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  • Author: Catherine M. Conaghan
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: One of the time-honored constitutional traditions of Latin America—the ban on immediate presidential re-election—gave way to political change in the 1990s. Cloaked in controversy, the trend began in Peru. In 1992, President Alberto Fujimori led an auto-coup (auto-golpe) that closed Congress and suspended the 1979 Constitution. The auto-coup eventually led to a new Constitution in 1993. The new Constitution lifted the ban on immediate presidential re-election, allowing a president to stay in office for two consecutive five-year terms.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Peru
  • Author: Max J. Castro
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: Shortly after he was elected president of Mexico in 2000, Vicente Fox made the United States and Canada a bold proposal: Why not begin a long-range process that would lead to expanding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) into a full-fledged North American Common Market, featuring open borders for the free movement of people as well as goods? And, in the short run, would the United States agree to a significant increase in legal immigration in exchange for Mexico's pledge to crack down on undocumented immigration?.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Canada, North America
  • Author: Eduardo Silva
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: Costa Rica enjoys a reputation as a peaceful, democratic, and equitable Central American country with a strong commitment to nature protection. Government environmentalism began with a focus on nature preservation during the administration of Daniel Odúber (1974-1978), the presidential father of the national parks system. Under President Oscar Árias (1986-1990), Costa Rica's leaders became aware that responses to the problems of environmental protection versus development required more than the creation of national parks. Since then, they have worked tirelessly to weave the norms and principles of the concept of sustainable development into their nation's policies and institutional framework. Costa Rica's institutional and programmatic innovations have turned it into a laboratory for sustainable development, especially with respect to the forest. It is seen as a leader and pioneer in community forestry, bioprospecting, green taxes, carbon emissions trading, and administrative decentralization in the management of protected areas. As occurs with all trailblazers, Costa Rica's efforts to implement a policy of sustainable development raise a number of questions. What trade-offs have the forest and biodiversity conservation policies of the 1990s generated with respect to the different components of sustainable development? Are the measures adopted likely to be successful? How were those policy choices made? By what means can the components of sustainable development that have been neglected be incorporated, especially those related to livelihood? This paper will address these questions
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Environment
  • Political Geography: Central America
  • Author: Philip Oxhorn
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: During much of the 1970s and 1980s, the principal political struggles throughout Latin America revolved around the creation of democratic political regimes based on the right to vote. Now that this right has been effectively established in virtually every country of the region, 1 the limits of political democracy as traditionally defined are becoming increasingly apparent (Oxhorn and Ducatenzeiler 1998; Agüero and Stark 1998; Chalmers et al. 1997). These countries are indisputably political democracies, yet the quality of democratic rule leaves much to be desired. Recent studies of the democratic deficits in Latin America have focused on a variety of dimensions (including extremes of economic inequality, poverty, growing levels of criminality, limits on citizenship rights, the weakness of civil society, problems of representation, and the weakness of political parties, among others)
  • Topic: Democratization, Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Caribbean
  • Author: Jerry Haar, Antonio Garrastazu
  • Publication Date: 02-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: Trade liberalization, a fundamental feature of U.S. economic policy since the end of the Second World War, has increasingly become a contentious domestic political issue during the last decade. Proponents and opponents of free trade transcend political party affiliation, industry, occupation, geographical locale, income level, age, and other socioeconomic and demographic factors. In addition, the U.S. public and its leaders for the most part hold qualified, mixed, or inconsistent opinions about trade liberalization and the larger and rapidly increasing phenomenon known as globalization. In a February 9-14, 2000, nationwide poll conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, a majority of respondents (64 percent compared to 27 percent) stated that free trade with other countries is good for the United States. On the other hand, an NBC News/ W all Street Journal poll several months later asked interviewees to respond to the following statement: “Foreign trade has been bad for the U.S. economy because cheap imports from abroad have hurt wages and cost jobs here at home.” Forty-eight percent of the respondents answered that it has been “bad” and 34 percent “good.”
