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International Institutions

Summits are not just — or even mostly — about what happens in the formal leaders’ meetings. What happens on the sidelines often has the largest effect on steering the course of international politics. This is the first year that the G20 summit could end up as a failure, advancing little in the way of substantive progress on the global governance agenda, chiefly owing to the group now having to contend with Donald Trump taking America’s seat at the summit table. Trump’s ‘America First’ agenda — typified by its economic protectionism and rejection of the established multilateral order — is entirely antithetical to the G20’s previous commitments to reject protectionism and safeguard the liberal, rules-based, multilateral governance order. This year’s G20 …

Until now, the UK’s prevailing approach to global conflict and mass atrocities has been one of response and of firefighting. As a result, it too often resulted in missed opportunities to help mitigate harms. Whether in Rakhine in Myanmar in 2017, in Central African Republic in 2014, or Syria in 2011, the window of opportunity to help vulnerable populations closed before the UK had properly recognised the trajectory of violence. There is much to pick through, question, and challenge when reading the new vision for the UK’s international policy as set out in the outcomes document of the year-long Integrated Review of Defence, Development and Diplomacy published by Her Majesty’s Government on Tuesday. But—and particularly with regards to conflict, stability …

After the Cold War and the fall of the First Italian Republic, Italy struggled to formulate a coherent foreign policy strategy. Generally, foreign policies at global level during the Cold War era were dictated by the bipolar relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union. Italian foreign policy, therefore, was a function of the United States’ sphere of influence and interests, and Italy was often a bridge and interlocutor for the Americans to the Middle East or Eastern Europe. With the collapse of the bipolar system and the disintegration of the major Italian political parties that were the core political actors in the aftermath of World War Two, Italian foreign policy was partially dictated by individual figures and was …

Welcome to the OxPol Blogcast, a podcast where we will be sharing research, analysis, and experiences from members of the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. On each episode, we will talk to a guest about a piece they’ve written for the OxPol Blog. Then, we’ll discuss their larger research agenda, their insights on conducting political science, and their time at Oxford. On the 2nd episode of the OxPol BlogCast, host Chase Harrison talks to MPhil students Jasmine Chia and Scott Singer about the Milk Tea Alliance and its relationship to 20th century black anti-colonialists. They also discuss the movement to decenter International Relations scholarship. Read the original blog post here: https://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk/the-new-worldmakers-how-the-20th-century-black-anticolonial-dialogue-reveals-the-strategic-importance-of-the-milk-tea-alliance/

Growing tension in Berlin. A proxy war in Korea. The escalating Space Race. The world—and particularly its realists—focused on the evolving great power competition between the United States and Soviet Union during the Cold War. However, in the shadows of this marquee battle, black leaders such as Kwame Nkumrah, Eric Williams, and George Padmore drove an anticolonial dialogue that sought to transform the international order on their own accord. Their core mission: to reframe sovereignty, reconceptualising it as self-determination and the elimination of racial hierarchy.  This weighty conversation, which took place from the 1950s to the 1980s, doesn’t seem related to an Asian meme war in 2020. However, amidst a new, growing Cold War between the U.S. and China, the ‘Milk Tea Alliance’ has emerged as the newest supranational …

As the host of the postponed COP26 climate summit, the UK has set out the ambitious goal to convince all countries to commit to reach net zero emissions as soon as possible within their mandatory climate targets. Reducing overall emissions remains the paramount task of global climate governance. However, an overlooked but defining question concerns carbon accounting—the methodology of how national CO2 emissions are assessed. The conventional territory-related production approach, which has traditionally been used in climate governance, stands in contrast to an often ignored consumption-based approach, which more closely captures emissions embodied in the domestic end-use of energy and goods. This article lays out why the seemingly dull and technical matter of carbon accounting has the potential to become the future stepping-stone for a global consensus on …

The United States, under the Trump administration, has aimed to excite interest in space activities, including through the highly publicised creation of the Space Force and the manned space flight missions with SpaceX. Importantly, the announcement of the Artemis Accords in mid-May is an extension of such an effort. The Accords are envisioned as a set of bilateral agreements with the intent to return astronauts to the moon and beyond. Led by the United States and a series of commercial and international partners, they mark a seminal development in the outer space governance regime. As the United States and its international partners venture to create and strengthen outer space governance, non-space faring nations must be included in future agreements to ensure they are not systematically excluded from accessing lunar resources and development opportunities.   The Artemis Accords program is spearheaded by the National Aeronautics …

While Covid-19 has spurred debate about the need to elevate public health as a security concern, the securitisation of health presents both opportunities and trade-offs that need to be considered if we are to reallocate military spending to prepare for the next pandemic.  The devastating toll of the Coronavirus pandemic has ignited a debate about the intersection of public health and national security. Once recognised as global leaders in pandemic preparedness, the United States and the United Kingdom have struggled to integrate policy responses to Covid-19 into existing security frameworks and to allocate resources accordingly. Indeed, public health spending in both countries pales in comparison to spending on counter-terrorism, even though more American lives have been lost to the pandemic than in all US wars since World War II and the number of Covid-19 deaths in the UK far exceed those attributed to terrorism in the last 50 years. Consequently, some academics and policymakers have questioned whether the prevailing notion of national security—a state’s capacity to defend its territory and …

To what extent is the international community truly international? And, to what extent are non-Western norms and practices excluded? The choice of language in international relations is one important aspect of this broad topic. Each international organization has official languages. The United Nations, for example, has six official languages, and the European Union 24, though only three – English, French and German – are used in procedures of the Commission. The choice of language is partly driven by the need to communicate to the widest number of people, but it also has an endogenous relationship with state power. Powerful states promote the languages they use, and in turn, others must learn their languages to participate, propagating their power.  An important aspect of the choice of …