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

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November News

Opinion: Let's try to be civil enough to keep arguing

November 18, 2019 

Colorado Sun - In the midst of one after another political slight, I cannot stop thinking of something my colleague and prominent blogger, Seth Masket, posted on his Facebook page earlier this year. The comment got a few laughs and sarcastic comments like "low bar," but recent research suggests this action is worthy of more serious attention.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Policy Engagement* (*But Were Too Afraid to Ask)

November 18, 2019 

Duck of Minerva - Earlier this year, our team at the Sié Center at the University of Denver announced our program on the three R's of Academic-Policy Engagement (or R3, if you prefer): Rigor, Relevance, and Responsibility. Generously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, our program is intended to both study and help train early-career scholars around the ethical issues that arise when academics—who face ever-increasing pressures to demonstrate the broader social impacts of their research—attempt to interface with policy audiences. Broadly speaking, our scholarly community is doing a good job of training scholars to engage: initiatives like the Bridging the Gap Project (BtG) have been massively successful in demystifying the mechanics of engagement: how to write for policy audiences, give good interviews, etc. BtG now has over 100 alums who are doing an excellent job of making IR scholarship legible for policy and general audiences.

Not Cool Ep 22: Cullen Hendrix on climate change and armed conflict

November 13, 2019 

Future of Life Insititute - Right before civil war broke out in 2011, Syria experienced a historic five-year drought. This particular drought, which exacerbated economic and political insecurity within the country, may or may not have been caused by climate change. But as climate change increases the frequency of such extreme events, it's almost certain to inflame pre-existing tensions in other countries — and in some cases, to trigger armed conflict. On Not Cool episode 22, Ariel is joined by Cullen Hendrix, co-author of "Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict." Cullen, who serves as Director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy and Senior Research Advisor at the Center for Climate & Security, explains the main drivers of conflict and the impact that climate change may have on them. He also discusses the role of climate change in current conflicts like those in Syria, Yemen, and northern Nigeria; the political implications of such conflicts for Europe and other developed regions; and the chance that climate change might ultimately foster cooperation.

Libya's Competing Governments Contend for Washington Influence

November 8, 2019 

Voice of America - The Libyan civil war has found a new battlefield: the halls of Washington. The eight-year conflict shows little sign of ending, and the warring governments are stepping up their efforts to influence policymakers in the United States.

A third of the world has organized in mass protest

November 7, 2019 

DU Clarion - Fifteen out of those seventeen countries have used tear gas against their own people over the course of these protests; only the United States and the United Kingdom have not. This is despite the fact that in the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the use of tear gas against enemy combatants was outlawed. Some countries' governments such as Haiti and Iraq have used live ammunition against their own unarmed people.
October 2019 News

War, Women, and Power: Book Review 

October 2019 

American Journal of Sociology - In War, Women, and Power: From Violence to Mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina, Marie E. Berry deftly shows how wars can introduce "a period of liminality" in which gender relations—and the social, political, and institutional implications of them—are often ripe for renegotiation yet ultimately constrained by historical paths and relational precedents (p. 210).

Thinkers challenge social structures, link women's empowerment to peace and progress

October 14, 2019 

Bahá'í World News Service - In a recent conference held by the Baha'i Chair for World Peace, academics and practitioners from diverse fields examined the inseparable relationship between the advancement of women and the creation of prosperous and peaceful societies.

The U.S. Gives Military Aid to Corrupt Countries All the Time

October 5, 2019 

The Atlantic - If you take Donald Trump at face value about his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which occurred shortly after he mysteriously stopped military aid meant for Ukraine, he was only concerned about sending millions to a country known for corruption. It was just a coincidence that he named his political rival's son, Hunter Biden.

When it Comes to Coups, Timing is a Curious Pattern

October 8, 2019 

Medium - On June 8, 2003, a group of army officers in Mauritania staged a coup attempt to depose incumbent president Maaouya Ould Sid Ahmed Taya. After a 36-hour gun battle, 15 people were dead and the rebellion was over. One hundred and twenty-nine officers suspected of involvement in the coup were swiftly rounded up and put on trial months later on charges of high treason, assassination, and sabotage.

Contrasting Views on How to Code a Nuclear Crisis

October 2019 

Texas National Security Review - In this issue's correspondence section, Brendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long offer up an alternative way to code nuclear crises in response to Mark S. Bell and Julia Macdonald's article in the February 2019 issue of TNSR. Bell and Macdonald, in turn, offer a response to Green and Long's critique.

Believe in Yourself and Do It

October 2019 

Conservation Leadership Programme - Dr Nelly Isigi Kadagi is Director of Research for the African Billfish Foundation (ABF) and the Co-Principal Investigator for the BILLFISH-WIO project. She recently completed her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. She was team leader of a 2012 CLP project focused on blue and black marlin in the Western Indian Ocean. Nelly knows first-hand the importance of collaboration in conservation. Read part of her journey learning this lesson, and the ways she is now contributing as an international collaborator.

September 2019 News

A Climate of Concern: What Climate Change Means for Food Security and Political Stability in Africa

September 25, 2019 

Center for Strategic & International Studies Preceded by a keynote from Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), the discussion will examine how climate change is interacting with demographic trends in Africa to both heighten risks associated with agriculture in rural areas and those associated with dependence on global markets in urban areas. Our panelists will explore several issues such as how averting crisis in the face of climate change and food insecurity. 

Why US Energy Independence Won't Mean Greater US Energy Autonomy

September 23, 2019

Peterson Institute for International Economics - The United States has become the world's largest producer of petroleum and natural gas and for now, at least, a net energy exporter. But the September 2019 drone attacks on Saudi Aramco's Abqaiq and Khurais facilities, and resulting volatility in oil markets, demonstrate why the long-sought goal of "energy independence" is no panacea—and that Americans are as vulnerable as ever to instability in the oil-producing Middle East region and beyond.

To Build Peace, Boost the Women Who Lead the Movements

September 10, 2019 

United States Institute of Peace - Images of this year's grassroots movements for social and political change—such as the ouster of authoritarian rulers in Sudan and Algeria—reiterate that women worldwide are driving campaigns that can strengthen democracy and reduce violent conflicts. Yet 20 years after the United Nations proclaimed the need for women at the center of the world's peacebuilding and stabilization efforts, they remain marginalized in those official processes. So when USIP and a program at the University of Denver organized a training initiative this summer for 14 women leading civic movements for social change, a message glared from the mountain of nominations received from experts and groups working on the world's violent crises.

Resisting War: How Communities Protect Themselves - Book Review

September 2019 

Perspective on Politics - Oliver Kaplan's new book, Resisting War, provides an important account of when and how civilians can take control of their own fate and protect their safety in the context of civil conflict. Even though a wealth of recent studies on insurgency point to civilian behavior as being central to conflict dynamics, Kaplan's book is one of the first to ascribe civilians with true autonomy over their own actions. Rather than being passive receptors of the actions taken by governments or rebel groups, civilians can under certain conditions take actions that reduce their collective likelihood of being targeted with violence.

August 2019 News

Women Gather In Denver To Work Toward Social Change & Peace

August 23, 2019 

Colorado Public Radio - In Syria, when Rajaa Altalli was 12 years old, she saw her father arrested for being an activist. Years later, her sister was forced out the country for her work as a human rights lawyer. Despite that, Altalli still fights for peace in her home country. And now she's here in Colorado to continue that work. She is the co-founder of the Center for Civil Society and Democracy that aims to create peace in Syria. She's also one of 16 women from 15 countries around the world who are in Colorado, focused on social change and international women's leadership. It's part of the University of Denver's Summer institute. Marie Berry is a professor at D.U. and the institute's director. Both women join us to talk about the mission and the message of this project.

Reassessing Sampling Bias in Climate-Conflict Research

August 22, 2019 

SSRN - Is research into the links between climate change and conflict biased, and does this bias undermine our ability to draw conclusions about climate-conflict links? Adams et al. (2018, henceforth AIBD) argue the literature on climate-conflict links suffers from endemic sample selection bias. Because of this, the literature overstates links between climate change and conflict.

Summer institute brings women activists together for training and sisterhood

August 21, 2019 

University of Denver - This year's weeklong gathering will be third for the initiative, known as IGLI, and its first held in partnership with USIP. The 15-17 activists (and one DU graduate student) will spend the beginning of the week at a retreat in the Colorado mountains, benefiting from training on civil resistance and building peace, as well as resiliency and self-care practices such as yoga, hiking and art. Then the activists fly to Washington, D.C., where the training continues at USIP headquarters and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.


August 15, 2019 

Sié-Chéou Kang Center for International Security & Diplomacy - Leading women activists to convene with University of Denver scholars in partnership with the United States Institute of Peace for advanced training on leading movements for social change.

In Search of Consensus on Climate-Conflict Links

August 12, 2019

New Security Beat - What do we (think we) know about the links between climate change and armed conflict? Early attempts to theorize what climate-related conflict might look like were exceptionally successful in sparking policymaker interest in and funding of research on climate-conflict links. But they were more like works of science fiction than science. Since then, research on climate-conflict links has exploded, with hundreds of articles and working papers published on the subject. Moreover, the findings have been all over the map, with some arguing for strong impacts of climate on conflict at multiple temporal and spatial scales, while others argue—in both specific instances, about the supposedly climate-fueled Syrian Civil War, and more generally—that climate-conflict links are overstated.

Peeling back the layers on the role of private security companies in Africa

August 4, 2019 

The Conversation - Private military and security companies have been regular fixtures in conflicts across the globe. For Africa, these corporations became increasingly visible with their role in civil wars in Angola and Sierra Leone. More recently, reports in 2015 indicated the Nigerian government contracted a number of companies to aid in counterinsurgency efforts targeting Boko Haram.

July 2019 News

Reflexivity and Temporality in Researching Violent Settings: Problems with the Replicability and Transparency Regime

July 23, 2019 

Geopolitics - Researchers studying conflict, violence, and human rights in dangerous settings across the globe face a complex set of ethical, personal, and professional dilemmas. Especially in more positivist fields and professions, there is pressure to conduct and present research as 'objective'. Yet the reality of field research in violent and conflict-affected settings is much messier than ideals in methodology textbooks or the polished presentation of field data in much published work. 

Keeping Up with the Future: Upgrading Forecasts of Political Instability and Geopolitical Risk

July 17, 2019 

Peterson Institute for International Economics - The nature and magnitude of geopolitical risk is changing more rapidly than the ability to anticipate it, with increasingly severe economic consequences. This Policy Brief discusses the economic costs and risks associated with episodes of political instability, arguing that firms, government agencies, and international institutions must update their forecasting and risk assessment efforts to take global factors into account. Since the global financial crisis, political instability has shifted from emerging-market countries in the developing world to larger, more globally impactful econo¬mies. Acknowledging this changing risk profile—and developing better tools to predict major episodes of instability—will allow both policymakers and firms to plan with greater confidence.

"If She Would Like to Rephrase that Comment"

July 17, 2019 

ABC News - A straightforward look at the day's top news in 20 minutes. Powered by ABC News. Hosted by Brad Mielke. 

Democrats Should Stop Whining About the Debates

July 11, 2019 

Bloomberg - The question is whether the party should hold a nomination debate focused solely on climate change, as Washington Governor Jay Inslee and others have argued. That's produced some push-back. Jonathan Chait, for example, is concerned about a slippery slope: If one group of advocates gets a debate dedicated to their preferred issue, then won't the party have to accommodate every other interest group?

Finding Consensus on Climate-Conflict Links

July 11, 2019 

The Center for Climate & Security - Today's issue of Nature reports the results of an attempt to mine the scholarly debate over climate-conflict links for consensus using "expert elicitation." The process, led by Katharine Mach of Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, brought together experts from economics, geography and political science to identify sources of agreement and disagreement in the now large body of evidence linking climate change to conflict – in this case, domestic armed conflict, like the ongoing civil wars in Syria and Yemen.

Will climate change lead to more world conflict?

July 11, 2019 

Washington Post's Monkey Cage - During last month's U.S. Democratic presidential candidate debates, former congressman Beto O'Rourke, Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, and former housing and urban development secretary Julián Castro all identified climate change as a major geopolitical threat facing the United States. Some even gave it equal billing with China and the prospect of nuclear war.

The Cost of Doing Politics? Analyzing Violence and Harassment against Female Politicians

July 6, 2019 

Perspective on Politics - Violence against women in politics is increasingly recognized around the world as a significant barrier to women's political participation, following a troubling rise in reports of assault, intimidation, and abuse directed at female politicians. Yet conceptual ambiguities remain as to the exact contours of this phenomenon. In this article, we seek to strengthen its theoretical, empirical, and methodological foundations.

DU Professor Explores Link Between Climate Change and Armed Conflict

July 2, 2019 

DU News - Conflict and climate change have been linked for decades, with Pentagon-commissioned studies predicting a range of dark scenarios — from shooting wars in South Asia and civil war in China to the breakup of the European Union.

Although climate change remains a significant threat to peace, the picture may not be quite so dire, says the University of Denver's Cullen Hendrix, an associate professor in the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and director of the Sié Chéou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy. He lent his expertise to a recently published study in the renowned scientific journal Nature.

June 2019 News

How Dangerous Was Kargil? Nuclear Crises in Comparative Perspective

June 28, 2019 

Washington Quarterly - Between May and June of 1999, India and Pakistan engaged in a higher-intensity military conflict than any other pair of nuclear-armed states had before or have since. Although it remained geographically contained, the Kargil War resulted in hundreds of casualties on both sides and saw frantic diplomatic intervention by the United States in an effort to de-escalate the conflict. It is therefore unsurprising that the Kargil War is commonly seen as one of the few occasions that the world has come close to nuclear war, and perhaps second only to the Cuban Missile Crisis in terms of the risk of nuclear escalation. In the years since, India and Pakistan have engaged in repeated skirmishes, crises, and periods of tension, with the two countries again coming into conflict in the spring of 2019 in response to a deadly attack on Indian military forces by the Pakistan-backed terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.

What Food Price-Related Protests in Sudan and Liberia Tell Us About How Autocracies and Democracies Address Price Crises

June 25, 2019

Political Violence at a Glance - As one of the world's most talented footballers of the 1990s, Liberian President George Weah is no stranger to roaring crowds. But recently, these crowds were less than supportive: Weah's administration has faced mass protests—and threats of more to come—due to its inability to address skyrocketing inflation and food prices.

What Prevents Peace? Women and Peacebuilding in Bosnia and Nepal

June 22, 2019 

Peace and Change - There is an emerging consensus that women must play a more substantial role in transformations from violence to stability. The UN Women, Peace, and Security framework recognizes the unique challenges women face during war and affirms the important role they play in the prevention and resolution of conflicts. Despite this framework and other related efforts, peace remains elusive for many who have lived through armed conflict. What prevents formal, internationally led peacebuilding efforts from fostering sustainable peace in ordinary citizens' lives? Put differently, despite the variety of peacebuilding mechanisms offered, what prevents peace from taking hold, for women in particular? In this paper, we focus on two postwar cases: Bosnia and Nepal. Drawing on interviews with more than seventy women in both countries, we identify five barriers that prevent women from feeling at peace in their daily lives: economic insecurity, competing truths, hierarchies of victimhood, continuums of violence, and spatial and temporal dislocation. We conclude by outlining ways that women in both countries work to overcome those barriers by pioneering innovations in peacebuilding, which may reveal possibilities for future interventions.

