could be marked by climate-driven war and instability, it is important to explore the potential impacts of climate change on global peace and security and how the existing peacebuilding agenda can be adapted to confront them. This will be the central question addressed at the fourth instalment of the Centre for Security Governance’s eSeminar series on “Contemporary Debates on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding,” presented in collaboration with the Balsillie School of International Affairs and Wilfrid Laurier University’s Department of Global Studies.

Our distinguished panellists will each give brief introductory remarks, followed by an open Q&A period where participants will be able to engage the panel directly. The event, which will take place on Friday February 26 from 12:00PM to 1:30PM EST, will be open to the public and free to attend.


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.

Quantitative Analysis in Human Rights Reporting

The following link provides an excellent resource for anyone working through Module Three or seeking a refresher course on Quantitative Analysis in relation to Human Rights reporting.

The presentation is led by Patrick Ball, Executive Director of the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.  The program becomes increasingly engaging as it marches through various issues and opportunities to advance Quantitative Analysis as an accurate and viable tool in relation to Human Rights activities (and therefore Security, Conflict, and International Development projects and policy formation).

The link will provide an audio version as well as a transcript version  – both of which can be downloaded for permanent reference.

The entire presentation is 1:46:17 long, but the first 30 minutes should suffice for assisting with Module Three understanding. The remaining minutes will serve to reinforce academic expectations and enhance understanding of the emerging standards within the field of Human Rights reporting.

Digital Echoes: Understanding Patterns of Mass Violence with Data and Statistics



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).

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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)