Posts by: Alex DeWaal

In the battle of wills for Somalia’s future, the terrorist group al-Shabab struck a cruel and potentially lasting blow on Oct. 14. Not only did it kill more than 300 people in the largest terrorist attack in the country’s history; it shook the confidence of the Somali government and its domestic and international backers that they can stay the course in rebuilding the war-torn East African nation.

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Is there an Islamic path to state-building? Historically, Islam has provided many of the tools needed by rulers looking to institutionalize their authority: a lawbook that extends to regulating commerce and diplomacy, a shared language, and an international cadre of trained jurists and administrators.

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The sanctions were maintained because the Sudanese government has an extremely poor record on human rights and democracy. But if sanctions are to serve as any kind of incentive for the government to change its behavior, they will only work if they are credible—that is, if they are lifted when the government does what is asked of it. If the sanctioning country changes the criteria every time the sanctions come up for review, they cease to be an instrument of policy and simply become a signal of condemnation.

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Brexidiocy

On October 5, 2017 By

One of the overlooked aspects of Brexit is that it requires a professional civil service to implement a set of policies that every one of them knows to be comprehensively wrong. It is too much to ask them to implement the impossible with passion, commitment and creativity. It is particularly so as the intricacies of Brexit will mean that Britain’s civil servants can do little else for a decade. While the EU and other responsible members of the global community are grappling with global issues such as climate change, tax justice and employment in the robotic era, Britain will be uselessly chewing through an avalanche of the legal minutiae of the world’s most complex divorce proceedings, which in the best case scenario, will minimize the damage to the status quo.

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Background Paper for African Union Annual Mediators’ Retreat

This paper examines the position of Africa in the current world turmoil, focusing on the role played by multilateral norms, institutions and mechanisms in promoting peace and security and other international public goods. The multilateral world order is currently in turmoil, with leading powers—notably the United States—adopting […]

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Multilateralism 101

On September 27, 2017 By

the bar of expectations was set so low that well-informed opinion columnists argued that the damage to multilateralism was not in fact as bad as might have been feared. Worse, they seemed to accept the Trump Administration’s definition of multilateralism, which amounts to no more than issue-by-issue cooperation among sovereign states in pursuit of their separate national interests.

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