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  • Author: Nathalie Tocci, Riccardo Alcaro, Francesca Caruso, Silvia Colombo, Dario Cristiani, Andrea Dessì, Flavio Fusco, Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Winds of change are blowing in North Africa and the Middle East. They originate from Washington, where the new Biden administration is expected to abandon its predecessor’s zerosum, erratic approach and take steps towards supporting regional balances and cooperation. Effects are visible especially in the Gulf, with the US pondering its options to re-activate nuclear diplomacy with Iran and Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates grudgingly agreeing to put their feud with Qatar on ice. One way or another, these winds of change are working their way through the Levant, the Eastern Mediterranean and Libya. Admittedly, they are still feeble and can easily fade out like a morning breeze. Were that to happen, Europeans would be amongst the most affected – aside, of course, from regional populations themselves. It is now high time for the EU and its member states to leave the backseat they have (un)comfortably been sitting in for years, seize the opportunity of a cooperative US administration and work to play a more proactive role in North Africa and the Middle East commensurate with their considerable financial, diplomatic and military resources.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Military Affairs, Finance
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Africa, United States of America
  • Author: Simona Autolitano, Agnieszka Pawlowska
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: There is currently much discussion about “digital sovereignty” in Europe. While the term encompasses very diverse connotations, it refers to a broad concept involving data, technological, regulatory and political elements. Cloud computing represents one example of the concrete materialisation of the European Union’s quest for “digital sovereignty” – especially through the development of its GAIA-X project. It is too early to assess whether or not GAIA-X will definitively help the Union to achieve this much-desired goal; however, some challenges have already emerged along the way. Looking to the future, if the EU wants to achieve “digital sovereignty”, a different strategy to the one currently under discussion will be needed.
  • Topic: Politics, Science and Technology, Sovereignty, European Union, Digital Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe, France, Germany
  • 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: Alessandro Marrone, Karolina Muti
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Europe’s missile defence is structurally linked to NATO deterrence and defence architecture, and it has to face both a worsened international security environment and an accelerating, worldwide technological innovation. Russia and China are heavily investing in new hypersonic systems which dramatically decrease the time needed to reach the target by flying mostly within the atmosphere. The US remains a global leader in the development and deployment of missile defence capabilities, including the Aegis systems which represent the cornerstone of NATO integrate air and missile defence covering the Old Continent. European countries are increasingly collaborating within the EU framework on the related capability development, primarily via the TWISTER project under the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PeSCo). Being exposed to missile threats from Middle East and North Africa and participating to allied nuclear sharing, Italy has a primary interest in upgrading its military capabilities through PeSCo, maintaining them fully integrated within NATO, and involving the national defence industry in cutting-edge procurement programmes.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, Science and Technology, European Union
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, Turkey, France, Poland, Germany, Italy, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Francesca Ghiretti
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The debate on technological development and the unfolding fourth technological revolution tends to neglect the role of the EU, relegating it to follower status. The leadership positions are occupied by the US and China, who compete with one another for technological supremacy. Yet, despite lagging behind in some areas, the EU is better placed than is often assumed and still stands a chance of guaranteeing the delivery of a technological revolution that is not only environmentally but also socially sustainable. This is critical in proposing a model of technological development alternative to that of China, in particular, and especially in such sectors as artificial intelligence, supercomputing and digital skills.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, European Union
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe
  • Author: Luca Franza
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Hydrogen is the most promising vector for harnessing North Africa’s largely untapped renewable energy potential. Low-carbon hydrogen produced in North Africa can play an important role in enabling the European Union and Italy to reach their increasingly ambitious decarbonisation targets as a complement to electrification and locally produced renewables. It is estimated that the EU could achieve cost savings by producing at least part of its future renewable energy needs in neighbouring high-yield regions. Italy is set to play a particularly important function as both a gateway and a catalyst for North African hydrogen exports. In turn, North Africa stands to benefit from hydrogen both as a source of revenues and as an instrument of diversification, industrialisation and local economic development. This would in turn improve social resilience, increase political stability, reduce the risk of radicalisation and limit migration flows. Italy has a particularly strong strategic interest in all of these areas, given its geographic location in the Central Mediterranean and marked exposure to social, political and security developments in North Africa. North African hydrogen could also create profitable business opportunities for several Italian companies. In sum, hydrogen can contribute to fighting climate change while preserving positive trade interdependence across the Mediterranean. Strong coordination between the private sector and policy-makers is going to be key to abate costs along the hydrogen value chain and launch successful international hydrogen trade schemes.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, European Union, Trade, Imports, Hydrogen
  • Political Geography: Europe, North Africa, Italy, Mediterranean
  • Author: Alice Politi
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has been described as the largest infrastructure project in history, affecting around 60 per cent of the global population. Whilst promoting a narrative of connectivity, growth and “win-win partnerships”, the project has received opposing assessments regarding its wider impact, particularly in the environmental domain.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Infrastructure, Green Technology, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Philip Remler
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Over the past decade, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) has been returning to its origins as a Cold War–era Conference – a forum where states and blocs, often antagonistic to one another and espousing opposing ideals, can air their frictions and hostilities. The OSCE was created without legal personality and with the liberum veto of the consensus principle. These constraints stunted the growth of executive capabilities and bound the OSCE closely to the will of its participating States. That rendered most mediation efforts ineffective, especially where an OSCE state is both belligerent and mediator in the same conflicts. Peace operations have been more effective – notably the Special Monitoring Mission in Ukraine – but the same factors have tightly constrained its activity. Though all participating States committed themselves to democratic governance, rule of law and respect for human rights, these ideals failed in much of the former Soviet Union, and autocrats have used the organisation’s lack of legal personality and the consensus principle to hobble the OSCE’s efforts. If the OSCE’s participating States want it to remain an Organization, not a Conference, they must take action to secure its executive autonomy.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Peacekeeping, Democracy, Conflict, OSCE
