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  • Author: George Perkovich, Pranay Vaddi
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Ever since the election of Bill Clinton in 1992, every U.S. presidential administration has published a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) that explains the rationales behind its nuclear strategy, doctrine, and requested forces. These reviews have helped inform U.S. government personnel, citizens, allies, and adversaries of the country’s intentions and planned capabilities for conducting nuclear deterrence and, if necessary, war. The administration that takes office in January 2021 may or may not conduct a new NPR, but it will assess and update nuclear policies as part of its overall recalibration of national security strategy and policies. Nongovernmental analysts can contribute to sound policymaking by being less constrained than officials often are in exploring the difficulties of achieving nuclear deterrence with prudently tolerable risks. Accordingly, the review envisioned and summarized here explicitly elucidates the dilemmas, uncertainties, and tradeoffs that come with current and possible alternative nuclear policies and forces. In the body of this review, we analyze extant declaratory policy, unclassified employment policy, and plans for offensive and defensive force postures, and then propose changes to several of them. We also will emphasize the need for innovative approaches to arms control.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Hybrid Threats
  • Political Geography: North America, United States of America
  • Author: Rachel Lastinger, Sandra Urquiza
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Election observers are a crucial mechanism for transparency in the electoral process and can play a key role in electoral reform. In the United States, election observers’ findings can be more efficiently utilized to catalyze needed reform. The Carter Center has observed over 113 elections and supported citizen observer efforts in various countries. Drawing from this international experience, we suggest that US election observers can monitor the electoral process beyond election day, from voter registration to election dispute resolution and have a similar impact on electoral reform and integrity.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Governance, Law, Elections
  • Political Geography: United States of America, North America
  • Author: Gilles Carbonnier
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Illicit financial flows significantly erode the tax base of resource-rich developing countries, which do not have the means to invest in public health, education, and sustainable development. In this column, the author presents the latest research findings and policy implications and discusses some of the most promising avenues to effectively curb illicit financial flows, strengthening the nexus between trade and tax governance.
  • Topic: Development, Environment, Human Rights, Financial Crimes, Trade, Development Aid, Sustainability, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Elliott Prasse-Freeman, Tani Sebro
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Myanmar’s recent military coup has, for now, ended the country’s brief ten-year experiment with democracy. But the military junta did not anticipate a massive country-wide social movement against the brazen power-grab, in which millions have taken to the streets. As protests continue in urban centers, a trans-ethnic and pro-poor solidarity movement is emerging. Myanmar’s most excluded subjects, many of whom watch the protests from refugee camps, are now weighing both the possibilities and precariousness that the coup entails.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Migration, Minorities, Displacement, Conflict, Coup
  • Political Geography: Asia, Myanmar, Oceania
  • Author: Anna Borshchevskaya
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Moscow is in Syria for the long haul and will continue to undermine American efforts there. In recent months, Moscow intensified its activities in Syria against the backdrop of a changing US administration. The Kremlin sent additional military policy units to eastern Syria, and continued diplomatic engagement through the Astana format, a process that superficially has international backing but in practice excludes the United States and boosts Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Moreover, Moscow also unveiled at its airbase in Syria a statue to the patron saint of the Russian army, Prince Alexander Nevsky. A growing Russian presence in Syria will further hurt Western interests.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Conflict, Syrian War
  • Political Geography: Russia, Middle East, Syria, United States of America
  • Author: Paulina García-Del Moral
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Mexican feminists have used the hashtag “la policía no me cuida, me cuidan mis amigas” (police do not protect me, my female friends do) to denounce and document sexual abuse and harassment at the hands of police and the sharp increase in police repression against feminist demonstrations. The repression of these feminist demonstrations suggests a new and disturbing pattern of the criminalization of women’s right to mobilize.
  • Topic: Security, Civil Society, Law, Women, Feminism, Conflict, Police, Girls
  • Political Geography: Central America, Mexico
  • Author: Shaugn Coggins, James D. Ford
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Arctic regions are experiencing transformative climate change impacts. This article examines the justice implications of these changes for Indigenous Peoples, arguing that it is the intersection of climate change with pronounced inequalities, land dispossession, and colonization that creates climate injustice in many instances.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy, Environment, Poverty, Culture, Income Inequality, Justice, Indigenous, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Arctic
  • Author: Dennis Wesselbaum, Michael D. Smith, Shannon N. Minehan
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Global migration flows have increased over the last couple decades. Climate change is a key driver of these flows and will become more important in the future. Foreign aid programs, often intended to manage or even reduce these flows, are typically not large enough and lead to more rather than less migration.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Climate Change, Environment, Migration, Foreign Aid, Displacement, Multilateralism, Peace, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Joshua Fitt
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Many of China’s technology companies perfect their products in the domestic market by facilitating the party-state’s oppression and data control, and subsequently seek to export the technology to fledgling authoritarian states or nations with fragile democracies. This is part of Beijing’s strategy to enhance its digital instruments of national power, normalize illiberal uses of technology, and equip foreign governments with the tools to replicate aspects of the CCP’s authoritarian governance model. If Washington wants to blunt this strategy, the US government needs to implement a comprehensive strategy of its own to address this.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Governance, Law, Authoritarianism, Grand Strategy, Multilateralism
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Reid
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: This article seeks to place the recent conflict in Ethiopia in deeper historical context. It traces the roots of Tigray province’s identity through various phases in Ethiopia’s history, and argues that the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) is the culmination of decades, even centuries, of a struggle for status within the Ethiopian nation-state. The article proposes that Ethiopia’s history, inseparable from that of neighboring Eritrea, is characterized by cyclical shifts in access to power, as well as conflicts over inclusivity and cohesion, and that crushing the TPLF militarily will not resolve those conflicts.
  • Topic: Security, History, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia, Tigray
  • 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
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In December 2019, Congress established the Afghanistan Study Group and tasked it with identifying policy recommendations that “consider the implications of a peace settlement, or the failure to reach a settlement, on U.S. policy, resources, and commitments in Afghanistan.” The Study Group’s report, released on February 3, 2021, concluded that there is a real opportunity to align U.S. policies, actions, and messaging behind achieving a durable peace settlement to end four decades of violent conflict in Afghanistan. This new approach would protect U.S. national interests in Afghanistan and the region by reducing terrorist threats, promoting regional stability, and protecting important gains in human rights and democratic institutions that have been made in Afghanistan. Active regional diplomacy could help generate a consensus among Afghanistan’s neighbors that all would benefit in both economic and security terms from supporting and sustaining peace in Afghanistan rather than fueling conflict through proxies.
  • Topic: Conflict, Negotiation, Peace, Mediation
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Benjamin R. Young
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: North Korea serves as a mutually beneficial partner for many African governments. Although these ties are often viewed solely through the lens of economic and security interests, this report shows Pyongyang's deep historical connections and ideological linkages with several of the continent’s nations. North Korea–Africa relations are also bolstered by China, which has been complicit in North Korea’s arms and ivory trade, activities providing funds that likely support the Kim regime’s nuclear ambitions and allow it to withstand international sanctions.
  • Topic: History, Governance, Sanctions, Democracy, Solidarity
  • Political Geography: Africa, China, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Eloïse Bertrand
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: In October 2014, a massive popular uprising unseated Burkina Faso’s long-time president, Blaise Compaoré, and drove a civilian-led transition that culminated in free and fair elections in November 2015. This report shows the importance of the national culture of dialogue and consensus and the benefit of a vast, resilient network across negotiating groups. Although violence in the country has since increased, lessons from Burkina Faso’s transition can inform the dynamics of popular mobilization, negotiations, and prospects for long-term peace and democracy in other settings.
  • Topic: Democracy, Negotiation, Transition, Nonviolence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Annie Pforzheimer, Andrew Hyde, Jason Criss Howk
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Failure to plan realistically for needed changes in Afghanistan’s security sector following a peace settlement—and failure to start phasing in changes now—will lead to post-settlement instability. This report examines the particular challenges Afghanistan will face, with examples from the climate following peace settlements in other parts of the world offering insight into what may occur and possibilities for response. An Afghan-owned and Afghan-led strategy that incorporates some of this report’s recommendations can help create a lasting foundation for Afghan and regional stability.
