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Old Thursday, April 02, 2009
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Default ICG - Reports

"NATO and Russia: In Need of a Bold Step",
Gareth Evans and Alain Délétroz


2 April 2009

The biggest unresolved challenge facing the NATO countries’ leaders when they meet on the Rhine this week is how to manage the organization’s relationship with Russia. Nobody wants to relive the Cold War, but habits of mind from that era persist on both sides, continuing to influence behaviour and inhibiting the clean break from the past that would be in everyone’s interest.

Russia’s invasion of Georgian territory last year seemed to confirm every latent NATO fear about the aggressive resurgence of the beast-from-the-east which the organization was formed sixty years ago to counter. And it is hard to argue that Moscow’s response to the situation in South Ossetia was not an indefensible overreaction, whatever judgment one makes about President Saakashvili’s contribution to the course of events. But what was missing from nearly all the Western reaction was any thoughtful reflection on what its own leaders’ contribution might have been, over the years since the USSR collapsed, to Russia’s newly assertive posture.

It is not fully appreciated, even now, in most NATO capitals how strongly Moscow feels that the organisation’s expansion, deep into the former socialist camp and the former USSR itself, was a brutally insensitive and confrontational response to the quick and generous Soviet withdrawal from Eastern Germany and Central Europe. The West rightly argues that all new NATO members have joined freely, and certainly not under pressure from the U.S. or EU member states. But the vast majority of Russians see NATO as an offensive military alliance, bombing Belgrade in 1999 without UN Security Council approval and now trying to surround Russia in spite of promises made to Mikhail Gorbachev not to expand eastwards.

NATO has become an easy target for nationalists in Russia who want to buoy anti-Western sentiment and convince the population that they are facing a significant threat from outside - basically the same as that during the Cold War. It is unquestionably the case that in the present environment any new enlargement towards Russian borders, particularly to Ukraine and Georgia, will be universally perceived in Russia as an unfriendly act that will demand retaliation.

How can these tensions be defused in a way that will be constructive and forward-looking, but also acknowledge the political reality that neither NATO nor Russia will be very keen to fundamentally change its narrative of what has occurred so far? The best starting point, in our view, would be to acknowledge that the problem with NATO’s expansion was not so much that it extended to Russia’s borders, but that it stopped there.

The most helpful single step, accordingly, that NATO leaders could take at this Summit would be to make a very clear statement that NATO is an alliance of the free open for membership by all countries on the European continent, including Russia itself, and encouraging Moscow to seek membership at a time of its own choosing.

Making such an explicit public statement would have at least three positive consequences. It would place the ball in the Russian leadership’s court, forcing it to consider the offer seriously and articulate a response. It would ease tensions surrounding Ukraine and Georgia: possible NATO enlargement here could no longer be seen as inherently unfriendly act towards Russia if the door is open for Russia itself to join the alliance. And it would paint into a corner the most nationalist politicians in Russia who use NATO so flagrantly to undermine any serious move toward real democratization at home.

Crisis Group has recently tested this approach in private conversations with a number of senior officials in Moscow. Their reaction has been surprisingly uniform, and fascinating: Medvedev and Putin would think very seriously about it, and the military would probably be in favor. For the military, joining NATO would mean enhancing standards and being in the same game as the world’s most modern armies. For the Kremlin leadership, NATO’s transition to a visible new ‘collective security’ role, finally abandoning its Cold War ‘collective defence’ remit, might be a way of giving real content to President Medvedev’s call nine months ago for a new security architecture in Europe, as to which Moscow has not yet proposed any specific blueprint.

What Medvedev has done is launch a very bold reform of the Armed Forces that, if carried out as presented, would mean that the Russian army will cease to be an broad defensive block facing the West, and instead become a modernized, quickly deployable outfit, capable of acting in regional or global hot spots, very much like its Western counterparts. There is a potentially significant message here which NATO should not ignore.

If Barack Obama in Strasbourg this Friday were to state publicly that NATO at 60 is also there to welcome Russia should it decide to join, subject to satisfying the same conditions as every other new member, he would press a major “reset” button indeed in US-Russian relations. The risk for the alliance in such a statement is negligible. Russia could say “no, thank you”, but will have difficulty thereafter in claiming that NATO enlargement is targeted against Russia. Or it could respond positively, in which case it will have to start working hard on, among other things, creating the necessary democratic controls on its armed forces and its intelligence services - something that many Russians and people in the West have long been waiting for.

A chaotic world demands bold leaders capable of taking bold historical steps. Two decades ago, Ronald Reagan made a vibrant call in Berlin to Mikhail Gorbachev to put his words into deeds by tearing down the Berlin wall, and he answered by doing exactly that. Opening the door for NATO membership now to Medvedev’s Russia is another step that would have profoundly positive implications for the future stability of Europe and the wider world.

By Gareth Evans, President, and Alain Délétroz Vice President (Europe) of the ICG.

This article appeared today in Reuters: The Great Debate under the title "NATO and Russia".
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Old Tuesday, April 14, 2009
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Default Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders

14 April 2009:

Turkey and Armenia should seize their best opportunity yet to normalise relations, work on a new approach to shared history and open a European border that for nearly a century has been hostage to conflict.

Turkey and Armenia: Opening Minds, Opening Borders,* the latest report from the International Crisis Group, examines how a decade of academic and civil society outreach laid the foundations for what is now intense official engagement between the governments. The two sides are now close to agreement on a package deal that will establish diplomatic relations, open the border and set up bilateral commissions to address a range of issues.

These commissions will include one on joint historical dimensions of the Armenian-Turkish relationship, which will work to broaden understanding of the Ottoman-era forced relocations and massacres of Armenians, widely recognised as the Armenian genocide. Turkey contests the term genocide, disputing its legal applicability and pointing to mitigating circumstances as the Ottoman Empire fought on three fronts in the First World War. But many Turks, including officials, now publicly express regret over the tragic and high loss of Armenian life.

“Turks’ and Armenians’ once uncompromising views of history are significantly converging, showing that the deep traumas can be healed”, says Hugh Pope, Director of Crisis Group’s Turkey/Cyprus Project. “At this sensitive time, third parties should avoid statements or resolutions in the politicised debate over genocide recognition or denial that could inflame opinion on either side”.

A separate but related issue, the stalemated Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh, still risks undermining final agreement on the Turkey and Armenia normalisation package. Azerbaijan opposes any border opening until Armenia withdraws from its occupied territory. But Turkey should not sacrifice this chance to move forward, and should persuade its ally that détente which makes Armenia feel secure will do more for a settlement than continuing a fifteen-year impasse.

For long-term normalisation with Turkey to be sustainable, Armenia, together with Azerbaijan, should ultimately adopt the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group basic principles for settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict of the OSCE, and Armenia should withdraw from Azerbaijani territories that it occupies.

“Turkey and Armenia should finalise their agreement and thus create new momentum for peace and cooperation in the South Caucasus”, says Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “They should not wait until the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is settled. But outside powers such as the U.S., EU, Russia and others should build on their rare common interest to move both Turkish-Armenian normalisation and the Nagorno-Karabakh process forward”.
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Old Thursday, April 16, 2009
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Default Development Assistance and Conflict in Sri Lanka: Lessons from the Eastern Province

The east is far from being the model of democratisation and post-conflict reconstruction that the government claims and offers important lessons for the north.

“The twin humanitarian crises in Sri Lanka’s north – more than 100,000 civilians trapped in fighting between government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and over 60,000 housed in militarised camps – require urgent and coordinated international action”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “When the fighting concludes, government calls for large-scale international humanitarian reconstruction and development assistance in the north will soon grow louder”.

Before committing any additional reconstruction and development assistance, donors must insist that the basic conditions for sustainable development are guaranteed and that the government has taken tangible steps towards democratic political transformation in both the north and the east. Otherwise, there is too great a risk that international funds will ultimately be wasted or possibly even prolong conflict.

In the Eastern Province, violence, political instability and the government’s reluctance to devolve power to the provincial administrations are undermining ambitious development plans. Rather than treating the situation as a typical post-conflict environment, donors need to ensure additional monitoring and coordinated political advocacy. They should insist on a written agreement on basic principles with the government, to be signed during a high-level donor development forum and prior to the commencement of any new projects.

The Sri Lankan government should provide the basic level of human security necessary to successful development work by ending impunity for human rights violations and placing its counter-insurgency campaign under strict legal accountability. It must also empower provincial councils to address development and security needs.

“The provision of humanitarian aid and reconstruction by itself is not enough”, warns Donald Steinberg, Crisis Group Deputy President for Policy. “The problems the people of the north and the east have been enduring for decades are ultimately political in nature. They require a careful, democratic and inclusive political response”.
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Old Saturday, April 18, 2009
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Default China’s Growing Role in UN Peacekeeping

China’s participation in UN peacekeeping has grown considerably, providing not only much-needed personnel, but also vital political support at a time when both conflicts and peacekeeping operations are becoming more complex.

