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  • Author: Soren Scholvin
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Geopolitical research is frequently portrayed as a dead end. To some scholars it appears that in the 21st century geography is largely scenery, all but irrelevant to the most important issues of grand strategy. This working paper aims to revitalise geopolitics, reflecting both on the critique of the subject and the strengths that have characterised it for more than a century. It is argued that geographical conditions constitute a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. General patterns and long-term processes can be aptly explained by this structure but geopolitics is not a theory of state behaviour or foreign policy. Understanding specific phenomena that occur in international relations therefore requires taking into consideration non-geographical factors. Such a combination of geographical and non-geographical factors provides sound explanations, as several examples demonstrate: China’s projection of power into the Indian Ocean, South Africa’s approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe in 2008, Iran’s maritime strategy and the poor integration of Colombia and South America. Given that geopolitics is about analysing international relations (or politics) for its geographical content, all those committed to geopolitics should concentrate on the three guiding questions: Do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome? If yes, do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome significantly? If yes, how, meaning in combination with which other factors do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome?
  • Author: Soren Scholvin
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Finnish Institute of International Affairs
  • Abstract: Geopolitical research is frequently portrayed as a dead end. To some scholars it appears that in the 21st century geography is largely scenery, all but irrelevant to the most important issues of grand strategy. This working paper aims to revitalise geopolitics, reflecting both on the critique of the subject and the strengths that have characterised it for more than a century. It is argued that geographical conditions constitute a set of opportunities and constraints, a structure that is independent of agency. General patterns and long-term processes can be aptly explained by this structure but geopolitics is not a theory of state behaviour or foreign policy. Understanding specific phenomena that occur in international relations therefore requires taking into consideration non-geographical factors. Such a combination of geographical and non-geographical factors provides sound explanations, as several examples demonstrate: China’s projection of power into the Indian Ocean, South Africa’s approach to the political crisis in Zimbabwe in 2008, Iran’s maritime strategy and the poor integration of Colombia and South America. Given that geopolitics is about analysing international relations (or politics) for its geographical content, all those committed to geopolitics should concentrate on the three guiding questions: Do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome? If yes, do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome significantly? If yes, how, meaning in combination with which other factors do geographical conditions influence the observed outcome?
  • Topic: Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: China, Iran, South Africa, Colombia, South America, Zimbabwe
  • Author: Guillaume Van der Loo
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Abstract: In an advisory referendum held in the Netherlands on April 6th, over 61% of the voters rejected the ratification of the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Ukraine. If the Dutch government were to act on the outcome of the referendum, which had a low turnout of 32%, an unprecedented situation would emerge in which an EU international agreement cannot enter into force because a member state is not in a position to ratify it. Although the political character of this referendum and the Dutch Advisory Referendum Act (DRA) and the geopolitical implications of the AA itself have already been the subject of heated discussions in the Netherlands and beyond, the legal implications of this referendum remain unclear.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Geopolitics
  • Political Geography: Ukraine, Netherlands, European Union
  • Author: Saori N. Katada
  • Publication Date: 05-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: In 2015, two mega-initiatives took shape that will affect economic relations in the Asia-Pacific region: the US-promoted Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Although they address different needs, both are expected to have profound effects on Asia's economic governance in the near future, and will shape economic norms in the Asia Pacific and beyond. Japan has joined the TPP but stayed out of the AIIB, decisions that might seem counterintuitive considering its history of resisting trade liberalization and of promoting infrastructure investment. Is Japan simply favoring its US ally over rival China? Or is it that Japan's position on the TPP and AIIB aligns with its own economic priorities, and enhances its geo-economic advantage? With a US-China competition over economic ideas and regional strategies, Japan occupies a unique position that may allow it to influence the direction of Asia-Pacific economic governance, which is now being battled out by the two "titans."
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Political Economy, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Christoph Sperfeldt, Melanie Hyde, Mychelle Balthazard
  • Publication Date: 02-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Using outreach-friendly television broadcasting of the Khmer Rouge (KR) trials in Cambodia in conjunction with community-based dialogue meetings, the Voices for Reconciliation: Promoting Nationwide Dialogue on the Khmer Rouge Past through the Mass Media and Community-Level Survivor Networks project aimed to 1) increase community awareness and understanding of the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) trials, 2) empower conflict-affected groups to create spaces for dialogue at the community level, and 3) build the necessary capacities among those groups and civil society intermediaries to create environments favorable for longer-term reconciliatory processes beyond the ECCC. The project engaged with the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association's Civil Party Representative Scheme, which supports a network of Civil Parties (CPs) and Civil Party Representatives (CPRs) who are party to the ECCC proceedings. To achieve the objectives, the project had a three-prong strategy: 1) the production and broadcasting of television programs and media outreach to the general population, 2) the organization of community-based dialogue meetings using outreach films to inform Cambodians in rural areas about the ECCC and its developments, and 3) capacity building to civil society groups and 46 CPRs who were directly involved with the project. This report was produced as part of an evaluation of the project in Cambodia, and involved an assessment of the project outcomes in relation to the participation of the CPs and CPRs in the project and lessons learned from the project implementation. The results are based on interviews with a non-random sample of 101 CPs and 38 out of 46 CPRs who participated in the project. To complement the survey, four focus group discussions including a total of 18 women and 14 men, were conducted in four different provinces. The interviews and the focus group discussions took place during the first two weeks of July 2015 at the end of the project. The results represent the points of view of study participants at the time of the survey and focus groups discussions only. This project was supported by USAID and implemented by the East-West Center and WSD Handa Center for Human Rights & International Justice, Stanford University.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil Society, Human Rights, History, Mass Media
