U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron at the G-7, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, June 7, 2015. (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

This month represented another stepping stone in the long diplomatic march toward a prospective international climate change agreement in Paris in December. In the Bavarian Alps on June 7-8, the G-7 countries agreed on a communiqué reiterating their support for the goal of limiting climate change to below 2 degrees Celsius—compared to pre-industrial baseline levels—and pledging complete decarbonization of the global economy by 2100. The G-7 countries also restated their commitment to a promise that they have been making repeatedly since the Copenhagen climate accord talks in December 2009. Developed nations pledged billions of dollars a year in financial assistance […]

A Russia-backed rebel rests after fighting, near Donetsk airport, eastern Ukraine, June 12, 2015 (AP photo by Mstyslav Chernov).

In a speech at last week’s annual conference of the Center for a New American Security, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken described Russia and China as presenting a common challenge to the U.S.-backed “global order,” a characterization that echoes that of various Western think tanks and scholars in recent months. Elaborating, Blinken said, “In both eastern Ukraine and the South China Sea, we’re witnessing efforts to unilaterally and coercively change the status quo . . .” The United States, he said, would counter by “seizing America’s unique capacity to mobilize against common threats and lead the international community to […]

Graduation ceremony of Zayed University, Qatar, May 27, 2015 (Zayed University photo).

Globally, the legal, political and social progress achieved by women over the past half-century has been attributed to the democratization of societies and the emergence of more widely accepted human rights norms. This is not the case with respect to the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf: Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. These countries have confronted rapid internal and external changes in recent years, and they have strived to reform themselves on a variety of fronts, including the economy, labor and some areas of politics. Yet despite some progress in these other domains, Gulf […]

Pro-democracy protesters shout slogans after lawmakers voted against the election reform proposals, Hong Kong, June 18, 2015 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Earlier this month, Hong Kong’s legislature vetoed an election-reform package that was backed by mainland China but strongly criticized by pro-democracy lawmakers and activists. In an email interview, Michael C. Davis, professor at the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law, discussed Hong Kong’s democracy movement. WPR: What do democratic advocates in Hong Kong fear from China’s proposed electoral plan? Michael C. Davis: China’s democratic reform proposal essentially provides for a vetted election for Hong Kong’s chief executive. Under the Aug. 31, 2014, Beijing decision and the Hong Kong legislative bill to carry it out, a heavily pro-Beijing 1,200-member nominating […]

Demonstrators hold a sign that reads in Spanish "We march for a free Ecuador" during an opposition march, Guayaquil, Ecuador, June 25, 2015 (AP photo by Dolores Ochoa).

Unlike his predecessors, Ecuador’s president, Rafael Correa, has enjoyed consistently high approval ratings since coming into office in 2007. And while support for some other regional leaders, hit hard by economic slowdowns and corruption scandals, are nearing rock-bottom levels, Correa’s rule has also been relatively free of political turbulence. But over the past several weeks, that has changed. Growing protests reveal that many Ecuadoreans are increasingly disaffected and no longer afraid to take to the streets and openly defy a self-assured president intent on carrying out his so-called citizens’ revolution. The biggest protests came late last week in the country’s […]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry sits across from Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and other advisers, Vienna, Austria, June 27, 2015 (State Department photo).

Welcome to what could turn out to be the most important, and potentially the most destructive, week in international diplomacy since the end of the Cold War. In the next seven days, we are meant to reach three major turning points in global affairs. On Tuesday, major powers are meant to conclude an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. On the same day, Greece is supposed to make a 1.6 billion euro payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but may fail to do so. And on Sunday, Greek voters will vote in a referendum on the latest bailout […]

An operator controlled robot is run through an obstacle course in a "robot rodeo" at the New York State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany, NY, June 24, 2015 (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Harley Jelis).

The U.S. Navy and Air Force have begun preliminary work on developing a sixth-generation unmanned fighter. In an email interview, Peter Singer, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation and co-author of “Ghost Fleet,” discussed the next generation in U.S. military technology. WPR: What are some of the already operational next-generation U.S. military technologies that emerged from, or were accelerated by, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Peter Singer: In some ways you can think of Iraq and Afghanistan as akin to World War I, where a number of science fiction-like technologies made their bones. Back then it […]

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron during a speech, London, U.K., May 21, 2015 (U.K. government photo by Arron Hoare).

British Prime Minister David Cameron once implored his fellow Conservative Party members to “stop banging on about Europe.” But that was back in 2006, when he was just running the party as its new leader. In a speech in January 2013, as his awkward coalition government with the pro-European Union Liberal Democrats was enacting unpopular austerity cuts at home, Cameron changed course. He promised that, if re-elected, he would renegotiate the fundamental terms of the United Kingdom’s EU membership and put the result up for an in-or-out referendum to be held by the end of 2017. Since all opinion polls […]

Protesters hold a sign during a rally to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina Statehouse, Columbia, S.C., June 23, 2015 (AP photo by Rainier Ehrhardt).

