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Durham University

Durham Global Security Institute

DGSi Working Papers

Are Apologies Just Symbolic Politics? A Case Study of Serbian Apologies Towards Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina

No. 3, 2018

Cliodhna Simpson

The prevalence of apologies in modern politics has left the international community expectant of moral repentance. Simultaneously, the increasing focus on restorative justice in reconstructing war-torn environments has propelled ideas of forgiveness and reconciliation into political rhetoric. In developing an understanding of the relationship between these processes, this paper asks if the quality of a political apology positively impacts the level of political reconciliation in post-conflict societies. The paper suggests that there is a relationship between the explanatory factor ‘the quality of a political apology’, the causation factor ‘political forgiveness’ and the outcome ‘the level of political reconciliation’. This link is explored through a comparative case study analysis using a process tracing framework. The case study concerns the apologies offered by Serbia’s political elite to Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina respectively, for the atrocities committed by Serbia during the Yugoslav Wars of 1991 to 1995. It argues that the quality of a political apology has the potential to impact the level of political reconciliation achieved, thereby challenging the notion that apologies are just symbolic politics driven by governmental self-interest. This paper contributes to the literature on restorative justice by providing a novel insight into the nature and potential of a political apology in the restoration of societies after modern conflicts.

The Suspension of Legal and Moral Norms at the EU’s Mediterranean Sea Borders

No. 2, 2018

Emily Chrystie

In recent years, the EU has seen an increase in security measures at its Mediterranean borders. A corresponding increase in migrant fatalities at sea and rhetoric concerning the threat of unsecured movements of people into the EU has contributed to the political construction of maritime migration as both an existential threat and a moral crisis. In developing an understanding of how these two concepts shape the treatment of migrants at sea, this paper addresses the question of how legal and moral norms come to be suspended in cases of maritime migration.

By identifying cases at the EU’s Mediterranean borders in which legal and moral norms are suspended and analysing subsequent institutional discourse and public reaction, this paper engages with contemporary debates to situate the biopolitical control exerted over human life at the EU’s maritime borders within broader processes of securitisation. This analysis identifies an incoherence in the relationship between institutional discourse and practice, which results in the perception and treatment of migrants as bare life, existing in a state of exception in which the sovereign state exerts its power to suspend the rule of law. It is argued that maritime border control, as a manifestation of biopower, directly contributes to both the insecurity of the border, and deaths at the border, that it discursively opposes.

The Conflict Between Armed Conflicts: Dispensing with the Distinction Between International and Non-International Armed Conflicts

No. 1, 2018

Ben McGuckin

The Geneva Conventions of 1949 created a legal distinction between international and non-international armed conflicts. This strict divide was upheld by the Additional Protocols of 1977. The principal reasons for this divide was that states did not want international law dictating what could be done by the state to quash an internal rebellion. International armed conflicts had a robust set of laws regulating them, while non-international armed conflict regulation was under-developed and insufficient. However, international law has come a long way since the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols. In recent years, there has been a convergence between the law of international and non-international armed conflicts, with the majority of the laws of the former being applicable to the latter. However, some discrepancies remain, the most significant of which is the concept of combatant status. The principal concerns of sovereignty which originally drove the distinction, while still being important at the political level, are becoming overstated today and have become diluted with the concerns of humanitarian protection for those in non-international armed conflicts. With these concerns of humanitarian protection in mind, this paper argues for a unification of the laws of armed conflict under a single framework.

Prestige Aid:The case of Saudi Arabia and Malaysia

No. 3, 2017

Lena Moral Waldmeier

Abstract: The growing trend of developing countries such as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia in adopting alternative mechanisms for the provision of foreign aid challenges traditional institutions and the landscape of development assistance. Furthermore, Malaysia as a geographically distant state, presents a challenge to the conventional notion of Saudi Arabia concentrating its support in the MENA region. Therefore, a classical and neoclassical realist explanation for the role of prestige and status in competing for hierarchical positions in the global structure elucidates a state’s interest in engaging with the practice of foreign aid far removed from its geostrategic interests. Accumulating prestige and recognition for its actions benefit a state’s position in the anarchical world structure and provide it with further influence to exert its own interests. This paper argues that Saudi Arabia engages in prestige and status-seeking behaviour, by providing foreign assistance to states, such as Malaysia, in the form of development grants, donations to universities, Islamic institutions and infrastructure projects. This paper contributes to the literature on foreign aid by providing novel insights on the symbolic motives of these policies.

