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Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7442 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-05-16 14:54:19 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-05-16 13:54:19 [post_content] => Summary: The lessons which the international community have drawn thus far from Russia's aggression against Ukraine have been dominated by the necessity of measures in the military sphere. However, the war has also exposed weaknesses in the soft power field - such as polarisation along political and geographic boundaries - as well as illuminated the role of exclusion, the underestimation of societies' potential reform, and the domination of neopatriarchy in contemporary politics and international relations. Dr Leila Alieva, an Affiliate of REES, Oxford School for Global and Area Studies (OSGA), shares her analysis of these themes, based on her research and lived experience. Read the author's in depth article hereDisclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Soft power lessons from Russia’s war: How to overcome polarisation and strengthen liberal democracy [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => soft-power-lessons-from-russias-war-how-to-overcome-polarisation-and-strengthen-liberal-democracy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-05-17 13:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-05-17 12:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7420 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-05-07 10:17:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-05-07 09:17:38 [post_content] => Over the past decade, international trade has become an increasingly contentious political issue in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Departing from a postwar consensus in favour of liberalising trade, both countries have embraced a more ambiguous and complex attitude towards the issue. Neither country has embraced outright protectionism, but both have sought to manage and redirect trade and investment flows. By doing so, they have moved away from an approach to trade which focuses on maximising economic growth and towards one which involves a blend of political and national security considerations. As both countries approach their next national elections, it is time to take stock of these trends and to consider how they might develop further in the coming years. As a struggle is underway to rewrite the rules of the international economy in regions like the Indo-Pacific, choices taken in Washington and London will have far-reaching impact. At stake are the standards of living, environmental protections, and labour rules affecting billions of people around the world. The new trade policyFor different reasons, both the UK and the US have moved away from a pure emphasis on economic efficiency in their recent trade policy. Although supporters often claimed that Brexit was a free trade measure designed to increase the UK’s economic opportunities abroad, its main practical effect has been to make trade between the UK and its largest export market more difficult. This negative effect on trade with the European Union was supposed to be offset by the UK’s ability to negotiate its own free trade agreements with third countries. The results of this were uncertain at the time of Brexit and have mostly proved to be disappointing since. This has particularly been so in the case of a US-UK trade agreement, which many supporters of Brexit touted as a major goal. In effect, Brexit has meant sacrificing a measure of future economic growth in order to “take back control” of other policy areas from Brussels.[1] Over roughly the same period, the US has also backed away from its past support for a liberalising trade agenda. President Trump famously started a trade war with China and pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping free trade agreement covering much of the Pacific rim. But his successor President Biden has proven to be sceptical of trade as well, imposing new economic sanctions on China, declining to rejoin the TPP, and announcing that expanding market access is no longer a priority of US trade policy. The result has been the emergence of a new and powerful protectionist coalition in American politics. On one side, it comprises economic nationalists, China hawks, and members of Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) movement, who see trade as weakening the American economy and destroying its manufacturing base. The other side consists firstly of economic progressives who see free trade deals as enriching corporations at the expense of American workers, and secondly of Democrats concerned about winning votes in key industrial Midwestern swing states. This protectionist coalition reached its ascendancy at precisely the wrong moment for the UK, which since 2016 has been seeking a US-UK trade deal. There has been little to no appetite in Washington for expanding the access that the two countries have to the other’s market, which is the key goal of British policymakers. Limited talks over harmonising regulations and addressing other barriers to trade fizzled out late last year amid concerns among Democrats that even appearing to consider a substantive new trade agreement would harm them in November’s election.[2] Even if there were a political appetite for a deal, long-running disagreements over agricultural standards would make one hard to achieve. These political dynamics – both the ascendancy of a protectionist coalition in the United States and the specific barriers to a US-UK agreement – are not likely to improve even after this year’s elections. It is possible that, with the election behind it, a second Biden administration might return to talks on a limited agreement dealing mostly with regulation, but talks on expanding market access are unlikely. Trump, meanwhile, is campaigning on increasingly draconian trade policies, including a flat 10% tariff on all imports.[3] His advisors are also reportedly debating whether to purposefully devalue the dollar, which would make British exports to the United States less competitive.[4] These policies could significantly harm US-UK trade and foreclose the possibility of any constructive new agreement. A whole world of tradeEven with US-UK trade arrangements appearing uncertain, both the UK and the United States are involved in setting and influencing the rules of the international economy further afield. As it has moved away from traditional free trade agreements, the Biden administration has not completely lacked a trade policy. It has focused instead on more narrow negotiations which have sought to address non-tariff barriers, but also to persuade partners to raise their environmental and labour standards. Its most notable attempt came in the form of the Indo Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), an agreement covering 12 nations containing 2.6 billion people and over a third of the global economy.