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  • Author: Benjamin Attia, Shayle Kann, Morgan D. Bazilian
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The global energy transition has reached an inflection point. In numerous markets, the declining cost of solar photovoltaics (PV) has already beaten the cost of new-build coal and natural gas and is now chasing down operating costs of existing thermal power plants, forcing a growing crowd of thermal generation assets into early retirement. Perfect comparability between dispatchable and non-dispatchable resources invites debate, but the cost declines in solar PV are irrefutable: the global average unit cost of competitively-procured solar electricity declined by 83 percent from 2010 to 2018. This is due in part to module cost reductions of approximately 90 percent, capacity-weighted average construction cost declines of 74 percent, and a global paradigm shift in renewable energy procurement policies in the last six years.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Science and Technology, Natural Resources, Infrastructure, Electricity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jeff Bachman
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Transnational solidarity movements have typically flowed from a central point located in the West, particularly in the United States, to the East and the Global South. Shadi Mokhtari describes this phenomenon as the “traditional West-to-East flow of human rights mobilizations and discourses.” Viewed individually, this phenomenon is not problematic in all cases. However, as Mokhtari argues, this one-directional flow of human rights politics precludes non-Western non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from weighing in on human rights violations committed in the United States. Human rights violations in the United States are typically experienced by marginalized communities, from the mass incarceration and disenfranchisement of African-Americans to the detention and ill-treatment of immigrants, migrants, and refugees. For a truly global human rights movement to emerge—one that is not grounded in Western paternalism and perceived moral superiority—this must change.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, Post Colonialism, Immigration, Refugees, NGOs, transnationalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Michael A. Carrier
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Big Tech is in the news. At the center of our political and economic dialogue is the effect that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google have on our lives and what, if anything, governments should do about it. In this article, I explain how Big Tech has come under scrutiny, the antitrust implications of the industry’s behavior, and the potential remedy of breaking up the companies.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, Science and Technology, Regulation, Internet, Social Media, Business
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Stefano Manservisi
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: As the Coronavirus pandemic expands, and peak contagion remains uncertain, policy responses are gradually emerging, being implemented in a number of domains. The crisis has several important implications, but two are currently dominating the headlines: individual health and the sustainability of national healthcare systems, and the economic fallout from the pandemic.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, Finance, International Development, Development Aid, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Africa, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Maurice Obstfeld, Adam S. Posen, Olivier Blanchard, Chad P. Bown, Cullen S. Hendrix, Ana González, Simeon Djankov, Anne-Laure Kiechel, Anna Gelpern, Sean Hagan, Adnan Mazarei, Christopher G. Collins, Simon Potter, Edwin M. Truman, Joseph E. Gagnon
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The world's leading economic powers must cooperate more to combat the health and economic shocks resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. In a new PIIE Briefing, Peterson Institute experts outline how collective action by the Group of Twenty (G20) nations can make a difference. The PIIE agenda includes removal of trade barriers impeding the flow of medical supplies and food, and more money for research, testing, and disease control, especially for debt-burdened low-income countries. The World Bank and the World Health Organization need more resources to relieve suffering, and the International Monetary Fund must step up to stabilize the world financial system.
  • Topic: Economics, Health, World Health Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, G20, Coronavirus
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Danielle Pletka, Brett D. Schaefer
  • Publication Date: 08-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: In a pandemic, a global health organization that is overly deferential to one nation and incapable of being an honest broker costs the very lives it exists to save. While China deserves primary blame for the devastation of COVID-19, the WHO also played a key role by failing to alert the world to Beijing’s lack of transparency. The WHO’s failures cannot be allowed to recur. Without change, it will fail again. It must implement reforms if it wants to restore confidence and earn US support.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, World Health Organization, Coronavirus, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: China, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Aaron M. Renn
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The culture of particular places, often developed and cast into institutional form during their founding period, affects their economy in important and understudied ways. Case studies suggest several cultural traits can potentially help places be more economically successful over the long term: (1) open civic networks, which help places better adapt to change; (2) investment in civic leadership and institution building by local elites; and (3) an emphasis on education and rewarding excellence. Civic culture is difficult to change. Doing so requires first acquiring a deep understanding of it and then focusing on the most addressable areas for change, such as incubating new relationships and connections between different actors in the community.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Poverty, Culture, Cities
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Vincent H. Smith
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: The federal government annually appropriates funds for food aid programs that the US Agency for International Development manages to benefit some of the neediest individuals in the world. This report analyzes how one interest group, the US maritime industry, has managed to obtain rents from the Title II food aid program through cargo preference requirements in the name of national security. We find that removing cargo preference requirements would allow for between $36 and $64 million of already appropriated funds to go to feeding the hungry and would benefit US soft power globally.
