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

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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.

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United Nations Security Council: Prospects for Reform

In this essay, the author examines the current composition of the UN Security Council and discusses prospects for reform.


By Anna Rabin, 18 Jan, 2012

Established as one of the principle organs of the United Nations (UN), the Security Council bears the ‘primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security.’[i] The Council’s mandate, outlined further in Article 24 of the Charter, coupled with its ability to make legally binding decisions, makes the Security Council arguably the most powerful organ of the UN. The Council has retained its importance in international relations and is arguably of increased importance as a result of heightened international co-operation in the post-Cold War era.[ii] The lack of reform since its creation, has however led to doubts over the Council’s legitimacy and effectiveness in contemporary politics. One observer even referred to its lack of reform as ‘one of the most successful failures in the history of the United Nations.’[iii] The most commonly debated areas for reform revolve around the veto power, the size of the Council and in the event of an enlargement, the powers and selection of new members.

Currently, the Security Council is comprised of five permanent members, referred to as the P-5,[iv] and ten non-permanent members, each elected for a two-year term. In addition to having a permanent seat on the Council, Article 27 of the UN Charter grants the P-5 a veto power. Reform of the Council requires support from two-thirds of the General Assembly and all of the P-5. Whilst reform is not impossible, as seen by the successful 1965 reform that enlarged the Council from eleven to fifteen members, consensus on necessary reform is hard to achieve.

With a seat of the Council seen as ‘a proxy for global influence on peace and security issues’[v] competition for the ten non-permanent seats is high. The size of the Council is therefore a key concern for member states. With the Italian delegation pointing out that 77 countries have never had a seat on the Council and 47 have sat just once,[vi] questions over the Council’s size have been raised. This disparity is due to the fact that, having increased in size just once since its formation, the size of the council is no longer proportionate to the size of the General Assembly. At its formation, the number of member states compared to seats at the Council was 11 to 51, representing a ratio of 1 to 4.6. In spite of the increase in the number of seats on the Council from eleven to fifteen, the dramatic increase in the General Assembly, largely as a result of decolonisation and the break up of the Soviet Union, has seen this ratio increase, reaching 1to 12.[vii]

The significant increase in the number of States in the General Assembly indicates that enlarging the Council is a necessary reform. Enlarging the Council, however, must not hinder efficiency.[viii] The majority of proposals for an increased Council have therefore varied between the low to high twenties. Proposals such as ‘In Larger Freedom’[ix] [x] and ‘Uniting for Consensus’[xi] [xii] for example, recommended an increase to 24 and 25 seats respectively, aiming to enhance ‘both the legitimacy and the efficiency of the Council.’[xiii]

Whilst referred to as ‘the apex body of the United Nations’[xiv] the Council’s current composition is no longer representative of the values of the General Assembly. Formed in the aftermath of World War II, the Council’s composition has not adapted to reflect contemporary political realities, notably decolonisation. The stagnant nature of the Council in turn undermines its legitimacy as according to Hurd, social institutions derive their power from their perceived legitimacy. This means that a reformed Council ‘will find compliance with its rules more easily secured, than in the absence of legitimacy.’[xv] Unlike the large consensus that surrounds calls for the increased size of the Council, plans such as ‘In Larger Freedom’ that call for an increase in permanent members have led to fierce debate. Vocal calls for inclusion as permanent members of an increased Council have largely come from the G4 countries[xvi] and developing countries.

The G4 members states, in particular Japan and Germany, the second and third largest financial contributors to the Council respectively, argue their case for permanent membership on the grounds of Article 23 (1) of the Charter. The Article states that selection to the Council must take into account the country’s commitment to the ‘maintenance of international peace and security and to the other purposes of the Organization’ and ‘geographical distribution’.[xvii] This argument is supported by advocates of the functionalist perspective such as Schwartzberg, in what he refers to as the ‘entitlement quotient’ for entry into the Council.[xviii] Under a functionalist framework, such as Schwartzberg’s, Japan for example would be a more favourable candidate than Nigeria. Whilst Japan contributes more to the UN, this approach does not take into account the fact that Japan has a 4.91 trillion dollar economy and that an Asian country is already a member of the P-5. Nigeria on the other hand is Africa’s most populous country and although home to the most UN members, no African country has a permanent seat at the Council. Whilst taking a more literal approach to Article 23 (1), a purely functionalist perspective places too much emphasis on the financial capabilities and neglects geographic distribution.

