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With the third anniversary of
Fukushima’s nuclear disaster approaching, our cover features the future of nuclear power. Gordon Jones, research fellow at the Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and Non-proliferation, and Dr. Howsley, Executive Director of the World Institute of Nuclear Security, discuss the legacy of Fukushima on nuclear power. Stephen Tindale, former Executive Director of Greenpeace UK and a longtime advocate of nuclear power, vigorously defends its use: “Nuclear is not perfect, but much better than fossil fuels!” In the Debate section we discuss the state of world poverty. While Robert Picciotto, King’s visiting professor and former World Bank official argues that “poverty eradication is possible but highly unlikely in the current global policy climate,” Tony German, Executive Director of Development Initiative, outlines the hindering factors for eradicating poverty. Throughout the issue political unrest serves as a promiment theme. We cover topics such as the anatomy of the Russian opposition, the election turmoil in Thailand and the crisis in Ukraine. Our photographic piece give an unique insight into the lives of Syrian refugees in Bulgaria and it serves to raise the question: is the European Union doing enough? We are slowly coming to the end of the current committee’s term with only one special report and one more issue to be released. We hope you have enjoyed reading Dialogue so far and if you are interested in playing an active role in KCL Politics Society over the next academic year, please make sure to check out page 38.
In this issue... 5
Cover story Japan’s Nuclear Nexus and the Dilemmas of Post-Fukushima Dependence
The NSG and India:
The way Forward for the Non-Proliferation Regime?
Nuclear is not Perfect, but Much Better Than Fossil Fuels
Lessons for Nuclear Security from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident
Of the People, by the People, for the People: The US Interest in the Protests in Ukraine
Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases: The Role of the United States Government, Philantrophies, and Civil Society
The Effect of the Media on the Social and Political Environment in Costa Rica Brazil: The Struggle for Press Freedom
US Embargo on Cuba:
21 23 25 27 29
A Long Lasting Political Deadlock
Venezuela Under Maduro: 31
How to Avert Disaster?
Debate Poverty Eradication by 2030? Old Wine in a new Bottle
Eradicating Poverty: From Vision to Plan
The Anatomy of Russia’s Political Opposition The Velvet Divorse: Twenty-one Years Since the Breakup of Czechoslovakia
Spanish Youth Unemployment: Is There a way out?
Syria to Sofia: The EU’s Forgotten Refugee Crisis
39 41 43 45
What Does the Future Hold for Cambodia?
Will the Real China Please Stand up?
â€œGuest Workersâ€? - A Global Colony
Explaining the Turmoil in Thailand
Middle East Qatar:
World Cup Generates Pressure for Change
The Evolution and Interaction Between Saudi Arabia and Qatar
Soldiering Under Occupation:
Spaces of Morality
Women and Development in Africa
Governance Deficit in Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan
French Involvement in Mali and Central African Republic
Cover art The cover art for this issue of Dialogue is an illustration by Blogtoonist Miel. He is a Journalist-Cartoonist with The Straits Times, Singapore's foremost English language daily. His cartoons are syndicated by The New York Times/Cartoonists' and Writers Syndicate and by CagleCartoons. His cartoons are published in the IHT, New York Times, Newsweek, Asiaweek, Washington Post, Japan Times, South China Morning Post among others. Miel is also a member of the prestigious National Cartoonists' Society (NCS) in the US. To view more of his work, please visit http://blogtoonistmiel.blogspot.com/
By Gordon Wyn Jones
hree years on from the traumatic triad of the Great East Japan Earthquake, the devastating tsunami, and the resulting nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, it is the nuclear dimension of the event that continues to bear the greatest weight of public sentiment and political deliberation. Japan is currently deliberating its nuclear future, and it is a matter with significant international as well as domestic aspects. The experience and imagery of the Fukushima nuclear crisis is in motion, resident evacuations and exclusion-zone ghost towns, and the residual effects of air, soil and water contamination, had a powerful psychological impact on Japanese society – all the more so given its resonance with Japan’s enduring memory of the nuclear destruction and radiation associated with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. The events of March 2011 did much to dispel public trust in what had hitherto been a carefully nurtured, and widely accepted, narrative of safe nuclear power in Japan. The crisis and its aftermath have also served to highlight levels of Japanese energy and security dependence, and brought to the fore certain contradictory elements in Japan’s evolving nuclear stance. Japan has a unique nuclear status, not only in terms of being the sole victim of nuclear attack, but also being the only non -weapon state party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) with full nuclear fuel cycle capabilities. This special status was negotiated and agreed with the United States back in 1988;
providing for a thirty-year “blanket consent” for Japan to engage in uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing (ENR) activities, with corresponding stringent safeguard obligations. This arrangement (known as the “123 agreement”) has provided the basis for the development of Japan’s indigenous nuclear energy programme during recent decades. This programme, however, has been criticized, both by countries denied similar status and among opponents of reprocessing, in Japan and more widely, who view any plutonium activity as unnecessary and potentially dangerous in terms of risk of accidents, nuclear terrorism or diversion to military use. Recognizing that nuclear power has two facets, which can be harnessed for energy or for weapons, enrichment and reprocessing are key processes in the chain of developing nuclear weapons. Though Japan has repeatedly forsworn any intention to acquire its own nuclear weapons, it has, from the 1960s to date, relied upon the protection provided by the United States’ strategic nuclear arsenal, which is part of the US-Japan security alliance. We thus have the juxtaposition of Japan’s professed “nuclear allergy” and non-nuclear credentials, with its advanced nuclear infrastructure, plutonium stockpiles and enduring dependence on the US “nuclear umbrella.” Despite Japan’s undoubtedly strong commitment to global non-proliferation norms and activities, and reiteration of its long-standing “three non-nuclear principles” (not to possess, produce or allow the introduction of nuclear weapons into its territory), there has always been a current of speculation about what circumstances, if any, might propel Japan
to exercise its “nuclear option;” using its combined nuclear industrial “threshold” capabilities to develop an actual nuclear weapon. The provision of the US’ extended nuclear deterrent, and exceptional support for Japan’s advanced nuclear energy programme, were seen as the key elements of reassurance for keeping Japan away from pursuing its own nuclear arsenal. The nuclear question in Japan straddles the two important and connected realms of national security and energy security. Indeed, under Japan’s own concept of “comprehensive security,” aimed at peaceful economic relations and well-being, energy has long been a crucial factor in Japan’s vitality as a resourcedependent trading nation. It was Japan’s economic growth dependence on Middle East oil, and the jarring experience of the “oil shocks” in the 1970s, which prompted Japan’s acceleration of its indigenous nuclear energy programme, including enrichment and reprocessing, as a supposed means to bolster energy security and self-sufficiency. By early 2011, nuclear energy accounted for almost 30 percent of Japan’s total electricity production, with plans to raise the level to fifty percent by 2030. All these plans, however, were thrown into disarray by the events of March 2011, with the Fukushima crisis producing a groundswell of public concern about nuclear safety, the resulting shut-down of all of Japan’s fifty operational nuclear power reactors, and serious domestic debate concerning Japan’s nuclear energy future.
“The effect that Japan’s premature exit from the nuclear energy arena would be irresponsible and leave an international vacuum, likely to be filled by less scrupulous nuclear suppliers (…)” Despite the arrival of the new Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) government, with its dominant pro-nuclear energy stance and parliamentary majority in the Diet, there remains significant opposition on the question of re-starting the idling reactors and longer-term nuclear policy, including two former LDP Prime Ministers, Koizumi and Hosokawa, who recently teamed up to contest the Tokyo governor elections on a vocally anti-nuclear platform. Though their appeal was far short of gaining victory, it did show that public sentiment must be navigated with due care and attention. There is a delicate political balance between pushing too hard to restart reactors (without due deference to public safety concerns), and allowing the prolonged absence of nuclear power generation (seemingly without serious impact on the daily life of Japan’s populace) to create its own momentum for longer-term nuclear redundancy. Political and commercial issues aside, the question of re-activating nuclear plants depends greatly on the authority and actions of the new, independent Nuclear Regulation Authority, with its new stringent safety standards and detailed criteria for evaluating restart applications. That process is labo-
rious and will take time, including interaction with individual plant operators and local communities. Lessons in Progress A multitude of lessons emerged from the Fukushima crisis, including deficiencies in regulatory controls, risk management, crisis contingency planning, and disaster response coordination, reflecting an overall level of bureaucratic complacency. Other lessons are still unfolding, as authorities continue to tackle and count the cost of Fukushima’s site clean-up, fuel rod removal, plant decommissioning, water and wider environmental impact and decontamination. There is also the heavy economic impact of the nuclear crisis containment, compensation, prolonged shutdown of the nation’s nuclear power plants, as well as the burgeoning import cost of compensatory energy supplies from the Middle East and elsewhere, especially liquefied natural gas (LNG), resulting in a substantial and mounting trade deficit. As Japan looks beyond the lessons to future policy, there are big questions such as the whole rationale of siting or restarting nuclear reactors on or near coastal seismic fault lines in a country so prone to earthquakes and tsunamis. Though many of the lessons are specific to Japan’s culture, bureaucracy and geography, other countries such as Turkey, Iran and China have also experienced devastating earthquakes and should not be too proud to take heed from Japan’s nuclear experience. At the same time as Japan’s own nuclear power plants remain idle and under close scrutiny, Japan has been keen to promote nuclear exports to an array of countries still looking to develop their national nuclear programmes. From the perspective of the Japanese government and vendors, nuclear exports are viewed as an important economic and political vehicle to generate strategic energy and trade relationships and long-term revenue, but also as an important means to maintain or restore confidence in Japan’s advanced nuclear technologies in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. Since March 2011, the Japanese Diet has endorsed nuclear cooperation agreements with Vietnam, Jordan, and Russia, and Prime Minister Abe’s government has been even more active in pursuing nuclear cooperation with numerous countries, including agreements with the UAE and Turkey. Though less controversial domestically, some in Japan, including the Prime Minister’s own wife, have questioned the wisdom of pushing export business at the same time that Japan is deliberating its own nuclear safety and future energy path. Apart from Japan’s own domestic drivers for pursuing nuclear exports, there are also significant international factors in play. Japan’s major nuclear vendors, such as Toshiba, Hitachi and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, are in international partnerships and driven by the dynamics and geopolitics of the global marketplace. This aspect is very much apparent in the case of nuclear cooperation with India, where Japan’s wariness about endorsing nuclear business with a non-signatory of the NPT (having previously tested nuclear weapons and unwilling to commit to a moratorium on
possible future testing) is a complicating factor for those domestic proponents and international partners wishing to move ahead with nuclear trade with India. It remains to be seen whether, or rather when, pressing strategic and commercial interests will trump Japan’s non-proliferation concerns.
“(…) one prominent LDP politician (and former defence minister) highlighted the importance of Japan’s commercial reactors and nuclear infrastructure as “a tacit nuclear deterrent” in itself (…)” Japan’s Nuclear Conundrum In its deliberations about future domestic nuclear strategy, the Japanese government-initiated study report, “Innovative Energy and Environment Strategy,” released in September 2012, recommended a phase-out of nuclear power in Japan by 2040. Several days after its release, however, the government stepped back from the recommendations as a result of domestic and international lobbying, to the effect that Japan’s premature exit from the nuclear energy arena would be irresponsible and leave an international vacuum, likely to be filled by less scrupulous nuclear suppliers and could have detrimental effects on nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, as well as the economic and political impact. Clearly, any dramatic reduction or decisive phase out of Japan’s domestic nuclear reactor network would greatly reduce the rationale for retention of Japan’s extensive nuclear research, enrichment and reprocessing infrastructure, and curtail the scope for serious nuclear export business. In order to avoid this potentially slippery slope, nuclear industry advocates are eager for the re-start of approved reactor operations at an early stage and defend the continuation of Japan’s ENR activities. As criticism mounts with regard to Japan’s plutonium stockpile and the huge enrichment, reprocessing and waste disposal complex at Rokkasho in Northern Japan, the possibility for some form of multilateral role for Japan’s nuclear infrastructure is seen by some as an option to help justify Japan’s continued special nuclear status, though clearly aware of the political obstacles to potential cooperation with China and the Korean peninsula. Although there is both scope and need for regional energy cooperation and nuclear security dialogue between East Asian neighbours, such interaction remains problematic in the current context of historical and territorial tensions. Japan’s current nuclear energy deliberations clearly have a strategic dimension in terms of national security. In 2011, a mild controversy arose concerning an amendment made to Japan’s 1955 “Atomic Energy Basic Act,” with the term “national security” having been added as one of the aims for the “safe use of atomic power” in Japan. Though the Act clearly maintains the non
-military nature of Japan’s nuclear energy sector, the change of wording drew suspicion as a possible step towards allowing nuclear weapon activity, and illustrates the overall sensitivity of nuclear matters in Japan. More recent moves by the Abe government to strengthen Japan’s national security infrastructure, the adoption of a new secrecy law, and development of a more robust “dynamic defence force,” provide fertile ground for speculation about Japan’s nuclear policy, capabilities and intent. Retention of Japan’s ENR status includes a strong element of strategic rationale as a “keeping options open” contingency for the “what ifs” of an uncertain security environment in Northeast Asia. In the months following Fukushima, one prominent LDP politician (and former defence minister) highlighted the importance of Japan’s commercial reactors and nuclear infrastructure as “a tacit nuclear deterrent” in itself, a latent deterrent capability against the proximate threat of potential nuclear hostility or blackmail from neighbouring states. Indeed, having the right to develop an advanced nuclear infrastructure was an important factor in Japan’s decision to sign and ratify the NPT (in 1970 and 1976 respectively), and remains an important underlying consideration in today’s uneasy Northeast Asian security environment, with North Korea and China as principal nuclear neighbours of concern for Japan.
For Japan, 2013-14 is a period of transition, with the new LDP government seeking to energize Japan’s economy and to promote Japan as “a Proactive Contributor to Peace.” Economic growth and national security enhancement provide the key thrusts towards this goal, with nuclear power and exports as significant elements in the “Abenomics” approach. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is now in the difficult process of formulating a new strategic energy plan. The first since Fukushima, the plan needs to incorporate nuclear safety imperatives, whilst also reflecting a realistic energy mix for short- and longerterm economic growth, and taking into account global developments and future energy scenarios, such as the impact of the US shale gas revolution and stability of supplies from the Middle East region. Though yet to be finalized and announced, it is expected that the government will return Japan to at least a marginally pronuclear energy course, with careful restart of safety-approved reactors, along with ongoing efforts to diversify suppliers through a mix of oil and gas imports, and longer-term development of renewable energy sources, of which geothermal is seen to have most potential for Japan. Resolving the conundrum of Japan’s energy security and nuclear future will be a delicate challenge during 2014 and far beyond.
Fukushima and its Legacy The Fukushima crisis shone the spotlight on the interrelated issues of nuclear safety and security: the dangers of nuclear complacency, vulnerability of fissile material, importance of stringent operating standards and export controls, risk and crisis management, as well as the need for improved levels of transparency and cooperation across borders. Whether, and to what extent, the lessons of Fukushima are heeded or fully applied, in Japan or elsewhere, remains to be seen. On a broader level, the crisis also served to highlight a number of Japan’s dependencies: first of all on nuclear power, which carries with it some inherent risk; secondly on Middle East energy supplies, which carry cost and concerns about instability; thirdly on the US for continuation of its plutonium policy beyond the 2018 expiry of the “123 agreement” as well as its dependence on the US’ nuclear umbrella, with implications regarding US nuclear numbers and Japan’s ability to lead along the path towards a world without nuclear weapons. In spite of efforts to diversify energy sourcing, develop strategic relationships, and promote national self-sufficiency, Japan will undoubtedly remain highly dependent on the not always compatible twin pillars of US alliance security and Middle East energy supplies. Despite continuing speculation to the contrary, it is inconceivable that Japan will actually resort to acquire its own nuclear weapons in any shape or form. A more interesting scenario at this juncture would be whether the confluence of Japan’s more confident, conventional defence posture, post-Fukushima nuclear reassessment, and search for greater global stature, can propel Japan beyond the umbrella and plutonium to a higher level of nuclear safety, non-proliferation and disarmament leadership.
GORDON WYN JONES is a PhD student at the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. He is currently a visiting research fellow at the Center for the Promotion of Disarmament and NonProliferation (Japan Institute of International Affairs) in Tokyo.
By Isabelle Anstey
orty years ago scientists under the Thar Desert in northwest In the years immediately following the 1974 test, the India activated a nuclear explosive device for the first time. United States and six other leading nuclear suppliers met in LonThey did so using material they had imported, legally, from Cadon in secret to establish a set of guidelines on how exports of nada and the United States, purportedly for a civilian nuclear sensitive nuclear technology should be controlled. The resulting energy program. The Indian test, or “Peaceful Nuclear ExplosNuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) is today the primary tool for deion,” marked India’s entry into the nuclear club, only four years veloping and strengthening nuclear export controls in an effort to after the entry into force of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty contain proliferation while maintaining the peaceful use of nuclear (NPT) was supposed to have closed energy. The Fukushima Daiichi nuthat club to new members. The In- “The NPT is at best unclear and at worst clear disaster has had a mixed impact dia test highlighted what some sciendeliberately ambiguous on what a state is on the nuclear energy sector, but tists had understood since the 1940s: while the “renaissance” much talked entitled to do in pursuit of peaceful the nuclear technology that led to about in the early 21st century may the production of energy was inhehave been delayed, perhaps indefiuses of nuclear energy.” rently inseparable from that which nitely, nuclear power is not going to led to the production of a bomb. Politicians, however, concluded disappear. While Germany and Italy have pulled out of nuclear it was “unwise to dwell on this consideration, especially since time energy, the UK, Russia, China and others have announced expansmight reveal some way of keeping the two uses distinct.” While ions of their nuclear capacity. Furthermore, new players such as advances in technology have been made, reliable separation of the Turkey, Vietnam, and the UAE are all entering the civilian nuclear two uses remains elusive. In its absence, the non-proliferation energy market, and established energy companies will increasingly regime has struggled to balance the threat of nuclear proliferation face competition from new suppliers like China and India. In an with the benefits, political and commercial, of civilian nuclear environment of geographically expanding nuclear power productenergy. ion under competitive market conditions, mechanisms to control
the export of sensitive nuclear technology are of increasing importance. In recent years, such mechanisms have come under mounting strain and criticism. The Proliferation Risks of Nuclear Power Forgoing nuclear weapons in return for the right to use nuclear technology for generation of civilian nuclear power is regarded by non-nuclear weapon states as the central bargain of the NPT. The civilian nuclear fuel cycle, however, has proved difficult to isolate from potential weapons-relevant technology. Reactors themselves do not pose a large proliferation threat, but the enrichment of uranium and the reprocessing of spent fuel to produce plutonium, which are both integral parts of many civilian fuel cycles, are capable of producing weapons grade material. Reactors that use natural uranium, and so bypass the need for enrichment, produce spent fuel from which plutonium can be more easily extracted. There is research into using thorium-fuelled reactors, but researchers have recently pointed out that weapons-usable material can be extracted from thorium as well. The NPT is at best unclear and at worst deliberately ambiguous on what a state is entitled to do in pursuit of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The US has used this to maintain that the right to enrichment is not guaranteed by the treaty, while others, most notably Iran, have argued the opposite. Regardless of the legal niceties, the technology used to enrich or to reprocess is regarded as particularly sensitive, and in need of curtailment and control, bringing non-proliferation policy in direct competition with the commercial and political interests of nuclear energy production. Solutions that might satisfy some of the commercial interests, such as multilateral enrichment and reprocessing facilities, or the secure and guaranteed provision and disposal of fuel by nuclear weapon states, have run up against the political and sometimes industrial interests in developing an independent and technologically prestigious complete fuel cycle. Non-proliferation vs. Commerce: The US-India Deal Nowhere was this tension more clearly demonstrated than in the US-India nuclear cooperation deal. After decades of actively excluding India from the “nuclear club,” the United States signed an agreement on peaceful uses of nuclear energy in 2008, following three years of intense diplomatic effort. The United States is not alone; France, Russia and Australia have also made similar agreements and are moving toward closer nuclear co-operation, and Japan looks set to follow them. The surge in nuclear agreements with India followed a waiver issued by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the primary international forum for updating and harmonising export control guidelines across the main nuclear supplier countries. Under those guidelines, nuclear trade with India was prohibited. The waiver exempted India from two crucial conditions of supply: having a comprehensive safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and being a member of the NPT
or equivalent. Instead, India “separated” its civilian fuel cycle from its military infrastructure, and put the former under safeguards. This allowed IAEA inspectors to monitor activity at civilian sites to ensure that nothing was diverted into the military program, allowing, in principle, exporters to sell to India without fear that their exports would be used to produce nuclear weapons. The waiver was met with a mixture of dismay and resignation. Opponents of the deal had warned that if the NSG passsed the waiver, it would at best undermine its own value and at worse vote itself out of existence. Described as the lynchpin of the non-proliferation regime, they warned that the actions of this “obscure group” would shred the NPT and constitute a “nonproliferation disaster of historic proportions.” The NSG appeared to have rubber-stamped a commercially lucrative and strategically appealing deal at the request of the United States, despite cogent concerns over the implications for non-proliferation and in willing contravention of their own long established guidelines on the export of nuclear technology. Nevertheless, some commentators were unsurprised; given the commercial interests at stake and the strategic importance of India to the United States, it was “inevitable” that the NSG bowed to US diplomatic pressure. The implications were twofold; the NSG was subservient to commercial considerations, and/or to US political interests. The irony was not lost on the non-proliferation community; the US had just waived the rules for the very state whose actions prompted the development of the rules in the first place. In a further twist of irony, the US and other Western states are now advocating Indian membership of the NSG. Multilateral Nuclear Export Control Regimes Given this recent history, it is tempting to write off the NSG as a politicised and commercialised cartel, with little or no prospect of making a meaningful contribution to nonproliferation. There are alternative export control mechanisms already in existence which may provide alternatives. The Zangger Committee is, like the NSG, a group of nuclear supplier countries who have an agreed set of conditions under which they will supply certain sensitive nuclear technology. Unlike the NSG, the Zangger Committee derives its legitimacy directly from the NPT; it was set up to decide how supplier states would interpret their Article III obligations not to spread nuclear technology to nonweapon states. Also unlike the NSG, however, the Zangger Committee can only cover nuclear materials, and so cannot control “dual use” items – materials and technology that have both nuclear and conventional uses. Moreover, the Zangger Committee’s guidelines are only applicable to exporters that are members of the NPT. Were India to become a significant supplier, they would not be able to join the Zangger Committee, nor be bound by its guidelines. Both the Zangger Committee and the NSG are of limited membership. They are also both voluntary, suppliers are
under no obligation to join, and they produce “guidelines” not rules that are binding under international law. Even though the Zangger committee is part of the NPT, its recommendations are just that, rather than legal interpretations of the treaty. The only export control mechanism with universal application is UN Security Council Resolution 1540. Resolution 1540 was passed in 2004 specifically to combat the threat posed by terrorist acquisition of a nuclear device, rather than targeting state proliferation. Nevertheless, it called for a strengthened system of export controls from all UN member states, and set up a Committee to assist states with this endeavour. Resolution 1540 has the advantage of universal application, but because it was debated and passed by the 15member Security Council, there was a strong reaction against its imposition by a minority on all UN states. Furthermore, its language did not provide for a standard against which compliance could be measured, providing no definition of what would constitute “appropriate” and “effective.” The 1540 Committee, tasked with encouraging state compliance, is chronically underfunded and lacks the resources to carry out all the tasks assigned to it. India and the NSG: Threat or Opportunity? The Zangger Committee is unlikely to take dramatic steps in the near future, and short of significant investment, Resolution 1540 is limited in its effectiveness. The greatest potential for change in the export control regime comes from the NSG, and so does the greatest threat. How the group chooses to confront the approaching reality of India as a significant nuclear supplier could be crucial not only to its own credibility and effectiveness but to the health of the non-proliferation regime at large. Some cause for cautious optimism, however, can be found in the origins of the NSG. India is not the first NPT outlier to be co-opted into the regime via the NSG. When negotiations on guidelines for export controls began in London in 1975, the involvement of France was the key incentive. France was not a member of the NPT, but was a significant nuclear exporter. As a non-member, they were not bound to any but their own domestic curbs on who they supplied with nuclear technology, raising fears of undercutting by not requiring the same stringent safeguards requirements on exports as NPT member states. Getting France to agree to some sort of commitment over safeguards that would not only influence their own export policies but increase the confidence of their competitors that safeguards were not commercially risky was a vital motivation for founding the group. The British were concerned about the impact on British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL) and Urenco if they were forced to accept restraints that would not apply to French competitors. The NSG was designed to deal with states outside the official regime. It was deliberately kept outside, albeit parallel, to the NPT. Kissinger reassured the French in 1974 that “you don’t have to be in the Non-Proliferation Treaty to participate in a sup-
pliers conference.” While there is little doubt that the NSG has moved closer to the NPT over the decades, requiring NPT membership as a condition of supply in 1992 for example, the early emphasis on separation raises some interesting questions about how to approach the outliers to the mainstream non-proliferation regime. Despite the risks, the NSG may be one of the only elements of the existing regime able to co-opt India into the mainstream. India’s nuclear technology is coming of age – it is not only important for non-proliferation reasons that they impose strict export controls, it is important for commercial reasons as well. The NSG represents the majority of commercial stakeholders in civilian nuclear energy – it is in their interests that a new competitor agree to abide by the same rules, and is seen to do so. India, in its turn, wishes to establish itself as one of those visible stakeholders, and what better way than membership of the elite international club of nations that supply nuclear technology. The situations, however, are not entirely analogous, and there is still considerable cause for concern. France, despite having
membership, and make China more intransigent. Finally, as NSG decisions are made by consensus, India could block future changes to the guidelines and trigger lists if it sees them as disadvantageous. The terms of India’s membership would have to offer serious non-proliferation benefits to offset the potential costs, and it is not yet clear what those terms might be. Nevertheless, Western states may see India’s membership of the NSG as a way forward for strengthening non-proliferation in the near term, in the areas where the NPT is impotent. The NSG was set up to fill the gap left by a treaty that was unable to deal with those states and those issues deemed outside its remit. Non-member states had to be convinced to follow the spirit of the regime, even if they remained outside the formal structure. Technologies had to be controlled that were not strictly part of the official control regime. The NPT finds itself in a not dissimilar situation today, with states outside the regime that it struggles to confront, and yet which must be dealt with if the broader nonproliferation regime is ultimately to be strengthened. In this environment, and given the NSG’s history, it should come as no surprise if India is welcomed into the fold. What the implications for non-proliferation will be will depend largely on the conditions under which that membership is granted. ISABELLE ANSTEY is a PhD student in the War Studies Department of King’s College London. She received her MA in International Relations at the Department of War Studies, and her BA in History from the University of Edinburgh. Her thesis topic explores the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the international politics of nuclear exports.
