From rising cities and militant groups to carbon democracies and forgotten genocides: these topics may not have topped bestseller lists in 2013, but they can deepen our understanding of international relations and prospects for peace and security as 2014 kicks off. Staff at the International Peace Institute (IPI) compiled a list of recent books that capture today’s complex global landscape. The list includes volumes that focus on peace and security, as well as those that address the history and political dynamics in regions where IPI has established program activities: the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
This list will be published in two installments: (1) recent books (below), and (2) reports and other short reads that you may have missed.
Peace and Security
Conflict Assessment & Peacebuilding Planning by Lisa Schirch (Kumarian Press, 2013)
This volume fills a gap in the current conflict-sensitive development and peacebuilding literature, offering a practical methodology to link conflict analysis and assessment to the design, planning, monitoring, and evaluation of peacebuilding efforts. For those less inclined to dig into the book (although it is an accessible work that reads more as an handbook than an academic treatise), the volume comes with a website that includes the main resources for conflict assessment and peacebuilding planning. Suggested by Francesco Mancini, Senior Director of Research.
A Crucial Link: Local Peace Committees and National Peacebuilding by Andries Odendaal (Unites States Institute of Peace, 2013)
Local and society-level peacebuilding efforts are critical to achieving sustainable peace at the national level. Some peace negotiations have authorized the creation of local peace committees, from South Africa to Northern Ireland to Nepal. This book is the first comparative study of these committees and what they bring to both community-level and national peace processes. Namely, local peace committees can build social cohesion, facilitate dialogue, and prevent violence, helping to sustain national peace agreements by addressing local aspects of conflict that are often otherwise ignored. Suggested by Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Visiting Fellow.
Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing When We Need It Most by Thomas Hale, David Held, and Kevin Young (Polity, 2013)
Global problems require global solutions. This book examines the interconnected nature of international challenges today, from climate changes to financial crisis, and argues that transnational solutions are more needed than ever. However, Hale, Held, and Young argue that issues of multipolarity, institutional inertia, and fragmentation have led to gridlock in the multilateral system. It concludes with a reflection on what type of politics may lead the way out of the institutional dysfunction of the international system. Suggested by Adam Lupel, Editor and Senior Fellow.
If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities by Benjamin Barber (Yale University Press, 2013)
Calling for “a planet ruled by cities” and a world Parliament of Mayors, this book looks at inter-city cooperation as a possible new paradigm for global governance. Barber examines existing partnerships between cities around the world, asserting that the pragmatic approaches of successful mayors can transform not only urban problems, but global ones. Throughout the book, there are eleven profiles of innovative mayors—from New York to Lagos to Delhi—which are a new and valuable contribution to the growing literature on fragile cities. Suggested by Andrea Ó Súilleabháin, Visiting Fellow.