If the past century’s dominant image of Ethiopia was that of an impoverished, war-torn state, epitomized by the horrendous 1984-1985 famine in Tigray and Wollo provinces, the early 21st-century picture of the country is surely exemplified by the construction of the biggest infrastructure project anywhere in Africa: Mere miles from Ethiopia’s border with Sudan, nearly 8,000 workers and engineers are laboring seven days a week, 24 hours a day as part of a round-the-clock construction schedule to erect the nearly 560-foot-tall Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). Africa’s second-most populous nation is betting that the multibillion-dollar GERD will dramatically modernize Ethiopia’s […]

For decades Japan has patiently fostered maturity and order in its relationships with its neighbors, expecting that time and deepening interdependence would yield behavior constrained by a set of mutually agreed rules—in short, that Japan and its neighbors would be waltzing in a formal ballroom setting. The past couple of years have been, instead, a slam dance of intentional collisions and growing frustration. Can the partners resume their orderly maneuvering, or will flying knees and elbows lead to a fight on the dance floor of East Asia? To perhaps push the metaphor too far, it will depend in large part […]

Nowhere else in Asia has the region’s ongoing tectonic realignment been more evident than in the China-Japan-South Korea triangle. The People’s Republic of China is emerging as a new center of geopolitical gravity within the region; South Korea is rising as an influential middle power; and Japan is experiencing relative decline. The three sets of bilateral relationships, the undisputed pillars of prosperity and stability in the region, are branching in different directions. Within this triangle, China’s strategic approach to both Japan and South Korea is driven by intrinsic factors, the most significant of which are historical grievances, economic interdependence and […]

On May 9, 2014, Guillermo Solis became Costa Rica’s 47th president. His ascension to the office marked the end to one of the country’s most unusual election cycles in recent memory. Solis succeeds Laura Chinchilla, who departed office with the lowest presidential approval rating in the hemisphere, at one point as low as 9 percent. During Chinchilla’s four years in office (2010-2014), her administration was dogged by corruption scandals, tensions with Nicaragua and a growing deficit. How Solis will manage Costa Rica’s mounting difficulties remains to be seen, but one thing is clear: Costa Ricans are ready for change. Chinchilla, […]

The past few years have seen a remarkable recovery of Russia’s international influence and ambitions. Rejecting an implicit offer of partnership with the West, albeit with junior status for Moscow outside its Eurasian region, the Russian government under President Vladimir Putin continues to pursue a separate agenda aimed at making Russia an important and independent pillar of the global order. Moscow may not yet aspire to become a global superpower and peer rival of the United States again, but its goals and some of its capabilities still exceed those of Britain, France, Germany, Japan and other typical regional powers. Not […]

Last month, amid nonstop coverage of the Ukrainian crisis and an onslaught of domestic U.S. issues, the New York Times published an editorial urging the U.S. Congress to pass legislation to comply with international obligations on illegal fishing. Why did the editorial board think this issue warranted ink? Part of the answer is that the illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) trade in fish is no longer just a conservation and biodiversity challenge. Environmental crimes across the board today have significant consequences for countries’ development aspirations, in addition to global security implications. In this light, governments around the world need to […]

Last month, police in Peru destroyed $20 million worth of mining equipment as part of a wider crackdown on illegal mining in the country. In an email interview, Miguel Santillana, an expert on the mining industry at Instituto del Peru, discussed the Peruvian government’s response to illegal mining. WPR: What is the relative importance of the mining sector in Peru’s economy, and what has been the scale of damage to the sector caused by illegal mining? Miguel Santillana: The extractive industry accounted for 11 percent of Peru’s GDP in 2011, up from 5 percent in 2006, according to the IMF, […]