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  • Author: Alan Boswell
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: South Sudan’s civil war expanded into Equatoria, the country’s southernmost region, in 2016, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee into neighboring Uganda in what has been called Africa’s largest refugee exodus since the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Equatoria is now the last major hot spot in the civil war. If lasting peace is to come to South Sudan, writes Alan Boswell, it will require a peace effort that more fully reckons with the long-held grievances of Equatorians.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Civil War, Conflict, Crisis Management, Peace
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Patricia M. Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: As strategic competition between the United States and China intensifies, preventing a destabilizing arms race and lowering the risk of military, especially nuclear, confrontation is critical. The essays in this volume—based on a series of workshops convened by USIP’s Asia Center in late 2020—highlight both the striking differences and the commonalities between U.S. and Chinese assessments of the root causes of instability and the drivers of conflict in the nuclear, conventional missile and missile defense, space, cyberspace, and artificial intelligence realms.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology, Peace, Artificial Intelligence, Strategic Competition, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Abdullah Al-Arian
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: Prof. Abdullah Al-Arian discusses how Islamist movements have historically viewed diplomacy as important to their activist missions.
  • Topic: International Relations, Cold War, Diplomacy, Politics, History, Islamism
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North America, Egypt, United States of America
  • Author: Haizam Amirah-Fernandez
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for Contemporary Arab Studies
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic is shaking Arab countries hard at a time when the region is already under great pressure. The responses of Arab states to the threat of the coronavirus, added to the uncertain international context generated by the pandemic, is aggravating existing problems in the Middle East and the Maghreb. This current global emergency and its ramifications has the potential to turn socioeconomic challenges into political crises and intensify demands for change that have spread through multiple countries in the region over the past decade. Until an effective vaccine against the pandemic is made available and widely accessible, the economic and social costs of the drastic restrictions being imposed by Arab governments during the successive waves of the pandemic may be overwhelming and, ultimately, unbearable.
  • Topic: Politics, Arts, Culture, COVID-19, Demonstrations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arab Countries, North Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: R2P Monitor is a bimonthly bulletin applying the atrocity prevention lens to populations at risk of mass atrocities around the world. Issue 55 looks at developments in Afghanistan, Cameroon, the Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger), China, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria and South Sudan.
  • Topic: International Law, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), Atrocities
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, China, Yemen, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Syria, Venezuela, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Mali, Myanmar, South Sudan, Cameroon, Sahel, Central African Republic, Global Focus, Niger, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Gabriel Mitchell
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: Contemporary analysis of Eastern Mediterranean geopolitics tends to focus on the discovery of offshore hydrocarbons, and how a desire to maximize commercial profits has spurred a realignment of regional interests. There is similar emphasis on how this realignment pushed some Eastern Mediterranean states into conflict with one another over maritime boundaries and drilling rights. But while natural gas pipelines may dominate political and analytical discourse, there are other infrastructure projects that deserve attention and shed further light on the region’s evolution and Israel’s role in this transitionary period. One example to support this claim is the EuroAsia Interconnector, an ambitious infrastructure project that intends to connect the European electrical grid via undersea cable from Greece to Cyprus, and Israel. Few in Israel are familiar with the interconnector. Unlike the much-publicized EastMed pipeline, the interconnector garners little attention. Ironically, there is a greater chance that the interconnector – whose cable would run along a similar route as the EastMed pipeline – will successfully link Israel and Europe in the Eastern Mediterranean, and not the more recognizable natural gas project.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Geopolitics, Gas
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Asia, Palestine, Mediterranean
  • Author: Ksenia Svetlova
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Mitvim: The Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies
  • Abstract: In the few months that have passed since the signing of the historical Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE have opened embassies and exchanged ambassadors, launched direct flights between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, hosted dozens of businesses, cultural and academic delegations (among them a high-ranking Emirati delegation led by the UAE ministers of finance and economy), and facilitated visits of thousands of Israeli tourists to Dubai. Universities and think tanks from both countries have established connections, and news outlets have launched different forms of cooperation. Israel, the UAE, and the US set an investment fund worth 3 billion USD (the fund is not operational yet) and banks on both sides established agreements on financial services. The scope of activity between the two countries is impressive, and it seems that in case of Israel and the UAE, the seeds of peace have fallen on fertile ground, mainly due to high level of economic development and mutual geopolitical interests and concerns, such as the Iranian threat (although both sides evaluate and treat it differently).Today, it is almost impossible to imagine that just a few years ago Israeli athletes were only allowed to compete in the UAE if they agreed to participate without their national flag or national anthem sung at the closing ceremony. Why is it that the peace between Israel and the UAE appears to be such a stark contrast from previous peace agreements that Israel has signed with other Arab countries? Several factors have facilitated the newly established relationship: the positive image of the UAE in Israel; the lack of past hostilities, casualties, and territorial demands between the two countries; the unofficial ties forged long before the official recognition; the many mutual interests that seem to be aligned together; and the right timing that allowed for this bold and important development. Will the parties be able to maintain a similar level of enthusiasm also when the honeymoon stage passes? How will the two countries deal with various regional and international challenges? This paper presents an Israeli perspective on the first months of the relationship between Israel and UAE, and looks at prospects for the near future of these relations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Treaties and Agreements, Economy, Peace, Abraham Accords
