International Relations Review: Spring 2019

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The Age of Activism

Gendered War Crimes in the DRC

Costa Rica’s 300 Day Renewable Energy Feat

Shirking Solidarity in Poland







Gendered War Crimes in the DRC Jessi Baron


Sunrise Kingdom Yoni Tobin

Radicalization in Dagestan: Exportation and Solutions Michelle Ramiz


In Sudan, the Biggest Protests to Occur in Decades Mazin Sayed





Long Time Divergence: A Look at Global Income Inequality Tal Dickstein

Costa Rica’s 300 Day Renewable Energy Feat Kaylin Ikeda


Illicit Usage of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology Andrey Grashkin

Environmental Activism and Repression Caroline Koehl


He is God: An Analysis of the CRISPR Babies Rachel Petherbridge


Climate, Culture, the Sami, and Svalbard Damian Walsh

India’s Agrarian Crisis: What You Want Isn’t Always What You Need Mughda Gurram



Shirking Solidarity in Poland Christopher Brown


Wir haben das geschaffen: Germany Exists the Mediterranean Migration Crisis Desmond Molloy



A Nuclear Disaster: The Return of Sanctions on Iran Samira Jafar The Changing Geopolitical Landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean Anna Maeve Ellis



Changing the Discourse of International NGOs Adia Armstrong



A Tumbling Dynasty Gowtham Asokan

Photo by Christy Jiang

Starting out as an engineering student, I had never dreamed that I would be published in an academic journal covering International affairs. Over the past four years, the International Relations Review has taught me the value of diverse ideas. From founding our news media platform REACT News, debuting our first launch party, and introducing our info-graphic blogs this has been a two years of seeing exciting ventures coming to fruition and engaging our student community. My peers at the IRR have inspired me with their exuberant idealism and aspirational vision for our world’s problems. It makes me proud to say that I have been part of the this incredibly talented and relentless team of students bringing light to our under covered issues.

Gowtham Asokan

It is such a pleasure to be able to name our last edition of the International Relations Review, “The Age of Activism.” Eleven years ago, an internal calling to leave the world a bit better than I found it gave me my voice and set me on the path that has made me co-Editor-in-Chief, among other things. To me, activism has always been as simple as refusing to be a bystander: it doesn’t have to be protesting in the streets or lobbying in Congress, but it is an insistence upon not just recognizing but calling the actions of others, particularly those around us, as bigoted, racist, sexist, or harmful to our planet and humanity, when they are. It is a refusal to sugarcoat and a refusal to be complacent. It is a refusal to cater to others’ convenience or appease ignorance. In this interest, I choose to be what some may call controversial in my final editor’s note, because I believe that it should be said. Donald Trump and the world’s other extremist leaders have rocked the foundations of equality, democracy, and humanity that their nations were intended to embrace. White supremacist propaganda has increased by 182% in the last year and the world has been stunned by mass shootings of unprecedented caliber. While the United Nations has predicted impending disaster if climate change is not curbed immediately, governments continue to deny science and corporations continue to be environmentally unconscious. “Conservative” and “liberal” have become identities – and vastly disparate ones – rather than ideologies. And violent conflict continues to rage in the parts of the world that major powers neglect to pay attention to unless it stands to benefit them. Human vulgarity is of course ingrained in its history, but we claim to hold ourselves to better standards, today. We can do better. We should do better. Despite this, the world’s populace is more aware than ever of what is happening – and that in itself is a win. People are beginning to use their knowledge and their experiences to speak out vehemently, whether it is to protect indigenous peoples and the environment in Honduras or to oust dictatorship in Sudan. This journal is full of instances of people who have said, “enough.” From the Women’s Marches and #MeToo movements that have flooded not just Washington D.C. but India, Germany, Kenya, and all the way to Antarctica, and the protests against child disappearances and cartel violence that flared across Mexico, to the young people who are vying for an end to authoritarianism in Nicaragua and the teenagers who sued the United States government over its coddling of the fossil fuel industry – we truly live in the age of activism. Not long ago, 15-year-old Malala took a bullet in the name of girls’ right to education and earned the Nobel Peace Prize, and today, a 16-year-old is again one of the nominees for the prestigious Prize in the name of climate. Young people in particular are refusing to stand down, and we have agency to do so like never before. This is not only the age of activism, but the age when activism that begins in a small corner of the world can and will go global. This issue is dedicated to all those, particularly young people, around the world who have refused to be bystanders, especially to the point of risking or losing their lives. To our staff, sponsors, and readers - from the bottom of my heart, thank you for two wonderful years. *This article does not reflect the views of the International Relations Review journal as a whole.

Raina Kadavil

Human Rights


Photo by Natalie Carroll

Gendered War Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Jessi Baron

Radicalization in Dagestan: Exportation and Solutions by Michelle Ramiz

In Sudan, the Biggest Protests to Occur in Decades by Mazin Sayed



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Gendered War Crimes in the Democratic Republic of the Congo by Jessi Baron

Rape is an abusive act that

violates victims and strips them of their dignity and control over their bodies. In conflict settings, rape becomes far more systematic. Employed as a weapon of war, a form of sexual terrorism, and a method of socialization among fighters, gendered sexual violence has further decimated states beset by civil war. A tragic case study of this crime can be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C). The D.R.C. has been in a state of civil war for nearly 20 years, often being described as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world with over 5 million dead, nearly 4.5 million people displaced, and the highest scale of war rape. The conflict traces its roots back to the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, which indirectly led to an African ‘world’ war based in the eastern D.R.C. Since then, the majority of the violence has occured in the eastern region (North Kivu, Goma, and Bukavu), but mass violence has also spread to the central Kasai region and to Kinshasa (the capital). Joseph Kabila’s corrupt presidency, the violence between the Hutus and the Tutsis in eastern D.R.C, the general weak governance, and the abundance of natural resources have led to the formation of many rebel groups. After Kabila managed to retain power in 2016, even though his term was already due to expire per the constitution of the D.R.C., violence has only escalated.

Dubbed the rape capital of the world, the D.R.C. sees rape warfare used systematically, and it consists mostly of gang rape against women. Statistical tests have concluded that, in a sample of approximately 300 women living in the D.R.C., 86% had been sexually abused, 87% of the sexual violence was perpetrated by armed men, and 67% of the cases were gang rape. There are many theories as to why the state, rebel groups, and various armed groups use the female body as a weapon. Three of the most prominent ones are that it is used as a form of military strategy, is geared towards ethnic cleansing/identicide, and is a mechanism employed towards combat socialization. Military strategy theorists argue that rape warfare is used as a war tactic. This scholarship contends that war rape is used to force negotiations and surrenders as well as to prevent opposition groups from attacking. For instance, armed groups kidnap and rape women along opposition lines, in the hopes of forcing their male counterparts to surrender. Often preemptively, armed groups use the threat of rape to dissuade women from helping their male family members or to persuade fathers, brothers, and others to remain disengaged from the violence. War rape is also used to target and wipe out an entire ethnic group. In this perspective, war rape is viewed as a form of sexual terrorism that is genocidal in nature. It is geared at destroying

a group’s cultural and social cohesion, by attacking traditional values, shattering familial ties, and causing devastating spiritual and psychological trauma. In the D.R.C., reports from 2005 note that up to 29% of female survivors report being ostracized from their communities following their attack. Furthermore, it causes mass impregnation in countries where abortion is illegal and/or is highly stigmatized, which further destroys a group’s ethnic identity by creating a generation of children who cannot claim full ties to their mother’s ethnicity. Combat socialization contends that armed groups, particularly groups that forcibly recruit soldiers, are able to create a sense of group identity and socialization amongst their fighters by having them rape women. Fighters prove their allegiance, form bonds with their fellow fighters and their superiors, and prove their ‘manliness’ by committing acts that are presented as a military standard to maintain social order. These men do not view rape during war as a violation of human rights, but rather as a strategic tool that terrorizes the opposition while forming a more cohesive bond between themselves and with their superiors. The consequences of mass war rape are catastrophic. It destroys ethnic groups, further polarizes sectarian societies, and has horrific consequences on the thousands of women who are subjected to their systemic


Spring 2019 practice. It also deteriorates mental, physical, and emotional health, and causes mass impregnation while propagating the idea that a woman does not own her body. In many countries beset by mass war rape, its systemic use has largely been ignored: the Syrian government has used gendered sexual violence against women along sectarian lines, Saudi and U.A.E. officials have used sexual abuse against Yemeni female prisoners, and ISIS has used rape against Yazidi women. However, while most know about the use of chemical warfare in Syria, the proxy war in Yemen, and the atrocities committed by ISIS, very few are aware of the existence of rape warfare in all three examples. The Democratic Republic of the Congo presents a different scenario. Because it is the worst humanitarian crisis since World War 2 that spans over two decades with the highest proportion of sexual attacks, there are far more organizations working to end this abusive crime in central Africa. Large international institutions, such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the United Nations (specifically UN Women and UNHCR), have been working to end rape warfare in the D.R.C. They have worked through diplomatic and news diffusion methods, such as publishing content on their blogs, conducting interviews, and scheduling meetings with Joseph Kabila. However, to create a more cohesive analysis of the local and transnational actors working to end this abusive practice, it is also necessary to examine lesser known actors. In providing a framework on the network of individuals addressing

war rape in the D.R.C., this article will focus on Dr. Denis Mukwege, Laurence Fischer, Eve Ensler, and Passy Mubalama. Dr. Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynecologist who received the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with female survivors of rape warfare. In 1999, Dr. Mukwege founded the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Eastern D.R.C. with the aim of treating patients with complex gynecological damage and trauma created by sexual violence. Since its creation, Dr. Mukwege has treated over

“The current civil war has spanned over sixteen years, yet only four people have actually been tried and convicted of rape warfare.”

50,000 survivors and has also provided legal and psychological services to his patients. Known as the ‘man who mends women’, Dr. Mukwege has publicly advocated for more legal prosecutions against perpetrators of war rape, arguing that those responsible, particularly the Congolese government and

armed militia groups, must be brought to justice. In 2012, his advocacy nearly cost him his life, after he barely escaped an assassination attempt at his home and flew to Europe. But his absence had devastating effects on the Panzi Hospital, and he returned to Bukavu in 2013, determined to continue helping these women. Dr. Mukwege’s activism regarding legal prosecutions is of the utmost importance because of the lack of legal consequences for the perpetrators. The current civil war has spanned over sixteen years, yet only four people have actually been tried and convicted of rape warfare. These four persons were military leaders and include Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former Vice President of the D.R.C. and commander of the MLC (Mouvement de Libération du Congo). The MLC was responsible for thousands of cases of war rape, pillage, and crimes against humanity. Bemba was tried and convicted after a four-year trial that included statements from seventy-seven witnesses. However, the appeals chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) recently overturned this conviction and cleared Bemba of all charges. This reinforces the notion that those who commit crimes against humanity during periods of conflict will rarely ever face any consequences. If society is serious about ending mass war rape, legal prosecutions and convictions will have to be taken far more seriously. Dr. Mukwege and the Panzi Foundation, which was created in 2008 to support the mission and the activities of the Panzi Hospital, are keen to sponsor smaller organizations to come to Photo by Anna Jeneto


The International Relations Review Bukavu and aid survivors. Since 2014, The Panzi Foundation has been supporting Ms. Laurence Fischer to travel to Bukavu and teach self-defense classes to female survivors. Fischer, a three-time world, seven-time European, and eleven-time French karate champion, seeks to help women regain some form of control over their bodies. Many of these women face mental, emotional, and physical trauma, and Fischer tries to address their challenges by using rehabilitation through sport. In 2017, Fischer founded an organization called Fight for Dignity and set up a sports and social program specifically adapted to female victims of violence, with her work in the D.R.C. being a pilot program that she hopes to duplicate elsewhere. Fischer has only been working in the D.R.C. for roughly four years and, because it is such a new and small initiative, there is no quantifiable information yet on successes or failures. Eve Ensler, a woman most acclaimed for writing the Vagina Monologues, has also traveled to Bukavu to work with Dr. Mukwege. In 2011, aided by the Panzi Foundation, Ensler co-founded the organization City of Joy. Located in Bukavu, the organization is a rehabilitative program that aims to educate, heal, and empower female victims of rape in eastern D.R.C. Serving 90 women (ranging in ages between 18 and 30) at a time, the program has graduated over 1,100 women since it opened. Some of these women have gone on to hold leadership roles within their communities such as restaurant owners, activists, and journalists. Although it has only existed for about seven years, City of Joy

Photo by Raina Kadavil


Spring 2019 has managed to achieve relative success. This is in part due to the Panzi Foundation’s sponsorship and to Ensler’s international fame, but also to the organization’s use of media platforms. In 2016, Madeleine Gavin worked with Ensler and Dr. Mukwege to produce a documentary called City of Joy. The documentary portrays City of Joy as a safe haven for female survivors, amidst a region afflicted by horrific violence and tragedy. The documentary was very successful and has just recently been released internationally as a Netflix original film. By employing film as a mechanism for raising awareness, Ensler and Dr. Mukwege were able to reach a larger audience, while receiving highly emotive reactions. While the organization has had measurable success, it is important to recognize that many issues are not addressed by the program. First, City of Joy is exclusively for women between the ages of 18 and 30, which alienates the thousands of young girls and elderly women who have been sexually assaulted throughout the conflict in addition to male survivors. Furthermore, the website claims that the women who have graduated from the program have “released massive trauma and horrific memories. They have danced, sung, learned their rights, performed plays…[and] come to love their bodies...They are no longer stigmatized for being raped.” This rhetoric downplays the traumatic psychological extent of rape, especially gang rape, and promotes City of Joy as a ‘savior’ organization that is the heal all fix all. By downplaying the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder, the organization alienates the many Photo by Claire Martin

survivors who are not able to release their trauma after a short educational program. The final individual examined in this article is Passy Mubalama, a native Congolese woman who founded the non-profit organization AIDPROFEN, the Action and Development Initiative for the Protection of Women and Children. AIDPROFEN seeks to mobilize women across the D.R.C. to join the fight against sexual violence within their own country by educating and empowering them. Mubalama hopes to mobilize women by making them aware of their rights as human beings, of their autonomies and independence, and by inspiring them to join the electoral process. As it is an educational non-profit geared towards long-term success, the organization’s current successes are difficult to quantify. However, it is important to note that AIDPROFEN is one of the few organizations addressing the root of sexual violence. Rather than helping survivors, the organization offers a more long-term solution against gender inequity and inequality by promoting the rise of more female educators, activists, and leaders. Sexual abuse is a tragedy that oppresses women in every state, every second of every day. And this human rights violation

only intensifies during periods of conflict. States beset by armed conflict bear witness to the systematic use of war rape as a strategic weapon. By using the female body as a strategic tool, armed groups within the Democratic Republic of the Congo have attempted to spread terror, inflict physical and psychological damage, destroy cultural cohesion, target ethnic groups, and mobilize fighters. These tactics have had horrific consequences on the thousands of women who are subjected to its systemic practice, and who, upon their release, are ignored, rejected, and rendered disposable. They highlight the link between gender and terrorism, and the need for measures directed at eradicating rape as a weapon and prosecuting its perpetrators. Towards this end, a network of individuals have arised, seeking to fight the prevalence of extreme sexual violence. This network includes Dr. Denis Mukwege, Eve Ensler, Laurence Fischer, and Passy Mubalama, all of whom have employed innovation in treating survivors while raising public awareness towards this issue. Whether addressing physical trauma and psychological wounds or promoting rehabilitative therapy and educational initiatives, these local actors have positioned themselves as the vanguard against rape warfare.


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Photo by Natalie Carroll

Radicalization in Dagestan: Exportation and Solutions by Michelle Ramiz

Dagestan is one of the 21

in Dagestan has been proven to be one of the main sources of Russian republics of the Russian religious instability. Even being Federation located in the Northern seen as a terrorist organization Caucasus. The area is ethnically by the Foreign Policy Magazine diverse with Russians making up and the Terrorism Research and only about 3.6% of the population Analysis Consortium. Although according to the 2010 census. Sufism is the form of Islam that There are about 30% Caucasian was traditionally practiced in Avars, 16.5% Dargins, and the Dagestan, it has been referred to as rest are Kumyks, Azeris, Nogais, “heretical” by more extreme Sunni and other ethnic groups of 33 in and Shia sects. In fact, the Sharia total - although some sources cite as Jama’at formed a response to this many as 40. Within this multiethnic discourse as well as a response to group, currently 90.4% of the the low standards of life with an Dagestani population is Sunni. almost colonial relationship with However, Sufism was previously the Russia. predominant branch of Islam until The Sharia Jama’at was Salafism appeared in Dagestan established in 2002 by Rasul in the late 1980s when the Soviet Maksharipov and Emir Rabbani Union was falling apart. Salafism who both died as part of the North is a religious and political ideology Caucasus Resistance Movement that emphasizes the return to against Russia. The group “true Islam.” This branch first originally was named Dzhennet appeared as a response to Western and rebranded in 2005, which imperialism and colonization in caused growth into an actual group the late 19th century and spread rather than the small fighting from Egypt, ultimately influencing unit it originally had been. The politics from Morocco, UAE, and history was highlighted in a 2009 even Saudi Arabia. document published by the Sharia The development of the Jama’at which shows that their Sharia Jama’at the school of Islam non-Islamic Russian occupants

have “for 70 years been unrooting Islam, undressing [their] women, [and] inculcating sin and vice.” Although jihad as a religious concept can mean any struggle, internal or external, this document clearly ties it to war by saying: Your peers go against armies with machine guns in hand. Have you not thought about what has caused them to leave the warmth and comfort of the hearth, leave their families and loves ones? For Who do they live in the forest, risk their lives and so fearlessly attack the enemy? As seen in this source, the religious struggle was directed outward rather than inward, and there was a clear identification of an “us vs. them” ideology. This became an issue domestically and, in recent history, universally as well. The change in the religious sphere in recent years was accompanied by a change in the sociocultural sphere as well, which caused Dagestan, to be less ethnically diverse than it was in the past. Recently, the rapid fall of the Russian population and a low percentage of ethnic Slavs,

Spring 2019

mostly Cossacks, have been seen as an issue caused by the decline of the Soviet Union. The Cossack population is seen as one of the root ethnicities of the region. However, Dagestan high school history textbooks acknowledge the Tat and Jewish population as root ethnicities but do not mention the Cossacks. There is an inevitable increase in emigration and decrease of the Russian population because the cultural norms are reflected upon different values. For example, there were new laws created to forbid the sale of alcohol during Ramadan, and the new culture makes it nearly impossible to buy pork. There also have been incidents of ethno-religious strifes, such as the shooting of a Russian Orthodox church in February of 2018. According to BBC Russia, there are theories that this event was an organized act of terror. Because of such recent occurrences, a few events from the past have been highlighted once again. In 2015, there were two cases of Russian military servicemen being attacked, and ISIS took credit for them. One was a shooting and the other a suicide bombing. Such events show that


the threat of religious conflicts becoming ethnic conflicts are significant. An ISIS letter titled “Strike Their Necks and Strike Each One of Their Sons” urges Muslims in Caucasus and Central Asian republics, including Dagestan, to “kidnap and murder Christians in ‘Russian-occupied Muslim areas.’” This also shows the Muslim dominance and Dagestani feelings of animosity towards the Russian government. They have began to express their anger onto their neighbors to emphasize the oppression that they suffered. Ethnic and religious diversity of the region has been an issue for centuries within the area. As a result of this long history and recent troubles, one of the biggest problems in Dagestan currently is the amount of young men leaving to join terrorist organizations such as ISIS. As stated by Kazim Nurmagometov, a father of a Dagestani ISIS fighter, “it is no accident that the youth are tempted to go to Syria, because, today, there is a revival of Islam.” He explains that this is an inevitable outcome because the rights of religious Muslims are “restricted” by the authorities.

