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  • Author: Plamen Pantev
  • Publication Date: 02-2022
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for Security and International Studies (ISIS)
  • Abstract: Unless we change and improve the quality of the international relations system (IRS) – the political toolbox for building a community with a shared future for mankind, for more effective global governance and for a more balanced global partnership for development, we shall miss the historic chance and still open window of opportunity to reach these lofty goals. How to shape such a better functioning IRS? What are its invariant characteristics in the second decade of the 21st century?
  • Topic: International Relations, Governance, International Relations Theory, Strategic Competition, Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Marijke Verpoorten, Nik Stoop
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: On January 1, 2021, the European Conflict Minerals Act came into force. It aims to regulate the trade in four minerals—tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, also known as 3TG—that are often sourced from conflict-affected countries where the profits may allow armed groups to finance their activities. The regulation aims to break the link between minerals and conflict by ensuring that European Union (EU)-based companies only import minerals from conflict-free sources. If companies import minerals from conflict regions, the law requires them to report where the minerals were mined, the location of processing and trade, and the taxes and fees that were paid.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Conflict, Minerals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nina von Uexkull, Halvard Buhaug
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Political Violence @ A Glance
  • Abstract: While former US President Donald Trump frequently denied man-made climate change, the Biden administration has pledged to make climate change a priority, including for national security. In line with years of thinking within the defense sector, the Biden-Harris team refers to climate change as a “threat multiplier,” pointing to risks of regional instability and resource competition driven by worsening environmental conditions. This perspective also aligns with the initiatives of other countries that have pushed climate security in the UN Security Council and other international bodies.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Climate Change, International Security, Conflict, Armed Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lorenza Errighi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: If 2020 was the year of “mask diplomacy”, as countries raced to tackle the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and acquire the necessary protective gear and equipment, 2021 is likely to be remembered as the year of “vaccine diplomacy”. Growing competition between states to secure the necessary quantities of vaccines to inoculate their population has already become an established feature of the post-COVID international system and such trends are only likely to increase in the near future. It normally takes up to a decade to transition from the development and testing of a vaccine in a laboratory to its large-scale global distribution. Despite current challenges, the speed of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns is unprecedented. To put an end to the current pandemic – which in one year has led to the loss of 2.6 million lives and triggered the worst economic recession since the Second World War – the goal is to ensure the widest immunisation of the world population in a timeframe of 12 to 18 months. In this context, COVID vaccines emerge as instruments of soft power, as they symbolise, on the one hand, scientific and technological supremacy and, on the other, means to support existing and emerging foreign policy partnerships and alliances with relevant geopolitical implications. From their experimentation in laboratories, to their purchase and distribution, the vaccine has emerged as a significant tool for competition between powers, often associated with the promotion of competing developmental and governance models across third countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Andrew Preston, Darren Dochuk, Christopher Cannon Jones, Kelly J. Shannon, Vanessa Walker, Lauren F. Turek
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: Historians of the United States and the world are getting religion, and our understanding of American foreign relations is becoming more rounded and more comprehensive as a result. Religion provides much of the ideological fuel that drives America forward in the world, which is the usual approach historians have taken in examining the religious influence on diplomacy; it has also sometimes provided the actual nuts-and-bolts of diplomacy, intelligence, and military strategy.1 But historians have not always been able to blend these two approaches. Lauren Turek’s To Bring the Good News to All Nations is thus a landmark because it is both a study of cultural ideology and foreign policy. In tying the two together in clear and compelling ways, based on extensive digging in various archives, Turek sheds a huge amount of new light on America’s mission in the last two decades of the Cold War and beyond. Turek uses the concept of “evangelical internationalism” to explore the worldview of American Protestants who were both theologically and politically conservative, and how they came to wield enough power that they were able to help shape U.S. foreign policy from the 1970s into the twenty-first century. As the formerly dominant liberal Protestants faded in numbers and authority, and as the nation was gripped by the cultural revolutions of the 1960s, evangelicals became the vanguard of a new era in American Christianity. Evangelicals replaced liberal Protestants abroad, too, as the mainline churches mostly abandoned the mission field. The effects on U.S. foreign relations were lasting and profound.
