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  • Author: Olivier Blanchard, Christopher G. Collins, Mohammad R Jahan-Parvar, Thomas Pellet
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Immediately following the US presidential election in November 2016, many economists were concerned that increased uncertainty over economic policy would lead to a decline in the US stock market. From the time of the election to the end of 2017, however, the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor's (S&P) 500 index, increased by about 25 percent. Price swings since then have led investors and economists to increasingly ask: Was the stock market rise justified by an increase in actual and expected future dividends, or did it reflect unhealthy price developments, which may reverse in the future?
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Markets
  • Author: William R Cline
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: The centerpiece of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017 is the reduction in the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent. The Joint Committee on Taxation has estimated the net revenue loss from the tax overhaul at $1 trillion over the next decade. The underlying premise of the legislation is that lower corporate taxes will spur growth, with trickle-down wage benefits that spread the resulting economic gains.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Martin Chorzempa
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Formidable barriers stand between the modern financial system and the hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens still using costly informal credit. For many, the financial data that could be used to give them a credit score that would lead to a fair priced loan exist but are not being used. This analysis finds that the most difficult barriers cutting these data off from their potential use for greater financial inclusion are the legal and political restrictions on data sharing and use, economic and competitive concerns from data holders, and the technical difficulty of integrating disparate systems. Policies that encourage coordination between public authorities and private actors in finance and technology can go a long way towards making these data available and driving access to credit in China. This shift would not only help borrowers: It would also encourage the needed economic rebalancing towards consumption, increase competition in the financial sector, raise efficiency through better credit allocation, and contribute to sustainable economic growth and social welfare.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jacob Funk Kirkegaard
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Peterson Institute for International Economics
  • Abstract: Few challenges facing the European Union—immigration pressures, the need to decrease security dependence on an increasingly erratic United States, and the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union (Brexit)—are compelling EU leaders to consider overhauling the revenue side of the European Union’s existing budget. To deal with these challenges in the future, the European Union will need resources—at a time when Europeans are increasingly skeptical about the effectiveness of budget-making in Brussels. Longstanding US budgetary procedures of trust fund accounting and earmarking government revenue towards specific priorities can provide a template for European policymakers. Shifting the EU budget towards more earmarked resources would reduce distrust among taxpayers by limiting Brussels’ spending discretion while focusing expenditures on specific challenges facing the European project.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Wojciech Lorenz
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Russia’s annexation of Crimea triggered a shift in NATO’s policy towards Georgia. NATO moved from mainly political support for Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations to enhanced practical military cooperation. Although it might be more difficult for Russia to coerce its small neighbour, the lack of visible progress on the path to NATO membership may weaken Georgian morale and lead to a reversal of democratic gains. Hence, it is important that during the 2018 NATO Summit in Brussels the Allies offer additional support to help Georgia increase its resilience.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Georgia
  • Author: Łukasz Ogrodnik
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Austria’s government has declared it will be a bridge-builder in the European Union between its western and eastern members. This is in fact rather more an endorsement of the Union cohesion on the eve of Austria’s presidency of the EU Council than a genuine offer to represent the Visegrad states’ interests in the EU. Vienna is also trying to strengthen its position in Central Europe using regional cooperation initiatives such as the Slavkov Triangle, Three Seas Initiative, and the V4+ format. However, Austria’s pro-Russia stances and economic conflicts of interest have burdened relations with regional partners. Common goals remain limited but include the development of transport infrastructure, an endorsement of the European integration of the Western Balkans and strengthening the EU’s external borders.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Austria
  • Author: Justyna Szczudlik
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Polish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: In his first term, Chinese leader Xi Jinping abandoned Deng Xiaoping’s foreign policy dictum of “keeping a low profile.” But China’s activism in the middle of Xi’s first term was still more reactive than creative. However, in the last two years a new phase of diplomacy has emerged, in which all actions are subordinated to China’s unchanging strategic foreign policy goal of regaining its superpower status. This means that China strives to enforce change in the global system, which is dominated by the West.[1] The PRC is already trying to introduce new standards for international relations and promotes its values and principles more aggressively worldwide. There are already examples that Xi is effectively implementing his ideas.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Johannes Lang, Robin May Schott, Rens van Munster
