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  • Author: Ketian Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: China’s coercive behavior in the post–Cold War period suggests three patterns. First, China uses coercion when it wants to establish a reputation for resolve. Second, China has been a cautious bully, resorting to coercion only infrequently. Third, when China perceives the “geopolitical backlash cost” of military coercion to be high, it chooses instead to use sanctions and grayzone coercion. (“Geopolitical backlash cost” refers here to the possibility that the target state will seek to balance against China, with the potential for U.S. military involvement.) When China perceives the geopolitical backlash cost to be low, it is more likely to use military coercion.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Power Politics, Geopolitics, Economy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South China Sea
  • Author: Brendan Taylor
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: Australian diplomacy could ease rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait, if Australian policymakers rediscovered an appetite for involvement in the flashpoint. Tensions between Taiwan and China are rising, driven in part by an increasingly assertive government in Beijing, growing Taiwanese estrangement from the Chinese mainland, and deteriorating US–China relations. If key regional governments fail to help de-escalate tensions, the consequences are likely to be serious. Rather than continue the debate about Australia’s position on its ANZUS obligations should the United States invoke the treaty in a Taiwan conflict, Australia should work with other regional powers to advocate for more robust risk avoidance and crisis management mechanisms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Helle Malmvig, Jakob Dreyer
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: • Denmark should focus its attention on the border region between Iraq and Syria, which presents a high risk of insurgency, and is where the main Danish military contingency has been deployed since 2015. • Given the likely partial US withdrawal from Iraq, NATO and European governments should prepare for taking on new tasks and responsibilities. • The US-led coalition should allow and prepare SDF to negotiate alternative political/security arrangements, as SDF may have difficulty sustaining its presence in Syria.
  • Topic: Non State Actors, Fragile States, Islamic State, Syrian War, Proxy War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Signe Marie Cold-Ravnkilde, Peer Schouten
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Pastoralism is the key to climate change adaptation in African drylands, but it is threatened by conflicts with farmers, regional insecurity and violent extremism. Stabilisation and development efforts should place pastoralism at the centre by strengthening pastoral livelihoods and should include herders as peacebuilding and development partners. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Strengthen pastoralist capacities to cope with risk and variability by boosting inclusive and equitable resource governance in new development programmes. ■ Include pastoralists as potential peace-builders in conflict resolution efforts. ■ Support dialogue between pastoralists and local and national governments in order to prevent the further marginalisation of vulnerable pastoralist groups.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Democratization, Development, Environment, Migration, Non State Actors, Fragile States, Economy, Conflict, Investment, Peace, Land Rights
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Adam Moe Fejerskov, Meron Zeleke
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Every year, several hundred thousand migrants return to Ethiopia, where they struggle to integrate back into society. They must deal with the traumatic events of their journeys while also facing social stigma and exclusion. KEY FINDINGS ■ All Ethiopian migrants using irregular routes have experienced or witnessed violence and trauma ■ Sexual violence and abuse are widespread among Ethiopian male migrants yet taboo, and psychosocial support should address the vulnerabilities of men ■ Livelihood interventions should address the problem of social stigma ■ Re-integration is difficult as social positions and relationships will never be as they were before migration
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Border Control, Fragile States
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Louise Riis Andersen, Richard Gowan
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: UN peacekeeping is in need of change. Missions struggle to fulfil ambitious mandates in hostile environments. To improve performance and regain global trust, the UN needs tangible support and engagement from its member states, including smaller states with specialized military capabilities. RECOMMENDATIONS Smaller member states can contribute to UN peacekeeping operations by: ■ offering critical enablers (intelligence expertise, tactical air transport, medical services) and working with larger troop contributors to enhance their capacity in these areas. ■ developing guidance materials, technological tools and additional training for troop contributors, e.g. on medical support, prevention of sexual abuse and data analysis. ■ if aid donors, triangulate with the UN and the World Bank to identify projects to sustain security in countries where UN forces are drawing down.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, International Organization, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark, Global Focus
  • Author: Luke Patey
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Much of Europe’s attention to Asia is currently being captured by China. However, if the European Union and its member states are serious about maintaining a rules-based global order and advancing multilateralism and connectivity, it should increase its work in building partnerships across Asia, particularly in the Indo-Pacific super-region. To save multilateralism, go to the Indo-Pacific. RECOMMENDATIONS: ■ Multilateralism first. Unpack and differentiate where the United States and China support the rules-based order and where not, but also look to new trade deals and security pacts with India and Southeast Asia partners. ■ Targeted connectivity. The EU should continue to offer support to existing regional infrastructure and connectivity initiatives. ■ Work in small groups. EU unanimity on China and Indo-Pacific policy is ideal, but not always necessary to get things done. ■ Asia specialists wanted. Invest in and develop career paths for Asia specialists in foreign and defence ministries and intelligence services.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Emerging Markets, International Organization, Science and Technology, Power Politics, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Magdalena Stawkowski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Around the world, hundreds of thousands of people live in and around former nuclear test sites. Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site in Kazakhstan provides both a home and a livelihood for an estimated 50,000 people, but security measures are not yet sufficient to protect them from radioactive waste from the past. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Establish local education programs to prevent unintentional exposure to residual radioactivity ■ Encourage local authorities to promote radiation-safety programs ■ Cordon off and secure unmarked radioactive areas on nuclear test sites ■ Carry out regular radiation monitoring in villages close to nuclear test sites, as well as of livestock
  • Topic: Health, Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kazakhstan
  • Author: Camilla Tenna Nørup Sørensen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: U.S.-China strategic rivalry is intensifying – and nowhere more so than in the Indo-Pacific. This is likely to result in new US requests to close allies like Denmark to increase their security and defense policy contributions to the region. French and British efforts to establish an independent European presence in the Indo-Pacific present Denmark with a way to accommodate US requests without being drawn directly into the US confrontation with China. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ The importance of the Indo-Pacific region for Danish security and defense policy is likely to grow in the coming years. The focus and resources should therefore be directed towards strengthening Danish knowledge of and competences in the region. ■ Several European states, led by France and the UK, are increasing their national and joint European security and defense profiles in the Indo-Pacific by launching new initiatives. Denmark should remain closely informed about these initiatives and be ready to engage with them. ■ Regarding potential requests to the Danish Navy for contributions to the Indo-Pacific, Denmark should prioritize the French-led European naval diplomacy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Politics, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia, Denmark, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Mikkel Funder, Lily Salloum Lindegaard, Esben Friis-Hansen, Marie Ladekjær Gravesen
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The world needs resilient societies. In order to achieve this, adaptation to climate change is key. Denmark’s development cooperation should take a leading role in the integration of climate change adaptation and development. DENMARK SHOULD ■ Develop a clear overall strategy for support to climate action, giving equal attention to climate change mitigation and adaptation ■ Adopt an ambitious approach to integrating climate change adaptation across supported sectors, rather than relying on “add-on” mainstreaming ■ Strengthen the engagement with development partners in the integration of adaptation and development
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Environment, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Author: Adam Moe Fejerskov, Dane Fetterer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Danish civil-society organisations have initiated a multitude of tech and innovation projects in recent years. Now is the time to focus efforts on clear strategic objectives in order to generate tangible impacts. RECOMMENDATIONS ■ Strategically align innovation work around the core priorities of the organisation, rather than pursuing a shotgun approach that chases disparate innovations across a field of interests. ■ Expand the scope of innovation beyond radical technology to include operational approaches, methodologies and theories of change as well. ■ Localize innovation by involving local partners and beneficiaries not just in needs assessments but in innovating solutions.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: Europe, Denmark
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Louise Riis Andersen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: With a global recession looming due to COVID-19,the large blue-helmet UN missions will be harder to sustain, both financially and politically. So the UN is learning to “think small”. Recommendations ■ The Secretariat should work with member states to improve the UN’s mechanisms for deploying bespoke, case-specific peace operations and SPMs at short notice. ■ Member states should stand ready to deploy small numbers of military and police personnel to serve in more flexible forms of UN operations and to offer specialized expertise and training as requested. ■ Member states should pay their respective share of the UN peacekeeping budget on time and increase their voluntary contributions.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Mali, South Sudan
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Louise Riis Andersen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: COVID-19 has had an immediate impact on UN peace operations. Troop rotations have been frozen, and interactions with local populations minimized. Yet the long-term economic and political consequences for peacekeeping look more severe. Recommendations UN leaders and member states should: ■ Sustain and where necessary boost funding for UN operations and other international actors to support host states’ efforts to manage the consequences of COVID-19. ■ Commit to maintaining current levels of UN deployments throughout 2020 and to ensuring that deployed personnel are not carrying COVID-19 in order to reduce uncertainty over the future of missions. ■ Offer specialists in public health management and related fields to strengthen planning within missions at UN headquarters and thus help manage the crisis.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, UN Security Council, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nina Nyberg Sørensen
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Shock mobilities are sudden human movements made in response to acute disruptions, such as the present COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike planned migration, shock mobility encompasses various degrees of forced migration or can be categorized as reactive migration caused by a crisis situation. Forced migration often starts with shock mobility, but shock mobility does not always lead to protracted forced migration. FUTURE IMPLICATIONS ■ Shock mobilities may affect broader socioeconomic relations in the future. Five manifestations of shock mobilities as ‘link moments’ provide clues as to how. ■ How shock mobilities will be received and internalized in the years ahead is uncertain. They could yield significant impacts on state-citizen relations, as well as on relations between different populations. ■ The ‘shocks’ give us a glimpse into the world we are entering. Tomorrow’s normality will grow out of today’s disruption. Therefore, a better understanding of ongoing shock mobilities will help us analyse potential problems for decades to come.
  • Topic: Development, Migration, Fragile States, Conflict, Risk, Peace, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vibeke Schou Tjalve
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: A strategic and ideological alliance has emerged between the American and Central Eastern European Right. Replacing Berlin with Warsaw and Budapest may have profound implications for policy, and for NATO’s consensus on Russia.
  • Topic: NATO, Alliance, Ideology, Radical Right
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eastern Europe, Germany
  • Author: Cullen S. Hendrix
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s Africa strategy is rooted in three misconceptions about China’s African footprint—and a fourth about US-Africa economic relations—that are either factually incorrect or overstated in terms of the broader strategic challenges they pose to US interests: (1) Chinese engagement in Africa crowds out opportunities for trade and investment with and from the United States; (2) Chinese engagement in Africa is resource-seeking—to the detriment of US interests; (3) Chinese engagement in Africa is designed to foster debt-based coercive diplomacy; and (4) US-Africa economic linkages are all one-way and concessionary (i.e., aid-based). Hendrix finds little evidence to suggest Chinese trade and investment ties crowd out US trade and investment opportunities. China’s resource-seeking bent is evident in investment patterns, but it is more a function of Africa’s having comparatively large, undercapitalized resource endowments than China’s attempt to corner commodity markets. Chinese infrastructural development—particularly large projects associated with the Belt and Road Initiative—may result in increased African indebtedness to the Chinese, but there is little reason to think debt per se will vastly expand Chinese military capacity in the region. And finally, US-Africa economic relations are much less one-sided and concessionary (i.e., aid-based) than conventional wisdom suggests.
