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Release Peace: The Magazine

Context & Background Stories on
What Drives our World

In times of growing polarization, we look unemotionally at the context and background of the stories that shape our societies.

A significant task for humanity in the 21st century is to recognize its dominant -and often detrimental- role in shaping the planetary environment. One country has an ecocentric part in its constitution and enshrines RoN (rights of nature). Largely unnoticed, it might just be the role model the world has been looking for.

“Our current resistance has a particularly female face” was the way Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, acknowledged and praised the role of women in defending their country. From frontline combat roles to humanitarian support, women play a pivotal role in Ukraine. And the world should take note.

Estonia, a small country at the eastern edge of the EU and NATO, has gained a reputation for being one of the most advanced digital societies in the world. Estonians can use their electronic identification cards to pay bills and sign contracts electronically. The birthplace of Skype, Wise and Bolt has much the world can learn from.

The MFO is a a little known peacekeeping mission whose sizeable force of 1,700 has not only avoided wars for over 40 years, but also serves as an unofficial forum for diplomatic exchanges hidden from public eyes. It could serve as a template for neighbours at conflict.

Whilst growing US-China tensions have been in the spotlight, the relationship between the United States and India is no less significant. India has long tried to balance a security relation with the US with its economic one with China. Over the past few years, this balance may have shifted.

Where There is Light There is Darkness: Russian Hybrid Warfare Against Georgia

The 2008 war was the first deployment of cyber warfare in any armed conflict globally. Today, Russia's toolbox in Georgia includes much more than that.

A recognised UN member state that few have heard of, and whose head of state even fewer will know. But his power is virtually unchecked. As this small southern African nation heads to the polls, a closer look seems warranted.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has been in the news recently. But this article explores a trend reversal for the court you might not have heard of. It all started a few years ago with an announcement by the African Union. An announcement with surprising consequences: None.

An Interesting Case Study of Chinese Overseas Investment

The Bui Dam emerged 90 metres into the sky above Ghana in record time between 2009 and 2013. Ten years on, what can be said about the benefits and drawbacks for the West African nation and the dam's financier, China?

Local Perceptions Matter: How do You Feel About Pro-Democracy Foreign Interventions?

Little covered by most of the world's media outlets, the West African nation of The Gambia provides for an incredible and unique case study on what happens once a dictator is removed from power peacefully...but only due to the help of foreign powers.

The space programme has civilian and military dimensions. It is about more than just shooting satellites into space. However, it also presents a lifeline for Russia in light of the heavy sanctions the latter is under since its 2022 full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Throw C4ISR into the mix and the space race is on.

Countries and Cultures That Disappear Into the Ocean

Despite contributing a combined less than 0.03% of global greenhouse gas emissions in 2019, the island nations in the Pacific will face disproportionate impacts of climate change.

The challenges facing trade multilateralism are several and affect all three pillars of the supposed guarantor of global trade, the World Trade Organization (WTO): negotiation, dispute settlement, and transparency are all up for discussion.

While France and Germany have long advocated for greater European autonomy from the United States, Poland and the Baltic states have always viewed Europe's relations with the US as nothing short of existential. Not least the war in Ukraine might proof that they were right all along.

No Peace to Keep: A Failed UN Peacekeeping Mission

It was June 30th 2023 when the United Nations Security Council decided to end the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) by the end of 2023. Some argue there was no peace to keep to begin with. This is the story of failures..

In the EU, some member states are pushing for Russia to be designated a state sponsor of terrorism due to its actions against civilians in Ukraine. This could have grave implications for Russia.

A country where only 4% of schools teach in its national language, where the national flag and coat of arms were removed, and where books from a poet that lived over 100 years were banned in August 2023.

The Changing Venezuelan Crisis: From Peril to Peril?

Venezuela has been engulfed in a political and economic crisis for decades, resulting in the largest economic collapse in a peaceful country since 1950, with poverty rates as high as 95% and the mass exodus of over 7 million citizens. In April of 2023, Colombian President Gustavo Petro hosted leaders from 20 countries to discuss the ongoing crisis. A few months on, where do we stand?

Anne Hidalgo, serving as the Mayor of Paris since 2014, has placed green policies at the top of her agenda to transform the city of light. The goal is to reshape Paris into a “15-minute city” despite its population of 2 million. Most daily necessities should therefore be accomplished within a 15-minute cycle or walk from home. This mainly entails building the city with an inclusive view of its people.

