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  • Author: Yuka Fukunaga
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been of the utmost importance for Japan's trade policy. In particular, Japan strongly supports the WTO’s rule-based dispute settlement mechanism, and frequently uses it. At the same time, in recent years, the adoption and implementation of regional and mega-regional trade agreements have become critical in Japan’s trade policy, with the stalling of the Doha Round negotiations in the WTO. Although the core of its trade policy remains the same today, Japan has been forced to rethink and modify it in response to the aggressive and unilateral trade policy of the Trump administration.
  • Topic: World Trade Organization, Governance, Internet, Free Trade, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North America, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: John Seaman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From emerging technological fields such as 5G, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart cities to traditional sectors including energy, health care, railways and agriculture, China is increasingly proactive in nearly every domain where technical standards remain to be developed and set. Technical standards are the definition of processes or technical specifications designed to improve the quality, security and compatibility of various goods and services, for instance GSM for telecommunications or WiFi for wireless Internet. They can be thought of as basic specifications or technologies on which other technologies or methods will evolve – creating lock-in effects and path-dependency for future products and technological trajectories. Defining standards can provide significant benefits for society at large, but can also carry significant implications for which technologies will dominate future markets and provide substantial advantages to those who master standardized technologies. Chinese policymakers have become keenly aware of the relationship between technical standard-setting and economic power. Indeed, a popular saying in China posits that third-tier companies make products, second-tier companies make technology, first-tier companies make standards. In 2015, the State Council highlighted China’s deficiencies in the field and set out to transform the country’s standardization system, seeking to harness the capacity of standard setting not only to improve the daily lives of its citizens, but to drive innovation, boost China’s economic transformation toward the industries of the future, and turn China into a premier purveyor of international technical standards.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Communications, Multilateralism, Standardization
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Rawi Abdelal, Aurélie Bros
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Sanctions have become the dominant tool of statecraft of the United States and other Western states, especially the European Union, since the end of the Cold War. But the systematic use of this instrument may produce unintended and somewhat paradoxical geopolitical consequences. The sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Russian Federation in the field of energy are particularly illustrative of this phenomenon.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Sanctions, Geopolitics, Secondary Sanctions, Transatlantic Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Frank Meixner, Pia Figge
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The German Legislation on Improving Law Enforcement in Social Networks (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz – NetzDG), which came into force on October 1, 2017, is the legislative response to how social networks handle complaints about illegal content. It does not advocate the implementation of new duties but concerns the enforcement of existing law. Its aim is the prompt removal of illegal content from the internet. This paper examines the intentions of the German legislator, the structure and implementation of the NetzDG, as well as first results. Regierungsdirektor Frank Meixner is Head of the German Federal Office for the Protection and Protection of Abroad (Bundesamt für Justiz) in Bonn. Regierungsrätin Pia Figge is a consultant to the Network Enforcement Act (Consumer Protection) of the Bundesamt für Justiz in Bonn.
  • Topic: Crime, Science and Technology, Internet, Social Media, Networks
  • Political Geography: Germany, European Union
  • Author: Séverine Arséne
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: China's Social Credit System remains a poorly understood combination of rating schemes and blacklists, but the consequences for individuals and businesses are very real. Since the State Council published a “Planning Outline for the Construction of a Social Credit System (2014-2020)”, all administrations and localities in China have been busy figuring out ways to develop social credit systems relevant to their own jurisdiction, while a few corporations have also been experimenting with private social credit ratings, more akin to loyalty schemes, in conjunction with the policy. From this hotchpotch of experimentation, two distinct instruments are taking shape in the so-called public system: first, personal credit ratings managed by localities, and secondly, blacklists of individuals and companies managed by sectorial administrations (the Supreme People’s Court, the Tax Department, Department of Agriculture, etc). Arrangements across administrations and corporate partners enable the implementation of rewards and punishments attached to the blacklists, while personal ratings carry only perks.
  • Topic: Governance, Business , Surveillance
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Sébastien Mort
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: From the 1920s to the 1980s, the American press followed strict discursive practices based on objectivity and fairness. Starting in the 1930s, the country's political center of gravity was on the liberal side and there were few overtly conservative media. From the 1980s onwards, the vast deregulation effort undertaken by the Reagan administration paved the way for the emergence of a powerful conservative media ecosystem. Hosted by strong personalities such as Rush Limbaugh, conservative radio talk-shows were broadcast by a large number of local AM radio stations. Created in 1996, the Fox News channel gained massive traction in the 2000s. Many information websites close to the far right have gradually joined this environment.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Media, Conservatism, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: East Africa has the potential to experience a gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) export boom in the coming years due to several projects that have been released. Mozambique has approved two projects totaling more than 15 million tons per year (Mt/yr.) of liquefied gas and a third should be started by the end of 2019. The first ENI Floating Liquefied Natural Gas plant (FLNG) will come onto the market in 2022 and four other onshore liquefaction trains, two of which will produce 6.44 Mt (Anadarko/Total) and two of which will produce 7.6 Mt (ExxonMobil/ENI), will be available around 2025. However, with the recoverable reserves, the companies involved are counting on 50 or even 60 Mt/yr. by 2030. This volume will help this East African country to achieve the world’s fourth-largest LNG export capacity in the medium term after the United States, Qatar and Australia. As for Tanzania, no development should be approved before 2020 in the best-case scenario.
  • Topic: Security, Development, Oil, Gas
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Africa, Mozambique, Tanzania, East Africa
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: In 2017, the coming to power of João Lourenço put an end to nearly four decades of rule by the former head of state, José Eduardo Dos Santos. João Lourenço’s first objective was to strengthen his authority by appointing people close to him and cadres from the old regime, who had professed loyalty to him, to high office. The speed of the takeover of all the decision-making centers – army, intelligence services, state-owned companies, oil industry and above all the MPLA (Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola) party-state – by the new “Comrade Number One” surprised the leaders of the Dos Santos era, some of whom were abruptly dismissed or even sentenced to prison. Now firmly established in Angola’s command centers, João Lourenço is however facing a serious economic crisis, the most worrying for the country since the end of the civil war in 2002.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Africa, Angola
  • Author: Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: India’s space program has grown and evolved significantly in the last five decades. The program originally focused on developing space assets that provided direct developmental benefits, for example telecommunications and remote sensing satellites that helped both in improving communication facilities and giving direct assistance to India’s farmers. But over time, India has shifted a part of its focus towards space exploration and other high-profile missions that do not have as clear a developmental purpose as earlier. This includes, for example, India’s Mars and Moon exploratory missions. Overall, India has been fairly successful in these efforts and its space program has become a comprehensive one that includes not only a robust launch capacity and very large remote sensing satellite systems, but also a very well rounded scientific and deep space exploratory program.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Military Affairs, Weapons , Space
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, China, South Asia, India
  • Author: Leonard C. Sebastian
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Despite Indonesia’s reputation for a traditionally moderate brand of Islam, religious conservativism is gaining considerable political traction in the lead up to this April’s presidential election. During the campaign for the 2017 Jakarta Gubernatorial elections, thousands of Muslims gathered in massive demonstrations against Ahok, the initial frontrunner and a candidate from a minority ethnicity and religion, accusing him of blasphemy. Many observers have looked at the unprecedented size of the anti-Ahok rallies and their electoral context as a watershed in the evolution of Indonesian Islam. This article analyses the seismic shift in Indonesian Islam that has occurred, with moderate Islam in steep decline while conservative Islam is on the rise. It argues that radical Islam and violent extremism in Indonesia are only the tip of the iceberg—a resurgence of conservative Islamic ideology and large-scale Islamisation of Indonesian society has occurred over the nearly two-decade old Reform Era.
  • Topic: Islam, Politics, Religion, Elections, Conservatism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: What makes the militia milieu so unique and important for understanding today’s Russia is that it finds itself at the intersection of state institutions, patronage mechanisms, criminal structures, and grassroots illiberal activism. Abroad, the Kremlin plays through it one of its major “hybrid warfare” cards, outsourcing activities traditionally conducted by intelligence entities and allowing for plausible deniability. The militia realm thus seems destined to play a growing role in Russia’s law-enforcement, military and intelligence culture both at home and abroad. Marlene Laruelle is Research Professor and Associate Director of the Institute for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies (IERES) at the George Washington University (Washington DC) and Co-Director of PONARS-Eurasia. She has been Associate Research Fellow at Ifri’s Russia/NIS Center since January 2019.
