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IN THIS ISSUE

The sociology of

How the US could find itself left out in the cold A

Syria on the

Palestinian Question

Does a European public sphere exist? and more ...

DEMOCRACY

SPRING 2014

How “facts” blur the LGBT reality in Nepal The impact of

future for Somalia?

Kawaii


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The Paris Globalist is part of Global21 – a student-run network of international affairs magazines Yale University, University of Toronto, Institut de Sciences Politiques, Bowdoin College, University of Cape Town, Peking University, University of Sydney, University of South Australia, the London School of Economics and Political Science, IBMEC University, University of Oxford, Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, ITESM, University of Zurich, Singapore Management University

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Contents Theme: Facts 6 L’Avènement de l’Anthropocène Guillaume Levrier

8 Our Currency, Everyone’s Problem

Leonor du Jeu, Catriona Marshall, Gü̈ven Oglou, Charlie Ryder and Yannick Tetzlaff

32 LBGT Rights in Nepal Ndeye Diobaye

34 Flower Pots and Sex Toys Solange Harpham

10 Bubbles, Monkeys and Nobel Prizes

37 Does a European Public Sphere Exist? Juan David Ocampo

14 The Fate of Syrian Christians

40 France and the Dilemma of European Governance

Etienne Lepers

Saphora Smith

17 Growing Up in Syria

Jozef Kosc

44 When Facts Divide Si Hui Lim

20 L’impact syrien en Palestine Chloé Domat

24 Bric by Bric

Elham Torabian

30 A Future for Somalia? Dmitry Borisov

47 The Bill To Pay Claire Ping

49 The Tyranny of Fact

Edwin Johan Santana Gaarder


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The Paris Globalist | Vol. 6 Issue 1


Editorial The dichotomy that opposes fact from fiction is not so black and white. What we acknowledge as a fact may very well one day be revealed as fabrication. It used to be a fact that when you called someone, you would be the only two people who would hear the conversation. Spies and phone tapping were reserved for important people and Hollywood movies. Since Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks revealed the extensive nature of surveillance, citizens’ understanding of a private phone call is no longer the same. What we believe to be true may no longer be - or may never have been - the case. New discoveries have shaken up societies since the we accepted that the world is indeed round. And even so, there are constant challenges to what we take for granted. This issue’s cover art illustrates an upside-down map or a “south-up map”. McArthur’s Universal Corrective Map of the World, commonly known as the “Australia: no longer down under” map celebrated its 35th anniversary this year. What if something we understand as a fact - the North Pole is up north and the South Pole is down south - is an arbitrary decision made by those who live on one side of the sphere? Not only does this shake up our understanding of the globe, supporters of this theory cry foul to the political and economic powers who have implemented one fact over another to their own benefit. This edition of The Paris Globalist hopes to bring information to readers in a new light, with contributors who tried to dig up factual paradoxes or better explain the facts behind an event or phenomenon. This issue provides an array of stories from around the world ranging from the dangers of misinformation in the education system in Syria, the consequences of the NSA leaks on US diplomacy in Europe, to what it means when the Nobel Prize of Economics is given simultaneously to an economist who believes in the efficiency of financial markets and to one who does not.

Photo credit: Guillaume Levrier

Journalists around the world strive to report factual information, to expose false truth and to explain events that have happened without misleading readers. But, the fact of the matter is, writers are human too and humans are prone to interpret, understand and guide others according to their own emotions and education. To a certain extent, we all have our own truths, thus our own choice of facts at a given time. With this, I’ll leave you to ponder on a quote from Edwin’s article “The Tyranny of Fact” (page 47): “The danger is that we forget the illusionary nature of our truths, and become fundamentalists, or that we entertain a belief that the only truth is to be found in facts.”

Editor-in-Chief Yena Lee

President

Guillaume Levrier

Managing Editors Sara Chatterjee Leonor du Jeu

Editors

Louise Cousyn Albane Flamant Jozef Kosc Arushi Malhotra Alexandra Stenbock-Fermor Barbara Tasch Céline Tcheng

Contributors

Dmitry Borisov Chloé Domat Ndeye Diobaye Leonor du Jeu Edwin Gaarder Solange Harpham Jozef Kosc Etienne Lepers Guillaume Levrier Si Hui Lim Juan David Ocampo Catriona Marshall Güven Mustafa Oglu Claire Ping Charlie Ryder Saphora Smith Elham Torabian Yannick Tetzlaff

Cover Artist

Jungwon Coco Han (RISD ‘15)

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2

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L’avènement de l’Anthropocène Les défis d’une gouvernance globale dans un monde toujours plus incertain Guillaume Levrier

L

’époque charnière que nous vivons ne dispose plus que d’une certitude pour construire son avenir, c’est que les faits eux-mêmes sont incertains. Malgré l’impressionnant éventail technologique que nous sommes capable de déployer et la rapidité de sa progression, il nous est impossible d’analyser suffisamment finement et de prédire avec certitude les changements d’aujourd’hui et les catastrophes de demain.

Le premier débat, qui est en passe de se résoudre, est celui de l’influence humaine sur la planète. Celleci étant avérée, au moins pour l’extrême majorité de la communauté scientifique, nous devons donc rétrospectivement faire entrer notre monde dans « l’Anthropocène », une nouvelle période géologique dont l’être humain est collectivement le principal acteur. Cette formule, forgée par le prix Nobel de chimie Paul Crutzen, implique que l’activité humaine est devenue la principale force chimique et géologique à s’imposer à notre planète, avec des conséquences difficiles à évaluer mais non moins réelles.

Il est illusoire de vouloir trouver un coupable, même si celui-ci est bien connu. L’Europe du XVIIIème siècle est autant responsable du progrès technique de l’humanité que du changement de l’équilibre dynamique de notre environnement. Le « péché originel », même s’il était inconscient, est européen. Et la prise de conscience de ses dégâts potentiels n’est pas si récente. Dès le début du XXème siècle, le grand scientifique et chimiste russe Vladimir Vernadski conceptualise cette influence et donne son sens à l’idée de Biosphère : « l’activité de l’homme apparaît comme facteur géologique, dans lequel la personnalité individuelle apparaît quelquefois clairement et se reflète dans des phénomènes à grande échelle de caractère planétaire ». La synthèse de l’ammoniac et l’exploitation massive du charbon ont déjà fait de l’Homme une force géologique majeure. Après les échecs complets ou relatifs des différentes conférences sur le climat, du Protocole de Kyoto (signé en 1997 et entré en vigueur en 2005) à la conférence de Varsovie (novembre 2013) en passant par celle de Copenhague (2009), les défis de d’une gouvernance globale se font sentir.

Photo Credit: Flickr/CC/Doc Searls

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Limiter la croissance des pays en voie de développement dans l’espoir d’en réduire l’impact environnemental n’est pas une solution crédible : les troubles engendrés rendraient le remède plus destructeur que le mal, et c’est la raison de la légitimité de l’Inde ou de la Chine à refuser de telles solutions, bien qu’elles soient en première ligne face à ces problèmes. Dans le même temps, l’obstination des USA à vouloir maintenir à tous prix une domination économique et militaire continue d’accélérer un processus déstabilisant l’écosystème global de la planète tout en légitimant les autres organisations qui suivent le même chemin. Les grands ensembles sont aujourd’hui essentiellement gouvernés par les technosciences. Les données rationnelles et statistiques à disposition permettent de présenter des alternatives au pouvoir politique, lequel décide généralement de tendre vers la solution la moins risquée. C’est particulièrement vrai en économie, qui est avant tout une science qui tend à examiner les éléments passés pour tenter d’en extraire des tendances qui pourraient être des symptômes de grands mécanismes à l’œuvre. Mais aucun modèle économétrique, si complexe et bien informé soit-il, ne peut fournir une aide à la décision précise et complètement fiable. Tout au plus il peut venir soutenir une intuition selon laquelle telle ou telle politique serait propice ou destructrice pour un certain secteur de l’économie. Comme l’indique souvent Bruno Latour, notre temps est celui des grandes controverses, à tous les niveaux du savoir. La solution pourrait cependant bien venir de l’auteur des catastrophes présentes et à venir. Après les deux guerres mondiales, l’Europe est parvenue à construire malgré les antagonismes nationaux un système institutionnel qui prend de plus en plus d’importance et qui apparaît comme naturel aux générations qui arrivent aujourd’hui dans la vie active. Pour l’extrême majorité de la population du continent européen, même si toute définition géographique est hasardeuse, l’appartenance à l’Union Européenne n’est pas une question. Et lorsque cette question est effectivement posée, la population ne manque pas de descendre dans la rue pour défendre son opinion. Cette réussite, saluée par le prix Nobel de la paix et par la classe politique européenne à quelques exceptions près, se base sur l’idée d’une grande convergence des modèles économiques, légaux et institutionnels entre les pays membres. La subsistance de l’euro et son élargissement montrent à quel point, étant donné les sacrifices que cela implique pour la plupart des pays, la volonté de mettre en place un système économique efficace et synergique entre les pays européens. Au niveau

légal, le dialogue des juges est désormais devenu la règle pour harmoniser les valeurs et les systèmes de juridiction au sein de l’Union, et son adhésion en tant que entité morale à la CEDH pose une base commune de droits fondamentaux. Enfin, le système institutionnel a toujours évolué depuis sa création en faveur du pouvoir de son assemblée, bien que le Parlement Européen actuel accuse toujours un manque de poids par rapport à la Commission et au Conseil. On touche ici à l’ambivalence d’une certaine conception de la démocratie. La technocratisation des différents États européens, et de l’Union en tant que telle, s’est construite en tant que garantie de la permanence de principes fondamentaux, en particulier de la gestion efficace, rapide et rationnelle d’un certain nombre d’enjeux. Pour autant, les défis qui se profilent et dont les symptômes sont déjà visibles ne sont pas rationnellement quantifiables et échappent au prisme des administrations en place. L’intuition de ces enjeux ne peut pas non plus se révéler par le vote populaire et la représentation : le type de calcul qu’il implique est typiquement celui du souverain et n’est viable que s’il est imposé à tous et non le fruit d’une décision individuelle. Dans ce cadre, une des solutions serait de centraliser la gestion des ressources et des infrastructures au niveau européen. Un organe administratif, faisant jeu égal avec la Commission, le Conseil et le Parlement Européen, serait chargé d’administrer à la fois les ressources issues de l’espace géographique des pays membres, leur exploitation et d’assurer la gestion concerée des grandes infrastructures européennes, en particulier des réseaux de transport, de télécommunication et de l’énergie. Cette administration prendrait ses pouvoirs dans un traité ratifié par tous les pays membres, ou une révision des traités actuels, lequel spécifierait son autorité et sa suprématie absolue en cas de risque avéré de dommage irréparable à l’environnement. Cette capacité à faire face à la multiplicité des épiphénomènes signalant la destruction d’un écosystème permettrait d’avoir un impact agrégé à l’échelle du continent. C’est évidemment une solution de court terme, mais elle pourrait permettre la réduction de la cadence du glissement vers les crises à venir.

Guillaume Levrier is studying Public Affairs at Sciences Po Paris

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2

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Our currency, everyone’s problem

The Fed should reconsider the harmful externalities of its monetary policy on Emerging Economies. Otherwise too soon, it may find itself out in the cold.

An opinion piece by Leonor du Jeu, Catriona Marshall, Gü̈ven Moustafa Oglou, Charlie Ryder and Yannick Tetzlaff

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I

t is evident that emerging economies are not a leading priority for the Fed. In fact, the Bank does nothing to sugarcoat this as Dennis Lockhart, President of the Atlanta Fed made clear last month:

economies and their ability to implement an appropriate monetary policy given domestic conditions. Central Banks in emerging markets experience limited capacity to counteract the reversal of capital flows, this is especially true when it comes to the stabilization of exchange rates. Thus, the Fed should remember that enjoy“We only have a mandate to con- ing the benefits of being a hegemon cern [...] the interest of the United will increasingly require that it meet States. Other countries simply have the responsibilities that come with it. to take that as a reality and adjust to us.” But at the next FOMC meet- What’s more, as a hegemon currency, ing on the 28th of April, this attitude the U.S. has benefited from low borneeds to change. The Turkish Lira rowing costs for the last 15 years, has reached a record low of 2.24 highly funded by the Chinese and TRY/USD this week compared to its other emerging market surpluses. average value of 1.04 between 1981 Thus, the U.S. growth model of high and 2014. As a response, monetary domestic consumption and a current policy has tightened significantly since account deficit (since 1984) heavJanuary 2014, with interest rates ris- ily depends on external inflows. In ing from 7% to 11%. As expectations order to maintain such a position, the of reduced quantitative easing in the U.S. should insure that its emerging U.S. materialised towards the end of creditors continue to see the current 2013, vulnerable emerging markets monetary order as mutually benefisuch as Turkey and other “Fragile cial. As emerging economies such as Five” economies have experienced India and South Africa gang up behind considerable downward pressure on China to put pressure on the Fed to their currency. Lack of concern for its consider the spillover effects of taperemerging market counterparts could ing its bond-buying program, it could jeopardize the U.S.’s international find itself left out in the cold. hegemon position. The loss of which would have serious repercussions for The more pressing factor the Fed should consider in its monetary policy the whole of the U.S. formation is the risk tied to the OrigiThe Fed operates as the de facto nal Sin: many emerging economies World Central Bank in the current rely on external funding denominated international monetary system. Histor- in USD. A strong devaluation could ically, periods of monetary tightening cause an incapacity for the periphfollowing overly easy policy in the U.S. ery to pay back loans provided by the have induced financial stress in the U.S. public and private sector. History emerging markets. Today, although delivers a warning with regard to capithe “Fragile Five” would do well to do tal flows towards the U.S. A “flight to some soul searching with regard to quality” such as during the “La Década their own economic vulnerabilities, the Perdida” of the 1980s does not seem Fed also needs to consider the nega- dangerous at first for the US. Howtive impact of its policies on emerging ever, the underlying problem became

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2


of Latin America exceeded its earning power, leading countries like Mexico to default. In 1982, U.S. banks were owed $24.4 billion by Mexico alone - amounting to 34.6% of their total capital. Translated into our current world with a stronger financial integration, where 40% of all Asian and 60% of all Latin America’s financial assets are held by the U.S., such a devaluation of local currencies might worsen those scenarios. Furthermore, a strong devaluation of emerging economies’ currencies heightens the risk of default on U.S. private sector investments and the damage to American savings. The Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, and the collapse of 14 financial institutions such as Long-Term Capital Management, is just another example to illustrate how financial shocks from the periphery can quickly become a problem for major developed nations. Foreign investors in Asian equities

lost an estimated $700 billion - including $30 billion by Americans. And, the crucial question is - who paid for this collapse? The resulting $3.6 billion bailout of these financial institutions was dumped upon American taxpayers. In the current economy, can we afford for this to happen again? In short, John Connally’s approach of ‘our currency, your problem’ is outdated. Lessons from history, and the current risk posed by emerging market volatility, clearly signal that it will be highly problematic for the U.S. to continue on this path. U.S. investors, as well as taxpayers are impacted by the indifference of the Fed. And today, with JP Morgan analysts predicting that the Remnimbi could challenge the U.S. dollar as an international reserve currency within 20 years, the time for the Fed to acknowledge emerging economies is now.

