The common goal of all authoritarian regimes is to preserve their grip on power, but how they do so varies across a spectrum of repression and control, with major implications for their ability to maintain stability in times of transition. Charles Armstrong examines how the Kim family consolidated a hereditary brand of authoritarianism in North Korea, and what the current transition under Kim Jong Un portends for the regime’s future prospects. Manochehr Dorraj explains how the tensions between the republican and Islamic components of Iran’s regime leave it vulnerable to moments of spontaneous popular participation. And Terrence Lyons looks at the nature of Ethiopia’s party-based authoritarianism and the balancing act required to maintain it.
The recent emphasis on the use of big data for everything from commercial practices to national security has obscured the fact that, in many areas, accurate data is often lacking. This is particularly the case in less-developed parts of the world, with significant implications for the design and implementation of effective aid and development policy. Claire Melamed argues that, in crafting new global development goals, the development community must make improving data a central component. Jack Goldstone examines the mixed bag of global demographic data, and its implications. And Morten Jerven explains why African GDP statistics are often poor reflections of economic realities, and why that matters.
Recent events in China, Russia and Turkey have put the spotlight on each country’s rule of law, and particularly their judicial systems. Whether due to historical factors, political expediency or corruption, the consolidation of an independent and impartial judiciary has faced significant obstacles, with domestic and international implications. Jerome Cohen examines the new Chinese leadership’s efforts to increase the independence and legitimacy of the judicial process, and the obstacles they face. Matthew Rojansky and William Pomerantz assess Russia’s emerging “judicial vertical” and the threat it represents for rule of law there. And Michael Koplow explains why the current fight for Turkey’s judiciary is a feature of the country’s judicial system, not a bug.
The number of wars and the deaths they cause have been steadily decreasing since the post-World War II period. But changes in both the nature of conflict and the degree to which it is broadcast to a global public have underscored the need for effective peacemaking, while also changing our approaches to achieving a stable peace. Richard Gowan looks at the U.N.’s shift toward aggressive and riskier peacemaking missions. Emma Leslie explains why involving more actors in the peace process is essential—and how it works. And Stefan Wolff examines the methods for preventing the lack of trust that makes a peace agreement necessary from undermining the deal once it has been negotiated.
The plight of refugees fleeing persecution, conflicts or humanitarian disasters often captures the attention of global audiences and policymakers. Often less noticed, however, are the obstacles refugees encounter in embarking on—or trying to avoid—the journey back home. Michael Kagan explains why the norm of nonrefoulement protecting refugees from being returned to persecution is the most effective, but also the most incomplete human rights protection. Megan Bradley examines the challenges of repatriation, which to be successful must be seen as a process more than an outcome. And Laura Hammond looks at the particular obstacles faced by long-term Somali refugees in Kenya, for whom repatriation is a return in name only.
Over the past decade, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as concerns over global terrorism made the U.S. military at times seem like the first option in U.S. foreign policy. Now, with Americans increasingly wary of military approaches to global challenges, America’s civilian power is once again in the spotlight. Heather Hurlburt explains why modernizing American diplomacy to keep up with 21st-century developments might leave the State Department behind. John Norris looks at how the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq returned USAID to relevance, with important implications for the agency’s future. And James Lindsay examines the role of the U.S. Congress in advancing, or hamstringing, presidential diplomacy.
Whether about hunger strikes at Gitmo, revelations of NSA surveillance or blowback from drone strikes, recent news headlines have testified to the persistent fallout and legacy of the initial U.S. reaction to the attacks of 9/11. Despite the Obama administration’s expressed desire to disengage the battlefield, winding down the war on terror has proved more difficult than expected. Jonathan Hafetz explains why the ultimate danger of the failure to close Gitmo is that we might just get used to it. Loch Johnson examines the security versus surveillance dilemma and what to do about the current imbalance. And Charli Carpenter argues that a new paradigm for the fight against terror is essential not only for U.S. credibility, but also for the legitimate use of military force moving forward.
The recent political impasse in Washington, combined with fiscal constraints and a reduced public appetite for shouldering international security burdens, has raised serious questions about America’s willingness to continue playing the role of global hegemon. But what are the potential consequences of the world’s only superpower choosing retrenchment? Nikolas Gvosdev looks at the strategic gamble behind American retrenchment and the diplomatic stakes. Steven Metz examines the global security landscape and how American military retrenchment will affect it. And Daniel McDowell explains the benefits of the U.S. dollar’s global dominance and the costs of mismanaging it.
The nation-building efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the more recent upheaval of the Arab Spring, have underscored the importance of constitutional design in transitional and post-conflict states. But just how to define the rules of the game to ensure political stability remains the subject of debate. Robert Elgie looks at the benefits and disadvantages of presidential and parliamentary systems for transitional states. Benjamin Reilly argues that the international community’s emphasis on consociational approaches to ethnically divided countries has resulted in a new generation of weak and unstable democracies. And Clark Lombardi explains what’s at stake in the constitutional debates between liberals and conservative Islamists in the aftermath of the Arab Spring.
After a decade of rapid economic growth, the world's leading developing countries still face the challenge of introducing social protections to their vulnerable populations. In China, the income gap between rural and urban households is the principal driver of social welfare policy, with potentially far-reaching political implications. Brazil’s efforts to extend the reach of its social safety net to poor and excluded populations have resulted in a dual social protection system, combining social insurance and social assistance. And India has increasingly turned to targeted assistance in its efforts to build a welfare state.