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, UAE
  • Author: Bürge Elvan Erginli, Gizem Fidan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Turkish Economic and Social Studies Foundation (TESEV)
  • Abstract: A handbook on Data-driven Decision Making and Urban95: Data-driven Policy Tool (harita.kent95.org). The majority of the world population now lives in cities, while relations between technology and individuals and institutions and things are stronger than ever. The resultant growth in the volume and diversity of data has rendered the issue of data-driven policy development, which has been in existence since the 1990s, much more visible. We can define the concept of data-driven decision making as institutions that provide urban services making use of data to develop accurate, effective and measurable policies when planning how, to whom, with what content and where in the city these services will be provided. This has recently become an important topic in Turkey. We frequently encounter the importance especially of local administrations making use of data when making and following their strategic plans. In order to make use of data in developing urban policy, we first of all need to have a sense of what urban data is and the channels by which it is produced, providing us a holistic perspective. We can usually speak of five types of data in this context: The first is public administration data produced by local administrations and state agencies. The second is official statistical data such as census or household/workplace surveys gathered through questionnaires under the direction of the national statistical institute. The third is operational data on services provided by local administrations or specific institutions – institutions providing transportation service for example. The fourth is scientific data on environmental conditions such as the air, water level, pollution and noise. The fifth consists of composite indicators or estimates produced through combining and analyzing these four types of data. While most of the data in urban dashboards consist of traditional data updated monthly or yearly, operational and scientific data’s level of inclusion of real time big data in particular is increasing.
  • Topic: Governance, Urban, Sustainability, Data, Decision-Making
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Global
  • Author: Anindita Mukherjee, Anju Dwivedi, Neha Agarwal
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The state of Odisha has made unprecedented strides in increasing access to individual toilets from 14% in 2011 to a purported 100% in 2019 under the Swachh Bharat Mission - Gramin. In light of the clarion call of a ‘Swachha Odisha, Sustha Odisha’, and the national imperatives set by the National Rural Sanitation Strategy, 2019-2029, the state has created a systematic framework towards the achievement of total sanitation in the form of the Odisha Rural Sanitation Policy, 2020. To inform the creation of the Policy and shape its contours for responding optimally to ground realities, we undertook a rapid assessment of the prevailing sanitation practices in three districts of the state. The present report discusses the resulting findings relating to varied aspects of rural sanitation - ranging from trends in toilet use and on-site sanitation systems to the availability and state of Solid and Liquid Waste Management (SLWM) infrastructure.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Governance, Rural, Sanitation
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Mekhala Krishnamurthy, Deepak Sanan, Karnamadakala Rahul Sharma, Aditya Unnikrishnan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for Policy Research, India
  • Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has caused extraordinary hardship since India’s first case was reported in Thrissur, Kerala in January 2020. Individuals and communities have since then made drastic changes to their behaviours, daily routines and lives, quite often in response to announcements or regulatory direction provided by the state. Officers of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) are important actors at the forefront of framing, implementing and evaluating the state’s response to the pandemic, and uniquely positioned between the political executive and India’s massive frontline state. Their views on the state’s response, preparedness, the public and stakeholders in governance, and their positions on important normative debates underlying policy formulation and implementation therefore offer useful insights into both how the Indian state governs, and how it might govern better in the future. This report presents the results of a representative survey of over 500 IAS officers conducted between August and September 2020, 7-8 months into the pandemic. The survey sought to engage members of the IAS in reflecting on the critical challenges, decisions, and trade-offs that confronted public administrators charged with managing the state response at different levels. In doing so, it revealed both widely shared and sharply contested views on a range of subjects, including the role of the civil servant, executive and bureaucratic functioning in a crisis, and perceptions of and relations between the state, the public, and other important actors and institutions. The report finds that on the one hand, IAS officers are remarkably consistent in expressing high levels of motivation and public service commitment and endorse the view that the Indian state and bureaucracy galvanise resources and deliver reasonably well in times of crisis. On the other hand, there is a consistent tension between some strongly expressed ideals and the realities of administrative action, especially on engagement and communication with, and trust in the public. Finally, there is significant diversity among IAS officers when it comes to perceptions of key stakeholders (civil society, international agencies and the media) and a striking distrust of the private sector. The report also highlights the diversity in responses of officers across state cadres and seniority in several places through disaggregated analysis. This report, by the State Capacity Initiative at the Centre for Policy Research is part of a larger body of work on understanding the norms and values underpinning different state institutions in India. As we develop this body of work over the coming years, our goal is to continue to probe not just how the state performs, but how it perceives its own capacity, why and how it makes choices, imagines possibilities for governance, and engages with citizens.
  • Topic: Governance, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India
  • Author: Juan Pablo Cardenal
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America (CADAL)
  • Abstract: In April 2020, a few weeks after COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across the length and breadth of the globe, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) hurriedly pressed parties from around the world to make a joint statement promoting international cooperation against the pandemic.1 Behind its constructive rhetoric, the ten-point note drafted by the CCP displayed its true purpose. On the one hand, it emphasized both China’s “open, transparent and responsible attitude” and the assistance offered by the Asiatic country in the form of “medical supplies to the affected countries.”2 On the other, it rejected “stigmatization” and “discriminatory comments and practices” an implicit reference to the international criticism that the Chinese communist regime was already receiving for covering-up the virus.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Transparency, Political Parties, COVID-19, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR)
  • Abstract: This paper discusses the African Union Transitional Justice Policy as a case study that locates peace within the justice agenda in Africa, drawing from the rich, three-decade-long practice and experience of transitional justice processes on the continent to guide and inform future processes. It discusses the parameters set by the policy within which peace and justice processes can co-exist and be pursued in transitional justice through timing and sequencing. The paper also analyses the benchmarks of success for peace processes, making use of African examples and offering recommendations.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Peacekeeping, Transitional Justice, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Africa, African Union
  • Author: Louise Marie Hurel
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Igarapé Institute
  • Abstract: n February 2020, the Decree 10.222 established Brazil’s National Cybersecurity Strategy (E-Ciber) — the first official document to provide an overview regarding Brazil’s role in cybersecurity, as well as objectives and guiding principles for its development between 2020 and 2023. With the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people, governmental agencies, and businesses have rapidly adapted their activities to a largely virtual environment. This sudden migration led to new threats and attack surfaces for exploiting vulnerabilities. More than ever, different sectors must be prepared and trained to respond to and resist these threats. However, this was precisely the period in which Brazil suffered the worst cyber attack in its history – highlighting, yet again, that many challenges remain for ensuring that concerns with security turn into action across different sectors. This strategic paper identifies the main gaps and challenges for cybersecurity governance in Brazil. We unpack the main elements of E-Ciber in order to understand and place the country’s strategic vision historically as well as in relation to other international experiences. We adopt a principles-based approach that seeks to strengthen and inform the implementation of strategic cybersecurity objectives in Brazil, which include: national and international coordination and cooperation; knowledge integration; sustainability of efforts; and cybersecurity-related training.
  • Topic: National Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Digital Policy, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Melina Risso, Julia Sekula, Lycia Brasil, Peter Schmidt, Maria Eduarda Pessoa de Assis
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Igarapé Institute
  • Abstract: The Brazilian Amazon is rife with illegal gold mining operations, with 321 identified points of illegal, active and inactive mines arranged in the 9 states that comprise the Brazilian Amazon Basin. This devastation has a price — according to Brazil’s Federal Public Prosecutors Office, 1kg of gold represents roughly R$1.7m in environmental damages, culminating in an environmental cost roughly 10 times greater than the current price of gold. The Amazon is nearing its critical ‘tipping point’, beyond which both the Amazon biome and our global climate will suffer irreversible damages. As such, discussions on illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon present two interrelated challenges: combating deforestation and protecting the distinct cultures of indigenous populations, who constitute the forests’ principal environmental defenders. Considering the urgency of the discussion, the Igarapé Institute launches the publication Illegal Gold That Undermines Forests and Lives in the Amazon: An Overview of Irregular Mining and its Impacts on Indigenous Populations. The article presents urgent recommendations, in the short and long term, to avoid an irreversible climatic collapse, in which the preservation of the Amazon rainforest plays a fundamental role.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Culture, Mining, Indigenous, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Igarapé Institute
  • Abstract: The civic space - the sphere between business, the State, and family where citizens organize, debate, and act to influence public policy and the general direction of the country — is under attack. Attacks against civic space constitute a threat to transparency, to the freedoms of expression, assembly, and protest, and to civil and political rights. They are in direct conflict with the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the Brazilian Constitution and in countless international conventions and treaties. And they are a grave threat to democracy itself. The closure of civic space is not exclusive to Brazil. However, deliberate attempts to diminish it are becoming increasingly common in the country. This is why the Igarapé Institute is launching the “the Civic Space GPS”, a quarterly analysis dedicated to monitor attacks, acts of resistance led by State institutions, as well as reactions from civil society. It considers the typology created by the Igarapé Institute to describe the different strategies and tactics used to close the civic space and described in the Strategic Paper 49: “The ‘Agora’ is Under Attack: assessing the closure of civic space in Brazil and Around the World”.
  • Topic: Democracy, Business , Freedom of Expression, State, Family, Political Rights, Civic Engagement
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: Anand Menon
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: UK in a Changing Europe, King's College London
  • Abstract: Brexit is done. The formal negotiations are over — even though the Trade and Cooperation Agreement paves the way to many further negotiations between the UK and the EU. Our understanding of what Brexit does mean in practice is just beginning. Now the UK is finally able to embark on its new course, we believe that the need for social science to play a role in informing public and political debates is as great if not greater than ever. The contributions that follow underline the scale and scope of the agenda that confronts the United Kingdom. It is meant both as a guide to the issues that will loom large of the months and years to come and as a signal that we intend to deploy the best social science research in order to understand and address them.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Economy, Society
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: Melinda K. Abrams, Reginald D. Williams II, Katharine Fields, Roosa Tikkanen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Commonwealth Fund
  • Abstract: About one-quarter of U.S. adults report having a mental health diagnosis such as anxiety or depression or experiencing emotional distress. This is one of the highest rates among 11 high-income countries. While U.S. adults are among the most willing to seek professional help for emotional distress, they are among the most likely to report access or affordability issues. Emotional distress is associated with social and economic needs in all countries. Nearly half of U.S. adults who experience emotional distress report such worries, a higher share than seen in other countries. The United States has some of the worst mental health–related outcomes, including the highest suicide rate and second-highest drug-related death rate. The U.S. has a relatively low supply of mental health workers, particularly psychologists and psychiatrists. Just one-third of U.S. primary care practices have mental health professionals on their team, compared to more than 90 percent in the Netherlands and Sweden.
  • Topic: Health, Health Care Policy, Mental Health, Drugs, Substance Abuse
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Sarah Pierce
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Migration Policy Institute (MPI)
  • Abstract: Over the course of four years, the Trump administration used a wide range of executive action tools to make sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system. Among them is an obscure but powerful bureaucratic authority known as the attorney general’s “referral and review” power. By allowing the attorney general to review and overrule decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals (the immigration appellate body within the U.S. Department of Justice), referral and review makes it possible to alter or reinterpret the application of immigration laws—at times with wide-reaching effects. While the frequent and consequential use of this power by Trump-era attorneys general drew increased attention to it, many of the concerns that have been raised about it predate the Trump administration. Among them: that it allows the attorney general—the country’s chief law enforcement officer—to intercede in individual cases, raising questions about the independence of the immigration adjudication system; that referral and review decisions are made with minimal procedural safeguards or transparency; and that the power has remained in the Justice Department, even as most immigration functions were moved to the Department of Homeland Security when that agency was created nearly two decades ago. This report explores how referral and review has evolved over time, including under the Trump administration, whose attorneys general referred more cases to themselves for review than those in any prior administration, Republican or Democrat. The report also looks closely at the two areas of U.S. immigration policy most affected by Trump-era referral and review decisions: the U.S. asylum system and court procedures, including how immigration judges manage their own dockets. Finally, it looks ahead to how the power might be used in the future and recommends ways to improve its use and placement within the immigration bureaucracy.
  • Topic: Immigration, Law, Border Control, Asylum
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marta Abrantes Mendes
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: Based on interviews with key Yemeni civil society organizations, the report finds that much more is needed to support a Yemeni-led vision of justice and accountability. After registering a diversity of views amongst Yemeni civil society—from a need to address the economic and social costs of the conflict to the role of civil society in any future transitional justice processes—this report also highlights the obstacles facing Yemeni civil society. Additionally, the report proposes more tactics and strategies for supporting Yemeni civil society and victims’ groups, and to ensure they have an influence over the contours of an eventual peace.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Peacekeeping, Transitional Justice, Accountability, Justice
  • Political Geography: Yemen
  • Author: Christine Hübner, Jan Eichhorn, Luuk Molthof, Srđan Cvijić
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Open Society Foundations
  • Abstract: France is one of the European countries with the highest rates of popular disapproval of countries in the Western Balkans joining the European Union. What is this disapproval based on, and how important is the issue of EU enlargement in the Western Balkans for people in France? Using a combination of 2020 survey data representative of the adult French population and in-depth focus groups with French voters, this report offers a comprehensive insight into the views of the French on whether or not the countries of the Western Balkans should join the European Union.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Treaties and Agreements, European Union, Regional Integration
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Balkans