Lauren Meryl Williamson


What Lies Ahead for Libya

By Lauren Meryl Willamson

The existence of heavily armed civilians, remaining supporters for the Gaddafi regime, and a political system in chaos make for a difficult road ahead as the National Transition Council (NTC) seeks to gain legitimacy and control in Libya. Chatham House’s 18 August 2011 report Libya: Policy Options for Transition examines possible solutions including calling for the return of the skilled diaspora, restoring services and supplies and diversifying Libya’s oil-dependent economy. When the Chatham House held this discussion on the transition options for Libya, it was apparent that Tripoli would be key. It was unclear then whether it would be a quick triumph for rebels or an extensive, bloody battle. Just six days after, Gaddafi’s compound in Tripoli was seized. But what looked initially to be a speedy takeover, has exposed deeper challenges for the transition ahead.


Human Capital: Investing in Africa

By Roland Bensted and Lauren Meryl Williamson

Education and development go hand in hand. Educated individuals experience superior personal fulfilment and contribute positively to societal development. Education, as Dr. Florian Kapitza put it, is a crucial “building block”. For Sandy Balfour, it is “liberating”, both for individuals and societies. But the problem facing many African countries is that the resources to provide such education aren’t readily available – at least not locally. Furthermore, many highly qualified professionals, such as doctors, lawyers, and academics leave in their thousands every year to advance their careers in the West. This is where aid plays its part. 

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Empty Skies and New Realisations

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

When you are 16, you know everything. You know how to wear your makeup just-so, you know how to drive, how to sneak out of the house, how to flirt with boys and how to ace pre-calculus exams. And you know that if a plane crashes into a New York City high rise, it can only be a pilot error, an accident. Before 7:55 a.m. Central Standard Time on 11 September 2001, I had never heard the word “terrorist”. At least I had never heard it and understood that it could have any relevance in my own life.

AP Photo/Philipp Guelland

Capturing Crises

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

Bibi Aisha’s melancholic beauty is magnificent to behold; her personal tragedy is easy to see: the 18-year-old’s ears and nose were cut off by Taliban members, as punishment for running away from her Taliban husband and seeking refuge at her parents’ home in Afghanistan. But it is the artistry and photo-journalistic talents of Jodi Bieber that captured the story in one single shot. The power of the portrait is that it allows the entire world to view the type of justice that strict Sharia law imposes upon women. The intimate, provocative piece won the 2010 World Press Photo competition and now serves as the centrepiece for the organization’s 2011 showcase. The other 171 images in the collection - some graphic, some baffling- also elicit visceral reactions, leaving exhibit-goers speechless, grappling for words to convey the emotions stirred.

Women & War

Women & War

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

Although full of provocative insights that highlight the tribulations of women in Palestine and Iraq, the collection of essays in Women and War in the Middle East falls short in offering a comprehensive picture of gender issues in Middle Eastern conflict zones. Several key authors capture the essence of the gendering processes that occur during conflict and reconstruction, but the book’s structure limits it to optimal use as an academic reference rather than a resource for policy-making.


Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

For author Robert Slater, it really is all about the oil. From manipulative government tactics, to aggressive moves by multinationals, to the minute diplomatic endeavours of politicians, the quest for oil lies at the centre of it all. While the book Seizing Power: The Grab for Global Oil Wealth is clearly slanted toward the resource narrative, the substantiating evidence Slater provides makes the bias seem justified.

AP Photo/Richard Drew

Tough Challenges Loom for Liberia’s Leader

By Lauren Meryl Williamson

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is no stranger to political challenges, but the 72 year old is about to have her leadership tested even further in this final year of her term.