Forty-one percent of Bangladesh's population live at sea level. 2 million people lost their livelihoods after cyclone Sidr hit the country back in 2007. Reports from the UNHCR and ICRC shed light on what is to come.

Nanotechnology exists on the nano-scale – between 1 and 100 nanometers, or an astonishingly tiny billionth of a meter. Breakthroughs on this tiny scale allow for improvements in various sectors including engineering, medicine, and biology. As has been true for most technology, there has been a growing interest in its weaponization.

The world’s largest island is one covered by glaciers, surrounded by icebergs, and blanketed by snow. It is sparsely populated by just 56,000 inhabitants spanning over 2 million km2. Since the first human settlements were established on the island over 800 years ago, Greenland has been controlled by many outside powers.

“An EU with 27, 30, 36 states, with then more than 500 million free and equal citizens, can bring its weight to bear even more strongly in the world.” – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. You might have missed this statement, given at a conference of centre-left parties in Europe. Let us bring the full story to you.

The largest tropical island in the world lies in the south-western Pacific and is well-known for its diversity. Papua New Guinea, a relatively small state, gained its independence from Australia only in 1975 but its civilisations are among the most ancient ones, possibly dating back to around 60,000 years. Besides the enormous variety of plants and wild animal species residing in the country, it also has a huge variety of languages and ethnicities. How does such a country work?

Yes, the Soviet Union applied for membership of NATO in 1954. But was NATO's very reason of existence not to defend its members against a potential Soviet threat? What is almost forgotten today could have changed the security dynamics of the Cold War for decades. Did the USSR carry out a stroke of diplomatic genius or was it all smoke and mirrors?

Whether you like maple syrup or not, you will probably instantly associate it with Canada, and at best on second thoughts with Québec. By contrast, you will probably associate the French language in Canada simply with Québec, not with the country as a whole. The story of both languages in Canada is much more intriguing, though. And it might hold interesting lessons for all of us to learn.

To most of the world, Laos represents a beautiful country of rolling green hills and rice paddies. Few know of the dangers lurking just below the ground of this picturesque scene. Since the end of the Vietnam War, Laos has held the unfortunate title of being the most bombed country in human history. The effects of unexploded ordnances from that time go beyond simple safety risks.

Apart from Belarus’s role as a staging ground for Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, the country has recently received little international media attention. A report by the U.S. State Department and numerous cases of individuals shed light on the system of political imprisonment in Belarus.

It was 1988 when a fifth of the entire population of modern-day Estonia came together to sing Eestimaa Laul. It was the song of independence and the first time that the restoration of independence was demanded publicly in this Baltic state. Soon after, the Baltic Way, a human chain stretching an almost unimaginable 600km and spanning three countries and capital cities showed to the world that freedom was a powerful force.

Descendant of Indian royalty and goddaughter of Queen Victoria, Duleep Singh was focal to the British suffragette movement – a turning point in the emancipation of women. Born in 1876, Sophia Duleep Singh was the daughter of Maharaja Duleep Singh and Maharani Bamba. Her father was the last Maharaja (Indian prince) of Punjab before it was annexed by Britain in 1849.

As different as Germany and India are when it comes to, say, GDP per capita, they do face similar challenges. Both countries produce very little oil and gas and are therefore reliant on energy imports. Both countries rely heavily on coal to power their economies. Is that where the similarities end?

We bring you insightful stories every month that look beyond the headlines.

The whole world held its breath when a full-scale war broke out on February 24, giving Ukraine only days to resist. It has pushed the Ukrainian government and its innovative citizenry to develop apps, track Russian troops in real time, and pool donations online. Ukraine was already used to digital doctor's appointments, app-based communication with governments officials, and much more. But in the midst of war, the astonishing ingenuity of Ukrainians seems to have reached new heights.

A Landmark Referendum in Cuba

In September 2022, Cuba overwhelmingly voted to progress the rights of women and of the LGBT+ community in a referendum on the country’s Family Code. The outcome will be a game changer. It was also only the second time in 45 years that Cubans have had the opportunity to express their political beliefs in a democratic form.

A lot is being done to address the inequalities riddled throughout India’s education system. Take a look with us to explore persisting challenges to girls' education in India and the amazing initiatives popping up to tackle these problems.

Over the past decades, Iran has been a hot subject in Western media, with stories largely relating to its geopolitical role. Throughout history, relations between Iran and the West, specifically the United States, have witnessed severe conflicts and disputes. Major western interventions have shaped the history of politics in Iran. Reflecting on this tumultuous history, we will take a look at some of the major points of contention in relations between the West and Iran from the 1950s till today.

On May 21, 2021, Dr. Sarah Beaulieu, an anthropologist at the University of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, conducted a ground survey of the apple orchard near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, once Canada’s largest that, at one point, housed 500 Indigenous children and teenagers. Using ground-penetrating radar (GPR), Beaulieu discovered evidence of up to 200 unmarked gravesites containing the bodies of children that went missing from the Kamloops school.

'The Swedish Model' is often used as a case study for democracies due to its relatively peaceful early transition. Unlike many violent transitions to democracy, as seen in, for example, French history, Sweden never experienced a revolutionary break. Instead, it underwent a long-term structural change. Once Sweden had become a democracy, it did not break down, even under the pressure of the interwar period during which other democracies collapsed. But surprisingly, Sweden didn't always have the ideal conditions for democracy to emerge.

Peace in Mexico - the Women Who Make it Happen

The National Women’s Institute in Mexico created the MUCPAZ Initiative, a grassroots women’s network that collaborates with public institutions to prevent gender violence. The MUCPAZ Initiative represents a cutting-edge endeavour deploying local and gender-balanced peacebuilding paradigms.

Where was Pope Francis between the 5th and the 8th of March 2021? On the 5th of March, he was greeted by Iraq’s Prime Minister, while being surrounded by dancers at Baghdad International Airport. On the 6th of March, he stood next to one of the most influential spiritual leaders of Iraqi Shia Muslims, Grand Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani. Together, they released a joint statement against religious extremism.

Brazil's president Lula da Silva has stepped up legal protections of Indigenous communities, made a slew of appointments to environmental government agencies, and aims to bring deforestation in the Amazon to zero within 7 years. Is it all cheers and joy in Brazil now?

Still to this day, many North Koreans who live in Japan struggle to create a sense of belonging on the island they moved to decades ago. To provide its people with a cultural saturation and to pass on the Korean cultural heritage to future generations, the North Korean regime established ethnic schools across Japan. This is a story with two faces.

Our Running Series on Looking at Structural Phenomena

A Look at Approaches to Development Practice

Conflict-Related Sexual Violence: A Taboo Too Long

The Fate of the BRICS

Watching a war movie can make you wonder how soldiers, who repeatedly experience life-threatening situations, still have determined and confident looks on their faces. Once the war is over, the heroes return home and live happily ever after. We walk out of the cinema or switch off the television, while the movie's happy ending radiates a glow of relief over us. But is it really that easy in real life?

In the midst of the ongoing war, Ukraine is not standing still on other important issues. While the world receives updates about the frontlines in the Donbas every day, we have a look at the latest developments on gender equality in the country.

Special Section: Europe's High North

The U.S. and Saudi Arabia: The World's Strongest Yet Unhappiest Marriage?

Despite their turbulent relationship, the United States and Saudi Arabia are unlikely to give up their alliance and look for alternatives. For the United States to maintain its position in the region, to contain Iran, and to limit China’s influence in the Middle East, the country cannot burn bridges with one of its most important strategic allies. What is Saudi Arabia's view on this relationship?

It might seem perfectly logical to believe that having the high ground during a conflict means an ultimate victory. But what if we take outer space into account? Would the weaponization of outer space by a single actor necessarily mean their absolute domination over terrestrial matters? Surprisingly, controlling outer space may have a smaller impact than one might think.

The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded 102 times since 1901 and the number of nominations has grown over the years. The current record for candidates was in 2016 when a total of 376 candidates were submitted. The Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the world. But how is it determined and who can make submissions in the first place?

Female genital mutilation or ‘FGM’ is defined by the World Health Organisation as “all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons”. Consideration of the long-term implications of FGM provokes a lump in one’s throat, devastation over the treatment of women and girls in today’s world, and sombre admiration for the resilience of FGM survivors.

