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International Relations

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres meets Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu at UN Headquarters in 2018

With the diversion of Israel’s military resources towards West Bank, Israeli annexation of occupied Palestinian territory appears imminent, pending approval from and coordination with the American administration. Struggling to rally right-wing voters amidst the fight for his political survival in the elections of April, September 2019 and March 2020, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he would “apply Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank, if re-elected. Bolstered by the reversal of decades of American policy on the issue and the subsequent release of Trump’s much criticized, one-sided ‘Middle East Peace Plan’ in January 2020, Netanyahu has aggressively pursued the annexation agenda with the emergency government formed with Benny Gantz in March 2020. Considering the expected blockage of the Security …

In 2020, lockdowns around the world have reduced energy use and carbon emissions on an unprecedented scale. However, the current COVID-19 outbreak may be a double-edged sword in the fight against climate change.  Individual countries are imminently due to report their carbon reductions, as outlined in the United Nations-brokered Paris Agreement. Although pre-Coronavirus crisis global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are expected have grown by 1.9%, recent CO₂ calculations in Europe are predicting a surprising scenario: countries may actually hit their stated reduction goals. For instance, the German climate target for 2020, which until February was considered unattainable, should now be met. Due to this year’s mild winter, and, above all, the Coronavirus crisis, the target of 40% CO₂ savings—unlike climate change targets …

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 …
Map showing Ethiopia and its neighbors with red pushpin over Addis Ababa

As the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) nears completion, the Nile River Basin is at a crossroads. The next few months will be consequential for relations between countries in the river basin—notably Ethiopia, Sudan, and Egypt—because dam management upstream could have consequences for the supply of water downstream. Although the three countries began discussions after the project was announced in 2011, they have yet to reach an agreement on how the new reservoir should be filled and managed. Despite the absence of an agreement, Ethiopia intends to begin filling the reservoir this July. This article describes the competing perspectives between countries, explains reasons for the lack of an agreement, and provides recommendations for addressing the challenges of the GERD. If …

The past five years have been deemed a “Golden Era” in Britain-China relations, with the two countries promoting bilateral trade and investments. However, as the Coronavirus pandemic marches on, this relationship seems to be souring. Voices in Britain, especially in Conservative environments, have raised need to rethink or reset the nation’s relationship with China, who is accused of misinforming and mismanaging the pandemic. While Coronavirus is exacerbating tensions, it would though be incorrect to blame it fully for the chill in relations. A distancing from China was already occurring prior to the pandemic.  The foundations of the “Golden Era” were established during the Conservatives’ return to government in 2010. Chinese investments in the United Kingdom were seen as a key source …

It has become a recurrent point for commentators to propose that we are living in the remnants of an old and dying world order with a new one waiting to take over. Namely, they predict that the US and the West is on the verge of losing its global hegemony to Asia. Even before Covid-19, many predicted that a Chinese-led world order was imminent, as evidenced by a photo in 2018 of US-China trade discussions. Philosopher Antonio Gramsci described such a period as an interregnum where “a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.” The divergent world responses to Covid-19 have been viewed as evidence of these symptoms. Commentators have continuously compared the inertness of Western governments with the efficiency of China, South …

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 …
Photograph of George Bush sitting at a table with advisors including Dick Cheney and Colin Powell surrounding him.

U.S. presidents have powerful political incentives to think twice before escalating a conflict in the lead-up to an election. Recent events in the Gulf suggest that President Trump is no exception when it comes to avoiding the commitment of “boots on the ground” in an election year. As both commander-in-chief and holder of the highest elected office, presidents must carefully weigh the political consequences of any decision regarding military strategy. Since voters tend to bear the brunt of the human and financial costs of war, decisions to send additional U.S. forces into combat are often fraught with risk of consequent reprisal at the ballot box.  In my recent article in International Security, I explore how these electoral pressures affected decision-making during the Iraq War. …