The financial requirement of the functionalist perspective also gives preference to developed countries, therefore ensuring the continued underrepresentation of the developing world. It is important to note that the majority of population growth is occurring in the developing world with predictions that in fifty years, the populations of India, Pakistan, China, Indonesia and Nigeria will exceed four billion.[xix] Representation by region would minimize this disparity and give increased geo-political legitimacy to the Council by rewarding both contribution and ensuring regional representation.

The existence of the veto power is possibly the most contentious feature of the Council. Whilst arguably an inevitable reaction to the failure of the League of Nations, the P-5 no longer represents the great powers in international relations. The two-tiered structure of the Council reinforces the notion that ‘some states are more equal than others’[xx] resulting in entrenched institutional elitism within the UN. Whilst ‘a splendidly egalitarian idea’[xxi] to abolish the veto, with the P-5 eager to ‘cling fiercely to their veto privileges’[xxii] and reform requiring unanimous P-5 support, debate surrounding the abolishment or expansion of the veto is largely redundant.

Whilst reforming the veto is unlikely, enlarging and altering the composition of the Council would significantly increase its legitimacy and ensure it remains of contemporary relevance. Although a country’s contribution to the Council is important, the exponential growth of the developing world indicates that regional representation in an enlarged Council is imperative to ensure legitimacy.



[i] David M. Malone, ‘Security Council’, in Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Daws (eds), The Oxford Handbook on The United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p.117.

[ii] ibid., p.131

[iii] Terraviva Europe, ‘United Nations: Security Council Reform Remains Deadlocked’,  (accessed on 30 March 2010), 6 August, 2009, p.1.

[iv] The P-5 members of the UN Security Council are the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, China and France.

[v] David M. Malone, The Oxford Handbook on the United Nations, 2007, p.132.

[vi] W. Andy Knight, ‘The future of the UN Security Council’, in Andrew Cooper et al., (eds), Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a new diplomacy, Tokyo, UNU Press, 2002, pp.24-25.

[vii] M. J. Peterson, ‘General Assembly’, in Thomas G. Weiss and Sam Daws (eds), The Oxford Handbook on The United Nations, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007, p.106.

[viii] Global Policy Forum, ‘Pros and Cons of Security Council Reform’,  (accessed on 24 March 2010), 19 January, 2010, p.1.

[ix] In Larger Freedom offers two different plans. Plan A would create six additional permanent members and three non-permanent members. Plan B would create eight new members, each of which would hold a four-year renewable seat, and one non-permanent seat.

[x] In Larger Freedom, ‘V. Strengthening the United Nations’,  (accessed on 30 March 2010), p.1.

[xi] Uniting for Consensus would increase the number of non-permanent seats on the Council to 20.

[xii] Press Release GA/10371, ‘United for Consensus’ Group of States Introduces Text on Security Council Reform to General Assembly’,  (accessed on 30 March 2010), 26 July, 2005, p.1.

[xiii] Global Policy Forum, ‘Pros and Cons of Security Council Reform’, (accessed on 24 March 2010), 19 January, 2010, p.1.

[xiv] W. Andy Knight, Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a new diplomacy, 2002, p.19.

[xv] ibid., p.24

[xvi] The G4 countries are Germany, Japan, Brazil and India.

[xvii] Global Policy Forum, ‘Pros and Cons of Security Council Reform’,  (accessed on 24 March 2010), 19 January, 2010, p.1.

[xviii] W. Andy Knight, Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a new diplomacy, 2002, p.27.

[xix] W. Andy Knight, Enhancing Global Governance: Towards a new diplomacy, 2002, p.26.