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Latin America
  • Author: Khatchik Derghoukassian
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: Ten years after the end of the Cold War, a revised concept of “security” has not yet produced as broad or thorough understanding as when security implied a narrow, yet clear framework centered on the state and the military . The classical understanding of security, often referred to as “national security,” meant different uses of military force to defend the integrity of the state, generally in a strategically oriented, rational-choice perspective of analysis. Neither the growing interdependence of the 1970s along with the advance of the neo-institutionalist approach in international relations, nor the more realist-oriented efforts of linking the economy with security truly challenged a classical understanding of the concept of security. The fact that this theoretical understanding was widely applied in foreign and defense policy contributed to its strength, even if critics maintained that this was a self-fulfilling prophecy. In a widely quoted 1991 article, Stephen Walt offers a comprehensive review of the evolution of the field of study labeled “security studies” from the post-Second World War “Golden Age” to the “Renaissance” of the 1970s. Although Walt differentiates between the pre-Second World War study of strategy, limited to the professional military, and the expansion of the field with the involvement of civilians for the first time during World War II, he defined the focus of security studies clearly as the study of war.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy
  • Author: Frank McNeil, Joseph Stark
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The North-South Center, University of Miami
  • Abstract: This paper is styled a “work-in-progress” with good reason. It is the latest, not entirely ripe fruit of a North-South Center project, the “commonalities” study, about the shared challenges facing the developing nations of Latin America and the Caribbean and the developing nations of Asia, particularly those of Southeast Asia. These views have taken their shape, over more than three years, from the authors' reflections about their extensive interviews in both regions with policy “influentials” and knowledgeable academics, as well as through participation in occasional conferences.
  • Topic: Security, Environment
  • Political Geography: America, Latin America, Caribbean, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Andreas Lindner, Bill Cave, Lydia Deloumeaux, Joscelyn Magdeleine
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: International trade statistics play a vital part in OECD's monitoring, analysis and projections of macroeconomic developments in individual economies and the world economy. In response to these needs, OECD's Secretariat manages three trade in goods and services databases of which a very large merchandise trade database.
  • Topic: Economics, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece examines the impact of Advances in accessibility and security of the internet. A range of new technologies that should greatly increase the commercial utility of the internet will be ready for the marketplace in the next 18-24 months. However, their advocates will need to justify the investment required to deploy them. New internet-related technologies, by enhancing the ability of commercial concerns to interact in a more personal and acceptable style with a wider range of customers, have the potential to usher in a new phase of electronic commerce. This prospect should be enough to secure the investment needed to ensure their effective deployment.
  • Topic: Education, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Science and Technology
  • Publication Date: 12-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece examines the impact of Argentina's economic difficulties on Chilean firms. As well as its macroeconomic impact in Chile, reflected principally in currency volatility and a reduction of capital inflows, the Argentine crisis is affecting Chilean firms with investments in or exports to Argentina. It will also have an impact on Chile's tourist industry. Following the exit of many Chilean firms from Argentina over the last two years, those that remain are either in export sectors or have a long-term strategy under which they appear willing to ride out the present crisis. However, many will sustain short-term losses and some smaller investors, particularly in consumer sectors, may be forced out of the market.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Argentina, South America, Chile
