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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: 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: Lorenza Errighi
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: If 2020 was the year of “mask diplomacy”, as countries raced to tackle the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and acquire the necessary protective gear and equipment, 2021 is likely to be remembered as the year of “vaccine diplomacy”. Growing competition between states to secure the necessary quantities of vaccines to inoculate their population has already become an established feature of the post-COVID international system and such trends are only likely to increase in the near future. It normally takes up to a decade to transition from the development and testing of a vaccine in a laboratory to its large-scale global distribution. Despite current challenges, the speed of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns is unprecedented. To put an end to the current pandemic – which in one year has led to the loss of 2.6 million lives and triggered the worst economic recession since the Second World War – the goal is to ensure the widest immunisation of the world population in a timeframe of 12 to 18 months. In this context, COVID vaccines emerge as instruments of soft power, as they symbolise, on the one hand, scientific and technological supremacy and, on the other, means to support existing and emerging foreign policy partnerships and alliances with relevant geopolitical implications. From their experimentation in laboratories, to their purchase and distribution, the vaccine has emerged as a significant tool for competition between powers, often associated with the promotion of competing developmental and governance models across third countries.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Health, Vaccine, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • 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: Eileen Donahoe
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: The Ambassador's Review
  • Institution: Council of American Ambassadors
  • Abstract: The United States plans to host a Summit for Democracy to advance President Joseph Biden’s stated priority for national security of revitalizing democracy. Digital technology must be a focal point of the Summit. The future of democracy depends, in large part, on the ability of democracies to confront the digital transformation of society – to address the challenges and to capitalize on its opportunities. Over the past decade, democracies have struggled to meet this test, while authoritarians have used technology to deepen repression and extend global influence. To combat the digital authoritarian threat, democracies must be rallied around a shared values-based vision of digital society and a joint strategic technology agenda. The Summit tech agenda should revolve around five core themes: 1) Democracies must get their own tech policy “houses” in order; 2) To win the normative battle, democracies must compete and win the technology battle; 3) Technological transformation necessitates governance innovation; 4) To win the geopolitical battle for the soul of 21st century digital society, democracies must band together; 5) Technology must be reclaimed for citizens and humanity.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, International Cooperation, Democracy, Summit
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: O. Shamanov
  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: Issues concerning global climate change – by objective criteria, one of the most serious environmental threats of our time – have for many years been filling the top slots of the international agenda, and the political tem- perature of debates on this topic remains at the highest degree. Soon a new milestone will be reached on the thorny path of the inter- national climate process: on December 31, 2020, the Doha Amendment to the kyoto Protocol of the united nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (unFCCC) comes into force.1 this document extends the time frame of the kyoto Protocol from 2013 to 2020 (hence its unofficial title, kyoto-2) and contains a whole set of amendments to the kyoto guidelines, including updated quantitative criteria for greenhouse gas emission reductions for developed countries. Climate activists will probably schedule their next mass marches for this date, in order to mark this "historic" stage in the fight against global warming. Leaders from a number of states are expected to make bold new calls to “set the bar high” for the sake of averting a global climate col- lapse. But what remains hidden behind the scenes? What are the root caus- es of such a paradoxical situation, in which kyoto-2 is going into effect at the very end of its second commitment period?
  • Topic: Climate Change, Diplomacy, Environment, International Cooperation, United Nations
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sergey Boiko
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Affairs: A Russian Journal of World Politics, Diplomacy and International Relations
  • Institution: East View Information Services
  • Abstract: INFORMATION and communication technologies (ICTs) provide humankind with unprecedented opportunities. Mass communication technologies, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, blockchain, big data, e-government, digital medicine, and cryptocurrencies have become part and parcel of our life. But at the same time, new ICT achievements bring new threats and challenges – primarily to international peace, security and stability, and the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states. The first international warning about those threats came from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). It was issued in the Agreement among the Governments of the SCO Member on Cooperation in the Field of Ensuring International Information Security of June 16, 2009.1 The main threats, the agreement says, are the “development and use of information weapons” and the “preparation and waging of information war.”
  • Topic: Science and Technology, International Security, Communications, Cybersecurity, Cryptocurrencies, Blockchain, Digital Policy, Internet of Things, Information Technology
  • Political Geography: China, 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