Tension is rapidly accelerating in Antarctic affairs on a range of issues, all of them relating to sovereignty and resources. The tensions include disputes over proposals for new marine protected areas in the Southern Ocean; renewed friction between the U.K. and Argentina over their overlapping claims in Antarctica; significant numbers of countries expressing an interest in exploring Antarctic minerals, despite a ban on mineral extraction; increasing numbers of states trying to expand their Antarctic presence, signaling both heightened interests and insecurities over Antarctica’s current governance structure; and escalating conflict between anti-whaling groups and the Japanese government over whaling in the […]

On March 5, 2013, the pro-Western government coalition in Moldova collapsed, compounding the significant difficulties already facing the settlement of the conflict over the separatist region of Transnistria, one of the so-called frozen conflicts dating back to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Moldova’s current political crisis further diminishes the opportunities to revive the positive momentum that clearly existed after fall 2011, when official talks between the conflicting parties resumed through a multilateral settlement process. This momentum had been triggered by the so-called Meseberg memorandum (.pdf) of June 2010, in which Germany’s Angela Merkel and Russia’s Dmitri Medvedev pledged in […]

The month-long crisis in Sabah, which has seen an incursion of rebel fighters from the Philippine island of Sulu into Malaysia’s northern-most state on the island of Borneo, is a stark reminder that Southeast Asia remains engulfed in unresolved territorial disputes and conflicts. Malaysia has been deeply involved in several of these conflicts as both a stakeholder and a mediator. The Sabah crisis now presents Malaysia with a thorny domestic security challenge that also has implications for its regional role. As a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Malaysia has so far subscribed actively to the ASEAN […]

Southeast Asia’s largest state and the de facto leader of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Indonesia has long served as a linchpin of regional order. More recently, Jakarta’s status has risen even higher as concern over China leads countries such as the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia to strengthen ties with Indonesia. Yet China’s attempts to stake its own claims to regional leadership pose a direct challenge to Indonesia, while China’s development of a blue-water navy and its claims to virtually the entire South China Sea directly threaten Indonesian interests. As a result, Indonesia has found it […]

In late-February, Interpol concluded its first-ever international operation against illegal logging, a three-month operation in Central and South America that resulted in the arrest of almost 200 people and the seizure of some $8 million worth of timber. Duncan Brack, an expert on illegal logging at Chatham House, explained the scope of the problem and efforts to curb it in an email interview. WPR: What is the extent of the problem of illegal logging in terms of problem regions and financial costs? Duncan Brack: Illegal logging and the international trade in illegally logged timber are major problems for many timber-producing […]