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Eurasia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Anahita Motazed Rad
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As the Biden and Rouhani administrations’ position to renew diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear file with European support, they face more challenges than their predecessors did in 2015, when the Iranian nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was originally signed. Today, domestic, regional and international confrontations have increased; hardliners and conservatives in Tehran and Washington, on the one hand, and in Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on the other, are now more aligned and coordinated against a diplomatic success than they were in 2015.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Michaël Tanchum
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As Algeria and Morocco enter 2021, the bilateral relationship stands at a crossroads in which the status quo is no longer tenable. The COVID-19 pandemic and Morocco’s spate of diplomatic successes during 2020, culminating with the US’s recognition of Moroccan sovereignty over the Western Sahara in December, have altered the long-standing, geopolitical dynamics of the Western Maghreb. Algeria now faces the critical decision of whether and how to attempt to offset Morocco’s rising power. The enduring détente between Algeria and Morocco had been characterised by limited coordination against shared threats such as terrorism and a contained competition in the Western Sahara. Since 1991, the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, which seeks to establish an independent Sahrawi state in the Western Sahara, abandoned its armed struggle in favour of working through the framework of the United Nations Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO).
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Diplomacy, Politics, Bilateral Relations, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Algeria, Morocco, Sahara
  • Author: Flavio Fusco
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Building on emerging debates on the need to develop de-escalation mechanisms for the Middle East, the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Brussels-based Foundation for European Progressive Studies (FEPS), with support from the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, launched a one-year research and outreach project entitled “Fostering a New Security Architecture in the Middle East”. Connected to the research, an expert survey targeting European, US, Russian, Middle Eastern and Chinese experts and practitioners was conducted on key themes, principles and approaches associated with a potential new security architecture for the region. The results of the survey – first published in an edited book volume jointly published by IAI and FEPS in November 2020 – are analysed below, complete with tables and infographics on key themes associated with the research project and the search for new, inclusive mechanisms for dialogue and de-escalation in the Middle East.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Security, Foreign Policy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Russia, China, Europe, Middle East, United States of America
  • Author: Daniela Huber
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Historically speaking, the European Community and then the European Union have always reacted with paradigm changes in their foreign policies to watershed moments in the Middle East. In response to the two Arab-Israeli wars in 1967 and 1973, the European Community actually set up its own foreign policy in the first place and initiated the Euro-Arab Dialogue. After the Camp David Accords, the nine foreign ministers came out with the Venice Declaration in 1980 which reminded its partners in Washington and Tel Aviv that the Palestine question had been ignored and set the parameters for diplomacy in the 1990s. After the Cold War, however, the European Union became absorbed into the so-called Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), resulting in less independent EU agency on Israel/Palestine. This trend has become particularly obvious over the past four years of the Trump presidency, during which time the EU seemed almost paralyzed. While Europeans are now counting on the incoming Biden administration, during the election campaign Joe Biden stated that he will leave the US embassy in Jerusalem and that he is also favourable of the normalization deals between Israel and certain Arab states which President Trump had pushed for. At the same time, the Biden team seems hesitant to return to negotiations.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Human Rights, Territorial Disputes, European Union, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, Israel, Palestine
  • 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: Mehdi Lahlou
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic has turned into a global economic crisis with severe social effects in the least developed countries, particularly in Africa. Pre-existing challenges related to widespread poverty, demographic growth, food insecurity and governance issues have been exacerbated by the pandemic. While migration remains one of the key elements of the partnership agenda between Africa and the European Union, the aggravating socioeconomic situation in the African continent due to the impact of COVID-19 and its implications for migration dynamics requires going beyond business-as-usual approaches. The renewed scenario calls for a more comprehensive and development-oriented approach to migration, requiring new policy initiatives addressing the wider set of conditions that, beyond constituting developmental challenges in their own right, also drive migration in North Africa as well as in Sub-Saharan African countries.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, European Union, Mobility, Asylum, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, North Africa
  • Author: Alessandro Marrone, Ester Sabatino
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: In 2016 NATO recognised cyber as a domain comparable to the air, land and sea ones, in consideration of the growing number of cyberattacks and of their negative impact on the cyberspace, as well as on the “real world”. Both NATO and its member states have launched initiatives to better tackle the cyber challenge both operationally and in terms of capability development. Nevertheless, among major NATO’s members a common approach to cyber defence is still missing, thus generating a division among countries that pursue a more active defence – US, UK and France – and those that prefer a more defensive approach – Germany and Spain.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, NATO, National Security, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom, Europe, France, Germany, Spain, United States of America
  • Author: Adel Abdel Ghafar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The role played by countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Eastern Mediterranean is becoming increasingly important. This calls for an assessment of their evolving relationship with countries in the region, as well as their involvement in the Libyan conflict. Increased involvement by Gulf actors may inflame existing regional rivalries and geopolitical tensions. The interests of GCC countries in the Eastern Mediterranean are first analysed in the broader context of regional rivalries. Special attention is then devoted to Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Greece and Cyprus, while considering the role of other key regional actors such as Turkey and Israel. Recommendations on why and how the new US administration should intervene to decrease regional tensions are provided.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Gulf Nations, Geopolitics, Economy, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Israel, Greece, Libya, Lebanon, Egypt, Cyprus, Mediterranean