Even though the United States was founded on the idea that all people have inalienable rights, applying that principle to all Americans has been a long, still-incomplete struggle played out in multiple arenas, including the U.S. military. Over the past 75 years, the armed forces have been used to advance this cause several times. Presidents found the military a valuable tool in the expansion of rights and the construction of a more unified society because it could be ordered to accept change to an extent that the rest of society could not. The military also tended to judge its members […]

Saudi Arabia's King Salman attends a ceremony at the Diwan royal palace in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jan. 24, 2015 (AP photo by Yoan Valat).

The release of tens of thousands of diplomatic cables that Wikileaks says it obtained from Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry have added detail and color to long suspected Saudi behavior in the Middle East. Mostly, that means money and how Riyadh wields it. Samir Geagea, a Lebanese politician who is a vocal critic of Syrian President of Bashar al-Assad—and a staunch defender in the Lebanese media of Saudi Arabia—begged for more money from Riyadh to support his flailing political party and former Christian militia, the Lebanese Forces. The Saudi ambassador in Beirut wrote favorably back to Riyadh that Geagea “expressed readiness […]

Mining machinery and barrels with chemicals sit on the facilities of Barrick Gold Corp's Pascua Lama project, northern Chile, May 23, 2013 (AP photo by Jorge Saenz).

Mining conflicts are intensifying across Latin America, with 218 mining projects embroiled in conflicts with 312 communities—including six conflicts spanning national borders—from Mexico to Argentina. One of the most prominent protests flared up this spring in southern Peru, at the $1.4 billion Tia Maria copper mine run by the Mexican-owned company Southern Copper. In late May, more than five years of protests came to a head there, with a general strike and police crackdown that resulted in five deaths and hundreds wounded and arrested. One issue above all is driving the Tia Maria protests, the 34 others in Peru and […]

View of Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 19, 2011 (photo by Flickr user faungg licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

AMSTERDAM—Like much of Europe, the Dutch have been keeping a close eye on developments in Greece. As negotiators continue to meet in efforts to hammer out a deal that would avert a Greek default, experts warn that the consequences of failing to reach an agreement would range from very painful to catastrophic. Here in the Netherlands, the subject occupies private conversations, occasional streets protests and countless headlines. And yet, the dilemma of how or whether to give another lifeline to Greece is only a prelude to a more far-reaching and divisive political battle looming ahead. If Greece defaults and ultimately […]

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras speaks with the media as he arrives for an EU summit in Brussels, Thursday, June 25, 2015 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

Another round of bailout talks today between Greece and its creditors, the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), ended without a deal. Next Tuesday Greece is scheduled to make a $1.8 billion loan repayment to the IMF at the same time its bailout program is due to expire. If there is no agreement, an additional $8.1 billion in bailout funds will remain frozen; Greece will default on its loans; and the country could be forced to leave the eurozone. European finance ministers are scheduled to reconvene Saturday for a […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Saudi Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, St. Petersburg, Russia, June 18, 2015 (Official Kremlin photo).

Russia’s joint naval exercises with Egypt in the Mediterranean earlier this month put into sharper relief its resurgent ties in the Middle East, where it is steadily reviving a meaningful role for itself. Russia has negotiated a slew of new arms sales and security cooperation agreements, both with Iraq and Egypt; is one of the chief arbiters of Syria’s fate, as a backer of President Bashar al-Assad; and remains an important component of the negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program. Despite a toxic relationship with the West over the crisis in Ukraine, Moscow’s foreign policy is not inherently inimical to U.S. […]

People stand outside as parishioners leave the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, S.C., June 21, 2015 (AP photo by Stephen B. Morton).

There are so many depressing realities underscored by the tragic shooting deaths of nine African-American parishioners in the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, it’s hard to know where to begin: from the seeming permanence of America’s glaring racial divide to the country’s inability to stanch the unceasing carnage of gun violence that is unlike that of any other country in the world. But here’s one that will be self-evident to most foreign policy observers: If the gunman in Charleston had been not white, but Arab, and if he had yelled “Allahu akbar,” rather than uttering racist statements, we wouldn’t be […]

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou announces his South China Sea Peace Initiative during the 2015 ILA-ASIL Asia Pacific Research Forum in Taipei, Taiwan, May 26, 2015 (AP photo by Wally Santana).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the South China Sea territorial disputes and the various claimant countries’ approaches to addressing them. Last month, Taiwan proposed a peace plan to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea and reduce regional tensions. In an email interview, Lynn Kuok, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for East Asia Policy Studies and a senior visiting fellow at the Centre for International Law, Singapore, discussed Taiwan’s role in the South China Sea disputes. WPR: What are Taiwan’s claims in the South China Sea, and to what […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at a meeting during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, St. Petersburg, Russia, June 18, 2015 (Official Kremlin photo).

At last week’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian and Greek officials negotiated a framework agreement for Greece’s participation in the Turkish Stream gas pipeline that, if realized, will transport Russian gas via the Black Sea and Turkey to European markets. The deal comes just a year after the European Union adopted a comprehensive strategy to enhance its energy security, with a key objective being to reduce the EU’s dependence on Russian energy sources. However, if the Russia-Greece deal and other developments of the past year are any indication, this campaign could take decades […]

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