declined to join the NPT, was recognised by the treaty as one of the five established nuclear weapon states. The NSG was a secret, informal group of seven; today it is a far more visible, far more formal organisation. As a regime it has gained in strength, as a tool it has lost in flexibility. The waiver for India was damaging to its credibility as a group, in a way transgressions by members have not been. Increased visibility and claims to legitimacy may mean they have more credibility to lose by making official exceptions to the rules. Accusations of ineffectiveness in the face of rulebreaking by members may be ultimately less damaging. Moreover, the repercussions from the waiver do not bode well for the consequences of future Indian membership. Iran used the double standard implied by the India-specific waiver as ammunition to challenge the US position on Iranian enrichment. Israel, also outside the NPT and with an expanding civilian nuclear sector and a clandestine nuclear weapons program, expressed interest in a similar deal. China raised the possibility of a waiver for Pakistan, before concluding a nuclear supply contract without it. India’s membership could pave the way for stronger arguments for Pakistan’s
By Stephen Tindale
ukishima killed 16,000 people.” That was the headline on an anti-nuclear leaflet I was given in the autumn of 2012. Striking, but totally wrong. A tsunami killed 16,000 people. The tsunami also damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor. The Fukushima meltdown killed nobody directly, it should not have happened. The company should have been better prepared for possible tsunamis and the defences should have been stronger since Japan is in an earthquake zone. Nuclear power must be firmly regulated, but it should be supported. The Fukushima meltdown has killed people indirectly. Some of those forced to evacuate their homes have committed suicide and this is tragic. Some evacuation was unavoidable, but not from such a wide area, and not for such a long time (many thousands are still not allowed to return home). The radiation levels around Fukushima are now lower than the average background level in Cornwall, yet there are no plans to evacuate Cornwall. Fukushima was the third nuclear power incident to hit the global headlines, after Three Mile Island in 1979 and Cherno-
byl in 1986. I use the term “incident” rather than accident deliberately, because Chernobyl was not an accident; it was the result of an experiment carried out by scientists working at the plant. Stupid, certainly, but not accidental. Chernobyl was not being overseen by regulators in 1986 as the Soviet Union was in the process of falling apart, and had in any case never Germany’s Energiewende (energy tra been good at nuclear regulation. The human that energy must be used much mo impact of the Chernoare the best form of energy. B byl meltdown is exall countries and citizens sh tremely disputed. Estimates of the number of premature deaths range from the World Health Organisation’s 4,000 to the New York Academy of Science’s 985,000. The Union of Concerned Scientists, which is anti-nuclear power, put the figure at 27,000 in 2011. The partial meltdown of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was an accident. Thousands of people were evacuated, but the accident did not kill anybody, directly or
indirectly. The maximum amount of radiation received was the equivalent of one chest x-ray. The most serious effect of Three Mile Island was that it damaged nuclear powerâ€™s reputation. The United States has not opened any new nuclear power plants since 1979, though four are now under construction following Obamaâ€™s support for new nuclear in Sweden held a ansformation) is based on the view 2012. referendum in 1980, in ore efficiently, and that renewables which Swedes voted to phase out nuclear poBoth these points are correct; wer, though no plants hould stop wasting energy. have been shut down as a result. After Chernobyl, Italy held a referendum in 1987. Italians voted against nuclear power, and the two existing plants were closed down. In the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher had promised to build ten new nuclear power stations. She was good at getting things done, but delivered only one because of increasing public opposition.
had said that German nuclear stations could remain open until the end of their design lives, rather than all closing before 2023, which had been the policy of the German governing coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. After Fukushima, she reversed this position. Some German nuclear stations closed immediately, and all must close by 2023. As a result, Germany is burning more coal and carbon emissions are increasing.
The Fukishima incident has again increased anti-nuclear attitudes. Before the accident, German chancellor Angela Merkel
It will take many decades, however, before any country can be 100 percent reliant on renewable energy. Denmark has set
Germanyâ€™s Energiewende (energy transformation) is based on the view that energy must be used much more efficiently, and that renewables are the best form of energy. Both these points are correct, all countries and citizens should stop wasting energy. Renewables, as the name suggests, will never run out and they produce no greenhouse gases during operation (though low levels are emitted during manufacture and construction). Renewable energy is spread around the world, so renewables increase energy security while also not producing toxic air pollution in the way that burning coal does.
itself a target to be 100 percent renewable by 2050. This is definitely a NIMTO (Not In My Term of Office) target, but Denmark has done well on renewables – particularly wind – in the past. Other countries will take longer. The European Union has a target that 20 percent of all energy (electricity, heat, transport fuel) should come from renewables by 2020. If this is met, 80 percent of the journey will remain to be covered. Before Fukushima, Merkel spoke correctly of the need for “low-carbon bridge technologies” to get us to the destination safely. Nuclear is one such technology. As with renewables, nuclear does not emit greenhouse gases during generation, though some is emitted during construction and decommissioning. The other potential low-carbon bridge technology is carbon capture and storage (CCS). CCS has been used at a small scale and each stage of the electricity generation process, but not yet at a large scale and integrated throughout the process. There is no reason to think that it will not work, but this has yet to be demonstrated, hence, the cost is unknown. The German public is opposed to CCS as well as nuclear energy. They seem to believe that the destination is what matters, and what happens during the time taken to reach it is less important. But this is wrong - the global climate cannot afford increased emissions until whenever Germany arrives at 100% renewables. In any case, Germany has not set itself a target to use only renewables, its target is for 80 percent of electricity to be from renewables by 2050. This is less than a fifth of Germany’s total energy use and there is no target for heating or transport fuel. Nuclear power is not perfect. In an ideal energy world, it would not exist. But we will not live in such a world for at least 50 years, and probably longer. Until then, nuclear power is the lesser of two evils – or, more accurately, four evils; it is less dangerous than coal, oil or gas. The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has said that 150,000 people die each year as a result of climate change – through drought, extreme weather and the spread of diseases. There are some familiar arguments against nuclear power (they are particularly familiar to me, as I believed and expounded them for two decades before changing my mind), and there are clear risks associated with nuclear power, including radioactive emissions, waste, and cost. These are serious and certainly cannot be ignored, however, they are less serious than the risk of a 6 oC rise in global temperatures. With regards to radioactive pollution, strict regulation can ensure that this is kept at very low levels. Anti-nuclear campaigners highlight the claim that nuclear power plants increase the risk of childhood leukaemia – an understandably emotive issue. Yet the claim does not stand up to extensive and impartial scrutiny, such as that undertaken by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment. The highest pollution levels from a plant in the UK are from Sellafield, but Sellafield does not generate
electricity, it reprocesses used fuel. Reprocessing is not necessary for nuclear power and is extremely expensive as well as polluting. Due to its unnecessity for nuclear power as a bridge technology, it should be stopped; nuclear power plants do not represent a health risk. I would be prepared to live next door to one with my children – except that there are not any in London and London is the best place to live (I hope King’s students will agree with me about this, even if you disagree with me about nuclear energy). Nuclear waste is a significant issue, but it can be managed, unlike carbon dioxide waste which, once it’s up in the atmosphere, we can do nothing about. It can even be used again, without reprocessing it, as nuclear waste, and the plutonium that comes out of existing reactors can be used in some types of new nuclear power plants. The UK has accumulated the largest plutonium stockpile in the world, and plutonium can be used to make nuclear bombs. So we had better do something with it, and using it as fuel in new reactors is the most sensible thing to do. In my view, the main risk of nuclear power generation has always been weapons proliferation. Every state that has nuclear bombs has acquired them by developing nuclear power first – except for the US, and Israel, who purchased its weapons from the Americans. Iran is building a nuclear power plant, and not many people believe that it is doing so to get electricity as the country is not short of fossil fuels; the international community believes Iran is doing so in order to enrich uranium to make nuclear weapons. So how is it possible to support nuclear power without accepting weapons proliferation? Surprisingly, we can do so by following the advice of Henry Kissinger (I admit that I find it harder to write that than I did to change my mind on nuclear power). Kissinger suggests an internationally-controlled nuclear fuel bank. Uranium would be enriched by an international organisation, then delivered to a country wishing to use nuclear power. After use, the spent fuel would be returned to the international organisation. The UK should also meet its obligations under the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and give up our nuclear weapons. The Treaty commits us to negotiate disarmament with an aim of elimination, without any timetable. Yet nearly half a century on, the UK has more powerful nuclear weapons, which have no purpose. The Cold War is over. It is not clear who these weapons are aimed at, and they are not an independent nuclear deterrent, since the US controls them. These weapons serve no purpose other than political machismo, and again, I have to agree with Kissinger on this when he says that nuclear weapons are past their sell-by date. He’s been wrong about most things, but he’s right about this. Once they’ve presented the arguments about radioactivity, waste and proliferation, anti-nuclear campaigners then usually propose the economic argument. Indeed, in the UK they often say that they are not “theologically opposed” to nuclear, it’s simply too expensive. It is indeed expensive – the promise that nuclear would
Humpty-Dumpty levels: words mean whatever you want them to. The government – and Labour opposition – should just come clean and say that subsidies for nuclear are necessary because the cost of dealing with uncontrolled climate change would be much greater. This winter’s floods confirm that. Anti-nuclear campaigners often say that renewables are cheaper than nuclear. This may be true, but may also not be true — it all depends how you calculate the costs. Nuclear will get around £90 per unit of electricity for a contract of 35 years, offshore wind is £155 for 15 years. With these calculations, nuclear costs more under the contract. But nuclear plants will last around 60 years, whereas offshore wind only 25. Therefore, the cost per unit of lowcarbon electricity produced over the lifetime of the plant will be lower for nuclear than for offshore wind. Then there is solar power. Solar trade associations proclaim gleefully that solar is cheaper than nuclear. It is possible to come to this conclusion using the relevant figures, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need nuclear. Price isn’t everything, scale matters too. Germany has been giving priority (and billions of Euros) to solar photovoltaics for many years, but solar still produces less than 5 percent of the country’s electricity. That takes us back to the issue of bridge technologies. If an anti-nuclear person ever says to you that nuclear power will deliver “too little, too late,” I suggest you ask them when they think the UK could be 100 percent reliant on renewables, and what we should use in the meantime. I’ve asked this many times, including once to Jonathon Porritt, a prominent British environmentalist and writer. His answer: “I have no idea.”
deliver electricity “too cheap to metre,” which the industry peddled in the 1950s, was wishful thinking if not deliberate deception. But building nuclear power sources is less expensive than investing in coal or gas and dealing with uncontrolled climate change. The 2010 Stern Review on the economics of climate change demonstrated convincingly that it makes better economic sense to invest in cutting emission than to wait and have to deal with the consequences of emissions. Nuclear reactors, however, will never be built without public subsidy. Or at the very least, without public financial support. What exactly is a subsidy? The coalition agreement between the Tories and the LibDems states that new nuclear will be allowed, but with no public subsidy. Chris Huhne – before he became otherwise occupied – went to his party conference and said that there would be “no specific subsidy” for nuclear energy. Then came the Energy Bill, which became an Act in December 2013. The Act sets up complex contracts for all low-carbon generators, under which users will get payments to compensate them for their higher costs. These are in effect subsidies – though the government denies that they are. Energy policy has descended to
Jonathon was director of Friends of the Earth (FoE) when I went to work there (on air pollution) in 1989. He has done good work on the environment, but he is wrong about nuclear power. He is now one of four ex-directors of FoE writing many letters to decision makers, putting the case against nuclear energy. Another of them, Tom Burke, accused nuclear advocates like me of “policy making by body count.” This was on Twitter, so he didn’t have enough characters to explain what this meant. But presumably it means supporting policies which kill fewer people than alternative policies would. If so, I plead guilty to the charge. STEPHEN TINDALE was the Executive Director of Greenpeace in the UK until 2005. He is the co-founder of the environmental organization Climate Answers, and an Associate Fellow at the Centre of European Reform, a think tank that aims to increase the efficiency of the EU and its role in the international community, wherein he focuses on energy and climate policy within the European Union.
By Dr. Roger Howsley
“The Fukushima accident was of course not a nuclear security-related accident. It was not a terrorist attack on the nuclear plant nor an accident that occurred as a result of the theft of nuclear materials. However, there were certain factors behind the accident at Fukushima that might have been prevented had greater consideration been paid to nuclear security in advance. The accident has also created a new problem by exposing a vulnerability — i.e., that major disasters can be caused by power failures not only at the reactors themselves, but also at the surrounding critical facilities.” - The Sasakawa Peace Foundation, September 2012
ince the terrible accident at Fukushima Dai-Ichi in Japan in 2011, the Japanese authorities and its industry have taken extensive measures to both understand the causes of the accident and to implement remedial measures of a legal, regulatory, organisational and technical nature. The incident prompted widespread safety reviews for nuclear organisations throughout the world and some understood, as highlighted by the report from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation above, that there were also security implications from this disaster, just as there were nuclear security implications from the terrorist attacks on non-nuclear facilities in the United States in 2001. At the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS), we believe that all major events, whether driven by natural or malicious causes, should be used as catalysts for review and as learning opportunities that will help us improve current arrangements. This is because safety and security are intimately linked and serve a common objective: the protection of the public and the environment. “I have always said that safety is founded on the principle of continuous improvement. Power plants are routinely and rigorously re-assessed against the latest knowledge and evidence available to us. But no matter how high our standards, the quest for improvement must never stop, by continuing to ask ourselves: “what if?” we will ensure lessons are learned from Fukushima. In many cases, action has already been taken, but work will continue to learn the lessons.” - Dr. Mike Weightman, Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations and Head of the Office for Nuclear Regulation, United Kingdom This paper sets out what we see as the priorities for nuclear security; we offer it as a contribution to the international debate on what needs to change to improve the management and oversight of nuclear security.
Integrating nuclear safety, security and emergency arrangements Safety and security have traditionally been regulated and managed in isolation from each other. Safety management has been the responsibility of operators, engineers, safety managers and scientists, whereas security tends to be the responsibility of a separate function frequently led by ex-military and police personnel with a different professional backgrounds and range of competencies. Similarly, regulators for safety and security have traditionally been located in separate organisations. This situation must change and indeed it has in Japan with the creation of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. The complex, interconnected nature of safety, security and emergency management requires convergence; without it, serious gaps in capability and response will persist. This is why security needs to be integrated into mainstream organisational management and development and why regulators of the two fields need to be integrated as well. It is neither efficient nor effective to consider nuclear safety cases, security vulnerability assessments, and financial and reputational risks separately. Crises are, like the world in which nuclear sites operate, increasingly complex, networked, dynamic and fast moving. For this reason, assessing, mitigating and managing risk is a challenging task that cannot be done in isolation. Emergency planning and response must be fully integrated into both safety and security arrangements. Doing so requires the adoption of an all hazards approach that concentrates on what needs to be done before and during a crisis. It also requires an integrated response that covers emergency arrangements and a proactive, trustworthy, empowered crisis communication mechanism that understands both safety and security.
WINS strongly believes that nuclear safety and security management must be considered throughout the lifetime of the facility, which begins with the facility design and continues through commissioning, operation and decommissioning. A common assessment of risk and shared nuclear liability Nuclear organisations need to recognise that liability for nuclear safety and security invariably rests with them, whether or not they are subject to effective regulation or their regulator has adequately assessed the threat. Their Boards of Directors also need to recognise that insurance arrangements and associated liabilities are influenced by their approach to risk management, risk appetite, profit versus risk attitude, and the overall reputation of their organisation for such matters. Furthermore, their liability is not constrained to nuclear-related legislation; organisations are increasingly being prosecuted for criminal liability when there is evidence of wilful misconduct. Whilst it seems reasonable for nuclear operators to be responsible for on-site nuclear safety, liability for nuclear security is less straightforward because operators do not have direct control over all of the factors that affect it. Examples include a stateâ€™s foreign and domestic security policy, the effectiveness of a stateâ€™s
border controls, and the competence of national threat assessments and responses. Because of this, it seems reasonable that the state-defined design basis threat for security should hold the operator legally bound to protect against a specific set of threats. Additionally, the state should be legally bound to protect against and be accountable for beyond design basis threats. Such shared arrangements should be reflected in the licensing regime and associated insurance and liability arrangements. Furthermore, nuclear insurers should use adjustments in counter-terrorist insurance pricing for implementing risk mitigation measures as determined by independent oversight organisations, just as safety performance is linked to insurance pricing in some areas of the world. This area is under-studied and needs reform. Improved corporate governance As a result of cultural behaviour in any organisation being driven from the top down, it is critical that the Board and senior executives lead their facilityâ€™s nuclear security culture by example. No one can guarantee whether or not a terrorist attack will occur; if one should take place, organisations must be able to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to prepare for
and respond to such an event. This is also true in the case of external events that cause physical damage to a facility, such as civil unrest and natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. Implementing an integrated approach to risk management requires that operators and their oversight Boards put in place the same effective oversight arrangements for nuclear security that they have already put in place for the performance and compliance of safety, finances and the environment. Given that the leaders of the organisation have ultimate legal responsibility for risk oversight and compliance, they would be well advised to approach risk management by considering the consequences that could occur if an event were to happen rather than the likelihood of it happening. Nuclear organisations should publish their security oversight arrangements annually in their Corporate Social Responsibility Reports. Peer review and sharing best practices - building confidence After Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the international community and nuclear operators established organisations and systems that enabled them to share best safety practices and conduct peer reviews. Further lessons and improvements to those systems have been identified following the events in Japan and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) announced significant changes at its 2011 Biennial General Meeting including:
To expand the scope of WANO peer reviews and other WANO programmes to focus not only on preventing a nuclear event, but also on mitigating the consequences of one if it should occur. This includes adding emergency preparedness and severe accident management to existing WANO activities.
