Sixty-three years ago, the United Nations’ labor agency, the International Labor Organization (ILO), adopted its most basic treaty, Convention No. 87 on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, to advance the human rights of workers. The following year, it added Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining. These two conventions, neither of which the United States has ratified, form the bedrock of human rights for workers, and in 2011 the rights they protect are the most abused in the world of labor. Many human rights abuses confront workers today, from slave […]

Religion is widely understood to be a powerful force in domestic and international politics in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Asian subcontinent, sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. It is used by multinational groupings — the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), for instance — to justify international cooperation and by both political figures and terrorists to justify violence. Since the 1990s, religion has become so pervasive in international politics that it is almost impossible to imagine that it has not always attracted the attention that it now commands. In fact, however, the salient role of religion in contemporary international political […]

From revelations about illegal arms sales to leaks to the media about military misconduct in Iraq, whistleblowing by both private and public sector employees has increasingly become a powerful, if often controversial, form of dissent. The United Nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and other intergovernmental bodies have recognized that there is indeed a right to expose corruption, wrongdoing by public bodies, serious threats to health, safety or the environment, and breaches of human rights or humanitarian law. Whistleblowing is protected by both the individual’s right to freedom of expression as well as the public’s right to […]

In July, a group of prisoners in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) of California’s Pelican Bay State Prison went on a hunger strike to protest their conditions of confinement. Central to the prisoners’ complaints was the fact that for years and, in some cases, for decades, they have been held in prolonged and indeterminate solitary confinement with few privileges and opportunities to engage in productive programming and activities. Importantly, as one prisoner put it in a letter to the informational website Solitary Watch, they were asking for “human justice, . . . fairness, compassion, positive reform, dignity . . . […]

Eleanor Roosevelt once said that universal human rights begin “in small places, close to home.” It might be more accurate to say that they begin in the home, as the most intimate expression of whether human rights are respected within a society occurs between husbands and wives. Too often, however, the circumstances under which men and women come together to form households fall short of meeting basic standards of human rights. In Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria, Colombia and a number of other countries, it is legal for girls to be married younger than age 16. In many nations where child marriage […]

Chinese Export Outlook Grim, Could Spark General Slowdown

A long-time concern for Chinese Communist regime officials has been trying to maintain the export-driven model that has led to high-speed growth. That’s becoming more and more of a challenge, especially given decreased spending power and increased caution among overseas buyers.

Global Insider: Nonmilitary Use of Drones

Police in Brazil recently purchased several unmanned aerial vehicles to monitor environmental crimes such as deforestation and illegal fishing. In an email interview, Tyler Wall, a professor of criminal justice at Eastern Kentucky University, discussed the nonmilitary uses of drones. WPR: What are some of the potential nonmilitary applications of drones? Tyler Wall: Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVS) are being deployed in a variety of nonmilitary spheres, albeit in limited capacities. Examples include the use of drones for domestic policing and border patrol; natural-disaster assistance; and monitoring wildlife, crops and the weather. WPR: To what degree are these potential uses being […]

The U.S. government’s efforts to reduce America’s budget deficit has put funding for nuclear nonproliferation programs, development aid and even defense spending on the chopping block. With advocacy groups and lobbyists in Washington now fighting tooth and nail to minimize the damage to their core interests, little attention has been given to an innovative way to achieve national and international security and development objectives amid financial austerity: leveraging the private sector. Advanced technology is fast becoming the 21st century antidote to a variety of global security challenges, and if properly applied, the same technologies can also represent a cost-effective strategy […]

Global Insider: International Norms of Hot Pursuit

In October, Turkey invoked the principle of hot pursuit to send hundreds of troops across its border with Iraq following an attack by Kurdish militants within Turkey. In an email interview, Geoffrey S. Corn, professor of law at South Texas College of Law, discussed the international norms of hot pursuit. WPR: What are the main international norms governing hot pursuit across international borders? Geoffrey S. Corn: Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter obligates states to respect the territorial integrity of other states and prohibits military interference with the sovereignty of other states. International law condemns violating this obligation as […]

Hegemony vs. Restraint in the Debate Over U.S. Defense Cuts

The need to bring order to America’s finances has made defense budget cuts unavoidable, with the question now turning to where and how much to cut. A recent CNAS report offered some granular — and alarming at the high end — details in terms of how various levels of cuts would impact U.S. military capabilities. Now two articles in Foreign Affairs bring into focus a more reassuring view of both defense austerity, which Benjamin J. Friedman likens to “the best possible auditor,” and retrenchment, which Joseph Parent and Paul MacDonald deem to be the most promising way for an overextended […]

IMF: Dangerous Phase for World Economy

The International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde says the global economy is in a dangerous and uncertain phase, and that it is up to most developed economies to shoulder the burden of restoring growth and confidence.

“Onslaught” of Cyber Espionage From China and Russia

A report to U.S. Congress says cyber espionage from China and Russia is happening on a massive scale. The report comes in response to growing complaints from the business community that their networks are coming under regular attack.

How do different-sized powers establish order among themselves? And how do larger powers compel smaller and weaker ones to do their bidding? Though abstract, these two questions have concrete applications in the real world and are among the oldest in international relations. Differential power relationships have been around since the first polities, later called states, came into existence, and over the course of history, various systems have arisen to manage them. Among the best-known examples from the classical world are the Greek alliances, also called leagues, which at times kept the peace, but also, when that failed, made wars far […]

Power is the ability to affect others to obtain preferred outcomes, and that can be done through coercion and payment or attraction and persuasion. Generally, people associate coercion with military power resources, but that is too reductive. After all, economic power resources can also be used for coercion. Even in terms of what is considered “normal” economic behavior, the boundaries are not always so clear. As Thomas Schelling has argued, “The difference between a threat and a promise, between coercion and compensation, sometimes depends on where the baseline is located.” After all, once compensation becomes an expectation, withholding it for […]

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