Leonor du Jeu, Catriona Marshall, Gü̈ven Moustafa Oglou, Charlie Ryder and Yannick Tetzlaff are students at Sciences Po. This article originally appeared in French at “Les Echos”

Photo Credit: Flickr/CC/Bertrand Duperrin The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2

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DOSSIER: DEMOCRACY

Photo Credits: Flickr/CC/epsos.de

Bubbles, Monkeys & Nobel Prizes Five Ideas on the Efficiency of Markets by Etienne Lepers

T

“The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2013 to Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller

he 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics was unexpectedly awarded to Eugene Fama, who proved that financial markets were efficient, and to Robert Shiller who proved … that they were not. This may sound puzzling. ‘So what?’ What do we really know about asset prices? What do they represent: real values, facts or nothing concrete? Can we anticipate their moves and on what basis? Do we have enough information? Intuitively, prices should reflect the value of the assets. Nevertheless, for a transaction to take place, one party must be convinced that the asset is undervalued (that prices will go up), while the other is necessarily estimating it to be overvalued (that the asset price will go down so they should sell). Fama and the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH) simply state that prices reflect all publicly avail-

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able information. Rational investors immediately integrate new information in asset prices. Prices thus represent everything they currently know. On the other hand, says the simple headline opposition, Shiller and behavioral economists have highlighted the irrationality of behaviors potentially leading to bubbles (disconnection between the price of the asset and its fair value). Below is an attempt to draw some light out of this confusing clash over market efficiency by giving five insights on the links between information and asset pricing. “Monkeys perform better than the best financial investors” Yes, very often. The idea behind the EMH – once said that prices reflect all available information - is that stock prices cannot be predicted in the short term. Stock prices curves follow what econometricians call a “Random Walk”: the best prediction of the future price is the price of today.


As a consequence, it is really hard to beat the market. It is comparable to picking the fastest queue at the supermarket: if it was so obvious which one was the fastest, people would have already chosen it.

This is what made Burton Malkiel famously conclude that: “A blindfolded monkey throwing darts at a newspaper’s financial pages could select a portfolio that would do just as well as one carefully selected by experts.” The Wall Street Journal has conducted experiments to test this idea, beginning in 1988; and showed that monkeys randomly picking stocks were often better than careful readers of financial news. The last experiment was conducted in 2013 with dart selections beating investors one more time. When some information is poorly reflected in the price, then investors can make profit by anticipating an increase in prices when assets are undervalued for example. Hence, the only way to beat the market is either to be lucky or to have access to non-public information (this is known as insider-trading, which is illegal). However, the paradox of the EMH is that while it predicts the extinction of much of today’s financial industry (since there is no possible rent), the hypothesis cannot stand without it: the only reason why prices are reflecting information is exactly that there are active investors to find and incorporate this information. And active investors usually take high risk potentially leading to bubbles for instance… “Bubbles don’t exist” Of course, they do. People often think that the EMH assumes that markets are valuing assets to their fair value. How then can a bubble be explained? A crash is exactly a disconnect between prices and value.

Eugene Fama in several declarations has fueled this belief: “I don’t even know what a bubble means. I don’t think they have any meaning […] I didn’t review my subscription to the Economist because they use the world bubble three times on every page”. But actually the EMH is not really in contradiction with the existence of bubbles: the fact that prices move randomly is not inconsistent with high volatility nor with big moves . which can lead to crashes. The EMH doesn’t state that markets are clairvoyant. It doesn’t imply that prices are stable. It simply entails that at a certain moment, there are as many agents who think an asset is undervalued as those deeming it to be overvalued. However, Fama and his colleague John Cochrane warn about the tendency to say “bubble” each time prices are going up or down. Nevertheless, prices have more than just ‘gone up or down’ recently … “The EMH cannot explain the Crisis” With difficulty indeed. The crisis has been a hard blow to its proponents. Fama argued that the EMH did quite well since “prices started to decline in advance of when people recognized that it was a recession and then continued to decline. That was exactly what you would expect if markets were efficient”. ii However, the disconnection prior to the recession between the value of the assets and the prices seems simply too big to be explained by the not-so-clairvoyant-markets idea. The subprime crisis reflects the failure of models built on false information and the failure of the assumption that past prices and behaviors were a reliable basis to predict future scenarios. The strong interpretation of the EMH which suggests that prices reflect their fair value has thus been rejected. On the other hand, since the information about the ‘toxicity’ of mortgages was not available (mortgages received AAA ratings), the idea of the reflection of all available information was not contradicted. “The EMH helped to cause the Crisis” Hardly. Krugman for example argues that a dogmatic belief in the EMH has a big responsibility in the crisis. But this doesn’t make sense if one carefully looks at the implications of the hypothesis. Actually, investors would have taken less risks if they all believed in the EMH. Indeed, they wouldn’t have paid their people “crazy” salaries to pick the right assets, because they just can’t beat the market.

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 68 Issue 12

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Actually, investors who try to beat and time the market are exactly the ones fueling bubbles: they rush in booms and sell in busts in panic. Fama rightly points out that “hedge funds and private equity … are built on the proposition that markets are inefficient”.ii The same story goes for regulators. High returns imply high leverage, big risks or insider trading. If regulators believed in efficiency they would have understood that the big returns banks were making were the evidence of high leverage and risks. As Financial Times columnist Tim Hartford concluded, “any follower of Eugene Fama would have smelled a rat” ; they would have regarded subprime mortgages with suspicion – which couldn’t have been both very safe and yield high returns. But what if investors did not actually care about information and facts about asset prices? “Investors are behaving irrationally” Well, we don’t know. Shiller, the co-Nobel winner has spent his life showing that investors’ behaviors can be mimetic and irrational; and subsequently fuel bubbles. And if all rush in a same direction regardless of information, then the prophecy becomes self-fulfilling: their irrational behaviors then drive prices. Shiller convincingly demonstrated how individuals can sometimes depart from rationality through psychological and cultural influences. However, it is much more difficult to jump from individuals to the aggregate level of market pricing. No clear empirical evidence has been found. Shiller and Fama have been opposed too often but they agree on basic facts: Fama has tried to find exception to his theory and has found some cases in which some predictability in returns is possible. Shiller arrived to the same empirical conclusion. From this standpoint, there are two different interpretations: this predictability is either linked to business conditions or to irrational behaviors. Both Shiller and Fama are not dogmatic preachers but first and foremost careful empiricists, and efficient markets were exactly coined by Fama a “hypothesis”. The Nobel Committee thought the two views deserved to be listened and to be rewarded.

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2

After all do we care? Alfred Galichon – Professor in our dear institution - argues that we should indeed maybe reframe the debate by questioning a different dimension of the word ‘efficient’: in the French sense of ‘efficace’. Are financial markets socially useful, socially efficient? The essential role of financial markets is typically to finance the economy (facilitate investment and allocate resources to the most productive uses) as well as to insure the savings of households. Galichon found that even during the crisis the two functions have been quite well handled. Finance plays an indispensable role in today’s economies. This reflected by the increasing number of emerging countries who develop their financial sector. This idea is supported by the hypothesis of efficient markets. Of course, finance can sometimes perform badly, and more research is certainly needed in order to understand why. Awarding a Nobel to works on asset pricing also helps showing the way ahead. In the meantime, monkeys can continue to throw darts … on bubbles?

A few readings to go further Cassidy’s interviews series “After the Blowup” with Chicago economists in New Yorker, 2010 Fama’s keystone paper “The Behavior of Stock Market Prices” in the Journal of Business, 1965 Shiller’s regular op-eds in Project Syndicate Galichon’s paper “Est-il vraiment important que les marchés soient efficaces ?“ in Revue Banque, June 2012 Davies’s book : The Financial Crisis, Who is to blame ?, 2010, CH33

Etienne Lepers is a student in the Dual Master PSIA - LSE in International Economic Policy


Features


DOSSIER:SYRIA DEMOCRACY FEATURE:

The Fate of Syrian Christians by Saphora Smith

F

ollowing a number of reports in the international press confirming unprovoked attacks on Christian communities in Syria, Christian Syrians in France, whether pro-Assad or pro-opposition, are united in their fear for the safety of Christians in an increasingly divided and radical Syria. Christians in Syria have increasingly become a target of both rebels’ and government’s suspicion and frustration, as their political allegiance as a whole has remained unclear. Officially the Syrian government claims that the Christian people are steadfast supporters of the regime and its ideology, but, in reality ,Bashar al-Assad “is aware that this is not the case”, explained Tamer Mallat, co-founder of ArabsThink.com, an anti-Assad blog based in Paris. Not only have there been many examples of Christian leaders of opposition movements, including George Sabra, elected President of the Syrian National Council, the main opposition group to the government, but also, according to Mallat, “legitimate Christian support for Assad is founded, not, in fact, on ideology, but on economic incentive”. According to Mallat, Assad’s rise to power represented a turning point in the treatment of Christians in Syria, as the government encouraged more political and economic opportunities for the Christian minority, creating a social contract: “money in exchange for support”. Mallat argues that Christian loyalty tends to be divided by economic status. Those having benefited from Assad’s pro-Christian policies stand by the government whereas the less fortunate Christians tend to support the opposition.

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FEATURE: SYRIA

If this is the case it explains the Syrian government and opposition’s doubt concerning Christians’ allegiance and perhaps goes someway to explain the recent violence against Christian communities in Syria. Of the 2.5 million Syrian Christians, constituting roughly 10% of the Syrian population, more than 300,000 have already fled their homes to neighbouring countries in fear for their lives, according to The Guardian. Many less fortunate Christians, lacking the means to escape, have however had little choice but to stay and face the realities of life as a Christian in Syria. Of those Christians who remained, many have subsequently been victims of attacks such as that on the Christians of the town of Maaloula at the beginning of September. The Nusra militia, supported by Al-Qaeda, who began their attack on Maaloula on 4 September, reportedly shot at Christians who refused to convert to Islam, according to Hanna, a local Christian resident. At least 10 Christians were killed and of the previous 5,000 Christian residents not one has returned, according to a report undertaken by The Independent. The fear among Christian Syrians in France is that the condition of Christians in Syria, already critical, will only get worse as the war becomes increasingly radical. Father Elie Wardé, of the Syrian Church in Paris, expressed his concern that the increasing influence of Islamic fundamentalist groups such as Al-Qaeda on Syrian militias posed a growing threat to the safety of Christians in Syria.

Photo Credit: Flickr/CC/Jean-François Gornet

“I’m not saying Assad is good or bad” Father Wardé said. “But specifically for Christian Syrians, the alternative to Assad is probably more dangerous”. César, a Syrian Christian studying at HEC, Hautes Etudes Commerciales, in Paris agreed, arguing that the most pressing question had to be “what will the consequences for Christian Syrians be, if, or when, Bashar-al Assad’s regime collapses?” César suggested that if Assad falls, the more moderate Muslim Brotherhood would probably gain seats.

The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2

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FEATURE: SYRIA

Yet he speculated that, in order to keep control, the Brotherhood would probably have to yield to the demands of more radical groups, potentially jeopardising the rights and safety of the Christian minority. A pro-Assad Syrian Christian, who wished not to be named, argued that the fate of Syrian Christians was tied to that of Assad. “We should take note of what happened to Christians in Egypt, in Iraq, in Libya, after the fall of their governments” he explained, arguing that Syrian Christians would not survive attacks by Islamic radicals without protection from Assad. Even Tamer Mallat, who is openly anti-Assad, argued that the longer the war continued, the more extreme it became, the worse the situation for Christians in Syria would become. Although he denies that the fate of Christians is tied to Assad, he fears that Christians may well fare as badly, if not worse, caught between the radical opposition parties. This is why Mallat argues that there need to be two wars, one to depose Assad and the

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other, subsequently, to destroy the radical militias. The second will be an “existential war” he argues. “A war in which Syria will decide what sort of country it wants to become”, hopefully one that is tolerant of minorities, he said. The fate of Syrian Christians is still to be decided. Yet, Christian Syrians in France fear that the longer the war goes on, the more time it has to radicalise, the worse the consequences for Christians will likely be. Whether pro-Assad or pro-opposition, Christian Syrians in France agree that if the war does not end soon there may be an even greater mass exodus of Christian refugees from Syria, as life as a Christian in Syria is becoming more and more dangerous.

