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  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Afghanistan Affectations,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses how counterinsurgency, stabilization, and reconstruction dynamics have interacted with organized crime, illicit economies, and generalized predatory criminality since 2001 and warped and weakened the post-conflict stabilization and reconstruction efforts.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In “Myanmar Maneuvers,” a detailed report published by the United Nations University Centre for Policy Research’s Crime-Conflict Nexus Series in April 2017, Vanda Felbab-Brown assesses complex interactions among illegal economies, conflict, peace, and political transitions in Myanmar since the 1990s. She analyzes the evolution of the illegal economies in drugs, logging, wildlife trafficking, and gems and minerals as well as land grabbing and crony capitalism, showing how they shaped political transitions and how political evolution and changes shaped them. She also examines the impact of geopolitics and the regional environment, particularly the role of China, both in shaping domestic political developments in Myanmar and the country’s illicit economies.
  • Topic: Corruption, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Myanmar
  • Author: Vanda Felbab-Brown
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Large-scale illicit economies and organized crime have received increasing attention from governments and international organizations since the end of the Cold War. The end of the Cold War brought a permissive strategic environment that allowed many states to focus on a broader menu of interests in their foreign policy agendas, such as the fight against drug trafficking and production. The post-Cold War era also exposed the fragility and institutional underdevelopment of many of these states, a deficiency perhaps exacerbated by globalization. At the same time, criminal and belligerent actors with significant power previously obscured by the shadows of Cold War politics were spotlighted by the international community, especially when their activities were associated with intense violence or corruption.
  • Topic: Corruption, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Esther Care, Helyn Kim, Kate Anderson, Emily Gustafsson-Wright
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: There have been increased calls globally for students to develop a broader set of skills during the years of formal education than in the past. Education has typically been seen as a preparation for adulthood and its work-related responsibilities. Recently, however, the focus on academic, vocational, and technical skills (e.g., Brewer, 2013) has shifted toward an aspiration for education to inform both work and life more generally (e.g., Pellegrino and Hilton, 2012). Many frameworks describe the skills or competencies that this 21st century world demands (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012; Lippman, Ryberg, Carney, and Moore, 2015), and in so doing, they display strong commonalities. The frameworks examine what competencies people need to function effectively in society, with descriptions varying from very high level (e.g., Delors, 1996) to very detailed (e.g., Binkley et al., 2012). Differences also emerge primarily in the degree to which skills or competencies alone are identified or whether a wider range of human characteristics are included. The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (United Nations, 2016) acknowledges this shift in the focus of education toward a broader approach. Of particular interest for Skills for a Changing World, Sustainable Development Goal 4 calls for skills beyond literacy and numeracy—including readiness for primary education (4.2), technical and vocational skills (4.4), and skills needed to promote global citizenship and sustainable development (4.7). These targets signal an emphasis on the breadth of skills necessary to prepare children, youth, and adults comprehensively for 21st century citizenship and life.
  • Topic: International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Geoffrey Gertz
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: President Donald Trump has promised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which links the United States with two of its largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico. Officials in both Canada and Mexico have signaled they are open to renegotiations, and talks are expected to begin soon. New commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has indicated he hopes the negotiations could be completed within a year.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Trade and Finance, International Security
  • Political Geography: America, Canada, Mexico
  • Author: Robert Einhorn
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The global nuclear non-proliferation regime, as it has evolved since the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970, has been remarkably resilient. Despite predictions of a “cascade of proliferation,” there are currently only nine states with nuclear weapons, and that number has remained the same for the past 25 years.[1] The NPT is nearly universal, with 190 parties and only five non-parties (India, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, South Sudan). Several countries voluntarily abandoned nuclear weapons development programs (Argentina, Brazil, Egypt); several others were forced diplomatically or militarily to give up the quest (Iraq, Libya, South Korea, Syria); three former Soviet republics inherited nuclear weapons but gave them up (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Ukraine); and one country built a small arsenal before unilaterally eliminating it (South Africa). With Iran’s path to nuclear weapons blocked by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) for at least 10 to 15 years, there are no non-nuclear weapon states currently believed to be pursuing nuclear weapons, according to U.S. government sources. And despite cases of nuclear smuggling and continuing interest of terrorist groups in acquiring nuclear weapons, no thefts of enough fissile material to build a bomb are believed to have taken place.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Philippe Le Corre, Jonathan Pollack
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: China’s emergence as a global economic power and its fuller integration in the international order are among the principal policy challenges facing Europe and the United States in the early 21st century. At the time of Beijing’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China (though already growing rapidly) was in global terms an economic actor of limited consequence. A decade and a half later, China’s transformation is without parallel in economic history. Over the past 15 years, China has experienced an eightfold increase in GDP, enabling it to serve as the pri- mary engine of global economic growth in the early 21st century. It has leapfrogged from sixth to second place among the world’s economies, trail- ing only the United States in absolute economic size. In addition, China has become the world’s leading trading state and is now the second largest source of outward foreign direct investment. Change of this magnitude has enhanced China’s political power and eco- nomic leverage. It has also stimulated China’s internal economic evolution, simultaneously expanding the power of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) while also contributing to major growth in the private sector. China has also begun to think bigger, devoting increased attention to the rules of global economic governance. Although Beijing insists it has no intention of supplanting the existing international order, China contends that chang- ing power realities will require modification of global rules.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Political Economy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, America, Europe
  • Author: Steven Pifer
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: rms control has figured on the agenda between Washington and Moscow since the 1960s. Suc- cessive U.S. administrations since that of Richard Nixon have pursued negotiated arms control arrangements to limit and reduce the number of Soviet (and Russian) nuclear weapons, to enhance strategic stability, to increase transparency and predictability, to reduce the costs of U.S. nuclear forces, and to bolster America’s non-proliferation credentials. Negotiations on arms control have proceeded in times of both good and difficult relations. At times, progress on arms control has helped drive a more positive over- all relationship between Washington and Moscow. At other times, differences over arms control and related issues have contributed to a downward slide in rela- tions. The next president will take office in January 2017, when the overall U.S.-Russia relationship is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War.
  • Topic: International Relations, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, International Security
  • Political Geography: Russia, America
  • Author: David Mastro
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The international community is beginning to grapple with several questions regarding whether one or more countries contributing troops to the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM)—which has been key to successes against al-Shabaab in recent years—will prematurely withdraw their troops from the mission due a confluence of regional and international factors.1 What is the likelihood that one or more troops contributing countries (TCCs)—Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda—withdraw from AMISOM? How would AMISOM’s operational effectiveness be impacted if a TCC left the mission? Would another country or countries be willing and able to fill the void created by a TCC’s withdrawal? This paper attempts to provide answers to these questions to inform policy discussions related to the long-term commitment of the TCCs to the mission. It also seeks to provide some actions or policies that the international community could undertake to reduce the likelihood that a TCC leaves AMISOM early.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Affairs, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Somalia
  • Author: William Perry, Deep Cuts Commission
  • Publication Date: 06-2016
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: This report contains a number of bold proposals on how to better manage relations between the West and Russia in order to avert worst-case scenarios. Specifying that cooperative solutions are pos- sible without giving up on the fundamental interests of each side, it warrants a close look by officials in both Moscow and Washington.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, America, Europe, Global Focus