I am excited to share our latest newsletter with you, to keep you updated on events, visiting scholars, and recent developments at the SFB 700.
The Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 700 can look back at a productive 2015 – a year in which the individual projects amassed valuable empirical findings and were able to advance their research significantly. After many of our researchers spent the summer and fall conducting work in the field, they are now busy consolidating and evaluating their data.
This newsletter contains reflections on the last few months and perspectives on upcoming events and new visiting scholars. Three of our researchers will report on their fieldwork experiences in Afghanistan, Kenya, and Guatemala. Finally, we will give you an overview of the Collaborative Research Center’s latest publications and working papers.
As always, we appreciate your feedback and send you our warmest wishes for 2016. Enjoy reading!
With best regards,
Thomas Risse Coordinator SFB 700
SFB 700 to Participate in the ISA Annual Convention
From March 16–19, 2016, the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 700 will participate once again in the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association (ISA), taking place in Atlanta, Georgia. This year, eleven SFB scholars will travel to the 57th convention to present different contributions on governance and limited statehood
For example, the SFB will organize a panel examining the question: “Areas of Limited Statehood: What Makes State and Non-State Governance Effective and Legitimate?” An overview of the SFB’s activities at the conference can be found here.
As in recent years, the SFB will also present its work with a book and information stand at the conference. Look for us at stand 626 in the ISA Exhibit Hall of the Hilton Hotel Atlanta.
We also look forward to supporting the FU Berlin’s Kolleg-Forschergruppe “The Transformative Power of Europe” in hosting a reception for interested guests and experts, as well as for friends of both institutions. The reception will take place on March 16 at 7:30 pm in Grand Ballroom D of the Hilton Hotel Atlanta (the invitation is available here). The SFB 700 will have a book and information stand there as well. You can find an overview of all the Research College's activities at the ISA 2016 here.
We look forward very much to another ISA conference and hope to see you at one of our events or at our book and information stand!
As the year came to a close, we welcomed Prof. Nicole Deitelhoff and Prof. Christopher Daase to the SFB, both from the Goethe Universität Frankfurt. Prof. Deitelhoff and Prof. Daase conducted research through the end of 2015 on the topic of political force. In a lecture at the SFB, they presented their new research project “Zwingender Friede” (Forceful Peace), which concentrates on (non)violent force, force from different actors, and forced diplomacy, among other things.
We would like to thank all of our visiting scholars for the productive cooperation, new impulses, and support of the SFB 700!
Project T3 and MISEREOR Joint Workshop at the SFB
On November 12, 2015, the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 700 hosted a workshop titled “Engaging Armed Groups: Options and Limitations of Mediating Brokerage.”
The event was organized jointly by MISEREOR and the SFB’s transfer project T3, which focuses on the implications of the SFB 700’s research for German foreign policy and cooperates closely with the German Federal Foreign Office. Guests included representatives of state and non-state organizations from the Philippines and Myanmar, who talked about their experiences negotiating peace agreements and involving external mediators. Discussants included numerous scholars from various research projects at the SFB 700, as well as representatives of the Federal Foreign Office.
Among other things, the participants discussed the potentials and limitations of increasing the legitimacy of negotiation processes by involving non-state, military actors. Other topics included the role of civil society in peace building, federal reforms as an answer to limited statehood, and conditions that support negotiating a sustainably effective and legitimate peace agreement.
Police-Building, Prevention, and Political Order – Report on Fieldwork in Guatemala
In the SFB project C3 - Police-Building und Transnational Security Fields in Latin America, we look at security governance transfers and the impact the historical legacy of such transfers has on current statebuilding interventions. At the focus of our investigation is the example of transnational police-building in Guatemala. Soon after we began, it became clear that police-building in Guatemala encompasses much more than simply the reform of the police as an institution. In the largest state of Central America, the range of international interventions in the area of security is enormous: external actors focus on institution building, capacity building, and “soft” forms of security such as community policing and the strengthening of local communities in the name of “citizen safety.”
While countries such as the United States and Colombia continue to engage in classic police-building in Guatemala, they are increasingly concerned with developing a “holistic” security approach. According to a USAID representative interviewed during my first fieldwork trip for the C3 project in November 2012, this approach aims at recuperating the public space. In the coming years, this is slated to become the new paradigm of security politics in Guatemala. The security concept, influenced in part by the US experience in fighting insurgents in Afghanistan and criminal gangs from Los Angeles to Medellín, is being implemented most clearly in Villa Nueva. Southwest of Guatemala City, Villa Nueva is a notorious crime hotspot and reflects many of the liberal statebuilding trends in the region.