  • Political Geography: Cambodia
  • Author: Saul P. Limaye, Tsutomu Kikuchi
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Until recently, Southeast Asia had not been a region of sustained focus for the US-Japan relationship. But the situation is changing. The international relations of the Asia-Pacific is becoming more "multipolarized." This requires the US and Japan to think about the future of the region beyond the issue of US-China relations, which has preoccupied past discussions. A number of nations and institutions in the Asia-Pacific region will substantially affect the region's future. Southeast Asian nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are among them. A new era of more coordinated, sustained, and combined commercial and security involvement by the US and Japan in Southeast Asia may be at hand. In light of these changes, the East-West Center in Washington (EWCW), in collaboration with the Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and through the support of the Sasakawa Peace Foundation (SPF), initiated a dialogue with Southeast Asians about their perspectives on how the US-Japan relationship and alliance could or should approach cooperation with the region.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Markets, Peacekeeping
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Richard Wallsgrove, Zena Grecni
  • Publication Date: 01-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: Freshwater resource managers in American Sāmoa are facing climate change issues. A projected increase in frequency and intensity of extreme rainfall events, rising sea level, and rising air temperature are among these climate-related dynamics. This confirms the need for effective climate change adaptation strategies, particularly with respect to protecting water quality. The existing law, policy, and management framework for American Sāmoa's freshwater resources is somewhat fractured, consisting of overlaid US federal environmental laws and regulations, territorial laws and policies, utility management of groundwater, and village-based management of surface water. This framework presents both challenges and opportunities, but foundational adaptive needs--such as resource monitoring, awareness, and continuing climate research--are pressing. This work identifies nine opportunities to enhance adaptive capacity within American Sāmoa's existing law and policy framework.
  • Topic: Climate Change, Environment, Natural Resources, Water
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Elif Özmenek Çarmikli, Mehmet Onur Kader
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: The pace at which Turkey will take these steps is up for debate. Turkey has become one of the international centers for migrant smuggling starting with the Arab Spring and deepening with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War. Although migrant smuggling existed in Turkey before 2011, with the Syrian Crisis, it evolved into an ad hoc and flexible structure that could keep up with sudden shifts promote serious competition. Combating migrant smuggling, which can integrate into local and social structures while also working within an international modus operandi, has become more and more difficult as it grows into an increasingly multidimensional struggle. Migrant Smuggling in Turkey: The “Other” Side of the Refugee Crisis focuses on these issues by taking into account the JAP’s sensibility towards the prevention of migrant smuggling. The primary prediction of the report is that there will be important changes regarding the way the migrant smuggling sector will work in Turkey following the JAP. Moreover, it can be said that two main changes are predicted to occur; one with regard to the migration routes and the second to the organization of the sector. Regarding the routes, the report forsees that the Black Sea Route will be more popular and major changes will occur in the Mediterranean Sea Route. Because the JAP will see the return of migrants from Greece to Turkey, migrant smugglers will most likely produce a new strategy based on alternative routes. Migrant smugglers are expected to use Italy route not only from Turkey, but also from Albania, Montenegro, and Greece. A second trend that may come to greater prominence could be seen in changes in the way migrant smuggling networks organize across borders. It is highly likely that major networks which conduct business at the international level will become stronger in Turkey and beyond.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Civil War, Refugee Issues, Arab Countries, Refugee Crisis
  • Political Geography: Turkey, Syria
  • Author: Fatma Yilmaz-Elmas, Mustafa Kutlay, Hamdi Furat Buyuk, Öznur Gümüs
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Strategic Research Organization (USAK)
  • Abstract: What is the current course of the refugee crisis? What has the EU done so far as a response to the crisis? Is it possible to mention a balanced and comprehensive policy response in compliance with international norms and responsibilities? Are the EU-Turkey migration cooperation policies on the right track? This policy brief answers these and further questions in depth. It handles main results and policy outputs both for the EU and Turkey. We argue that the current mode of cooperation is highly fragile and is likely to fail in case substantial revisions are not taken into consideration. It reveals consideration the sensitive nature of the situation and highlights the parties need to adopt a joint response that takes on the priorities and capacities of both sides.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Diplomacy, Refugee Issues, European Union
  • Political Geography: Turkey
  • Author: Dieter Ernst
  • Publication Date: 03-2016
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: This paper explores what we know about possible employment effects of the 10-year plan, issued by the State Council on May 19, 2015, entitled Made in China 2025. MIC2025 was designed to address China’s emerging labor shortage challenge. To achieve this goal, the plan seeks to boost labor productivity through an increased use of robots and through network-based upgrading of the entire industrial value chain and related services. How might the projected increase in labor productivity affect the creation and quality of jobs in China? Will China’s push into advanced manufacturing now move the country’s manufacturing employment closer to the pattern of “employment de-industrialization” observed in the US and other industrialized countries? How China will cope with the advanced manufacturing challenge for employment will have major implications not only for the US and other industrialized countries, but also for emerging economies and, most importantly for the majority of developing countries that are still struggling as latecomers to labor-intensive industrial manufacturing. The paper lays out objectives of the MIC 2025 plan and highlights a failure of Chinese policy makers to take into account employment effects and other labor market issues when they design their grand visions of industrial policy. The paper finds that until 2014, manufacturing has acted as an employment absorber in China. However new data on unemployment, labor force participation and income inequality signal that China may now be moving towards an “employment de-industrialization” pattern, unless enough knowledge-intensive service jobs will be created in China’s growing information economy. The paper concludes with implications for policy and further research.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, Markets, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: China