  • Topic: Security, Nationalism, Military Affairs, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Garima Mohan
  • Publication Date: 09-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The new European Union (EU) strategy on India marks a major moment of departure in EU-India relations. It reflects three critical shifts: firstly, the EU no longer views India from a “trade lens” only, recognizing its important geopolitical role in maintaining a multipolar Asia. Second, the strategy frames EU-India relations in the context of broader geopolitical developments, primarily the rise of China. Recognition of the China challenge and its impact not only in Europe, but also on the balance of power in Asia, has pushed the EU to change the nature of its partnerships in the region, particularly with India. Finally, the strategy links European security and prosperity to developments in Asia, broadening the scope of EU foreign policy substantially. This paper analyses the new EU strategy on India and highlights areas, which represent a departure from previous strategies. The paper looks specifically at proposals for greater foreign and security cooperation, for securing a rules-based order, increasing regional connectivity, improving trade and investment, and building better coordination on and with India. These proposals are commendable and respond to a long laundry list suggested by experts from both sides over a long time. They also fit well with India’s priorities, namely responding to increasing Chinese political, economic and military presence in South Asia, security in the Indian Ocean, as well as more proactive engagement in regional and global institutions. Finally, the paper suggests ways of taking this forward and ensuring the strategy does not remain a paper tiger in the long arsenal of EU-India declarations. While more dialogues on global and strategic issues is a great idea and will help change perceptions in New Delhi that the EU is not a strategic actor, the EU will have to ensure this is not hindered by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs’ already overstretched capacities and the 30 existing EU-India dialogues. Focusing on ongoing debates in India and Europe in these dialogues, particularly connectivity projects, maritime security in the Indian Ocean, 5G networks and infrastructure might also open up new avenues of cooperation. Overall the EU-India relationship has witnessed remarkable momentum over the last four years – aided by political will from both sides, the China challenge, friction in transatlantic ties, and common challenges within Europe and India. The new strategy is a good first step to build on this momentum. However, it needs to be translated into action fast.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, South Asia, India, European Union
  • Author: Stephanie Regalia
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: On May 21st 2019, Malawi will hold its tripartite elections, where voters will vote for the President, Members of Parliament and local Councillors. 2019 will also mark the 25 years of multiparty politics in Malawi since the one-party regime presided by Hastings Kamuzu Banda came to an end in 1994. The transition to multiparty democracy has been encouraging with the number of large political parties steadily growing and power peacefully changing hands between the four presidents, the country has known since 1994. In this context, the race to the 2019 elections is particularly competitive. The most recent polls place voter intention for the outgoing president Peter Mutharika and his Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) at a near tie with the lead opposition candidate Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP). The MCP used to be the only authorized political party under Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s rule. Its return to the forefront of voter intentions signals important changes in the landscape of political actors in Malawi. This paper explores some of the reasons behind this changing political landscape. It looks at the DPP’s recent loss of support due to discontent with rampant corruption and a controversial land reform passed in 2016. It also examines the landscape of challengers, including the current Vice President Saulos Chilima, following his departure from DPP ranks to form a new political movement, the United Transformation Movement (UTM). Given the diversity of large political parties in contention, which also includes Atupele Muluzi’s United Democratic Front (UDF) and Joyce Banda’s People’s Party (PP), the possibility of securing victory in the 2019 presidential election may rest on the ability of political parties to form strategic electoral alliances. This may require moving past political parties formed solely around the personality and identity of their leaders to a more issue-based political debate.
  • Topic: Corruption, Politics, Elections, Land, Political Parties
  • Political Geography: Africa, Malawi
  • Author: Benjamin Augé
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The July 2016 failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government not only resulted in a dramatic upheaval in Turkey, it also had a significant impact on the structure of its international relations and its networks of influence abroad. The way this coup affected the political actors who shaped Turkish policy in Africa highlights the extent to which Fethullah Gülen’s movement – accused by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of having organised the coup- shaped those relations up to 2016. Today, Turkish diplomacy in Africa is undergoing a process of reconstruction, as it dismantles functional networks, and supports the new actors championed by Ankara. The destruction of what has been patiently established for 20 years and the creation of new channels of influence is a challenging task for Turkish diplomats and politicians who multiply their visits to Africa. In some countries, Turkish diplomacy sometimes faces difficulties in removing the Gülenist networks, as some are closely linked to high-ranking local leaders.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Fethullah Gülen
  • Political Geography: Africa, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Dima Adamsky
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This monograph argues that the Syrian experience may leave a major imprint on Russian strategic thought and operational art. It explores Moscow’s Syrian campaign and seeks to answer the following questions: How did the Russian art of strategy manifest itself? How did Moscow design the campaign and then estimate its operational performance, judged against its own ends? Which lessons has the Russian strategic community learned? How might these insights project on Moscow’s future strategic behavior? Which strategic trends are more likely than others?
