Pax et Bellum Views

Authors: Remco Bastiaan Jansen and Lovisa Mickelsson*


Forecasting violent political crises such as the devastating resource wars of the 1990s or the ongoing conflict in Syria is a dream to researchers and policy-makers. What if we could indeed anticipate these crises; could we save people from the horrors of war? Can data help bring about world peace? In recent years there have been increased efforts in developing early-warning systems for political violence. We argue that this field is a hugely important frontier and therefore deserves to receive more attention. But it also faces considerable challenges and obstacles that should not be dismissed.


Categories : Analysis, Civil Wars, Global, International Politics, Lovisa Mickelsson, Pax et Bellum Views, Remco Jansen
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Authors: Jacob Agee, Jason Giannakis and Timo Leimeister

Voice of America News (Henry Ridgwell), Syrian refugee camp on the Turkish border for displaced people of the Syrian civil war

The Mass Violence Awareness Initiative (MVAI) is a non-Governmental Organization which is based in Uppsala, Sweden. It seeks to increase public awareness about incidents of past, current and possible upcoming mass violence, genocide and related phenomena around the world.


There is understandably much use of the term genocide in the discourse around Aleppo. However, when it comes to academic circles it is perhaps advisable to use terminology that more accurately describes the criminal nature of the Regime, and is harder for the Regime’s supporters to contest. Therefore, we discuss the potential applicability of other terms, including ethnic cleansing, depopulation and democide. We conclude that democide is the safest umbrella term to describe the mass violence against civilians in Aleppo. (more…)

Categories : Analysis, Civil Wars, Middle East and North Africa, Pax et Bellum Views, Violence against Civilians
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Author: Alessandro Fava

Loyalist Mural in Belfast, 2004, CC0 1.0 (Lasse1974)

Brexit will be one of the most important political events in Europe after the end of the Cold War. The changes for the United Kingdom and the European Union will be massive. Moreover, the United Kingdom will also face challenges from the inside coming from the peripheral regions that voted “Remain”. Northern Ireland with its war-torn history is among them. The Good Friday Agreement that ended the thirty years of conflict, so-called The Troubles (1968-1998), is now at risk.


Categories : Alessandro Fava, Civil Wars, Europe, International Politics, Opinions, Pax et Bellum Views
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27 February

Theorizing Terror

Author: Marcus Anderbrant

“Unattributed” 9/11 Photographs collection at the United States Library of Congress. The corner of Greenwich and Barclay, facing East, near the destroyed World Trade Center on 9/11/2001.


In the wake of 9/11 terrorism came to put its stamp on policy as well as public discourse. Not only has it figured in matters related to national security but also in debates concerning migration and religion. Yet, terrorism is in no way a new phenomenon. As a matter of fact, terrorism has occurred throughout history. Nowadays, the concept is intimately related to non-state actors but a historical review of the phenomenon shows that states are equally capable of engaging in terrorist acts. Despite the existence of clear-cut definitions, a certain degree of vagueness surrounds the term: is terrorism an ideology? Is it a tactic? Is terrorism defined when winners write history?

This post argues that the way we perceive terrorism has implications not only for our understanding of the phenomenon as such, but also for conflict resolution and how it can be effectively opposed. In an increasingly polarized world where the global fight against terror sometimes appears to be one of few global issues offering a platform for collaboration, it seems only reasonable to determine exactly what terrorism is in comparison to our own attitude towards it.


Categories : Global, Marcus Anderbrant, Opinions, Pax et Bellum Views, Terrorism, Violence against Civilians
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Author: Maria Osula

U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock/Released, Former Gambian President Yahya Jammeh makes his way to a meeting during the Eleventh Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Union in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, July 1, 2008

On December 1, 2016, the people of The Gambia went to the polls to exercise their constitutional right to vote resulting in the end of President Yahya Jammeh’s 22-year authoritarian regime. What was uncommon of long serving African leaders was that Jammeh accepted defeat and agreed to step down creating space for a new ruler, Adama Barrow, the third since The Gambia’s independence in 1965. This was a perfect example of respecting the will of the people in a post-election environment in Africa. Or so we thought!


Categories : Civil Wars, International Politics, Maria Osula, Opinions, Pax et Bellum Views, Sub-Saharan Africa
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Originally published January 16, 2017

Authors: Alexandra Hallqvist and Zoë Meijer*

Jonathan Lundqvist, Market in Juba in Southern Sudan, August 2009

Historically, sexual violence has been a part of war. However, while it used to be seen as “just” a byproduct of war, we have finally come to the realization that sexual violence is often used as a strategic tool during conflict. Especially after the rape of hundreds of thousands of women during the wars in Bosnia and Rwanda, increased action has been taken to raise global awareness on the issues of sexual violence in conflict. Despite such actions and raised awareness, wartime sexual violence persists. In South Sudan, over hundred women are reported to have been raped in its capital Juba since the renewed outbreak of the conflict in June 2016. In addition, a UN statement says that there are thousands more cases across the country (OHCHR, 2016). Both national and international actors have thus so far largely failed to put a halt to this, leaving many South Sudanese living in fear. There is clearly an urgent need to increase our efforts to end sexual violence in South Sudan – and elsewhere (more…)

Categories : Alexandra Hallqvist, Analysis, Pax et Bellum Views, Sub-Saharan Africa, Violence against Civilians, Zoe Meijer
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Originally published December 17, 2016

Author: Aron Woonink*

Michal Salaban, Bashar al-Assad mural in Latakia, November 2011

Many jars of ink have been spilt on Donald Trump’s election last month. Every spectator, whether they’re journalists, policymakers or ordinary citizens, wonders what this remarkable figure’s victory will mean for the US and the rest of the world. Will Muslims be banned from entering the US? Will he start a trade war with China? Will he build the wall? And will the Mexicans pay for it? Given the fact that most of Trump’s ideas and plans are born out of downright ignorance or even pure insanity, one would expect that his views on the situation in the already unstable and war-torn Middle East are disastrous. But are they? This article will make an attempt to discover the central themes in Trump’s policy towards the situation in Syria, how this is received in the region itself, and based on this, what options there are left for the future.