China now has over 2,000 peacekeepers serving in ten UN peacekeeping operations, making it the second largest provider of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the UN Security Council. China does not currently provide combat troops, but its civilian police, military observers, engineering battalions and medical units fill a key gap.

There are some concerns, however. In several cases, China has sent peacekeepers only after giving support to actors that aggravated the situation. And China’s relationships with problem regimes in the developing world have fed suspicions that its peacekeeping is motivated by economic interests. In fact, China’s economic and peacekeeping decision-making tracks operate separately, and tensions between the foreign affairs ministry, military and economic actors mean there is no overall strategic approach to peacekeeping.

“China’s relationships with difficult regimes may well also benefit UN peacekeeping efforts”, says Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, Crisis Group’s North East Asia Project Director. “Beijing can bring to the table valuable political capital and economic leverage, in some cases even encouraging host countries to consent to peacekeeping operations, as in Sudan”.

China should be encouraged to work alongside the UN and other leading peacekeeping contributors to develop its own peacekeeping policy, improve the effectiveness of UN peacekeeping mandates, and promote a more strategic approach to stability in conflict countries earlier on.

While China benefits from its involvement in peacekeeping, there are several constraints on its capacity to do more. Although willing to shoulder more of the responsibilities for international peace and security, Beijing worries about overstepping the boundary between responsible and threatening.

“Other UN member states, Western countries in particular, should help China overcome such constraints”, says Robert Templer, Crisis Group’s Asia Program Director. “They should publicly request Chinese contributions to peacekeeping and set an example by increasing their own troop contributions”.
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Old Monday, April 20, 2009
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Default Zimbabwe: Engaging the Inclusive Government

After years of violence, repression and a catastrophic economy, there is optimism Zimbabwe is turning a corner, but the international community must do more to make the process irreversible.

This latest policy briefing examines the opportunity for recovery from a disastrous decade with the entry of the opposition into government. There is considerable international scepticism whether the flawed arrangement can succeed. President Robert Mugabe has described the inclusive government as a temporary one in which his ZANU-PF party remains in control. But Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai sees it as a transitional process that can stabilise the country, leading to elections under a new constitution in two years.

“There are signs that a more constructive political dynamic is developing, including within the parliament, the one institution with some democratic legitimacy and where cross-party collaboration will be needed to pass major reform legislation”, says François Grignon, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director.

While the humanitarian and economic situations remain dire, many schools have reopened, prices have stabilised, and basic stocks are returning to shops. As a result, the credibility of Tsvangirai, who leads the main faction of the divided Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), is rising. However, hard-line members of the security establishment are trying to cause the new government to fail by tactics that include continuing arrests and detention of activists, refusal of police to carry out some government orders and efforts to drive out the last few hundred white farmers by continued farm invasions.

To counter the risk of an attack against Tsvangirai or a military coup, a South Africa-led negotiation is needed to have the hardliners accept retirement before the elections, in exchange for limited immunity from prosecution for political crimes. It would be premature for the U.S., the European Union and others to remove their visa bans and asset freezes against key members of the Mugabe regime at this stage or to give the government direct budget support. To lessen the suffering and support the dynamics of change, however, donors should reengage and inject significant resources under a “humanitarian plus” approach that aims for both relief and rapid recovery.

“If the international community stands back with a wait-and-see attitude, the unity government is likely to fail, and Mugabe and the military establishment will entrench themselves again”, warns Donald Steinberg, Crisis Group Deputy President. “There should be no alternative to engagement to address pressing socio-economic needs, reinforce new hope and prevent a return to violence and repression”.
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Old Thursday, April 30, 2009
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Default Nigeria: Seizing the Moment in the Niger Delta

The Niger Delta risks sliding deeper into conflict and criminality and spreading instability across the Gulf of Guinea, unless Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua responds constructively to recommendations of a key committee.

This latest policy briefing, argues that the Technical Committee report submitted on 1 December 2008 represents the most promising effort to develop a coherent strategy in the Delta. It urges the government to seize the opportunity for ending armed conflict and beginning longer-term development in the oil-rich region.

“The government needs to respond urgently and positively, especially by accepting a third-party mediator, preferably the UN or the Coventry Cathedral centre, to facilitate negotiations with militants and implement amnesty within a program for demobilisation, disarmament, and reintegration (DDR)”, says Nnamdi Obasi, Crisis Group’s West Africa Senior Analyst. “With the regional leaders and the militants, it should work to arrest the public’s growing distrust, end armed violence and set the stage for sustained, longer-term development”.