These authorities are wary of the anti-government messages spread by the mosque in question in the article but also continue to have a monthly quota of arrests that leads to “indiscriminate detentions.” Syria and Iraq are portrayed as a safe haven to the unprovoked arrests in Dagestan, as a “pious paradise fit for families.” As many as 5,000 Dagestanis have left to fight on behalf of ISIS, according to the Public Broadcasting Service and about 1,000 Dagestanis have made their way to Syria. This big movement is occurring since ISIS presence in the Caucasus would achieve many goals for the organization. They would not only be able to expand recruitment, but also be able to expand the reach of their attacks, threaten Russian interests, and increase their influence into smaller sister groups that could branch off into their own organizations. As a result, Russia has taken a more stern stance on the threat of ISIS in the Caucasus and has increased exit checks of Russian citizens leaving for Turkey, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. The issue of young people in Dagestan being exposed to new levels of extremism is not just a Russian or Caucasian problem.


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It has recently moved across the Atlantic, as seen in the Boston Marathon Bombing in 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the bombers killed during the police chase after the bombing, spent six months in Dagestan the year before the bombing occurred. Reuters reports that Russian authorities warned the FBI in 2011 about Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the fact that he associated himself with a militant Islamist group while in Dagestan. Although a brief investigation was launched in the United States, there was no significant signs of danger shown other than a warning that would appear if he were to travel internationally, which he circumvented by spelling his last name differently. Although the Russian authorities sent a second wire to the CIA, it was not given much attention to. Research shows that there is no real

consensus if those six months radicalized Tsarnaev. However, his exposure to more radical Dagestani Islam rather than the traditional Caucasus Sufism of old certainly had an effect on him. There is no doubt Makhachkala, Dagestan’s poverty-stricken and politically polarized capital, left an effect on Tsarnaev regardless of extended contact with extremists or lack thereof. The polarization of daily life is also accompanied by attempts to counteract it in Dagestan. For example, an anime festival called AniDag was cancelled in Makhachkala due to burgeoning threats to the organizers and directors just last year, and Dagestani social media rejoiced at the cancellation of an event that was seen as celebrating something morally wrong. Such events were called “informals,” which is a derogatory term referencing various informal youth movements of the 80s and 90s in the USSR. The post-Soviet republics and the organizers, who are Dagestani young adults, did not know how to handle the situation since the event was already planned. This, along with the growing number of laws and customs that impeded in the ways of life of non-Muslim minorities, is one of many examples of the polarization of daily life. It has reached the extent where a children’s festival is threatened. As a result, there have been efforts to improve the frustration of living in Dagestan. One prominent example is the development of wrestling, a traditional sport in the Caucasus, into an organized effort to keep Photo by Kaitlyn Dally

young men in Dagestan and out insurgency. The New York Times quotes Arsen Saitiev, a school principal in Makhachkala, “Mostly, those who join the underground are adolescents. At this time in their lives, they are trying to prove something. They can find themselves in sports instead, and won’t get involved in this stupidity.” Coaching is becoming an esteemed profession, and the accessibility of wrestling equipment, shoes and a one-piece suit makes it an attractive hobby for even the poorest demographics. Sports education is becoming more than just physical training into a mentoring experience. In Dagestan, the growing problem of religious extremism in a historically diverse area is in the process of being dealt with in its own way. The main issue is that this radicalization is only a symptom of a larger problem, the poverty and feeling of powerlessness in the face of foreign authorities in people’s daily lives. Although sports like wrestling are a way to give at-risk youths a feeling of control in their life, it is treating only a small part of the problem. The problem is not easy to solve. Solutions like total independence of the area could cause further foreign influence and the destabilization of their equally volatile neighbors. There is still hope for the future of Dagestani youth, but the path they have to cross is one that depends on much more than just them and on powers beyond their control. This includes the behavior of Russian authorities and religious leaders that choose to take advantage of the frustrations for violence rather than positive change.


Spring 2019

In Sudan, the Biggest Protests to Occur in Decades by Mazin Sayed

The tide of revolution has

reached the towns and villages of Sudan. Since December of last year Sudanese citizens have been amassing in the streets and villages of the third-largest nation in the continent, demanding the fall of President Omar Al Bashir and calling for significant bureaucratic change. These demonstrations pose the biggest threat to the embattled dictator since he took power in a bloodless coup d’etat in 1989. Protests began rather spontaneously on December 19 in the industrial city of Atbara, around 300 kilometers northeast of the capital Khartoum. People took to the streets to protest the heavy price hikes of bread and other necessities such as gas. It started off with the torching of the headquarters of the National Congress Party. Demonstrations then took place in the cities of Gadarif and Port Sudan and soon

spread to most major areas around the capital Khartoum and the second biggest city of Omdurman. The protests have grown from demands of economic reform to the ousting of Omar Al Bashir and the desire for new governance. Sudan is no stranger to mutiny. Since gaining independence in 1956 the nation has undergone a handful of military takeovers. However, for the past three decades Omar Al Bashir has established himself and the National Congress Party as the supreme rulers of the nation, abolishing most opposition parties and consistently cracking down on dissent. While the country saw a few bloody demonstrations against the politically dysfunctional government over its decision to increase taxes and eliminate subsidies on basic food items in 2011 and 2012, they were swiftly quelled. This time, the momentum of rebellion seems to

be gaining substantial influence, an inevitable result coming from a people who have endured difficult economic, social, and political circumstances since 1989. What events have culminated over the past three decades that has caused the Sudanese people to rise up in greater numbers than ever before? Without any formal leadership, demonstration dates and locations have been announced through the social media platforms Facebook and Whatsapp where people share this information with their colleagues to go out and protest. The hashtag “#TasgutBas”, meaning “Just fall”, began buzzing on Twitter as footage of these protests began to circulate, soon being chanted by protesters all around the country. Within the first two weeks, activists were organizing several marches and sit-ins at various locations. Hashtags are being used to spread

Photo by Derek Hartnett


awareness of these events such as “#RoyalCaresitin”, referring to a hospital in the neighborhood of Burri on January 19 where protesters were being treated. The death of a 14 year old teenager who succumbed to wounds from rubber bullet fire during protests that day triggered the sit-in at Royal Care Hospital, but it was dispersed by a hail of teargas from security forces the next morning. The Sudanese government has been quick to suppress the information spreading through social media, shutting down the Internet in many areas and arresting journalists. Recently the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA) has elected to be at the forefront of these demonstrations. This collective of doctors, academics, lawyers, and middle class Sudanese citizens sent a list of demands to the government aimed at bringing rapid change to the treatment of the Sudanese people. The government rejected this document, saying that people would have to wait for the 2020 election to vote the National Congress Party out, a feat that would be highly unlikely given the manipulation and corruption of ballots in previous elections. The SPA has

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since called for peaceful protests, only to be met with tear gas and live fire by police and military forces stationed at checkpoints in each city but mainly the capital. While Reuters puts the death toll at 26, human rights groups such as Amnesty International claim that at least 40 have been killed in the onslaught of bullets and beatings. Among those killed was Dr. Babiker Abdulhemeed, a respected medical professional who, according to BBC, was treating injured activists inside of a home when security forces confronted him, shooting him on the spot. Abdulhemeed’s death on January 17th sparked a renewed sense of animosity against the Sudanese authorities. On social media, there have been reports of police mixing explosive agents into tear gas canisters, and a widely circulated post appears to show a protester with no hands after he allegedly attempted to pick up one of these canisters. Indeed, the Sudanese government bears little heed to human rights. The government administers the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS), a powerful secret police organization used mainly to intimidate and silence opposition in Sudan. It is common knowledge

that the organization is responsible for the disappearances of many activists in the country. People are taught to fear the NISS by not expressing hostility towards the government, and rumors of NISS spies hiding among the people makes any conversation about Omar Al Bashir highly sensitive. The NISS punishes anyone who publicly denounces the government. Most news papers in the country are state-run so critics are often monitored. In recent weeks, there have been numerous reports of journalists and students who have disappeared at the hands of NISS. Some of them have returned with fresh lashing scars on their bodies, indicating torture in jail cells and on the back of police trucks. After experiencing a brief dump of revenue into the country’s infrastructure following Bashir’s ascent to presidency in 1996, Sudan gained a leap into modernity. At the same time, Hassan Al Turabi, then-Speaker of the National Assembly, was reaching out to establish connections with Islamic fundamentalist groups in the region, namely Al-Qaeda. Osama Bin Laden was invited to seek haven in the country, subsequently


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Photo by Mazin Sayed


placing Sudan on the State Sponsors of Terrorism list. The government’s complacency with Turabi’s invitation and support for terrorist groups would end up isolating the country from the international community, stalling development for decades to come. In 1997 the US placed heavy sanctions on the country, greatly impeding growth to an economy that was already suffering the brunt of sanctions imposed to it by the United Nations a few years prior. The sponsor of terrorism designation has made it increasingly difficult for the country to receive foreign investments and build new businesses. International entrepreneurs are reluctant to engage with an economy that is plagued by corruption, as a great deal of business transactions involve bribery, extortion and overall lack of transparency. Furthermore, President Omar Al Bashir is one of the few world leaders with an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court for war crimes in Darfur involving the mass slaughter, rape and pillaging of the Western Sudanese inhabitants in 2003. With most nations refusing to engage in serious diplomatic relations with the genocidal dictator, Sudan

has had to rely on mainly China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for foreign investment. To the Sudanese people, the sanctions represented an enormous burden that they felt

“With only as much as 3% of the government’s budget going to education, Sudanese citizens wonder where the rest of the money is being spent. ”

was undeserved. The government went from promoting terrorist organizations, even utilizing them to conduct a genocide in Darfur, to blaming dissent on terrorists infiltrating the population. The sanctions were partially lifted by President Barack Obama and then completely by President Donald Trump in 2017. The end of these sanctions was said to be the beginning of a new era of economic restoration and people were hopeful. Instead, inflation

only continued to rise and the black market only continued to flourish. By last summer, when prices began to soar rapidly, it was clear that the Sudanese economy was so mismanaged that even a step as significant as lifting sanctions would not be enough to fix the problems associated with lack of money and soaring prices. The truth is that it would take the Sudanese government much more than relief from sanctions to fix the economy. The growth problem is just as much internal as it is external. After all, decades of ethnic division and mistreatment lead to the secession and independence of South Sudan in 2011. With the secession also came a loss of three quarters of the country’s oil resources as most of them lay in the fertile grounds of the south. Up to that point, oil served as Sudan’s chief export and now the country has had to return to exporting more gold as it did prior to the excavation of oil fields in the 90s. Since then the country has been struggling to make up for the lost revenue by encouraging futile agricultural growth in an otherwise arid landscape. The government has also tried using subsidies for food products such as wheat which serve as the only

18 form of government aid allowing farmers to continue growing. But even the government can no longer afford to continue providing these payments to its citizens, and this has created much distress as the result of a shortage of bread and other foods. Furthermore, the wealth disparity in Sudan is substantial, in which government officials and their families possess much more money than the vast majority of Sudanese lower and middle class citizens. Half of the Sudanese population lives below the poverty line despite a literacy rate of around 70%. The kleptocratic government uses methods of money funneling and embezzlement to acquire much of the country’s revenue from taxes and natural resources and stashing them in their own offshore bank accounts overseas. In 2010, a WikiLeaks report revealed that Omar Al Bashir took $9 billion in oil revenue and put it in various London banks. The money that should be going to update the country’s infrastructure and provide basic social services such as health care has been going straight to the pockets of some of Omar Al Bashir’s closest relatives and allies, whom are given top positions in many government organizations and businesses. According to findings by Transparency International, at least 164 companies are controlled by Bashir’s affiliates. High ranking officials often subject these companies to financial favoritism so that they and their families receive an unfairly large amount of profit and shares. With only as much as 3% of the government’s budget going to education, Sudanese

The International Relations Review citizens wonder where the rest of the money is being spent. The Sudanese government has used its own people as scapegoats to further their own defensive agenda by pouring up to 70% of its national budget on the military, citing imminent terrorist attacks and espionage as reasons for a strong security force. This leaves the medical and academic institutions without proper funding to operate adequately, presenting a major hindrance to development. Because of this, NGOs have arrived in the country in recent years to try to provide healthcare and education in place of what the government should be funding. However, even NGOs are seen as threats to the rule of Omar Al Bashir and it is often difficult for aid workers to enter the country due to unreasonably long paperwork, intense scrutiny and delayed visas. In 2009, ten humanitarian aid organizations including Oxfam were expelled from the country under suspicion that they were working with international agencies to arrest Bashir shortly after his indictment at the ICC. It has become increasingly difficult for the Sudanese to live sufficiently as the mostly lowincome population cannot afford to purchase bread, a staple food for the average Sudanese family. The immense devaluation of the Sudanese currency from 29 to 50 pounds against the dollar last year brought about a shortage in banknotes, creating long lines of people trying to get to the few ATMs that have cash left. Many banks have been left with no funds to withdraw as inflation continues to rise. This is not a new situation either–basic commodities in Sudan have been subject to extremely

fluctuating prices for years. With an inflation rate of 73% as of December, bakeries have had to ration bread and people have had to stash cash under their mattresses. Subject to a highly unstable economy and a lack of social programs, the country is among one of the slowest-developing countries in the world. Time and time again the Sudanese people have attempted to voice their desires for national reform but the iron fist of the Bashir Regime has produced a climate of fear and absolute submission to the government up to this point. One thing is for certain—the Sudanese people have endured enough suffering. They desire basic civil liberties such as freedom of speech and protection from unreasonable searches of their homes. For ethnic minorities, they desire a lifestyle in which they do not have to worry about being discriminated against or persecuted for the color of their skin or the religion that they practice. The Sudanese are a well-learned people that seek to enjoy the full benefits of a global market. For decades they have felt isolated from the international community as a result of the political mismanagement, human rights abuses, and backwards ideology of the Bashir Regime. The protests that began last December started because people simply couldn’t afford to purchase basic foodstuffs. They quickly evolved into nationwide demonstrations calling for “Tasgut bas!”, a message to the Bashir Regime proclaiming that they will suffer no more adversity at the hands of the corrupt dictatorship.

