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  • Author: John Goodman
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: For decades, people have increasingly sought to better manage life’s risks by appealing for help from their government, even when other alternatives would yield better results. Moreover, the growing dependence on government to solve major life problems has taken a heavy toll—higher taxes, greater political polarization, and numerous hidden costs and unintended consequences. Fortunately, we need not resign ourselves to this predicament. Opportunities for better managing life’s risks and reducing government waste are all around us, according to Independent Institute Senior Fellow John C. Goodman.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: America
  • Publication Date: 04-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iran and the P5+1 countries are expected to issue a joint statement today that outlines most aspects of a comprehensive nuclear deal, but defers some still thorny issues to further talks A key remaining sticking point is Iran's demand for immediate and comprehensive lifting of sanctions, which the P5+1 cannot accept The United States is attempting to reassure nervous regional partners, such as Israel and Arab Gulf states, that the U.S. is not making too many concessions for the sake of a deal U.S. allies in the region are concerned that lifting sanctions, even if done gradually, will enable Iran to provide even more military and financial aid to the Assad regime in Syria, Shi'a militias in Iraq, and the Houthi movement in Yemen.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Yemen, Syria
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: There hasn't been a lasting and successful end to an armed conflict in the Middle East in decades, and the newest fighting in Yemen can be seen through a lens of deep regional frustration over countless issues that seem to defy solutions The entire region is frustrated with the worsening status quo, but the consensus and creativity to meaningfully address the challenges is lacking, even with the newly announced Arab 'rapid response force' to an extremist problem that has been openly growing for a decade The only actors not frustrated are non-state actors, who fill the ever-widening chasm between what regional governments can deliver and what their populations demand.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Algeria
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The brazen terrorist attack in the heart of Tunis, at the Bardo National Museum, is the most serious attack to take place in Tunisia since 2002, and presents the tourism-dependent country with serious challenges in how to respond effectively and proportionately Such an attack was nearly inevitable, given the disproportionately large number of Tunisians who have traveled to fight with the Islamic State, as well as being squeezed in a vise of extremism with Libya to the east and Algeria to the west There have been no claims of responsibility but there is no shortage of plausible suspects, with both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb active in the country There will likely be more attacks in Tunisia, though perhaps of a smaller but equally destabilizing nature, as the government increases pressure on networks, leaving the field open for Charlie Hebdo-styled attacks which are harder to disrupt given the smaller numbers of actors.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Libya, Syria, Tunisia
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: Iraqi security forces, which include more Shi'a militia than Iraqi army personnel, have retaken nearly all of Tikrit, with Islamic State fighters still holding out in the center of the city The tomb of former dictator Saddam Hussein was destroyed during the fighting; the Islamic State is placing the blame on Shi'a militia while the Iraqi government says Islamic State fighters were responsible It is unlikely that the destruction of the tomb will rally many Sunnis to the Islamic State's cause, though it doesn't help lower sectarian tensions; it will be far more destructive if sectarian fighting follows the fall of Tikrit and other towns The Islamic State will seek every opportunity to turn this conflict into a repeat of Saddam's 1980-1988 war on Iran, where the Iraqi Sunni battle the Shi'a of both countries; only if the Shi'a militia oblige the group by perpetrating atrocities and oppression towards the Sunni population they liberated will this be achievable.
  • Topic: Security, Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Soufan Group
  • Abstract: The Islamic State accepted Boko Haram\'s allegiance, or bay\'at, pledged to the Iraq and Syria-based extremist group over the weekend Given the recent military setbacks for Boko Haram and the Islamic State, and their increasing convergence, this development is unsurprising and a propaganda victory for both groups The alliance may spark an escalation of attacks in northeast Nigeria, as Boko Haram seeks to prove itself to the Islamic State The announcement may also internationalize Boko Haram\'s fight and draw jihadists to Nigeria from across the Middle East and North Africa.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Syria
  • Author: Steph Cousins, Liz Cameron
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: As Afghanistan prepares for Presidential elections and the withdrawal of international forces, insecurity is continuing to spread across the country with a devastating impact on civilians. UNAMA's role in advancing human rights, supporting humanitarian access and promoting peace and reconciliation efforts – particularly as they relate to the women, peace and security agenda in Afghanistan – must be strengthened in order to ensure the significant gains that have been made in the last decade are not lost.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Government, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Anthea Roberts
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: There have been many calls for a rebalancing of investor protection and state sovereignty in the investment treaty system. However, another equally important shift is underway: the recalibration of interpretive authority between treaty parties and arbitral tribunals. In newer-style investment treaties, states are increasingly protecting and enhancing their role in interpreting and applying their treaties.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Steven Blockmans
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: Concerns about the deterioration of democracy in Turkey are not new: the trials over the 2003 „ Sledgehammer ‟ alleged coup plan (2010-12) and over the ‟ Ergenekon ‟ secret organisation (2008-13) broke the military‟s influence over politics, but were widely criticised because of their reliance on secret witnesses and disputes over evidence. Ironically, their outcome has recently been challenged by Prime Minister Erdoğan himself, who has disowned the trials now that the judiciary has the AK Party in its sights. International concern was also stirred by the violent crackdown on the countrywide protests of May/June 2013. Unrest then was triggered by the planned redevelopment of Istanbul‟s Gezi Park in May 2013, but developed into a wider movement critical of government corruption, increasing restrictions on freedom of speech and concerns about the erosion of secularism. Protests simmered on through September, winding down in autumn and winter only to reignite in March of this year.
  • Topic: Government, International Cooperation, Politics, Regional Cooperation, Reform
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey
  • Author: Dominik Tolksdorf
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ukraine's weak rule of law and widespread corruption and nepotism, combined with growing concerns over a shift toward authoritarianism under President Victor Yanukovych, were among the key factors that triggered the Maidan protests. Many political conflicts and failures of governance in Ukraine are rooted in the weakness of the political and judicial system, including shifts in constitutional powers, over-centralization of administrative structures and a lack of judicial independence. The interim government should promote an inclusive, participatory and transparent constitutional process. Such a process could help de-escalate the current conflict and build confidence in the central government and its willingness to integrate all constituencies into Ukraine's political system.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Government, Sovereignty, Political Theory, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ukraine
  • Author: Rafat Al-Akhali
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The 2011 protests against corruption, lack of accountability, limited access to basic services, and the extreme centralization of power transformed Yemen. In November of that year, the main political parties signed a transition plan, brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council, which provided the framework and process to achieve a peaceful transfer of power. Two of the key steps agreed upon in the transition plan were the convening of the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), followed by drafting a new constitution based on the outcomes of the National Dialogue.
  • Topic: Corruption, Government, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen
  • Author: Anna Marriott, Jessica Hamer
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim has publicly stated that achieving universal health coverage (UHC) and equity in health are central to reaching the two new overarching World Bank Group goals to end extreme poverty by 2030 and boost shared prosperity. Jim Kim has also rightly emphasized the need to close the gap in access to quality health services for the poorest 40 percent of the population and to eliminate point-of-service payments that impoverish people in every country.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Foreign Direct Investment, World Bank, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Charles Kenny
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Global Development
  • Abstract: Government contracts regarding the use of public property and finances should be published by default. Many jurisdictions already require that contracts be made public in response to requests for the information; some now publish contracts proactively. Doing so helps new entrants compete in the market for public contracts, helps governments model their projects on other successful examples, and allows citizens greater insight into how their taxes are being spent. This brief, summarizing the conclusions of the Working Group on Government Contract Publication, provides a practical outline for reaping the benefits of open contracts while addressing legitimate concerns about costs, collusion, privacy, commercial secrecy, and national security.
