Improving UN Sanctions

This week I am at the United Nations in New York on behalf of the Sanctions and Security Research Program (SSRP) as part of a training workshop on the implementation of Security Council sanctions. Co-presenting at the workshop will be sanctions experts and former practitioners Linda Gerber-Stellingwerf of the Fourth Freedom Forum, Loraine Rickard-Martin and Rico Carisch of Compliance and Capacity International, LLC, and Sue Eckert of the Watson Institute for International Studies at Brown University. Opening the workshop will be Lynn Pascoe, UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, and John McNee, Permanent Representative of Canada to the UN.

The workshop is designed to generate interest and support among UN member states and senior Secretariat officials in a comprehensive program on enhancing skills for sanctions implementation and support.  The need for greater technical knowledge of sanctions implementation requirements was highlighted in our recent report for the Canadian government, Integrating UN Sanctions for Peace and Security. Continue reading “Improving UN Sanctions”


With all the attention paid to the continuing protests in Syria and Yemen and the armed struggle in Libya, we see little about the ongoing crisis in Bahrain. A completely nonviolent movement originating in the majority Shia population has been ruthlessly crushed by the Al Khalifa royal family, with backing from some 1,000 Saudi troops who entered the country in March, and with the acquiescence of the United States.

The repression in Bahrain is continuing. The Sunni-based government, with Saudi support, has destroyed Shia mosques and religious meeting centers, according to Patrick Cockburn of The Independent. Over the past month many have been killed, injured or jailed. The suppression of the Shia population in Bahrain has aroused anger in Shia communities across the region, especially in Iran and Iraq, but also in Lebanon. This increases the risk of animosity between Shia and Sunni populations. Continue reading “Complicity”

Time for a diplomatic strategy in Libya

It is obvious by now that the rebels cannot defeat Gaddafi’s forces. Replacing the dictatorship with a more representative government remains the best strategy for protecting civilians and advancing democracy, but that goal will not be achieved by a ragtag rebellion and limited international air support.

Coalition air strikes have had some success so far in preventing civilian massacres and providing cover for resistance forces. But the operations themselves have taken Libyan lives, and supporting the insurgents has become more difficult as Gaddafi’s defenders have shed uniforms and military vehicles. The further utility of military force is questionable.

The U.S. and NATO should pursue diplomatic options. Two of Gaddafi’s sons recently proposed a negotiated transition in which their father steps down in favor of a constitutional democracy. Most observers dismissed the offer, but it may provide an opening that could be exploited by creative diplomacy. An offer to suspend NATO-led air operations could provide powerful leverage for negotiation to gain real concessions. Continue reading “Time for a diplomatic strategy in Libya”