  • Author: Lucía Ramírez Bolívar
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The incoming Biden-Harris administration has been welcomed by great expectations of impending changes in US policy after four years of the Trump presidency. Out of a wide range of issues, US foreign policy towards Latin America and the Caribbean is one domain where a shift in approach may be expected from the new administration.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Oil, Sanctions, Joe Biden
  • Political Geography: South America, Venezuela, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Tsio Tadesse Abebe, Ottilia Anna Maunganidze
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted the current state and prospects of partnership between the East African countries and the European Union on migration and forced displacement. The pandemic has exacerbated the root causes of migration and forced displacement. This is manifested by the continuation of irregular arrivals in Europe including from East Africa, after a brief decline in the initial phase of the COVID-19 response. The strong economic impact of the pandemic on the region has also disrupted the implementation of the Global Compact on Refugees that aspires to address forced displacement challenges through facilitating refugees’ self-reliance. These challenges require East African countries and the EU to work towards establishing a better migration governance system with a people-centred approach and with a view to addressing the root causes of migration. East African states should drive their migration and forced displacement policies in ways that benefit their citizens. This should include devising ways of engaging the EU in line with its proposed talent partnerships in its New Pact on Migration and Asylum. The EU should work towards easing the economic burden of countries in East Africa including through providing additional development support and debt cancellation.
  • Topic: Migration, Politics, European Union, Refugees, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe
  • Author: Antonella Caruso
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: Pope Francis is scheduled to arrive in Iraq on 5 March 2021 for a historic three-day visit. The Holy Father aims to promote a message of hope and support to thousands of Iraqi Christians who have returned or are yet to return to their homes after the official defeat of the self-proclaimed Islamic State (IS) in December 2017. The first-ever Pontifical visit will also include stops in Mosul and the Christian enclave of Qaraqosh, in northern Iraq, in a province which has been ground zero for so much violence and ethnic and religious cleansing over the past years. All minorities have suffered in Iraq – but none as much as the Yazidis, slaughtered by the thousands by IS militants. While other minorities have slowly returned home, the Yazidi future remains bleaker than ever.
  • Topic: Religion, Minorities, Yazidis
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East, Vatican city, Mediterranean
  • Author: Amer Al-Hussein
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The Syrian conflict entered its eleventh year on 15 March 2021, bringing this “living nightmare” back to our minds.[1] This ominous anniversary should remind the world of the importance of addressing the bleak reality inside Syria. While the new US administration provides a glimmer of hope for a return to diplomacy, multilateralism and an end to the mercantilism of the past years, Europe would be wrong to simply wait for the US lead on Syria.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Politics, Sanctions, European Union, Institutions, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Syria, United States of America, Mediterranean
  • Author: Savita Shankar
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for the Advanced Study of India
  • Abstract: Despite being the focus of numerous policy initiatives, the credit gap of the MSME sector in India has been persistent. An investment in tapping the data being generated by lenders to build a database to inform future lending is likely to improve the quality of lending decisions over time. This, in turn, has the potential to further expand MSME loan access and reduce MSME borrowing costs. To realize this objective, a credit risk database (CRD) has been found to play a useful role in catalyzing collateral and guarantee free loans for SMEs in Japan. The availability of the OCEN network and the account aggregator framework offers an opportunity to create a CRD involving banks and NBFCs at relatively low incremental cost. The CRD’s role will be distinct from that of credit bureaus and rating agencies as it is based on financial and default data for the sector as a whole, rather than for individual entities. The main benefits of CRD include the development of credit scoring models based on nationwide data and the availability of benchmarks for different segments of the MSME sector. Additional benefits are that the credit scores from the models could be used to develop a more sophisticated pricing mechanism for guarantees and for potentially aiding MSME loan securitizations
  • Topic: Microcredit, Risk, Credit, Resource-Backed Loans
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Noah Coburn
  • Publication Date: 04-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: The United States’ Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) Program was designed to help Afghans and Iraqis who are in danger of being killed as a result of their service to the U.S. government as translators or in other civilian jobs. As of 2020, over 18,000 Afghan applicants have received U.S. visas, along with over 45,000 of their immediate family members, and immigrated to the U.S. The program has been plagued by bureaucratic inefficiencies and significant problems with the application process, resulting in a backlog of an additional 18,800 applications according to a 2019 review of the program. The lives of thousands of these applicants are currently at risk. This report on the Afghan SIV program, based on interviews with over 150 SIV applicants and recipients, as well as a review of other studies of the program, suggests that while the program is well-intentioned and beneficial to certain successful applicants, its current structure puts the lives of applicants at risk and leaves them vulnerable to exploitation before, during and after the process. The lack of a coherent, effective strategy to support these workers, and the failure to implement the program as originally envisioned, leaves applicants stranded in Afghanistan or elsewhere and vulnerable to attacks by the Taliban and criminal groups, as well as other forms of exploitation. This has further undermined the reputation of the United States government in Afghanistan while serving a relatively small percentage of those Afghans who worked closely with the U.S. The program also does little to support those who do receive visas and move to the U.S. They are ultimately disappointed in, and unprepared for, the lack of support they receive upon settling in the United States. The program could do much more to prepare and support these recipients for the challenges they are likely to face during resettlement. The Biden administration’s current review of the SIV program is a good step forward, but unless that review takes a closer look at the true human costs of its flawed processes, it is likely to result in little more than bureaucratic tinkering. The program must be seriously overhauled, based on a reconceptualization of how to best support those who put their lives at risk to assist the United States government. As it is currently structured, the SIV program may in fact be doing more harm than good.