[xx] Paul Kennedy, The Parliament of Man, London, Penguin Books, 2006, p.52.

[xxi] Paul Kennedy and Bruce Russett, ‘Reforming the United Nations’, in Foreign Affairs, Vol. 74, No. 5, Oct. 1995, pp.56-71.

[xxii] Terraviva Europe, ‘United Nations: Security Council Reform Remains Deadlocked’,  (accessed on 30 March 2010), 6 August, 2009, p.1.



10 Reasons why India is not the Next Superpower

In this article, the author presents ten issues that are holding India back and have crippled India to some extent. He makes the case that if these problems are not overcome, India will not be a future “superpower”, as some claim it will be.  


By Mikael Santelli-Bensouda, 4 Jan, 2012

There is an increasing vigour with which international observers speak of the rise of India. According to many, it seems that those who placed bets on China becoming the next dominant power are wrong and in fact India was the right choice. This is based upon the assumption that India is destined to become the next real global player by virtue of three integral factors: it is the world’s largest democracy; it has an absurdly large and predominantly young population, and its ascension into the global elite of power economies is inevitable.

However, have we asked ourselves enough questions about the so-called emerging power? What is the reality of the Indian condition? Has hyperbolic economic growth planted the seeds for a truly gregarious society? Is democracy moving the masses forward or fostering a residue of stagnation? With the dawning of a new year, it is an appropriate time to dispel the romanticised image of the emerging Indian powerhouse by identifying 10 key areas that prevent India from being considered as a global superpower.

  1. Democracy

Democracy is the right and only form of governance. This is a concept that nations of the West are familiar with and in recent years India has become a part of that democratic axis. For reasons that may appear obvious to most, it is rare that questions are asked about the validity or potency of democracy’s utility. Essentially, the assumption stands that; if democracy is in place then there is no better system that can improve the lot of that nation. Therefore, if a democratic government is failing to address the concerns of its people; it is not the fault of the system but the fault of a group of ‘bad apples’ within society. There are no two ways about it, the Indian government over the last couple decades has not been addressing the most essential needs of its people (explored below).

Yet, despite the seemingly under-productive governance system, Indian’s are ferociously proud of their democracy. However, they are less than impressed with the manner in which it currently operates. Admissions of corruption, hypocrisy, elitism and nepotism are ever-present when discussing national politics with any Indian. Despite democracy’s ability to represent the average person’s wishes (which is in itself an illusion in a country as diverse and populated as India) there has been a distinct lack of meaningful progress across the board. It is relevant, given the feats achieved by India’s tumultuous neighbour China, to question whether a democratic system is to be blindly accepted as ‘the only way’. History tells us quite bluntly that authoritarian regimes (of varying degrees) have had as much, if not more, success in establishing functioning societies than democratic nations. In fact, a true expression of democracy has yet to engender a world power. Controversial, I hear you cry. All of the European powers, a segregated United States, Imperial Japan, the coming of China and all ancient empires share one simple fact; they did not represent all of their citizens in their decision making processes, instead they took decisions on their behalf. Democratic regimes tend to be election wary and in doing so lack a long-term vision that a country like India is desperate for. I am not arguing for a Chinese-style authoritarian leadership but I pose this simple question: do you think it is possible for India to emulate what the Chinese have done in terms of infrastructure, poverty, energy needs and generally safeguarding the future of its population on a centralised five-year electoral cycle? It seems highly improbable given the current state of affairs.

  1. Corruption

A large part of the reason democracy in India seems impotent is the fact that corruption is interwoven into the very fabric of Indian governance. The country suffers from corruption on a scale that would make Nigeria’s late dictator, General Sani Abacha, roll over in his grave. Corruption stifles the country in a number of ways. It siphons off necessary funding for: essential development, anti-poverty initiatives, energy security and many, many more. It has become synonymous with politics in India.