  • Topic: Security, Political stability, Rule of Law, Peace, Justice
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia
  • Author: Umar Mahmood Khan, Rana Hamza Ijaz, Sevim Saadat
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: When Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas were officially merged into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in May 2018, the five million residents of the former tribal areas acquired the same constitutional rights and protections—including access to a formal judicial system—as Pakistan’s other citizens. This report, based on field research carried out by the authors, explores the status of the formal justice system’s expansion, finding both positive trends and severe administrative and capacity challenges, and offers recommendations to address these issues.
  • Topic: Security, Rule of Law, Justice, Tribes
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, South Asia
  • 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: Stein Sundstol Eriksen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In 2017–2018, NUPI (the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs) headed a project where political economy analyses were undertaken in eleven of Norway’s partner countries. These analyses were published as eleven separate reports. The reports focused on power relations and political developments in the partner countries, but they also analyzed the nature of governance. After the publication of the World Bank’s Worldwide Governance Indicators for 2019, the MFA approached NUPI and requested that we summarize the findings of this report for Norway’s eleven partner countries and assess these findings in light of the political economy analyses. We were also asked to investigate whether there were any connections between the nature and quality of governance on the one hand, and the nature of social policies and the human rights situation on the other. This report presents the findings of this assessment of the governance scores in the light of the above-mentioned political economy analyses. The report is structured as follows: Firstly, after briefly describing the governance indictors used by the World Bank, we summarize the eleven countries’ scores on the various governance indicators. Secondly, we assess the evolution of governance in the eleven countries, by comparing the scores in the 2019 report with those from 2011. Thirdly, we summarize the findings of the political economy analyses of the eleven countries and discuss how they fit with the governance scores. Finally, we present the eleven countries’ expenditure on social policies, as reported in the ILOs World Social Protection Report, and the human rights situation for the partner countries, and then describe how these findings relate to the governance scores.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Political Economy, Governance, Social Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Norway
  • Author: Natasja Rupesinghe, Mikael Hiberg Naghizadeh, Corentin Cohen
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Norwegian Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The ways in which jihadist insurgents in the Sahel govern is rarely considered in the academic literature. They have often been portrayed as ‘Islamic terrorists’, who achieve their objectives by using brutal force against the civilian population and who finance their activities through criminal networks and activities. However, scattered empirical evidence reveals a different picture. Jihadist insurgents, like other insurgent groups, often use a variety of strategies to rule territory and populations. The scale, character and form of how such groups govern differs not only between countries but also at the sub-national level within the same group. Nevertheless, until recently jihadist insurgent governance in Africa and particularly the Sahel region has largely been overlooked. This synthesis reviews the existing literature on jihadist governance in West Africa, with a particular emphasis on the understudied region of the Sahel. The review is organised as follows: first, we clarify key concepts and provide definitions. Second, we provide a brief overview of Islam and politics in the Sahel, contextualising the rise of Salafist-jihadism as well as historical cases of jihadist governance. Third, we provide a brief overview of the literature and synthesise the existing research on jihadist insurgent governance in the Sahel. Fourth, we examine some key cases of jihadist governance in northern Mali, Nigeria and the Liptako-Gourma region straddling Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger. Finally, we conclude by summarising our findings, discussing the implications for the study of civil war and insurgency and consider avenues for future research.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Terrorism, Governance, Jihad
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Gad Levanon, Frank Steemers
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: In the first half of 2021, wages grew at the fastest pace in over 20 years. The sudden surge is likely to challenge organizations in recruitment, retention, and compensation strategies in the near term—and over the next decade. Wage growth in the US through 2022 and beyond fits into three distinct phases: 1) strong wage growth in the spring and summer of 2021; 2) moderating wage growth by late 2021 and during 2022; and 3) renewed acceleration of wages in 2023 and beyond, most notably in blue-collar and manual services.
  • Topic: Economics, Labor Issues, Business , Wage Growth
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Zena Grecni, Eric M. Derrington, Robbie Greene, Wendy Miles, Victoria Keener
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Hotter weather, stronger typhoons, coral reef death, and physical and mental health risks are among the major challenges detailed in a new report on climate change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI). Threatened resources include high-value coastal infrastructure and the millions of dollars that ocean ecosystems add to the CNMI economy annually, according to the report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a consortium of several government, NGO, and research entities. Climate Change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors is one in a series of new PIRCA reports aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian archipelago. Authors from the CNMI Office of Planning and Development, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office for Coastal Management, and the East-West Center—along with 50 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups—collaboratively developed the CNMI PIRCA report. Climate change is expected to disrupt many aspects of life in the CNMI. Those who are already vulnerable—including children, the elderly, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities—are at greater risk from extreme weather and climate events. Climate Change in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand the implications of climate variability and change for CNMI and its communities. This assessment also identifies the additional information and research needed to support responses that enhance resilience and help CNMI to withstand the changes to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, Northern Mariana Islands
  • Author: Victoria Keener, Zena Grecni, Kelley Anderson Tagarino, Christopher Shuler, Wendy Miles
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Human health risks, stronger cyclones, coral reef death, and coastal flooding are among the major challenges detailed in a new report on climate change in American Sāmoa. Threatened resources include high-value coastal infrastructure and the millions of dollars that ocean ecosystems add to American Sāmoa's economy annually, according to the report by the Pacific Islands Regional Climate Assessment (PIRCA), a consortium of several government, NGO, and research entities. Climate Change in American Sāmoa: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors is one in a series of new PIRCA reports aimed at assessing the state of knowledge about climate change indicators, impacts, and adaptive capacity of the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands and the Hawaiian archipelago. Authors from the University of Hawai‘i and the East-West Center—along with 25 technical contributors from local governments, NGOs, researchers, and community groups—collaboratively developed the American Sāmoa report. Climate change is expected to disrupt many aspects of life in American Sāmoa. Those who are already vulnerable—including children, the elderly, low-income families, and individuals with disabilities—are at greater risk from extreme weather and climate events. Climate Change in American Sāmoa: Indicators and Considerations for Key Sectors provides guidance for decision-makers seeking to better understand the implications of climate variability and change for American Sāmoa and its communities. This assessment also identifies the additional information and research needed to support responses that enhance resilience and help American Sāmoa to withstand the changes to come.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Economy
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, American Samoa
  • Author: Hannah Foreman
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Timor-Leste is a small democratic country in an increasingly strategic region. Since gaining independence in 2002, Timor-Leste has made remarkable progress as Asia’s youngest democracy, but it has a long way to go in improving its economic and political situation. ASEAN membership for the Timorese is viewed as a way to reconcile economic, security, and geopolitical interests, while carving out a regional identity. Timor-Leste’s push for ASEAN membership started in 2011 and intensified during the latter half of 2019 when Foreign Minister Dionisio Babo Soares visited all ten ASEAN capitals in the summer followed by ASEAN fact finding missions in Dili in the fall. While Timor-Leste’s response to COVID-19 is impressive, the economic toll continues to be severe. Therefore, ASEAN membership is a comparatively lower priority this year, but is still under consideration by members, based on Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s speech during the recent ASEAN Summit.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Democracy, Geopolitics, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Timor-Leste, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Paul Nadeau