The Local Turn and the Post-Conflict Everyday: Moving towards a phenomenological approach

No. 2, 2017

Laura Daïeff

Abstract: The continued importance of peacebuilding and the necessity to find a “best practice” becomes most apparent when one considers current developments in Syria or Sudan. A recent advancement in the field of conflict studies’ – especially peacebuilding’s – “best practices” has been the “local turn” which developed over the past 25 years, out of an increasing discontentment with liberal approaches to peacebuilding. This paper explores this turn’s metaphysical journey, uncovering its ontological and epistemological assumptions which foster its “bottom-up” approach. Whilst great progress is shown to have been made by acknowledging the complexity and plurality of post-conflict environments and phenomena, results remain limited. Indeed, linear, normative, and static models still distort the peacebuilding practice’s orientation to post-conflict phenomena. This paper argues that this is due, not so much to the understanding of phenomena, but rather the understanding of what it is to understand phenomena. Using the case of post-Dayton Bosnia-Herzegovina as a substantiation of the arguments put forth, an explanation of the ways in which both the Civil Society Development and the Local Agency approach have been unable to fulfil their aims of local legitimacy, efficiency, and agency, is provided. Using phenomenological intakes from philosophy, this paper suggests that placing human consciousness and experiences at the core of knowledge processes, fosters a better understanding of what it means to live in, navigate around, and manage a post-conflict environment. Which methods – personal or at the level of practice – will best implement such a change of thought is left at the discretion of the peacebuilder/researcher. Whilst this sounds like a “non-practical” solution, a “turn towards phenomenology” might lead towards acknowledging that there currently is no unique grand narrative which could inspire straightforward peacebuilding methods. Rather, peacebuilding pursuits should embrace their much more intuitive, scattered, non-linear, informal, and trial-and-error nature and origin.

Armed Drone Proliferation and Strange’s International Political Economy: Understanding the spread of UCAVs through global power relations

No. 1, 2017

Jenna R. Mazzella

Abstract:Since the early 2000s the number of countries with access to armed drones, also known as unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAVs), has grown precipitously. This growth has been driven both by the domestic development of UCAVs (independent acquisition) as well as by the international trading of UCAVs between supplier and recipient nations (dependent acquisition). Despite this growth, there has been a notable research gap in the exploration of factors motivating UCAV proliferation. In place of earlier theories of proliferation that were developed to explain the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, this research presents Susan Strange’s theory of international political economy (IPE) as a uniquely applicable theory for understanding the phenomenon of UCAV proliferation. The second chapter of this research details Strange’s IPE and the ways in which it illuminates proliferation trends. To demonstrate its explanatory strength, the following chapters apply this theory to three instances of recent UCAV proliferation between supplier and recipient nations: US-UK, China-Pakistan, and Israel-India. In doing so, this research suggests pathways regarding the future of both the independent and dependent acquisition of UCAVs. The final chapter utilizes this analysis to make recommendations for the responsible future spread and use of UCAVs. Ultimately, it is argued that UCAV proliferation should be understood as influenced by a wide variety of concerns beyond purely the needs of security and as such, effectively addressing the spread of UCAVs demands that this multitude of influencing factors is taken into account.

Narrating Ukraine: A Crisis of Russian Identity?

No. 3, 2016

Ben Challis

Abstract: The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has precipitated the most serious deterioration in West-Russia relations since the Cold War. This paper analyses the extent to which notions of Russian identity affect Russia’s perception of and response to the conflict in Ukraine. In Part II, I draw upon the concept of ontological security to develop a theoretical approach to analysis of the relationship between identity, security and the state. In Part III, I analyse public statements by Russian political actors to determine how they construct a ‘meaning’ of the conflict in terms of Russian identity. I analyse the period from September 2013 to September 2014. This follows events leading up the removal of Ukrainian President Yanukovych, until the apparent increase in Russian support for the rebel movement in the Donbass. I find that Russian political actors represented the Ukraine crisis in terms of its implications for Russian identity and that this had profound implications for the dynamics of the present conflict.

