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Josef Korbel School of International StudiesSié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy

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April News

Year of the Woman? Not So Fast

April 16, 2019

Psychology Today - Thanks to the record-breaking number of women elected to Congress in 2018 and the success of the #MeToo movement in taking down many powerful male predators, some critics have called 2018 the Year of the Woman.


25 Years After the Genocide – Quota, Power and Women in Rwanda

April 12, 2019

The Wire - April 7, 2019, marked the 25-year anniversary of the start of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis, a brutal conflict where 800,000 people were massacred in 100 days, according to the UN estimates. President Paul Kagame, who has led Rwanda since 2000, lit a remembrance flame in the capital Kigali. "In 1994, there was no hope, only darkness. Today, light radiates from this place," Kagame said. "Rwanda became a family, once again. The arms of our people, intertwined, constitute the pillars of our nation. We hold each other up."


One Outcome of Rwanda Genocide 25 Years Ago: More Women in Parliament

April 8, 2019

VOA News - The genocide in Rwanda 25 years ago left an estimated 800,000 people, mostly Tutsis, dead. Since then, Rwanda has made progress in recovering from the devastation, growing its economy with GDP growth of six to eight percent a year since 2003, according to the World Bank. Also, Rwanda now has the highest percentage of female parliamentarians in the world - more than 60 percent.


"I Don't Belong Here": Understanding Hostile Spaces

April 2, 2019

Journal of Women, Politics and Policy - This panel offered different perspectives from people from marginalized and underrepresented groups in political science and in academia more generally. Panelists spoke from their experiences as Black and Latina women, LGBTQ,
low-income people, religious minorities like Jewish and Muslim people, immigrants, and folks who have experienced systematic discrimination in the discipline both because they exist at the busy intersections of these identities and others and because legalistic responses to discrimination do not typically provide necessary workplace remedies for industry-wide problems.


#MeToo What Kind of Politics? Panel Notes

April 2, 2019

Journal of Women, Politics and Policy - This panel offered different perspectives on the #MeToo hashtag, the campaign/movement it ignited, and the general context in which women decide to come out with their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. In general, the panelists were very critical of the #MeToo "movement" because it is focused on individual experiences of sexual harassment without challenging or questioning the structures—socioeconomic and political—that facilitate sexual harassment in the first place.


From Joseph Kony to Nile Perch: Complex Links Hook Armed Conflict to Fisheries

April 1, 2019

New Security Beat - In "Africa's smallest war," both Kenya and Uganda lay claim to Migingo Island, a tiny island in the waters of Lake Victoria. While the claims are over the island, the conflict is about something else entirely: Lates niloticus, also known as Nile perch, a tasty white fish that swims in the waters surrounding the island. The fish forms the backbone of the Lake Victoria economy but is increasingly hard to come by along the lakeshore. Catches are in decline, incomes are dropping, and the Ugandan government is taking increasingly harsh, militarized steps to help revive the fishery.


March 2019 News

Rwanda's economic growth has given its strong state even more power

March 26, 2019 

The Nerve Africa - Rwanda has emerged as a model for economic development. The country has taken great strides just 25 years since its horrific genocide. But at the same time, the government under President Paul Kagame has been widely criticised for its authoritarian tactics and use of violence against those who oppose it.

Rwanda stands out for many good things. It has the highest number of women in politics anywhere in the world. More than half the members of Parliament in the country's lower house are female.

Rwanda also has an impressive technology track record. The country is known for the innovative use of technology to deliver essential services like blood. It also has extensive internet infrastructure, which covers over 95% of the country. And of course, Rwanda also continues to record impressive economic growth.But there are reasons to be cognisant of the wider context.


The Mueller Report and Global Contentious Politics

March 26, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - As we begin to digest Attorney General William Barr's summary of the Mueller Report's findings, one thing is crystal clear: allies of Putin, private companies, and other interested parties outside the United States sought, and had, influence over US elections. Henry Farrell and Abe Newman argue in Of Privacy and Power that we had better get used to this. US domestic politics is not its own separate sphere as academics often assume. Instead, it can be deeply affected by political strategies of non-citizens quite removed from US territory. Far beyond the transnational activists that Keck and Sikkink wrote about, there is growing evidence that many, many transnational links are impacting political struggles as political actors can (as Farrell and Newman say in a related article) "weaponize interdependence".