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Japan will welcome the Biden administration with relief in the wake of what was perceived as Trump’s bombast, threats, and unpredictability – but it will be mixed with apprehension (fair or not) that Biden’s presidency will follow the Obama administration’s perceived weakness, or even accommodation, toward China. It’s a crude simplification, but Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s relationship with U.S. political parties is roughly that they share preferences but not perceptions with Democrats, and share perceptions but not preferences with Republicans. In practical terms, this means that Japanese decision makers favor alliances and multilateral approaches over unilateralism and brinksmanship, but are more suspicious of China’s intentions and behavior than they believe Democrats to be. Put more indelicately, the LDP prefers working with Republicans rather than Democrats. This is combined with a traditional perception that Democrats undervalue Japan as a partner. Taken as a whole, this means that the incoming administration may have to do more to convince Japan that its priorities are being taken seriously – but will find in Japan an essential partner for advancing U.S. goals in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tom Le
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Biden administration’s focus on allies and partners and the inability of democratic U.S. allies Japan and South Korea to move beyond historical pitfalls of apologies and treaties provides President Biden’s team the perfect opportunity to show leadership by taking on a mediator role. By taking an active role, the United States can demonstrate that it is not a passive observer to would-be revisionists in the region, shore up its alliances, and signal to the world that the United States is still the leader in the promotion of human rights. Japan’s colonization of Korea from 1910 to 1945 was brutal. The Japanese military coerced between 10,000 and 200,000 women into sexual slavery and many more Koreans were forced to work in the Japanese war machine, the very one that annexed Korea in 1910. Following the abrupt end of Japanese colonization after World War II, brought about by the only direct use of nuclear bombs on a human population in history, Japan quickly signed treaties and paid reparations to former colonies, recovered its economy, and successfully rehabilitated its image with much of the world. However, it was not until 1965 that Japan-South Korea relations were “normalized.” The new Japan-South Korea relationship included abandoning reconciliation with North Korea altogether, and Tokyo providing grants to an authoritarian South Korean leader who was later assassinated and remains a divisive figure in contemporary Korean domestic politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Human Rights, History, Alliance, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, South Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Rei Kataoka Coleman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Although Japan does not recognize dual citizenship, the United States and Japan would both benefit from such an arrangement. A combination of on-the-ground realities of dual citizens in Japan, the emerging needs and capabilities of the Japanese state (namely digitalization of public services and taxation), and the interests of U.S.-based corporations operating in Japan should inspire the United States to encourage dual citizenship initiatives by the Japanese government. The driving forces of globalization and the benefits of exploring new avenues of U.S.-Japan relations combine with domestic developments in Japan to make dual citizenship a “common sense” goal for both countries, at both the institutional and person-to-person level of international diplomacy and mutual understanding. Just as foreign professionals proved indispensable to modernization in Japan’s Meiji Period (1868 - 1912), bi-national Americans currently on the ground in multinational corporations and other entities in Japan are playing a part in economic and cultural synergy, while contributing to a more well-informed U.S. stance on a number of important bilateral issues. Giving these agents of positive change the benefits of dual citizenship will make their lives in Japan easier and more fulfilling, while inviting more Americans with talent and knowledge to the grand project of mutual cooperation.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Bilateral Relations, Business , Dual Citizenship
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Hillary C. Dauer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The ongoing political impasse between Japan’s central government in Tokyo and the Okinawa prefectural government over U.S. military basing threatens the long-term stability of the U.S.-Japan Alliance. In spite of the friction between the central government and the prefecture, and the much decried “burden” of U.S. bases on Okinawa there is relatively little deep-seeded resentment among the Okinawan people toward the U.S. military presence or the U.S.-Japan Alliance as a whole, especially among those born after the reversion of Okinawa to Japanese sovereignty in 1972. Surveys also show that Okinawans desire more dialogue with U.S. service members based in Okinawa. But a fraught Okinawan history with mainland Japan and economic marginalization have so far undermined the strong potential for good-faith dialogue that could break the impasse. The relocation of U.S. military bases is essential to the U.S. and Japanese governments’ security policy vis-à-vis emerging threats in the region. Both governments realized in the 1990s that Okinawa could not remain a key power projection node in the Western Pacific if the bases remained a flashpoint of political controversy due to their proximity to densely populated communities. This potentially volatile situation was brought under intense scrutiny with the 1995 rape committed by three U.S. service members against an Okinawan junior high school student and the resulting agreement to close the Marine Corps Air Station at Futenma. Moreover, the construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility also factors into subsequent U.S. Pacific maritime realignment strategy. Further delays could leave Japan less secure and impair U.S. attempts to counter growing Chinese assertiveness in the East and South China Seas.
  • Topic: Politics, Bilateral Relations, Military Affairs, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Kensuke Yanagida
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Both the United States and Japan consider India as an important strategic partner in their respective Indo-Pacific concepts. However, India still faces many domestic challenges as a developing country. India also has traditionally been reluctant when it comes to trade liberalization. U.S. bilateral trade negotiations with India, and Japan`s effort in promoting an East Asia regional trade agreement that includes India share objectives and interests and hence can be coordinated. On November 15, 2020, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was signed by 15 countries with the glaring exception of India. RCEP is a regional free trade agreement (FTA) whose negotiations were initiated by ASEAN and six partner countries, namely Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India in 2012. The signing of RCEP finally came after eight years of negotiations, but India decided to pull out from the pact at the final stage of negotiations. The Japanese and U.S. Indo-Pacific concepts aim to achieve regional peace, stability, and prosperity through ensuring a rules-based international order, and to enhance cooperation among like-minded countries in both economic and security spheres. RCEP can be positioned as an important economic partnership initiative that embodies the Indo-Pacific concepts of rules-based, free and fair trade and investment governance, and contributing to the economic prosperity of the region.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations, Trade
  • Political Geography: Japan, India, Asia, North America, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Mina Pollman
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The world is aging. Some countries are not only aging, but their populations are shrinking as immigration fails to make up for rapidly falling birth rates. Many U.S. allies and security partners are among those beset by these trends. This raises questions about how decreasing fertility and increasing life expectancies will shape the future world order, and specifically the sustainability of U.S. alliances such as with Japan, whose aging and population decline will make it more difficult for the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) to compete for the best Japanese talent as the Japanese labor pool shrinks ever smaller, and Japanese tax dollars with which to hire military personnel grow ever scarcer. Unless SDF recruitment trends change dramatically, Japan’s ability to participate in both technology-intensive and manpower-heavy alliance missions will decline over time. The fulfillment of manpower-intensive missions requires, of course, manpower, while even the fulfillment of technology-intensive missions will be affected by the JSDF’s inability to recruit technologically proficient talent. Ensuring the JSDF meets quantity and quality targets is imperative, but will require more government spending. But an aging and shrinking population will reduce the size of the working age population that pay taxes and increases the size of the retired population that depends on the state’s benefits for the elderly. While this will affect the JSDF’s ability to fulfill both technology-intensive and manpower-heavy missions with the United States in the future, the alliance will remain relevant to U.S. security in the Indo-Pacific because of the value of U.S. bases in Japan which forms the core of the alliance.
  • Topic: Demographics, Immigration, Alliance, Aging
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Pruett
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: While the U.S. presidential election was garnering much of the world's attention, another acrimonious election was roiling the Pacific, causing the entire Micronesian bloc of nations to exit the region's leading policy-making body, the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). This is an opportune time to re-think the PIF and possibly realign Pacific regional architecture in preparation for future challenges. The Republic of Palau left the Forum on February 5, followed three days later by the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), Republic of Kiribati, Republic of Nauru, and Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI). That all five countries chose to leave the PIF was an act of remarkable Micronesian solidarity. The immediate reason for their departure was the February 4 election of a non-Micronesian as the PIF's new secretary-general. Until now, leadership had cycled among the three major racial and cultural groups in the Pacific – i.e., Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian. The Micronesian countries felt snubbed when the leadership was passed over them to a Polynesian, instead. In fact, a Micronesian has held the leadership of the PIF only once in its 50-year history. The Forum’s 2009-2014 suspension of Fiji fractured regional institutions along Melanesian lines. This latest failure to achieve consensus — the “Pacific Way” — has led to its complete rupture, North-South, along the Micronesia cultural fault line.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Leadership, Alliance
  • Political Geography: Asia-Pacific, United States of America, Melanesia, Micronesia, Polynesia
  • Author: Sarah Sieloff, Sean Connell
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In our increasingly networked world, the international activities of states, cities, and other subnational actors are expanding rapidly. Their rising importance has spurred Congress to consider legislation establishing an Office of Subnational Diplomacy within the U.S. State Department that would institutionalize and support these initiatives, while better aligning them with national diplomatic strategies. Moreover, they offer opportunities for envisioning new foreign policy approaches that directly benefit U.S. communities. The U.S.-Japan relationship — with its robust history of subnational interaction, strategic global interests and increasingly integrated economies — offers a fertile environment for developing and implementing new models for subnational diplomacy, with global applicability. While state and local governments cannot commit the federal government to action, they can conduct activities that advance both local and national interests. This is evidenced by an ever-expanding range of trade and business missions, and cultural and educational exchanges that bridge subnational actors with international partners. Increasingly, these activities are evolving into new areas, including technology-driven entrepreneurship, environmental quality and disaster resilience. At their best, subnational initiatives—which national leaders have cited as critical to U.S. foreign relations—create meaningful, long-term relationships amid often-changing national-level politics and officials. By stimulating information exchange, training and research opportunities, and business connections, they deliver concrete benefits to participants on both sides of the Pacific, especially in areas where national governments are not best positioned to engage.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan, Asia, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Peter Valente, Matthew Sullivan
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Last year’s MS Westerdam cruise ship fiasco - in which 1,455 passengers and 802 crew were turned away from five different ports before being welcomed by Cambodia - raised many questions regarding how governments and the international community can improve their responses to global health crises. It also offers a window into the Cambodian government’s response to a global health crisis in the context of an important bilateral relationship — U.S.-Cambodia relations. Shortly after 700 new passengers boarded the Westerdam in Hong Kong on February 1 the cruise ship found itself stranded in the Indian and Pacific oceans ping-ponging between Japan, Guam, the Philippines, and Thailand until February 13, when Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen allowed the Westerdam to dock in Sihanoukville, Cambodia. The incident serves as an interesting window into how domestic regime security considerations combined with mixed motives in international relations influenced Cambodian decision making. One of the more bizarre facets of the Westerdam’s story was the in-person, relatively unprotected meet-and-greet between the Westerdam’s passengers and the Cambodian prime minister immediately after docking and amidst a global health crisis over the highly contagious COVID-19 virus. There has been much speculation by the media on the motivations of Cambodia’s decision and the prime minister’s personal welcome. Some of the various theories appearing in Western media include: diplomatic motives toward home countries of the passengers and crew (particularly the United States), Chinese political influence causing Cambodia to play down the dangers of COVID, or some combination of domestic and international politics.
  • Topic: International Relations, Bilateral Relations, Crisis Management, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Cambodia, North America, Southeast Asia, United States of America
  • Author: Sabyasashi Dutta
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal, the world’s largest Bay, is strategically located in the Indian Ocean. On its western rim, lies the coastline of the Indian Peninsula and to its south, the island nation of Sri Lanka. To the east the bay connects key parts of Southeast Asia including Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand as well as the Andaman Sea and the Malacca straits. At its very northern cusp lies Bangladesh, which is also the delta of the great rivers of Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna. These rivers connect the Bay in a unique “mountain to sea” ecosystem with natural connectivity to the Bay for the landlocked states of North Eastern India and the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan. In turn, the monsoon currents which regulate the climate of the Bay of Bengal gather moisture from the bay and dictate precipitation patterns in the mountains and plains in the hinterland. The hills of Meghalaya in North Eastern India record the highest rainfall in the world as they are first hit by the monsoon clouds that gather moisture from the Bay. An interlace of snow and rain fed rivers, their basins, and their estuaries at the Bay nurture a large diversity of aquatic and terrestrial wildlife flora and fauna (e.g., the Sunderban mangroves spanning parts of Myanmar, India and Bangladesh) and offer a great diversity of agricultural produce. The Bay and the countries along and connected by its littoral are a compact maritime sub region connected at the level of economy and ecology, having an enormous impact on the hundreds of its inhabitant who live on its coasts and in its hinterlands.
  • Topic: Economy, Maritime, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Indian Ocean, Indo-Pacific, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Tariq Karim
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The core Bay of Bengal countries today account for a population of almost 1.78 billion, while adjacent states with interest account for an additional 490 million. The “core states” (X, Y, Z) have a combined GDP of approximately $7.5 trillion, while adjacent states with interest add another $811 billion. While SAARC countries’ total intra-regional trade accounts for only 5% of their total global trade, ASEAN has a more respectable 25% intra trade while EU and North America boast 40-50%. One may reasonably imagine an economically and ecologically integrated Bay of Bengal community to increase SAARC’s current comparatively low figure, given their advantage in population, demography, and entrepreneurial vigor. The Bay of Bengal countries do not have a cohesive community identity, yet. If the Bay of Bengal littorals could evolve toward comprising a Bay of Bengal Community, replicating EEC and ASEAN, possibilities for prosperity for all the littorals would be almost limitless, while hitherto so-called land-locked entities (northeast Indian states, Bhutan, and Nepal) would get a much-needed outlet to the seas. However, the peoples of this region need to “rediscover each other”, revive memories of old civilizational, cultural, and commercial ties that had linked them historically in the past until the post-War new order rent them all asunder. They need to reinvent their regional identity, in a manner of speaking.
  • Topic: Regional Cooperation, Economy, Trade, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Veena Vidyadharan
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The transboundary rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna along with their tributaries and distributaries create a vibrant water grid connecting their riparian countries. Historically, these rivers have played a prominent role in shaping the economy of the Indian sub-continent as a major means of trade and transportation. In the post-colonial era, new political boundaries between countries mostly cut off these riverine networks because the priority of the newly-established countries and their governments was to develop road and rail networks for internal consolidation and integration more efficiently. Hence, waterways connectivity among new regional countries was comparatively neglected. India and Bangladesh, for example, share 54 transboundary rivers. Despite existing bilateral agreements for using designated riverine routes for trade and transit, only in the past few years have infrastructural development initiatives started in India for constructing river terminals, multimodal terminals as well as fairway development. And there are other opportunities.
  • Topic: Development, Infrastructure, Regional Integration, Ecology
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, India, Indo-Pacific, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Sunil KC
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Recently, the government of Nepal, led by Nepal Communist Party Chairman KP Sharma Oli who ascended to power in 2018, came up with an integrated foreign policy that reflects rapid changes in both the domestic and geopolitical spheres. The new foreign policy has shifted from a traditional course to a modern one with “Economic Diplomacy” as the main driver. With the slogan of “Happy Nepali, Prosperous Nepal”, Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali has prioritized engagement with regional groupings. It is in this context that the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation or (BIMSTEC), established in 1996, with a permanent secretariat in Dhaka, Bangladesh, could serve as an important platform in achieving Nepal’s foreign policy goals of development and prosperity. Nepal became a member of BIMSTEC in 2004.. BIMSTEC acts as a vital bridge for Nepal to connect with South and Southeast Asia to expand its trade, economy, business, investments, and cultural connections. However, due to an unstable domestic political environment, Nepal has not been utilizing regional forums in advancing the nation’s interest. Now, with a stable government in power, Nepal must look at regional forums as important gateways for conducting business and national development.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Development, Geopolitics, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Nepal, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Prabir De
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The coronavirus has had a devastating impact on the health and economies of countries in the Bay of Bengal. India, Bangladesh, and Nepal are the region’s most affected countries in terms of COVID-19 cases and deaths, followed by Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. It seems that Bhutan and Thailand, the least affected countries in the region, have successfully escaped the brunt of the pandemic. All these countries implemented strict lockdowns as early as March 2020, and the region’s recovery rates have been relatively high. However, the devastation from the pandemic did not reach its peak until after the lifting of lockdowns. The economic costs of the pandemic have soared and are still climbing. Today, most Bay of Bengal countries are facing a second or third wave of COVID-19 infections. India has been badly hit by a huge second Coronavirus wave, registered daily cases over 400,000 since Aril 2021. The damage being done by these additional waves is more intense than their predecessors. The Bay of Bengal countries are now looking for COVID-19 vaccines. India serves as the region’s primary producer of immunizations. Two Indian pharmaceutical companies have launched vaccines, with five more firms in the race to launch their own treatments. When vaccines are developed in India, they are easier to distribute across the region. In terms of availability, accessibility, and affordability, India’s vaccines are better suited to the needs of the region. In recent months, India has successfully supplied over 18 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to many Bay of Bengal countries, with Thailand being a notable exception. India has also ensured more supply of the vaccines in the neighborhood.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, South Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, Bhutan, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Dushni Weekaroon, Kithmina Hewage
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The Bay of Bengal – home to one of the world’s pre-eminent historic trading networks – is once again at the nexus of rising regional and global rivalries. A multiplicity of port developments along the Bay of Bengal littoral underscore the tussle for control of maritime connectivity and trade—as well as diplomatic and defense advantage. Against the backdrop of a weakened post COVID-19 global economy, and as countries seek every possible advantage, the probability of competing tensions spilling over into outright confrontations and tit-for-tat retaliatory measures is high. Unless carefully assessed and managed, small but strategically positioned countries like Sri Lanka can get swept up and carried away in power rivalries being played out on their shores. Indeed, a common narrative has been to assert that Sri Lanka was forced to cede an important port to China after being lured into a ‘debt trap’ by easy Chinese loans. There is no gainsaying that over the last decade, China got a head start in investing in Sri Lanka’s infrastructure push, drawing the country firmly into the orbit of its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Aside from China’s famed involvement in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota port, its long-term footprint is also assured through investments in a large-scale land reclamation project – the Colombo Port City – that is a vital link in its BRI chain of connectivity.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Infrastructure, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Trade, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Sri Lanka, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Pritam Banerjee
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Facilitating cross-border movement by road is the most critical element of any strategy for greater economic integration among BIMSTEC countries. Cross-border road freight can facilitate even a small consignment to be delivered directly across the border with cost-effectiveness; unlike a full railway rake or even a coastal short-sea feeder vessel which require some level of aggregation of consignments into a larger parcel of goods. Direct road services also reduce multiple handling and trans-shipment requirements. Multi-modal solutions that support optimal use of international connectivity from different air and marine hubs in the region can only be facilitated by an existing efficient road freight feeder network. For example, a Bangladeshi exporter can exploit the cheaper and faster shipping connectivity to Europe via India’s Jawaharlal Nehru Port with the help of an efficient cross-border road feeder service that directly connects the exporter’s factory in Bangladesh to this port in western India. As feeder services for ocean and especially air transport? reduce frequency or become more expensive in the post-Covid ‘normal’, access to cheaper and faster connectivity to global markets from large regional hubs will be critical for the region’s entrepreneurs.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Economy, Regional Integration, Trade
  • Political Geography: South Asia, Bay of Bengal
  • Author: Arzan Tarapore
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: For decades, an international order delivered security and prosperity to the Indo-Pacific. The order was based on U.S. military hegemony and alliances that preserved the strategic status quo and multilateral cooperation that enabled economic development and growth. That order is now under strain. The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging the order’s founding principles, prompting some regional states to limit their interdependency in certain sensitive sectors under the guise of supply chain resilience. The pandemic was not the first challenge to test the order; serious threats began to emerge over a decade ago, with the global financial crisis of 2008, and were sharply exacerbated by China’s economic rise and strategic revisionism, which threatens U.S. military and economic primacy and the territorial status quo. The United States, India, and like-minded middle-power partners from the Indo-Pacific and Europe have struggled to respond effectively. The other contributions in this series on navigating U.S.-China competition in the Indo-Pacific show how these states have sought to recover from the pandemic while also answering structural threats of revisionism and economic headwinds from decoupling, protectionism and changing integration patterns. Cutting across those specific policy issues are three overarching dilemmas that each state will be forced to resolve when making policy. How policymakers navigate these dilemmas will define the policy settings of their regional strategy.
  • Topic: Security, Economic Growth, Multilateralism, Regional Integration, Economic Development , Strategic Competition, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, South Asia, India, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Rani Mullen
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Understanding India’s soft power in the Indo-Pacific and the possible impact of its recent decline is essential to a well-informed American strategy in the region. As the world’s second-most populous country and largest democracy, India is an important power and American partner, as highlighted in President Biden’s March 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, which also identified the Indo-Pacific as vital to American national interests. The Great Power competition in the Indo-Pacific and India’s hard power has been analyzed in other articles in this series. As Joseph Nye pointed out in the 1980s, successful states require both hard and soft power–the wherewithal to coerce as well as the ability to entice and influence the behavior of other countries without force. America’s partnership with India is based not only on the mutual strategic interest of countering China but also on the soft power element of shared democratic values. At the same time, India’s ability to persuade regional countries to partner with it, despite it not having China’s deep pockets or hard power, is key to keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open.
  • Topic: Soft Power, COVID-19, Strategic Interests , Regional Power
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, United States of America, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Timothy D. Hoyt
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2018, the United States government released The National Security Strategy of the United States and its related National Defense Strategy.1 Each document identified key changes in the national security environment, focusing on the emergence of “great power competition” with both Russia and China. President Biden’s interim national security guidance, issued in March 2021, is more circumspect. The guidance avoids the term “great power competition” but points out China’s increased assertiveness and its potential to mount a challenge to the current international system, as well as Russia’s continued interest in expanding global influence.2 The US-China competition, in particular, is regularly compared to the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.3 The Cold War analogy should be used with great caution. It is relatively anomalous in the history of international relations – the result of a unique combination of catastrophic war, which destroyed most of the then great powers, and fundamentally incompatible ideological positions of the two remaining great powers. Similarly, efforts to compare the U.S.-China competition to other bipolar competitions should be made cautiously as well.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Power Politics, Coalition
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, United States of America
  • Author: Rajesh Basrur
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India has experienced rising tensions with China in recent years, as demonstrated by two border crises in 2017 and 2020-21. The second event saw the death of some 20 Indian troops, and at least 4 Chinese soldiers, in hand-to-hand combat – the first fatalities in nearly half a century of periodic border face-offs. New Delhi’s policy response has spanned both internal and external balancing. The former has involved augmenting India’s capacity to engage in limited combat of the type that nuclear-armed states have occasionally fought, as did the Soviet Union and China in 1969 and India and Pakistan in 1999. The Indian military has bolstered its border by deploying combat troops, cruise missiles, and advanced combat aircraft. However, China has done much the same, putting pressure on India to upscale its military capabilities. Simultaneously, India has tried to reduce its dependence on the Chinese economy, a more complicated task. Despite a 10 percent decline in bilateral trade owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and border tensions, China was India’s largest trading partner ($77.7 billion) in 2020. The Narendra Modi government sharply cut Chinese investment when the 2020 border confrontation in Ladakh broke out, expelling major Chinese companies like TikTok, WeChat, and UC Browser. Despite these measures, India’s ability to shut China out of its economy is limited. The Indian market depends heavily on Chinese electronic components (70 percent in value terms), pharmaceutical ingredients (70 percent), and consumer durables (45 percent).
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Bilateral Relations, Economy, Trade
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India, Asia
  • Author: Jivantli Schottli
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: India struggled with an unprecedented second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. At its height, more than 400,000 new coronavirus cases were being reported daily. In many countries, the second wave was more virulent than the first, mirroring what happened in the fall of 1918, the second and deadliest phase of the Spanish influenza pandemic. Foreign aid poured into India, but the main challenge is to enable and fast-track partnerships and to ramp up vaccine production. Facing an acute situation at home, the Government of India suspended vaccine exports in late March. This was a major blow to countries who had either received doses as part of India’s vaccine diplomacy, or had placed orders with India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine producer. In total, India shipped 64 million doses of vaccines to 85 countries. China has stepped in to fill the gap, further cementing its status as the world’s largest vaccine exporter. Since the pandemic began last year, India reported more than 23 million cases and more than 250,000 deaths. In the first seven days of May, India recorded 2.7 million cases and over 25,700 deaths. Earlier in March, cases began to skyrocket in India’s richest state Maharashtra, home to the country’s financial capital Mumbai, a city with an estimated population of 12.5 million. During March, Maharashtra accounted for nearly 70% of the national caseload. Throughout April, a more potent variant of the virus accelerated infection rates and spread across the country. At the time of writing, not only Delhi but states to the north, west, and south experienced shocking, heart-wrenching scenes of suffering spurred on by a lack of oxygen supplies, intensive care units, and hospital beds. Although authorities did not announce a national lockdown, restrictions ranging from complete lockdowns to partial curfews were put in place across the country’s 28 states and eight union territories.