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Formal UN discussions have begun to address how the international community should regulate the development and use of lethal autonomous weapons – also known as ‘killer robots’. Denmark has so far chosen not to participate in these discussions, but there are good reasons to get involved.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Weapons
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Peter Albrecht
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Elections in Sierra Leone will not change the circumstances that have led to war in the country – and already marginalized citizens stand to lose. The greatest concern is not the election, but the deep-seated patronage networks that govern the country.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Sierra Leone
  • Author: Johannes Lang, Rens van Munster, Robin May Schott
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Disagreements on how to define “autonomy” are stalling formal UN discussions on the compliance of autonomous weapons with international humanitarian law. A pragmatic approach that focuses on the weapon’s critical functions, such as target selection and firing, can help move discussions forward in the future.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Jairo Munive, Finn Stepputat
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Danish Institute for International Studies
  • Abstract: Armed non-state actors are significant players in most conflicts. The international community is often forced to engage with them in order to secure humanitarian aid for civilians or to end armed political conflicts. The question of when and how to engage is being debated. We sug­gest a more pragmatic approach.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Chad Michael Briggs
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: Paid parental leave can provide important health and educational benefits to children while enabling mothers to remain attached to their prior jobs, which can increase earnings substantially once the mother returns to work
  • Topic: Finance, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Derek Scissors
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research
  • Abstract: China is investing much less in the US than it did just a year ago. It has never invested much in the Belt and Road. Yet China’s global investment spending remains healthy, with impressive diversification across countries and the reemergence of private firms.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Michael Bohnet, Stephan Klingebiel, Paul Marschall
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The structure of German Official Development Assistance (ODA) is in a state of transition. Germany’s growing international role, the increasing importance of climate issues as well as the refugee crisis are contributing greatly to a significant increase in German ODA, which has more than doubled since 2012 and amounted to around EUR 22 billion in 2017. The coalition agreement between the CDU/CSU and the SPD in 2018 has prioritised ODA-eligible expenditures and views development policy as a priority area. Significant changes can also be seen with regard to the scope and pattern of ODA expenditures
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Max Otto Baumann, Silke Weinlich
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Can the United Nations Development System (UNDS) become a resourceful, well-organised partner for member states in implementing the 2030 Agenda? The UNDS is the biggest multilateral development actor, accounting for $18.4 billion, or 33 per cent, of multilateral aid in 2015. Its functions range from providing a forum for dialogue, decision-making and norm-setting, to research, advocacy, technical assistance and humanitarian aid. Numerous governments, including those of high-income countries, are counting on the UN’s assistance for advancing their development in a sustainable way. More than any other development organisation, the UNDS needs to adjust in order to fulfil these expectations. In May 2018, UN member states set the course for reforming the UNDS by agreeing on a draft resolution. The resolution contains five potentially transformative decisions that will bring the UNDS a step closer to being “fit for purpose”, the term under which the reform process was initiated more than three years ago. The global structures of the UNDS are to be strengthened, making the system more strategic and accountable; Resident Coordinators are to coordinate more effectively and objectively; their funding will be guaranteed by a new 1 per cent levy on tightly earmarked contributions; common business operations are to be advanced, with potential efficiency gains of $380 million per year; and the UN’s vast network of country offices is to be consolidated for more efficiency and effectiveness.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Claudia Schwegmann, Sarah Holzapfel
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Data is a central but underestimated prerequisite for the realisation of the 2030 Agenda. Although technical innovations such as smartphones or the internet of things have led to a data explosion in recent years, there are still considerable gaps in the availability and use of data in developing countries and development cooperation (DC) in particular. So far it is not possible to report regularly on the majority of the 230 indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Annabelle Houdret, Irene Pasqua, Saâd Filali Meknassi