The Technical Committee’s report recommended amnesty for militant leaders within a comprehensive DDR program and accompanied by increased allocation of oil revenues to the Delta. While it did not address all aspects of the region’s crisis, its recommendations were sufficiently comprehensive to serve as a catalyst. The Committee had also urged the government to issue a White Paper by 1 January outlining strategies for rapid implementation. The lack of a definite response is deepening disillusionment in the region.

The government should respond to the report, in particular by accepting an external third party. It should simultaneously raise allocation of Delta-derived revenue to at least the 17 per cent recommended by the National Political Reform Conference in 2006, pending further negotiated increases, while strengthening budget transparency and financial accountability at state level, so the money is used to benefit the region and implement priority projects identified by the Niger Delta Regional Development Master Plan (NDRDMP).

Delta ethnic and militant leaders must reciprocate government initiatives by freeing all hostages, ending violence and cooperating on DDR. They should also consult more closely with each other, in order to achieve greater unity and improve chances for successful negotiations.

“If Nigeria misses this opportunity, the Delta risks sliding deeper into conflict”, warns Richard Moncrieff, Crisis Group’s West Africa Project Director. “Insecurity could spread further across the Gulf of Guinea, and Nigeria’s oil production and drive for socio-economic advancement will be even more severely disrupted”.
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Old Friday, May 08, 2009
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Default "Where Peace Begins: The Pivotal Role of Education for Lasting Peace"

Introduction
Most people recognize instinctively the role of education in preventing conflict and in building peace. Now it is time to begin to work toward the establishment of peace in countries affected by conflict by integrating quality education into peace agreements. This report from the March 2009 Sarajevo conference Where Peace Begins: The Pivotal Role of Education for Lasting Peace summarizes the reasons for our focus on the critical period of peace negotiations, and the next steps that will ensure that quality education becomes a reality for all children living in conflict-affected fragile situations.

The need is urgent. Too few peace agreements mention education, and many do not set in place the necessary infrastructure and financing to ensure longterm steady progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of Education for All. Too many ignore the pressing need for teacher replacements and skills training, funds for school supplies and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, and the introduction of essential peace education curriculum that reinforces reconciliation, tolerance and respect.

As a result, millions of children are denied the chance to go to school for months and sometimes years. Children fall behind in their education, or drop out. Schools fall into disrepair or receive inadequate funding to be built safely. Teachers who are available in the post-conflict setting are required to work in overcrowded facilities with limited supplies and inadequate salaries. Curricula is neglected, and may even reinforce the attitudes, divisions or behaviours that created the conflict to begin with. Ignorance and illiteracy are allowed to prevail, thereby preventing individuals and communities from seeking alternative ways to coexist.

Why education for children affected by conflict?

Over half the world’s 75 million out-of-school children – 40 million children – live in conflict-affected fragile situations. Particularly for these children, education is critically important. It can provide protection – offering a safe place to play, and making children less vulnerable to recruitment into armed forces. It can offer children a sense of normalcy and psychological support in the aftermath of a conflict. Going to school offers children a way to transform their lives and lift themselves out of the endless cycle of poverty and conflict. One year of education can raise the living wage of men and women by an average of 10%1 . Education is every child’s right and it should not be denied.

In populations emerging from conflict, quality education can build social capital by strengthening connections between schools and communities, bridging ethnic divisions and accelerating development. Every additional year of formal schooling for young males can reduce the risk of their becoming involved in conflict by 20%.

History has taught us a great deal about the importance of equal access to quality education as an integral part of a society’s successful recovery from violent conflict. Although there are many definitions of what is meant by the term “quality education3”, we agree that education systems should aim to provide children with the time, space and guidance they need to realise their personal potential. They should offer the reassuring safety of daily routine, build the confidence that comes with acquiring knowledge, and, like the best of societies, invite children to enjoy freedom, within rules, to choose their own interests and friends while accepting that they belong to a larger community, and to learn possibly the most important rule of all: equality for all. Quality education.should be a cornerstone for any country emerging from war that wishes to preserve a fragile peace and build a strong society.

Why integrate education into peace processes?