[5] Although these headline figures sound impressive, the results of IPEF have been limited. Last year, the cooperating nations reached minor agreements on coordinating supply chains and sharing knowledge related to the green energy transition. But the Biden administration walked away from the portion of the agreement related to environmental and labour standards, believing that the other IPEF states – which include India, Japan, and Vietnam – were not willing to do enough to satisfy American opinion.[6] The travails of IPEF revealed the limits of the Biden administration’s approach. Without offering its partners increased access to the US market, the administration gave them little incentive to raise their environmental and labour standards, which would in turn make their products less competitive internationally. But this means that the United States has lost the opportunity to have a strong voice in determining the economic future of the region. This points to there being a strong chance that the initiative will pass to China, which sits at the centre of a growing economic bloc called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – and which does little to raise environmental protections or standards for workers.[7] The UK has taken a different approach. In recent years, it has signed several new bilateral free trade agreements in the region – with New Zealand and Australia – and joined the successor to the TPP, known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The UK Government has not taken a formal position on IPEF, but the UK may try to join it in the future.[8] Although the benefits to the British economy are small, these moves have signalled that the UK remains interested in new trade agreements and wants to play an increased geopolitical role in the region. This looks likely to remain the case regardless of the outcome of the next UK general election. The most contentious international economic issue faced by the two countries in the coming years is likely to be relations with China. Trump has signalled that he is looking to engage in extremely harsh economic policies against China if elected. In this case, the UK will likely find itself caught uncomfortably between Washington and more dovish European countries who want to maintain economic ties with Beijing. Particularly if Trump also engages in new trade measures against European countries – as he did in his first term – it will be extremely difficult for the UK to pursue a liberalising agenda. Instead, the world is likely to be consumed by a new round of trade wars. More harmonious relations can be expected between a second Biden administration and a government led by the Labour Party, which has voiced support for the “new overseas investment and regulatory partnerships” which are at the centre of the Biden administration’s approach.[9] Ultimately, however, UK policymakers who want to pursue an agenda of liberalisation and integration will be at the mercy of sentiment in Washington. The UK economy is simply not big enough for London to drive the process itself. A difficult futureBoth the UK and the US have identified the Indo-Pacific as a region which is key to the future of global politics and economics. But political reservations in Washington are currently holding both countries back from playing a decisive role in setting the economic rules of the region. The UK’s enthusiasm is not matched by its heft, whereas America’s heft goes to waste without enthusiasm to match. By working together, the two countries could offer a positive, optimistic vision of the international economy – one which prioritises raising environmental and labour standards as well as boosting economic growth. The aftermath of this year’s elections in both countries will be a critical test of whether this is possible, or whether familiar barriers and animosities will lead to another wave of protectionism. Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office. [1] Jonathan Portes, The Impact Of Brexit On The UK Economy: Reviewing The Evidence, VOX EU, July 2023,[2] Politico, Biden Quietly Shelves Trade Pact With UK Before 2024 Elections, December 2023,[3] Katie Lobosco, Trump Wants More Tariffs. His Earlier Trade Wars Cost Americans $230 Billion To Date, CNN, March 2024,[4] Gavin Bade, Trump Trade Advisors Plot Dollar Devaluation, Politico, April 2024,[5] World Economics, Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), May 2024,[6] Gavin Bade, RIP ‘Worker-Centered Trade’: Biden’s Global Economic Agenda Stalls, Politico, January 2024,[7] Andrew Gawthorpe, Biden’s Trade Policy Is Missing One Thing: Partners, World Politics Review, March 2024,[8] Foreign Affairs Committee, Tilting Horizons: The Integrated Review And The Indo-Pacific – Government Response To The Committee’s Eighth Report of Session 2022–23, UK Parliament, March 2024,[9] David Lammy, The Case for Progressive Realism: Why Britain Must Chart A New Global Course, Foreign Affairs, April 2024, See also David Lammy, Britain Reconnected: A Foreign Policy For Security And Prosperity At Home (London, 2023), p. 24. [post_title] => The Transatlantic Partnership: Looking ahead on the impacts of trade [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-transatlantic-partnership-looking-ahead-on-the-impacts-of-trade [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-05-07 10:17:38 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-05-07 09:17:38 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7391 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-03-19 00:01:08 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-03-18 23:01:08 [post_content] => The global struggle to protect free speech has reached a new fever pitch. The power of news media to act as a safeguard against tyranny has been critically undermined as the world’s autocracies have grown to outnumber the democracies. The Economist says a global gag on free speech has tightened thanks to “the new censors”.[1] Technology has brought new opportunities to suppress truthful communications, and the coarsening of language has poisoned the well of public debate, affecting us all. Recognising those dangers, 200 leading international lawyers and civil society figures gathered in London in January at the launch of a remarkable initiative aimed to turn back the tide by harnessing the law in the service of free speech. Renowned human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and Lord Neuberger, former President of the UK Supreme Court, have marshalled some of the world’s most authoritative jurists. Their joint publication Freedom of Speech in International Law (OUP) seeks to codify the universal rights to freedom of expression in a single substantial volume for the first time.