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: In Tunisia, Morocco and other North African countries, en¬vironmental problems increasingly lead to political protest. Industrial pollution and a lack of clean drinking water adversely impact the living conditions and income op¬portunities of already marginalised groups and trigger unrest. Environmental governance in the region is often highly centralised, and takes no consideration of the needs of the citizens in the use of natural resources. In a political context that remains unstable following the 2011 uprisings, the double challenge of mounting environmental problems and related social unrest calls for new approaches. Reinforcing accountable environmental governance could help, not only by addressing environmental problems and needs, but by contributing to the overall transformation of societal relationships towards more democratic (i.e. transparent, accountable and participative) governance in the longer term.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: North Africa
  • Author: Clare Castillejo
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Migration was an important issue at the November African Union (AU)-European Union (EU) summit. While the tone of discussion was somewhat improved on that of recent years, divisions between the two continents remain great. Europe and Africa still have fundamentally different positions in relation to migration, with the EU and many European member states prioritising prevention and return, while African governments focus more on remittances and legal migration opportunities. However, Europe’s current approach does not acknowledge these differing interests and instead seeks to impose its own agenda in ways that threaten to undermine important African ambitions. In recent years, the EU has launched initiatives aimed at curbing migration from Africa that have caused significant controversy, notably the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUTF) and the Migration Partnership Framework (MPF). These initiatives suffer from a number of weaknesses. The EUTF is based on the flawed premise that development assistance can prevent migration. It diverts aid to migration goals, and its projects often do not comply with development principles such as transparency, ownership and alignment. Meanwhile, the MPF seeks to use positive and negative incentives across a range of external action areas to encourage partners to cooperate with the EU’s migration goals – primarily on prevention and return. So far, results have been limited and it has soured relations with some partner countries.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Jean-Frédéric Morin, Vera Chaudhuri, Mathilde Gauquelin
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: Trade agreements have mixed effects on the environment. On the one hand, trade generates additional pollution by raising production levels. Trade rules can also restrict the capacity of governments to adopt environmental regulations. On the other hand, trade agreements can favour the diffusion of green technologies, make production more efficient and foster environmental cooperation. Whether the overall effect is positive or negative partly depends on the content of the trade agreement itself. Recent studies have found that trade agreements with detailed environmental provisions, in contrast to agreements without such provisions, are associated with reduced levels of CO2 emission and suspended particulate matter (Baghdadi et al., 2013; Zhou, 2017). It remains unclear, however, which specific provisions have a positive environmental impact and how they are actually implemented.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Svea Koch, Niels Keijzer, Christine Hackenesch, Julian Bergmann
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The EU is one of the leading global players in international development, trade, peace and security. Therefore, a key part of the EU’s Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) is the one reserved for action beyond EU’s borders. This budget heading is called ‘Global Europe’ (also referred to as Heading IV). Under the current budget for the period of 2014 to 2020, including the inter-governmental European Development Fund (EDF), over 90 billion euros are available for the EU’s external action. The lion’s share of this is reserved for development cooperation. In previous years, the EU has dealt with new challenges in external action mostly by creating specific initiatives and new financial instruments. At the start of the negotiations on the next MFF, Heading IV thus appears to be rather complex and fragmented compared to other headings.
  • Topic: International Affairs, International Development
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mark Furness, Julian Bergmann
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: The question of how the EU should finance peacebuilding in developing countries has challenged policy-makers and pundits for many years. At one level this is a technical and legal issue of budget lines and financing rules. It nevertheless touches on the much deeper political and even moral issues of whether the EU should use development aid to finance security provision, how best the EU can respond to the legitimate needs of partners in conflict-affected countries and what kind of civil and/or military engagements the EU can support as part of its external relations. The question has come to resemble the proverbial can being kicked along the road by successive European Commissioners, Council working groups and parliamentary committees. It has come to a head again because intra-EU negotiations for the next Multiannual Financial Framework for 2021-2027 are starting in earnest. This time, a sensible proposal is on the table which can potentially provide a pragmatic and workable solution, at least for a while.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Francesco Burchi
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: German Development Institute (DIE)
  • Abstract: With the signing of the 2030 Agenda, the international community has committed to ending poverty in all its forms. This first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) recognises poverty as a multidimensional phenomenon that goes beyond the simple lack of a sufficient amount of income. However, the way the SDG 1 and, in particular, Target 1.2 – “reduce … poverty in all its dimensions according to national definitions” – are formulated poses challenges for its operationalisation. Which specific dimensions of poverty should a country focus on? How can we identify them? Is it possible to agree on a universal set of dimensions with which to compare poverty across several countries?
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Stephen Commins
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: The growing share of Africa’s urban residents living in slums is creating a further source of fragility. In response, some cities are implementing integrated urban development strategies that link local government, police, the private sector, and youth to strengthen social cohesion and enhance stability.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Urbanization, Political stability
  • Political Geography: Africa
  • Author: Anouar Boukhars
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Africa Center for Strategic Studies
  • Abstract: Persistent economic and social disparities between urban centers and outlying communities present an ongoing source of instability for countries in the Maghreb.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Maghreb
  • Author: David Boaz
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: Democrats accuse President Trump of abuse of executive power and “thinking he is a dictator.” But then, Republicans made similar charges about President Obama. They all have a point. At least since the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt, there has been a flow of power from civil society to government, from the states to the federal government, and from Congress to the executive branch. But a recent newspaper headline reminded me of some other headlines that tell a story.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Gene Healy
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: For the past 17 years, presidents have used the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as a blank check to wage war whenever and wherever they please. Congress is now debating several replacement AUMFs—but these, too, pose the danger of granting the president far broader war powers than the Constitution envisioned. At a Capitol Hill Briefing, Cato’s GENE HEALY and JOHNGLASER made the case for repealing, rather than replacing, the AUMF.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Samar Batrawi, Ana Uzelac
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: Syrian society is more socially, politically and geographically fragmented than ever before. None of the social problems that caused the 2011 protests have been resolved. Nevertheless, during recent months the Syrian regime has been trying to foster the image that Syria is entering a post-war phase in which a unified and stable Syria can flourish under President Bashar al-Assad. The fact that more than half of the country’s pre-war population is living in exile and has no part in this new social contract of sorts is conveniently omitted from the image presented of this ‘new’ Syria. These refugees will likely continue to live in precarious conditions, with few prospects for safe and voluntary return.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, International Security
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Margriet Drent
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: With the boost that has been given to the EU’s defence policy, some of the St. Malo reflexes have reoccurred in Washington. Mostly, there are some misgivings in the United States about the exact meaning of ‘European strategic autonomy’, as it featured in the 2016 EU Global Strategy. But also in Europe, it is not clear what strategic autonomy means. In light of the increasing uncertainty among the EU and European NATO-members about the solidity of the American security guarantees, strategic autonomy gains a new quality. If Europe were forced ‘to go it alone’, what would that take, both in terms of conventional and nuclear capabilities?
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Maaike Okano-Heijmans
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: The risk of a connectivity conflict becoming the next Great Game in the Balkans and Black Sea region is real. If, instead, countries in the region are to capitalize on their geography and history as a trading hub, all stakeholders need to invest in furthering political will, money, cooperation and trust. The Balkans and Black Sea Cooperation Forum (BBSF), convened in Athens in May 2018, is a noteworthy building block in this process.
  • Topic: International Relations, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Balkans
  • Author: Ana Uzelac, Jos Meester
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Clingendael Netherlands Institute for International Relations
  • Abstract: This report analyses the challenges of implementing a ´protection in the region´ agenda in Lebanon, a country that hosts the highest number of refugees per capita in the world, and which has been the recipient of one of the largest per capita aid and support packages since 2016. Our main finding is that EU diplomatic efforts and financial commitments to date have made very limited progress in ensuring protection for Syrian refugees in the country or improving their dismal socio-economic position. On the contrary, the main socio-economic indicators for Syrian refugees have remained very poor for the past three years, and the refugees’ continued presence in the country is increasingly questioned by parts of Lebanon’s political establishment.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Syria
  • Author: Marco Siddi
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Gas trade between the European Union and Russia increased considerably in both 2016 and 2017, despite the ongoing political crisis. Simultaneously, two long-standing disputes in the EU-Russia gas relationship – regarding Gazprom’s monopolistic practices and the EU’s third energy package – were settled. Russian companies have invested in new infrastructural projects for the export of gas to Europe, including the launch of the Yamal LNG terminal in December 2017 and the construction of the TurkStream and Nord Stream 2 pipelines. However, significant challenges remain for the relationship, most notably the intra-EU controversy on Nord Stream 2 and uncertainty about future gas transit in Ukraine.
  • Topic: Energy Policy, International Political Economy, International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Russia, Europe
  • Author: Niklas Helwig
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Tensions in the transatlantic partnership are spurring the German debate on how to prepare for the possibility of a post-Atlantic Europe. Germany has renewed its focus on the EU’s security and defence policy. This includes long-term initiatives to improve European operational readiness, as well as recognition of the EU mutual assistance clause in the doctrine of the German armed forces. However, efforts by German politicians to convince the public of the need for a greater international engagement face difficulties as Germans see the threat as negligible and eye the military with suspicion. The challenge for Berlin remains to step up the ambition for European defence cooperation, while avoiding new fault lines among EU members.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Jussi Lassila
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The Kremlin has cast a cloud over the horizon for millions of Russian citizens. People do not perceive the forthcoming pension reform as a necessary measure for sustaining economic and social stability. Rather, it has ignited a collective sense of anger among the people that they have been cast adrift by the elite
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Russia
  • Author: Emma Hakala
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: As climate change progresses, it will have impacts on global politics, creating both new vulnerabilities and opportunities. Geoeconomics provides a useful analytical framework for the political implications of climate change as it shifts the focus from military force to economic means of exerting power. This working paper looks at the geoeconomics of climate change in the case of India. It examines the ways in which India has used climate policies to gain leverage and contain threats regionally and globally. Due to its emerging power status and high vulnerability to climate impacts, India holds a key position in the global fight against climate change. The paper argues that India has incorporated geostrategic uses of climate change into a wider shift in its foreign policy. Globally, it has chosen a cooperative strategy to emphasise its responsibility through diplomacy and sustainable energy investments, contributing to its role as a global power and to its influence in partner countries. Yet a similar geoeconomic climate policy has not been applied in its regional relations. The Indian case shows how climate change can lead to both competitive and cooperative geostrategies.
  • Topic: International Relations
  • Political Geography: India
  • Author: Jyrki Kallio
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Xi Jinping Thought is aimed at guiding China both domestically and internationally. The goal is China’s national rejuvenation, which will break the global dominance of Western civilization. The revival must allegedly be led by a strong ideology guided by a strong and charismatic leader: Xi Jinping. Based on the ancient Chinese ideal of “great unity under Heaven”, Xi’s long-term goal for China is the creation of a “community of a common destiny for Mankind”. So far, this idea has no concrete manifestations on the global scale. Through the Belt and Road Initiative, China is building a regional community of common destiny in Central and Southeast Asia. This is both an indirect challenge to the existing “Western” system, and a step in delineating China’s sphere of influence.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Katja Cruetz
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Responsibility to Protect (RtoP) principle both seek to respond to mass atrocities. They are products of the heyday of the international liberal order, which allowed the formation of projects based upon interference in the internal affairs of states in order to protect populations from atrocity crimes. The changing international system with the redistribution of power between states has affected these projects by bringing uncontroversial activities to the fore in order to secure state acceptance. Consensus on the RtoP extends to the primacy of the state in protection of its populations, while actions of the international community going beyond assistance and capacity-building are contested, particularly highly coercive ones such as military intervention. Alongside its judicial task of trying perpetrators of international crimes, the ICC has focused on positive complementarity whereby national capabilities are enhanced. It has also engaged in symbolic activities, such as highlighting certain international crimes.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Mika Aaltola
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: The 2020 US presidential election could be a close call with a narrow margin of victory. Many key factors underlying Donald Trump’s 2016 electoral success are still active and might suffice to win over a very polarized electorate in an extremely ugly election.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Democracy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Alistair D. B. Cook, Foo Yen Ne
  • Publication Date: 07-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: The exposure to natural hazards has prompted Bangladesh to institutionalize disaster management and coordination. This report examines Bangladesh’s established disaster management structures and the role of key actors through reviewing existing literature from international organisations, academia, and think tanks, followed by interviews with key disaster management stakeholders in Bangladesh from the end of February to the beginning of March 2018. In analysing the response to the 2017 Rohingya Exodus, this report aims to identify lessons learnt and factors which may impede effective disaster management and coordination between different actors with some operating outside their traditional mandated area of natural hazards to govern a complex humanitarian emergency.
  • Topic: International Relations, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh
  • Publication Date: 05-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Human activities, technology and climate change drive changes to our environmental landscape and societal order. Marine microplastics arising from woeful human use of plastics threaten marine ecology. Excessive consumption of fossil fuels disrupts weather systems and consequently undermines food security. Unequal access between the “haves and have nots” aggravates food insecurity. Without meaningful intervention, annual deaths from food-borne diseases (FBDs) caused by anti-microbial resistant (AMR) bacteria will reach 10 million in 2050. Human displacement continues unabated across state lines as humanitarian crises require fresh responses. Ubiquitous use of information and communications technologies (ICTs) has created a new landscape where cyber-threats target both hardware and software and where truth has become its latest victim. Moreover, social media has been weaponized to breed intolerance. The Annual Conference of the Consortium of Non-Traditional Security (NTS) in Asia held in Singapore recently examined responses to these uncertainties, if not threats to humanity, arising from key disruptions. This report captures the responses and hopes touted by experts at the Conference with the view of providing policy makers and invested scholars interested in such developments with some recommendations towards building resilience within and across states.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Author: Jose Ma, Luis Montesclaros, Mely Caballero-Anthony
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: As Southeast Asian economies become deeply integrated, there are concerns as to whether movement of people through labour migration should be part of this integration. While labour migration offers benefits especially in addressing labour shortage in countries with shrinking working age population, for countries at different levels of economic development, opening up the labour markets presents disadvantages to locals facing more job competition and falling wages. This paper re-examines this debate by analysing a number of factors that have allowed states to maintain their competitiveness and improve wages. By comparing the experiences of a number of countries that have seen rising wages with those countries that saw falling wages with labour migration, and using a statistical (two-sample difference of means) test, this preliminary study shows that labour migration by itself is neither boon nor bane. A more nuanced view is needed, as labour migration’s impacts on wages hinge on the nature of institutional support provided by governments in helping firms to be internationally competitive.
  • Topic: Migration, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Vishalini Chandara Sagar, Alistair D. B. Cook, Tamara Nair, Foo Yen Ne
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies
  • Abstract: Over the past fifteen years, Timor Leste has made noteworthy gains in national development in general but continues to experience significant exposure during natural disasters like prolonged droughts and flooding in particular. Yet there is little documented evidence of these disasters and their impact on human security in Timor Leste. The challenges facing the country are considerable, and low institutional capacity makes it difficult for the government to increase resilience to slow onset disasters. This report explores how current structures, mechanisms and institutions in the country have been organised for emergencies and how disaster response operations have been conducted thus far. Data was collected by conducting in-depth interviews with relevant personnel from government agencies, international aid agencies and local non-state actors. This was supplemented by document analyses of major reports and literature surrounding disaster preparedness in the country. The findings reveal that there are three key strategies that need further development: enhancing institutional capacity, strengthening coordination mechanisms and evaluating current emergency response plans. Further research should include conducting a comprehensive needs assessment, mapping the localised response structures, and the contextualising of human insecurities in the country.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Timor-Leste
  • Author: James M. Acton
  • Publication Date: 11-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This policy brief is based on “Escalation through Entanglement: How the Vulnerability of Command-and- Control Systems Raises the Risks of Inadvertent Nuclear War,” which appears in the summer 2018 issue of International Security.
  • Topic: International Relations, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Patrick Porter
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Political scientists and historians continue to debate the sources of U.S. grand strategy. Some emphasize the importance of the United States’ material capabilities and large share of relative power; others point to the significance of ideas in shaping policymakers’ choices. Both accounts are incomplete. Two case studies—the first eighteen months of the presidency of Donald Trump and the presidency of Bill Clinton—demonstrate that the United States persists with a strategy of primacy because it has become a habit—an axiomatic, sacrosanct belief system that the American foreign policy establishment perpetuates.
  • Topic: International Affairs, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Barak Barfi
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Abstract: When Abdul Fattah al-Sisi became president in 2014, Egyptians were clamoring for stability after the chaos of the post–Arab Spring years and the failed leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood government. Emblematic of this stability, Sisi was at one point so highly regarded that his face adorned chocolate bars. Although he remains popular four years later, Sisi can no longer rest on prior achievements and promises of financial improvement. Grappling with a moribund economy, domestic unrest, jihadist threats, and foreign policy challenges, he will need even stronger support as he implements an austerity plan approved by the IMF in November 2016. In this new study, Barak Barfi methodically sets the leadership of President Sisi in the context of his military predecessors Gamal Abdul Nasser, Anwar Sadat, and Hosni Mubarak. He then examines trends in the country such as the growing role of the military, the need for reductions in subsidies, and the looming water crisis posed by the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The U.S. role, as well, is subject to a much-needed assessment. Among the limited ways Washington can influence Cairo, he argues, is by tying increased aid to the enactment of essential economic reforms.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Paul Holtom, Irene Pavesi
  • Publication Date: 08-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: The 2018 Small Arms Trade Transparency Barometer (the Barometer) identifies the most and least transparent of 49 major small arms exporters, based on their reporting of their arms-trading activities undertaken in 2015.1 For the first time the Barometer assesses Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and UN Programme of Action on small arms (PoA) reports to determine small arms exporters’ levels of transparency. These sources provide new information for the Barometer’s assessment of national transfer control systems, while ATT annual reports on arms exports reveal new data compared to national arms export reports; United Nations Commodity Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) data, and the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UN Register). Despite the increase in reports containing information on national transfer control systems and small arms exports assessed by the Barometer, no major exporter received full marks for transparency.
  • Topic: International Security, International Affairs, Arms Trade
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Wolfram Lacher
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: Since the arrival of the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli in March 2016, four large local militias have gradually divided up the capital between themselves. Though nominally loyal to the government, they now exert a degree of influence over state institutions and resources that is unprecedented in post-Qaddafi Libya. This Paper examines the rise of a militia cartel in Tripoli, and concludes that the situation is untenable, as it risks provoking a major new conflict over Tripoli fought by those who have been excluded from access to the state and impedes efforts to establish a meaningful unity government
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, International Security, International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Libya
  • Author: Aaron Karp
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: Available sources indicate that as of 2017 there was a global total of at least 22.7 million known or estimated law enforcement firearms, equal to roughly 2.2 per cent of all firearms identified by the Small Arms Survey around the world. Worldwide, 4.8 million law enforcement firearms have been reported to the Small Arms Survey or documented from other sources. An additional 17.9 million or so firearms owned by law enforcement agencies can be estimated with reasonable confidence. The global estimate is slightly lower than the previous Small Arms Survey global estimate for 2006, the result of methodological changes and a decision not to estimate the holdings for many specialized or smaller law enforcement agencies. There are several reasons to assume that the total of 22.7 million law enforcement firearms given in this Briefing Paper is an underestimate. The state of research on law enforcement armament makes it hard to say whether global law enforcement weapons inventories are increasing or decreasing. But the types of firearms used by law enforcement agencies appear to be changing more rapidly than those of military services, also becoming more alike to military armament
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Aaron Karp
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: Uncertainty about any firearms data requires systematic estimation that relies on a broad spectrum of sources and makes approximation unavoidable. The Small Arms Survey’s estimates of civilian firearms holdings use data gathered from multiple sources. However, with much of civilian ownership concealed or hard to identify, gun ownership numbers can only approximate reality. Using data from several different sources, at the end of 2017 there were approximately 857 million civilian-held firearms in the world’s 230 countries and territories. Civilian firearms registration data was available for 133 countries and territories. Survey results were used to help establish total gun civilian holdings in 56 countries. The new figure is 32 per cent higher than the previous estimate from 2006, when the Small Arms Survey estimated there were approximately 650 million civilian-held firearms. Virtually all countries show higher numbers, although national ownership rates vary widely, reflecting factors such as national legislation, a country’s gun culture, historical and other factors. While some of the increase reflects improved data and research methods, much is due to actual growth of civilian ownership.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Matthias Nowak
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: Craft weapons production in Nigeria is under-researched, yet it is highly relevant for any future actions to counter small arms and light weapons proliferation.1 This Briefing Paper provides new research findings based on extensive fieldwork in four Nigerian states (Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, and Plateau). It reviews demand and supply factors that shape the craft market in Nigeria, finding that demand is driven by insecurity and conflict, but also by cultural and societal factors. Supply is mostly demand driven. The quality of the products and production methods varies greatly across the surveyed states. Craft production poses a significant challenge for the Nigerian state and will require a mix of holistic measures to regulate or deter it, ranging from improving security (and security perceptions) and the relationship between security providers and communities, to licensing, measures aimed at providing alternative livelihoods for craft producers, and a more comprehensive application of the relevant legal framework.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Glenn McDonald
  • Publication Date: 06-2018
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Small Arms Survey
  • Abstract: This Briefing Paper outlines possible next steps in the UN small arms process as proposed by participants in the thematic symposia that were held in October–November 2017 as part of a European Union project designed to support preparations for the Third Review Conference of the UN Small Arms Programme of Action (PoA). The paper outlines the main observations and recommendations made by participants in the following areas: small arms control in conflict and post-conflict situations; small arms and the SDGs, and gender-related aspects of small arms control; recent developments in small arms manufacturing, technology, and design; and synergies between the PoA and other arms control instruments and processes. Each of the symposia sought to identify practical, actionable steps that could be taken by the UN membership in strengthening small arms-related work after the Review Conference.
  • Topic: International Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus