On Taiwan: An Option between Total War and Withdrawal for the U.S.

For more than a half century, the United States has been able to help deter the use of force by China and Taiwan.  Yet the new dynamic in the area surrounding Taiwan has increased the likelihood of use of force. How the United States responds will have enormous implications for both the Chinese, and the allies of the U.S. in the South and East China sea. To avoid the catastrophic impact of total war and the implications of abandoning an ally, the author examines one option between the two that the U.S. can adopt.

By Noriya Nakazawa,7th November, 2015

Continue reading

Could Social Impact Bonds Fight Slavery?

Social Impact Bonds as an effective way to tackle the age-old problem of bonded labour in India.

By Dallin Van Leuven, 20th April, 2015 

To pay off a family debt of only $50, 13-year-old Roghini was “mortgaged” to a family that made matchboxes in their home. Paid only 30 cents for every 1,500 boxes she made, Roghini worked alongside 20 other children for 11 hours a day just to try and earn enough to eat—though she often went hungry. The abusive treatment she received drove Roghini into such a deep depression that she tried to end her own life. Finally, three years after she was sold into slavery, a local group was able to pay off the debt and free her.

Millions of men, women, and children are working in India under similar conditions. India’s justice system has tried to free them for decades, to no avail. New strategies are needed where politicians and judges have failed. It is time for investors to step up. Continue reading

Settler-Colonialism without the Overseas Metropolis: The Case of Palestine

An overview of the extent to which Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth offers a useful framework for understanding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

By Abdulaziz Khalefa, 06th December, 2014

Here I assess the situation in Palestine from Frantz Fanon’s perspective. I show that his description of the colonist and the colonized, a world which is Manichean and compartmentalized, reflects the current relationship between the Palestinians and the Jewish-Israelis. While a relationship based on ethnic dominance inhibits reconciliation, Fanon considers the use of violence a necessary and inevitable step towards overcoming oppression.[1] I argue that the impact of violence must be assessed using a rational framework[2] to determine whether it can help resolve the colonized people’s status.

Continue reading

South-South Technology Cooperation: The Case of Brazil and China’s Wind Industry

In a piece prepared especially for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA), the authors look at the “South-South” relationship between China and Brazil to understand the extent, drivers and lessons from their technology cooperation.

By Hyosun Bae & Zoraida Velasco, 7th May, 2014.

Cooperation in the fields of technology is under the constant pressure of global competition. Countries are finding themselves in a race to increase their innovation capacity. This is particularly the case for emerging markets like Brazil and China. This race includes significant multi-dimensional commitments from government towards industry development and collaboration in an effort to develop mutually benefitting opportunities. Fully utilizing their growth in financial and technological capacity, Brazil and China have expanded their collaboration on renewable energy technology. Technology cooperation is a way to develop opportunities for reciprocal knowledge-sharing and investment. Through the use of case study and literature review, this paper analyses the bilateral cooperation between Brazil and China on wind power technology. It focuses on the public and private sectors’ research and development (R&D) of wind technology between the two countries.

Continue reading

The Bear Hug: Russia’s Regional Ambitions

The author explores the ambitions of Russia in the context of its Eurasian Union idea. 

By Richard Wallace, 28th February, 2014

Over the past few months, mass protests have erupted in Kiev, Ukraine in defiance of (now deposed) President Viktor Yanukovich’s 11th hour U-Turn on the signing of an EU Association Agreement that would have been the first major stepping stone to full EU accession. The protests had morphed into a vociferous backlash against the corruption of the ruling elite and its increasing repressive domestic policies. Much of this anger has been directed across the border, to Ukraine’s (not so) brotherly neighbour, Russia. Critics see the hand of Putin behind this policy reversal, a frosty hand that has been slowly but surely tightening its grip around Ukraine’s throat over the last decade in response to its warming towards the West. Yet Ukraine is merely one amongst many states in the region to be embraced by the broadly encompassing and expansionist Russian bear hug, which can in recent years be summed up in 2 dirty words on the streets of Kiev: the Customs Union.