Spring 2019


Photo by Natalie Carroll



Photo by Ines Boussebaa

Sunrise Kingdom by Yoni Tobin

Long Time Divergence: A Look at Global Income Inequality by Tal Dickstein

Illicit Usage of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology by Andrey Grashkin

India’s Agrarian Crisis: What You Want Isn’t Always What You Need by Mugdha Gurram



International Relations Review

Sunrise Kingdom by Yoni Tobin

Photo by Raina Kadavil

Spring 2019

Despite being a tiny island country

with a population of 1.2 million, East Timor has had a significant impact on global affairs. In 1975, East Timor, also known as Timor-Leste, was invaded by Indonesia, beginning a 24-year-long military occupation that garnered international scrutiny. The occupation lasted until 1999, when, in a watershed moment for global self-determination efforts, a UN-sponsored effort to liberate East Timor succeeded, allowing the country to declare independence in 2002. Like other newly independent countries, East Timor has had its fair share of growing pains. Private sector growth has stagnated due to administrative issues (provide an example or 2). In 2013, the World Bank ranked East Timor’s regulatory administration and contract enforcement last in the world. The average property rights dispute can take over 3.5 years for East Timor’s bureaucracies to resolve, more than double the regional average. Furthermore, the lack of a free-enterprise system has led to dependency on government spending, while the agricultural sector, which employs most of the country, has yet to show dividends for the country’s citizens. Nearly half of East Timor’s population lives in extreme poverty, with only 37 percent having electricity in their homes. East Timor’s primary source of revenue since 2004 has been the Bayu-Undan facility, an offshore gas field in the Timor Sea. In 2015, the Bayu-Undan generated some $1 billion USD, which constituted 85 percent of state revenue that year. Unfortunately, experts estimate that the Bayu-Undan gas field will


be tapped dry by 2022 at the latest. In light of this development, East Timor, eager to continue to profit off of the Timor Sea’s bountiful reserves, turned its sights towards an even more lucrative offshore underwater oil and gas field in the Timor Sea, known as Greater Sunrise. Recent events have put East Timor in majority control of the Greater Sunrise field, which is estimated to have the potential to yield $65 billion USD, over 23 times more than East Timor’s current annual GDP. Greater Sunrise lies about 90 miles southeast of East Timor and 280 miles northeast of Australia’s northern coast in a contested area of the Timor Sea known as the Timor Gap. Both Australia and East Timor assert they have rights to the Greater Sunrise field, leaving both countries embroiled in a heated territorial dispute for over a decade. The two competing claims lie in differing interpretations of maritime law. Australia, referencing a traditional principle in international maritime law called “natural prolongation” which allows countries to claim waters extending to the end of that country’s continental shelf, claims that it has the right to territory up to 50 miles off the southern coast of East Timor, which would encompass much of Greater Sunrise. East Timor countered that the maritime boundary should be drawn directly in between the two nations in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of Sea of 1982, which would give it control of Greater Sunrise. In 2004, East Timor and Australia entered into negotiations over the contested area, but the talks were infamously contentious

and unscrupulous. An anonymous Australian intelligence operative revealed in 2012 that Australia had covertly bugged government buildings in East Timor’s capital Dilli in 2004 in order to eavesdrop and gain a tactical advantage in negotiations with East Timorese leaders. The operative’s lawyer also claimed that successive Australian governments had taken measures to cover up the spying scandal once it leaked. In spite of the hostile nature of the negotiations, the two countries reached a deal in March 2018 which ignored the maritime border dispute and instead resolved the underlying issue of who would benefit from Greater Sunrise and how. The terms of the deal stipulated that East Timor would receive 70% of the revenue yield from Greater Sunrise, with Australia receiving the remaining 30%. The deal left open the possibility that the oil and gas from the fields would be piped to Darwin, Australia, in which case East Timor would receive 80% of the revenue. Recent developments have made the deal potentially even more auspicious for East Timor. In October 2018, East Timor purchased American energy corporation ConocoPhillips’ 30% stake in Greater Sunrise development projects for $350 million USD. In December 2018, East Timor became a majority stakeholder in the project by purchasing Shell’s 26.6% stake, bringing its overall holdings to 56.6%. Another 33.4% belongs to Australian energy corporation Woodside Petroleum, while the final 10% belongs to Osaka Gas, a Japanese energy conglomerate. The acquisitions appear to be

International Relations Review

24 have originated out of operational disagreements between East Timor and its commercial partners. Woodside, ConocoPhillips, and Osaka Gas all opposed East Timor’s plan to construct a pipeline from Greater Sunrise to East Timor, preferring instead to send the gas to an existing LNG (liquified natural gas processing) facility in Darwin, Australia. With East Timor now a majority stakeholder, the country will likely attempt to build a pipeline to its shores and construct LNG processing facilities in Dilli, providing a boon to East Timor’s economy through an increase in job opportunities and industrial investment. In addition to the direct financial benefits of Greater Sunrise, East Timor’s acquisitions will have implications for its status in the Asia-Pacific region. A secondary motive of East Timor’s projects may be related to its attempts over the past decade to ascend the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN), an organization of 10 Southeast Asian countries which coordinates political, military, and economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. ASEAN has been an ascendant economic powerhouse in recent years, and is likely on the precipice of even more prolific growth. In the next decade, ASEAN countries are expected to benefit from increases in demand for energy from China, India, South Korea, and other

regional powers. Additionally, ASEAN countries are expected to capitalize on emerging markets in Latin America and Africa due to the potential for higher returns on foreign investment in these regions. East Timor filed an application to join ASEAN in 2011, but no country has been accepted into ASEAN since Cambodia in 1999. Member states have cast doubts on East Timor’s institutions and capacity to meet membership obligations, such as the ability to conduct meetings in English. Singapore, which chaired ASEAN in 2018, has been the main challenger to East Timor’s pursuit of member status, arguing that East Timor would saddle ASEAN with expensive development and financial costs. Greater Sunrise however, is a factor which could change the equation altogether. The recent push by East Timor’s government to gain majority control over the project and accelerate its progress can be seen, in part, as an aggressive move to gain entry into ASEAN. Were East Timor to increase its exports drastically as a result of the ventures, East Timor could become a legitimate regional player that ASEAN could not afford to pass on. Asian markets in particular are likely to be of consequence for East Timor due to Greater Sunrise’s natural resources. Greater Sunrise is estimated to hold the equivalent of one-third of the world’s annual LNG

consumption, and LNG, though currently in surplus globally, would gain considerable market value in the mid-2020s if the current trend of oversupply were to reverse. Some 73 percent of the global demand for LNG is from Asian countries, and over the past several years has been fueled primarily by Japan and South Korea’s energy sectors. In 2017, another Asian power began to emerge as a leading LNG importer: China. As part of an initiative to reduce air pollution in urban areas, China scaled back its coal production in favor of LNG. As a result, China increased its imports of LNG by 42% between 2016 and 2017, surpassing South Korea as the world’s leading importer of LNG after Japan. East Timor is no stranger to Chinese powerbrokers, as China has been involved in a number of development projects in the country. Although the precise nature of East Timor’s relationship with China is unclear, it is no secret that China has played a major economic role in East Timor for years. China funded the construction of East Timor’s presidential palace, its ministry of foreign affairs, its military headquarters, and even financed much of East Timor’s naval fleet. Additionally, in early 2018, East Timor contracted with several Chinese firms to help develop its infrastructure and tourism sectors. Former East Timor President Jose

Photo by Natalie Carroll

Spring 2019


Photo by Natalie Carroll

Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, dismissed rumors of increased Chinese influence in East Timor in September 2018, when he told the South China Morning Post that such claims were “extremely inaccurate and misleading,” adding that “it’s absolute nonsense to talk about growing Chinese influence.” Ramos-Horta’s remarks notwithstanding, China’s investments bear the hallmark of debt-trap diplomacy, which appears to be a staple of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The Belt and Road Initiative, publicly revealed in 2013, is a Chinese program that involves infrastructure development in dozens of countries throughout Africa and Asia. The development is often nefarious, however, as the investments have left several of the countries indebted to the Chinese government. A March

2018 report from the Center for Global Development sounded the alarm about the various debttraps that countries have been lured into under the auspices of development as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. China has already attempted to engage in exploitative lending to East Timor. In 2016, the state-owned Export-Import Bank of China agreed to a $50 million loan to East Timor to upgrade its drainage system, though the deal ultimately did not go through. East Timor’s weak economic institutions, as well as its potential to be a leading LNG producer, make it a prime candidate for Chinese exploitation in the future; the country will be left in a serious bind if it continues outsourcing infrastructure development to Chinese firms and constructs a pipeline from Greater Sunrise to Dilli with predatory Chinese financing.

Although Greater Sunrise has the potential to bring wealth and regional prestige to East Timor, there are still a number of issues East Timor policymakers and government officials need to address. An influx of revenue will only serve the country insofar as its bureaucratic and regulatory practices are improved so a freemarket system can emerge. It also remains to be seen to what extent East Timor will be able to fend off Chinese predation while establishing itself as a force in the LNG market in which China is a leading buyer. Additionally, a number of logistical hurdles will need to be surmounted, and construction on the project is still likely years away. A significant windfall for East Timor appears to be on the horizon, but the country will have to brave some harsh tides to get there.

International Relations Review


A Long Time Divergence: A Look at Global Income Inequality by Tal Dickstein

Photo by Raina Kadavil

The last century of global growth

and technological progress has far surpassed anything seen before. A great example of this is the USA. The United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) grew more than twenty times its initial size from 1916 to 2016. This gain in wealth is not limited to just the US -- the World Bank found that the percentage of global poverty below $1.90 a day dramatically fell from 42% in 1981 to about 10% in 2015. Despite the fact that many countries and their citizens are the richest they’ve ever been, intercountry income disparities have consistently grown over time. In 1997, Lant Pritchett, economist and Harvard professor, discovered the existence of a global divergence of per capita incomes rather than a convergence as had been and often still is popularly assumed. Furthermore, this divergence has only worsened over time. This revelation flies in the face of the popular advantages of the backwardness argument whereby low income countries are expected to rapidly catch up to higher-income countries through productivityoriented growth. This doesn’t totally negate the backwardness advantage argument, but does maintain that such occurrences are far and few between. How, then, do we explain growth and the differences between faster growing countries and others? We cannot. To this day, economists are unable to determine the specifics of driving growth around the world. A large part of this is because the concept of growth is new to the global economy. The rapid diffusion of technology has helped

Spring 2019 dramatically increase the trades of goods and ideas that were not close to possible twenty years ago, let alone a hundred years ago. Another piece of this puzzle is the lack of data available for research. It is very difficult to find accurate data, if data can even be found, the further back from the 1950s one goes. In fact, economists have tried to instate rigorous policies that would ensure accurate economic measurements moving forward, but even these are put to question. Famously, GDP is notorious for being an incomplete part of a country’s economic strength and well-being, but it is constantly used in lieu of anything better. We know so little about growth that “some aspects of modern historical growth apply principally, if not exclusively, to the “advanced capitalist” countries.” Towards this end, this article aims to explain a basic model of growth and discuss a few possible reasons for why a global divergence of per capita incomes exists. To look at why growth is uneven from country to country, a basic framework for growth is necessary. This article will focus on the Solow Growth Model. The Solow Model looks at three variables (physical capital, labor and ideas) to explain why rates of growth might differ from one another. This makes intuitive sense: the greater a country’s natural endowments and on-hand resources such as accumulate capital, the more potential for growth it will initially have. With the addition of ideas and human capital, the model takes into consideration scale economies of learning that are endemic to large and dense population centers like

27 cities. Economists can use this model to find another metric: Total Factor Productivity. TFP is a measure of how efficient a country or firm is when producing its output. TFP is more abstract than the other factors in the model, but it’s vital for our analysis. To understand why, we only need to take a look at Alwyn Young’s 1992 growth analysis and comparison of Hong Kong’s and Singapore’s growths from the 1940s to the early 1980s. He chose nations with similar institutions and economic structures that differed significantly in two areas: government participation in the markets and initial levels of human capital. Hong Kong had an influx of educated immigrants who brought machines and technical knowledge and a government that held a laissez faire market interventionist policy. Singapore did not benefit from the same immigration pattern as Hong Kong, and its government was actively involved in shaping its markets. The Singaporean government ran infant industry protection policies while simultaneously attracting immense foreign direct investment (FDI) through tax and training subsidization schemes. Young found that while Singapore’s industries experienced structural change at a relatively faster rate than Hong Kong’s, its real returns from capital had dramatically fallen from 40% to 10%. These returns are in stark contrast to Hong Kong’s relatively stable 20% rate. This leads us back to our initial question: why and how did their returns change? If we can figure out what happened, then we can gain a better understanding of how factors such as government policy and skills play a role in the

aforementioned growth disparities through TFP. Young chalked up the changes in growth over time into differences in learning and what items were produced and exported. Here, learning refers to a country or firm’s production experience. As the average worker’s knowledge increases and they become more skilled, efficiency increases. Hong Kong’s early 40’s immigration influx saved it years of learning ordeals and an early comparative advantage in light industrial manufacturing, but Singapore’s industrialization push years later was able to benefit from the gains in knowledge at the time. This meant that Singapore didn’t have to learn or create production techniques on its own, especially when considering the amount of information it received with the large influx of FDI it had cultivated. These factors led to Singapore’s initial 40% return on capital. Over time, the Singaporean government’s protectionist policies led to output reducing market distortions that also forced their protected industries to produce costly goods lead to their returns on capital diminishing. Thus, we can see how government policy might affect growth. Ultimately, Young finds that the “the early educational superiority of the Hong Kong labor force, when combined with the economy’s higher rate of TFP growth, provides further evidence... in favor of models of endogenous technical change that emphasize the supply of human capital.” This section discusses the middle income trap (MIT). The MIT is a theory that may help explain where the global trend of absolute income divergence comes

International Relations Review

28 from. The Middle-Income Trap is a concept that argues that the transitional phase between the Middle and High-Income categories is incredibly difficult to breach and ‘traps’ most countries that attempt the jump. There exists some controversy of its existence, but most arguments disagree with the semantics of the word ‘trap’ and not against the theory itself. All research done so far on the topic, including those arguing against it, highlight the importance of changing growth strategies during this period to escape a Comparative Advantage Vacuum (CAV). This vacuum appears as a U-shaped curve as Middle-Income countries lose their comparative advantage in low-skilled labor to Lower Income countries while they have yet to attain the comparative advantage in high-skilled labor that a high-income country has. Felipe et al compared the exports of countries in the trap to those that passed it using disaggregated trade data and found that highincome countries had more

“diversified, sophisticated, and nonstandard exports basket[s]” than countries stuck in the upper middle income trap in 2010. Jan Eeckhout and Boyan Jovanovic reach incredibly similar conclusions when looking at the differences in occupation choices across levels of development. The most substantial support for this idea comes from an observed growth slowdown around a per capita income of $7,000. Most estimates for the severity of this slowdown are between 2.4% and 2.8%. Should this trap exist, it would help explain why countries trying to grow have so much trouble catching up to high-income countries. Even if the trap doesn’t truly exist, Felipe et al’s analysis of the basket of goods that the different tiered country’s export is worth consideration. This article primarily sheds light on a concept that many people don’t properly understand -- rising wealth is great, but it’s worrisome if already wealthy countries get increasingly richer when compared to countries that are still trying

to catch up. Will these nations be able to rise above this trend or not? We still do not know how the rich countries did it, let alone how countries can become high-income now, but we are definitely inching closer to the truth. There are many different growth theories out there that are trying to tackle this question, and the Solow model is just one of many possible explanations. A good critique of the Young paper analysis was published by the Journal of Comparative Economics in 2001. It brings up data from the late 80s and 90s that show that the high TFP numbers Young found were highly concentrated in the tradable goods sector which has since been offshored. The critique also argued that Hong Kong’s growth prospects would slow down considerably as it focuses on its service industries. If true, this sounds eerily similar to the middle income trap as discussed earlier.

Photo by Laura Stanton

Spring 2019


Illicit Usage of Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology by Andrey Grashkin

Designed by Ting Wei Li

International Relations Review



second-generation Virtual Currencies (VCs) have no physical manifestation and no intrinsic value. They are issued neither by a central bank nor a legitimate public authority and are generally only backed by rogue states, malevolent non-state actors, and speculative venture capitalists. For the purpose of transparency, a number of technical terms have to be defined to comprehend the threat of a new segment of Virtual Currencies– regarded as Cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies are blockchain implementations primarily focused on transactions of monetary value and in some cases the storage of social data. A blockchain is an encrypted, global distributive ledger compromised of a sequence of blocks that contain series of records or transactions. For example, the Bitcoin Blockchain is accessible to all nodes that are running the Bitcoin protocol – a list of rules to execute the blockchain. From this, a decentralized consensus protocol is formed, whereby identities executing the Bitcoin protocol all possess unique, cryptographically generated addresses. It is also essential to point out that users do not actually own Bitcoins. Rather through a wallet, which is a collection of private keys, entities are able to access their public keys – a record of the value of Bitcoins associated with their unique addresses. Various organizations have founded differing cryptocurrencies with separate industrial applications. They can be both decentralized (like Bitcoin) or semi-centralized (like Ripple) in theory. Most of the alternative coins, however, are a replication of Bitcoin’s source code, with slight

modifications to the protocol, and are used as “pump and dump” Ponzi schemes. One must not disregard the potential commercial usage of virtual currencies, including cryptos, and undoubtedly must not undermine the revelation of blockchain technology. Clearly, transnational corporations are keen to implement such technology to manage their inventories and distribution networks, while automated businesses are further being constructed using smart contracts. It is crucial to focus on the practical applications of certain VCs within the context of security threats and policy formulation. Government regulators and intelligence communities worldwide are unable to keep up with the rapid evolution of this technology, resulting in asymmetry between legislators and developers. As industries are researching and developing their own blockchains and cryptocurrencies, techniques to compromise such structures are being introduced simultaneously. To really comprehend the technological implications of Virtual Currency development, a close analysis of the Bitcoinstyle blockchain technology has to be conducted in the context of the global security system. Decentralized VCs such as Bitcoin provide a means to store, transact, and update data in a highly distributed, almost incorruptible fashion. Pair that with a completely decentralized network and the result is a cyber-distributed consensus network that can be accessed with ease by radical, criminal, malicious, and unsophisticated cyber actors. To put it in perspective, Tor was one of the first projects towards

decentralization. Anonymity of user identities within this system is founded upon a pool of nodes – hosted by individuals around the globe, which users can access sequentially. In simpler terms, the Tor system is also known as the ‘Dark Web’ – the marketplace for sale of illicit goods, facilitation of human trafficking, money laundering, and radical activities. In fact, shortly after its inception in 2009, Bitcoin, even as a pseudo-anonymous currency, notoriously became a popular value of exchange on the Dark Web. History repeats itself: Within the segment of VCs, cryptocurrencies are an evolved form of virtual monetary units employed in a niche market for illicit finance networks on the Dark Web. For example, Liberty Reserve, created in 2006 and shut down by the U.S government in 2013, served as an anonymous money transmitter and virtual currency for criminal enterprises and Ponzi scheme operators – processing approximately “$300 million per month in transactions over its lifetime.” Operating on the same principles of anonymous, rapid transactions and inexpensive communications, it served as an easily accessible and centralized privacy-enhancing service. Unlike Liberty Reserve, Bitcoin’s characteristics – decentralization and irreversibility through the use of a blockchain – make it even more private, secure, and practically immune to regulatory oversight. According to Europol, Bitcoin is one of the most prominent sources of payments between criminal networks, accounting for an estimated “40 percent of such transactions in the European Union in 2015”. Photo by Rebecca Gioannetti

Spring 2019 Furthermore, narcotics traffickers and cyber criminals effectively use Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for committing global financial crimes. Online criminals conducting ransomware attacks use malware to infect and then encrypt data on an entity’s network, then demand a ransom in primarily Bitcoin or Monero before the provision of a decryption key. In just the first months of 2016, the FBI reported that such ransomware extracted around “$209 million from affected individuals,” while experts have concluded that during the same year there had been a “3,500 percent increase” in criminal usage of ransomware. The 2017 WannaCry cryptoworm, regarded as the largest ransomware attack ever allegedly conducted by North Korean hackers, infected over 300,000 devices using the Windows OS and was categorized as the most crippling cyber attack on the British National Health Service. Furthermore, the evolution of crypto wallets has further enabled individuals to hide the malevolence of their monetary transfers. For example, Dark Wallet, which makes de-anonymizing Bitcoin transactions practically impossible, hides identifying aspects of the blockchain. Labelled in simple terms as ‘money laundering software’ its main

31 customers are rogue states, namely North Korea and Iran, and transnational criminal structures. The core issue of cryptocurrencies, which are becoming even more technologically sophisticated with the introduction of second and third generation blockchains, is their augmented scalability and self-governance. For legislators and intelligence communities, it is a disquieting waiting game before terrorist organizations and their funding sources are able to employ this value transfer mechanism with ease. As terrorist enterprises develop broader peer-to-peer networks of trust and technical infrastructure, and expand their funding sources, a further shift from pseudo-anonymous cryptos – Bitcoin – to anonymity-based alternative coins – Monero, Zcash – will promptly occur. Most recently, Indonesia’s financialtransactions agency reported that already “Bitcoin and online payment services had been used by Islamic militants in the Middle East to fund terrorist activities in Indonesia.” M o r e

generally, ISIS-affiliated forum discussions have reportedly been providing educational efforts for the use and adoption of virtual currencies and blockchain technology. It is logically consistent that, with fast regulatory pressures placed on terrorist financial networks in the aftermath of 9/11, the effectiveness of traditional methods of couriers, money transfer systems, and centralized banks has been fading away. As an alternative, third party digital payment services – PayPal and Google Wallet - are used for facilitating such financing. However, government oversight of these services has to an extent limited their ability to effectively act as black money transfer networks. In contrast, cryptocurrencies are a new generation of virtual currencies and transfer mechanisms that provide a more reliable and secure alternative for


International Relations Review

Photo by Brittany Chang

Spring 2019 express global illicit payments. Sanctioned states and international provocateurs have also shown interest in acquiring their own cryptocurrencies whilst investing vast resources into blockchain technology research and development. In the beginning of 2018, the authoritarian regime of Venezuela established itself as the first national government to introduce a commodity-backed digital currency - “issuing the first $735 million of a planned $6 billion worth of the Petro Cryptocurrency.” Simultaneously, a number of Russian state-sponsored banks have started experimenting with Ethereum technology, including conducting a successful experiment on token issuance by the end of 2018. Reflected within the statement of the Vice President of Sberbank, the largest Russian state-funded retail bank, a legislative drive exists to popularize and institutionalize the usage of such an evolving monetary transfer mechanism. Meanwhile, North Korea is further experimenting with other malwarebased means of financial and data theft. In January 2018, it was discovered that a North Korean statesponsored program was engaged in spreading malware that executes an instruction on the infected computer to mine the Bitcoin alternative Monero. A further North Korean hacking campaign, administered by the Lazarus Group, appeared to be targeting South Korean cryptocurrency exchange officials and customers. It has become evident that sanctioned regimes view the potential of cryptocurrencies as disruptive tools of the global banking order and as a means of alleviating the international financial pressures they face.

33 Overall, the question of mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency, along with its concomitant security implications, is far more challenging than the mere shilling conducted by invested entities playing on the cryptocurrency exchanges. It is essential to highlight the realism of global versus localized implementation of an alternative form of currency, which in this case also happens to be much more technologically sophisticated

“Sanctioned regimes view the potential of cryptocurrencies as disruptive tools of the global banking order .” than prior examples. Historically speaking, a large percentage of local enterprises that have adopted simple community currencies have done so within the structure of a well-developed financial system – “in a stable, generally democratic country or international system with stable macroeconomic policies or shared norms of behavior.” Not all non-state actors, however, choose to develop an alternative virtual currency under a protocol that allows complementarity with the fiat currency of their central authority. Many separatist and insurgent groups, especially in contested regions, issue their own currencies

to underline their economic sovereignty and to solidify their sociopolitical control. For example, the autonomous region of Somaliland has its own shilling, and the autonomous region of Transnistria has its own ruble. In addition to ISIL’s declaration to launch its own currency, the “aspirational central bank of Barotseland in 2012 declared the introduction of the Barotseland mupu in 2012.” Thus, it is evident that on a localized scale, implementation of both physical and virtual currency does not require a technologically sophisticated outreach. On the other hand, mainstream adoption of the new generation of VCs requires an immeasurable amount of computational power, infrastructure, trust, and resources. Simultaneously, with the increased awareness of crypto and blockchain, an increased awareness for new computational cryptographic techniques for distributed consensus networks has also developed. The outcome of a rush for anonymity, in relation to decentralization, has been an increased public availability of modern cryptographic software which can be used by cyber criminals and terrorists to enable more secure methods of communication. As pointed out by McAfee, mistakes are easy to make and without clear understanding of where the risks are, undue trust may be placed in blockchain implementations and crypto technology. For-profit motives will always fuel speculation, while investment at the expense of security will continue to exist regardless of the belief in the technology.

International Relations Review


India’s Agrarian Crisis: What You Want Isn’t Always What You Need by Mugdha Gurram

One of India’s greatest obstacles

for development has loomed quietly for quite some time. However, last year India’s agrarian crisis began to make itself known as farmers took to the streets to protest their work and living conditions. Blistered feet and heat fatigue have not been enough to quell the throng of protestors marching through India’s major cities. Many are bearing the hardships to decry circumstances they say are much more intolerable. The nation’s farmers have faced floods, droughts, debts, and poverty, but now they’re ready to face parliament. Over the course of 2017, farmers across India came together by the thousands to demand a three week special parliamentary session to discuss a course of action including better Minimum Support Prices (MSPs) and debt waivers.

Photo by Raina Kadavil

It’s a stark contrast to the image Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been projecting of India. With a booming IT industry, surging middle class, and increasing urbanization, India is quickly on its way to becoming a global superpower––much of which has been credited to Modi. But in his efforts to develop the country and keep pace with other BRICS nations, he’s ignored a significant area of India’s economy and his own constituents. Farmers and agricultural workers make up a significant voting block in India, with nearly 70 percent of the population dependent on the industry. Modi, realizing this, made them a cornerstone of his campaign in 2014, promising to double their incomes by 2020. And it worked. Almost half of all

landowning farmers voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014, pouring their hopes into a party that promised “good days are coming.” Distress among farmers can be traced further back than the Modi administration, but aspects of it, such as declining profits and debt, have worsened during his tenure. Although mounting debt and increasingly frequent climate catastrophes threaten one of India’ most important industries, the central government lacks a clear strategy in regards to agricultural policy and instead relies on shortterm solutions that ultimately allow the crisis to deteriorate further. The impact of the agricultural crisis extends beyond farmers at an individual level, to the point of making it a matter of national concern. As India’s

Spring 2019 agricultural industry deteriorates, it runs the risk of declining food security. In 2013, India was the seventh largest net-exporter of agricultural products. That year, agricultural exports totaled just over 39 billion USD. However, only five years later, that number nearly halved. Although the country has been able to reliably maintain its sovereignty in food production, population growth coupled with minimal growth in the agriculture industry could change that. Trends like this indicate a threat to the livelihood of over half the population, who depend on agricultural and allied industries. Thus, in a country where 80 percent of the poverty is located in rural areas, an agrarian crisis is inextricably tied to the nation’s development. The most popular solutions

35 amongst farmers and politicians alike are loan waivers and MSPs. From a farmer’s perspective, these options ease the overwhelming pressure from debt and decreasing profit margins, pressure that only increased after Modi’s own demonetization policy in November of 2016. In an effort to reduce corruption, the government abruptly invalidated 1000 and 500 rupee banknotes, which accounted for 86 percent of the currency in circulation. Although it was meant to force black money out of the government, it was the public who was forced to wait in the heat in long lines to exchange their notes. It ultimately cost 100 lives, at least 1.5 million jobs, and weeks of pay for 150 million people. Farmers and agricultural workers, most of whom are paid in cash, were hit particularly hard. Lost profits and jobs led more

and more to turn to loans. When the government loans proved to be too selective and withholding, many turned to private lenders with high interest rates. According to the Reserve Bank of India, regional rural banks loaned Rs 1329.67 billion for agricultural and related activities in 2015-16, compared to Rs 1.8 billion in 1980-81. Over half of India’s farming families owe some sort of debt. Now, two years and some change later, many are still dealing with the crippling debt incurred. Some, however, were no longer able to deal with it. Although the National Crimes and Records Bureau report that the rate of farmer suicides reached a low point in 2016, bankruptcy and debt continued to be leading causes, and it’s an issue that still dominates the conversation on the agrarian crisis. Protestors in

Photo by Madeline Van Heusden

International Relations Review

36 Tamil Nadu last year held human skulls in their hands and live mice in their mouths to call attention to the immense financial pressure on farmers that causes them to commit suicide. In this state of desperation, there is immense pressure to implement policies that provide immediate relief - namely loan waivers and MSPs. They are a solution the government has trotted out again and again to appease the cries of struggling farmers. Time and time again, they have failed to elicit long term benefits. In 2008, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) announced one of the largest farm loan waivers. Ten years later, farmers are taking to the streets to demand change yet again. Many state governments, from Madhya Pradesh to Maharashtra, have implemented similar aid programs aimed at supplementing farmer incomes. Most of these programs fail after a few years, bringing agricultural policy back to square one. This is largely because the central government has relied on short term band aid solutions over strategic agricultural investment. Agricultural investments have

declined by 3.5 percent yearly - the highest rate in three decades. While loan waivers and MSPs are useful for providing temporary relief, investing in these programs over and over again has not proven to be cost effective. In Maharashtra alone, loan waivers cost 370 billion rupees, or 5.23 million USD. Such investments are not sustainable in a repeated manner, especially in a country attempting to accelerate its development instead of merely managing a development crisis. The structural problems with India’s agriculture industry all culminate in a larger debt problem; loss of profits due to climate change, inadequate farming resources and unreliable market infrastructure all lead farmers to take out more loans. Because of this, agricultural policy focuses on loans. But addressing the loan crisis requires policy that addresses the reasons farmers turn to loans in the first place. One of the largest hurdles facing today’s farmers is the decreasing profits margins as a result of high input prices coupled with stagnant income levels. Incomes have not kept pace with inflation, and weak market infrastructure and lack

of agricultural resources in addition to this threaten the livelihood of farmers across the nation. Flaws in market infrastructure pose a significant obstacle to agriculture, but are largely ignored by agricultural policy. MSPs can only address such flaws on a small scale because in the face of a diversifying agricultural industry, price support mechanisms on individual crops cannot address the broad scope of agricultural endeavors. These mechanisms are only announced for two dozen crops a year, leaving farmers who cultivate crops not covered by MSPs vulnerable to income loss. Broadening the scope of MSPs leaves India vulnerable to violations of the World Trade Organization’s trade rules, a line they are already toeing dangerously with its budget deficit. Moreover, even the 24 MSPs already in place are difficult to enforce effectively - 94 percent of Indian farmers sell their produce below MSPs. India’s farming infrastructure also lags behind the advancements made in other nations’ agricultural industries, adding to the input cost. Lack of access to electricity, irrigation, storage, and market

Spring 2019 access all inhibit the growth of profit margins. Non irrigated farms make up 50 percent of all cropped area in India. 31 million homes, mostly in rural areas, still lack access to electricity; those with access do not always have guaranteed access throughout the day. Lack of proper farming resources leave farmers with no other choice but to resort to cost-ineffective practices. Shortcomings in infrastructure become more damaging in the face of climate change, one of the biggest threats facing Indian agriculture. Unpredictable climate events account for 15 to 18 percent of income loss for farmers but can account for 20-25 percent of loss in non irrigated areas. From droughts in Orissa to floods in Kerala, farmers are left picking up the pieces in the aftermath. Crops are lost, technology and resources are destroyed, and farms are left inoperable for periods of time. Increasing access to infrastructure such as the electrical grid and energy management resources help mitigate the effects of climate change and allows farmers to adapt to climate catastrophes and

37 minimize their losses. Current agricultural policy not only neglects elements of the crisis but also many of its victims. The agrarian crisis doesn’t affect farmers alone. Landless laborers suffer the same consequences of climate catastrophes and declining profit margins but receive none of the aid allotted for land owners. 94 percent of government subsidies are used by medium to large farm owners, leaving small farm owners and landless laborers without any sort of safety net, not even an inadequate one. Such policy disproportionately harms women, who account for 75 percent of the agricultural workforce but a considerably smaller proportion of farm owners. It also harms Dalits (previously known as “untouchables”) and tribal communities, who take care of land but lack formal title deeds and the rights and resources afforded by official ownership. Lack of ownership rights leaves tribal populations susceptible to displacement from mining and infrastructure projects that consume the land they live off of. These populations, however, are the most disenfranchised, and often lack the

representation needed to advocate for more inclusive agricultural policy. With election season coming into full swing, politicians on both sides are offering bandaid solutions. BJP’s opposition, the Indian National Congress, has already begun offering loan waivers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh to secure its control in these states. The BJP, too has increased offers of loan waivers, turning the situation into a hotbutton election issue solved by quick-gains solutions that translate well on the ballot box but not on the land. The band aid solutions may be enough to soothe an aching wound and buy enough time for politicians on both sides to battle it out and gain footing in important farming states. But unless it’s accompanied by strategical agricultural investment, the neglected aspects of the agrarian crisis in India will only continue to worsen as input prices continue to increase, infrastructure falls further behind and loan interest accumulates.

Photo by Madeline Van Heusden

Science & Sustainability


Photo by Natalie Carroll

Costa Rica’s 300 Day Renewable Energy Feat

Costa Rica’s 300 Day Renewable by Kaylin Ikeda GENOME

Climate,Environmental Culture, the Sami, Svalbard Activism and


by Caroline Koehl

He is God: An Analysis of the CRISPR Babies by Rachel Petherbridge

Climate, Culture, the Sami, and Svalbard by Damian Walsh



The International Relations Review

Costa Rica’s 300 Day Renewable Energy Feat by Kaylin Ikeda

Costa Rica runs on a myriad

consumption “is now at its lowest levels on historical record” and of resources: hydropower, “decreased 74% since 2006 and geothermal, wind, and solar fell 52% in 2016 alone”. Another energy. In 2017, Costa Rica made notable date was April 21, 2017 strides in the renewable energy where the United Kingdom’s industry when the country ran on grid manager noted the country 100% renewable energy for three successfully went through its “first hundred days, a feat no other full day without any use of coal country has achieved. They are since the Industrial Revolution”. “pioneering the future of running The UK is on the right path to on renewable energy” and could sustainable energy practices as potentially be a model for other the government pledged to close countries. The United Kingdom, all of the country’s remaining Netherlands, and Germany coal power plants by 2025. also set similar precedents; It is possible that Costa Rica for example, the United has been particularly successful Kingdom hopes to achieve compared to the United zero net emissions by 2050, Kingdom because the UK has the Netherlands is considering more prior damage and in order a similar goal, and Germany to reverse their detrimental aims to reduce emissions by emission rate, it might require approximately 95%. “politically unpopular steps In pursuit of clean like building giant carbon energy alternatives, the United sequestration facilities”. Also, Kingdom is “several steps closer primary carbon problems to becoming the first G7 country include, but are not limited to, to commit to net-zero carbon aviation, agriculture, biomass, emissions by midcentury”. In and transportation, which puts 2008, UK Parliament passed the United Kingdom and the the Climate Change Act which United States as the largest aims to reduce emissions “80% source of emissions. from 1990 levels by 2050” and The Netherlands created the Committee on also intends to step up their Climate Change. The Committee sustainability game, and “a on Climate Change is a panel coalition of seven Dutch political of experts who advise the parties recently unveiled a government and produce various climate policy proposal [...and] reports and assessments. As of if it becomes law, it will codify 2017, the UK’s carbon emissions the most stringent targets for were about “42% below 1990 greenhouse gas reductions of levels” which is almost halfway to any country in the world”. This their target goal for 2050. tough climate law aims at 49% Currently in the UK, coal

reduction in greenhouse gases relative to 1990 levels by 2030, 95% reduction by 2050, and 100% carbon neutral electricity by 2050. The Dutch might be successful since their proposal is supported by seven various political parties; such a proposal might have run into obstacles in a partisan, two-party system seen in the US. However, their proposition is nevertheless very ambitious. The Netherlands has good intentions, and if this law passes and is upheld, then they will be leaders in greenhouse gas reductions and will continue to push the European Union into generating similar practices. Germany, another country with a desire for environmentally friendly practices, aims to reduce their emissions through different benchmarks. For example, they want to cut greenhouse gas emissions “40 percent by 2020, 55 percent by 2030 and up to 95 percent in 2050, compared to 1990 levels”. Germany’s share of renewables in “gross final energy consumption is to rise to 60 percent by 2050,” and “renewables are to make up a minimum of 80 percent of the country’s gross power consumption by the middle of the century”. According to AG Energiebilanzen, “renewables accounted for 33.1% of gross power production in 2017” and most of the country’s renewable energy comes from


