Posts by: Alex DeWaal

How Not to Help Somalia

On October 4, 2013 By

A former prime minister of Somalia, Abdiweli Ali, tells a story that demonstrates the pervasive influence of al-Shabab, even in areas ostensibly controlled by the Somali Federal Government (SFG) and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM). Al-Shabab collects taxes – reportedly as much as the government, and certainly more efficiently. This includes a payroll [...]

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A nugget of hard science is crystallizing at the center of peace studies. A steady accretion of scientific studies in microbiology, genetics and behavioral science, is demonstrating links between (for example) early childhood nurturing and levels of aggressiveness or sociability in adulthood. Prominent among this research is the work of Prof. Michael Meaney of [...]

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Syria: A View from Africa

On September 11, 2013 By

African views on Syria are well worth considering, and the letter signed by 43 members of the Africa Forum—former heads of state and leaders of international institutions—should be compulsory reading: STATEMENT OF THE AFRICA FORUM ON THE SITUATION IN SYRIA.

       The central point made [...]

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Syria: Law and Diplomacy

On September 8, 2013 By

Our Oped in the New York Times last week on Syria raised many questions. In this blog I will continue to address those issues, that could not properly be elaborated in the original piece because of the need for brevity. There are also some issues that have arisen since.


First, the issue of [...]

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Punishment, protection and peace must be joined. None can be achieved in isolation. All require a strong international coalition. Syria needs a political process, and that demands that belligerents and all regional actors meet to set the terms of a solution. Force might still be required at that point, but it would at least serve a political process instead of standing in for it.

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Sir William Harcourt MP, contributed the following thoughts on military humanitarian intervention 150 years ago. In my view, his definition of intervention has not been bettered, and his advice is as sound today as when he advised Britain not to intervene on the American civil war.


W.V. Harcourt, “A Letter on the Perils of [...]

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