Saphora Smith is studying Journalism and Human Rights at Sciences Po Paris


FEATURE: SYRIA

Growing Up in Syria

How an education system can mold a generation

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hink back to your early days of schooling. If you’re French, you can probably still remember your teacher telling you about the 1789 revolution or giving you a list of the Fifth Republic presidents and asking you to memorize them. If you’re American, you probably remember learning about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers in class. In fact, most your factual knowledge about history probably stems from your country’s education system, so can you imagine what would happen if you had grown up under a completely different one? One that managed to etch beliefs so deep in your mind that you would never believe it if you were told that what you learned was wrong?

I grew up in Syria and went to a French school, but I also had the chance, in my last few years there, to experience the Syrian education system first hand. “Let’s talk about the Holocaust,” my Syrian Civic Education teacher said one morning to our unusually full and silent classroom. The Syrian government had only that year succeeded in forcing my private, French-government-affiliated school to let professors from the Syrian Ministry of Education come and give us Syrian Civic Education, Syrian History, and Syrian Geography classes. The argument was that if we didn’t take these classes, our French baccalaureate would not be recognized inside Syria and we would not be able to go to university there. These classes were imposed upon every student, whether they were interested in going to university in Syria or not. What started as an alleged favour to the students then became a burden that dragged down our grade point averages because we had never taken these classes before and were not necessarily accustomed to the Syrian off-by-heart learning style and grading system. The only way one could be exempt from taking these classes was if one did not have a Syrian passport. At the time, we were proud to be the most rebellious students. We adamantly refused to sit in on most of these lessons; we would skip classes constantly or just ask to go to the bathroom and never come back. After a few months of constant en-masse skipping, our desperate professors and angry principal explained that if we continued, the government was threatening to shut down the school, forcing us to give in, one fateful morning as we turned to listen to what our nationalistic professor had to say.

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/ewixx

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FEATURE: DOSSIER: SYRIA DEMOCRACY “The Holocaust,” he said - and I’m paraphrasing “IF it in fact occurred, was greatly exaggerated in numbers.”

Complete silence.

“There is no physical evidence or scientific research that proves that the claimed 6 million figure was in fact correct.” One thing is certain: That morning, the professor indeed succeeded in getting our full attention. Here was a man before us speaking our mother tongue and telling us the complete opposite of what the French-speaking professors who came from abroad had been teaching us for years. We asked a few questions, but we did so wearily: the last thing you wanted to do in Syria was contradict the government. Imprisonments and disappearances were not an uncommon consequence of doing so, and if one forgot this, all it took was a glimpse of a photo of Bashar (or worse, Hafez) on the corner of a street or on the wall of a classroom or even on someone’s car to remind you. Added to this were the constant, “Shh! The walls have ears! Do you want to sleep at your aunt’s house tonight?” (“aunt’s house = prison) comments that you got from everyone anytime you talked about politics, even if you were in the safety of your own home. This teacher was very likely a member of Mukhabarat, the far-from-secret intelligence agency that kept an eye out for possible opponents of the system, so we quickly refrained from arguing with him. I’ve since had the chance to go back to my high school Civic Education textbooks and check for what the teacher had said. I found nothing. In fact high school history and Civic Education textbooks in Syria barely even cover World War II. What I did find, however, were recurrent references to the Israel-Palestine conflict. It took me almost a year after moving from Syria to France for college to get used to saying the word “Israel” without lowering my voice or looking over my shoulder. Growing up in Syria had instilled in me an innate conviction that Israel was the national enemy, and that any mention of the enemy in a non-negative context was dangerous. When you go through customs coming into Syria, the officer will not only stamp your passport, he will also look through all of its pages to check where you have been. If you have ever been to Israel, you are not legally allowed to enter Syria (the opposite is also true). Syria has never recognized the existence of

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an Israeli state. Looking through the Syrian textbooks that I was never forced to memorise, I began to understand one of the principal tools the Syrian government used to imbed an ideology into its people. At the beginning of every book is the picture of the president, the name of the deceased Hafez Al Assad is always preceded by “The Immortal Leader,” and Israel is almost always referred to as the “Zionist occupier,” or the “Zionist enemy,” but never as a country or a people. On maps, the Golan and Alexandretta are always drawn within the Syrian borders, and are often referred to by people as “occupied territories” by Israel and Turkey. The Palestinians are “our brothers” and Syria remains one of the only countries that are fighting to liberate it (even though official clashes haven’t broken out between Syria and Israel since the 1973 war—not counting those that have occurred since the beginning of the revolution). In short, any and every negative image possible is added to the already horrifying concept of Israel that exists in the minds of Syrians. There were mainly two results from this particular type of propaganda. The first was a nation-wide conviction that Syria was a great country, that it had fiercely defeated its enemies (after all, we “won” the 1973 war against Israel) and still stands up to the “imperialistic” West, that its history was gleaming with glory, and that other countries envied us for our resources and our beautiful land, which is not very different from what almost every country tries to convey about its own history. The second, and more important consequence was a unquestionnable belief that the Assads were quasi-royalty, that they had saved us from a constant instability in the post-French mandate decades, and that without them, we would never have had the glorious democratic nation of today. The creation of an omnipresent, infinitely evil enemy further legitimized the rule of the Assad regime. It created the ever-necessary sense of community: Keep people united against a common enemy, and they won’t come after you. My class was rebellious, and the administration never ceased to remind us of how terrible we were so it never motivated us to become any less rebellious, but I do believe this: the real reason we skipped all those classes was not because we wanted to be troublemakers, but because we


FEATURE: SYRIA

knew, though we dared not say it, that these classes were the symbols of regime propaganda infiltrating our little bubble of privilege. We have since broken off and been divided by geography, but also by our ideologies: many agreed with the revolution, others remained loyal to the regime. Either way, however, we had all realized that, although their definitions were identical in both textbooks, the version of “democracy” we learned about from our French professors and the version of democracy and freedom that we experienced in our own country were far from being alike. And since we’re on the subject of democracy, here is a definition of Chapter 17 of the 12th grade Baccalaureate program Civic Education textbook talks about terrorism. One of the paragraphs reads as follows:

Democracy according to a twelfth grade Syrian Civic Education textbook, the message of which was later ironically turned against the regime in chants and on billboards: “The people are regarded as the source of power and its owners. Any authority that does not stem from the people is considered illegitimate. The Constitution affirms that freedom is a sacred right and that popular democracy is the best form [of government] that guarantees the civilian’s ability to exercise his freedom.” I guess Civic Education classes did prove useful to Syrians after all.

“Who exercises terrorism? a. Individuals (such as the Israeli, Goldstein who killed the people praying in the Aqsa Mosque) b. Groups (such as the Hagana mobs who committed the massacres of Deir Yassin and Kafr Kasem) c. A state (such as the Zionist entity that committed massacres against the Arab people in Sabra and Shatila)”

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/ewixx

Another version of this article appeared in The Seattle Globalist. Due to online threats recieved by the author, credits has been removed.

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FEATURE : SYRIA

L’Impact syrien en Palestine

Une nouvelle perspective sur les conséquences de la crise syrienne sur son voisinage Chloé Domat

D

ans les années 1930, le syrien Ezzeddine al Qassem lance un mouvement de guérilla dans la région de Jénine et devient le premier martyr de la cause palestinienne. En l’absence de leadership consistant du coté palestinien, le récit de Qassem devient un des mythes fondateurs de la résistance palestinienne. La branche armée du Hamas reprend le nom du cheikh syrien, les Brigades el Qassem. Inversement, la Palestine fait aussi partie du récit fondateur de régime Baath à travers, notamment, toute une iconographie comparant Hafez el Assad à Saladin. Mais au delà du discours, il convient de s’interroger sur la réalité des relations Syro-Palestiniennes. Si d’abord, les deux se comportent comme une même entité dans le Bilad el Sham, à travers la révolution arabe, durant le bref règne de Faycal, elles entrent ensuite cote à cote dans le combat contre l’occupant israélien en 1936, en 1948 et, dans une moindre mesure, en 1967. A partir de la consolidation du régime de Hafez el Assad, les relations deviennent plus complexes à mesure que la question palestinienne devient une pièce maitresse dans la rivalité et la guerre froide arabe. Assad étend son réseau de clientèle à « ses palestiniens »

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à l’image de la Saiqa ou d’Ahmed Jibril mais n’hésite pas à combattre l’OLP notamment au Liban. Sur cette toile de fond complexe vient s’ajouter aujourd’hui ce que les commentateurs appellent les « printemps arabes » et plus particulièrement, depuis 2011, la crise syrienne. Alors que la Syrie entre dans sa quatrième année de conflit, quel est son impact sur la question palestinienne ? Il semble que si le régime syrien tente toujours d’instrumentaliser la question palestinienne à son profit, les factions palestiniennes, elles, se divisent de plus en plus, tandis que la population palestinienne de Syrie est prise, comme avant en Jordanie ou au Liban, dans l’étau de la violence.

“ Alors que la Syrie entre dans sa quatrième année de conflit, quel est son impact sur la question palestinienne ?”

Wedeen montre l’importance des rituels et des symboles dans la pratique du pouvoir syrien. La question palestinienne et la lutte contre Israël est un élément récurrent du discours du régime. Depuis le début de la révolution syrienne, le régime de Bachar el Assad met une fois de plus en avant cet argument. Face aux premières revendications sociales en Syrie, le régime Baathiste tente de raviver le mythe de la guerre d’Octobre 1973. Dans le narratif Baathiste, la guerre d’Octobre 1973 est décrite comme une victoire syrienne, une reconquête. A ce titre, Hafez el Assad est perçu comme le père de la nation arabe, le combattant victorieux qui a restauré la dignité et la fierté arabe. Suivant cette logique, en 2011, Bachar el Assad joue la carte du Golan. A l’occasion des commémoration de la Nakba et de la Naksa en mai et juin 2011, le régime encourage plusieurs milliers de palestiniens à marcher vers la ville occupée de Majdal el Chams. Selon Mounir Fakher Eldine, enseignant à Bir Zeit et originaire de Majdal el Chams,

« Chacun était certes conscient qu’il s’agissait d’une manœuvre du régime pour redorer son blason nationaliste (…) pourtant, même pour les opposants, le signal ainsi donné était très fort : ils ont vu pour la première fois des Palestiniens La Palestine instrumentalisée traverser la ligne de démarcation et par Damas entrer dans leur village. L’épisode Du point de vue du régime baathiste, a donc sans doute redonné un peu la cause palestinienne est avant tout de crédibilité au régime ». un élément de rhétorique nationaliste qui permet d’assoir la légitimité Toutefois, la commémoration de du régime. Dans son ouvrage The la Naska un mois plus tard est un Ambiguities of Domination, Lisa désastre, 23 manifestants palesti-


FEATURE : SYRIA

niens sont tués et 350 blessés sur le Golan. A leur retour au camp de Yarmouk, 13 manifestants sont tués par le commandement général du FPLP (faction palestinienne proche du régime de Damas). Pour le régime, c’est une opération ratée : il ne communique pas sur l’événement. On voit donc que si la direction baathiste a tenté de raviver la fibre du nationalisme arabe en attisant la question palestinienne au Golan, le résultat est mitigé. Par la suite, l’agitation au Golan sera étouffée par Damas, selon Mounir Fakher Eldine, les manifestations dans cette région sont aujourd’hui « tout à fait sporadiques ». Un autre levier de la rhétorique nationaliste du régime syrien est celui de l’axe de résistance. Transnational, celui-ci allie depuis le début des années 1990 l’Iran, la Syrie, le Hezbollah, le Hamas et le Mouvement du Jihad Islamique en Palestine (MJIP). Face au discours de la révolution syrienne « thawra », le régime baathiste et ses alliés opposent la logique du refus « moumanaa » et de la résistance « mouqawama ». Suivant ce discours, la cause suprême est la reconquête de la terre de Palestine, la lutte contre l’ennemi sioniste et contre l’impérialisme occidental. Ce discours permet de légitimer le régime de Damas, seul capable, avec ses alliés, de défendre la cause palestinienne. La révolution syrienne est décrite comme un complot « mou’amara », une ingérence étrangère visant à briser l’axe de résistance. Pour Hassan Nasrallah, leader du Hezbollah, le soutien à Damas est synonyme de défense de la cause palestinienne. « Les gens disent que la Syrie est un point de passage de la résistance, c’est vrai (…) Le commandement syrien a risqué ses intérêts, son gouvernement et son existence pour que la résistante au Liban et en Palestine soit forte. Amenez moi un seul pouvoir arabe

prêt à prendre ce risque ! Lorsque qu’ils interdisaient même la nourriture à Gaza, la Syrie envoyait des armes et de la nourriture à Gaza et le peuple de Gaza sait tout cela. Oui... Cette Syrie, la Syrie de Bachar el Assad !» s’exclame t-il dans un discours le 18 juillet 2012. Dans le contexte de la révolution syrienne, l’instrumentalisation de la cause palestinienne, en particulier sous l’angle de l’axe de résistance, assure une certaine légitimité au régime, au moins auprès de ses alliés régionaux et chez une partie de la population sensible à la menace de l’ingérence étrangère. Toutefois, l’impact à nuancer auprès des principaux intéressés, les palestiniens. Les Palestiniens divisés face à la crise syrienne Face à la révolution syrienne, la stratégie palestinienne, dans un premier temps, est celle de la neutralité. Les camps de réfugiés restent à l’écart de la protestation et les quelques mouvements de contestation qui existent mettent plutôt en avant des revendications tournées vers Israël, comme dans le cas des mouvements dans le Golan. Les factions palestiniennes n’épousent donc ni la révolution ni le discours du régime et tentent de se poser au mieux en médiateurs. Le mot d’ordre semble être le suivant « éviter de faire de la crise syrienne un conflit interne palestinien et, par la même occasion, rétablir la concorde dans les camps de réfugiés » (Nicolas Dot Pouillard). Rapidement toutefois, les palestiniens se retrouvent pris de fait dans le conflit syrien. Fin 2011, les assauts de l’armée syrienne prennent pour cible un camp de réfugiés près de Lattaquié entrainant la l’OLP par la voix de son Comité exécutif à condamner les actions du régime.