Many Norwegians take pride in being perceived as a peaceful country. Their advocacy for open international political dialogues and Norway's involvement as a peace mediator has given the country a domestic and international reputation for being a “peace nation”. What are the different historical, social and geopolitical aspects that shaped Norway’s stance in the international arena and made them a “peace nation”?

Imagine living in a place where air pollution can reach 133 times the World Health Organization’s accepted, safe limit. That's the case in Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia. It can serve as a case study for the multitude of reasons causing air pollution. How can a city's air be polluted if located in the least densely populated country in the world?

Tapi Tapi is an artisanal ice-cream parlour in Cape Town, a small operation yet one that punches with heavyweights in food activism. Food activism is happening around the globe. The goals are to combat the imposition of Western ideals on cuisine and bring to the fore traditional patterns of food preparation and eating. So, as well as feeding our palates with mouth-watering ice cream, how is Tapi Tapi’s work feeding into this larger movement?

There is currently no effective cure against AIDS. In the 1980s, the disease was stigmatised as a “gay plague” by many commentators in Europe and the US. This led to a profound lack of research on AIDS and HIV. An approximate 36 million people have tragically died since the epidemic peaked. But there is hope.

Looking Ahead: The news of the future delivered today

China’s latest 5-Year Plan is highly significant in embarking on China’s quest to build a fully modernised socialist country for the 21st century. But the shifting global geopolitical landscape could proof a substantial challenge...

The Saudi Vision 2030 is an ambitious plan to make the country more liberal, sustainable, and less dependent on oil. It has received some criticism and one announcement of an urban planning masterpiece: NEOM City.

Outer Space is no longer just a platform for cutting-edge research. In the past decade, deliberations of all world powers have gained traction to use the outer orbit for military purposes. Rest assured, this will bring many challenges.

Almost 95% of all space technology that currently resides in Earth’s orbit can be classified as dual-use, meaning it can be used for both civil and military purposes. And the majority is. Most satellites have the capability to perform various military actions, be that reconnaissance or surveillance or any other form of information gathering. But some other developments in space are less expected, yet just as lethal.​

How did Sweden turn from trying to develop nuclear weapons itself as a method of self-protection to the becoming the White Knight of nuclear disarmament it so prominently is today? Sweden has continually promoted disarmament policies and spoken out against nuclear testing which has resulted in the Scandinavian nation gaining the nickname the ‘White Knight’ by academics and international institutions alike.

A few years ago Fiji's government was facing international isolation. The post-coup economy of the beautiful island, crippled by tough sanctions, was in chaos. But the vacuum did not last for long. Instead of lashing out at the international community, Fiji turned to an old friend to come to the rescue. What happened next tells something we should all know about the current global power struggle between China and the West.

Only ten months after the 2021 Gaza War and Israel’s Guardian of the Walls Operation, Israel finds itself in yet another cycle of violence. The wave of terror that swept through Israeli cities between March and June 2022 has been one of the most severe Israel experienced throughout the past two decades. While earlier attacks have been concentrated mainly in the area of greater Jerusalem, this year the violence has spread to places all across Israel.

The Waorani indigenous group of the exuberant Southern region of Ecuador are one of 14 indigenous nationalities currently managing this threat. Indigenous territories cover an 22% of our planet’s natural landscape and house an astonishing 80% of Earth’s biodiversity. In a trend discernible globally, indigenous peoples are banding together to challenge the various industries destoying their land.

With a stroke of a pen one Sunday night at the Cairo Conference in 1921, Churchill without knowing it created what was to become one of the most important places for refugees in the Middle East. In 1948, Jordan became the host of the largest proportion of Palestinian refugees, taking in approximately 370 000 refugees, 50% of the total fleeing population. After 2011, the Syrian refugee crisis brought another challenge upon the country...

Turkey boasts the second-biggest armed forces in NATO. Turkey partially blocked Russia's access to the Black Sea. Yet Turkey has not participated in the West's sanctions against Russia. Its trade with Russia has even increased. In a nutshell: It's complicated.

The killing of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September 2022 led to widespread protests and in Iran. But they are not a new phenomenon. Neither is an uprising of women to demand sovereignty over their bodies and appearance singular to Iran.

A lot is being done to address the inequalities riddled throughout India’s education system. Take a look with us to explore persisting challenges to girls' education in India and the amazing initiatives popping up to tackle these problems.

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