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Annual Report 2009

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Release date: 2009-04

BICC (Bonn International Center for Conversion) will be 15 years old in 2009. It was founded in 1994 on the initiative of the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). 

With our Annual Report 2008/2009, we want to inform you about BICC’s current activities in the fields of applied research, advisory services and training at the nexus between peace and development worldwide. 

Unfortunately, many of the hopes, which were placed in the term ‘conversion’ 15 years ago have not been realized. This is demonstrated in the data part of the Annual Report, which shows worldwide trends in defense expenditure, armed conflict and militarization. Generally speaking, we have established that the size and structure of a state’s military apparatus can have a considerable influence on its human and economic development, as well as on violent internal and external conflicts. The Global Militarization Index (GMI), which is presented here for the first time, is intended as an aid to all those who wish to study this nexus more closely. 

On 5 April 2009, US President Barack Obama announced in Prag “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”. With his Editorial, Dr. Jayantha Dhanapala, former Deputy UN Secretary-General and member of BICC’s International Board considers whether and how the Obama Administration can ring in a new era of disarmament. 

The EU-funded DIASPEACE and INFOCON projects are devoted to the topic of migration and the diaspora—new territory for BICC. An international conference took place on South-South migration in Sub-Saharan Africa, with special focus on migration and security. 

The international “Digging for Peace” conference, which was organized by BICC in cooperation with the Fatal Transactions (FT) campaign, a study on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, and the exhibition “Natural Resources for a Fairer World” all considered the links between the extraction of natural resources and armed conflict and discussed possible solutions. 

An academic project on ethnic federalism studied the institutional preconditions for stability and conflict resolution. A further research project analyzed how the societal and democratic control of private soldiers can function in a war region. 

But the ‘classical’ topics of conversion, such as demobilization and reintegration, small arms control and nuclear disarmament remain relevant and are linked with ‘new ideas’. For example, one project studies wartime rape and its effects on the post-conflict period. A further project sets out to help to supervise and evaluate the reintegration of thousands of demobilized ex-combatants in Colombia. 

The Annual Report also presents BICC’s projects on small arms control in Ghana and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as in cooperation with the East African Community (EAC). An international conference discussed new opportunities for a compromise in the nuclear dispute with Iran following the elections in the United States.