In addition to “modern” strategies such as community policing, the current mayor of Villa Nueva, Edwin Escobar, relies on institutional cooperation between police forces and the military, as well as the use of new technologies from surveillance cameras to smartphone apps. Escobar is more familiar with the discourses and practices of external actors and security experts than nearly anyone else in Guatemala. He asks the residents of Villa Nueva to do their part as well: over hotlines, the internet, or by organizing into prevention committees, residents are expected to contribute to gathering information on criminality and reducing violence.
Through interviews with representatives of the Dirección General de Seguridad Integral and with community leaders from different parts of Villa Nueva, as well as my participation in two workshops on citizen security in 2014 and 2015, I got to know Villa Nueva’s “integral” security approach. This strategy ultimately aims to (re)establish the state’s consistent, overall presence. In addition to the measures mentioned above, it also encompasses prevention projects such as extracurricular activities for “at-risk youth”, as well as a reorganization of public space.
Villa Nueva provides a good example of how transnationally circulating security practices and discourses are appropriated and implemented locally. Even though US Vice President Biden declared Villa Nueva a role model in the region, reactions are divided on the consequences of Mayor Escobar’s approach.
The C3 project’s initial findings suggest that transnational security governance transfers reproduce historical patterns of privatizing social control and surveillance. This applies in particular to violence prevention programs and projects that aim to build “resilient” communities. Using the example of Villa Nueva, our research shows that adopting external expert knowledge can contribute to reproducing an exclusive order, fostered by the depoliticization of urban security governance that tends to go along with expert knowledge.
Field Research Trip to Nairobi, and the Myth of “Capacity Building” in the Fight against Piracy in the Horn of Africa
As part of my work in the Collaborative Research Center (SFB) 700’s Research Project C11 - Charting the International Legal Framework for Security Governance by External Actors in Areas of Limited Statehood, I traveled to Nairobi (Kenya) in October 2015 to conduct field research. Project C11 is concerned with the question of how cross-border criminality, which often flourishes in areas of limited statehood, can be countered most effectively. But why is Kenya interesting? The current model of international criminal law places responsibility for combatting transnational criminality on the states. Treaties dealing with this type of criminality determine the structures of cooperation and the ways in which a state can or must declare itself responsible for prosecuting alleged offenders in its law enforcement and justice system.
Kenya stood out from 2007 to 2014 for its fight against piracy along the Horn of Africa. While Western states mostly attempted to combat perpetrators on the high sea by deploying their marines, the heavy burden of criminal prosecution was divided among three regional states through bilateral agreements: Mauritius, the Seychelles, and Kenya. Of these three states, Kenya by far sentenced the most perpetrators. The system currently in place has never been implemented to such a great extent.
Although many doubted at the time whether Kenya would be able to rise to this challenge considering its limited resources and human rights situation, others repeatedly argued that the international cooperation would contribute to a kind of capacity building within the Kenyan justice system. My research trip aimed to investigate this argument.
I was especially interested in how the guarantees regarding basic rights to a fair trial, which the European states required of Kenya through a “Memorandum of Understanding,” actually play out in the Kenyan criminal justice system. The answer to this question is sobering. Although these rights were decidedly written into articles 49–51 of the new 2010 constitution, most of my interview partners agreed that this improvement cannot be attributed to the fight against piracy. This is particularly glaring in relation to court-appointed legal counsel: In order for a criminal proceeding to fulfill the requirements of due process according to Article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention, the accused must have the right to a court-appointed lawyer. This was one of the guaranties that Kenya accepted in the Memorandum of Understanding. Yet, even though Article 50, clause 2(h) guarantees the right to a court-appointed counsel, it only applies when a failure to do so would result in a substantial injustice. The courts almost never determine that this is the case. Thus, the right to a court-appointed defense is essentially only guaranteed when the accused faces the death penalty (for murder or high treason).
Another interesting finding was that the Kenyan population views international penal jurisdiction (for example, through the ICC) not nearly as negatively as the government does. Taken together, these two main insights can be summarized as follows: international cooperation in the framework of combatting piracy has not led to any tangible development aid for the Kenyan justice system, thus refuting the argument in support of the current legal framework. The Kenyan population takes a rather positive view of international criminal jurisdiction, suggesting that they in no way share the government’s position that it represents a postcolonial instrument used by Western states with a sole focus on Africa.
Researching Afghanistan – Public Opinion in Afghan Society during Difficult Times
I have been researching societal transformation processes in Afghanistan since 2003, under conditions shaped by a complex international intervention and a state formation process. At first I analyzed local conflict dynamics in northern and eastern Afghanistan, using them as a heuristic key to research the dynamics of social order.