Education should be considered an important element both of peace agreements and of the peace-building processes that peace agreements are a part of, for four reasons:

Peace agreements can determine the agenda for the postconflict period, to include funding and program priorities of governments, donors, and humanitarian organizations alike. Including education in a peace agreement thus makes it more likely that education will receive attention after a conflict period, including funding and that the impact of the conflict on the education system will be addressed as well as the role that education may have played in the outbreak of conflict.
Addressing education in peace agreements by, for instance, committing the state to providing wider access to education, can signal that the state cares about the population and is committed to keeping and building peace by transforming the roots of conflict, thus restoring faith in the government and defusing dissent. Explicitly addressing education in peace agreements can thus constitute an important incentive for individuals to lay down arms, particularly where educational exclusion is at the root of young people’s motivations to fight. Therefore, incorporating education into peace agreements can be critical in bringing the direct physical violence of a conflict to an end. Education systems play a vital role in building long-term, positive peace that transforms the roots of conflict and helps a country move from a fractured society to a new cohesive entity.
Perhaps the most important rationale is that education is a fundamental right, enshrined within the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, equally applicable in times of war and peace.
It is not enough, of course, simply to include the mention of education in a peace agreement. The goals and targets for the education system must be mutually agreed upon, and developed using the input of many concerned parties. The peace agreement should reference education in the context of reinforcing security, child protection, economic development, and supporting socio-political transformations within a society. Adequate funding and technical support for these educational objectives must also be specified.

This agreement is in fact a blueprint that must address the root causes of any tensions and inequities within the education system, and even consider the role that divisive or discriminatory education may have played in the outbreak or perpetuation of the conflict. Education systems must work to mitigate future conflict. Schools must be back up and running quickly, in order to restore a sense of normalcy to children and families’ lives. The blueprint must ensure that schools will provide a place for reconciliation, paving the way for the reintegration of children who have been associated with armed groups and armed forces or separated from families and communities, the incorporation of peace and conflict-resolution curriculum, and for wider conflict transformation through constructive interaction.

There are many key actors during peace negotiations who have a role to play in creating this blueprint. The conference suggests that there is a clear need for these key actors to better understand where this has been done successfully, and to have tools and training which make this easier to accomplish.

There are challenges to making education a priority at all during negotiations. But we can change the scope of peace processes so that broader questions of ‘inclusive security’ are taken as seriously as the ‘harder’ questions of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR), security sector reform, transitional justice, and political power-sharing.

The statements and recommendations included in this report reflect significant expertise and the will to address many of these challenges. On behalf of all conference participants, we urge you to consider what part you may now play in making these recommendations a reality, in order that millions of children living in conflict-affected fragile situations may soon go to school, and real progress is made towards lasting peace in post-conflict societies in the next decade.

Common ground: statements for education in peace agreements

Throughout the conference, there was common agreement on the following statements regarding quality education, why it matters, and how it can be achieved:

Inclusive quality education in post-conflict societies is about more than social justice or political theory. It makes a real and measureable difference in determining whether peace agreements succeed or fail. The data shows that where education is inclusive and all participate, the peace is more likely to succeed. In the peace negotiations, therefore, quality education merits serious consideration. All those who believe in equal access to quality education in emergencies and in post-conflict fragile situations must advocate for this priority. Efforts should be focused on all of those who are in a position to affect the agenda and the outcomes of peace processes.
While quality education is an essential ingredient in recovery from conflict, a system of education cannot, by itself, achieve or preserve peace. Parties who desire a stable and enduring peace must understand and find ways to manage the underlying sources of the conflict. Equal access to quality education, and teaching that promotes tolerance and diverse points of views goes hand-in-hand with other ongoing efforts toward reconciliation.
Teachers play a critical role in promoting peace or continuing conflict. Part of the price often paid in violent conflicts is the loss of teachers and education experts. They are sometimes targeted in the violence. They often emigrate and do not return. For that reason, recruiting, training and paying educators and teachers will frequently be an early post-conflict priority. Their training, protection and their mandate should reflect the crucial role teachers can play as peacebuilders, acting as they do so directly on the first generation of the citizens of a new peace.
Quality education requires a quality curriculum. It needs to be prepared with the advice of education experts, drawn from both within and outside the current context, and is intended to prepare the next generation to govern with understanding and a respect for human rights. The curriculum also needs to deal frankly with the shared history of the parties to the peace agreement, so that young people will know what happened, while accommodating different points of view and promoting tolerance.
An integrated framework and policy that includes both peace education and conflict resolution skills will support the goal of quality education.
It is important to note that reconciliation and durable peace may be supported by both informal as well as formal quality education. Every effort should be made to encourage exchanges, promote social interaction and allow children to come together face to face. (Such initiatives often take place in children and young people’s clubs and networks, which have evolved in schools or local community organizations.)
The curriculum should recognize international law, respect human rights, and aim to create a culture of peace.
The process for generating a new or revised curriculum should be sensitive to the cultural, psychological, and historical context as well as seek to involve and empower local stakeholders as much as possible.
Peace agreements create high expectations; education can help meet those expectations.Where they provide for access to quality education, the population will expect to see early results. Financial and physical resources, both domestic and international, must therefore be deployed as quickly as possible, consistent with thorough consultation and careful, transparent planning.
Schools must be safe from attack. For quality education to be delivered throughout conflicts, and in post-conflict periods, schools and children’s routes to schools must be considered “zones of peace” free from intimidation and violence.
Girls must have access to education. Education for girls and young women is frequently neglected in post-conflict societies. Yet the evidence establishes that educating girls is among the most productive social investment which supports a more stable society, economic recovery, and an enduring peace.6 In peace mediation, girls’ education should be a high priority.
Designing a system of quality education after violent conflict requires trust built among the parties. Trust is fostered best by true collaboration. Thus, decisions about education should involve all stakeholders, including those in authority, working in mutual collaboration with educators and teachers, parents and families, and above all children and young people. Children and youth should have a voice in the process and their views should be reflected in the outcome.
The international community is crucial. Mediators, facilitators, members of peace support operations, experts in education, UN departments and agencies, donors, and civil society have an important role to play in the process leading to equal access to quality education in post-conflict settings.
Donors and international financial institutions must provide the necessary support. They should clear away obstacles and find solutions so that financial and physical resources are provided as needed to make education (at primary and at higher levels) available as an early peace dividend.

Recommendations

There was broad agreement from Conference participants that the following recommendations, if met, will support more instances of education included in peace agreements and thereby bring about lasting change for children affected by armed conflict:

To the United Nations Security Council, United Nations General Assembly, Regional Organizations and Member States of these Organizations:
Reaffirm high-level political support for primary and post-primary education in conflict- and post-conflict societies through strong resolutions, backed by financial support, time-bound goals and accountability mechanisms. (Current inter-national legal mechanisms that exist to ensure and protect the right to education in conflict and post-conflict settings should be adhered to and further expanded as needed)
Reaffirm that addressing issues of quality education that promote tolerance is a requirement under international law, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and UN Security Council Resolution 53/1999 for the creation of a Culture of Peace Program and its Plan of Action
Reinforce the efforts of the UN Special Representative for Children in Armed Conflict, UNICEF and other international agencies and non-governmental actors in identifying, highlighting and stopping attacks on schools and other violations of international humanitarian law affecting education specifically and children and their rights in general, as well as other provisions under UN Security Council resolutions 1325 and 1612
Ensure the mandate of peacekeeping operations includes the physical safety of schools, children, teachers and staff. Include it in all peacekeeping operations and give it a high priority in the context of civilian protection efforts
Call on all member states to develop integrated action plans to support the inclusion of children`s rights and education issues in both emergencies and post-conflict reconstruction efforts
Establish a “Friends” group at the United Nations and beyond to actively promote implementation of this agenda and to monitor and hold parties accountable for action

To International Mediators, including those from the UN, Regional Organizations, and Track Two Actors:

Promote the development of “education charters” in advance of formal negotiating processes in order to spell out for negotiators the views of children, youth, communities and civil society actors for incorporation into peace talks and agreements
Ensure those for whom education is important can participate in the peace process by identifying relevant
representatives of the educational community, parents’ associations, teacher trade unions, non-governmental associations, women’s groups, church groups, and particularly children and young people themselves. They can assist in the adequate preparation of all parties in the peace process. They should do so as holders of formal seats at the table in peace negotiations, and/or on technical committees or established and credible consultation mechanisms. (And where possible, children, youth, parents and community representatives should be involved in pre-negotiations to peace processes.)
Expand the participation of women in peace negotiations, recognizing the tendency for them to more fully address issues related to education and rights; ensure that a more representative number of senior mediators and other actors are women
Engage as a group or as individual mediators with the participants of this Conference and with the broader peace building community to explore ways that together we can increase the priority of education during peace mediation. This might include a survey of tools that they need to effectively raise the priority of education, training modules, or joint advocacy efforts (ie. joint letters or `Friends` advocacy group)