To strengthen WANO peer review activities to include more frequent station peer reviews and conduct a corporate peer review at each member utility within the next six years.
To improve the quality and consistency of all of WANO's activities and services, starting with thorough self assessments of each WANO Region and the London Office.
To put in place an internal emergency response procedure that clearly defines roles and responsibilities in the event of a nuclear emergency. WANO will take the additional initiative of working with other key industry organisations to integrate their planning.
Unfortunately, the international sharing of best security practices — and how to integrate them into mainstream nuclear operations — has lagged behind. One major reason for this is an unjustified belief that it is not possible to share best security
practices because it would involve the exchange of classified information. Given the importance of an integrated approach to nuclear safety, security and risk management, and the need to learn from international experience, such attitudes must now change. The nuclear industry and its regulators need to understand that it is possible to share best management practices relating to security while maintaining secrecy of site-specific arrangements. In fact it is not only possible but critical that they do so. It is also critical that such an approach be implemented internationally on a systematic basis. “One simple measure would make a big difference: All countries should allow peer reviews of their nuclear security arrangements by international experts. Peer reviews have been shown to work — for example in improving safety at nuclear power plants. Everyone benefits. Bringing experts in nuclear security together to share their experience is a no-brainer. More countries need to do it.” , 2013 - Yukiya Amano, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, 2013 Sensible goals for experience-sharing at the international level include achieving interoperability in a crisis, conducting effective safety and security exercises, breaking down information silos, and achieving a collective shared view of risks and associated governance mechanisms. Education and training - building capacity Nuclear security training is currently under resourced and overlooked. Any assessment of worldwide training and education programmes will elicit a stark contrast between safety and security. Nuclear safety training is widely available, well-structured and frequently accredited, and it is the norm for nuclear safety management to be demonstrably competent, experienced and well-trained. The same framework and availability of training, however, does not exist in any structured way for those personnel with accountabilities for nuclear security.
“The nuclear industry and its regulators need to understand that it is possible to share best management practices relating to security while maintaining secrecy of sitespecific arrangements.” One of the major challenges in this regard is that no internationally-recognised criteria have yet been developed for the accreditation and training of security personnel. The nuclear community needs to resolve this situation by formulating and implementing recognised competence levels and associated certification schemes, just as they exist for nearly every profession from cardiology to hairdressing. Doing so will be the first stage in creating a
certification system that will encourage personnel with security accountabilities to obtain the necessary skills and experience to integrate their activities into mainstream nuclear operations. Conclusions and the way forward Events in Japan have raised global, long-lasting challenges. This is a time of considerable uncertainty and risk — both reputational and financial — for the entire nuclear industry. Failure to shape the post-Fukushima environment in such a way that inspires confidence in the operation of existing facilities and the new construction of nuclear facilities presents a significant, long-term obstacle to the industry’s development. More of the same from the international community is not enough; now is the time to seize the opportunity to introduce a collaborative regulatory and corporate governance framework that is robust enough to meet the increasingly complex, networked risk environment that we face. The time has now come to integrate risk management and nuclear regulation, improve the corporate governance of security performance and encourage an “all hazards” approach as the industry norm. Peer reviews and the sharing of best security practices internationally should be encouraged and implemented in a structured and effective manner. Furthermore, training and education for security management needs to be improved and accredited. The Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) and the Nuclear Industry Summit (NIS), to be held in the Netherlands in March 2014, three years after the Fukushima accident, provide further opportunities for governments and the industry to demonstrate their commitment to improving nuclear security and its governance; or will we have to wait for a significant security incident to occur before assurance mechanisms and peer review become realities? DR. ROGER HOWSLEY is the Executive Director of the World Institute of Nuclear Security (WINS). WINS is the first international nongovernmental organization of its kind. Developed by the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the United States Department of Energy, the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management, and with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency, WINS brings experts in nuclear security, nuclear industry, governments, international organizations and academia together to address issues associated with the security of nuclear facilities and materials around the world. WINS has over 1,700 members from over 90 countries and is based in Vienna, Austria.
By Stoyan Panov
he protests in Ukraine largely erupted as a result of the deci- Soviet Union space. Others criticize the technocratic, elite-oriented sion of Ukraine’s President Yanukovich to make a rapid u- approach in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) by placing six ex-Soviet turn in the strategic orientation of Ukraine. He rejected to sign a republics under one chapeau and relying too heavily on the aspre-accession agreement and deep comprehensive trade agreement sumption that regulatory standards may engender the necessary with the EU in November 2013 at the Vilnius Summit of the East- impetus for domestic reforms. More importantly, Ukraine could be ern Partnership. Such a political reversal could be perceived as the seen as a battle of identities. result of the growing disparity between the identity of the political The main struggle in Ukraine is that in light of the recent elites and the citizens of Ukraine. What ensued did not surprise most political analysts in light of similar protest movements in violent events in January 2014, there is an emerging abyss between what some portions of society Bulgaria and Turkey, but the curwant, and what the ruling elite can rent volatile situation necessitates further and firmer involvement of “The best and most natural allies of the US offer. Yanukovich prioritized oththe US and the EU, in the present and EU are the people of Ukraine (…)” er interstes: dubiously financing the almost bankrupt economy and and future disparity in Ukraine. ascertaining his power positions domestically over measuring the The protests could be taken as a reaction against the qua- pulse of society regarding the orientation and development of si-authoritarian decision-making apparatus of Yanukovich, which Ukraine. Such developments should be also seen through the had hoped to orient Ukraine towards a more EU-inspired future, prism of the increasing muscle flexing on part of Russia in the rather than a return to the old habits of close reliance on Moscow. second half of 2013 preceding the Vilnius summit along with the Some commentators place Ukraine as a major player in the post- rather technocratic, elite-oriented approach by the EU and the US
towards Ukraine. Nonetheless, the EaP should be given due credit for influencing the resurgence of the civil society in Ukraine and re -energizing the pursuit of the creation of a state based on essential principles; such as the rule of law and equality before it, anticorruption initiatives, a transparent administration and police, as well as economic prosperity. Ukraine may choose a future in which it is not perceived as a hinterland between the civilization of institutions and the nebula of arbitrary rule, as Applebaum suggests. The US must reconsider its approach towards the current Ukrainian leadership. Since the Vilnius trick, it is hardly surprising that Yanukovich has been playing a selfish balancing act of obtaining a deal for himself, both domestically with upcoming presidential elections in 2015, if not earlier, and internationally in terms of securing an elusive salvage straw of financial aid from Moscow. In return, Ukraine is facing an ever-tightening grip from Russia, based on unclear loan arrangements. The reforms might not be implemented, the Russian financial aid may cease and it would need to be repaid in some political form or another. More problematically, the Ukrainian political elite in power seems to be determined to isolate the voices of the disagreeing. The violent suppression of demonstrations in Kiev, the police brutality as well as the legislative initiatives to restrict the freedom of assembly and political expression in addition to the consequent repeal of the â€œ16 Januaryâ€? laws are clear indications that the approach to Kiev must be firm and determined to ascertain the protection of essential civic freedoms. Sanctions may be applied if the escalation continues. For example, the US is known to pressure similar elites through freezing of corrupt-origin assets. Rampant human rights abuses should not be tolerated, especially when such violation of freedom and political expression are in an ECHR state party. The US should also focus its energy and capabilities to defuse the increasingly volatile situation. External actors should strongly oppose the eventual imposition of emergency situation, push for amnesty laws for the political detainees, and seek for a peaceful resolution of such volatile circumstances. The most optimal exit of this situation which threatens to splinter the country seems to point in the direction of new elections, a political development requiring Yanukovich to step down from office. Any other development might cross the thin, red line which has been drawn on the streets of Ukraine. The best and most natural allies of the US and EU are the people of Ukraine. Despite the mass media campaign against the US, Washington must be proactive in ensuring that the citizens of Ukraine do not pay the price of the incompetence of their government. The transatlantic ties may be strengthened through various tested programs such as scholarship exchanges, cultural cooperation, targeted visa restrictions for the regime, or even trade deals with certain regions which are pro-atlanticist-oriented. The Ukrainians on the Euromaidan who have already chosen their future and their political, social and cultural aspirations must not
be left isolated. The need for a state based on the rule of law with strong, independent and transparent institutions is what may be perceived as a threat to those who want to operate beyond or above the law; nonetheless, the generational and ideological changes cannot be reversed easily. The US along with the EU should also be active in promoting a political representation of what the majority of the Ukrainian population wants in terms of creating a new, stable political structure. This is needed in order to bring about long-needed reforms and potential constitutional changes in the form of a government that reflects the politically diverse society. Such political processes, with the ultimate goal of establishing functioning and independent institutions, founded on the rule of law, are a longhaul task, primarily rooted on the identity of the citizens and the notion of a strong civil society. Additionally, the US may offer valuable assistance in capacity building and promotion of necessary reforms in the judiciary and the law enforcement sectors in order to engender a notion within society that these two valuable sectors serve and protect society. With strong public oversight this may help to break the link with the totalitarian and repressive practices of the police being a tool of the political elite. Years of radical reforms including an overhaul of the administration, opening the economy, standardization closer to the EU norms, transparency in the police and government in general, besides the establishment of a solid rule of law may need to pass before any realistic chances are opened before Ukraine. The road to the EU is long and arduous, full of uncertainties but offering stability and elimination of corrupt practices, such as election tampering, media manipulation, biased and repressive police forces, lack of independent judiciary, or low economic standards. It is in the US interest to support the efforts of the aspiring democracy to continue the path towards an eventual EU membership. A free Europe is not a utopia but a leading political goal in the transatlantic relations between the US, EU and other European states. It is in the best interest of the US and EU to form a firm, common position in order to avail the necessary support and assistance in this fragile and volatile situation. STOYAN PANOV is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Birmingham.
By Hans Peter Schmitz
he United States and other developed nations play a crucial Addressing NCDs has become a growing concern at the role in addressing the rapidly growing global harm caused by WHO, the World Economic Forum, and the United Nations non-communicable diseases (NCDs), which include cancer, diabe(UN). Following the second health-focused UN high-level meeting tes, cardiovascular diseases, chronic respiratory diseases, and menin 2011, WHO member states agreed to a 25 percent relative retal illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified duction in premature mortality from NCDs by 2025. Specific tarfour main risk factors: smoking, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and gets include 30 percent reductions in smoking and salt/sodium physical inactivity. Today, 63 percent of all deaths are caused by intake, 10 percent reduction in harmful use of alcohol and physical NCDs. The vast majority of these deaths is preventable and occurs inactivity, as well as substantial increases in drug therapy, counselin the developing world. While malnutrition and communicable ing and supply of NCD medicines. These objectives will be a cendiseases such as malaria or HIV/AIDS still pose significant chaltral part of global health efforts beyond the Millennium Developlenges, states have for too long ment Goals ending in 2015. â€œFailure to rein in non-communicable diseases Failure to rein in NCDs will neglected NCDs. Today, 80 percent of smokers live in lowwill have significant detrimental effects on the have significant detrimental and middle income nations effects on the economic and six million are killed every economic growth of many developing nations[...]â€? growth of many developing year by cigarettes. Alcohol is nations, because these risk the top risk factor accounting for deaths among the 15-59 year old factors are responsible for a rapidly increasing number of preventdemographic globally, while the number of obese people in develable deaths in the working population. In 2011 the World Ecooping nations increased from 250 million to 904 million between nomic Forum estimated that NCDs would cause a total loss in 1980 and 2008. Unfortunately, a majority of developing nations global output of US$ 47 trillion in the next 20 years, amounting to lack not only the health care systems to deal with these challenges, 75 percent of global GDP for 2010 (US$ 63 trillion). Many middle but also the state capacity to adopt and enforce effective policies -income nations are already facing major economic losses, for exand programs designed to prevent harm in the first place. ample, Brazil is facing costs of US$ 72 billion annually due to treatment of chronic diseases and productivity losses.
What is the role of the United States government and USbased philanthropies and non-governmental groups focused on global health issues? First the good news: with regard to smoking, the United States serves as an example of how to effectively reduce harm in only one generation. In 2012, 18 percent of the US population were smokers, down from more than 40 percent in the mid1960s. Importantly, the mobilization against smoking and big tobacco companies provides key lessons about what policies work and what policies do not work. Education and awareness-raising have proven to have little positive effects, unless they focus on informing the public about the industry’s manipulative marketing efforts. In contrast, policies that have worked include: raising taxes, creating smoke-free environments, and banning advertising and other forms of marketing and promotion (in movies or at sport events). The tobacco case clearly shows that government has a major role to play in addressing public health issues, a role that has to directly challenge and limit the profit interests of industries.
“[...]the US government regularly resists exemptions to free trade agreements that are designed to protect or advance public health.” However, beyond tobacco, matters become a lot more complicated. With regard to alcohol and food, many of the lessons from the tobacco case have yet to be applied. More importantly, in addressing risk factors such as alcohol use and unhealthy diet, the United States turns from being a leading example to being a major obstacle to effective policies needed in low and middle-income nations. At the WHO, the US government regularly insists on giving corporations and its lobbyists equal footing with health experts and civil society in terms of access to policy making. The kind of corporate interests the US government favors are not those that are adversely affected by the spread of NCDs. While a vast majority of corporations are faced with significant future losses as NCDs adversely affect the health of their work forces, those effectively lobbying on NCDs and capturing the US government’s attention are tobacco, alcohol, and food companies. While US government and Big Tobacco have largely parted ways domestically, they frequently pursue a common agenda internationally. Also, the US government regularly resists exemptions to free trade agreements that are designed to protect or advance public health. Recent negotiations regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a planned free trade zone between at least twelve nations of the Americas and Asia-Pacific, have been sharply criticized by public health experts because they empower corporations to directly challenge national regulations. To witness, in 2011 Philip Morris notified the Australian government of its intention to legally challenge national measures against tobacco based on Australia’s obligations under free trade agreements. While the Australian government stood its ground in this case, it is unlikely that low and middleincome nations will be able to do the same when faced with similar pressures by transnational corporations.
At the same time, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, being the leading global funder for health, has focused little to no attention on NCDs. While there are many deserving causes, not addressing NCDs is increasingly problematic when considering the comparative return on investment, in particular as addressing NCDs is relatively cheap and proven interventions have existed for many decades. Among the US-based foundations, Bloomberg Philanthropies leads the way, having invested US$ 600 million in global tobacco control since 2007. Additionally, it has drawn attention to obesity and road safety. While hundreds of millions invested to address NCDs are certainly better than nothing, these amounts remain negligible on a global scale and need to be complemented by much more aggressive national tax policies and restrictions on marketing. Most importantly, the combined good that US-based foundations and civil society may project abroad is quickly erased by the actions of US government representatives advancing corporate interests in international trade negotiations. The point is not to create a world of “nanny states” with prohibition-like practices. The point is also not to shut out the corporate sector from addressing NCDs and global health challenges. The survival of healthcare systems as well as the quality of life of billions of people around the world depends on effectively addressing NCDs based on education, taxation, and regulation. Referring to the tobacco experience, it is clear that the governance framework for facing these issues globally and nationally needs to contain clear restrictions on the influence of corporate interests. In addressing NCDs, the United States needs to bring into greater alignment both its domestic and international positions, as well as to advance a more explicit public health perspective across the multitude of externally oriented governmental and non-governmental efforts.
HANS PETER SCHMITZ is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. He is the co-founder of the Transnational NGO Initiative at the Maxwell School. His research interests include global health, transnational activism, and corporate social responsibility.
By Mariangel Molina
s I begin my second semester of college in the United States, dential candidates have simultaneously nourished and taken adI can honestly say I have never been prouder of being Costa vantage of the society’s implanted notion that the political situaRican. There are few things more rewarding than watching a tion has gone wrong, and that we have practically failed as a state. stranger’s face light up in amazement when I tell them where I The pessimistic attitudes are generally used to promote a radical come from. People’s minds immediately gravitate towards what change, a change in a direction Costa Rica has never seen before. they know or have heard about the place: prime tourist attraction, Costa Rica has enjoyed a flourishing democracy ever immensely biodiverse rainforests, and welcoming people. Howevsince 1950, much earlier than any other Latin American country. er, every time I go back to my home country, I find it rather upsetHowever, for the first time now, the country is actually considerting that most Ticos (Costa Ricans) seem to have forgotten all the ing the possibility of electing the leftist candidate Luis Guillermo positive aspects that our nation can be proud of, they are rather Solis. Many regard this as a prosolely preoccupied with all that has gone wrong in the social and “(...) the media has been extremely critical of test against Chinchilla’s adminwhich is perceived as political realms, as the upcoming the current presidential administration, the istration, dishonest and futile. Some people presidential elections approach us. one of the first female head of state of the seem to be protesting in a stubTo be more precise, the drawbacks of the past government country Mrs. Laura Chinchilla. It has thus born, rash way, without completely analyzing the aggregate costs administrations. Nevertheless, I do not blame them, for not too depicted it as one of the biggest fiascos the for the country, while others defend it as a much needed change. long ago I too could only see the country has ever faced.” The question then becomes: is negative aspects of the country. Costa Rica really as bad as they make it seem? Have the past thirty They are still there, but being away for a while has helped me reyears really gone by in vain to the detriment of our nation? Should member and open my eyes to everything we still have reasons to we really give up on the freedoms we are used to and restructure be proud of. our country in the way that the opposition candidate suggests (or In the last couple of years the media has been extremely tries to suggest)? critical of the current presidential administration - the one of the I agree that as a developing nation there are many things first female head of state of the country Mrs. Laura Chinchilla. It we should improve, and we should do so urgently, starting with has thus depicted it as one of the biggest fiascos the country has the reduction of the current indexes of poverty. Acknowledging ever faced. This pessimistic perception has been transferred onto that 1 in every 5 people lives below the poverty line is a troubleall administrations of the past thirty years, because they were all some reality. Our road network needs serious improvement as it part of the same political elite, even though they did not necessarishould not take people 2 hours to transit what could easily be ly all do a poor job. The negativity in the media has impregnated done in 25 minutes if there was no traffic congestion or if half the the society with a cynical standpoint that is not typical to Costa lanes or bridges were not regularly closed due to repairs. People Ricans. We second-guess every decision the government makes, should not have to wait months to get appointments at the public assign a hidden agenda to any measures taken and regard anyone medical institutions either, and therefore social security and public involved in the government apparatus as corrupted. New presi-
healthcare systems should maximize their efficiency. Costa Ricans should be able to see where their tax money is being allocated and assimilated, instead of wondering where it all goes. These are just some of the multiple pressing issues that need addressing. However, the negative aspects of the political and social life in the country do not mean that the past thirty years have been an utter failure, nor do they mean that we have nothing to be proud of.
“The negativity in the media has impregnated the society with a cynical standpoint that is not typical to Costa Ricans.” People are failing to see that many social and economic indexes actually demonstrate that the Costa Rican standard of living has in fact improved in recent decades. For example, we rank first in Latin American Quality of Education according to the World Economic Forum (2012-2013), as well as in the Global Index of Innovation according to Cornell University (2013). We also rank first in the Index of Freedom of the Press according to Reporters Without Borders (2013), and in the Environmental Performance Index according to Yale University (2012). We seem to have forgotten that in 2009 and 2012 we were voted the world’s happiest country, and no one has paid proper attention on how
crime violence has diminished and how more foreigners are coming to visit and invest in our country now than ever before. But how could people detain themselves to observe these positive trends when all they constantly hear from the media is bad news? I hope that this February 2, 2014 Ticos remember that we do have reasons to thank past administrations and that if democracy has brought us this far, we should not heed unjustified reprimands of past administrations and seek a reckless change. Instead we should continue to work towards becoming the developed nation we want to be and to appoint those most capable of being head of government. If we do, then hopefully sooner rather than later once again most Costa Ricans will be proud of their country, and all the beauty it has to offer, rather than dwell in the negative portrayal the local media insists to depict. We must be cautious and we must work to change what we disapprove of and yet never forget all that we can already appreciate. If other nations admire what we have to offer, then why can’t we? I hope that those who are still there will notice this soon enough. MARIANGEL MOLINA is a first year Civil Engineering BSc student at University of California-Berkeley, United States.
