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  • Author: Denny Roy
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: As many analysts have pointed out, US policy towards North Korea is “failing.” It is true that Pyongyang has declined the US/South Korean offer to give up its nuclear weapons in exchange for economic opportuni es and upgraded poli cal rela ons. Instead, the North Korean government remains intensely hos le towards Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo, and con nues making progress towards deploying a nuclear‐ pped intercon nental ballis c missile — a frightening prospect.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Wang Feng
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 1970, Chinese women were having an average of nearly six children each. Only nine years later, this gure had dropped to an average of 2.7 children per woman. This steep fertility decline was achieved before the Chinese government introduced the infamous one-child policy. Today, at 1.5 children per woman, the fertility rate in China is one of the lowest in the world. Such a low fertility level leads to extreme population aging— expansion of the proportion of the elderly in a population, with relatively few children to grow up and care for their aging parents and few workers to pay for social services or drive economic growth. China’s birth-control policies are now largely relaxed, but new programs are needed to provide healthcare and support for the growing elderly population and to encourage young people to have children. It will be increasingly di cult to fund such programs, however, as China’s unprecedented pace of economic growth inevitably slows down.
  • Topic: Population, Health Care Policy, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Peter Engelke
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: An insecure supply of clean water raises the dangers of economic disruption, social tension, and even conflict over water resources at both the domestic and international levels. These dangers are highest where water is scarce and governance (at the domestic or international levels) is poor. Asia provides the most powerful illustration of water security risks, with significant challenges that affect both the water supply and demand sides, as well as important governance shortcomings. While there are enormous disparities across Asia in terms of this issue, the continent’s overall water outlook is discouraging. Much of Asia suffers from the consequences of investments in supply-side water infrastructure projects that have emphasised gigantic scale over the efficient use of water. These investments have often been made without adequate consideration of their economic, social, diplomatic and environmental costs, nor with much concern for long-term impact. The rapid pace and massive scale of Asian urbanization are placing new stresses on water demand, because city dwellers consume more water than their rural counterparts. Water experts and practitioners across Asia are fully aware of the continent’s many problems and are diligently working to overcome them. There will be no easy fix, however, because of Asia’s massive scale plus significant financial, political and institutional obstacles. As in other domains, there is no substitute for good governance. Widespread progress on the continent will occur when local, regional, and national leaders use good data and information to make the right decisions to manage water resources smartly and cooperatively over the long run.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Water, Food Security
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Marc Finaud
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: Since Egypt, Iran, and Israel have signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), they agree to the goal of prohibiting the testing of nuclear weapons. As a building block towards the establishment of a weapons-of-mass-destruction-free zone (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, they could jointly or concurrently ratify the CTBT, thus creating a de facto nuclear-test-free zone in the region that Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen could join. This could act as a confidence-building measure and facilitate the participation of these states in the activities of the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), which verifies compliance with the test ban.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Nicolò Fasola
  • Publication Date: 11-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The aim of this paper is to identify the enduring principles at the basis of Russian military thought, offering an alternative to the contemporary analytical mainstream – which deems Moscow’s military behavior to be revolutionary and unprecedented. This is based on comparative analysis of Russian official military discourse and practice between 2008 and 2016. Critical inspection of the two Military Doctrines approved during this timeframe and of various military drills will reveal a series of rhetorical and operational recurrences. Notwithstanding numerous changes at the international and domestic levels that could have had an impact on Russian military behavior, no substantive shift is distinguishable. These empirical findings will constitute the basis for a reconstruction of Russian military thought. Through a deductive method, we will be able to reconstruct the ultimate assumptions granting them logical coherence and legitimization. Far from being incomprehensible, Russian military thought will be presented as the adaptation of classical strategic principles to contemporary contingencies.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Tamar Lagurashvili
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Invented Traditionalism vs. Entrenched Informal Institutions: Viability of Hybrid Governance and Democratization Prospects in Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland is new discussion paper by former IIR independent researcher intern, Tamar Lagurashvili.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Political and institutional effectiveness
  • Political Geography: Central Africa
  • Author: Benjamin Tallis
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The discussion paper by Benjamin Tallis, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations, seeks to examine such competing evaluations of the current state and future prospects of the CGSD.
  • Topic: International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: This discussion paper, co-authored with the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the Sciences Po Law School Clinic, proposes a new approach to conducting human rights impact assessments (HRIAs) of business operations or projects, which brings together project-affected people, the company, and other stakeholders to jointly design and implement an assessment. The aim of this new approach is to address one of the key challenges of current HRIA practices: the limited engagement and participation of relevant stakeholders, which can undermine effectiveness and trust.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrycja Sasnal
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman is solidifying his position and changes to the foreign policy of Saudi Arabia. His main objective is the forceful consolidation of the Arab camp against Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood. Key decisions of Saudi foreign policy—the military intervention in Yemen, imposition of a blockade on Qatar, and pressure on the Lebanese government—have proven counterproductive. The continuation of this ill-advised policy is neither conducive towards the stability of the Middle East, nor to the Saudi posture and ability to form alliances.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Wojciech Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: According to the new U.S. strategy for Afghanistan, winter will not stop intensified operations against the Taliban. With the increased U.S. and NATO troop level, Afghan forces will switch from defensive to offensive activities. Only stronger military pressure and other forms of influence taken together might impel the Taliban to negotiate with the government in Kabul. The political effects of the new strategy should be expected only in a longer-term perspective.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan