A FARC guerilla begins work on a transition zone two weeks after the camp was set to be completed, Carrizal, Colombia, Jan. 16, 2017 (photo by Camilo Mejia).

Perched on a hill above the tiny village of Carrizal in northern Colombia, the camp that was supposed to be housing 300 guerrilla fighters is nothing more than a wooden shack surrounded by a muddy field. Two weeks after the Dec. 31 deadline for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by its Spanish acronym, FARC, to demobilize, the only guerillas in sight are the 11 men that make up the camp’s construction crew. “There is no water. There is no electricity. There are no houses. None of the necessary things that the guerrillas need to arrive at those points […]

President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Feb. 24, 2017, Oxon Hill, Md. (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

U.S. President Donald Trump, in words and action, favors bilateral relations as the cornerstone of his foreign policy. Special ties to some key countries and leaders will always be important, but his approach is downplaying the value of regional systems and multilateralism, and of their institutions. As a result, it will fall short in protecting American interests in an age of redistributed power and transnational threats. In his first month in office, Trump has held bilateral meetings with the leaders of the U.K., Canada, Japan and Israel, while having one with Mexico’s president canceled. Watching his strangely aggressive handshakes and […]

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and his Afghan counterpart, Salahuddin Rabbani, in Moscow, Feb. 7, 2017 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

In his speech to the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in February 1986, Mikhail Gorbachev described the war in Afghanistan as the USSR’s “bleeding wound.” Gorbachev would order Soviet forces out of Afghanistan two years later. During the subsequent three decades, Soviet and subsequently Russian leaders sought to steer clear of the country that many likened to Moscow’s Vietnam. This history makes Russia’s re-engagement in Afghanistan in recent months all the more striking. A generation after its army invaded, occupied and then withdrew from the country, Moscow has again emerged as an important power broker […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the unveiling ceremony of a monument to Vladimir the Great outside the Kremlin, Moscow, Nov. 4, 2016 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

There is a new landmark in Moscow, opposite the towering ramparts of the Kremlin’s Borovitskaya Gate. That imposing fortified passage, through which presidential motorcades traditionally enter and exit, now shares its position on the Kremlin’s southern flank with an enormous statue of Vladimir, which was unveiled late last year. This Vladimir is not Putin, but the sainted Grand Prince Vladimir of Kiev, whose baptism signaled the conversion of the Rus’ to Orthodox Christianity in the 10th century, and the alignment of their vast Eastern European empire with Constantinople and the heirs of Rome. Notably, the baptism of Vladimir—the first step […]

A woman carries an umbrella with pictures of masked members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot during an opposition rally, Moscow, Oct. 27, 2013 (AP photo by Ivan Sekretarev).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on the status of women’s rights and gender equality in various countries around the world. Russia recently passed a law to reduce the punishment for domestic violence to a fine and a short jail sentence. Though ostensibly an effort to prevent the separation of families over false charges of abuse, the move has been attacked by critics who argue it will lead to impunity for abusers. In an email interview, Ira Kosterina, program coordinator for gender at the Heinrich Böll Stiftung’s Russia office, discusses women’s rights and gender equality […]

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during a news conference, Feb. 1, 2017, New York (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

All bureaucracies need heroes. The employees of most large organizations spend their days taking notes and bickering over their vacation dates. They require a few exemplary individuals, past or present, to inspire them. Bankers laud the financial wizards who landed big deals. Lawyers lionize the legal eagles who won famous cases. The United Nations is no different. U.N. officials tend to be smart, highly educated and distinctly frustrated by the organization’s struggle to stay relevant on the world stage. Anyone who has encountered this admirably cosmopolitan tribe of officials knows that they are also collectively obsessed by their right to […]

The former head of the Movement for a Society of Peace, Abou Djara Soltani, center, during a press conference with other Islamist politicians after legislative elections, May 11, 2012, Algiers (AP photo by Paul Schemm).

Ahead of parliamentary elections in May, Algeria’s fractious Islamist parties have announced unlikely new sets of electoral blocs. The confusing new coalitions are not just the latest iteration of the alphabet soup of Algeria’s Islamists. They also reflect the enduring limitations of Islamist party politics, which present an incomplete picture of political Islam in Algeria. The Movement for a Society of Peace, or MSP, Algeria’s largest Islamist party, declared a new alliance with the Front for Change, a splinter group that broke away from the MSP in 2008. Three other prominent Islamist parties—al-Bina al-Watani, al-Adala and al-Nahda—said earlier that they […]

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks with Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Feb. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

The composition of a U.S. president’s national security team is always important, but it is particularly so for Donald Trump. Most recent U.S. presidents took office with some experience at policymaking and international affairs, and with ties to their party’s foreign and national security policy experts. Trump did not. This is one reason that getting his people in place is taking so long. Of the 549 senior government positions that require Senate confirmation, 14 of Trump’s nominees have been confirmed, and 20 are awaiting confirmation. No one has yet been named for the remaining 515 slots. That said, Trump did […]

A fighter from the Libyan forces affiliated with the Tripoli government runs for cover while fighting against Islamic State positions, Sirte, Sept. 22, 2016 (AP photo by Manu Brabo).

