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  • Author: Patrice C. McMahon, Lukasz W. Niparko
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Although LGBTQI+ activists in Poland are under attack from the Law and Justice government’s conservative agenda, domestic activists are finding ways to resist and persist.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, Political Activism, LGBT+
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Poland
  • Author: Sahar Khan
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The international community is focused on the ongoing intra-Afghan peace process, which has steadied despite several challenges. There are two developments, however, that will have a lasting impact on the process: The International Criminal Court’s investigation into war crimes committed by the Taliban, Afghan forces, and US forces, and the strategic evolution of the Taliban as a legitimate political actor.
  • Topic: Security, International Law, Terrorism, Taliban, Conflict, Peace
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, South Asia, Eurasia
  • Author: Pavel K. Baev
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent incidence of war in the Caucasus has shown that, when facing deep domestic troubles, Russia and Turkey demonstrate strikingly different patterns of international behavior. While Russia has become more cautious in responding to external challenges, Turkey has embarked on several power-projecting enterprises. Its forceful interference in the long-smoldering conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh took Russia by surprise and effectively secured a military victory for Azerbaijan. Moscow has assumed the main responsibility for terminating hostilities by deploying a peacekeeping force, but its capacity for managing the war zone and its commitment to deconflicting tensions with Turkey remain uncertain. The United States and the European Union have few levers for influencing this interplay of clashing agendas of local actors and regional powers and fewer reasons to trust Russian and Turkish leaders to put peacebuilding ahead of their ambitions.
  • Topic: Security, War, Geopolitics, Grand Strategy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Turkey, Caucasus, Middle East
  • Author: Jennifer A. Hillman, David Sacks
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy undertaking and the world’s largest infrastructure program, poses a significant challenge to U.S. economic, political, climate change, security, and global health interests. Since BRI’s launch in 2013, Chinese banks and companies have financed and built everything from power plants, railways, highways, and ports to telecommunications infrastructure, fiber-optic cables, and smart cities around the world. If implemented sustainably and responsibly, BRI has the potential to meet long-standing developing country needs and spur global economic growth. To date, however, the risks for both the United States and recipient countries raised by BRI’s implementation considerably outweigh its benefits. BRI was initially designed to connect China’s modern coastal cities to its underdeveloped interior and to its Southeast, Central, and South Asian neighbors, cementing China’s position at the center of a more connected world. The initiative has since outgrown its original regional corridors, expanding to all corners of the globe. Its scope now includes a Digital Silk Road intended to improve recipients’ telecommunications networks, artificial intelligence capabilities, cloud computing, e-commerce and mobile payment systems, surveillance technology, and other high-tech areas, along with a Health Silk Road designed to operationalize China’s vision of global health governance.1 Hundreds of projects around the world now fall under the BRI umbrella.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Infrastructure, Hegemony, Conflict, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Regionalism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard McGregor, Jude Blanchette
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: After more than eight years in office, Xi Jinping has made himself into China’s most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping, but in doing so, Xi has destabilised elite politics and demolished the power sharing norms that evolved since the 1980s. By removing de jure and de facto term limits on the most senior position of power, and thus far refusing to nominate his successor, Xi has solidified his own leadership position but potentially pushed the country towards a destabilising succession crisis. There are various scenarios for what happens after Xi, ranging from a peaceful transfer of power to a split at the top if he is forced out of office in a coup or by illness or death.
