Archive for July 28, 2012

Fragmenting Social Cohesion in Algeria?

Many column inches have been dedicated to pinpointing why precisely Algeria remained immune to the Arab Spring. Much of the answers lie in the manner in which the nation’s economy is managed, with the Bouteflika regime being able to co-opt allies and sideline opponents through the spoils of the profits derived from hydrocarbon resources.

Narrimane Benakcha discusses why this Maghrebi country remained an Arab Spring survivor here: The Algerian Regime: An Arab Spring Survivor.

Likewise, James Traub tackles this issue in Foreign Policy: The Dog That Didn’t Bark: Algeria Looked Ripe for Revolution – What Happened?

The Shared Societies Project believes that globally, leaders can make greater efforts to achieve a shared society once they and their communities understand and communicate the economic benefits therein. Download a more comprehensive explanation of this line of thinking here:


In Algeria, a country whose social fabric has been at times been left thread bare following a decade of Civil War, mismanagement of the country’s economy is arguably leading to a fragmentation in social cohesion, as warns a cautionary new op-ed piece by Kamal Benkoussa, published on the Open Democracy website. A sample of this article is posted below, along with a link to the main text:


The Algerian population is a young one, with 70% under the age of 35.  These youths will end up, sooner or later, rejecting the notion that their future is mortgaged – and bitter memories of the violence of the 1990s will not be enough to hold them at bay.

You can follow the author too on Twitter: @KamalBenkoussa



Amnesty International has received credible reports of recent human rights abuses against Rohingyas

Several weeks ago, the Shared Societies Project sought to raise awareness of disquieting trends in Myanmar. in the last few days, Amnesty International has reported that any last semblances and vesitages of social cohesion in this multiethnic state have fast eroded.

Breakdowns in inter-community development and dialogue between Myanmar’s Rohingya and Rakhaine in the Western part of the country has prompted an influx of refugees pouring out towards the Bangladesh border. Amnesty International dispatches from the nation have documented that targeted attacks and other violations by security forces against minority Rohingyas and other Muslims are becoming increasingly more prevalent. Upwards of 100 people have been killed since violence began and more than 50,000 people are estimated to have been displaced.


Follow #myanmar @AmnestyOnline on Twitter.

Human Rights Watch has likewise followed and kept the international community up to date with matters pertaining to social cohesion in Myanmar. Away from sheltering Rohingyas in Bangladesh, Human Rights Watch has also reported of several thousand ethnci Kachin refugees from Burma isolated in Yunnan, China, who are at risk of return to a conflict zone and are presently lacking much needed humanitarian aid.

Check out a photo-essay of this unravelling situation here:


Get involved and follow their work on Twitter here: @hrw

Ready for the Finding Ways to Walk Together National Meeting!

Finding Ways to Walk Together. National Dialogue in Liliesleaf, Rivonia

The Finding Ways to Walk Together Project, part of the Shared Societies Project, has celebrated its National Meeting in Gauteng, South Africa, yesterday and today with financial support from the European Union Delegation in the Republic of South Africa.

The intention with the national event is to have a visionary and inclusive meeting where “differentvoices” come together to do the following:

  • Receive and reflect on key themes emanating from the provincial dialogues
  • Draw inspiration from positive case studies of societies that are successfully walking together,both in South Africa and beyond its borders
  • Have conversations with the National Planning Commission
  • Have conversations with (national and international) political actors and Club of Madrid Board Members
  • Consider key practical proposals on how to sustain dialogue as an approach to maximise theopportunities for cohesion and development
  • Contribute to shifts attitudes (from despair to hope; from apathy to taking responsibility forone’s own destiny) and behaviour (a willingness to engage and dialogue as opposed toaccepting divisions and separation) in the South African context

The purpose is to inspire a core group of South Africans to unite around a vision of a countrywhere dialogue is practiced and sustained at all levels and to commit to achieving that vision.

We would like to say thank you to our partners: Idasa and The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation.

We’ll give you further information very soon, but we are so proud of this initiative that ensures a pacific and democratic future in a country like South Africa.

World’s Most Dangerous Countries For Women: Thomson Reuters Foundation Survey

The Shared Societies Project campaigns to ensure that an even playing field exists for women within our societies. That means, fighting to ensure that legal frameworks protect the rights of women, guaranteeing an education system that that demonstartes a commitment to a shared society or promoting respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity for instance.

