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  • Author: Nikolay Sukhov
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: The Russian leadership believes that the Constitutional Committee (CC) is a key factor in a political settlement in Syria. Russia hopes that the West, primarily the EU, adhering to the principle of “no reconstruction without a political transition”1, would regard the launch of the CC as the beginning of this political process and increase humanitarian aid to Syrians living in government- controlled territory. Russia's position on the constitution issue differs from that of the Syrian government. However, glimmer of hope could come from events in northeast Syria2, which has strengthened position of the opposition in the CC. Yet, neither Russia, nor Syria, are ready to recognise this reality. The Russian leadership is not likely to promote rapprochement between the Syrian government and the opposition on reform issues, as Russia perceives these to be the internal affairs of Syria. In Russia, it is perceived that the constitutional, and later, the political process based on the new constitution, could facilitate the return of refugees. The next step after the adoption of the new constitution should be legislative reform, which would bring Syrian legislation into line with the constitution. The topic of legislative reform in Syria could become bargaining tool for Europe in negotiations with Russia. If Europe wishes to stabilise the situation in Syria and the Middle East, it should first participate in reconstruction efforts by reviving the economy, and thereby Syrian civil society. This would be an indirect stimulation of political reforms. In this case, European leaders need to develop a long-term strategy aimed at improving Syrian society, preventing radical ideas, terrorism and possible new waves of migration to Europe. Russia could contribute to the implementation of European initiatives as the interests of Russia and Europe to stabilise Syria and the region coincide.
  • Topic: Constitution, Syrian War, Negotiation, Peace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Timothy A. Wise
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University
  • Abstract: The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was founded in 2006 with the goal of bringing high-yield agricultural practices to 30 million smallholder farming households. With the adoption of commercial seeds and inorganic fertilizer, AGRA set out to double crop productivity and incomes while halving food insecurity by 2020. As AGRA reaches its self-declared deadline for these ambitious goals, how well has AGRA done in increasing productivity, incomes, and food security? The organization has received roughly $1 billion in funding, two-thirds of it from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and disbursed more than $500 million in grants, mainly in 13 priority African countries. The Green Revolution technology campaign has been supported during this time by international programs far larger than AGRA and notably by national governments in Africa, which have spent roughly $1 billion per year on programs that subsidize the purchase of commercial seeds and fertilizers. There is little publicly available documentation of impacts, from AGRA, the Gates Foundation, or donor governments that have supported the initiative. This paper attempts to fill some of that accountability gap. Because AGRA declined to provide data from its own monitoring and evaluation, we use national-level data to assess progress in productivity, poverty reduction, and food security in AGRA’s 13 countries. We find little evidence of widespread progress on any of AGRA’s goals, which is striking given the high levels of government subsidies for technology adoption. There is no evidence AGRA is reaching a significant number of smallholder farmers. Productivity has increased just 29% over 12 years for maize, the most subsidized and supported crop. This falls well short of doubling yields, which would be a 100% increase. Overall staple crop yields have grown only 18% over 12 years. Meanwhile, undernourishment (as measured by the FAO) has increased 30% in AGRA countries. These poor indicators of performance suggest that AGRA and its funders should change course. We review more promising approaches African governments and donors should consider.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Neoliberalism, Green Technology, Private Sector, Charity
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Eoin Micheál McNamara
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: Eoin Micheál McNamara in his Policy Paper called The Visegrád Four and the Security of NATO’s “Eastern Flank” expresses the argument that there is considerable scope for the V4 states to improve their contribution to NATO’s collective defence posture. Based on this fact, he argues the different strategic positions of each V4 member within the NATO membership related to Russian influence.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, NATO
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Mark Galeotti
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: In March 2019, the European Parliament formally voted on a resolution that “Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner.” This was a non-binding political resolution, though, and it is still unclear what is behind the EU’s Russia policy. A particular problem in formulating EU-wide responses to Russian political war is the breadth of opinion between member states and organizational culture – and often institutional requirement – for consensus or unanimity.
