I was sick half of last week so had a short work week. A summer cold has been going around the office and DC. I'm doing better now though and upon my return to work I tried to make up for lost time! We received a lot of helpful internal and external documents from the UN relating to land and property in Afghanistan, so this past week I sorted through those documents and began uploading them to the INPROL website digital library. I continued to make progress on the Afghan Primer I'm revising and believe I should be on track for finishing my edited version by the time my summer is finished with USIP in 3 weeks. As for things I learned about around USIP this past week:
There's a lot of buzz around the Afghan election results and the impending corruption investigations. Final results are anticipated to be confirmed and released on July 22nd. So far, preliminary results show that Dr. Ghani has approximately 56% of the votes and Dr. Abdullah has about 43%. Ghani is supporting the results as fair and legitimate, while Abdullah is alleging widespread fraud. The US is hoping for credible election results and a stable transition of power to either candidate following the complete investigation by the Independent Electoral Complaints Commission. Secretary of State John Kerry made an unannounced visit to Afghanistan last week to meet with both candidates and current President Karzai to affirm US support to the Afghan peoples' committment to democracy. While the US will be withdrawing most of its military troops by the end of 2014, it will still be supporting the country with billions of dollars in aid.
I learned about the opening of the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law in Valletta, Malta. A USIP program officer is currently developing a foundation rule of law course for the IIJ that will target senior criminal justice stakeholders from across the Middle East and Africa. The State Department issued a press release regarding the IIJ opening, saying:
"On June 18, 2014, the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) opened in Valletta, Malta. U.S. Ambassador to Malta, Gina K. Abercrombie-Winstanley, was joined by Maltese Foreign Affairs Minister George Vella and other senior officials from the twelve IIJ founding member nations (Algeria, France, Italy, Jordan, Malta, Morocco, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States), the European Union, the United Nations, and other partners to inaugurate the Institute.
The IIJ will provide rule of law-based training to lawmakers, police, prosecutors, judges, corrections officials, and other justice sector stakeholders on counterterrorism and, where appropriate, related transnational criminal activities. More broadly, it will work to strengthen criminal justice systems and build regional judicial, police, and other criminal justice practitioner networks to address terrorism and related threats in a rule of law framework. The IIJ will initially focus on countries in North, West, and East Africa, and the Middle East, paying particular attention to supporting countries in transition.
At the June 2012 Ministerial meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), participating ministers and senior officials announced strong support for the establishment of the IIJ as a key platform to deliver sustainable justice sector training on the implementation of rule of law-based good practices for effective counterterrorism practice in the criminal justice sector being developed by the GCTF, and other international and regional fora to counter terrorism and related transitional criminal activity. The IIJ is a not-for-profit foundation in Malta, with an international governing board of administrators representing countries from the founding members. For the initial period, the IIJ will be managed by an Interim Secretariat, which will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the IIJ during its initial phase and will manage the transition to the Executive Secretariat, which is expected to occur in early 2015. The Interim Secretariat will be comprised of a small number of officials (five-to-seven) drawn from the Government of Malta and international partners. The IIJ will be housed at the University of Malta Valletta campus while its permanent facility – a 16th century armory – is refurbished."
USIP is planning its inaugural Iftar celebration to commemorate the conclusion of Ramadan on July 23rd at sunset. Invitations have been sent to 160 Institute-wide nominated invitees, representing US government officials, civil society partners, members of the diplomatic community, as well as USIP donors, partners, and members of the Board. This sounds like such a wonderful event and can hopefully provide an opportunity for peace, appreciation, and understanding amongst Muslims and their friends and allies amidst so much conflict and chaos ongoing in the Middle East.
USIP convened an Iraq/Syria Senior Working Group (SWG) with attendees that included former US government and military officials, think tank leaders, NGO leaders, and regional experts. The group plans to provide a list of recommendations to the US government on Iraq and the wider region in the coming weeks. For more on the conflict in the region and USIP's Justice and Security Dialogue work, see:
Wishing the world peace...