  • Topic: Bilateral Relations, Infrastructure, Economy, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The US monetary system faces significant challenges from advances in technology and changes in the macroeconomy that, left unaddressed, will threaten the stability of the US economy and financial system. At the same time, low interest rates mean that central banks will not have the policy ammunition they had in the past during the next recession. The Federal Reserve needs new tools to meet its mandates of price stability and maximum employment. It also needs to preserve the safety and soundness of the financial system in a rapidly digitizing world. The authors propose a Fed-backed digital currency to solve both problems. Their proposal creates a regulated system of digital currency accounts for consumers managed by digital payment providers and fully backed by reserves at the Fed. The system would be limited in size, to preserve the functions and stability of the existing banking system. Fed backing would mean low capital requirements, which would in turn facilitate competition. Low fees and no minimum balance requirements in the new system would also help financial institutions reach the roughly 25 percent of the US population that is currently either unbanked or underbanked. Digital accounts for consumers could also provide a powerful new stabilization tool for both monetary and fiscal policies. For fiscal policy, it could facilitate new automatic stabilizers while also allowing the Fed to provide quantitative easing directly to consumers. This tool could be used in a timely manner with broad reach to all Americans.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Banks, Macroeconomics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Julia Coronado, Simon Potter
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: In the second part of their Policy Brief, Coronado and Potter discuss how the system of digital payment providers (DPPs) proposed in their first Policy Brief on this topic adds a new weapon to the monetary toolkit that could be implemented in a timely, effective, and inclusive manner. They describe how a digital currency backed by the Federal Reserve could augment automatic fiscal stabilizers and—more importantly—harness the power of “helicopter” money or quantitative easing directly to consumers in a disciplined manner. To implement QE directly to consumers, Coronado and Potter propose the creation of recession insurance bonds (RIBs)—zero-coupon bonds authorized by Congress and calibrated as a percentage of GDP sufficient to provide meaningful support in a downturn. Congress would create these contingent securities; Treasury would credit households’ digital accounts with them. The Fed could purchase them from households in a downturn after its policy rate hits zero. The Fed’s balance sheet would grow by the value of RIBs purchased; the initial matching liability would be deposits into the DPP system. The mechanism is easy for consumers to understand and could boost inflation expectations more than a debt-financed fiscal stimulus could.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Insurance
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The Summer Olympic Games are the most globalized sporting event on earth. Until now, the Summer Games had been postponed only three times—in 1916, 1940, and 1944—all because of world wars. So, the announcement that in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Tokyo Games would be postponed by a year is significant, implicit testimony to the destructiveness of the pandemic. The Tokyo Games were expected to continue the evolution of the Games away from the aristocratic European milieu where the modern Olympic movement began. As poverty has declined and incomes across the global economy have converged, participation in the Games has broadened and the pattern of medaling has become more pluralistic, particularly in sports with low barriers to entry in terms of facilities and equipment. This Policy Brief presents forecasts of medal counts at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games had they had gone on as scheduled, setting aside possible complications arising from the coronavirus pandemic. The forecasts are not just a depiction of what might have been. They establish a benchmark that can be used when the Games are eventually held, to examine the impact of the uneven incidence of the pandemic globally.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Sports, Olympics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, Global Focus
  • Author: Soyoung Han, Marcus Noland
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Despite steady progress, women remain grossly underrepresented in corporate leadership worldwide. The share of women executive officers and board members increased between 1997 and 2017, but progress was not uniform. Partly in response to gender quotas, the shares of female board members have risen rapidly in some countries while lagging elsewhere. This Policy Brief reports results derived from the financial records of about 62,000 publicly listed firms in 58 economies over 1997–2017, which together account for more than 92 percent of global GDP. The authors conclude that if, as emerging evidence in the literature indicates, gender diversity contributes to superior firm performance, then progress in this area could help boost productivity globally. Policymakers and corporate leaders should consider supportive public and private policies, including more gender-neutral tracking in education, firm protocols that encourage gender balance in hiring and promotion, enforceable antidiscrimination laws, public support for readily available and affordable high-quality childcare and maternity and paternity leave, and quotas.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Women, Economic Inequality, Private Sector
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Thomas Philippon, Jean Pisani-Ferry
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The measures that most governments took in response to the sudden collapse in economic activity during the COVID-19 lockdowns nearly exclusively focused on protecting vulnerable workers and firms. These measures included unemployment benefits, grants, transfers, loans at low rates, and tax deferrals. As lockdowns are lifted, governments must shift policies toward supporting the recovery and design measures that will limit the pain of adjustment while preserving productive jobs and firms. This Policy Brief explores how such measures can be designed, with particular emphasis on Europe and the United States. The authors propose a combination of unemployment benefits to help workers, wage subsidies and partially guaranteed loans to help firms, and debt restructuring procedures for small and medium-sized companies handicapped by excessive legacy debt from the crisis.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Labor Issues, Unemployment, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ana González, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By refusing to fill vacancies in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body—the top body that hears appeals and rules on trade disputes—the Trump administration has paralyzed the key component of the dispute settlement system. No nation or group of nations has more at stake in salvaging this system than the world’s big emerging-market economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand, among others. These countries have actively and successfully used the dispute settlement system to defend their commercial interests abroad and resolve inevitable trade conflicts. The authors suggest that even though the developing countries did not create the Appellate Body crisis, they may hold a key to unlock it. The Trump administration has also focused its ire on a longstanding WTO practice of giving these economies latitude to seek “special and differential treatment” in trade negotiations because of their developing-country status. The largest developing economies, which have a significant stake in preserving a two-step, rules-based mechanism for resolving trade disputes, could play a role in driving a potential bargain to save the appeals mechanism. They could unite to give up that special status in return for a US commitment to end its boycott of the nomination of Appellate Body members.
  • Topic: Development, Government, World Trade Organization, Developing World, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Brazil, North America, Mexico, Thailand, United States of America
  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Lawrence H. Summers
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: With interest rates persistently low or even negative in advanced countries, policymakers have barely any room to ease monetary policy when the next recession hits. Fiscal policy will have to play a major and likely dominant role in stimulating the economy, requiring policymakers to fundamentally reconsider fiscal policy. Blanchard and Summers argue for the introduction of what they call “semiautomatic” stabilizers. Unlike purely automatic stabilizers (mechanisms built into government budgets that automatically—without discretionary government action or explicit triggers—increase spending or decrease taxes when the economy slows or enters a recession), semiautomatic stabilizers are targeted tax or spending measures that are triggered if, say, the output growth rate declines or the unemployment rate increases beyond a specified threshold. The authors argue that the trigger should be changes in unemployment rather than changes in output, and the design of semiautomatic stabilizers, whether they focus on mechanisms that rely primarily on income or on intertemporal substitution effects (changing the timing of consumption), depends crucially on the design of discretionary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Hanny Megally, Leah Zamore, Tayseer Alkarim
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic poses a dire risk to the tens of thousands of people imprisoned in Syria’s archipelago of prisons and detention facilities, many in conditions so ghastly that they constitute crimes against humanity. These facilities function as overcrowded torture chambers by design. Thousands have already died in detention due to such circumstances, and those still living are especially vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus. If COVID-19 is permitted to take hold, the devastation among the prison population will be swift and fatal. Nor will it stop at the prison walls. What can be done to avert a catastrophe that threatens not only the up to 100,000 who may still be alive in detention, but also the war-weary Syrian population at large? This briefing outlines a two-step approach to averting the looming disaster, calling first and foremost for immediate and large-scale prisoner releases, because no prevention or mitigation efforts will succeed unless the challenges presented by overcrowding are addressed. While releases are underway, the living conditions of those who remain imprisoned must be radically transformed to safeguard health and prevent the pandemic from taking hold.
  • Topic: Prisons/Penal Systems, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Knut Gerlach, Robert Kang
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: 2020 is the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations (UN), and it has already shaped up to be a year of unprecedented international shocks and potential for transformation, from COVID-19’s impact to the current mobilization for racial justice in many areas of the world. What does this mean for global trust in international cooperation and multilateral institutions? This briefing by Karina Gerlach and Robert Kang examines recent global polling data, finding a growing demand for international cooperation but diminished trust in international institutions to play a role in the response to COVID-19. It also looks at shifts in member state leadership and perceptions of United States-China rivalry, arguing that middle power alliances and regional networks offer a path forward for international cooperation even in difficult circumstances.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, United Nations, Reform, Multilateralism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Ben Phillips
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: A growing body of evidence shows that the COVID-19 crisis is significantly affecting people’s priorities for the future. With economies around the world suffering the impact of the pandemic, the global public wants governments to adopt bold approaches in response—and polls from a range of countries show that large majorities believe their actions have not been strong enough. In this briefing, Leah Zamore and Ben Phillips examine global polling data to show what kinds of policies—including those previously deemed “radical”—are now garnering widespread support. They find that people want governments to act boldly both in responding to the immediate economic crisis and in fundamentally transforming the social contract moving forward. The briefing examines polling on a range of topics, from wide support for redistributive programs and a rejection of austerity policies, to the growing popularity of measures that check corporate power in favor of workers and consumers.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Opinion, Economy, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marc Jacquand
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: In recent years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the United Nations (UN) have increased their collaboration and strengthened their respective capacities to engage more effectively in fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV) contexts. Recent global developments, particularly the COVID-19 pandemic, point to the need to accelerate such efforts and deepen collaboration between these three institutions. Everywhere—including in high-income countries—political turbulence and contestation of traditional governance arrangements are increasing the stakes and impact of macroeconomic decisions, and now of pandemic response measures. This extremely challenging global landscape, where risks intersect with increasing virulence, is calling out for greater collaboration between the IMF, the Bank, and the UN, as the three institutions to which many countries that find themselves facing such crises often turn. This briefing by Marc Jacquand makes the case for increased collaboration on four levels: factual, financial, political, and counterfactual. It also lays out the challenges, both internal and external, that impede collaboration. Finally, it makes recommendations for institutional improvements to facilitate more effective joint work in FCV contexts.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance, Reform, Multilateralism, Crisis Management, IMF, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paige Arthur
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: In 2018, the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank published a groundbreaking report driven by the conviction that the international community’s attention must urgently be rebalanced from crisis response to prevention. Pathways for Peace offered a joint framework for conflict prevention, and as it has gathered momentum, other international financial institutions (IFIs)—such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF)— have re-examined their approach to fragile and conflict-affected countries. Now, with the UN and the IFIs mobilizing in response to the COVID-19, the progress made in recent years will be tested. There is a risk that these opportunities will be overshadowed by the colossal need generated by the pandemic—but the scale and urgency of the crisis is also creating new opportunities for UN-IFI collaboration. This briefing provides an external perspective on the evolution of the UN-IFI relationship over the past three years. The first part of the stocktaking will focus on the UN-World Bank relationship, followed by a brief overview of partnership with the IMF. It is written for a broad audience—across the UN system, the World Bank and other IFIs, UN member states, civil society, and beyond—and aims to build consensus on next steps needed to accelerate implementation of a preventive approach.
  • Topic: United Nations, Fragile States, Multilateralism, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Steven, Maaike de Langen
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global emergency. It is not only a health crisis but also a human rights crisis. Justice actors face daunting responsibilities as they design, implement, and enforce new measures to prevent the spread of infection. Measures that heighten the risk of human rights abuses can undermine trust, at a time when the justice system most needs to maintain the public’s confidence. For better or for worse, justice systems and justice workers are on the frontline of this pandemic. This Pathfinders briefing, drafted by lead authors David Steven, Maaike de Langen, Sam Muller, and Mark Weston with the input of more than 50 justice experts from around the globe, discusses the most pressing priorities that the public health emergency poses for justice leaders and proposes seven areas for urgent action as the tide of infections continues to rise. It is the first in the Justice in a Pandemic series.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Governance, Rule of Law, Crisis Management, Peace, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Scott Guggenheim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: This policy briefing examines how governments, multilateral organizations, and international financial institutions can leverage existing and new community-based responses to deal more effectively with the health, social, and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Governments around the world are stretched to their limits trying to cope with not just the health risks of the COVID-19 virus, but also the economic fallout as people lose their jobs and entire sections of the economy close down. In this policy briefing, Pathfinders adviser Scott Guggenheim argues that governments must harness an underutilized but highly effective tool—traditional community solidarity and volunteerism.