Spring 2019 wind, solar, and biomass. They have a relatively low share of hydropower compared to other countries. In the most recent years, Germany emission levels have not changed much; in fact, they even show a “slight emissions dip in 2017, mostly due to strong wind power feed”. As of June 2018, the government is aware that if Germany continues the way it does, it will miss its 2020 target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% compared to its 1990 levels. In order to try to attain their initial 2020 target, “the government instead decided on a capacity reserve for 2.7 gigawatt of brown coal plants which is designed to reduce CO2 emissions by 11 million tonnes to 12.5 million tonnes in 2020”. The rest of the reductions would come from other smaller changes such as incentives. Portugal also follows in Costa Rica’s footsteps on the road to renewable energy. The Sustainable Terrestrial System Association and the Portuguese Association of Renewable Energies noted that the country of Portugal was “fully covered by solar, wind, and hydro power” for a span of 107 hours between 6:45am and 5:45pm. Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the Wind Europe Trade Association, explained numerous trends similar to Portugal and Costa Rica’s throughout Europe. While these other countries have made some progress on their journey towards clean energy, Costa Rica is the first country to make such gargantuan strides as they invested early in renewable

energy resources and made renewable energy their priority in order to achieve sustainability. Due to this, Costa Rica “has [an] abundance of geothermal renewable sources” which account for most of their energy. Its largest clean energy source is hydropower, which makes up almost 78% of the country’s renewable energy. Costa Rica is also very successful in their environmentally sustainable

“Costa Rica has an abundance of geothermal renewable sources which account for most of its energy. Its largest clean energy source is hydropower, which makes up almost 78% of the country’s renewable energy.”

endeavor with their heavy rainfalls that power hydroelectric plants. Finally, their relatively small population and workforce, which is not manufacturingintensive, allows it to have a lower energy requirement compared to other countries. In regards to climate change policy and action, Costa Rica produced leaders that encouraged environmental

policies. Some of these leaders include José María Figueres, the former President that served on the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s Advisory Group on Climate Change and Energy, and Christiana Figueres, who “led the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change” that brought about the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. In 1994, Costa Rica “amended its constitution to include a right to a healthy environment for its citizens”. This constitutional amendment symbolizes the recognition that a sustainable environment is a necessity to mankind, and such a charter reveals the importance of a healthy environment. Passion as well as basic human rights propel such environmentally sustainable plans for Costa Rica which allow it to succeed, and hopefully this pattern continues into the future. Climate change policies hold strong to the values of many influential leaders which is also, in part, what played into the country’s successful feat. Costa Rica continues to focus on environmental sustainability in order to ensure its urgency. Recently, Costa Rica approved the building of “three 50 MW geothermal power plants costing $954 million”. In order to achieve this goal, the country plans on using their dozen volcanoes, five of which are still active. They also recently unveiled a “305.5 MW hydroelectric plant” that has the capacity to power “over half a million homes”. The sky appears to be the limit for this country as their aspirations hone in on their Photo by Isabella Celdon


fossil fuel and renewable energy goals. While Costa Rica’s actions thus far show promise, “all that glitters is not green” because while the country uses a combination of environmentally sustainable energy resources such as hydro, wind, and geothermal, it is still heavily dependent on gasoline. Due to its high dependence in the transportation sector, renewable energies are prevalent; however, they only account for “less than a quarter of the nation’s total energy use”. Oil consumption is still on the rise due to increased automobile popularity (in particular, cars powered by oil rather than electricity or fuel efficiency). Transportation makes up approximately two thirds of carbon emissions in Costa Rica, which is why their carbon neutrality goal is important since transportation is “one of the largest contributors to climate change”. While the Costa Rican government attempts to implement more incentives for alternative transportation methods, such as electric cars and public transportation, it is still difficult to create batteries that can outperform gasoline. Car demand continues to increase as their economy grows, and “in 2016, there were twice as many cars registered as babies Photo by Kaylin Ikeda

The International Relations Review born”. With more than sixty percent of the country commuting, this creates another opportunity for electrification; however, electric vehicles’ high cost is the primary deterrent, so the government is lifting electric vehicle taxes in order to encourage its people to purchase these types of vehicles and drive down costs. Approximately “22% of Costa Rica’s revenue comes from taxes on fossil fuels, mostly in transportation”; therefore, electric cars and the road to carbon neutrality could be bumpy and stifle funding, “further contributing to Costa Rica’s rising deficit”. This is an obstacle Costa Rica will need to think about and figure out how to overcome in order to reach their future target goals. However, Costa Rica still aims to be completely carbon neutral by 2021 after President Carlos Alvarado made the announcement their plan to become the first decarbonized country in the world. This means they will need to have “a new zero carbon footprint, which refers to achieving net zero carbon emissions by balancing a measured amount of carbon released with an equivalent amount sequestered or offset”. In theory, countries can be carbon neutral while still using fossil fuels if they offset their carbon emissions by planting trees, for example, or “funding conservation programs which aim to reduce the amount of carbon in the air”. While the country did take a step in the right direction in terms of banning fossil fuel use

by 2021, Costa Rica needs to, in the meantime, explicitly state what their version of decarbonization means. Costa Rica recently achieved its fourth consecutive year in a row generating most of its energy from renewable sources. In 2018, they produced “more than 98% of its electricity from renewable sources”. In the past years such as 2015, “it reached 98.99 percent; in 2016, it was 98.21 percent; and in 2017 it reached 99.67 percent”. Costa Rica is also at the forefront of geothermal energy and holds a leading role in the world for banning various plastics. Overall, these various goals and policies passed serve as an example to the rest of the world and remind people that environmental sustainability is achievable and very possible. Costa Rica is thriving and serving as a leader to the rest of the world, with other countries not too far behind, in terms of renewable energy practices. Thus far, no other country has been able to run solely on renewable energy for three hundred days, or anywhere near that number; however, the United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Germany are not too far behind. As the climate continues to change and the environment deteriorates, now more than ever, sustainable practices are crucial. May Costa Rica continue to make strides in environmental sustainability, and hopefully other countries will take note and follow in suit, because the smallest change can have the greatest impact especially if those small changes occur in countries across the globe.


Spring 2019

Environmental Activism and Repression by Caroline Koehl

Environmental issues are global

in their nature, and finding viable solutions for the future of the planet will take action from people around the world. This objective has proven difficult thus far as powerful actors including corporations, social elites, and governments have used political repression to halt environmental action that they deem unfavorable to their own interests. The repression of environmental activists is a pattern that has continued in many countries over time without signs of tapering, and it has pervaded in both domestic and international politics. The modern period of environmental concern began in the 1960s on a domestic level, and it expanded to an international scale with the United Nations’ first environmental conference in 1972. Environmental issues

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have only increased in number and intensity, and with them have emerged countless citizen advocacy groups concerned with protecting their right to a healthy environment. Environmental activism has always been a source of great contention worldwide, as the motives of such groups are often seen as directly harmful to the interests of the business and development communities. The tense balance between environment and development has only been exacerbated in recent years. The product of this tension in most cases is the eventual political repression of environmentalists by powerful groups interested in promoting economic development. These antienvironmental interests typically have the upper hand when it comes to conflicts of interest because they hold a great deal of power with governments and in society

at large. Such interests are often granted favor and even impunity because they can create financial growth, a key objective of most, if not all, world governments. While governments are, by definition, supposed to protect the rights, interests, and lives of their citizens, many governments currently promote pro-business platforms at any cost, even if it means harming their citizens through actions that promoting a narrative in which environmentalists are criminals. One example of this intentional harm to civilian groups comes from Honduras, a country widely considered to be one of the most dangerous for environmental activists. Since 2010, more than 120 environmental activists have been killed as a result of their actions and advocacies in Honduras, and these killings can be easily traced back to powerful political and business elites. The

The International Relations Review

44 danger of being an environmental advocate in Honduras is especially emphasized for indigenous people, some of the strongest and most numerous activists in this area. Indigenous Hondurans are often persecuted as a result of their ethnic identities already, and become increased targets as they raise their voices in favor of the environment. This was epitomized by the assassination of Berta CĂĄceres, a high profile indigenous environmental activist in Honduras who was in the midst of working to stop the construction of a hydroelectric dam with international financial backing. In November 2018, the Honduran National Criminal Court found 7 men guilty of her murder, and the trial illuminated the fact that they were hired to carry out the assassination by Desa, the company in charge of the dam. The fact that these men were prosecuted is promising in itself, but such action is a rarity. Most environment-

Photo by Hayato Nakamura

related crimes in Honduras are met with impunity as a result of the 2009 ousting of President Manuel Zelaya, which resulted in a string of right wing governments with unsettlingly lax legal enforcement in this area. The assassination of environmental activists is not a tactic prevalent only in Honduras. Latin America is cited as the most deadly region in the world for environmentalists, with numerous assassinations happening during recent years in Brazil, Colombia, and beyond. Other parts of the world are guilty, too: In 2016 alone, 200 activists were killed around the world with twentyeight of these deaths taking place in the Philippines and sixteen in India. The frequency of these assassinations has increased in recent years, signaling the fact that anti-environmental interests are growing stronger and more immune to consequences globally. In India, the assassination of environmental activists is of

little concern to social and political elites. The larger concern in India surrounds the activity of the national police force. Currently, the Modi administration’s main concern for India is spreading development and economic growth, a priority which in itself is not inherently bad. However, this goal has led to an uprise in police brutality against environmental demonstrators. Of the recorded killings of environmentalists in India, a significant portion of them occurred at the hands of the police during protests or public demonstrations. This type of repression creates significant danger for those wishing to protect the environment, and it strips Indian citizens of some of their most fundamental human rights. The killings in these areas are reflective of similar power imbalances in their respective societies. In such societies where the murder of environmentalists occur, the offending parties are often granted immunity. Activists

Spring 2019 themselves are presented by the government or the party in power as the true offenders, thereby delegitimizing their causes to society at large. It is difficult to trace many of these murders back to their original perpetrators because of the impunity given to them which leads to a lack of official information, but there is solid evidence that links police, governmental, and elite private actors to many recorded killings. These global elites do not limit their attempts to repress environmentalists to assassination; they also repress activist voices through a variety of other tactics. One current example of a nondeadly repressive tactic can be found in Poland. While en route to the 2018 United Nations climate conference taking place in Katowice, Poland, fourteen civil society climate activists were detained and deported from the country. These deportations were justified by the Polish government by a new law passed leading up to the conference which bans unplanned protests and allows the Polish government to gather intel on private citizens attending this conference and others like it. This law and others like it not only violate civilians’ privacy, but it also takes away their ability to make their voices heard on an issue which affects them deeply. This creates a very unbalanced and elitist narrative on environmental issues throughout the world by stifling the voices of average citizens who happen to be dissenting from the wants and needs of elite groups. Another example is Russia, where the government requires all non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents. In Russia, this term is synonymous with

45 threat, applied in the past to spies and treasonous actors, and this is a devastating blow to the legitimacy of these organizations in the public eye. Russia, interested in promoting the use of fossil fuels, actively works against these environmental organizations by disparaging them in the state controlled media all while denying them a proper outlet to promote their message directly to the public. Attacks on reputation prevent civil discourse on environmental issues in Russia, which leaves the public uninformed about issues that affect them. These forms of repression, while certainly not as deadly, are just as effective at fulfilling the mission of silencing those wishing to protect the environment from anthropogenic harms. Environmental activists around the world are silenced through imprisonment, deportation, and other legal forces. These tactics also leave the public woefully unaware of both the magnitude and gravity of environmental issues facing the world because the information is either discredited by a respected organization like the government or it never even reaches the public. Furthermore, these forms of repression are all too common in a multitude of countries, including highly developed ones. It is often assumed that more developed countries with solid legal foundations and civil liberties give such activists the capacity to make true change, but this is a highly idealized representation of the current balance of power. The United States itself is assumed to be one such country in which environmental defenders are safe from political persecution and silencing campaigns, but that is not necessarily true. In the

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The International Relations Review

46 midst of the building process of the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, protests broke out near the Standing Rock Reservation over the threat the pipeline caused to the clean water for the reservation and to the nearby ancient burial ground. Throughout these protests, the pipeline developers hired a private security firm which used several repressive tactics, including one occasion when they deployed pepper spray and guard dogs to attack unarmed protestors. In every phase of the planning and construction of the pipeline, the indigenous people and environmentalists opposing the pipeline remained shut out from key information, and their voices remained unheard. This instance demonstrates the pervasiveness of such repression, as it can, and does, occur even in places which appear to protect the rights to free expression and political participation. This repression has also taken many forms, all of which violate human rights, making this

an international human rights issue in addition to environmental. While the repression of environmental defenders is clearly a pattern at the domestic level, it is also a reality at the international level. Because most, if not all, countries prioritize business and development very highly, they turn to the resources of development banks and multinational corporations in order to promote economic growth. These powerful groups are often interested in projects and activities which have negative externalities on the environment, and they are almost always allowed to carry it out with little to no regard to environmental impact. Furthermore, they are not only allowed to carry out these projects but also enabled or even assisted by governments in the repression of citizens who speak out against these projects as illustrated in the such examples. The international nature of this issue in which numerous governments and organizations

from all over the world become entangled in the political repression of environmentalists is indicative of a larger, systemic issue. This issue should be considered as a widespread human rights crisis, as political repression in this one area is likely symptomatic of a larger issue surrounding repression and the rights of citizens. Clearly, the existing infrastructure constructed to protect the human rights to freedom of expression and demonstration as well as the right to a healthy environment is not equipped to take on this gargantuan challenge. Thus these rights are directly threatened. Without significant domestic and international changes in the mechanisms used to protect both the environment and the rights of activists, this is an issue which will only get worse over time.

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Spring 2019

47 Photo by Natalie Carroll

He is God: An Analysis of the CRISPR Babies by Rachel Petherbridge

On November 26th, 2018,

genetic diseases in the absence of other treatment options. Many of the organizers of the Second the speakers at these conferences International Summit on Human would go on to say that there were Genome Editing were preparing for still too many questions left to its start in Hong Kong. The second answer. Discussions were planned summit was meant to continue a around the ethical and religious global dialogue around human perspectives of human embryo genome editing that had begun editing, and a panel on needed and with the first summit in 2015. The current governmental actions with goal of this dialogue was to analyze representatives from seven different the risks and benefits of new countries was expected to meet. advancements in genome editing These talks would be substantial and their subsequent applications. and help guide researchers in There would be much to discuss, this “Brave New World” of including major advancements biotechnology. However, for one in treatments for blood disorders, research project, the deliberations immunodeficiency diseases, and from this conference would come muscular dystrophy, which involve too late, because on November the alteration of human cells, and 26th, 2018, a Chinese researcher were quickly moving into clinical scheduled to speak at the summit trials. Talks were planned to revealed to an organizer that he consider the imminent possibility had already genetically engineered of human embryo editing to treat human embryos and had achieved

a live birth: the world’s first instance of genetically engineered humans. The Science Behind He’s Work The Chinese researcher in question is Dr. Jiankui He, who explained in his talk, which was now held separately from those of the other speakers, that he had used CRISPR-Cas9, a powerful gene-editing tool, to alter the CCR5 gene in the two embryos that would eventually become twin girls born sometime in October 2018. CRISPR-Cas9, derived from the immune systems of some bacteria, allows scientists to precisely edit a cell’s DNA at a certain location. The tool is made of two parts: a protein (Cas9), and a guiding sequence made of RNA, a single-stranded version of DNA (gRNA or crRNA). The

The International Relations Review

48 Photo by Natalie Carroll

gRNA acts as a “locator” for the gRNA-Cas9 complex, guiding the molecular tool to a specific site in a cell’s genome. There, the Cas9 cuts the DNA like a pair of scissors, and natural cellular repair mechanisms are activated to repair the damage. Scientists can provide the cell with new, potentially altered DNA to use as a template to repair the damage, leading to a genetically engineered cell. The power of CRISPR-Cas9 is derived from its ease of use while other gene-editing tools are non-specific, meaning that they affect numerous sites (e.g. restriction enzymes) or are difficult to engineer to target a different genomic sequence (e.g. TALENs and Zinc Finger Nucleases). The CRISPR-Cas9 system allows a scientist to easily target almost any 20 base pair sequence (think of it as an address) in the genome with few restrictions. This technology has been implemented widely in new gene therapies, with CRISPR-Cas9 based cancer immunotherapies and treatments for blood disorders currently in clinical trials. It has also been used extensively in foundational research investigating embryonic development in

humans and in 2015, a group of Chinese scientists became the first to engineer a (nonviable) human embryo. Dr. He took this work, and like many others, built upon it. Before implanting the two genetically engineered embryos that would become Lulu and Nana, He reported that his lab had conducted experiments in a number of model organisms, including mice, monkeys, human embryonic stem cells, and cultured human embryos to disable the CCR5 gene, which controls the ability of HIV to enter and infect a cell. Disabled versions of the gene can provide resistance to HIV, but have also been shown to increase susceptibility to West Nile Virus and Hepatitis C, and increase the chance of developing Diabetes Type I. Further, CRISPR-Cas9 is relatively tolerant of mismatches, which means that the gRNACas9 complex could potentially be directed to an address that is incorrect by one or two base pairs leading to DNA cuts and repair at “off-target” sites. Such offtarget effects would be considered unwanted mutations, and would potentially deleterious to the cell.