  • Topic: Leadership, Domestic politics, Xi Jinping
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Nicola Bilotta
  • Publication Date: 12-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The last decade has witnessed a progressive change in what had long been considered global priorities for achieving growth. The global financial crisis of 2007–2008 and the following European sovereign debt crises of 2011–2012 have brought to light important pitfalls in the functioning of globalized financial markets. Trade and financial liberalization policies have at times caused severe strains in some communities, raising concerns over the effects of rapid increases in international integration. Environmental and social risks have come to the forefront of the policy debate. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought enormous challenges to what was the normal way of living. All these events have had far-reaching consequences on the global economy. Currently, the world is facing at least three major shocks that are affecting health (COVID-19), prosperity (the recession) and the planet (climate change). These have been chosen as the three keywords for Italy’s G20 Presidency. These shocks are different in nature and have very diverse effects across countries, regions and municipalities. This calls for differentiated and targeted responses that take into account the specific needs of individual communities.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Infrastructure, G20, Economic Growth, Investment, Integration, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Europe, India, Vietnam, Philippines, United States of America, Congo
  • Author: Julia-Silvana Hofstetter
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: The wide availability of digital technologies is increasingly impacting the work of peacebuilders, altering both peacebuilding practices and conflict dynamics. The malicious use of technology – from the weaponization of social media to digital authoritarianism and cyberattacks – poses new threats to peaceful societies and urges peacebuilders to consider new fields of action in cyberspace. However, digitalization has also brought major innovations to the work of peacebuilders, establishing a new field of practice, ‘digital peacebuilding’. Many of the innovative uses of peace technologies – for conflict prevention, transformation and reconciliation – have been driven by civil society organizations, who are at the forefront of addressing the rising threat of digital conflict drivers, too. This report provides an overview of the opportunities and challenges digital technologies create for peacebuilders, discusses how they alter the role of civil society, and proposes future directions for the digital peacebuilding agenda.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Peace, Digitization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Roman Krtsch
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: The immediate aftermath of civil wars is a period prone to heightened contention: Political decisions about the distribution of aid or power, for example, can deepen social fault lines and in some instances even result in violent unrest. Yet despite its relevance, our knowledge on the drivers for individual participation in post-conflict contentious activism remains limited. Previous research has found particularly wartime experiences to affect political and social behaviour of individuals in the post-conflict period. Based on these findings, I argue that exposure to civil war violence increases the likelihood for individuals to participate in post-war protests. Moreover, I conjecture that this effect can be explained with the reinforcement of group-based grievances. Using survey data from the Afrobarometer collected shortly after the end of the Ugandan civil war in 2008, I find support for the argument: Results from linear probability models show a consistent and robust relationship between county-level war violence and the likelihood to participate in protests. An additional analysis with a novel measure of group-level exposure and a causal mediation analysis furthermore corroborate the assumed mechanism.
  • Topic: Conflict, Protests, Violence, Post-Conflict
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa
  • Author: Ryan C. Berg, Jorge González-Gallarza
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The EU’s current policy approach toward Venezuela is insufficient to contribute meaningfully to a political transition in the country and protect human rights. Oftentimes, the EU’s policy has been at odds with the US, having permitted unrelated disagreements to cloud its recognition of its strategic interest in a free, prosperous, and democratic Venezuela. The Nicolas Maduro regime’s illicit investment schemes have found fertile ground in the EU at large, with a particular hotspot in Spain. A torrent of investments and acquisitions has allowed corrupt cronies in Maduro’s entourage to engage in unfathomable kleptocracy and stash their ill-gotten gains in the eurozone, vitiating the rule of law in the process. The EU consistently underappreciates the Maduro regime’s multi-faceted security threat, which intersects with and compounds many of the EU’s greatest geostrategic challenges in the post-COVID-19 landscape. China, Cuba, Iran, and Russia are all at once strategic rivals of the EU and enablers of the Maduro regime’s threat to its security. The Joe Biden administration’s commitment to multilateral engagement in Venezuela offers the EU a chance to reclaim transatlantic cooperation and present a common vision for political transition in the country. Beefing up sanctions and developing a coordination mechanism, as well as drumming up humanitarian aid, would constitute serious progress and potentially thrust the EU into the role of indispensable actor in Venezuela’s democratic restoration.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Sanctions, European Union, Democracy, Multilateralism, Hugo Chavez
  • Political Geography: Europe, Latin America, Spain, Venezuela
  • Author: Leonard Wong, Dr. Stephen J. Gerras
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College
  • Abstract: Previous studies analyzing disability compensation have decried its $76 billion annual budget or warned of its perverse ability to incentivize veterans not to work. This study focuses on the impact of this moral hazard on the US Army profession. If soldiers continue to capitalize on an extremely permissive disability system, the trust between society and the military may be threatened, and future Army readiness may be jeopardized should disability compensation be added to the marginal cost of a soldier. More importantly, many of today’s soldiers are rationalizing disability compensation as something owed to them—not for a debilitating injury, but for the hardships of service to the nation. This study uses US Army and Department of Veterans Affairs personnel files, soldier interviews, and discussions with senior leaders to support its conclusions. The intent of the study is to prompt the Army profession to act before the culture surrounding disability compensation becomes permanent. In the end, the essence of the entitlement—taking care of veterans—must remain sacrosanct. This call for reform is driven not by fiscal considerations, but by a desire for the Army to remain both an institution trusted by society and a profession marked by selfless service.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government, Disability, Army, Veterans
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America