Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Ask CFR Experts

Why have many Muslim states struggled to achieve democracy?

Asked by Farah, from University of Karachi

If "democracy" is achieved when governments rule by consent through free and fair elections, then some of the world's largest Muslim nations are democratic: Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Turkey. In the Arab world, experiments to achieve democratic governance are underway in Iraq, Lebanon, and Tunisia, and are beginning in earnest in Egypt. Arguably, Pakistan has just witnessed its first democratic transition of power.

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See more in Middle East and North Africa; Democratization

Primary Sources

UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan: Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict

The Human Rights Unit of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) prepares mid-year reports on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Afghanistan, as mandated by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2096 (2013), which "recognizes the importance of ongoing monitoring and reporting to the United Nations Security Council on the situation of civilians in Afghanistan's armed conflict and in particular on civilian casualties."

See more in Afghanistan; Conflict Assessment; Human Rights

Op-Ed

The Unsettled Question

Authors: Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot
ForeignPolicy.com

Elliott Abrams and Research Associate Uri Sadot look at the demographics of Israelis living in the West Bank. By analyzing trends in electoral data from the past three Israeli elections, they conclude that settlements continue to grow outside the large blocs, albeit in reducing pace, and that the numbers of Israelis currently living outside those blocs is different than what is commonly accepted.

See more in Israel; Peace, Conflict, and Human Rights

Op-Ed

If Trayvon Were Pakistani…

Author: Micah Zenko
Foreign Policy

Following President Barack Obama's remarks on the Trayvon Martin case, Micah Zenko highlights the inconsistency in Obama's policies towards justice. Although the president has stated in reference to the case that it is wrong to profile individuals based on their "appearance, associations, or statistical propensity to violence," and the use of lethal force cannot be justified as self-defense unless there is reasonable grounds to fear imminent harm, those are the exact foundational principles of U.S. signature strikes.

See more in Pakistan; United States; Drones; Ethnicity, Minorities, and National Identity

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Is an oppressive government better than anarchy?

Asked by Raveena

Both tyranny and anarchy are bad political options for a country. The political theorist Thomas Hobbes, looking at the ravages of anarchy during England's civil war in the 17th century, famously concluded that life without government was terrible because "there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; … no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continuall feare, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, [is] solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short."

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See more in Fragile or Failed States; Regime Changes