  • Topic: European Union, Political Science, European Parliament
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Miroslav Tuma
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The political declaration with an annex entitled Advancing Nuclear Disarmament, Securing Our Future was adopted on 25 February 2020 in Berlin by the Foreign Ministers of the fifteen countries associated in the prestigious Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. They call on all NPT participating countries to discuss and adopt the proposed stepping stones. According to the authors of the declaration, the implementation could contribute to averting the dangerous development of the security situation and to the gradual realization of the generally supported vision of creating a world without nuclear weapons. Due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, the 10th NPT Review Conference was postponed indefinitely.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rudolf Furst
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The Euro-Japanese rapprochement stimulates the Japanese interest in the new EU member states, which are then matched with Japanese investments and Japan’s global trade strategy. The V4 countries benefit from their geographical position, existing infrastructure and political stability, industrial tradition, and low labour costs, emphasizes Rudolf Fürst.
  • Topic: Economics, Bilateral Relations, Labor Issues, European Union, Political stability, Industry
  • Political Geography: Japan, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Jill Dahlburg, Robert Shea
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The National Academy of Public Administration
  • Abstract: The Act directs NNSA’s Administrator to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the National Academy of Public Administration to create an Implementation Assessment Panel to: Provide guidance to the Secretary and Administrator on the implementation plan content; Track implementation plan progress; and Assess implementation plan effectiveness. NAPA and NAS have formed a joint Implementation Assessment Panel. The Panel will oversee the work of the joint NAPA/NAS study team, providing strategic guidance on study approach and focus, and issuing key findings and recommendations. The 14 Panel members bring a wealth of experience from DOE Science Laboratories, Federally Funded Research & Development Centers, the Intelligence Community, Academia, and the Office of Management and Budget.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy, National Security, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Romy De Niet
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Public International Law Policy Group
  • Abstract: The global COVID-19 pandemic (COVID-19) has disrupted the status quo in member states of the European Union (EU). With a halt on public events, closed schools, and people working from home, the lives of many have changed in a short amount of time. Refugees and asylum seekers are among the world’s most vulnerable populations, and are likely to be disproportionately affected by the pandemic. This blog post elaborates on the different ways EU member states deal with the COVID-19 crisis and the consequences for refugees and asylum seekers. Discussed are the effects of the pandemic on the processing of asylum applications, the right to health, and rescue at sea. The blog post further discusses how the practises of these states relate to international law.
  • Topic: European Union, Refugees, Asylum, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Tamia Brito
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Public International Law Policy Group
  • Abstract: n the increasingly complex realm of armed conflict, the impact of armed encounters has expanded beyond the parties to the conflict and the civilian population. There is a deteriorating situation for humanitarian workers as they have become direct targets of organized violence, despite the protection that international law has provided for them. Both International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and International Criminal Law (ICL) have established special protection to personnel providing input and services to the civilian population affected by armed conflict. However, the difference between theory and practice can be rather large. The humanitarian mission is being limited in the field by novel risks brought by armed conflicts. This blog post discusses the achievements of international law in providing special protection to humanitarian aid personnel as part of global recognition of the humanitarian endeavor. It also addresses factual information regarding humanitarian workers, illustrating the risks they experience in the field. To conclude, this blog post exhibits responses that the international community is implementing to mitigate the discrepancy between law and practice. World Humanitarian Day (August 19th) may be an opportunity to remember the relevance of this particular issue and encourage further efforts towards its solution.
  • Topic: Humanitarian Intervention, Violence, Humanitarian Crisis, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Fatima el-Issawi, Nicholas Benequista
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: National Endowment for Democracy
  • Abstract: Experts from 13 countries in the Middle East and North Africa agreed on the priorities that could provide the basis for greater collective action to defend independent media in the region. This report provides a summary of those deliberations. Prominent journalists and publishers, digital news entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, and scholars described a crisis in the media sector with complex driving forces at the global, regional, and national levels. To confront this crisis, they concluded, would require stronger bonds among all the defenders of free expression and independent media across the region. The experts identified ways that they could increase collaboration, especially in countries that allow media and civil society to operate with some degree of freedom. They also stressed the importance of solidarity to protect journalists in countries where authoritarian regimes are active in the suppression of independent journalism through intimidation, harassment, and violence.