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FEATURE : SYRIA A partir de là on commence à voir les factions palestiniennes se diviser. Le FPLP commandement général tout d’abord, engage sans surprises ses hommes aux cotés de l’armée syrienne. Le Hamas, ensuite, est pris dans une logique de double affiliation. D’un coté, il est parti prenant de l’axe de résistance et tenu à son alliance stratégique avec Damas et Téhéran. De l’autre coté, il ne peut ignorer l’émergence des Frères Musulmans sur la scène régionale de la Tunisie à la Syrie. La militarisation du conflit pousse le Hamas à choisir son camp et au premier semestre de 2012, la direction du Hamas quitte Damas. Le MJIP, le FPLP et le Fatah eux, tentent de continuer à prôner la neutralité des camps et la médiation. Pour Khaled Batash, membre de la direction du MJIP, cette position est la seule possible dans la mesure où les palestiniens sont des « invités en Syrie ». Prendre part au conflit pourrait, à l’image par exemple du début de la guerre du Liban en 1975, entrainer les palestiniens dans un conflit dévastateur qui, qui plus est n’est pas le leur. « La priorité (doit) être donnée », comme le dit Nicolas Dot Pouillard, « à l’opposition à Israël et à l’impérialisme, toute solution militaire dans les affaires internes arabes est explicitement rejetée, selon le principe : ce qui divise le monde arabe joue en faveur d’Israël »

UNRWA humanitarian aid distribution, Yarmouk camp, Damascus, 7 February 2014. © Dejan Jasnic / UNRWA Archives

L’Autorité nationale palestinienne (ANP) affiche à la fois une condamnation des exactions commises par le régime baathiste dans les camps palestiniens de Syrie et une méfiance envers le caractère islamique de la révolution. En effet, cette situation pourrait à terme profiter au Hamas en Palestine, ce qui pousse les cadres du Fatah et de l’ANP à pencher plutôt en faveur du régime sous une couverture de neutralité. A ce titre, Nicolas Dot Pouillard note que « les médias du Fatah en Syrie rendent compte d’un conflit bien étrange, dont les protagonistes demeurent opportunément dans l’ombre : chaque jour, le nom des victimes palestiniennes du conflit y sont recensés sur la page Facebook du mouvement, sans qu’à aucun moment la provenance des tirs ou des bombardements qui ont provoqué leur mort n’y soit mentionnée ». Aujourd’hui, il semble donc que les mouvements palestiniens, s’ils ont au début tenté de maintenir une position de neutralité face au conflit syrien, soient divisés entre les supplétifs du régime de Damas, les défenseurs de l’axe de la résistance et opposants au régime à l’instar du Hamas qui sem-

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FEATURE : SYRIA ble voir dans la chute de Bachar el Assad une opportunité de rebattre les cartes dans la région. Depuis 2011, la crise syrienne semble avoir accentué les divisions au sein du camp palestinien. Mais si les divergences de lecture du conflit jouent sur la positionnement stratégique des acteurs palestiniens, il affaiblit aussi leur capacité à protéger la population. De fait, comme auparavant en Jordanie ou au Liban, les palestiniens en Syrie se sont retrouvés pris dans l’étau de la violence guerrière. Les palestiniens : victimes silencieuses de la violence du conflit syrien Selon la United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), 496000 réfugiés palestiniens vivent en Syrie répartis sur neuf camps. Le plus important est celui de Yarmouk, situé à 8km du centre de Damas. Comme la population syrienne, ces palestiniens sont victimes de la violence des combats. Si les camps de réfugiés se tiennent à l’écart du conflit syrien, le régime syrien par le biais du FPLP – commandement général de Ahmad Jibril assure la surveillance de ces quartiers et attise les tensions. Selon Valentina Napolitano, chercheuse à l’IFPO, « le régime cherche à susciter des conflits entre Yarmouk, à majorité palestinienne, et le quartier voisin de Hajar Al-Aswad, à majorité syrienne. Des rumeurs circulent dans les deux sens sur des attaques et des répressions mutuelles. » Durant l’été 2012, des cortèges de manifestants commencent à défiler et à scander des slogans hostiles à Bachar el Assad. A partir de septembre, le camp de Yarmouk devient un lieu d’affrontement entre l’Armée Syrienne Libre et le régime ; en décembre cette situation entraine le bombardement du camp entier. Les habitants pour la plupart

fuient dans d’autres quartiers de Damas où vers les pays voisins. Au Liban seulement on dénombre environ 37000 réfugiés palestiniens de Syrie, mais ce chiffre officiel ne couvre qu’une partie de la réalité car souvent, les déplacés faute de documents d’identité ou de voyage évitent de s’enregistrer. Selon V. Napolitano moins d’un quart des habitants de Yarmouk ne sont pas déplacées. Malgré cela le régime ne parvient pas à reprendre le contrôle du camp et un véritable siège commence en Janvier 2013, il dure jusqu’à présent. Les restrictions de mouvement, l’embargo sur les denrées alimentaires et l’inflation provoquent une famine qui cause la mort de centaines de réfugiés. Au terme de plus de trois années de crise syrienne, il semble que les répercutions sur la question palestinienne puissent s’évaluer à trois niveaux. D’une part, le régime baathiste continue à instrumentaliser la question palestinienne afin d’asseoir sa légitimité en tant que fer de lance du nationalisme arabe et figure de proue de l’axe de résistance face à l’ennemi sioniste. D’autre part, les mouvements palestiniens apparaissent quant à eux de plus en plus divisés sur la position à adopter face à la crise. Si certains n’hésitent pas à se substituer au régime sur le terrain, d’autres soutiennent la révolution, tandis que qu’un dernier groupe, loin d’être homogène, cautionne sous couvert de neutralité les actions de Damas au nom de l’axe de la résistance ou par peur de la montée en puissance du Hamas sur la scène palestinienne. De plus, il est important de noter que la conséquence la plus concrète de la crise syrienne est l’impact de la violence sur la population palestinienne de Syrie. Symbolisée par le siège du camp de Yarmouk la situation humanitaire des palestiniens pris dans le conflit syrien est alarmante.

On peut enfin noter que les printemps arabes et le conflit syrien en particulier ont aussi eu pour effet de marginaliser la question palestinienne dans les médias et sur la scène mondiale des relations internationales. Malgré les efforts faits en faveur de la reconnaissance de l’Etat Palestinien auprès des Nations Unies, les négociations israélo-palestiniennes semblent bloquées tandis que les opérations de colonisation se multiplient loin des regards.

Chloé Domat is studying Journalism and Inernational Security at Sciences Po Paris. She worked in Lebanon for three years, freelancing for Le Nouvel Observateur

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FEATURE: BRICS

BRIC by BRIC

Realities and Challenges for Women by Elham Torabian The global scenery of development has seen striking transformations during the last decade. Following the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, the halt of development in many developed countries has been rebalanced by the unprecedented progress and development in some developing countries. Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRIC) are the four largest and the most globally efficient powerhouses recognised as the most prominent among the developing world who have changed the rules of the global market game. Of course, different methods of economic analysis have proposed a diverse list of countries as emerging economies. Yet the BRIC’s rapid economic growth and entry into the global markets has been at the origin of what is called ‘the rise of the South’. According to the Human Development Report (2013), the drivers of their exceptional economic development include: ‘proactive developmental state, tapping of global markets, and determined social policy and innovation’.

However, the BRIC’s entry into global markets may not have necessarily transformed the existing path-dependent gender norms at the same speed and scale as their economic departure. That entails, the synergies of development processes in the BRIC may require more scrutiny from a sustainable development perspective rather than a simplistic economic lens. What is of vital significance is to determine, as this article does, whether the implications and dynamics of rapid economic development have appropriated a positive impact on women’s capabilities and quality of life thus exhorting equality and social justice in these emerging economies. In particular, it is significant to delineate the situation of women, as a significant part of the emerging economies’ human capital, to understand if entering into a new social contract with local and global markets has actually facilitated gender justice and an equally significant shift in gender roles and norms. Here is a brief overview of the situation of women in each of the BRIC countries:

BRAZIL Brazil is one of the most influential democracies of the world with a population of 198,656,019 and a GDP per capita of 8,818 euros. According to the UNDP country reports (2013), the Human Development Index of Brazil demonstrates a drastic increase from 0.522 in 1980 to 0.730 in 2012. In the same period HDI-health has increased from 0.670 to 0.849, HDI-education from 0.402 to 0.674, and HDI-income from 0.634 to 0.682. The smallest increase may be observed in the HDI-income and the most in the HDI-education. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF) report on Gender Parity Index (GPI), Brazil is ranked as the 62nd among 136 countries. In both health and education components of the

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GPI, Brazil has almost reached gender parity; the economic participation and opportunity component stands at an approximate level of 0.6 out of 1 while the political empowerment of women remains below 0.2- out of 1- despite a sudden rise from 2011 onwards. Along with economic development, the state in Brazil has also taken several political and legal steps to empower women- regardless of which many gendered roles and norms seem to persist in the country. For instance, the state took legal steps to safeguard women’s rights by passing the Maria de Penha law in 2012. According to the 2013 Human Rights Watch report, this federal law is meant to facilitate the prosecution of acts of domestic violence.


FEATURE: BRICS

Surprisingly though, not many cases are actually presented to the courts while domestic violence prevails and victims are blamed for the offense. The US state report (2007) explains similar trends with the law against rape and trafficking. Consequently, child prostitution, violence against women and trafficking is still an issue to be solved in Brazil. Another example of the State’s attempts to ameliorate women’s situation has been to lower maternal mortality and to improve access to sanitation. Still women’s health and security are undermined as they are denied regular and inclusive right to their bodies and reproductive health facilities. Abortion is considered a crime except in certain limited cases where there is a high mortality risk for the woman or in cases of rape or anencephaly. The situation of women is even worse as gendered norms affect women in rural areas ,minority groups and lower social classes even more severely. For instance, despite a gradual decrease in inequality, the quality of life and life expectancy among black and Amerin-

dian women remain lower compared to other groups. Another example of disparity can be found in the education system. As Hewlett et al. (2010) explain in The Potential of Women in Emerging Markets, women outnumber men in colleges forming 60% of student populations. Yet, similar to current global trends, most of these women are from middle classes who enjoy a better and secured access to participate in higher levels of education than women from lower social classes. As stated in the WEF report (2007), political empowerment of women is also curtailed at lower payment scales although similar legal rights exist between men and women. In a glance, gender equality and justice in Brazil is still depleted by lack of law enforcement and coherent social programmes to tackle gendered norms. According to the HRW country report on Brazil (2013), inequality between men and women seem to persist affecting the well being and capabilities of women ‘based on race, economic status, region, and urban or rural settings’.

Photo credit: Livia Fernandes

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FEATURE: BRICS

RUSSIA Russia, the largest country in the world with a population of 141,924,000 has an HDI of 0.788. The Russian HDI has seen an increase in all its components since the 1980-90s to 2012. The HDI-health has increased from 0.758 to 0.774; HDI-education from 0.720 to 0.862 and HDI income from 0.714 to 0.734. The 2013 GPI report ranks Russia only one level above Brazil as the 61st country among the 136 countries. Similar to Brazil, the GPI components of health and education are close to gender parity. Economic participation and opportunity for women in Russia is higher than other BRIC countries at almost 7.5 out of 1, while women’s political empowerment remains much lower in Russia - below 0.1 - compared to other BRIC economies (WEF report, 2013, P.169).

ing. Traditionally, women are considered as ‘the emotional and the prettier sex’ and men as ‘the stronger and the chivalrous sex’ as Buck (2012) explains in her article ‘The prettier sex: understanding gender roles in Russia’.These gender stereotypes may be among reasons that yield to domestic violence and sex workers’ vulnerability, as well as the increasing rate of prostitution, trafficking and discrimination against sexual minorities. In addition, disparities persist among women’s access and participation in economic and social activities based on their social class and ethnic background. The blooming economy and the expanding middle class in Russia is in fact favouring inequalities among women with differing social backgrounds and between men and women even further.

The legal and social status of women in Russia is to some extent similar to Brazil. That is, certain equal legal rights perquisites prevail from the Soviet era, yet gender stereotypes and inequality persist in the society in general. For instance, the economic participation of women is to some extent facilitated by the currently diminishing number of state provided child care centers and education and sports still remain accessible for many. Women constitute 46.9 percent of the employed population of the country. The ‘equal pay for equal work’ criteria is a constitutional law and the pension law favours women with the retirement age being 55 for women compared to 60 for men.

In sum, although men and women are subject to equal political and legal rights in the constitution, there seems to be an underlying social order where a ‘shallow emancipation’ of women fulfills the economic needs of the state and family- of course with a lower wage in comparison to menwithout a meaningful shift in their gendered roles, as argued by Sarah Ashwin’s (2002) work, ‘A Woman is Everything’.

