Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the European Union’s approach toward the integration of the Balkans into the union. Part I examines the record of EU integration to date. Part II will examine the road ahead. The European Commission’s (EC) recent progress reports on the Western Balkan countries, released in October, mark the latest stage in a long process designed to bring a region devastated by post-Communist conflict into the European fold. The European Union’s influence on the Balkans over the past decade has certainly been positive, drawing the countries away from armed conflict and […]

Since 2001, Afghanistan has become synonymous with the term “narcostate” and the associated spread of crime and illegality. Though the Afghan drug economy peaked in 2007 and 2008, cultivation this year still amounted to 325,000 acres, and the potential production of opium reached 6,400 tons (.pdf). Narcotics production and counternarcotics policies in Afghanistan are of critical importance not only for drug control there and worldwide, but also for the security, reconstruction and rule of law efforts in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, many of the counternarcotics policies adopted during most of the past decade not only failed to reduce the size and scope […]

From the early 1950s until 1990, when Afghanistan’s opium production surpassed that of Myanmar, most of the world’s illicit opium originated in mainland Southeast Asia. This is partly because the region’s rugged hills and mountains, heavy monsoon rains and lack of transport infrastructure have long protected rebel armies and illegal opium poppy cultivation from the writ of central governments and anti-drug agencies. Myanmar’s turbulent political history and internal wars since its independence in 1948 also contributed significantly to Asia’s long reign as the global leader in illicit opium production, as the opium economy and the war economy clearly nurtured one […]

Last year, the European Investment Bank, the European Union’s major development arm, invested a record $3.6 billion in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other southern Mediterranean countries to demonstrate support for sustainable growth and job creation in the region. But despite these economic initiatives, the EU lacks a political strategy for dealing with the Arab Spring. Nowhere is this clearer than in the continuing debate over whether Brussels should establish official relations with the Muslim Brotherhood. What has prevented an objective appraisal of this question, in addition to a long-standing fear of Islamists, is that the Arab Spring has led many […]

Thirty years of globalization has propelled widespread economic growth across Southeast Asia. In recent decades, the number of people in the region living on less than $1.25 a day has dropped by half. Yet, these positive development trends are accompanied by a darker side of globalization: trafficking in drugs and small arms, piracy, human smuggling, the marketing of counterfeit goods and nuclear proliferation. The size and scope of these challenges threaten to undercut the remarkable gains of the past quarter-century. Preserving those gains will require collaboration between Southeast Asian governments, the identification of novel streams of security and development assistance […]

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Sri Lanka recently announced plans to close the Vavuniya displacement camp, which housed 300,000 people displaced during the conflict with the rebel Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE). In an email interview, Robert Muggah, a research fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the author of “Relocation Failures in Sri Lanka: A Short History of Internal Displacement,” discussed Sri Lanka’s post-conflict relocation process. WPR: What progress has Sri Lanka made in relocating its internally displaced persons? Robert Muggah: “Progress” depends on whom you ask. Relief agencies claim that roughly 190,000 displaced people have been voluntarily “relocated” […]