To Peace Implementers, including Host Country officials and Civil Society actors, and International Peacekeepers and Monitors from such Agencies as UNDPKO, OSCE, and the African Union:

Education’s inclusion in peace processes needs to be monitored to ensure progress. Establish clear mechanisms to monitor implementation of provisions on education in peace accords, including specific time-bound goals and objectives; mechanism should address both quantitative elements (e.g., funding for projects, construction of schools, return of students to schools), as well as qualitative elements to measure whether education programs are supporting national reconciliation
To support this, establish formal mechanisms or platforms for children and youth involvement in the sectors relating to children during implementation of peace agreements, based on the principle of “nothing about us without us” (incorporating children and young people`s knowledge, experiences and proposals) and ensure that such mechanisms enhance public “ownership” over the peace process
Encourage the identification and use of non-formal settings and informal resources that exist in the local/regional/national context (including vocational education and skills-building programs linked to employment opportunities in the economy), for educational purposes

To Governments in Post-Conflict Countries and International Donors:

Ensure adequate funding for quality education - to ensure sustainable educational systems - supplemented by financial support from international donors and private sector social responsibility programs especially for the construction of schools and other educational infrastructure. This should include provision for appropriate education programs for children and youth who have missed out on school, such as second-chance, accelerated learning programs, vocational skills and job training programs
Prioritize education at post-conflict donors conferences and other coordination mechanisms, including those under the guidance of the World Bank, UNDP, and other actors
Ensure the more rapid disbursement of funds pledged for education, recognizing the importance of addressing popular expectations for improvement in education as a dividend of peace

To negotiation support groups, conflict resolution agencies and academics:

Prepare and disseminate a handbook for mediators for incorporation of education issues into negotiations, through such bodies as the Mediation Support Unit of the United Nations, in conjunction with key civil society actors, drawing on the experiences of Track one, two and three mediations; develop targeted checklists addressed to all actors, including mediators, participants, civil society actors, supporting UN and bilateral aid agencies; provide training to international and local mediators for these practices
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Default Congo: Five Priorities for a Peacebuilding Strategy

This report analyses the situation on the ground in the wake of the five-week joint military operation between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda against Rwandan Hutu rebels, the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR), in the Kivus. That effort did not produce significant results and highlights the need for a new tack. The report presents a five-point strategy to drive a renewed process forward.

“The deal struck by the Congo and Rwanda for renewed military and political cooperation is not sufficient to bring peace to the Kivus”, says James Yellin, Director of Crisis Group’s Central Africa Project. “There have been dramatic policy shifts by both Congo and Rwanda in the Kivus, but they are still not taking full advantage of this diplomatic breakthrough”.

Full normalisation of relations between Congo and Rwanda is essential if the eastern Congo and the Great Lakes region as a whole are to be stabilised. The agreement under which Rwanda accepted to withdraw its support for the renegade General Laurent Nkunda’s Congrès National pour la Défense du Peuple (CNDP) insurgency and simultaneously press it to accept integration into the national army, while Kinshasa agreed to a joint military strike on its territory with the Rwandan army against the successors of the 1994 genocidaires, is an attempt to address a problem that has poisoned bilateral relations for fifteen years.

But the FDLR remains powerful, with up to 6,000 fighters, a strong chain of command and a political branch disseminating propaganda abroad. Its existence as a fighting force continues to disrupt efforts to build peace in the region.

Former CNDP leaders and Congolese army commanders have a horrendous record of causing severe suffering to civilians during their operations and of active involvement in the illegal exploitation of natural resources in North Kivu. Sexual violence has taken a catastrophic toll on the Kivu population and must be addressed decisively.

A peacebuilding strategy for the Congo should have five priorities: credible and comprehensive disarmament strategy for dealing with Rwandan Hutu rebels in both North and South Kivu; reform of the security sector; fostering reconciliation and human security; political engagement dedicated to improving governance; and continuing efforts to sustain stabile regional relations. The international monitoring group chaired by UN Special Envoy Olusegun Obasanjo and Great Lakes Envoy Benjamin Mkapa should work with both governments to support and implement this peacebuilding strategy, while donors should condition their support on adoption and implementation by Kinshasa of a comprehensive package of judicial measures to fight impunity.

“Unless momentum for radical reforms and decisive action against impunity are fostered, the Kivus will revert into a new state of low-intensity conflict under the radar screen of capitals but with continuing tragic consequences for its civilians”, warns François Grignon, Director of Crisis Group’s Africa Program. “Now is the time to concentrate efforts on a comprehensive strategy and on keeping both Rwanda and the Congo under pressure to abide by all the commitments they have made in the past few months”.
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Default Serb Integration in Kosovo: Taking the Plunge

A major effort is needed to persuade the Serbian minority that it has a future in Kosovo if the new state is to solidify its controversial independence.