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece focuses on the economic prospects for the euro-area in 2002. The euro-area economy has shown increasing signs of cyclical weakness since the beginning of 2001. These signs, compounded by the effects of accelerated decline in the United States since the September 11 terrorist attacks, indicate continuing stagnation into 2002 and growing difficulties for states to maintain their fiscal positions. SGP requirements are reducing the fiscal room for manoeuvre of euro-area states to respond to the current economic downturn. The absence of concerted intervention represents a considerable risk, particularly if global demand fails to pick up in 2002.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This week's piece examines the prospects for the al-Qaida group and Osama bin Laden's wider terrorist network following the fall of the Taliban and the loss of many of its facilities in Afghanistan. Key elements of bin Laden's network have been seriously damaged. Some operational cells are likely to survive but most are likely to remain inactive for the foreseeable future in order to avoid detection. Al-Qaida is likely to remain active but less effective than hitherto. As long as the reasons for bin Laden's appeal to certain Islamist constituencies remains, new cells and entirely new groups will be formed within migrant communities and among those engaged in regional conflicts around the world.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar on November 15 threatened widespread destruction in the United States. Mullah Omar's ambiguous threat of large-scale destruction and Osama bin Laden's explicit claim to possess nuclear weapons raise questions about the likelihood of nuclear terrorism and highlight the importance of protecting sources of highly enriched uranium and plutonium. Technical barriers need not be considered sufficient to prevent the use of nuclear devices by terrorist groups. Nuclear weapon standards are much lower for terrorist groups than for states, potentially making their production less challenging. Acquisition of sufficient qualities and quantities of fissile material is the most formidable obstacle to nuclear terrorist capabilities. Therefore, stringent guarding of access to such material is the best defence against nuclear terrorism.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Taliban
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The IMF's major shareholders have shown little willingness to provide new funds to Argentina. In deferring further assistance, the United States and other G7 shareholders have set limits on the international financial community's role in resolving a major emerging market financial crisis. The slowing global economy could provide an early test of these limits as it exposes weaknesses in other emerging markets — particularly those with larger geopolitical profiles than Argentina. Argentina's predicament highlights the Fund's paradox in wanting, on the one hand, to facilitate orderly resolution of crises (and prevent calamitous social impacts) and, on the other hand, to encourage markets to appropriately price risk by proving that non-optimal outcomes are possible. The risk of such outcomes is the basis upon which investors demand higher premiums from emerging market borrowers.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States, Argentina
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece examines the prospects for the WTO Fourth Ministerial Conference in Doha beginning November 9. The central issue for the Qatar meeting is whether WTO members can agree to launch new negotiations, and in so doing restore confidence in the WTO itself. In the background are the September 11 terrorist attacks and the worsening global economic outlook, all of which simultaneously raise the stakes at the meeting and improve prospects for success. The outlook for the Qatar summit has improved, and agreement by WTO members in favour of wide-ranging trade negotiations is now on balance the most likely outcome. However, failure remains a real possibility, unless members can resolve remaining differences on agriculture, implementation of WTO agreements, environmental goals, US anti-dumping practices and pharmaceutical patents.
  • Topic: Environment, Industrial Policy, International Organization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Qatar
  • Publication Date: 11-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: OPEC President Chakib Kelil yesterday expressed confidence that the cartel can bring prices back to 25 dollars per barrel through production cuts implemented from January 1. Kelil's remarks follow a recent meeting of OPEC and non-OPEC oil producers to secure non-OPEC support for a production cut at OPEC's November 14 meeting. The moves take place against a backdrop of falling oil prices and an outlook for even lower prices as global economic growth deteriorates and oil producers fail to implement earlier output cut decisions. Significant uncertainties cloud the oil market and make micro-management extremely difficult. OPEC's apparent failure to secure non-OPEC cooperation for production cuts undermines market credibility for OPEC cuts at its November meeting. Unless the cartel can develop a plausible response, there is a real possibility that it will face an oil price collapse reminiscent of 1997-99.
  • Topic: Environment, Industrial Policy, International Organization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Pacific Rim leaders on October 21 signed an accord to re-invigorate progress towards free trade and investment in the region. The Shanghai Accord marks the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum's effort to stimulate a flagging liberalisation agenda and to show leadership in promoting regional recovery. However, the accord may exacerbate the risk of further fracturing the diverse grouping. It will be difficult for APEC to move forward on trade liberalisation given that the organisation's own formulation of consensual, unbound liberalisation has proved unsuccessful in periods of economic crisis. The pathfinder initiative may re-energise the process but at the risk of APEC's fragmentation and without addressing the problems of some members' hesitation and lack of political will for domestic structural reform.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Politics
  • Political Geography: Shanghai, Asia
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece focuses on The changing nature of US foreign assistance priorities in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. There will be broad support for a rapid expansion of foreign aid designed to counter the terrorism threat and to support key coalition partners. Whether that support is sustainable in the future depends, at least in part, on the programme's success in enhancing US 'homeland security'. If the anti-terrorism foreign aid programme is shown to serve US interests, help erode poverty, promote democracy and stabilise the political positions of coalition partners, public opinion may in future support more robust programmes. However, if a large portion of assistance is mismanaged or abused, and/or accountability and impact are marginal, enthusiasm for foreign aid is likely to be undermined still further.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece focuses on the obstacles facing the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan. In order to defend the United States and its allies against further terrorist attacks, the US-led military campaign in Afghanistan seeks to destroy Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida organisation and topple the Taliban regime which hosts it. However, significant obstacles stand in the way of victory. Washington appears to have embarked upon a long-term simultaneous military, political, diplomatic and economic strategy to achieve its objectives in Afghanistan. However, given the absence of any credible pan-Afghan leaders and the deleterious effects of more than two decades of internecine warfare, this approach carries high risks. They include even greater political fragmentation of the country, continued war and possible regional destabilisation.
  • Topic: Defense Policy
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 10-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met on Wednesday, September 26, in Vienna. The uncertainties associated with the international oil market have been greatly compounded by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
  • Topic: Security
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) met on Wednesday, September 26, in Vienna. The uncertainties associated with the international oil market have been greatly compounded by the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
  • Topic: Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Middle East
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The president this week signed into law a 40 billion dollar emergency appropriations package in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. The package forms part of considerable planned spending increases, which in combination with expected tax cuts, will result in the country's fiscal position deteriorating significantly. This will have important implications for Federal Reserve policy, the bond market, and long-term global interest rates.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Economics, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 09-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The World Trade Center's twin towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington were on Tuesday subjected to devastating terrorist attacks. The atrocities will prompt a wide-ranging review of US security and intelligence systems which, on Tuesday's evidence, failed spectacularly.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece focuses on the use of flexibility in European integration. Flexibility — the possibility for a number of member states to deepen cooperation without the others — has always been a sensitive subject in discussions about the advancement of European integration. As the next wave of enlargement approaches, a number of member states have been keen to ensure that provisions for flexible cooperation are strengthened, a goal achieved in the Treaty of Nice.
  • Topic: Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: This piece focuses on the performance of and prospects for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programmes. The number of employees and employers who have benefited from programmes designed to counter the effects of certain trade agreements has expanded dramatically during the past few years. Such trade adjustment assistance is likely to be included in future legislation implementing new WTO and other trade agreements, largely to garner support for further trade liberalisation.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The real is stabilising against the dollar following the announcement of the latest draft agreement between Brazil and the IMF on August 3. The provision of additional resources by the Fund is designed to support the value of the real and prevent the Brazilian economy from sliding into recession.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: In response to regional instability and two years of recession, Uruguay's government has taken measures to stimulate economic growth.
  • Topic: International Organization, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 08-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Israel's Chief of Staff Shaul Mofaz met senior Turkish defence officials on July 27 to discuss defence cooperation. Israel and Turkey, facing similar strategic problems based on shared interests and fears, are in the process of building the most powerful alliance in the Middle East. They are doing so in the face of opposition from the Arab and Muslim worlds as well wider concerns, notably on the part of Russia. The Turkish-Israeli alliance now appears sufficiently robust, at least for the moment, to withstand opposition from the Arab and Muslim world. Moreover, US support for the entente may grow owing to concerns about terrorism and stability in the eastern Mediterranean basin, as well as the administration's renewed emphasis on stability in the Gulf.
  • Topic: Security, Diplomacy
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Israel
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The outlook for trade ties between the EU and Mercosur. EU-Mercosur trade negotiations earlier this month gave a vigorous push to commercial negotiations between the two regions. The EU presented a detailed proposal for liberalising EU-Mercosur trade during the next ten years. Trade talks between the EU and Mercosur have now reached a more advanced stage than the talks on the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: India and Iran have proposed the construction of a natural gas pipeline connection. While the project would be a major engineering achievement, the principal challenge will be gaining Islamabad's consent for it to traverse Pakistani territory. Pakistan's parlous relations with Tehran and Delhi, the latter little improved by last weekend's summit, will make this difficult.
  • Topic: Economics, Energy Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Despite the continuing fragility of the economy, prompt policy action and the resilience of the US consumer are likely to prevent a full-blown recession, thereby shaping the probable path of the US economic downturn. Therefore, the risk of negative balance sheets and potential inflationary problems could arise from too rapid a recovery.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 07-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The rotating EU presidency this week passed from the Swedish to the Belgian government. The Belgian presidency faces a considerable test of nerve as it attempts to square its constitutional ambitions for further political integration with the increasing unpredictability of European public opinion. The new public mood of caution towards European integration has resulted in a notable ambivalence on the part of Verhofstadt. While stressing the importance of a completely open debate, Verhofstadt is also using the more closed approach of close consultation between governments and their representatives in preparing keynote proposals for the Laeken European Council, which, in reality, is the only way of reaching solutions.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Opposition Peronist party governors and trade unions this week broke off institutional dialogue with the federal government over recent economic measures and pending debts. The fourteen governors in question, their minds on mid-term legislative elections, believe that the political cost of supporting the government will be greater than the cost of being seen to scupper its initiatives, and that opposition constitutes a more effective means of pressing their demands. Their decision puts the prospects for Argentina's economic recovery at risk. The Peronist governors' decision to distance themselves from the government both reflects and compounds the weakness of the federal administration. While their new approach to force concessions from the government could ease social problems in the short term, there is a danger that it will do so at the expense of economic recovery and political stability in the longer term.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: South America
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: At the Gothenburg European Council on June 15-16, EU leaders set themselves the objective of starting eastward enlargement by 2004. Small but significant changes in the wording of commitments on enlargement were agreed after intensive diplomacy by the Swedish EU presidency. The EU now has a very tight timetable for concluding negotiations with the front-runner candidates for membership. Although the candidates have made good progress, many political obstacles must be surmounted during the next 18 months, with the Irish referendum result creating further complications. However, the most important negotiations will not be those with the candidates, but those between the member states.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: President Mohammed Khatami was re-elected on June 8 by a huge margin. Khatami's supporters are already talking about a renewed campaign for reform under a reorganised cabinet and a reinvigorated Majlis. However, the obstacles to such a programme remain formidable. Khatami is likely to press a little more strongly for reform, especially in the economic field. However, doubts remains that he or his parliamentary colleagues have the means to use the renewed mandate provided by the election to press for radical change. Any change is therefore likely to modest and incremental, though, in the Iranian context, significant.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 06-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The new King of Nepal, Gyanendra Shah, promised an inquiry into the massacre that killed almost the entire royal family on June 1. Given the former king's legacy as adored head of state and symbol of stability, his violent death has created extreme political uncertainty. It has occurred at a time of general political unrest in the form of strikes and demonstrations in the towns and an increasingly violent Maoist insurrection in the countryside. In the short term, violent demonstrations over the unsatisfactory nature of official explanations of how the royal family died will continue. They may do so even after the findings of the independent inquiry into the deaths are announced. A return to calm depends largely on King Gyanendra's ability to govern in the same manner as his murdered brother.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Nepal
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Weather derivatives trading is undergoing exponential growth. The current size of the weather derivatives market is 8 billion dollars, and it is expected to grow to at least 300 billion dollars within a few years. The opportunity to reduce exposure to natural risks will be exploited by large corporate groups and, eventually, smaller players too. It is important for the future development of the weather market that players have confidence in their own ability to determine fair prices, and that of the market to deliver these. Such confidence will encourage liquidity in the market from the end-users. However, traditional derivatives exchanges may find it difficult to obtain volume (and hence liquidity) in weather markets.
  • Topic: Economics, Science and Technology
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The proposed takeover bids directive may be lost unless the differences between the European Parliament (EP) and the Council of Ministers are resolved by June 6. The ongoing negotiations between the Council and the EP in the conciliation committee may be made more difficult by Germany's recent decision to renege on the Council common position on the directive. The move was received with incomprehension in other EU member states. Germany so far stands alone in its attempt to change the directive. Nevertheless, its decision could give MEPs enough ammunition to avoid a compromise in the conciliation committee, and hence to allow the directive to fail. More importantly, Germany's decision also draws attention to the various level-playing field issues still to be addressed in the area of corporate control through greater harmonisation of company law.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The outcome of last Sunday's general election is now clear. Although the centre-right has won substantial majorities in both houses of parliament, both the Alleanza Nazionale and the Northern League suffered setbacks. The League failed to pass the threshold needed to qualify for a share of the quarter of seats in the Chamber of Deputies allocated by proportional representation. For the time being, Forza Italia, and therefore Berlusconi, who dominates the party, is in firm control of the centre-right coalition. If Berlusconi can retain his authority over the coalition for the next five years, it could assist in stabilising a still highly-fractured and potentially unstable party system.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Italy
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The prime ministers of nine East European states seeking membership of NATO will meet in Bratislava this week, to maintain pressure for a 'big bang' enlargement of the Alliance. Enlargement will be conditioned to a greater extent than before by concerns over the cohesion of Alliance decision-making and, particularly, by the military contribution new members can make. Despite Alliance aid, applicant states and new members have struggled to develop balanced and sustainable defence plans, while the NATO-19 have yet to resolve the problems posed by Russia's attitude to enlargement.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 05-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: UN High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers yesterday began a visit to western Afghanistan to assess the country's deepening humanitarian crisis. Extreme drought and an intensification of the country's chronic war following a winter lull in fighting are likely to exacerbate famine and displacement of population. However, despite the emergence of a disaster which the international community will find difficult to ignore, UN sanctions against the Taliban, which controls 90% of the country, have done nothing either to curtail the movement's depredations against the population under its control or dampen its enthusiasm for a spring offensive. Peace for Afghanistan remains unrealistic as it enters its ninth year of civil war. Indeed, in the short term the total collapse of the country's agricultural system is likely to produce an influx of new recruits for this cycle of violence. However, evidence of a growing fractiousness within the Taliban could result in an emergence of a more moderate faction amenable both to dialogue with the international community and an accommodation with opposition forces.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Migration, Politics, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: Israel last week launched an air raid against a Syrian radar station in Lebanon. The air raid has raised the stakes in the low-level military confrontation between Hizbollah and Israel. It has also exacerbated Lebanese internal divisions and exposed the lack of a national consensus on Hizbollah's cross-border operations. The Israeli raid has set a precedent and raised the stakes in Tel Aviv's confrontation with Hizbollah along the Lebanese border. Although neither Syria nor Israel is interested in a military confrontation, there are no guarantees that the situation will not spin out of control and lead to a limited regional conflict.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Lebanon
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) will elect a new president on April 24. Given that the LDP is the largest party in parliament, its president will also become the country's prime minister. While the media and the public are demanding genuine leadership from the government, the LDP's structure militates strongly against forthright policy-making.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: China said yesterday it would release the crew of the US EP-3 surveillance aircraft that was forced to land in Hainan Island on April 8, following a mid-air collision with a Chinese fighter. The Bush administration will welcome resolution of the dispute, especially as opinion polls released yesterday showed that a majority of US citizens regarded the crew as 'hostages'. Had the 24 crew members not been released before the Easter holiday, the crisis would have become far more significant for the White House, and inflamed anti-China sentiment in Congress. In the short term, resolution of the crisis will result in a scaling down of the criticism of some conservatives that the White House has been unduly accommodating towards China. However, in the longer-term, the episode will strengthen the conservative 'anti-China' lobby in Washington, which could hamper Bush's future attempts to improve relations with Beijing.
  • Topic: International Relations, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Washington, Beijing
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 04-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The US Supreme Court heard oral argument last month on whether 'medical necessity' should override the federal government's blanket prohibition on the use of marijuana. If the Court were to accept this argument, it would provide a powerful boost to the medical marijuana movement and hamper the federal government's ability to pursue its current drugs policy. A ruling in favour of the federal government, however, would constrain the ability of states to formulate independent drug policies. The Supreme Court is likely to sidestep the substantive issue of whether 'medical necessity' allows the distribution of marijuana to seriously ill patients. Its inclination will be to decide the case on a narrow procedural ground which would leave the federal government to decide if it wishes to pursue criminal prosecutions.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: On March 15, Defence Minister George Fernandes resigned. Fernandes' resignation follows last week's revelations about cash-for-influence exchanges with journalists posing as arms dealers. Although the Union coalition government is likely to survive the affair, its prestige has been severely damaged. The most serious potential of the Tehelka scandal is the government's loss of the moral authority to forge ahead with its economic reform programme. Opponents of liberalisation, both on the right and the left, are attempting to draw political capital from the affair.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Bank of Japan (BoJ) announced a new approach to monetary policy which effectively targets money supply growth and inflation on March 19. The BoJ has indicated that the immediate consequence of its measures to boost financial system liquidity will be to push short-term interest rates back to zero or virtually zero. It has pledged to maintain rates at this level until deflationary pressures are reversed and the consumer price index becomes positive. The BoJ's actions have the potential to lead to a revival in share prices, corporate activity and bank lending. If the initiative results in a sustained weakening of the yen, the economy may also benefit from stronger export growth. However, the effect of all of these measures will be blunted unless they are accompanied by the structural reforms which the government has for some time foreshadowed, but which have suffered from delay and indecision.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Japan, East Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: President Aburrahman Wahid yesterday visited Central Kalimantan, the scene of violent clashes between local Dayaks and Madurese settlers. The crisis has its origins in the ill-conceived transmigration policies of the Suharto era. Despite its localised and specific nature, there is a significant risk that it will embolden other outer-island communities to move more decisively against non-indigenous sections of local populations. This would place further strains on the thinly-stretched security forces. With Wahid's authority already weakened, the crisis in Central Kalimantan will strengthen the position of hard-line elements in the military who are opposed to the president. Nonetheless, Megawati's ability to gain political capital will be limited by the fact that she herself has a leading role in formulating policy towards the regions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Ethnic Conflict, Government, Migration, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The Party of Moldovan Communists (PCM) has won full control over parliament following the February 25 general election. The decisive result has broken the country's political stalemate and allows the PCM to select the president, premier and parliamentary speaker without needing to form a coalition in the chamber. However, uncertainties over the PCM's economic policy and political priorities persist. While the PCM has a monopoly on power, this could be undermined by continued economic decline, internal party splits and a nationalist backlash against its pro-Russian orientation. The PCM will seek allies in domestic politics, and will seek to find the external partner, whether Russia or the IFIs, best able to assist in the long-term revival of the economy.
  • Topic: Communism, Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Moldova, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Caspar Fithin
  • Publication Date: 03-2001
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Analytica
  • Abstract: The past month has seen an escalation of elite political conflict in Jakarta, with enemies of President Abdurrahman Wahid engineering an investigation into allegations that he was involved in two financial corruption scandals. This investigation culminated in the endorsement by a majority of members of the House of Representatives on February 1 of a 'memorandum' concluding that the president was indeed implicated in corruption and demanding that he account for his actions. Many opposition legislators also called for the convening of a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), the 700-member supra-parliamentary body which elected Wahid as president in October 1999 and has sole power to remove him.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Southeast Asia