How to Think About Nuclear Crises

March 2019

Texas National Security Review - How dangerous are nuclear crises? What dynamics underpin how they unfold? Recent tensions between North Korea and the United States have exposed disagreement among scholars and analysts regarding these questions. We reconcile these apparently contradictory views by showing the circumstances in which different models of nuclear crises should be expected to hold. Nuclear crises should be expected to have different dynamics depending on two variables: the incentives to use nuclear weapons first in a crisis and the extent to which escalation is controllable by the leaders involved. Variation across these two dimensions generates four types of nuclear crises: "staircase," "stability-instability," "brinkmanship," and "firestorm" crises. These models correspond to well-established ways of thinking about nuclear crises, but no one model is "correct." Different models should be expected to apply in different cases, and nuclear crises should therefore be interpreted differently according to which model is most appropriate. We demonstrate the utility of our framework using the cases of the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, 1999 Kargil War, 2017 Doklam Crisis, and ongoing U.S.-North Korean tensions.


Rwanda's economic growth has given its strong state even more power

March 25, 2019 

The Conversation - Rwanda has emerged as a model for economic development. The country has taken great strides just 25 years since its horrific genocide. But at the same time the government under President Paul Kagame has been widely criticised for its authoritarian tactics and use of violence against those who oppose it.

Rwanda stands out for many good things. It has the highest number of women in politics anywhere in the world. More than half the members of Parliament in the country's lower house are female.

Rwanda also has an impressive technology track record. The country is known for the innovative use of technology to deliver essential services like blood. It also has extensive internet infrastructure, which covers over 95% of the country. And of course, Rwanda also continues to record impressive economic growth.

But there are reasons to be cognisant of the wider context.


Women's political inclusion in Kenya's devolved political system

March 20, 2019

Journal of East African Studies - Kenya's 2010 constitutional reforms devolved the political system and included a quota designed to secure a minimum threshold of women in government. While the 2017 elections yielded the country's highest proportion of women in government in history via both elected and appointed positions, many political entities still fell short of the new gender rule, leaving them in noncompliance with the constitution.


Tricia Olsen has been awarded a Fulbright for studying economic development and peacebuilding in Colombia at Pontifical Javeriana University.

March 16, 2019


On how Mehdi Hasan caught Erik Prince in a lie

March 16, 2019

Al Jazeera - On March 15, Mehdi Hasan interviewed Erik Prince on the Al Jazeera show Head to Head. Much as the show's title suggests, Hasan is a hard-hitting questioner eager for that "got you" moment. Hasan was well prepared with Prince's congressional testimony in hand and appears to have caught Prince in some double talk about an August 3, 2016 meeting at Trump Tower (with George Nader, Joel Zamel, Steven Miller, and Donald Trump Jr). In the interview, Prince, after he mistakenly asserted he had told Congress about the meeting, also disclosed what the meeting was about: Iran policy.


Temper the Treaty Fever: Why a Treaty Won't Solve the Business and Human Rights Conundrum

March 13, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - Human rights advocates, observers, and policy leaders have made great strides toward creating a treaty for business and human rights. In October 2018, the UN's intergovernmental working group shared an initial draft (the "Zero Draft"), which was discussed by over 400 civil society organizations, 94 state representatives, and business leaders in Geneva. Yet, an established body of literature documents the ineffectiveness of treaties, in particular around respect for human rights. 


Top 12 Books: International Women's Day

March 8, 2019

Medium - 'As a country transitions from violent conflict to "peace", men and women often have different visions for the postwar future. Marie E. Berry's well-researched book is a comparative study not only of the ways in which women responded to the wars in Rwanda and Bosnia, but also of what happened to the women and their visions for the future after the war officially ended.'


Ethnicity, nonviolent protest, and lethal repression in Africa

March 5, 2019

Journal of Peace Research - Why do governments use deadly force against unarmed protesters? The government's threat perception may be a function of the mobilization potential of the opposition and/or the size of the ruling elite's support coalition. Given the high salience of ethnicity in African politics, governments that depend on small ethnic coalitions will see peaceful protests as more threatening, as the opposition may be able to draw on larger numbers of potential dissidents and excluded groups.


Despite its Advances, the Colombian Peace Agreement Undermines Gender Equality Goals

March 5, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - In 2016 the government of Colombia signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). The Peace Agreement represents an important threshold as it puts an end to more than 50 years of struggle between the Colombian state and the FARC. At the same time, this document is the most gender-sensitive peace agreement to date. This achievement was possible, in part, because of the work of feminist activists and women's organizations that pressured both the government and the FARC to include women.


Introducing the 2019 Public Impact Fellows

March 4, 2019

University of Denver - Deborah Avant and Marie Berry chosen for the 2019 cohort of DU Impact Fellows.


The Growing Signs of the Fragility and Resilience of Liberal Democracy

March 1, 2019

International Centre for Defence and Security - In order to better understand the resilience of a democratic regime and its defining and characteristic features, we need to define what resilience is. Resilience comes from the Latin resiliens, which literally means "rebounding". This shows that the basis of the concept of resilience is the capability of a strained body to recover its size and shape after deformation caused especially by compressive stress (Merriam-Webster dictionary). In the 2017 IDEA report, Timothy Sisk describes the resilience of democracy as "the properties of a political system to cope, survive and recover from complex challenges and crises that represent stresses or pressures that can lead to a systemic failure."


February 2019 News

Flying Blind in Crisis Time: The US Strategic and Human Foreign Policy Deficit

February 28, 2019

Duck of Minerva - This week has seen a number of key events and crises in global politics that have made crystal clear once again the careening mess that is US foreign policy under the current administration. The Trump administration has no real overarching strategy—the argument that allies in Europe and elsewhere should bear more of the costs of their defense was not articulated as part of any coherent broader vision—and gutting of the diplomatic corps has left the US devoid of expertise and key actors to confront crises when they arise.


Religious violence is on the rise. What can faith-based communities do about it?

February 25, 2019

World Economic Forum - Religious violence is undergoing a revival. The past decade has witnessed a sharp increase in violent sectarian or religious tensions. These range from Islamic extremists waging global jihad and power struggles between Sunni and Shia Muslims in the Middle East to the persecution of Rohingya in Myanmar and outbreaks of violence between Christians and Muslims across Africa. According to Pew, in 2018 more than a quarter of the world's countries experienced a high incidence of hostilities motivated by religious hatred, mob violence related to religion, terrorism, and harassment of women for violating religious codes.


Women marched for Korean reconciliation. Washington is in our way

February 25, 2019

The Washington Post - In 2015, we were among 30 women from around the world who came together to cross the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), the infamous strip of land that has separated North and South Korea since a "temporary" cease-fire halted the Korean War 65 years ago.


Julia Macdonald will be the highlighted speaker at the Denver Council on Foreign Relation's dinner talk on March 6, "A New Nuclear Revolution? A Discussion of Contemporary Challenges to the Nuclear Order"

Feburary 25, 2019


"Behind Bars and Bargains: New Findings in Transitional Justice in Emerging Democracies"

February 24, 2019

International Studies Quarterly - The global transitional justice tool kit—involving the use of criminal prosecutions, amnesties, and other mechanisms to address past human rights abuse—has become a primary means for thwarting future human rights violations and consolidating democracy. Nevertheless, evidence on the consequences of transitional justice remains mixed and amenable to contradictory interpretations. Existing studies fail to adequately address issues of selection, the difference between short- and long-term effects of transitional justice mechanisms, and qualitative and quantitative differences in state practices. This article uses a new database of transitional justice mechanisms to address these concerns and test propositions from realist, constructivist, and holistic approaches to this set of policy issues.


Tricia Olsen, with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Oxford University, FLACSO-Mexico, and UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico), will present their work on media coverage of individuals who are disappeared in Mexico to journalists and academics in Mexico City on March 18-19, 2019

February 22, 2019


Tricia Olsen will be participating in the University of Connecticut's Business and Human Rights Roundtable on April 6, 2019

February 22, 2019


Oliver Kaplan was invited to join the Project Advisory Group (PAG) for the Managing Exits from Armed Conflict initiative of the United Nations University

February 22, 2019


Timothy Sisk received a Senior Fulbright fellowship in a special program on international peace and security at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo. The project he will be working on is, "Social Polarization in Electoral Processes: Precursor to Political Violence?"

February 21, 2019


You can now download the Private Security Events Database (PSED) researched and materialized by Deborah Avant and Sié Research Fellow, Kara Kingma Neu

February 21, 2019


The Future is a Moving Target: Predicting Political Instability

February 20, 2019

British Journal of Political Science - Previous research by Goldstone et al. (2010) generated a highly accurate predictive model of state-level political instability. Notably, this model identifies political institutions – and partial democracy with factionalism, specifically – as the most compelling factors explaining when and where instability events are likely to occur. This article reassesses the model's explanatory power and makes three related points: (1) the model's predictive power varies substantially over time; (2) its predictive power peaked in the period used for out-of-sample validation (1995–2004) in the original study and (3) the model performs relatively poorly in the more recent period.


What We Can Learn from Looking at Private Security Across Time and Space

February 19, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - We know a lot about private security from analyses of its use in individual instances. Case studies of Sierra Leone, Angola, Croatia, Iraq, and Afghanistan have yielded important insights relevant to governments or others that might hire private military and security companies (PMSCs) and those who operate around them. In the last 10 years or so, scholars have begun to collect data to examine the industry and its potential impacts. Thus far, the data has focused on contracts with PMSCs – in either Africa or failing states. As we discuss in our recent article, the Private Security Events Database (PSED) allows a broader scope, covering events involving PMSCs in three regions (Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia) from 1990-2012.


The Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative is now accepting nominations for their 2019 Summer Institute

February 14, 2019 

Sié Center - The Inclusive Global Leadership Initiative (IGLI) is pleased to invite nominations for our third annual Summer Institute, to be held in collaboration with the U.S. Institute of Peace from August 24-31, 2019, in Colorado and Washington, D.C. The 2019 Summer Institute will convene leading women-identifying activists from the front lines of movements to advance peace, justice, and human rights across the world. The Institute will offer these activists opportunities for training, networking, and learning on how to wage effective nonviolent movements for social change in their communities.


Battlefield Responses to New Technologies: Views from the Ground on Unmanned Aircraft

February 7, 2019

Security Studies - How do individuals on the battlefield respond to the introduction of new technologies? How will unmanned and increasingly autonomous technologies be received by ground combat personnel? In this paper we explore tactical-level perceptions of one particular technology—armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—by conducting a survey experiment of ground fires controllers. Our findings reveal that these personnel have strong behavioral reactions to the introduction of unmanned technology. Especially in situations with high risk to ground troops, we find a strong preference for manned aircraft with implications for the future use of UAVs and human–machine relationships in war. These results suggest the need to incorporate behavioral variables into future studies of military adoption and innovation and indicate that the future adoption of unmanned systems may be just as much about the "warm fuzzy" of trust as confidence in unmanned capabilities


Resisting Coca: How Communities Avoid Narco-economies

February 5, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - When armed conflicts involve illicit economies, they can create special risks for civilians. Not only may armed actors in these conflicts be more opportunistic and violent and less restrained, but the promise of economic rents also fosters competition over the civilian population and labor force. It can be difficult for communities to avoid these dynamics. After all, why resist when there is so much money to be made? And why face the danger of going up against murderous cartels and armed groups?


Sié Center, One Earth Future, and OEF Research Joint Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement 

February 2, 2019

The Sié Center, One Earth Future (OEF), and OEF Research are looking for postdoctoral candidates to staff an existing joint postdoctoral position. 



January 2019 News

Sié Center, One Earth Future, and Secure Fisheries Joint Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement

January 31, 2019

The Sié Center, One Earth Future (OEF), and Secure Fisheries are looking for postdoctoral candidates to staff an innovative joint postdoc position around conflict and fisheries.


Sié Center and Oxfam Joint Postdoctoral Fellowship Announcement 

January 31, 2019 

The Sié Center and Oxfam America are looking for exceptional postdoctoral candidates to staff an innovative joint postdoc around peace, security, and humanitarian action.


What One Company's Vanishing Act Tells Us About the Private Security Industry

January 31, 2019 

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism - Yesterday we published an investigation into the strange vanishing act of private security firm Sabre International Security - once one of the biggest contractors in US-occupied Iraq - and what happened to its Nepalese and Indian workforce when tragedy struck in Kabul in 2016.


Disappearing Rights: Women's Rights in the Age of Trump

January 31, 2019

Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution - Marie Berry is giving a talk at Christopher Newport University's Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. Her talk will be discussing women's and LGBT folks rights reporting under the Trump Administration.


The Private Security Events Database

January 30, 2019

Journal of Conflict Resolution - Since the 1990s, the private provision of military and security services has become a common feature of local, national, and transnational politics. The prevalence of private security has generated important questions about its consequences, but data to answer these questions are sparse. In this article, we introduce the Private Security Events Database (PSED) that traces the involvement of private military and security companies (PMSCs) in events in Africa, Latin America, and Southeast Asia from 1990 to 2012.


When do ties bind? Foreign fighters, social embeddedness, and violence against civilians

January 30, 2019

Journal of Peace Research - How do foreign fighters affect civilian victimization in the civil wars they join? Scholars of civil war have gone to great lengths to explain why states and insurgent groups victimize civilians, but they have not explicitly examined the impact of foreign combatants. Furthermore, while contemporary conventional wisdom attaches an overwhelmingly negative connotation to foreign fighters, history shows that the behavior of those who travel to fight in wars far from home varies significantly, especially when it comes to interacting with local populations.


Global Research Hubs tackle world's toughest challenges

January 22, 2019

UK Research and Innovation - Marie Berry is part of a collaborative research team that was awarded a grant under the UK Research and Innovation's Gender, Justice, and Security Hub housed at the London School of Economics. 


The Elusive 'New Nepal': Democratisation, Ethnic Politics and Social Contract-making in a Plural Society

January 22, 2019

Resilient Social Contracts - Nepal's decade-long process from 2005 to 2015 of ending its civil war through a comprehensive peace agreement, constitution-making and overall democratisation of the state portend a 'New Nepal' social contract to upend centuries of exclusive rule and a hierarchically ranked society. This paper considers how the newfound social contract has been forged and the ways in which a sustainable contract remain elusive.


Friday News Roundup- International

January 18, 2019

NPR - This week, the American military confirmed that two service members, one government contractor and one civilian affiliated with the Pentagon had been killed in a suicide bombing in Syria.


Q&A: Ahead of the Marade and Women's March, DU Professor Discusses Power of Marches

January 17, 2019

University of Denver - Political participation is not only an American tradition, but also a Pioneer tradition embraced by students of varied political persuasions. In 1968, for example, DU students protested the presidential run of Alabama Gov. George Wallace. In 1970, they joined a statewide student strike in protest of the Kent State shootings, the invasion of Cambodia and the Bobby Seale trial.


Resisting Democratic Erosion in Latin America and Beyond

January 15, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - The dawn of 2019 saw Latin America's democratic crisis continue and deepen. Most prominently, New Year's Day saw far-right former military officer Jair Bolsonaro sworn in as President of Brazil. Bolsonaro immediately acted to consolidate power; curb the independence of NGOs; undercut government efforts to expand educational access and protect human rights; open up Amazonian lands to development despite indigenous objections; and give security forces free rein. Bolsonaro has already dispatched the military domestically. This could begin an expanded military role in Brazil's domestic politics and security, a worrying prospect given the country's history of dictatorship.


Sié Chéou-Kang Center Research Project on Ethical Approaches to Policy Engagement was awarded a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York 

January 10, 2019 

Sié Center - Carnegie Corporation of New York has awarded a philanthropic grant of $500,000 to the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for a project titled "Rigor, Relevance, and Responsibility: Promoting Ethical Approaches to Policy Engagement."

As scholars of international relations become more involved in policy debates and actively participate in the policy process, the importance of exploring the ethical dimensions of policy engagement increases. "Academics in the field of international relations find themselves in a difficult moment," says Cullen Hendrix, Director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center. "Many face mounting pressure and inducements to engage with policymakers, and many are working to facilitate constructive academic-policy engagement. Yet, academics receive little training about the ethical considerations these activities engender. Our program will develop knowledge around, and inform the practice of, responsible engagement so that future generations of academics can engage in the policy world with confidence and clarity. We are grateful to Carnegie Corporation of New York for funding support that will enable us to carry out this important work."


Lost Job—Will Travel: Trade-Related Job Losses and Military Recruitment

January 8, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance -  A new study shows how trade-related job losses translate into increases in military enlistment. While the study is convincing in its own right, it raises important questions and highlights one potential pitfall of political-economic analysis: focusing on partial equilibrium results in a full-equilibrium world.


Kai Thaler, Postdoctoral Fellow, wrote a chapter in the Routledge International Handbook of Violence Studies

January 4, 2019

Routledge International Handbook of Violence Studies - Kai Thaler is a contributing author and wrote the chapter, "Mixed Methods in Violence Studies".