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  • Author: Hedvig Ördén, James Pamment
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Influence operations are increasingly seen as a threat to democratic societies because they can corrupt the integrity of political deliberation. As individuals engage in debate on social media, political deliberation becomes vulnerable to potentially destructive forms of interference. Many debates on what to do about influence operations emphasize that these operations constitute what is deemed to be a foreign threat. But does the notion of foreignness, viewed in isolation, constitute a helpful lens for distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations? Ultimately, the lens of foreignness is only helpful when applied to a narrow set of cases. One sensible way of reviewing when the concept of foreignness can be useful in distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate influence operations is to consider three separate conceptions of how to determine what counts as foreign: foreign states, foreign citizens, and foreign interests. In the first case, influence operations are seen as threatening acts directed at a targeted state by foreign states, using behaviors seen as analogous to acts of war. In the second instance, influence operations are considered threatening acts conducted by foreign citizens that undermine domestic democratic systems in a targeted state. In cases of the third sort, influence operations are viewed as acts aimed at advancing foreign interests through the illegitimate employment of soft power. Given these various models, the notion of foreignness constitutes a useful lens for discussions of influence operations in cases when there is overwhelming evidence of state-based, hybrid, and irregular warfare. An argument can also be made for employing the distinction in relation to the protection of democratic institutions, such as elections. However, when influence operations are regarded as a more generalized threat to political deliberation, foreignness is not a helpful category for determining the legitimacy or illegitimacy of such campaigns. In such cases, rather than focusing on the (domestic or foreign) identity of the malicious actors themselves, it is more fruitful to conceive of illegitimacy in terms of specific manipulative communication techniques. Suitable countermeasures could include, for instance, creating greater transparency surrounding, or even restricting, the use of artificial techniques to inflate the level of perceived engagement a piece of online content generates.
  • Topic: Democracy, Soft Power, Foreign Interference
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rachel Kleinfeld, Thomas Carothers, Steven Feldstein, Richard Youngs
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: Middle-power democracies—countries which regardless of their geopolitical weight have made democracy support a sustained component of their foreign policy—will be crucial to reimagining democracy support strategies and policies to better meet the moment. Some of these states have crafted new initiatives and wielded diplomatic tools to deepen their impact in recent years. However, these states have on the whole punched below their collective weight. This paper suggests that middle-power democracies can maximize their impact on global democracy in the following ways: Enhancing solidarity: when a country acts courageously in defense of democracy, it needs to know that others will stand alongside it. Sharpening their focus: middle-power democracies should target policy areas aligned with democratic values on issues both at the top of the geopolitical agenda and at the top-of-mind for citizens around the world—for example, economic recovery, injustice and discrimination, corruption, digital repression, and climate change. Improving diplomatic cooperation: pursuing flexible and focused multilateral partnerships allows for collaboration on key policy interests and amplifies middle-power actions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Democracy, Solidarity, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Valeria Branca
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The second Infrastructure Working Group workshop under the Italian G20 PPresidency, titled “Financing infrastructure investments for local communities”, was hosted on 4 February 2021 by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). As the world gradually recovers from the pandemic crisis, most governments are designing strategies to revive long-term growth. A key factor in their success will be the capacity to restart and reorient infrastructure investments. In this context, investments in local infrastructures are particularly important because social needs, work habits and production patterns have been greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, whose impact has been most severe on urban areas, the informal sector and marginalised groups – especially in developing countries. Investments in local infrastructures will therefore be crucial in addressing the need to sustain recovery while tackling long-standing problems posed by climate change and social exclusion.
  • Topic: Infrastructure, Sustainable Development Goals, Investment, Coronavirus, Sustainability, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Katarzyna Kubiak
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The global treaty-based nuclear order is running out of steam. The problems facing it are progressively building up, while problem-solving is losing momentum. The search for a “golden key” to address disarmament and non-proliferation in a way fit for the 21st century prompts decision-makers to look for novel approaches. NATO needs to actively shape this newly emerging space. Acting today from within a tight policy and institutional “corset”, the Alliance should strengthen its non-proliferation and disarmament portfolio, and harness its consultative and coordination strengths for agenda-setting, norm-shaping and awareness-raising within the international community.
  • Topic: NATO, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America, Global Focus
  • Author: Joseph E. Gagnon, Madi Sarsenbayev
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: A 2017 PIIE analysis found that fiscal balances and foreign exchange intervention—more broadly, government purchases of foreign assets to influence exchange rates—are the most important factors behind differences in current account balances across countries and over time. The current account is the broadest measure of a country's balance of trade. It records all income received from foreigners and payments made to foreigners. It is dominated by trade in goods and services but also includes income receipts on domestically owned factors of production (capital and labor) that are employed abroad and payments to foreign-owned factors of production at home. A country’s fiscal surplus and official purchases of foreign assets tend to increase its current account balance. Net official purchases by other countries tend to reduce current account balances in the home country, especially when it issues a reserve currency. This paper updates the earlier analysis with three more years (2016–18) and roughly 40 percent more observations. New analysis of net international investment positions (which largely reflect cumulated current account balances) finds even stronger evidence for the dominant role of official reserve positions in explaining differences in current account balances across countries. An increase in a country’s official reserve position causes essentially a dollar-for-dollar increase in its net international investment position.
