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  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Since the beginning of the Astana process, Moscow seems to be in a race against time to establish the foundations of a solution in Syria before arriving in Geneva: first, by reforming the opposition’s delegation to the negotiations, an effort Moscow has been working on ever since the military intervention in Syria began, and second, by redrawing the solution’s main parameters, which Moscow exerted great effort towards during marathon negotiations conducted with the former US Secretary of State, John Kerry. Through these negotiations, Moscow has been able to change the rules at Geneva by prioritising an agreement to change the constitution, followed by the formation of a non-sectarian representative government, and then calling for presidential elections with Assad’s participation, so ‘the Syrian people can decide his fate’.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The Justice and Development Party (AKP) could not possibly have received approval for the proposed constitutional amendments in parliament and needed the Nationalist Movement Party’s support in order to carry out a referendum. A difficult election campaign for the amendments awaits the two opposing parties; however, there is no way to be certain before the announcement of the referendum results. Nevertheless, the most important issue relates to the long-term consequences for the AKP, particularly in terms of its Kurdish base. In terms of ethnicities, the AKP is considered the party of Turks, Kurds, Arabs, Circassians and all other Turkish ethnic groups, while the Nationalist Movement Party has traditionally been committed to the most severe position against the Kurdish Nationalist Movement, including its armed and unarmed wings.
  • Topic: Democratization, Constitution
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Hugh Stephens
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The Trump administration’s arrival has scrambled the cards in the trade policy world. Not only will the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) be reopened with uncertain results, but President Donald Trump has scuttled the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) by announcing the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement. Canada, originally cool toward the TPP, pushed hard to be included in it. The TPP became the centrepiece of Canada’s Asia trade strategy, notwithstanding some public ambivalence on the part of the Trudeau government. With the TPP in its present form now in limbo, Canada still has options in Asia. First, it can keep an open mind with regard to the possible reconstitution of the TPP in another form, such as “TPP Minus One” (i.e., minus the U.S.). It should also push to reopen the bilateral negotiations with Japan that were suspended when that country joined the TPP negotiations. Canada is already exploring the possibility of an economic partnership agreement with China, perhaps on a sectoral basis, and simultaneously, it should actively pursue negotiation of a free trade agreement with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) community. This could in time provide Canada access to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) currently being negotiated among 16 countries in the Asia-Pacific region and would position Canada well in the eventuality that a Free Trade Area of Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) emerges. In the meantime, uncertainty regarding NAFTA’s future needs to be addressed. This uncertainty makes it more difficult for Canada to attract Asian investment but it also provides further impetus for Canada to diversify its trading relationships and to explore stronger relationships with Asian economies.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Global Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Canada, Asia
  • Author: Andrea Charron, James Fergusson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: While most attention on NORAD and North American defence cooperation is focused on the modernization of the North Warning System (NWS), significant developments have occurred that suggest modernization will be accompanied by significant evolutionary changes to the Command. The new threat environment, centered upon Russian behaviour in Crimea, Ukraine and Syria, a new Russian strategic doctrine, and a new generation of advanced Russian long-range cruise missiles dictate not only layered, multi-sensor early warning system, but also changes in NORAD command arrangements. In addition, the maritime component of the cruise missile threat, alongside continuing concerns of terrorists employing freighters as cruise missile platforms, raise the question whether NORAD should evolve into a binational air-maritime defence command. These considerations are central to the ongoing Evolution of North American Defence (EVONAD) study, emanating from the Canada-US Permanent Joint Board on Defence, under the lead of NORAD, in collaboration with the Canadian Joint Operations Command (CJOC) and US Northern Command (the tri-command structure). The final result is difficult to predict. However, it is clear that both modernization and evolution will be driven by the militaries engaged, with civilian authorities guiding the process, and the public and Canadian government not paying attention.
  • Topic: International Relations, Defense Policy, International Security
  • Political Geography: Canada
  • Author: Matt Preston
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: The Korean Peninsula has dominated the news out of Asia as of late. From assassinations reminiscent of James Bond villains and ballistic missiles aimed at U.S. bases in Japan, to Chinese anger over advanced missile defence systems, and harsher than ever sanctions by China on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRIK), there is no shortage of headlines. But below the radar, some more important events have been taking place across the Tsushima Strait. On March 4, Japan’s Liberal Democrat Party approved a rule change that would allow the party’s president to continue for a third term. This means that should the LDP win another election, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe could serve until 2021, making him the longest-serving Japanese prime minister in the postwar era.1 Upon the rule’s approval, Abe announced: “It’s the historic mission of the LDP, which has held up the backbone of Japan throughout the postwar period, to lead a specific debate toward a proposal to amend the constitution.” To Abe and the conservative faction he heads within the LDP, that largely means repealing Article 9 — the ‘no war’ clause. Simultaneously, controversy has arisen over a potential conflict of interest story regarding the sale of land far below market value to a nationalistic primary school that originally named Abe’s wife, Akie, as honourary principal.2
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Alan Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: It is time for the Canadian government to conduct a holistic review of Canada’s national security complex. The Defence Policy Review is floundering as a consequence of an uncooperative world, Canada’s domestic security institutions require legislative empowerment, and the election of Donald Trump has placed increased pressure on Canadian security and defence. Securing the U.S.’s northern border is a no-fail mission for Canada as peace and prosperity depend upon it. However, this must be done within Canadian security norms and values. Only a ground-up examination of the Canadian national security system will elicit a comprehensive understanding of the current deficiencies that will allow focused alignment of government objectives, policies and public funds. Crisis management requires a strategic plan with clear objectives from which to conduct concurrent and coordinated activities. The Trudeau government has the team in place; now, it needs a new National Security Policy statement to assist in “lead turning” an unconventional U.S. administration steadfast in its stance over national security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Immigration
  • Political Geography: America, Canada
  • Author: Sarah Goldfeder
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Canadian Global Affairs Institute (CGAI)
  • Abstract: On Jan. 23, the first Monday after being sworn in as president of the United States, Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum that laid the groundwork for exiting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP was the elegant solution to a host of hold-over irritants from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as well as a way to address wholly new issues of trade and commerce. In the wake of this decision, Trump also promised a wholesale reworking of NAFTA, in which everything would be on the table. In the days since, the Trump trade team has been off to a rocky start. Finally, after months of discussion, the notification incumbent for use of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was provided to Congressional leaders on May 18, 2017. Mexico has taken it all in stride, as it took almost immediate advantage of the blusterous U.S. rhetoric to outline its demands for any NAFTA discussion. Canada meanwhile plays the sphinx, open about its willingness to negotiate, but not much else. The U.S. may find that it’s less ready for this round of negotiations than it wanted to be, but its partners are well placed to unite and drive a hard bargain.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Canada, Global Focus
  • Author: Sandro Knezović, Nani Klepo
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Institute for Development and International Relations (IRMO)
  • Abstract: In the last two decades, the architecture of global governance has significant- ly changed in terms that post-Cold-war system dominated mainly by Western countries is now facing fragmentations. New actors, new forms of governance and various forms of partnerships are shaping new multilateralism, which is challenged with many security issues and conflicting relations between global actors.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Francesca Fabbri
  • Publication Date: 07-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Among the countries of the 2011 Arab revolutions, Tunisia clearly underwent the most robust process of transition to a pluralistic and democratic regime. While consolidating the recent changes is challenging, Tunisia’s ability to successfully confront its problems rests on two important preconditions: eradicating corruption and achieving a sound decentralisation process. Today, lack of transparency and stagnating regional development are deeply intertwined problems that need to be tackled swiftly by the Tunisian government with the support of its international partners. Recent laws and measures, such as the five-year Development Plan, the adoption of an Investment Law, and the reform of the local electoral legal framework, seem to confirm the ambition to reform, but implementation remains very patchy. The EU, with its ambition to make Tunisia an example for enhanced cooperation in the region, should play a greater role in encouraging the Tunisian government to enact much needed reforms through a more critical approach.
  • Topic: Corruption, International Cooperation
  • Political Geography: Tunisia
  • Author: Claire Dhéret, Marco Giuli
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Policy Centre
  • Abstract: Energy poverty, defined as the "inability to afford basic energy services such as adequate warmth, cooling, lighting and the energy to power appliances due to a combination of low income, high energy expenditure and poor energy efficiency of dwellings",2 has recently been on the radar of policymakers, leading to some efforts in tackling the issue. Yet, developing adequate policy solutions has remained difficult both at the national and European level, not least due to the complexity and the multidimensional nature of the phenomenon and the limited competences of the European Union (EU) in the social area. Thus, despite some positive developments, there still is a long journey towards eradicating energy poverty. This paper presents some milestones along the way and recommendations for the future.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Energy Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe