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  • Author: Jesse Reynolds, Gernot Wagner
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: New technologies, such as social media and do-it-yourself biotechnology, alter the capacities and incentives of both state and nonstate actors. This can include enabling direct decentralized interventions, in turn altering actors’ power relations. The provision of global public goods, widely regarded as states’ domain, so far has eluded such powerful technological disruptions. We here introduce the idea of highly decentralized solar geoengineering, plausibly done in form of small high-altitude balloons. While solar geoengineering has the potential to greatly reduce climate change, it has generally been conceived as centralized and state deployed. Potential highly decentralized deployment moves the activity from the already contested arena of state action to that of environmentally motivated nongovernmental organizations and individuals, which could disrupt international relations and pose novel challenges for technology and environmental policy. We explore its feasibility, political implications, and governance.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael A Mehling
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Parties to the Paris Agreement can engage in voluntary cooperation and use internationally transferred mitigation outcomes towards their national climate pledges. Doing so promises to lower the cost of achieving agreed climate objectives, which can, in turn, allow Parties to increase their mitigation efforts with given resources. Lower costs do not automatically translate into greater climate ambition, however. Transfers that involve questionable mitigation outcomes can effectively increase overall emissions, affirming the need for a sound regulatory framework. As Parties negotiate guidance on the implementation of cooperative approaches under Article 6.2 of the Paris Agreement, they are therefore considering governance options to secure environmental integrity and address the question of overall climate ambition. Drawing on an analytical framework that incorporates economic theory and deliberative jurisprudence, practical case studies, and treaty interpretation, this Working Paper maps central positions of actors in the negotiations and evaluates relevant options included in the latest textual proposal.
  • Topic: Climate Change, International Organization
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Michael B Greenwald
  • Publication Date: 12-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the post-9/11 era, Washington has waged innovative campaigns against terrorism finance, sanctions evasion, and money laundering. Leveraging America’s heavyweight status in the international financial system, the United States Treasury has isolated and bankrupted rogue regimes, global terrorists, and their enablers. As financial technology transforms global business, the traditional financial system faces new competition across a suite of offerings, ranging from brokerage services to peer to peer lending. In no area is this clearer than in mobile payments, where a global hegemon lies ready to exercise its weight, and it is not the United States
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs, Financial Markets
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin S. Feldstein
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The cost to US consumers and firms imposed by tariffs on Chinese imports is not large relative to the gain that would be achieved if the US succeeds in persuading China to stop illegally taking US firms’ technology. But the Trump administration should state that this is the goal, and that the tariffs will be removed when it is met.
  • Topic: International Cooperation, International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Felix Pena
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: The institutional order governing world trade is going through a critical period. Debate over its future form and design will be a dominant theme on the global agenda for the coming years. The Donald J. Trump administration has questioned the benefits of the multilateral trading order and is pulling the United States back from its traditional leadership role. In December 2017, the Eleventh Ministerial Conference (MC11) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) ended in disappointment with no substantive multilateral achievements. The shift in economic power from the West to the East and the growth of nonstate actors further complicate the search for consensus on international trade rules, leading to a so-called multiplex world. In a multiplex world, actors with different cultural values and relative power inequalities—such as nation-states, international and regional institutions, corporations, and nongovernmental organizations—compete against each other. To ensure a resilient trading system, multilateral trading rules and institutions need to be adapted to these new realities of trade, investment, and the distribution of global power. Unlike the international system as it functioned after World War II, today’s trading system does not reflect the interests of a single power or an alliance of powers with sufficient clout to impose their will on others in a sustained way. This is not a Group of Twenty (G20) or Group of Seven–led world: it is a G-Zero world, with no established lineup of who should be invited to the table where decisions are made. In this vacuum of global leadership it is increasingly difficult to identify who will create the new rules of international competition. Actors pursue their own self-interest, which results in less certainty for the international trade system.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Multilateralism, Trade Wars, WTO
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Elena Chernenko, Oleg Demidov, Fyodor Lukyanov
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: nformation and communications technology (ICT) presents one of the most critical modern challenges to global security. Threat assessments predict that the next major international crisis could be due to a state or terrorist group weaponizing ICTs to devastate critical infrastructure or military logistics networks. The proliferation of asymmetric warfare (i.e., conflicts between nations or groups that have disparate military capabilities) has increased states’ use of ICTs, which necessitates the development of an international code of cyber conduct. There is an urgent need for cooperation among states to mitigate threats such as cybercrime, cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, electronic espionage, bulk data interception, and offensive operations intended to project power by the application of force in and through cyberspace. Emerging cyber threats could precipitate massive economic and societal damage, and international efforts need to be recalibrated to account for this new reality. A common misperception is that the principal cybersecurity threats demanding urgent international collaboration are massive, state sponsored attacks that target critical infrastructure such as power plants or electrical grids, causing massive devastation and human casualties. In fact, cyber threats are more diverse and complex, often targeting private enterprises and endangering the technical integrity of the digital world. The near-total digitalization of business models makes the global economy more vulnerable to cyberattacks, not only from states but also from criminal organizations and other nonstate actors.
  • Topic: Security, International Cooperation, Infrastructure, Cybersecurity
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrycja Sasnal
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Migration is a natural and defining phenomenon of the globalized world. The challenge of governing migration lies in its inevitability, volume, and heterogeneity. As a portion of the global population, migrants represent around 3 percent, but their absolute number is rising. There were 170 million migrants in 2000; today there are roughly 260 million. Migration levels will certainly grow while hostilities continue in the most conflict-ridden regions of sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, the global wealth gap persists, climate change aggravates living conditions in many areas, and the poorer half of the globe becomes more populous. Moreover, migration is a complex heterogeneous process. Depending on the cause, duration, and legality, migration can be voluntary or forced (refugees and internally displaced persons, including survival migrants such as climate and disaster refugees), permanent or circular, regular or irregular. Politically, migration poses a twofold challenge: balancing security and freedom and harmonizing international obligations with domestic laws. Traditional discussion of migratory movements divided the world into the sending global south and the receiving global north. Interests of the former lay primarily in safeguarding the rights of their citizens regardless of immigration status and ensuring remittance flow. Interests of the latter lay in accommodating the “useful” migrants and restricting the rest. With the shifts in global wealth distribution, this division is losing tenacity. Countries that once were sending migrants are also receiving them today. For nations, migration affects the most rudimentary pillar of sovereignty (national borders), the core of democratic political systems (human rights), and atavistic social needs (national identity). Perceptions of migration affect political popularity: political parties are tempted to use selective, mostly negative, aspects of migration to rally the electorate around national identities. This in turn disproportionately, and often contrary to the objective needs of the host countries, vilifies migration generally. Political opposition to migration occurs despite a consensus that the economies of both sending and receiving countries benefit economically from migration. Even though the sending countries may experience labor and brain drain, they benefit from remittance flows from receiving countries; similarly, the receiving countries get a boost of human capital.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Migration, United Nations, Governance
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Varun Sivaram
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: In2017,theEconomistproclaimedthatdatawasthenewoil. Justastrade in oil has underpinned the global economy for a century, flows of data— the most valuable resource of the twenty-first century—now drive eco- nomic value. Indeed, in 2017, all five of the world’s most valuable publicly traded companies specialized in digital technologies, whereas just a decade earlier three of the top five companies were in the energy sector. This does not mean that the energy sector has been left behind by the digital revolution. To the contrary, digitalization is at the heart of the tectonic shifts that are starting to reshape the energy landscape. As energy industries produce ever more data, firms are harnessing greater computing power, advances in data science, and increased digital con- nectivity to exploit that data. These trends have the potential to trans-form the way energy is produced, transported, and consumed. An important potential benefit of this digital transformation of energy is a reduction in global emissions of greenhouse gases that cause climate change; the elimination of such emissions from the global economy is known as decarbonization. By enabling clean energy sys- tems that rely on low-carbon energy sources and are highly efficient in using energy, digital innovations in the energy sector can speed decar- bonization. Yet they are not guaranteed to do so. In fact, digital innova- tions could well increase global greenhouse emissions, for example, by making it easier to extract fossil fuels.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Science and Technology, Digital Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Daniel Gros
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: Developed economies are paying remarkably little attention to coordinating their monetary policies. This is an unavoidable consequence of the independence of central banks, which faithfully follow their purely domestic mandates except in times of crisis. As a result, global monetary policies have reached unprecedented levels of divergence. This divergence is set to widen—primarily due to differences in the relative strength of labor markets—while global current account imbalances return. Meanwhile, exchange rates have not reacted as economists expected; the dollar has weakened even as policy rates have increased. Economic tensions will likely become more disruptive the longer global imbalances go uncorrected. Likewise, the global economy will become more vulnerable to shocks. Yet by focusing on bilateral trade imbalances, the United States has mistakenly singled out China when the global imbalances between the United States and the eurozone is the more critical issue. The growing global imbalances are reflected more in the eurozone current account surplus and U.S. fiscal policy than in China’s shrinking surplus.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Monetary Policy, Exchange Rate Policy, Economic Inequality
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Publication Date: 10-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Council on Foreign Relations
  • Abstract: International efforts to curb illicit financial flows (IFFs) resemble post–Cold War collaboration in other issue areas that have risen on the global agenda: climate change, global health, internet govern- ance, and cybersecurity. Nongovernmental actors, including private corporations and nongovern- mental organizations (NGOs), have often driven agenda-setting in those domains. The focus has shifted over time, as new issues have been added and as older issues have assumed renewed im- portance. That reshaped agenda has in turn affected the institutional ecosystem of global action, which is captured only in part by formal and informal intergovernmental institutions. These new is- sue areas are characterized not by a single dominant institution or core set of institutions but by mul- tiple clusters of institutions that have each claimed a segment of the agenda and the instruments of cooperation. The result is a fragmented landscape with disjointed actors and organizations that often compete, collaborate, and act in parallel in pursuing their collective ends.1 The term of art for such an institutional landscape, one with several institutional or legal founda- tions, is “regime complex.”1 The regime complex for combating IFFs differs in its complexity from other, similar issue areas. Defining IFFs produces disagreement among researchers, activists, and policymakers. “Illicit” captures a normative judgment perhaps broader than “illegal.” For law en- forcement, IFFs are framed by predicate crimes, activities that are illegal in one jurisdiction or anoth- er and often of greater interest to authorities than IFFs. For those interested in broader global out- comes, such as the effects of IFFs on economic development, “illicit” could include cross-border fi- nancial flows associated with activities that they believe should be forbidden, such as tax avoidance by multinational corporations (MNCs). Those activities may not be illegal, however.2 These categories shift over time: bribery of foreign officials by corporations based in Organization for Economic Co- operation and Development (OECD) countries was made illegal in the United States well before it was criminalized in other industrialized countries. Variations in national treatment of both IFFs of certain kinds and the underlying predicate crimes have made harmonization of national policies and their implementation in many IFF domains difficult. IFFs are also one of the most important features of globalization’s dark side. Unlike other illicit or dangerous cross-border flows, however, IFFs bear almost no markers in and of themselves: pecunia non olet. Tainted food, endangered species, and dangerous individuals all present fewer problems of identification. For IFFs, it is suspicious activity rather than a characteristic of the funds themselves that generates the attention of those attempting to curb the flows. These definitional and identification problems make measuring the effectiveness of counter-IFF policies more difficult than assessing the effectiveness of policies in other issue areas. As many skep- tics and critics have pointed out, without a clear grasp of the scale of underlying flows, the scale of effects, though perhaps not the direction, of policies to counter those flows cannot reliably be deter- mined.3 If the costs of enforcement and compliance or unintended negative effects are included in estimates, the balance sheet becomes even more uncertain. International collaboration to curb IFFs and domestic measures to support that collaboration are directed to a wide array of predicate crimes that produce IFFs (drug trafficking, terrorism, or tax eva- sion) or to negative externalities (global “bads,” such as corruption) that both support IFFs and are sustained and promoted by them. This diversity of IFF sources and effects, and the public policy goals that follow, mobilize an unusually large number of actors: law enforcement agencies, financial super- visors and ministries, private financial institutions, and NGOs. These actors are interested more in certain IFFs and predicate crimes than in others. The links between specific crimes or categories of crime and larger global outcomes of interest, whether economic development or international securi- ty, are often second or third order. As a result, political attention to these issues—and willingness to bear the costs of implementation—fluctuates over time and across jurisdictions. As Peter Reuter and Edwin M. Truman observed in their classic 2004 account, the anti–money laundering (AML) regime (a subset of the complex countering IFFs) “reflects shifting priorities, compromises, and trade-offs.”4 This variation over time is particularly important in combating IFFs, because enforcement depends largely on national governments and both their incentives and their capacity to enact anti-IFF poli- cies. Financial markets and naming-and-shaming campaigns can strengthen those national efforts; they can also direct attention and effort against particular IFFs. However, they cannot substitute en- tirely for government action. What follows is a summary and introduction to organized international efforts to combat IFFs. In order to limit the policy universe, the narrower definition of IFFs used by the World Bank—“money illegally earned, transferred, or used that crosses borders”—will be used to define the wider interna- tional regime complex to combat IFFs.5 Mapping the institutions and actors involved in this issue area over time will capture the evolution of the global IFF agenda and the politics surrounding its de- velopment and implementation.
  • Topic: International Trade and Finance, Governance, Institutionalism, Illegal Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus