Editor's Choice

2021 Editor’s Choice: Global Observatory Must Reads

The editors of the Global Observatory have compiled some of 2021’s notable and most-read articles that speak to both global events and new thinking around topics such as conflict, counterterrorism and the twenty-year anniversary of 9/11, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping, gender and security, and the climate crisis.

Conflicts and Security in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mexico, and Somalia

Articles on events in these countries made up the majority of the most-read GO posts of 2021. These offer a look back at a few of the year’s major developments:

  • Jon Abbink wrote about the international response to the conflict in Tigray in our most-read article of 2021.
  • Bereket Tsegay analyzed the role of regional special forces in recent conflicts in Ethiopia.
  • Colin Robinson explored rising politicization and the misuse of parallel military forces in Somalia.
  • Gema Kloppe-Santamaría looked at impunity, police brutality, and femicide in Mexico in response to the murder of Victoria Esperanza Salazar.
  • Following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Adam Day considered what is next for the country and argues for an international response that focuses on what Afghanistan needs.
  • Erica Moret called for sanctions regimes that prevent further avoidable suffering for Afghan people amid the worsening humanitarian crisis.

Counterterrorism Twenty Years after 9/11

2021 marked the twenty-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the formation of the UN counterterrorism agenda. Here are just a few articles that delve into the topic, some of which were part of our June series:

Where is UN Peacekeeping Headed?

Among the many articles published on the topic, here are some essential reads on UN peace operations from 2021:

  • In our second most-read article of the year, Paul D. Williams outlined the problems with proposals for a UN peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.
  • Katharina P. Coleman looked at “downsizing survivor syndrome” amid the prolonged contraction in UN peace operations.
  • Paul D. Williams offered an overview of the major trends and developments in peace operations over the last decade.

… And Should UN Peacekeeping Missions Support Counterterrorism Efforts?

  • Paul D. Williams laid out why a UN support office for the G-5 Sahel Force in Mali is a bad idea.
  • John Karlsrud weighed up the consequences of support offices to regional counterterrorism operations as a new form of peace operations.
  • Naureen Chowdhury Fink and Arthur Boutellis move away from the framing of whether peace operations should “do” counterterrorism to address difficult questions for the Sahel.

New Thinking on Women, Peace, and Security

Many of this year’s highlights on women, peace and security (WPS) looked at gender and militarism, including contributions to our October series:

  • Zinab Attai and Sabrina Karim wrote about the contradictory legacy of militarism, gender reform, and the WPS agenda in Afghanistan.
  • Dean Peacock analyzed militarized masculinities, gendered political economy, and peacekeeping as part of our WPS series.
  • Marie Berry and Milli Lake argued that imagining a future without violence against women requires imagining a world without policing and the structures that maintain it.
  • Phoebe Donnelly, IPI’s Head of Women, Peace and Security program, provided a primer on conducting gender analysis for those in the UN community looking to include a “gender perspective.”

COP26 and Next Steps for Climate Action

Our recommended readings on climate, which include articles from our November series, speak to the immediate and longer-term challenges:

  • Joshua Busby, Morgan Bazilian, and Florian Krampe argued that climate change must be tackled as a global security risk at the UN Security Council.
  • Adam Day outlined three pathways for the UN to help wean us off our fossil fuel addiction in spite of continued inaction.
  • Cedric de Coning and Florian Krampe looked at the climate-peace nexus after COP26.
  • IPI’s Masooma Rahmaty and Jimena Leiva Roesch on the need to include youth in peace and climate decision-making.