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  • Author: Andrzej Dąbrowski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The development of U.S.-Belarus relations has been hampered by the events following the Belarusian presidential election in August 2020. In response to the Lukashenka regime’s violation of human rights, the U.S. extended a set of sanctions against the country and will most likely reinstate suspended economic restrictions. At the same time, the Biden administration will expand support for civil society, which creates a point of cooperation with Poland and the EU to coordinate aid activities and build international support for democratic changes in Belarus.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations, Elections
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, North America, Belarus, United States of America
  • Author: Bartlomiej Znojek
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Biden administration will seek to rebuild the U.S. reputation and influence in Latin America. It will strengthen cooperation with Latin American partners in the field of climate change and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, among others. The pandemic and its socio-economic impacts will increase the scale of the challenges facing the U.S. in its relations with Latin America, including in migration and development cooperation. The Biden administration’s approach to the region may facilitate the U.S.-EU dialogue, for example, on efforts to overcome the political and humanitarian crises in Venezuela.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Migration, European Union, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Venezuela, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Elzbieta Kaca
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The European “Magnitsky Act” adopted by the EU is a political signal that the Union wants to protect human rights in the world more effectively. It fixes the scope of sanctions application in this field, but it does not fundamentally change existing EU practices. Still, the challenges lie in the adoption of sanctions listings by a unanimous decision of the Member States and their subsequent effective implementation. The new system will be used for the first time to impose restrictions on those responsible for the detention of Alexei Navalny in Russia. It may also be used in cases of human rights violations in China or on the territory of conflict areas in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Sanctions, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Adam Szymański
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Together with the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccination process in the European Union, the preparations of a common Community-wide immunity certificate began. The guidelines adopted at the end of January cover the medical requirements for this health certificate, however, many countries would like to extend their use for travel within the EU/Schengen area. This could contribute to the revival of tourism in Europe, although it is difficult to implement without affecting the freedom of movement.
  • Topic: Tourism, European Union, Vaccine, Freedom of Movement
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Anna Maria Dyner
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since the rigged presidential elections in August 2020, the public protests against Alexander Lukashenka have continued. The Belarusian authorities have responded with repression, detaining protesters and independent journalists. Despite Lukashenka’s calls to reform the constitution, he also tries to postpone this process. The European Union should increase its support to civil society and keep demanding the Belarusian authorities respect human rights.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Human Rights, European Union, Protests
  • Political Geography: Eurasia, Belarus
  • Author: Wojciech Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During the meeting of NATO foreign ministers on 2–3 December 2020, a group of experts presented the report “NATO 2030. United for a New Era” about strengthening the political dimension and consultation mechanisms of the Alliance. The report indicates a possible consensus on the expansion of the Alliance’s tasks, including on a common policy towards China. The document increases the chances that the allies will decide to start work on a new NATO strategy.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Military Strategy, Alliance, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, United States of America
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The continuing crisis in government has led to the dissolution of the Knesset and early parliamentary elections in Israel, the fourth in the last two years. Polls do not reveal any possible coalition variants, which increases the possibility for further elections in autumn. This scenario favours Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose position is strengthened by the effective vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and the normalisation of relations with Gulf states.
  • Topic: Elections, Domestic politics, Benjamin Netanyahu, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Arkadiusz Legieć
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Sadyr Japarov, the leader of the autumn protests that led to the removal from power of the previous president, Soronbai Jeenbekov, won the early presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan on 10 January. In a parallel consultative referendum, voters supported the change of the state system to the presidential system proposed by Japarov, which includes the liquidation of parliament. One consequence may be the evolution of the political system of Kyrgyzstan towards an authoritarian model similar to those in other Central Asian countries. That would have a negative impact on relations with the EU, which supports democratic reforms in Kyrgyzstan.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Authoritarianism, Reform, Democracy, Domestic politics, Referendum
  • Political Geography: Central Asia, Kyrgyzstan
  • Author: Agnieszka Legucka
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During a meeting in Moscow on 11 January, the representatives of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan discussed the situation after the ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) conflict. The peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation located in NK remains the guarantor of the cessation of the fighting. The practice of Russian conciliation so far differs from that of UN peacekeeping operations and strengthens Russia’s military position in the region. A challenge for it will be Turkey’s growing ambitions in the South Caucasus, as well as the lack of an agreed status for NK, which in the future may lead to the resumption of military operations in this territory.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Foreign Policy, United Nations, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • 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: Kateryna Markevych
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Razumkov Centre
  • Abstract: Today’s world is being shaped in new conditions, where digital technologies are gaining more and more weight. They can greatly increase the level of labour efficiency and well-being of people, meet the challenges of health, education and state management (these advantages are particularly evident now, during the COVID-19 pandemic), but also increase the level of innovation of the economy or reduce the carbon intensity.
  • Topic: Education, Health, Labor Issues, Economy, COVID-19, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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