[2] The book charts the chilling decline in protections for speech in multiple jurisdictions. It also it aims to provide a useable roadmap for governments to comply with the minimum standards in law that they have signed up to. The endeavour is inspired by the belief that the impressive body of international human rights laws that has been developed since 1945 – although much scorned and often flouted – can yet be used by “courts and newsrooms” around the world to win this Manichean contest. Lord Neuberger sounded a personal alarm, telling the meeting he had never before been so keenly aware of the importance and the fragility of international law. When Slobodan Milošević was found guilty of war crimes at the tribunal in The Hague in 1999, he had thought that victory for justice would usher in a new “era of accountability”. Now instead he saw signs of an “age of impunity and apathy”, and declared it to be imperative to halt the slide towards “unreason” or even fascism. Amal Clooney is the project’s moving spirit. In Gaza, journalists are “our eyes and ears”, Clooney said, but more than 70 had been killed in “the deadliest month ever recorded” for journalists in any conflict. In India the authorities’ widespread use of sedition and terrorism laws sends journalists and human rights defenders to jail for years even before a conviction. In the Philippines the Nobel prize-winning journalist Maria Ressa still faces a possible six years in jail after a “false” libel conviction in a corruption case.[3] And in Thailand thousands of citizens have been prosecuted for criticising the King, an offence which carries a penalty of up to 15 years in jail. Western states’ legal provisions that criminalise speech attract equally blunt criticism. Amal Clooney singled out the failure of the USA and the UK to recognise public interest as a defence against harsh anti-terrorism laws, meaning that prosecutions in both jurisdictions can lead to long jail sentences and those laws have a wider “chilling effect” on free speech. Lord Neuberger acknowledged his own embarrassment that not so long ago British judges had backed the use of secret super-injunctions to curtail free speech on important public issues. The authors – seven in all – focus on four categories of laws which they say are being weaponised to silence the press and independent voices: laws regulating political speech, false speech, hate speech, and speech related to official secrets and national security. They recount how new legislative tools are being used by states to quash dissent – not only familiar ones like sedition, treason and criminal defamation laws but increasingly terrorism, ‘false news’ and other vague laws that autocrats use to protect themselves against unflattering press. Hong Kong, for example, has revived sedition laws which have lain dormant for decades with devastating consequences for publisher Jimmy Lai and a host of other critical voices. The building blocks of free speech protectionThe postwar framework of international human rights, explicitly aimed at preventing a repeat of the Holocaust and carnage of World War Two war, accorded seminal importance to the rights of freedom of expression and opinion from the start. In 1948 the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the UDHR proclaimed that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes “the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”. A slate of legitimate restrictions on freedom of expression were also identified, in particular with regard to the rights of others, national security, public order, and public health; but enforcement of those restrictions is permissible only if provided for by law, necessary in democratic society, and proportionate. In 1976 the right to free speech was first made legally binding through the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which has been ratified by 173 states. Clooney, Neuberger and the other co-authors set out with meticulous clarity and in granular detail how, despite setbacks, the jurisprudence arising from the various international and regional treaties shows broad convergence on key issues. Among them are the principles that restrictions on free speech must be tightly drawn and not vague or overbroad; that freedom of opinion may never be curtailed; and that imprisonment is never an appropriate penalty for speech unless it also involves more serious harms such as incitement to violence. International bodies also broadly agree on the importance of protecting the press. The UN Human Rights Committee, interpreting the ICCPR’s provisions on freedoms of opinion and expression in its 2011 guidance to state authorities, says that “a free, uncensored and unhindered press is essential in any society”;[4] and that the press merits certain particular protections because of its role in enabling and promoting open public debate, without which an informed and engaged citizenry cannot exist. The European Court of Human Rights has strongly endorsed the vital “public watchdog role” of the press, which is accorded the broadest scope of protection in its case law, including with respect to the protection of journalists’ confidential sources. Yet in reality, Amal Clooney says, states have often imposed the harshest possible penalties on journalists to block or curtail their work to keep the public informed. In particular, states weaponise their legal systems by allowing “baseless lawsuits against journalists” that are often prohibitively expensive to defend against. In 2023, the UK Government faced a blizzard of criticism when it was revealed that the government gave permission for sanctioned Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin to sue the founder of Bellingcat, Eliot Higgins, the man who had exposed Prigozhin’s crimes as head of the Wagner group. South African lawyer and academic Dr Dario Milo co-authored the book’s chapter on insulting speech. He called for states to act decisively to end “lawfare”, the widespread and cynical use of vexatious or abusive lawsuits or legal threats by the rich and powerful to harass and silence journalists and activists who report on matters of public interest. The numbers involved are extraordinary. In a 2023 survey of around 500 media workers in over 100 countries, half of the respondents reported that they or their media were facing legal threats.[5] The authors call for legal protections against abuse, including provisions for the early dismissal of frivolous cases, placing the burden proof on the plaintiff, and awarding full legal costs to defendants who are cleared. Misuses and law and the “undoing” of vital protections The book draws on exhaustive research data to show how devastating the real-world consequences of misuses of the law can be. Between 2014 and 2020 over 9000 people were imprisoned in Turkey for insulting President Erdogan. Before she was murdered, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia faced more than 40 libel claims, many of them from politicians or public officials. As many as 160 states still have criminal defamation laws on their books; and the global census of jailed journalist by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that 320 journalists – close to an all-time record number – were imprisoned as of December 2023. Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have enacted a raft of new misinformation laws in the past decade, especially related to speech on the internet. At least 18 states passed legislation against ‘fake information’ or ‘online misinformation’. Many of them apply criminal penalties and have extraterritorial reach. In Hungary, for example, a conviction can lead to a five year prison term. In many cases the institutions of the state – the judiciary, military or the government – have applied those laws to protect their own reputations in ways which, the authors insist, violates international legal standards. Among the book’s standout recommendations is that “false” speech should not be liable to penalties unless real-world harms result from it. The ubiquity of the Internet in people’s lives has landed private companies with a hornet’s nest of responsibilities to take quasi-judicial decisions by the minute about words and images are allowed on their Platforms. The authors propose as a general rule that those companies should recognise international human rights standards as “a floor, not a ceiling, of speech protection”. The scale of the task is extraordinary: Facebook/Meta’s removal of hateful material rose tenfold in two years up to 2020, while TikTok alone removed more than 100 million videos in the first half of that year Big technology and social media companies face fierce criticism from all sides, but this examination of their record shows that leading players have committed to ensuring that their policies are consistent with human rights standards. Meta’s Oversight Board of independent experts is tasked with determining “what to take down, what to leave up and why’. Its task includes holding the company to account to live up to its pledge to comply with international human rights standards. A systemic obstacle to a uniform global code of practice lies in the uneven or contradictory principles enshrined in the major sources of standards on free speech and human rights. Twitter (now known as ‘X’) claims to ground its values in both the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the European Convention, which are “two very different bodies of law”. Meta’s Oversight Board, however, has said it would not apply the First Amendment as it does not govern the conduct of private companies. The field of allowable speech online is fiercely contested. The less than satisfactory conclusion reached here is that there is as yet “no single principle for resolving conflicts of interpretation, nor a hierarchy or avenue of appeal”. A future Research report focusing on Internet shutdowns is promised by members of the same team of legal experts.[6] International law: a launchpad for recovering the lost ground of free speech?The authors also point to important legal and institutional reforms that have recently been launched but which must gather wider political traction and public support if they are to have a decisive impact. The Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers, for example, has issued a strong Recommendation to its 46 member states on countering SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation). Regional human rights courts in Africa and the Americas have delivered landmark judgements – for example, directing state authorities to decriminalise defamation and to honour their obligations to give emergency protection to journalists who face imminent threats of violence. The past decade has seen the birth of some major initiatives in which governments are working in tandem with dynamic civil society and stakeholder organisations as never before. Amal Clooney, David Neuberger and Darius Milo are members of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.[7] The panel is an independent advisory body of the Media Freedom Coalition established by the UK and Canada in 2019.[8] The Coalition now comprises 50 countries, which have made a public commitment to promote and protect a vibrant, free, and independent media. Such innovations reflect the encouraging fact that the stifling of free speech and independent media and its pernicious impact on standards of democratic behaviour have risen sharply up the international policy agenda, often driven by dynamic civil society organisations. The 46 member states of the Council of Europe recently began an unprecedented Europe-wide Journalists matter campaign which will go on until 2027, aimed at improving thsafety of journalists, protecting media freedom, and raising wider public awareness of the necessary part journalists play in safeguarding democratic and pluralistic societies.[9] There is also a message for academics here. Engaged academics are committed to advancing the implementation of the UN Action Plan on the Safety of journalists and the Issue of Impunity through collaborative research with local actors in order to develop policies which can strengthen protections and safeguard journalists’ rights.[10] Yet the authors observe that many scholars focus somewhat narrowly on one jurisdiction or type of speech, such as defamation, without demonstrating connections between those findings and the wider picture. The explicit aim of the new publication is to effect change by spurring governments, big tech companies and other duty-bearers to enforce the international standards that exist to protect free speech. Strikingly, the international law experts assert that Article 19 of the ICCPR has achieved the status of “customary international law”, after decades in which the legal standards for protecting freedom of expression have been fought over and refined through a host of decisions in international and domestic courts, The International Court of Justice has already accepted that it has done so. If that were to be generally accepted, then states like China, Myanmar and Saudi Arabia, which have not ratified any of the relevant treaties, can be bound by same rules as the countries that have ratified them. Clooney, Neuberger and their colleagues recognise that it will be a hard slog to embed meaningful reforms and truly hold states accountable. Many are convinced the death in February of Alexei Navalny, like those of Anna Politkovskaya, Jamal Khashoggi, Daphne Caruana Galizia and other charismatic critics of authoritarian rulers, amounts to state-sanctioned murder. Each one of those iconic cases also speaks to the close connection between the fight for free speech and the demand for political freedoms. The authors of this book have lucidly articulated the goal of preventing autocratic regimes and overzealous prosecutors from manipulating the law to silence journalists and protect themselves. As they show only too well, some habitual state practices are “wildly at odds” with what is written in international treaties. But they make a powerful case that international law is not just the best instrument we have to undo the stifling of free speech. It is the only one.  William Horsley is co-founder and international director of the Centre for Freedom of the Media (CFOM) at the University of Sheffield and a former BBC foreign correspondent in Europe and Asia. He is the author of the Safety of Journalists Guidebooks published by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and his work for the Association of European Journalists was instrumental in the establishment in 2015 of the Council of Europe’s digital Platform for the Safety of Journalists, a Europe-wide monitoring and response system to counter threats to media freedom and the safety of journalists. He is a member of the UK Advisory Board of RSF (Reporters Without Borders). Photo supplied by: IBA Human Rights Institute. [1] The Economist, The global gag on free speech is tightening, August 2019,[2] Ms Amal Clooney and Lord David Neuberger, Freedom of Speech in International Law, Oxford University Press, January 2024,[3] Committee to Protect Journalists, Hold The Line Coalition welcomes acquittal of Maria Ressa and Rappler, calls for dropping of remaining cases, September 2023,[4] United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, CCPR/C/GC/34, September 2011,[5] The Foundation, New research exposes global trends in legal attacks facing journalists, Thomas Reuters Foundation, April 2023,[6] High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom – Our Reports, Research Reports on International Standards, International Bar Association,[7] International Bar Association, High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, see:[8] Media Freedom Coalition, see:[9] Council of Europe, Journalists Matter: Council of Europe Campaign for the Safety of Journalists, see:[10] UNESCO, UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity, [post_title] => How international law can reverse the global assault on free speech: A review of a new expert guide [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => how-international-law-can-reverse-the-global-assault-on-free-speech-a-review-of-a-new-expert-guide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-03-18 15:28:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-03-18 14:28:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7382 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-03-06 15:49:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-03-06 14:49:42 [post_content] => A lively event in parliament this week discussed how Britain’s PR industry could stop ‘butlering to the world’: serving kleptocrats and some of the most corrupt people around.[1] As the chair Liam Byrne MP noted, this ‘professional enabling’ is an integral part of Britain’s immense dirty money problem, which sees us in the super league of global economic crime. Participants from PR, journalism and civil society discussed what was going wrong and how it could be stopped. But is something more needed to help Britain’s professions kick the butlering habit and the huge fees it generates? PR and kleptocracy: a new reportThe event marked the launch of an excellent new report: What’s the Risk? PR & Communication Agencies and Kleptocracy.[2] (Disclosure: it was funded by the Joffe Trust and published by the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC).) It was hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Corruption & Responsible Tax and the FPC in partnership with Curzon PR, The Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The report shines a light on how British PR firms have helped kleptocratic regimes, and others involved in grand corruption, to launder their reputations and turn illicit wealth into status, influence and power. In a wide-ranging discussion, participants touched on how some PR firms may not know what harms they are enabling. Others may be more aware, for instance using anonymous social media to attack their clients’ opponents. Michela Wrong’s experience of ‘a tide of vilification’ was sobering.[3] There was general agreement of the need for change. As the CEO of the CIPR, Alistair McCapra, put it: “if we don’t want to become a gangster paradise, we need to act.” So what’s to be done?General regulation of PR as a profession is unlikely to be practical. The solutions suggested included both carrot and stick. Carrots included: raising awareness of the risks & human impact of kleptocracy; and promoting good practices like transparency, client due diligence and reporting suspicious activity to the authorities. Sticks included: more naming and shaming, supported by better resourcing for journalism; investigating PR agencies alongside regulated professions; and better regulation in specific areas such as SLAPPs or on-line harm. There was talk of an overall goal of changing the culture of the PR profession, to take an ethical approach to kleptocracy. Could the next generation of young professionals help drive change? A wider problemPR is only one of Britain’s so-called enabling professions, helping wrong-doers enjoy the ill gotten gains of kleptocracy and corruption at vast social cost. In 2022, Putin’s invasion of Ukraine raised the heat more generally on lawyers, accountants and others. Since then, the Government has put great emphasis on improving the supervision of professions and tackling enablers through the second Economic Crime Plan and two recent Economic Crime Acts. A number of civil society initiatives are also working to drive change, such as The UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition, The Taskforce on Business Ethics and the Legal Profession, Principals with Principles and The UK Anti-Corruption Coalition.[4] But change remains elusive. For now, it seems the wider problem of butlering persists. Many states beyond Russia are seen to be involved, from Saudi Arabia to China. Last month’s evidence to the Business & Trade Committee suggests that the overall problem of economic crime may be getting worse.