  • Topic: Authoritarianism, Media, Journalism, Repression, The Press, Freedom of Press
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, North Africa
  • Author: Tehtena Mebratu-Tsegaye, Perrine Toledano, Sophie Thomashusen
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: With the support of Oxfam, the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment reviewed select provisions in the Mines and Minerals Act 2009 and corresponding policy statements from the Minerals Policy 2018 to provide recommendations for how to best align the anticipated new mining law with international best practice. The 2009 law was reviewed with a focus on the following topics: • Fiscal regime; • Climate change; • Access to and use of land; • Community consultations and participation; • Human rights; and • Community development agreements.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Human Rights, Natural Resources, Mining, Land, Sustainability, Community
  • Political Geography: Africa, West Africa, Sierra Leone
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Militant Islamist groups in Africa set a record pace of activity in 2019, reflecting a doubling of militant Islamist activity from 2013. Expanded activity in the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin underscores diversification of threat from Somalia.
  • Topic: United Nations, Violent Extremism, ISIS, Militant Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, North Africa, Mozambique, Somalia, Sahel, Lake Chad Basin
  • Author: Wada Haruko
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: The United States, Australia, Japan, India, France, the United Kingdom, Indonesia and ASEAN have adopted the term “Indo-Pacific” as a policy symbol of regional engagement. However, less attention has been given to the change in the geographical definition of the “Indo-Pacific”. This study examines how these countries have adjusted the geographical scope of “Indo-Pacific” to understand how they conceptualise the region. It finds that the inherent core area of the “Indo-Pacific” is from India to the Southeast Asian countries and the seas from the eastern Indian Ocean to the South China Sea, and that the “Indo-Pacific” has converged eastwards and diverged westwards through the geographical adjustment process. It also found that some of the geographical definitions have an additional function of conveying diplomatic messages. These findings will help us understand how the concept of “Indo- Pacific” as conceptualised by various countries develops.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Regional Cooperation, ASEAN
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, United Kingdom, Asia, France, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Muhammad Faizal, Bin Abdul Rahman
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: This paper examines how Singapore as a small state will have to navigate a more contested world from a policy-relevant angle. A primary driver of geopolitical contestation today stems from emergent or Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies contributing to the redistribution of geopolitical power to the disadvantage of the established western-led international order. Even as Singapore embarks on numerous programmes to invest in and adopt 4IR technologies, it has to consider geopolitics besides technical specifications and budgetary issues. A small state will have to face trade-offs when it engages the competing big powers to preserve its neutrality and balance relations. It is difficult for small states to emulate each other’s strategies in balancing relations with the big powers given their varying levels of risk appetite and technological adoption, as well as their different geostrategic and geo-economic realities. Nevertheless, there are strategic steps that small states such as Singapore can take to defend its national interests better while investing in and adopting 4IR technologies.
  • Topic: National Security, Science and Technology, Global Political Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Asia, Singapore
  • Author: Malcolm Davis
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: This paper examines the key drivers shaping Australia’s role as a middle power in an era of intensifying US-China strategic competition. These drivers include the influence of strategic geography; its historical legacy in international affairs; the impact of its economic relationships with states in the Indo-Pacific region; the changing demands of defence policy, including the potential offered by rapid technological change; and, the impact of climate change, resource constraints and demographic factors. The paper considers three possible scenarios that will shape Australia’s middle power policy choices – a US-China strategic equilibrium; a “China crash” scenario that promotes a more nationalist and assertive Chinese foreign policy; and a third “major power conflict” scenario where competition extends into military conflict. The paper concludes that Australia cannot maintain a delicate balance between its strategic alliance with the US and trading relationship with China. It argues there is a need for Australia to adopt a deeper strategic alliance with the US while promoting closer ties with its partners in the Indo-Pacific and supporting the growth of a Free and Open Indo-Pacific region to counterbalance growing Chinese power. Australia needs to embrace an Indo-Pacific step up, and as a middle power, reduce the prospect of a Sino-centric regional order emerging.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nationalism, Military Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Asia, Australia, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Frank Umbach
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS)
  • Abstract: When Beijing threatened to restrict China’s export of rare earths (widely used in numerous important civilian and military technologies) to the United States at the end of May 2019, the world was reminded of China’s rare earths export disruption in the autumn of 2010 amid a maritime territorial conflict between China and Japan. In the past few years, the worldwide attention cast on the future supply security of rare earths and other critical raw materials has increased in the United States, the European Union, Japan and other countries owing to the global expansion of “green technologies” (including renewable energy sources, electric vehicles and batteries, and smart grids) and digitalisation as well as equipment and devices embedded with artificial intelligence. In this paper, the term “critical raw materials” (CRMs) refers to raw materials critical to industries that are also import-dependent on them, and to new technologies which often have no viable substitutes and whose supply, besides being constrained by limited recycling rates and options, is also dominated by one or a few suppliers. CRMs include rare earth elements (REEs), which comprise 17 different elements (see Figure 4). The global race for the most advanced technologies dependent on CRMs has intensified the competition for access to as well as strategic control of REEs, lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel and other CRMs. This working paper analyses the global supply and demand balance of three CRMs (REEs, lithium and cobalt, the latter two being major raw materials for batteries) in the foreseeable future and whether ASEAN countries can play a role as producers and suppliers of CRMs. It also examines potential counterstrategies for mitigating and reducing the global demand for CRMs, such as substitution, reduced use of CRMs, and recycling and re-use.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Digital Economy, Green Technology, Metals
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia
  • Author: Jennifer Bradshaw, Louise Allen
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace Justice, University of San Diego
  • Abstract: As we move into this new decade, women peacebuilders from around the world are facing enormous challenges as they work to build more inclusive and safer societies. To better understand the peacebuilding landscape that these women are currently navigating, the Kroc School's Institute for Peace and Justice has conducted a network-wide research project with its Women Waging Peace members. This research brought together perspectives from over 1,000 women from 56 different countries who are working to end cycles of violence in their communities. In the fifth installment of our Kroc Insight series, we focus on the increased insecurity and threat women peacebuilders are facing from three main sources: state actors, non-state actors, and their domestic space.
  • Topic: United Nations, Peacekeeping, Women, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mieke Eoyang
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Third Way
  • Abstract: In 2020, candidates and elected officials will face questions on national security and foreign policy issues. In this memo, we provide short talking points on these issues that acknowledge the concerns of Americans, critique current approaches and policies, and present a vision for the future: 1. Global Health Security, 2. China & COVID-19, 3. China Trade War, 4. Russia, 5. Terrorism, 6. Domestic Extremism, 7. Iran, 8. Election Security, 9. Saudi Arabia & Yemen, 10. Syria, 11. Alliances, 12. North Korea, 13. Cyberthreats, 14. Venezuela, 15. Afghanistan, 16. Forever War, 17. Border Security, 18. Defense Spending, 19. Impeachment, 20. Climate Change, 21. Corruption
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Military Strategy, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Virginia Atkinson, Meredith Applegate, Oleksandra Palagnyuk, Yullia Kryvinchuk, Zhozefina Daiier
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Abstract: Women, people with disabilities, internally displaced persons and the LGBTQ community often face discrimination and political exclusion. People who identify with more than one of these identities, such as women with disabilities or young people who are displaced, have unique experiences that are often not considered in the design and implementation of electoral and political activities. Intersectionality, or the interconnected nature of different social identities, is fundamentally about power and has a profound impact on understanding the dynamics of political inclusion and exclusion. To address barriers to meaningful participation and make their voices heard, it is crucial to identify, assess and develop contextualized solutions. In Ukraine, a vast number of dedicated civil society organizations (CSOs) and activists work diligently to push for equality and access to political life. However, obstacles to full and equal political participation remain across Ukraine. These obstacles are even more significant for people with multiple social identities, who face unique experiences of discrimination. CSOs representing different identity groups are generally not yet coordinating or building coalitions to advocate for joint causes, and the experiences of those facing compounding discrimination are often not considered by political decision-makers. A new assessment from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) identifies vulnerabilities that impact the political participation of these groups in Ukraine and opportunities for coalition-building. The Intersectionality Assessment of Political and Electoral Participation in Ukraine seeks to make conversations about electoral and political rights more deliberately inclusive of all Ukrainians. It provides targeted recommendations for decision-makers at all levels of government, national CSOs and international organizations. The assessment is available in English and Ukrainian.
  • Topic: Minorities, Women, Displacement, Disability, LGBT+, Participation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: This paper scans the interests and activities of Greece, Cyprus, Turkey and Egypt in the Mediterranean Basin – their varying and competing interests, their points of convergence and cooperation, and the challenges and opportunities for Israel. The paper is based on the main points raised at the third meeting of the working group on Israel in the Mediterranean, held in September 2019 in the Herzliya offices of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung 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. The paper shines a spotlight on key elements in regional relationships and significant activity taking place in the Mediterranean Basin, which Israel must consider in formulating and executing policy. It is based on the presentations and discussions conducted at the event and does not reflect agreement among all participants.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Economy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel, Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean