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Engaging with local communities to prevent violence: what role for ICTS?

The peace-building field is full of examples of projects that have attempted to use technology, but failed to live up to expectations. Effective conflict early warning and prevention approaches depend on building and strengthening relationships. Research in South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda shows that, at best, ICTs can support relationship building, but that they are not a substitute for the...

Fragility at the local level: Challenges to building local state - citizen relations in fragile settings

This paper is an introduction to available literature on local democratic governance in fragile settings with an emphasis on contexts marked by protracted violent conflict. In this paper the term ‘fragile settings’ is used as it covers fragile states as well as regions within countries that experience state fragility. First the challenges to local governance in fragile settings are introduced...

Civic reason and cultural legitimacy: Exploring strategies of civil society for pluralism

In many parts of the world, diversity is on the increase in religion, secularism, culture and ethnicity, often dividing "us" from "them". Diversity has always been a source of opportunity, but also a challenge to the peaceful coexistence of communities. Situations of polarization raise questions about the role of civil society, citizens and the state. How can pluralist societies constructively...

Impunity, freedom of expression and social justice

There is an apparent low profile war going on against progressive circles in Honduras, and this edition of Envio magazine demands that the international community take notice. It reports on an international expert meeting in which Hivos teamed up with CEJIL, ERIC and Jueces por la Democracia to talk about impunity, freedom of expression and Justice. The goal of the event, held in october 2011...

Guiding Principles of memorialisation

Monday the 28th of February, an important step was made in the fight against impunity in Guatemala: 30 years after the mass atrocities against indigenous people took place and 15 years after victim groups like AJR started preparing their case, the law suit against former de facto head of state Efraín Ríos Montt has finally started. He will be indicted for genocide and crimes against...

Citizenship in social movements: Constructing alternatives in the anti-privatization forum, South Africa

This paper explores how social movements construct citizenship and redefine the very notion of the political realm. Social movements have quickly become powerful actors within South Africa’s civil society.

They are largely contesting the basis upon which South Africa’s  post-apartheid reality has been constructed according to specific  policies. Citizenship is in turn used as a lens of...

Contesting the role of social movements in post-apartheid South Africa: The Treatment Action Campaign

This article contests the role of social actors within a democratic context by looking at post-apartheid social movements in general and the case study of the Treatment Action Campaign in particular. By illustrating the structure, activities, goals and accomplishments of the Treatment Action Campaign up until the end of 2006, this work will argue that it represents an innovation in social...

Rethinking roots of rising violence against women in the Kurdistan region of Iraq

There is increased violence against women in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). According to the conventional narrative, the roots of this violence are to be found in patriarchy, political Islam, conservative social norms, tribalism and oppression of Kurds by successive Iraqi regimes. But are these factors really the cause? Or are the root causes somewhere else?

This publication is...

Roots and futures of Al-Qaeda offshoots in Syria

To understand the recent advances and gains by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria or ISIS) in both Iraq and Syria and to explore future prospects, we need to go back to the origins of Al-Qaeda in Syria and Lebanon between 2000 and 2013. After 9/11 and 2003, both the Syrian and Iranian regimes saw and used Al-Qaeda as a ‘potential ally’ in their conflict with the...

Back to square one: the United States in the Middle East

The American military interventions in Iraq  and Syria against Islamic State have brought President Obama full circle. He started out his first term with the clear purpose of extricating the United States from ten years of military involvement in the Middle East and putting an end to what he regarded as an overblown focus on the ‘global war on terror’. Now he finds himself drawn into warfare...

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