  • Topic: Partnerships, Vaccine, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Prakash Gopal
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The past year has witnessed tumultuous and unforeseen changes in the global geopolitical landscape due to the pandemic. While India struggles to contain its devastating second wave, it is simultaneously confronted with a significant national security challenge from across the disputed Himalayan border with China. A skirmish along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) that started in May 2020 escalated rapidly into a full-blown crisis, with clashes in Galwan on June 15, 2020, causing casualties on both sides. After multiple rounds of talks, the crisis remains unresolved and has starkly exposed India’s lack of credible deterrence that could either deny or punish China’s belligerence across the unsettled border. In response to the border crisis, the Indian government promoted and contributed to the rapid coalescence of the quadrilateral security dialogue (Quad)—a loose coalition of the United States, Japan, Australia, and India. Notable milestones in the Quad’s accelerated development include the addition of Australia in the Malabar series of naval exercises and several high-level meetings of officials from the four countries, the highest-profile of which being the first leaders’ summit in March 2021. The assumption that India’s sudden moves to consolidate the Quad were driven primarily by Chinese actions along the LAC may be debated. Nevertheless, if that is the case, it follows that India views its renewed efforts in coalition-building as part of a solution to its China problem. Though the Quad may be useful in tackling security threats in the larger Indo-Pacific region, in the near term, it is unlikely to meaningfully contribute to bolstering India’s ability to deter China along land borders or in the maritime domain.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Geopolitics, Borders, Dialogue
  • Political Geography: China, South Asia, India
  • Author: Nilanthi Samaranayake
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: European middle powers are not typically part of U.S. discussions of the Indo-Pacific. However, in an era of growing strategic competition, they are collectively and individually expressing stronger equities in the stability of the region. In May 2021, for example, the United Kingdom’s aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth set sail for the first time on a tour that will take it to various locations, including to the Indo-Pacific region. The Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen, as well as a U.S. destroyer and aircraft, are also part of the carrier strike group. Thus, now is a good moment to step back and reflect on the role of European middle powers in the Indo-Pacific amid the backdrop of great-power, strategic competition. The Netherlands, Germany, and France have recently published strategy documents focused on the Indo-Pacific. The Netherlands’ document released in November 2020 discussed concerns about upholding the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in the South China Sea and the need for the European Union to take a more vocal stance on stability in this region. Germany published a similar document in September 2020 in which it emphasized its deep economic interests in the Indo-Pacific “rules-based international order.” Earlier, France led thinking about evolving regional dynamics in 2018. Through the publication of France’s Defense Strategy in the Indo-Pacific and France and Security in the Indo-Pacific documents in 2019, France expressed its concerns about the impact of China’s activities in the East and South China Sea on regional stability. These issues have also been raised through NATO, which has been grappling with the belief that “China does not share our values” and the implications for alliance security and the international rules-based order.
  • Topic: Power Politics, Strategic Competition, Strategic Stability
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Germany, Netherlands, Indo-Pacific
  • Author: Leah Mason, Jodi Sanger
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: This paper explores U.S. government scholarship opportunities available to U.S. students interested in an international experience, highlighting different sponsoring agencies. It analyzes how the scholarships support U.S. government programming goals of encouraging citizen diplomacy, strengthening national security, and building a globalized workforce. Case studies presented in this paper demonstrate the contributions of U.S. government scholarship programs to study abroad and the international experiences of U.S. students.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Education, Globalization, Government, National Security, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Leah Mason, Mirka Martel
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: This paper provides insight into the role of remote global internships in providing experiential educational opportunities for university students and the potential role these internships have in developing students' skills acquisition, global citizenship, and career readiness. The first section provides an overview of the definitions used to describe in-person and remote global internship experiences including relative benefits and challenges. It then outlines the three analytical frames of remote global internships: skills acquisition, global citizenship, and career readiness. Through an analysis of recent findings from global internship program providers as well as others, we describe promising practices for supporting remote global internships applicable to all members of the international education community – universities, employers, and third-party providers alike. This paper aims to contribute to the conversation on the possible role of remote global internships to widen the space of availability for students to gain international work experiences while remaining in their home country and the relative benefits of these experiences both during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Topic: Education, Employment, Study Abroad, Internships
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: In 2002, IIE’s trustees launched the Scholar Rescue Fund (IIE-SRF) as the only global program that arranges and funds academic fellowships for threatened and displaced scholars worldwide. Nearly twenty years later, we are delighted to release a new study – made possible through the generous support of IIE Chairman Emeritus and IIE-SRF co-founder Dr. Henry Kaufman – that documents the far-reaching impacts and achievements of over 200 IIE-SRF alumni from 38 countries on their host and home communities and academic disciplines.
  • Topic: Education, Higher Education, Academia
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lindsay Calvert, Jodi Sanger
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: In 2014, IIE launched the Generation Study Abroad (GSA), a five-year initiative to mobilize resources and commitments with the goal of increasing and diversifying the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade. IIE created a concerted effort and space for partners to join Generation Study Abroad by committing to bold, ambitious actions in support of study abroad on their campuses or at their organizations. The campaign became a global movement, forming the 800+ strong GSA Commitment Partner network representing a variety of U.S.-based and international partners, including national governments, higher education institutions (HEIs), study abroad organizations, education associations, and more. In 2020, IIE took stock of Generation Study Abroad with the final annual progress survey for GSA Commitment Partners. The survey tracked progress toward goals, best practices, and the implementation of effective activities and resources for the network. The report highlights key programmatic efforts and partner achievements framed by an analysis of data collected over the life of the initiative. In addition to evaluating the impact of this initiative, it offers an opportunity to continue building on the momentum of study abroad growth from 2019.
  • Topic: Globalization, Youth, Higher Education, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mirka Martel, Julie Baer
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: The fourth report in IIE’s COVID-19 Snapshot Survey Series analyzes the international education field one year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and highlights the effects on international student enrollment and U.S. study abroad for the 2021/22 academic year.
  • Topic: Higher Education, COVID-19, Study Abroad
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Leah Mason
  • Publication Date: 08-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Institute of International Education
  • Abstract: The flow of international students crossing borders to pursue educational opportunities has been significantly affected by the COVID‐19 pandemic, causing higher education systems worldwide to consider the context and realities of global academic mobility before and after the health crisis. This joint paper by the Institute of International Education (IIE) and IC3 analyzes significant international student mobility trends before the COVID‐19 pandemic, the role of the United States and other host countries in offering international students academic opportunities, and the increased competitiveness among countries to attract international students. The paper will provide an overview of the global mobility flows to and from major world regions in the 2019/2020 academic year. The paper will then consider the effects of COVID‐19 on global student mobility and how the pandemic has comparatively affected international students and the countries that serve as their hosts.
  • Topic: Mobility, Higher Education, Students, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, 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: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: A new report by Oxford Economics for Snap Inc. shows how members of Generation Z are poised to play a major role in the economy and labour market over the coming decade across six leading markets: Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US. While the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the deep global recession triggered by measures to contain its spread have impacted younger workers, the accelerated shift towards a more digital economy will serve to the long-term advantage of Gen Z. Gen Z’s income from work will balloon from $440 billion to more than $3.5 trillion by 2030. We estimate their total consumer spending will be $3.0 trillion - equivalent to 11% of total household spending across the six economies. We developed a digital competence index measure. Pooling responses across our survey, Gen Z’s average competence score was 2.5% higher than Millennials and over 8% higher than Gen X. Beyond digital aptitude, our research has highlighted three Gen Z traits that we think are likely to serve them well in the future workplace
  • Topic: Digital Economy, Youth, Digital Policy, Consumerism, Generation Z
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Agnieszka Legucka
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia in April this year updated its policy on international information security (IIS). Compared to the previous version of the document from 2013, Russia points to the possibility of an inter-state conflict as a result of activities in cyberspace. Russia also promotes the concept of “sovereign internet” and aims to increase its influence in the field of global regulations concerning the development of the network. The publication of the document confirms the priority for information security in the national security strategy and in the foreign policy of the Russian Federation.
