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  • Author: Efraim Inbar
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies (BESA)
  • Abstract: The United States is retreating from the Middle East. The adverse implications of this policy shift are manifold, including: the acceleration of Tehran’s drive to regional hegemony, the palpable risk of regional nuclear proliferation following the JCPOA, the spread of jihadist Islam, and Russia’s growing penetration of the region. Manifest US weakness is also bound to have ripple effects far beyond the Middle East, as global players question the value of partnership with an irresolute Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Middle East
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau can use this week’s Washington Summit to advance Canadian interests with the Obama Administration. Successful outcomes in Washington will also help to set both the agenda and right mood for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit and, next January, for opening discussions with the next U.S. Administration. A Canadian action agenda is outlined below followed by background and historical analysis. Specific initiatives are grouped in four baskets: Security; Trade and Economic; Climate and the North; and Getting It Done.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: On Wednesday, June 29th, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will host US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for the tenth North American Leaders’ Summit (NALS). All three leaders want this meeting to succeed. For President Obama, it will advance his climate agenda continentally and help to cement his legacy in managing good neighbourhood relations. Climate also rates high in President Peña Nieto’s agenda, along with improving access for Mexican goods and mobility for Mexicans within North America. In terms of Canada-Mexico relations, President Peña Nieto expects Prime Minister Trudeau to announce the lifting of the obnoxious Canadian visa requirement. For Prime Minister Trudeau, making his debut as host of a multilateral summit, it is another demonstration that ‘Canada is back’. He must reset the Mexican relationship by announcing the long-promised lifting of the visa. He will get to know Enrique Peña Nieto better (they met briefly at November’s G20 summit and they were friendly ‘rivals’ for ‘APEC ‘hottie’ at the subsequent Manila summit). The summit represents another opportunity for ‘face-time’ with Barack Obama with whom he has quickly established a strong personal friendship and to reciprocate the hospitality of the White House meetings and state dinner in March. The North American summit comes within a week of the Brexit referendum. It will offer an opportunity for the three leaders to demonstrate a different kind of continental integration – less centralized, less bureaucratic – but still successful in mutually advancing economic prosperity that reinforces the sovereignty of each member.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Chris Westdal
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Canada and Russia are on speaking terms again. Our government has abandoned Stephen Harper’s policy of vocal disdain and the attempted isolation of Russia. We stand against Russian “interference” in Ukraine but, in the words of Global Affairs Minister, Stephane Dion, “the more we disagree, the more we have to discuss.” This paper describes the setting of Canada-Russia re-engagement in terms of current tension in East-West, NATO-Russia relations and of heightened Canadian foreign policy aspiration; rehearses the case for earnest, long-term Western and Canadian engagement, with investment of senior attention and talent; cautions that, though a bit of spring has sprung, there is a lot of ice to thaw, as bilateral sanctions are likely to be lifted only in step with allies and the implementation, halting at best, of the Minsk peace plan; assesses Russia’s vulnerabilities and the record of its interventions in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria; recommends active Canadian support, by all means, for Ukrainian-Russian reconciliation and for a better fence, a “mending wall” between Russia and NATO; and suggests formats and first steps toward the normalization of bilateral and multilateral relations with our Arctic neighbour.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia, Canada
  • Author: Thomas Juneau
  • Publication Date: 07-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The proposed $15 billion sale of light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia has brought significant attention – mostly negative – to Canada’s partnership with the Arabian Peninsula kingdom. Much of this criticism is valid: the human rights situation in Saudi Arabia is abysmal, and Canada and its allies incur costs by being associated with Riyadh’s poor foreign policy choices. But to stop the analysis here and call for the cancelling of the deal fails to take into account the strategic rationale underlying the relationship with Saudi Arabia. Despite its many flaws, the partnership between Saudi Arabia and West, and therefore Canada, remains necessary; rejecting it and turning Saudi Arabia into a rival would make things worse. An important implication is that the best way forward with regards to the LAV deal is to collectively hold our nose, uphold the agreement, and move on.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, Saudi Arabia
  • Author: Colin Robertson
  • Publication Date: 11-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: Energy, the environment, and climate change will figure prominently in Canada-US relations after January 20, 2017. The environmental movement will continue to press for ‘environmental justice’ –which means different things to different groups - in alignment with allies, especially indigenous peoples. Regardless of whether it is a Clinton or Trump presidency, Canadian leadership - provincial, federal, and private sector - must pro-actively advance our interests with Congress, the Administration and its agencies, and with state governments. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump plan to spend a lot of money on infrastructure, including that related to energy. US business likes this idea. A majority of Republicans and Democrats, in both the Senate and House, as well as governors, would like more money devoted to infrastructure. Again, there will be opportunities for collaboration, improving North America’s relative competitiveness. Trade figured prominently throughout the campaign with Hillary Clinton stating that she would not accept the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in its current form and would appoint a ‘Trade Prosecutor’. Donald Trump has declared he will “tear up” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and not sign the TPP. Regardless of who becomes president, we can expect more US protectionist trade action whether aimed directly at Canada - levies on softwood lumber are coming soon - or indirectly, as we recently experienced on aluminum when the US took aim at China.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Oluwakemi Okenyodo
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: As in much of Africa, the vast majority of security threats facing Nigeria are internal, often involving irregular forces such as insurgents, criminal gangs, and violent religious extremists. Effectively combating such threats requires cooperation from local communities—cooperation limited by low levels of trust in security forces who often have reputations for corruption, heavy-handedness, and politicization. Tackling modern security threats, then, is directly tied with improving the governance and oversight of the security sector, especially the police. Key paths forward include clarifying the structure of command and oversight, strengthening merit-based hiring and promotion processes, and better regulating private and voluntary security providers.