[5] And every crime needs its enablers. A wider solution?Recent legislation should deliver real improvements in Britain’s defences against economic crime. But the acid test when it comes to professional butlering is: what will change the established culture, in the teeth of ferocious commercial incentives? This could be addressed head on, at the same time as new laws come into force. For example, professional bodies could promote awareness of the risks of tangling with kleptocrats and build associated good practices into their work. However, a crucial link in the chain may be missing. Change will not happen overnight or by itself. The agenda will need to be consistently pushed among professionals and their institutions, alongside all their other priorities. This will probably take several years of consistent work, with creative approaches to build pressure and urgency for reform. It could be done, for instance, by some new specialist initiative, some kind of Kleptocracy Unit, working across professions. It could even be run by and for the next generation of professionals, as an engine of change. Without such an initiative, there is a risk that this new report’s recommendations will gather dust on the shelf. As ever, the heart of the question is not only what should be done, but who is going to make it happen. At the Joffe Trust, we would love to talk about any practical ideas we could support to help the UK’s professions kick the butlering habit, and close the UK’s doors to dirty money. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Alex Jacobs has been the executive Director of the Joffe Trust since 2018. He was previously a board member and worked closely with Joel Joffe for 20 years. He has a particular focus on illicit finance and supporting non-profit leaders. ( [1] Robert Verkaik, Butler to the World by Oliver Bullough review – oligarch’s paradise, The Guardian, March 2022,[2] Thomas Mayne, What’s the Risk? PR & Communication Agencies and Kleptocracy, Foreign Policy Centre, March 2024,[3] Michela Wrong, I criticised Rwanda’s leader – now I wake up screaming after constant online attacks, The Guardian, January 2024,[4] UK Anti-SLAPP Coalition, see:; Institute of Business Ethics, Taskforce on Business Ethics and the Legal Profession,; Principals with Principles, see:; UK Anti-Corruption Coalition, see:[5] Business and Trade Committee, Oral evidence: Implementation of Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act 2023, HC 522, House of Commons, February 2024, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. Photo credited to Menelik Samuels. [post_title] => Op-Ed: Can The UK’s Professions Stop Butlering to the World? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => op-ed-can-the-uks-professions-stop-butlering-to-the-world [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-03-08 16:19:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-03-08 15:19:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7368 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-03-02 00:01:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-03-01 23:01:14 [post_content] => As 2024 dawned, the world found itself plunged into deeper socio-political upheaval, with ever more tumultuous events dominating global headlines. Overshadowed amongst these was the elections that took place in Belarus last weekend, the first since the fraudulent presidential vote in 2020 and the subsequent mass protests. On 25 February 2024, Belarus elected 12,514 local council deputies and 110 deputies to the House of Representatives of the National Assembly. The outcome was of no surprise, and further reinforces President Alexander Lukashenko's iron grip on power. Meanwhile, Belarusians continue to endure an unprecedented level of repression, which similarly has seen little coverage, since the events of four years ago. Nevertheless, the year 2020 undoubtedly stands as a haunting memory for Lukashenko. In August of that year, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to defy the dubious official results of the presidential election which secured Lukashenko his sixth consecutive victory. People voiced their strong dissent while waving the historic white-red-white flags: a symbol of a democratic and independent Belarus, later banned by the authorities. Protesters believed that the rightful winner, and thereby the next president, was Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, whose growing popularity became an escalating problem for the regime in the lead up to the elections. As a result, she was threatened, and ultimately forced into exile, where she remains today. The months that followed brought with them mass repression on a scale that the country had not seen before. Many active protesters had to flee the country. Those who did not want to or did not manage to on time, were detained, imprisoned, tortured, or even killed. The experience of the 2020 mass protests made Lukashenko even more ruthless and extremely determined to prevent any future challenges to his power. In February 2022, just a few days after Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including from the territory of Belarus, the regime in Minsk conducted a sham constitutional referendum to further consolidate power. The referendum, among other things, served as a tool to remove presidential term limits, give a lifetime immunity to Lukashenko and constitutionalise the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, a body introduced by Lukashenko in the 1990s. Officially, this group of about 1,200 people, selected from among local and national officials, is tasked with providing support to the Government and acting as a voice of ‘the people’. It has the power to declare martial law, initiate the process to remove a president from office, or even overturn presidential election results. The purpose of this group is clear: it has been formed to prepare the ground for when Lukashenko no longer serves as president. In 2023, the regime was able to ban or dissolve most political parties through new regulations that forced all political parties to re-register, under much stricter requirements.[1]  Out of the 15 parties previously registered in the country, only four were confirmed in October 2023 by the Ministry of Justice as successfully meeting the new requirements.[2] They were Belaya Rus, the Liberal Democratic Party of Belarus, the Communist Party of Belarus, and the Republican Party of Labour and Justice. Not surprisingly, all of them are considered pro-government and support the regime. As a result, the outcome of the February 2024 elections was easy to predict, further reinforced by the opposition forces in exile calling for a boycott of the vote.[3] The OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) was not invited by Belarusian authorities to conduct impartial election observation.