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Foreign Policy Centre

Ideas for a fairer world

Research: Global Security Challenges

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Africa
Energy and Environment
Iran
Middle East
South Asia
USA & Transatlantic Relations

The Global Security Challenges programme takes broad overview of the key security problems facing the international community. Its scope ranges from traditional defence and conflict issues to wider questions of competition for resources, climate change, migration, political and religious extremism.

Upcoming Events

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> Iran Human Rights Review: Where now for human rights in Iran?

IHRR

Date: Tuesday 21st February 2017

Time: 6 - 7.30pm

Venue: Committee Room 9, House of Commons, SW1A 0AA

Speakers:

  • Dr Ahmed Shaheed, former UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran and current UN SR on Freedom of Religion or Belief
  • Mehrangiz Kar, Iranian Lawyer and Chairperson of the Siamak Pourzand Foundation
  • Tahirih Danesh, Chief Editor, Iran Human Rights Review
  • Roya Kashefi-Ladjevardi, Head of Human Rights - Association des Chercheurs Iraniens

Chair: Rt Hon. Ann Clwyd MP, Chair of the Human Rights APPG

This event will take place as Iran looks ahead to a Presidential election in May 2017, where even the challenging human rights situation under the Rouhani Presidency is at risk of deteriorating further under growing pressure from hardliners. It will explore the current culture of human rights in Iran and attempts by sections of the regime to position personal freedoms as threats to Iran's security. The seminar will focus on the themes of the three latest editions of the FPC's Iran Human Rights Review: the human rights impact of the economy as sanctions are slowly lifted; issues of women and human rights; and the upcoming edition on due process (due to launch in early 2017).

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and any affiliation.

Download IHRR event February 21 2016 (210 kilobyte PDF)


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> The information battle: how governments in the former Soviet Union promote their agendas & attack their opponents abroad

DATE: Tuesday 21 March 2017

TIME: 18:00 - 19:30

VENUE: Committee Room 9, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Speakers:

  • Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport
  • Dr Justin Schlosberg, Lecturer in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Dr David Lewis, Senior Lecturer and Director of Education, University of Exeter
  • Further speakers to be confirmed

Chair: Maeve Shearlaw, Commissioning Editor– World Networks, The Guardian

This event will focus on the ways in which governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) countries look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their points of view and exert pressure on those who oppose them. The event will look to build on and broaden the existing literature on Russian-backed internationally focused media outlets and pro-government media elsewhere in the region. It will explore how they operate to shape global narratives about their countries, influence thinking on international disputes, blunt criticism of their actions while challenging Western values and behaviour. It will look at similarities and differences between the operation of outlets from the FSU and Western supported global news services.

The event will examine the ways in which authoritarian regimes work to project their image abroad beyond the use of the media. This includes the use of sponsorship and advertising to shape international perceptions in addition to the way in which regimes create or support their own think tanks, pressure groups, diasporan organisations, parliamentary groups and work with others (such as public affairs agencies) to promote their policy agendas and influence the responses of international institutions and policy makers.

The event may also explore how government backed broadcasters, press and websites from the FSU run stories to attempt to discredit the work of diasporan and other activists challenging official narratives from outside the country. At the direction or encouragement of the authorities this can involve direct harassment, the production of untrue or politically distorted stories that aim to make activists' lives difficult even when abroad (as well as putting pressure on friends and family who remain in the country). The event will explore the growing fight for control of the social media space - with organized pro-government activity becoming increasingly visible both in responding to the actions of opposition and independent civil society and in directly promoting their agenda online. These methods include the use of paid-for trolling and the mobilization of 'patriotic youth movements' to target opponents and spread pro-government narratives to national, diasporan and international audiences.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and affiliation (if you have one). Free copies of the new publication will be available. The event is free and open to all.

