Posts In Category

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 …

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 …

In Measuring Peace, Professor Richard Caplan of the University of Oxford has written an insightful guide for students and practitioners of peace. The book will help those who want to understand the fundamental principles and existing practices of how to assess peace while at the same time outlining some critical political constraints. Caplan provides a succinct and clear analysis of key approaches to peace measurements, their weaknesses and ways to move forward. Due to its accessibility and policy relevance, the book also stands out among other publications that have sought to evaluate and grapple with the question of how to judge the quality of existing peace.  The key aim of the book is to give peacebuilders a ‘compass’ to navigate the post-war peace …

Debates over Brexit have been “dominated by a yearning for restoring UK sovereignty”. The Brexit vote during June 2016 was declared  as an independence day by key members of the leave campaign. Similarly, such sentiments have been used about the exit day on which the UK is to leave the EU under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act   Independence is often perceived as one decisive moment – a clean break with the past and a new beginning. However, this article posits that independence might be better thought of as a gradual process, characterized by both change and continuity. Taking the example of the development of Australia’s foreign policy post-federation, the article showcases that de jure sovereignty does not automatically or immediately result in de facto …

On the 12 December, 2019 the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded its public hearings on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by the Republic of The Gambia in the case of the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (The Gambia v. Myanmar). The case is the first of three cases against Myanmar in a move to hold the country accountable for the atrocities committed against the Rohingya minority in Rakhine State since August 2017, which drove 730.000 into neighbouring Bangladesh. The International Criminal Court launched an investigation into the persecution of the Rohingya on 14 November while a separate case under the principle of universal jurisdiction was filed in Argentina.  For the …

In the prelude to the NATO summit in London commemorating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the alliance, discussions were overshadowed by a now-infamous Economist interview with French President Emmanuel Macron. In the interview, the French President claimed that NATO is experiencing a “brain death” – a ‘mort cérébrale’ resulting from a lack of institutional capacity to prevent, mitigate, or effectively respond to unilateral action from individual allies which could be disruptive to the alliance’s agenda. President Macron’s remarks precipitated a debate concerning NATO’s relevance (or irrelevance) in the post-Cold War international system, its (potentially failing) adaptation to new security and strategic circumstances, and the constraints imposed by NATO’s seeming lack of institutionalisation and ability to prevent unilateral action …

‘Basically nothing is being done to halt — or even slow — climate and ecological breakdown, despite all the beautiful words and promises’. Greta Thunberg’s damning speech before the UK parliament last month highlights that the greatest challenge to international climate agreements is inaction by governments. The Swedish climate activist’s central message was: ‘You did not act in time’. The norms within the Paris Agreement on climate change are challenged not just by climate change deniers and other open critics. Perhaps more dangerously, as Thunberg pointed out, they are also contested by states like the UK that pay lip-service to the agreement but fail to reach their emissions reduction targets. To capture these diverse forms of norm contestation, a collection of articles on ‘The dynamics of dissent’ in …