Tag Archives: conflict

Democracy that Delivers Podcast #11: Brenda Oppermann of GameChangers 360 on the Importance of Involving Women and Youth in Efforts to Transition from Conflict to Peace

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with Brenda Oppermann (center).

Podcast hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques with Brenda Oppermann (center).

This week on Democracy That Delivers, Founder and Director of GameChangers 360 (Facebook, Twitter), Brenda Oppermann, talks about the importance of including women and youth in projects that assist countries transitioning from conflict to peace.

Oppermann, who has worked for more than 20 years in countries dealing with conflict, including Iraq and Afghanistan, shares best practices for involving women and youth in the rebuilding process.

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast: #8 State Department’s Jessica Long on Counterterrorism Policy

Podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson with Jessica Long (center).

Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department’s Counterterrorism Bureau Jessica Long discusses how international cooperation and partnerships underpin best practice in counterterrorism policy.

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Democracy That Delivers Podcast: #7 Sameer Lalwani on Security Issues in South Asia

Sameer Lalwani (center) with podcast hosts Ken Jaques and Julie Johnson.

Deputy Director of the South Asia Program at the Stimson Center Sameer Lalwani (@splalwani) discusses how counterinsurgency and state-building efforts interact with issues of governance and economic development in South Asia.

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Girl Rising: Civic Education and its Role in Economic Empowerment

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Participants in the civic education program (photo: SEF)

Women comprise more than half of those displaced by the Syrian civil war, a conflict affecting more than 12 million people. As entire communities’ social services and educational structures have been upended and 3 million children forced to abandon their education, girls and young women have been disproportionately affected by the unrest. Those who would otherwise attend school, complete their educations, and pursue diverse careers are being forced into early marriages and motherhood, sexually exploited, and used as unskilled labor in dangerous working conditions in large urban centers like Amman, Beirut, and Istanbul.

There is a strong correlation between education and positive health and socioeconomic outcomes for women and girls, yet education is often one of the first things to be disrupted when conflicts break out. In areas where traditional educational models become unavailable or unfeasible, civic education courses that nurture cultures of peace, promote dialogue and non-violent conflict resolution, and build the cognitive and participatory skills of participants can help fill a critical gap.

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Keeping the Economy on the Radar, Even in the Hardest Times

A new job category in Aleppo -- "the crosser" who ferries good across the border under dangerous conditions. (Photo: Syrian Economic Forum)

A new job category in Aleppo — “the crosser” who ferries good across the border under dangerous conditions. (Photo: Syrian Economic Forum)

In Beirut during Lebanon’s civil war, people continued to go to school and attend theater performances. One woman once told me how, to get to her university, she would take a taxi to the line between East and West Beirut, dash to the other side behind overturned trash dumpsters to avoid snipers, and then catch another ride to university — always with a change of clothing in case she could not get home again for a while.

Not every war sees people able to defiantly and bravely continue school and go to the theater, but the story underscores an important point left out of most news reports: conflict is not a permanent state…even during conflict.

Media reports show the most bullet-ridden, shell resounding, civilian-fleeing dramatic moments, but even in situations of all-out war, pockets of fighting revolve and front lines move. Whenever there is a lull in violence, civilians generally try to make life go on as much as they can, however they can. And that includes the economy. Farmers will return to their fields and factories will resume operation as often as possible, and people will buy, sell, and barter what they need to survive. And yes, sometimes they even study for exams by candle in hallways lined with mattresses during shelling (another story I once heard from another Lebanese).

Recently, a group of CIPE staff with experience in conflict-affected settings formed a task force to do some more thinking about CIPE’s own projects in conflict-affected areas. We found it interesting that we work with local groups in areas that range from unstable to war-torn, but that we rarely think of them as “conflict projects” per se. So we started throwing around a lot of questions: is it worth even thinking of our projects through a conflict lens ? (Short answer: yes.) What is our approach to conflict and is it unique? What are the various ways CIPE has either reacted programmatically to conflict, or designed programs to be conflict sensitive?

We’re still thinking, but we have started to articulate what we think we know (more on that at the end of this post). So here it goes…

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Kickstarting Economic Growth in Afghanistan’s Provinces

Participants at the Nangarhar PBA launch event.

Participants at the Nangarhar PBA launch event.

A year after the impasse over the 2014 presidential election was resolved, Afghanistan finds itself at a critical juncture in its economic development. Given the dramatic reduction in foreign military presence over the past several years and the decrease in development assistance from the international donor community, concerns are mounting that Afghanistan’s economy will be unable to sustain itself.

A recent study published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the International Council of Swedish Industry (NIR) draws attention to the problem. “In its current state,” the report notes, “the Afghan private sector is not the engine of economic growth or instrument of social inclusion it has the potential to be. Popular dissatisfaction with unequal access to economic resources, flawed public services and goods, the adverse security situation, and predatory government activity undermine an effective and sustainable private sector.”

President Ashraf Ghani and the National Unity Government have laid out a wide range of proposals to kickstart economic development, but security conditions and political infighting have made it difficult to implement many of these reforms.  Nevertheless, hope for progress and success remains.  The Swedish report, while painting a grim picture of the current outlook, provides a concrete set of recommendations to Afghan government policymakers, the international donor community, and other key stakeholders, for incentivizing private sector growth and boosting economic development, thereby improving prospects for peace and stability.

Chief among these recommendations is the need for the Afghan private sector to play a greater role in the policy making process.  On October 28, over a hundred leaders of the Afghan business community, civil society, and media, as well as prominent provincial and national government figures, convened in Jalalabad for the official launch of the report of the Nangarhar Provincial Business Agenda.

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How the Private Sector Helped Make Tijuana Safe Again


Learn more about the private sector’s role in reducing insecurity in Tijuana with this short video (10 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles)

Between 2007 and 2010, Tijuana was one of the most violent cities on the planet. Kidnapping, extortion, and homicide became commonplace occurrences, and the notorious Tijuana Cartel, which had been gathering strength during the 1990s, dominated large swaths of the city.

The city’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Revolución, which had previously been full of street vendors hawking their merchandise and U.S. tourists, was deserted. Citizens stayed in their houses after dark and the city’s renowned nightlife ground to a halt. The Mexican government sent troops to the city in a bid to restore order, leading to violent confrontations with criminal elements.

It was with this image of a violent and crime-ridden city that I traveled to Tijuana in April 2015. Instead, however, I was surprised by what I found. Tourists were slowly starting to trickle back to Tijuana, families with young children enjoyed evening strolls in the balmy weather, and federal troops were absent from view. What led to such a drastic change in a mere five years?

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