International Response The announcement of Nana and Lulu’s birth was followed by a swift condemnation, even by some of the developers of the original CRISPR-Cas9 technology. One of the more moderate voices in response to the experiment was that of Dr. George Church of Harvard University, a renowned geneticist whose lab worked to develop CRISPR-Cas9. Dr. Church noted that the attempt could be considered “justified.” In a subsequent interview, Church summarized the situation by wondering whether Nana and Lulu would be analogous to Jesse Gelsinger, an 18-year old patient who died in one of the first gene therapy human trials, an event that set the field back decades, or Louise Brown, the first baby to be born via IVF, an event that was extraordinarily controversial at the time but is now common practice. Most other responses were not so moderate. In China, over 120 HIV researchers published an article in The Lancet criticizing any current work in human embryos meant for implantation, and Dr. He’s choice in targeting

Spring 2019 the CCR5 gene, which is only one known cofactor for HIV infection. The university at which Dr. He was employed at the time released a statement denying any knowledge of his work and calling for an immediate investigation by authorities. The Chinese Vice-Minister for Science and Technology further decried the work, calling it “shocking and unacceptable” and demanding an immediate suspension of the work. As the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing would also conclude, the technology was not yet advanced enough to genetically engineer embryos meant to be implanted. This conclusion reflects the consensus of the broader global scientific community. The global scientific consensus on human germline editing (the editing of embryos, sperm, or eggs) is broadly reflected in the policies and cultural norms of most countries. In the United States, for example, scientific research on viable human embryos is heavily restricted by legislation banning the use of federal funding on such projects. Furthermore, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

49 (FDA) is prohibited from using its resources to even consider an application for a clinical trial involving human germline editing. Meanwhile in Europe, twenty nine nations ratified provisions of the Oviedo Convention, which only allows for genetic engineering for “preventative, diagnostic or therapeutic purposes” and never allows for genetic engineering to alter the genetic makeup of descendants. In China, where He went forward with his experiment the regulatory framework for Artificial Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) bans human germline research for reproductive applications. The collective direction of these policies was reflected at the first International Summit on Human Genome Editing in 2015, where leaders from science and medicine from the U.S., U.K. and China agreed that it was unethical to proceed with clinical trials involving human germline editing until the safety and efficacy issues were addressed, and there was broad societal consensus on the proposed applications. Given that most developed countries have outright banned

human germline editing for reproductive use, including China, how could Dr. He proceed with his research and actually implant genetically modified human embryos without the knowledge of the associated university and the Chinese government? The answer is deceptively simple: disorganization of regulatory implementation and ambiguity in guidelines. Firstly, human germline editing is “banned by guidelines” in China, without being “banned by legislation,” meaning the government imposed the ban as part of a regulatory package that can be interpreted and implemented differently by different local ministries. Further, oversight of human medical research in general is split among numerous governmental departments and agencies, creating overlaps in jurisdiction and problems with coordination. In general, direct oversight of research is performed by local ministries, whose guidelines are more detailed but carry less authority and fewer penalties than laws enacted by the National People’s Congress. This ambiguity and lack of authority may have contributed to the

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The International Relations Review

50 environment that allowed Dr. He to continue his work. The Lancet article signed by over 120 Chinese HIV researchers called out the ineffective Chinese regulatory bodies and urged for “renewed and enhanced” efforts in the regulation of human genome editing, as well as that individuals who violate these regulations be held accountable. Their wish seems to have come true. On January 21, 2019, an initial investigation concluded that Dr. He and his associates were guilty of “seriously violat[ing]” state regulations, and are likely to face criminal charges; however, with the ambiguity of the Chinese system, it is unclear which specific laws He is accused of breaking. Dr. He was also removed from his post at his university, which ended all of his research and teaching activities there. Most startling, however, was both the verification of the twin girls’ birth (it had been unverified since the initial announcement, as no peer-reviewed scientific paper was published regarding the trial), and the confirmation of another pregnancy with a genetically engineered fetus. Clearly, this rollercoaster isn’t over yet.

scientist, one of the most upsetting aspects is the knowledge that one of our own committed such an ethical travesty, and even more devastating is the possibility that this may have been done with the best intentions. On November 25, 2018, Dr. He released a series on videos on YouTube, explaining his research and the motivation for genetically engineering human embryos. He pointed out that in China, people may be fired from their jobs or denied health care for revealing their HIV+ status; he justified his work in making the children of HIV+ fathers immune to HIV as saving them from a similar fate, despite the fact the possibility of HIV transmission to offspring can be made almost negligible through other measures besides gene-editing. Nevertheless, his YouTube videos demonstrate his passion for his work, calling into question the Chinese government’s assessment that Dr. He had pursued the research for “personal fame and fortune.”

The comments on the video show how split public opinion is, with comments such as “Keep up the great work!” appearing next to “You just opened Pandora’s box on behalf of the entire human race.” Dr. He also seems willing to allow such comments to define his legacy, saying in an interview with AP News that “Society will decide what to do next” in terms of allowing or banning his research. In the United States, his clinical trial would have never been tolerated, but in China, the lax regulatory environment failed to stop him before what seems to be his optimistic naivety carried him too far. With the best of intentions, it may be China’s regulatory system that failed the scientific community, rather than the actions of one lone, passionate scientist. Nevertheless, Dr. He has now opened the Pandora’s Box of human germline editing, and the world must prematurely contend with the consequences.

Pandora’s Box, Opened Many components of this fiasco are upsetting: the future for these twin girls with potentially negative health implications from off-target CRISPR-Cas9 cutting, the implications of this experiment on future research globally, the mirror we have to hold up as we ask ourselves if we’re ready for this brave new world. From the point of view of a Photo by Natalie Carroll

Spring 2019


Climate, Culture, the Sami, and Svalbard by Damian Walsh

It seems as though the global climate crisis worsens every day and, despite the hand-wringing of activists and scientists, the actual toll of climate change goes unnoticed until it is too late. So often, it is challenging to quantify the human and cultural cost of global climate change. However, the immediate impacts of climate change do in fact affect human lives on a day-to-day basis. Low-lying islands like Kiribati are flooding due to rising sea levels, extreme weather events have increased in

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frequency across the globe, and up to half of the species in the most biodiverse parts of the world are projected to be extinct by the end of the century. There’s a desensitizing effect in how often the findings of climate research demonstrate the need to alter humanity’s course, and due to the cautious nature of the scientific method, even the dire reports may be understating reality. Such understatement of the issues at hand is especially evident in and around the Arctic

circle. Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago and one of the north-most inhabited areas on Earth, is a perfect vignette of the unexpected effects of climate change on human cultural groups and the environment in which they exist. North of Norway, and roughly the size of West Virginia, Svalbard is home to approximately 2,667 people. Its snow-covered forests and glacial mountains have become a veritable destination for researchers and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Nestled among the ice, and


The International Relations Review shielded from much of the world’s geopolitical strife, the Global Seed Vault preserves the genetic diversity of crops for conceivably centuries to come. Unfortunately though, this proverbial insurance policy may be imperiled due to climate change. One of the primary safeguards of the Vault is the layer of permafrost that extends deep into the mountain in which it is located. The logic in this is that, in the event of a catastrophic power failure, the Vault could generate a natural freezing effect to sustain the seeds. Changing climate has caused the permafrost to start to melt, which represents a significant threat to not only the Vault, but to the global climate as a whole. To put this into context, much of Earth’s permafrost originated during the Pleistocene Epoch which ended approximately 11,700 years ago– trapping massive amounts of carbon dioxide and methane in the ground with it. As the permafrost melts, those gasses will be released, and further contribute to the change of global climate. The melting permafrost has already caused flooding in the Vault, and

although reasonable measures can be used to remedy this issue, the wider implications are unsettling – especially considering that the release of these gasses will compound the problems created by the global climate crisis. Further south, in northern Scandinavia, the cultural effects of the shifting climate are perhaps most palpable with a small indigenous minority called the Sami. The Sami people inhabit the northern reaches of Norway, Finland, Sweden, and the Kola peninsula of Russia. Archaeological evidence suggests that the Sami have lived in the region for the past 13,000 years. During that time, they remained generally culturally isolated, and their contact with Viking groups during the 8th century or other outsiders since then has been generally scant. In Norway, for instance, the Sami have an autonomous assembly similar to that of Svalbard that governs their affairs. The Sami have maintained traditional lifestyles, ranging from hunter-gatherer to reindeer herders. Reindeer are especially important to the viability of many

Sami lives: though some polar populations of reindeer have increased due to new vegetation in polar regions, global reindeer populations have fallen more than 50 percent in the past two decades according to a recent BBC report. As the climate continues to change, the already small populations of the Sami, who have also had to contend with discrimination and political strife, will continue to dwindle. According to Finland’s Environmental Institute, “In Northern Finland, climate change progresses faster than in the south. By 2040, the temperature is expected to rise by two degrees in Finland in comparison to the end of the 20th century.” This means that the effects of climate change on the Sami will be disproportionate, given that much of their cultural home is along the northern Scandinavian coast. Two degrees Celsius, often referred to as an ecological red line, could dramatically alter the migration patterns of animals in Finland. This would, in turn, further disrupt coastal Sami communities. Culturally, this will have negative effects on the


Spring 2019 reindeer husbandry practices of the Sami that have historically been a large part of their identity. Should these changes destroy the Sami’s remaining traditions, even more members of the their population will be forced to assimilate to more urbanized civilization in search of sustainable jobs, resulting in significant disruption of the Sami economy. The Sami are accustomed to traditional means of subsistence-style livelihood that depend specifically upon reindeer husbandry, fishing, and craftsmanship, which are all indelibly connected to the environment and remain under threat as long as sufficient measures are not taken to combat climate change. To mitigate the effects of the climate crisis, many Scandinavian countries have planned measures that will dramatically reduce their contribution to the rising global temperatures. Nevertheless, a few relatively small contributors cannot change the course of global climate change. Altering, or potentially reversing the outcome of greenhouse gas-driven climate change will require the

coordination of the international community as a whole to reduce emissions to ecologically sustainable levels and sequester other potent greenhouse gasses. Otherwise, the cultural detriments of climate change will not be exclusive to small coastal communities. Current flooding in the Arctic Circle will also ultimately affect drought patterns in arid places around the world. The interconnectedness of the effects of climate change cannot be overstated. Moreover, new evidence suggests that previous estimates regarding the action needed to mitigate the effects of climate change were far too conservative. As polar ice sheets in places like Svalbard and Greenland reach critical status, they will not only contribute to rising sea levels, but will also give release the potent greenhouse gasses frozen inside, similar to permafrost. New research from Princeton University suggests that with every degree that the global temperature increases, the amount of methane produced by microorganisms will increase several times over. That is to say that one of the primary effects of climate change is to further instigate greenhouse emissions,

creating a positive feedback cycle that will continue to exacerbate climate change exponentially. The climate crisis, along with other human pressures, is driving the world to an extinction event. Though it may not be a meteorite or super-volcanic eruption that is the cause of the mass extinction, the effects will not only be equally devastating but also self-inflicted if proper action is not taken to ensure the reversal of climate change. According to the WWF, “Overall the research shows that the best way to protect against species loss is to keep global temperature rise as low as possible.� If humanity is unable to prevent the loss of species and minimize the dramatic rise of temperatures, it will not just be the Sami who are forced to abandon their learned lifestyles: there will be adverse effects on global human culture far beyond a place as secluded as the Arctic Circle.

Photo by Raina Kadavil



Photo by Natalie Carroll

Shirking Solidarity in Poland by Christopher Brown

Wir haben das geschaffen: Germany Exits the Mediterranean Migration Crisis by Desmond Molloy

A Nuclear Disaster: The Return of Sanctions on Iran by Samira Jafar

The Changing Geopolitical Landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean by Anna Maeve Ellis



Shirking Solidarity in Poland

The International Relations Review

by Christopher Brown

Photo by Karolina Kenney

In the European Union (EU), common values and solidarity are at odds with one another. The last few waves of EU expansion have raised questions centered around the EU’s identity and ability to welcome new members into Western society. Given that the European Union’s core values, as of the 2008 Lisbon Treaty, include “respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities”, the democratic status of its most recently welcomed members is clearly of the utmost importance. Countries such as Poland have all but rejected many of the values that the EU has tried to impose on it, with struggles surrounding the rule of law and media freedom causing

heated debate in recent years. The literature on political institutions tends to agree that Poland, alongside Central and Eastern European (CEE) members, has not followed the same democratic path of the West. One of the key factors which sets the entire Eastern European region apart from Western democracies is the development of domestic civil society. Interest groups in these countries tend to be much more pluralist than expected, and carry over much less of the regional particularities that should be expected of them in a consensus system. An important factor when it comes to the role of interest groups in a state is its civil society, or its “non-governmental and notfor-profit organizations that have a

presence in public life, expressing the interests and values of their members or others, based on ethical, cultural, political, scientific, religious or philanthropic (cont.) considerations”. The actions of civil society play a key role in the democratization process. Research suggests the existence of a relationship between the capacity of Eastern European states’ civil society and the development of democratic political and economic systems, and furthermore, a relationship between the defense of these institutions from state capture and the disruption of authoritarianism in said states. Given Poland’s history with civil society and labor union power through the Solidarity movement, Poland should have been identified as an opportunity for the EU to


Spring 2019 The principles outlined within PHARE refer exclusively to government capacities and did not initially mention CSOs in its outline. These programmes were large, devoting over 3.5 billion ECU to the items included. This investment was undercut by a lack of preparation on the part of CEE governments. In 1999, Poland received 178 million ECU in funding as opposed to a possible 212 million as a result of bad preparation for projects and inadequate usage of previous years’ funds. Meanwhile, the percentage of the budget devoted to CSO development remained low, resting at only 1% to 2% of the total budget. Over time, policymakers overseeing the programme made it their objective to decentralize its funding structure and give more power to member states when it comes to fund allocation. There are a few key takeaways from this program’s structure. The first is that foreign aid and assistance to local governance structures and CSOs was put off for too long in Poland. Rather, the EU was preoccupied with the restructuring of the economy, allowing foreign donors to lead the funding efforts for CSOs. The second is that this budget likely impacted the development of CSOs during the early years of transition, rather than the simple parapoliticalto-political model of transition referenced earlier. The EU thus, rather than encouraging CSOs to retain membership with a meek 1% of its budget towards the region, decided to thrust forward 98-99% of its budget to support regulatory shifts, governmental restructuring, and the empowerment and centralization of authority in the hands of local governments in such a way that actually hindered the

development of CSOs. Meanwhile, the leadership of the opposition, upon seeing the money offered to them to act out the reforms that they had once desired in terms of their original “cardinal theses”, used these funds to catalyze economic restructuring. Exchanges like the

“Foreign aid and assistance to local governance...was put off too long in Poland.” above were what allowed for European expansion to take the course that it did, and likely would not have taken place if the EU’s institutions were not so predominantly market-focused at the time. More recent studies on the EU’s funding of civil society demonstrate that it pushes for a result which is far from optimal, and it is institutionally designed in such a way that hinders the balance of Polish CSOs. For a start, the EU actually is less likely to fund CSOs in CEE countries than it is to fund those based in well-established Western democracies. Rather than giving the most attention to the squeakiest wheel, it would appear that the EU’s approach is to only give attention to the wheels which are already wellattached to the Franco-German motor. This phenomenon, referred to by Glinski as “Discrimination via Europeanization” endures through funding preferences based on the quality of the CSO, its size, ability, and nature. The process of receiving

European funding is technocratic in its own right, and has a selection process which changes the playing field for CSOs. Only 12% of Polish CSOs that applied for funding ever managed to successfully receive it. This implies that the processes necessary to obtain funding hinder smaller NGOs which are either unaware of EU funding opportunities or unable to take the time to obtain them. The EU is also more likely to fund groups registered within their CONECCS database system, which is typically limited to the most adept interest groups who are best at navigating the technocracy. These scenarios highlight that the EU funding system is based on a process of choosing winners and losers in the “market” of CSOs demanding EU funding, either passively through the barriers imposed by the application process, or actively through choosing the best-connected applicants who use the CONECCS database. The EU’s funding is also often directed towards organizations meant to promote “Civic Dialogue”, such as think tanks and larger foundations meant to host large events which have weaker results for development of civil society as a whole. These sorts of organizations, although they may appear benign in name, are intrinsically related to the centralization of local power during Poland’s regional reforms. Local forms of government gained power during the transition. The EU, in funding think tanks and foundations that take part in “Civic Dialogue”, is inadvertently funding organizations whose aim is to empower local governments even further. This is, again, a result of systemic path-dependency in areas which aren’t explicitly pursued by EU policymakers. Since CSOs

58 systemic path-dependency in areas which aren’t explicitly pursued by EU policymakers. Since CSOs represent such a small portion of the dedicated funding to regional development in the CEE, the European Commission has no reason to find any different rationale for funding because of the nuances and roles of such organizations. On the dimension of types of activism, the Polish public and the European Commission have very different views of civil participation. To characterize modern Poland’s participatory capacity, it has lagged behind that of the other four Visegrad countries. Of these states, Poland now has the least CSO membership at 29.1% and the second-toleast volunteering at 18.1%. Interestingly enough, however, increasing general political participation in CEE countries does not necessarily improve the liberty of their democracies. Rather, it can be shown to demonstrate an inverse relation, where increased participation overall can actually lead to an overrepresentation of the interests of the majority, thus hindering civil liberties

The International Relations Review development. The above conclusion provides for quite a few ironic twists: the Polish population, while it might not be bound to civil society and civically engaging, still demonstrates a sense of local, neighbourly responsibility in villages and towns, and through religious institutions. One might expect that, if the EU were to fund locally-sourced NGOs and CSOs which fostered activity on the part of these “good neighbors,” that membership and activity could go up significantly. As such, the EU, in refusing to foster increased membership on a general level, is actually somehow protecting civil liberties in Poland. On the other hand, there are negatives to the current state of affairs in Poland’s local structures, whose lack of civic structure is typicized by an overreliance on a “romantic-egalitarian model of of activity” which easily devolves into “clientelism”. Another important dimension civil society that is out of step with EU investment is social movements. The percentage of the Polish population that takes part in social movements, such as ecological/environmental

campaigns, subculture movements, or para-political activities flounders at only around 0.2 to 0.3%. The organizations that have the least membership and participation have the highest amounts of funding, with environmental organizations receiving 80% more funding than the average and consumer groups receiving even more. Another angle of social movements which appear to have been left behind are identitarian ones. Some of the rarest forms of actual protest and activism occurring in Poland are those dedicated to “the formation of new identities (ethnic, gender, sexual, religious etc.)”, and these forms of protest actually became less popular as time passed. While this sort of funding from the EU could be considered beneficial to the growth of this area, the correlation of funding to these sorts of groups is limited to environmental groups, and the environmental groups that the EU engages with, as demonstrated earlier, are less likely to be socially-oriented, and more dedicated to internal groupto-group meetings and organizing with leaders. This is not necessarily an example of the EU prioritizing


Fall 2018 the most successful organizations in terms of membership or size, but it does show a clear distinction between EU values in CSOs and Polish decisions about them. Fringe social movements, as described above, have also gained a transnational character. The forced adoption of legal regulations on CSOs during the accession process led to increased transnationalization of social causes. The EU is also most likely to fund groups that are organized nationally and internationally, and much less apt to fund smaller, regional bodies. Transnationalization and internationalization of social causes, although they may on the one hand promote a greater sense of unity between underrepresented groups and the EU, on the other, they also have the potential to label these movements as being more “foreign” or “forced” by the EU. When these groups are confronted with the drive and high membership of new, xenophobic organizations, they have little political maneuverability. Furthermore, given the strength of local beliefs in neighborliness and well-being across Poland, the

funding of such fringe groups with low membership and a higher degree of politicization paints such groups as members of an EU elite in the eyes of the general public, and given the adversarial character of fringe social movements ,reinforces the rift between minority voices and the majority, who seem to have found their voice in xenophobic overtones. The core relationships to be observed in this paper are those between the European Commission and civil society, and between the transition’s leadership and its funding. The European Commission’s role is that of an “activist bureaucracy”, and in this role, it empowers CSOs to participate in dialogues and provide it with reciprocal expertise. Based on this transactional view of civil society, the European Commission operates with goals which revolve around building infrastructure, or revolve around strengthening civil liberties, with the constant objective being one of information exchange. It does not serve the NGOs who cannot provide information or plans or documents and receipts

detailing how their activities would optimize the EU’s funding. This being said, Poland’s CSOs have made some positive progress. Glinski’s study offers perspectives on areas where organization has been effective, and cites the binding of cultural tradition to local grassroots programs, and also suggests that EU funds are slowly beginning to do some good in these communities. Considering that some of his sources estimated that the formation of a functioning CSO culture in Poland could take up to 60 years, this is a relatively positive stance. However, until the European Commission can recognise some of its institutional biases and find ways to adjust for them, only then can Polish CSOs be more equitably developed.

Photo by Rebecca Geovanetti


The International Relations Review

Wir haben das geschaffen: Germany Exits the Mediterranean Migration Crisis by Desmond Molloy

It was less of a proud proclamation and more of a grim acceptance of the fact that the concept of closed borders conflicts with Germany’s democratic values. In the summer of 2015, German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that her country would temporarily open its borders to asylum-seekers, relieving the considerable pressure on both southern European and Middle Eastern host countries. This resulted in one of the biggest influxes of human beings in German history, with approximately 1 million asylum-seekers entering the country during this period. Wir schaffen das was not well received; the right-wing populists of Alternative for Germany (AfD, or Alternatif fur Deutschland) mocked the phrase as a symbol of surrender and gained popularity in the polls by attacking the policy. Merkel never said it in public again.

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The next two years suggested that she had made a mistake: hysteria over immigration launched populist parties such as France’s National Front and the Italian Five Star Movement into parliaments across Europe, and contributed to the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom. In 2017, Merkel suffered a setback when the AfD entered parliament after federal elections, breaking the taboo against any party to the right of her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) holding power in Germany. The country’s politics seemed on the verge of collapse. Interestingly enough, last December, Wir schaffen das came back to life. In an interview to the Augsberger Allgemeiner, business federation president Ingo Kramer said that Merkel had been right— and that Germany had done it. Of the one million people who arrived,

approximately 400,000 were already in full-time job training or employment, while the youngest arrivals have integrated into the public education system, a separate category. Reports indicate that, of the mainly Syrian asylum-seekers eligible for full time employment, most had done very well: within a year of arrival, most had learned enough German to enter full-time work or training conducted in the language. To be clear, asylumseekers do remain disadvantaged relative to native-born Germans, with a report from Radio Television Suisse indicating that the “class of 2015” were frequently employed in low-paying work such as grocery clerking. Nevertheless, most are in jobs paying into Germany’s strong social safety net, giving them the security that many fled their homes seeking. Their presence in Germany

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Spring 2019 means they are also meeting the country’s need for new people. Western Europe’s overall fertility rate has dipped perilously low, making it difficult for a shrinking population to support social security and infrastructure systems built with larger, previous generations in mind. The problem is especially pronounced in the former East Germany and in Ruhr-Rhine Valley, the heartland of Germany’s vaunted manufacturing economy. Ironically, Syrians’ relatively smooth integration into German life has coincided with the AfD’s fall from grace. The party has found out the hard way that even the hint of is still deeply repulsive to other German parties. Despite being named the official opposition in the Bundestag, the AfD commands an outright majority in only three constituencies, all in the eastern state of Sachsen. The party also remains weak at the state level, a major handicap in decentralised Germany. The AfD gained seats in most of the states that held elections in 2017, but was unable to enter governing coalitions in any of them (GRAPH). Nor were they the only beneficiaries of the weakening centre: Die Linke and the Greens, both fiercely opposed to AfD’s rightwing platform, surged in western Germany, and commanded a larger combined share of the overall vote (GRAPH: Percent changes for all parties). Further, as elections for the European Parliament approach, AfD has chosen to walk an increasingly perilous path. At its convention this month, the party membership endorsed “Dexit” (Deutschland-Exit) from the European Union(ZEIT ONLINE, 2019) . Apart from the United Kingdom, few parties have profited from outright Euroscepticism: the

French National Front abandoned its “Frexit” policy after losing the country’s last presidential election, and successful populists such as Austria’s Sebastian Kurz have talked about reforming, rather than scrapping, the EU. AfD also runs the risk of legal trouble. Since the Second World War, the German government has had the power to ban membership in parties that pose an existential threat to democracy and public order(Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz, 2014) .


schaffen das was not well received” Thus far, the AfD has avoided being categorised as a threat, which would leave them unable to hold federal seats. A campaign for “Dexit” would make this difficult. In advocating for quitting the EU, British and French Eurosceptics have warned that the for an end to freedom of movement, and a revitalisation of national sovereignty. In a German context, such messages can easily echo National Socialist propaganda, and while the British National Party and the Front National have faced criticism for parroting far-right propaganda, the AfD could find itself in trouble with the police for making the same mistakes. Such legal contentions however, may not even be necessary to knock the party off kilter. Before the European migration crisis, the AfD was one of Germany’s weakest parties.

The crisis has since subsided, and Germany is unlikely to accept such a broad influx of refugees in the near future. Since the migration crisis peaked in the summer of 2015, the EU has adopted a series of policies designed to keep asylum-seekers from crossing into Europe(Eaton & Melly, 2017), including a series of payments to “border states” such as Libya and Turkey. The EU has faced considerable criticism from human rights NGOs: conditions in Libyan, Turkish and even Greek migrant camps are often appalling. Chatham House, one of the U.K.’s leading think tanks, has cautioned that throwing up barriers will not permanently prevent migrants from finding their way to European shores. However, in the short term, the flow of Syrians, Afghans and Africans across the Mediterranean has begun to diminish. This has profound ramifications for AfD. If the party could only manage 12.6% of the vote on the back of 1 million new arrivals, its long-term future in German politics is uncertain at best. Of course, the tide could shift in their favour; should the party win seats in the European Parliament this spring, or become the largest party in Saxony’s state legislature, it will regain momentum and media attention. A second wave of 2015-style migration could also strengthen its appeal to Germans concerned about being overwhelmed by asylum-seekers. What does all this mean for the European Union? Germany’s experience may not translate well: the country’s economy remains relatively strong, and its slow population growth means that the German business community will continue to support immigration. Its infrastructure—from roads and bridges to schools, housing stock

62 and power plants—is large enough to accommodate new arrivals. By contrast, the U.K. is suffering from a rolling housing crisis, and the French and Italian economies are growing too slowly to employ young Syrians or Ethiopians in search of personal and economic security. In these countries, rightleaning populists are likely to meet with continued success. Faced with rapid integration of asylumseekers, and an economy enjoying the unexpected benefits of a young, eager workforce, their German counterparts are likely to face stiff headwinds.

Photo by Rebecca Giovanetti

The International Relations Review


Spring 2019

A Nuclear Disaster: The Return of Sanctions on Iran by Samira Jafar

For a time, the future of Iran’s nuclear capabilities looked more promising than ever before. Under the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) negotiated between the United States, the European Union, and Iran in 2015, Iran could pursue its nuclear capabilities under restrictions desired by the two former parties. However, since coming into office, U.S. President Donald Trump has not only pulled the U.S. out of the deal, but in November 2018 also re-imposed the sanctions and embargoes that were removed during former President Barack Obama’s administration. Since these events, the future of the nuclear deal looks unpromising, as does the economic situation in Iran, which has led to substantial domestic backlash. As a whole, the re-imposition of these sanctions has the capability to not only weaken

the economic state of Iranians even further and undermine Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s regime, but also to seriously jeopardize the future of negotiations between the U.S. and EU. The re-imposition of sanctions on Iran means the return of all of the terms of the embargo that former U.S. President Barack Obama lifted in 2015. The sanctions, upon their return on November 5, 2018, target oil sales, the central bank of Iran, and shipping companies. With regard to oil sales, significant transactions involving the purchase, acquisition, sale, or transport of petroleum are restricted. Trump’s policy also targets “Dealings with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), Naftiran Intertrade Company (NICO), and the Central Bank of Iran (CBI, or Bank Markazi)”. Additionally, port-based interactions involving petroleum

will also be blocked, as well as any interaction with individuals on the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (the “SDN List”). This is especially painful for Iranian business because many Iranian banks have recently been placed on the SDN List, which makes their international financial dealings extremely difficult. As of recently, seven hundred individuals have been placed on the sanctions list, and money from sales to exempted countries must be kept outside of Iran. The rationale behind President Trump’s decision is rooted in domestic politics. Trump’s official claim is that the U.S. is choosing to target Iran due to acts of violence and human rights violations within the Middle East, while also calling for Iran to stop their production of

Photo by Natalie Carroll Photo by Peter Evans

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64 uranium. Trump has asserted that Iranian production of uranium is particularly dangerous because of Iran’s links to terrorist organizations. Trump alleges that for this reason, the U.S. is pushing to “cut off routes to permissible trade” of Iran’s petroleum, in addition to calling off the nuclear deal. Despite the Trump administration’s claims concerning the national security dangers posed by the nuclear deal, Trump’s Iran policy is also influenced by his general anti-Obama political orientation, as well as his desire to make good on his campaign promises. For these reasons, Trump is not only reinforcing the sanctions on Iran, but adding secondary sanctions to intensify his position and maintain the support of his base. This is an example of the efforts throughout his presidency to ‘keep’ his electoral promises in spite of any issues that may result. There is a myriad of implications resulting from President Trump’s decision. To begin with, the P5+1 nations (US, UK, France, China, Russia, Germany) had been relying on the verification mechanisms described in the JCPOA to monitor enrichment of uranium within Iran, which had long been a source of concern for the international community, especially with respect to Iran’s nuclear capabilities. However, due to President Trump’s reimposition of sanctions and withdrawal from the deal, it now seems unlikely that the international community will be able to easily obtain detail on Iran’s enrichment capabilities and intentions. According to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, President Trump’s efforts are futile, since Iran plans to continue uranium enrichment at the industrial level

despite the demands of the U.S. Furthermore, Trump’s insistence on backing out of the nuclear deal and re-imposing sanctions on Iran has produced tension between the U.S. and the European Union (EU). Backing out of the deal has created a debate over Trump’s concern with economics and trade with Iran versus the legality of the deal as endorsed by the EU. The EU and China have expressed distaste at what they see as the U.S.’s brazen efforts to act as the economic policemen of the planet. Furthermore, these parties to the deal have expressed a desire to continue it in the face of calls for them to do otherwise. Though this is not the first time the EU and U.S. have clashed since the start of President Trump’s term, the EU’s concern over their influence being diminished should certainly not be taken lightly. One of the most severe impacts of the withdrawal and sanctions has to do with the Iranian public, whose opinion of President Trump has taken a negative turn well beyond the past distaste held by some Iranians feel towards the U.S.’ history of policy targeting Iran. According to the European Council on Foreign Relations, many Iranians see Trump as to blame for various regional issues caused by the sanctions and withdrawal from the nuclear deal. It is a common view among Iranians that President Trump never really desired normalized relations with Iran or to give them any chance at nuclear capabilities, in the first place, which is why some Iranians were against the formation of the deal as a whole. According to a study conducted at the University of Maryland, seven in ten Iranians believed that Trump would never abide by the terms of the agreement. Furthermore,

these Iranians simultaneously view the U.S. as responsible for Iran’s economic woes caused by the various sanctions and decline in petroleum trade. For these reasons, many Iranians believe the U.S. cannot be trusted as a negotiating partner. In general, the U.S., and President Trump in particular, are becoming more and more unpopular. The only issue where Iranians see the U.S. as cooperative is collaboration against the Islamic State (ISIS); however, they question whether Iran’s efforts are still necessary when it comes to defeating ISIS, due to the U.S.’s progress against the terrorist group. The fact that the U.S. is gradually becoming more and more disliked and distrusted among Iranians is a cause for concern when it comes to whether or not legitimate negotiations can ever be held on the nuclear issue. Some Iranians are also lashing out against their own government and President Hassan Rouhani. In 2018, protests erupted across Iran due to rising unemployment rates, which have consistently stayed above ten percent for the past ten years, as well as the high prices of goods. Rouhani’s lackadaisical response to the issues that have been plaguing Iranians since before his rise to power is in part a result of to his focus on finalizing the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States. Rouhani had publicly stated many times that his office has been relying on the Nuclear Deal to bring back economic prosperity, which is why he has not been able to tackle the unemployment issue or seek counsel on what to do to help the public. However, now that the U.S. has withdrawn from the deal, the outlook is looking more and more bleak, and the public is questioning Rouhani’s capabilities with violent Photo by Anastasia Kukonova

Spring 2019 protests. Now, a substantial portion of the public is turning against Rouhani and the Islamic Republic, as well as more religious parties in Iran, because their needs are not being met by the current economic climate. Waivers are now being given to Iranians to help with the prices of goods, but are doing little to quell their greater dissatisfaction. Rouhani’s leadership and trust in the deal is thus viewed as a huge failure on his part, and is causing the public to question not only his regime but also the Islamic political parties that have long dominated Iran’s parliament. For Rouhani and his administration, this is a cause for grave concern as they turn towards the EU in search of a solution. Even if Rouhani manages to fix the crisis by sorting out a deal with the EU, the public is now aware that the nuclear deal will do very little to actually help to improve their welfare and will exist mainly for Iran’s foreign policy benefit. There are a variety of severe implications

65 caused by both the return of the sanctions and public opinion turning against the U.S. and Rouhani’s regime. As a result of the sanctions, not only will Iranians’ economic conditions deteriorate as the petroleum trade is cut off, but the EU will continue to be hostile towards President Trump when it comes to negotiating for the nuclear deal and reversing the progress made during the Obama administration. This is primarily because Iran will no longer be able to export basic humanitarian goods. There is also the issue of the negative pushback Rouhani is receiving on behalf of the public. Not only are the protests against him extremely violent, but many of those imprisoned are being held in unofficial, unsanctioned prisons, sparking concerns over potential human rights violations that might be carried out to send a strong message to the public. With the future of nuclear deal looking bleak, we cannot expect these conditions to improve. Furthemore, there is a lot of concern about what a world without the nuclear deal will look like. Will Iran still cater to the nuclear limits imposed by the EU’s JCPOA now that

they cannot expect the deal to hold as much weight? They additionally have nothing to lose in Rouhani’s eyes, as the US-imposed sanctions have returned. This might cause them to lash out against both the U.S. and the EU when they see that no definitive progress has been made to help them achieve their goals. If they choose to go in this direction, their relations with the EU might soon mimic those with the U.S. Additionally, the deal had provided stable grounds for Iran’s nuclear testing, although its issues might lead Iran to pursue military tests instead of peaceful ones and encourage them to hide their levels of uranium production instead of publicizing them under the terms of the deal. The U.S. may come to find that sanctions cannot stop Iran from exploring their nuclear capabilities. In terms of the issue as a whole, it is clear that for Iran, the U.S., and the EU, the future of nuclear developments is unclear, as is the economic situation and wellbeing of the people of Iran.


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The Changing Geopolitical Landscape of the Eastern Mediterranean By Anna Maeve Ellis

Although it is not yet over, much has been made of the impending end of the war in Syria. While the United States of America has repeatedly condemned the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, there has been a marked shift in top level thinking. In August 2018, exPresident Jimmy Carter penned an op-ed in New York Times titled “In Syria, an Ugly Peace Is Better Than More War.” He appeared to be aligned with current President Trump, who led the change in US policy on Syria following his July Helsinki Summit bywith Photography PeterPresident Evans Putin of Russia. On December 18th, 2018, President Trump gave the order for the American military withdrawal from Syria, proclaiming that, “we have won, and that’s the way we want it.” By January 2nd, 2019, he had changed his tune,

saying that “Syria was lost long ago...we’re talking about sand and death.” The abrupt withdrawal of the United States’ engagement with the Syrian conflict has all but ceded any grip of influence in Syria by other interested actors, such as Russia and Iran. In fact, it has given rise to the ongoing establishment of the shaky equilibrium between the two major revisionist powers in the region: Russia and Turkey. Despite having different imperatives in Syria and in the greater Eastern Mediterranean region, Russia and Turkey have been experiencing a rapprochement, or diplomatic thaw. The first meeting between President Putin and President Erdoğan took place in September, citing the need for stabilisation of the Idlib province before the impending Idlib offensive.

The most recent meeting between these two world leaders occurred in Moscow on January 23rd, and the effects of this meeting are still unfolding. This new cooperation will have trickle down effects which will create a dramatic shift in the balance of power in the region and cause other nations to take action and reformulate their foreign policies to accommodate the new special relationship between Turkey and Russia. It is necessary in the study of international relations to examine the current developments between Russia and Turkey, recent Russian expansion into the Eastern Mediterranean, and policy shifts amongst regional actors as they recalibrate against this new power dynamic. It can be argued that this special relationship between Turkey


Spring 2019 and Russia was in its nascent years following the establishment of the new Republic of Turkey under the administration of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in the 1920s-30s. The relatively new United Socialist Soviet Union was eager to flex its abilities as a young global power, and it was looking for a new foothold to expand its influence. It found this in Turkey, which controls the Bosphorus Sea, the gateway from the Black Sea to the Eastern Mediterranean. This geopolitical imperative has its roots in antiquity. There have been many treaties, conventions, and battles over Russian naval access to the Eastern Mediterranean region. All of the USSR’s delicate maneuvering was derailed by the onset of World War II, and neutral Turkey was no longer furthering its own international interests. In fact, it was still allowing Germany access to the Straits, which the USSR deeply resented. By 1952, as all levels of the economy were still recovering

from the devastation of war, Turkey joined NATO and effectively closed the door on potential partnership with the USSR. This door remained closed until 1991, where Turkey and Russia cautiously began to rebuild a relationship.


has been made of the impending end of the war in Syria.”

Russia is, of course, skeptical of Turkey’s 1999 bid and ongoing negotiations to join the European Union. As late as 2015, RussoTurkish relations were fraught after the Turkish military shot down a Russian Su-24 which was in Turkish airspace, deployed as a result of the Syrian conflict. At the time, NATO

backed this action, saying that Turkey was well within its rights to do so. President Putin began to call for sanctions on Turkish imports, while President Erdoğan asserted that “everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders.” In autumn of 2018, Turkish-backed rebel forces awaited imminent defeat by the Russian backed Syrian Army in Idlib province. In September, Putin and Erdoğan held a summit to formulate a plan, the implementation of which will attempt to minimize civilian casualties. Russia supports the Assad regime in Syria for a variety of reasons; however, the main purpose is to extend the Russian sphere of influence into and gain a stronger strategic foothold in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey, in alignment with many NATO member states, has been backing various Syrian rebel factions. Turkey has particular incentive to do so: By selectively backing

Photo by Peter Evans


certain rebel forces while excluding Kurdish factions, Turkey hopes to bring an end to the war and avoid the creation of a Kurdish state. This is intended to avoid internal turmoil in Turkey, which has a large Kurdish population, exacerbating deep ethnic tensions that have persisted since the time of the Ottoman Empire. Although Russia and Turkey are on opposite sides of the armed conflict, their willingness to negotiate demonstrates rising goodwill between the two countries. The most recent summit between Erdoğan and Putin, held in Moscow on January 23rd, had two main objectives: to solidify the security deal in Idlib province, and to create a demilitarized zone along the Syrian-Turkish border to contain a group of Kurdish rebels. The September summit ultimately prevented the launch of the military offensive which had been planned between the Syrian and Russian governments. The outcome of the most recent negotiations is yet to be known. As of the latest summit, Russia and Turkey are committed to an united front to “liquidate the actions of terrorist groups.” Τhese summits build upon the two nations’ escalated cooperation in recent years. In December 2017, Turkey agreed to purchase the S-400 antiaircraft defense system from Russia, launching a fierce debate within NATO. Purchase of nonNATO weapons systems goes against NATO’s principle of

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interoperability, which ensures that all NATO weapons systems and equipment in all member states can be integrated seamlessly in the case of a joint NATO exercise or operation. It is important to note that Turkey turned to Russia as the arms dealer of last resort. In a panel discussion at the 2018 NATO summit the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu was quoted as saying “I couldn’t buy from NATO allies, so Russia gave me the best proposal. And now I’m buying from Russia.” S-400 missiles are currently in Russian use in the Crimea and at Russia’s naval base in Tartus, Syria, to protect against air attack, but these are not the only Russian missile defense systems in the Eastern Mediterranean. Russian media and Israeli intelligence reported that Egypt purchased the Russian S-300 system in 2015. Even more surprising was an incident which took place in Cyprus in 1998 when Cyprus bought a S-300 anti aircraft ballistic missile system from Russia. Turkey raised objections to having one of these systems present just 60 km off its coast, as Turkish leaders assumed that their nation would be the primary target. To reduce tensions, Cyprus gave the system to Greece to set it up there. In 2015, joint exercises between Greece and Israel came to light, in which Greece had been letting the Israeli Air Force practice evading the anti aircraft weapon. This may have negative consequences

for countries such as Egypt which rely on such aircraft to defend itself against Israel. While the two nations have enjoyed a cold peace since the resolution after Yom Kippur War of 1973, Egypt has been wary of Israel for many years. In terms of this analysis, it is not the missile itself which is special, although its formidable technical specifications and abilities are a cause for concern. It is easier to track the sales of particular systems and products than the distribution of Russian influence, although these two often walk hand in hand. Recently, Russia has doubled down on its historical imperative to lock down a base in the Eastern Mediterranean. It purportedly first offered a large, undetermined sum of money to Montenegro before beginning negotiations for the use of the Cypriot base. Some speculate that the bases in question will be the airbase at Paphos and the naval base at Larnaca, respectively, due to their close proximity to the British bases Akrotiri and Dhekelia. This coincides with their high Russian immigrant populations and tourist activity. Of course, this is problematic to the United Kingdom, which owns its two bases as sovereign soil following their decolonization of the island and its independence in 1960. Additionally, there is a large MI6 base in Akrotiri which is vital to British and NATO intelligence and serves as one of the primary sets of Western eyes and


Spring 2019

ears in the region. In pursuing Turkey as a strategic partner as well as exerting influence and creating goodwill elsewhere in the region, Russia is looking to create a more favorable environment for itself. Since the beginning of modern international relations, Russia has striven for respect. It has many geographical and resource disadvantages that cannot be overcome, and has displayed an inability to carry out and sustain major operations in recent decades. Therefore, Russia has adopted a strategy of weakening other states and driving wedges between possible allies in a series of successful limited operations to create frozen conflicts. We see these frozen conflicts in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, and now we may be seeing a larger frozen conflict play out in the Eastern Mediterranean region as Russia continues to hold sway in Syria and engage in goodwill exercises, capability building, and influence in Turkey, Cyprus, and Egypt. The withdrawal of American involvement in the region is the best case scenario for Russia, which would like to be able to carry out its objectives unimpeded. Russia needs Turkey as a partner in the region, and is taking advantage of Turkish anger to hurt NATO. It is not true that Turkey is the junior partner in this pairing. As the second largest military power in NATO, Turkey is not simply pursuing short term gains and opening itself up for future

exploitation. Turkey, like Russia, has often had to strive for respect, even from its NATO allies: The 2016 attempted coup in Turkey was too much for the United States to digest and the Western world has been critical of Turkey for years due to various human rights abuse complaints following its emergency rule in the protests that erupted following the coup. Following negotiations on refugee flows and fears that he could mobilize the Turkish emigre population to follow a particular agenda, Europe, too, has been wary of Turkey. Since then, the United States, the EU, and other NATO members have been holding Turkey at arms’ length and failing to deliver on their promises. As a result, Turkey has three main objectives. It wants to show that the Republic of Turkey should be treated with respect by the international community and that it is not to be treated as the “other” by NATO members, and it wants to get the United States to minimize its criticisms of Turkey’s perceived human rights violations. Regimes change, but geography does not. Ultimately, the drama which is unfolding in the Eastern Mediterranean theatre is not new. The Montenegrin naval base which Russia pursued in the last decade was along the same stretch of coast upon which the Russians were attempting to gain a naval base during the Napoleonic Era. What we see today is an extension of historical foreign policy with

Russia trying to increase its bases in the Eastern Mediterranean, Turkey trying to reassert itself as a major player in the region, and foreign policy in the region shifting as a result to counter any changes in the balance of power. The most significant of these relationships will be an increasingly strong relationship between Israel and Greece, as exemplified by their willingness to engage in joint military exercises. If the United States continues to watch from the sidelines, it is likely that the region is going to change in unprecedented ways. Turkey has recently made conciliatory gestures towards the United States and the European Union, and President Erdoğan’s September visit to Germany seeking goodwill renewed earnest negotiation and cooperation and resulted in the October release of a an American pastor who had been a political prisoner for the last two years. Unless acted upon by an outside force, Turkey is going to continue to play on both sides of this dynamic for as long as it can in its quest to assert its independence and influence.

Photo by Peter Evans


International Relations Review

Book Review: Changing the Discourse of International Non-Governmental Organizations by Adia Armstrong Photo by Brittany Chang

Spring 2019

In her 2015 book International NGO Engagement, Advocacy, Activism: The Faces and Spaces of Change, Helen Yanacopulos, a professor of International Politics and Development at Open University in London, United Kingdom, explores the complexities of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs). In reference to INGOs, Yanacopulos specifies that they are organizations “working in the field of international development and humanitarian assistance;” as opposed to simply non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that work on any range of topics extending from the city level to the international level. Yanacopulos creates a holistic depiction of what INGOs are, as well as a compelling sense of urgency for INGOs to take responsibility in shifting the perception of international development for the sake of improving the overall sector of humanitarian aid and sustainable change. In this book, she seeks to accomplish three goals: analyze the politics of INGO public engagement, challenge the ways INGOs operate and influence international perceptions of development, and reflect on the future of INGOs. The impact of this book was to truly analyze to what degree are INGOs effective in creating global change through strategic maneuvering of the political sphere and engaging the global north. By dividing her book into seven subsections, Yanacopulos systematically and effectively dissects the state of INGOs and their ultimate impact on global development. According to


Yanacopulos, INGOs traditionally serve as “intermediaries” between the western world and the developing world, with the western world financially supporting these INGOs and the developing world reaping the benefits of INGOs’ donations. The current quandary faced by INGOs is how to effectively adapt to the changing global environment characterized by the new age of media and a global north with ever richer economies. INGOs are currently challenged by limiting factors, such as a lack of public participation in the political sphere which could render them stagnant and pose future obstacles to global development. Of her many arguments, her main argument can always be traced back to the political implications of INGOs. In one of her subsections where she discusses INGOs in terms of their political spaces, Yanacopulos classifies INGOs as “inherently” political as they seek change through providing a good or service in a space where a government cannot or will not. Yanacopulos sees an abundant amount of potential for growth of INGOs within the political sphere in particular and believes that this that needs to be taken advantage of more significantly. Yanacopulos effectively breaks down the complexity of INGOs as they are known and understood today. She finds it integral that INGOs become more political to ensure that at the grass-root level, the understanding and integrity of the need behind international development is upheld and catered to. Yanacopulos

ultimately concludes with the idea that INGOs have done great work in helping with development in the global south thus far. However, INGOs need to be held more accountable for the western world’s narratives surrounding the developing world. INGOs need to shift away from their identity of being “charities” to taking on the identity of political agents of change and justice. Yanacopulos suggests that they do so through social media and with a restructuring of their general business models, as well as by finding an alternative solution to traditional fundraising by founding more partnerships between INGOs. International NGO Engagement, Advocacy, Activism: The Faces and Spaces of Change is an important read because aside from analyzing the complexities of INGOs, it also calls upon them to be more accountable as the “primary mediator of international development for the global north” for the sake of sustainable and longlasting change in the developing world. This is a must-read for aspiring global leaders who see a future in INGOs and want to gain a better understanding of the landscape of the industry and the challenges it faces in a everchanging, globalized world.


A Tumbling Dynasty

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by Gowtham Asokan

The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu was conceived out of the Dravidian political movement, which stood in opposition to Gandhist conceptions of religious morality. In fact, the Dravidians were non-theists that advocated for rationality and the civil rights of the Untouchable caste, women, Muslims and minorities. The founder of the movement, E.V Ramaswamy - affectionately known as Periyar - once said, “If god is the root cause for our degradation destroy that god. If it is religion destroy it. If it is Manu Darma, Gita, or any other Mythology (Purana), burn them to ashes. If it is temple, tank, or festival, boycott them. Finally if it is our politics, come forward to declare it openly.” This illustrates his antagonism

towards the Hindu caste system and stark difference to Gandhi, who used religion as a tool to unite the subcontinent against colonial rule. Fast-forward to 2018 and both of the major leaders of the two Dravidian parties, the DMK and ADMK are now dead. Tamil politics was a tug of war between Jayalalitha of the ADMK and Karunanidhi of the DMK in the past 30 years. This has left the state in turmoil with actors and the party elites in a struggle to fill the vacuum. The leading film stars in the industry, Kamal Hassan and Rajinikanth have thrown their hats in the ring for control of the Chief minister position, and were met with swift backlash from the DMK and ADMK party brass.

Ironically, the DMK and ADMK both have gradually slipped from their rationalist roots set by Periyar. Annadurai, Periyar’s protege and founder of the DMK said that “I will not break coconuts or statues” which struck a delicate middle ground between respecting religion and not participating in it. Eventually both Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi resorted to electoral bank politics, dividing districts by their caste demographics and pandering to them as opposed to rooting election platforms in policy. The dominance of both of these giants lead to some very innovative welfare schemes to compete for votes, because pure caste electoral politics did not put either party at an advantage. The ‘Amma canteen’ meaning Mother Photo by Natalie Carroll


Spring 2019 canteen was implemented by Jayalalitha – emphatically known as ‘Amma’ – where poor and homeless citizens were given free food or could pay what they wanted. Election freebies were the negative side of these competitive elections, where table fans, TVs, and food processors were given out en masse. In some districts it was reported that alcohol was bought for men to buy their votes. However, the dominance between Jayalalitha and Karunanidhi was never meant to last. There were no contingency plans and state politics could be summed up by their names. The unsustainability of the JayalalithaKarunanidhi duopoly may be traced to Tamil Nadu’s love for celebrity worship and its history of strongman rule. A similar parallel may be seen in a nascent secularizing country in 1930, the

Turkish Republic. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk used similar sweeping reforms to modernize a populace that struggled to keep pace with what they saw as Westernization. Similarly the people of Tamil Nadu were not fully prepared to accept the radical reforms of Periyar, hence the slip into nepotism and cult worship began. Tamil Nadu’s politicians all had some form of background in the film or the theatre industry, and thus they effectively built loyal cultesque followers. To recover the progressive agenda that set an example for the rest of India, Tamil Nadu urgently requires a bloc of reformers working with a neo-Periyarist ideology. The Dravidian resistance against Hindi-imposition and the caste system may be repositioned to oppose the Hindu supremacy of the BJP and environmental

reform in agriculture and water management. The film actor Kamal Hassan, although inexperienced, provides a potential plank forward with his Makkal Needhi Mayyam (People’s Justice Party). The Needhi Mayyam embraces the rationalist ideas of Periyar while focusing on farmer’s water and agricultural issues, policy-based politics as opposed to vote banks, and incorporates the use of social media to reach younger audiences. A more politically savvy figure must pick up the torch from the actor for this to become a reality for India’s once visionary state.

Photo by Madeline Van Heusen

Photo by Raina Kadavil


Spring 2019

The IR Review Editorial Board Raina Kadavil Gowtham Asokan

Editor-in-Chief Editor-in-Chief

Jordann Krouse Content Consultant Natalie Carroll Photography Editor Carly Berke Layout Editor Josee Matela Layout Editor Julia Mullert Layout Editor Ting Wei Li Layout Editor Desmond Molloy Staff Writer Samira Jafar Staff Writer Rachel Petherbridge Staff Writer Tal Dickstein Staff Writer Michelle Ramiz Staff Writer Andrey Grashkin Staff Writer Kaylin Ikeda Staff Writer Adia Armstrong Book Reviews Writer Morgan Cope Senior Editor Christopher Brown Senior Editor Melissa Bui Editor Sonali Paul Editor Samantha Dorning Editor Soo Min Cho Editor Alex Blumenfeld Editor Dariy Esenov Infographic Designer Kavya Verma Blog Writer Sabine Tessono Blog Writer Leah Cerilli Blog Writer Andy Chen REACT News Tech Specialist Mairin McQueen REACT News Tech Specialist Eliot Usherenko REACT News Anchor Elle Garfield REACT News Anchor Maneesha Khalae REACT News Anchor Noah Riley REACT News Anchor

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About the IR Review The International Relations Review, ISSN 2152-738X, is a subsidiary of the Boston University International Affairs Association. The IR Review is an international relations magazine serving the undergraduate students at Boston University. With a circulation of nearly 1,500 the IR Review is considered Boston University’s premier academic journal. Since it was founded in 2009, the IR Review has striven to create a forum for students interested in international affairs. The submissions features in the publication cover a myriad of topics and controversies, including but not limited to globalization, international security, human rights, international law and politics and sustainability. A PDF of the current issue, as well as citations and archives can be viewed online at


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Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies

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