Categories : Americas, Analysis, Aron Woonink, Civil Wars, International Politics, Middle East and North Africa, Opinions, Pax et Bellum Views
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Originally published December 11, 2016

Authors:  Suna J. Voss and Shawn Davies*

DTRocks, Golden Dawn members hold flags with the meander symbol at a rally outside of party HQ, Athens, March 2015

Identity politics is in the news. While identity might be a construct, as the constructivist argument goes, attempts to transcend one identity generally lead into the construction of another. What does this mean for politics and society? The ethnicities of Gujarati and Marathi are united as Indians. This came at the price of the revival of a Hindu-Muslim conflict. The Europeans are in the midst of a transnational identity construction, the formation of a common European identity, meant to bridge the previously so devastating Franco-German conflict. While some are embracing their new European identity, others struggle for the revival of the nation-state project, as evident from Brexit. Movements mobilised around ethnic, racial or religious identity labels, as the basis for political claims, are growing: examples abound, from revived nationalist movements in Europe, to the success of Donald Trump in mobilising white Americans against international influence and other identity groups. 


Categories : Analysis, Europe, International Politics, Pax et Bellum Views, Shawn Davies, Suna Voss
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Originally published December 5, 2016

Author: Rik Rutten*

Bombing civilians without distinguishing supporters and opponents from bystanders is said to be ineffective, or even counterproductive. Then why have air raids become such a hallmark feature of the military strategy of the Assad government in the Syrian civil war? A look at the geography of violence shows: even when regimes target entire towns instead of individuals, their targets are chosen rather than random. Bombings do not only demolish the supposed enemy’s strongholds, they also send a message to the civilians living under their control.


Categories : Analysis, Civil Wars, Middle East and North Africa, Pax et Bellum Views, Rik Rutten, Violence against Civilians
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Originally published November 27, 2016

Author:  Lani M. Anaya Jiménez*

For  a long time conflict resolution processes tended to be observed and mediated on a state basis where high level actors where the most important ones (Lederach, 1997). However, conflicts based on non-state actors have increased considerably during last ten years (UCDP, 2016). As a result, there is the need of new frameworks to work with local level actors in order to build peace. Non Violent Communication (NVC) has demonstrated to be a good alternative in conflict resolution, especially at grassroots levels. In this article we aim to explain NVC theoretical framework, some cases where the methodology has been applied and one Latin American organization who has successfully worked with NVC at local and international level.


Categories : Americas, Analysis, Lani Anaya Jiménez, Non Violent Conflicts, Pax et Bellum Views, Peace Building
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Originally published November 21, 2016

Author:  Barbara Magalhães Teixeira*

ArmyAmber, 14 February 2012

The TED Talk of Manwar Ali, filmed in April 2016, touches upon a central subject in Peace and Conflict Research: rebel recruitment. He is a former jihadist that shares his experience of joining a rebel group and risking his life for a cause. Through his testimony, we get access to what goes on inside the mind of an individual that makes him join a rebel group. The field of Peace and Conflict Research has battled with this phenomenon trying to understand what causes individuals to voluntarily risk their lives in war. More specifically, we are interested in explaining the voluntary part that drives individuals to join armed conflicts, and for this, we will use the Collective Commitment Theory to try and explain it through the experience of Ali and the case of Al-Qaeda. This remains one of the most asked questions in our field, and this is an attempt to shed more light in the path towards the answer. (more…)

Categories : Analysis, Barbara Magalhães Teixeira, Civil Wars, Middle East and North Africa, Pax et Bellum Views, Rebel Recruitment
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Originally published November 6, 2016

Authors: Alessandro Fava, Joel Martinsson and Sofia Jarvis*

Jamelle Bouie, “The silent majority stands with Trump”
Taken at the 09/14 Donald Trump rally at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.

The 2012 Election was with American measurements a devastating loss for the Republican Party and its nominee Mitt Romney. In the wake of Romney’s failed presidential bid the Republican party presented an evaluation of what went wrong, labelling it “The Growth and Opportunity Project”. The report described the shrinking support for the Republican party from all minority groups across the country: George Bush for example managed to get 44 % of the votes from “Asian and other” group, whereas Mitt Romney only got 26 % (Barbour et al, 2013). The report further showed that minorities viewed the party as unfriendly towards them. The importance of changing this unfortunate view of the Republican Party was even recognized in the right wing sections of the party, seeing how for example the ultra conservative TEA-party leader Dick Armey claimed that: “You can’t call someone ugly and expect them to go to the prom with you. We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home” (Barbour et al, 2013).


Categories : Alessandro Fava, Americas, Articles, International Politics, Joel Martinsson, Pax et Bellum Views, Sofia Jarvis
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