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  • Author: Huma Saeed
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Georgetown Journal of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Afghanistan’s presidential election took place on September 28, 2019, with less than 2 million people participating out of 9.7 million registered voters. Taking into consideration Afghanistan’s total population of 35 million, the turnout was a historic low—a problem further amplified by the fact that the government poured a huge amount of financial and human resources into election preparation. The main explanation for such low turnout is twofold. On the one hand, security threats such as suicide attacks or gun violence—which reached their peak during the presidential election campaigns—deterred many people from going to polling stations. On the other hand, Afghans have become wary about determining their own political fate because, for decades, regional and international powers have steered the political wheel in Afghanistan, rather the people. After four months, election results have still not been announced, leading to further speculation and anxiety among a population which has already been the victim of four decades of violent conflict in the country. This anxiety is further exacerbated by the ongoing “peace” negotiations with the Taliban. Afghan people have learned from experience that, even in the best-case scenario of the election results or peace negotiations, they cannot hope for new justice measures to heal their wounds. As demonstrated by the experience of Afghanistan and other countries, peace and security will not last without addressing the people’s demands for justice.
  • Topic: Development, Human Rights, Politics, Elections, Taliban, Justice
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, Central Asia, Middle East
  • 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: Daniele Fattibene
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Commentary and Analysis
  • Institution: Istituto Affari Internazionali
  • Abstract: The United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development stands at a crossroads. While Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have progressively entered the political discourse and agendas of numerous states, without long-term financial investments, building a more just and sustainable future will remain little more than a rhetorical embellishment.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Development, United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Europe, European Union
  • Author: Ana González, Euijin Jung
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: By refusing to fill vacancies in the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body—the top body that hears appeals and rules on trade disputes—the Trump administration has paralyzed the key component of the dispute settlement system. No nation or group of nations has more at stake in salvaging this system than the world’s big emerging-market economies: Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Korea, Mexico, and Thailand, among others. These countries have actively and successfully used the dispute settlement system to defend their commercial interests abroad and resolve inevitable trade conflicts. The authors suggest that even though the developing countries did not create the Appellate Body crisis, they may hold a key to unlock it. The Trump administration has also focused its ire on a longstanding WTO practice of giving these economies latitude to seek “special and differential treatment” in trade negotiations because of their developing-country status. The largest developing economies, which have a significant stake in preserving a two-step, rules-based mechanism for resolving trade disputes, could play a role in driving a potential bargain to save the appeals mechanism. They could unite to give up that special status in return for a US commitment to end its boycott of the nomination of Appellate Body members.
  • Topic: Development, Government, World Trade Organization, Developing World, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Indonesia, India, South Korea, Brazil, North America, Mexico, Thailand, United States of America
  • Author: Priscilla Clapp
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Developing countries throughout Asia, Africa, and Latin America are grappling with how to deal with China's rising economic influence—particularly the multibillion-dollar development projects financed through China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Myanmar, however, appears to be approaching foreign investment proposals with considerable caution. This report examines the framework the country is developing to promote transparency and accountability and to reserve for itself the authority to weigh the economic, social, and environmental impacts of major projects proposed by international investors, including China.
  • Topic: Development, Infrastructure, Economy, Conflict, Investment, Peace
  • Political Geography: China, Southeast Asia, Myanmar
  • Author: Sadaf Lakhani, Rahmatullah Amiri
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: United States Institute of Peace
  • Abstract: Forced displacement affects over 70 million people worldwide and is among the most pressing humanitarian and development challenges today. This report attempts to ascertain whether a relationship exists between displacement in Afghanistan and vulnerability to recruitment to violence by militant organizations. The report leverages an understanding of this relationship to provide recommendations to government, international donors, and others working with Afghanistan’s displaced populations to formulate more effective policies and programs.