From 2006 onward, the SFB 700’s research team, together with Afghan colleagues that we trained, developed a methodology toolbox of qualitative and quantitative instruments. Our goal was to systematically record the consequences of the international intervention for local society over an observation period of twelve years. At the core of our work are surveys, profiles, and interviews that I conduct every two years in cooperation with our Afghan colleagues in (by now) 27 districts of northern Afghanistan. We, the SFB 700’s C9 project, collected the most recent set of field data in this long-term study in the spring of 2015. This article will briefly outline our project’s implementation and preliminary findings.
Since 2007, when I was personally able to visit all 80 villages in our investigation, our access to the field has grown significantly more limited – not only for me but also for the Afghan members of our team. In rural Afghanistan, access to villages must usually be discussed with representatives from those villages, sometimes through lengthy negotiations, even to ensure that outsiders do not encounter unveiled women on our visit. Since the Taliban-led intervention into key strategic districts of the north from 2007 onward, the local security situation has grown noticeably more complicated.
Our first survey in 2007 showed that the Taliban did not represent an influential factor at all, that the (negative or positive) influence of previously powerful informal local commanders from the old Anti-Taliban Alliance had massively decreased, and that both the ISAF presence (international military) and the Afghan security forces currently being established were viewed positively by the great majority of respondents.
Since then, much has changed. In 2009–2010 and again after 2012, the Taliban succeeded not only in pushing state presence out of some sub-districts but also providing certain continuous governance services – for example, Islamic jurisdiction and law enforcement – beyond simply ruling through force. The ISAF presence was doubled again between 2010 and 2012 in order to push the Taliban back and advance the training of Afghan security forces. However, this all occurred as the United States declared its intention to largely pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Indeed, state security forces and the subnational administration gradually took over responsibility for security and governance in all districts by 2014, but they were often overwhelmed by continual pressure from the Taliban. Administration-aligned local militias started forming to support the state in defending these territories against the rebels. This militia program began informally but was then increasingly subordinated to the district police force as the Afghan Local Police (ALP). In any case, the program had the effect that the older, so-called Jihadi Local Commanders from the civil war and the Anti-Taliban Alliance of the 1990s gained significant influence.
These trends were also reflected in our surveys and interviews from 2007 to 2015, but not always in the ways that we expected:
Respondents’ perceptions of ISAF’s positive security effects have plummeted; at the same time, fear of the international forces has increased. Although the national security forces initially operated in concert with ISAF and later took over responsibility for specific combat missions, trust in their positive effects on security remains constant, and fear of them has only increased slightly from a very low level. This shows that the transfer of security responsibility was a decision that many Afghans welcomed. At the same time, a positive evaluation does not mean that the population is confident in the ability of its own forces to effectively provide security on their own. Here, people are more pessimistic: only one-third of respondents believe that this will occur, and they indicate in qualitative interviews that it will require a political peace process and further foreign support.
With few exceptions, militias elicit a positive perception of effective security governance – but only when they are formalized and subordinated to the state. In some districts, however, militias greatly contributed to arbitrary violence, which we increasingly expected and which opened the door to the Taliban in some places.
The local population is unconvinced of the Taliban as governance actors. This is also true in the core areas of competition with the state, namely security and the dispensation of justice. It is important to note here that in terms of adjudication, state justice remains a total failure in the eyes of the population.
Regarding “output legitimacy,” the state has found itself under increasing pressure at the local level, although development measures have had a clear positive effect on the problem-solving capacity attributed to the state. The visibility of the state administration has increased steadily over the last years.
These findings of the C9 project reflect the situation before the temporary fall of Kunduz in September 2015, which was a shock to many Afghans and clouded their confidence in the state’s ability and the Taliban’s willingness to advance peace.
The trends of the past few years, however, show that even – or especially – in violence-ridden areas of limited statehood, the state remains attractive as a promise of prospective peace and is preferred to other local functional equivalents such as the Taliban or the commander system when it comes to the governance service of security. At the same time, less critical governance problems are often solved through local societal institutions, if possible.
Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Thomas Risse Spokesperson: Prof. Dr. Stefan Rinke Managing Director: Eric Stollenwerk, M.A.
Research Program of the Collaborative Research Center 700
Governance has become a central focus within the field of research of the social sciences. The SFB 700 inquires into the conditions of governance in areas of limited statehood. This includes developing countries or those in transition, failing and failed states in troubled regions around the world, and, from a historical perspective, different colonialset-ups.
The center‘s main research questions are: How can effective and legitimate governance be sustained in areas of limited statehood? What problems emerge under such conditions? Which consequences may arise from non-state governance for national and international politics?
Der SFB 700 is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and was set up in 2006.