  • Topic: Immigration, Military Affairs, Violent Extremism, Counter-terrorism, War on Terror
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Stephanie Savell
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University
  • Abstract: United States “security assistance” exports a militarized counterterrorism model to dozens of countries through money, training, and weapons. This model comes with dangerous costs. The narrative, tactics, funding, and institutional supports of the U.S. post-9/11 wars fuel repression and corruption, and escalate cycles of violence. This paper delves into the current conflict in Burkina Faso as an illustrative case study of how the U.S. counterterrorism model has caused more, not less, instability and violence. Despite the relatively low levels of terrorism assessed in Burkina Faso at the time, the United States laid the groundwork for increased militarism in the region when it began providing security assistance to the country in 2009. Today, Burkina Faso is enveloped in a spiraling conflict involving government forces, state-sponsored militias, and militant groups, and civilians are paying the price. Militant groups have strengthened and seized territory, ethnic tensions have skyrocketed, thousands of Burkinabe have been killed and over one million displaced. A Burkina-based human rights group has warned that the government’s ethnic killings may lead to the “next Rwanda.”
  • Topic: Security, Ethnic Conflict, Counter-terrorism, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Africa, United States of America, Burkina Faso
  • 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: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: In most parts of the world, the lines on maps separating countries are true borders. That is, they are controlled by the governments on one or both sides. But in some places, they remain the quasi-open frontiers they were in the past or have reemerged as such because of recent political changes; those borders are highly porous zones, where people and goods can move more or less freely in one or both directions without much regard to the powers that be. Such situations invite outside involvement that can ramp up quickly and disturb preexisting international arrangements. One poignant example is the adjoining border area shared by Tajikistan and Afghanistan. In recent years, that frontier has attracted attention because of the danger that Islamist militants from Afghanistan could cross it to move north into Tajikistan and beyond. But another danger is emerging: China is establishing increasing control over Tajikistan and, thus, is putting itself in a position to project power southward from Tajikistan into Afghanistan. If Beijing does so, that could fundamentally change the security situation and geopolitical balance in Central and South Asia as a whole.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Territorial Disputes, Borders
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, China, South Asia, Central Asia, Asia, Tajikistan
  • Author: John C. K. Daly
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Amidst growing political dissatisfaction, the Russian government is grappling with the apparent vulnerabilities of the country’s internet. On February 1, Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy chairperson of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, acknowledged during an extensive interview with Russian media what foreign analysts have long suspected: disconnecting Russia from the internet is possible (TASS, February 1). And as if to provide a rationale for such potential action, the previous week, the Federal Security Service’s (FSB) National Coordination Center for Computer Incidents (NKTsKI) reported a threat of possible cyberattacks by the United States and its allies against Russia’s critical infrastructure (Interfax, January 22).
  • Topic: Government, Internet, Repression
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Azerbaijan’s victory in the Second Karabakh War (September 29–November 9) has had a transformative effect on the country. It not only changed the attitudes of its population, whose members now feel themselves to be heroes rather than victims (see EDM, January 21), but also bolstered the diplomatic weight and possibilities of the Azerbaijani government in its dealings with other regional states. In prosecuting a triumphant war against Yerevan, Baku demonstrated its own ability to act. But just as importantly, Azerbaijan has shown to peoples and governments in the Caucasus and Central Asia that it is a force to be reckoned with, in part thanks to its growing links with Turkey. Moreover, that alliance makes possible an appealing path to the outside world for all who join it. That reality is causing countries east of the Caspian to look westward to and through Azerbaijan in their economic planning and political calculations. At the same time, however, these developments are generating concerns in Moscow and Tehran, which oppose east-west trade routes that bypass their countries’ territories and instead favor north-south corridors linking Russia and Iran together. As a result, Azerbaijan’s recent successes in expanding links with Central Asia set the stage for new conflicts between Azerbaijan and its Turkic partners, on the one hand, and Russia and Iran, which have far more significant naval assets in the Caspian, on the other (see EDM, November 27, 2018 and February 20, 2020; Casp-geo.ru, December 24, 2019; Chinalogist.ru, November 21, 2019).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Territorial Disputes, Conflict, Trade
  • Political Geography: Russia, Iran, Central Asia, Middle East, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Rahim Rahimov
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Iran emerged as a potential loser from the Russia-brokered trilateral truce accords that ended last autumn’s 44-day Second Karabakh War between Armenia and Azerbaijan (see EDM January 25). Therefore, Tehran is seeking ways to reposition itself into the new situation in line with its interests. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif’s five-country regional tour of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Russia and Turkey, between January 25 and 28, clearly carried that mission (Tasnim News Agency, January 30). In particular, a top agenda item during this series of foreign visits was the proposal to reactivate a Soviet-era railway connecting Iran and Armenia via Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave, which is wedged between them and Turkey (Twitter.com/JZarif, January 26).
