By Shastri Ramachandaran*
NEW DELHI (IDN) – Multi-party democracy was born in Nepal in 1991 – after a popular uprising forced an autocratic king to make way for a constitutional monarchy. This year, 21 summers after an interim coalition government presided over the Himalayan kingdom’s first multi-party elections, Nepal should have come of age as a democracy, as a republic.
Unfortunately, the nascent democracy never grew up. It remains a stunted, retarded caricature of electoral democracy with institutions such as parliament, the election commission and Supreme Court standing as tragic reminders of their irrelevance. The so-called ‘Republic of Nepal’ is bereft of life breath, namely, a constitution. There is no government, at least not a legitimate one.
By Eva Weiler | IDN-InDepth NewsReport
AMSTERDAM (IDN) – “With all combat troops scheduled to be withdrawn from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the negotiations taking place in Kabul on the presence and role of U.S. troops in Afghanistan beyond that point must include a plan for a Contingency Force as part of the troop drawdown,” according to experts.
“And the United States should take the lead in establishing this Contingency Force, either under the flag of NATO, or as a new coalition concerned with security and stability in Afghanistan in coming years,” say Norine MacDonald QC and Jorrit Kamminga in a paper titled ‘Preparing for the worst: A call for an Afghanistan Contingency Force’.
By Bernhard Schell
BAGHDAD (IDN) – Iraq has undergone drastic changes in the last ten years since the ‘regime change’, but the transition to democracy has failed to pave the way for development. Though the government announced a strategy for poverty reduction in 2009, the efforts, resources and follow-up measures have not been fetched noticeable results on the ground, according to the Iraqi Al Amal Association.
By Cillian Nolan* of Crisis Group
JAKARTA (IDN | Crisis Group Blogs) – The UN peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) is now in the final stages of its long-planned withdrawal. By the end of December, the only staff left will be packing up computers and dismantling the portable containers at its “Obrigado Barracks” headquarters. Following largely peaceful presidential and parliamentary elections earlier this year, Timorese are in confident spirits about the many challenges ahead. But after thirteen years of UN presence in the country, it is natural that there is some apprehension among some about security after the end of peace operations.
By Melissa M. Cyrill*
NEW DELHI (IDN | IDSA) – The last two years have witnessed a heady interplay of inter-state disputes and constant strategic manoeuvring, if not intrigue, in the South China Sea (SCS). Beyond anything else, it gives the world a sure glimpse of the possibility of future energy wars over oil and gas resources in this energy-rich area, which is moreover emerging as a hotbed of global power politics.
Understanding the South China Sea dispute thus involves a series of complex and interwoven technical, legal, economic and geographic claims, the most critical of which involves issues of territory and sovereignty.
By Martin Khor* | IDN-InDepth NewsAnalysis
GENEVA (IDN) – The annual UN climate conference concluded in Doha on December 8 with “low ambition” both in emission cuts by developed countries and funding for developing countries. Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) adopted many decisions, including on the Kyoto Protocol’s second commitment period in which developed countries committed to cut their emissions of greenhouse gases.
By Jaya Ramachandran
STOCKHOLM (IDN) – Germany is among the world’s largest arms exporters, though estimates of the magnitude of the country’s arms sales and of its ranking among arms traders differ. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Germany was the ﬁfth largest exporter of major conventional weapons in 2011 behind the USA, Russia, France and China.
The U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS) on the other hand ranks the country as the sixth largest arms exporter. The CRS estimates the ﬁnancial value of German arms deliveries in 2011 at $1.6 billion (in 2011 U.S. dollars), or approximately 4 per cent of global arms exports. This ranked Germany behind the USA, Russia, the UK, France and Italy.
By Bernadette Paolo*
WASHINGTON DC (IDN) – The people of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have long been savaged. Perhaps that is why the international outcry over the M23 rebels overtaking Goma and wreaking humanitarian devastation has been muted. Everyone has grown used to hearing about the violence that has become endemic in the DRC.
By Jayantha Dhanapala*
WASHINGTON DC (IDN) – The US Presidential Inauguration ceremony will be held in Washington DC on Monday, January 21, 2013.The official theme for the 2013 inauguration is “Faith in America’s Future”. For many Americans, and indeed for many international observers, that faith is in desperate need of reaffirmation not only because of the domestic economic crisis, and the political paralysis in the US Congress over its solution, but also because of the decline of the US’s political power and influence internationally.