  • Topic: Governance, Food Security, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank conducted their first virtual Spring Meetings amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This briefing summarizes the discussions, which focused on the economic impact of the pandemic, and provides key takeaways on topics such as debt relief, financing for COVID-19 response, multilateral partnerships, and efforts to support global supply chains. In this readout of the 2020 Spring Meetings, CIC director Sarah Cliffe details the historic—but ring-fenced—debt moratorium and accelerated financing deal that were reached, as well as efforts to inject more global financing through an exceptional issue of IMF Special Drawing Rights. The briefing also covers partnerships between the United Nations and the international financial institutions, including a call for collaboration on global supply chains for medical equipment, agricultural inputs, and other goods and services.
  • Topic: Governance, Finance, Multilateralism, Crisis Management, Humanitarian Crisis, IMF, COVID-19, Supply
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Lockdown measures have been an integral tool in the fight against COVID-19. But they come at a high cost, given their impacts on economies, employment and incomes, education, food systems, mental health and even the potential for civil unrest. This policy briefing by Sarah Cliffe, Paul von Chamier, and Nendirmwa Noel examines how countries are balancing the need for lockdown with policy measures to alleviate their effects and plans for reopening. It provides comparative data on the stringency of lockdowns, showing that while there has been a convergence towards more stringent measures over time, there is also wide variation among countries—even among those in the same region, or income group. A brief case study of Sierra Leone and snapshot examples of policy from ten other countries illustrates the range of answers to the question of how much lockdown is enough.
  • Topic: Employment, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sierra Leone, Global Focus
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Tayseer Alkarim
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The humanitarian crisis in northern Syria is on the verge of becoming a COVID-19 catastrophe. A decade of conflict has left the healthcare system in ruins—and millions of displaced people in Idlib province were already suffering due to a lack of shelter and sanitation. Now, with the coronavirus pandemic posed to spread to an area with just 600 doctors and fewer than 50 adult ventilators for four million people, the situation is dire. Why is Idlib the last refuge for internally displaced Syrians, and what can donors, international humanitarian actors, and local organizations do to ensure that they are not left behind as the world grapples with COVID-19? This policy briefing by Tayseer Alkarim, Hanny Megally, and Leah Zamore delves into roots of the humanitarian crisis in Idlib, details the current capacity of the exhausted healthcare system amid the ongoing conflict, and examines what these constraints mean for mounting a response to the spread of the coronavirus. The briefing explains how donors and international humanitarian organizations can take action now to support local institutions, increase testing and treatment capacity, improve availability of PPE and public information, and press for an immediate ceasefire. The plight of Idlib is one of the most complex humanitarian dilemmas of our time, influenced by prolonged conflict, a looming COVID-19 outbreak, and the ongoing failure of the international community to take effective action. A further failure to minimize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Idlib will cost lives—and risk global health security further by allowing the virus to spread in one of the places that is least-equipped to contain it.
  • Topic: Health, Conflict, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Said Sabir Ibrahimi
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Afghanistan faces many hurdles in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic: a prolonged armed conflict, a lack of social protection systems, limited healthcare capacity, and insufficient preparedness and coordination mechanisms. The Afghan government has developed a response plan and secured aid from international donors, but effective implementation remains challenging. This briefing by Said Sabir Ibrahimi and Dr. Naqibullah Safi provides an overview of the current state of the COVID-19 response in Afghanistan against the background of the ongoing conflict. It also details the additional challenges that hamper Afghanistan’s ability to deal with the crisis and provides recommendations for mitigating them.
  • Topic: Foreign Aid, Conflict, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The protests that have roiled the United States over the past weeks are rooted in an issue at the heart of the divisions in American society: racism, and in particular racism within the security forces. But their extent and impact are unprecedented in recent decades. What makes this moment different from previous waves of protests? This briefing by Sarah Cliffe draws on comparative global analysis to ask whether the US now risks large-scale civil conflict. It examines how the combination of a public health crisis, systemic generalized inequality and racial disparities, growing socioeconomic hardship, the political manipulation of racial and religious identities and the potential trigger of the forthcoming presidential election have exacerbated long-standing tensions in American society.
  • Topic: Race, Protests, Crisis Management, Police, COVID-19, Civil Unrest
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Karina Gerlach, Robert Kang
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: 2020 is the 75th anniversary year of the United Nations (UN), and it has already shaped up to be a year of unprecedented international shocks and potential for transformation, from COVID-19’s impact to the current mobilization for racial justice in many areas of the world. What does this mean for global trust in international cooperation and multilateral institutions? This briefing by Karina Gerlach and Robert Kang examines recent global polling data, finding a growing demand for international cooperation but diminished trust in international institutions to play a role in the response to COVID-19. It also looks at shifts in member state leadership and perceptions of United States-China rivalry, arguing that middle power alliances and regional networks offer a path forward for international cooperation even in difficult circumstances.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Race, United Nations, Reform, Multilateralism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: David Steven, Maaike de Langen
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered what may be the worst global recession since the Second World War—and the impact of this second-order crisis will be widespread, including in the justice sector. Access to justice has been affected by the public health response to the coronavirus, but it will also be challenged by the economic downturn. The first in this series—Justice for All and the Public Health Emergency set out recommendations for how justice systems and actors can respond to the health impacts of the pandemic. This second briefing now turns to the question of how the economic downturn will affect access to justice—and how justice systems and partners can play a role in the recovery. The briefing examines how the economic effects of COVID-19 impact common justice problems, and how justice systems can anticipate and innovate in response. It provides recommendations for how justice systems and actors can react nimbly to the pandemic’s effects, and look ahead for opportunities to build back better, reshaping justice systems so they can support more inclusive, sustainable, and resilient economies.
  • Topic: United Nations, Global Recession, Rule of Law, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Makovksy
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Although Benny Gantz’s party lost the head-to-head battle, Avigdor Liberman’s favorable influence on the coalition math has left the general in a stronger position—and taken some diplomatic weight off the Trump administration’s shoulders. Israel’s third round of elections last week seemed inconclusive at first, but the deadlock may now be broken. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did better this time than in September’s round two, but his gains were insufficient to form a new government. Potential kingmaker Avigdor Liberman jettisoned his previous idea of getting the two top parties to join forces; instead, personal antipathy and policy differences have led him to definitely state that he will not join any government Netanyahu leads. Thus, while centrist Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz may have options to shape a new government, Netanyahu has no pathway on his own. In theory, the center-left bloc has the requisite number of seats for a bare majority in the 120-member Knesset, since anti-Netanyahu forces won 62 seats. In reality, the situation is more complex.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Politics, Elections
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ben Fishman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: After the fall of Sirte, Erdogan and Putin’s desired ceasefire can only be achieved with Washington’s support. Over the past week, regional and European actors have increased their diplomatic activity around Libya in response to intensifying violence in the nine-month-old civil war. On January 8, less than a week after the Turkish parliament approved sending forces to support the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian leader Vladimir Putin met in Istanbul and called for a Libya ceasefire to begin on January 12. Whether or not Moscow and Ankara manage to pause the violence temporarily, their growing influence in Libya represents an epic failure of Western attempts to resolve the conflict diplomatically. The longer-term effort to jumpstart Libya’s political transition requires a wider international effort at peace and reconciliation—something Russia and Turkey can support but not lead. Putin and Erdogan seemed to acknowledge that fact at their summit, endorsing a long-planned multilateral conference in Berlin aimed at recommitting all relevant actors to support an end to hostilities and respect the UN Security Council’s mandatory but widely ignored arms embargo. Even assuming Putin is serious and withdraws Russian mercenaries from the frontlines, a full, lasting ceasefire cannot transpire until the other actors who support Gen. Khalifa Haftar’s so-called Libyan National Army (LNA) agree to withdraw their equipment and personnel for a fixed period while negotiations are launched—especially the United Arab Emirates, which provides the LNA with critical air superiority. At the same time, Turkey would have to take commensurate de-escalatory steps of its own. The United States is the only actor that holds enough weight with all the foreign parties to bring about an authentic ceasefire. Despite being consumed with crises in Iran and Iraq, Washington should expend the diplomatic effort required to pursue durable stability in Libya before the country slips further toward endemic chaos.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Elena DeLozier
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Sultan Haitham will now be free to put his own stamp on the country's government and foreign policy, and a recent dust-up on the Yemeni border could provide the first indicator of his approach. On February 20, Oman will begin its next era in earnest. The new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, was officially sworn in on January 11, but he has remained quiet and mostly out of sight during the forty-day mourning period that followed the death of his cousin, Sultan Qaboos. Now that this period is drawing to a close, he is free to put his stamp on Omani policy. Notably, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead the first international delegation to see Sultan Haitham in the post-mourning period. When the meeting was first scheduled, the secretary likely saw it as a chance to get to know the new leader, and also as a symbolic visit to make up for sending such a low-level delegation to offer condolences. Yet the two may have more to talk about now. Earlier this week, a flare-up occurred between Saudi forces and Omani-backed locals in the Yemeni border province of al-Mahra. The confrontation may be Sultan Haitham’s first regional test, and identifying the actors who help him get through it could help Washington discern future power centers within Oman’s often opaque government.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Oman, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest U.S. effort winds up backing the Palestinians into a territorial corner from the outset, then Washington may not be able to move the process any closer to direct negotiations. The newly released U.S. peace plan marks a very significant shift in favor of the current Israeli government’s view, especially when compared to three past U.S. initiatives: (1) the Clinton Parameters of December 2000, (2) Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s “Annapolis Process” of 2007-2008, and (3) Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2013-2014 initiative. The message is clear: the Trump administration will no longer keep sweetening the deal with every Palestinian refusal, a criticism some have aimed at previous U.S. efforts. Yet the new plan raises worrisome questions of its own. Will its provisions prove so disadvantageous to the proposed Palestinian state that they cannot serve as the basis for further negotiations? And would such overreach enable Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas to sway Arab states who have signaled that they want to give the proposal a chance, convincing them to oppose it instead? If so, the plan may wind up perpetuating the current diplomatic impasse and setting the stage for a one-state reality that runs counter to Israel’s identity as a Jewish, democratic state. This two-part PolicyWatch will address these questions by examining how the Trump plan compares to past U.S. initiatives when it comes to the conflict’s five core final-status issues. Part 1 focuses on two of these issues: borders and Jerusalem. Part 2 examines security, refugees, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Borders, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Ghaith al-Omari
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By granting Israel much more say over the sovereignty of a future Palestinian state and its ability to absorb refugees, the document may undermine the administration’s ability to build an international coalition behind its policies. President Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan was presented as a departure from previous approaches—a notion that invited praise from its supporters (who saw it as a recognition of reality) and criticism from its opponents (who saw it as an abandonment of valued principles). The plan does in fact diverge from past efforts in fundamental respects, yet there are also some areas of continuity, and ultimately, the extent to which it gains traction will be subject to many different political and diplomatic variables. Even so, the initial substance of the plan document itself will play a large part in determining how it is viewed by various stakeholders, especially those passages that veer away from the traditional path on core issues. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch assessed what the plan says about two such issues: borders and Jerusalem. This second installment discusses security, refugee, and narrative issues.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Refugees, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The surest way to counter Iran’s malign influence is to proactively focus on human rights issues that the new prime minister can actually affect, such as organizing free elections and preventing further violence against protestors. On February 1, a plurality of Iraqi parliamentary factions gave President Barham Salih the go-ahead to nominate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as the new prime minister-designate. The mild-mannered Shia Islamist nominee will now attempt to form and ratify his cabinet in the next thirty days. As he does so, political blocs will probably rally behind him while limiting his mandate to organizing early elections next year, having struggled through a long and fractious process to replace resigned prime minister Adil Abdulmahdi. For the first time since the dramatic events of the past two months, Iraqis and U.S. policymakers alike can catch their breath and consider their medium-term options.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Elections, Domestic politics, Protests
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Charles Thépaut, Elena DeLozier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By triggering the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution mechanism, Britain, France, and Germany are opening diplomatic space that could help the United States and Iran return to the negotiating table. In a press conference following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, President Trump reaffirmed his administration’s “maximum pressure” policy against Iran and asked, once again, for European countries to leave the nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Tehran announced what it called a “fifth and final remedial step” away from its commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. In response, the British, French, and German foreign ministers stated on January 14 that they would trigger the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism (DRM). At the same time, however, the E3 clarified that they are not joining the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign, which has steadily intensified ever since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA and reimposed unilateral sanctions in 2018. Contrary to U.S. claims, the European decision will not immediately provoke “snapback” UN sanctions on Iran (though that scenario could unfold later if the E3 plan fails and Iran’s violations go before the UN Security Council). Instead, Europe is maintaining its evenhanded position somewhere between Washington and Tehran in order to preserve the possibility of new negotiations, on both the nuclear program and other regional issues.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: During the war years in Syria, the northwest, specifically Idlib, has become a site of heavy internal displacement. Observers on the ground recognize the green buses traveling to Idlib carrying migrants who have refused reconciliation agreements with the Damascus regime. Since around 2014, a range of jihadist, Islamist, and Salafi actors have wielded control in the area, the most recent being the al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which has ruled—ineffectively and brutally—through its so-called Syrian Salvation Government. But the group's reign is unlikely to last long if current trends persist. The regime's recent move against the town of Maarat al-Numan suggests plans for a broader takeover in the northwest, aided by Russian firepower and other allies such as Iran. In this Policy Note filled with local insights, jihadism expert Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi presents the current scene in and around Idlib province, the last Syrian outpost still run by independent rebels. Absent an intervention by Turkey, the Assad regime will likely prevail in a campaign that quashes the insurgency at a high humanitarian cost.