  • Topic: International Relations, Religion, International Affairs, History, Culture, Book Review, Christianity, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Thomas W. Zeiler, Grant Madsen, Lauren F. Turek, Christopher Dietrich
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: When David Anderson, acting as a conduit for editors at the Journal of American History, approached me at a SHAFR meeting in 2007 to write a state-of- the-field essay, I accepted, in part because we were sitting in a bar where I was happily consuming. The offer came with a responsibility to the field. I was serving as an editor of our journal, Diplomatic History, as well as the editor of the digitized version of our bibliography, American Foreign Relations Since 1600: A Guide to the Literature. Because these positions allowed me to survey our vibrant field, accepting the offer seemed natural. And I was honored to be asked to represent us. Did I mention we were drinking? I’m sure that Chris Dietrich accepted the invitation to oversee this next-gen pioneering Companion volume from Peter Coveney, a long-time editorial guru and booster of our field at Wiley-Blackwell, for similar reasons. This, even though there were times when, surrounded by books and articles and reviews that piled up to my shoulders in my office (yes, I read in paper, mostly), I whined, cursed, and, on occasion, wept about the amount of sources. What kept me going was not only how much I learned about the field, including an appreciation for great scholarship written through traditional and new approaches, but both the constancy and transformations over the years, much of it due to pressure from beyond SHAFR that prompted internal reflections. Vigorous debate, searing critiques, sensitive adaptation, and bold adoption of theory and methods had wrought a revolution in the field of U.S. diplomatic history, a moniker itself deemed outmoded.
  • Topic: International Relations, Foreign Policy, History, Diplomatic History
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: Christopher McKnight Nichols, Heather Marie Stur, Brad Simpson, Andy Rotter, Michael Kimmage
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR)
  • Abstract: The title of this book evokes numerous Donald Trump tweets, statements, and threats over the past five years. It also raises questions: was Trump pro-West or not, and how does his administration and its policies compare to those of his predecessors? Trumpism and the related, inchoate policies of “America First” were firmly positioned against the organizational structures and assumptions of the so-called liberal international order, or rules-based order. Trump’s targets ranged from NATO to the World Health Organization (WHO). From his speech at Trump Tower announcing his run for office to statements we heard during his efforts to contest the results of the 2020 election, Trump promulgated racist, particularist claims about which peoples and groups counted (white ones), which immigrants should be allowed in (northern European) and which should be banned (Muslims, those from “shithole” countries), and what wider heritages they fit into or “good genes” they were blessed with.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Liberal Order, Donald Trump, Anti-Westernism, Rivalry, Clash of Civilizations, America First
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The rising value of remittance flows into developing countries in recent years is often not widely appreciated. At a macro level, remittances support growth and are less volatile than other private capital flows, tending to be relatively stable through the business cycle. At a micro level, remittances benefit recipient households in developing countries by providing an additional source of income and lower incidences of extreme poverty. Remittances act as a form of 'social insurance', supporting households' capabilities to resist economic shocks. Remittances help recipient households to increase spending on essential goods and services, invest in healthcare and education, as well as allowing them to build their assets, both liquid (cash) and fixed (property), enhancing access to financial services and investment opportunities. Understanding the role and importance of remittances is particularly important at the current juncture, with the global economy experiencing a uniquely sharp and synchronized shock as a result of COVID-19. This report examines the available evidence on remittance flows and their potential economic effects. The report explores and shows how remittance flows remain a crucial lifeline in supporting developing economies through the current pandemic crisis and into the recovery. Although remittances slowed during the pandemic, they remained more resilient than other private capital flows, making them even more important as a source of foreign inflows for receiving countries. While the World Bank estimates that remittance flows to developing countries (low-and-middle income economies) contracted by 7.0% in 2020, this decline is likely to have been far less severe than the downturn in private investor capital. Looking forward, the World Bank predicts that remittance flows to developing countries will contract by a further 7.5% in 2021. But the outlook remains subject to a high degree of uncertainty with both upside and downside risks. A wider set of dynamics – including central bank data outturns for 2020, economic outlooks for the world economy in 2021, survey data and remittance consumer market fundamentals – suggest that while there are downside risks, there is also potential that 2020 and 2021 will not turn out as weak as predicted by the World Bank and for a period of strong remittance growth in the medium-term as sender economies recover and demand from developing economies remains high.
  • Topic: Development, Recovery, Economic Development , Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Ignacio Saiz
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: Of the many dimensions of inequality that the COVID-19 pandemic has magnified, inequality between countries is one of the most glaring, yet one of the least effectively addressed. While the pandemic’s immediate health impacts have been felt in countries across all income levels, its eco- nomic consequences have been particularly dev- astating in countries of the Global South. Fuelling these inequalities is the disparity of resources that countries count on to respond to the crisis. International cooperation has never been more essential to address this disparity and enable all countries to draw on the resources they need to tackle the pandemic and its economic fallout. Besides the provision of emergency financial support, wealthier countries and international financial institutions (IFIs) need to cooperate by lifting the barriers their debt and tax policies and practices impose on the fiscal space of low- and middle-income countries. As this article explores, such cooperation is not only a global public health imperative. It is also a binding human rights obli- gation. Framing it as such could play an impor- tant role in generating the accountability and political will that has so far been sorely lacking.