By Carolina Matos
t is not just the hosting of the World Cup and the next general presidential elections of 2014 that are destined to make this year a particularly gripping one for Brazil. Four years after the debates on media reform at the National Communication Conference (Confecom) in 2009, the challenges for fortifying media democratization remain, and are as pressing as the need to combat political corruption and improve public health and education services to all sectors of the population. It is hoped that Brazil will respond more actively to the increasing demands being made from various sectors of the population, from civil society representatives to international NGOs, for an up to date media legislation on broadcasting concessions, on Internet regulation as well as wider media reforms to comply with public interest rationales. An essential debate that needs to be pursued with maturity, public spirit and rational deliberation is what exactly is understood by the concepts of “freedom of the press” and “regulation”. The argument that the state should intervene whenever there is a “market failure” is still powerful today in Europe. The recent 2013 report, A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy, argued that the state should intervene to reinforce media pluralism, consid-
ered a key public good. In a context where the lack of proper regulation of financial markets inevitably culminated in the 2008 economic global recession, to believe that a small group of people are the ultimate definers of freedom of the press and represent fully the complexity and diversity of the societies that they are inserted in, without being influenced by political and economic pressures and their own biases, shows a lack of understanding of human nature and is, at best, incredibly naïve. Some contemporary examples attest to the abuses that can be committed by the press within the free market, such as the current disillusionment in Britain with Murdoch’s News Corporation in the wake of the phone hacking scandal and the Leveson Inquiry. The latter has called for more press regulation of newspapers, which need to be more in line with the public obligations and standards traditionally placed on broadcasting, as well as being subject to heavy penalties for press abuses. As Norris points out, media systems can strengthen good governance and promote positive development, if there is a free and independent press capable of really performing a watchdog role and acting as a civic forum of de-
bate between competing interests. This does not mean that a “free and independent” media should be equated solely with a view of individual liberty in the libertarian sense, one which sees state intervention as “censorship”, but rather with the republican ideal which requires that all should have access to information of quality and debate, to exercise their communication rights and to be included in the mediated public sphere. Famous for his theory on the public sphere, which has guided a lot of liberal political thinking on the relationship between the media and democracy, the German philosopher Jurgen Habermas has been instrumental in underlining the correlation between an advanced democracy and the existence of an informed citizenry that has access to a range of diverse opinions and debates on crucial issues that are of their concern, and who are socially included in the public sphere. In contemporary advanced democracies the means of guaranteeing this diversity has been through media policy and regulation.
and television programming, from the establishment of the impartiality criteria to the grating of space to local productions. The year of 2014 promises to be a defining year for Brazil, and this is not just due to the elections of new members of Congress, Senate and President. Among some of the key issues which will be put forward for public debate in 2014 will be the draft law for the regulation of the Internet, which aims to legislate on web neutrality to intellectual property, and the Lei da Midia Democratica (i.e. the Law on Democratic Media). Created by many organizations linked to the National Forum for Media Democratization (FNDC), one of the main organizations behind the Confecom debates, the bill is being presented by civil society representatives and by MPs of the Freedom of Expression front. Although there is still a lot to be done, experts in the field underline some of the advancements of the last years, including the creation of the new public media, EBC, responsible for TV Brasil, and the Law of Access to Information.
During a conference in Brazil in 2013, Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, criticised the levels of media concentration in the country, stating that these are the biggest threats to Many academics argue that the ratification of the key articles of the 1988 Brazilian Constipress freedom. In a country tution on the theme would be of nearly 200 million people, “Brazil is also lagging behind other Latin a significant step forward. the 7th largest economy (just American countries when it comes to media This includes the constitubelow the UK), there are reform and the revisiting of outdated laws tional article on media mostill approximately ten famithat were created before the dictatorship.” nopoly (articles 220); the lies who own the main complementary dimension in newspapers, television and broadcasting concessions between the public, private and magazines, including the Marinhos of Globo Organisations, Frias of the Folha Group and Civita’s Editora Abril, of the state systems (article 223); the preference given to educational, artistic and cultural programming in broadcasting (article weekly Veja. 221, i) and the encouragement of independent production Brazil is also lagging behind other Latin American (article 221, ii). Judging from Brazil’s current political and countries when it comes to media reform and the revisiting economic context, it seems evident that it cannot shy away of outdated laws that were created before the dictatorship. from addressing the relationship between media and develTo adapt these laws, on technical as well as rational opment, and how a better and more competitive (and less grounds, to the current digital media environment is cru- monopolistic) media will reflect more the diversity of cial. Examples to learn from do not just include the more views of its society, being closely aligned with the polemic case of Argentina, with its new Law on Audio- country’s democratic project and its strive to become a more visual Communication Services and the requirement for a advanced democratic nation. more equitable distribution of TV and cable licences, many of which were in the hands of the media group Clarin. CAROLINA MATOS They include the case of Uruguay, which has created a new is a Lecturer in Sociology at City University London. legislation on the topic, including anti-monopoly articles and fixing at 15 years the limit for the renewal of radio and TV concessions. This is not to mention other countries in Europe, like England, France and Germany, where media regulation has created parameters and standards for radio
By Zoé Canal Brunet
hen US President Kennedy first imposed trade restrictions agreement in 1953. In fact, the embargo serves as an excuse for the on Cuba in 1960 – later extended to a full embargo in Castro administration, which blames the precarious economic situ1962 – the island was just subject to one of many consequences of ation in the island on the harsh American sanctions. The consethe bilateral confrontation between the West and the Soviet Union. quent anti-Americanism amongst Cubans when confronted to It arguably then made sense to ban Castro’s regime from the bene- shortages arguably reinforces the appeal of the socialist model of fits of trading with the largest economy in the world, hoping that the Castro brothers. shortage and inflation would soon bring to an end the socialist The Florida electorate is key to understanding this relationgovernment that was threatening America at its doorstep. However, this month will mark the fifty-second anniversary of the full ship, as it is composed of a significant Cuban American percentage embargo on Cuba, and while the USSR did not make it to the and impacts the outcome of presidential elections, as well as the twenty-first century, the Castro brothers are still in power. The loss legislation passed by Congress concerning Cuba. Generations of Cuban Americans, who of the Soviet Union as a trade partner and an “Trade creates the habits of freedom”, which “begin to cre- fled their home country to escape the socialist ally damaged its econoate the expectations of democracy and demands for better reforms, resent the my, but Cuba is still present on the internademocratic institutions. Societies that are open to com- 1959 revolution and want to punish Castro. tional scene and counts merce across their borders are more open to democracy Some members of the on many trading partAmerican Senate opners. While the US within their borders” posing the reforming administration normalized relations with former Cold War enemies such as China, what of the embargo are also Cuban Americans themselves, such as Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez. Similarly, the Congress chairare the possible reasons behind the continued embargo on Cuba? woman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Ileana RosFormer US President George W. Bush justified it as a Lehtinen, and House Appropriations Committee member Mario “moral statement”. But while the undemocratic nature of the Cu- Diaz-Balart, remain remarkably influential figures. They fear that ban regime cannot be contested, the United States administration lifting restrictions on Cuba would just benefit Raúl and Fidel Casis trading with authoritarian countries such as Saudi Arabia and tro personally and strengthen their regime as most industries are China, which both hold much higher records of human rights controlled by the state. The possible end of the American embargo abuses. “Trade creates the habits of freedom,” which “begin to also represents economic concerns for the sugar growers of Floricreate the expectations of democracy and demands for better dem- da, who fear a flow of cheap Cuban sugar to the US market would ocratic institutions. Societies that are open to commerce across destabilize the prices. their borders are more open to democracy within their borders,” The end of the embargo would, however, benefit both said President Bush in an attempt to justify trade with the Middle East and China. This is a perfect illustration of American hypocrisy countries economically. Estimations show that the American econwith regards to the economic restrictions imposed on the island. If omy lost up to $1.2 billion annually from the trade restrictions on the US had sustained trade with Cuba, its exposure to freedom and the island and that lifting them could create nearly 6,000 jobs in liberalism could have arguably created a strong democratic move- the United States. The American Chamber of Commerce has, for ment among the population that could have paved the way for that matter, been one of the strongest advocates of a reform and reform, as was the case in Franco’s Spain after the bilateral trade the Texas Senate has voted in favour of a complete abolition of
the embargo as Cuba’s oil output increased by 400 percent over a decade. In 2000, there was, nonetheless, a relaxing of the restriction with the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act allowing cash only sales of US farm products and medical supplies, which resulted in American crop sales to Cuba amounting to $250 million in the following year. In 2005, Cuba ranked 25th among the world’s biggest purchasers of American farm products and fifth in Latin America (higher than Brazil).
“The end of the embargo would, however, benefit both countries economically. Estimations show that the American economy lost up to $1.2 billion annually from the trade restrictions on the island and that lifting them could create nearly 6,000 jobs in the United States.” President Obama deepened the lifting of some aspects of the restrictions on Cuba, initiated by the Act of 2000, by relaxing the travel policies in 2009. A change of demographics in the swing state of Florida could allow more change to be forthcoming. Cuban American refugees are little by little being outnumbered by Cuban economic migrants, who feel less bitter about Castro’s policies and are more eager to travel and send money freely back to their home country. Many expect further consistent policies to be introduced since President Obama will not be running for the next elections and therefore is not concerned with the contentment level of Florida’s electorate, even though he seems reluctant to experience yet another altercation with the Republicans. Additionally, his Cuban counterpart Raul Castro, who took over the presidency from his brother Fidel in 2008, seems little inclined to negotiate issues that could stand in the way of an improvement of bilateral relations, such as the imprisonment of Alan Gross, an American national who was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2011. The political deadlock should nonetheless be overcome to end what Peter Kornblush called “the longest lasting failure in US foreign policy history”. Last October, the United Nations voted for the 22nd year in a row in favour of the end of the US embargo on Cuba by 188 to 2 (only the US and Israel unsurprisingly voted against it), and the restrictions on a natural trading partner only 145km away from the American coasts have lost its raison d’être. ZOÉ CANAL BRUNET is a third year European Studies BA student at King's College London.
By Ethan Brooks
lthough it may not be something that comes to mind immediately, President Maduro’s Venezuela possesses the largest proven oil reserves in the world, with, by some estimates, just under 297,570 billion barrels of oil — nearly 20 percent of global reserves. The Bolivian Republic has reserves greater than Saudi Arabia, and more than Iran and Iraq combined. At the moment, due to the poor conditions of its fields, the weaknesses of its state oil company Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA), and the low grade of the oil, Venezuela accounts for less than 5 percent of global oil production at just over 3 million barrels a day.
For countries that don’t rely on oil exports for income, a fall in prices acts as an economic stimulus. People pay less to fuel their cars and heat their homes. Fuel takes such great importance in the average basket of goods that inflation is low allowing an increase in consumer spending. Life is good.
Venezuelans should be among the richest in the world. Indeed, by 1978 it seemed that this was going to be the case, but today the country is still poor and unequal; its per capita wealth is around $13,000 USD. When we compare it to another oil endowed country, albeit one even less democratic, we see that it’s three times poorer than Saudi Arabia. Even this sad figure obscures much of the country’s problems. In recent years the price of oil has been high, sweetening the figures.
The industry is capital-intensive and creates few jobs, so during “oil booms,” governments have an incentive to create many as they wish to share the wealth. When these states are poor to begin with, governments tend to build large-state controlled economies to marshal growth as quickly as possible. Outlining his vision for “La Gran Venezuela” in the 1970s, this was clear to President Pérez, who claimed, “We couldn’t lose time.” The state becomes a battle ground for the distribution of oil wealth and rent seeking behaviour allowing strong men like Chávez to entrench cronies and weaken democracy. A phenomenon known as “Dutch disease” also strikes. This is a combination of currency appreciation that renders exports uncompetitive, and the “business” of getting a share of the oil wealth replacing hard-work, innovation
Did it have to be this way? Maybe. I would argue though that Venezuela is the archetype resource-cursed petro-state. Its story illuminates the difficulties faced by the many countries that fall into this category, Nigeria and Russia among them.
The fortunes of the major oil exporters are even more tied to the price of oil. For petro-states like Venezuela, oil exports make up to 90 percent of export earnings and vast bulks of their economies. Therefore, when crude prices plummet, GDP follows.
and entrepreneurship. When prices drop, what follows can only be spiralling deficits and sudden budget cuts. When the state threatens to turn off the taps, unrest and great political change follow. It was one such episode that brought Chávez to national prominence in Venezuela. Nearly a year on from his death after a 14-year presidency, his economic legacy is laid bare. Even with oil prices just under $100 a barrel, public spending is out of control. In 2013, the budget deficit was 8.5 percent of GDP and growth scant. The country’s infrastructure is crumbling and disorder is spreading. But Venezuela has been here once before and its experience of economic hardship and political turmoil 20 years ago can teach us a lot about how Maduro can fare in averting disaster. During the first oil boom, President Carlos Andrés Pérez oversaw a transformation of the country and the first nationalisation of the oil industry in 1976. Unlike other nations in a developing world swept by resource nationalism, Pérez’s government carried out the nationalisation well. Venezuelans already held most jobs in the industry so nationalisation meant a change in control, not personnel. In 1979 Pérez left the presidency, and while money flowed things seemed fine. Prices fell, however, and the country tumbled into crisis. The deep state built on the mirage of oil wealth was suddenly unaffordable and debt crippled the state as huge swathes of revenues were diverted to fund payments to foreign creditors. Slums grew around Caracas. Initial populist reactions involved a complex array of price controls causing distortion and hardship. By the time Pérez returned to the presidency in 1989, incomes had returned to 1973 levels. He sought a way out of the crisis, but the unpopularity of his budget cuts and liberalisation sparked riots and political opposition. This was the climate in which Chávez rose to power, and this choice still faces Maduro today. Despite Lieutenant-Colonel Chávez’s coup failing in 1992, Pérez’s unpopularity allowed him to be ousted by political enemies in 1993 after a Supreme Court ruling for embezzlement went against him. This should also provide a lesson for Maduro; factional fighting is rife in his government too. By the middle of the 1990s, the only way out was to increase oil production. To facilitate this, the PDVSA head proposed an opening or “la aperture” of Venezuela’s oil industry. Rather than a rolling back of nationalisation, the international companies were to be invited to invest in joint ventures with the PDVSA. The state required expertise and money only the oil majors possessed. It seemed that ideology was to be done away with, but as things turned out, ‘la aperture’ proved too controversial. Caldera, Chávez’s predecessor, was sold on “la apertura,” but Chávez, a deeply ideological man, saw “la aperture” as selling out to “the foreigner.” After his election in 1999, he fired Luis
Guisti, the head of the PDVSA behind “la aperture” and reversed the changes. Under new laws, royalties paid by private companies dramatically increased and by 2007, he announced the industry’s renationalisation. The government took a majority share in the ventures being operated by the oil firms. Chevron, Total and British Petroleum agreed to the plan, which allowed them to continue operating as minority shareholders. As a result of a failure to agree terms, however, the PDVSA took over projects owned by ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.
“(…)Maduro will have to discard Chavismo, betraying the legacy of the man whose popularity won him the presidency.” The policy saw oil production in Venezuela fall from 3.2 million barrels per day in 1998, to 2.4 million by 2004 and kept falling until 2010. It was noted that the PDVSA could not increase production to deliver people the riches they expected of an oil-rich state. The problems are as linked to refinement as it is to drilling, and thus there is a bottleneck in Venezuelan production. US experts estimate that it would take investment of up to $32 billion to build the upgrading units necessary for the country’s heavy crude and unconventional oil reserves. In order to bring this investment to Venezuela, Maduro will have to discard Chavismo, betraying the legacy of the man whose popularity won him the presidency. He will also need to review the possibility of another “apertura.” This would be politically toxic, as would rolling back the price controls that have caused distortions and left the economy in ruins. Even though it has experienced a decade long oil boom and has the resources it does, Venezuela has the worst-performing economy in South America. This is Chávez’s legacy and the reason Maduro ought to abandon his “Socialism for the 21st Century.” ETHAN BROOKS is a second year BA International Politics student at King’s College London. This article was originally published by The Strife blog and can be found at: http://strifeblog.org/2014/02/05/petro-state-after-hugochavezs-tumultuous-presidency-how-can-nicolas-maduro -avert-disaster-in-venezuela/
By Robert Picciotto
he Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were universally endorsed at the turn of the century. The first and most quoted goal – halving absolute poverty by 2015 – was reached five years ahead of schedule according to the United Nations. Ending absolute poverty by 2030 will now most likely be the dominant goal of the post-2015 development agenda. Is this the goal appropriately framed? Is it likely to be achieved? What would it take to get the job done? Making poverty history Poverty eradication has long been a rallying cry for the development community. A "world free of poverty" was adopted as the World Bank's overarching mission in 1995. A decade later the “Make Poverty History” (MPH) campaign achieved prominence when a bewildering variety of charities, religious groups, trade unions, campaigning groups and celebrities came together to advocate debt relief, trade liberalization and increased development aid. Ten years on, full poverty eradication is emerging as the centrepiece of the global development agenda. Specifically, the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda landmark report has proposed to “[eradicate] extreme poverty from the face of the earth by 2030.” This is one goal among many, but it is the most promi-
nent, and it has already elicited considerable public support and massive press coverage. Beyond the moral imperative, the basic argument presented by the Panel runs as follows. The world has witnessed the fastest reduction in poverty in human history since the MDGs were announced. According to the Panel, there are half a billion fewer people living below the international poverty line of $1.25 per capita per day. It is high time for the job to be finished once and for all. The vision of a world free of poverty is indeed bracing but should the line have been drawn in terms of income poverty at the $1.25/ day level? Where should the line be drawn? In 1990 the “absolute poverty” standard was set at per capita consumption levels of $1.00/day in purchasing power parity terms. The benchmark was revised in 2008 to $1.25/day to more accurately reflect the average of the fifteen poorest countries’ poverty lines selected to allow the purchase of a basket of basic goods supposed to guarantee a minimum food intake of 2,100 calories/ person/day. In 2010 1.2 billion people were living below this poverty line – 21 percent of the population of the developing world. How gene-
rous and representative is the benchmark? In terms of human well -being it seems absurdly low. A less frugal threshold should have been selected, e.g. by applying the same methodology as the $1.25/day poverty line currently favoured to seventy-five developing countries. On this basis, the threshold would vary from a low of $0.6/day to a high of $9.1/day with a median of $2.00/day. A $10/day threshold that would embrace 90 percent of developing countries' populations would be even more appropriate according to some scholars.
“Poverty eradication is possible but highly unlikely in the current global policy climate. ” Why, then, is the poverty line set at the miserly level of 1.25/day? This arbitrary number is based on the supposition that aiming at a higher bar would not be realistic. Yet the resources to do what it would take to eradicate poverty using a $2/day standard are available. Eradicating $2/day poverty would cost somewhere between 0.9 percent and 1.2 percent of global GDP or $600-800 billion. This is a large number but global tax evasion alone, which all governments have pledged to combat, is estimated to amount to $3.1 trillion or over 5 percent of the world economy. In principle, resorting to wealth redistribution in a world plagued by grotesque inequalities would be the logical way of tackling poverty reduction since growth alone is unlikely to do the job in a world where the “new normal” in rich countries has been characterised by Larry Summers as “secular stagnation.” The wealth of the 1 percent of the richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion, and that of the eighty-five richest people is worth more than the wealth of the poorest half. An annual wealth tax of 1.5 percent applied to the 1 percent richest cohort would generate $1.7 trillion a year. This would be ample to cover all the basic needs of the 2.3 billion people currently eking a living below the $2/day poverty line. Needless to say, providing poor people with the wherewithal to do the job through their own efforts would cost far less. Beyond income poverty Quite apart from drawing the poverty line at the right level, does it make sense to use per capita income as the acid test for poverty reduction? A sharp focus on meeting the $1.25/day goal could induce less priority to improving the quality of life for those below the line where the welfare gains would be even higher. A somewhat less restrictive $2/day standard would imply that about 2.4 billion people live in extreme poverty in 2010 – i.e. 40 percent of the population of the developing world. But even a $2/day poverty line would not capture what it actually means to be absolutely poor. Tracking the number below
this threshold would not address all the multiple dimensions of poverty. It has been estimated that adding rock bottom measures of well-being in terms of health, education and basic needs to the definition of absolute poverty, as advocated by the United Nations Development Program, would add another 0.54 billion to the poverty rolls. It should also be noted that a critical marker of abject poverty – hunger – is not tightly connected to income per capita. According to a recent UN report, global hunger has fallen but not nearly as fast as income poverty – from 23 percent in 1990-92 to about 15 percent in 2010-12. This means that the MDG hunger and malnutrition target has yet to be met and that 850 million people are still going to bed hungry every night. And the more recent trends are not encouraging; hunger reduction appears to have come to a halt in developing countries since 2007.
“In summary, $1.25/day goal lags well behind the stark reality of abject poverty and deprivation; it is grounded in narrow metrics and reflects modest ambitions.” Finally, privileging income poverty eradication over other human development objectives could have unintended consequences. It might give inadequate weight to other critical human development goals where progress has fallen short of MDG targets, such as child mortality, maternal deaths and universal primary education enrolment. In summary, the $1.25/day goal lags well behind the stark reality of abject poverty and deprivation; it is grounded in narrow metrics and reflects modest ambitions. The resources to tackle poverty writ large are available. If they are not used it is because the commanding heights of the global economy have been captured by the few at the expense of the many. The past is not prologue Charismatic data visionaries such as Hans Rosling bring to bear modern visualization tools to impress on their listeners that development works and that the recent poverty reduction trajectory is likely to be sustained. However, it is far from selfevident that extrapolation of past trends will end $1.25/ day poverty by 2030 without major adjustment in policies. Even by the ludicrously low $1.25/day standard currently touted as ambitious and legitimate, it is likely that poverty will not be eradicated unless its root causes are addressed. Poverty eradication implies a fall in poverty by about 1 percentage point per year – about the same as the average annual reduction seen since 1980. At first sight this seems plausible, but sustaining the same rate of decline is bound to become harder to achieve as each percentage point becomes larger relative to the
overall poverty rate. The downward trajectory assumes a growth rate in the developing world at least as high as that achieved since 1999. This is a far-fetched assumption given the global economic slowdown triggered by the 2008 financial crisis. A harsher development outlook The consensus of scholarly opinion is that global poverty prospects are highly uncertain. Specifically, absolute eradication of $1.25/day poverty does not lie within the range of likely outcomes projected for 2030. Under the worst case scenario (low growth, worsening distribution), $1.25/day poverty in 2030 will remain prevalent at 15.2 percent. Under the best case scenario (high growth, improving distribution), poverty will reach 1.4 percent. Most scholarly projections fall within this range. The shifting wealth patterns that have resulted from the remarkable development achievements of the past two decades also mean that the poverty eradication challenge will no longer be primarily located within low income countries. Already most of the absolute poor live in populous emerging market economies, half of them in India and China. More than half of the global poverty reduction achieved between 1980 and 2000 is due to China's remarkable growth performance. But trees do not grow to the sky and China's future contribution to poverty reduction is already tapering off as it gets closer to ending poverty within its borders. Accelerated progress in reducing poverty will therefore be required in South Asia and SubSaharan Africa. Unfortunately, global poverty in these regions will become increasingly concentrated where poverty reduction performance has been below par and institutional capacity is weak. Whereas a third of the world’s poor live in fragile states today, the share is set to rise to half in 2018 and nearly two-thirds in 2030. New policies to tackle new challenges The new frontier for poverty reduction will be troubled and hard to secure. The bulk of the absolute poor will be living in countries where climate change, natural disasters and violent conflict will make the headline goal of eradicating extreme poverty (however defined) extremely hard to achieve unless the downside risks associated with current development patterns are effectively managed and the policy coherence for development principles embedded in the 12th goal proposed by the High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons are actually adopted and implemented in earnest. This will require new modes of development cooperation. The new geography of poverty means that most of the bottom billion will be located in emerging market countries. Public support for official development aid directed towards countries that have already graduated to middle income status and/or are well on their way to joining the high income country club is fast evaporating given that developed countries are beset by serious economic
and social problems of their own - sluggish growth, high unemployment and excessive debt. In the new development context aid will not play the critical role that it did in the past. Instead, development cooperation will have to focus on non-aid policy instruments, such as trade, migration, foreign direct investment, intellectual property flows and environmental policies. But here too it would be foolhardy to expect rapid progress given the eroding clout of multilateral institutions and the disappointing experience with MDG8 that had aimed at levelling the playing field of the global economy but failed to elicit sufficient political support within OECD countries. Conclusions Poverty eradication is possible but highly unlikely in the current global policy climate. Setting the absolute poverty bar at the very low level of $1.25/day reflects a “business as usual” policy stance in a world that has changed radically. A new conception of development should be adopted. The systemic causes of global poverty are currently being neglected and the policies in place favour the few at the expense of the many. The new challenges call for a more ambitious development vision. More demanding income poverty reduction targets achieved through policies specifically designed to reduce inequality should be set. To this end development strategies should be tailored to individual countries and the post-2015 agenda should be inclusive and comprehensive. New global coalitions should be forged to address climate change, disaster preparedness and conflict prevention in the zones of turmoil of fragile countries. Most of all, the new development agenda should take account of the new geography of poverty and reach beyond aid policy instruments to achieve policy coherence for development. ROBERT PICCIOTTO is a Visiting Professor at the International Development Institute, King’s College London and served as DirectorGeneral of the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group from 1992 to 2002.
By Tony German
hat is poverty?
A whole literature exists on what is meant by poverty and the question of whether poverty can be eradicated rests on precisely how poverty is defined. Whilst inequalities exist it is possible to argue on some definitions that “the poor will always be with us” – relative to the better off. But over the last two decades, an increasingly confident consensus has emerged that ending absolute or extreme income poverty within a reasonable timeframe is possible. Most people who are not specialists in development will think first of income poverty and the “dollar a day” threshold (now actually $1.25). The May 2013 report of the UN High Level Panel (UN HLP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda agreed
global population has less than $10 a day. In comparison, GNI per capita in purchasing power parity terms in Britain is $103 a day. The first Millennium Development Goal was to halve the proportion of the world’s people in extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015 – that is the percentage of the population living on less than $1.25 a day. This goal was met five years in advance but it left 1.2 billion people living below the extreme poverty line. Although there is an industry of analysis on the definition and meaning of poverty, it is also true that there is a pretty wide, intuitive belief about what it means to be poor, and sometimes these come together. Anirudh Krishna notes the commonality among views of poor communities about what extreme poverty means: having food, clothes, shelter, enough money – and only after households have crossed this threshold are they considered to be moving out of poverty. Bono and other poverty campaigners call this “stupid poverty” – because with global GNI in the region of $714 trillion, such extreme poverty is simply stupid. Being poor is not just about income, it is an experience that involves a lack of access to more obvious aspects of well-being such as education, health, water and sanitation, but it also includes factors such as exclusion, insecurity and marginalisation – a lack of power, choice and control. People’s income poverty can be addressed by a cash transfer, but money alone (whilst giving people a little more choice) does not address the other factors which keep people poor, which is why cash transfer schemes need to be seen in the context of wider investments which address the more multidimensional nature of poverty and deprivation.
t h a t “poverty” has various manifestations’ with income perhaps being only the most obvious, freq u e n t l y a n d e a s i l y m ea s u r e d . Currently, 1.2 billion people have incomes on or below this level. But this number has to be seen in context. At the higher threshold of $2 a day, 2.4 billion people are in poverty and under half of the
While the current, very welcome, political focus is on achieving the end of extreme poverty, the goal also has to be to sustain it. People are not on an inevitable upward path once they are over a certain threshold. We know that individuals, families, communities and indeed whole countries can move in and out of poverty and vulnerability over time. Ending extreme income poverty has to take place in the context of building security and opportunity not only for the poorest but for the very many people who are vulnerable to local, domestic or international shocks. We know that even small shocks
can plunge people into prolonged poverty from which they find it hard to escape. And it is important to note that whilst the recent UN HLP report focused on the elimination of “1.25$/day” poverty, it was the “hope and expectation“ of the Panel that all countries would bring their citizens to national poverty lines equal to at least $2 a day by 2030. Can we eradicate extreme poverty as defined by the World Bank? Just as the concept of “full employment” does not mean everybody having a job, discussions on “ending” poverty do not necessarily envisage getting everyone out of poverty. The World Bank’s President Jim Yong Kim has outlined a “highly ambitious” vision for “ending” poverty by 2030 – but the strategy is very specific about what is meant by that. It means bringing extreme poverty rates to 3 percent or less. Such a target would in practice leave 200 million people in extreme income poverty.
“The biggest enemy of development is conflict and insecurity.” The assessment that extreme income poverty could be reduced to 3 percent of the population by 2030 is based on scenarios which take into account both growth and inequality. The range of possible outcomes is very wide. The best case scenario sees extreme poverty down to around 100 million people – overwhelmingly in Africa. The worst case sees extreme poverty actually increase, with the number of people below the line in Sub-Saharan Africa greater than they are now. Part of the explanation for this is the depth of poverty. The average income of people living below the poverty line in India is between 93 cents (urban) and 97 cents (rural) per day. The average in Sub-Saharan Africa is 71 cents. For India, with 11 states among the top 20 countries with the largest absolute numbers of people in multidimensional poverty major progress on inequality will be needed. But these aggregated data at country level mask the extent of progress. Growth and poverty co-exist: Zambia, like a number of countries in Africa, has had an annual average growth rate of between 4.5 percent and 7 percent from 2003 to 2012 but the percentage of the population in poverty has also increased – from 64 percent to 75 percent – over the same period. There are very big differences between the most and least deprived areas within countries. Over 80 percent of the population in some districts of Kenya are multidimensionally poor, compared with 5 percent in others – a pattern that is reflected in many countries. Eradicating extreme poverty therefore demands a different analysis and a targeted approach – it cannot be based on country averages and needs to focus on the different impacts that investments and policies have on different parts of the population. This requires disaggregated data – for women and men and for different sub national locations.
There is an unstoppable logic attached to the goal of poverty eradication: the need to know who and where poor people are and how their circumstances are changing. Brazil has lifted 28 million people out of extreme poverty since 2003 and plans to eradicate extreme poverty by 2015. Central to this is the Cadastro Unico, or single registry, which holds detailed information on who “the poor” are and where they live, enabling policies and finance, including Brazil's Bolsa Familia, Brasil Sem Miseria and Brasil Carinhoso programmes, to be targeted to achieve the objective. Would it be possible to eradicate a more substantive definition of poverty? The answer has to be yes – subject to the right political decisions driving the energy, capacity, resources and political will to implement and the extent to which these conditions are present will vary from country to country. While some extreme and often individual aspects of deprivation may be very difficult to overcome, ensuring all individuals have a minimum standard of living is evidently possible. The High Level Panel described five transformational shifts that should underpin the global goals. One of these is “leave no one behind.” The goals, say the HLP, cannot be described as met until they are met for everyone. The World Bank's target of reducing extreme poverty to 3 percent by 2030 does not therefore meet this test. As poverty reduces, the task of sustainably eradicating it becomes harder. For people living just below the line, living in more secure environments will encourage them to take up the opportunities that are created and lift themselves out of poverty. But people facing more challenging circumstances, in countries affected by conflict and insecurity, often in remote areas and subject to different and more extreme discrimination will have fewer opportunities and more barriers to taking them up. Women in Afghanistan will find it harder to sustainably lift themselves out of poverty; people in countries affected by increasingly frequent environmental disasters will find their assets rapidly depleted and their opportunities to invest in their futures more limited. What lifts the majority out of poverty may not work for everyone. Without data (knowing who these people are and how their circumstances are changing), targeting policy and resources cannot be done effectively – and without a focus on inequality the policy will not deliver. The World Economic Forum’s “Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014” ranks widening income disparities as the second greatest worldwide risk in the coming 12 to 18 months. Over the past ten years, government revenues in developing countries have grown from just over $2 trillion to nearly $6 trillion and international investments (ODA, official flows, commercial investments and remittances) are just over $2 trillion. One of the reasons for optimism about the possibility of reducing po-
verty overall is that there is now a much expanded pot of domestic and international resources which may be able to deliver more value, both for progress overall and for investments that are reaching the poorest. Critical to the idea of getting more value from existing resources is transparency and access to information. With transparency and access to information the opportunity to coordinate, plan, sequence and lever resources to achieve multiple goals is much higher; the scope for waste, duplication and misuse lower and access to information is a sine qua non for accountability.
For some years, links between conflict resolution, development, humanitarian assistance and security have been strengthening, but too much policy and resource allocation is still done in siloes. People living in poverty in countries affected by conflict have lives in which insecurity, poverty and vulnerability are inextricably linked and an effective response which builds resilience has to recognise that.
Finally, something that might seem in a lower order of magnitude: data! Much of the industry of analysis on which poliClearly, to achieve and sustain the goal we need broader cies work and which don't rests on profoundly weak data. Despite social progress and business needs to go beyond “business as the big increase in the reach of household surveys, a quarter of the usual”, beyond corporate social estimate of the number of responsibility and harnessing “The agency of poor people in building up their people below the poverty line its investment potential to lives and investing for their futures is a critical in Sub-Saharan Africa is deriachieve more than a return for ved from surveys conducted aspect of ending poverty.” shareholders. Part of this is before 2005. A data revolution about using different types of resources in different ways: governhas to have practical meaning: real time, geocoded data on where ments incentivising foreign direct investment towards specific money is being spent and how people's lives are changing; people areas of the economy and to the countries where it is most needed having a better idea of the services available to them and the mofor long term development; matching commercial investments ney allocated to them; widespread market information which reduthat will reach the majority of the population with appropriate ces exploitation and allows more people to trade profitably; the subsidies to ensure universal access to energy and communicattechnology and communications infrastructure which allows uniions; business investment in global public goods, transparency and versal access to the internet and to the use mobile technology. accountable governance. Wide access to radically better data is critical to the aspiration to leave no one behind and, self-evidently essential if we are ever to The biggest enemy of development is conflict and insecuknow whether the goal has been achieved. rity. Achieving and sustaining poverty eradication depends on achieving and sustaining secure environments for development. The agency of poor people in building up their lives and investing for their futures is a critical aspect of ending poverty. One of the characteristics of extreme poverty is often neglect - by state, by agencies, by social networks - and so people have little to rely on beyond their immediate families and communities. Overcoming poverty and inequality will rely on the agency of poor people themselves but also on a combination of domestic and international action; countries should commit to ensure that no citizen is living below their own national poverty line and the international community should commit to backstopping that so that no-one is living below the global threshold of extreme income poverty. TONY GERMAN is co-founder and Executive-Director of Development Initiatives, a UK-based Development Think Tank.
By Alvina Hoffmann
ussia’s political landscape has been reshaped in an unprecedented way since Putin’s re-election as president in 2012. Manifold social movements have entered the stage of civil society. A firm political opposition, mostly associated with Alexei Navalny, has emerged and for the first time it appears able to exert significant political influence.
well as to go abroad - which enables them to make comparisons with European or general Western standards. This can be one factor explaining why opposition leaders such as Alexei Navalny do not appeal to a broader mass, outside the peripheries of Moscow.
Following Putin’s announcement to run again for President in the 2012 elections, Moscow experienced the biggest mass protests since the 1990s. For the first time, the participants expressed their dismay over the political system, acting out of a sense of civic consciousness. These mass movements continued throughout the winter and were backed by various politicians, journalists and celebrities in favour of the opposition movement.
“(...)mass movements are mainly comprised of the middle class and younger people, especially those living in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This means that one should be careful in trying to make general statements about the Russian society as a whole.”
Analysing the anatomy of these protests is crucial. According to “Levada” and “WZIOM”, two opinion research institutes, these mass movements are mainly comprised of the middle class and younger people, especially those living in Moscow and St. Petersburg. This means that one should be careful in trying to make general statements about Russian society as a whole. People living in urban centres earn more, can afford a better lifestyle as
The Bolotnaya Square protests of the 6th and 7th of May 2012, one day before Putin’s inauguration, mark a black day for the protesters. A violent clash between protesters and the police resulted in the arrest of over 600 people and 80 injuries. Of the 600, 27 were prosecuted, and two convicted and sentenced to 4.5 and 2.5 years respectively in detention. The rest are still being held under arrest or awaiting trial in Russia. There are clashing reports
on the extent of the violence between the police and protesters and which side is to be blamed for having initiated the clash. Yet it seems obvious that the twenty seven accused protesters have been selected at random amongst the thousands of people claiming the right to participate in a demonstration. Since that event, a sense of resignation has pervaded the minds of participants. Some have left the country for they do not believe that their demands will be taken seriously by the government. The Bolotnaya Square case has demonstrated the assertiveness of the Russian government to destroy any form of civic consciousness, through arbitrary and politically motivated arrests.
This shows, once again, the popular discontent with the current leadership and that they are yearning for an alternative, someone that is able to take Russian’s concerns seriously and actively resolve them. It seems like mass mobilisation has lost its momentum. One of the opposition’s main concerns, corruption, is actively fought against by the government itself. Navalny himself achieved a significant level of popularity while having started as an anticorruption blogger, revealing cases of corruption in big firms. Now, public servants are obliged to reveal their sources of income, including that of their spouses and children. These transparency requirements are aimed at counteracting corruption and at the same time takes away one of the central demands of the opposition. Putin declared “zero tolerance” over corruption which resulted in laying off 200 public servants by the end of 2013.
The same applies both to NGOs and opposition politicians. A significant amount of laws have been passed through the Duma, suffocating any tendency towards pluralism and a firm opposition; the most prominent example being the law forcing “The protests of 2011 and 2012 have proven Another major surprise taking NGOs receiving foreign funding place near the end of 2013 was the the existence of dissatisfaction with the amnesty law which was passed by to register as foreign agents. The NGOs are among the most im- country's current political scenario. On the the Parliament. This led to the portant agencies contributing torelease of various political prisonother hand, Putin has proven his wards the establishment of a civic ers including the two women of society, but this law has signifi- effectiveness at detaining regime critics. ” Pussy Riot and Khodorkovsky, cantly constrained their work. who is seen as Putin’s main adversary. While regime-critics interpreted this as a concession to the The political opposition, too, suffers from this arbitrariWest - especially because of the highly criticised Sochi Olympics ness. The laws passed aim at placing as many obstacles as possible Putin justified it as a humanitarian act as Khodorkovsky’s mother in the opposition candidate’s way. An example is the law that prois severely ill. hibits candidates running in elections to have foreign assets. This prevented Mikhail Prokhorov from participating in the Moscow What is going to happen next? While the Pussy Riot activmayoral election on September 8, 2013. ists have announced they will maintain their level of commitment to civil society by creating an organisation for a humanitarian prisWhat is the current situation? During the regional and on regime, their popularity within Russian society is not as high as communal elections which were held in many parts of Russia on expected. In his commitment to a conservative doctrine, Putin is September 8, the opposition candidates were widely insignificant. assertive towards his goals of containing any domestic and foreign As asserted by the opinion research institutes, the opposition is opposition while trying to construct an image of Russia that is popular in larger cities. Alexei Navalny, who can currently be conappealing to the West before the Sochi Olympics. Currently it sidered the only opposition member capable of exerting political seems like the opposition has lost its momentum. The vast majoriinfluence, ran for the mayoral elections in Moscow and only offity of the population demonstrates a political complacency. The cially received 28 percent of all votes. While this outcome is much protests of 2011 and 2012 have proven the existence of dissatishigher than predicted by various experts prior, Navalny claims it faction with the country's current political scenario. On the other represents electoral fraud and that in fact his appeal was much hand, Putin has proven his effectiveness at detaining regime crithigher. ics. Regardless of whether or not the opposition will restore its momentum, Putin’s authoritarian style remains outdated and an While Navalny is the most prominent leader of the politiincreasing amount of younger people with liberal values are yearncal opposition, he is vital for the political process as a whole. The ing for more political participation. elected leaders derive their legitimacy from the democratic process of elections. Yet, most candidates still face obstacles such as colALVINA HOFFMANN lecting a vast amount of signatures in constituencies during the is a third year International Politics BA student at King’s registration process or passing benchmarks, which are mostCollege London and the Vice President of KCL Politics Society. ly impossible to achieve. In Russia’s fourth largest city, Yekaterinburg, the opposition candidate Roizman was elected mayor against the Kremlin-backed candidate in the elections of September 2013.
By Klara Ovcackova
mong the sparkles of firecrackers and joyful shouts welcoming the New Year, on January 1, 1993 Czechs and Slovaks were also welcoming two new, independent nations. However, many people were not particularly joyous - unofficial surveys reveal that the majority of citizens did not favour independence. However, the nation was not consulted in an official referendum and the dissolution was crafted by the political elites of the time. Most citizens had lived in Czechoslovakia for their whole life and many had both Czech and Slovak family members. Thus it was mostly a feeling of sadness that prevailed on the Czech side, while Slovaks were ambivalent – the country would gain a long sought independence but at what price? The country came to life with the dissolution of the great Habsburg Empire in 1918. Czechs and Slovaks joined together mostly due to a mutual need for each other. Czechs would benefit from a connection to the East and an increase in population, which would decrease the influence of 3.5 million Germans living in Bohemia at the time. On the other hand, Slovaks needed aid in resisting Hungarian pressure. These concerns were gradually fading away along with the country’s independence, starting with the end of the Second World War and Czechoslovakia’s plunge under the influence of the Soviet Union. It was not until the Velvet Rev-
olution, which took place between November 17 and December 29 1989, and which terminated forty-one years of communist rule, that the country was finally able to stand on its own feet. However, the first steps were rather wobbly.
“As superficial as it may seem, the first conflict was over the naming of the country – a so-called Hyphen War.” After the Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia was facing a dual struggle – to redevelop its economy and society after the fall of communism and to reach an agreement regarding the constitution of Czechoslovakia. While some say that the dissolution was unexpected and that there were strong efforts to keep the country united, tension between the two nations was present right from the very beginning. As superficial as it may seem, the first conflict was over the naming of the country – a so-called Hyphen War. In January 1990, president Vaclav Havel made a proposal to rename the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to Czechoslovakia, which spurred a heated debate. Slovaks felt that the new name of the country should be Czecho-Slovakia – the hyphen signified equality of both nations. This issue was not resolved until April 1990,
when it was finally agreed that the new official name would be the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic. More serious issues ensued. Slovaks were angered at Havel’s decision to decrease the arms industry, which was significant for the economy of Slovakia. This decrease was, however, a phenomenon not unique to Czechoslovakia since the demand for armaments manufacturing declined with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nevertheless, the economy was overall one of the most worrying issues for Slovakia since its region was the weaker part of the federation. Bohemia and Moravia, two regions of the Czech lands, were the heartland of industry and economic productivity. Between 1990 and 1991, unemployment in Slovakia amounted to 11% compared to 3% in the Czech part. The new plan for economic modernization was created in a way that demanded centralization and was particularly Prague-based. While Czechs viewed Slovakia as a little child in constant need of help, Slovaks responded to these sentiments by seeing Czechs as trampling over their autonomy. By the summer of 1992 it was clear that the talks of how to run the country had changed into talks of how to dissolve it. The general elections held during spring resulted in a victory of two absolutely incompatible parties. On the Slovak side there was the People's Party – Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS), led by Vladimir Meciar, which sought for a more decentralized state or even independence of Slovakia, and opposed privatization. The Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS), led by Vaclav Klaus, promoted privatization and sought for either a complete unification of the two countries or dissolution. In Slovakia, all parties supported dissolution except for one and that one party did not gain enough votes to be represented in parliament. This hints at the public opinion regarding the coexistence of the two countries – Slovaks were probably more inclined towards dissolution than Czechs were. That the discussions of dissolution were confined to the two parties is signified by Havel’s abdication on 20 July 1992, a few days after the National Council of Slovakia demanded the independence of Slovakia, since he felt distanced from the political spectrum that was making decisions at the time. It was the lack of any strong voice fighting for a united Czechoslovakia that made the dissolution so peaceful and nearly unproblematic. After discussions between the two leading parties, Czechoslovakia was dissolved on January 1, 1993. Unsurprisingly, Slovakia’s economic position was worse than that of Czech Republic after the dissolution. The newly established Slovak Republic battled high levels of corruption as well as international isolation due to low levels of foreign investments. Nevertheless, the process of dividing property was a calm one; it was accomplished at a ratio 2:1 since the population of Czech Republic is twice that of Slovakia – 10.5 million people compared to nearly 5.5 million. Today, Slovakia is nearly at the same level as Czech Republic. In 1992, Slovakia’s GDP equaled 63% of that of Czech Republic. As of 2013, it amounted to 91%. Although still below the average of the European Union, Slovakia’s economic
growth is one of the fastest in Europe. This is especially due to Slovakia’s large car manufacturing and electrical engineering industries. Both countries are members of the European Union as of 2004 and in 2009 Slovakia adopted the Euro.
“After all, it is still common to refer to each other as brothers.” Culturally, the two nations are still immensely close – a closeness that is probably impossible to observe in any other two nations in the world. Except for a few words and a slightly different grammar, Czech and Slovakian are very similar and although the majority of people usually cannot speak the other language perfectly, they do understand each other. They are able to read each other’s books and newspapers and even watch CzechoSlovakia’s Got Talent. Being put in the same group at the World Ice Hockey Championship always brings slight uneasiness. After all, it is still common to refer to each other as brothers. However, as the younger generations have not grown up surrounded by the other nation, they now have difficulties understanding the other language and it is probably a matter of time until less and less people are able to comprehend each other perfectly. To add on, more and more laws protecting the cultural heritage of each nation are being instituted. A few months ago, a popular Slovakian television network was given a fine of 200 euros for broadcasting a TV series in Czech instead of showing a dubbed version in Slovakian. The so-called ‘velvet divorce’ still fascinates a number of people and nations today. Countries like Belgium or Scotland look up to the peaceful dissolution of Czechoslovakia for inspiration as they struggle to resolve their own nationality issues. However, it is a difficult divorce to replicate since in Czechoslovakia it occurred behind closed doors and under unique political circumstances. Perhaps it was the citizens’ fatigue of revolts or a shared belief that except for certain economic, institutional and territorial changes, the two nations would remain exceptionally close, which ensured the tranquility of this divorce. KLARA OVCACKOVA is a first year European Politics BA student at King’s College London.
By Javier Espinoza
pain's high youth unemployment level is deeply harrowing. After years of economic prosperity, the Spanish economy entered recessionary mode in 2008 and it has not really recovered despite some recent green shoots. After easy credit dried up and the construction sector plummeted, soaring unemployment has been of great concern there. Unemployment has remained high and it currently stands at 25.98 percent, marginally lower than its all-time high rate of 27.16 percent in the first quarter of 2013. But the unemployment situation is even grimmer among the young. Unemployment for people under 25 hit a staggering 57.4 percent last October from 56.8 percent a month previously, which means effectively almost 6 out of 10 young people are jobless. This compares to the Eurozone youth unemployment rate of 24.4 percent, a record high for those under 25 years of age. Lack of proper vocational training is often cited as a ramification of the youth unemployment problem in Spain. The problem with only having general skills among the working population is that it creates a "poverty trap". I will consider feasible policies further down. The causes of high youth unemployment in Spain are complex. One reason for this is structural. An inflexible dual market in which workers on permanent contracts have historically enjoyed
higher than average severance payments and those on temporary contracts (which are typically the young) have little protection is seen as one main cause of youth unemployment, according to several analyses including that of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The Spanish authorities have implemented austerity measures which are mostly seen as designed to cut the deficit and avoid a bailout from the European Union. They have carried out some labour reforms with limited positive results in terms of job creation, according to reports by the OECD and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).Below, I look at potential policies that can be implemented or accelerated to deal with the high youth unemployment in Spain. Policy recommendations a. Narrower duality in the Spanish labour market Historically the legal labour framework in Spain has presented costly barriers to fire workers, which in return has put off firms from taking on board new employees in times of crisis. These new employees are mainly the young. This has created a labour market that relies heavily on temporary workers. Some policies have already been put in place to bridge this gap and therefore encourage companies to hire more workers on permanent contracts, but efforts to reduce this duality in the market have not paid
off as expected. The government needs to introduce clearer rules that will incentivise firms to follow the objective dismissal route without fear that a lack of clarity in the judicial process will backfire and create unnecessary expenses. The problem with relaxing the hiring and firing process even further is that firms might be tempted to further cut their costs by firing more people while at the same time reducing the number of people they take in. Policy makers need to be fully aware of these potential side effects as any new party in government will need to accept these commitments. b. Incentives for firms to hire the young
that promote growth, particularly in the service sector. However Spain's hands are tied when it comes to enacting monetary or fiscal policies to generate growth. Being part of the wider European Monetary Union, Spain has given away most of its power to tinker with fiscal and monetary policy. Still, as Alison Johnston and Bob Hancké have argued, even in countries that have been successful in implementing policies towards wage restraint there is "only so much a large economy can do with competitive exports to stimulate aggregate demand." Separately, governments typically "signal competence" by cutting taxes and printing money. Spain cannot do this right now. Leaving the Euro Zone is not a politically viable option either. Economic growth can then be achieved through the promotion of foreign direct investment and incentives for entrepreneurs to invest in the country.
The Spanish government needs to look at incentives for firms to hire those under 25. By providing tax cuts to companies that hire people under the age of 25, the government can get firms to do so. I propose a reduction which is equivalent or marginally d. Special credit line less than what the state would pay in benefits per unemployed person. Government benefits vary depending on each worker situation Any policy which has to do with incentives either through but they tend to last between 4 and 24 months under current legistax breaks or other financial means will have to necessarily inlation. This, in the short to medivolve drawing money from the um term would incentivise compa- “The government needs to introduce clearer state coffers. Spain's finances nies to hire young people. It is are in a dire state still, therefore rules that will incentivise firms to follow the I propose Spain requests a simiunrealistic to think that given the current economic situation and objective dismissal route without fear that a lar facility like the one provided the long tradition of putting young by the European Stability lack of clarity in the judicial process will people under temporary contracts Mechanism (ESM), used to rebackfire and create unnecessary expenses.” firms will rush to put the young capitalise its banks. This time, on permanent contracts. They debt can be used to finance could, however, be offered tax breaks if they were to put young incentives like tax cuts to firms that hire young people on permapeople under part-time contracts for two years with the view to nent contracts. The bailout of banks in Spain faced tough oppositurning these into permanent contracts once the economic situation tion on the streets but public opinion might be potentially more improves. sympathetic if workers are the main beneficiaries. This is a feasible idea according to experts. "There doesn't seem to be any b. Training for youngsters money available for Spain to become a major employer and The Spanish labour market has not done enough to provide launch a Keynesian reform," says Raj Badiani, an economist at appropriate training for young and low-skilled workers. Better vocaIHS Global Insight in London. "So like the credit line to banks, tional training should be complemented with further incentives in Spain should request something similar to promote measures to the form of tax cuts to companies that hire young people coming incentivise firms." out of government-led training programs. A new agency or group within the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports should be JAVIER ESPINOZA created to deal with the provision of vocational training to young is a part-time MA in Political Economy student at King’s people. It will be responsible to identify shortage of vocational skills College London. in the labour market and match young people with the newly acquired skills and employers. The potential issue here is that of poaching. Spain should then follow the German example, equalising "wages at equivalent skill levels across an industry" to make it more complicated for firms to engage in poaching workers while "assuring [them] that they are receiving the highest feasible rates". Incentives in the form of employment protection should also be created for firms to create their own vocational training for young people. c. Economic growth Spain is essentially a service economy with more than 60 percent of GDP deriving from this sector. Any policies aimed at improving employment levels should go hand in hand with policies
ince the first demonstrations began in Syria in March 2011, we have been closely following the conflict, with its regional and international political and humanitarian repercussions. In the summer of 2013, it eventually reached the European Union in the form of thousands of refugees crossing the TurkishBulgarian border for their chance at a new, peaceful life. However, it soon became clear that the Bulgarian government seemed unwilling to provide sufficient care for the large number of refugees and as a sad addition, right wing rhetoric of alienation and defamation was increasingly heard in parliament and on Bulgarian media outlets and streets.
The experiences that we had during this month range from heart-breaking to enraging to heart-warming. From women, who lost the ability to breastfeed their babies due to stress and poor nutrition, to a little orphaned girl with pieces of shrapnel left in her skull; from a highly educated, multilingual journalist who escaped Syria by growing a thick beard to traverse the rebel-held areas unrecognised, to a family crossing the Turkish-Bulgarian border by night, carrying their 10-day old baby girl under the father’s jacket in the hope she would not make a sound and draw the attention of the Turkish border police.
As a reaction to this, we collected a total of 10,000 Euros in Berlin and Amsterdam and made our way to Sofia, where we joined forces with a small group of volunteers, who had taken it upon themselves to organize aid provision and delivery since the early stages of the refugee influx, effectively replacing the Bulgarian government and the EU. Together with them, we used the month of January to provide aid for the entire refugee population, which currently entails 4,000 Syrians living in camps around the country, and another 8,000 - 9,000 who found residence in the cities.
We dined among the residents of Sofia’s Military Ramp camp and heard stories describing the unimaginable terror of war, as well as those of hope and humaneness. People in all camps welcomed us with unparalleled warmth to their dwellings, which come in all shapes and sizes: from bunk beds (in Ovcha Kupel and Pastrogor), to containers with mattresses on the floor (in Harmanli), and even large classrooms, separated into “rooms” by bed sheets and lined with mattresses (in Military Ramp). Conditions have certainly improved in recent months (e.g. Harmanli switched from tents to container housing), but life is still an unimaginable struggle, especially for those who recently escaped Syria and now find themselves in conditions that they did not expect in an EU country. It is difficult to say what is worse: the dependency on others to provide for basic necessities, or the uncertainty that being a refugee entails. Thousands of people are currently awaiting refugee status and have no idea how much longer it will take for the authorities to process their requests – especially as more and more people enter the country every day.
Humanitarian aid provision is an uphill struggle, especially when neither government institutions, nor NGOs are constructively contributing to the efforts on the ground. The logistics of feeding thousands, the weekly purchase of tonnes of food, hygiene and medical supplies, the loading, unloading and packaging of items in equal amounts to supply every single person – this alone takes several hours per camp, and the handful of volunteers are left completely on their own with all of its. Despite the Bulgarian Army joining in since February 1st, providing cooks and mobile kitchens, food products still need to be procured by private donors. At this moment, the government’s financial help focuses solely on individuals over the age of 18, providing a modest 65 Bulgarian Leva per month (i.e. 1.10 Euro/day) – barely enough to purchase two cups of coffee and a loaf of bread. This leaves children on the losing end, with the funds insufficient to buy much needed fruit, toys and baby products. The Bulgarian government has promised permanent kitchens with cooks, as well as food supplies after March 1 st, but this is only happening six months after the crisis began.
As far as the future of volunteering efforts goes,we can only hope the focus will soon shift from basic nutritional care to education and integration. However, this depends on the availability of funds from the Bulgarian government, the EU, as well as NGOs, and we call upon everyone to make the voices of Syrian refugees in Bulgaria heard – because after all, they are now refugees in our Europe, and we have the responsibility to welcome them with respect, kindness and support.
BY LEILA ATMOWIHARDJO (firstname.lastname@example.org ), medical student at Amsterdam University College AND KONSTANTIN KIRILOV (email@example.com), student of English literature at Amsterdam University College. Please visit their blog: http://syriatosofia.tumblr.com. If you want to find out more about Leila’s and Konstantin’s project, please feel free to contact them via email.
By Cameron Rogers
ith the establishment of a multi-party democracy in 1993, there was an air of hope and possibility amongst the Cambodian people, one which had not been felt before within the country's modern history. However, this hope was short-lived, and it now appears that recovery will be stifled by the country's authoritarian leader, Hun Sen. Often coined ‘the elected dictator of Cambodia’, he has brought the brutality he acquired as an ex-Khmer Rouge commander to office, using violence and suppression to keep himself in power. His history of brutality has resulted in many NGOs keeping an eye on his political movements, including Human Rights Watch. If there is hope for this struggling nation it comes in the form of Sam Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who is building up a large body of support – especially since the last Cambodian election. Yet one could say that the Prime Minister's power is too strong for the CNRP to overthrow: Will this suppression continue, or is there a way out?
“Taking Hun Sen out of the equation would not only allow more political opposition and encourage political participation, it would also allow the people to live in peace rather than fear.” Currently, it is a very tense time within the nation of Cambodia. Since July 28 2013, the CNRP has been questioning the results of the election, which has resulted in the party and its supporters protesting regularly, the most brutal of which saw four people killed. His election means that Hun Sen will now have spent 28 years in power. It certainly leaves one to question why, despite the brutality which his party has exerted, Hun Sen has remained unchallenged for such a long time. The only logical conclusion is that, of course, the election was stolen from the CNRP. This is only further reinforced by the fact that before talks were to ensue last year between the rival Cambodian parties regarding leadership, Hun Sen rejected the pre-conditions established by Rainsy to create a committee to investigate election irregularities, as reported by Radio Free Asia. This staunch attitude exhibited by the Prime Minister has not been swayed through a new year's resolution, as he was quoted saying that he has no intentions of step-
ping out of office, and that he would like to thank the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) voters for “trusting in me…to lead the country for the next five years.” With this in mind, the next few years could be very interesting and turbulent for the Cambodian people. Of course, there are a multitude of things that could happen. There is still hope for the Cambodian people to live in the full functioning democracy that they deserve – yet, a few things would have to change for this to occur. The first and most important change would be to replace the authoritarian Prime Minister. Taking Hun Sen out of the equation would not only allow more political opposition and encourage political participation, it would also allow the people to live in peace rather than fear. The most challenging question is: how can this be done? The citizens of Cambodia are gaining momentum in movement and confidence against the government. The recent protests where eleven activists were detained show that the people now have the bravery to stand in defiance against the brutal authority of the government. Yet, although it is commonplace to assume that monarchy does not involve itself in government (particularly in a “democracy”), the simplest way for Hun Sen to be removed is for the Cambodian king Norodom Sihamoni to dissolve Parliament, then hold a fair and free democratic election. Of course, there are many issues that could arise as a result of this, yet it is frankly idealistic to assume that Rainsy’s CNRP could take power through protest: as examined before, Hun Sen will not give up power to his opposition easily, if at all. The second important step for Cambodia in the journey to recovery is to establish firm checks and balances on its parliamentary and electoral systems. This includes a firm stance on the results and process of elections. These concerns have been echoed by the NGO Human Rights Watch, who have said that the CCP “appears to have been involved in electoral fraud”, and have also echoed that there should be an independent commission to investigate “allegations of election fraud and other irregularities.” This is of course a hugely important element for any democracy to function, especially if it is to be established in a country with such a chequered history as Cambodia, where corruption is rife. The establishing of such bodies would also foster cooperation and
cohesion between the various parties within the nation, which would, as a result, change the Cambodian mindset on governance. The third necessary change, which is arguably in the process of occurring, would be for more Cambodian parties to represent the interests of the citizens. Despite the fact that other Cambodian parties have no chance at getting into power, if all the factors mentioned above are achieved, representative parties will be crucial in consolidating the democratic transition. There were eight parties represented in the latest polls, which shows there is more political pluralism within the nation, despite there being only one true party with power. Yet, as may be apparent, any chance of all this occurring is wishful thinking. Hun Sen appears to be unchallenged on all fronts, and despite his brutal rule there is still strong support amongst the people for the CCP, as shown by the turnout against Rainsy and the CNRP on January 22, 2014. Before a CNRP meeting. It now appears that Hun Sen is giving the illusion of political change, having established a ten-man electoral investigations committee as of January 26, 2014 – yet , this committee is made up entirely of CCP politicians, indicating that very little democratic action will be taken. The reluctance for Hun Sen to establish bodies or institutions that do not have loyalty to the party is a defining feature of his regime, which extends to radio and TV stations, all of which have to be pro-CCP, culminating in recent protests in which eight people were seriously injured. These protests will place pressure on Cambodia due to the fact that on January 28,
2014, the nation is scheduled to appear in Geneva for a Human Rights Watch review and there have already been negative connotations echoed by many prominent figures within Human Rights Watch. Therefore, the answer to the question of what the future hold for Cambodia is to presume that the CCP’s rule will go unchallenged and that the democratic transition for Cambodia will not happen anytime in the near future. All that is left for the people of Cambodia is a waiting game – a waiting game which will involve more brutality and suppression by the Prime Minister – and simply counting the days until either Hun Sen steps out of office or, if that is not the case, until he dies. Only then will there be the opportunity for the Cambodian people to live in a healthy democratic society which they deserve – free of suppression, and free of fear. CAMERON ROGERS is a first year International Politics BA student at King's College London.
By Ja Ian Chong
atterns in China’s regional policies over the past several years confuse its East Asian neighbours. On the one hand, Beijing seeks to assure its neighbours that its ascendancy will not disrupt regional relations even as it attempts to expand region-wide cooperation. On the other hand, Chinese behaviour can indicate clear disregard for its neighbours. These contradictory signals compound uncertainty with regards to Chinese intentions and the implications of a growing regional power asymmetry that favours China. Such conditions encourage regional states to be more circumspect about Chinese intentions, discount Beijing’s outreach efforts, and makes cooperation with China more difficult even for those inclined to work with Beijing.
to do with mixed signals from Beijing and less with legality. The events of late 2013 suggest that Chinese policymakers can be inconsistent, perhaps hampered by internal coordination challenges. Alternatively, the apparent reversal in China’s attitude toward its neighbours may indicate internal divisions or rising domestic nationalism that limits foreign policy moderation. None of these possibilities are assuring to China’s neighbours; they imply that Chinese leaders can quickly change their minds in ways that challenge other regional actors. Subsequent efforts by Beijing to soften claims add to perceptions of Chinese inconstancy.
Much Ado about ADIZs
The tension between China’s ADIZ and work plan announcements is the latest in a series of seemingly inconsistent policies since the late 2000s that exacerbate uncertainty for its neighbours. Chinese leaders often indicate their enthusiasm and support for ASEAN unity, cooperation with ASEAN, and the grouping’s leadership on regional issues. Yet, alleged Chinese lobbying of Cambodia prevented joint-ASEAN positions on the South China Sea during both the ASEAN Ministerial Meetings and Summit of 2012; developments unprecedented in the organization’s history. Such efforts suggest a willingness to divide ASEAN despite statements to the contrary.
A Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee work plan announced in October 2013 by China’s President and Communist Party Secretary-General, Xi Jinping, stressed working with and reassuring China’s neighbours. However, Beijing’s sudden public announcement of an Air Defence Identification Zone ("ADIZ") covering areas variously claimed by China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in late November suggested a more assertive stand on maritime territorial disputes. Beijing’s ADIZ announcement included a requirement for all aircraft transiting the zone to notify Chinese authorities beforehand or face “emergency defensive actions” from armed Chinese forces. China’s position on the ADIZ goes further than the common practice, which demands identification for aircraft heading toward a country’s airspace and facilitates intercepts if there is no identification. China’s ADIZ is among the few covering disputed territory, even though ADIZs are typically a means to manage airspace rather than to assert territorial claims. China’s requirement for commercial aircraft transiting its ADIZ to pre-register with Chinese authorities duplicates existing reporting requirements with the Civil Aviation Authority of China under International Civil Aviation Authority conventions. That said, Beijing has a prerogative to establish an ADIZ, just like any other government, and may wish to do so to demonstrate the existence of a dispute over areas like the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands. For many of China’s neighbours, the issue with the ADIZ announcement coming after the release of the work plan has more
“Stated Chinese openness toward dispute management in the East and South China Seas accompanies growing assertiveness over maritime claims, obscuring Beijing’s motivations for many regional actors.” Stated Chinese openness toward dispute management in the East and South China Seas accompanies growing assertiveness over maritime claims, obscuring Beijing’s motivations for many regional actors. Top Chinese leaders consistently declare an interest in developing dispute and crisis management mechanisms as well as joint development in disputed maritime territory. Beijing even agreed to guidelines to implement a Declaration on Conduct in the South China Sea in 2011. Yet, China occupied maritime features disputed with the Philippines, physically challenged Japanese administration of the Diaoyutai/Senkaku Islands, and disrupted Vietnamese sur-
vey activity as well as American surveillance in disputed waters in allegedly provocative ways. Shifting Chinese policies on managing and damming rivers similarly perplex downstream states in South and Mainland Southeast Asia. The drivers behind the lack of constancy in Beijing’s regional policies are unclear given the Chinese political system’s opacity, and makes regional actors wonder about Beijing’s aims and intentions. Doubt remains over whether the mixed signals China sends represent short-term policy adjustments that call for case-by -case reactions or more deep-seated trends that require long-term responses. Insufficient information about policy processes in China makes it difficult for regional actors to work with Beijing even if they sincerely hope to do so. This situation is especially true for contentious issues — the topics that usually require the most attention. Consequences of Confusion That Chinese policies confuse its neighbours means that regional actors are more apprehensive about Beijing’s intentions and tend to discount its efforts toward promoting cooperation. Insufficient regularity in Chinese approaches toward regional issues, especially where China and its interlocutors have differing positions, encourage its regional partners to be more wary of Beijing’s offers to work together. Regional actors worry that Beijing may switch policies or that seeming promises of collabo-
ration actually weaken their positions. China’s significant and rapidly-growing relative advantages in economic influence, political clout, and military capability serve to unsettle its neighbours even more given such uncertainty. This situation degrades confidence in China, making regional actors more reticent about substantive collaboration with Beijing. Regional states around China aspire to stable and cooperative working relationships with Beijing. Insofar as the Chinese government shares this vision, assurance of neighbours should be an imperative. Achieving this objective requires that China better communicate its intentions to regional states and allow more insight into the deliberations that go into the making of its economic and security policies. Raising transparency and voice opportunities for regional actors in the policy process lowers uncertainty and eases apprehensions for weaker regional actors. Such steps can help Beijing avoid inadvertently alarming China’s neighbours. More confidence about Chinese intentions enables regional actors to trust Beijing more and commit further to cooperation. JA IAN CHONG is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Political Science at the National University of Singapore.