  • Topic: Maritime, USAID, Mercantile Policy, Food Assistance
  • Political Geography: North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Paige Arthur, Céline Monnier, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, the newly released secretary-general’s report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace contains, as usual, a wealth of examples of the steps that the United Nations (UN) system is taking to implement the sustaining peace resolutions. It also suggests a welcome and surprising finding: the conflict prevention agenda—once thought to be on life-support at the UN—has found new vigor. This briefing examines the new report, finding that it moves the prevention agenda forward in several key respects, from deepening political buy-in among member states and partners, to a greater embrace of conflict-sensitive approaches in the field. The briefing also identifies key opportunities for prevention to take root in the UN’s practice—including continued strengthening of expertise on prevention; deepening partnerships with the IFIs; leveraging links with violence reduction initiatives, especially relating to SDG16; focusing on area-based approaches to address multiple risks; and more action on humanitarian-development-peacebuilding nexus approaches.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, United Nations, Peace, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Knut Gerlach, Ben Oppenheim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Describing the coronavirus pandemic as a “global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations” the UN has in recent days called for the launch of a large-scale, coordinated, and comprehensive multilateral response to combat the virus and its attendant economic and social consequences. It has published a set of action plans that aim to avert the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus, especially on the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance, Reform, Multilateralism, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel, Sarah Cliffe, Leah Zamore
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, policymakers must navigate public perceptions of coronavirus risk and government responses. This task is all the more challenging given press coverage focusing on outliers and extreme views, polarization and disinformation on social media platforms, and the relative dearth of reliable public opinion polling. These constraints notwithstanding, understanding people’s perceptions of the impact of COVID-19 and their priorities emerging from this crisis will be crucial for building back better. This two-part briefing pulls together data from several global, regional, and national polls conducted over the past month and a half to provide a descriptive summary of trends in public opinion towards COVID-19. The first part of the briefing, by Paul von Chamier, Nendirmwa Noel, and Elizabeth Angell, focuses on global polls tracking levels of public trust in government and other institutions, and public perceptions of the trade-offs involved in calibrating lockdown measures. Overall, the results suggest that most people around the world are highly concerned about the pandemic, supportive of a strong government response, and willing to suffer economic losses in order to save lives—although not without limit. The second part, by Leah Zamore and Sarah Cliffe, focuses on polling from low-income countries, especially in Africa, which find similar trends. However, the greater vulnerability of low-income households in those countries and the practical barriers to some social distancing and lockdown measures mean that public support will decline as people experience greater hardships. The briefing suggests that adequate and equitable government support is a vital prerequisite to sustaining trust—and thus the global public health response.
  • Topic: Governance, Public Opinion, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Leah Zamore, Karina Gerlach, Ben Oppenheim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Describing the coronavirus pandemic as a “global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations” the UN has in recent days called for the launch of a large-scale, coordinated, and comprehensive multilateral response to combat the virus and its attendant economic and social consequences. It has published a set of action plans that aim to avert the potentially catastrophic impact of the virus, especially on the world’s most vulnerable and impoverished communities.
  • Topic: United Nations, Governance, Multilateralism, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Céline Monnier
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Center on International Cooperation
  • Abstract: COVID-19 is creating a series of crises that increase the risk of conflict worldwide. Beyond the health impact, issues like worsening inequality, food insecurity, human rights abuses, and political tensions can deepen pre-existing social fractures in any country, creating additional layers of grievance. Addressing these risks early on and building resilience to them is key to preventing the potential for violence. But the pandemic also brings new opportunities for peacebuilding. A system-wide implementation of the sustaining peace approach is critical to ensure that United Nations response contributes to decreasing risks for violent conflict in the longer term—including efforts to “build back better.” This report draws on interviews with 25+ individuals across the UN system and member states to highlight some of the key challenges for peacebuilding in the immediate COVID-19 period as well as in the longer term. The report documents how entities across the UN have made positive steps toward implementing a sustaining peace approach, and provides recommendations for deepening these gains across the system.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Inequality, Peace, Humanitarian Crisis, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Conference Board
  • Abstract: As immigration reform remains in gridlock, a new report from a nonpartisan think tank whose membership is comprised of top-level business executives calls on policymakers to enact various changes to bolster America’s workforce and economic might. Published by the Committee for Economic Development of The Conference Board (CED), recommendations from the public policy think tank include streamlining the visa process to strengthen the country’s attractiveness to the most in-demand foreign workers, and increasing economically motivated offers of permanent residence.
  • Topic: Immigration, Reform, Public Policy, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Damian Wnukowski, Marek Wasinski
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The coronavirus pandemic and efforts to suppress it (the Great Lockdown) will lead to the collapse of the global economy. In the short term, the reduction in production and consumption in the countries most affected by the pandemic will lead to a global recession. In the long run, the crisis may result in a partial retreat from globalisation, higher indebtedness, and narrowing the differences in economic potential between the EU and the U.S., and China. A positive side effect may be the acceleration of the development of the digital economy, including the services market.
  • Topic: European Union, Economy, Global Financial Crisis, Coronavirus, Pandemic
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, North America, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Nathaniel Kim, Trey Herr, Bruce Schneier
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the increasing convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Hundreds of “things” are being connected to the Internet and each other, with more than fifty billion devices expected to be connected by 2030. 1 These devices vary from Internet-connected power-generation equipment to wearable health trackers and smart home appliances, and generally offer some combination of new functionality, greater convenience, or cost savings to users.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Internet, Innovation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: David Soud, Ian M. Ralby, Rohini Ralby
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Downstream oil theft has become a global problem. Since most of the world’s energy systems still rely on oil, fuel smugglers are nearly always able to find markets for their goods. Moreover, since oil is not inherently illegal, it is generally an easy product to move, buy, and sell. Profits from oil theft are frequently used to fund terrorism and other illegal activities. The new Atlantic Council Global Energy Report by Dr. David Soud, Downstream Oil Theft: Countermeasures and Good Practices, provides an in-depth look at how governments—from militaries to law enforcement officials—along with other stakeholders can anticipate and intercept instances of downstream oil theft. The report offers a range of methods to counter oil theft, which range from fuel marking and other technologies to transnational
  • Topic: Security, Crime, Energy Policy, Environment, Governance, Law Enforcement, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: John T. Watts
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Atlantic Council
  • Abstract: Recent events have seen an acceleration in the rise of reemerging great powers. This has had a profound impact on global economic, technological, and political assumptions and has created new technological realities. The potential impact and implications of artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology innovation, and the dark sides of social media have raised new concerns for social norms. No issue is more emblematic of the competition between liberal, free-market nations and authoritarian command-economy principles than the evolution of fifth-generation (5G) telecommunications. Generational shifts between cellular telecommunications networks have profound implications for national and global economies. As data become increasingly central to every aspect of a modern economy, the shift to the next generation of cellular networks will be of even greater significance. The Chinese government identified the importance of this transition and has, for years, been aggressively investing around the world to be the purveyor of 5G infrastructure that will carry that data in the coming decades. Chinese-backed firms are currently better positioned to exploit the vast opportunity that 5G represents more effectively than corporations within free markets, for several reasons. The most significant is the high infrastructure cost of legacy cellular models and uncertain consumer demand in the short term. Capital costs are driven predominately by the technical requirements of 5G, which—in return for far higher speeds and ultra-low latency—require new hardware to be installed in many more locations than previous networks. Moreover, the legacy infrastructure model relied on proprietary and incompatible hardware components that are best suited to large, single-manufacture companies that can provide comprehensive end-to-end solutions. While consumer demand is predicted to be high, businesses are cautious in deploying such large amounts of money for unproven speculative demand. The lack of a concrete user base creates an opening that vertically integrated Chinese companies, heavily backed by the state, are exploiting by deploying the 5G technology and services at a discount of about 25 percent, along with loss-leading financing terms. Given that end-to-end network solutions can cost $10–100 billion, or more, 25-percent discounts have a major impact. While the 25-percent discount is financially enticing, the longer-term consequences are often hidden, and can include vulnerability to foreign espionage, economic leverage, and forced compliance to conditions underpinned by authoritarian principles. For the Chinese government, the financial cost is a small investment in return for potential control of the world’s data backbone for the next several decades. The reality is that questions revolving around security, as defined from the perspective of traditional “cyber” or “network security,” are ancillary to the critical challenge. If a nation builds a telecommunications network with equipment supplied from Chinese tech giants such as Huawei or ZTE, those networks will inherently be subject to Chinese laws that require compliance with many principles’ anathema to free-market, liberal views. Moreover, these networks, by design, must be managed and maintained by large services organizations, likely staffed by a vast workforce of Chinese citizens, who also must comply with Chinese law and can provide local human intelligence back to the Chinese state. These are terms that countries should not have to accept, and to which their citizens should not be involuntarily subjected. An open, innovative, safe, and reliable alternative is needed, so that people have a realistic option that allows them to freely communicate and consume information. 5G is emblematic of the competition between the new authoritarianism and free-market, liberal principles. China has executed its plan well over the last five years by driving the standards discussion, developing the leading vertically integrated solution, deploying national export finance to subsidize their offerings, and building the largest and most effective services organization in the market. Free-market economies have spent far less on research and development (R&D), have only limited export finance options, rely on semiconductor dominance, deploy severely limited services organizations, and have no integrated national or international strategy. Few governments or companies were prepared for the level of sophistication of the product and export finance offering of the authoritarian-backed commercial players.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Cybersecurity, Innovation, 5G
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Nicole Mattea
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: Conflict-Related Sexual Assault— Historic Barriers to International Recognition JUNE 26, 2020 By: Nicole Mattea, Women, Peace, and Security Intern, Chicago Council on Global Affairs In April of 2019, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2493 within the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda. This resolution recognizes sexual violence occurring on a continuum of violence against women and girls, recognizes national responsibility on addressing sexual violence, and recognizes the need for survivor-based and survivor-centered approaches to preventative and provisionary responses. Despite this resolution and several others adopted within the last several years, it was only a little over a decade ago in 2008 that the United Nations (UN) first recognized the role of sexual violence as a war tactic and began implementing strategies to address and respond to such violence on a global scale. This delay and lack of international attention is due to a series of long-held beliefs about rape, sexual violence, and consent, as well an acceptance of conflict-related sexual violence as inevitable to conflict. To explain the recent emergence of conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) into international discourse and preventative strategies, I will define CRSV, explain the history of CRSV in international law and international human rights, and examine the belief systems surrounding CRSV that, until recent years, restricted prosecution and peacekeeping efforts.
  • Topic: United Nations, Women, Conflict, Sexual Violence, International Humanitarian Law (IHL)
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Molly Jahn
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Abstract: US public investment in agricultural research in the 20th and 21st centuries has resulted in unprecedented worldwide production of a few staple crops and the improvement of dozens more. Increased crop yields and animal production have drastically reduced famine compared to previous centuries and supported an overall increase in global affluence. Today, agricultural producers around the world are facing new challenges as global climate changes become increasingly unpredictable. Inconsistent rain, extreme temperatures, droughts, flooding, wildfires, and shifting pest and disease patterns are just a few of the obstacles farmers face as they try to feed their families and produce enough food to feed the world. In spite of these dire challenges, US public agricultural research funding has been decreasing over the past several decades. This has allowed competitors such as China and Brazil to outpace American ingenuity, take over American markets, and put American farmers at a disadvantage. The lack of investment in agricultural research and development is a critical national security concern. Historical US agricultural strength has contributed to US hard and soft power around the world. As the US food system is beset by increasing climate, economic, financial, and security threats, US rural communities have been left behind, undermining US power and domestic well-being. Increasing global food insecurity, which has been amplified by increasing weather extremes, will lead to economic and political instability in many areas of the world, further threatening US national security. Although the private sector plays a crucial role in the development of new agricultural techniques and products, public funding has been the backbone of many agriculture and food system advances. While agricultural research and development has historically focused primarily on increasing yields, this narrow focus does not adequately support the food requirements of today’s growing global population. There must be a revitalization of public investment in agricultural research, American food systems, and international agricultural development that focuses on the challenges of the future. US leadership is vital to ensuring the global research agenda does not leave farmers behind. Opportunities to build upon and enhance existing US agricultural research infrastructure across many diverse government entities abound. The US government should recognize these investment opportunities to address current and future climate challenges.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Climate Change, Environment, Research
  • Political Geography: China, Brazil, North America, Global Focus, United States of America