There are probably few French elections in recent times that have captured quite this level of international attention, particularly in the Anglosphere. Certainly, the stakes are high, as two candidates with vastly different views on French identity, French values, and the role of France in the world square off against each other. Much of the attention is of course being driven by the electoral experiences of the United Kingdom and United States in 2016, wherein both countries – albeit in considerably different circumstances – took hard turns to the right, with campaigns driven by divisive rhetoric and populist platforms. As political turmoil continues in America, and as Britain faces potentially painful Brexit negotiations, the question on the minds of many observers is, ‘could it happen in France as well?’
Published April 5, 2017 | By J. J. Messner*
The Fund for Peace is delighted to announce the release of a new guidance handbook on Use of Security Forces: Assessing and Managing Risks and Impacts, published by the International Finance Corporation and co-authored with The Fund for Peace and Monkey Forest Consulting. This Good Practice Handbook has been developed for IFC clients and other private sector companies and their consultants. The Handbook provides practical, project-level guidance for companies to better understand and implement the requirements outlined in Performance Standard 4. Chapters focus on risk assessment, managing private security, managing the relationship with public security, preparing a security management plan, and assessing allegations or incidents related to security personnel.
Published March 22, 2017 | By J. J. Messner
Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, commented in a March 19 interview on Meet the Press, "Could I, as a budget director, look at the coal miner in West Virginia and say, 'I want you please to give some of your money to the federal government so that I can give it to the National Endowment for the Arts?'” This quote boiled down the general opposition not only to funding the arts, but also to funding diplomacy, aid, and development. It assumes, perhaps accurately, that the archetypal “coal miner in West Virginia”, symbolic to this argument, would ask himself “what’s in it for me?” when it comes to the spending of his tax dollars.
Launched in 1996, the Roundtable was the first forum designed for multinational businesses and mainstream human rights organizations to discuss issues of common concern in an atmosphere of mutual respect, trust, and confidentiality. Today, the Roundtable focuses exclusively on the extractive industry, although the lessons learned and case studies of the Roundtable provide value to all sectors. The Roundtable is an invaluable resource for corporations and NGOs to work together to promote sustainable development.
Using the information shared in the local dialogues, the July 2016 roundtable provided a forum for representatives from the four regions to voice concerns and issues at a national level. It also represent-ed an important opportunity for different communities, government stakeholders and mining, oil and gas companies to connect and share lessons learned and best practices. To provide a more national-level perspective, were stakeholders from the Government of Ghana including the Petroleum Commission, Ministry of Justice and Attorney General, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), the Ghana Army, Navy and Police, and Ministry of the Interior.
On the 28th July, 2016 the Fund For Peace (FFP) in partnership with the West Africa Network for Peace Building-Ghana (WANEP-Ghana), staged the first national VPs Roundtable in Accra. Staged as part of a program funded by the U.S. Department of State, this roundtable follows a series of local trainings and dialogues in four regions in Ghana over the past 12 months. The national event included representatives from four community areas affected by oil, gas and mining operations, including the Asutifi District in the Brong-Ahafo region, Adansi West District in the Ashanti region, the Talensi District in the Upper East region and six coastal Districts in the Western region.
FFP and WANEP-Ghana delivered local dialogues to discuss VPs-related issues in mining, and oil/gas affected communities. A total of 73 participants took part across the four regions including the Minerals Commission, the Ghana Police Service, Ghana Navy, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), traditional leadership, companies, local media (Ghana News Agency), the District/Metropolitan Assembly, Ghana National Petroleum Commission, private security providers, and religious bodies.
The Fragile States Index, produced by The Fund for Peace, is a critical tool in highlighting not only the normal pressures that all states experience, but also in identifying when those pressures are pushing a state towards the brink of failure. By highlighting pertinent issues in weak and failing states, The Fragile States Index—and the social science framework and software application upon which it is built—makes political risk assessment and early warning of conflict accessible to policy-makers and the public at large.
Published June 27, 2016 | By J.J. Messner
As the civil war in Syria enters its sixth year, its effects continue to wreak havoc not only on its own war-ravaged population, but also upon countries farther afield. In the 2016 Fragile States Index, Syria was again one of the most worsened countries year-on-year, catapulting them into the list of the top ten most fragile countries on the planet. To date, thousands of Syrians have made treacherous and uncertain journeys across land and sea to the relative safety of Europe, and it is likely that many more will continue to do so. The countries of Europe – particularly those situated on a trajectory between Turkey and Germany and Scandinavia – have found themselves overwhelmed by the influx, and have responded to these pressures with attempts to close previously open borders. At the same time, ultra-nationalistic, right-wing, anti-immigrant political parties in multiple countries across the continent have taken the opportunity to politically manipulate the crisis and further destabilize domestic politics.
Published June 24, 2016 | By J. J. Messner
As the dust settles on the historic Brexit vote and its effects, it is easy to focus on the near term, visible side effects. Even in the unlikely event that Britain manages to negotiate an association deal that is as good as being in the European Union, it will now no longer have a voice in that Union. There are also murmurings of a second independence referendum that could see Scotland, which voted overwhelmingly to “Remain,” finally leave the United Kingdom and rejoin the European Union, thereby ripping Britain apart. Add to that the ramifications for Northern Ireland, or the renewed Spanish questioning of the sovereignty of Gibraltar. The immediate crash of the Pound and the FTSE forebode financial turmoil to come as trade between the UK and its neighbors is threatened with a significantly less liberal trading regime, which even in a best case scenario will see transfer costs increase. Further, there will be much uncertainty regarding the future ability of millions of British citizens to live and work easily across 27 other countries – or that of millions of Europeans who attend British universities or staff its hospitality, trade, and financial sectors.