April 27, 2013 by Richard Rousseau
Born in the twentieth century, the World Trade Organization (WTO) is still largely built on the rules and dispute settlement mechanisms it adopted at its inception in the last century. However, world trade is a rather different beast in the 21st century and will continue to evolve. The WTO must adapt to this new world or it will be quickly marginalized.
The WTO is not keeping pace with the changes taking place in the world. The cross-border flows of goods, services, know-how, investment and people participating in international production networks – supply-chain trade in economic jargon – have transformed the global economy. The WTO is caught between fulfilling its original mission and addressing new and emerging realities.
It seems mired in malaise. The 20th century conflicts over tariffs and agricultural barriers prevents the WTO from concluding the Doha Development Round commenced in November 2001. It seems equally incapable of moving forward in other areas. Consequently, the most stalwart WTO members are developing trade arrangements independent of existing WTO structures in order to regulate 21st century trade.
April 13, 2013 by David H. Shinn
Christine Hackenesch, research fellow at the German Development Institute, published an article in the first issue for 2013 of the Journal of Current Chinese Affairs titled “Aid Donor Meets Strategic Partner? The European Union’s and China’s Relations with Ethiopia.”
Using Ethiopia as a case study, the paper assesses the “competitive pressure” that China’s growing presence in Africa exerts on the European Union’s development policy. The study draws on interviews conducted in China, Ethiopia and Europe between 2008 and 2011.
The author concludes that the European Union engages Ethiopia as an aid recipient, whereas China has developed a comprehensive political and economic partnership.
March 31, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
In some ways the Syrian civil war resembles a proxy chess match between supporters of the Bashar al-Assad regime— Iran, Iraq, Russia and China—and its opponents— Turkey, the oil monarchies, the U.S., Britain and France. But the current conflict only resembles chess if the game is played with multiple sides, backstabbing allies, and conflicting agendas. Take the past few weeks of rollercoaster politics.
The blockbuster was the U.S.-engineered rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, two Washington allies that have been at loggerheads since Israeli commandos attacked a humanitarian flotilla bound for Gaza and killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American. When Tel Aviv refused to apologize for the 2010 assault, or pay compensation to families of the slain, Ankara froze relations and blocked efforts at any NATO-Israeli cooperation.
Under the prodding of President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu phoned his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and buried the hatchet. The apology “was offered the way we wanted,” Erdogan said, and added “We are at the beginning of a process of elevating Turkey to a position so that it will again have a say, initiative and power, as it did in the past.”
March 1, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
On the eve of the World War I the British diplomat Sir Edward Gray is purported to have said, “The lamps are going out all over Europe.” In the wake of the recent Italian election one might reverse that phrase: after years of brutal austerity, collapsing economies, widespread unemployment and shredding of the social welfare net, Italians said “basta!” “Enough!” And lamps are going on all over Europe.
Slovenians just turned out their conservative government and handed the reins to Alenta Bratusek, who compared austerity to “medieval medicine.” Tens of thousands of Bulgarian demonstrators forced their austerity-addicted government to resign. Support for the ruling parties of Spain and Portugal, which have overseen higher taxes and massive cutbacks, has dropped precipitously. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Democratic Union took a beating in local elections. France’s Socialist Party rode an anti-austerity program to victory, and the leftist Syriza Party in Greece is now the most popular in that country.
Nowhere in Europe, however, has the austerity policies of the “troika”—the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—taken such a thorough shellacking as in Italy. Prime Minister Mario Monte’s government of technocrats, who piled on regressive taxes, cut pensions, slashed jobs, and dismantled social programs, was crushed, while parties running on anti-austerity platforms swept the field.
February 24, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
As the Great Horsemeat Crisis continues to spread—“gallops” is the verb favored by the European press—across the continent, and countries pile on to blame Romania (France, Holland, Cyprus, etc.), what is becoming increasingly clear is that old-fashioned corporate greed, aided and abetted by politicians eager to gut “costly” regulations and industrial inspection regimes is behind the scandal.
In a sense it is fitting that the whole imbroglio began in Ireland, where inspectors in Ulster first indentified that hamburgers should have more properly been labeled “horsewiches.” The Emerald Isle has more horses than any country in Europe, and, according to the Financial Times, in 2007 Ireland produced 12,633 thoroughbred foals and has some 110,000 “sport” horses.