  • Topic: Fiscal Policy, Currency, Trade Policy, Trade Deficit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stephanie Savell, Rachel McMahon, Emily Rockwell, Yueshan Li
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: The map illustrates countries in which the U.S. government conducted operations it explicitly described as counterterrorism, in an outgrowth of President George W. Bush's “Global War on Terror.” These operations include air and drone strikes, on-the-ground combat, so-called “Section 127e” programs in which U.S. special operations forces plan and control partner force missions, military exercises in preparation for or as part of counterterrorism missions, and operations to train and assist foreign forces. (The map does not comprehensively cover the full scope of U.S. post-9/11 warfare, as it does not document, for instance, U.S. military bases used for counterterror operations, arms sales to foreign governments, or all deployments of U.S. special operations forces.) Despite the Pentagon’s assertion that the U.S. is shifting its strategic emphasis away from counterterrorism and towards great power competition with Russia and China, examining U.S. military activity on a country-by-country basis shows that there is yet to be a corresponding drawdown of the counterterror apparatus. If anything, the map demonstrates that counterterrorism operations have become more widespread in recent years.
  • Topic: Military Affairs, Counter-terrorism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Pierre Siklos
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: As digital forms of payment become increasingly popular, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, cash is no longer king. Central banks are turning their attention toward central bank digital currency (CBDC) to replace coins and bills and to provide other types of services through digital technology. CBDC can also facilitate cross-border transactions through the use of internationally accepted currencies such as the euro and the US dollar. This paper explores the many tailwinds and headwinds that will affect the implementation of a CBDC.
  • Topic: Governance, Digital Economy, Banks, Digital Currency
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Dan Ciuriak, Maria Ptashkina
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: Trade secret theft is estimated to cost hundreds of billions of dollars annually. As a result, governments worldwide are developing legislation to mitigate these losses. This paper looks at the growing importance of trade secrets globally, corporations’ responsibilities to protect their trade secrets and how trade secret theft occurs (for example, through cybertheft or personnel movement between companies). The authors argue that protecting intellectual property rights must not come at the expense of the innovation-intensive economy.
  • Topic: Security, Intellectual Property/Copyright, Trade, Trade Policy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic has increased reliance on digital technologies, it has highlighted the growing digital divide between and within societies. Universal access to the digital world has become more urgent than ever, and failure to achieve it could undermine progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals. While closing the digital divide and increasing connectivity are among the UN secretary-general’s priorities for 2021, this goal remains elusive and faces many obstacles. One challenge is the lack of a shared understanding of what universal connectivity means. It is not just a technical challenge; it also requires addressing questions related to adoption, usage, accessibility, and the relevance and veracity of content. Another challenge is that funding for digital connectivity is uncoordinated and not easily accessible by those who need it most. There is also a lack of concerted leadership and coherent governance structures at all levels. Moreover, getting the framing right is key. National, global, and local leaders need to establish clear and compelling links between universal connectivity and the 2030 Agenda with its message to “leave no one behind.” Addressing these challenges requires a human-centered, human rights–based approach. Connectivity comes with risks, including privacy issues, misinformation and hate speech, and online violence and sexual harassment. While discussions on universal connectivity have gained momentum, these human rights considerations often remain an afterthought. Governments, businesses, and civil society need to understand connectivity as a right whose protection is their shared responsibility. Ultimately, bridging the digital divide requires a stronger and more inclusive multilateral system. Geopolitics, a lack of shared understanding, knowledge gaps, and suspicion between actors continue to hold back digital cooperation at the UN. Governments need to meaningfully include private sector and civil society actors in formal decision-making processes. In parallel, the UN should create informal platforms to build trust among stakeholders. To achieve meaningful and sustainable progress toward digital inclusion, all actors need to commit to working through a multi-stakeholder platform.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Sustainable Development Goals, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination, Princeton University
  • Abstract: The Handbook on the Prevention and Resolution of Self-Determination Conflicts is the latest product of a long and fruitful collaboration between the Mission of Liechtenstein to the United Nations, New York, and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination at Princeton University to assess the relationship of self-determination to conflict. The Handbook includes four case studies: Aceh, Bougainville, Mindanao, and Northern Ireland, in addition to setting out guidelines specifically aimed at those working to prevent and resolve self-determination conflicts. The handbook was conceived chiefly as the result of two meetings on self-determination held jointly by the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination and the Liechtenstein Mission to the UN: “Models of Self-Governance as Tools to Promote Peace and Stability in Europe,” held in March 2016, in Triesenberg, Liechtenstein, and “Self-Determination in Conflict Prevention and Resolution,” held in December 2018, in Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A. In these meetings, participants discussed the relationship between self-determination and conflict, as well as ways that self-determination conflicts may be prevented and resolved. These discussions drew on the tensions and links between self-determination, minority rights, autonomy and self-governance, and mediation, all of which are key elements of the handbook.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Governance, Self Determination, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Global Focus