[4] Instead, the regime invited observers from the Advisory Council of Heads of Electoral Bodies of the friendly Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states.[5] The lack of strong mobilisation by Belarusians against the highly questionable way in which these 2024 February elections have been held, can be explained not only by the call of the opposition in exile to boycott them, but also by the pervasive terror which has persisted inside the country since 2020. The Government of Belarus has stepped up its efforts to excessively hinder people’s ability to speak out or protest by introducing or amending various repressive laws. According to official data, by November 2023, the number of criminal cases on charges related to "extremism" surged to 16,000.[6] As of December 2023, at least 960 NGOs were in the process of forced liquidation.[7] Amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of Belarus have effectively outlawed human rights work and independent media, criminalising “working on behalf of unregistered or liquidated organisations” and making it punishable by imprisonment.[8] Activists, human rights defenders and journalists have been added to the list of ‘extremists’; currently even a single ‘like’ under a social media post written by those on the list can result in criminal charges. Independent media has reported that Belarus and Russia plan to unify their lists of ‘extremist’ individuals and organisations, allowing coordinated repression of independent voices.[9] Given the level of repression, the courage of Belarusians who actively oppose the regime continues to amaze. A day before the elections, on 24 February, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya reported on X (formerly Twitter) that her address to Belarusians about the anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Lukashenko's sham elections was displayed on 2,000 screens in public spaces throughout the country, an action organised by BELPOL, a coalition of former police & security forces officers.[10] According to the Human Rights Center ‘Viasna’, currently there are 1,411 political prisoners in Belarus.[11] Many of them have faced inhuman treatment, denial of medical care and no access to lawyers. Nasta Lojka, a prominent human rights defender who was sentenced in 2023 to seven years in prison for ‘incitement of racial, national, religious or other social enmity or discord’, reported that she was forced to remain in a courtyard without any outerwear for eight hours in temperatures below ten degrees celsius, after which she fell ill.[12]  A few days before the elections, on 20 February 2024, it became known that a 63-year-old political prisoner Ihar Lednik died in the Minsk regional hospital. Such news does not always make headlines in the western media, but it is crucial to highlight that Ledinik is the fifth political prisoner known to have died in Belarus since 2021.[13] Families of many political prisoners have not heard from their loved ones for months, many do not know if they are still alive. This includes Siarhei Tsikhanouski, blogger and husband of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, or Maria Kalesnikava, one of the leaders of the opposition. Many other political prisoners have very little or no opportunity to send and receive letters. With the continuous disbarment of lawyers who can represent the victims, access to any information related to the well-being and condition of political prisoners is increasingly limited. As recently as last month, the security forces have raided homes and detained family members of former and current political prisoners.[14] More than three years after the 2020 protests, the regime continues to do everything in its power, with a vast arsenal of violent means at its disposal, to spread fear and terror among its citizens. In the face of the ongoing repression, the West must strengthen the support for Belarusian civil society, which, despite the mounting challenges, continues to be very active and vibrant. We must continue to show unwavering support to the brave people of Belarus repressed for exercising their fundamental human rights and demand the immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners. As Tsikhanouskaya called for recently, sanctions against the regime must be tightened.[15] Thanks to Belarusian and international investigative journalists, we know about the instances of sanctions evasion in the European Union, and the European community must address this as a matter of urgency.[16] Belarus might not be front page news, but the struggle for a free and democratic country continues. Joanna Szymańska is the Acting Head of Europe Office at ARTICLE 19. She has extensive experience of working on freedom of expression issues in Central and Eastern Europe. [1] CSO Meter, Belarus launches campaign of forced liquidation of political parties, July 2023,[2] Alexandra Boguslavskaya, Ban any opinion: are the authorities of the Republic of Belarus building a party system?, DW, November 2023,[3] Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to Belarusians: “This day is for you, not the regime. Spend it wisely!”, February 2024,[4] Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections, The OSCE ODIHR regrets that the Belarusian authorities did not invite observers to the upcoming elections, Elections*-2024, February 2024,[5] Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections, “Seriously underlines the credibility of this kind of company.” Pavel Sapelka spoke about international elections* monitoring, Elections*-2024, January 2024,[6], The Prosecutor General’s Office has counted more than 16 thousand “extremist” crimes since 2020, Reformation, November 2023,[7] LAWTREND, Monitoring the situation of freedom of association and civil society organisations in the Republic of Belarus December 2023,[8] OMCT, Belarus: New amendment to the Criminal Code leaves no room for legal human rights activities, January 2022,[9] Maria Yeryoma, Belarus Weekly: Belarus, Russia to unify lists of ‘extremists,’ coordinating repression, The Kyiv Independent, February 2024,[10] Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Twitter post, Twitter, February 2024,[11] Viasna, As of February 28 1411 persons in Belarus are considered as political prisoners,[12] ARTICLE 19, Belarus: End persecution of human rights defender Nasta Lojka, April 2023,[13] Viasna, Political prisoner Ihar Lednik died. He had health problems, February 2024,[14] European Parliament, New wave of mass arrests in Belarus of opposition activists and their family members, February 2024,[15] Todd Prince, Tsikhanouskaya Calls On U.S> To Support Belarusian Opposition, Tighten Sanctions on Lukashenka, RFE/RL, December 2023,[16] OCCRP, Lithuania