As the father of 2-year-old twin daughters, I often find myself thinking about how international politics and foreign policy will play out across their lives. Of course, parents aren’t the only “institutions” that wonder about the possibility of forecasting and shaping the future. Governments, international organizations and companies make huge investments of both lives and money based on expectations with time horizons of 10, 20 and even 50 years. Nimitz-class aircraft carriers have been in service for more than 30 years and may serve for another 40. The United States is currently wrestling, in a very public manner, with the […]

Over the past several decades, responses to major disasters have become an important responsibility of the international community. In that time, the global disaster-response system has evolved to cope with the increased human and material consequences of geophysical events. Nevertheless, shortcomings of the current system have become increasingly apparent and must be addressed in order to strengthen it. Much of the discussion of how to do so contrasts centralized global solutions with decentralized regional solutions. To get a better idea of the relative merits of both approaches, it is necessary first to understand the key components and overall architecture of […]

On Dec. 26, 2004, a massive earthquake shook Aceh, Indonesia, sending tsunamis racing across the Indian Ocean to shatter communities as far away as Somalia. Many of the countries struck by the destructive waves were embroiled in major, often-violent, political conflicts at the time. Indonesia’s Aceh province and Sri Lanka, the two worst-hit locations, had each experienced a decades-long internal conflict that had taken thousands of lives. At the time, many wondered whether the tsunami disaster would affect the conflicts, potentially bringing peace. Would violent means be set aside to achieve a common humanitarian purpose of helping people and communities […]

Last week’s discussion at the U.N. Security Council on the security implications of climate change was an important step in the right direction. This is only the second time that the subject, which may turn out to be the defining issue for global security in the 21st century, has made it onto the agenda of the U.N. body charged with maintaining international peace and security. The discussion’s importance is limited, however, since the real path to addressing the security implications of climate change lies outside the council. The special session, initiated by Germany, focused specifically on the council’s role in […]

Global Insider: Rebel Disarmament

An ongoing effort by the Central African Republic to disarm rebel groups highlights the prominent role that disarming former combatants plays in peace agreements. In an email interview, Robert Muggah, research director of the Small Arms Survey and a research fellow at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, discussed the process of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration. WPR: How significant are disarmament initiatives in post-conflict scenarios, and are there any scenarios in which they are counterproductive? Robert Muggah: Disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) is currently a fixture of the stabilization and peacebuilding landscape. The vast majority of the roughly […]

This week, Alain Le Roy, U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, announced that he will stand down in August. Known as a generous man with a healthy distaste for the U.N.’s bureaucratic politics, the former French diplomat will have served for three years. Over that time, he has helped navigate U.N. operations through tough times, from a disaster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to an unlikely success in Côte d’Ivoire. When Le Roy joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s team in the summer of 2008, he faced multiple bureaucratic and operational challenges. His predecessor, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, had worked with Kofi […]