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The IDCR is pleased to welcome two Visiting Professors from Mexico, Professor Tomislav Lendo and Professor Irma Mendez de Hoyos. The two professors are being hosted in the IDCR from January to December 2013, and both are engaged in empirical research on different aspects of Mexican politics. The University of Essex has a strong relationship with Mexico and since its establishment in 1964 has taught over 550 students from Mexico. Professors Lendo and Mendez de Hoyos received their PhDs from the renowned Department of Government at the University of Essex.
Professor Tomislav Lendo
Professor Tomislav Lendo obtained his PhD in Government from the University of Essex, and his MSc in Public Policy from the University of London QMUL. He has specialised in Political Communication. He was Chief Speechwriter for both President Vicente Fox and President Felipe Calderon. During his 12 years at Mexico’s presidential office, he wrote or supervised all Presidential messages and briefed the President for his interviews with both, the national and international media. He participated in cabinet meetings regarding all public policy sectors. He provided general guidelines for Mexico’s Federal Government messages on the most relevant current issues. Previously he served at the Mexican Ministry of Social Development (Secretaria de Desarrollo Social) as General Director of Social Studies. In the academic sector, he has taught in areas such as anthropology, politics and public policy. He has participated in conferences both in Mexico and Europe and published several papers on public policy and Latin-American politics. He is currently engaged in a research project that analyses Presidential speeches with respect to public security in Mexico.
Professor Irma Mendez de Hoyos
Professor Irma Mendez de Hoyos is a full time Researcher and Professor at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences in Mexico (FLACSO Mexico); and National Coordinator of the Network of Researchers on the Quality of Democracy in Mexico (Red de Investigación de la Calidad de la Democracia en México). She is a member of the National System of Researchers in México (SNI). Her PhD is in Government, University of Essex, UK. She teaches courses on transition to democracy, political parties, elections, electoral behaviour and public policy in Mexico and Latin America at post graduate level. Her most recent research projects are “The Quality of Elections in Mexico at local level”, “The Quality of Democracy in Mexico at local level”, and “The independence of Electoral Management Bodies in Latin America”. She is currently on her sabbatical leave at the Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution (IDCR), University of Essex, researching on electoral malpractices in presidential elections in Latin America, 2006-2012
The IDCR was pleased to host a talk by Sylvia Meichsner on the phenomenon of ‘child-circulation’ in Tijuana, a significant border town between Mexico and California. Her talk was based on extensive ethnographic field research in Tijuana and surrounding areas through a network of ‘orphanages’.
This paper seeks to explore residential care institutions for children and young people in the Mexican-American border zone. It seems pertinent to look closely at this specific branch of non-governmental welfare service and the forces driving it as this charitable field – commonly conceptualized as genuinely beneficial for the prospective recipients and unproblematically homogeneous – generates extensive donor support. Relevant factors coinciding in the area that make residential child- and youthcare both necessary and possible will also be examined – including, but are not limited to, international migration, the specific urban setting and routes of child circulation in the area.
Sylvia Meichsner trained as a sociologist and social science researcher. She has been living and working in Latin America for a number of years where the presented piece of research is a result of deep field research. At the University of Essex she is affiliated with the Sociology Department and the School of Law.
Iraq ‘War Fatigue’ leaves voters reluctant to support action in Syria
Ten years after the fall of Saddam most Britons feel the war in Iraq was a failure, new research shows.
A survey commissioned by academics at The University of Essex with Georgia State University in the US in found 51 per cent of British adults believed the action did not succeed.
The resulting ‘war fatigue’ is fuelling a deep reluctance to intervene in Syria among voters in both Britain and the US despite an escalating humanitarian crisis, the survey’s authors say.
The survey of 2,014 Britons and 1,990 Americans, carried out by YouGov, found just four per cent of Britons felt the Iraq war was mostly a success, while 31 per cent felt it was ‘somewhat’ a success. Twenty one per cent of Britons felt the war had mostly failed, and 30 per cent felt it had ‘somewhat’ failed.
There was strong opposition to the Iraq war among British respondents to the survey. Forty four per cent said they disapproved of the action, while 25 per cent approved.
In the US, there was a little more support for the war 10 years on, though the largest number of respondents were against it – 33 per cent approved, while 43 per cent disapproved. Eleven per cent of Americans said they felt the war had been mostly a success, and 33 per cent felt it had been somewhat successful, while 19 per cent felt it had mostly failed and 22 per cent said had ‘somewhat’ failed.
Dr Thomas Scotto from the University of Essex, the lead investigator in the study, said the fallout from action in Iraq and Afghanistan had led to ‘war fatigue’ on both sides of the Atlantic.
