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  • Author: Anton Barbashin, Alexander Graef
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Over the course of the last decade Russian foreign policy has taken critical turns, surprising not only the entire international community but also Russia’s own foreign policy experts. Arguably, the most notable turn came in March 2014 when Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, setting in motion developments that are continuously shaping Russia, its neighbors, and, to a certain degree, global affairs. Clearly, Russia’s post-Crimean foreign policy does not exist in a vacuum. Its ramifications are colliding with regional and global trends that are effectively destabilizing the post-Cold War international order, creating uncertainties that are defining the contemporary international moment. In this report, we deal with those whose job it is to explain the logic of Russia’s foreign policy turns and to analyze global trends and their meaning for Russia and the rest of the world. Although these experts, as a rule, do not directly influence political decision-making, their debates, as Graeme Herd argues, “set the parameters for foreign policy choices” and “shape elite and public perceptions of the international environment” in Russia.1 Especially in times of crisis and rapid change ideas produced at some earlier stage by experts and think tanks external to the state bureaucracy can suddenly obtain instrumental value and direct policy options. In Part 1, we briefly discuss the role of think tanks in Russian foreign policymaking and present the landscape of Russian think tanks working on foreign policy issues. We distinguish among three basic institutional forms: academic and university-based think tanks, private think tanks, and state-sponsored think tanks. Highlighting the diversity of organizations, we then focus on four state-sponsored think tanks whose size, political contacts, and financial means allow them to dominate the think tank scene in Russia and that represent different ideological angles of a broad, yet also comparatively volatile mainstream: the Council on Foreign and Defense Policy (SVOP), the Valdai Discussion Club, the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC), and the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI). Part 2 follows this selection by looking at Russian foreign policy debates since 2014. We consider how experts writing for these four organizations have approached three major themes: the evolution of the concept of Greater Europe and European Union (EU)-Russia relations, the establishment of the Greater Eurasia narrative in the context of Russia’s declared pivot to the East, and the concepts of multipolarity and the liberal world order.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Civil Society, Diplomacy, Norms
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia
  • Author: Cengiz Günay
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Austrian Institute for International Affairs (OIIP)
  • Abstract: Many documents, programs and strategies of the European Union highlight the importance of civil society as an element of democracy promotion. In this short article I deal with the question of what civil society actually is and whether the idea of civil society as a motor of democratization is still a valid presumption. Civil society is an often mentioned but essentially contested concept. As the term is characterized by a plurality of different meanings that depend on the historical, cultural and legal context, there is no single, generally accepted concept that defines civil society. It remains rather unclear whether civil society includes any form of non-governmental organiza-tion (NGO), such as business people’s associations, syndicates or trade unions. Is the media part of civil society or does the concept refer exclusively to NGOs that address specific societal issues? Does the concept only refer to institutionalized and licensed organizations and associations or are social movements, thematic platforms, informal networks and other un-institutionalized forma-tions also part of civil society? After all, they do often fulfill the same functions as civil society organizations (CSOs). And how about religious organizations, are they also part of civil society?
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, NGOs
  • Political Geography: Europe, Mediterranean
  • Author: Richard Steyne, Priajina Khudaverdyan
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: Mapping Study seeks to support international engagement on security sector reform in Ukraine by identifying the extent and scope of current rule of law, security sector governance (SSG) and democratic oversight programming. By covering international and regional organisations’ initiatives, as well as national projects, the Study seeks to comprehensively map programmes assisting Ukraine’s democratic institutions, executive, government, independent oversight institutions, civil society, media and the security sector itself.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Corruption, Migration, Reform, Disarmament, Borders, Human Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: The decision to be a whistleblower is not easy. Mental trauma, the risk of retaliation, the potential loss of employment or ostracization by work colleagues—not to mention the impact on one’s personal life—all weigh heavily on the individual who decides to speak out for the common good. But when potential whistleblowers feel too vulnerable to act, it's society itself which suffers. In this report, whistleblowers from eight European countries describe what they experienced after they took a stand. Additionally, civil society experts weigh in on how the EU can craft policies to better protect whistleblowers. The question of how to define whistleblowing—does it apply to sexual harassment, can NGOs be considered whistleblowers, and so on—is also explored. The report ultimately recommends an EU-wide directive on whistleblowing, which it argues would give whistleblowers the protection they need to step forward. The report also argues that a multi-level, multi-stakeholder approach would emphasize the value of whistleblowers and the crucial role they play in a healthy open society.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Intelligence, NGOs, Transparency, Whistle Blowing, Secrecy
  • Political Geography: Europe