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Infrastructure, Transportation
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Armenia, Azerbaijan
  • Author: Paul A. Goble
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: Given the Vladimir Putin regime’s past reliance on oil exports, it is perhaps no surprise that Moscow has been casting about for some other raw material it can sell abroad now that hydrocarbon prices have fallen and Russian government revenues along with them. But its apparent selection of water as “the new oil” that it can sell to water-short China is again outraging Russians. Indeed, the policy may soon lead to the repetition of protests against such projects that roiled the country east of the Urals in 2019 and 2020. And this could complicate Russia’s relations not just with China but with Mongolia and Central Asian countries as well. By focusing exclusively on the possibility of foreign profits rather than the concerns of its own population, the Putin regime—wittingly or not—is recapitulating some of the steps the Communist leaders fatefully took in the years preceding the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
  • Topic: Natural Resources, Water, Domestic Policy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia
  • Author: Alla Hurska
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On February 19, the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine (NSDC) imposed sanctions on Ukrainian tycoon and politician Viktor Medvedchuk and his wife, Oksana Marchenko (Pravda.com.ua, February 19). Medvedchuk is a leader and people’s deputy of the pro-Russian party Opposition Platform–For Life, the largest opposition faction in the Ukrainian parliament. Moreover, he is a close acquaintance of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The NSDC sanctions list also includes five Russian nationals and Ukrainian national Nataliya Lavreniuk. The latter is Marchenko’s friend and the common-law spouse of Taras Kozak (already under sanctions), a people’s deputy from the same political party and Medvedchuk’s business partner. Apart from targeting those eight individuals, sanctions were imposed on nineteen associated businesses, including firms that own aircraft and operate direct flights from Kyiv to Moscow as well as a number of joint stock companies registered in Russia, Moldova and Portugal (Pravda.com.ua, February 20). These measures came two weeks after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered the shutdown of several television channels—ZIK, NewsOne and 112—connected to Kozak. The move was described by Zelenskyy as a necessary step to fight Russian propaganda. But according to the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) and the NSDC, these actions were motivated by more complex issues. Specifically, the three aforementioned TV channels were being financed by limited liability company trading house Don Coal (Rostov, Russia), which receives revenue from smuggling coal out of the Luhansk and Donetsk “people’s republics” (LPR/DPR) (Pravda.com.ua, February 4).
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Oil, Sanctions, Coal
  • Political Geography: Russia, Ukraine, Eastern Europe
  • Author: Pavel Felgenhauer
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: The Second Karabakh War, between Armenia and Azerbaijan, began on September 27, 2020, and ended on November 9, 2020, with a Russian-brokered and guaranteed agreement. The conflict claimed the lives of thousands of Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers. But after 44 days of fierce fighting, it concluded with Yerevan soundly defeated: Armenia lost territory occupied during the First Karabakh War in 1992–1994 as well as over 30 percent of prewar Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast—a region of Soviet Azerbaijan majority populated by ethnic Armenians. Today, the rump self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR or “Artsakh”)—still controlled by Armenians and not recognized by anyone—is fully surrounded by Azerbaijani troops and territory. The rump Karabakh “republic’s” perimeter is guarded by some 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” who also control the so-called Lachin corridor, the only highway left open from Armenia proper to Karabakh through the city of Lachin. The future of the rump NKR and its Armenian population is unclear. Baku refuses to discuss any special administrative status for the territory, insisting Armenians born in the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast or their descendants must disarm and apply for Azerbaijani citizenships to stay as a minority inside Azerbaijan. In turn, the NKR leadership has declared Russian an official language alongside Armenian to avoid use of Azerbaijani Turkish (Izvestia, February 17). Officials in Stepanakert (Khankendi in Azerbaijani) apparently hope this may tempt Moscow to keep its peacekeepers in Karabakh permanently and maybe eventually agree to annex the NKR outright.
  • Topic: Weapons , Conflict, Crisis Management
  • Political Geography: Russia, Eurasia, Eastern Europe, Nagorno-Karabakh
  • Author: Jack Broome
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Jamestown Foundation
  • Abstract: On December 7, 2020, following speculation in the news, the Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte finally announced that the government would not offer a holiday ceasefire—as is tradition for this time of year—to the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Duterte’s announcement came during his weekly address to the nation on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Duterte went one step further by declaring that peace talks are “dead” and there would no longer be any ceasefires for the remainder of his presidency (abs-cbn.com, December 8, 2020).