However, gendered roles are prevalent. For instance, women are mostly serving in lower wage and gendered professions such as public health service (85%), education (81%), and finance (78%) while forming a lower number in the industry (22%). Likewise, White’s article on ‘Gender roles in contemporary Russia: Attitudes and expectations among women students’ indicates that women are socially expected to work and be self-sufficient but not to be bosses and they need to assume their gendered roles in marriage contracts that are soon followed by child bear-

Photo credit: Ksenia Egorova

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FEATURE: BRICS

INDIA Among the BRIC economies, the statistics on India is more flagrant and perhaps paradoxical. Among the four BRIC countries, India has the lowest HDI of 0.554 and the lowest GPI ranking as it stands at the 101st place among 136 countries. India has the second largest population among BRIC countries with 1,236,686,732 and the lowest GDP per capita at 1,158 Euros. Unlike other BRIC economies, India’s GPI components of education and health have not yet reached parity. women’s economic participation and opportunity is estimated to be 4.0 out of 1, while political empowerment of women in India is the highest among BRIC countries with an almost 4.1 out of 1. Of course, India’s Human Development Index has undoubtedly ameliorated during 1980-2012 with a steady rise in all HDI components. The HDI-health has risen from 0.557 to 0.722; HDI-education from 0.232 to 0.459 and HDI-income from 0.321 to 0.515. The case of women in India is in dissonance with the cases of Russia and Brazil. In the two latter cases a rather comprehensive political and legal infrastructure have respectively either existed or is emerging. While, women’s rights and roles in India are undermined due to inconsistencies in both political will and legal actions of the local authorities. A reference can be made to the discriminatory law regarding early or forced marriage and rape in Madhya Pradesh State and the unequal distribution of nutritional aid among mothers over the age of 19 in many states. The issue of prostitution remains a social and legal taboo and according to WHO (2012) report, rape victims are

Photo credit: Flickr/cc/A.Thompson mistreated by local authorities and are at many occasions subjected to aggressive medical checks. Furthermore, despite the fact that over 80% of women in India hold top jobs, their pay scales and job security remain lower than their male counterparts, while their aspirations and ambitions for high-powered careers remain higher. In addition, socio-cultural norms and institutions append to the already vulnerable and unequal status of women in many parts of the sub-continent. According to the Human Rights Watch 2013 report, Indian women suffer from high rates of domestic violence in comparison to other BRIC countries. Since 2012 there has been an increase in reports of sexual assaults including violence against women with disabilities. A study carried out by Columbia University in 2006 confirms socially constructed gendered norms to be at the root of the violence and discrimination against women. The study indicated that 30 % of women compared to 26 % of men believed it is acceptable for a woman to be beaten by the husband in case of disobedience, and 14 % of women believed they should be punished in case they refuse sex compared to 8 % of men. In general, mainstreaming gender and regenerating gender norms in India requires a more concerted legal and social effort compared to other BRIC countries. Meanwhile, it may be said that India’s emergence as an economy has not been similarly extended to the wellbeing, capabilities and functioning of the Indian women. 8 Issue 1 2 The Paris Globalist | Vol. 6

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FEATURE: BRICS

CHINA As the most populated BRIC country with a 1,345,040,000 population, China’s HDI in 2012 has been calculated as the second lowest in BRIC countries as 0.699. During 1980s-2012, HDI-health has increased from 0.742 to 0.846; HDI-education from 0.374 to 0.627 and HDIincome from 0.244 to 0.646. Advancement in all HDI components has been steadily upward with higher rates in income and education. The WEF 2013 report on Gender Parity Index, ranks China as 69th among 136 countries - third among BRIC - where parity is almost attained in health and educational attainment, a 6.0 out of 1 parity in health and a low parity level of political empowerment of 0.2 out of 1. Both the Chinese state and the socio-cultural norms have significant eroding roles in women’s well being. For instance, access to reproductive health has been curtailed in the past as the government pursued strict and centralized family planning regulations, including forced abortion. Of course in a recent initiative, the Chinese state decided to discontinue the strict birth control policies and modern couples can hope to have more say in their family planning and have more than one child, without being forced to abort or have illegal children before their marriage. Life will indeed become easier for the new couples who can forget the previous ‘coping strategy’

adapted by many older couples who married after the birth of their first child in order to be able to have another ‘legal’ child afterwards. Although the recent family planning initiatives is a positive step forward, Chinese women are discriminated against due to legal and cultural norms. For instance, the Chinese state has till now denied recognizing the blooming business of trafficking and prostitution and has administered severe national penal laws against sex workers. This inevitably exposes sex workers to abuse, violence and higher disease risks. Also, similar to Brazil and India, domestic violence against women for which the victim is blamed for exist in China. The HRW report 2013 indicates that domestic violence is acknowledged by the government; nonetheless the activities of women’s rights groups and NGOs are limited due to a lack of support from the State and local communities’ mistrust in the decentralized management and authorities. Example of women’s rights violation could also be traced in the prevalent cultural/traditional norms that oblige women to obey their husbands or fathers bearing impacts on the increased number of forced marriages, trafficking, and violations of basic human rights.

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FEATURE: BRICS

Moreover, many women work in unpaid or low waged agricultural fields while also assuming the traditional gendered roles of caring for other family members, bearing children and performing long hours of house chores. Similar to other BRIC countries, an increasing number of middle class women as opposed to their rural and lower class counterparts enjoy a secured chance to access higher levels of education and employment. To provide an analytical understanding of this brief report on the status of women in the BRIC societies, it is necessary to draw on ideas of gender justice and sustainable development. According to Amartya Sen, the quality of life cannot afford to be limited to access to resources, income or utility and should be understood in the light of capabilities, that is ‘the various combinations of functioning- beings and doings- that a person can achieve’. In ‘Gender justice, citizenship and entitlements. Core concepts, central debates and new directions for research’ Goetz states that gender justice can be achieved when all inequalities between genders are eradicated. These include subordination, imbalanced distribution of opportunities and resources and insecurity to maintain dignity, autonomy and freedom of choice. The two definitions entail that a sustainable and inclusive society can be envisioned where the processes of development improve the functioning and capabilities of all and eliminate gender inequalities. In Deutsch’s article ‘Undoing Gender’ such processes ‘undo gender’ as they ‘underlie resistance against conventional gender relations’ and strive towards ‘hopeful visions of change and the possibility of gender equality’. It is by ‘undoing gender’ norms and stereotypes that a society may successfully endeavour towards sustainable development and social inclusion. In the light of the above, it is evident that despite rapid economic growth and certain legal and political initiatives in some of the BRIC economies, gender norms and stereotypes have not been undone. Women’s

participation in economic activities has indeed been promoted as they strive towards better life standards and fulfill the labor needs of global and local markets. Yet, the scale and speed at which their societies have entered global markets have not been equally translated into transformation of gendered roles and norms. We may hope that as women participate in social and economic activities, they themselves inevitably reconstruct their roles and identities in societies that may eventually lead to their higher degree of awareness and eventual emancipation, as Longwe indicates in ‘Gender awareness: the missing element in third world development projects’. However, for an inclusive sustainable society an immediate attention should be paid to gender justice through global and local ‘gender undoing’ initiatives. It is common understanding that violence against women and discriminating laws and norms hinder development. Thus, one way to achieve a sustainably developed society could be to shift global definitions and approaches from a minimalist economic emergence to an allinclusive multi-dimensional emergence of the society as a ‘whole’. Similarly, the global community could appropriate gender equality indicators as an indispensable part of human development index formula, thus reconstructing countries’ rankings according to gender justice in addition to education. health and income. After all, without equal empowerment of all, a society may not go through deeper transformations and achieve sustainable development goals but will merely afford to be an ‘emerging market’. In sum, for an inclusive sustainable social development, gender justice is a necessary valence grounded in multiple arguments. It is necessary to be wary that ‘a delayed human right is a denied human right’ and that an economic ‘branching’ of a society does not necessarily put an end to biased gendered norms. Economic emergence may be accompanied with social justice and gender equality only through informed decision making and concerted efforts at local and international levels.

Elham Torabian is an Education and Development Specialist and a Doctoral Candidate at the Institute of Education, University of London. She is currently doing a Master’s in Development Practice at Sciences Po Paris The Paris Globalist | Vol. 68 Issue 1

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DOSSIER: DOSSIER:FACTS DEMOCRACY

A Future for Somalia? The UN seems to think so ... By Dmitry Borisov

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he Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia have received plenty of international attention throughout the two and a half decades following the end of the Cold war. But in the last five years the amount of attention given to these two hapless states has become unequal. As the Kivu provinces in Democratic Republic of Congo remain a hotbed of resource-fuelled ethnic violence, the UN has turned its attention to conflict-ravaged Somalia. This shift of policy towards Somalia is not difficult to understand. The peace operation in the DRC has brought little in comparison to its cost, and the UN has rapidly turned to a policy of “containment” as a means of survival. In Somalia, however, a faint glimmer of hope has become visible. After the fall of the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia descended into chaos. Clan struggles, piracy and the fallout that followed the deaths of American soldiers in Mogadishu in 1993

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Photo credit: Flickr/CC/G. A. Hussein all contributed to a more cautious approach by the international community when dealing with the tinderbox that is Somalia. Since then, more actors, bringing more problems, have entered the fray. For one thing, the splintering of the Islamic Courts Union in 2006 led to the transformation of Somalia’s South into the fiefdom of Al-Qaeda’s affiliated extremist group Al-Shabaab. Despite Kenyan military intervention and frequent raids organized by US AFRICOM forces, Al-Shabaab elements remain difficult to wipe out from the region. Nevertheless, the prospects for Somalia—the once proverbial “basket case” and lost cause of Africa—are perhaps not as dire as might seem, provided the current plans are carried out to the fullest possible degree. The international community is coming together to provide support for the ailing country. In September 2013 in Brussels, the official Somali government received a massive endorsement accompanied by $2.4 billion worth of donor pledges. The new “Somalia Compact”, as it is known in the development circles of the OECD and World Bank, sets out core priorities and is considered a milestone that this time around might actually yield tangible results. The donors too appear to have faith in these efforts.


DOSSIER: FACTS Most of this sentiment, however, relies on the UN’s overarching effort to buttress the otherwise toothless and feeble Somali government. Indeed, much hinges on its success. If Somalia is to move forward, donor funds need to be forthcoming, the 2016 national elections need to be carefully scrutinized and the transition government should step down making way for the elected one. The on-going constitutional review aiming to create a new equilibrium between the federal government and the regions must go ahead as planned. At the same time, for these efforts to succeed, the constitutional review needs to comprehensively address the complexity of Somali social and regional structure. The best hope of the international community is to try and build on the fact that relative stability in the North of the country has been achieved already – mostly without any effort on the part of external forces. Somaliland and Puntland have by and large shown themselves to be functional entities. De-facto independent from the country at large, with credible elections and actual shifts in government, both regions have so far effectively managed not to succumb to internal strife as the rest of Somalia. Keeping it this way is crucial. Breaking away would rid the country of the only two islands of stability that could otherwise have a healthy effect on the adjacent territories and perhaps be replicated across Somalia. However, caution must be exercised. Given the chance, both Somaliland and Puntland would vie for full independence. Even now, two years before the review is over the two entities insist on having their own tables at donor conferences.

also tricky. As of right now the autonomous regions have little incentive to accept the authority of Mogadishu. For this reason, the international community should mediate the negotiations between the capital and the regions, while pressuring Somaliland and Puntland to stay with the larger federal structure. If the conditions are wisely negotiated, pledging fealty to the federal government should not cost the regions too much authority, while improving their international status and reinforcing the legitimacy of Mogadishu. A loose autonomy grounded in promises of economic aid might indeed be sufficient. Somalia has a long way to travel before it can move up in the list of failed or fragile states. Dealing with Al-Shabaab in the South and bolstering governance, from the bottom up and from the top down, are rightfully recognized as core priorities of the international community. The dynamic is already positive in many regards. Piracy rates have gone down dramatically, the central government is preparing for the 2016 transition, while Somaliland and Puntland are continuing their relative smooth sailing. A significant next step is a negotiation between the autonomous regions and the capital showing that the country is not beyond salvage. It will not be a silver bullet and it will not fix Somalia, but it will be a start.

“The best hope of the international community is to try and build on the fact that relative stability in the North of the country has been achieved already – mostly without any effort on the part of external forces.”

Dmitry Borisov is an Eiffel scholar, studying International Security at Sciences Po Paris He is also a former research intern at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow, Russia

Negotiating a new balance on the sub-national level is key, but

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LGBT Rights in Nepal

When facts only apply to the public sphere by Ndeye Diaobaye

“Presenting Nepal as the gay friendly country of South Asia impedes on the actual issues faced by the LGBT community in the country.”

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humika Shrestha became the first third gender member of the Nepali Congress Party in 2010. As Nepal exemplified tolerance for LGBT communities in South Asia, the Supreme Court of its southern neighbor, India, would go on to recriminalize same-sex relations a year later. Nepal appears today as the most gay friendly country in the subcontinent. Facts are always relative: calling Nepal a gay friendly zone is mostly partly true in the public sphere. The efforts of the country’s largest LGBT rights organization, Blue Diamond Society, did enable the exposure of issues of the LGBT community in the country. Through pride parades, nationally broadcasted beauty pageants or even Asia’s first LGBT games, BDS managed the mediatization of a community that used to be hidden like in many other parts of the world. The story of Nepal’s first “Mr Handsome” sums up this idea: During his speech as a contestant in the pageant, Bishoraj Adhakari, explained how participating to this contest was a way for him to come out of the closet and to inspire other gay men in the country to do so. Although the Nepali LGBT community is today the most exposed in the subcontinent, many gays or lesbians in the country still fear what their sexual orientation would do to their family relations or employment situation. Tradition sometimes still prevails in spite of the progressiveness of LGBT rights in the country. Interpreting facts can lead to mistakes if we ignore the context from which they arose. In an interview, Nepalese journalist Kunda Dixit explained.

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“If our politicians had found a reason to oppose the gay community they would have done it. However, they found no political gain in expressing discriminating views on the LGBT community.” Cultural similarities in Nepal and in India, especially in terms of religion, make it quite intriguing to understand how both countries had opposite reactions towards same-sex relations. The progressiveness of Nepal isn’t purely hazardous: a favorable legalhistorical context did make it easier for the claims of Blue Diamond Society to be given positive response. That said, if it had not been for Blue Diamond Society’s actions, the situation would have not been the same. Tolerance for the LGBT community was not a predicament in the country. Out of all the numerous NGOs working to promote the LGBT community in the country, many of them still present themselves as healthcare organizations working to raise awareness on HIV and other sexually transmissible diseases. This highlights that basic equality of rights has yet to be fully addressed in the country. The scandalous decision of India’s Supreme Court exposed Nepal as a country where the gay community was successfully integrated. This media exposure might have led to the mistaking of two distinct concepts: the allowance for a community to exist, and the creation of a favorable environment for a community to live in. You “can” be gay, lesbian, bi or transgender in Nepal, in the sense that you perhaps won’t face as much discrimination as in other countries in South Asia. You “can” be a member of the LGBT community and not risk legal charges. However, presenting


Nepal as the gay friendly country of South Asia impedes on the actual issues faced by the LGBT community in the country. Facts’ implications vary depending on where they are applied. In the West, a country where pride parades are organized and where political parties are open to third gender members, appears as a country where equality of rights has enhanced the living conditions of the LGBT community. When addressing minority rights issues, the relativity of facts is even truer. Without undermining the discrimination of LGBT communities in the Western part of this world, one must consider that the issues faced in a country like Nepal are worsened by a socio-economical context. The relevance of facts shifts upon the level at which it is scrutinized: at the individual scale, the advance of the country’s LGBT rights isn’t always significant.

the state of the economy altogether, unemployment in the LGBT community presents as an important challenge remaining to be addressed. As the country awaits for the new Constitution to be written, the representation of the LGBT community in the next Parliament appears as the only way for substantive solution to be given.

In 2007, a Nepali Supreme Court decision recognized third genderism, still today many members of the LGBT community fall into prostitution to escape poverty. Discrimination often starts as early as in elementary or middle school and the loose academic frame leads to frequent drop outs. Because of the lack of education and

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/GayStarNews

Ndeye Diaobaye is currently enrolled in an exchange program at the National Law School of India in Bangalore The Paris Globalist | Vol. 8 Issue 2


Flower Pots and Sex Toys Thoughts on women in Japan by Solange Harpham

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ating 101 out of 135 on the 2012 Gender Equality Index, below Azerbaijian and Bangladesh, Japan is still a country where women are culturally, historically and socially men’s subordinates. Yet, there should be no reason for gender equality to be an issue in Japan. The basic necessary laws have been passed: the 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity which was supposed to reduce discrimination at work, followed by the Basic Act for Gender Equal Society in 1999. Mr Shinzo Abe seems determined to promote his newest strategy “Womenomics” and runs around giving many applauded speeches – he promised at the United Nations’ General Assembly to create a “society where women shine”. He also very recently named a woman, Ms. Makiko Yamada, as the Prime Minster’s personal aide. And yet it will take a lot more than words and symbolic gestures to change the situation in Japan. Still mirroring the family Confucian model where the mother may be found at the bottom of the hierarchy, society has made little space for women with ambition and considers the rare pioneers with perplexity and suspicion. To be a marriageable woman The first duty of a woman in Japan is to marry, preferably before the ripe old age of twenty five. Past that deadline, you may be hailed by a variety of names, the kindest of which are “Christmas cake” (no longer eatable past a certain date) and “himono onna” (dried-fish woman).

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Young, one should also concentrate on being a pretty, decorative, unopiniated and silent, for it is well known that women should be shy, smile and nod to a man’s word. Disagreeing or giving an opinion may be too forward for him to handle. Unfortunately, those women who suffer from having a brain and insist upon using it, have to fight their way up to a lonely career. And when there comes a moment where they must redeem their repulsive desire to work and marry, men usually ask flatly that they give up their job in order to cook and clean the house. Many of these career women refer to agencies to find their future husband, sometimes to agencies specialised in foreign husbands. “Foreigners” or “non-Japanese” are supposed to be more relaxed about letting their wives work.

Photo Credit: Flickr/CC/1Q78 And if brainless is too unentertaining, at the very least a woman should be “kawaii” (cute). The emphasis put on “kawaii”(cuteness) in Japan, a concept which has also made its way in Korea, is overwhelmingly widespread. Anything that is small, fluffy or female must be loveable, and will be greeted by high-pitched screams of “kawaiiiii”. But looking at the kawaii concept from another angle, these “cute” animals and dolls can be quite disturbing.


Generally round creatures with neither toes nor fingers, their big speechless eyes compensate for their having practically no mouth. Had they come alive, they would have been completely and utterly defenseless, unable to move, to walk or to do anything independently. This vulnerability might appeal to the maternal side of young girls, but unfortunately the concept of kawaii does not only concern stuffed animals and plastic figurines. Women, it is thought in Japan, should be kawaii. In other words: vulnerable, weak, disposessed of any kind of skill or strength. Thus, they are unmenacing and loveable. They are small, shy girls dressed up in pleated skirts and ribbons, asking men to explain something they haven’t quite understood, unable to carry their heavy books, smiling shyly and speaking in tiny voices with averted eyes. The men then feel their ego reboosted and puff out their chests – they are the protector of the small, the Batman rescuing the defenseless and innocent victims. Conversely, there is nothing wrong in itself with acting childish to draw in a possible catch – what is profoundly wrong is for a woman to believe she is too weak to carry those books or to make direct eye contact with the male species. By being stuffed into the mold of the Lolita bimbo, many Japanese women never consider having an intellectual potential perhaps greater than their counterparts. They often perceive themselves as weak and disadvantaged, and although they play on it as a strength to attract men, this also maims them in speaking for themselves or feeling any kind of inner strength. The unwanted consequence might also be that men, whether policemen, judges or taxi drivers, see women in general as little girls: they can be funny and sweet, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Apart from these major requirements to marry, a marriable woman doesn’t smoke (never mind the double standards of men smoking like chimneys), doesn’t drink (again obvious double standards), a pure virgin who wears lace and little white socks, who talks about herself in the third person using a high breathy voice and doesn’t understand everything her husband is saying. At this point the reader might ask about the sexual perspective - what does the perfect woman in Japan have to do to get that part right ? The

answer will probably be found in one of the most disturbing objects of the Japanese pornographic industry : the sex doll. These are not the inflatable or the usual plastic dolls some of us might know. These are life-sized, naked women with large innocent eyes and big breasts, pubic hair over a hole-like vagina, capable of making sounds when fondled and made of material which feels like skin.

Photo Credit: Laurène Lebelt

They even have some conversation capacities although these are very limited, considering the situation. Some say “dame” (“no, it’s wrong”) while giving sighs of pleasure, others conduct the usual small talk of “I’m so wet” and “It’s so big”. One may infer from the factual existence of such an object that the ideal woman for a Japanese man would be precisely this: an unresponding mass of plastic which is always ready for sex, which has no opinion, no thoughts, no feelings and only ego-boosting words to give. No bedtime conversation or the well known question of “Do you love me?” in the dark of the night – dolls let their men sleep. What now ? It might be that the image of the perfect woman is changing in Japan – regardless of the disapproving hierarchical society, Japanese women are taking matters into their own hands and heading for jobs, a lot more are staying single and reluctant to follow the old path of marrying and having children. In the meantime, sons are still being raised to think their wives will be substitutes for their mothers – in other words their slaves – and not being taught the essential skills for survival in this modern age, such as cooking and cleaning.

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VARIA

University girls are hired as “managers” of different sports teams and their main task is bringing water to the sweat drenched male students. And pretty office workers in uniform continue to make photocopies and green tea, no matter how good their PhD was. This isn’t a debate on whether or not reluctant women should be dragged into the deep pool of high-end careers and asked to swim. Housewives by choice should not be stigmitized but rather admired for their sacrifice. However one may wonder if the definition of choice – the freedom to take one way instead of another – is really a choice in Japan, where the road to a career is similar to a thin, almost invisible trail in the dark of the jungle. I have met Japanese women who have gathered up their courage and forged a path through that thorny jungle, battling all kinds of stereotypes and traditions, but I have also met and understood women who could not. More importantly, the ones who could and should rise to support the cause of women, the ones who should learn to perceive them differently than children, sex objects or flowers should also be the men. There might be a ray of hope in Shinzo Abe’s reforms, but if Japanese men continue to see women only as potential sex or marriage partners, then there is little hope for fruitful interaction between them. Japan needs more women in its parliament and in its economy, and men need women, not to put hot meals on the table or to lie down for them in bed, but as partners, as colleagues, as friends. To deny that is to leave a whole landscape of sharing and discovering unexplored.

“Women, it is thought in Japan, should be kawaii. In other words : vulnerable, weak, disposessed of any kind of skill or strength. Thus, they are unmenacing and loveable.”

Solange Harpham spent her year abroad in Kyoto and currently studies International Security at PSIA

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Does a European Public Sphere Exist? by Juan David Ocampo

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he development and success of democracy is highly dependent on the existence of a communicative space where public information and debate are possible. However, such public participation occurs almost exclusively at a national level, raising questions about the success of post-national democracy in Europe. Essentially, although European cooperation has created certain public spaces, which are in fact fragmented, it has failed to construct a single European public sphere. But what does a public sphere entail? Broadly speaking, it is the space where civil society debates on common concerns and searches

for solutions. A public sphere is about building a collective opinion — based on common interpretations and values — through open discussion in which all affected are included. European Contents Researchers who analyze the existence of a European public sphere agree that it consists of various segments or dimensions, though they do not all agree on what these are. For example, Peters et al. in their work “The democratic nation state: erosion, or transformation, of legitimacy”, mention the Europeanization of contents as a main dimension, referring to the extent to which the topics of European discourse, or debate, are actually European as opposed to national. This includes the similarity of the public agendas of European states, or simply the amount of foreign affairs reports that make reference to the EU or its institutions. Ultimately, it is relevant

because the content of a public discourse is the primary mechanism for social development in terms of the creation of a collective body. According to their research, which analyzed the extent to which member states have an influence in the opinion formation of each country, Peters et al. found no pattern towards the Europeanization of content. Based on an examination of the main newspapers of Germany, France, Great Britain, Denmark, and Austria, the researchers found that, over a period of 20 years, there has been a decline on the newspapers’ attention to other European countries. Moreover, the study establishes that there has been a three-fold increase in the mentioning of European institutions from 1982 to 2003, more specifically of the European Union and the European Commission. However, this coverage still remains lower than that of non-European countries, especially of the US.

Photo credit: Etienne Lepers

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“50% of the time that Politiken and FAZ make reference to a collective identity — more specifically “we”— it is in fact talking about its own nation. It is followed by The Times and Die Presse with 41% and 40% respectively, while Le Monde does it 26% of the time. As a matter of fact, “we” references only refer to Europe 6% of the time”

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Overall, Peters and his team concluded that although there has been an increase in the attention on EU affairs, domestic opinion is not extensively influenced by other member states, meaning that national publics are not integrated into a single European space. As the researchers themselves put it: “If two groups of people deliberate in separate rooms on the same questions, they do not constitute a common public sphere”. Collective Identity Intellectuals who study the European public space generally agree on the necessity of a public identity for the creation of a common sphere. After all, a public space entails individuals coming together to debate on who they are, or would like to become, and thus form a collective will. It presupposes a homogeneous culture, which, in case of conflict, can reach an agreement based on their common values and common views of the future. In terms of Europe however, such a ‘collective’ does not exist, making the prospect for a European public sphere weak. Given social factors such as language and varied cultures, the cohesion of opinion is next to impossible. As a result, the creation of civil society structures including a European party system, European social movements, or a unified media is very difficult. This becomes problematic when one takes into account that numerous policies are implemented in the name of Europe’s common good — without a collective identity, European citizens are not willing to make such ‘sacrifices’. The absence of a European collective identity is in fact supported by the research done by Peters et al. They found that 50% of the time that Politiken and FAZ make reference to a collective identity—more specifically “we”—it is in fact talking about its own nation. It is followed by The Times and Die Presse with 41% and 40% respectively, while Le Monde does it 26% of the time. As a matter of fact, “we” references only refer

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to Europe 6% of the time, demonstrating that a European identity has not developed in public debates. Overall, the lack of a European public identity is clear, not only through the argument of a difference in language and culture, but also through the absence of a European identity in the public opinion. Ultimately, this proves the fragmentation of European spaces, and the nonexistence of a single public sphere. Communication network and the public sphere A public space, more than a physical territory, implies a communication network, namely, actors united in order to attend the same issues. Therefore, in order for a public sphere to exist in Europe, there must be a flow of opinions across a European space of public communication. Regarding the existence of a European space of public communication, one could argue that a general public sphere, where all may democratically participate, is not entirely absent in the EU. This is demonstrated through the existence of Europewide audio-visual spaces, as well as the argument for English as the main European language. However, it is through the flow of opinions, and its diversified nature that the European public space is fragmented and practically nonexistent. The criticism of European campaigns against racism, of the Schengen policy, and of corruption and fraud at EU institutions, all show that there is a transnational but pluralistic public sphere. Instead of the existence of a homogenized public discourse, there is what Erik Eriksson, another academic who studied the question, refers to as “communicative noise”. This noise — anarchic and differentiated by nature — may indeed have an effect on governance by subjecting decisionmakers to protests, but it certainly falls short in the creation of a single European communication network.


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Leaving behind its diversified content, the actual flow of opinions between member states is also doubtful. Returning to the research conducted by Peters et al. it was found that transnational contributions to newspapers’ reports are rare: 90% of all guest contributions come from nationals. Moreover, there is no clear tendency towards making reference to foreign European speakers in public debates. Consequently, overall, there has not been a clear structural change in the public sphere as a result of transnational circulation of opinions. On the contrary, the absence of such flow, as well as the ‘noise’ it creates, demonstrate the absence of a single European public space. Other reasons for the absence of a European public space It is clear that a certain common ground is needed in order for a European public sphere to exist. However, social barriers such as language and culture are not the sole reason for the absence of such a sphere. One must also note the lack of institutional features that could incentivize public debate at a EU level: namely, the absence of a defined governing and oppositional power at the European Parliament. Moreover, low public interest (and thus low turn-out rate) may be attributed to the fact that relevant policies, such as health care, education, pension, and taxation, are primarily not part of EU competence. Another issue is the missing link between what Eriksen calls strong

and weak publics. This refers to the fact that there is much difficulty in referring the problems and solutions discussed by civil society to the decision-making units, such as the European Parliament. The way in which EU institutions are organized, in conclusion, makes the creation of a single public space even more difficult. Consequences on the legitimacy of the EU The absence of a public sphere may pose a great danger to the legitimacy of the EU, as there is an intrinsic link between national identity and democracy. The lack of shared values, combined with a heterogenic society, causes unanimous decisions to be highly unlikely, creating instability in the political system. This is because a public space empowers citizens by granting them a voice against the government, which in turn, must justify its policies and make them appealing to the public. Without such a space policies can neither be discussed nor accepted by stakeholders, thus weakening the legitimacy of the state.

is suffering of de-democratization because of a weak public sphere. On the other hand, it is also inconclusive whether a stronger public space would lead to an increase of the legitimacy of the European Union. In brief, although it has been argued that the public sphere is linked to the democratization process of a state, and its legitimacy, it appears that the EU does not necessarily follow this pattern. In future years a public space may develop, but even then, it is very unlikely that the European discourse will solidify into a single voice. It is important to note that even for academics that are in favour of the existence of the existence of a European public sphere, including Frank, its creation process is still not complete. It will thus be interesting to see how deeper integration, especially a fiscal union, will play a role in the federalization of the EU and the creation of its public sphere.

The public sphere is a requirement for the accomplishment of popular sovereignty, and therefore, it is necessary for the democratization of a state, or in the case of the EU, a “supranation”. Since it has already been established that the public sphere of this transnational institution is, to say the very least, weak, one should expect to see a decline in its legitimacy. However, there seems to be no clear indication that the EU

Juan David Ocampo is a student of International Relations at the University of Toronto, currently completing an exchange program at Sciences Po Paris

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France and the Dilemma of European Governance by Jozef Kosc

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/Parti Socialiste

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ince 2012, French President François Hollande as well as his Minister of Industry and Economics, Arnaud Montebourg, have nobly set out to invert the curve of unemployment in France with a concerted effort of national industrialization through various policy intervention mechanisms. In November 2013, the Ministre du Redressement Productif resurrected a World War II era “Fund for Economic and Social Development (EPD),” promising over 300 million euros in assistance to struggling national firms as part of a “plan of economic resistance.” Prior to that, the Ministry of Industry pledged billions of dollars of funding to 34 national industrial projects. The trend continues in 2014, as Montebourg launched this year’s political calendar with a series of open critiques against high-ranking European Union officials for failing to loosen continental regulations on the state funding of industry. According to Montebourg, the resulting dominance of the free market in Europe — untouched by state sponsorship beyond established thresholds — amounts to “obsoletism, autism, imprisonment, [and, last but not least,] fundamentalism.” Mr. Almunia, the European competition commissioner and chief recipient of Montebourg’s criticism, was notably firm in his own retort on the question of a controlled-market Europe: “Some politicians still fail to understand that the European economy cannot be reinvigorated in a defensive way, through protectionism or nationalism...Europe will not find its place in globalisation by launching a subsidy race with the rest of the world.”

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In many ways, Almunia’s sentiment illustrates France’s bizarre position within the European economic model. As Hollande’s government continues to call for policies of industry subsidization and increased protectionism, the OECD, the IMF, and an increasing list of independent economic experts, have cited these very policies as the cause of — not the cure for — a national economy spurring itself downwards into greater recessionary figures. As the fifth-largest economy in the world, the growth of France remains integral to the overall growth of the European Union. There is no denying that national interventionism, a form of non-tariff industry protectionism, is a tempting response to global trade shocks and temporary increased unemployment. Funding failing national industries provides a quick BandAid solution to joblessness. When large multilateral companies such as Coface announce over 62,000 company bankruptcies across France in 2013, the resulting media firestorm is all the more likely to vouch for stronger national economies and policies enforcing less dependence upon multinational enterprises. Yet, are such well-intentioned policies preserving France’s future competitiveness within the European market? Or are the critiques of Mr. Almunia, the OECD, and the IMF justified? In the spirit of the “fact-checking” mantra of this issue of The Paris Globalist, it behooves us to break down the figures behind political rhetoric. The IMF reported that in 2012, the French national GDP saw absolutely zero growth. By the end of 2013, the GDP rose approximately 0.2 percent — a remarkably low figure vis-à-vis the European community of states. While the OECD now predicts a 1 percent growth rate for 2014, even this stagnated figure is largely illusory, due to lopsided deficits in vital industries key to stabilizing future unemployment.


The “new sick man of Europe” reported recession-level declines in manufacturing and service sectors at the end of 2013, creating recession-level conditions of output and preserving a growing trade deficit. In fact, France remains the only country in post-crisis Europe that isn’t experiencing recent growth in these labor-intensive sectors; even the previously slumping economies of Italy, Spain, Greece, and Ireland have gained notable traction in recent months, paving the way for more and greater jobs. Once the beating heart of the European Union, the bread basket nation now bears witness to a 16-year high unemployment rate of 11 percent. Meanwhile, economists predict even greater losses for the French as the year progresses. Youth unemployment has already reached a record high. With courts approving an unprecedented 75 per cent tax rate on top earners late last year, many financiers have begun to shift their national bearings — hopping over the English Channel to join their 400,000 brethren in London, and leaving behind even fewer work opportunities. None of this should be particularly surprising. Cross-sector studies of 10 top-ranking OECD countries — including France — have long revealed the positive influence of delocalization on wages and the price of goods. Wages increase as a result of greater trade thresholds and relatively low tariffs. This makes intuitive sense — as trade liberalization provides access to new consumers, there is an increase in demand for national products. The supply of exports rises as a result of demand, and greater demand incentivizes higher wages in higher-demand sectors. Protectionist policies are also known to increase the price of goods, while amplified imports have a strong negative effect on the price of goods. Unsurprisingly, France’s booming trade deficit continues to grow, as the result of excessively bureaucratic labor policies and sky-high payroll taxes which keep importers hesitant to purchase French national products. It should be added that reactionary policies which limit trade openness by supporting national industrial fronts are not only contributing to national stagnation, but — through the disruption of the natural flow of capital — are also helping to cultivate dangerous conditions that can give rise to regional European and even global economic recession. When global trade fell by 12 percent in 2009, unemployment rates worldwide immediately jumped by 0.9 percent. Notably, countries which suffered the most from the 2008 global market recession were those such as Egypt and Uganda, with lopsided-investments in single sectors like tourism, and unequal concentrations of exports in specific state-subsi-

dized sectors such as iron and steel production. With these facts in mind, it is important to acknowledge the principled intentions of Hollande and his Ministers, who seek to overcome the ills of a temporary and post-recessionary surge in unemployment. Yet such a goal must be attained without crippling future economic growth and employment thresholds. This begs the question of an alternative and balanced approach: how then, ought France to address its present economic woes? Firstly, strong social programs can assist in defraying the humanitarian concerns of provisional spikes in unemployment as a result of trade shocks. In France, a strong social safety net including two years of unemployment insurance, various subsidies, and universally accessible, fully-funded higher education, child care and health care programs is part and parcel of the political system. Fiscal policy space can also work to invite foreign investors to alleviate suffering sectors. However, effective policy space does not translate into direct market interventionism. Proof lies in the growth of French-based multinationals, many of which have increased revenues while national French industries are failing. Corporations such as L’Oreal and LVMH have made huge gains through trade and investments in and from new Asian markets. In a globalized world, long-term growth is dependent upon trade liberalization, market openness and policies that invite foreign investments — not those which resuscitate World War II era interventionist programs.

Jozef A. Kosc is a student of Political Science at the University of Toronto currently on exchange at Sciences Po Paris and a Research Fellow at the NATO Council of Canada

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When Facts Divide

The European fallout over the NSA leaks by Si Hui Lim

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t began on June 5 2013, when British newspaper The Guardian revealed their possession of a collection of classified documents which detailed the operations of the National Security Agency (N.S.A.) of the United States. With the revelation of the PRISM scheme, the American government attempted to quell domestic anger by reiterating that their intelligence efforts were focused purely on foreigners — and the intensity of these efforts were soon made apparent.

Under an N.S.A. program called the Special Collection Service, extensive data mining was being conducted throughout Europe: A daily average of two million connections were gathered in France; in Germany, this figure was closer to twenty million. The icing on the cake? German paper Der Spiegel discovered that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal phone had been tapped as well. These revelations have had a profound impact on not only the transatlantic relationship, but on intraEuropean relations as well. The N.S.A. leaks have put the United Kingdom in a significantly uncomfortable position vis-à-vis members of continental Europe, in particular France and Germany, who are considered “third party foreign partners” by the N.S.A. and subject to surveillance despite any cooperation. The United Kingdom, however, is part of the “five eyes” alliance with the United States and is explicitly excluded from being targeted by the N.S.A.; as a result, cooperation between the N.S.A. and the British General Communications Headquarters (G.C.H.Q.) is deeper than that of any other European intelligence agency. With reports that the N.S.A. had bugged the European Union offices in New York and Washington, suspicion arose on the United Kingdom’s access to such communication data. Furthermore, the G.C.H.Q. was discovered to have in place a Tempora program, which cooperates with telecommunication companies to intercept domestic and foreign internet cables, and has been using N.S.A. techniques to access the servers of Belgacom, a Belgian telecommunications firm. Worse still, after comparing N.S.A. documents and

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aerial photographs, Der Spiegel reported a structure on the roof of the British Embassy in Berlin which resembled that of a listening station on the roof of the American embassy. While the American station had been shut down since being discovered, both embassies are well within reach of the German Parliament and Chancellery; the British structure remains unexplained. The complicity of the United Kingdom undermines already-weak trust between itself and continental Europe at a precarious time when it has been seen to be resisting further European integration; Merkel herself has called for a European counterespionage offensive against N.S.A. and G.C.H.Q. efforts. The European public has reacted with outrage at the revelations, but the Germans have reacted the most vocally. One of the first significant N.S.A. leaks, that of the PRISM scheme, led to thousands of people gathering in Berlin for a “Freedom Against Fear” protest. Tensions heightened further after the White House, while assuring that “the United States is not monitoring and will not monitor the communications of the chancellor”, did not deny past surveillance on Chancellor Merkel’s phone conversations. The comparatively muted reaction of the French public has not gone unnoticed by their German counterparts, who have questioned what it will take for the French to stand up against N.S.A. surveillance; online, they have demanded that the French take a more active stance. This disparity between public reaction within the largest players of continental Europe suggests a deeper rift between the two. Germany continues to live in the shadow of its history, and its population no doubt remembered insidious domestic surveillance by the Stasi police during the Nazi regime and East German Communist rule. A spokesperson for a Stasi archive in Berlin best summed up the German reaction: “It is not just about a wiretapped phone — it is a reminder of the fragility of free societies.” Comparatively, the French public is more likely to view surveillance as a reasonable anti-terrorism measure, and more likely to forgive it.


The apparent lack of trust between the United States and Germany stings as well: The leaks revealed that Germany is spied on more than any other E.U. member state and as much as China, Iran and Saudi Arabia. While German polls reflect the deep public resentment, with numerous public figures speaking out in favour of granting asylum to Edward Snowden, the French public reaction has been spearheaded by and large by the papers such as Le Monde. While the revelations have not been a cause for conflict between France and Germany, they have caused the two nations to look askance at each other. Yet given the differences between the public reactions in these two nations, both have one thing in common: Compared to the outrage of their citizens and national papers, the French and German governments have responded only with token, muted indignation, and with good reason — to do otherwise would be highly hypocritical. Not only have these governments authorised their own intelligence agencies to conduct similar data collection, evidence shows that they may have been aware and even complicit in N.S.A. data collection in Europe. While the French government initially expressed outrage over reports of N.S.A. telephone data

mining in France, with President Hollande calling up President Obama and Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius summoning the ambassador of the United states over what he called “unacceptable practices”, it went notably silent after unnamed United States officials countered that the data referred to was in fact collected by France abroad and shared with the N.S.A. through an existing N.A.T.O. intelligence sharing agreement. Furthermore, in July 2013 Le Monde reported that the French external intelligence agency, Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure (D.G.S.E.), had its own data collection scheme which — possibly illegally — was also accessed by other French intelligence agencies. In 2011, France was described as a European leader of industrial spying, with a U.S. diplomatic cable claiming that “French espionage is so widespread that the damage [it causes] the German economy are larger as a whole than those caused by China or Russia.” Given their own expertise in espionage, a history of American intelligence activities in France throughout two world wars, and earlier reports that the United States had gained access to the French diplomatic communications network used by all French embassies and consulates, it is impossible that the French government has been completely unaware of N.S.A. data mining practices in Europe.

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/nolifewithoutcoffee

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VARIA DOSSIER: DEMOCRACY

The German government would be similarly guilty of hypocrisy, given that their foreign intelligence service, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (B.N.D.), was accused of tapping American phone lines after unwittingly sending American officials a list of 300 U.S. phone numbers in 2008.

