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  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The clergy’s ambitions for global Shia revolution made the city of Qom uniquely vulnerable to the disease, and their resistance to modern medical science weakened the state’s ability to combat its spread. On February 19, two days before the Iranian government officially announced the arrival of coronavirus, an infected businessman who had recently returned from China to Qom passed away. The location and timing of his death illustrate how the Shia holy city and the religious leaders and institutions who call it home have played an outsize role in the disease’s disproportionately rapid spread inside Iran compared to other countries. How did this situation come to pass, and what does it say about the current state of the clerical establishment, its relationship with the regime, and its alienation from large swaths of Iranian society? (Part 2 of this PolicyWatch discusses the regime's role in the outbreak and its resiliency to such crises.)
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Religion, Shia, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, Middle East, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Esra Cuhadar
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Current peace processes are designed to be more inclusive of women, civil society, youth, opposition political parties, and other frequently marginalized communities. Implementation of inclusive peace processes, however, has not progressed smoothly—and are frequently met with resistance. Based on an examination of instances of resistance in thirty peace and transition negotiations since 1990, this report enhances practitioners’ understanding of who resists, against whose participation, using what tactics, and with what motives.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Gender Issues, Politics, Women, Youth, Peace
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Deok Ryong Yoon, Soyoung Kim, Jinhee Lee
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP)
  • Abstract: In this study we aim to clarify the different extents to which monetary policy influences foreign exchange rate determination between the monetary policies of small open economies with international currency and those without international currency, and use empirical research to explain why. Based on the analysis above, we make some policy suggestions.
  • Topic: Foreign Exchange, Monetary Policy, Economic Policy, Currency
  • Political Geography: South Korea, Global Focus
  • Author: Francesco Burchi, Christoph Strupat, Armin von Schiller
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Social cohesion is an important precondition for peaceful and economically successful societies. The question of how societies hold together and which policies enhance social cohesion has become a relevant topic on both national and international agendas. This Briefing Paper stresses the contribution of revenue collection and social policies, and in particular the interlinkages between the two. It is evident that revenue mobilisation and social policies are intrinsically intertwined. It is impossible to think carefully about either independently of the other. In particular, revenue is needed to finance more ambitious social policies and allow countries to reach goals, such as those included in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Similarly, better social policies can increase the acceptance of higher taxes and fees. Furthermore, and often underestimated, a better understanding of the interlinkages between revenue generation and social policies can provide a significant contribution to strengthening social cohesion – in particular, concerning state–citizen relationships. In order to shed light on these interlinkages, it is useful to have a closer look at the concept of the “fiscal contract”, which is based on the core idea that governments exchange public services for revenue. Fiscal contracts can be characterised along two dimensions: (i) level of endorsement, that is, the number of actors and groups that at least accept, and ideally proactively support, the fiscal contract, and (ii) level of involvement, that is, the share of the population that is involved as taxpayer, as beneficiary of social policies or both. In many developing countries, either because of incapacity or biased state action towards elite groups, the level of involvement is rather low. Given the common perception that policies are unjust and inefficient, in many developing countries the level of endorsement is also low. It is precisely in these contexts that interventions on either side of the public budget are crucial and can have a significant societal effect beyond the fiscal realm. We argue that development programmes need to be especially aware of the potential impacts (negative and positive) that work on revenue collection and social policies can have on the fiscal contract and beyond, and we call on donors and policy-makers alike to recognise these areas as relevant for social cohesion. We specifically identify three key mechanisms connecting social policies and revenue collection through which policy-makers could strengthen the fiscal contract and, thereby, enhance social cohesion: 1. Increasing the effectiveness and/or coverage of public social policies. These interventions could improve the perceptions that people – and not only the direct beneficiaries – have of the state, raising their willingness to pay taxes and, with that, improving revenues. 2. Broadening the tax base. This is likely to generate new revenue that can finance new policies, but more importantly it will increase the level of involvement, which will have other effects, such as increasing government responsiveness and accountability in the use of public resources. 3. Enhancing transparency. This can stimulate public debate and affect people’s perceptions of the fiscal system. In order to obtain this result, government campaigns aimed at diffusing information about the main features of policies realised are particularly useful, as are interventions to improve the monitoring and evaluation system.
  • Topic: Development, Finance, Economic growth, Tax Systems, Transparency, Social Cohesion
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Lennart C. Kaplan, Sascha Kuhn, Jana Kuhnt
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Successful programmes and policies require supportive behaviour from their targeted populations. Understanding what drives human reactions is crucial for the design and implementation of development programmes. Research has shown that people are not rational agents and that providing them with financial or material incentives is often not enough to foster long-term behavioural change. For this reason, the consideration of behavioural aspects that influence an individual’s actions, including the local context, has moved into the focus of development programmes. Disregarding these factors endangers the success of programmes. The World Bank brought this point forward forcefully with its 2015 World Development Report, “Mind, Society and Behavior”, herewith supporting the focus on behavioural insights within development policies. While agencies may intuitively consider behavioural aspects during programme design and implementation, a systematic approach would improve programme effectiveness at a relatively small financial cost. For this reason, we present a framework – the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) (Ajzen, 1991) – that aids practitioners and researchers alike in considering important determinants of human behaviour during the design and implementation of development programmes The TPB suggests considering important determinants of human behaviour, such as the individual’s attitude towards the intervention (influenced by previous knowledge, information or learning); subjective norms (influenced by important people, such as family members or superiors); and the individual’s sense of behavioural control (influenced by a subjective assessment of barriers and enablers). The theory should be used early on in the programme design to perform a structured assessment of behavioural aspects in the appropriate context. Components of the TPB can often be addressed through cost-effective, easy changes to existing programmes. Simple guiding questions (see Box 1) can help integrate the theory into the programme design. An iterative and inclusive process, particularly in exchange with the targeted population and other stakeholders, increases success.
  • Topic: Development, Norms, Behavior
  • Political Geography: Germany, Global Focus
  • Author: Nathan Nunn
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Economics for Inclusive Prosperity (EfIP)
  • Abstract: In this brief, I discuss the current state of economic development policy, which tends to focus on interventions, usually funded with foreign aid, that are aimed at fixing deficiencies in developing countries. The general perception is that there are inherent problems with less-developed countries that can be fixed by with the help of the Western world. I discuss evidence that shows that the effects of such ‘help’ can be mixed. While foreign aid can improve things, it can also make things worse. In addition, at the same time that this ‘help’ is being offered, the developed West regularly undertakes actions that are harmful to developing countries. Examples include tariffs, antidumping duties, restrictions on international labor mobility, the use of international power and coercion, and tied-aid used for export promotion. Overall, it is unclear whether interactions with the West are, on the whole, helpful or detrimental to developing countries. We may have our largest and most positive effects on alleviating global poverty if we focus on restraining ourselves from actively harming less-developed countries rather than focusing our efforts on fixing them.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Developing World, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: United States, Global Focus
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Tensions are rising on the Colombia-Venezuela border after a new guerrilla faction opted out of Colombia’s 2016 peace deal. With diplomatic ties between the two countries severed, the risk of escalation is high. Bogotá and Caracas should open channels of communication to avoid inter-state clashes
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: International Crisis Group
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: In a period of increasing international tensions, the role of the UN in resolving major crises is shrinking. World leaders attending the UN General Assembly this month will talk about conflicts from Latin America to Asia. The chances of diplomatic breakthroughs have appeared low, even if this week’s departure of Iran hawk John Bolton from the Trump administration increased speculation about the possibility of a meeting in New York between U.S. President Donald Trump and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. Looking beyond the General Assembly, opportunities for the Security Council to resolve pressing conflicts – or for Secretary-General António Guterres and other UN officials to do so without Council mandates – seem few. But some nevertheless exist. In cases where the permanent five members of the council (P5) have a shared interest in de-escalating crises, or regional powers collaborate with UN agencies to address conflicts, the organisation can still provide a framework for successful peacemaking.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 07-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Despite recent positive developments making forward progress on the Secretary-General’s call for a more preventive approach to crisis, in New York, discussions on prevention remain focused on difficult moments of crisis and must navigate deepening divisions in the Security Council
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Dana Stroul, Hanin Ghaddar
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Apart from its military intervention, Tehran has pursued a wide range of economic and social tactics for increasing its sway in Syria, but Washington can still push back with targeted assistance, innovative sanctions, and strategic messaging. This PolicyWatch is the first in a two-part series on how to counter Iran’s expanding activities in Syria amid talk of U.S. military withdrawal. Part 2 will discuss the array of Iranian-backed armed groups currently operating there
  • Topic: International Affairs, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus