The Dossier aims to explore new trends and expressions of violence in armed conflict in the 21st century. Taking as a starting point the changing paradigm of armed conflict – from conventional wars with clear contours towards more non-linear, fragmented and protracted types of civil and international conflict — it adopts a broad approach to portray changing forms of violence across different types of armed conflicts (including terrorism, international/civil wars or urban warfare). In the context of a fragmenting international order, with increasingly blurred lines between state and non-state, combatant and civilian, domestic and international, the number of actors involved in conflicts and concurrent strategies of violence have multiplied. In face of the ubiquity of violent conflict — despite an overall decline in interstate conflict and global number of casualties — the Dossier aims to shed light on new or changing forms of violence, their contexts, actors and victims. It explores the novelty, heterogeneity, scales and vectors of violent practices in contemporary conflicts by investigating the impact of a series of factors such as new military technologies (drones, robots), new communication tools (social media), gender, migration, or the subcontracting of security to private actors.
Today, we observe a renewed interest in the theme of decolonization in three interrelated fields: in the academic world which opens new areas of research and teaching (e.g. decolonization studies; decolonizing the curriculum), in the practice of professionals and international actors who are revisiting their way of working, as well as in the vocabulary and activism of civil society targeting the remnants of colonial times such as street names, statues or museal objects. The renewed focus on decolonisation brings forth underlying issues such as the lingering of eurocentrism, continued oppression of indigenous people, cultural relativism, the ongoing materiality of colonialism, the guilt of the West or, more generally, "the darker side of western modernity". While decolonisation has had a lasting impact on the political scene (with the decolonisation movements of the 1960s) and theoretically in the realm of academia it lags behind in practice as processes, mentalities and epistemes are still permeated by “coloniality”. The aim of the present issue of Global Challenges is therefore to put decolonialisation into historical perspective and to provide fresh analytical perspectives on its epistemologies and methodologies as well as its practical application and consequences in various fields.
A pandemic is not just a medical emergency – it is also a political, economic, and social crisis. It implies new challenges for democratic institutions and practices, for citizenship rights and human rights as some of the restrictions on civil liberties put in place by liberal and illiberal democracies may well outlive the coronavirus. This special issue explores some tensions and dilemmas of democracies faced with the current crisis. “Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemics” addresses questions like: Can we speak of a decline in politics during the pandemic? While states have been using the full gamut of their sovereign prerogatives, has the political (temporarily) faded in the face of, for example, “expertise”? What will be the lasting impact of the rule by administrative fiat, and of emergency powers put in place in many countries? What kinds of agenda and instruments of civic activism are likely to emerge given that courts are rarely in session and public protest not permitted due to distancing rules? What are the likely consequences of these reconfigurations for democracy, governance, and welfare systems in the global South and North?