Afghanistan: An Analytical Framing - Past, Present and into the Future

No. 2, 2016

James Michael Page

Abstract: This paper comes out of a paper presented by the author at a NATO Intelligence Fusion Centre conference in early December 2015, at which the question of analytically framing Afghanistan was addressed. In order to do so, consideration was given to the intervention in Afghanistan since 2001 and the present situation as a basis from which analytical framing can be explored, developed, refined and further tailored. Analytical frames assessed as pertinent into the future are elucidated upon with reference to a range of classical texts, newly published research and analysis, as well as recent first-hand experience. Serving as a key conceptual starting point is Clausewitz’s ‘trinity’ and its clarification in the context of the Global War on Terror and the ongoing intervention in Afghanistan. This thread is subsequently traced through matters of policy, strategy and operations, and their corollaries. Appropriate reflection is also entered into in relation to a range of relevant selected paradigms, assumptions, historical developments and thematic issues. This finds that although Afghanistan presents an extraordinary complexity -- that is likely to continue for the foreseeable future -- ways do exist in which analytical framing can be usefully undertaken. This necessarily utilizes: insights arising from frank analyses of events, paradigms and constructs; assessing and where apt adapting pre-existing analytical frames; carefully examining assumptions; locating congruence between analytical frames and making use of what this may offer; tailoring to and enabling appreciation of context as part of analytical exploration; developing constructive awareness of limiting factors; and being creative about challenges such as data availability and volatility.

Afghanistan in Regional Context: Insights from Regional States

No.1, 2016

Professor Shaun Gregory

Abstract: In the context of NATO drawdown and transition the future prospects for peace and stability in Afghanistan will, to a significant degree, depend on the regional rivalries of Afghanistan’s neighbours. In recent years the main rivalry to shape Afghanistan – that between India and Pakistan – has become greatly complicated by the emergence of China as an engaged South West Asian power in the wake of the creation of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation (SCO)2 in June 2001 and the growing importance of Pakistan and Afghanistan in China’s trans-Asian ambitions. In a similar way Iran, liberated by the P5+1 nuclear deal, is increasing its stake in Afghanistan and deepening its interests beyond its traditional Shia linkages, including forging relations with important Taliban factions. In addition newly assertive Russia despite its chastisement in the Soviet- Afghan war of 1979-89, and to some extent the Central Asian States (CAS) whose respective policies are formulated in the shadow of Russian power, is also being drawn back into regional engagement by its structural interests and by a more proactive policy directed to the boundaries of the Russian Federation.
These rivalries, which could in the past perhaps have been distilled to a narrative of binary struggle between the Chinese-Pakistan- Saudi bloc and an Indian-Russian-Iranian bloc, are greatly complicated in the contemporary context by a more fluid approach to regional relations, by the US/NATO presence, and by the co-operative potential of shared economic projects – oil and gas pipelines, hydro-electric power, trade routes, communications infrastructures, and so forth – the geostrategic realities of which may yet prompt radical realignments. These complexities in turn corrode any easy assumptions about the mapping of regional states onto partner or proxy communities inside Afghanistan.
A helpful way to cut through some of this complexity in order to seek to understand the position of Afghanistan’s neighbours and the role they can, and in the future might, play in assuring a stable Afghan transition may lie in game theory3. It is a cliché, but nonetheless a truth, that Afghanistan is a crossroads of history, and its neighbours have been historically drawn to seek influence within it both by a desire to utilise Afghanistan for strategic interests and by a desire to ensure that key strategic rivals do not take control of Afghanistan for their strategic interests. One could reasonably draw a straight line, for example, between 19th century rivalries for Afghanistan between British India, Imperial Russia, Qing Dynasty China, and Persia, and contemporary rivalries. Such a framing allows a simple game theorization of regional outcomes which appears to capture some of the dynamics shaping regional states’ engagement with Afghanistan and, in some cases, with the US/NATO presence. This is not meant to be exhaustive, nor does it fit all Afghanistan’s neighbours equally well, but rather is a means to sketch in some broad outlines as a background to the substantive analysis provided by the papers in this collection.