This report argues that such integration is an important challenge for the year-old state. The Pristina government should do more to emphasise to Kosovo Serbs – few of whom deal with state bodies – the benefits of dialogue and cooperation. There is a real opportunity now that Belgrade’s strategy to undermine independent Kosovo by supporting parallel institutions both to prevent Serbs’ exodus and to isolate them from Kosovo structures is having only limited success.

“Belgrade’s approach has become more difficult to sustain because its budget is under strain from the global economic crisis, and the parallel institutions it has set up for Serbs in Kosovo are rife with corruption”, says Srdjan Djeric, Crisis Group’s Balkans Analyst. “Belgrade has been paying salary supplements for public-sector workers, as an inducement for them remain in Kosovo, but it has been forced to cut back, thus reducing its leverage and control. This is an opportunity for the Pristina government”

The policy of opposing all engagement retains support among Serbs north of the Ibar River but has proved unrealistic for those living in the south’s smaller enclaves, who have found there is no choice but to deal with Albanian society around them. Despite Belgrade’s boycott call, increasing numbers of Serbs are beginning to engage pragmatically with Kosovo institutions, relying on them for services, applying for official documents and accepting Kosovo salaries.

Kosovo’s best opportunity to further the integration of its Serb minority is to implement a comprehensive decentralisation plan like that recommended before independence by the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy, Martti Ahtisaari. It would create new Serb-majority municipalities with enhanced autonomy in education, healthcare and culture that could maintain close ties with Serbia. But for this approach to have a chance of gaining Serb acceptance, Pristina needs to avoid burdening it with rhetoric on Kosovo’s independence.

The U.S., EU and others should support this approach by encouraging dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina on matters affecting Kosovo Serbs. The EU in particular must use the leverage it has due to Serbia’s desire to advance its membership prospects to insist Belgrade end support for the parallel structures and not hinder the integration of Kosovo Serbs.

“There is no easy way to address Serb objections to dealing with Kosovo institutions”, warns Sabine Freizer, Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director. “Everything should be done to encourage integration especially locally, where Serbs’ real daily problems can be addressed more effectively if a transparent, accountable decentralisation system is put in place”.
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Default Recruiting Militants in Southern Thailand

Unless the Thai government can give more attention to tackling the Muslim insurgency in the South, moving from a military toward a political solution, the violent conflict will intensify as the recruitment of young militants will accelerate.

Thai insurgency in the South continues to enlist young Malay Muslims, especially from private Islamic schools. The recruits are driven not by global jihad but by a desire to defend their ethnic and religious identity from what they perceive as oppression by the Thai Buddhist state.

“Recruiters appeal to a sense of Malay nationalism and pride in the old Patani sultanate,” says Rungrawee Chalermsripinyorat, Crisis Group’s Thailand analyst. “They tell students in these schools that it is the duty of every Muslim to take back their land from the Buddhist infidels.”

The classroom is the first point of contact. Recruiters target devout, hard-working, well-mannered students to join extracurricular indoctrination programs. Religious lessons, educational trips and sport teams provide opportunities for recruiters to assess the young students for a period that can range from a few months to over a year. The students are then asked to take an oath of allegiance. Some then undergo physical conditioning and military training before being assigned to different roles in village-level operations. For those rejected for frontline service, there are secondary roles in the organisation, such as psychological warfare. Those under eighteen are mostly assigned to tasks such as spying, arson, and spray-painting “Free Patani” on roads.

Organisationally, the insurgency uses a clandestine cell network, in which rank-and-file members have no knowledge of the group beyond their immediate operational cluster. It also appears to be highly decentralised, with local units having a degree of autonomy to choose targets and carry out political campaigns.

Recruitment has also been fuelled by human rights violations of the Thai government, reinforced by the circulation of videos over the internet and through VCDs, and by the failure to hold security forces accountable for past abuses. The arrest or killing of a relative is a strong incentive to join the movement; so are cases of torture and enforced disappearances.

“The government in Bangkok has been distracted by its own turmoil but needs to refocus attention on the South”, says Jim Della-Giacoma, Crisis Group’s South East Asia Project Director. “The violence will not end unless Malay Muslims’ grievances are addressed.”
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