Perhaps one of the worst features of India’s endemic corruption is that it is unashamedly present. Like a plot from a Bollywood movie, it seems that factions within society extol their ability to command such devious power. This of course has created a backlash. Like most of the world, India has not escaped the ‘year of protests’ unscathed. The Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement has captured the imagination of millions and, rightly or wrongly, seems to be a voice for a discontented underbelly of unrepresented lower classes and the aspirant middle-classes. Despite the downturn in the intensity for the Hazare movement in recent weeks it does not signal that the Indian people are happy with the current status of the Lokpal Bill and corruption is no longer an important issue. Far from it. Corruptions synonymy with the political establishment not only affects the legitimacy of the current Singh government and his National Congress Party, but also engenders a twofold reaction as it dangerously erodes faith in the political establishment (which could lead to protest votes for extreme parties) whilst neglecting the responsibility to address the problems of tomorrow.

  1. Infrastructure

India is soon to find herself in the midst of a golden opportunity to signal to the world, and more importantly her own people, that the country is upgrading its infrastructure inline with the 21st Century. The current transport system is largely a continuation of what the British left behind. Despite the age and condition of much of the national train network and roads systems, they continue to defy logical explanation by servicing the burgeoning population. However, this system is slowly reaching its tipping point and will not last forever. Rather than waiting for the system to fail, it is time to ensure India keeps moving into the next century.

Mumbai is a perfect example to demonstrate the state and nations wanton disregard for the transportation issue. It is India’s most densly populated city, it is the financial and entertainment capital, it plays host to Asia’s busiest train terminus and houses some of the world’s most expensive hotels. Also consider that the city is a logistical nightmare were a one-way commute can take hours, trains are beyond overcrowded and the Chhatrapati Shivaji airport, located in the middle of the city, is serviced to death. After ten years of political wrangling planning permission has been given for another airport located in a more sensible location. Bets are off on guessing which decade the building will be completed in.

Talk to any Indian with some affiliation to Mumbai and the response is always the same: it is too crowded! A unfortunate coincidence of geography prohibits outward expansion, self-interest and political stubbornness prevents relocation to a more appropriate northwardly location. This should not stop the authorities from implementing strategies to alleviate the congestion, especially for the hellish commute. The Delhi Metro can offer double-edged inspiration in this regard. Whilst its emergence has been a great success for India’s capital it highlights the uninspiring nature of the Indian government’s perspective on infrastructure. Why the Mumbai phase of the metro was not ‘ready to roll’ as soon as Delhi was finished is simply baffling. If any city in the world was in need of a metro its certainly Mumbai, yet it seems more effort is being placed in the construction of the Jaipur metro.

  1. Bureaucracy

The generic accusation aimed at bureaucracies is that it is detrimental to efficiency. Speed it seems is the sacrificial lamb. At present, India can do without extra delays, it would benefit much more from swift and rational decisions. The justice system in India is painfully slow and complicated much like its political decision-making. As a political risk and consultancy group, based in Hong Kong, announced in last year’s report India’s bureaucracy is one of the most stifling in the world. This derives from too much political interference in a less than transparent system. It also translates into difficult foreign business ventures that carry excessive ‘administration fees’.

  1. Ethnicity & Religion

An obvious fact: India is an ethnically and religiously diverse concoction. What is less obvious is that no previous global super power has been heterogeneous. Yes, many have included diverse peoples but they were not founded upon the notion of equality amongst men. Even the United States was founded and unified around its white northern European immigration. Historically, it seems, homogeneity is a staple ingredient for a superpower status. As such, India faces a monumental challenge from its internal divisions that more than occasionally lead to fractious tendencies.

Difficulties have arisen and will continue to arise given the deep seeded tensions between Hindus and Muslims, people and state, and caste against caste. Unfortunately, in recent years religious violence against Muslims in the state of Gujarat can attest that diversity is not being used in a positive force. The most troubling factor is the construction and reinforcement of an ‘other’ within and across Indian society. A notion that is readily intensified by the perpetual antagonisms with Pakistan and it is for this reason it is not difficult to understand modern manifestations of religious tensions across society. The nation must come to terms with its own skin before it can even begin to project power externally.

