World leaders face a slew of multilateral summits over the coming month, including the BRICS meeting in South Africa, the G20 in India, and the UN General Assembly in New York. This rare convergence of top-tier international gatherings is a symptom of the increasing importance of high-level summitry in international diplomacy.
The United Nations’ ability to carry out its mission has been severely constrained in recent years by its member states. And many of its agencies are now facing funding shortages that could severely curtail their work. In fact, multilateralism of all stripes is under strain, from the International Criminal Court to the World Trade Organization—to the World Health Organization.
Having essentially stumbled into the business of being an analyst and commentator on multilateral matters by chance, I often feel uncomfortable offering others career advice. But if I cannot be of much help as a career planner, what I’ve learned over the past two decades does allow me to offer some tips about how to be a policy wonk.
The divisive debate within BRICS over whether and how aggressively to expand membership is a sign the group lacks a clear mission and direction. But it also underscores the differences in how BRICS’ members view both the benefits they receive from the grouping and their future role in the international community.
Since the launch of the “great power competition” framework, U.S. policymakers seem to have moved on entirely from the war on terror, focusing instead on countering China and Russia. But as the U.S. military’s significant presence in Niger demonstrates, it would be a mistake to consider the war on terror as solely in the past.
A congressional hearings last Wednesday suggested the U.S. government possesses extraterrestrial UFOs. Skepticism seems warranted. But if, for the sake of argument, it is eventually confirmed that intelligent, extraterrestrial life forms have visited Earth and continue to do, it would have profound impacts on international politics.
Despite a story of overall progress when it comes to liberalizing abortion laws, including recent victories in several countries, women’s rights advocates around the world are sounding the alarm. Three overlapping trends are leading to a global backlash that is causing concern among reproductive rights champions.
The impacts of climate change are advancing faster than experts had previously predicted, and they are increasingly irreversible. But persistent climate skepticism from key global figures, motivated in part by national economic interests, is slowing diplomatic efforts to systematically address the drivers of climate change.