  • Topic: Al Qaeda, Displacement, Military Intervention, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Turkey, Middle East, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The general’s peerless domestic stature would have served a crucial mediatory role during the eventual transition to Khamenei’s successor, so his death brings significant uncertainty to that process. Following the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, much attention has been focused on the foreign operations conducted by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps-Qods Force. Yet his organization also played a major role at home, one whose future is now unclear. In particular, Soleimani himself was well positioned to be a unifying, steadying figure once Iran faced the challenge of determining a successor to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.
  • Topic: Politics, Military Affairs, Authoritarianism, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Ben Fishman, Charles Thépaut
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: If the latest conference is to succeed, the principal actors stoking the civil war must endorse a genuine ceasefire and a return to Libyan internal dialogue. On January 19, international leaders will convene in Berlin to discuss a way out of the nine-month civil war between the so-called “Libyan National Army” led by Gen. Khalifa Haftar and the internationally recognized Government of National Accord led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj. The Germans led several months of preparatory efforts at the request of UN envoy Ghassan Salame, but had been reluctant to choose a specific date until they were assured that the event stood a reasonable chance of producing practical steps to improve the situation on the ground and jumpstart the UN’s stalled negotiation efforts between the LNA and GNA. Chancellor Angela Merkel finally took that step after several key developments unfolded earlier this month, including a January 8 ceasefire proposal by Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Putin’s subsequent failed attempt to have each side sign a more permanent ceasefire agreement in Moscow on January 13 (the GNA signed but Haftar balked, though most of the fighting has paused for the moment). Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been averse to engage on Libya during his tenure, but he is expected to attend the Berlin conference alongside National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien. Accordingly, the event gives the United States a chance to play a much-needed role on several fronts: namely, pressuring the foreign actors who have perpetuated the war and violated the arms embargo; working with Britain, France, Germany, Italy, and Russia to codify a ceasefire at the UN Security Council; and backing Salame’s efforts to reinvigorate the Libyan national dialogue, which Haftar preempted by attacking Tripoli last April despite European support to Salame. Since 2011, Libya has struggled to establish a legitimate transitional government despite three national elections and the creation of at least four legislative bodies. Challenges to the 2014 election results eventually led to rival governments in the east and west, and the division solidified when Haftar started the first civil war with support from his allies Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. That war halted in 2015, but several years’ worth of domestic and international efforts failed to bring Sarraj and Haftar to an enduring resolution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, United Nations, Conflict, Negotiation, Conference
  • Political Geography: Russia, Turkey, Middle East, Libya, Germany, North Africa, United Arab Emirates, Berlin, United States of America
  • Author: David Pollock
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A host of crucial multilateral interests are baked into the U.S. presence, from keeping the Islamic State down, to protecting vulnerable regional allies, to preventing Iran from taking Iraq's oil revenues. The assassination of Qasem Soleimani has brought the tensions in U.S.-Iraqi relations to a boil, with militia factions strong-arming a parliamentary resolution on American troop withdrawal and various European allies contemplating departures of their own. Before they sign the divorce papers, however, officials in Baghdad and Washington should consider the many reasons why staying together is best for both them and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Oil, Bilateral Relations, Islamic State, Qassem Soleimani
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Israel, Jordan, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: By the time IS came to the fore in Iraq and Syria, many of its themes and activities were already second nature to Tunisian jihadis who had heard similar messaging at home. There are a number of reasons why Tunisians joined the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. One underappreciated aspect of this is the way Ansar al-Sharia in Tunisia’s (AST) messaging primed members of the group and others in society that were exposed to, attended, or followed online AST activities and events. In my new book, Your Sons Are at Your Service: Tunisia’s Missionaries of Jihad, I describe this process, which I will examine in brief here. In particular, I will explore AST’s motivational framing, which “functions as prods to action.” The major themes AST crafted in its narrative were related to brotherhood, the defense of Islam, the creation of an Islamic state, and “remaining” as an entity.
  • Topic: Islam, Non State Actors, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Khamenei and other regime officials have been quick to swear revenge, but for now they may focus more on stoking patriotic and militaristic sentiment at home. A few hours after Iran confirmed that Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani had been killed in Iraq, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued a statement describing those who shed his blood as “the most wretched of humankind.” Calling Soleimani the international symbol of “resistance,” he then announced three days of public mourning in Iran. He also declared that “severe revenge awaits the criminals” who killed Soleimani—an act that the United States had claimed credit for by the time he spoke. Other highranking officials echoed this sentiment, including President Hassan Rouhani, Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani, and Defense Minister Amir Hatami, who explicitly promised “revenge” on “all those” involved in the assassination. Despite this rhetoric, however, and despite Soleimani’s unmatched role in carrying out Iran’s regional policy of adventurism and asymmetric warfare, the regime may avoid major, immediate retaliation if it sees such a move as too costly or as a potential trigger for serious military conflict with the United States. On January 1, amid escalating tensions in Iraq but before Soleimani’s assassination, Khamenei stated, “We would not take the country to war...but if others want to impose something on this country, we will stand before them forcefully.” In response to President Trump’s assertion that Iran played a role in the December 31 riot at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Khamenei told listeners he had two messages for Washington: “First, how dare you! This has nothing to do with Iran. Second, you should be reasonable and understand what is the main cause for these problems. But of course they are not [reasonable].”
  • Topic: Politics, Qassem Soleimani, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Hanin Ghaddar
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Unless Washington and its allies respond to the protestors’ legitimate demands for reform, the group will survive through measures such as expanding its smuggling activity, promoting its financial institutions, and selectively scapegoating corrupt politicians. When IMF officials visited Lebanon late last month amid its accelerating economic freefall, many wondered whether these developments might alter the behavior of Hezbollah, the designated terrorist group that has a deep financial stake in the country’s public and private sectors. During a previous funding crisis—the increase in U.S. sanctions against the group’s chief underwriter, Iran—the “Party of God” and its foreign sponsors formulated a new strategy to evade these measures and create alternative sources of funding. Such sources allowed Hezbollah to make further inroads into government agencies following the 2018 parliamentary elections. For example, the group’s leaders insisted on controlling the Health Ministry, which commands Lebanon’s fourth-largest budget at $338 million per year; they also gained more access to the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, the Agriculture Ministry, and the Ministry of Energy and Water, whose assistance was used to fund their affiliated projects and businesses. That worked until Lebanon’s own economy began its current nosedive. Unemployment has hit a record high of 40 percent, and the lira has slumped by about 60 percent on the parallel market, hiking inflation. Officially pegged to the dollar, the currency has plummeted 40 percent on the black market as local banks ration dollars necessary for imports of food, medicine, and other essential goods. Meanwhile, Lebanon has one of the highest debt-to-GDP ratios in the world (over 150 percent) and may not be able to pay $1.2 billion in Eurobonds this month. As with the Iran sanctions, however, Hezbollah has a strategy to survive this domestic pressure, at least in the near term.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Corruption, Debt, Politics, Protests, Hezbollah
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, United States of America
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Enhancing deterrence and protecting Americans in Iraq and Syria requires a more formalized system for rationing out retaliatory strikes at the proper intensity, time, and place. When U.S. airstrikes targeted Kataib Hezbollah militia personnel and senior Iranian military figures on December 29 and January 3, they were releasing long-pent-up retaliation for a range of provocations by Iraqi militias. Yet while these powerful blows may have injected some caution into enemy calculations, such deterrence is likely to be a wasting asset. The most proximal trigger for the strikes—the killing of an American civilian contractor during Kataib Hezbollah’s December 27 rocket attack on the K-1 base in Kirkuk—was just one in a series of increasingly risky militia operations against U.S. facilities. Only good fortune has prevented more Americans from dying in attacks conducted since then, including January 8 (when Iranian ballistic missiles struck the U.S. portion of al-Asad Air Base, causing more than a hundred nonlethal traumatic brain injuries), January 26 (mortar strike on the dining hall at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad), January 31 (rockets fired at the U.S. site at Qayyarah West), February 10 (explosive device thrown at a U.S. logistical convoy south of Baghdad), and February 13 (rocket attack on U.S. site at Kirkuk). The United States has seemingly communicated to Tehran that it will strike Iraqi militias and Iranian targets if any Americans are killed, but this redline has opened up a dangerous gray zone in which Iran and its proxies are emboldened to continue their nonlethal attacks. Besides the fact that such high-risk attacks are destined to result in more American deaths at some point, they will also produce many more injuries if permitted to continue, as seen in the January 8 strike. More broadly, they will limit U.S. freedom of movement in Iraq and Syria, undermining the point of being there in the first place. This situation is unacceptable—the United States needs a way to deter such behavior even when attacks fall short of killing Americans. When faced with similar challenges in past decades, the U.S. military established reckoning systems that matched the punishment to the crime, with useful levels of predictability, proportionality, and accountability.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Assassination, No-Fly Zones
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Fabrice Balanche
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Various displacement scenarios may unfold as the fighting escalates, each carrying a high risk of negative humanitarian and economic consequences even if the parties live up to their promises. The battle for Idlib province, the last stronghold of Syrian rebel forces, is heating up again. As Turkish troops clash with Assad regime forces and displaced civilians continue piling up along the border, various foreign and domestic players are considering moves that could send hundreds of thousands of refugees to other parts of Syria, northern Iraq, or Europe.
