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Write for Rights 2021 Campaign Report

April 12, 2022

In 2021 Write for Rights (W4R) was 20 years old. Beginning as grassroots activism in Poland, the campaign now sees over 70 Amnesty entities taking part and people in 120 countries around the world taking action either in person or online.Covid-19 continued to impact campaigning for Write for Rights, with many countries still imposing strict rules around group gatherings. There was however light at the end of the tunnel for some national entities, who did manage to hold in person events. For those who couldn't, the innovations and 'outside the box' thinking continued, with creativity and technology helping make restrictions less restrictive!As we rapidly head into planning for Write for Rights 2022, now is the time to reflect on what we all did together and the amazing ways we worked for positive human rights change in the lives of 10 individuals and communities at risk. 

What will the Ukraine conflict mean for multilateral development finance?

March 23, 2022

The sudden re-calibration of geopolitics in the weeks since Russia launched its bloody invasion of Ukraine is a truly tectonic event that is reverberating through multilateral institutions.The World Bank, the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have suspended activity in Russia. On 11 March, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the European Union (EU) was working to suspend Russia's membership at "multilateral financial institutions, including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank"--an unprecedented move.The Global South has been more ambivalent. China and India have not joined economic sanctions, nor have a number of other countries across the developing world. Thirty-five countries abstained from voting against Russia at the UN General Assembly on 2 March, including Bangladesh, Bolivia, El Salvador, Pakistan, Senegal, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Despite this ambivalence, even Southled institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and New Development Bank (NDB) have announced a temporary halt to operations in Russia and Belarus.It is too soon to know where this will all lead, with bullets still flying in Ukraine. Nonetheless it is worth considering how the conflict might affect multilateral development banks (MDBs)--critical institutions in international development cooperation.

Round-up: US Response to the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

February 24, 2022

President Joe Biden's announcement today included some of the most serious sanctions levied against Russia, far exceeding the sanctions imposed on Russia after its annexation of Ukraine in 2014. But they also left room for further action, including sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, although those may be difficult to impose given the shadowy nature of Putin's financial holdings.The US administration also continued its effort to control the narrative with the scheduling of condemnation motions at the United Nations. But the president made clear that US troops were to defend NATO countries and not to fight in Ukraine. While that was intended to deter Putin's more expansionist agenda, it did leave Ukraine vulnerable to the onslaught of Russian troops.

Conflict in Ukraine: Situation Report #1

February 24, 2022

Russia has launched a multi-effort attack on Ukraine, crossing the border from several points on the eastern and northern border as well as through southern ports and Crimea, with focus on military installations and airports. The offensive has prompted massive displacement from the capital of Kyiv and other parts of the country, with several thousand people entering Moldova and neighboring countries on high alert for continued displacement.Kyiv has instituted a daily curfew, and public transportation stations have opened as shelters as Russian forces attack nearby military bases and airports, and air raid sirens have sounded across the capital since the attacks began on the evening of February 23rd. Ukraine's ambassador to the United States told reporters today that the Ministry of Health has stated hospitals have been attacked by Russian forces, although this has not been confirmed from other sources.According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces entering Ukraine from Belarus have captured the radioactive Chernobyl exclusion zone. The 1,000-squaremile protective zone lies in the direct shortest path from Belarus into Kyiv. Ukrainian forces attempted to defend the storage unit containing nuclear dust, that if disturbed, could cover Ukraine, Belarus, and other countries in the European Union.The port city of Odessa incurred significant shelling overnight, with emergency services struggling to extinguish fires and rescue citizens. Ukrainians near the conflict zones are lining up to access cash and fuel, and although communications and cell towers are reportedly functional for now, citizens are preparing for significant disruptions to supply chains, health care, and road access.Ukraine declared independence following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the country has had a complicated relationship with Russia since then. In 2014, Russian forces annexed Crimea, and have maintained control of the peninsula since then. A few months later, Russian-backed separatists in Donbas took control of the region, and Russia's President Vladimir Putin recognized Donetsk and Luhansk earlier this week as he paved the way for extensive military action in Ukraine.

A Consensus Proposal for a Revised Regional Order in Post-Soviet Europe and Eurasia

December 19, 2019

At the core of the heightened tensions between Russia and the West is the contest for influence over the countries physically located between them (referred to here as the in-between states): first and foremost Ukraine, but also Belarus, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. While the relationship between Russia and the West was far from ideal before 2014, it was the Ukraine crisis that fundamentally changed that relationship, ruling out any remaining hopes for partnership and effectively institutionalizing a confrontational dynamic. The contest over the in-between states has taken a significant toll on these countries. The most extreme case is the war in Ukraine, in which over 13,000 people have died; other regional conflicts have occurred in Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan, and the competition has also disrupted regional trade patterns and set back the process of reform and domestic transformation in these states. In short, all of the states involved—Russia, the countries of the West, and the in-between states—are less secure and prosperous as a result.

Civil Society Voices: How the EU Should Engage Its Eastern Neighbours

May 1, 2015

The EU's "eastern neighbourhood" is an increasingly complicated and contested space. The challenge of Russia's resurgence and regional elites' resistance to reform are forcing the EU to reevaluate its policies.With the launch of its Eastern Partnership six years ago, the EU was ready to offer its neighbors to the east—Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine—integration into the EU market, mobility of people, and close political ties in exchange for rule of law and democratic and economic reforms. Today, it questions whether this policy has secured its strategic interests and political influence.The Eastern Partnership reinforced domestic constituencies for change in at least three partners—Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine—that in 2014 signed association agreements. It has not lost the potential to contribute to democratic processes and support reformers in the other three: Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Belarus. The Eastern Partnership remains the EU's most effective foreign policy instrument to build accountable and stable institutions and states, and uphold the EU's commitment to its neighbors' sovereignty and right to make independent foreign policy choices.This policy paper—the result of extensive discussions with experts and civil society leaders—highlights local concerns and expectations about the EU's role in the region and its support for stability and democracy. As the EU rethinks its policies in the area, this paper offers recommendations on how to make the Eastern Partnership more effective and relevant to people, societies, and government, and to secure the EU's interests in an increasingly polarized and unstable region.

Nations in Transit 2014

June 12, 2014

This is the the 18th edition of Freedom House's comprehensive report on post-communist democratic governance -- highlights recent setbacks to democracy across Eurasia and the Balkans, as well as in Central Europe. Russia served as the model and inspiration for policies that have led to an uninterrupted retreat from free institutions throughout Eurasia and in 2013 brought a new and alarming level of repression. In Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, and several other countries, civil society responded with remarkable resistance to repressive governance. The year also featured improved elections and peaceful transfers of power in Kosovo, Albania, and Georgia.