When Norms Collide: Business, Human Rights, and Economic Development in Colombia

June 21, 2019 

Center for Security Studies - This fall will mark three years since the Colombian Peace Accord between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrilla group was ceremoniously signed in Havana, Cuba. It was unique for a variety of reasons: it ended the world's longest-running civil war, it was signed with the world's oldest guerrilla group (the FARC), and—what few know—is that it is also the first peace process that explicitly includes economic actors in the truth and accountability mechanisms to help the country transition to peace.

Responsible Policy Engagement: Some Challenges

June 19, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - Last month, the team at the Sié Center introduced our program on Rigor, Relevance, and Responsibility: Promoting Ethical Approaches to Policy Engagement. Via this work, we hope to help scholars navigate the sometimes murky waters of policy engagement (or "broader impacts") in which funding agencies and universities are increasingly asking them to swim. When we take an active role in affecting policy outcomes, we onboard some responsibility for those outcomes.

CU Boulder professor adds to study showing climate change, conflict link

June 17, 2019 

Daily Camera - Imagine rising temperatures across the globe exacerbating armed conflicts in countries with limited resources. According to researchers and experts, including scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder and Stanford University, this scenario could easily become reality, rather than a plot for the next "Mad Max" film.

The "Deportation Threat Dynamic" and Wage Theft in Denver

June 14, 2019 

Just Wages DU - "Employers look at someone who doesn't have papers and feel like they have more power. Right now, we have a racist government, so racism grows," a day laborer in Aurora, CO, explained how the current immigration climate enhances the exploitation of, and discrimination against, immigrant workers.

Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict

June 12, 2019 

Nature - Research findings on the relationship between climate and conflict are diverse and contested. Here we assess the current understanding of the relationship between climate and conflict, based on the structured judgments of experts from diverse disciplines. These experts agree that climate has affected organized armed conflict within countries. However, other drivers, such as low socioeconomic development and low capabilities of the state, are judged to be substantially more influential, and the mechanisms of climate–conflict linkages remain a key uncertainty. Intensifying climate change is estimated to increase future risks of conflict.

Press release here >> 

Oliver Kaplan's book was in the UCSD alumni magazine, "On the Shelf"

June 4, 2019

Triton Magazine - Kaplan contests the typical depiction of civilian populations as victims by explaining how unarmed communities protect themselves from civil conflict and pressure armed groups to limit their violence. Looking at cases of Colombia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria, Resisting War counters the traditional narrative and provides further understanding to the story of human struggle and survival during wartime.

Marie Berry's book, War, Women and Power: From Violence to Mobilization in Rwanda and Bosnia-Herzegovina, was awarded a Book Award Honorable Mention from the Sociology of Development section.

June 4, 2019

Abortion Restrictions as State Violence

June 4, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - The alarming rollback of abortion rights in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and elsewhere over the past few weeks has rightfully provoked outrage and alarm among those concerned with women's rights around the globe. What people are not speaking about is how this is a form of state violence.

May 2019 News

When Norms Collide: Business, Human Rights, and Economic Development in Colombia

May 28, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - This fall will mark three years since the Colombian Peace Accord between the government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC guerrilla group was ceremoniously signed in Havana, Cuba. It was unique for a variety of reasons: it ended the world's longest-running civil war, it was signed with the world's oldest guerrilla group (the FARC), and—what few know—is that it is also the first peace process that explicitly includes economic actors in the truth and accountability mechanisms to help the country transition to peace.
** A Spanish-language version of this post is available below the English version (hay una versión Espanñol de este artículo abajo.) 

How do you reduce sexual and gender violence in conflict? Consider these five key issues.

May 22, 2019 

Washington Post - How do you stop — or at least mitigate — the harm done by sexual and gendered violence in humanitarian crises? That's the topic for this week's international conference in Oslo, where governments, United Nations agencies and nongovernmental organizations are coming together to discuss commitments and solutions.

Resisting War and War, Women, and Power Book Reviews in Mobilization


May 22, 2019 

Considering power imbalances in collaborative research

May 15, 2019 

Rift Valley Institute - This blog is part of RVI's Research Collaboration project in partnership with the Groupe d'Etudes sur les Conflits et la Sécurité Humaine (GEC-SH) and funded by the Knowledge Management Fund of KPSRL. The project examines the political economy of knowledge production and its impact on the security of researchers in conflict-affected settings, and in turn, the quality of the research that is produced. Specifically, the project focuses on the experiences of Congolese researchers working on collaborative Global North-South projects and aims to contribute to the conversation on research ethics, collaboration and decolonizing knowledge. Interviews and focus group discussions were conducted by the GEC-SH team in March and April 2019. The project takes the position that all forms of research whereby a researcher or institution relies on another researcher or institution for access, data collection and analysis, translation, transcription, writing, or other form of knowledge production or sharing can be considered collaborative. As such, the project examines various forms of collaborative research, whether short-term consultancies or long-term partnerships, in an effort to combat extractive forms of research.

Resisting War in Colombia

May 14, 2019 

Colombia Calling Podcast - Oliver Kaplan is an Assistant Professor at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. He is the author of the book, "Resisting War: How Communities Protect Themselves" (Cambridge University Press), which examines how civilian communities organize to protect themselves from wartime violence.

What to do When Women Politicians are Attacked? Here are Four Ideas from Around the World

May 14, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - In a previous post, I discussed how women elected to public office often face forms of violence and harassment that their male counterparts do not face. Practitioners and academics studying this problem refer to it as violence against women in politics (VAWIP). In that post, I predicted that recently elected US Congresswomen would face harassment and violence.

Radicalization in the German Armed Forces and Beyond

May 9, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance -  Question: Back in 2017, a German army lieutenant in the Bundeswehr, Franco Albrecht, was arrested for creating a fake asylum-seeker identity in Germany. Albrecht's larger objective was, as a refugee imposter with a government stipend and asylum-seeker housing, to carry out a terrorist plot in order to bring disrepute to refugees more generally, particularly Muslim populations from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. Are such conspiracies symptomatic of a larger phenomenon of military radicalization in the German armed forces, or was this an isolated incident?

Authoritarian Resilience: Why Bouteflika and Bashir Fell, but Ortega Remains

May 1, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - April saw protestors—with an assist from the military—oust longtime authoritarian leaders Abdelaziz Bouteflika in Algeria and Omar al-Bashir in Sudan, despite the dictators' best efforts. There is a great deal of uncertainty about the future in each of the countries, with the possibility for a military seizure of power, like in Egypt's counterrevolution, or the reassertion of control by ancien régime officials, like in Zimbabwe. For the moment, at least, the sight of Bashir in prison and a planned military-civilian shared transitional council in Sudan and the possibility of democratic elections in Algeria is a cause of hope. Both outcomes are also a sign of the enduring possibility for unarmed 'people power' movements to effect leadership transitions and possibly regime change.

April 2019 News

Elections South Africa 2019: 25 Years "Post-Apartheid," la luta continua...

April 23, 2019 

Political Violence at a Glance - As South Africa prepares for general elections on May 8, the "beloved country" marks another milestone: its first 25 years post-apartheid. Two-and-a-half decades ago, the long-troubled country emerged from some five decades of white minority rule under an abhorrent system of racial segregation, apartheid, and centuries of colonialism before that.

Book Review for "Resisting war: how communities protect themselves" 

April 22, 2019 

Peacebuilding Journal - In Resisting War, Oliver Kaplan flips the traditional analysis of peacemaking on its head by examining how local communities actively engage in reducing violence during times of civil conflict. His main argument centres around a contention that civilians are actors with agency, whose ability to successfully respond to violence derives in part from strong social organisation. Resisting War centres on this question of local organization, when and why does it take place and, to a lesser extent, when and why is it successful.

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".