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Arab Spring as a sign of continuity and change

Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

In the editorial note of the first issue of Regions & Cohesion, we directly asked ourselves and our readers: What role do people play in regional integration processes? Regions have, indeed, developed in different ways and for different reasons. One of the main questions behind the mission of this journal asks: Are territories serving their citizens, or do citizens serve the needs of expanding territories and interconnected markets?

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Fostering peace through dialogue

The international social democratic movement and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pentti Väänänen

The Socialist International (SI), the worldwide forum of the socialist, social democratic, and labor parties, actively looked for a solution to the Jewish-Palestinian conflict in the 1980s. At that time, the Israeli Labour Party still was the leading political force in Israel, as it had been historically since the foundation of the country. The Labour Party was also an active member of the SI. The Party’s leader, Shimon Peres, was one of its vice-presidents. At the same time, the social democratic parties were the leading political force in Western Europe. Several important European leaders, many of them presidents and prime ministers, were involved in the SI’s work. They included personalities such as Willy Brandt of Germany; former president of the SI, Francois Mitterrand of France; James Callaghan of Great Britain; Bruno Kreisky of Austria; Bettini Craxi of Italy; Felipe Gonzalez of Spain; Mario Soares of Portugal; Joop de Uyl of the Netherlands; Olof Palme of Sweden; Kalevi Sorsa of Finland; Anker Jörgensen of Denmark; and Gro Harlem Brudtland of Norway—all of whom are former vice-presidents of the SI. As a result, in the 1980s, the SI in many ways represented Europe in global affairs, despite the existence of the European Community (which did not yet have well-defined common foreign policy objectives).

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La primavera de las rebeliones populares árabes

Gilberto Conde

*Full editorial is in Spanish

Las rebeliones populares árabes de 2011 constituyen uno de esos raros acontecimientos que sacuden al mundo y de los que se seguirá hablando durante décadas. A menudo nos acostumbramos a situaciones cómodamente cotidianas olvidando que el cambio, lo impermanente, es lo único continuo. Los recientes movimientos árabes son una prueba de ello. Quizás se popularizó llamar “primavera árabe” a estos sucesos por lo refrescante y agradable que resultaba ver desde fuera lo que acontecía en una región en la que se pensaba que el tiempo se había congelado, en sociedades que se pensaban inmutables. Todos los autores aquí reunidos, especialistas en estudios del Medio Oriente, consideramos importante estudiar, entender estas rebeliones, y analizar qué es lo que cambia y lo que permanece. ¿Una región pulsante, activa, es una región cohesionada? Queremos averiguarlo; por ello este número especial de Regiones y Cohesión y mis siguientes reflexiones a manera de introducción.

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Unraveling the Syrian revolution

Michael Provence

Since March 2011, Syrian citizens have challenged their government through street protests and, more recently, armed confrontations. Both the protest movement and the government’s response to it have their roots in the recent past. This article examines the contours of the last decade, and events in Syria since 2011, to understand the origins of popular protest and the origins of the Syrian government’s largely military response. Protest and dissent appeared after Bashar al-Assad came to power in 2000. The government’s response to such protest was not predetermined, but was rather the result of specific governing structures and political choices made by state elites.

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Comments on the Zero Draft of Rio+20 outcome document

Caritas Luxembourg and Norry Schneider

The first version of the declaration (“Outcome Document”) for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD or ”Rio+20”), the “Zero Draft”, was released by the UNCSD Secretariat in January 2012. The 19-page document is based on a compilation of inputs received from United Nations (UN) member States and other stakeholders, and it outlines a vision for building a sustainable world. This piece is part of a Caritas Luxembourg position paper sent early February 2012 to the Ministry for sustainable development and infrastructure of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (Ministère du Développement Durable et des Infrastructures, or MDDI), in order to inform Luxembourgish government’s position on sustainable development prior to the Rio+20 conference.

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On African cohesion and international cohesion

Ambassador Dumisani S. Kumalo

Keynote address of the 2011 Conference of the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion (RISC) Rustenburg, South Africa, 30 November 2011

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Water management, migration and governance

Carmen Maganda and Harlan Koff

Regions & Cohesion aims to foster dialogue on the human and environmental impacts of regional integration processes. The mission of the journal is purposely defined broadly so as to create as wide an inter-regional dialogue as possible on issues affecting communities throughout the world. As the introduction to the first issue of volume one clearly stated, our goal is move people rather than territories to the center of debates on regional integration.

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Designing and implementing their own future

Grassroots efforts among the Maya of Guatemala

Allison D. Krogstad

In the Kaqchikel Maya town of San Jorge La Laguna, Guatemala, a fight to reclaim lost land in 1992, though unsuccessful, eventually led the community to become one of the first Maya towns on Lake Atitlán to have a garbage dump, a drainage system, and an environmental education agenda. The efforts of San Jorge, along with the efforts of other communities, have led to the creation of national organizations such as Coordinadora Nacional Indígena y Campesina (CONIC), and have attracted the a ention of foreigners with organizations such as Mayan Families. By striving to improve their immediate environment and learning about the global impact of their actions, the people of San Jorge La Laguna are providing both a physical and an ideological space for themselves in the future.

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A human rights-based approach

A gate to development of African women's land rights?

Karin Tengnäs

The global competition for African land is at a historical peak. Local effects of large-scale land acquisitions depend on multiple factors, but women's rights and livelihoods are generally very fragile due to historical and contemporary injustices. Good land governance is important for turning the land acquisitions into equal and equitable development opportunities. The human rights-based approach promotes good governance by adding strength and legal substance to the principles of participation and inclusion, openness and transparency, accountability and the rule of law, and equality and nondiscrimination. By empowering rights-holders and enhancing duty-bearers' capacity, international development cooperation can lead to wider and more gender-balanced inclusion of civil society in negotiations of large-scale land acquisitions and greater adherence of duty-bearers to the rule of law. This is especially important in African countries with large amounts of land and weak legal and institutional frameworks to protect rights, especially those of women.

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Environmental and natural resources governance

Rethinking public-private relationships

Carmen Maganda and Olivier Petit

Talking about environmental and natural resources (ENR) governance today is generally related to the search for holistic elements to achieve sustainability. Political ecology clearly points out and debates the need to see ENR, particularly those related to vital necessities, as global public goods. It sounds like an easy equation: How can we achieve sustainability without sharing access, costs, benefits, and of course governance of ENR needed for all human activities? However, as logical as it seems, development inequalities and unregulated market relationships on the management of these resources are still predominant. Therefore, environmental governance and sustainability is still one of the major contemporary global challenges.