By Aerin Lai
s an extension of the “dependency theory”, Wallerstein introduces us to the “world-systems theory”, which seeks to illustrate the inherent hierarchy between core, semiperiphery, and periphery zones within a capitalist world system. In this theory, core “zones” (technologically and economically advanced countries) outsource low-skilled labour to workers from semiperiphery and periphery zones that are less developed, and whose economies may not have the capacity to provide upward economic mobility for their citizens.
The riots had transpired due to the death of an Indian worker who had been knocked over by a private bus. This riot had called to attention the country’s foreign labour policies and the dissatisfaction of many citizens with the growing number of guest workers. In a press conference, the Commissioner of Police of Singapore, Ng Joo Hee, stated that violent protesting is “intolerable” and “not the Singapore way”. These comments beg the question – what is the Singapore way? With such an explicit distinction made between Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans, the dichotomy between locals and foreigners; between “Despite having a minimum wage and conforming docile citizens and deviant migrants who, having infringed other laws erected to protect the upon a previously riot-free society, exploitation of these workers by pose a threat and danger, has become employers, the lack of enforcement from even more apparent.
In this article, I would like to use the recent riots that occurred in Singapore as a springboard to delve deeper into the increasing presence of “guest workers” within several Asian countries, namely, Singapore the local government makes it hard for and Hong Kong. I will examine how In Citizenship and Social Class, these laws to be fully realised.” their how their presence challenges T.H. Marshall writes, “Citizenship is the notion of “national identity” and a status bestowed on those who are its seemingly ascribed nature. Guest workers are migrant workers full members of a community. All who possess the status are equal who are employed by companies overseas, transported to their with respect to the rights and duties with which the status is enhost countries, and are repatriated when they are no longer needed dowed.” A comparison between Singapore and Hong Kong’s forfor their work. The term “guest” implies the temporality of their eign labour policies demonstrates some common themes. Due to stay in their “host” countries, and the precariousness of their stathe ambiguity of labour laws pertaining to migrant workers, these tus: when will these ‘guest workers’ overstay their welcome? easily become loopholes that can be taken advantage of by employers. These workers function as a buffer when there is a shortOn Dec 8, 2013, a riot broke out in Little India, Singapore. age of labour for low-skilled jobs. Despite acting as cushions to
any blows resulting from fluctuations in labour demands within the market, they are not given the same entitlements and benefits of a citizen; they are not considered as “full members of the community”. Despite having a minimum wage and other laws erected to protect the exploitation of these workers by employers, the lack of enforcement from the local government makes it hard for these laws to be fully realised.
To quote Benedict Anderson the nation is “imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitations that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship”. Drawing a parallel with Marshall’s concept of “citizenship”, societal dysfunctions slip away from view where migrant workers are concerned. It becomes very straightforward to “These workers are often viewed as a draw lines and pit “us” against To elaborate on my point, dosingular entity, framed as the cause of “them” due to perceived differences. mestic foreign workers hired in SingaThe concept of “national identity” the economic displacement of local assumes a more innate and inherent pore run the risk of repatriation should they get pregnant. These women, hired workers, thereby masking the actual quality that an individual possesses. by local employers, are sourced mainly This abstraction becomes sticky since causes for said displacement.” from the Philippines and Indonesia by said quality is difficult to articulate agencies acting as middlemen in this and reify. Because these notions are transaction, and have little agency over their own bodies when they commonly thought of as fixed, the presence of the guest worker arrive in their host country. Besides undergoing periodic pregnancy in turn challenges these seemingly static ideals. They are contests, some employers request for these domestic helpers to hand in ferred temporal statuses in the host country, yet they have taken their passports for “safekeeping” – for fear that they may flee the up a permanent fixture in the social landscape. country and consequentially, forfeit the levy that has been paid for. In this case, the law extends its control and surveillance beyond the A simple statement of “not the Singapore way” is subtle boundaries of the body. It is clear that these women are here only and yet insidious enough to perpetuate intolerance towards those to serve merely their functional purposes, anything exceeding this is who are different. Xenophobia is a slippery slope. As with all tantamount to an overstay of their welcome. social issues, the difficulty is in finding the “root of the problem” in order to eradicate it completely. Governments should seek to This migration from less developed countries to more develbalance between outsourcing locally undesirable jobs and protectoped ones in hopes of seeking better pay, as Arlie Hochschild has ing the human rights of these guest workers. The employment of succinctly put it, “has become a private solution to a public probmigrant workers should be considered from a multi-faceted perlem”. The former benefits from the amount of remittances sent by spective. these workers, yet, the establishment of such a dependency leads to a vicious “care drain”. As families with higher disposable income It paints a very depressing picture reminiscent of a colonioutsource the provision of care and familial work to these domestic al past, where colonial masters exploited the colonies, with the helpers, they too outsource care for their own children to other latter’s natural resources and labour used to fuel the progress and babysitters. development of the former. With the advancement of technology and an increasingly shrinking world, the boundaries of that old However, despite blatant exclusion of these workers from colony have now expanded to include an entire world-system, policy formulation and the construction of “national identity”, what where old colonies like Singapore and Hong Kong are ironically can be conceived of as a “conceptual exclusion” of these guest importing foreign labour to aid their own progress. workers from policy formulation is hardly the case in reality. Especially in countries where “space” is viewed as a scarcity, the close AERIN LAI proximities between locals and migrant workers become sites of is a recent graduate (June 2013) of the Sociology contestation. This dissonance between political and social exclusion Department at the Faculty of Humanities and and the reality that individuals face cause underlying tensions. These Social Sciences, National Technological workers are often viewed as a singular entity, framed as the cause of University (Singapore). the economic displacement of local workers, thereby masking the actual causes for said displacement. It puts them in a vulnerable situation, where their own personal narratives are erased as they are forcefully lumped into this strict category of “Migrant Worker” and accordingly, silenced. It is symbolic violence when these workers are not allowed to bring their families over with them, to get married with another guest worker and start a family, or deliberately not given the same wage and denied the same working conditions as locals.
By Christina Anagnostopoulos
ith the world’s attention focused on the people’s revolutions in the Middle East in the past three years, it appears the time has come to redirect our attention to Southeast Asia, where Thais have begun what appears to be their very own version of a popular uprising. The opposition to the ruling regime have been protesting in the masses, demonstrating the people’s will to see a drastic change to the existing status of Thai politics; consistently clashing with supporters of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra since the turmoil began in November 2013. The similarity with the Middle East does not end with their desire for political change, but is also reflected in their methodology: Thais have resorted to bringing government and “business as usual” to a standstill via the sheer force of human occupation in the streets. With the passage of time, the people have become increasingly determined to challenge authorities, having essentially shut down the capital, whilst remaining unmoved by the propositions of delayed polls and offers by Yingluck Shinawatra to meet protesters. The severity of the protests is indeed palpable – transit in Bangkok has been severely disrupted, schools have been shut down and protesters are threatening to surround government buildings and ministries. The official – but perhaps superficial – reason for the protests was the passing of a bill granting the return of and amnesty for Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s former leader who has been charged with corruption. Shinawatra is certainly a polarising and divisive figure in the country, and digging deeper into what has
long fuelled this national discord would be significant for understanding what is truly behind Thailand’s current state of chaos. By-Tei, a consular officer in the Australian Embassy in Bangkok, clarifies that while people initially came out to protest against the Amnesty bill for Thaksin Shinawatra that was being pushed forward by the government, it has now escalated to wiping out the existing regime entirely. In terms of support bases and divisions among the people, she claims that while most people from more rural areas support Thaksin Shinawatra, most of those in the urban middle- to upper-class support the opposition. It is thus important to dig deeper into why Thais are dividing themselves along social lines, and to understand what these divisive factors mobilising people in their thousands are. Yingluck’s political party, Pheu Thai, won the elections in 2011 by a significant margin, and the opposition is now keen on their claims that her party is in reality a proxy run by her brother Thaksin. Socially, the majority of Pheu Thai’s supporters are rural and working class, whilst the opposition consists of mostly middle - and upper-class voters and is pioneered by an elite blend of aristocrats, politicians, and conservative tycoons. The divisions reflect a wider debate on the political demographics and potential of Thai citizens. Supporters of the opposition movement claim that Shinawatra’s support base lacks experience to account for a
legitimate win for her party – arguing, in basic terms, that they are not sufficiently well educated. On the other side of the spectrum, supporters of Thaksin and Yingluck believe the argument of the opposition is simply an attempt by Thailand’s long-standing military and political elites to maintain as much prestige and control, fearing that they will increasingly lose control and influence if the Pheu Thai Party remains in power. Overall, Bangkok is the most contested area in terms of voters’ political sway – roughly evenly-divided among supporters of Pheu Thai and the opposing Democrats. There is, however, a pattern geographically linked to social and economic disparities. There is a clear correlation between income and Gross Provincial Product (GPP) on the one hand, and political party preference on the other. In fact, in the country’s 2011 general election, regions won by Yingluck’s Pheu Thai are among those with lower income and GPP, whilst regions gained by the Democrats correspond to a wealthier population and a higher GPP. Yet, since 2001, political parties related to Thaksin have continued to win elections almost exclusively. Thus, the criticisms of Pheu Thai’s supporters being “uneducated” may simply be an outcry from a comfortable elite that now fears losing control over their own interests in the face of a numerically stronger support base of Pheu Thai. The presence of military ties to the Democratic
party makes the possibility of forthcoming violence (by way of a military coup, for example) in the country’s near future a possibility that cannot be ruled out. It is unlikely that Yingluck Shinawatra’s party will concede any political power as they can boast being democratically elected to power in all past elections. On the other hand, criticism against the Shinawatra “dynasty” of power may also not be baseless – Thaksin, especially, is heavily accused of unfair propaganda and persuasion of rural voters outside the capital, to a point where he has monopolised his power beyond democratic standards. What is at stake for Thailand now is how united the country will be at the end of this discourse, and if the last few months of struggle will further polarize Thais along class and cultural lines behind the face of fiercely confrontational politics. CHRISTINA ANAGNOSTOPOULOS is a third year European Studies BA student at King’s College London.
By Tobias Udsholt
atar’s rise to international prominence is relatively recent and has been linked to the shift in policy occurring after the 1995 bloodless coup d’état, when former Sheikh Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani was forced to abdicate by his son, Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Since the transfer of power, Qatar has sought to combine great mineral wealth with an activist foreign policy, attempting to gain global influence and become central to politics in the Middle East. This strategy has been characterised by a pragmatic approach to foreign relations with a prospect to enhance Qatar’s profile as a regional arbitrator and an attractive investment destination. This is perhaps best exemplified by the successful bid to host the 2022 World Cup, where Qatar seeks to profit from the global attention and legitimacy associated with staging a major sporting event. By hosting the World Cup, Qatar hopes to benefit from association with arguably the most visible and recognisable cultural outlet in the world. International media responses, however, have not been as positive as envisaged. Far from it. Subsequent to securing the 2022 World Cup rights in 2010, international media has centred on the mistreatment of migrant workers under the kafala sponsorship system. The kafala system, which is also practised in Saudi Arabia, binds the legal status of an expat to his or her employer in Qatar.
In the special report Qatar: The dark side of migration, Amnesty International shows evidence that the kafala system “permits abuse and traps workers” by leaving them vulnerable to exploitation from a single employer. Others, including Human Rights Watch (HRW), have followed in the same vein, criticising the Qatari government for failing to sufficiently address the problem and calling for reform of labour legislation in the country. This criticism has been amplified in recent months following an investigation made by The Guardian in September 2013, which detailed a “chain of exploitation” of migrant workers likening the abuses to “modern-day slavery.” Since then, the official death toll as compiled by the Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC) of Nepalese guest workers has risen to 185 in 2013 alone. Common death causes were heart attacks, heart failure and workplace accidents. The numbers increase further when other nationalities are accounted for. While legislation stipulating that outdoor work must stop in the scorching summer heat from 11.30am to 3pm between June 15 and August 31 has been in place since 2007, evidence suggests that this is not enforced. The Guardian reported last year that Nepalese workers died at a rate of “almost one a day in Qatar” in the summer months. The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) estimates that the annual death rates for all nationalities of
guest workers could be set to rise to 600 a year as demand will increase for cheap manual labour ahead of the World Cup. The ITUC further estimates that 4000 workers could die before a ball is kicked in 2022 unless effective legislation is implemented immediately. The relevant question, then, is how many migrant workers will die before any conducive action is taken? In a country where migrant workers make up 70 percent of the population and 94 percent of the workforce, hardly any domestic pressure emerges from ethnic Qataris for labour and immigration reform. It is clear, therefore, that international pressure is required to push through improvements in worker rights.
“(…) the successful bid for the 2022 World Cup represents a continuation of the investment strategy which has driven Qatar’s ascent to international prominence over the past 18 years.” Widespread criticism has resulted in certain indications of progress, though. Following the negative headlines in late 2013, Qatari authorities indicated that labour rights rules will be amended by commissioning a review of the current labour legislation, the results of which are due to be published in the coming weeks. Nevertheless, with FIFA President Sepp Blatter stating in October 2013 that there was “plenty of time” to resolve issues before the 2022 World Cup, it remains that there is no timetable for the implementation of immigration and labour reform. Hassan alThawadi, chief executive of the World Cup organising committee, claimed in October 2013 that “this is not a World Cup being built on the blood of innocents;” nonetheless, available evidence would suggest otherwise. Additionally, while independent reports commissioned by NGO’s have criticised the mistreatment of workers, there has been a curious absence of condemnation on the subject matter from Western governments and from the multi-national corporations sponsoring FIFA sporting events. One could ask, for example, why the labour rights abuse of foreign nationals was not a discussion point when the UK and Qatar signed two new agreements in September 2013? On the surface, the criticism of Qatari labour laws strikes a contrast with the overall image of Qatar as savvy in the art of public relations. However, the successful bid for the 2022 World Cup represents a continuation of the investment strategy which has driven Qatar’s ascent to international prominence over the past 18 years. Amongst others, these investments include ownership of Harrods, majority ownership of the Chrysler Building in New York and the Shard in London, the construction of mosques in Western Europe and large stakes in Barclays and Volkswagen. Furthermore, Qatar has invested heavily in football, becoming the first country ever to sign a shirt-sponsorship agreement with FC Barcelona in 2010, purchasing the French football club Paris Saint -Germain in 2011 and securing the 2022 World Cup rights.
Viewed cynically, positive publicity from providing the facilities to host the world’s most watched sporting event would likely outweigh the costs of the negative coverage of worker mistreatment, the same who are constructing the very stadiums the tournament will be played in. International pressure is required to challenge this mind-set and Qatari foreign policy, aimed at becoming a dialogue partner between the West and the Arab world, which could suggest there is a spectrum for Western governments to engage Qatar in a dialogue looking to rectify its existing labour laws. In recent years, Qatar has sought to position itself at the helm of the Arab League as a regional arbitrator and as a partner with the West. An activist foreign policy has become the chief means with which Qatar aims to achieve this greater regional political influence. In the past 10 years, Qatar has attempted to broker peace treaties within conflict areas in Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco and Ethiopia, though with mixed success. During the Arab Spring, as other nations were forced to look inwards, Qatar benefitted from its own domestic stability and sought to exploit the power vacuum in the Middle East to position itself as a regional force for progress at the helm of the Arab League. This is best illustrated by the active participation of the Qatari military in overthrowing the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi during the Libyan Revolution in 2011. With increasing regional influence and global attention centred on Qatar, it must now be the objective of the international community to set aside financial self-interest and instead apply pressure on Qatar to reform its sponsorship system. Qatar has the opportunity to lead the way for the Gulf countries in abolishing the kafala system and replacing it with just labour legislation. In doing so, it would assume the role of a real regional leader. TOBIAS UDSHOLT is a first year Politics of the International Economy BSC student at King’s College London.
By Anisha Hira
he Middle East has historically been a region categorised as This intense standoff that has emerged between Saudi Arabia and highly volatile and reactionary. There are certain actors who Qatar in a race for power in the Middle East has largely impacted greatly influence the dynamic of power relations in the region. In the unfolding transformation of relations in the region. particular, Saudi Arabia has been one such contender in the past, The history of the two states is parallel in their discovery of in terms of the role the state plays in the global oil industry and the immense oil reserves at around the same time; 1938 in Saudi Arainfluence it wields over its neighbouring nations, both religiously bia and 1940 in Qatar. However, Qatar only gained its independand politically. However, in recent years, there has been a more ence in 1971 prominent Qatari when it was presence in the in- â€œthe 2022 FIFA World Cup is predicted to greatly advance Doha's considered one ner functioning of international standing. Preparations for the event have depicted a of the poorest the Middle East. the Gulf somewhat pro-Western outlook of the Qatari monarch, more so of Qatar and states. Growth than that of its regional counterpart. â€œ Saudi Arabia are in both counsaid to have increastries has been ingly adversarial relations when it comes to their foreign ventures exponential as a result of the abundance of natural resources and and internal structuring. Although the two neighbouring states increasingly global dependence on oil. The expedient modernisahave much in common, such as their native Wahhabi populations tion occurred in tandem with the accumulation of wealth through and economic dependence on oil, their policy-making process and the oil industry. ideological allegiances varied significantly during the Arab Spring. The reliance on oil as a major source of income to the Ranging from Libya to Syria, the rivals have engaged in an almost two Gulf nations is not sustainable as economic growth rates are proxy conflict through the ongoing clashes on regional battlefields.
gradually declining. In 2011, Qatar presented a 13 percent rise in economic growth, whereas Saudi Arabia displayed an 8.6 percent growth rate. In keeping with the trend over the past few years, the Economist Intelligence Unit has predicted further diminished levels of economic growth in the upcoming year. The interactions between Saudi Arabia and Qatar have not always been as strained as they are now. Subsequent to receiving independence from its former status as a protectorate of the UK, Qatar's monarch, al-Thani, chose not to join the United Arab Emirates. At the time, its neighbour, Saudi Arabia, assured the state protection in exchange for some sort of alliance, however, the cooperation between the two has gradually deteriorated, as Qatar sought to assert an autonomous presence in the Middle East. The separation of ideology between the two has manifested in the religious and political nature of their policy agendas. In particular, the rhetoric that has been thrown back and forth, specifically through local media outlets, like Riyadh-based AlRashed and Doha-based Al-Jazeera, is indicative of the ongoing feud. Conflicting opinions regarding constitutional reform, the interpretation of the Quran, and support for various groups during the Arab Spring dominates the dispute between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Of the two states, Qatar has been the most progressive in its approach to democratic reforms, albeit they are limited in nature. In 1999, they held elections for a municipal county, in which women were allowed to vote and stand for office. This is in sharp contrast to the controversial debate over Saudi Arabia's restrictive legislation on women's rights, such as the denial of the right to drive. Reform of rights related to the freedom of press and of expression, on the part of the Qatari government, has led to an increase in their sphere of influence. Additionally, Al-Jazeera has grown to be the dominant center of discourse to the Arab speaking world, which caters to an audience of more than 60 million in the region alone. In turn, Al-Jazeera has surpassed Al-Rashed and has significantly improved Qatar's status against that of Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, the 2022 FIFA World Cup is predicted to greatly advance Doha's international standing. Preparations for the event have depicted a somewhat pro-Western outlook of the Qatari monarch, more so than that of its regional counterpart. Although the rivals practice Wahhabism nationally, they confer entirely different meanings of what such beliefs entail. Saudi Arabia has traditionally abided by a more puritan interpretation of the teachings of Islam. This is most likely a direct result of the presence of a religious scholar class. However, the Saudi monarch has openly criticised radical Islamists, claiming that the Quran does not provide a basis for Jihadism. Moreover, Saudi Arabia predominantly supports authoritarian regimes, regardless of their religious association.
Qatar, on the other hand, has affirmed certain extremist factions among rebel groups in Syria and in Mali. Large amounts of Qatari funding in the region have allegedly gone into training and arms for al-Qaeda affiliated groups. Yet, paradoxically, the Qatari monarch has articulated a relaxed understanding of Wahhabism, especially regarding social reforms. Fundamental differences between both states have emerged in their reactions to various uprisings within the Middle East and North Africa. Scholars often contend that Qatar provides support to specific groups in direct defiance of those Saudi Arabia sponsors. This is indicative of what many call Qatar's objectives as the "new Saudi Arabia" of the region. A central example is the Muslim Brotherhood, whereby Saudi Arabia has expressed an aversion to their “weaker” interpretation of Islam, in favour of the Salafist group.
“(…)the cultural and political divide between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that has emerged in their internal and external ventures will continue to impact the dynamics of the Middle East.” Conversely, Qatar has in many instances backed the Brotherhood, financially and ideologically. In Egypt, the Qatari monarchy endowed the organisation and the Morsi administration with $8 billion. In contrast, Saudi Arabia chose to endorse the uprising led by General al-Sisi in the summer of 2013 by donating $5 billion to the interim administration. In conclusion, the cultural and political divide between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that has emerged in their internal and external ventures will continue to impact the dynamics of the Middle East. Due to the combination of economic and political rivalry, tension between the two states will not lessen in the foreseeable future. In addition, such tensions are greatly fragmenting the perception of Wahhabism and the factional groups in the region. The power struggle between the two that has materialised over the past few decades is likely to continue in a bid to emerge as the dominant Middle Eastern state. ANISHA HIRA is a first year Politics Philosophy & Law LLB student at King's College London.
By Erella Grassiani
sraeli soldiers often feature in media or state outlets as “rotten apples” or even “monsters” when stories about violence and disrespect at, for instance, the checkpoint are publicized. An example is an incident from 2012 where an officer from the IDF (Israeli Defence Forces) hit a Danish activist with his rifle. Prime minister Netanyahu reacted in the following way: “Such conduct is not characteristic of the IDF soldiers and commanders and has no place in the IDF and the state of Israel.” Such categorizations of soldiers as “immoral people” are thus not only made by the ‘usual suspects” such as left wing activists, but also by the military and state actors when facing the need to defend themselves in the face of scrutiny. Interestingly, this immoral behaviour is perceived as a personal issue that is solely perceived to come into being within a social vacuum. Here I would like to argue against this perception. Without intending in any way to legitimize the behaviour of soldiers, I am convinced one should look further into the context within which they work: the military occupation. I propose here to go beyond this superficial analysis of soldiers’ behaviour and moral
decision making to try to understand what influences it and how it is shaped within a context of occupation these soldiers work in. I will make the case for a need to analyse soldiers’ moralities and their (mis)behaviour within a systemic approach. In order to do so, I propose to analyse the spaces Israeli soldiers work within the OPT (Occupied Palestinian Territories) and their dynamics to show how physical, emotional and cognitive processes are shaped that influence the moral compass of soldiers in the field. Here, I will only mention my ideas briefly, I have explored them further elsewhere. When speaking of spaces, I emphasise three specific “arenas” that soldiers themselves interpret as dominant in their work. These are respectively checkpoints, arrest operations and patrols. While these are not all actual static spaces in the strict sense of the word, I perceive these arenas to be the basic units within which one could analyse soldiers’ behaviour and moralities. Within these spaces, I look at spatial strategies to see how soldiers use spaces, how spaces influence their relationship with the Palestinians and with each other.
Specific operational dynamics are present in all these spaces and are important to our analysis. Most important are power relations, which are extremely influential and can be analysed on different levels: a direct level of personal contact between soldier and Palestinian, but also in a more abstract manner to see how the power that spaces accommodate influence soldiers’ behaviour towards Palestinian civilians.
look for suspicious situations, but frequently also just to make sure everyone knows they are there. In the words of many soldiers: “to show our presence.” This issue again shows the immense power soldiers have over Palestinian civilians.
I have already argued elsewhere that the work within these specific spaces, within these specific circumstances that come with a military occupation, result in different processes of A second dimension is routine. In almost all interviews I numbing, physical, emotional and cognitive levels. These processes conducted with soldiers, this was mentioned as an important finally accumulate into a moral numbing, by which I mean that aspect of soldiering. This routine consisted, for example, of stan- situations that are morally problematic are not identified as such; ding at the same checkpoint for hours or even days on end and good and bad, right and wrong are not clear entities anymore, and performing the exact same activisoldiers’ moral compass is com“(…)the most common description given by promised. This becomes visible ties (checking ID’s, going through bags) every day. Doing soldiers about their work is “dirty work,” as a certain form of detachment; the same thing over and over soldiers then speak about “not work that was beneath them, that frustrated again made soldiers feel bored wanting to think about it,” “just and numbed their senses. them and was demeaning. It was opposed to going with the flow and not thinking,” having a “rosh katan” or A third dynamic that the image they had of “real” soldiering work, “small head.” surfaced in the discourse of solsuch as combat operations.” diers was the issue of proximity This situation of moral blurring and distance. Being physically or emotionally close to a person can can cause violence, verbal harassment, and lack of respect towards influence the way we act towards them, and soldiers experienced Palestinians. The same sorts of behaviour soldiers are accused of this as well. For example, at the checkpoints, sometimes the in the media that depicts them as “monsters.” It is important then distance is considerable between the soldier and Palestinian, ma- to realize how embedded this behaviour is in different situational king it easier to shout and to avoid the “humanity” of the other. aspects and spaces. These processes of numbing and the This distance can be spatial, but bullet and soundproof windows behaviour they influence are not produced in a vacuum, but within can also enhance it. a very specific context: the Israeli military occupation. The elements and spaces of the occupation and the specific work of the We should now place these dynamics in the different soldiers within it, is in my opinion crucial for this understanding. spaces I mentioned before. The checkpoint, to start of with, is not The immoral behaviour of soldiers is not a direct result of their only a space of soldiering; it is also a symbol of the Israeli military personal moralities, but it is part and parcel of the system they are occupation of Palestinian land. It is the place where soldiers and part of. So, I argue strongly for a systemic approach in studies like Palestinian civilians meet each other in the most direct way and the the one described here in short. It goes without saying that soldiers power relations at play are enormous. Not only are the passing are still human beings with their own, personal, responsibilities, Palestinians completely dependent on the soldiers in order to go but if we only perceive them as such without looking at the system through (and thus to be able to reach work, the doctor’s, shops, that forms them, I am afraid we will miss crucial insights about the etc.), it is also a site where soldiers can easily abuse the power they dynamics of violence and harassment by military personnel. have and thus harass Palestinians as they come through. In my research about soldiering in the OPT, the most common descriptERELLA GRASSIANI ion given by soldiers about their work is “dirty work,” work that is a post-doc researcher at the department for Human was beneath them, that frustrated them and was demeaning. It was Geography, Planning and International Development and opposed to the image they had of “real” soldiering work, such as lecturer in Anthropology at the University of Amsterdam. combat operations. Also, the arrest operations or “straw widows” when soldiers occupy a Palestinian house for days, weeks or months and turn it into a military “base,” are important to analyse. Specific for this “space” is the way a very private space (the Palestinian home) is invaded by military personnel and in some ways “militarized.” Thirdly, the patrol operations soldiers engage in are significant. Often soldiers patrol cities and villages in jeeps in order to
By Marlotte van Dael
nd it is to the women of the future that I look for the needed reformation.” As early as the nineteenth century, Alfred Russel Wallace stressed the importance of well-educated and independent women and the natural selection in marriage, which would contribute to human progress. John Stuart Mill is another example of the early adoption of the important role of women in society. As the first male philosopher to argue for the emancipation of women and their personal, legal and political rights, he claimed givng women this freedom would favour competition, improving human moral and intellectual development, both individually and socially. Currently, the notion of gender equality is given much attention in reports such as the Global Gender Gap Reports by the World Economic Forum and the World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development by the World Bank. As argued by the World Bank, gender equality matters not only intrinsically as a basic human right, but also as an instrument for development. This is because gender equality can contribute to multiple development goals such as the enhancement of economic efficiency. Broad productivity gains can be achieved through equal access to education, economic opportunities and productive inputs. Additionally, improving women’s absolute and relative status, through
increasing endowments and improving women’s education and health is beneficial not only for society’s development but also to that of children. Furthermore, women’s individual and collective agency - their ability to become socially and politically active, make decisions, and shape policies - is crucial in improving outcomes, institutions and policy choices. Specifically, research shows that women are typically more sensitive to risk, think more of the longterm and have a more network-focussed approach to problem solving than men.
“Rwanda can be seen as a development success in Africa, making great advancements towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals(…)” Considering development in Africa, Rwanda can be viewed as a convincing case of women’s empowerment. The 1994 genocide in Rwanda had an important impact on the role of women in the country. The genocide, carried out by Hutu extremists against the Tutsi minority and Hutu moderates, resulted in the deaths of an estimated 800,000 people, representing one-tenth of the population. Of the survivors, 70 percent were women and
girls. In a time of despair, women were quick to take on the roles of heads of households, community leaders and financial providers in order to rebuild the country. The advancement of women in Rwanda did not stop there. In the early 2000s, the women’s movement advocated vigorously for equality to play an integral role in the new constitution. As a result, the 2003 constitution embodied a strong commitment towards gender equality, ensured through a quota for women to represent at least 30 percent of decision-making organs. Moreover, the ruling party of Rwanda, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has proven to be in favour of a policy of inclusion of women in governance. Even before any quota was established, the RPF already appointed women up to 50 percent of the seats they controlled in Parliament. John Mutamba, official at the Ministry of Gender and Women in Development, expresses the thoughts behind RPF’s commitment to gender equality in a telling way: “Men who grew up in exile know the experience of discrimination. . . Gender is now part of our political thinking. We appreciate all components of our population across all the social divies, because our country. . . [has] seen what it means to exclude a group.” Because other political parties did not appoint as many women, Parliament only consisted 25.7 percent out of women before the installation of the new constitution. This situation, however, has since significantly changed. Specifically after the national elections of September, women in Rwanda now take 64 percent of seats in Parliament, making the country the world leader concerning female participation in Parliament. Having said this, the question is whether there is also any demonstrable progress to be seen in Rwanda since the genocide, besides, or as a result of, increasing gender equality. The answer is yes. Rwanda can be seen as a development success in Africa, making great advancements towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). As described by Rwanda’s President Kagame: “For Rwanda, the MDGs are a floor, not a ceiling.” Recognising the financial benefits of gender equality, women are not only well represented in politics, but also take on other high qualified jobs in the labour market, resulting in a remarkably high female labour participation rate (aged 15+) of 87 percent in 2012. Rwanda is now one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and its Gross National Income per capita, the World Bank’s indicator for development, has seen a significant increase from $730 in 2004 to $1,320 in 2012. Most importantly, the large representation of women in government has led to positive economic reforms, a focus on innovation and a relatively low level of corruption. The country is known for its effective use of development aid, improving the lives of the Rwandan people. Whilst many Rwandans still live below the poverty line, the poverty rate is decreasing faster than in any other country in the region with an average annual decrease of 2.7 percent (2006-2011). In addition, Rwanda has the highest primary school enrolment rate in Africa of 96.5 percent of boys and girls in 2012.
Female predominance in Parliament has also its impact on legislation, especially in favour of women’s position in society. This can be seen in an enhancement of women’s rights to ownership, the tackling of gender-based violence and the accessibility to female specific healthcare like contraception. This is not to say that there is no room for improvement. For example, as denoted by Rwanda’s National Gender Statistics Report for 2013, female participation in other levels of governance and decision-making positions remains lower than that of men. Secondly, outspoken criticism against the government is generally not tolerated and political rights and civil liberties in the country can be questioned. Consequently, this could obscure the freedom for women in opposition parties to express their opinions. Furthermore, development and resource allocation is lacking in the rural areas of Rwanda, resulting in divergent female opportunities in comparison to urban areas. Lastly, as already mentioned earlier, women also take on the role as the head of the household, resulting in the additional burden to balance work with family obligations. Nevertheless, the decision taken by Rwanda to make women true partners in the development process, partly due to the repercussions of the genocide, should be considered as a momentous accomplishment. It has resulted in major progressions towards gender equality and women’s empowerment as well as positive impacts on multiple developments goals. Also, it could provide a promising example for other countries in the region that have the potential to follow Rwanda’s legacy in female political participation, especially since the foundation on which to build this endeavour seems to be present in Sub-Saharan Africa. Namely, whilst the women’s movement is gaining serious influence, Malawi, Liberia, Senegal and the African Union already have a woman in power. Additionally, foregoing Europe, SubSaharan Africa has the third highest number of female ministers in the world. Ultimately, although there are still many steps that need to be taken to make the role of women in Rwanda truly equal, Rwandan women can be regarded as absolutely indispensable for Rwanda’s development success. The beneficial impact women can have on development now needs to be given the attention it deserves throughout Africa. MARLOTTE VAN DAEL is a MA in International Political Economy student at King’s College London.
By Mohamed Salih
he struggle of South Sudan for self-rule is one of the oldest, nese Army Officer, SPLA/SPLM’s declared objective was to go even by African standards. It dates back to 1955 when the beyond redressing these immediate concerns. The objectives are first civil war erupted a year before Sudan independence from broader and all-encompassing calling for a mass movement to British rule in January 1956. The initial objective of South Sudan reject the ethos and political foundations of old Sudan characterwas the creation of a federal system in which the South would ised by sectarianism, exclusion, inequality and disrespect for huretain a modicum regional autonomy within a united Sudan, but by man rights. The SPLA/M call for creating a new Sudan resonated 1965, it shifted the emphasis with the masses of marginalfrom federation to separaised Sudan who joined the “If independence is about self-rule, South Sudanese tion. The first civil war (1955movement from all regions of 1972) ended with Addis Aba- had already felt that Sudan independence meant Sudan both South and North. ba Agreement which granted replacing the British colonial rule with a northern The civil war engulfing alSouth Sudan autonomy withmost the whole Sudan Sudanese internal colonialism.” in a united Sudan. This meant (Darfur, Eastern Sudan, Blue as well, the division of the Nile and South Kordofan), South into three regional governments, the decision to construct was a harsh reality that compelled the government to rather relucthe Jongoli Canal to harness the waters of the White Nile to intantly sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, crease Egypt’s share, and the introduction of Islamic Shari. All of which eventually resulted in the Independence of South Sudan in this were among the major contributing factors to the rise of SuJuly 2011. dan People’s Liberation Army of and its political arm Sudan PeoThe governance dimension enters the division of old Suple’s Liberation Movement (SPLA/SPLM). dan into North and South Sudan in at least two major aspects Since its creation in 1983 by John Garang, the then Sudawhich characterised South-North relations since Sudan’s inde-
pendence from British rule about 58 years ago: greed and authoritarianism. Below I allude to these two underpinnings of SouthNorth relations and how these have outlasted unity to become a major characteristic of a divided Sudan taking lessons from the South-South conflict which erupted December 15, 2012. Divided by Greed The rebellion in South Sudan was motivated by a governance model immersed in historical grievances against North Sudan whose political elite lust for power and wealth for personal gain. The earlier signs of a greedy North Sudan elite who negotiated independence with the British colonial office were that only two out of 700 senior civil service positions vacated by the departing colonial administration were allocated to South Sudanese. If independence is about self-rule, the South Sudanese already felt that Sudan independence meant replacing the British colonial rule with a northern Sudanese internal colonialism. Sudan governance deficit was manifested in at least four major proxies who intensified South Sudanese grievances: Inequitable distribution of the factors of development, where the population of South Sudan (30 percent of the total population of Sudan) was allocated less than 10 percent of schools, health services, clean water facilities, roads and employment in the modern sector (both government and private) in the whole country. Exclusion occurred not only from employment, but also in politics and public office, where they were disproportionately outnumbered by Northern Sudanese. The civil war made the situation worse since Northern Sudanese political elite used it as a pretext claim to exclude large sways of the South from participating in national elections. Infringement of South Sudanese social, cultural and civil rights by calling the war against the SPLA/M a form of Jihad, and the imposition of sharia in both South and North Sudan, the government created a system of two tier citizenship dividing citizens into Northern Sudanese Muslim Arab and Southern Sudanese African Christian or animists. The introduction of the ‘civilisation project’ (al mushru al hadari) meant that the government yielded the responsibility to extend Arabic and Islam to what was perceived as savage animist South Sudan, thus infringing basic citizenship rights of South Sudanese. Human rights violations and denial of the right to life in the government controlled areas where food is used as a war weapon to mass killing, torture and maiming of those suspected of supporting the SPLA/SPLA in Government controlled areas and internally displaced people camps. South Sudan decision to part from old Sudan is the ultimate result of Sudan’s governance deficit, where political elite
greed for material wealth and quest for the monopoly of political power made self-rule the most preferred alternative to unity. Unfortunately, South Sudanese elite have not proven themselves to be less greedier than the political elite of North Sudan. The forms of greed that contributed to dividing Sudan come to haunt the Republic of South Sudan. This time around, the South Sudan civil war has produced its own version of governance deficit, silencing of political opponents, tribalization of political office and squandering of oil wealth for personal rather than public interests. United by Authoritarianism If the ultimate manifestation of severe governance deficit is authoritarianism, then Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan are united by it. On December 15, 2013 the conflict between the supporters of the President Salva Kiir and his Vice President Riek Mashar, has eroded the synthetic nationalism that united the people of South Sudan despite their ethnic, regional and religious diversity. Unfortunately, South Sudan is plagued by governance deficits similar to those which heralded its independence from old Sudan. While it is understandable that the SPLA/SPLM still enjoys the support of the people of South Sudan and are still basking in the glory of having liberated the South, its leaders and their style of governing is similar to that of the governing National Popular Congress party in Northern Sudan. They adopted the same practices where the machinery of government has almost almost no separation of powers. There is an absolutist control over the resources and personnel with a government controlled by military men, who were initially ascended to power through military coup (Omar Al Bashir Bashir) or armed liberation struggle (Salva Kiir). Because they privilege one ethnic group over the other, a crisis of citizenship has emerged. Moreover, the government is hardly responsive to citizens’ demands or the opposition call for opening the political space for broader citizen participation. Sadly, the leaders of South Sudan have inherited the worst example of governance deficit from old Sudan, the one they fought against and ironically incorporated to its rule methods when they became part of the ruling elite during the six year Government of National Unity. In sum, material greed is behind the current conflict in South Sudan, which undermined peace and development in similar ways as the civil war did between South Sudan and old Sudan. Ironically, the leaders of Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan are united by authoritarianism, the bedrock of the severe governance deficit which contributed to their separation in the first place. MOHAMED SALIH is Professor of Politics of Development both at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam and the Department of Political Science, University of Leiden in the Netherlands.
By Charlotte Le Maignan
rance's ties with Africa have been ambiguous at best since the independence of its former colonies in the 1960s. Not so long ago, Algeria was still French soil — or so it was thought to be. The Françafrique was a bizarre relationship between France and its former colonies and constituted an underground network of secret criminality in the upper echelon of French politics and its economy, which created a Republic that was hidden from both view and criticism. Africa was run by Jacques Foccart, de Gaulle's chief advisor on African affairs who could overthrow a government if he wanted to or prevent a coup if he decided so. But in the last 20 years or so, French African policy has clearly evolved. While it may be tempting to take out the old clichés of the past and point out to the colonial reflexes of France, the reality of French intervention in Africa is more neutral than it has been in the past and mainly aims at keeping the peace. In fact, in a speech in Dakar in 2007, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy said that he would end the Françafrique for good and hailed a new era of relations between France and Africa. Recent French military intervention in Mali and the Central African Republic, however, have reawakened the memories of the excess of French policy on Africa, culminating in the scandal of the diamonds of Bokassa when President Valéry Giscard d'Estaing received diamonds from the emperor of the Central African Republic, Bokassa Ist, a dictator who was then ousted from power. France has five military bases on the continent: in Gabon, Sénégal, Djibouti, Mayotte and Reunion, and has a strong historical record of meddling in African affairs. It has intervened more than 30 times on the continent since most of its colonies' ascension to independence in the 1960s. But in the most recent cases of Mali and the Central African Republic, the interventions were justified.
In March, after a coup, a muslim rebel group called "The ex Séléka" seized power in the Central African Republic, a country with a Christian majority. In response to the violence committed against Christian civilians, Christian militias have taken to arms to defend their families. The "anti-balaka" or "anti-machete," as they are known, are feared to avenge themselves on Muslim civilians as the Muslim rebels lose ground. So far, 2000 people have been killed, a million have fled their homes and half of the population is in need of aid. On January 20, in the midst of the crisis, an interim President was elected by an Assembly with no real legitimacy. Catherine Samba-Manza, the first woman to be President of the Central African Republic, has urged both sides to stop fighting. "I'm launching a resounding appeal to my anti-balaka children who are listening to me: show your support for my nomination by giving the strong signal of laying down your weapons," said Samba-Panza. “To my ex-Seleka children who are also listening to me: lay down your weapons." A Christian who speaks Arabic, Catherine SambaManza could bring the country closer to national reconciliation.
The UN has highlighted the seriousness of the crisis and has warned of possible spillover effects. The Central African Republic is bordered by Sudan and South-Sudan in the West, Cameroon and Chad in the East and Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo in the South. "The security and human rights situation has further deteriorated over the past few days," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement, before adding, "I call it as a matter of urgency upon the international community to strengthen peacekeeping efforts. . .many lives are at stake." At a meeting on Monday, January 20 by Brussels, France pushed for a deal to be made and the 28 ministers of Foreign Affairs have validated unanimously the concept of "crisis management," established in Brussels. They have agreed to send troops, at least 500, to the Central African Republic, provided that the mandate is approved by the UN Security Council. This is a big step forward even if the troops are only to arrive at the end of February. Meanwhile, in Geneva, the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon voiced his concern and urged for an immediate and concerted action. On the ground in Bangui, 5000 Misca (African-led International Support Mission to the Central African Republic) troops, backed by 1600 French troops, protect the area around the airport of the capital of the Central African Republic and intervene throughout the country to prevent the killings of civilians; they are operating under a UN mandate (Resolution 2127).
French intervention should not be read as an old colonial power's reflexes of going back to the old policy of Françafrique, but rather as the acknowledgement of its duty to the people of the Central African Republic torn apart by the evils of civil and interreligious wars. Initiated by French President Hollande, an International Summit for Peace and Security in Africa took place on December 6, 2013, where 53 delegates of African countries, representatives from the UN, the African Union, the IMF, the World bank and the African Development Bank participated. They reiterated their commitment to security on the African continent and the necessity of building African crisis response capacity as well as empowering African Nations within the framework of the United Nations. The days of the Françafrique are over. France might still have strategic interest in the region, but it has ceased to think of Africa as a colony from which economic reward could be reaped. As Paul Melly, a West African analyst for the BBC puts it, "The temptation to reach for old history should be resisted. We are not in the 1970s. Africa has changed. And so has France." Intervention should not always be vilified. President Hollande's efforts to stir international engagement should be saluted, and his timely decision to back up troops in Bangui earn him the respect of the international community when his conjugal deboires cannot. CHARLOTTE LE MAIGNAN is a second year International Politics BA student at King’s College London.
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