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International Relations

image of African Union flag and People's Republic of China flag

In 2015 China launched the Digital Silk Road (DSR hereafter). The DSR is an essential part of the One Belt, One Road (BRI) strategy with significant domestic and foreign policy objectives. China has made enormous investments that have allowed it to achieve rapid technological advancement and economic growth. As of 2021, Chinese firms were three of the world’s largest technology companies by revenue. According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), in 2020 China reported 1.5 million patent applications, 2.5 times more than the second leading country, the United States. The DSR is part of China’s plan to spread its technical and proprietary knowledge by building telecommunications, data, and financial infrastructure in countries participating in the BRI. The Nigerian digital …

One of the most critical questions of modern comparative politics is: who governs? The first thing that would come to mind would be party politicians. However, transformations in several European countries’ governmental arena indicate that partisan presence in office, and, more broadly, the general model of party government, characterised by parties’ centrality in representing the needs and demands of citizens, is in decay. Such a decline owes much to the increased government involvement of technocratic personnel – i.e., ministers with no political affiliation. Indeed, while Italy established itself as the promised land of technocracy, currently led by Mario Draghi and by four technocratic prime ministers in the last two decades, technocratic ministers have also entered the last three partisan governments …

This week, political leaders from countries all over the world are gathering for their annual meeting at the United Nations (UN) in New York. Since its creation and to this day, there have been discussions about reforming the UN. Soon after the UN was founded in 1945, public figures like Albert Einstein called for a much more powerful and democratic UN. Today, leaders such as Ukrainian President Zelensky urge fundamental reforms to strengthen the UN, while NGOs like Democracy Without Borders campaign for making the UN more democratic and representative of citizens. In an international survey in six countries worldwide (Argentina, China, India, Russia, Spain, and the United States), Mathias Koenig-Archibugi (London School of Economics and Political Science), Luis Cabrera …
Decorative globe

In the upcoming months, the OxPol Blog will be featuring Q&A sessions with faculty from the Department of Politics and International Relations to highlight their ongoing research. Over the last few weeks, the OxPol editorial team spoke with Professor Ezequiel González-Ocantos about his ongoing projects since winning the Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2018.  OxPol (OP): In 2018 you were awarded the Philip Leverhulme Prize. Could you share what projects you have been working on over the last few years since winning the prize? Ezequiel González-Ocantos (EGO): Since 2018 I’ve been working on three different projects. First, together with my colleagues Sandra Botero and Daniel Brinks we curated a collection of essays that looks at new trends in the judicialization of politics in …

As policymakers and commentators grapple with understanding the direction of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, they turn to the past for guidance. Are we at the beginning of a more general war –1914 or 1939? Or is the experience of how major wars end a guide? The Marshall Plan of 1948-1951 is all over the news as discussions get under way about the hoped-for recovery of Ukraine. “The war in Ukraine has caused the world, particularly the west, to look to the past for answers…. Marshall Plan history is no longer a niche,” says the Financial Times’s Gillian Tett. EU Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, magazines like New Statesman, and think tanks like the Center for Economic and Policy …
USAID flag next to an American flag

As a prominent global aid donor, democracy promotion has distinctively shaped U.S. foreign assistance activities. Democracy aid has been a prominent theme of U.S. foreign assistance since the Marshall Plan. More recently, between 2001 and 2015, the U.S. annually disbursed $18 billion on average in democracy and governance aid, which represents (on average) 43% of the total U.S. foreign aid budget (calculated by the author from U.S. Government data and including Department of Defence figures). Nevertheless, the relationship between institutions and aid is complex and disputed. Scholars argue that inclusive and equitable institutions underpin economic growth and catalyse foreign assistance. Yet aid may also feed back on institutions, strengthening, weakening, or consolidating them. In December 2021, President Biden reflected on …
Statue of Justice System

Since the end of the Cold War, Transitional Justice (TJ) has become the dominant framework informing peacebuilding when wars end. Each year, countries establish TJ systems to come to terms with a violent past. However, TJ rarely lives up to its promises. Criticism of TJ often focuses on its (in)ability to heal the wounds of violence, foster forgiveness and reconciliation in divided societies, or deliver restorative justice for both the victims and victimisers of a conflict. In this piece, I shed light on an often-overlooked limitation of TJ: its disregard for the Rule of Law (RoL). RoL, understood as a principle of governance by which law governs societies, is often seen to belong outside the remit of TJ. This is …

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 this episode of the OxPol BlogCast, host Chase Harrison talks to DPhil student Christoph Sponsel about Colombia’s credit rating, the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, and doing work at the intersection of political science and economics. Read the original blog post here: https://blog.politics.ox.ac.uk/colombian-mass-protests-foretelling-an-emerging-latin-american-debt-crisis/