The 2003 Iraq war split the Security Council, but the United Nations ultimately sustained only limited long-term damage from the incident. In the 11 years since the fall of Saddam Hussein, the council has passed over 600 resolutions on issues ranging from Iran’s nuclear program to African conflicts. Now the U.N. faces another war in Iraq, at a time when its overall credibility may be in greater danger than it was in 2003. The Security Council has played an exceedingly minor role during the past month’s crisis in Iraq. After the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria […]

The race to succeed Ban Ki-moon as secretary-general of the United Nations is heating up. More or less open candidates are emerging with growing frequency. This may seem premature: Ban will not leave office until the end of 2016, and he has a lot of unfinished business to attend to. He hopes to seal deals on climate change and the future of international development next year. He also needs to contain the crises in South Sudan and Syria, both of which threaten to cast a profound shadow over his legacy. The pressure seems to have given Ban extra energy. He […]

At the beginning of the space age, the United States “had a vision of space as infinite” said Clay Moltz of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School during recent remarks at the Stimson Center. In the intervening decades, as U.S. activities in space have expanded and the number of space-faring nations has increased, the usable orbits around earth have become crowded. To manage this state of affairs, the United States has sought to expand international cooperation in space, partly with an eye toward protecting the space assets of U.S. companies, scientists and troops fighting on the ground. Of particular concern are […]

The notion of disarming, then disbanding and rehabilitating former soldiers in the aftermath of conflict is as old as war itself. Tens of thousands of soldiers were voluntarily disarmed and returned to their villages after the Roman-Etruscan wars, and similar practices have followed virtually every conflict since. The expectation has always been that these activities can prevent a relapse of warfare, and potentially kick-start the long road to reconstruction. In recent times, the concept has assumed a kind of orthodoxy in the peace, security and development community. Bilateral and multilateral donors such as the United Nations (U.N.) and World Bank […]

A large part of ending civil wars and insurgencies is about finding new political solutions to old political conflicts. One such political solution and instrument has at times been to convert armed groups into political parties. Convincing former warring parties to enter formalized democratic politics is not an easy task however, and even when armed groups transform into political parties, the challenges for long-term democracy continue. Research related to the political integration or reintegration of armed groups has been quite extensive. But political integration of armed groups is only one facet of a larger question about political integration of various […]

When Catherine Ashton was appointed the European Union’s first high representative for foreign and security policy in 2009, many met her arrival with disappointment. She was not the first choice for the role, and her foreign policy experience was limited to a short stint as commissioner for trade. The new position of high representative, which included a dual role as vice president of the European Commission, was created by the Lisbon Treaty and intended to strengthen the EU’s collective foreign policy. The British baroness’s appointment, for some, reflected a lack of ambition. Indeed, for those suspicious of an expanded EU […]

While the Obama administration’s new climate regulations target carbon emissions from power plants, they are also setting the stage for negotiations on a global climate pact scheduled for next year. On June 2, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled the “Clean Power Plan,” which aims to cut carbon emissions from U.S. power plants by 30 percent compared to 2005 levels. “Although we limit pollutants like mercury, sulfur and arsenic,” said EPA administrator Gina McCarthy in remarks announcing the new rules, “there are no limits on carbon pollution from power plants, our nation’s largest source” of such pollution. Ultimately, she […]

The election of Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt will further inflame the jihadist insurgency that took off after the Egyptian military removed Mohamed Morsi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, from power in 2013. If history is any guide, el-Sisi, a former general, will hold tightly to power, justifying it as the only way to protect Egypt’s security, thus repeating a common pattern across Africa and the Middle East as elections lead to de facto dictatorships with a few trappings of democracy. Invariably this will further anger and radicalize the Islamist opposition, empowering the extremists who believe that the […]

Lax oversight. Deregulation. “Shadow banking.” These are some likely responses an expert might give if asked what caused the 2008 financial crisis. In the years since the meltdown, there has consolidated in the public consciousness an image of the pre-crisis global financial system as a sort of Wild West, where greedy bankers, rather than reckless outlaws, operated with impunity, causing irreparable social harm. But there is now a new sheriff in town, with the letters “U.S.A.” boldly emblazoned on its badge. Determined to impose order on a once “lawless” system, the U.S. Federal Reserve and Justice Department are unilaterally playing […]

International trade in agricultural commodities is a relatively small component of total trade in goods and services, but it accounts for a disproportionate share of time and effort in trade negotiations and is the topic of many of the most contentious trade disputes. The reasons for this imbalance are many, but they fall into three broad categories: the sensitivity of governments to issues that impinge on their ability to secure food supplies for their populations; the significance of agricultural exports for rural development and economic progress more generally; and the growing trade in food products associated with the rapid globalization […]

The introduction of sedentary farming was a cornerstone in the establishment of human civilizations. However, farming in its essence is a major modification of the natural landscape. Establishment of farming requires leveling lands, damming rivers, eradicating wildlife and clear-cutting forests. Over time, human knowledge has expanded, and modification of nature for agricultural purposes has become more effective and efficient—the horse-drawn plow has been replaced with the tractor, and natural fertilizers with chemicals. Yet, there is growing realization that some of the human modification of natural systems might have been excessive, which has led to environmental awareness and legislation that aims […]

When Mohammed Amir Waheed Sirkar, a migrant Bangladeshi electrician employed to help build New York University’s new campus in Abu Dhabi, joined a strike to protest working conditions there, he ended up in prison and was subsequently deported. According to the New York Times, other workers at the site reported paying recruitment fees of up to a year’s wages just to get their jobs; working 11- or 12-hour days, 6-7 days a week; and living with 15 men in rooms meant for four. The international labor migration system is rife with this type of exploitation and abuse—not just in the […]