  • Topic: Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United Kingdom
  • Author: Steven E. Steiner
  • Publication Date: 09-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Ongoing dialogues and forums on nations in transition reinforce the commonality of challenges related to women's rights and roles in society, especially leadership in government. Women leaders in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Arab Spring countries face major challenges, including heightened insecurity and the risk of women's rights being rolled back significantly. Steps to address these challenges are to build coalitions across internal divides, engage male religious leaders and other men to support women's rights, reach out to youth, develop gender-based budgeting, and underscore the importance of women's economic empowerment. Keys to progress in these areas include obtaining grassroots support and taking a long-term strategic focus in international programs.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Gender Issues, Government, Labor Issues, Governance
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Arabia
  • Author: Caroline Green
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: In every humanitarian crisis, humanitarian agencies, donors , and governments should seek to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls (VAWG ) and gender-based violence (GBV) in emergencies, by: Reducing the risk s of GBV/ VAW G for beneficiaries of humanitarian programmes; Supporting long-term efforts to tackle the causes of GBV/VAWG in recovery and transition strategies; Supporting survivors' access to safe, confidential services ; and Placing all of the above in the context of efforts to tackle the broader gendered impacts of crises , in order to meet the needs of women, men, girls and boys , and to find opportunities to promote women's rights and gender equality in the long term . As well as encouraging other actors to undertake these actions, Oxfam is committed to promoting gender equality and preventing GBV/VAWG, through the implementation of its Minimum Standards for G ender in Emergencies. In addition, and particularly in conflict and transition contexts , donors, governments, UN agencies, civil society, armed forces , and peacekeepers, should advance women's rights, and undertake special measures to ensure their protection from GBV/VAWG.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Civil Society, Gender Issues, Government, Health, War
  • Author: Benjamin P. Nickels
  • Publication Date: 03-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: On 22 March 2012, disaffected soldiers took control of Bamako and reversed the regime of President Amadou Toumani Touré, known as ATT, an act that exacerbated Mali's descent into chaos and accelerated a disaster that has propelled the West African nation and the Sahel region to the front pages of newspapers across the world. Something of a consensus narrative of events has since coalesced. The demise of Libya's Muammar Qaddafi un - leashed weapons and warriors into the Sahel, where they mixed with terrorists and rebels who seized Mali's North by routing its military, sparking the coup but eventually provoking intervention by a French and African coalition that has reclaimed Northern cities and is now hunting down rebels in remote refuges. One year after the army rebellion, it may be useful to step back from this narrative and to analyze the Mali Crisis, responses to the crisis and ways to enhance those responses the Mali crisis are global, ethnic, governmental and environmental in nature. For each facet, the past year has provided spectacular examples, all of which are symptoms of much deeper and more persistent problems.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Africa, France, Libya, Chad
  • Author: Carl Conetta
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Project on Defense Alternatives
  • Abstract: Despite the hyperbole surrounding it, the proposal to roll back the DoD budget plan for 2013-2017 by $260 billion, asserted by Defense Secretary Panetta last fall, doesn't amount to much of a reduction from recent spending levels – about 4 percent in real terms. The roll back does appear more significant when measured against the administration's earlier spending plans for 2013-2017. But that's only because those earlier plans had aimed to continue the real growth in the Pentagon's base budget that had been underway since 1998.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Government, Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Legislation to reform Japan Post is again gathering steam in Tokyo. The real question is whether the latest act in this long- running drama will represent true reform or in fact will camouflage an entrenchment of Japan Post's formidable monopoly powers. Antireform proposals being lined up for consideration in the Diet would indefinitely extend effective government control of Japan Post's financial arms (thereby reversing the Koizumi era reforms). On the other hand, reform forces in the Japanese government want new legislation to guarantee a level playing field in banking and insurance between Japan Post and private firms, whether domestic or foreign.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Natural Disasters
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Anti-vice raids and actions against non-Muslim minorities are becoming a path to more violent jihadism in Indonesia. The 2011 suicide bombings of a police mosque in Cirebon, West Java and an evangelical church in Solo, Central Java were carried out by men who moved from using sticks and stones in the name of upholding morality and curbing “deviance” to using bombs and guns. They show how ideological and tactical lines within the radical community have blurred, meaning that counter-terrorism programs that operate on the assumption that “terrorists” are a clearly definable group distinguishable from hardline activists and religious vigilantes are bound to fail. They also mean that the government must develop a strategy, consistent with democratic values, for countering clerics who use no violence themselves but preach that it is permissible to shed the blood of infidels (kafir) or oppressors (thaghut), meaning government officials and particularly the police.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Although the mayhem following the disputed December 2007 elections seemed an exception, violence has been a com­mon feature of Kenya's politics since the introduction of a multiparty system in 1991. Yet, the number of people killed and displaced following that disputed vote was unprecedented. To provide justice to the victims, combat pervasive political impunity and deter future violence, the International Criminal Court (ICC) brought two cases against six suspects who allegedly bore the greatest responsibility for the post-election violence. These cases have enormous political consequences for both the 2012 elections and the country's stability. During the course of the year, rulings and procedures will inevitably either lower or increase com­munal tensions. If the ICC process is to contribute to the deterrence of future political violence in Kenya, the court and its friends must explain its work and limitations better to the public. Furthermore, Kenya's government must complement that ICC process with a national process aimed at countering impunity and punishing ethnic hate speech and violence.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, International Law
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The Spanish government has announced that the fiscal deficit for 2011 may be even worse than expected, perhaps even exceeding 8% of GDP. In response to this overshoot, the authorities have so far announced additional spending cuts and tax rises amounting to €15bn. But fiscal tightening will have to be even more severe if the government wants to meet its 4.4% of GDP deficit target for 2012.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Spain
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: The Federal Reserve has taken additional actions to make its monetary policy more transparent to markets. The latest moves include the release of FOMC members' expectatins for the federal funds rate at the end of each of the next few years and in the longer term. Another is an statement of strategy for meeting its dual mandates of price stability and full employment. Although the statement included an explicit target for inflation but not for unemployment, the equal weights given to each goal afford the Fed more discretion in setting monetary policy.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Global Recession, Monetary Policy, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: With the outlook for exports subdued and investment weak, we expect industrial output growth to slow further in 2012H1. But consumption is taking up the slack and fiscal policy is set to be supportive. As a result, we only expect a relatively modest slowing in growth in 2012 to 8.4% from 9.2% in 2011. But with house prices still falling in December, we remain concerned about the risk of a sharp slowing in the property market leading to strains on local government finances and a hard landing for growth, particularly with the external environment weak. However, central government finances are strong and fiscal transfers could provide a significant cushion in the event of a property bust.
  • Topic: Communism, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Global Recession
  • Political Geography: China, Israel
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: While Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and private subprime lenders have deservedly garnered the bulk of attention and blame for the mortgage crisis, other federal programs also distort our mortgage market and put taxpayers at risk of having to finance massive financial bailouts. The most prominent of these risky agencies is the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Scott Flower, Jim Leahy
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: This paper draws on fieldwork undertaken by the authors between January 2011 and January 2012 among local communities in Port Moresby and three of the more unstable highlands provinces of PNG (Southern Highlands, Western Highlands and Enga).
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government, Politics, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Asia, Australia/Pacific, Guinea
  • Author: Karl P. Sauvant, Jonathan Strauss
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Developing country sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) as players in the world foreign direct investment (FDI) market have received considerable attention. While outward FDI from emerging markets has indeed risen dramatically, that by SWFs has been negligible: their outward FDI stock is around US$ 100 billion (compared to a world FDI stock of US$ 20 trillion in 2010).
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Emerging Markets, Government, International Law, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: The relationship between population dynamics and economic expansion is complex, but demographic changes play an important role in national development. While it is widely accepted that population growth rates do not have any consistent effect on economic growth, there is one set of population changes that can result in major economic benefits, as well as improved well - being for families and societies. This powerful opportunity is known as the demographic dividend, and it offers the potential to boost economic growth and poverty reduction — but only if government leaders implement sound policies.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government, Health Care Policy
  • Author: Sasiwan Chingchit
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Burma's ongoing democratic and economic transition has created an unprecedented opportunity for India and Thailand to cooperate and strengthen economic links between South and Southeast Asia. It was therefore no coincidence that the Indian government invited Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand's prime minister, to be the chief guest at the country's annual Republic Day parade on January 26. Even more symbolic was that the Thai premier's visit to New Delhi overlapped with that of Burma's foreign minister, Mr. Wanna Maung Lwin, who came to discuss progress on economic and security relations and extended an invitation to India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit his country.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: South Asia, India, New Delhi, Burma, Thailand, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Peter Mattis
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: The recently ended standoff between the villagers of Wukan in Guangdong province and local government officials has refocused attention on China's future stability. The more than 100,000 officially reported incidents of unrest each year gives observers the false impression that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in Beijing barely holds the country together. Pressure may be building, but China's stability is like a champagne bottle. Until the cork pops, the bottle and its contents are stable. The question is how much pressure is building and how much wine is spilt when the cork flies out.
  • Topic: Communism, Democratization, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Melissa Crouch
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: One of the major challenges for any government is how to manage religious diversity, and how to provide for religious minorities in particular. In Indonesia there are six officially recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. In addition, a wide range of other indigenous religions and beliefs exist outside of these groups. Melissa Crouch, Research Fellow at the University of Melbourne Law School writes that "While Indonesia's transition to democracy in 1998 brought about greater freedoms for all religious groups, there has also been a dramatic increase in convictions of 'deviant' groups for blasphemy."
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Indonesia
  • Author: Kiyoaki Aburaki
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: “Decide when it is time to decide, draw a conclusion, don't postpone; this is the type of politics I want to create.” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda made this declaration in a press conference on June 26 immediately after the passage of the consumption tax-hike bill in the Lower House of the Diet. Noda's conviction to pass a tax increase had a political cost: 57 lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) voted against the bill, while 15 DPJ members abstained. Former DPJ president Ichiro Ozawa, who leads the anti-tax-hike movement, and his followers created a deep rift within the ruling party over the tax legislation and subsequently damaged Noda's political power base by defecting from the party on July 2.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel
  • Author: David A. Welch, Andrew S. Thompson
  • Publication Date: 07-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Abstract: The international community has become adept at responding to disasters. When a disaster hits — whether natural or as the consequence of human activity — humanitarian relief can be on the ground almost anywhere in the world in less than 24 hours. The international community has developed an elaborate network to respond to catastrophes involving the collaboration of international agencies, humanitarian relief organizations, national governments and concerned individuals. The collective ability to help save lives quickly is unprecedented in human history; the problem remains, however, that one never knows in advance where disaster will strike, what the immediate needs of those affected will be or what conditions the first responders will confront. Given these uncertainties, how can disaster-response planners best position themselves to take action?
  • Topic: Government, Humanitarian Aid, International Cooperation, Non-Governmental Organization, Natural Disasters
  • Author: Glenn McDonald
  • Publication Date: 03-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: How to stop a criminal from removing the identifying marks on a polymerframe handgun? This was the kind of question asked, and sometimes answered, at the Open-ended Meeting of Governmental Experts (MGE),  convened at UN headquarters in New York from 9 to 13 May 2011. For the first time at a UN small arms meeting, the discussions were expert-led and relatively interactive as delegations focused on the practical details of weapons marking, record-keeping, and tracing, specifically as dealt with in the International Tracing Instrument (ITI) (UNGA, 2005).
  • Topic: Political Violence, Arms Control and Proliferation, Crime, Government, United Nations
  • Political Geography: New York
  • Author: Sara Hagemann
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The ongoing negotiation of the EU's multi-annual budget is heavily constrained by how the decision process takes place. Governments focus on narrowly defined national interests, rather than on securing a better budget for Europe. While the budget is small in size, it could be used as a powerful political tool for much needed economic growth policies on a larger scale.
  • Topic: Debt, Economics, Government, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Publication Date: 09-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: Women played a key role in Yemen's 2011 popular uprising, but almost a year on they are still waiting for change. Four out of five women consulted by Oxfam in a series of focus group discussions say that their lives have worsened over the last 12 months. Although a transition towards democracy is under way, women's hopes for a better life are wearing thin. A quarter of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are acutely malnourished. Deepening humanitarian crisis and conflict are limiting women's role in shaping Yemen's future. Women have told Oxfam that they need better access to food, jobs, and physical safety. The Government of Yemen and the international community should adequately support the humanitarian response and help ensure women can play their part in building a peaceful and just society.
  • Topic: Gender Issues, Government, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Arabia
  • Publication Date: 05-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxford Economics
  • Abstract: GDP fell by a larger than expected 1% on the quarter in 2012Q1 according to initial data released in mid-May. As a result, we now expect GDP will fall 1.1% in 2012. On the political side, the government has avoided a snap election by surviving a confidence vote on 27 April. However, it will find it harder to stick to its austerity plans as its majority was weakened by the vote. Under current policies, we now expect the fiscal deficit to rise to 3.6% of GDP in 2012 from 3.1% in 2011 due to the weakness of the economy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Czech Republic
  • Author: Joshua T. White, Shuja Ali Malik
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) remain mired in an archaic century-old system of indirect governance that provides space in which militant movements have thrived. President Asif Ali Zardari recently announced the FATA Local Governance Regulation 2012, establishing a system of local councils in the troubled tribal region. Although the regulation is disappointingly vague, and retains the sweeping prerogatives of the central government, it appears to have been driven in part by the army's interest in building civilian governance capacity in conflict-torn areas. The governments of Pakistan and the United States, along with local and international stakeholders, should advocate for continuity of implementation, insist on party-based local council elections, encourage experimentation within the bounds of the regulation, link the new councils to existing development structures, press the government to articulate a longer-term political vision for the FATA, and be realistic about the necessity of the army's active involvement in shaping governance policy in the tribal areas.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Islam, Counterinsurgency
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Teemu Sinkkonen
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The victory of the Georgian Dream Coalition (GDC) over the United National Movement (UNM) has brought pluralism into Georgian policymaking. Until the power shifts from the President to the Prime Minister in 2013, the country will be led by an awkward dual power. New leadership offers great opportunities for Georgia. It can improve its democratic system and economic growth and establish a dialogue with Russia and the breakaway districts of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This would alleviate the frozen conflict and tense security dilemma on the boundary lines. If the transition of power does not go well, there will be prolonged power struggles that could cripple the policymaking and cast Georgia back to pre-Saakashvili times. Saakashvili's UNM is still a very significant player in Georgian politics and it is important for the GDC and the UNM to find a way to cooperate. In order to smooth the fragile transition period, Georgia needs special support and attention.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Democratization, Development, Ethnic Conflict, Government
  • Author: Sean Roberts
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: If Russia is to follow an evolutionary path to democracy, then the regime must be ready to draw the so-called 'non-systemic' opposition into political processes. This gradualist formula for democratic change is also the formula for political stability. A number of liberalising reforms conducted by the regime in response to widespread protests following the December 2011 State Duma election gave grounds for optimism that this process is now underway. However, any hopes that these events would kick-start democratic reforms were short-lived. Rather than draw in opponents, the regime has sought to isolate them, using a combination of reform, non-reform, dividing tactics and repression. But the results have not been positive. The non-systemic opposition is under increasing pressure, having seen its options all but reduced to more protesting. It is also showing signs of radicalisation. At the same time, the Kremlin's uncompromising approach is undermining regime stability. The pressure is building in the Russian political system. The combination of repression and radicalisation could easily see political stagnation degenerate into instability and the EU should take this new dynamic into account in its future policy planning.
  • Topic: Security, Corruption, Democratization, Government, Political Economy, Authoritarianism
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Tonny Joseph
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Oxfam Publishing
  • Abstract: The devastating earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010 exacerbated the country's grinding poverty and serious development problems, while at the same time worsening Haitian living conditions. The tremor killed over 250,000 people and injured 300, 000. It crippled the economy, causing losses estimated at almost 120 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). Nevertheless, economic growth is expected to rise between 7 and 9 percent in 2012, largely owing to reconstruction efforts. The population in internally displaced persons camps has decreased from 1.5 million to around 390,000 (according to the June 2012 report of the International Organization for Migration), and the country's hurricane preparedness capacity has increased.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Gender Issues, Government, Food, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Caribbean, Haiti
  • Author: Charly Salonius-Pasternak, Jarno limnéll
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Cybersecurity concerns everyone, and is everyone's responsibility. It is a genuine example of a society-wide security issue. The United States is ahead of Europe in discussing and integrating (military) cybersecurity into its foreign and security policies. For the US, the biggest challenges at the moment are: updating legal frameworks, creating cyber rules of engagement for the military, building cyber deterrence and clarifying the cybersecurity roles and responsibilities of government and private sector actors. Cooperation at national and international levels is integral to improving cybersecurity. This includes updating international and domestic legal frameworks to ensure that state actions are accountable, and to protect citizens from wanton strikes at critical infrastructure. Governments must hold private sector partners accountable, and through partnerships ensure that societal cybersecurity is not overshadowed by private interests – public-private partnerships have a crucial role to play in this.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology, Terrorism, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Svante Cornell, Frances Burwell
  • Publication Date: 04-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The first phase of the US "Reset" of its relations with Russia has concluded. Launching a second phase will not be easy: with the Russian presidential elections in March, there will be only a brief window for moving US-Russia relations forward before the US presidential contest moves into full gear. Although the result of the Russian election was widely seen as pre-ordained, the protests following the parliamentary and presidential contests have added uncertainty. A new Putin administration will be challenged by many reformers, but the external impact of that growing internal divide is unclear.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Economics, Government, Human Rights, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Duncan Pickard
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Since October 2011, the National Constituent Assembly of Tunisia has been negotiating and drafting the republic's new constitution, which is intended to institutionalize a new democratic system in the aftermath of the revolution that toppled the dictatorship in January. While the Assembly is still several months away from completing its work and some major issues, notably the system of government, have yet to be resolved, some important lessons have nonetheless emerged that might prove useful for other constitution-making processes worldwide, especially in neighboring Libya.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Reform
  • Political Geography: Libya, North Africa, Tunisia
  • Author: Mark A. Calabria
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The recent financial crisis was characterized by losses in nearly every type of investment vehicle. Yet no product has attracted as much attention as the subprime mortgage.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Yasuhiro Matsuda
  • Publication Date: 02-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2010, two important documents on Japan's security and national defense policies were released under the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) government in Japan. One report is entitled “Japan's Vision for Future Security and Defense Capabilities in the New Era: Toward a Peace-Creating Nation.” This report was issued in August by the Council on Security and Defense Capabilities in the New Era, the Prime Minister's private council on national security and defense capabilities which is chaired by Shigetaka Sato— hereafter the Sato Report. The other is the “National Defense Program Guidelines, FY 2011-” that was issued by the Japanese government in December—hereafter the 2010 NDPG. The former is a blueprint of Japan's national security and defense strategy, the latter addresses the formal Japanese defense program guidelines for the next ten years. While the Japanese government is not legally bound by the Sato Report, since it is not the Japanese version of a National Security Strategy, a formal document issued by the US government, the 2010 NDPG does contain actual guidelines for building the defense capability of Japan. The overlap between the two documents represents the new directions of the Japanese security and national defense policies, and the gap between them illustrates the old restrictions that remain.