  • Topic: Refugees, Displacement, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Turkey, Syria, Idlib
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Instead of focusing on Iran's missile retaliation or future threats, the Supreme Leader used his latest speech to extoll the virtues of public unity behind the regime’s revolutionary goals. On January 8, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei delivered his first public speech since the U.S. assassination of Qasem Soleimani and the subsequent Iranian missile strike on Iraqi bases housing American forces. As part of an address that touched on regional solidarity against the United States and other notable subjects, he spent considerable time claiming that Soleimani symbolized the Iranian people’s continued commitment to the revolution. In doing so, he indicated that popular support for the regime remains a crucial objective for Iran’s leaders, perhaps more so than issuing or acting on further military threats.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Domestic politics, Qassem Soleimani, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Alex Almeida, Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: To keep recent rebel victories from cascading into a wider military collapse, Washington must urge the Gulf coalition to firm up the government’s forces and move more quickly on peace talks. On March 2, Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized the capital of al-Jawf province in the latest phase of a forty-five-day campaign along multiple fronts. Stemming from shifts in the country’s increasingly fragile military balance since last fall, the offensives show that Saudi Arabia is providing insufficient frontline support to the internationally recognized government of President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and its allies, while also failing to complete backchannel peace talks with the Houthis. Unless talks reach fruition or the Houthis are checked militarily, rebel forces will continue to use their ever-widening array of advanced Iranian weapons to exploit the government’s weakness with more offensives.
  • Topic: Conflict, Negotiation, Peace, Houthis
  • Political Geography: Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Even as their lack of transparency worsens the public health crisis, the Supreme Leader and other officials have systematically gutted any civil society elements capable of organizing substantial opposition to such policies. Iran’s ongoing coronavirus epidemic has left the people with less reason than ever to trust the information and directives issued by their leaders. Part 1 of this PolicyWatch discussed the clergy’s role in aggravating this problem, but the state’s mistakes and deceptions have been legion as well. They include scandalous discrepancies between official reports after a period of denial that the virus had entered the country; a health system that was unprepared to deal with such a disease promptly and properly; and official resistance to implementing internationally recommended precautionary measures, such as canceling flights from China and quarantining the center of the outbreak. These decisions have sown widespread confusion about facts and fictions related to the virus, the most effective medically proven ways to control it, and the degree to which it is spreading throughout the country. As a result, an already restive population has become increasingly panicked about the future and angry at the state. Yet can the coronavirus actually bring down the regime? The harsh reality is that the state has left little space for opposition to organize around health issues, or any issues for that matter. Instead, it has sought to confuse the people and redirect their anger toward external enemies, even as its own policies contribute to the crisis.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Civil Society, Health, Public Health, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: David Makovsky
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Whether they reveal a detailed plan or merely preview an aspirational document, U.S. officials still need to clarify their goals at a time when elections are looming and Palestinian participation seems highly unlikely. In a dramatic move, President Trump has announced that Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his leading rival, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, will visit the White House on January 28 to be briefed on the administration’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan. Trump told reporters that the plan would likely be released before the summit. Predictably, no invitation was extended to the Palestinian Authority, which severed relations with Washington after the U.S. embassy was moved to Jerusalem in 2017.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Negotiation, Peace, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, United States of America
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The clergy’s ambitions for global Shia revolution made the city of Qom uniquely vulnerable to the disease, and their resistance to modern medical science weakened the state’s ability to combat its spread. On February 19, two days before the Iranian government officially announced the arrival of coronavirus, an infected businessman who had recently returned from China to Qom passed away. The location and timing of his death illustrate how the Shia holy city and the religious leaders and institutions who call it home have played an outsize role in the disease’s disproportionately rapid spread inside Iran compared to other countries. How did this situation come to pass, and what does it say about the current state of the clerical establishment, its relationship with the regime, and its alienation from large swaths of Iranian society? (Part 2 of this PolicyWatch discusses the regime's role in the outbreak and its resiliency to such crises.)
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Religion, Shia, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Oula A. Alrifai
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Besides highlighting Assad’s financial mismanagement, the recent unrest gives the international community a genuine opportunity to push for transition while bolstering the more prosperous local administration in the northeast. Since mid-January, shop owners, government employees, students, and even children have been gathering in the streets of various Syrian communities to express their frustration with the Assad regime’s economic policies and untruths. Although the protests remain small for now, the fact that they have persistently carried on in the middle of regime-controlled territory highlights Bashar al-Assad’s potential vulnerability on these issues. In Suwayda, a Druze-majority province in the south, residents have protested the sharp drop in the value of the Syrian pound/lira and the deteriorating economic situation in general. In the central-western town of Salamiya, protestors were seen chanting “we want to live.” And in the Suwayda town of Shahba, demonstrators raised loaves of bread in the air while openly criticizing Bouthaina Shaaban, Assad’s political and media advisor. The latter protest was partly spurred by a recent interview on the pro-Assad television network al-Mayadeen, where Shaaban not only claimed that the country’s current economy is “fifty times better than what it was in 2011,” but also declared that “Syrians are self-sufficient in everything.” In response, protestors sarcastically noted that her comments referred to her own household’s economy, not Syria’s. Elsewhere, former agriculture minister Nour al-Din Manna described Shaaban’s remarks about the war-torn country as “hard to believe,” and a closer look at the country’s finances supports this disbelief.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Syrian War, Currency
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Ali Alfoneh
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Given the IRGC’s recent restructuring, the Qods Force will likely see more continuity than change under Qaani, though his bureaucratic background is a far cry from Soleimani’s brand of charismatic, risky leadership. On January 3, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei appointed Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani as chief commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force, just hours after his predecessor, Qasem Soleimani, was killed by a U.S. drone strike. The new commander’s background and military activities are not nearly as well known as Soleimani’s, so taking a closer look at them can help determine whether and how the IRGC’s main extraterritorial branch might change under his leadership.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Military Affairs, Qassem Soleimani, Assassination
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: A week after Donald Trump was elected president in November 2016, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei played coy, remarking, “I have no judgment on the American election...[Both parties have been] naughty toward us.” Of course, his true reaction was far more complex. On one hand, he saw in the president-elect—who had spoken much of disentangling U.S. forces from the Middle East—a prospect of decreased military pressure on his country. On the other, he heard Trump’s raw vitriol directed at Iran’s leadership and the nuclear deal crafted by President Obama. The eventual U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA demonstrated that the new president could back up his talk with punishing action. In this close analysis of statements by Khamenei and other Iranian leaders, former seminarian Mehdi Khalaji lays out the regime’s current views on President Trump and the United States. He shows that even after the American assassination of Qods Force chief Qasem Soleimani, Iranian leaders could be open to negotiating with Washington if they believe the regime’s existence depends on it.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Elections, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: As in other conflict zones, Moscow cares little about reaching a peace deal so long as it can outmaneuver the West strategically while securing port and energy access—with private contractors playing an increasingly important role. The Kremlin is now openly treating Libya as another focal point of its Middle East activities. After years of U.S. neglect, the country has turned into a proxy war playground, and President Vladimir Putin is vying to become the chief power broker. Earlier this month, he tried (but failed) to get Khalifa Haftar to sign a ceasefire agreement in Moscow with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj, head of the UN-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA). Putin also participated in the January 19 Berlin conference aimed at getting the parties back on the path toward a political solution. And though the prospects for such a deal remain uncertain, Moscow’s involvement in Libya will continue either way.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, Civil War, Geopolitics, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Libya, North Africa
  • Author: Michael Knights
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: To ensure that new protests, new sanctions, and new political leadership wind up helping rather than hindering Iraqi sovereignty, Washington must handle upcoming developments with great care. In the coming weeks, Iraq’s parliament may appoint a replacement for Prime Minister Adil Abdulmahdi. This is a very positive development, since the country’s sundry Iranian-backed militias would like nothing better than to keep the discredited leader under their thumb as an open-ended caretaker premier following his November resignation. In contrast, a new leader with a new mandate could get the government moving again, pass a budget, bring the criminals responsible for killing protestors to justice, and assuage angry protestors by making visible preparations for early, free, and fair elections—thereby remedying the results of the widely disparaged 2018 vote. Such is the political space that has opened up since the deaths of Iranian Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis earlier this month. For the United States, the challenge is how to support these changes without disrupting positive local dynamics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Sovereignty, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron Y. Zelin
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Fewer attacks and more prosecutions suggest the country’s integrated approach could eventually become a model for the region. For the first time since its 2011 revolution, Tunisia is not on the defensive in its battle with the Islamic State and al- Qaeda. Data from 2019, paired with a more holistic approach to combating jihadists, bears out this claim. Specifically, Tunis is expanding its toolkit beyond a purely military or law enforcement approach. Because of these advances, which have developed over the past few years, Tunis and Washington will have widened opportunities to engage on more complex aspects of reform that could make Tunisia a regional and global model. Both internal and external challenges remain, such as from foreign fighters dwelling abroad, an overcrowded prison system, and the threat of resurgent jihadism next door in Libya, but these need not diminish the accomplishments. Moreover, Tunisia can now build on its achievements, continuing the process of reform after decades of authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Law Enforcement, Violent Extremism, Islamic State, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The latest crackdown appears to have targeted senior defense and interior officials, spurring speculation that they are linked to previously detained princes rumored to be plotting a coup. On March 15, Saudi Arabia announced that 298 individuals have been arrested for bribery, embezzlement, wasting public funds, and other corruption offenses. Although none of the detainees has been named, they reportedly include high-ranking officers in the Defense and Interior Ministries, adding to rumors that recent royal crackdowns may be related to a planned coup.
  • Topic: Corruption, Reform, Domestic politics, Monarchy
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Patrick Clawson
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Total U.S. production from all sources will remain the world’s largest no matter how low prices go, leaving Washington (and Texas) with considerable room to help domestic companies and press Riyadh and Moscow on stabilizing prices. Five years ago, U.S. shale production costs were so high that whenever oil prices dropped, the impact was felt first and foremost by American producers. Many commentators and media sources assume that is still the case, but the situation has changed dramatically. A recent IMF report with the dry title “The Future of Oil and Fiscal Sustainability in the GCC Region” listed the “breakeven price” for various sources of crude. Naturally, Gulf oil had the lowest cost at $18 per barrel, but the shocker was that U.S. shale came in second place at $22—50 percent below the average deepwater project, 80 percent below Canadian oil sands, and 90 percent below Russian onshore projects. Since costs vary widely, some projects presumably have a much lower breakeven price and some much higher, but the general findings are nonetheless striking. If the IMF is correct, then U.S. production should not be counted out, since the cost fundamentals are on its side. To be sure, the current market structure is not on U.S. shale’s side. Small U.S. producers have to raise money on financial markets and cannot rely on the deep government pockets available to producers in Russia and OPEC states. As a result, many are staring at a very dire situation.
  • Topic: Oil, Natural Resources, Global Markets, Business , Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Haseeb Humayoon, Mustafa Basij-Rasikh
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Recent efforts at settling the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan have featured an increasingly vibrant and visible display of women’s activism. Even with the support of the government and its international partners, Afghan women still face tremendous challenges to realizing their aspirations for a role in peacemaking. Based on extensive interviews throughout Afghanistan, this report attempts to better understand the changing public role of Afghan women today and their contributions to peacebuilding and ending violence.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Violent Extremism, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Middle East
  • Author: Frank Aum, Jacob Stokes, Patricia M. Kim, Atman M. Trivedi, Rachel Vandenbrink, Jennifer Staats, Joseph Yun
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A joint statement by the United States and North Korea in June 2018 declared that the two countries were committed to building “a lasting and stable peace regime on the Korean Peninsula.” Such a peace regime will ultimately require the engagement and cooperation of not just North Korea and the United States, but also South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan. This report outlines the perspectives and interests of each of these countries as well as the diplomatic, security, and economic components necessary for a comprehensive peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Diplomacy, Economy, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula, United States of America
  • Author: Martha Crenshaw
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The 2011 civil war in Syria attracted thousands of fighters from at least seventy countries to join the Islamic State. Al-Shabaab carried out large-scale attacks on civilian targets in Uganda and Kenya as retribution for the deployment of peacekeeping forces in Somalia. In this report, Martha Crenshaw considers the extent to which civil war and foreign military intervention function as a rationale for transnational terrorism, and how understanding the connections between terrorism, civil war, and weak governance can help the United States and its allies mount an appropriate response.
  • Topic: Terrorism, War, Non State Actors, Islamic State, Transnational Actors, Peace, Al-Shabaab
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, Africa, Middle East, Syria, Somalia, United States of America
  • Author: Esra Cuhadar
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Current peace processes are designed to be more inclusive of women, civil society, youth, opposition political parties, and other frequently marginalized communities. Implementation of inclusive peace processes, however, has not progressed smoothly—and are frequently met with resistance. Based on an examination of instances of resistance in thirty peace and transition negotiations since 1990, this report enhances practitioners’ understanding of who resists, against whose participation, using what tactics, and with what motives.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Gender Issues, Politics, Women, Youth, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sadaf Lakhani, Rahmatullah Amiri
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Forced displacement affects over 70 million people worldwide and is among the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges today. This report attempts to ascertain whether a relationship exists between displacement in Afghanistan and vulnerability to recruitment to violence by militant organizations. The report leverages an understanding of this relationship to provide recommendations to government, international donors, and others working with Afghanistan’s displaced populations to formulate more effective policies and programs.
  • Topic: Development, Taliban, Violent Extremism, Radicalization, Displacement, Violence, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia
  • Author: Judit Fabian
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Urban Institute
  • Abstract: International trade is often framed in starkly divergent terms: either countries choose multilateral trade agreements (MTAs) and advance the cause of global economic liberalization, or they choose preferred trade agreements (PTAs) and put the entire system at risk. Canada has a long track record of pursuing PTAs and with the Trump administration’s opposition to multilateralism, and longstanding opposition in elements of the Republican and Democratic parties, this trend will likely continue. The question is whether progress will come at the expense of the global trade system. Some economists believe PTAs to be trade-diverting, reducing trade with more efficient producers outside the agreement. Others insist that PTAs can create trade by shifting production to lower-cost producers in one of the participating countries. One prominent contrary argument holds that PTAs lead to discontinuities in tariff regimes between countries and regions, increasing transaction costs, disrupting supply chains, creating opportunities for corruption and harming global welfare, especially in developing nations. While debate continues about the effects of PTAs, a closer examination suggests that worries are overblown about their negative impacts on global trade flows. Evidence indicates that they support rather than harm the international trading system. Countries shut out of PTAs are more motivated to seek out agreements in new markets, increasing liberalization overall. They may also seek a reduction in most-favoured nation (MFN) tariffs, which would deprive PTAs of their major tariff benefits. Studies have found complementarity between preferential and MFN tariffs, revealing that PTAs promote external trade liberalization. Even if a PTA reduces a given country’s incentive to push for multilateral liberalization, it raises the odds of that country liberalizing its trade to avoid getting left behind. PTAs are a response to the difficulties of securing sweeping multilateral agreements. The World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements authorize them under GATT Article XXIV, GATS Article V, and the enabling clause, and the WTO facilitates a degree of governance over PTAs through its dispute settlement process. Over the past 25 years, countries have adopted these deals at a rapid pace. Between 1994 and 2005, the number of PTAs increased from 50 to 200. By April 2018, 336 were in effect. At the same time, global trade has increased significantly. Between 1994 and 2010, the volume of world merchandise exports more than doubled. The proliferation of PTAs has resulted in a rise in international trade governance, because the countries involved shape their relationships in line with the WTO agreements. This juridification makes PTAs subordinate to the international system rather than giving them room to dissolve it. Canada should therefore have no fear of pursuing PTAs within the larger framework of the effort to achieve multilateral trade liberalization.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Governance, Trade, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: Canada, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marc Finaud, Bernd W. Kubbig
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: SESAME, which stands for Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East, is a large-scale techno-scientific project that was established under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and is set up according to the model of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. This multilateral endeavour, located in Jordan, brings together experts and researchers from the Mediterranean/Middle East, including from countries that do not have diplomatic relations (e.g. Israel and Iran, Cyprus and Turkey). It is conceived primarily as a project combining research capacity-building with vital peacebuilding efforts. In principle, these efforts may include the manifold technical and cooperative dimensions of anti-terrorist activities related to weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear, or CBRN), and also to disarmament and non-proliferation. The country where SESAME is located – Jordan – has been heavily involved in the fight against the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (IS). This Policy Forum issue deals with the genesis of SESAME, and then describes its functioning, achievements, and potential benefits; the challenges it faces, especially funding; and its peacebuilding element. The SESAME project can be improved in concrete ways by meeting two peacebuilding-related criteria: firstly, by living up to its claim of being a contribution to rapprochement between the peoples of this conflict-torn region, whose security is affected by national rivalries or violent non-state actors; and, secondly, by providing inputs for the users’ community without adversely affecting that community’s predominant focus on research. This Policy Forum aims at acquainting especially young scientists with the technical and cooperative dimensions of SESAME’s CBRN-related counter-terrorist activities, as well as its disarmament and non-proliferation measures. Such scientists can make use particularly of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) programmes and of the nearby Amman-based academic and educational infrastructure.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, United Nations, Counter-terrorism, Peace
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Jordan
  • Author: Bríd Ní Ghráinne
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: On Wednesday 9 October 2019, Turkey launched a cross-border operation in Northern Syria. Turkey justified its actions as a response to an ‘imminent terrorist threat’ from Kurdish-led forces. Its operation was directed at pushing back these groups from its border and creating a ‘safe zone’ in Syria where up to two million Syrian refugees can be resettled. This reflection aims to assess whether the Turkish operation to establish the safe zone was lawful; and whether the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the safe zone is in conformity with international law.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Law, Refugees, Syrian War, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Benjamin Tallis, Elena Zhirukhina, Mark Galeotti, Jan Mazač
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The policy brief is a result of conclusions from roundtable discussions with policy makers and researchers that took place in Prague and Oslo in late 2019 and early 2020. The researchers studied how to better respond to fear factors and move beyond them in foreign policy. A key observation made in the new brief is that while changes in American, Chinese and Russian foreign policies may trigger anxiety and uncertainty among smaller European states, fears like this can also have productive effects on foreign policy thinking and practice. For states like Czechia and Norway, it can create opportunities for re-thinking support networks and reaching out to new partners. While Norway and Czechia have different historical, geographical and (sometimes) political points of departure, the two states’ assessment of recent international developments is similar. This creates room for conversation and mutual learning - including how to best respond to increased levels of rivalry between great powers, and changing dynamics in the EU and NATO. There are also similarities in how Norway and Czechia perceive their regional collaboration with their respective Nordic and Visegrad states – and how there is considerable scope for them to branch out from their regional formats.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, NATO, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Norway, Czech Republic
  • Author: Arthur Boutellis, Michael Beary
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Since 2013, after years of near absence from the continent, a number of European countries, along with Canada, have again deployed to UN peacekeeping missions in Africa. The European presence in UN peacekeeping in Africa is now nearly at its largest since the mid-1990s. These countries provide much-needed high-end capabilities, as well as political and financial capital, to UN peacekeeping operations. Nonetheless, securing and sustaining European contributions to these types of peacekeeping operations remains an uphill battle for the UN. This paper draws lessons from this renewed engagement by European countries and Canada, both from their point of view, as well as from that of the UN Secretariat, UN field missions, and other troop contributors. It aims to explore how these bodies and other countries can best work together in a collective endeavor to improve UN peacekeeping’s efficiency and effectiveness. Toward this end, the paper recommends a number of actions to the UN Secretariat: Build peacekeeping operations around first-class medical systems; Focus on improving processes for casualty evacuation; Strengthen the UN’s capacity to foster partnerships among troop-contributing countries; Engage Europe strategically and politically; Be flexible and make European contributors (and others) feel included in planning; Continue educating European contributors about UN peacekeeping; Do not limit engagement with European contributors to high-end capabilities; Ensure European contributors adhere to UN standards; and Encourage European contributors to commit to longer deployments.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Canada
  • Author: Charles T. Hunt
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Since first deployed in 1960, United Nations police (UNPOL) have consistently been present in UN missions and have become increasingly important to achieving mission objectives. Since 1999, these objectives have often included the protection of civilians (POC), especially in places like the Central African Republic, Darfur, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, and South Sudan. But despite its rise in prominence, the protective role of UNPOL is generally undervalued and regularly overlooked, and missions have tended to overly rely on militarized approaches to POC. This report examines the roles and responsibilities of UNPOL regarding POC. It outlines UNPOL’s contributions to POC and perceived comparative advantages, using examples of their role as compeller, deterrent, partner, and enabler. It also identifies and draws lessons from challenges to police protection efforts, including ambiguous mandates, policies, and guidance; poor coordination; problematic partnerships; and deficits in capabilities, capacities, and tools. Drawing on these lessons from past and current deployments, the report proposes recommendations for how member states, the Security Council, the UN Secretariat, and field missions can improve UNPOL’s efforts to protect civilians going forward. These recommendations include: Clarifying the role of UN police in POC through mandates, policies, guidance, and training to align the expectations of UN peace operations, the Secretariat, and member states for what UNPOL are expected to do; Involving all UN police in POC and giving them a voice in decision making and planning to infuse whole-of-mission POC efforts with policing perspectives and empower UNPOL to act more readily; Enhancing partnerships between UN police, host states, and other mission components to enable more responsive, better coordinated, and more comprehensive approaches to POC; and Providing more appropriate and more flexible capabilities, capacities, and tools to address critical capabilities gaps and adapt existing resources to better meet UNPOL’s latent potential for POC.
  • Topic: Security, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Reform, Rule of Law, Civilians, Police
  • Political Geography: Africa, Darfur, Mali, South Sudan, Central African Republic, Congo
  • Author: Sarah-Myriam Martin-Brûlé
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The growing number of UN personnel deployed to missions in violent, volatile, and complex settings has pushed the UN to take all means necessary to improve the safety and security of its staff and of civilians under its protection. The UN’s Peacekeeping-Intelligence Policy, which was first developed in 2017 and later revised in 2019, has been a central part of these efforts. This paper outlines the difficulties of creating and implementing this policy. It addresses the origin and evolution of UN peacekeeping-intelligence as a concept and explains the need for this policy. It then discusses how peacekeeping-intelligence was and is being developed, including the challenge of creating guidelines and trainings that are both general enough to apply across the UN and flexible enough to adapt to different missions. Finally, it analyzes challenges the UN has faced in implementing this policy, from difficulties with coordination and data management to the lack of a sufficient gender lens. The paper recommends a number of actions for UN headquarters, peace operations, and member states in order to address these challenges: Optimize tasking and information sharing within missions by focusing on senior leaders’ information needs; Harmonize the content of peacekeeping-intelligence handbooks with standard operating procedures while ensuring they are flexible enough to account for differences among and between missions; Refine criteria for recruiting civilian and uniformed personnel with intelligence expertise and better assign personnel once they are deployed; Improve retention of peacekeeping-intelligence personnel and encourage member states to agree to longer-term deployments; Tailor peacekeeping-intelligence training to the needs of missions while clarifying a standard set of UN norms; Apply a gender lens to UN peacekeeping-intelligence; Improve coordination between headquarters and field sites within missions by adapting the tempo and timing of tasking and creating integrated information-sharing cells; and Establish common sharing platforms within missions.
  • Topic: Intelligence, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Namie Di Razza, Jake Sherman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The effectiveness of UN peace operations depends on the “operational readiness” of their personnel, which refers to the knowledge, expertise, training, equipment, and mindset needed to carry out mandated tasks. While the need to improve the operational readiness of peacekeepers has been increasingly recognized over the past few years, the concept of “human rights readiness”—the extent to which consideration of human rights is integrated into the generation, operational configuration, and evaluation of uniformed personnel—has received less attention. This policy paper analyzes opportunities and gaps in human rights readiness and explores ways to improve the human rights readiness of peacekeepers. A comprehensive human rights readiness framework would include mechanisms to integrate human rights considerations into the operational configuration and modus operandi of uniformed personnel before, during, and after their deployment. This paper starts the process of developing this framework by focusing on the steps required to prepare and deploy uniformed personnel. The paper concludes with concrete recommendations for how troop- and police-contributing countries can prioritize human rights in the force generation process and strengthen human rights training for uniformed peacekeepers. These actions would prepare units to uphold human rights standards and better integrate human rights considerations into their work while ensuring that they deliver on this commitment. Ultimately, improved human rights readiness is a key determinant of the performance of UN peacekeepers, as well as of the UN’s credibility and reputation.
  • Topic: Security, Human Rights, United Nations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Christian Lara, Gabriel Delsol
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: In 2017, the UN launched a system-wide effort to support the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in Burkina Faso. Since then, a rapidly deteriorating security situation and an imminent humanitarian crisis have forced the UN, the Burkinabe government, and their partners to recalibrate their efforts. This ongoing recalibration, together with the changes resulting from the UN development system reforms, makes this an opportune moment to assess the state of efforts to sustain peace in Burkina Faso. This paper examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Burkina Faso, looking at what has been done and what is still needed. It focuses on the four issue areas highlighted in the secretary-general’s 2018 report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace: operational and policy coherence; leadership at the UN country level; partnerships with local and regional actors; and international support. Burkina Faso provides lessons for how the UN’s sustaining peace efforts can respond to growing needs without a change in mandate. Continued support for the UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso is necessary to ensure that these efforts are part of a holistic approach to the crisis, together with local, national, and regional partners. Such support could underpin Burkina Faso’s status as a buffer against spreading insecurity in the Sahel and make the country a model for the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in conflict-prone settings without UN missions.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Peace, Sustainability, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Patryk I. Labuda
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Contemporary UN peace operations are expected to implement ambitious protection of civilians (POC) mandates while supporting host states through conflict prevention, peacemaking, and peacebuilding strategies. Reconciling these people-oriented POC mandates and the state-centric logic of UN-mandated interventions ranks among the greatest challenges facing peace operations today. This report explores how peace operations implement POC mandates when working with, despite, or against the host state. It analyzes the opportunities, challenges, and risks that arise when peacekeepers work with host states and identifies best practices for leveraging UN support to national authorities. The paper concludes that peacekeeping personnel in each mission need to decide how to make the most of the UN’s strengths, mitigate risks to civilians, and maintain the support of government partners for mutually desirable POC goals. The paper offers seven recommendations for managing POC and host-state support going forward: Persuade through dialogue: Peace operations should work to keep open channels of communication and better prepare personnel for interacting with state officials. Leverage leadership: The UN should better prepare prospective mission leaders for the complex POC challenges they will face. Make capacity building people-centered and holistic: The UN should partner with a wider group of actors to establish a protective environment while reconceptualizing mandates to restore and extend state authority around people-centered development initiatives. Induce best practices: Missions should leverage capacity building and other forms of support to promote national ownership and foster best practices for POC. Coordinate pressure tactics: Peace operations should make use of the full spectrum of bargaining tools at their disposal, including pressure tactics and compulsion. Deliver coherent, mission-specific messaging on the use of force: The UN should improve training, political guidance, and legal advice on the use of force, including against state agents. Reconceptualizing engagement with states on POC as a “whole-of-mission” task: The UN Secretariat should articulate a vision and mission-specific guidelines for partnerships with host governments on POC.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Civilians
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wasim Mir
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The UN is currently facing its most challenging financial situation in nearly two decades. Despite taking emergency measures to reduce spending, the UN Secretariat’s severe liquidity problems have been getting progressively worse, to the point where they are starting to affect the UN’s ability to carry out its mandates. The main cause of this crisis is the late payment and nonpayment of member-state contributions. This issue brief breaks down the reasons why certain member states have not been paying in full or on time, which include the withholding of payments to express concerns about specific UN activities and domestic financial difficulties. It then considers the proposals the secretary-general has put forward to address the crisis: replenishing the existing reserves, incentivizing member states to make timelier payments by invoking Article 19 of the UN Charter sooner, and limiting the General Assembly’s use of creative measures to reduce spending. Since these proposals currently have little backing from member states, the paper also suggests looking at alternative approaches, including allowing the UN Secretariat to borrow commercially or pool cash balances. As the domestic dynamics that lead to late payment and nonpayment will not change quickly, the paper urges member states not to ignore the issue and hope that it will resolve itself. They need to urgently consider what measures could help mitigate the crisis as soon as possible.
  • Topic: United Nations, Financial Crisis, Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Agathe Sarfati
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The twin resolutions on peacebuilding and sustaining peace adopted by the General Assembly and Security Council in 2016 made a breakthrough in the UN’s conception of peacebuilding. Significant work has since been undertaken to reconfigure the UN system to work toward the implementation of these resolutions, and the UN Peacebuilding Commission has launched a comprehensive review of the peacebuilding architecture to be completed in 2020. To inform this review, this issue brief synthesizes findings related to the operationalization of the peacebuilding and sustaining peace resolutions at the country level. These findings emerged from three case studies published by IPI on Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Burkina Faso. The operationalization of sustaining peace is assessed across four areas: (1) operational and policy coherence; (2) leadership, accountability, and capacity; (3) financing; and (4) partnerships. The paper concludes that much of the focus to date has been on improving the effectiveness of how the UN delivers its mandates on peacebuilding and sustaining peace. To fully realize the vision of the sustaining peace agenda, its operationalization must increasingly focus on the impact of these efforts. This requires questioning and testing the theory of change underpinning these operational reforms to ensure the UN is effectively helping societies build the foundation for sustaining peace.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peace, UN Security Council
  • Political Geography: Africa, Liberia, Papua New Guinea, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Gretchen Baldwin, Sarah Taylor
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: Over the past twenty years, UN peace operations have made progress toward gender equality. Most of their mandates refer to women or gender, and the UN and member states have agreed to numerical targets to increase the percentage of women peacekeepers. Meeting, and exceeding, these targets, however, will require the UN to better understand the barriers and often-unrealistic expectations facing uniformed women. This paper provides an overview of how the UN and troop- and police-contributing countries are trying to integrate uniformed women into missions and how mission mandates interact with the women, peace, and security agenda. It also expounds upon expectations of uniformed women in peacekeeping operations, specifically regarding the protection of civilians, as well as structural barriers, taboos, and stigmas that affect uniformed women’s deployment experiences. It is the first paper published under the International Peace Institute’s Women in Peace Operations project and provides an overview of research that will be conducted through May 2022. The paper concludes with initial findings and guidance for researchers and practitioners. It calls for the UN and member states to consider transformative possibilities for increasing women’s participation that push back against existing assumptions and norms. This requires grounding integration strategies in evidence, transforming missions to improve the experiences of women peacekeepers, and implementing a gendered approach to community engagement and protection.
