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  • Author: Karl Friedhoff
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The Trump presidency has strained relations with several Asian allies, including South Korea. But the 2020 Chicago Council Survey results show that President Donald Trump’s repeated threats and bullying tactics on defense and trade issues with Seoul have done little to soften support among the American public for the alliance with South Korea. In fact, favorable views of South Korea are now at an all-time high.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, Trade
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Tony van der Togt
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: A global multilateral rules-based order, supported by a pro-active and interventionist United States, is gradually being replaced by a more fragmented world, in which geopolitics and geo-economics are becoming the dominant factors and universal rules, norms, and values are increasingly questioned. For the EU such developments are particularly challenging, as it has long perceived itself as a post-Westphalian soft power, mainly projecting its norms and values in its relations with both its direct neighbors and the world at large. A more isolationist US, a more assertive Russia, and the growing global influence of China have raised questions about the EU’s place and role in the world, which become even more pertinent after Brexit. Therefore, Commission President Von der Leyen intends to lead a “geopolitical Commission” and we are hearing calls for European strategic autonomy or even strategic sovereignty.
  • Topic: International Relations, European Union, Geopolitics, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Hamzeh al-Shadeedi, Erwin van Veen
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Iraq’s emergent democracy stands at an important junction. The continuing intensity of the protests that have rocked Iraq since early October 2019 shows that its citizens are only too aware of this. Moreover, the necessity of going through three government formation attempts to install a new prime minister and cabinet after the resignation of Adil Abdul-Mahdi in December 2019 suggests that Iraq’s political elites are conscious of the precarious state of ‘their’ democracy as well. Although, so far, with the intent to block rather than enable reform. This report largely focuses on how international actors can help strengthen the democratic mechanisms of Iraq’s political system. One contribution that they can – and should - make is to facilitate processes of contestation between Iraq’s social forces (its political parties, elite networks, tribes, ethno-sectarian groups, religious authorities and protestors) about the hierarchy of systemic reform priorities for the country’s political system, and the balance between the speed, scope and feasibility of their implementation so that such reform can be undertaken as peacefully and as well-informed as possible.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democracy, Political Science
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Adriaan Schout, Ingrid Blankesteijn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Enforcement is a major challenge in the EU’s multilevel system. Solving the tensions between sovereignty and interdependencies requires internalisation of the core values and objectives embodied in EU legislation. Internalisation depends on strong involvement in all phases of policy-making through teamwork. States in the EU’s multilevel administrative system have to regard themselves as fully responsible for EU policies. High levels of interaction among experts in enforcement contribute to the required professional cultures. In organisational terms, a multilevel (subsidiarity-based) administrative system is based on cooperation in which the centre (the Commission and/or EU agencies) assumes essential managerial roles without eroding the integrity of the member countries. Subsidiarity is generally seen as a legal principle. This paper presents the practical governance consequences of subsidiarity. Subsidiarity is well grounded in the EU treaties. Yet, the implications are little understood by policymakers when it comes to creating the conditions for effective EU policies at the shop floor of national administrations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Law Enforcement, Border Control, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wouter Zweers, Vladimir Shopov, Frans-Paul van der Putten, Mirela Petkova, Maarten Lemstra
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This Clingendael Report explores whether and how China’s approach to the six non-European Union (EU) countries of the Western Balkans (the WB6) relates to EU interests. It focuses in particular on the question of whether China’s influence affects the behaviour of the WB6 governments in ways that run counter to the EU’s objectives in the region. China engages with the Western Balkans primarily as a financier of infrastructure and a source of direct investment. This is in line with China’s main strategic objective for the Western Balkans – that is, to develop the Land–Sea Express Corridor, a component of its Belt and Road Initiative, aimed at improving China–EU connectivity. This report proposes a number of actions based on recognising the developmental needs of countries in the Western Balkans, and accepting that China’s economic involvement is inevitable and potentially beneficial for such developmental needs. In particular, the EU should maximise accession conditionality as a tool to influence the conditions under which China is involved in the region.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Direct Investment, European Union
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Eastern Europe, Balkans
  • Author: Haizam Amirah-Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)
  • Abstract: There is something deeply and comprehensively flawed in the EU’s relations with its Mediterranean neighbourhood. After more than 50 years of European cooperation, agreements, declarations and plans with the southern Mediterranean and the Arab countries, only one new democratic state (Tunisia) has emerged. A benevolent observer would say this democratisation process was not initiated as a result of the EU’s resolute support for a population demanding freedom from an authoritarian regime. A blunter observer, however, would argue that Tunisians managed to topple their former autocrat despite the support he received from certain European quarters until the very last minute. So much for decades of European pro-democracy rhetoric.
  • Topic: International Relations, Democratization, European Union, Crisis Management, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe, Mediterranean
  • Author: Valerie Niquet
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Japan Institute Of International Affairs (JIIA)
  • Abstract: China plays a significant role in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia, where the current Director-General of the WHO was Minister of Health and then Minister of Foreign Affairs. This opaque influence and the support given by Beijing to Dr. Tedros seems to have weighed on the positions taken by the WHO in the face of the Covid 19 crisis. The consequences of these decisions are now being felt worldwide and contribute to undermining the credibility of a fragile multilateral system.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, United Nations, World Health Organization, Multilateralism, Soft Power, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia
  • Author: Sruthi V.S.
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: The ambitious $400 billion deal between China and Iran has garnered worldwide attention. The 18-page draft proposal says that China will facilitate the infusion of about $280 billion to Iran. This major economic and security partnership between China and Iran has raised India’s concerns against the backdrop of its ongoing border conflict with China. According to the New York Times report, the proposed China-Iran deal talks about expanding China’s presence in Iran’s “banking, telecommunications, ports, railways and dozens of other projects”, and in return China will receive a steady supply of oil from Iran for the next 25 years at a discounted price. There are more than 100 projects listed in the draft that will see Chinese investments; these include building Free Trade Zones and several very significant ports. The Chinese will also help Iran build infrastructure for 5G networks and come up with an internet filter like the Great Firewall in China. The stronghold of China in Iran could also result in undermining US policy in the Middle East.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, International Trade and Finance, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, India, Asia
  • Author: Niranjan Jose
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: This year’s border stand-off in the Galwan Valley between China and India following China’s encroachment into Indian territory, is a reminder of India’s perennial problems with Beijing. The latest violation is an example of the staunch stance China has adopted against India. Neither nation is interested in a full-fledged confrontation. In this scenario, New Delhi has no option but to engage with Beijing to resolve the dispute through dialogue; however discussion and confidence-building initiatives by itself will not lead India towards problem-solving. China’s confrontational approach towards India and the border disagreement set the right background as to why it could not be a better opportunity for India to meaningfully engage with Taiwan. India and Taiwan both are Asian democracies pursuing an effective resolution of dynamic social and ethnic problems, and both face aggressive Chinese security policies aimed at establishing regional hegemony. From a strategic security perspective, both India and Taiwan are deeply concerned about the rising assertiveness of Beijing in the region. The China element can become a tool for moving closer to the strategic communities in New Delhi and Taipei. India and Taiwan have a variety of mutual concerns, ranging from controlling China’s growth to a political and economic partnership. For Taiwan, China’s current trade war with the US has made several Taiwanese firms keen to reduce their vulnerability on China. Indian government initiatives such as Smart Cities, Make in India, Digital India, and Start-up India were launched to increase India’s viability for foreign investors, making it an attractive destination for Taiwanese corporations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation
  • Political Geography: China, India, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Janka Oertel
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Since the onset of the covid-19 crisis, there has been a new convergence of EU member states’ assessment of the challenges China poses to Europe. The Sino-European economic relationship lacks reciprocity, and there are mounting concerns within the EU about China’s assertive approach abroad, as well as its breaches of international legal commitments and massive violations of human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. Overall, there is growing scepticism about the future trajectory of the relationship, which provides an opportunity for a more robust and coherent EU policy on China. In its remaining months, the German Council presidency could use this momentum to create institutional structures to improve the EU’s capacity to act. In doing so, it will be crucial to ease concerns about Franco-German dominance of the China agenda – especially those of eastern and southern European countries – while enabling all member states to become more engaged in shaping the EU’s future approach to China.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights, European Union, Economy, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia