Last March, in a remote monastery in China’s southwestern province of Sichuan, a young Tibetan monk lit the spark that started a quiet but dramatic new revolt against Chinese rule in Tibet. The 20-year-old Phuntsog set himself on fire and later died of his wounds. His death subsequently triggered a wave of self-immolations among Tibetans, which has persisted despite China’s blunt efforts to smother the largely silent uprising. Compared to the boisterous protests unfolding throughout the world, the actions in the tiny town of Aba (Ngaba in Tibetan) near the border of the so-called Tibetan Autonomous Region are receiving minimal […]

Global Insider: EU Roma Policy

Anti-Roma riots erupted in Bulgaria last month, following a death linked to an alleged Roma crime boss. In an email interview, Martin Kovats, a special adviser to the European Commission on Roma issues, discussed the European Union’s Roma policy. WPR: What are the main areas of concern regarding the Roma in Europe, from the perspective of both human rights advocates and national governments? Martin Kovats: For human rights advocates, the persistence of disadvantage among and discrimination against the Roma raises questions about the utility of rights to deliver social change. National governments have a range of perspectives, as the political […]

Recently, authorities in Myanmar have made a series of moves that some observers have interpreted as signaling a new course under the government of President Thein Sein, elected in March. Prominent among these shifts are the suspension of the Chinese-sponsored Myitsone dam project on the Irrawaddy River and an amnesty that has freed more than 6,000 prisoners, including at least 200 political prisoners. Yet, with these moves, the government seems to be searching more for ways to ease China’s political and economic influence in the country than for avenues of democratic reform. On Sept. 30, Thein Sein announced in parliament […]

Global Insider: Brazil’s Peacekeeping Operations

Earlier this month, Brazil sent 300 troops to join UNIFIL, the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon. In an email interview, Kai Michael Kenkel, a professor at the Institute of International Relations at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, discussed Brazil’s peacekeeping operations. WPR: What is the history of Brazil’s involvement in international peacekeeping missions? Kai Michael Kenkel: Brazil is a strong supporter of the U.N. and started participating very early in U.N. peace operations, notably the U.N. Special Committee on the Balkans in 1947 and the U.N. Emergency Force (UNEF) in 1956 following the Suez crisis, which was […]

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 […]

In June 2011, Ollanta Humala was elected president of Peru after campaigning on a platform of change. Significant for Peru, but also for South America more broadly, Humala advocated for moderate, not revolutionary, change — calling for a better and fairer distribution of the fruits of Peru’s impressive economic growth and for lower levels of corruption and crime. That kind of program won’t entail upending the prevailing system. It will, however, require serious institutional reform. The Peruvian case dramatically illustrates wider trends in South America, where sustained economic growth and sound macroeconomic policymaking in recent years have coexisted with continuing […]

One of the subjects dominating discussions of Latin American politics this year has been the June 30 revelation that Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is being treated for cancer. Very little is known about his illness, other than the not-so-encouraging news that he has received four, possibly five, chemotherapy treatments, most them in an undisclosed location in Cuba. A bombshell accompanied by such secrecy has raised speculation about the future of Venezuelan politics. It seems that all scenarios, ranging from Chávez’s death to his full recovery, are possible, which makes the presidential election scheduled for October 2012 one of the most […]

MONROVIA, Liberia — In her 2006 inauguration speech, with Liberia still reeling from civil wars that had lasted from 1989 to 2003 and killed more than 250,000 people, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf referred to a greeting children here use when their fathers return home from work — or, as is common in Liberia, from trying to find it: “Papa na come.” “Well, too many times, for too many families, Papa comes home with nothing,” said Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected female head of state. “We will work to ensure that when our children say ‘Papa na come,’ Papa will come home joyfully […]

One of the more curious aspects of the popular revolts unfolding in the Middle East is how much better monarchies have fared in the turmoil than have other unelected regimes. The region has long been ruled by a wide assortment of kings, emirs, retired military men, successful coup leaders and their sons. All of them came to power without the benefit of true democratic elections, even if they occasionally summoned their people to the polls. Despite that crucial similarity, the uprisings commonly known as the Arab Spring have followed remarkably different paths for monarchical regimes than they have in countries […]

Global Insider: Sri Lanka’s Post-Conflict Relocation Process

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” […]

Report: Serious Communications Gaps at Camps for Somali Refugees are Putting Lives at Risk

Serious communication gaps between the humanitarian sector and refugees in Dadaab, Kenya, are increasing refugee suffering and putting lives at risk, according to a new joint assessment report released by Internews, an international media development organization. Internews led the assessment and produced this video.