Russia’s UN Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya addresses the United Nations Security Council, Jan. 31, 2022 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

There has been no shortage of analyses of what has motivated Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine. Many of these arguments seem to implicitly assume that Russia is putting its geostrategic interests ahead of adherence to Article 2 of the United Nations Charter, which prohibits the use of armed conflict to resolve disputes absent self-defense or authorization from the Security Council. Similar arguments—that Russia is brazenly flouting and even threatening U.N. Charter norms—are being made in political speeches by leaders and representatives of the Western powers and U.N. member states. It is absolutely true that nothing less than the normative basis […]

Thai activists and Greenpeace activists stand in front of plastic and electronic waste at Foreign Ministry in Bangkok, Thailand, June 20, 2019 (AP photo by Sakchai Lalit).

Plastics, e-waste and other hazardous waste are routinely traded across borders in what amounts to an “out of sight, out of mind” approach for the rich countries that produce them. The story is more complicated for the communities that receive and dispose of the waste. Hazardous waste poses risks to the health of local communities and the environment, spurring attempts to ban its movement across borders. But in countries like Turkey, Vietnam and Ghana, waste is often processed to extract its residual value. The important source of income it provides explains why those efforts have been of limited success and […]

Police officers accompany climate activists as they take part in a protest through the streets of London, Nov. 6, 2021 (AP photo by David Cliff).

To mark the 75th anniversary of the United Nations in 2020, its member states issued a collective declaration to express their commitment to transformative change and new efforts to address the major challenges of the 21st century. In the same declaration, they also committed to “listening to and working with youth.” But what does this mean in practice? When young thinkers and activists are asked what needs to change with regard to how the international system engages with them, the word they most often use is “tokenistic.” They are sick of being asked to speak at events, ostensibly on behalf […]

Ukrainian armed forces conduct exercises in the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, Feb.4, 2022 (AP photo by Mykola Tymche).

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s bellicose speech yesterday, in which he announced that Russia had recognized the independence of two separatist regions of Ukraine and would deploy military forces there as “peacekeepers,” suggests that after months of military posturing and diplomacy, a full-scale invasion may well be at hand. But while it is still impossible to know for sure how the crisis will play out, one consequence of it is already certain: There is no more use in dancing around reality using terms like “strategic competition” or “great power tensions” to describe relations between the West and Russia. We are in […]

Climate activists participate in a student-led climate change march in Los Angeles, Nov. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ringo H.W. Chiu).

In many countries, COVID-19 has robbed an entire generation of at least a year of education and child care, not to speak of many social connections. Climate change is already threatening the wellbeing of young people around the world and will negatively impact them and future generations for decades to come. And the impacts of many social problems like unemployment and the rising cost of housing are especially severe for younger people. What would the world look like if policymakers gave priority in their decision-making to long-term consequences over short-term political expediency? U.N. Next Generation Fellow and WPR columnist Aishwarya […]

A protester holds the scales of justice outside the District Court during a hearing in then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s corruption trial, in Jerusalem, Feb. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Maya Alleruzzo).

Opposing corruption is not “easy” nor is doing so a “convenient distraction” from addressing “the world’s most persistent ills and injustices,” as Gabriella Cook Francis and Christopher Sabatini argued in a recent World Politics Review article titled, “The Corruption Obsession is a Convenient Distraction.” To the contrary, we insist that the “ills and injustices” to which the authors refer will never be properly addressed while endemic serious corruption, kleptocracy and state capture are allowed to persist in modern states. Our interest in the topic and our desire to correct what we consider to be the misconceptions in their article stem from our […]

Democratic Republic of Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi at the Elysee Palace, Paris, April 27, 2021 (AP photo by Thibault Camus).

Last week, the United Nations’ top court ordered Uganda to pay the sum of $325 million to the Democratic Republic of Congo for the East African country’s role in the brutal war there at the turn of the century. The International Court of Justice, or ICJ, ruled on Feb. 9 that Uganda had violated international norms as an occupying force between 1998 and 2003, and was responsible for the deaths of up to 15,000 people in Congo’s eastern Ituri region. Ugandan troops were also found to have looted precious gold, diamonds and timber from Congo. The case is both an […]

Child activists join a march through Westminster during a “climate strike” demonstration, part of the global Fridays for Future movement led by Swedish teenage environmentalist Greta Thunberg, in London, Sept. 24, 2021 (AP photo by David Cliff).

At the heart of the international system lies a seemingly intractable tension between sovereignty and cooperation. The United Nations is a collection of states that, while recognizing the need for collaboration in global governance, still seek to retain their independence. This tension haunts the international community as a whole, but it is the people of the future who will pay the heaviest price. The major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century are borderless and intergenerational. Climate change will wreak havoc in every corner of the world and will only grow worse if we fail to act now. Similarly, lawlessness in […]

A zodiac carrying a team of international scientists heads to Chile’s station Bernardo O’Higgins, Antarctica, Jan. 22, 2015 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

It is tempting to think of climate change as a gradual, linear process that follows the steady accumulation of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The truth may be scarier. Evidence is mounting that critical components of the Earth system could be approaching tipping points that, when crossed, will bring about massive, nonlinear shifts that will themselves accelerate climate change, with disastrous and potentially irreversible consequences for nature and humanity. Faced with this prospect, national governments must cooperate to identify, prepare for and, where possible, head off or mitigate these abrupt and calamitous shifts. As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear in its recent […]

The Reichstag building is illuminated with a slogan demanding the ban of nuclear weapons by the environmental organization Greenpeace, in Berlin, Germany, Jan. 21, 2022 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’s 10th Review Conference has been postponed repeatedly due to the coronavirus pandemic, perhaps a symbol of the degree to which global efforts to curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reduce global stockpiles have stalled in recent years. North Korea continues to expand its nuclear capabilities, and the U.S., China and Russia are all investing heavily in modernizing their arsenals. And efforts to bring Iran back into compliance with the nonproliferation regime have been set back by the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the multilateral deal known as the JCPOA, or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, that […]

Activists make posters before participating in a protest as part of the Fridays for Future climate movement, Kolkata, India, Sept. 24, 2021 (AP photo by Bikas Das).

Being an activist is tough. Being a young activist is tougher still. Although youth-led groups and movements have proven time and time again they can be drivers of progress and prosperity, the world has a poor track record of offering them a helping hand as they try to do so.  Today, for instance, we look back with fond nostalgia at the protests that swept the West in 1968, including the civil rights movement in the U.S. that resulted in the landmark Civil Rights Act, as well as student and wildcat strikes across France known collectively as May ’68. Popular accounts of that time highlight how […]

An anti-coup protester displays defaced images of commander-in-chief Gen. Min Aung Hlaing in Mandalay, Myanmar, March 3, 2021 (AP Photo).

Sanctions are in the air everywhere these days. Just this week, there was a ratcheting up of sanctions, travel bans and asset freezes against the military juntas in Myanmar and Mali, almost certainly to be followed by sanctions against military leaders in Burkina Faso, who overthrew that country’s democratically elected government last week. Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress moved one step closer to passing a raft of new sanctions on the Sudanese military for its October coup. Then, of course, there are the very serious threats by the U.S. and its NATO allies to impose wider sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin or on the Russian economy if Russia invades Ukraine.  […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with President Joe Biden at the Villa la Grange in Geneva, Switzerland, June 16, 2021 (AP photo by Patrick Semansky).

In the weeks since Russia began its military buildup on Ukraine’s border, the U.S. and its allies have scrambled to respond quickly and forcefully. According to U.S. intelligence officials, the more than 100,000 Russian troops amassed so far would be capable of launching a full-scale invasion. And with NATO gathering troops of its own in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, it is clear that escalation is a real possibility.  And yet, Russia’s strategic decisions from the past decade—in Ukraine but also worldwide—have made it very difficult to successfully respond to its aggression. The recent buildup is the clearest expression of Russian military ambitions […]

Entertainers perform during the opening ceremony of the 2022 Winter Olympics, Feb. 4, 2022, Beijing (AP photo by Bernat Armangue).

This year’s Winter Olympics, which got underway in China on Friday, offer a fascinating prism through which to view the current geopolitical landscape, as well as to contrast it on multiple levels with the recent and more distant past. Most immediately, this year’s affair offers a benchmark against which to measure China’s advances in power and influence since the last time it hosted the Games just 14 years ago. The 2008 Summer Games were in many ways China’s “coming out party,” a chance to demonstrate its domestic transformation and modernized infrastructure to a global audience that still largely saw it […]

The sons of former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli, Ricardo and Luis Enrique Martinelli Linares, stand inside a holding cell after being detained on money-laundering charges, Guatemala City, July 7, 2020 (AP photo by Moises Castillo).

Opposing corruption in international forums is easy. Nobody is openly for it, and popular sentiment is strongly against it. Global public opinion surveys show that corruption is a primary concern of citizens all around the world, and a host of public ills can be attributed to it, from economic stagnation, to the global decline of trust in democracy and a range of other societal challenges. And corruption does play a role in these issues, which is why it makes for such a convenient target. Major leaks exposing corruption have grabbed public attention and inspired a raft of policies aimed at […]

A masked visitor observes an orangutang at the Schoenbrunn Zoo, Vienna, Austria, Feb. 8, 2021 (AP photo by Ronald Zak).

It has long been clear that humans are not the only species that contract COVID-19. At least 15 different animal species in U.S. zoos—including hippopotamuses, hyenas and snow leopards—have tested positive for the coronavirus during the course of the pandemic. The disease is running rampant through the white-tailed deer population in the United States’ Upper Midwest region, with more than one-third of deer examined in Ohio showing evidence of recent or active COVID-19 infections. In 2020, the Danish government culled 17 million minks out of fears that coronavirus infections among the animals could lead to outbreaks among humans, causing a […]

A woman visits the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, Berlin, Germany, Nov. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Markus Schreiber).

Last Friday, Jan. 27, marked the 77th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camps, a day now observed as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Many used the occasion to commemorate loved ones they lost, to hear stories from Holocaust survivors and to reflect on the tragically destructive capabilities of humankind. Others used it to highlight the persistence of antisemitism worldwide, taking the opportunity to urge us to do “everything we can to make sure it never happens again.”  Almost eight decades later, however, many survivors of the Holocaust are no longer alive to share their stories. This prompts some interesting […]