“Given the mixed results and heavy costs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Syria could be a hard sell,” he said. “Political elites are not actively making a sustained case to the public for intervention.”
The survey was carried out twice – in May and June 2012 and again in February 2013. But despite a worsening humanitarian situation in Syria it did not find any increase in public support for military intervention by Britain or the US. Just 12 per cent of people in the UK and 15 per cent in America supported the use of ground troops to protect the Syrian public.
There was even less public enthusiasm for sending in troops to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad, with just eight per cent of the UK public and nine per cent of Americans favouring such an option.
The figures showed virtually no change since an earlier survey in May and June 2012, despite reports of atrocities by the regime.
“Although there is now a steady flow of news on the worsening situation in Syria—including possible atrocities by the Assad regime and a refugee crisis—the American and British publics have not increased their willingness to intervene,” Dr Scotto said.
With politicians in the United Kingdom, United States, and Europe openly discussing arming rebel groups, the surveys showed the public nonplussed. “There is just no mood for intervention beyond enforcing a no-fly zone against Assad’s air force. I don’t think the average Briton or American can be persuaded military intervention in this deadly conflict is the proper course of action,” Dr Scotto added.
Results from both the United States and the United Kingdom suggest public support would remain low even if more countries and allies were to be involved in action against the Assad regime. This was also the case in a survey fielded in May/June 2012.
Dr Scotto is principal investigator on an Economic and Social Research Council-funded project called ‘The Structure, Causes, and Consequences of Foreign Policy Attitudes: A Cross-National Analysis of Representative Democracies.’ The YouGov survey was part of that project.
Notes to Editors
Dr Thomas Scotto of the University of Essex and Jason Reifler of Georgia State University in Atlanta, USA worked with YouGov to survey 2,014 Britons and 1,990 Americans as part of an ESRC funded project on comparative foreign policy attitudes.
For more information please contact Fran Abrams, communications officer for the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Essex on 01206 873684 or 07939 262001, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Thomas Scotto regularly checks his e-mail and will respond via Skype or telephone as quickly as possible to media enquiries.
His e-mail address is: email@example.com
IDCR Director Professor Todd Landman and IDCR Fellow and Managing Director of Cyberalpha have written a new paper on the democratisation of technology, open source information and conflict analysis, which will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the International Studies Association in San Francisco 3-7 April 2013.
The proliferation of cheaper, faster and more powerful technology over the last few years has dramatically increased the ability of ordinary people to supply information of significant consequence through the public domain. The combination of mobile technology, access to Web 2.0 and greater individual preparedness to proffer information means that data capture of objective information regarding observations and events of conflict has been enhanced. This article contributes to this exciting development in three ways. First, it outlines the main developments in new technology that can assist conflict researchers and analysts in mapping conflict patterns, behaviours, and networks from open source data. Second, it shows how we developed new software that scrapes the web, fuses data and then links these data on violent events to stylised icons for human rights violations committed by state and non-state actors. Third, the functionality and output of the software are illustrated through the case of Mexico in its struggle against organised crime. The article concludes with a discussion of how the software can be refined to overcome problems of bias and veracity for conflict analysis and other research applications, and evaluates the likely trends of future technology development and potential opportunities for exploitation.
The paper is available through the Social Science Research Network CLICK HERE
Britons want the Falklands to stay British, study reveals
Just one Briton in five wants the government to negotiate with Argentina over the future of the Falkland Islands, a survey of more than 2000 people has revealed.
As the residents of the Falkland Islands voice their support for the Islands retaining their status as a British Overseas Territory in this week’s referendum, a study commissioned by academics at the University of Essex and Georgia State University has found little support for talks about Britain relinquishing sovereignty over the Islands.
Opposition to talks remains constant regardless of whether respondents are reminded of Briton’s colonial history, and those old enough to remember the 1982 Falklands War are even more likely to be against the idea.
The study of attitudes of 2,014 Britons was carried out in early February by YouGov and is part of a larger research project sponsored by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) examining public attitudes towards foreign policy in different countries.
Initial analysis indicates 21 per cent Britons support the statement that “Britain must be ready to negotiate with Argentina over the eventual handover of the Falkland Islands.” In contrast, over 50 per cent of those interviewed disagreed, with 36 per cent doing so strongly.
The survey was prepared by Dr Thomas Scotto from the University of Essex, and Dr Jason Reifler, from Georgia State University.
Dr Scotto said: “The UK Government, led by Prime Minister Cameron, has repeatedly rejected bilateral talks with the Argentinean representatives and has argued the status of the Islands is really a matter for its inhabitants. Our survey and other polling by YouGov on the matter suggest that a belief in the principle of self-determination is a key driver of the opposition to ceding control of the Islands to Argentina.”
“But this result does not necessarily mean those opposing negotiations have an appetite for conflict. Even respondents who strongly agreed with the statement ‘War is never justified’ were still more likely than not to oppose negotiations.”
Now that more than 30 years has passed since the UK and Argentina fought a war over control of the Islands, responses to the negotiation question were analysed to see if opinions differed by age. Dr Scotto found 57 per cent of those old enough to remember the conflict opposed talks, compared with 40 per cent of those who were not. Twenty four per cent of under 35 explicitly agreed with the idea of negotiating away control over the islands. “The age difference suggests that those who remember the conflict might be more opposed because they remember the cost Britain had to bare to retake the Islands, but younger voters do not hunger for the issue to be resolved by ceding ground to Argentinean claims.”
Although pluralities of those who identify with a party all opposed negotiations, Tories were most strongly opposed to the idea—fully 72% disagreed with the idea of discussing relinquishing the Islands to Argentina while just 44% of Labour and Liberal Democratic voters explicitly opposed.
Dr Scotto is principal investigator on the Economic and Social Research Council-funded project titled ‘The Structure, Causes, and Consequences of Foreign Policy Attitudes: A Cross-National Analysis of Representative Democracies’, and the YouGov survey was undertaken as part of this project. He is a regular contributor to IDCR training and research projects.
Notes to Editors
For more information please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 874377 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Thomas Scotto regularly checks his e-mail and will respond via telephone as quickly as possible to media enquiries.
His e-mail address is: email@example.com
The Institute for Democracy and Conflict Resolution is pleased to offer an International Mediation Master Class with international mediation expert and IDCR Fellow Judith Large.
For more information, please CLICK HERE
IDCR Director Professor Todd Landman took part in a high-level conference at the NATO Defence College on the prospects for human rights in Afghanistan after 2014. The event was entitled “Afghanistan after 2014: Ask and Task” organized by the NATO Defence College Foundation, in cooperation with the NATO Defence College and the Istituto Affari Internazionali of Rome and was held in Rome 7-8 February 2013. Participants included representatives from NATO, the United Nations Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), the Parliament of Afghanistan, the Office of the President of Afghanistan, CNBC-Europe, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Centre for Democracy Public Foundation, the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, and other inter-governmental, governmental, and non-governmental organisations.
Here is an abstract of the paper:
HUMAN RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN POST-2014: THEIR VIABILITY IN A CHANGING SOCIAL AND POLITICAL SETTING
The international community is eager for positive news and progressive developments in Afghanistan that include an end to violence, peaceful resolution of underlying and long-held conflicts, strengthening of democratic institutions and the development of rights-protective regime where the Afghan state is able to respect, protect and fulfil is human rights obligations. Using popular indicators on human rights, conflict and development, the paper argues that thirty years of violence has seen widespread gross human rights violations, large number of civilian casualties, torture and abuse of detainees, and violence and discrimination against women. While standard indicators of economic development show robust growth rates, there are significant issues surrounding donor dependency and persistent patterns of inequality and marginalization. The ethnic fragmentation of the country and its contested border with Pakistan are two major obstacles to finding a stable peace as well as long term improvement in the protection of human rights. The withdrawal of ISAF forces will leave a power vacuum and a security problem as domestic security forces step in for a larger role in keeping security, law and order. It concludes that if the withdrawal of troops is coupled with reduced foreign financial assistance, then the human rights situation in unlikely to improve in any significant way, and may well deteriorate with an increase in the kinds of abuses observed during the years of the Taliban.
For more information click this link: NATO Defence College
This week, Director of the IDCR Professor Todd Landman has been working with academics at the Latin American Faculty for Social Sciences in Mexico City (FLACSO-Mexico). The workshop focussed on measuring human rights and analysing the variation in human rights during the period of recent democratisation between 1990 and 2010.
The project focuses on human rights to physical integrity, the right to food, and the right to health and uses both quantitative and quantitative methods. Professor Landman presented the new Human Rights Atlas developed in partnership with the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex and the Mackman Group.
Essex alumni Dr Alejandro Anaya Munoz (PhD Government) and Sandra Serrano (LLM in Human Rights, School of Law) took part in the workshop.
In addition, this year, the IDCR is pleased to be hosting Dr Irma Mendez de Hoyos (FLACSO, and Essex PhD in Government) and Dr Tomislav Lendo (PhD in Government) as Visiting Professors for 2013.
IDCR Fellow Dr Patrick Ball is part of a team of analysts from Benetech in Palo Alto, California which has been working on data on reported casualties in Syria.
The team’s preliminary work has revealed that at least 60,000 people have died in the conflict. The report has been cited by the United Nations, and work will continue on more advanced analysis of the data.
The full report can be found here: