Articles in English

The prospects for justice for crimes against humanity and war crimes are more daunting today than at any time in the past two decades. The underlying political landscape is less favorable for accountability as compared with the 1990s, when the first international tribunals were established following the end of the Cold War and the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) Rome Statute — the cornerstone of the international justice system — was completed in 1998. At the same time, there are important new opportunities to pursue justice through both national and international efforts.

One feature of the negative change is the ever-clearer division among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.…  Seguir leyendo »

A recent AP article (carried by The Washington Post) grabbed widespread attention with the charge that the “World Health Organization [WHO] routinely spends about $200 million a year on travel — far more than what it doles out to fight … AIDS, tuberculosis [TB] or malaria.” At face value, this is an alarming statistic. As the AP points out, the United Nations health agency is perpetually “cash-strapped” and “pleads for more money.” And it feeds into more general condemnation of international bureaucratic practices — President Trump, for example, calls the United Nations “a waste of time and money”.

Criticisms such as this are facile.…  Seguir leyendo »

The elevation of Mohammed bin Salman to crown prince of Saudi Arabia is a calculated risk with potentially enormous consequences for the kingdom. If he succeeds with his vision to transform the Saudi economy by 2030 and reduce the country’s reliance on oil revenue, the crown prince — widely known as MBS — could enjoy a reign that lasts for decades, given that he only turns 32 in August and could take Saudi Arabia well into midcentury.

Were this to happen, the future King Mohammed would go down as the ruler who renewed his kingdom and regarded as the 21st-century equivalent of his grandfather, Abdulaziz, whom he so closely resembles physically.…  Seguir leyendo »

On June 26, Mongolians will elect a president from among three candidates: Enkhbold Miyegombo, leader of the governing Mongolian People’s Party (MPP); Battulga Khaltmaa, a former member of parliament from the main opposition Democratic Party (DP); and Ganbaatar Sainkhuu, a last-minute candidate of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party (MPRP). Having served two terms, current President Elbegdorj Tsakhia of the DP is ineligible.

To win outright, a candidate needs an absolute majority of the votes; otherwise, a second round of voting will be held between the top two candidates.

Mongolia lacks what political scientists identify as prerequisites for a liberal democracy. Nevertheless, since a peaceful transition in 1990 from communism, democracy has proved remarkably robust, earning Mongolia praise.…  Seguir leyendo »

The rise of northern Nigerian Islamic extremist group Boko Haram has garnered a great deal of attention from American policymakers in recent years. That interest compounded after the 2014 kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls in Chibok, an event that galvanized grass-roots anger and demands for an international response around the globe. As attention to the crisis grew, however, misunderstandings about the group’s origins, motives and connections (or lack thereof) to international Islamist extremist organizations have abounded.

Several new books provide important correctives to the many misperceptions about Boko Haram. In the next two installments of our African politics summer reading series, we’ll examine three of these books to try to develop a better understanding of the movement, its supporters and critics, and how ordinary northerners see themselves as Muslims and Nigerian citizens.…  Seguir leyendo »

I arrived in Canada from Syria 10 years ago as an international student, and like every young dreamer, I was excited about my goals: perfect my English, land a starter job, move up quickly and find the love of my life — all in this land where I didn’t know a soul.

I kept my focus razor sharp on the future and didn’t dwell on the cushy life I had left behind in Syria. By 23, I had held a high-paying managerial position at Syriatel, one of Syria’s largest tech companies, and was living it up with lifelong friends in the scenic seaside town of Latakia.…  Seguir leyendo »

China watchers and other commentators debate China’s resolve and capability to fill the political vacuum left by the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris climate accord this month. Why would China be eager to take leadership on climate change? To understand this transition requires looking more closely at the interests and motivations of the Chinese leadership in the rapid growth and development of Chinese renewables.

Unlike political leaders in Europe or former U.S. president Barack Obama, who link moral duty with climate action, China’s leadership is not looking to support collective goals of reducing greenhouse gases. Rather, China will redefine global climate leadership to pursue the government’s immediate goals of national economic development, control of energy infrastructure and global economic competitiveness of Chinese industry.…  Seguir leyendo »

Voters under 25 flocked to the polls in the British general election which humiliated Theresa May and saw the Conservative party lose its majority in the House of Commons. An election called by the prime minister allegedly to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations produced exactly the contrary result. How the Brexit negotiations start and what form they might take is anybody’s guess. What is not in doubt is that what appeared to be the cast iron rule of the past generation, that old people turn out on polling day and young people do not, seems to have been overturned. The impact of younger voters finding their voice deserves to be measured.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) is a Central Asian security bloc led by China and Russia that is often described as a future Eastern counterweight to NATO. It held its annual summit last week in Kazakhstan, and the most significant outcome was the announcement that India and Pakistan became its first new members since being formed in 2001. The evolution of the SCO looks set to continue, with Iranian membership gaining momentum and Turkey’s an increasing possibility.