  • Topic: Security, Government, National Security
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Author: Hamish Nixon
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghans across different groups see the United States as a key party to the conflict whose direct participation in a peace process is crucial to its success, and therefore question the effectiveness of U.S. emphasis on an “Afghan-led” reconciliation strategy. The U.S. must engage directly in negotiating a settlement because of its control over the issue of withdrawal of NATO forces. The Taliban demand for full withdrawal prior to talks appears to be an opening position. A challenge will be linking a structure for drawdown to necessary steps by insurgents to allow a cessation of violence and prevent Afghanistan's use for terrorism. A settlement process will entail discussion of the composition and future of the Afghan National Security Forces, and the current “transition” strategy of a large army and expanding local defence initiatives will almost certainly need re-examining during such a process. The conflict is not only a struggle for power and resources; it is also a legitimacy crisis stemming from a system of power and patronage that feeds conflict. From this perspective, a settlement should address the concentration of powers in the presidency through incremental reform to appointments, elections, or farther-reaching changes to the structure of government over time. There is a tension between reform and using political appointments to accommodate power-sharing demands. A durable settlement will need to involve political and social agreements among Afghans taking into account the views of a range of stakeholders. To manage this tension, the intra-Afghan peace process should be oriented toward broad inclusion of non-combatants while balancing the secrecy required to make progress.
  • Topic: NATO, Government, National Security
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, United States, Taliban
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: It is time to close international supervision of Bosnia's Brčko District. Once seen as a model of post-war reconciliation and good government, it is drowning in corruption and mismanagement that flourished despite its supervisors' best efforts. The territory is vital to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH)'s stability: it links the two halves of both Republika Srpska (RS) and the BiH Federation (FBiH), and belongs technically to both entities but is independently governed and multi-ethnic. Many of its former leaders are under suspicion in a corruption probe that may have only scratched the surface; several high profile development projects are collapsing in bankruptcy and litigation. RS has a strong influence on the district but is not threatening to undermine its status. Nevertheless, the international community should ensure that Serb leaders of that entity are left in no doubt that any move to take Brčko over would meet a strong reaction. Stability is now dependent on whether local politicians, law enforcement and the judiciary can take responsibility. International supervision is no longer helping, and a new strategy is needed.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Bosnia, Herzegovina, Balkans
  • Publication Date: 12-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: En dépit d\'une nette amélioration, la situation de la Côte d\'Ivoire reste fragile. Le transfèrement à La Haye de l\'ancien président Laurent Gbagbo inculpé par la Cour pénale internationale (CPI), douze jours seulement avant les élections législatives du 11 décembre 2011, a alourdi l\'atmosphère politique. Au lendemain de ces élections marquées par une très forte abstention, le pays est toujours exposé à de sérieuses menaces. La faiblesse et le déséquilibre de l\'appareil de sécurité et l\'exercice d\'une justice à deux vitesses confortent les extrémistes dans leurs convictions et constituent les deux principaux défis que le pouvoir doit relever dans les prochains mois. Si le vote s\'est déroulé dans le calme, la campagne qui l\'a précédé a été marquée par des incidents qui ont rappelé que la violence politique est toujours d\'actualité. L\'installation d\'une nouvelle Assemblée marque une nouvelle étape dans la normalisation, mais le pays n\'est pas pour autant sorti de l\'ornière.
  • Topic: Security, Political Violence, Corruption, Government, Law
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Peter Gastrow
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: The threat posed by organized crime is not confined to serious crimes such as racketeering, the global drug trade, or human trafficking. For many developing countries and fragile states, powerful transnational criminal networks constitute a direct threat to the state itself, not through open confrontation but by penetrating state institutions through bribery and corruption and by subverting or undermining them from within. Governments that lack the capacity to counter such penetration, or that acquiesce in it, run the risk of becoming criminalized or “captured” states. This paper examines whether Kenya faces such a threat.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Government, Fragile/Failed State
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Africa
  • Author: William Case
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In an influential study, Fish and Kroenig argue that "overarching institutional designs" (i.e., presidential, parliamentary, and dual systems) tell us less about the prospects of a new democracy than does the particular strength of the legislature. Specifically, executives are best checked where legislatures are powerful, generating horizontal accountability. In addition, ordinary citizens are better informed by the robust party systems that strong legislatures support, fostering vertical accountability. In comparing Freedom House scores with their Parliamentary Powers Index (PPI), Fish and Kroenig show clear correlations, leading them to conclude that democracies are made strong by legislatures that are empowered. In this monograph, this thesis is tested in five country cases in Southeast Asia: the Philippines and Indonesia, both new democracies, and Malaysia, Cambodia, and Singapore, cases of electoral authoritarianism. Analysis uncovers that in the new democracies, though their legislatures may be rated as powerful, members are geared less to checking the executive than to sharing in state patronage. In addition, although the legislature is evaluated as weak under electoral authoritarianism, it features an opposition that, with little access to patronage, remains committed to exposing executive abuses. What is more, when the executive operates a regime type that lacks the full legitimacy gained through general elections, he or she grows more receptive to at least mild legislative scrutiny. Contrary to Fish and Kroenig, then, this study concludes that the executive is held more accountable by legislatures under electoral authoritarianism than in new democracies. But rather than leading to a transition to democratic politics, this accountability strengthens authoritarian rule.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Development, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Malaysia, Asia, Cambodia, Singapore
  • Publication Date: 10-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect
  • Abstract: Strong support for the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) populations from genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and ethnic cleansing was clearly evident at the opening of the 66th United Nations (UN) General Assembly between 21 and 27 September 2011. From the Secretary-General's reference to R2P as a priority for his second term, to the re-affirmation of government support for the norm in opening statements and the holding of a Ministerial meeting on R2P, clear consensus exists about the critical importance of R2P. At a moment when some were anticipating a backlash in the aftermath of the Security Council authorized civilian protection operation in Libya, the opening of the General Assembly reaffirmed that the imperative today is for states to work together to operationalize R2P.
  • Topic: Ethnic Conflict, Genocide, Government, Human Rights, Torture, United Nations, War
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Pamela J. Perun, Patricia E. Dilley
  • Publication Date: 07-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Aspen Institute
  • Abstract: Critics of the Social Security program are fond of disparaging it as a "Ponzi" scheme or as a redistributive transfer of income from the young to the old. Others go even further, labeling the Social Security trust fund as a fiction or claiming the program is bankrupt. Some also suggest that the government bonds held in the trust fund are mere IOUs. Still others say that the program's legal basis is ephemeral, subject to the whims of Congress.
  • Topic: Demographics, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Karl P. Sauvant
  • Publication Date: 05-2011
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Governments seek to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) undertaken by multinational enterprises (MNEs) because it contributes to the growth of their economies; they seek to maximize the benefits of this investment in the framework of their national economies. Firms undertake FDI because it improves their access to markets and resources and hence increases their international competitiveness; they seek to maximize the benefits of this investment in the framework of their global corporate networks. This difference in objectives and frameworks gives rise to tensions that play themselves out in the approach governments take in national FDI policies and bilateral investment treaties (BITs). During the late 1960s and the 1970s, the dominant approach was to control MNEs. During the 1990s, it was liberalization -- and the approach is again changing.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government, Monetary Policy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Virginia M. Bouvier
  • Publication Date: 01-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Since the advent of Plan Colombia in 2000, U.S. policymakers have sought to help Colombian governments win their multiple wars against insurgents, drugs and terrorism. Conventional wisdom had suggested that pursuing these paths concurrently would lead to peace and security. Colombia today is farther from a peace settlement than it has been in years. With national elections scheduled for the first half of 2010 and presidential candidates yet to be defined, peace does not appear on the government's public policy agenda and it has yet to materialize as a campaign issue. Faith in a military victory appears deeply entrenched at a popular level. Illegal armed groups are retrenching and adapting to years of sustained military offensives and the increased capacity of Colombia's armed forces. While security indicators had largely improved, violence in major cities last year jumped sharply, and internal displacement has reached crisis proportions. Colombia's conflict is increasingly affecting the Andean neighborhood, sending hundreds of thousands of Colombians across the borders. Patterns of violence and intimidation are emerging as illegal armed groups increasingly settle into these border regions. Sporadic incursions and incidents at the border have ratcheted up rhetoric and sparked diplomatic standoffs and movement of troops. A recent bilateral military accord between Colombia and the United States has also exacerbated tensions in the hemisphere. Policymakers increasingly question whether staying the course in Colombia is in the U.S. best interests. Some are calling for an overhaul of U.S. policy. Peace and regional security are integral to the multitude of U.S. interests in Colombia, and they should no longer be subsumed to other strategic interests. It is time to seek peace as a priority. This approach should emphasize respect for human rights and the rule of law; support for truth, justice and reparations for the victims of armed conflict; and the facilitation of processes conducive to peace as a key policy objective.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Government, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: United States, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Ronald Hamowy
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: Prior to World War I, the federal government effectively provided no hospital or medical care to veterans other than extending domiciliary care to a few veterans disabled while in service. With American entry into World War I, however, it was decided to extend the treatment accorded members of the armed forces who were receiving hospital care after they had been mustered out. As a consequence the Veterans Bureau was created in 1921. In 1930 a new agency, the Veterans Administration (VA), took over responsibility for all veterans\' affairs. Following World War II and the passage of a comprehensive GI Bill that included generous medical and hospital care for returning soldiers, the VA rapidly expanded to the point whereby it established itself as the largest supplier of health care in the nation. For most of the period since the end of World War II these medical facilities were plagued by waste, poor management, and negligence. While it is true that conditions at VA facilities have improved since the late 1980s, they still lag behind those that obtain at the nation\'s voluntary hospitals. The shift from inpatient to ambulatory care, an increase in chronic care needs in an aging population, and increases in the demand for medical services as a result of the most recent Middle Eastern conflicts clearly undermines the reason originally put forward to operate a direct health care system. However, given the pressures put upon Congress by the American Legion and other veterans groups, it is unlikely that the United States will follow the lead of the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and close or convert their hospitals to other uses and integrate the treatment of veterans into the general heath-care system.Prior to World War I, the federal government effectively provided no hospital or medical care to veterans other than extending domiciliary care to a few veterans disabled while in service. With American entry into World War I, however, it was decided to extend the treatment accorded members of the armed forces who were receiving hospital care after they had been mustered out. As a consequence the Veterans Bureau was created in 1921. In 1930 a new agency, the Veterans Administration (VA), took over responsibility for all veterans\' affairs. Following World War II and the passage of a comprehensive GI Bill that included generous medical and hospital care for returning soldiers, the VA rapidly expanded to the point whereby it established itself as the largest supplier of health care in the nation. For most of the period since the end of World War II these medical facilities were plagued by waste, poor management, and negligence. While it is true that conditions at VA facilities have improved since the late 1980s, they still lag behind those that obtain at the nation\'s voluntary hospitals. The shift from inpatient to ambulatory care, an increase in chronic care needs in an aging population, and increases in the demand for medical services as a result of the most recent Middle Eastern conflicts clearly undermines the reason originally put forward to operate a direct health care system. However, given the pressures put upon Congress by the American Legion and other veterans groups, it is unlikely that the United States will follow the lead of the governments of Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom and close or convert their hospitals to other uses and integrate the treatment of veterans into the general heath-care system.
  • Topic: Government, Health
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Arabia, Australia
  • Author: John Feffer
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Foreign Policy In Focus
  • Abstract: Earth Day was a big event this year. Sting sang on the Mall here in Washington. The citizens of Qatar turned off their power for an hour. The U.S. Navy rolled out its new biodiesel-fueled Green Hornet fighter jet. Okay, maybe the Earth was not so impressed with all the events held in its honor.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Corruption, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, East Asia
  • Author: Arnold Kling
  • Publication Date: 04-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Recently, the Federal Reserve has significantly altered the procedures and goals that it had followed for decades. It has more than doubled its balance sheet, paid interest to banks on reserves held as deposits with the Fed, made decisions about which institutions to prop up and which should be allowed to fail, invested in assets that expose taxpayers to large losses, and raised questions about how it will avoid inflation despite an unprecedented increase in the monetary base.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Politics, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Myanmar will shortly hold its first elections in twenty years. Given the restrictive provisions of the 2010 Political Parties Registration Law that bar anyone serving a prison term from membership in a political party, many imprisoned dissidents will be excluded from the process, unless they are released in the near future. Aung San Suu Kyi – whose suspended sentence and house arrest possibly exclude her also – has condemned the legislation, and her National League for Democracy (NLD) has decided not to participate and has, therefore, lost its status as a legally-registered party. There has rightly been much international criticism of the new constitution and of the fact that the elections will not be inclusive, but the political and generational shift that they will bring about may represent the best opportunity in a generation to influence the future direction of the country.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: As the Philippine election on 10 May 2010 draws nearer, voters in central Mindanao are focused on the political fallout from the “Maguindanao massacre”; clan politics; the new automated election system; and whether any agreement between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is possible before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo leaves office on 30 June.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Political Violence, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Philippines, Southeast Asia
  • Author: Ronald Hamowy
  • Publication Date: 02-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: There is strong evidence that the spectacular growth in the size of the federal government is a result of its expansion following one crisis or another, either real or imagined. After the crisis it gains new powers that become the norm for the next stage of growth. The Food and Drug Administration provides a particularly apt example of this increase in powers as a response to a series of crises, each of which has increased the regulatory authority of the agency. The Food and Drug Administration, which did not even exist before the twentieth century, now possesses massive regulatory powers over products that account for no less than twenty-five cents of every dollar spent by the American consumer, totaling well over $1 trillion annually. Historical investigation shows that the agency has been able to take advantage of several perceived crises, the combined effect of which was to increase its authority to determine what Americans ingest to the point where today, at least in the case of drugs, it is the agency—and not the consumer—that determines when and what is available. A regulatory agency originally established to ensure that consumers would be provided with full and accurate information on the drugs available to them has become one that determines which drugs are available, when they might be administered, and who may ingest them. This essay traces this growth in terms of the legislative reaction to three crises, the diphtheria antitoxin crisis of 1901, the sulfanilamide crisis of 1937, and the thalidomide crisis of 1960.
  • Topic: Government, Health Care Policy
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Robert Perito, Madeline Kristoff
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Corruption in the security sector damages society's trust in the government. Donors must coordinate on anti-corruption programs and make sure not to engage in corruption themselves. Corruption is highly political and context specific. Fighting both high and low-levels of corruption should be a priority in security sector reform.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Political Power Sharing
  • Author: Sean Kane
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The institution of Iraq's prime minister has evolved since the previous national government was formed in 2006. The success of incumbent Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki in building an independent power base around the office and the diminishing U.S. presence in Iraq have transformed the perception and stature of Iraq's chief executive. This evolution of the position helps to explain why negotiations over the government's formation have struggled to move beyond the top post to discuss other assignments and the new government's agenda. The talks are not just about agreeing on a prime minister in the context of inconclusive, close election results, and competing regional influences; these talks are trying to define the role of the premiership and possible checks on its power. Understanding the debate on possible checks and balances is important because of its potential ramifications for Iraq's democratic experiment, and also because agreement on this issue might pave the way for the nomination of a prime minister.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Julia Muir
  • Publication Date: 06-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 31, 2010 a majority of the Lower House of the National Diet of Japan approved legislation that would reverse a decade's worth of effort to fully privatize key subsidiaries of Japan Post Holdings Co. Ltd. Besides postal services, the state-run postal system offers banking and insurance services, through Japan Post Bank (JPB) and Japan Post Insurance (JPI), respectively. These are the financial engines of Japan Post and were the units slated for privatization. Both subsidiaries have long received favorable government treatment, tilting the playing field against private banks and insurance firms, whether foreign or domestic. The government of Japan is in clear violation of its commitments under the World Trade Organization (WTO), and if the Upper House approves the legislation, Japan will reverse the efforts made by the United States and the European Union, as well as domestic private banks and insurance firms, to establish a level playing field. What's more, Japan risks having a formal WTO dispute brought against it.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, Europe
  • Author: Trevor Houser
  • Publication Date: 05-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On May 12, 2010, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) released details of their proposed American Power Act, a comprehensive energy and climate change bill developed over the preceding nine months by the two senators, chairmen of the Senate Foreign Relations and Homeland Security Committees respectively, along with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).1 With US unemployment just below 10 percent and the sunken Deepwater Horizon drilling rig's ruptured well pouring thousands of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico each day, the senators promised that if passed the bill will: (1) reduce US oil consumption and dependence on oil imports; (2) cut US carbon pollution 17 percent below 2005 levels by 2020 and over 80 percent by 2050; and (3) create jobs and restore US global economic leadership. In this policy brief we evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed American Power Act in achieving those goals.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Matthew Levitt
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: The State Department's recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism. The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks. What remains to be seen is if the dispersion of the global jihadist threat from the heart of the Middle East to South Asia and Africa foreshadows organizational decline or revival for al-Qaeda itself and the radical jihadist ideology it espouses. How governments and civil society alike organize to contend with the changing threat will be central to this determination. The bad news is that governments and civil society remain woefully ineffective at reducing the spread and appeal of radical Islamist extremism.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Terrorism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Middle East, Israel
  • Author: Simon Henderson
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: For nearly two weeks, the Persian Gulf island state of Bahrain has experienced near-daily disturbances following government arrests of opposition activists from the majority Shiite community. The timing of the arrests seemed geared toward preempting trouble in advance of the scheduled October 23 parliamentary and municipal elections, which minority Sunni parties and candidates are currently projected to win. The street violence and other incidents are of particular concern to the United States because Bahrain hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet and Naval Forces Central Command, whose mission is to "deter and counter disruptive countries" -- a wording likely aimed at Iran, which claimed the island as its territory prior to 1970.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Government
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, Middle East, Asia, Arabia
  • Author: Michael Knights, Ahmed Ali
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: In an August 2 speech, President Obama confirmed that regardless of the status of government formation in Iraq, the U.S. military remained committed to the withdrawal of all combat forces by the month's end. Meanwhile, Iraq is still struggling to form a government in the long wake of the March elections, and the Muslim fasting period of Ramadan -- when much political and business life slows almost to a standstill -- begins next week. If an Iraqi government does not form fairly quickly after Ramadan ends in mid-September, Iraq's political scene may worsen, including an increased risk for violence. Ramadan has always existed in Iraqi and U.S. minds as a break point, when a new government may finally come together. Failure to make progress during the month is thus likely to elicit at least mild panic amongst politicians and the public. So how might the deadlock be broken?
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq
  • Author: Virginia M. Bouvier
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: The new Colombian administration that took office in early August faces a unique set of peacemaking challenges and opportunities related to the country's internal armed conflict. Following a spate of tensions with neighboring countries regarding the presence of illegal armed groups along Colombia's border areas, newly-inaugurated President Juan Manuel Santos moved quickly to create new mechanisms with his neighbors to ensure that contentious regional issues are addressed before they reach the boiling point. In a surprising video released just before the president-elect was inaugurated, the top leader of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces-People's Army (FARC-EP), called on Santos to enter a dialogue without preconditions, thereby opening a new window of opportunities to pursue peace. President Santos responded that “the door to dialogue is not locked,” insisting however that the guerrillas must lay down their weapons and meet a series of other pre-conditions before talks could occur. Former mediators differ over whether such preconditions will pose an obstacle to talks. In the final days of August, Brazil and Ecuador rejected a FARC-EP request for meeting with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to discuss a political solution to Colombia's conflict. UNASUR leaders said they would not engage in mediating the conflict in the absence of an express invitation from the Colombian government. The Colombian government has rejected UNASUR mediation and underscored its preference to negotiate directly with the FARC-EP once the latter meets the government's preconditions. Concrete good faith efforts—both public and private—will be required from the government and the guerrillas to build confidence, address the legacy of distrust created by decades of violence and set the stage for future talks.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Peace Studies, Politics
  • Political Geography: Brazil, Colombia, Latin America
  • Author: Teija Tiilikainen
  • Publication Date: 10-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: At first glance the EU's political system doesn't seem to correspond to any contemporary type of regime. There is a directly elected European Parliament (EP), but the way of constructing relations of power and accountability between the parliament and the three bodies with executive powers, the Commission, the European Council or the Council, complicates the picture. The Commission's accountability to the European Parliament has been confirmed in the founding treaties ever since their conclusion. But what is the value of such a rule when there seems to be a much more powerful executive emerging beyond the reach of any EU-level accountability, namely the European Council?
  • Topic: Development, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Adriane Lapointe
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The absence of consensus, and therefore of policy, on how to balance privacy with the need for government cybersecurity measures, has led many to contemplate intelligence oversight practices as a possible model for oversight in the cybersecurity realm. Reliance on intelligence privacy oversight practices for cybersecurity might allow us to duck the hard work of developing appropriate cybersecurity policy, but it would not in the end further cybersecurity for the nation. A better approach would be to adopt the purely structural aspects of Executive Order 12333, developing a parallel executive order tailored to the distinct goals and operational drivers of cybersecurity. Such a document would establish basic guidelines for policy governing cyber mission, frame cybersecurity oversight processes, and mandate the development and approval of procedures to implement them.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Science and Technology
  • Author: Jacleen Mowery, Demis Yanco, Ryan McClanahan
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Post-conflict governance requires simultaneous and complementary action on three levels. national governance, local governance, and civil society. Norbert Mao, a parliamentary leader from Uganda, offered this progression for managing the trade-off between short-term stabilization and long-term capacity building: "In the emergency phase, you should do it for us. In the reconstruction phase, you should do it with us. And in the development phase, you should do it through us." Efforts to develop the capacity of local governments to deliver services may be more responsive to external assistance than programs aimed at overcoming systemic dysfunctions in the central government, in part because municipal officials are more accountable to their communities. Civil society should be a prominent player in transitioning to “local ownership,” which may erroneously be conceived in terms of ownership by national and perhaps local governments. Building the capacity of civil society entails connectivity with international partners and ideas, not just financing. There are trade-offs involved among the three stakeholders. Among the most salient, when a legacy of abuse of power by the national government and repression of opposition groups must be confronted, an active civil society is essential. An invigorated civil society can fundamentally challenge illicit structures of power that profited from conflict.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Government, Peace Studies, War, Governance, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: Uganda
  • Author: Michael D. Nolan, Frédéric Sourgens
  • Publication Date: 12-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: State-controlled entities (SCEs) are increasingly important participants in international investment flows and international trade. Cumulative FDI by sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) has reportedly reached US$100 billion. SWFs are significant equity investors in, and provide significant debt financing to, every kind of company, from professional sports franchises to container ports. In addition to the role of these funds, national oil companies are growing in regional and international importance. In many countries, other industries are also increasingly government-owned.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Industrial Policy, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: The election for governor in Indonesia's North Maluku province was one of the most bitterly contested since direct elections for local government heads were introduced in 2005. Held in November 2007, it remains in dispute more than a year later, although a winner has been named and inaugurated. At one point it seemed as if violence between the two sides could escalate into serious communal conflict, in an area where thousands had died in religious violence a decade earlier. By early 2009, however, it looked as though Indonesia's democratic institutions would be resilient enough to cope with an election gone wrong, and the dispute would be quietly resolved in the Constitutional Court. The Court's decision is expected in early February. The dispute that many thought could trigger further turmoil may prove instead to be a minor wrangle in Indonesia's largely successful effort to choose local government leaders by direct popular vote.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Indonesia, Asia
  • Author: Rikke Broegaard
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The stated goal of land titling and administration projects supported worldwide by development agencies like the World Bank is to strengthen property rights for the poor. Formal property rights, it is argued, lead to increased tenure security, which in turn encourages property rights holders to invest. Hence, strengthening property rights for the poor contributes to facilitate pro-poor economic growth and a more equitable development. However, the link between formal land titles and tenure security is assumed rather than based on empirical evidence. This DIIS-brief reviews this and other key assumptions underlying land titling and administration interventions. Findings from research that explores rural landowners' own perceptions of the factors that constitute tenure security highlight the importance of formal titles for perceived tenure security, but only in combination with other resources. Therefore, to single out formal titles as being equal to or the most important element in tenure security does not correspond with people's perceptions. Thus, promoting land titling as the policy intervention to strengthen tenure security does not appear to be a feasible strategy for addressing the highly complex problem of insecure land tenure for the rural poor. On the contrary, emerging evidence suggests that land titling tends to make land more readily available to a larger and more resourceful circle of potential buyers. Thus, rather than facilitating pro-poor and equitable development, land titling projects may clear the road for large-scale concentrations of land that gradually exclude the rural poor.
  • Topic: Security, Agriculture, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Jeffrey J. Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: On January 28, 2009, the US House of Representatives passed its economic stimulus plan, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Out of the bill's 700 text pages, a small half-page section attracted enormous media attention: the section requiring that all public projects funded by the stimulus plan must use only iron and steel produced in the United States (box 1). Another provision, which drew less attention, extends the so-called Berry Amendment (an old Buy American provision) to uniforms purchased by the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Government, Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: It is generally believed that the United States is a country of low taxes and small government, at least when compared with countries in Europe (and until the financial crisis so greatly expanded the role of the federal government in the United States in late 2008). Fully accounting for the role, size, and effect of the government in an economy is a complex endeavor, however, and it is hardly accomplished by repeatedly restating differences in top marginal tax rates, overall tax burdens, or gross sizes of governments in GDP terms.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Political Economy, Privatization
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Robert Perito
  • Publication Date: 01-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: While the U.S. and world economies are slowing markedly, Security Sector Reform (SSR) is a growth industry for the private sector. U.S. government employees may set SSR policy and design projects, but implementation is extensively outsourced to private contractors. With the forthcoming surge of U.S. military forces into Afghanistan, the U.S. Army has announced contracts worth $1.1 billion for the construction of military bases and training centers for Afghan military and police. Private firms supply everything from construction materials to trainers and administrative staff. Private contractors operating in Pakistan and Afghanistan are required to provide their own security. Up to 15 percent of the cost of construction will go to private security firms, which guard convoys, facilities and personnel.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Afghanistan, United States
  • Author: Kelly Campbell, Linda Bishai, Jacki Wilson
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Sudan's upcoming elections in 2009 raise hopes and concerns for the country's future. According to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), signed in 2005 between the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), Sudan is scheduled to hold national and state level elections in 2009. (Elections are to take place for president of the Government of National Unity, president of the Government of Southern Sudan, members of the National Assembly and the South Sudan Legislative Assembly, and governors and state legislatures in all of Sudan's 25 states) However, delays in each phase of electoral preparation—including the passage of the electoral law, the appointment of the nine National Election Commission members responsible for overseeing elections, and the census—have raised doubts about whether the elections will be held within the timeframe outlined in the CPA.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Peace Studies, War
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, South Sudan
  • Author: Fergus Hanson
  • Publication Date: 02-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Lowy Institute for International Policy
  • Abstract: It was as recently as 1994 that 800,000 Rwandans were systematically slaughtered and the world was reminded that genocide is still possible. July the following year it happened again, when more than 7,000 men were murdered in the Srebrenica massacre. Today, the killing continues in places like Darfur where the death toll now stands in the hundreds of thousands and the Democratic Republic of Congo where the toll stands in the millions. The crimes committed in these and the many other conflicts of recent decades – the mass killing of civilian populations, the rape of countless women and widespread use of torture – have shaken the conscience of the world.
  • Topic: Crime, Government, International Cooperation, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Australia/Pacific
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After nearly a year of seemingly endless talks brokered by the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Zimbabwe's long-ruling ZANU-PF party and the two factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) formed a coalition government in February. Opposition entry into government is a landmark development, and broad segments of the population are optimistic for the first time in years that a decade of repression and decline can be reversed. There is considerable international scepticism whether the flawed arrangement can succeed; many are tempted, with some reason, to second-guess the decision of mainstream MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accept the deal under SADC and ZANU-PF pressure. But he had no good alternative, given a collapsed economy and humanitarian catastrophe from which his constituency was suffering. Donors should re-engage and apply a “humanitarian plus” aid strategy. South Africa, in collaboration with SADC, should negotiate retirement of hardline senior security leaders in the lifespan of the inclusive government.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Government, Post Colonialism
  • Political Geography: Africa, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Tiia Lehtonen
  • Publication Date: 03-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Czech EU Presidency has now reached its mid-term. It can be reasonably argued that the change of Presidency came at a challenging time for both the EU and the Czech Republic itself. The initial priorities of the Czech Presidency, the 'three Es', were ambitious to say the least, and the provisional results in implementing them are consequently modest at best. The internal disorder of the Czech administration has had a visible and rather negative impact on its competence to run a successful Presidency. The lack of a genuine consensus on various EU issues within the Czech political elite and the autonomy of President Klaus have resulted in problems in terms of satisfactorily driving forward the individual priorities and the Union as a whole. As calls for protectionism have increased in the light of the recession, it has become ever more difficult for the Czech Republic to take a leading position in the EU within the realm of the economic crisis and to find common grounds for all member states. The first European Council meeting under the Czech Presidency will be held on 19th and 20th March in Brussels. Another significant opportunity for the Czechs to exert an influence will be during the G20 Summit in early April.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Eastern Europe, Czech Republic
  • Author: Liz Panarelli
  • Publication Date: 04-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: International actors in Security Sector Reform (SSR) are increasingly taking on roles as “advisors” to Ministries of Interior, Defense, and Justice. Rather than directly implement changes necessary for SSR, these advisors must persuasively articulate suggestions to their local counterparts. Advisors' success depends on their ability to convey recommendations in a manner that makes change acceptable to their advisees. Ministerial and governmental advising is not the exclusive purview of any one entity. Rather, advising is undertaken by a diverse range of individuals from U.S. and foreign governments, militaries, NGOs, private contractors, and U.N. agencies. These actors have correspondingly diverse objectives and approaches to SSR; without coordination or consensus on SSR programming, advisors may find themselves working at cross - purposes. Furthermore, the multiplicity of advisors and institutions makes sharing best practices and improving over time and across conflicts extremely difficult.
  • Topic: Security, Defense Policy, Government
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Eric Rosenbach
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The 9/11 Commission Report emphasized the importance of information sharing between local law enforcement and federal intelligence agencies in order to prevent future terrorist attacks. In an effort to address these concerns, “fusion centers” were created that would facilitate the transfer of information among local, state and federal officials. This memo provides members of Congress with an overview of fusion centers, explains the role these centers play in information sharing and addresses some challenges that they face today.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Terrorism, Law
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 19, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinezhad submitted his list of cabinet nominees to the Majlis (Iran's parliament). The president's choice of individuals clearly shows his preference for loyalty over efficiency, as he fired every minister who, while strongly supportive of him on most issues, opposed him recently on his controversial decision to appoint a family relative as first vice president. Ahmadinezhad's drive to install loyalists involves placing members of the military and intelligence community in the cabinet, as well as in other important government positions. Despite the president's positioning, Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, remains in firm control of the country's vital ministries.
  • Topic: Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: Mohammad Yaghi
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On August 10, Fatah concluded its sixth congress, the first in twenty years. Although media attention has focused on some of the summit's disturbing pronouncements, significant political developments have occurred. Over the span of seven days, Fatah leaders discussed the key issues and challenges facing the party, including organizational and political issues affecting its unity, the role of its power centers, the peace process, and the group's relationship with Hamas and the Palestinian government. Whether Fatah is now able to overcome its organizational deficits and restore its popularity and leadership among the Palestinian people remains to be seen. But Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has undoubtedly emerged stronger, competing powers within Fatah seem to have accepted coexistence, and the conflict between Fatah and Hamas is expected to escalate.
  • Topic: Government, Politics, Political Power Sharing
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Mehdi Khalaji
  • Publication Date: 08-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Widespread reports suggest that Sadeq Larijani, a young and inexperienced cleric with close ties to Iran's military and intelligence agencies, will officially replace Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi as head of the Iranian judiciary on August 16. This appointment is particularly significant, since the judiciary in Iran wields considerable power -- albeit through the approval of Iran's top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei -- and has a great deal of latitude to make decisions without reference to law or Islamic concepts, especially when "safeguarding the interests of the regime" is deemed necessary.
  • Topic: Government, Power Politics, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East
  • Author: David Schenker
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: Six weeks after the pro-West March 14 coalition defeated the Hizballah-led alliance in Lebanon's parliamentary elections, no new government has been formed in Beirut. Although March 14 leader Saad Hariri was given a mandate back in early June to become prime minister and form a cabinet, he has still not completed the sensitive and contentious negotiations with the opposition. Hariri's difficulties in allocating seats among his coalition allies and political adversaries were anticipated, and to a certain extent are routine for Lebanon. But the calm that followed the free and fair elections is eroding, as Hizballah and its allies in Damascus press for more political concessions from Hariri. These developments, coupled with the apparent failure of Saudi-Syrian reconciliation efforts, are elevating tensions, threatening a banner tourism season, and raising the possibility of a return to violence in Beirut.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Simon Henderson, Robert Jordan
  • Publication Date: 07-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: On July 13, 2009, Ambassador Robert Jordan and Simon Henderson addressed a special Policy Forum luncheon at The Washington Institute to discuss succession in Saudi Arabia and the challenges it could pose for the United States. Simon Henderson is the Baker fellow and director of the Gulf and Energy Policy Program at The Washington Institute. His most recent Policy Focus, After King Abdullah: Succession in Saudi Arabia, will be released this month. Robert Jordan is a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, where he was posted shortly after the September 11 terror attacks.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Government, Islam, Regime Change, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Arabia
  • Author: Randal O'Toole
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The administration has likened President Obama's high-speed rail plan to President Eisenhower's Interstate Highway System. Yet there are crucial differences between interstate highways and high-speed rail. First, before Congress approved the Interstate Highway System, it had a good idea how much it would cost. In contrast, Congress approved $8 billion for high-speed rail without knowing the total cost, which is likely to be at least $90 billion.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, Government, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: United States
  • Author: Michael F. Cannon
  • Publication Date: 09-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The most hazardous health reform measure before Congress is not the so-called "public option," but proposals to make health insurance compulsory via an individual or employer mandate. Compulsory health insurance could require nearly 100 million Americans to switch to a more expensive health plan and would therefore violate President Barack Obama's pledge to let people keep their current health insurance. In particular, the legislation before Congress could eliminate many or all health savings account plans. Making health insurance compulsory would also spark an unnecessary fight over abortion and would enable government to ration care to those with private health insurance.
  • Topic: Government, Health, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, America
  • Author: Alexandru Luta
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The recent elections for the lower house of Japan's Diet herald the end of the Liberal Democratic Party's (LDP) domination of Japanese politics. The winner, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), aims to thoroughly reform the way the country is governed. The strategic goals of the DPJ's reform agenda are to shift the locus of policy-drafting away from civil servants to the legislature, and to bring the latter firmly under the control of the Prime Minister's Cabinet. In order to be able to work towards its strategic goal, the DPJ needs tactical victories to maintain its popularity with the electorate. The climate negotiations' high profile makes domestic climate policy a natural area for the DPJ to differentiate its political brand from that of the LDP. Just as with governance reform, the DPJ has time and again asserted its commitment to pro-active climate goals both in pre-and post-electoral speeches, at home and abroad. Therefore it is very likely to continue pouring political capital into this policy area. The division between major ministries about how to formulate Japanese climate policy presents a willing Cabinet with structural advantages to assert its leadership successfully. The wider reforms currently being implemented further strengthen the new government's position. There are some factors that might limit the ability of Japan's new leadership to fight climate change. These include how their relationship with domestic media outlets shapes their approval ratings, how the positions of other stakeholders develop, how other electoral promises conflict with the new climate platform, and how the climate negotiations progress on the international level.
  • Topic: Democratization, Government, Politics, Governance
  • Political Geography: Japan, Israel, Asia
  • Author: Martin Eling, Robert W. Klein, Joan T. Schmit
  • Publication Date: 11-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Independent Institute
  • Abstract: In this paper we compare insurance regulatory frameworks in the United States (US) and European Union (EU), focusing primarily on solvency, but also considering product and price regulation, as well as other elements of consumer protection. This comparison highlights the use of more fluid and principles-based approaches in the EU as it is developing under Solvency II, while the US continues to focus essentially on static, rules-based regulation. The discussion further notes evidence suggesting that the EU approach is more successful in promoting a financially solid insurance sector.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Yalım Eralp
  • Publication Date: 10-2009
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Global Political Trends Center
  • Abstract: For many years successive governments in Turkey have ignored an even denied the existence of Kurds in Turkey. What would have been possible in the past by recognizing cultural rights has now been a problem whereby an operation seems to be needed. Two common and important mistakes of governments: one is to say Kurds are primary citizens of this country as if there are secondary citizens! The second is “end the terror and we will recognize some rights”. Basic rights cannot be negotiated. This second mistake has led Öcalan to announce his own road map paralel to the Governments. Negotiating with hostile entities is very difficult and needs public consensus. Turkey, unlike Britain and Spain does not have public consensus. The best way was and is to follow EU's democratisation road map.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: Europe, Turkey, Kurdistan
  • Author: Mustafa Şentop
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Female students with headscarf are currently prevented to enter the university in Turkey although there is no legal ground for such a ban. The ongoing controversy about the type of clothing for female students at the higher education institutions has become more intensified since the recent constitutional change in February 2008 to lift the de facto headscarf ban. The debate over this question revolves around whether headscarf is a religious attire or a political symbol, whether it should be banned to protect the secular foundations of the state or conversely allowed on the basis of individual freedom of religion as a corollary of secularism. The solution lies in the implementation of constitutional amendments without a further delay.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Education, Government, Politics
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Katri Pynnöniemi
  • Publication Date: 02-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: During recent years, transport and infrastructure development has acquired the status of a 'topic to be mentioned by the president' and other high-level state officials in their public appearances. The rise of transport from almost complete oblivion into the sphere of state strategic interests has been rapid, and it is a subject which is likely to maintain a high profile in the years to come. Success in implementing the current plans for infrastructure development is considered critical in order to generate further economic growth. From the longer-term perspective, it will also be critical in ensuring the diversification of the economy and securing Russia's place amongst the most advanced economies in the world. The modernization of the transport infrastructure is also seen as a lever with which Russia can reposition herself as a power-house in Eurasia. In actual fact, Russia is not a bridge but the dead-end of Eurasia. The country is faced with the enormous task of modernizing its transport infrastructures and implementing structural reforms that have been postponed for years. This would pose a tremendous challenge even in the best possible external circumstances, never mind against the backdrop of inflation and uncertainty in the world markets which exists at present. Something which has changed is that Russia now has the resources and the appropriate legislation in place to carry out these tasks. Yet, even if considerable effort has gone into defining strategic priorities, infrastructure investments are still implemented in an ad-hoc manner. The country is in dire need of massive construction projects. If the quality of the state apparatus in managing government spending does not improve – and there are few signs of that materializing – infrastructure development will become the Trojan horse of the Russian economy.
  • Topic: Development, Government, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe, Asia
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: President Evo Morales's efforts to consolidate sweeping reforms on the basis of a controversial new constitution have steered Bolivia into a cul-de-sac. On 8 December 2007, his supporters in the Constituent Assembly (CA) provisionally passed the text by running roughshod over procedures and virtually excluding opposition delegates. Weak attempts to bridge the deepening divide have failed, increasing potential for a violent confrontation both sides still seem to wish to avoid. Openly defying Morales in May 2008, however, Santa Cruz massively approved the department's autonomy statutes by referendum. Two other eastern lowland departments followed suit, with the fourth expected to do so on 22 June. Morales is pushing for final adoption of the constitution by referendum and a popular vote of confidence. The Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and several European countries, and the Group of Friends (Argentina, Brazil and Colombia) should provide good offices to help the government and opposition reach urgent agreement on a revised constitution that can keep the country together.
  • Topic: Government, Political Economy, Politics
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Saban Kardas
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: The Turkish Constitutional Court's verdict annulling the Parliament's amendments to Articles 10 and 42 of the Constitution disregards popular will, legalizes arbitrary restrictions on the right to equal access to education, and erodes the separation of powers by permitting itself to act outside of the legal order. The emergence of a new precedent of judicial activism is now the biggest threat to the future of Turkish democracy. Turkey cannot afford an unaccountable judiciary exercising substantial powers of governance through judicialization of politics. The Parliament must reassert its authority and reconfigure the Court's competences and composition to bring it into line with liberal-democratic principles as part of a comprehensive constitutional reform.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Democratization, Government
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Aylin S. Gorener
  • Publication Date: 06-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: SETA Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research
  • Abstract: Perhaps the most consequential and drastic decision in Turkish foreign policy in recent months was to engage in direct negotiations with Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq. This is significant because, since the onset of Iraq War in 2003, Turkey has sought to ignore or marginalize Iraqi Kurds, and has refrained from all acts that could be viewed as concessions or de facto recognition. Although the Iraqi Kurdish leadership has received red-carpet ceremony in Ankara in the1990s, Turkish foreign policy toward northern Iraq, since the war, has been stymied by anxiety and emotional rhetoric. Indeed, the fear of Iraq's disintegration and the rise of an independent Kurdish enclave in the north, inspiring or even assisting separatist sentiments in Turkey, have appeared to cloud the possibility of rational evaluation of the pros and cons of policy alternatives. As a result, the policy of projecting illegitimacy to the Kurdish Regional Government has cost Turkey a significant loss of clout not only in northern Iraq but also in the wider Iraqi political affairs, as Kurds have come to occupy significant positions in the central government as well.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, War
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 04-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In October 1907, J. P. Morgan stemmed a financial panic by coercing other banks to join him in providing credit to Wall Street brokerage firms teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.[1] This year, over the weekend including March 15—the ominous Ides of March—James Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, was the one to act. With the Federal Reserve squarely behind him and assuming the risk, he prevented a Bear Stearns bankruptcy by agreeing to purchase the firm, providing it with a decent burial, at a price of $2 per share. Bear Stearns's stock had been valued at over $160 per share just a year ago. The $2 price virtually wiped out the value of that stock, one-third of which is owned by its 14,000 employees. This was clearly not a bailout for Bear Stearns shareholders, and whether or not the steps taken by the Fed on March 16 were sufficient to arrest a further collapse of available credit and the economy remains to be seen. As long as house prices keep falling, the underlying problem for credit markets and the economy remains.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States
100. False Dawn
  • Author: John H. Makin
  • Publication Date: 01-2008
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The bursting of every bubble is followed by statements suggesting that the worst is over and that the real economy will be unharmed. The weeks since mid-March have been such a period in the United States. The underlying problem—a bust in the residential real-estate market—has, however, grown worse, with peak-to-trough estimates of the drop in home prices having gone from 20 to 30 percent in the span of just two months. Meanwhile, the attendant damage to the housing sector and to the balance sheets tied to it has grown worse and spread beyond the subprime subsector.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: United States