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  • Author: Tomáš Kaválek
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: On 3 March, clashes erupted between the PKK-linked forces and the KDP’s Rojava Peshmerga near Khanasor in the district of Shingal. These events now more than ever highlight the need for a negotiated compromise between the KRG and the PKK; and for the international community to actively intervene.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, Political Theory
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Irene Costantini
  • Publication Date: 02-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: Iraq and Libya are facing similar challenges: addressing the hurdles of socio-economic recovery in areas liberated from the Islamic State (IS); facing a fiscal crisis in the midst of continuous political tensions; and striking a power balance between central and local authorities, serving the interests of the people.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, ISIS
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Author: Athanasios Manis
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Middle East Research Institute (MERI)
  • Abstract: The Iraqi and Turkish leadership have restored direct contact, thus providing an opportunity for dialogue. However, the extent to which this can lead to a sustainable normalisation process and furthermore to a deepening of their relationship is highly questionable. This policy brief argues that the main problem lies with the fact that a win-win scenario of overlapping or complementary interests does not seem to be driving the leaderships’ actions. Instead, it is ad hoc developments external to their bilateral relationship that have a positive effect for the time being, such as the rapprochement between Russia and Turkey, and subsequently a concerted attempt between Russia, Turkey and Iran to stabilise the region.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Middle East
  • Author: Katarina Djokic
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belgrade Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This paper presents a performance analysis of the G-4 Super Galeb military trainer aircraft modernization project. The analysis shows that the Ministry of Defense has to review the need for this project as soon as possible, in view of the announced equipping of the Serbian Armed Forces with MiG-29 fighter planes, several-year delay of the beginning of the project and Su- per Galeb maintenance difficulties. The paper also shows that the Ministry of Defense and the Serbian Armed Forces cannot effectively plan modernization and equipping projects without a top-level political decision on what type of army Serbia needs, and without a more decisive fis- cal policy, which would ensure funds for priority projects on a medium-term level.
  • Topic: International Security
  • Political Geography: Serbia
  • Author: Maha Yahya, Jean Kassir
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: A sustainable political settlement to end the multiple conflicts in Syria will not be possible without a real focus on the challenges of refugee returns. The complexities of the Syrian wars as well as previous international experiences with similar conflicts underscore that ensuring long-term peace requires a more focused attention on the challenges for effective repatriation of refugees and internally displaced persons, including significant security and protection guarantees. Without these, and irrespective of the eventual shape of a political solution, their return may be neither possible nor sustainable—with significant repercussions for peace in Syria, neighboring countries, and states beyond.
  • Topic: War, International Security, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Catherine S. Panaguiton
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: The judgment award rendered in the Republic of the Philippines vs. The People’s Republic of China was a significant development to the disputes in the South China Sea and the West Philippine Sea. Conflicting opinions from littoral and affected states on the legal issues abound the institution of the case and the conduct in these areas as a whole have been raised and a decision has been rendered on these issues. Provisions in the UNCLOS that were made to be deliberately vague because States at the UN Conference negotiating UNCLOS could not agree on more precise language have been clarified. The judgment not only has implications in the lawyering and judicial sphere. It also carries practical implications that are to be considered in lawmaking and formulation of government policies. All these implications will be discussed in this paper.
  • Topic: Peace Studies, Law
  • Political Geography: South China, West Philippines
  • Author: François Godement
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Xi Jinping took a bold stance at this year's Davos summit, claiming that China could be the leader and protector of global free trade. However, he fell short of pronouncing the same commitment to the international order. • While China finds little to criticise in globalisation, which has fuelled its rapid economic rise, it has an uneasy relationship with the international order, picking and choosing what parts of it to engage with. • China's governance model at home is fundamentally at odds with the liberal international order. Whether in climate talks, international arbitrations, or on the topic of open markets, China resists any parts of the order that infringe on its sovereignty. • Facing an increasingly interest-driven China, and a US in retreat from the international order, the EU must stand by its values if it wants to protect them. Faced with Donald Trump, Xi has sent a clear message about his country's commitment to internationalism. The EU should hold China to its word on this.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Hamza Meddeb
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Six years since the revolution, the success of democracy in Tunisia depends on those parts of the country where the popular uprising began: its ‘periphery’, whose regions lag far behind the country’s economically more developed coast. Tunisia’s periphery regions suffer from weak economic growth and high levels of poverty and unemployment – a legacy of decades of underinvestment. Regional conflict, terrorism and organised crime have led the government to crack down on security threats in the periphery regions. This has disrupted the informal and illegal economic networks on which much of the population relies and caused it to lose faith in the government. Tunisia has enjoyed extensive support from international partners since 2011 – money is not the problem. Instead, the country must strengthen its regional governance and address fragmentation at the heart of government. Europeans can radically alter the terms of debate by offering Tunisia membership of the European Economic Area, galvanising change in support of its journey towards democracy and stability.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Hayder al-Khoei, Ellie Geranmayeh, Mattia Toaldo
  • Publication Date: 01-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: European Council On Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: ISIS has suffered significant setbacks in both Iraq and Libya with the battles for Mosul and Sirte representing potential turning-points. • Without a clear political strategy to guide post- ISIS efforts, these military gains could quickly be lost. Both countries could again become breeding grounds for conflict and extremism, exacerbating European security and migration challenges. This risk is especially high for Iraq given the conflict in neighbouring Syria. • The new US administration is likely to invest less energy than its predecessors in strengthening political orders which provide stability. European states must step up their own efforts
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Global Focus
  • Author: Catherine S. Panaguiton
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on International Policy (CIP)
  • Abstract: Chinese incursions in disputed waters in the SCS and WPS started from as early as the 1950s. However, they were scant and far in between. As decades passed, Chinese surveillance and incursions and the incidents between PRC, RP and Vietnam have increased in these areas. Rapid reclamation activities by PRC and the construction of installations on them (many of which are of a military nature)7, amidst protests by its neighbors (including the Philippines) and claimant states, have likewise increased the tensions.
  • Topic: International Law, Peace Studies
  • Political Geography: China, Philippines
  • Author: Amadou Sy, Amy Copley
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: Lack of energy access presents a formidable, but not insurmountable, challenge to African development. Energy poverty afflicts nearly 620 million people in Africa, limiting economic opportunities and creating health risks through the use of low-cost, alternative energy sources, such as wood fuel (IEA 2014). Without access to secure, reliable sources of electricity, households, businesses, schools, and hospitals cannot operate effectively, reducing quality of life and restricting human capital. As acknowledged in the global sustainable development agenda, addressing these energy needs is fundamental to achieving economic and human development objectives. African governments and their partners in the private sector and international development community have taken this to heart as can be seen by the growing policy attention and resources they are allocating to the continent’s energy sector.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, Global Markets, International Development
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Antoni Estevadeordal
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: On February 22, 2017, the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) entered into force. The TFA was concluded at the WTO Bali Ministerial Conference in 2013. Since then, countries have been working on implementing the agreement in their domestic markets to reach the two-thirds requirement for implementation.[1] As of March 2017, 113 members (or 69 percent of WTO members) have ratified the agreement—including 19 Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries—and another 93 countries have notified the WTO of their timeline for each TFA provision, giving a comprehensive picture of the state of the agreement.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Roger Burkhardt, Colin I. Bradford Jr.
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In this policy brief, we highlight the impact of the speed and the scale that digital innovation will have in disrupting labor markets in the future, which requires anticipating policy responses now. We advocate for the formation of new social partnerships between business, labor, governments, financial institutions, and social stakeholders to forge comprehensive policy responses to address the coming social impact of technological change. This brief was used at the VISION 20 Workshop held at the Brookings Institution on February 27, 2017 to help generate new “big picture” policy approaches for the German G-20 Summit in Hamburg in July. The workshop was sponsored by the University of British Columbia Institute for Asia Research, the Munk School at the University of Toronto, the Boell Foundation, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with the participation of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the German Development Institute.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Colin I. Bradford, Roger Burkhardt
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: In this policy brief, we discuss the importance of accelerated private investment in skill development of labor as a means to increase the competitiveness of firms, to create value added by workers, and to boost wages and social mobility. This brief was used at the VISION 20 Workshop held at the Brookings Institution on February 27, 2017, to help generate new “big picture” policy approaches for the German G-20 Summit in Hamburg in July. The workshop was sponsored by the University of British Columbia Institute for Asia Research, the Munk School at the University of Toronto, the Boell Foundation, and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung with the participation of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy and the German Development Institute.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Social Movement, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vibeke Schou Tjalve
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: The cabinet nominations, budget proposals and stepped up force displays of the Trump administration signals a decisive militarization. Even if European NATO members also increase their military muscle, a transatlantic gap on the purpose, language and limits of military power seems looming – not least in the field of counter-terrorism.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 06-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: On 5 June 2017, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt, in marked succession, cut diplomatic relations with Qatar. Within a matter of hours, it became clear that this was not simply a move to sever ties, but a plan for a full embargo, an unprecedented step at a time of peace between these nations. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain blocked flights to Qatar, closed land and sea borders, and ordered Qatari citizens out of their countries while calling on their own nationals to leave Qatar. The same day, Maldives, Mauritius (though it later denied the news), the Libyan Tobruk-based government (which is not recognised internationally), and the Yemeni government based in Riyadh followed suit and cut ties with Qatar, unable to resist Saudi pressure. The next day, Jordan downgraded diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked the licence of Al Jazeera’s bureau in Amman, while Mauritania severed diplomatic relations with Qatar. Mauritius, in an official statement, denied it had cut ties, raising questions of whether some party took the initiative on behalf of the Mauritian government. The actions taken at dawn on 5 June were the culmination of an unprecedented, anti-Qatar media blitz initiated by Emirati, Saudi, Bahraini and Egyptian media on the evening of 23 May. The campaign intensified until it assumed official imprimatur with the decision to cut ties and blockade Qatar. What, then, is happening to relations between countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? After Gulf leaders came together in a scene of friendship, cooperation and solidarity during US President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, why are relations between three GCC states and Qatar deteriorating so rapidly and in such unprecedented fashion? Was there an immediate cause that spurred Saudi Arabia and its partners to take this stance, or were these actions planned in advance? Is this simply a fleeting crisis in relations between GCC states, or could the break persist?
