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December 2nd, 2014

Building a Syrian State

By Chad Rickaby, Blog Writer

Subaltern Realism, as proposed by Mohammad Ayoob, is an interesting re-conceptualization of international relations which pushes the margins of society to centre stage. When applied to the situation in Syria, the theory encourages us to consider the experience of the subaltern (un-empowered people on the margins of post-colonial societies) in the context of state-building. As we will see, Subaltern Realism provides an explanation for Syria’s recent trend of political divisiveness, which progressed quickly into anarchy. Syria’s longstanding inability to develop a unified national identity (which included its subaltern groups) created opportunities for groups like ISIS to garner support and control of the volatile area.

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November 28th, 2014

The Plight of Myanmar’s Rohingya

By Jeremy Luedi, Policy Researcher

In recent years, Myanmar has begun to open up and embark on a laudable path towards democracy. Despite this trajectory, however, another disturbing narrative exists which is increasingly coming to the world’s attention. The plight of the Muslim minority Rohingya people is one of systematic repression teetering on genocide. In 1982 a law was passed denying citizenship to the Rohingya people, who now live in camps or cordoned off villages. Widespread hostility towards the Rohingya and government repression of the group threatens to escalate to systematic violence if relations deteriorate.

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November 18th, 2014

Bringing Peacekeeping into the 21st Century

By Evan Gray, Blog Writer

Since its founding in 1945, the United Nations has taken the maintenance of international peace and security as one of its most important goals. With the organization’s founding member states determined to prevent a repeat of the horrors of WWII, peacekeeping was from the outset seen as a crucial part of the UN’s mandate. This need for an effective international force to keep the peace where governments fail to do so has not diminished, as is evident from the persistence of armed conflict in many parts of the world. However, a look at the history of international peacekeeping shows that the UN’s attempts at intervention often fall far short of the promises contained within its own charter.

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November 2nd, 2014

Man-Made Famine Looms in South Sudan

By Evan Gray, Blog Writer

It has been only three years since South Sudan achieved independence, putting an end to decades of civil war with the North. However, recent developments in the country have all but destroyed the sense of optimism that prevailed in 2011. Since December of last year, South Sudan has been embroiled in another bloody conflict – this time between rival factions within the South Sudanese government itself – that has left the country teetering on the brink of famine. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 17th, 2014

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

By Kristen Pue, Advocacy Director

Today, on October 17, 2014 – the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty – we should reflect on the link between genocide and poverty. While the goals of creating a world without genocide and eliminating poverty may seem distinct, they are in fact interconnected. This is because poverty is a catalyst for conflict; conflict creates poverty; and conflict disproportionately affects the poor.

I. Poverty is a Catalyst for Conflict: are countries poor because they are violent or violent because they are poor? Probably, causation runs in both directions. Poverty can exacerbate existing identity tensions – particularly during severe crises, as is currently the case for South Sudan, which is at risk of famine. Although poverty is typically not the primary cause of violence, it can be a critical catalyst. For example, although many other factors were at play, poverty was a contributing factor to the Rwandan genocide. Declining incomes and contracting economic opportunities for the poor characterized the years leading up to the outbreak of violence, leading some to conclude that violence was due to famine and rising economic difficulties in combination with property imbalances along ethnic lines.

II. Conflict Creates Poverty: while many development experts speak about the “poverty trap”, others have begun to note a “violence trap”, in which conflict keeps countries poor. In addition to the destruction caused by ongoing conflict in terms of loss of life, loss of property, and displacement, conflict suppresses the development of financial systems and deters international investment. The World Bank estimates that 71 per cent of the population in the Democratic Republic of the Congo lives below the poverty line, a situation which is largely attributed to the ongoing conflict there.

III. Conflict Disproportionately Affects the Poor: as in most disaster conflicts, the poorest and most vulnerable are disproportionately affected both by the immediate consequences of conflict and its secondary economic effects. The poor are least able to flee impending violence, are most dependent on underfunded and overcrowded refugee camps, and feel the effects of famine most acutely.

On International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, it is important to remember the link between genocide and poverty. STAND envisions a world without genocide, and this means working to eradicate global poverty.

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