Honduras, the perfect storm?

 

In January 2016, the government of Honduras and the Organization of American States (OAS) formalized the creation of a new international organ to help fight corruption in this country. The Mission of Support Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH, in the Spanish acronym) is a welcome step. However, it is very early to estimate whether it will be able to make a positive contribution to solving the daunting challenges facing justice and security in this country.

Honduras experiences what can be called a “perfect storm” of interrelated problems: violence perpetrated by diverse actors (gangs, drug traffickers); human rights abuses, in the context of a steady militarization of public security; impunity; corruption at the highest institutional levels, and widespread poverty and inequality. For years, it has been the most violent country in the world, with an average rate of 90 homicides per 100,000 people according to estimates by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the World Bank, which is significantly higher than the international average intentional homicide rate of 6.2 per 100,000 people.

This article about Honduras was published February 29, 2016, on the website of Sustainable Security. Click here if you wish to read the complete text.

Mediation with Non-Conventional Armed Groups? Experiences from Latin America

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My Policy Brief as a Fellow of the Global South Unit for Mediation GSUM, BRICS Policy Center, is just out.  This Brief addresses mediation initiatives with criminal and non-conventional groups in Latin America, against the background of the theory and practice of international mediation. Exploring case studies in El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia and Mexico, it tries to illuminate the possibilities and challenges of applying traditional conflict resolution strategies to hybrid and non-conventional forms of violence.

The report addresses the following questions: How has mediation with criminal groups been conducted in selected Latin American countries? What combinations of actors have been involved? What factors have affected the outcomes of those processes? What lessons can be drawn regarding mediating criminal and hybrid agendas elsewhere?

The document can be accessed and dowloaded in the website of GSUM, here.

Mi Policy Brief, como Fellow de la Global South Unit for Mediation – GSUM en el BRICS Policy Center, se acaba de publicar (en inglés). “Mediation with Non-Conventional Armed Groups? Experiences from Latin America”, aborda iniciativas de mediación con grupos armados criminales y no convencionales (bandas, híbridos, narcotraficantes, vigilantes) teniendo como fondo la teoría y la práctica de la mediación internacional. Los casos de estudio son El Salvador, Honduras, Colombia y México.

El informe aborda algunas cuestiones esenciales: ¿Es posible la mediación con grupos criminales y no-convencionales? ¿Cómo se ha hecho en América Latina? ¿Qué actores han participado? ¿Qué factores han influido en las dinámicas y los resultados de esos procesos de mediación? ¿Cuáles son las lecciones de cara a futuros intentos, en América Latina y en otros lugares?

El documento se puede ver y descargar en la web de GSUM, aquí.

 

Book Review – Digital Diplomacy: Conversations on Innovation in Foreign Policy

Digital Diplomacy explores what it means to be innovative in foreign policy and diplomacy. Digital and social media technologies are having an impact on everyday life and also on diplomatic practice, notably on the ways governments engage foreign publics. While the fundamentals of diplomacy may remain the same, and the traditional tools are by no means discarded, diplomacy in today’s world is more public, participative and global due to the emergence of new communication platforms. Governments can reach wider, even global audiences, and non-state actors and even individuals are empowered by instant communications, in a process that creates both opportunities and challenges.

Tom Fletcher, the British Ambassador to Beirut, underlines the importance of these trends when he states in the Preface to this volume that “in the ten years since 9/11, that world has been transformed more by American geeks in dorms than by Al Qaeda operatives in caves” (p. xi). The result is the creation of a new context for diplomacy in which “it matters less what a minister or official says is our policy on an issue than what users of Twitter, Facebook, Google, etc., decide it is.”

This review has been published by the Global Policy Journal. Click here to continue reading.

 

El Salvador’s gang truce: a lost opportunity?

Violence is escalating again in El Salvador. March 2015 was the most violent month in over a decade, and the government is preparing army and police battalions to fight the gangs. These trends mark the definitive end of a process which started in 2012 with a truce between the two main gangs—MS-13 and Barrio 18—and evolved into a more complex and multidimensional approach to reducing violence, with a degree of international support.

The process was complicated, imperfect and subject to public controversy, but it stands as one of the most significant examples worldwide of an effort to reduce violence through negotiation with criminal groups. With an annual homicide rate of 60 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in the world. It is also a notable example of the trend towards non-conventional, hybrid and criminal violence.

You can read the full article in Sustainable Security and Open Democracy. Thank you!

Book Review: International Mediation

International Mediation, by Paul F. Diehl and J. Michael Greig. Cambridge / Malden: Polity, 2012. 224 pp, £45 hardcover 978-0-7456-5330-3, £16.80 paperback 978-0-7456-5331-0, £11.99 e-book 978-0-7456-6144-5

The profile and use of international mediation as a tool to resolve conflicts has risen in last decades – particularly since the end of the Cold War. The range of actors involved includes states, multilateral organizations such as the UN and the African Union, non-governmental actors at diverse levels, and new bodies such as the Friends of Mediation in the UN General Assembly. As the practice evolves, a growing academic literature on international mediation addresses actors and their tools and strategies, trends, modalities of mediation, and contextual factors that influence the process.

J. Michael Greig and Paul F. Diehl are professors of Political Science with previous important contributions to research on international mediation as a conflict management tool. In this volume they draw upon an extensive review of the relevant contemporary literature, data analysis about mediation, and case studies of historical examples including Bosnia, Burundi, Northern Ireland and the Middle East. The result is a concise but systematic review of international mediation in interstate and civil conflicts. The definition used here is based in the distinguished feature of “the introduction of an outside party into the negotiation process between the disputing sides with, at least partially, the aim of producing a settlement” between them (p. 2). A critical element is its voluntary character, which makes mediation highly dependent on the nature and circumstances of the conflict and its actors.

You can continue reading in the Global Policy Journal.