  • Topic: Security, Internet, Non-Traditional Threats, Information Technology , Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Paweł Markiewicz
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The U.S. economy is emerging from the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain growth and at the same time achieve climate and technology goals, the Biden administration is pushing large socio-economic programmes. To pass them in Congress, the administration will be forced to reach compromises with factions within the Democratic Party. Biden also will need some Republican support. In foreign policy, these programmes aim to strengthen the U.S. position in its rivalry with China, something that also opens greater possibilities for closer cooperation with the EU.
  • Topic: Economics, Politics, COVID-19, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marcin Andrzej Piotrowski
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In April 2021, the U.S. intelligence community published the extensive report “Global Trends 2040: A More Contested World”. It analyses the main demographic, political, and strategic trends that will likely shape the world for the next two decades. The report will be intensively used by the Biden administration in the preparation of the new U.S. National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy, as well as in new military doctrines. The “Global Trends” document reflects the main tendencies in American strategic thinking, such as the growing “Sinocentrism” and traditional U.S. attachment to transatlantic relations.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, Intelligence, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Aleksandra Kozioł
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The ongoing pandemic has increased the use of digital technologies and intensified the threats they pose. Therefore, the EU faces the need to strengthen its ability to detect and respond to hostile cyber activities. New initiatives should, above all, improve the cooperation of EU institutions with Member States and private entities. However, their effectiveness will be limited by low and dispersed financing.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, European Union, Cybersecurity, Non-Traditional Threats
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Oskar Szydłowski, Stefania Kolarz
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The proposed regulation of artificial intelligence (AI) on the EU market is primarily intended to protect fundamental rights and values. As the first regulation of this type in the world, it may set the standard. However, the new requirements in practice might hinder the access of foreign entities to the internal market and reduce the competitiveness of EU businesses.
  • Topic: Markets, European Union, Regulation, Artificial Intelligence, Strategic Competition
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Since last year, Israel has increased its operations against Iran’s nuclear programme. The actions corresponded to the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” policy on Iran. Currently, the Israeli actions are an attempt to put pressure on the negotiations launched by the U.S. and Iran to restore the nuclear agreement. Israel opposes those talks, but further escalation will be limited by the stance of the Biden administration.
  • Topic: Nuclear Power, Cybersecurity, Joe Biden, Escalation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Israel, United States of America
  • Author: Sara Nowacka
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At the end of March, Lebanese President Michel Aoun rejected a proposal by designated Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri regarding the composition of the new government. The breakdown of the negotiations shows that despite the deepening socio-economic crisis, political groups are unable to develop a common vision for the reconstruction of the state. The EU, UN, and the World Bank engaged in initiatives aiming to improve Lebanon’s situation. However, the political deadlock threatens the implementation of their co-created “3RF” reform plan.
  • Topic: United Nations, World Bank, European Union, Economy, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Anna Maria Dyner, Arkadiusz Legieć
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Taking advantage of the withdrawal of the U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan, Russia intends to strengthen its influence in that country by increasing contacts with the Afghan government and the Taliban. The aim is to become a key mediator in the peace process, which will enable it to influence the participants, increase control over the situation in Afghanistan, and use it in relations with the countries of the region. Russia’s policy may make the stabilisation of Afghanistan more difficult and undermine the effects of the efforts made by NATO countries during the stabilisation mission.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, NATO, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Russia, South Asia, Eurasia
  • Author: Michał Wojnarowicz
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The cancellation of the 22 May parliamentary elections in the Palestinian Authority (PA) by President Mahmoud Abbas deepens the Palestinian political crisis and contributed to the escalation between Hamas and Israel. The decision is a result of internal disputes in the PA leadership and insufficient external support, primarily from the U.S. The lack of elections will preserve the current political turmoil in the PA and weaken Palestinian relations with Israel.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, Crisis Management, Escalation
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Artur Kacprzyk
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: After a few years of increases, U.S. defence spending is likely to stagnate. At the same time, the needs related to the U.S. priority of deterring China will grow. The effect will be that the U.S. will continue to call for a greater contribution of NATO members to their own defence, even given the softening of transatlantic tensions and positive signals regarding the U.S. military presence in Europe.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Military Spending, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: China, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Marcin Przychodniak
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The policy of repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang has become a significant element of criticism of China in the world. In March this year, the EU, U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom imposed sanctions on China over the matter. Moreover, the Netherlands, the U.S. and Canada described China’s actions as genocide. For China, however, its actions involving Uyghurs are a key element of domestic politics, which is why it presents accusations as disinformation. It has imposed counter sanctions, including on the EU, and their wide scope indicates that for China, Xinjiang is more important than, for example, the ratification of the Comprehensive Investment Agreement (CAI) with the EU.
  • Topic: International Relations, Genocide, Human Rights, European Union, Uyghurs
  • Political Geography: China, United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, Asia, Netherlands, United States of America, Xinjiang
  • Author: Veronika Jóźwiak
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: For the first time in 12 years, the ruling Fidesz and the opposition have even chances of winning the parliamentary elections in April 2022. Unification of the opposition gives it strength, however, the institutional and financial advantages of the ruling party will be difficult to overcome. The government may be weakened by the effects of the pandemic and the loss of membership in the European People’s Party (EPP). The authorities aim to get funds from the new EU budget before the elections. As a partnership with the European extreme right will not contribute to this goal, the formation of a new grouping in the European Parliament (EP) by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is unlikely for now.
  • Topic: Politics, Elections, European Union, Far Right
  • Political Geography: Europe, Hungary, Central Europe
  • Author: Karol Wasilewski
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The EU intends to implement a new model of relations with Turkey based on phased, proportional, and reversible engagement. The Union’s plans are a consequence of a dilemma: although Turkey often acts like an adversary, EU members want to maintain close relations with it due to the convergence of interests in areas such as migration and the economy. The Union’s new approach creates the opportunity to strengthen its influence on Turkey. Yet, different expectations about the future shape of relations will keep EU-Turkey relations tense.
  • Topic: International Relations, Migration, European Union, Economy
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Łukasz Maślanka
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: France uses the idea of EU strategic autonomy as a tool in its own foreign policy. France’s aim is to redefine the Union’s partnership with the U.S. and NATO. Hence, the activity of President Emmanuel Macron in emphasising the differences between the positions of the U.S. and the EU, especially in relations with China and Russia. Macron’s rhetoric worries other European countries and hides the real problems in EU security policy, such as insufficient financing of the Common Security and Defence Policy as well as the lack of a clear definition of strategic autonomy.
  • Topic: Security, Foreign Policy, European Union, Strategic Autonomy
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, France, United States of America
  • Author: Adam S. Czartoryski
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: No other neighbour is as closely connected to Austria as Germany. For years, bilateral relations have been based on deep economic connection and mutual understanding of interests. However, Austria under Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is more and more often and more decisively able to express a different opinion from Germany on important issues in European politics.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, European Union
  • Political Geography: Europe, Germany, Austria
  • Author: Agnieszka Legucka
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: So-called “sovereign internets”, which are networks cut off from the global internet, is attractive to authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran. Russia declares that it has achieved the technical capacity to implement it, which would allow the Russian authorities more control over society but could cause problems for business. The Russian authorities therefore will limit its use to a preventive measure at key moments and for blocking foreign networks and communicators inside Russia to try to control public moods in the country.
