Against the backdrop of the Middle East’s ongoing upheaval, especially the violence in neighboring Syria, Turkey’s once-vaunted “zero problems” foreign policy strategy now looks severely outdated. Though Turkey will continue to seek a balanced, multivector foreign policy, the liabilities of its strategy, as illustrated in Syria, have laid bare Ankara’s continued Western moorings. The unrest in Syrian began as an extension of the Arab Spring protests earlier this year, but grew into a full-scale uprising after government security forces unleashed bloody crackdowns that have caused more than 1,400 deaths to date. Thousands of refugees have since streamed across the Turkish […]

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — A U.N.-backed court in Cambodia has begun its initial hearings into war crimes allegations with mixed success and predictions of a long and bumpy road ahead for a tribunal described by legal experts as more complex than the Nuremberg trials held immediately after World War II. Its importance was underscored by the United States ambassador at large for war crime issues, Stephen Rapp, who called the Khmer Rouge tribunal “the most important trial in the world.” Rapp, in Phnom Penh for the start of the proceedings, drew parallels between the Khmer Rouge tribunal and the trials […]

Global Insider: China-Sri Lanka Relations

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse recently met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on the sidelines of an economic summit in St. Petersburg, Russia, where the two leaders pledged closer cooperation. In an email interview, Swaran Singh, a professor and chairman of the Center for International Politics, Organization and Disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, discussed China-Sri Lanka relations. WPR: What is the recent history of China-Sri Lanka relations, and what is driving the relationship? Swaran Singh: China has been a major source of economic, military and technical assistance for Sri Lanka, which in turn supports China on its […]

Khmer Rouge Trial Important Catharsis for Cambodia

The start of a U.N.-backed war crimes trial for the four surviving leaders of the Khmer Rouge may finally set the stage for Cambodia to bring real closure to the graphic horrors it suffered during the latter half of the 20th century. “The trial is highly important in terms of Cambodian culture,” says Luke Hunt, a World Politics Review contributor and freelance journalist who has covered Cambodia and greater Asia for the past three decades. “I’ve spoken to many Khmers who believe in the total cathartic experience of seeing their tormentors put in the dock and their personalities laid bare […]

Despite all the favorable rhetoric regarding the responsibility to protect, governments continue to hesitate to embrace wholeheartedly the doctrine whereby, in the event a state is unable or unwilling to prevent its citizens from dying in large numbers, other states must be prepared to intervene. Governments from around the world endorsed this concept in the abstract at the September 2005 World Summit, but have been reluctant to apply it in reality. Indeed, Paragraph 139 of the World Summit Outcome document hedges, noting that application of the principle will be undertaken “on a case-by-case basis.” Some experts, however, have argued that […]

The debate over humanitarian intervention has a way of calling forth unconditional answers to a question that ought to elicit subtle reflection: What responsibilities do citizens of some or all states have to those of another state who are suffering grave harm? Realists argue that, however tragic, such situations seldom if ever touch on the fundamental interests of other powers, and thus no response is justified. Anti-imperialists maintain that most of the outside powers that have the ability to intervene cannot do so justly or disinterestedly, for reasons of history and current political economy. Purists claim that interventions are not […]

Proponents of the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine contend that it is necessary to reform the post-1945 United Nations noninterventionist regime in order to come to grips with armed conflicts that take place entirely inside independent countries but that produce grave human rights violations. As it stands, the U.N. regime is fundamentally restrictive, resting on a doctrine of nonintervention as set out in Article 2 of the U.N. Charter. Armed force can lawfully be employed only for two basic purposes: national defense and international peace and security. Those two elements of the U.N. justification of lawfully going to war, known […]

U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 (.pdf) resulted in prompt international action that delivered Libyans from the murderous violence Moammar Gadhafi had already inflicted on civilians early in March, as well as from violence he continued to threaten against what he called, in an eerie echo of Rwanda’s murderous regime in 1994, the “cockroaches” who opposed him. Earlier, the council’s Resolution 1970 (.pdf) had unanimously approved an arms embargo, asset freeze, travel ban and reference to the International Criminal Court. In addition, the U.N. Human Rights Council unequivocally condemned Libya, which led to the General Assembly’s unprecedented decision to suspend Libyan […]

When do humanitarian crises resulting from internal conflicts merit international military intervention? Despite the formal international consensus endorsing an international “responsibility to protect,” there is very little agreement on when armed intervention in another state’s internal conflicts is justified and appropriate. Even among Western nations, where support for this concept is strongest, there is no general agreement as to what ought to trigger international intervention. The ongoing U.S. and NATO military intervention against the Libyan government has become the first test case for the responsibility to protect (R2P) doctrine since U.N. member states approved it in 2005. However, the manner […]

Global Insider: Australia’s Asylum Policy

Last month, the Australian government announced that it would pursue a deal with Malaysia to resettle some Australian-bound asylum seekers. In an email interview, Matthew J. Gibney, an expert in asylum policies at Oxford University, discussed Australia’s “Malaysian Solution.” WPR: How would the Australian government’s “Malaysian Solution” operate? Matthew J. Gibney: The “Malaysian Solution” is a deal, initially outlined on May 7, but yet to be finalized, between Australia and Malaysia, under which up to 800 asylum seekers who land in Australian territories would be transferred to Malaysia. In Malaysia, the asylum seekers would be processed for refugee status by […]

Recent polls indicate that a majority of Americans and Europeans don’t want NATO to widen its war against embattled Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. So long as the West’s low-and-slow approach to regime change continues to weaken the dictator, there is good reason to stick with President Barack Obama’s strategy of limited intervention. Yet as international cameras focus in on Libya, a prospective tipping point for the future of the Middle East becomes all the more visible in Syria, despite that country’s ban on international journalists. And although Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has taken an admirably tough line regarding the […]

International Response Lacking as Syria Refugee Crisis Mounts

As tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have crossed into Turkey in recent days, and thousands more have set up camp along the border, questions are mounting over how Turkey and the greater international community should respond. Debate is particularly fervent within the Turkish media, where some reports indicate that Ankara has begun to entertain the possibility of deploying its own military to create a “buffer zone” for refugees within Syrian territory, on the southern side of the Syria-Turkey border. The report was met with skepticism from Henri Barkey, a visiting scholar in the Middle East Program at the Carnegie […]

Kyrgyzstan’s Ethnic Wounds Still Close to the Surface

This week marks the first anniversary of the seemingly spontaneous ethnic violence that drew the world’s attention to Kyrgyzstan for several weeks last June and ultimately left more than 400 dead. But while Western attention has long since waned, the antipathy between the country’s Kyrgyz majority and its Uzbek minority has not. A year after the fighting between them first broke out in the city of Osh, Kyrgyzstan is nowhere near achieving reconciliation between the two groups; rather, it is in the eye of the storm. Although last year’s violence reached its greatest intensity in the southern cities of Osh […]

Chinese Police Arrest 90-Plus in Inner Mongolia

Nearly 100 people in Inner Mongolia have been arrested after the recent demonstration sparked by the death of a Mongol herder. Chinese authorities last week blamed the unrest on unnamed “foreign sources”, and the region remains under heavy police presence.

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