  • Topic: Security, Gender Issues, Peacekeeping, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lesley Connolly, Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: On January 1, 2019, a far-reaching reform of the UN development system went into effect. This was referred to by the deputy secretary-general as “the most ambitious reform of the United Nations development system in decades.” While this reform has only briefly been in place, questions have already arisen about its implementation and implications. This issue brief aims to contribute to the understanding of this ongoing reform and its significance. It provides a detailed overview of the UN development system reform at the headquarters, regional, and country levels, highlighting why it was undertaken and identifying some of the political and bureaucratic complexities it entails. The report concludes that more than a year into the reform of the UN development system, significant progress has been made, but it is too early to assess the reform’s long-term impact. What is clear, however, is that bringing about change of this scope will require the UN to adapt not only its structure but also its way of working.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nur Sinem Kourou
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: Populism is one of the outstanding political phenomena in contemporary world politics for the last decade. This is not only about the election triumph of populist parties in several countries, but also it is about the impact of populism as a political strategy to other movements in different contexts. This paper focuses on the link between populism and gender. For this purpose, this paper aims to put one of the salient debates in the 2010s with the relational perspective to understand the new trends on rising right-wing populism and anti-gender movement at the same time. By so doing, this paper analyzes the common triggers of right-wing populism and anti-gender movements to see what makes them coherent. It is then concluded by asking why this relation is a matter while underlining the vulnerable position of women in populist politics.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Politics, Women, Populism, Ideology
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Binhan Oğuz, Godfrey Gordon, Henry H. Cruz
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: With subsidence of the Covid-19 pandemic to medically acceptable levels, international coordination of health and safety protocols, once agreed and implemented, will be the critical first step to the next phase to the opening of international tourism, more likely well into 2021, and unlikely to be a robust one, if travel is restricted to any agreed ‘quarantine-free corridors. Then there remains the issue of social (physical) distancing and wearing protective masks at airports and onboard planes, and expectation that at destination countries agreed protocols will be respected. One major challenge to medical tourism for the immediate future is travel by the elderly and other vulnerable individuals, for whom travel restrictions may be more stringent.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Tourism, COVID-19, Health Crisis
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Phil Thornton
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The world is facing unprecedented health and economic crises that require a global solution. Governments have locked down their economies to contain the mounting death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic. With this response well underway, now is the time to move into a recovery effort. This will require a coordinated response to the health emergency and a global growth plan that is based on synchronized monetary, fiscal, and debt relief policies. Failure to act will risk a substantial shock to the postwar order established by the United States and its allies more than seventy years ago. The most effective global forum for coordinating this recovery effort is the Group of 20 (G20), which led the way out of the global financial crisis (GFC) in 2009, the closest parallel we have to the current catastrophe. Eleven years ago, world leaders used the G20 meeting in London as the forum to deliver a unified response and a massive fiscal stimulus that helped stem economic free fall and prevented the recession from becoming a second Great Depression. A decade on, it is clear that the G20 is the only body with the clout to save the global economy. This does not mean that the G20 should be the only forum for actions for its member states. The United States, for example, should also work closely with like-minded states that support a rules-based world order, and there are many other fora where it can and must be active with partners and allies. But no others share the G20’s depth and breadth in the key focus areas for recovery. The other multilateral organizations that could take up the challenge lack either the substance or membership. The United Nations may count all countries as members but is too unwieldly to coordinate a response. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has the resources but requires direction from its 189 members. The Group of Seven (G7), which once oversaw financial and economic management, does not include the fast-growing emerging economies. The G20 represents both the world’s richest and fastest-growing countries, making it the forum for international collaboration. It combines that representation with agility.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, G20, Global Markets, Geopolitics, Economy, Business , Trade, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Middle East, Canada, Asia, Saudi Arabia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: JD Work, Richard Harknett
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Reported Iranian intrusions against Israeli critical infrastructure networks and alleged Israeli actions against Iranian proliferation-associated targets pose substantial new challenges to understanding ongoing competition and conflict in the Middle East. These cyber exchanges may be interpreted through two distinct lenses: as the struggle to achieve deterrence using the instrument of cyber operations, or as the contest for initiative in order to establish conditions for relative security advantage in a cyber-persistent environment. Either way, these ongoing incidents are best understood not as “bolt out of the blue” attacks, but rather fleeting glimpses of continuing cyber campaigns leveraging previously disclosed and newly developed capabilities as each side grapples to anticipate cyber vulnerability and shape the conditions of exploitation. The opaque nature of these interactions is further complicated by potential bureaucratic politics and interservice rivalries, as well as unknown dynamics of a counter-proliferation campaign to slow, disrupt and potentially destroy Iranian nuclear capacity. In the end, observed cyber actions may not represent reflections of accurate strategic calculation, and even if aligned to the operational environment they may not lead to intended outcomes. Continuous failure to deter, or inability to manage persistent interactions, may lead to greater dangers.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Cybersecurity, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Jeffrey Cimmino, Matthew Kroenig, Barry Pavel
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is a strategic shock, and its almost immediate, damaging effects on the global economy constitute a secondary disruption to global order. Additional secondary strategic shocks (e.g., in the developing world) are looming. Together, these developments pose arguably the greatest threat to the global order since World War II. In the aftermath of that conflict, the United States and its allies established a rules-based international system that has guaranteed freedom, peace, and prosperity for decades. If the United States and its allies do not act effectively, the pandemic could upend this order. This issue brief considers the current state of the pandemic and how it has strained the global rules-based order over the past few months. First, it considers the origins of the novel coronavirus and how it spread around the world. Next, it examines how COVID-19 has exacerbated or created pressure points in the global order, highlights uncertainties ahead, and provides recommendations to the United States and its partners for shaping the post-COVID-19 world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO, Diplomacy, Politics, European Union, Economy, Business , Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, South Asia, Eurasia, India, Taiwan, Asia, North America, Korea, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: David Mortlock
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Two years ago, US President Donald J. Trump walked into the White House Diplomatic Reception Room and announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). The Trump administration reimposed sanctions on Iran and has adopted a policy of “maximum pressure” to compel Iran to change its behavior and to deny the Iranian regime the resources to engage in its destabilizing activities. However, he also promised he was ready, willing, and able to make a new and lasting deal with Iran. In “Trump’s JCPOA Withdrawal Two Years On – Maximum Pressure, Minimum Outcomes” author David Mortlock, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluates the policy outcomes of President Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA. The author walks readers through the timeline of President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the JCPOA, the subsequent implementation of the maximum pressure campaign on Iran, and the policy outcomes relative to stated objectives. In sum, Mortlock concludes that although the maximum pressure campaign has been effective in inflicting economic harm on Iran, it has had minimum effect in other areas. Therefore, Mortlock believes the Trump administration should seize the opportunity to pivot from maximum pressure to an approach focused more on policy outcomes.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Sanctions, Nuclear Power, Economy, Donald Trump, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Scott Crino, Conrad "Andy" Dreby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The use of drones as weapons in the Middle East and North Africa has grown rapidly in recent years, especially as non-state actors from the Houthis in Yemen to militants in Syria seek to level the playing field. Often powered by widely available commercial technology, these systems present a real and present security challenge. What should policymakers do to adapt to this new threat? How can they best structure defenses and leverage available technology to protect key assets? “Drone Attacks Against Critical Infrastructure,” by Dr. Scott Crino and Conrad “Andy” Dreby, addresses these questions and more. Crino is founder and CEO and Dreby is director of red-teaming at Red Six Solutions, LLC. The authors analyze developments in the use of weaponized drones in the Middle East and beyond, exploring how regional policymakers can adapt to mitigate this threat.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Weapons , Drones
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Audrey Hruby
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Global powers are jockeying for access to opportunities in African markets. In recent years, through the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, the Tokyo International Conference of African Development, the Russia-Africa Summit, and many others, the world’s largest economies have sought to make headway in what are seen as fast-growing and lucrative new markets. In this environment, effective United States (US)-Africa policy requires greater focus on areas of American competitiveness and concerted efforts to educate, mobilize, and support US commercial success in African markets. In this update of her 2017 issue brief “Escaping China’s shadow: Finding America’s competitive edge in Africa,” Senior Fellow Aubrey Hruby outlines recommendations for how to best utilize Prosper Africa and leverage American private sector competitiveness by focusing efforts on sectors in which the United States already leads.
  • Topic: Global Markets, Economy, Trade, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Fried, Brian O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: US President Donald J. Trump’s administration has found it challenging to maintain a consistent position with respect to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repression at home and aggression abroad. It may again fall to Congress to attempt to counter Russia’s election interference, already ongoing in the form of disinformation; back Ukraine as its government seeks to deal with a Russian invasion; and contend with other forms of Kremlin aggression. In “Pushing Back against Russian Aggression – Legislative Options” authors Daniel Fried, the Weiser Family Distinguished Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and Brian O’Toole, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, evaluate two Russia sanctions bills, the Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) and the Defending American Security Against Kremlin Aggression Act (DASKA), as tools to forestall new Russian interference in US elections. The authors walk readers through a set of sanctions escalatory measures—covering finance, energy, and the cyber sector – that both sanctions bills draw from. In sum, Fried and O’Toole conclude that DASKA’s sanctions are more measured and thus more implementable. By contrast, the authors deem DETER’s sanctions on financial institutions as simply too harsh with excessive spillover risk to US and Western financial markets to be implementable.
  • Topic: Sanctions, Economy, Business , Legislation
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, Christian Trotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: In 2018, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced five new nuclear-capable, strategic weapons systems. These systems include a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed cruise missile and a nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed submarine drone. What does Russia have to gain from developing these novel and exotic nuclear weapons? And what should the United States and NATO do about it? This new Atlantic Council issue brief, Russia’s Exotic Nuclear Weapons and Implications for the United States and NATO, answers these questions. Informed by a workshop convened by the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security and Los Alamos National Laboratory, authors Matthew Kroenig, Mark Massa, and Christian Trotti evaluate the potential utility, motivations, and consequences of these new systems. Among other conclusions, the most significant may be that great-power competition has returned, and with it, the importance of nuclear weapons in international politics.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Nuclear Power, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Frances Burwell, Jörn Fleck
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) possess fundamental strengths that uniquely position the region to capitalize on the next wave of digitalization – solid education systems, a large talent pool of “STEM” graduates, widely adopted digitally enabled services, and fewer technology legacies. But, these advantages alone do not mean that Central and Eastern Europe will automatically succeed in this digital transition. One key factor of success will be the ability of these countries— all of them in the European Union—to cooperate in this effort across the region, for both their future economic development and their political influence within Europe and in the transatlantic relationship. In this think piece, Atlantic Council Distinguished Fellow Frances Burwell and Future Europe Initiative Associate Director Jörn Fleck explore how to take forward digitalization in Central and Eastern Europe, especially within the framework of the Three Seas Initiative (3SI).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Business , Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Eastern Europe, Central Europe
  • Author: Jennifer T. Gordon
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: It is critically important for global safety standards, nonproliferation agreements, and geopolitics that the United States play a leading role in the export of nuclear energy technologies. However, the domestic reactor fleet has struggled due to the deregulated US electricity market, inexpensive gas, and subsidies for renewables, which—in turn—has hampered US nuclear exports, since it is challenging to export a product that lacks a domestic market. However, building new reactors and bringing first-of-a-kind reactors to demonstration involve high capital costs and financial risk, for the purchasing party as well as the vendor. If the United States is to play a role at all in building new nuclear plants, it must address the challenges inherent in financing new nuclear builds; one mechanism to do this is through partnering with close US allies to co-finance new nuclear projects. If the United States and its allies fail to make their nuclear exports competitive, they will likely cede the mantle of global leadership in that area to Russia and China, where nuclear companies are state owned, easily able to finance nuclear exports, and already exploring emerging markets for nuclear exports.
  • Topic: Security, Energy Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Robert F. Ichford
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Governments across South Asia face many challenges as they seek to improve the lives of the more than 1.8 billion people that live in the region. Increasing geopolitical competition—especially between and among China, Russia, and the United States—is one factor that is affecting progress. This “great power competition,” including over the South China Sea, is intertwined with regional rivalries (e.g., India and Pakistan, India and China, and the United States and Iran) and has important economic, military, technological, and environmental consequences. Energy is a key strategic sector in this competition as China pursues its expansive Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure and trade vision, Russia uses arms sales and nuclear energy to expand its regional presence, and the United States confronts Iran and gears up its free and open Indo-Pacific Strategy and Asia EDGE (Enhancing Development and Growth through Energy) initiative. This issue brief considers the transformation of the electricity sector in Bangladesh. It is the fourth country analysis in the Atlantic Council’s “Transforming the Power Sector in Developing Countries” series. This issue brief applies to Bangladesh the analytical framework developed in the first report in the series, which presents general challenges and strategic priorities for developing countries in the context of their implementation of electric power policies and reforms following the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Topic: Security, Climate Change, Energy Policy, Markets, Oil, Governance, Geopolitics, Gas, Renewable Energy, Fossil Fuels, Transition
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, Asia
  • Author: Kharis Templeman
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the past three decades, democracy has put down roots in many seemingly unlikely places across Asia, from Mongolia to Indonesia. At a time when democracy is in global retreat, the majority of these Asian regimes have demonstrated surprising resiliency, though many continue to suffer from glaring flaws: weak state capacity and accountability institutions, the absence of impartial rule of law, and uneven protection of political rights and civil liberties. This issue brief, “Democracy under Siege: Advancing Cooperation and Common Values in the Indo-Pacific,” by Dr. Kharis Templeman, examines challenges and opportunities for advancing cooperation and common values in the Indo-Pacific as the region faces an increasing challenge from China.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Corruption, Diplomacy, International Organization, Politics, Reform, Elections, Democracy, Rule of Law, Norms, Transition
  • Political Geography: Japan, China, Taiwan, East Asia, Asia, Australia, Korea, Indo-Pacific
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This policy paper sets out the various interests and goals of global powers (the US, Russia, China and the EU) in the Mediterranean, and the measures they are undertaking to implement them. The document also describes Israeli policies vis-àvis the powers’ activities in this region, and points to the principles that should guide them. The paper is based on a July 2019 meeting in Jerusalem of the research and policy working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held at the initiative of the Mitvim Institute, the Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations and Haifa University’s National Security Studies Center.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Middle East, Israel, United States of America, Mediterranean