  • Topic: International Relations, Corruption, International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: Nigeria
  • Author: Maral Noori, Daniel Jasper, Jason Tower
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In 2011, U.S. president Barack Obama announced plans to "pivot" toward Asia. In 2012, Chinese president Xi Jinping expressed his hope for "a new type of relationship" with the United States. A lack of strategic trust between the two countries, however, prevents critically needed productive cooperation. This Peace Brief addresses the misunderstandings behind this mistrust and a possible way to move beyond them.
  • Topic: International Relations, Communism, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Publication Date: 12-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: After Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane 24 November 2015, tensions between the two countries came to a head, particularly given their very different political positions on the Syrian issue. With Russia an ally of the Assad regime, and Turkey an ally of the opposition, the downed Russian jet has been the latest in a string of incidents that have threatened otherwise growing economic and trade cooperation between the two countries. This position paper argues that escalation of the tension between the two sides will have ramifications not only for the two parties involved, but also for the Syrian crisis.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 08-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Following the results of the recent parliamentary election in Turkey, efforts by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the centre-left Republican People’s Party (CHP) to form a coalition government failed. An alliance between the AKP and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) seems unlikely because, among other reasons, the latter is connected to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The right-wing Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) this week also rejected the idea of a coalition with the AKP. Turkey is thus set for early elections in October or November.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, Elections
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Hannah Cooper
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: As 2014 starts, there are reasons to hope that peace may be in sight in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). National initiatives and committed regional and international political engagement in 2013 led to important advances and new framework agreements to resolve the conflict and insecurity. However, the people Oxfam talked to across eastern DRC reported that their situation remains precarious, particularly in remote areas where there is little state presence. Ongoing national, regional and international engagement is needed, as well as efforts to ensure that high level agreements and initiatives are systematically linked to community experiences. Without these, it is possible that this rare opportunity will be wasted.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, Security, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Katja Creutz
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2010, the International Criminal Court (ICC) launched investigations into the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya, in which some 1,200 people were killed and several hundred thousand displaced. The ICC is breaking new ground with the Kenyan cases; for the first time sitting heads of state are facing charges before the Court. Kenya's response to the proceedings has involved a number of political and judicial measures. It has obstructed the work of the Court; it has sought deferral of the cases by the Security Council; and it has threatened the ICC with mass withdrawals. Kenya's objection to the trials has gained regional support and renewed strength for the claim that the Court has an anti-African bias. Its claims that the Court should not prosecute state leaders because of concerns over regional peace and security have been met with understanding. The Security Council has, however, refused to suspend the trials. The political attack against the ICC will have broader implications for the Court. The Court will need to reconsider how it protects witnesses, safeguards evidence, and selects cases for prosecution. It may even have to retreat from the principle of prosecuting sitting heads of state. The expectations placed upon the ICC as an institution of global justice have been unrealistic. The current international political climate will not further this goal. Major powers remain outside the Court and the current Ukrainian crisis will make it hard to agree upon Security Council referrals.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, International Organization, Law Enforcement
  • Political Geography: Africa, United Nations
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although China's statements about the Ukrainian crisis have been weighed very carefully, there are concerns that China is drawing lessons such as 'might is right' and 'geopolitics is all that matters' from the crisis. The hawks in China have adopted a similar tone to that of the Kremlin, with both wishing to see a relatively diminished Western influence in the international arena. The Chinese Dream is all about national rejuvenation, which entails redressing past grievances. Nevertheless, the Dream need not turn into a nightmare for other powers. The increase in China's military budget does not indicate growing ambitions of a global power projection. China's primary concern remains stability both within and without its borders.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Ukraine, Asia
  • Author: John Lee, Charles Horner
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Hudson Institute
  • Abstract: U.S. administrations and officials are consistently caught flat-footed by the increasing assertiveness of the People's Republic of China (PRC) over disputed territories in the East China and South China Seas. This assertiveness is strident, yet controlled. Beijing's objectives in the region, with respect to maritime issues in particular, have been apparent for several decades. While the United States is well aware of the PRC's "talk and take" approach—speaking the language of negotiation while extending de facto control over disputed areas—U.S. policy has been tactical and responsive rather than strategic and preemptive, thus allowing China to control the pace and nature of escalation in executing talk and take.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia
  • Author: Evan Braden Montgomery
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: What are the potential consequences of China's military modernization? This question is at the heart of recent debates over the durability of U.S. primacy, whether or not the United States can sustain its grand strategy of global engagement, and how it should adapt its armed forces. During the past two decades, China has been increasing its defense spending, developing new war fighting strategies, and fielding advanced weapons systems. Yet many scholars and policymakers still believe that U.S. dominance will remain uncontested.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economics, International Security, Military Strategy
  • Political Geography: North America
  • Author: Kathryn Hochstetler
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The BRICS countries held their annual meeting in Fortaleza, Brazil on July 15-17, 2014. While there, they formally launched their NDB, answering some of the many lingering questions about its function (BRICS 2014). The Shanghai based bank will have at least US$50 billion in initial capital, making it a significant new entrant into the sphere of global development finance. India will hold its first rotating presidency, but all five of the countries have particular roles to play. The lengthy presidential declaration gave little new information about the kinds of projects that will receive funding; however, simply repeating earlier statements that it will finance infrastructure and sustainable development projects. This policy brief examines how the NDB is likely to approach those two policy objectives, and notes a potential clash of these goals. There is already abundant evidence on this issue in the 2013 agreements and in the current financing patterns of the various national development banks of the BRICS member countries.
  • Topic: International Relations, Climate Change, Development, Environment
  • Author: Richard Albright
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The effectiveness of U.S. civilian assistance to Pakistan depends on sustained funding commitments from the United States and sustained commitment to economic and institutional reform from Pakistan. Weak public institutions and poor governance have greatly impeded Pakistan's development. U.S. assistance should focus on strengthening institutions systemically. Direct assistance to the Pakistani government—through financing that supports specific reform programs and policy initiatives and cash-on-delivery mechanisms that offer assistance after agreed performance criteria are met—could incentivize Pakistani public institutions to improve service delivery. Pakistan's devolution of authority to the provinces offers an opportunity for well-targeted and cost-effective initiatives to incentivize improvements in provincial public service delivery in such areas as basic education, health and policing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Foreign Aid, Reform
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States
  • Author: Sinikukka Saari
  • Publication Date: 06-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia is not likely to resort to overt political pressure on Georgia in the run-up to Georgia's signing of the Association Agreement with the EU (27 June), and the NATO Summit in Wales (4-5 September). This is partly due to its weak levers and the fact that they cannot be strengthened within a short time span. Instead, Russia is likely to apply a dual strategy by strengthening its indirect 'influence tools' that are operating within Georgian society, as well as by continuing dialogue and pragmatic cooperation with the Georgian leadership - at least for the time being. Moscow is likely to stand firm on the issue of the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In all likelihood, Russia will seek to increase its control over the territories, and to hamper any rapprochement between Georgia and the separatist territories. Despite the fact that the Russian intervention in Ukraine is likely to deter and delay substantial progress in the cooperation between Georgia and Russia, both sides seem to be willing to continue on the path of 'normalisation'. A practical compromise on the Georgian westward course seems to be emerging: in all likelihood Georgia will sign the Association Agreement with the EU without much Russian interference, but NATO will not offer Georgia a Membership Action Plan at the Summit.
  • Topic: International Relations, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Georgia
  • Author: Alain Guidetti
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping to Seoul in July 2014 shows how the relations between China and South Korea have taken center stage in North- East Asia. Both countries are building up a growing strategic partnership, as a result of emerging cross-interests in the region and robust trade relations. This dynamic underlines the dilemma Seoul faces in maintaining a strong military alliance with the United States, while turning increasingly toward China as its core partner for both its economic development and its North Korea policy.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Northeast Asia
  • Author: Christian Koch
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The breakdown of state structures and the wider regional political order has resulted in a complex tapestry of conflict throughout the Middle East that is likely to produce a continued period of volatility and violence for several years to come. This is because there are numerous dynamics at play that are competing with one another across various levels. Within these dynamics, religion as a mobilizing factor which, alongside sectarianism has emerged as a primary driving force for many of the ongoing conflicts. In addition, the deep crisis of the nation-state has released different dichotomies resulting in overlapping lines of confrontation that seem to be exploding all at once. The situation is exacerbated by the diminished leverage of global players on regional forces and regional players over national ones, thus significantly complicating the search for solutions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North Africa