If this initial expansion of the SCO into the Middle East happens, it is likely to spark interest among Arab states to apply as well.…  Seguir leyendo »

Amid the backdrop of a fight against the Islamic State, the Kurdistan region of Iraq plans to hold an important vote to determine its direction on statehood. Earlier this month, Kurdistan Regional Government President Masoud Barzani announced that a long-awaited referendum on independence would be held Sept. 25, 2017. Importantly, the vote will not only take place within the borders of the Kurdistan region, but also within disputed territories that are now under de facto Kurdish control since their liberation from the Islamic State.

Barzani has called for a referendum many times before, but this time an official date has been set and the vote will probably take place.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last Friday was the first anniversary of the assassination of Jo Cox, the British member of Parliament who was killed by Thomas Mair, now serving life in prison for her murder. “This is for Britain,” he shouted as he stabbed and shot to death Ms. Cox, a 41-year-old Labour Party politician and mother of two, a week before the Brexit referendum. As shocking as this attack was, it did not come without precedent. In recent years, there have been noticeable upticks in far-right violence, even if its frequency and deadliness have often been overshadowed by the more high-profile attacks claimed by the Islamic State.…  Seguir leyendo »

The long spasm that seized and radically transformed the French political system has now ended. On the left, the Socialist Party and the Europe Ecologie Les Verts, or E.E.L.V, party lie in ruins. On the right, internal splits have weakened Les Républicains. Having won only a few seats in the National Assembly, both the far-right party of Marine Le Pen and the far-left party of Jean-Luc Mélenchon — the latter intermittently allied with a Communist Party that is itself much reduced — constitute an adaptable extra-parliamentary force more than a meaningful parliamentary opposition.

The left and the right might eventually be reborn.…  Seguir leyendo »

Following the recent terrorist attack in London that left seven dead and several wounded and in light of the previous two attacks on Westminster Bridge and in Manchester, British Prime Minister Theresa May has promised to allow for more extensive law enforcement measures in fighting extremism. The Prime Minister stated that if human rights laws would prevent the government from pursuing their agenda against extremism, the government would “change the laws so we can do it”. UK intelligence services already possess a variety of intrusive powers to manage the threat that is perceived as especially challenging in Great Britain today, namely identifying, monitoring and countering ‘homegrown’ extremists and their supporters.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last year’s Brexit vote, the election of Donald Trump and electoral gains by right-wing populist parties in countries as diverse as Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark seem to demonstrate that right-wing populist sentiment is on the rise in affluent democracies. But in Europe, at least, that’s simply not the case.

In fact, the attitudes fueling right-wing populism have been remarkably stable since at least 2002. Political entrepreneurs may be getting better at exploiting those attitudes. But the “wave” of populist sentiment is really more like a reservoir — and its political potential is still largely submerged.

According to The Washington Post’s Adam Taylor, “the global wave of populism … turned 2016 upside down.” And while some have interpreted recent setbacks in France and elsewhere as “a rebuttal of claims that a right-wing populist wave is sweeping through Europe,” political scientist Pippa Norris countered here at the Monkey Cage that “the wave of populist nationalism” is “hardly finished.” Time added that “the wave to come … may well spill over into the rest of the world.”

Even when they disagree about the direction of this political wave, observers are in impressive agreement about the forces propelling it.…  Seguir leyendo »

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the self-described Islamic State, might have been killed. Again.

In announcing last week the airstrike that may have felled the Islamic State’s leader, Russia wisely hedged its bets. If Mr. Baghdadi’s death is confirmed, though, this would be a positive development. The resulting leadership vacuum, and the scramble to fill it, would no doubt hasten the coming disintegration of the Islamic State. In truth, however, the handwriting was on the wall long before last week’s announcement.

From its inception, the Islamic State’s real power resided not in religious extremists like Mr. Baghdadi but in a corps of former Saddam Hussein loyalists behind the scenes who had linked up with convicted jihadists when they were together in American-run prisons in the mid-2000s.…  Seguir leyendo »