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‘The Greatest Silence’ Premiering on HBO Tonight!

Be sure to catch the Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo which premiers tonight on HBO. To learn more about the crisis of sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, visit the Enough Campaign and join a conference call about the film tomorrow night with the filmaker, Lisa Jackson; ENOUGH Co-chair John Prendergast; and the Director of Public Policy at the Family Violence Prevention Fund, Kiersten Stewart.

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Swearing Off Nation Building

In honor of Petraeus day on Capitol Hill, I thought I’d flag two video posts on our sister site On Day One in which Cato scholars Justin Logan and Chris Preble say that the United States should swear off nation building. The lesson of Iraq, they say, is not that the United States should learn how to do nation building better, but that the United States should not do it at all. Personally speaking, I’m sympathetic to this view. That said, I still think that there is a great need for nation building and post conflict reconstruction in today’s world. Enter UN Peacekeeping, which has a demonstrated (if under-appreciated) record of success in post conflict zones. Rather than trying to do a better job of invading and occupying countries, it may make more sense to broaden our support for the one organization that has some experience and expertise in this line of work.

Watch their videos and let us know what you think.

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Swearing Off Nation Building

In honor of Petraeus day on Capitol Hill, I thought I’d flag two video posts on our sister site On Day One in which Cato scholars Justin Logan and Chris Preble say that the United States should swear off nation building. The lesson of Iraq, they say, is not that the United States should learn how to do nation building better, but that the United States should not do it at all. Personally speaking, I’m sympathetic to this view. That said, I still think that there is a great need for nation building and post conflict reconstruction in today’s world. Enter UN Peacekeeping, which has a demonstrated (if under-appreciated) record of success in post conflict zones. Rather than trying to do a better job of invading and occupying countries, it may make more sense to broaden our support for the one organization that has some experience and expertise in this line of work.

Watch their videos and let us know what you think.

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The Benefits of Female UN Peacekeepers

Last year, the UN’s first-ever all-female police unit deployed to Liberia. In this video, which is featured on the front page of the Better World Campaign, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State for Women’s Empowerment, describes the successes that this deployment brought to Liberia (check out a longer video here).

This unit was so successful, in fact, that the UN has deployed another such contingent, as reported by Voice of America last week:

A second Indian all-female contingent has been deployed in Liberia for a few months now, showing that women can become the norm for peacekeeping operations. They are also inspiring Liberian women to become part of the country’s security reconstruction.

The increase in Liberian women joining their country’s police force is only one of the benefits that the presence of female police officers has brought to Liberia. In addition to backing up Liberia’s police and contributing to the overall security situation, the female peacekeepers, according to Tahir-Kheli, have directly contributed to improved reporting of instances of violence against women and to a corresponding decrease in the actual number of instances of such violence.Comfort Lamptey, a UN adviser on gender, attests to the advantages that women police officers bring to cultures in which even reporting rape is stigmatized.

“I think that in a lot of countries women who have been subject to gender-based violence feel more comfortable talking to a woman,” she said. “In many countries where women have been raped by men in uniform, they are more comfortable talking to another woman than men in uniforms. Having women in the field who are well-trained may be able to respond to women who have been violated.”

This is exactly the reason that an all-female police contingent is needed in places like DR Congo and Darfur, where rape continues unchecked and unpunished.

As an additional benefit, the presence of women in the ranks of peacekeepers has also effectively served to police the behavior of peacekeepers themselves. In Lamptey’s words, “the presence of more women can actually help dilute a macho approach to peacekeeping,” which can in turn help combat the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) among peacekeepers. In Liberia, for example, the number of reported SEA violations decreased from 45 in 2005, to 30 in 2006, to just nine allegations in 2007.

While the UN has a long way to go toward bridging the gender gap among peacekeepers, doing so will do more than simply improve the male-female ratio. The increased use of female peacekeepers will clearly improve UN peacekeeping qualitatively, making it more efficient and expanding the realm of what it can achieve.

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The Benefits of Female UN Peacekeepers

Last year, the UN’s first-ever all-female police unit deployed to Liberia. In this video, which is featured on the front page of the Better World Campaign, Shirin Tahir-Kheli, Senior Advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State for Women’s Empowerment, describes the successes that this deployment brought to Liberia (check out a longer video here).

This unit was so successful, in fact, that the UN has deployed another such contingent, as reported by Voice of America last week:

A second Indian all-female contingent has been deployed in Liberia for a few months now, showing that women can become the norm for peacekeeping operations. They are also inspiring Liberian women to become part of the country’s security reconstruction.

The increase in Liberian women joining their country’s police force is only one of the benefits that the presence of female police officers has brought to Liberia. In addition to backing up Liberia’s police and contributing to the overall security situation, the female peacekeepers, according to Tahir-Kheli, have directly contributed to improved reporting of instances of violence against women and to a corresponding decrease in the actual number of instances of such violence.Comfort Lamptey, a UN adviser on gender, attests to the advantages that women police officers bring to cultures in which even reporting rape is stigmatized.

“I think that in a lot of countries women who have been subject to gender-based violence feel more comfortable talking to a woman,” she said. “In many countries where women have been raped by men in uniform, they are more comfortable talking to another woman than men in uniforms. Having women in the field who are well-trained may be able to respond to women who have been violated.”

This is exactly the reason that an all-female police contingent is needed in places like DR Congo and Darfur, where rape continues unchecked and unpunished.

As an additional benefit, the presence of women in the ranks of peacekeepers has also effectively served to police the behavior of peacekeepers themselves. In Lamptey’s words, “the presence of more women can actually help dilute a macho approach to peacekeeping,” which can in turn help combat the problem of sexual exploitation and abuse (SEA) among peacekeepers. In Liberia, for example, the number of reported SEA violations decreased from 45 in 2005, to 30 in 2006, to just nine allegations in 2007.

While the UN has a long way to go toward bridging the gender gap among peacekeepers, doing so will do more than simply improve the male-female ratio. The increased use of female peacekeepers will clearly improve UN peacekeeping qualitatively, making it more efficient and expanding the realm of what it can achieve.

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State Department Wittingly Letting Terrorists onto US Soil?

Delegates from a State Department designated foreign terrorist organization, the Lord’s Resistance Army, have been granted U.S. visas so they can travel to New York to meet the Security Council. Some background: The LRA is a militia that has terrorized the population of northern Uganda for nearly two decades. A peace deal, however, is in the works–and could even be signed by the LRA’s notorious leader as early as Thursday. One sticking point in the peace deal are what to do about the International Criminal Court indictments on the LRA’s leadership, and the delegates are hoping to press the Security Council to stay those indictments in the interest of peace.

The State Department’s decision to grant LRA delegates visas seems to signal that the United States is willing to at least countenance lifting the indictments. This is not entirely unreasonable. One possible solution to the justice v peace dilemma emerging from the peace talks in Northern Uganda, after all, is to exile Kony and his top lieutenants and temporarily lift the indictments in return for full compliance with the peace accord. This solution may make the ICC Prosecutor cringe, but it shows how politically useful these indictments can be as mechanisms to enforce a peace.

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