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Middle East
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract It appears from his decision to replace Abdelilah Benkirane with Saadeddine Othmani as head of the government that Moroccan King Mohammed VI does not want to deviate from the requirements of the constitution and democratic methods. He is attempting to use his constitutional powers to find an acceptable solution to end the stalemate and form a government. Othmani has succeeded in reaching a tentative agreement to form the government and is likely to succeed in its formation and leadership. However, he will head a heterogeneous government afflicted by many contradictions, which may implode if it falls under excessive pressure. The government would then be in crisis, which it would have to overcome with a cabinet reshuffle to avoid a complete collapse, especially given the strong position of the king who wants the Justice and Development Party to continue leading the government in future.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Affairs, Governance
  • Political Geography: Morocco
  • Publication Date: 05-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: Abstract The commander of Operation Dignity, Khalifa Haftar, shocked supporters even more than his opponents when he agreed to meet the Chairman of the Presidential Council, Fayez al-Sarraj, in Abu Dhabi on 2 May 2017, having previously refused to recognise him. This about-face may be attributable to the acquiescence of Haftar’s regional allies to direct international pressure. Reactions to the rapprochement between al-Sarraj and Haftar varied across the eastern and western fronts. Khalifa Haftar’s status in the east precludes serious opposition to his decisions, while in the western region a substantial segment of the population blessed the meeting in hopes that a détente would stop the deterioration of the security and economic situation. In contrast, western political and military factions were incensed, and some responded violently. Haftar’s acceptance of consensual agreement and reconciliation clearly grows out the waning possibility of assuming control of the country through decisive military action. From his standpoint, it therefore makes sense to attempt to impose his conditions through negotiations, which means the Skhirat agreement could collapse or undergo radical revisions.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Relations, International Security
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Publication Date: 04-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: The Supreme Electoral Council of Turkey has officially announced that the Yes camp has won the constitutional amendments by just over 51 per cent, in contrast to the camp rejecting the amendments which received just over 48 per cent, although these results are not yet final. Surprisingly, an overwhelming majority of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), though its leadership and the majority of its parliamentary bloc supported the amendments, voted ‘no’. The five major cities – Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir, Adana and Antalya – all voted ‘no’. The Kurdish vote clearly played a very important role in the Yes supporters’ victory. In other words, those who said ‘yes’ to the changes in cities with a significant Kurdish population exceeded the total votes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the MHP in the recent parliamentary elections. In the external sphere, the referendum’s outcome is not expected to have a direct impact on heated regional issues, particularly in Syria, as well as most regional issues.
  • Topic: Democratization, International Security
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Publication Date: 03-2017
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Al Jazeera
  • Abstract: This paper reviews the importance of western Mosul to all parties in the conflict: the Iraqi forces and their allies, on the one hand, and the Islamic State’s forces, on the other, and the obstacles to any of these parties resolving the conflict. It also touches on the extent of their forces and the clear dominance of the offensive forces, and it discusses the military strategies for the battle and potential outcomes in addition to the available options for the Islamic State (IS). It anticipates an end to the fight in favour of the Iraqi forces within a few weeks if the battle and its results progress at a similar pace to that of its first week. This will depend on any unaccounted for variables during the battle that would change the equation on the ground. It concludes by discussing the available options for IS after the battle ends, with the expectation that IS will fight until the end; while its commanders will inevitability lose the battle, this will not eliminate threats to security and stability in Iraq in the foreseeable future.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, International Security
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Middle East