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Research: Global Security Challenges

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Africa
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Iran
Middle East
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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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> Investing in women's economic resilience & social wellbeing: Rethinking the role of private sector development in Africa

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supported by Nestlé

Part of the 'Africa Rising? Building Africa's Productive Capacity for Inclusive Growth' series

This series of roundtable discussions - supported by Nestlé - are taking place at a time when global development priorities are being reshaped and redefined by the 17 recently adopted UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Change agreement (COP21). COP21 aims to keep the global temperature rise below 1.5°C (above pre-industrial levels) however, has yet to provide the commitments needed to achieve this aspiration. In addition, the UN Commission on the Status of Women will mark its 60th anniversary (CSW60) in 2016. Its priority focus will be women's empowerment and sustainable development. The level of global inequality and insecurity disproportionately affecting women and girls continues to be compounded by an unprecedented global economic crisis, on-going austerity and mounting uncertainty. These conditions present very real challenges for public spending dedicated to sustainable development. As such, understanding the development transformation role played by business and enterprise has become increasingly important.

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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.

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

[Cover of The information battle: How governments in the former Soviet Union promote their agendas & attack their opponents abroad]

Exporting Repression series

Adam Hug (Ed.)

March 2017 Hard copy: £7.95, plus £1 p+p.

Download The information battle publication (2.75 megabyte PDF)

A new Foreign Policy Centre publication examines the ways in which the governments of former Soviet Union (FSU) look to shape international narratives about themselves by using media, social media, advertising and supportive organisations to promote their worldview and challenge the people, institutions and ideas that oppose them. The information battle examines the influence of Russian media content in the former Soviet Union and the wider world. This is delivered through Russian domestic TV channels reaching Russian-speaking audiences in the region, the developing role of the news agency Sputnik and the international broadcaster RT. The publication examines how these outlets are used not only to promote Russian political narratives but to challenge Western approaches and sow confusion about what is going on in the world. It offers ideas for how independent broadcasters and international outlets can provide effective alternatives.

Despite cracking down on Western-backed NGOs at home, the governments of the former Soviet Union are seeking to directly influence the European and US political debate through NGOs, think tanks and lobbying organisations. This publication looks at how to improve the transparency and accountability of such actions. Repressive regimes that use advertising and the hosting of international events to promote themselves, are increasingly being challenged by human rights defenders through the publicity such activities bring. It also looks at the way social media is used by regimes to target opposition activists and other critics. The publication argues that, in what is increasingly becoming a battle involving the use of soft power and information, Western institutions have been losing ground and must take action in order to meet the challenge.

The publication contains contributions by regional and international experts: Natalia Antelava, Coda Story; Ana Divali and Revaz Koiava, Caucasian House; Arzu Geybulla; Richard Giragosian, Regional Studies Center; Melissa Hooper, Human Rights First; Adam Hug (ed.), Foreign Policy Centre; Rasto Kuzel, Memo 98; Dr David Lewis, University of Exeter; Ben Nimmo, Atlantic Council; and Dr Justin Schlosberg, Birkbeck, University of London. Kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations as part of the FPC's Exporting Repression project.


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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]

Exporting Repression series

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. Kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations as part of the FPC's Exporting Repression project.


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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 ]

Exporting Repression series

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. Kindly supported by the Open Society Foundations as part of the FPC's Exporting Repression project.

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Past Events

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> The information battle: Brussels

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

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:

  • Rebecca Harms MEP, Chair, Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
  • Kati Piri MEP, Committee on Foreign Affairs
  • Jakub Kalensky, East StratCom Task Force, European External Action Service
  • Dr Justin Schlosberg, Lecturer in Journalism and Media, Birkbeck, University of London

Chair: Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

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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> 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
  • Adam Hug, Policy Director, Foreign Policy Centre

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 information battle: London, 21 March 6pm (310 kilobyte PDF)


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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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