This week Trust Law, a global hub for free legal assistance and news and information on good governance and women’s rights, run by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, has relased the results of a survey assessing the world’s most dangerous countries for women. This research threw up the following not too unsurprising results:

  • Afghanistan features top of the scale, where an estimated 87% of the female population are illiterate
  • Similarly, the Democratic Republic of Congo ranks high, especially for a country where 1,152 women are estimated to be sexually assaulted each day
  • Pakistan figures equally prominently, where women earn a staggering 82% less than men
  • And lastly Somalia, where deplorably 95% of women face genital mutilation between the ages of 4 and 11

However within this survey, an eyebrowraising inclusion amongst the list of aforementioned dangerous countries for women was India. Of all the rich G20 nations, India has been labelled the worst place to be a woman. This therefore begs the question, how is this possible in a country that prides itself on being the world’s largest democracy?

Helen Pidd of The Guardian explores this in her below linked article entitled:


Trawl through all of the data and key findings of Trust Law‘s Danger Poll below:


What’s Splitting Syrian Society Apart?


Past sectarian violence in the Lebanon and Iraq, and fresh waves of sectarian violence in post Gadaffi Libya today, provide uncomfortable reminders for Middle Eastern observers of the dangers and perils of internecine violence, much akin to what we are presently witnessing in Syria.

Syira is a country with a kaleidoscopic ethnic mix, its 19 million strong population being subdivided into amongst others Sunni Arabs (65 percent), Alawis (12 percent), Christians (10 percent), Kurds (9 percent), Druze (3 percent), Bedouin, Ismailis, Turcomans, Circassians, and Assyrians. However, daily we are reminded that on the streets of Aleppo. Damascus, Homs, Latakia and Hama, neighbourhoods there are far from Shared Societies.

The SSP is deeply concerned that the last vestiges of inter community development are fast being eroded in this Middle Eastern state. The SSP is calling upon the international community to recharge its efforts to find a political resolution to violence in Syria and to work towards:

  • Initiating a process to encourage the creation of a shared vision of society
  • Promoting respect, understanding and appreciation of diversity
  • Taking steps to reduce tension and hostilities between communities

A cessation to the violence presently engulfing Syria is paramount, since this wildfire sectarian conflict risks spreading further afield to neighbouring countries, principally the sectarian tinderbox that is the Lebanon – a theory that should neither be discounted or taken lightly. A political fix to this situation is essential; blueprints and plans for a post-Assad transition restoring the country back to a functioning democracy in which all ethnic groups are represented must be ironed out now.

If the international community does not take swift action, can we really afford to have another Lebanon or Balkans style crisis on our hands? In an op-ed piece for The ObserverThe Guardian’s roving Middle East correspondent Martin Chulov chillingly reminds us of the risks of a potential Balkanization of Syria. A divided territory of small, hostile states is not what is required, and all efforts should be pulled out to keep working towards restoring Syria to a Shared Society.

Take a look at Martin Chulov’s op-ed piece here:


Find out what has held Syria together over the last 50 years, and what threatens to tear it apart and plunge the country further into degenerate violence through reading the musings of Seth Kaplan, author of Fixings Fragile States, on Syria’s Ethnic and Religious Divisions.

To keep abreast of an uptodate with the unravelling situation in Syria, Al Jazeera, operates a timely and richly informative Syria Live Blog in addition to providing an interactive Timeline of Unrest in Syria. Follow these by clicking on the hyperlinks provided…

Connect with the Fragile States Resource Center on Twitter via @fragile_states!

Downtown Mogadishu – Signs of a Securer Society?

Somalians need little reminder of their unwanted moniker as one of the world’s foremost failing states; the East African nation has been badly plagued by internal fighting for more than two decades following the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

Feuding warlords subsequently made Mogadishu their playground before the rise of the Islamist insurgents of Al-Shabaab around 2006. Now, after rebels were pushed out of the city by African Union Mission in Somalia forces, Mogadishu’s residents are step by step recovering and a semblance of normality has returned to Somalia society. Goran Tomasevic, a photographer working for Reuters, visited the Somali capital in June 2012 to document people’s lives, capturing through his lens, present day images of securer Mogadishu society.

Scroll through Tomasevic’s portraits of dowtown Mogadishu published in today’s The Guardian here:

Life in Mogadishu as Somalia’s capital slowly recovers from war – IN PICTURES

Likewise, cast your eye over Tomasevic’s Reuters Full Focus Profile:

Photographer Notebook: Goran Tomasevic

Seeking to better inform yourself about current trends in this corner of the world? Then persue through Amnesty International’s Somali Republic profile! This hyperlink leads you to annual reports about the current state of play in this Islamic nation in addition to providing you with timely notifications of all developments in Somalia!



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