  • Topic: Communism, Terrorism, Insurgency, Non State Actors, Indigenous
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Ryan Lasnick
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: This report analyses the size, scale and persistence of national development banks and offers ten clear observations and conclusions of the role of NDBs for the achievement of sustainable development globally. The Executive Summary can be found here. This report analyzes NDBs top down and bottom up. Top down, it includes the most recent data on the number of NDBs along with their total assets and annual disbursements. Bottom up, we conduct systematic case studies of various development bank ecosystems, including those of India, Brazil, China, South Africa, Germany and the US, to begin analyzing their role in the national development bank economy.
  • Topic: Development, Sustainability, Banking
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sam Szoke-Burke
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Transparency is often seen as a means of improving governance and accountability of investment, but its potential to do so is hindered by vague definitions and failures to focus on the needs of key local actors. In a new report focusing on agribusiness, forestry, and renewable energy projects (“land investments”), CCSI grounds transparency in the needs of project-affected communities and other local actors. Transparency efforts that seek to inform and empower communities can also help governments, companies, and other actors to more effectively manage operational risk linked to social conflict.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Governance, Transparency, Sustainability, Community
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sam Szoke-Burke, Samuel Nguiffo, Stella Tchoukep
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Despite a recent transparency law and participation in transparency initiatives, Cameroon’s investment environment remains plagued by poor transparency.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Environment, Law, Transparency, Land Reform
  • Political Geography: Africa, Cameroon
  • Author: Nancy Gallagher, Clay Ramsay, Ebrahim Mohseni
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland (CISSM)
  • Abstract: This report covers findings from two surveys fielded in September and early October 2020 and late January through early February 2021 to assess how Iranians were faring as the covid-19 pandemic intensified the challenges their country was already facing, what they thought about the parliamentary election in Iran and the presidential election in the United States, and how the inauguration of Joe Biden impacted their attitudes towards nuclear diplomacy and regional security. Iran was one of the earliest countries to be hard-hit by the novel coronavirus, with the country’s first cases confirmed on February 13, 2020, two days before the parliamentary election, senior officials among those soon infected, and high death rates reported. Western reporting depicted widespread government incompetence and cover-ups exacerbating the pandemic’s toll. As in other countries, Iranian officials struggled to decide whether to close schools, curtail economic activities, and restrict religious observances in hopes of slowing the virus’ spread, but cases and deaths remained high through 2020. When we fielded the first survey wave, the daily number of new confirmed covid-19 cases in Iran was starting to climb sharply again after having been relatively flat since May. Some world leaders, including the U.N. Secretary General, called for an easing of sanctions on Iran as part of global efforts to fight the pandemic. The United States, which had withdrawn from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018, maintained that medicine, personal protective equipment, and other humanitarian supplies were exempt from the steadily increasing sanctions applied as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign. But, the United States’ designation in September 2019 of the Central Bank of Iran as a terrorist organization made most foreign suppliers of humanitarian goods reluctant to sell to Iran. A decision in October 2020 to also designate the few Iranian banks that were not previously subject to secondary sanctions further impeded humanitarian trade, caused another sharp drop in the value of Iran’s currency, and had other negative economic effects. The Trump administration’s stated objective was to keep imposing more sanctions until Iran acquiesced to a long list of U.S. demands articulated by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The original twelve points include the types of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program that the government rejected during previous negotiations and that the Iranian public has consistently opposed. It also included stopping development of nuclear-capable missiles and ending support for various groups throughout the Middle East.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Public Opinion, International Community
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Branimir Vidmarovic
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: As the globally difficult 2020 came to an end, China is entering a challenging and perilous period unlike any other in its long history. COVID-19 pandemic, widely believed to have originated in Chinese Wuhan, severely damaged China’s international image, especially among Western democracies. At the beginning of the millennium, Chinese policymakers reached a conclusion that favorable political and security environment presented China with a ‘strategic window of opportunity’ for the next 15 to 20 years, during which the country should strive to achieve its economic, social and security development goals. It was believed that at some point, the West would become wary and agitated by China’s rise – which would in turn lead to a shift towards less favorable conditions.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, International Cooperation, Hegemony, Isolation
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Krševan Antun Dujmović
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: The general elections held in Montenegro on 30 August 2020 has once again drawn the attention of the Western Balkans to the smallest, measured by population, among seven nations that emerged after the breakup of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. This attention is due to a number of factors. Back in May of 2018 Montenegro has opened the last of the thirty-three chapters in the negotiation process with the European Union, making it a harbinger among Western Balkans nations on the path to Euro-Atlantic integrations, especially as the country had joined the North Atlantic Alliance in June 2017. Other countries in the region linger behind Montenegro – Albania and North Macedonia, both NATO members, are still waiting for the opening of the negotiations with the EU. Serbia has no intention to join NATO, and in spite of EU negotiations and ambitions, sees itself in balance between the West on one side, and Russia and China on the other. Kosovo and Bosnia and Herzegovina are far from NATO membership and have merely the status of potential candidates for EU membership. This is why all eyes of the region and of the advocates of continuation of EU enragement policy are on Montenegro. The second factor are strong historical ties of this country on the Adriatic coast with its northern neighbor Serbia. Serbian minority makes up to one third of Montenegro’s population, and the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC- Srpska Pravoslavna Crkva) plays a vital role in Montenegrin society, as this country does not have its own autocephalous Church recognized by other Orthodox Churches in Eastern Christendom. This gives Serbia and the SPC a significant clout within borders of its southern neighbor. The third factor is the involvement of global players in this country. The United Sates has advocated strongly to include Montenegro in NATO in order to stretch the line of NATO’s southern flank in the Northern Mediterranean from the Iberian Peninsula to the west to Greece and Turkey in the east. On the other hand, Montenegro’s authorities accused Russia of meddling in the general elections held in October 2016 when the alleged coup d’état occurred on the election day. Many feared a similar scenario on the eve of 30 August 2020 election, fathoming the outbreak of riots and violence that could ignite the powder keg in the Balkans. Although none of these happened, Montenegro is not ceasing to be the subject of the geopolitical chessboard. Considering these factors, the attention of neighbors to the events in this Balkan country is understandable. The unfolding situation after the elections in which the government of Montenegro is backed by a very thin majority in the Parliament (Skupština Crne Gore) and with no clear vision nor strategy for further political and economic development of the country, is only fueling the wariness of its neighbors and of Brussels about Montenegro as a success story.