Download the report (300 kilobyte PDF)


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> The information battle- Brussels

DATE: Wednesday 29th March 2017

TIME: 4.30pm - 6:00pm

VENUE: Open Society European Policy Institute, Rue du Trône 130,Brussels B-1050, Belgium

Speakers:

  • Jakub Kalensky, East StratCom Task Force, European External Action Service
  • Dr Justin Schlosberg, Lecturer in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre
  • Speakers to be confirmed shortly

Chair: TBC

This event will focus on the ways in which governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) countries look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their points of view and exert pressure on those who oppose them. The event will look to build on and broaden the existing literature on Russian-backed internationally focused media outlets and pro-government media elsewhere in the region. It will explore how they operate to shape global narratives about their countries, influence thinking on international disputes, blunt criticism of their actions while challenging Western values and behaviour. It will look at similarities and differences between the operation of outlets from the FSU and Western supported global news services.

The event will examine the ways in which authoritarian regimes work to project their image abroad beyond the use of the media. This includes the use of sponsorship and advertising to shape international perceptions in addition to the way in which regimes create or support their own think tanks, pressure groups, diasporan organisations, parliamentary groups and work with others (such as public affairs agencies) to promote their policy agendas and influence the responses of international institutions and policy makers.

The event may also explore how government backed broadcasters, press and websites from the FSU run stories to attempt to discredit the work of diasporan and other activists challenging official narratives from outside the country. At the direction or encouragement of the authorities this can involve direct harassment, the production of untrue or politically distorted stories that aim to make activists' lives difficult even when abroad (as well as putting pressure on friends and family who remain in the country). The event will explore the growing fight for control of the social media space - with organized pro-government activity becoming increasingly visible both in responding to the actions of opposition and independent civil society and in directly promoting their agenda online. These methods include the use of paid-for trolling and the mobilization of 'patriotic youth movements' to target opponents and spread pro-government narratives to national, diasporan and international audiences.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and affiliation (if you have one). Free copies of the new publication will be available. The event is free and open to all.


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Articles

> FPC Briefing – The Coming Storm: US-China Relations Under Trump

By Dr Chris Ogden .

FPC Senior Associate Dr Chris Ogden sets out some of the political and strategic challenges facing US-China relations ahead of the coming Trump Presidency.

According to Dr Ogden both during and after the 2016 US presidential elections, China featured significantly in the campaign of eventual victor Donald Trump. In the President-elect's eyes Beijing is Washington's most dangerous strategic competitor that threatens the US's ability to control and lead the world. Following on from his victory, Trump has continued to directly condemn China, and has in many ways accelerated his attacks on Beijing. In doing so, the new American leader appears to be at best questioning, and at worst shattering, several of the key understandings that were thought to have underpinned US-China relations, which serves to suggest that the world's two largest economies are entering a stormy period.

Download FPC Briefing –The Coming Storm: US-China Relations and Trump (390 kilobyte PDF)


> Reflections on the situation in eastern Ukraine-a 2017 perspective

By Craig Oliphant.

There are perhaps two key myths about Ukraine that need to be challenged and pushed back on:

1. Firstly, that 2013 saw a sudden turn by Ukraine towards the EU, and marked a departure from what came before. Kyiv was focused under different presidents on its EU aspirations. The catalyst for Maidan in November 2013 was the decision by President Yanukovich (under pressure) to opt not to sign the Association Agreement.

2. The second myth is that Donbas was the "powerhouse of Ukraine's economy. In fact, that role fell to Kyiv and Dnipro. Donbas had increasingly become the rustbelt of Ukraine.

Full text >


> FPC Briefing: Why Burma's political transition should be viewed with caution

By John Harley Breen.

John Harley Breen examines the challenges Burma/Myanmar faces as it attempts to transition to a more open political structure after decades of military and colonial domination. It looks at the history of military rule and the economic and political power structures that this embedded. The paper looks at relationship between the state and minority groups across the country and challenges around the emerging peace process.

Download FPC Briefing: Burma's political transition (400 kilobyte PDF)


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Publications

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> No shelter: the harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union

[Cover of No shelter: the harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union]

Adam Hug (Ed.)

November 2016 Hard copy: £7.95, plus £1 p+p.

Download No Shelter publication (2.23 megabyte PDF)

A new Foreign Policy Centre publication No shelter: the harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union examines the experiences of activists and other people who have had to leave their former Soviet country of origin due to the risk of persecution at home, but who are unable to escape the pressures of their country's security services. It looks at both the legal and illegal means used by the security services to put pressure on exiles from Interpol Red Notices and formal extradition procedures, to surveillance, harassment, physical attacks, kidnapping and assassination. Though the publication looks at the issue across the post-Soviet region there is a particular focus on the activities of the security services from Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and on both Turkey and Russia as places where exiles are most at risk. No Shelter examines regional security service cooperation and collusion in putting pressure on activists, alongside the influence of Western activities that have helped exacerbate the situation.

The publication contains contributions from: Nadejda Ataeva, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia; Civil Rights Defenders; Dr Mark Galeotti, Institute of International Relations-Prague; Arzu Geybulla; Giorgi Gogia, Human Rights Watch; Dr John Heathershaw, Eve Bishop and Rosa Brown, University of Exeter; Adam Hug (Ed.), Foreign Policy Centre; Dr Edward Lemon, Columbia University.


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> Sharing worst practice: How countries and institutions in the former Soviet Union help create legal tools of repression

[Cover of Sharing worst practice: How countries and institutions in the former Soviet Union help create legal tools of repression ]

Adam Hug (Ed.)

May 2016 Hard copy: £7.95, plus £1 p+p.

Download Sharing worst practice (1.45 megabyte PDF)

Sharing worst practice: How countries and institutions in the former Soviet Union help create legal tools of repression examines the ways in which authoritarian regimes learn from each other and collaborate to develop repressive practices. The publication looks at the role of regional structures in the development of repressive rules and norms of behaviour, as well as exploring the extent of bilateral influence, most notably from Russia. It examines the impact of these countries' shared Soviet heritage and the nature of their current governments in determining their desire to emulate practices from neighbouring countries that undermine human rights. The publication explores the development of copycat anti-NGO and anti-LGBTI legislation, alongside similar restrictions on freedom of assembly, media and internet use. The publication also looks at the role security concerns play in developing and excusing bad practice, exploring the sometimes negative role of Western countries as part of the 'War on Terror'.

The publication contains contributions by: Prof Thomas Ambrosio, North Dakota State University; Dr Michael Hamilton, University of East Anglia; Joanna Hoare and Maisy Weicherding, Amnesty International; Melissa Hooper, Human Rights First; Adam Hug (ed.), Foreign Policy Centre; Eka Iakobishvili; Kate Levine, EHRAC; Dr David Lewis, University of Exeter; Katie Morris, Article 19.

Further information >


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> Shelter from the storm?

[Cover of Shelter from the storm?]

Adam Hug (Ed.)

April 2014

Download Shelter from the storm? (1.82 megabyte PDF)

Shelter from the storm? The asylum, refuge and extradition situation facing activists from the former Soviet Union in the CIS and Europe looks at some of the key issues around asylum, extradition and the provision of refuge for human rights defenders, political and religious activists and other controversial figures from the former Soviet Union. It examines the extent to which Russia and other CIS countries abide by their obligations under European and international law when facing extradition requests from fellow signatories to the Minsk Convention. It also explores European asylum and immigration policies and how they impact on activists from the former Soviet Union.

Shelter from the Storm? contains contributions from: Felix Corley (Forum 18); Elisabeth Dyvik (ICORN The International Cities of Refuge Network); Julia Hall and Maisy Weicherding (Amnesty International); Adam Hug (ed., Foreign Policy Centre); Dr David Lewis (University of Exeter); Kris Pollett and Claire Rimmer Quaid (European Council on Refugees and Exiles – ECRE); Alex Tinsley (Fair Trials International); and Daria Trenina (MGIMO-University).


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Past Events

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> No shelter: the harassment of activists abroad by intelligence services from the former Soviet Union

Date: Tuesday November 22nd 2016

Time: 6.00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Thatcher Room, Portcullis House, Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London

Speakers:

  • Chris Bryant MP
  • Dr John Heathershaw, Associate Professor in International Relations, University of Exeter
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre
  • Further speakers tbc

Chair: Rt Hon. Fiona Mactaggart MP, Member of the Intelligence and Security Committee

This seminar will examine the experiences of a wide range of civil society activists, opposition politicians, religious leaders and others who have had to leave their former Soviet country of origin due to the risk of persecution at home, but who are unable to escape the pressures of their country's security services, even in exile. It will discuss the experiences of activists being monitored, followed, harassed, attacked, kidnapped or killed across the former Soviet Union and beyond.

The seminar will analyse CIS security service cooperation, when the intelligence service of the country where an activist is seeking shelter either formally collaborates with or turns a blind eye to the activities of the intelligence services of the activist's home country in tracking, harassing, attacking or kidnapping them. There will be a particular focus on the activities of the security services of Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, against whom there are strong allegations of involvement in a number of murders, attacks, kidnappings and threats against activists and opponents outside their borders. It will also look at the countries where activists in exile seem to be most at risk of harassment, noting in particular the situations in Russia and Turkey.

The No Shelter seminar will also explore issues around the monitoring of activists' emails, phone calls and other forms of communication by intelligence services and the practical challenges human rights defenders and others face in keeping their information secure from prying eyes.

The seminar may also look at the role played by Western companies in exporting technology and consultancy services that help develop the surveillance systems of authoritarian regimes, or that can be used for torture and ill-treatment. It may also explore the extent to which Western intelligence cooperates with intelligence agencies from the former Soviet Union involved in such practices.

Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk providing your name and any affiliation.

Download No Shelter Seminar flyer (360 kilobyte PDF)


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> The Foreign Policy Centre at the 2015 Conservative Party Conference

Tuesday 6 October - Manchester

The Foreign Policy Centre is hosting a fringe event at this year's Conservative Party Conference in Manchester. Please click below to download the flyer. The event is free and open to all, however Conference accreditation WILL be required to gain access to the venue which is located inside the secure zone.

Download FPC fringe at the 2015 Conservative Party Conference (210 kilobyte PDF)


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> Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership- London second seminar

Date: Tuesday 3rd March 2015

Time: 6.00pm-7.30pm

Venue: Committee Room 16, House of Commons, Westminster

Speakers:

  • Mike Gapes MP, Member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee (Labour)
  • Laura Sandys MP (Conservative)
  • Baroness Falkner, Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesperson
  • Dr Andrew Wilson, Reader in Ukrainian Studies, UCL School of Slavonic & East European Studies and Senior Policy Fellow, ECFR
  • Dr Kevork Oskanian, Research Fellow, University of Birmingham and FPC Research Associate

Chair: Mary Dejevsky, Chief Editorial Writer and Columnist, The Independent

This second London seminar as part of the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership project, in partnership with the European Commission Representation in the UK, will take stock of recent developments in the EU's relationship with the countries in its eastern neighbourhood: Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Belarus and Ukraine. The issue of the EU's role in the region and the influence of the Russian-led alternative the Eurasian Economic Union have been at the heart of a major geo-political upheaval. The decision by Ukraine's then President Yanukovych to reject Eastern Partnership under pressure from Russia in the summer of 2013 lit the spark for the dramatic subsequent events in that country, while Armenia made a similar switch under Russian pressure ahead of the key November 2013 Vilnius summit. This seminar will look at the key planks of the EU's approach to the region including the offers of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements, visa reform, funding for reform projects and political engagement.

Free copies of the Trouble in the Neighbourhood? The future of the EU's Eastern Partnership publication will be available.

The event is free and open to all. Please RSVP to events@fpc.org.uk

Download Trouble in the Neighbourhood? London second seminar flyer (430 kilobyte PDF)


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