The year 2007 was just before the Irish real estate bubble imploded, bankrupting the nation and impoverishing millions. And the year the “Celtic Tiger” died was very bad news for horses. Thousands of the creatures were simply turned loose by their financially strapped owners, and the number of horses sent to slaughterhouses jumped from 2,000 in 2008 to 25,000 in 2012.
February 13, 2013 by William Thomson
We are currently living in a world of geopolitical competition, and that competition is increasingly taking on the nature of a zero-sum game. Although the US has played the role, at times, of a global hegemon since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it no longer possesses the political influence or the economic bandwidth to continue to do so. Perhaps more importantly, new rising economies are flexing their muscle and demonstrating their ability and desire to carve out their own spheres of influence.
Ian Bremmer, CEO of Eurasia Group, and Nouriel Roubini, Chair of Roubini Global Economics, have termed this new geopolitical paradigm a “G-Zero” world, a world in which no single country can meet the challenges of global leadership.
February 11, 2013 by Abukar Sanei
Due to the civil war and chaotic conditions in Somalia over the last two decades, the UN imposed an arms embargo on Somalia in order to mitigate the conflict. Somalis need to appreciate the reasons for the embargo and while progress has been made in security wide swaths of the country more needs to be done.
The warlords who are vying for power have been the main source of the conflict. And as a result, the embargo, though it was intentionally violated by some frontier countries in the past, was intact in Somalia. Now is the time to consider removing the two decades old UN arms embargo on Somalia for a variety of reasons.
Free from Warlords
If the main reason for the arms embargo in Somalia was to minimize the misuse of weapons and civilian casualties by the hands of warlords, Somalia is now free from warlords. Warlords cannot claim popularity in the new political dynamics of Somalia as their power was severely diminished in 2006 by what was then known as the Islamic Courts Union (ICU).
February 2, 2013 by Conn M. Hallinan
Back in the 1960s, the U.S. peace movement came up with a catchy phrase: “What if the schools got all the money they needed and the Navy had to hold a bake sale to buy an aircraft carrier?” Well, the Italian Navy has a line of clothing, and is taking a cut from a soft drink called “Forza Blu” in order to make up for budget cuts. It plans to market energy snacks and mineral water.
Things are a little rocky in Europe these days.
January 28, 2013 by Thomas Hauschildt
One of Somalia’s most prominent pirates, Mohamed Abdi Hassan alias Big Mouth, has announced his retirement. After eight years of capturing ships and their crews and demanding millions of dollars in ransom he also encouraged other pirates to give up this “dirty business”. “We decided to give it up. We have been in it for a long time. We firstly need the world to stop looting us, as we gave up piracy. Secondly, we need the world to stop hunting us.”
Moreover, it has been announced that the pirates’ leadership will support the Somali Government in warning the youth about the risks of living a life as pirate. This step is indeed commendable, but does this announcement mean an end to piracy in the eastern part of the Indian Ocean or is it too precipitous to speak about the end of Somali piracy?
In recent months it was repeatedly reported that the number of attempted captures decreased significantly. The presence of EU, NATO and other naval forces did not completely solve the problem of piracy, but reduced the risk for ships significantly. As of now 4 ships and 108 hostages are still under the control of the pirates.
January 24, 2013 by Greg Dawson
Yesterday, David Cameron, the Prime Minister of the UK, gave a speech on the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. Whilst praising the EU and highlighting Britain’s role in European history, David Cameron has been pretty scathing of the EU as it currently stands, pretty much suggesting that the EU has lost its way in ever greater integration.
Frankly, the European Coal and Steel Community, the very first part of the “European project” was all about ever greater integration to prevent the potential for war. The fear of a war between the great powers of Europe has rather receded, however integration has continued for better or for worse. Mr Cameron clearly argues that much of it was for the worst.
I believe a referendum on British membership of the European Union is not such a terrible idea. Many British people have become uncomfortable with the level of integration occurring in some sectors. Mr Cameron however rightly points out that a huge swathe of criticism results from European Court of Human Rights judgements, something that will still be present regardless of whether we are in the European Union or not. It is vitally important that, if the Conservatives win the majority Government required to hold the referendum, that both the “for” and “against” sides highlight the differences between the Court and the EU. I however fear that, much in the way of the Alternative Vote referendum, one or both sides will use obscuration tactics in order to win the referendum at all costs, even if that could mean using dubious facts or total inaccuracies.
January 4, 2013 by Vince Hooper
The current world order is in disarray with broken nations and fragmented regions, combining together to form a disjointed amalgam of social, economic, political, religous and environmental attributes, we term the global village. Uncertainty, as measured in terms of volatility is ubiquitous and rages across all frontiers and regions are imploding.
However, new proposals will be put on the table later this month by David Cameron in his ‘Big Europe’ speech which is likely to be about redefining regionalism rather than a knee-jerk reaction to the current malaise. The US and the rest of the world are well placed to benefit from such paradigm realignment as it is a strong supporter of ‘Open Regionalism’ and should welcome David Cameron’s forthcoming important stance.
December 20, 2012 by Thomas Hauschildt
For many, Christmas is upon us once again. And like every other year chocolate will be sold in vast quantities. But unbeknownst to most consumers, some of the chocolate they buy will have partly been the product of slavery and child labour in West Africa.
A Bittersweet Product
West Africa was responsible for nearly three quarters of the 4.24 million tonnes cocoa beans produced worldwide last year – the Ivory Coast alone produced roughly 1.5 million tonnes, or one third of the world’s production, while Ghana produced over 1 million tonnes. According to some research, these two countries also rely on around 1.8 million child labourers.
Regarding the Ivory Coast, some have claimed that 90 percent of cocoa farms use child labour, while the US Department of State estimates that over 100,000 children work under “the worst forms of child labour” on Ivorian farms. Around 15,000 children are thought to be forced to work as slaves in the Ivory Coast, and 10,000 are believed to be victims of human trafficking, largely from neighbouring Mali and Burkina Faso.
December 13, 2012 by Anis Bajrektarevic
The cynical and misleading claim currently circulating European Union (EU) policymaker circles is: ‘multiculturalism is dead in Europe’. Truth be told, the EU has silently handed over one of its most important debates – that of European identity – to the wing-parties for years. In turn, it is no wonder that recent selective foreign policy actions serve to challenge EU-member cohesion.
Europe’s economic unity, its fundamental future realignment as well as the maintenance of its overall public standing are embodied in the credibility of its strategic neighborhood and its enduring partnership. The reinvigoration of the EUs “everything but institutions” transformative powers including the European Neighborhood Policy, primarily that of the Barcelona Process, and the Euro-Med partnership (OSCE) remains a forgotten lever of consequential progress available.
By correlating the hydrocarbons with the present political and socio-economic landscape, scholar Larry Diamond’s research suggests that 22 states in the world, which earn 60 percent or more of their respective GDP from oil (and gas), are non-democratic/authoritarian regimes. All of these nations maintain huge disparities, steep socio-economic cleavages, sharp political inequalities and lasting exclusions, not to mention extremely dismal human rights records.
December 10, 2012 by Patrick Hall
Discontent throughout Peru’s rural communities over exclusionary government policies and expanding corporate intrusion was the backdrop for a December 6th and 7th Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Lima. In the exhaustively titled, Meeting of Government Experts on the Management of Socio-Environmental Conflict for the countries of Central America and the Andean Region, representatives throughout the region sought new strategies to “strengthen the institutional capacities of governments in addressing socio-environmental conflicts through the exchange of information and the presentation of institutional mechanisms used to bring about solutions to these problems”.
Central governments throughout South America have struggled to placate indigenous and rural communities; populations that suffer disproportionately during economic contractions and are easily marginalized when markets expand. Many politicians have achieved the presidency by running on a populist platform; however, most have found it nearly impossible to fulfill the promises made to the people while attempting to grow the country’s markets. For many in South America, foreign investments are needed to reinforce social programs and modernize infrastructure, but these finances typically have caveats that undermine the livelihoods of the very populations they were intended to assist.
November 30, 2012 by David H. Shinn
African countries have massive health care needs. A few basic facts as of 2009 provided by the World Bank about Sub-Saharan Africa illustrate the point. In 2009, life expectancy at birth for Sub-Saharan Africa was 52.5 years; for Ethiopia it was 55.7 years. The under-five mortality rate in Sub-Saharan Africa per 1,000 children was 130; for Ethiopia it was 104.
The prevalence of HIV in the 15-49 age group in Sub-Saharan Africa was 5.4 percent; for Ethiopia it was about 2 percent. The incidence of TB per 100,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa was 344 cases; for Ethiopia it was 359 cases. The total number of clinical cases of malaria reported in 2009 for all of Sub-Saharan Africa was 72 million; Ethiopia accounted for 3 million of these cases. The number of reported deaths from malaria for all of Sub-Saharan Africa was 113,000; Ethiopia reported 1,100 of these deaths.