“It was never true. The U.S.’s behaviour wasn’t outside the norm. It is the norm.” Given that such behaviour is the norm, perhaps the greatest

European revelation on the N.S.A. leaks is that citizens have been kept in the dark while their governments have hypocritically taken the moral high ground. Bernard Squarcini, the forIf the German government has been slightly mer head of French secret services, summed more vocal in protesting the N.S.A. activity it up thus: in Europe, they do so not from a position of innocence but out of a pragmatic keenness to “The agencies know perfectly well that every become part of the U.S.A.’s inner circle of sig- country […] spies on its allies. The Americans nal intelligence (SIGINT). Excluded from the spy on us on the commercial and industrial level SIGINT group for historical reasons, Germany like we spy on them, because it’s in the national has less access to N.S.A. intelligence than interest to defend our businesses. No one is most of their European counterparts, including fooled.” No one, perhaps, except the innocent. France, the Netherlands, and Norway. While German demands for a “no-spy pact” with the Lim Si Hui is in her third year, United States is unlikely to come to fruition, the hopes are that a portrayal of outrage may studying abroad at encourage the N.S.A. to include Germany in King’s College London future intelligence agreements. Furthermore, both German and French intelligence agencies have been cooperating with their British counterparts: The B.N.D. has received legal advice in its attempt to reform German legislature restricting data interception, and the D.G.S.E., whose technicians were trained by a British electronic intelligence agency, cooperates with the G.C.H.Q. on internet protocol and commercial online encryption issues, going as far as to share their access to an unnamed corporate telecommunications partner. The N.S.A. documents, leaked in the spirit of truth and justice, have had resounding implications across the Atlantic: They have affected the relationship between European nations, causing suspicions at a public and state level; they have changed the perception of privacy rights in the United Nations, and of data regulation in the European Union. Yet will they really change the practice of espionage in Europe, or are they just another political card for governments to play now that their citizens have been made aware of such practices? “That the evil N.S.A. and the wicked U.S. were the only ones engaged in this gross violation of international norms — that was the fairy tale,” claimed James Lewis, a former U.S. State Department official.

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Photo credit: Flickr/CC/Steve Rhodes


The Bill to Pay

Looking back into what happened last year after the Federal Shutdown

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rom the first to the 16th of October, the United States federal government experienced a partial shutdown after struggles between the Republican-led House of Representatives and the Democrat-dominated Senate. The two houses of Congress have been in constant conflict since the 2010 mid-term elections left the United States with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives while a Democrat President is in office. In the weeks leading up to October the two houses failed to pass a bill on federal spending before the end of the fiscal year due to disagreements on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. This act makes health insurance compulsory for every US citizen and has been subject to debate after its introduction in 2009. Although Obamacare is not directly dependent upon federal funding, conflicts over the Act led to the two houses’ inability to agree on federal funding. In the United States, Congress is vested with the power to pass or renew bills on federal budget each fiscal year, which starts on the first of October through to the 30th of September. If Congress fails to do so before the beginning of a new fiscal year, governmental agencies funded by the federal budget experience a funding gap and come to a halt under the Antideficiency Act. In its entire modern political

history, the Unites States experienced a total of 18 government shutdowns. The longest shutdown occurred under President Bill Clinton and began in November 1995. After a short pause, the shutdown resumed at the end of 1995 and continued until January 6 1996, lasting a total of 27 days. It brought about a damage of more than one billion dollars to the US economy and 800,000 federal workers were furloughed during the shutdown. It was also the last government shutdown in the United States before 2013. The impacts of a government shutdown are not confined to politics, but may extend to various parts of society. For instance, Smithsonian institutions remained closed during the shutdown, affecting a range of people from researchers to those who wished to spend a day at one of the 19 museums, galleries or national zoos. According to a report by the US Office of Management and Budget (OMB), tax refund worth a total of four billion dollars was delayed. Patients trying to register for a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) were affected as the agency had to halt hundreds of enrolments. Likewise, those applying for home loans were subject to a longer wait as decisions were delayed for about 8,000 families in rural United States, just to mention another one of the many services affected by the government shutdown listed in the OMB report. Despite the many services affected, not all federal government functions came to a halt. Agencies whose functions were

by Claire Ping

deemed necessary, including departments associated with air traffic control, national security and nuclear weapons, did not cease to function during the shutdown. The phrase “government shutdown” naturally strikes concern about the effects on federal employees, and during the 2013 shutdown, a considerable number of federal workers were sent home, leading to great impacts on the US economy. According to the BBC, 400,000 employees from the Department of Defense, 40,200 from the Department of Commerce, 12,700 from the Department of Energy and 18,500 from the Department of Transportation ceased to work during the shutdown. In fact, the OMB report states that up to 850,000 federal employees were furloughed per day. Although this number decreased significantly after the passage of the Pay Our Military Act, enabling the majority of the 400,000 employees sent home by the Department of Defense to return to work, the number of total workdays lost still amounted to 6.6 million dollars. More workdays were lost during this shutdown than during the 1995-1996 shutdown. The OMB approximated a total loss of two billion dollars in terms of payment to federal employees for times during which they did not work. As a result of the 2013 shutdown, the US economy suffered a loss of around 24 billion dollars amounting to 0.6 percent of economic growth for the fourth quarter, according to ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

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A report by the US Council of Economic Advisors also estimated a 0.25 percent reduction in GDP growth for this quarter, using a method called the “Weekly Economic Index�. The government shutdown halted many sources of income for the national economy. A major example is tourism. Tourists visiting the United States during the shutdown were unfortunately disappointed, as 401 national parks remained closed as well as famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty. The National Park Services, who expect 700,000 visitors per day during the month of October, lost around 500 million dollars in total according to the OMB report. The tourist agency Destination D.C. estimates hotel occupancy in Washington D.C. to be nine percent lower at the beginning of October than at the end of September.

The OMB report estimates a total of 700 applications not processed by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as a result of the government shutdown, amounting to around 140 million dollars of federal loans not granted. Loans from the private sector were also affected since the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) failed to process around 1.2 million requests to verify private sector loans due to the shutdown.

Other negative impacts include reduction in consumer confidence and disrupted hiring plans. According to a report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the consumer confidence index fell from 80 points in September to 71 points in October. The report also accounted for CEOs stating that conflicts within the government had led them to hire less. Disrupted services, such as the delay of safety inspections by the Food and Drug Administration Small businesses were also (FDA), also lead to negative effects impacted because of delays in the on the economy. process of federal loan applications.

The full bill that the United States has to pay for the partial shutdown cannot yet be calculated. Among other negative impacts brought on the US economy by events in early October, the work of statistical agencies was delayed and it will take a while before a complete and precise account of the costs of the 2013 US federal government shutdown can be made.

Claire Ping is a Dual BA student at Sciences Po Paris Europe-Asia Programme and University of British Columbia

The Lincoln Memorial was closed during the US federal shutdown. Credits: Flickr/Creative Commons /Reivax

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VARIA

The Tyranny of Fact An essay

by Edwin Johan Santana Gaarder

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odern life is overrun with facts, and as a story-teller, as a devotee of fiction and rhetoric in all of their amorphous multitudinousness, I reacted to this discovery with a measure of despair and a little nausea. It was during my first week as an undergraduate at the university of Oxford; I had made a fiery political statement of some kind or another, and one of my peers proceeded to verify the accuracy of my words on Wikipedia, using his mobile phone as an instant fact-checking device. I had gotten my facts wrong. But my subsequent embarrassment was mingled with indignation and a stubborn sense that the principles I had expressed were still sound. It was too late, of course, because these days it is the factual accuracy of the argument that determines its validity, not the coherence of the argument that explains the facts. In other words, if your facts are not up to scratch, you had better sit down and shut up, which is what I proceeded to do on that fateful day. All of a sudden, I knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of factcheck.org. However, facts can, and nearly always are, the subject of fierce debate, and Continental philosophy is full of them. While the fact-based empiricism of the Enlightenment originated in the Anglophone world, its rationalist counterpart was profoundly French, and post-Kantian philosophers have since split along similar lines: the geographical line that separates the Continental and Anglo-Saxon traditions; the intellectual line that distinguishes noumena from phenomena; the ideological line that separates facts from truths. But facts only dominate our minds and our thought-processes insofar as we allow them to. This is not to say that facts are not useful. They are, especially when they come in the form of statistics, scientific observations and empirical evidence, to name a few of their manifestations. Facts allow us to test the relationship between our ideas and things-in-themselves, they reveal to us the tangible results of our experiments with nature and with human society, and they can establish with a degree of objective certainty the actual course of historical events in the observable world. A scientific hypothesis can be verified, statistical predictions can be made based on comparable occurrences in the past, the effects of a policy can be measured in units that correspond to those which (may) exist beyond our senses. Nevertheless, like the superabundant trees that prevent us from seeing the forest, facts can blind us to truths and to values, which touch the mind in a more human way. Capitalism, for example, is the most successful of contemporary socio-economic systems, for it correlates strongly with the existence of legal systems and political freedoms as measured by the empirical scales devised to quantify the same, not to mention its obvious stimulative effect on material wealth (GDP, GNP, and many such statistics). Where the free market system prevails, we are faced with the smug grin of facts...and yet, is this way of organising human coexistence the apogee of our imagination as it is often presented to us? Should the fact that our aspirations are improbable and our ideals impossible resign us to that which is merely the least worst option? If so, why do parents keep telling their children that anything is possible? Our novels, our poems and our motion pictures show us the world as we feel it should be, or reflect upon it in non-objective ways, using the subjective tools with which we have been blessed. The notion that art is sacred is not a fact but a feeling, an ekstasis that reverses the relationship between the real world and the imagination for a few sublime moments, as our mind comes to dominate existence rather than be dominated by it. The poetic gift is the art of creating this moment, of relieving us momentarily from the tyranny of the noumenal world, of revealing the latent potential of who we are.

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Another subjective phenomenon that performs the same function is that quintessential of human emotions inextricably bound both to our understanding and our experience of art. It sometimes goes by the name love, but needs to be distinguished from the term that is used to mean desire of a worldly sort, the drive to sensual consumption and self-satisfaction. Love, here, must rather be taken to mean the opposite: an invisible selflessness, a sacrificial silence directed towards an other, in the realization that the factual, physical space between two beings is meaningless. Empiricists might object to this use of words to conjure up concepts and grammatical relationships that have no parallels in fact, addicted to the pre-Saussurean fetish for stable links between signifiers and signifieds, but this is why their work often makes for dull reading: they have missed the fundamental talent of words for multiple significations and deferral, their power to play with meaning in a space where facts are irrelevant, where the imagination and the languages in which it is embedded are everything. Witness the religions of the world, codified in the greatest works of poetry ever produced by mankind : the Bible, the Qur’an, the Torah, the Vedas, the Upanishads, Tao Te Ching and the teachings of Gautama Buddha, to mention only the ones with which I am most familiar. These are not fact-based belief systems; they present truths in a language of endless adaptability, a language from which they draw both their universality and their flexibility. Where facts teach us what and how, the truths expressed through language teach us why, answering the question that agitates us in unique and special ways. Note that among the characteristics of truths is their multiplicity and indeterminacy, as opposed to facts, which are single, immutable and uncontested. Fact exist in the real world; truths only exist in our minds, as concepts and beliefs that guide us, as ideas that comfort us, as fictions that define who we are. As Nietzsche said, “truths are illusions of which we have forgotten that they are illusions”, a premise that is all the stronger for being a paradox, as many of the most influential ideas ever voiced or written in human language have been. The danger is that we forget the illusionary nature of our truths, and become fundamentalists, or that we entertain a belief that the only truth is to be found in facts, leaving ourselves at the mercy of an unforgiving universe. The middle path is a difficult one to tread, a straight and narrow path that leads to nowhere in particular, but it allows us to achieve our potential as creators of meaning in a world that has none, or to quote Nietzsche once again : Here one can certainly admire humanity as a mighty architectural genius who succeeds in erecting the infinitely complicated cathedral of concepts on moving foundations, or even, one might say, on flowing water. So, by all means, collect your facts, memorize them, quote them, worship them if you must, but as you do so, do not forget that we are skirting dangerous waters, that at any time they may consume us in their depths with unexpected ferocity. Some may prefer the ruthlessness of the ocean of facts, and the beauty of our existential dilemma is that we are free to plunge into that abyss, to be inundated at will by the liquidity of day-to-day life. However for those who want some consolation, there is another place of worship – intangible, unreal, unstable and illusory – but which will nonetheless outlast us all. This is where we can find a momentary shelter, a safe harbour, and a range of other metaphorical paradises. This is also where the poet may at last be able to prove his ”almost-instinct almost-true”. For those who do not know the next and final line of Phillip Larkin’s poem, my suggestion is to leave the facts and to embrace the truth, for after all, there can be no better way to end our journey. In the end, that is where we are headed: “what will remain of us is love.”

Edwin Gaarder is studying International Development at Sciences Po Paris

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- NOS BUTS Sensibiliser l’opinion publique française aux objectifs de l’ONU. Rendre compte de son action et de ses réalisations. Étudier la diplomatie multilatérale. NOS ACTIONS •

L’AFNU participe ou est le partenaire de nombreuses simulations de l’ONU, en France et à l’étranger (Harvard WorldMun, SOFIMUN, Moscow international MUN, SPNU MUN…)

L’AFNU propose à ses membres différents colloques réunissant des intervenants spécialistes des relations internationales ainsi qu’une liste actualisée de postes à pourvoir dans les organisations internationales, qu’elles soient gouvernementales ou non gouvernementales

L’AFNU Aix-en-Provence édite depuis 16 ans l’Observateur des Nations Unies. Cette revue semestrielle accueille les contributions de doctorants et d'auteurs confirmés de tous horizons. Retrouvez dès mars prochain son dernier volume sur « Le formalisme juridique dans le droit international du XXIème siècle ».

ADHESION L’adhésion à l’AFNU est ouverte à tous. Elle peut être effectuée via notre site (www.afnu.org) ou par chèque établi à l’ordre de l’AFNU et envoyé à l’adresse de son siège :

1 avenue de Tourville 75007 PARIS • • • •

Etudiant – 10€ et plus Membre actif – 30€ et plus Membres bienfaiteurs – 80€ et plus Associations & Sociétés – 150€ et pus


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