President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and National Security Adviser Susan Rice during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Nuclear Security Summit, Washington, March 31, 2016 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

On March 30, President Barack Obama hosted the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit, where global leaders convene in an effort to secure nuclear materials and prevent nuclear terrorism. Along with Obama’s vision articulated in a 2009 speech in Prague of a world without nuclear weapons, the summits provide an important marker for assessing Obama’s record on reducing the security risks posed by nuclear weapons and material. The following articles are free to nonsubscribers until April 14. A Mixed Record on Nonproliferation Why Obama’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Commitments Fell ShortIt appears that with the exception of the Iran nuclear deal, President […]

A masked Somali pirate near a Taiwanese fishing vessel that washed up on shore, Hobyo, Somalia, Sept. 23, 2012 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Last month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) decided to widen its definition of official development assistance to include certain security and defense costs, including measures to prevent violent extremism and provide limited military training. The redefinition of aid expanded the relationship between security and development. Several leading international development players, like Sweden, balk at the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee’s change and view it as the militarization of aid. Helen Clark, the United Nations’ development chief, has suggested that this redefinition could undermine fragile states, since any aid channeled to security and peacekeeping programs would reduce the amount […]

The United Nations Security Council during a meeting on North Korea, New York, March 24, 2016 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Editor’s note: Guest columnist Jim Della-Giacoma is filling in for Richard Gowan, who is on leave until early April. The first time I heard the German word “zwangsoptimist” was in a meeting to discuss ways to improve how the international system functions. Meaning “someone who feels compelled to be an optimist,” the word not only succinctly sums up my work for and alongside the U.N. over the past 27 years, but could also be a one-word job description for the organization’s next secretary-general. Not everyone sees the world, or the U.N., this way. In his recent op-ed in The New […]

Uganda’s longtime president, Yoweri Museveni, in his well-known hat at a rally of supporters, Kampala, Uganda, Feb. 16, 2016 (AP photo by Ben Curtis).

KAMPALA, Uganda — Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, was eerily quiet on Saturday, Feb. 20, the day the Ugandan Electoral Commission announced the results of the presidential election held two days before. Even in Kabalagala, a lively district where people are usually partying at any time of day, the streets were empty. A few dozen young men sat huddled around a TV in a betting parlor, but they weren’t waiting for the election results; instead, a soccer game of the English Premier League flickered on the screen. “We know already who will win the elections,” one of them said. “We are […]

Afghan migrants during an anti-EU rally, Athens, Greece, March 19, 2016 (AP photo by Yorgos Karahalis).

The cynical deal struck between the European Union and Turkey aimed at stemming the flow of refugees into Europe is a sign of desperation. It is flawed on several levels, and is likely to do harm to Europe’s image as a champion of international norms and Western values. Ironically, it will also probably do more harm than good to any hopes Turkey may still harbor for EU membership. But for all its shortcomings, the deal is better than doing nothing, and its effective implementation will help restore Europe’s self-confidence and Turkey’s role as a regional problem-solver. The deal finalized Friday […]

Burning oil jets from a well set ablaze by FARC rebels in rural Puerto Asis, Putumayo, Colombia Aug. 13, 2003 (AP photo by Javier Galeano).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the impact of falling oil and commodities prices on resource-exporting countries. Earlier this month, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced he was cutting the national budget by 3 percent due to falling oil prices. In an email interview, Christian Gómez, an international development professional, discussed the impact of falling commodities prices on Colombia’s economy. WPR: How has the relative significance of oil and commodities exports to Colombia’s economy evolved in the recent past, and what effect have falling commodities prices had on the economy and public spending and […]

Kuwait from above, Dec. 24, 2008 (Flickr photo by lin84 licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0).

In 2016, Kuwait faces a combination of domestic and regional challenges arising from looming uncertainty over succession, the decline in international oil prices and the threat from radical groups such as the so-called Islamic State. Each of those issues has the potential to bring an end to the relative political stability that Kuwait has enjoyed since its most recent legislative election in July 2013. The risk for Kuwait’s ruling officials is that the intervening years of political calm have masked, but not resolved, many of the underlying socio-political and economic triggers of discontent that surfaced in 2011 and 2012 and […]

Tunisian police officers search for attackers still at large, Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, March 8, 2016 (AP photo by Feres Najar).

Clashes erupted in the Tunisian town of Ben Guerdane on Monday when Islamist fighters attacked military and police posts. Scores were killed, including seven civilians, 13 security officers and 46 militants. Many observers have characterized the assault, which occurred just 20 miles from the Libyan border, as the latest example of the Libyan conflict’s dangerous spillover across a porous border. But the attack also reveals that, even as the self-proclaimed Islamic State gains ground in Libya, the most significant threat to Tunisia’s security resides within its borders. That’s because the militants, who claimed to be taking over the town as […]

A refugee child at the northern Greek border station of Idomeni, March 7, 2016 (AP photo by Visar Kryeziu).

The past year has seen the emergence of the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the end of World War II, with almost 1.3 million asylum-seekers arriving in 2015, mostly on boats from Turkey or North Africa. The vast majority have been Syrians fleeing the devastating collapse of their country, though they have been joined by people from Iraq, Afghanistan, Eritrea and a range of other troubled countries. Those seeking protection have arrived in a divided, disorganized and panicked continent. The inadequacy of Europe’s response has jeopardized not only international refugee norms but, in the recent words of French Prime […]

Christian Social Union Party (CSU) party leader and Bavarian Gov. Horst Seehofer and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a meeting of the CSU, Kreuth, Germany, Jan. 6, 2016 (AP photo by Peter Kneffel).

After welcoming more than a million refugees into Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s approval ratings have seen better days. Discontent with her open-door policy has steadily risen, and so has support for right-wing populists. Her push for a European Union-wide solution seems increasingly likely to fail, while the question of her political survival has crept into headlines at home and abroad. The sheer scale of Europe’s escalating refugee crisis, the most serious since World War II, has been the driving external force behind this unsettling reversal of Merkel’s political fortune. But there has also been a strong domestic one: Horst Seehofer, […]

A Libyan in front of damaged buildings, Benghazi, Feb. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Mohammed el-Shaiky).

Last week, U.S. warplanes bombed the Libyan town of Sabratha, targeting militants of the self-declared Islamic State. The move is the most recent illustration of the dilemma presented by Libya’s political and security stalemate, characterized by political infighting and militia violence. The Islamic State’s emergence in the country in early 2015 has given the situation regional implications. The United States is weighing its next steps, amid ongoing questions about its role in the 2011 NATO intervention that some see as the source of today’s chaos. The following articles are free for nonsubscribers until March 17. Stabilizing a Chaotic Libya Libya’s […]