Continue reading

Law: A statist means of social change, or an instrument of status quo?

In this essay, the author explores the role a state’s legal framework plays in curtailing social change.

By Sabina Yasmin Rahman, 27th February, 2014

“We must have a look at the society and culture at large in order to find the place of law within the total structure.” — E. Adamson Hoebel (1954)

State as a political entity has managed to sustain a curious pattern of existence. Depending on the level of complementarities [and often contradictions] that the state shares with the plethora of available discourses in and around it — individualism, socialism, secularism, postmodernism, neoliberalism, and post-development — all sheltered under the indisputable fact of democracy, makes it very tempting for us to think of legal innovation as effecting social change. In addition, our highly centralized political system, which functions by appeasing the masses on a daily basis through illusory experiences of access to a decentralized machinery, made increasingly seductive by advanced technology and communication apparatuses, fills us with enormous expectations of achieving near utopian social changes through the medium of law. Here, I would like to state a few reasons as to why one must caution oneself against the reality of law. I contend that it is important to recognize law primarily as an instrument of maintaining status quo rather than a revolutionary transformational force geared towards social change.

Continue reading

Human rights law and the cultural barriers in Islamic states

An overview of the Islamic state’s capacity to adopt the current human rights norms – the author holds that the globalization of human rights remains ineffective in transcending cultural barriers. Only when the philosophical ideology is translated into different cultures, as opposed to a more positivist approach, can the gap between globalized human rights and different nations be further mitigated. 

By Shafeea Riza, 8th February 2014

In an increasingly globalising world, where international human rights law plays a dominating role in global politics, one cannot help but wonder whether globalisation of human rights law effectively translates into the domestic realms of the receiving state. I ask this question in relation to Islamic states. Islamic states have responded to the international human rights law norms in different ways. Despite the “universal” aspect of these human rights, and its somewhat adoption by Islamic states, what transpires foremost is the tension between these rights and Islamic traditions.[1] Although there is general consensus of the international human rights law among Islamic states, insistence on holding on to Islamic values appear to be pre-dominant.[2] Such an observation begs the question asked at the beginning of this paper: whether globalisation of human rights truly transcends cultural barriers?

Continue reading

Challenges of grass root rural development in Tamil Nadu

Looking at the adverse effects of pesticide use on health and farmer yields in Erode, Tamil Nadu state in India, the author highlights the needed measures to bridge the gap between the remedies available to the government, NGOs and civil society on one hand, and the sustainable options for the farmers on the other.

By Camille Maubert, 23rd November 2013

India’s outstanding economic development following the Green Revolution (1960s) was characterized by a remarkable increase in agricultural production. In the past decades, India’s crop yield was multiplied by four through the use of enhanced crop varieties, fertilizers, pesticides and other chemicals. However, despite such success on the global scale, concerns are emerging at the micro level regarding the sustainability if intensive agricultural exploitation. The biggest challenge facing farmers is the dramatic decrease in soil fertility. Indeed, after five decades of intense farming, some challenges have become alarmingly recurrent.

Continue reading

Fanning the Flames – The Rise of AQAP

An assessment of what has contributed to the swelling of the Al Qaeda ranks in Yemen. Among other factors, this has included the cutting of the remittances from their richer neighbors after the first Gulf War and the security concerns (drone strikes).

By Richard Wallace, 23rd October 2013

Just a couple of months back, news channels were filled with coverage of the impending threat Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP – the Gulf branch of Al-Qaeda) poses to domestic security in Yemen and international security more broadly. Yemen is rarely in the limelight, with much media attention focusing further north on the Middle East states of the Levant and Iran. When it does catch international attention, the media discourse on Yemen is typically highly securitized, to the extent that the country is increasingly cast as the next Afghanistan, the cradle of chaos, and the new haven and hotbed of international terrorism. Whether or not this is really the case, it is clear that Yemen does face serious challenges from AQAP’s local franchise and the danger is real. So just how did it come to this?

Continue reading

The Bahrain Predicament

This piece was originally written right after a car bomb explosion on July 18 in Riffa south of the capital Manama. The result of resisting the majority’s demands, the author brings into question whether there is any prudence in endorsing their aspirations.

By Massaab Al-Aloosy, 2nd October 2013

Yesterday a car exploded near the Sheikh Khalifah mosque in Manama, Bahrain.  The incident was immediately condemned as a terrorist attack by the government which warned of attempts to tear the social fabric. Although there were no casualties, the explosion is a reminder of how intricate the situation is in Bahrain. For a long time now, the opposition has been calling for democratization of the political system to no avail.

Continue reading

Tensions Between the Universal Concept of Human Rights and Islamic law – Legal Theory Perspectives

The author applies different legal theories to understand the tension between human rights and Islamic law, and how this tension can be alleviated for greater convergence between the two.

By Shafeea Riza, 22nd September 2013


The globalization of human rights through international human rights law systems has received a varying response from the Islamic states. The international human rights law norms, which is provided in the International Bill of Human Rights is contended to entail a universal concept which exemplify the position of public international law on human rights1. In contrast, Islamic law constitutes its very own concept of human rights and related duties2. The tension, therefore, between a universal concept of human rights and Islamic traditions is apparent. Despite the tension, it appears that Islamic states remain receptive to international human rights law instruments3.

Continue reading

The North-East in India’s Look East Policy

India’s Look East Policy seems to offer huge potential and developmental scope for India’s North Eastern Region. However, there is an absence of sincere dialogue between the northeastern states and the center, resulting in an obvious gap between policy and implementation.

Editorial Note: While this paper was originally written in 2010, it brings about important perspectives on the developments of India’s internal and foreign relations. For this reason, we found merit in publishing this previously unpublished paper, even though it does not account for developments post 2010.

By Sabina Yasmin Rahman, 15th May 2013 

In the year 1991-92, under the then Prime Minister, P.V. Narasimha Rao, India launched its “Look East” Policy (LEP), an active economic policy of engagement with Southeast Asia to be implemented as an official initiative in achieving two objectives: the encouragement of trade links with individual partners and to provide foreign employment for India’s own expanding work force. This paper is an attempt to critically analyze the various underpinnings of this policy and study the impact it has been able to make so far with special reference to the context of the North-east of India.

Backdrop of the Policy:

With the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of the Cold War and the onset of the era of globalization and economic liberalization, the need to secure international trade and encourage foreign investments was felt strongly by nations all over the world. The 1990s was a period seeing rapid economic development and growth of Asian countries, especially in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia came to be recognized a region with vast economic potential and the Indian sub-continent was fast emerging as an economic and political force to be reckoned with. This is when the Indian leadership came up with the concept of “Look East”. India sought to create and expand regional markets for trade, investments and industrial development. It also began strategic and military cooperation with nations concerned by the expansion of China’s economic and strategic influence. Thus, from the very start, India’s strategy has focused on forging close economic and commercial ties, increasing strategic and security cooperation with emphasis on historic cultural and ideological links.

Continue reading

Lifting the Curtain

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark decision by the US Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. Claire Beckenstein, a political consultant in Washington DC, looks at the political culture surrounding the issue to discuss how far American women have come and how far they still have to go.

By Claire Beckenstein, 22nd January, 2013

Abortion is an issue that evokes visceral responses from people at both ends of the spectrum.  This issue has the ability to divide a nation and separate a family.  It is so powerful that people will even kill in the name of the cause.  On the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, one could exhaust themselves for days thinking of the questions and assumptions around what America would be like without legalised abortion.  If we continue to fight the issues from our past we cannot move forward.  Therefore, it is best to focus on the present and note how monumental this decision has been for women and their health, especially to those women who view abortion as a choice, a freedom and as a right to take control of their future.

