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Policy Briefs

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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Climate Change and Conflict

Environmental Peacebuilding and Climate Change: Peace and Conflict Studies at the Edge of Transformation

Policy Brief  No.68 - December, 2019

This Policy Brief presents a comprehensive review of the literature on environmental conflict and peacebuilding. It traces the development of the field from its beginnings in the 1980s until today, identifying several distinct stages which are characterised by specific research questions, approaches and findings. Based on this literature review the authors address major gaps and shortcomings as well as problematic implications of the research so far. A critical approach is developed which can inform Environmental Peace and Conflict Studies in the future, taking up incentives from the field of Anthropocene Studies and the concepts of ‘sustaining peace’ and ‘sustainable peace.’ The Policy Brief concludes with some recommendations that can give direction for a new wave of research which is currently emerging.

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media and Conflict Dynamics on Northern Ireland’s Peace Lines

Policy Brief  No.67 - December, 2019

At interfaces between the Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods and predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant neighbourhoods in Northern Ireland, the violence during the ‘Troubles’ (1969-1999) was particularly raw and volatile. As the peace process took hold, enormous effort by community leaders, paramilitaries and other agencies has helped to gradually reduce street conflict to low levels. However, the rise of social media in the last 5-10 years has added a new dimension, both good and bad. Particularly concerning are arranged fights, often sectarian, involving the use of weapons. How does social media impact conflict dynamics in a post-conflict region like Northern Ireland? This policy brief explores the nature of the problem and how those at the frontline such as youth workers, residents and the police use social media to counter it, and offers recommendations for the future.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media Arrives on the Nuclear Stage

Policy Brief  No.66 - November, 2019

This brief draws from a Nautilus Institute, Technology for Global Security, Preventive Defense Project workshop, when a speed-scenarios exercise involving nuclear weapons and social media experts and practitioners was conducted to explore antidotes to potentially catastrophic effects of social media on the risk of nuclear war. To anticipate how social media might play out in the world of nuclear early warning, studies of social media in other domains where it was used to promote extremist views and behaviour were examined: anti-vaccination, anti-Semitism, gang, ethnic, and terrorist violence in cities. Four “short circuit” hypothetical, imaginary scenarios were produced at the workshop that explored how and what circuit breakers might be created that avoid or overcome the destabilising effect of social media on nuclear early warning systems and nuclear command decisions.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control and World Order: China’s Nuclear Policy

Policy Brief  No.65 - November, 2019

This policy brief analyses the seriousness of the challenges that the international arms control system faces, to explore whether it is possible and how to maintain the values of arms control and to keep the world in strategic stability. With a particular focus on China’s policy on nuclear issues and attitude to nonproliferation, the author argues that it seems to be inevitable for the international arms control system to face challenges at the current stage. The challenges are real and serious, but it is still possible to keep the world restraint and away from military competition, if the world community can work together and re-regulate big powers into the international institutions.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Arms Control and World Order: Report on the Toda Peace Institute International Workshop Vienna, 13-15 October 2019

Summary Report  No.64 - November, 2019

A recent international workshop of experts and diplomats has concluded that sweeping changes in the world order over the last two decades have contributed to the unravelling of the arms control regime. The workshop, convened by the Toda Peace Institute, the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs and the University of Otago, brought together representatives of the arms control communities in the United States, Russia, Europe, China, India, Pakistan, Japan and the Middle East. A key theme concerned the prospects for checking the dangerous dynamics now under way in this time of turbulent change. The workshop examined three historical precedents for managing international security and arms control cooperatively and drew a number of lessons for the present day.