  • Topic: Development, Taliban, Violent Extremism, Radicalization, Displacement, Violence, Mobility
  • Political Geography: Afghanistan, South Asia, Central Asia
  • Author: Diego Sánchez-Ancochea
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: This paper studies the determinants of income inequality in Latin America over the long run, comparing them with explanations of why the whole region is unequal. I first show how land inequality can account for differences between Latin America and other parts of the world but how it does not explain within-region differences. Using qualitative comparative analysis, I then consider how political institution and actors interact with the economic structure (i.e., type of export specialization) and with the ethnic composition of the population. The paper has several findings. A low indigenous/afrodescendant population is a necessary condition for relatively low inequality. I identify two sufficient-condition paths, both of which include the role of democracy, political equality, and a small indigenous and afrodescendant population. The first path also includes a favorable export specialization, while the second one includes the presence of leftist presidents instead. The paper calls for more explicit comparisons between our analytical models for the whole region and our explanations of between-country differences. Hopefully, the paper can also trigger more research on how the interactions between ethnicity, politics, and the export structure shape inequality in Latin America.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Political Economy, Poverty, Race, Social Movement, Democracy, Inequality, Ethnicity
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Tijan L. Bah, Catia Batista
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Irregular migration to Europe by sea, though risky, remains one of the most popular migration options for many sub-Saharan Africans. This study examines the determinants of irregular migration from West Africa to Europe. We implemented an incentivized lab-in-thefield experiment in rural Gambia, the country with the region’s highest rate of irregular migration to Europe. Male youths aged 15 to 25 were given hypothetical scenarios regarding the probability of dying en route to Europe and of gaining legal residence status after successful arrival. According to the data we collected, potential migrants overestimate both the risk of dying en route to Europe and the probability of obtaining legal residency status. In this context, our experimental results show that providing potential migrants with official numbers on the probability of getting a legal residence permit decreases their likelihood of migration by 2.88 percentage points (pp), while information on the death risk of migrating increases their likelihood of migration by 2.29 pp—although the official numbers should be regarded as a lower bound to actual mortality. Follow-up data collected one year after the experiment show that the migration decisions reported in the lab experiment correlate well with actual migration decisions and intentions. Overall, our study indicates that the migration decisions of potential migrants are likely to respond to relevant information.
  • Topic: Development, Globalization, Migration, Internet, Economic growth, Borders, Violence
  • Political Geography: Africa, Gambia
  • Author: Christian Lara, Gabriel Delsol
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: In 2017, the UN launched a system-wide effort to support the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in Burkina Faso. Since then, a rapidly deteriorating security situation and an imminent humanitarian crisis have forced the UN, the Burkinabe government, and their partners to recalibrate their efforts. This ongoing recalibration, together with the changes resulting from the UN development system reforms, makes this an opportune moment to assess the state of efforts to sustain peace in Burkina Faso. This paper examines the implementation of the UN’s peacebuilding and sustaining peace framework in Burkina Faso, looking at what has been done and what is still needed. It focuses on the four issue areas highlighted in the secretary-general’s 2018 report on peacebuilding and sustaining peace: operational and policy coherence; leadership at the UN country level; partnerships with local and regional actors; and international support. Burkina Faso provides lessons for how the UN’s sustaining peace efforts can respond to growing needs without a change in mandate. Continued support for the UN resident coordinator in Burkina Faso is necessary to ensure that these efforts are part of a holistic approach to the crisis, together with local, national, and regional partners. Such support could underpin Burkina Faso’s status as a buffer against spreading insecurity in the Sahel and make the country a model for the implementation of the sustaining peace agenda in conflict-prone settings without UN missions.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Peacekeeping, Peace, Sustainability, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Africa, Burkina Faso
  • Author: Lesley Connolly, Jimena Leiva Roesch
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: International Peace Institute
  • Abstract: On January 1, 2019, a far-reaching reform of the UN development system went into effect. This was referred to by the deputy secretary-general as “the most ambitious reform of the United Nations development system in decades.” While this reform has only briefly been in place, questions have already arisen about its implementation and implications. This issue brief aims to contribute to the understanding of this ongoing reform and its significance. It provides a detailed overview of the UN development system reform at the headquarters, regional, and country levels, highlighting why it was undertaken and identifying some of the political and bureaucratic complexities it entails. The report concludes that more than a year into the reform of the UN development system, significant progress has been made, but it is too early to assess the reform’s long-term impact. What is clear, however, is that bringing about change of this scope will require the UN to adapt not only its structure but also its way of working.
  • Topic: Development, United Nations, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Global Focus