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Policy Briefs

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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Social Media, Technology and Peacebuilding

Social Media Dynamics in Boko Haram’s Terrorist Insurgence

Policy Brief  No.50 - October, 2019

This policy brief analyses the use of social media by different groups affected by Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgence, including the group itself. The rate, speed, spread and belief which information from social media commands has changed theatres of war and amplified terrorist threats. The Nigerian youth who are the forerunners of social media use in the country have further employed Hashtag (#) Activism for varied causes regarding Boko Haram. This study examines the use of social media in ‘orchestrated data circulation’ by both the insurgents and the Nigerian government, and the populace’s growing awareness of the power they wield by simply having internet data and a phone. This brief concludes with recommendations regarding ways that tech companies and Civil Society Organisations could re-influence the social media dynamics in Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgence.

Climate Change and Conflict

Climate Change and Urbanisation in Pacific Island Countries

Policy Brief  No.49 - September, 2019

Rates of urbanisation vary considerably among the 22 Pacific Island countries and territories, some of which have among the highest population densities in the world despite these countries being relatively small. Growth in the number of urban residents has led to the emergence of informal settlements on sites which are often on marginal land that is highly exposed to the effects of extreme events. It is likely that climate change will cause greater numbers of people to migrate to urban areas as their home locations become increasingly less habitable. Many will find themselves again living in exposed locations. Additionally, having little land tenure security, high levels of unemployment or underemployment, crowding, lack of infrastructure, crime and lack of access to land for food are likely to render many of these migrants vulnerable to the effects of climate change. As climate change continues to unfold, urban areas in the Pacific Islands region may find themselves particularly at risk. Urban planning which takes the likelihood of climate change into account is critically important.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Lessons Learned from the Process towards CSBMs and Disarmament in Europe in the 1980s

Policy Brief  No.48 - September, 2019

The process just before, during and after the Stockholm Conference on Confidence- and Security-building Measures and Disarmament in Europe which took place between January 1984 and September 1986 formed part of a wider chain of events, the full importance of which was not widely understood until 1989, or perhaps even much later. The added value of this Policy Brief may be to highlight the potential importance of what many would refer to as associated measures when dealing with the current dangers of nuclear weapons and a renewed arms race with ever more devastating weapons.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

US-Soviet Arms Control During Détente: Lessons for the Present

Policy Brief  No.47 - September, 2019

Arms control during the years of détente remains almost a legend: it was born in the middle of a dangerous stand-off between two implacable rivals and achieved reasonable successes in substance and the overall atmosphere of cooperation. As the world has entered an unstable and dangerous phase in 2010s, we look back to the 1970s in search of lessons to be drawn and examples to follow. Can that experience be replicated? How can we launch a new arms control effort at the time of worsening and increasingly dangerous geopolitical competition? If two rival superpowers could engage in a cooperative endeavour in the midst of a geo-political conflict, perhaps we could repeat the experience today and mitigate the more dangerous aspects of the conflict that will likely continue for an extended period of time.

Climate Change and Conflict

Urbanisation and Natural Disasters in Pacific Island Countries

Policy Brief  No.46 - September, 2019

The growth of urban populations in Pacific Island Countries is reflected in growing numbers of informal settlements with high levels of exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters. As urban populations grow and become increasingly dense, with large numbers living in informal settlements, the potential for major catastrophes is increasing. Despite this, most disaster risk management throughout the region still focuses on rural areas, reflecting historical practices and experience and some political preference for rural areas. There is a greater need in the region to develop measures that reduce people’s exposure to hazardous events in towns and cities, mostly by incorporating urban planning measures that discourage settlement in marginal and hazard-prone areas. This will be challenging given the complexity of land tenure arrangements throughout the region. It is also important that the root causes of people’s vulnerabilities are addressed, so that the processes by which they come to live in unsafe conditions can be understood and measures introduced to reduce people’s risks and losses. This policy brief focuses discussion on urban communities and concludes by outlining a number of activities which would contribute to reducing people’s exposure to hazardous events in Pacific Island towns and cities.