  • Topic: Fiscal Policy, Public Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Erica Shein, Alexandra Brown
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: International Foundation for Electoral Systems
  • Abstract: Contentious elections are a stress test for governments. Trust is hard won, easily lost and very difficult to restore. Election audits can enhance voters’ confidence in the results, if they are grounded in the law and performed by well-trained officials, and follow a predictable, transparent and observable process. A new guide from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) focuses on the risk-limiting audit (RLA), a type of post-election tabulation audit that relies on statistical evidence to confirm that the election outcome is correct. Compared to other types of audits, RLAs can be more effective and efficient. The U.S. has been the primary laboratory for RLA testing, with more than 60 piloted and 10 states currently requiring or allowing them. A long-time partner of election administrators around the world, IFES is dedicated to expanding the range of tools available to reinforce confidence in the electoral process and ensure that outcomes reflect the will of the voters. Risk-Limiting Audits: A Guide for Global Use considers how RLAs could have global application and utility – particularly to build trust in election results. The guide provides a basic framework for testing RLAs in diverse contexts by outlining foundational prerequisites and operational, legal and regulatory considerations. IFES will continue to refine and expand on this primer as new findings emerge.
  • Topic: Elections, Risk, Audit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Levan Bodzashvili
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Georgian Foundation for Strategic International Studies -GFSIS
  • Abstract: The purpose of the following article is, on the one hand, to introduce the current trends in the utilization of artificial intelligence in the field of national security and defense and, on the other hand, to initiate a research discussion in order to determine the necessity and the feasibility of the use of artificial intelligence for small countries like Georgia. We will also seek to define its importance at the strategic level in terms of ensuring integration and military compatibility. The article also incorporates strategic initiatives of a recommendatory nature which should be discussed in the security sphere as well as at the level of research organizations and the government. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the fastest growing field of technology which is already one of the top priorities in the national security strategies of most countries. The reason for this is that artificial intelligence technologies can alter the ways war is conducted.1 It enables defense, military, cyber security, intelligence and counterintelligence, information and cyber operations, logistics, manufacturing and strategic management/control of autonomous military vehicles. It has already been used by the United States, Israel, China, Russia and many other countries. Artificial intelligence also plays an important role in anticipating and planning national and geopolitical events such as, for example, the program of the director of the United States Intelligence Agency (IARPA)2 which conducts constant research in this area as well as more than 140 operational and research projects of the Central Intelligence Agency which use artificial intelligence. An important and also revolutionary project is SAGE3 which was developed by the Universities of Fordham, Stanford and Columbia in conjunction with the Intelligence Agency and which predicts geopolitical events through artificial intelligence-based projections. High-precision algorithms enable the predicting of events which is a crucial factor in reinsuring national security risks and threats.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Science and Technology, Artificial Intelligence
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Daniel Mack, Céline Monnier, Nendirmwa Noel, Paul von Chamier, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The recent wave of violent protests and unrest across the developed world – the storming of the US Capitol during the electoral college process and the riots in the Netherlands, among others – questions the assumption that high-income countries have become immune to large-scale internal political violence. Are we facing a new wave of high-income conflict? At a minimum, increased violent unrest, political assassinations, and domestic terrorism in the next ten years seem possible, unless governments focus on avoiding impunity and establishing shared understanding of facts, reducing inequality and prejudice, and building institutional resilience. This analysis examines whether these recent events augur a wider shift in conflict risk to high-income countries, akin to the shift seen from low to middle-income countries 20 years ago. Given these events, this analysis systematically reviews conflict risks in high-income countries, as well as offers a framework that has been widely applied in the developing world to examine the risk factors for violent conflict in wealthy countries, including second generation impacts of COVID-19.
  • Topic: Conflict, Protests, COVID-19, Civil Unrest
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sarah Cliffe, Karina Gerlach, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: 2021, we all hope, will be the year of recovery. If COVID-19 vaccines are rolled out at scale, including in the developing world, global economic recovery will be large. But that in itself ensures neither that all countries will be included in the recovery, nor that all people within each country will see the gains. A rising tide, as we have seen only too well since US president John F. Kennedy first used the phrase in 1963, does not lift all boats. Elsewhere, CIC has analyzed the high demand for transformative policies in high- and low-income countries alike since the COVID-19 crisis began, including policies for domestic action on inequality and socioeconomic exclusion. This piece takes a more global view and considers how to ensure that all countries benefit, and examines the issues, challenges, and opportunities in financing for development. It looks first at the key political messages that explain why 2021 should be a year of urgent, ambitious global action for shared economic recovery; secondly at the measures under discussion (which are expanded in an annex); thirdly at the political interests at play; and fourthly at foreseeable scenarios for agreement. Last, we outline the calendar of relevant policy meetings this year and the challenge of orchestrating progress between them.
  • Topic: Governance, Reform, Finance, Multilateralism, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nanjala Nyabola
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to re-evaluate the principles or ideas that are at the heart of theories of government, that is the fundamentals of governance and public theory. What is government for, but also what should government do and how. Engaging with the crucial philosophical questions of governance is integral to building back better: going back to basics is a major step in figuring out how to prevent mistakes from happening again. The social contract is one such principle: the idea of a social contract is central to answering the question of what governments are for: explaining why people obey laws, providing answers to why we live in societies, and why we abide by social rules and norms. Recognizing the ongoing debates, national and international, around the meaning and origins of the term social contract, this paper by Nanjala Nyabola tries to point to some of the important thinking from the south and from non-western sources and traditions that have helped shape modern understanding of social contract theory. It is not intended to be a comprehensive review, in such a short paper, but rather a selection that reflects the richness and variety of such sources and how they have impacted thinking throughout the ages. Overall, looking at ideas of social contracts outside Western philosophical tradition reminds us that it is not just about the form of the social contract or that all political organizations must be identical. These theories also remind us that compulsion and punishment are not a strong foundation for strong systems of governance. We have to create societies that people want to live in.
  • Topic: Security, Governance, Reform, Fragile States, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sibel Oktay, Paul Poast, Dina Smeltz, Craig Kafura
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: The Council's polling experts examine how American foreign policy experts think of the term "allies," and whether variations in thinking matter for US foreign policy decisions. “America is back,” President Joseph Biden pronounced at the State Department in February 2021. His comment ostensibly meant the United States was returning to the international fold after leaving a global leadership void during the Trump years. The previous administration had downplayed—even discounted—American alliances as key US foreign policy tools. “We will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s,” Biden stated. At the NATO summit four months later, Biden reiterated his administration’s key message and commitment to the alliance. Emblematic of this commitment, he and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson also signed a “New Atlantic Charter” recommitting both nations to their “alliances and partners.” The United States is unique in the world in terms of security alliances. The country enjoys “the largest and most enduring military footprint” in recent history. From military bases to providing training and material assistance, this footprint is largely enabled through allies. Hence, it is perhaps unsurprising that recent surveys show a perception among Americans that alliances largely benefit the United States. But what is meant by the term “allies”? Given the variety of military partnerships and relationships maintained by the United States, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the term “ally” is used to describe countries across this range of relationships. Some countries have a formal defensive treaty with the United States, while others are merely recipients of US military financial aid. How do American foreign policy experts think of the term “allies,” and does variation in such thinking matter?
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, Partnerships, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Patrick Quirk, Jan Surotchak
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Supporting democracy and human rights overseas is front and center in the Biden administration’s foreign policy. The White House has committed to hold a “summit for democracy” this year, vocally condemned human rights abuses by China, and called for budget increases in foreign assistance and diplomacy critical to execute its democracy agenda abroad. As the Biden team designs this agenda, it will take stock of existing democracy assistance approaches and toolkits to make sure they address the current landscape of threats (i.e., a rise in Russian and Chinese malign influence) and changing needs of democracy partners on the ground (i.e., training on new technology). One area that is in desperate need of an update is how the U.S. helps strengthen political parties abroad, something it has done since the 1980s. The U.S. approach to supporting parties has not kept pace with the evolution of these organizations over the last ten years. Increasingly, political parties are taking novel forms that arise from so called “people power” movements and often focus more on mobilizing voters than formulating policy. One of the four most common types of parties today are those that emerge from mass protest movements and widespread latent dissatisfaction with traditional parties. Examples include the Five Star Movement in Italy, the Union to Save Romania, the New Conservative Party in Latvia, and Semilla in Guatemala. Getting support to this party type ‘right’ is important because many of the countries where these entities are emerging matter for U.S. interests. In both the Czech Republic and Slovakia – NATO allies on the front line of countering Russian and Chinese influence – new, anti-establishment parties are running the government, as traditional parties have struggled with accusations of corruption and failure to meet citizen needs. In Mexico and Brazil, both major strategic partners of the United States, emergent political organizations have taken power. In Iraq, citizens protesting government corruption and inefficiencies have formed several new parties to contest the October 2021 elections and challenge the political establishment. Yet in these and other contexts, the United States lacks an approach to structure its support of such nascent parties. Here, we outline recommendations for selecting which parties to support and then a framework to maximize effectiveness of U.S. assistance to them.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Cooperation, Democracy, Political Parties, Influence, Partisanship
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America