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  • Author: Sheng Zhang
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The China-US bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations have attracted attention due to the relative size and weight of both economies. Despite broad consensus about the importance of such a treaty, there is considerable debate about its shape and content. The debate is reflected in two recent Columbia FDI Perspectives. Donnelly argued that a China-US BIT should be modeled on the US Model BIT without "splitting the difference between Chinese and US positions", and that the possibility of meaningful BIT negotiations are "really up to China at this point".
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, International Trade and Finance, Bilateral Relations, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance
  • Political Geography: United States, China, Europe, Colombia
  • Author: Noah Coburn, Anna Larson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's Provincial Councils (PCs) represent one of the best hopes for the future of local democracy in Afghanistan. Yet since their shaky formation in 2005, they continue to be overlooked by international actors preferring to interact with parliamentarians, ministers and appointed governors. The significance assigned by Afghans to winning PC seats has steadily increased over the last decade. Indeed, for many, the April 5 PC elections will do more than the presidential poll to determine whether democratic practices continue to take root in local politics. PC elections offer a chance to build local, personal ties and accountability mechanisms connecting to increasingly centralized government resources, and, in particular, an opportunity for a new generation of young, motivated Afghans to begin their political careers. As the locally-visible manifestation of the Afghan political system, PCs are the immediate face of democracy—or a lack thereof—for many Afghans. In 2009, with most news stories covering the widespread fraud in the presidential contest, the uproar over the fraud and delay throughout the PC polling process rarely received coverage on newspaper front pages. Yet those problems contributed significantly to people's sense of alienation and disillusionment with their country's political actors and electoral institutions. In spite of these experiences, Afghans are once again preparing to go to the polls. Voters, candidates, parties and local organizations are putting greater emphasis than ever on the process of provincial council polling—expressing concern about the prospects for fraud, mobilizing around their candidates and campaigning in earnest. If due attention to the process is not paid by the Independent Election Commission (IEC) and by international agencies, popular participation in future elections could drop. Prospects for Afghan democratization will depend much on how these and future provincial-level elections are conducted.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Democratization, Demographics, Development, Islam, Politics, Youth Culture
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Scott S. Smith
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Afghanistan's democratic development has taken place within the tight embrace of international support and the conception of "free and fair" elections that comes with it, but Afghan and inter-national views on what to expect from elections have diverged in the past, leading to a deepening of distrust between the Karzai-led Afghan government and the international community. The run-up to the 2014 presidential elections has been shaped by this distrust. Nonetheless, with the breakdown of the reconciliation effort with the Taliban and uncertainty about the result of the transition process due to President Hamid Karzai's unexpected refusal to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), the April 5 election is the only remaining opportunity for a political resolution of the continuing crisis in Afghanistan. A more complete understanding of the 2009 elections—how they were and were not a disaster—can help to narrow the gap between Afghan and international expectations; and an understanding of some of the changes that have occurred in Afghan society since 2009 can offer reason for optimism that the election will at the least create space for political elites to address the root causes of the crisis.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Corruption, Democratization, Political Economy, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Deedee Derksen
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: A piecemeal approach to disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) in Afghanistan, with four DDR programs since 2001 each targeting specific groups, has yielded limited results, mostly due to an extremely adverse political environment. Comprehensive DDR is unlikely to work without a settlement that includes all armed groups. The success of such a deal would in turn hinge on the successful reintegration of commanders and fighters. Sequencing DDR in the conventional way may not work; reintegration might better precede disarmament.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Insurgency
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan
  • Author: Mikael Wigell, Karl Lallerstedt
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Illicit trade flows generate massive costs f or the EU, yet the countermeasures have been inadequate. A shortage of data, the tendency to look at different forms of illicit trade as separate phenomena, and the complexity of the problem have led to an under-prioritisation of illicit trade among policymakers. Globally, the illicit trade in products that replace those that are generally licit (such as counterfeit goods and contraband excise goods) represents the biggest monetary turnover and hurts government and corporate revenues directly. Still, it is particularly under-prioritised. Synergistic effects for smuggling different items relate to the fact that there are over one thousand international poly-crime groups operating in the EU, the same smuggling routes can be used f or different commodities, and the same corrupt officials or purveyors of false documentation can deliver their services to multiple "operators". Illicit trade also makes the EU more vulnerable to terrorist attacks. It finances terrorist organisations, and well-established smuggling routes make the borders more porous. To address the problem, better data need to be generated showing its extent and impact. Taking a holistic view of the various aspects of illicit trade is important to facilitate coordination among the relevant authorities. The costs of this work represent investments which - beyond enhancing security - will generate income by boosting tax revenues, reducing crime, creating jobs and driving economic growth.
  • Author: Antto Vihma, Harro van Asselt
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Notwithstanding the incremental steps taken in October 2013, meaningful action on regulating international aviation emissions through the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) remains a distant prospect. The European Union (EU) must decide on its aviation Directive without the guarantee of a global market-based mechanism being agreed in 2016. The strong and uncompromising positions of countries opposed to the inclusion of foreign airlines in the EU's emissions trading system (ETS) are more related to a realist game of politics rather than to the design details of the policy instrument. The political and legal arguments against the European Commission's proposal to amend the EU ETS vis à vis aviation emissions are unconvincing. Europe should also insist on its own sovereign rights-such as the right to regulate international aviation in its own airspace-and consider ways of manifesting more assertiveness in the future in order not to create a precedent with the retreat in the Aviation Directive case. Otherwise, the EU ma y become vulnerable to pressure in other areas of regulation with extraterritorial implications, and the EU's credibility when faced with strong and coordinated external influences might be undermined.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Health, Treaties and Agreements, Infrastructure
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Teija Tiilikainen
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Reforms made to the EU's economic and fiscal policies have served to reinforce the fragmentation of the division of competences between the EU and its member states in this field. It has also impacted the way in which these competences are exerted by the European and national institutions. Resulting from a differentiation of responsibilities between the eurozone countries and the rest of the EU, fragmentation is increasingly taking place even inside the EU institutions. The current fragmentation of competences and institutions complicates the democratic scrutiny of economic and fiscal policies. The biggest challenge is to accommodate the differentiated responsibilities of the eurozone countries and the rest of the EU within the framework of existing institutions in a w ay that would ensure the unity of this framework, but also the proper democratic anchoring of the EU's economic and fiscal powers.
  • Topic: Economics, Monetary Policy
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Steven A. Cook
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Egypt is experiencing a deep economic crisis. The country's foreign currency r e serves are less than half of what they were before the January 2011 uprising, threatening Egypt's ability to pay for food and fuel. Egypt's budget deficit is 14 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) and its overall debt, which is the result of accumulated deficits, is more than the country's economic output. In this difficult economic climate, roughly 4 5 percent of Egyptians live on less than two dollars per day. Inflation, which reached as high as 12.97 percent after the July 2013 military coup, is currently at 11.4 percent. Tourism revenue—traditionally a primary source of foreign currency along with Suez Canal tolls and remittances from Egyptians working abroad—is less than half of what it was in the last full year before the uprising. Foreign direct investment has dried up outside the energy sector. Unemployment remains high at 13.4 percent. Among the unemployed, 71 percent are between fifteen and twenty-nine years old. This economic weakness makes it politically difficult to address the problems that contribute to a potential solvency crisis because the necessary reforms will impose hardship on a population that is already experiencing economic pain.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Economics, Regime Change, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: Arabia, North Africa, Egypt
  • Author: Nadia Naviwala
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: PakVotes, a pilot project supported by the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP), used social media platforms and a network of reporters located in areas outside of major cities in Pakistan to track violence during the 2013 elections. The project offers lessons that could guide future efforts to use social media to record and publicize conflicts and the use of violence during elections and other major events. The hashtag #PakVotes trended for several days around elections, serving as a popular alternative news source to the mainstream media, which was not as diverse in its geographic coverage, sources or story types.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Democratization, Non-Governmental Organization, Science and Technology, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, South Asia
  • Author: Ilaria Maselli, Miroslav Beblavý
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: There is a general consensus that to achieve employment growth, especially for vulnerable groups, it is not enough to kick-start economic growth. It is also essential to improve the s kills among both the high-and low-skilled population.
  • Topic: Economics, Migration, Science and Technology, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Europe, Somalia