  • Topic: War, Military Strategy, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Celine Pajon, Isabelle Saint-Mezard
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: In the last decade, the strengthening of the India-Japan strategic partnership has been primarily driven by geopolitical considerations, in an era of competing regional visions and influence. While bilateral relations have shown progress in terms of political values and interests, strategic convergence and military cooperation, their economic dimension has seemed to lag behind. While India has been one of the largest recipients of Japanese official development assistance (ODA) loans since 2003, it made up only 2.2% of Japan’s total overseas direct investment (ODI) flows in 2016. Moreover, the volume of bilateral trade has remained surprisingly modest. In other words, India and Japan still need to boost business links to give more substance to their bilateral partnership as well as support India’s robust and long-term development and economic growth, as Japan needs a strong democratic partner in Asia. The objective is highly political. Japan and India are eager to develop their partnership as a balancing act vis-à-vis China. If they are to fulfill their ambitious geopolitical visions, they also need to promote cooperation in third countries.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Geopolitics, Economic Cooperation, Economic Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Asia
  • Author: Nele Katharina Wissmann
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: The term "refugee crisis" is not uncontroversial in Germany; it is indeed accused of presenting the refugees as being responsible for the crisis. The events that have occurred since the summer of 2015 should rather be called "crisis of the authorities", given that Germany could have anticipated the massive increase in the number of refugees. The use of the term "refugee crisis" in this article is axiologically neutral and reflects its present common use in politics, the media and specialised literature. The term "refugee", which does not reflect the heterogeneity of immigrant situations in Germany, is less common in France than in Germany. When used in France, it is to facilitate the understanding of the reader. The definition used here is that of the Geneva Convention: "the term "refugee" will apply to any person who is outside their country of nationality and who is unable or unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country". There will be a distinction between "tolerated" refugees and persons enjoying subsidiary protection and asylum seekers, in accordance with Article 16a of the German Constitution. The refugee crisis in Germany was first mentioned in the light of the events in the summer of 2015; at the time, the chroniclers established a direct link between the refugee crisis and the "open door policy". Admittedly, this characterisation is not entirely false, given the prolonged absence of reliable statistics on immigration, which can be explained by, among other things, double registration and the fact that some people have continued their journey to other EU countries without declaring it. Nevertheless, this phenomenon reflects more the shortcomings of the authorities concerning refugee registration than a real political orientation of the government in response to the increase in the number of refugees. Germany has, on the contrary, reacted by progressively toughening its asylum rights, and seems to be permanently closing its doors to many groups of migrants.
  • Topic: Immigration, Governance, Refugee Crisis, Asylum
  • Political Geography: Germany, European Union
  • Author: Eileen Keller
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This study analyses the joint efforts by France and Germany to bring about a comprehensive reform of the European currency union. These efforts culminated in the joint Meseberg Declaration adopted in June 2018. The article contextualises these efforts with respect to the reforms realised so far and the different reform options at hand. Besides questions of economic viability and institutional deficits, the article tackles issues of political feasibility. “From Meseberg to nowhere” was the prognosis given by Werner Mussler, economic correspondent for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Brussels. Commenting on the outlook for the joint declaration by the French President and German Chancellor on 19 June, following protracted negotiations at the German Government's official guest house at Schloss Meseberg, near Berlin, the journalist was critical of both the compromises it contained on strengthening the euro area and the chances of these ever being implemented. There is no question that the negotiations on the development of the euro area come at a difficult time. However, there are still good grounds for reaching a different conclusion. Both valid economic and political reasons can be found for the reforms proposed in the declaration, the details of which have yet to be developed. Anyone broaching the subject realistically knows that negotiations on economic and monetary union have always been challenging, due to differing concepts of economic policy and divergent economic needs and interests. At the same time, the two figures responsible for the Meseberg Declaration are both exceptional political personalities whom have shown in the past that they can cope with difficult negotiations, and can achieve remarkable results – on condition that Angela Merkel remains in office.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Bilateral Relations, European Union, Economy, Negotiation, Currency
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • Author: David Brewster
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: Strategic competition between India and China in the Indian Ocean is growing and has the potential to profoundly impact the stability and security of the region. The Indian Ocean is becoming the scene of a sustained contest that in some ways resembles strategic competition during the Cold War. This will include pressure on Indian Ocean states to align themselves with one side or another within an increasingly unstable and complex strategic environment.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, Political stability, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia, Indian Ocean
  • Author: Mikhaïl Souslov
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institut français des relations internationales (IFRI)
  • Abstract: This paper traces the evolution of the diaspora policies and visions from the early 1990s to the present, and argues that the understanding of Russian “compatriots abroad” has never been the same; rather, it travelled a long road from revanchist irredentism of the red-brown opposition in the 1990s, to the moderately liberal pragmatism of the early 2000s, to the confrontational instrumentalization of Russian “compatriots” as a lever of Russia’s soft power in the late 2000s, and, finally, back to the even more confrontational, irredentist and isolationist visions after the Ukrainian crisis of 2014.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, International Affairs, Diaspora
  • Political Geography: Russia