  • Topic: Sovereignty, Internet, Networks, Cyberspace
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • 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: Bob Deen, Wouter Zweers
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: In early 2021 a new Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit will take place between the European Union and the six countries in its eastern neighbourhood: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. After over a decade, the ambitious objectives of the EU’s Eastern Partnership policy to deliver ‘stability, security and prosperity’ to the region remain far from reality. Democratization and good governance reforms have been stalled by vested interests in Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, while Azerbaijan and Belarus have remained outright autocratic, and the latter faces sustained domestic protests. The EaP faces geopolitical pushback by an increasingly assertive Russian Federation and the region is further affected by multiple protracted and ongoing conflicts, including the recent bitter war over Nagorno-Karabakh. But despite its shortcomings, the EaP is not without successes, especially but not only in the economic sphere. The EU has also managed to keep the door open for conversation, spurred lower-level reform and provided civil society support. As such, the EaP has an important role to play in the policy of the Netherlands towards the region, especially in light of recent requests by the Dutch Parliament to formulate an Eastern Europe strategy. But many thorny questions remain in the run-up to the summit. This report assesses three policy dilemmas that need to be considered by the Netherlands and the European Union in order to make the EaP more effective. First, the EU needs to reconcile its geopolitical interests with its normative aspirations. Second, the added value of the EaP’s multilateral track should be deliberated with consideration of the differentiation in bilateral relations with EaP countries. Third, the EU will need to consider how to deal with protracted conflicts, hybrid threats, and other security challenges in the EaP region.
  • Topic: Democratization, Governance, Authoritarianism, Reform, European Union, Partnerships
  • Political Geography: Europe, Ukraine, Moldova, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Belarus
  • Author: Engin Yüksel
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report assesses the impact of Turkish-Qatari cooperation between 2002 and 2020 on conflict and geopolitical competition across the Middle East, North Africa, and the Horn of Africa based on close examination of its drivers. The report notes that neither ideological nor economic drivers adequately explain the recent blossoming of Turkish-Qatari relations. Converging political interests and pragmatism offer a more compelling explanation. On the one hand, Turkey aspires to play a regional leadership role and uses its cooperation with Qatar to strengthen its soft power claim to leadership of the Sunni world. On the other hand, Qatar seeks to ensure its territorial and dynastical safety from Saudi Arabia and its allies – the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, and Bahrain (the Quartet) – by working with Turkey, the recent thaw of the Al-Ula declaration notwithstanding. Turkish-Qatari collaboration is therefore best seen as a pragmatic partnership enabled by compatible geopolitical perspectives, particularly regarding the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Topic: Economics, International Cooperation, Partnerships, Geopolitics, Conflict, Muslim Brotherhood
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates
  • Author: Erwin van Veen, Nancy Ezzeddine
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: Engaging in the conflict cycle in other countries to gain outcomes favourable to one’s own interests is akin to playing in the champions league of foreign policy. Doing this effectively and responsibly requires a coherent and full-spectrum political strategy as well as the diplomatic, financial, developmental and military means to deliver it. It is clear from the scope of the security interests articulated in the European Union’s (EU) Global Strategy (2016) and its many associated foreign policy statements that the EU intends to meet these requirements. However, study of EU institutional policies and interventions in the Syrian and Iraqi civil wars highlights that it falls well short of doing so. As a result, EU institutions are not well placed to intervene effectively in high intensity conflicts with existential features such as these two civil wars. With this problem in mind, the core recommendation of the paper is to increase the effectiveness of EU interventions in high-intensity conflicts by institutionalising full-spectrum decision making, policy implementation and force deployment modalities for the EU as a whole, as well as for EU coalitions of the willing. The parallel existence of such tracks will enable the EU to act jointly in conflicts where Member States have more or less compatible foreign policy preferences with matching intensity preferences, and to act in part in conflicts where Member States have more or less compatible foreign policy preferences with a mixed distribution of intensity preferences (like Iraq or arguably Syria). EU foreign policy inaction, including institutional paralysis, will continue to occur where Member States’ foreign policy preferences are largely not compatible and have high-intensity preferences.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Military Intervention, Conflict, Institutions
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Europe, Middle East, Syria
  • Author: Kars de Bruijne, Fransje Molenaar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report thus provides an understanding of the causes and drivers fuelling grievances that have sidelined pastoralists. To this end, it unpacks the relationship between pastoralism, conflict, and stability in Burkina Faso. The study finds that pastoralists face structural trends working against them.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Pastoralism, Resilience
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Jos Meester, Nancy Ezzeddine
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: The Ethiopian governing regime has defined poverty as the biggest threat to its survival since its inception, and has thus established a top-down developmental state model to drive economic growth that would legitimise its existence. While this model has sustained high GDP growth rates, Ethiopia faces a challenge translating such growth into improved livelihoods. The private sector is weakly developed, and job creation in Ethiopia’s urban centres has not kept pace with population growth or rural-urban migration. Employment in the informal economy has been key to an increasing number of individuals’ livelihoods, yet persistent poverty, inequality and marginalisation is also deepening grievances. The ethnically defined federalist system has created potentially powerful ethnic nationalist constituencies and aligned other previously cross-cutting political cleavages with existing ethnic divides, which result in potentially strong centrifugal forces. The Ethiopian state’s clientelistic approaches to political mobilisation and its claim to legitimacy based on economic growth have equally lost purchase in the face of persistent poverty and marginalisation. With political debate extending beyond previously formalised channels, ethnically based networks are gaining significance. While career perspectives in the formal sector have long been intertwined with the ethnically based political system, such dynamics are becoming increasingly pronounced in the informal sector. The demarcation of boundaries between ethnic groups is becoming more important in the informal sector. While this may help ethnic groupings secure their livelihoods by securing control over various economic sectors and locations, it has reduced inter-group cooperation by eroding cross-cutting social capital and has connected economic grievances with ethnic fault lines. As a result, political tensions between ethnic nationalist groupings increasingly engage substantial urban constituencies, allowing tensions to spill over and exacerbate the broader political strains across the country.
  • Topic: Politics, Governance, Ethnicity, Economic Growth
  • Political Geography: Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Erwin van Veen
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: This report analyses the role of the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) and the associated Democratic Union Party (PYD) during the Syrian civil war. The purpose of our research is to obtain a better understanding of the nature, objectives and methods of the YPG/ PYD as a combined paramilitary and rebel force that is involved in a quasi-statebuilding project during an internationalised civil war. We start by examining the critical factors that enabled the swift rise of the YPG: informal arrangements with the Assad regime, support from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and a pragmatic partnership with the US against Islamic State. This sets the scene for an inquiry into how core YPG strategies to maintain its dominance once it was established – coercive, deal-making, identity and basic service strategies – both shape the group’s behavior and result from its current organization. Finally, we dissect a number of major challenges to future YPG rule, such as its relation with the PKK, intra-Kurdish reconciliation, the US presence in northeast Syria and its interaction with the Arab populations over which it rules. Based on our analysis, we anticipate a scenario of ‘muddling through’ in which unconditional support from the US will continue at current levels, combined with an abiding US military presence. This will provide the YPG/ PYD with a security umbrella against both regime forces and Turkey, continue the status quo of the YPG/ PYD ruling northeast Syria in authoritarian fashion, make the civil war more ethno-sectarian in nature and prolong the conflict. While such a scenario is arguably more attractive for northeast Syria than a return of the regime, it is also unlikely to improve the area’s current underdevelopment. It will keep other external actors, like the EU, away and allow the PKK to continue to take its share of the area’s revenues. The primary audience of the report are Western opinion-, policy- and decision-makers engaged with the Syrian civil war and we hope it will help them to craft policies and initiate interventions that are feasible and appropriate to the situation in northeast Syria.
  • Topic: Conflict, Syrian War, YPG
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, United States of America, European Union
  • Author: Brigitte Dekker, Maaike Okano-Heijmans
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute of International Relations
  • Abstract: pen, safe and inclusive digital connectivity and engage with the region’s thriving digital economies. While Indo-Pacific countries have called for greater maritime presence by European countries in their increasingly contested waters, European actors may have more to offer in the less-discussed but equally contested high-tech and digital domains. Recognizing the opportunities and disruptions that accompany the digital transition and green transformation globally, the EU and its member states need to increase their engagement with governments, commercial and civil-society stakeholders and networks in the Indo-Pacific on a broad array of digitalization issues.
  • Topic: Civil Society, European Union, Economy, Digitalization
  • Political Geography: Europe, Indo-Pacific