  • Topic: NATO, Regional Cooperation, Military Strategy, Elections, European Union, Transition
  • Political Geography: Europe, Balkans, Montenegro
  • Author: Elizabeth Saleh
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Discussions on waste policy in Lebanon tend to focus on the country’s corrupt practices and the health and environmental impact of bad waste management. This paper examines an overlooked aspect: the story of waste pickers — many of whom are economic or forced migrants — who are essential to Lebanon’s garbage management. Through an ethnographic study of a group of underage waste pickers, it argues that it is time for policy debates on garbage in Lebanon to integrate the perspective of waste workers.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Labor Issues, Recycling, Garbage
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Omar Al-Jaffal
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: In December 2019, the Iraqi parliament approved a new electoral law following demonstrations calling for fundamental political change. However, it took over 11 months for the president to ratify it as Iraq’s political parties fought over the shape of electoral districts. This article examines the disputes that surrounded the adoption of the law and the compromises that led to diluting its potential for reform. It concludes that while the new law represents a small step in the right direction, it ultimately is insufficient to respond to the aspirations of protestors looking for an overhaul of their political representation.
  • Topic: Reform, Elections, Democracy, Transition
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East
  • Author: Zied Boussen, Mohammed Islam Mbarki
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Tunisian youth are no different from their peers across the world when it comes to their indifference to public life. This apathy towards politics is not new; it goes back before 14 January Revolution. A 2008 national survey of youth showed that around 83% of Tunisian youth were not concerned with politics and 64% were not concerned with elections or joining civil society associations. Nonetheless, the Tunisian youth surprised observers and played an essential role in the revolution that led to the fall of Ben Ali. Immediately after, however, they returned to their position of indifference. The political tensions and episodes of instability that accompanied the democratic transition disappointed the youth greatly and led to apathy towards politics in all its forms. Successive elections were the most glaring example of this attitude: the youth abandoned the ballots and stopped taking initiatives of political work, either as candidates or as voters. The rise of Kais Saied as a presidential candidate seemed to have reignited the Tunisian youth’s interest in politics. They walked with him through all the stages of his elections. They led his most unusual campaign at the smallest cost; they confronted media attacks against him and provided him with alternative and new media platforms that improved his image. This support brought the youth and Kais Saied closer together. Saied also showed great understanding of the youth’s economic and social demands and gave them priority. He shared their anger at the political establishment, so they decided to stand by him to punish the establishment that they see as the source of their successive disappointments. The results of the presidential elections, in which one candidate won the bulk of the votes of the youth participating in the elections, generated many questions about the reasons for the youth’s support of Kais Saied, and the hopes that they hanged on him. What can we infer from this experience that can benefit the youth political participation generally? How does this experience help us understand the actual needs that push young people to participate in public life?
  • Topic: Political Activism, Elections, Youth, Participation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Joelle M. Abi-Rached, Pascale Salameh
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: As countries begin to roll out vaccination for COVID-19, the Lebanese caretaker government has yet to provide details about its vaccination strategy, raising concerns about its ability to provide vaccines due to the country’s economic and governance crisis. This paper, written by public health professionals, raises a number of questions about the vaccination strategy that the government should address and calls for an open, inclusive, and transparent process to placate the worries of citizens given the privatization and politicization of the country’s health sector.
  • Topic: Public Health, Vaccine, Pandemic, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Lebanon
  • Author: Stephen J. King
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: After independence, Algeria’s ruling elites chose to suppress identity issues because they saw diversity as a source of division and a threat to their hold on power. The Hirak has challenged the official narrative and called for an overhaul of the established regime, but issues of Black Algerians and anti-black racism still remain absent from public debates. This paper discusses the absence of Black Algerians in on-going debates about democratization, national identity, and belonging in Algeria, and suggests ways in which to address this exclusion.
  • Topic: Discrimination, Black Politics, Exclusion , Identity, Racism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Algeria
  • Author: Yasmina Abouzzohour
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: Oman is often portrayed as an “oasis of peace” that is immune to dissent. In fact, this assertion is an oversimplification and this paper provides a more discerning analysis of the relationship between the regime and opposition actors – such as youth groups, industrial workers, and intellectuals – that have led contestations in the last decade. It overviews the Omani political context, highlights recent episodes of contestation, and examines how the regime successfully contained them. It argues that in the coming years, the regime is likely to face heightened discontent triggered by socioeconomic hardship and it will be essential for the authorities to open the political sphere and stop repressing free speech.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Social Movement, Arab Spring, Protests
  • Political Geography: Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Theo Rauch, Michael Brüntrup
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a widely held consensus that it will not be possible to feed the world without the help of the smallholders of Africa, Latin America and Asia, who number up to 570 million farms or 2 billion people. Given the sheer size of this figure alone, the sustainable development of smallholder farming will be key to achieving a range of other sustainability goals.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, Latin America, Global South
  • Author: Katharina Krings, Jakob Schwab
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: While blockchain technology (BT) has gained a great deal of publicity for its use in cryptocurrencies, another area of BT application has emerged away from the public eye, namely supply chains. Due to the increasing fragmentation and globalisation of supply chains in recent years, many products have to pass through countless production steps worldwide (from raw material extraction to the point of sale). Ensuring the quality and sustainability of production in preceding steps is a major challenge for many firms and thus, ultimately, also for the consumer. BT offers potential for achieving significant progress on this front. Put simply, the blockchain makes it possible to verify data decentralised within a network, store it in a tamper-proof and traceable format and make it accessible to all members of a network.
  • Topic: Development, Science and Technology, Cryptocurrencies, Sustainability, Blockchain
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniele Malerba
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: To avoid catastrophic effects on natural and human systems, bold action needs to be taken rapidly to mitigate climate change. Despite this urgency, the currently implemented and planned climate mitigation policies are not sufficient to meet the global targets set in Paris in 2015. One reason for their current inadequate rollout is their perceived negative distributional effects: by increasing the price of goods, climate mitigation policies may increase both poverty and inequality. In addition, they may disrupt labour markets and increase unemployment, especially in sectors and areas dependent on fossil fuels. As a result, public protests in many countries have so far blocked or delayed the implementation of climate policies.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, Policy Implementation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mario Negre
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: With inequality reduction now being officially and broadly recognised as a key development objective with its own Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 10), there is a need for simple, economical and quick methodologies with which to focus on this area and assess progress. This paper presents such a methodology, which allows a rough assessment of the potential impacts of development cooperation on income, consumption and wealth inequality. This is important, as a rigorous causal analysis of the contribution development cooperation makes to reducing a partner country’s inequality is complex and costly. First, the relative contribution of targeted development cooperation programmes and projects to the economies of partner countries tends to be small (though admittedly not in all cases). Second, a myriad of factors contribute to changes in inequality in any given country, and assessing the impact of all of them is a complex, imprecise, time-consuming and resource-intensive exercise.
  • Topic: Development, International Cooperation, Inequality, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Max Otto Baumann
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: There is a case to be made for greater transparency of the United Nations’ (UN) development work at the country level. Transparency can, in the simplest terms, be defined as the quality of being open to public scrutiny. Despite improvements in recent years, UN organisations still only partially meet this standard. Only the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and, with limitations, the World Food Programme (WFP) systematically publish basic project parameters such as project documents, funding data and evaluations. Others do not even publish project lists. Only the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) publishes evaluations – a key source on performance – in an easily accessible way next to programme or project information. Lack of project transparency constitutes not only a failure to operate openly in an exemplary way, as should be expected of the UN as a public institution with aspirations to play a leadership role in global development. It also undermines in very practical ways the development purposes that UN organisations were set up for: It reduces their accountability to the stakeholders they serve, including executive boards and local actors; it hampers the coordination of aid activities across and beyond the UN; and it undermines the learning from both successes and failures.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Transparency, World Food Program (WFP)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Laryssa Chomiak
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: At the 10-year anniversary of the Tunisian Revolution, which toppled decades of dictatorship and repositioned discussions about democracy across the Middle East and North Africa, the democratic transition in Tunisia is in flux, or rather at an impasse. On the one hand, Tunisia is celebrated as the lone democratic success story of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, based on multiple cycles of free and fair elections. On the other hand, serious domestic political agitation over the last decade, coupled with deep structural inequalities and a rise in public perceptions of corruption in government, has nearly derailed its course towards democratic consolidation and stability. Democratisation in Tunisia has hinged on the widely celebrated mechanism of consensus among political adversaries in parliament, and among key political and civil society actors. Yet, instead of achieving consensus on critical political and economic-structural reforms, compromise-based arrangements have fallen apart due to intense party infighting, regular resignations of governments, and enormous public pressure resulting from a stagnating economy and lack of vision for comprehensive and equitable economic reform. The effect has been sustained infighting over economic and social policy, which in turn has resulted in diminishing public trust in political parties and new democratic institutions, an all-time low level of satisfaction with the government’s performance and a significant rise in contentious politics, particularly between 2019 and 2021. The proliferation of micro-parties (209 registered political parties for a population of 11.8 million) has resulted in confusion among the electorate, while the economic reality of a suffocating international debt crisis, which has only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, has rendered levels of public trust in government to an all-time low.
  • Topic: Reform, Democracy, Arab Spring, Revolution, Transition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, North Africa, Tunisia