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Release Peace: The Magazine

Analysis & Background Stories on
International Affairs

In times of growing polarization, we look unemotionally at the context and background of what drives our world.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

'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.

“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.

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

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?

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?

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.

Special Section: Europe's High North

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.

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?

In the words of former US President Ronald Reagan, “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought”. Asking a state to give up the most powerful weapon in existence may seem like a mammoth, or even impossible, task. Yet denuclearisation is not unheard of. Ukraine, South Africa, and Libya have given up their nuclear weapons programmes. We take a historical look at those cases.

From the Colombian rainforest to the valleys of Jordan and Israel: Climate change does not only impact the natural environment, but also the security dynamics of large swathes of land, borders between countries, and the conditions for war and peace. The field of "Climate Security" is a new, fascinating academic endeavour into the nexus of climate change and security studies.

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?

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.

Originally called the UKUSA, a "communication agreement" between Britain and the U.S. was created one year after the second World War had come to an end to deepen the relationship between the two victorious countries. The agreement was shortly after extended to include Canada in 1948, and Australia and New Zealand in 1956, thereby creating what is today known as the Five Eyes network.

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.

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.

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.

With the war in Ukraine continuing, questions have arisen over the state and fate of Moldova, a small country sandwiches between Ukraine and the EU that knows a Russian-speaking separatist movement and strong Russian political support for it. The Transnistria region has a complicated history worth exploring in the context of the current crisis in Europe's East.

Previously ruled by Germany, Cameroon was partitioned after Germany’s defeat in the First World War, with France being handed 80% of the country, whilst Britain was to rule the remaining 20%. It was during this colonial-era split that tensions began to rise between the French-speaking and English-speaking communities. Today, little has changed.

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.

Deep in the Indo-Pacific a security dialogue between the US, India, Australia, and Japan is being re-born to keep a certain rising dragon at bay. Though originally established for the purpose of maritime cooperation after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the coalition now has a much broader agenda and one specific goal.

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.

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.

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...

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?

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.

A human right is a universal standard for how every person ought to be treated or what they ought to have access to. Human rights are inherent. A cantilever argument is used in human rights discourse to argue for the recognition of a new human right because of its similarities with an existing human right. That is, the same moral logic can be used for both.

You might picture Sri Lanka as a country with beautiful landscapes and a wonderful Buddhist heritage. But since Sri Lanka's independence in 1972, its ethnic diversity has been a driving force of tensions that resulted in a civil war between the Tamil nationalist group, also known as the Tamil Tigers, and the Sinhalese government. Today, more than a decade after the end of the conflict in 2009, a peacebuilding process is still underway.

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