Continue reading

Can Money Solve India’s Education Woes?

In this essay, Rithika Nair looks at the under-performing education sector in India. She exaplains that sheer finance alone will be unable to rectify the structural problems of the system and that development will need to play a larger role in the future of India if it is to become a true world power for decades to come.

By Rithika Nair, 5th October, 2012

“Can an increase in allocation in the education budget, guarantee better quality of education?”

India is under-performing in education.  Earlier this year, when the then Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee (who is now India’s President) declared the budget for the year 2012-2013, there rose a tumultuous wave of applause, and with that a tirade of  criticism, as he allocated a budget of $11.9 billion (Rs. 61,407 crore) to education – an increase of 18% when compared to last year’s budget.1 The better part of the budget was in favour of primary education, with a relatively meagre amount of $2.9 billion (Rs. 15,438 crore) for the benefit of higher education.

Continue reading

Energy Security: Concepts and Concerns in India

This essay is a literature review of the conceptual framework of ‘energy security’ in the international and Indian contexts. 

By Siddharth Singh, 24th September, 2012

The globalisation of energy markets has increased interdependence across the regions of the world. The access to energy today depends on international networks of infrastructure and transport. This has heightened the risks of major supply disruptions which result from of political conflicts, wars, technical system failures, accidents, sabotage, extreme weather events and financial market turmoil. Additionally, the global energy market is characterised by the reliance by energy importing economies on an ever-smaller group of countries (Chester, 2010).

Continue reading

Risks and Possibilities: The role of the OSCE in the democratic transition in Tunisia

Tunisia has expressed its preference to work with the OSCE in its democratic transition rather than the EU. This organization started a program of support to the civil society in this country. But is it enough to foster democratization? Is the OSCE still capable to apply in Tunisia the same policies than in Eastern Europe after 1989?

By Alejandro Marx, 19th September, 2012

The Arab Spring has unleashed the hope that home-grown democracies will be created in the region. However, after the revolution comes the time for stabilization and democracy-building. The failure of democracy-building or the start of chaos would be used by authoritarian governments to maintain their power or advocated controlled “democratization” to their population. The legitimacy of the revolution in Tunisia is based on popular support, placing the leadership and the civil society in a new situation. In addition, the uprising has changed the relations that the Tunisian government shared with the ex-colonial power in the region, France. The Tunisian leaders want to follow the path they decide for their country, not the one dictated by other countries. The Arab countries can share their experience of the democratic transition, and exchange advices with countries with longer-established democracies or recent transitions to democracy. However, when a country asks for advice and support to another one, it risks to be in a position of dependency. How to keep the same level of exchange between countries without a country becoming dependent from the support of another?

Continue reading

What the Global Financial Crisis Has to Say About the State of Macroeconomics Today

In this essay, the author shows that the current global financial crisis sheds more light on macroeconomics as a subject than the other way around.

By Neha Bandi, 16th September 2012

The 2008 global financial crisis was an outcome of certain major aspects of macroeconomics. Low interest rates prevailed for almost a decade and spawned a huge surge in mortgage lending, led by a long record of growth with lower inflation in the pre-crisis period. These conditions led financial institutions to expand the realm of structured financing and securitisation to boost revenue sources, resulting in huge growth in the alternative instruments functioning outside the rigour of formal regulation. Extremely easy monetary policy led to the global macroeconomic imbalances with developed markets facing deficits and emerging markets accumulating huge forex resources. Deregulation of financial markets reduced the distance between commercial and investment banking, sizeably relaxing norms for leverage quality applicable to financial institutions and intermediaries. Relaxed leverage ratios expanded the risk exposure of institutions.

Continue reading

Are transnational socioeconomic trends trumping Zionist ideology in the Occupied Palestinian Territories?

In this essay, the author explores how globalization of Israeli capital has undermined the ideological thrust of Zionism in constructing policies towards Occupied Palestinian Territories. 

By Kanchi Gupta, 27th August, 2012

This essay demonstrates that while Zionist ideology is predicated on the expansion and territorial integrity of ‘Eretz Israel’, the nature of its administrative regime was steered by Israel’s internal socioeconomic dynamics. Israel’s sui generis ‘instrumentalization’ for the ingathering of global Jewish diaspora and resulting ethnic make-up, as well as social democratic, secular and religio-national ideological preferences are inclusive of Israeli political structure. However, as Israel’s economy opened to global capital, neoliberal capital interests spilled across borders and determined the construction of Israel’s policies in Occupied Palestinian Territories. Therefore, the essay determines that Israeli policy outlined below must not be viewed solely through the lens of ideologically driven military conflict. Rather, Israel’s military policy is an amalgamation of its economic and political strategies, which have further created transnational neoliberal economic imperatives. Continue reading

Religion and Diplomacy: Do Religious Actors Have to Conform to Secular Norms?

In this essay, the author explores whether religious (non-state) actors, must conform to secular norms in order to have influence in diplomacy. 

By Alireza Ahmadian, 30th July 2012

Azza Karam, the Senior Advisor on Culture at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), made the assertion at the roundtable discussion on Shared Sovereignty: Rights, Religion and the Problem of Authority (SSRRPA) at the School of Oriental and African Studies that religious actors have always played an important role in community-based projects all over the world: they invariably stay in areas of conflict even after secular organizations, such as the UN, withdraw their staff; and they provide between 40 to 70 percent of healthcare and education for the people. Karam also argued that with the financial crisis hitting all major donors to the UN, the religious actors that had not heavily relied on financial help from states and secular organizations would take over many projects that were traditionally implemented by secular UN agencies and other organizations. She was concerned that religious actors’ conservative stance on gender-related issues might jeopardize the attempts to promote gender equality in the world (2011).

The preceding examples illustrate the power of religious actors and how influential they are. This paper argues that the presumption that we live in a secularized world is false; therefore, the overwhelming majority of religious actors do not have to conform to secular norms. Moreover, since religion has remained an important factor in many people’s life, we have to facilitate religious actors and their religiosity in diplomacy. We start with a review of why religion has traditionally been marginalized in International Relations (IR) and diplomacy. After reviewing the concept of secularism, this paper addresses the prevalence of religion and religiosity. Thereafter, we investigate the assertion that religious actors must conform to secular norms. Finally, after problematizing the religion-secular binary, this paper illustrates how religion and religious actors can play pivotal roles in diplomacy.

Continue reading

‘Do We Get to Win This Time?’: Hollywood Rewrites ‘Nam

Who won the Vietnam War?  Who lost it?  These questions are barely touched up in films about the conflict.  Instead we see a very different picture: troops rallying together against adversity of poor leadership, difficult terrain and uncharacterised enemies.  Does this tell the real story of Vietnam?  Were class, race and gender equality the realities of 60s and 70s America?  No.

Popular culture played a key part in reconstructing the narratives of the Vietnam War for the United States of America.  It constitutes a unique form of memorial in which the reality is secondary to the story.  Stories frequently circulate stating that x per cent of children don’t know who Winston Churchill or Neil Armstrong were but what of the rewriting of history?  In these films South East Asia becomes a setting for a collection of films not so much about the history of the war as the re-assertion of American masculinity.

These manifestations carry greater cultural significance now as they reach mass audiences of younger generations who may have little prior knowledge of the war.  For instance, at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial visitors frequently flock to take rubbings of one name in particular: John Rambo[i].  At the end of Rambo, the eponymous character asks his commander, ‘do we get to win this time?’  The commander responds, ‘this time, it’s up to you’.

by InPEC Contributor, 7th June, 2012

Continue reading