  1. Energy

India is an energy dependent nation. The majority of its energy needs are satisfied from imports. With the relentless rise in oil prices and perpetual instability across global commodity markets, energy dependency in the near future represents a highly volatile arena wherein states compete to satisfy their own needs. And therein lies the problem, India cannot outspend cash-rich nations like neighbouring China, India cannot match the physical capabilities to ensure energy security like the US and India currently lacks the international influence that European nations are desperately clinging on to. There is a necessity to make substantial moves now to ensure some semblance of imported energy guarantees for the coming decades. For without any energy how can India modernise?

What of the possibility for turning to domestic green energy? You could be forgiven for muttering ‘fat chance’, you really could. India aligns itself with the majority of the world in this regard, it makes the right noises about such endeavours yet does little to enact them. However, with a spot of forward planning (and a gigantic amount of political will and a substantial stack of rupees), India could move towards a sustainable energy system that services transport needs as well as business and personal consumption.

  1. Hypercapitalism

However, investment in green solutions holds little hope due to the monopolistic nature of capitalism. Power derives from those with financial capabilities and if the green option does not align with the interests of the powerful utility and energy companies you can be sure neo-liberal India will not rock the boat. The most disturbing facet of the Indian paradox is the extent to which capitalism operates. Akin to a bodybuilder on steroids, it severely distorts India’s natural economic potential, exposes her labour force to the ruthless desires of the world market and encourages oligopoly.

People will point to the fact that India has one of the highest number of millionaires on the planet, but in contrast India’s poverty index is as bad, if not worse than sub-Saharan Africa. Perhaps its most abhorrent feature is that it provides an excuse for overlooking or condemning the masses under the poverty line, as capitalism assumes your own financial situation is in your own hands.

  1. Poverty

Simply put, before India can even dream of becoming a influential player in international affairs it must lift over half a billion of its own people out of poverty.

  1. The Caste System

Even though the caste system was officially abolished with the creation of the Indian constitution, it is still prevalent in the minds of millions. Its existence reinforces differences. Much in the same way that ethnic and religious differences impede India’s development as a truly gregarious nation, the caste system also inhibits development. When divisions amongst people constitute a significant part of societal interactions (or there lack of) yet the society itself advocates equality for all, it is possible to see that these contradictions can provide internal backlash if caste consciousness emerges.

  1. Attitude to Foreigners

Another trait that has been a prevalent feature of ‘superpowers’ of yester year is the manner in which they see themselves in relation to others. There is a strong sense of exceptionalism that underpins the ability to rise above, one which usually comes at the expense of other people. The Indian condition seems to be largely different to this. Rather than adopt an exceptionalist identity with regards to foreigners (surrounding nations such as Pakistan and Bangladesh are the exception) they reinforce their superiority internally amongst their own people.

In many respects skin colour is an integral factor within Indian society. That translates into a strange psychological relationship between the fairer Indians who, by no coincidence of history, find themselves in the higher echelons of society, white Europeans, especially Anglo-Saxons and the large mass of darker skinned Indians. In essence, India still holds psychological baggage from its colonial history. It is something that sections of society are unwilling to relinquish due to the associated benefits of power and prestige supplemented by the international bombardment of the ‘white is right’ paradigm. However, to overcome this is a prerequisite in a country where peoples skin colours vary as widely as the colours of India’s magnificent saaris.

In no way are these ten categories impossible problems that condemn India to mediocrity and chaos indefinitely. Each category can (and should) be transformed into a positive attribute of the Indian experience. In fact, should a solid amount of foresight and vision be employed then each of these obstacles will either become a source of strength or goal to be achieved. Yet, for the time being these represent very real challenges that are in serious need of address before they escalate. Furthermore, each is intertwined with the other. No one obstacle will be overcome alone. A holistic approach is the order of the day and I harbour my doubts that the Indian ruling elite is currently prepared to meet the requirements of its people and thus ensure the prosperity of India’s future.