The liberation of the Libyan city of Sirte from the self-proclaimed Islamic State late last year seemed like a major step in stabilizing Libya and combating terrorism in North Africa. But Libya’s still-stalled political dialogue and internal rifts have tempered any gains. Despite—or perhaps because of—the terms of the U.N.-backed peace deal signed in Morocco in December 2015 to form a unity government, Libya remains plagued by strife between two main rival blocs in eastern and western Libya, which are unable to find common ground. The Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, or GNA, that was set up 14 months ago […]

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley speaks to reporters after a Security Council meeting, New York, Feb. 16, 2017 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

In this week’s Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s editor-in-chief, Judah Grunstein, and senior editor, Frederick Deknatel, discuss European alarm over Donald Trump’s criticisms of NATO. For the Report, Sarah Hearn talks with Peter Dörrie about the prospects for global development in an era of populist retrenchment in the West. If you’d like to support our free podcast through patron pledges, Patreon is an online service that will allow you to do so. To find out about the benefits you can get through pledging as little as $1 per month, click through to WPR’s Trend Lines Patreon page. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: iTunes […]

Demontrators hold a placard reading "Cop rapist go to jail" during a protest against alleged police abuse, Paris, Feb. 18, 2017 (AP photo by Francois Mori).

Earlier this month, protests broke out in Aulnay-sous-Bois, a northern suburb of Paris, after police allegedly raped a 22-year-old black man, known only as “Theo L.,” with a baton during an I.D. check. One police officer was charged with rape, and two with assault. Despite a visit by French President Francois Hollande to Theo’s hospital bedside in an effort to calm the situation, rallies and riots, some violent, spread across the suburbs of Paris where immigrant and immigrant-origin communities are concentrated. The protests soon made their way to central Paris, drawing thousands to Place de la Republique by the end […]

U.S. President Donald Trump, flanked by Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary James Mattis, speaks during an event at the Pentagon, Washington D.C., Jan. 27, 2017 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

One month into Donald Trump’s presidency, it’s much too early to expect a fully coherent “Trump doctrine” on foreign policy. But the clear outlines of the Trump administration’s modus operandi are emerging, and it looks unlike anything we have seen before. The new administration has put in place a two-track foreign policy approach to the principal issues on the global agenda. The two tracks are not parallel; if anything, they are perpendicular and contradictory. On one track, Trump makes vague policy pronouncements over Twitter, in speeches and at press conferences. The president often reverses course and contradicts himself. On the […]

Russia's former U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin returns to his seat after making a statement, New York, Oct. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

In the past two months, three of the most influential individuals at the United Nations have made their exits. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon bade farewell in December. U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power quit as the Obama administration wrapped up in January. And this week, Russian representative Vitaly Churkin died unexpectedly at his office at the Russian mission in New York. His departure may be the most significant of all three. Ban was a stodgy bureaucrat. Power was a fiery but often frustrated advocate for serious U.N. interventions in trouble spots like the Central African Republic and South Sudan. Churkin was an old-school […]

A Papuan protester with a poster of a map of Papua province during a demonstration outside the office of Freeport-McMoRan's Indonesian subsidiary, Jakarta, March 1, 2006 (AP photo by Dita Alangkara).

Indonesia has one of the world’s greatest stores of natural resources, but it can sometimes be tricky getting them out of the ground. Over 20 percent of the world’s tin comes from this archipelagic nation. In West Papua province, the Grasberg mine contains the world’s largest store of gold and the world’s third-largest store of copper. Majority-owned and operated by American mining giant Freeport-McMoRan, the mine is home to an estimated $100 billion in reserves. But at the moment, Freeport is exporting very little ore and has begun laying off its workforce at the mine amid a standoff with the […]

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room, Seoul, South Korea, Oct. 13, 2016 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series on income inequality and poverty reduction in various countries around the world. Last year, millions of South Koreans joined marches to demand that President Park Geun-hye step down over a corruption and influence-peddling scandal. But the protests also drew on popular grievances over growing economic inequalities. In an email interview, Anthony P. D’Costa, chair and professor of contemporary Indian studies at the University of Melbourne and editor of “After-Development Dynamics: South Korea’s Engagement with Contemporary Asia,” discusses income inequality in South Korea. WPR: What is the extent of income […]

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at NATO headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, Feb. 20, 2017 (AP photo by Virginia Mayo).

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence traveled to Europe over the weekend in an effort to reassure nervous allies about America’s commitment to NATO and the trans-Atlantic relationship. First in Munich, at the annual security conference there, and then in Brussels, Pence delivered a message more in line with what Europeans are used to hearing about the American approach to the alliance. Like U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, who preceded him last week in Brussels, Pence added a pinch of tough love to the healthy dose of soothing affection. Europeans will need to contribute more to their defense if they expect […]

Heads of state at the V Summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Bavaro, Dominican Republic, Jan. 25, 2017 (AP photo by Tatiana Fernandez).

In the past four years, Latin America’s so-called pink tide—the much-reported electoral shift to the left—has receded, after populist governments came under siege amid corruption scandals and economic disasters wrought by extravagant spending. The result has been a new wave of either more conservative governments hewing to an agenda of free trade, as in Argentina or Brazil, or the possibly imminent rejection of governments carrying on the legacy of their forebears, as in Bolivia, Ecuador and—should elections and other democratic conditions ever return—Venezuela. But just when Latin America’s populists had exhausted themselves, Donald Trump came along, appearing to embrace many […]

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