Cracks Down on Sanction Evasion Schemes after OCCRP Investigation, March 2023, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Op Ed: Out of the spotlight Belarusians’ struggle for freedom continues amidst persistent repression [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => op-ed-out-of-the-spotlight-belarusians-struggle-for-freedom-continues-amidst-persistent-repression [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-03-01 16:09:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-03-01 15:09:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7371 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-03-01 16:07:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-03-01 15:07:17 [post_content] => The London-based charity Justice for Journalists Foundation (JFJ), in partnership with the National Union of Journalists in Ukraine, has been collecting open-source evidence and satellite imagery of attacks on media workers during the war in order create better ways to protect journalists heading to the war zone. Maria Ordzhonikide and Valeriya Chudarova from JFJ, explain more about their work and recommendations for journalists working on the frontline. After Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine two years ago, thousands of Ukrainian journalists found themselves becoming frontline correspondents almost overnight. Dozens of foreign journalists also arrived in the country to report on the war. Without these professional and citizen reporters the world would not have been able to understand the extent of the unfolding catastrophe. However, a high toll has already been paid, as according to the National Union of Journalists, at least 16 media workers have died while performing their professional duties, nine media workers have died as a result of collateral damage and at least 54 journalists have died while serving in the armed forces.[1] At JFJ, in partnership with the National Union of Journalists in Ukraine, and with the financial support by UNESCO, we have been collecting open-source evidence and satellite imagery of attacks on media workers during the war in order to create safety recommendations (outlined below), risk assessments and HEFAT training for journalists heading to the war zone. Over the course of the project, we have obtained and processed information about 35 instances of both fatal and non-fatal attacks against media workers in Ukraine, involving at least 55 journalists from countries including Ukraine, Turkey, Czech Republic, the USA, Russia, Ireland, the UK, Italy, France, Japan, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Portugal, and Lithuania. Verified data confirms that 12 media workers have died as a result of enemy shelling. This includes six foreign journalists: Arman Soldin, Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, Mantas Kvedaravičius, Pierre Zakrzewski, Oksana Baulina, Brent Renault; and four Ukrainian journalists: Oleksandra Kuvshinova, Maks Levin, Bohdan Bitik and Yevheniy Sakun. 2024 has already seen two journalists and one fixer for the Turkish news agency Anadolu injured by Russian shelling on the Park Hotel in Kharkiv. Additionally, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty camera crew came under mortar fire while working on the front line. Having analysed the collected data and interviewed the victims and witnesses of these attacks, JFJ has identified the key risks journalists were facing while reporting from the war zone and developed preliminary safety recommendations for media workers covering the war in Ukraine. These recommendations do not cover all aspects of journalists’ safety, but will be useful for those who are reporting from Ukraine. While some physical attacks against media workers become public, not all cases are known. In particular, this concerns journalists working for smaller regional publications, freelancers, and fixers. While journalists working for more prominent media outlets routinely receive essential training prior to their trips to war zones, and have both access to the necessary equipment and support, the safety of freelancers and local team members is in their own hands. They often have to deal with costly expenses alone, while also assessing and mitigating their professional risks. JFJ and its partners aim to increase the safety of media workers in Ukraine by creating and maintaining a secure database of evidence related to those attacks and ensuring media workers are aware of their risk mitigation options. Safety Recommendations for Journalists 
Completing a hostile environment and first aid training course is crucial before travelling to the conflict zone. Skills developed during this training will help media workers learn more about the basics of safety; how to conduct a risk assessment; how to act in dangerous situations, and potentially save their fellow crew members' lives. Even if you are a well-trained journalist and have a lot of experience covering conflicts, because all wars are unique it is essential to refresh these skills every year. 
Conducting preliminary risk assessment and developing a specific risk protocol prior to travelling to the war zone should be mandatory for all media workers in conflict zones. It is vital to understand the specificities of the regional context, including tactics, combat uniforms and weapons used by both sides. While planning the route, informing your colleagues or management about your whereabouts is key. Remember the safety basics, i.e., avoid using the same entrance and exit roads while planning your route. 
While on assignment, keep in touch with locals to keep up to date with what is happening in the area you plan on travelling to. Do not rely on outdated information, even if it is just a couple of days old. In the area of direct combat operations, get new information as often as possible. When visiting an unknown area, conduct a preliminary terrain analysis. Never rely on technology, learn to read physical maps, and navigate the terrain without the help of gadgets whose signals can be tracked. 
Evidence shows that the Russian military targets hotels favoured by international and Ukrainian media representatives. When choosing your accommodation, try to avoid hotels that could become a target of such an attack. Avoid staying close to administrative buildings, railway junctions, warehouses and other strategic objects that can be targeted. The best option, when possible, is to rent a flat discreetly. Regular safety considerations should not be forgotten: the building should not be tall and should have an easy escape route in the case of attack. Familiarise yourself with all the entrances and emergency exits in advance. 
A journalist must be fully equipped with protective gear on the frontline, including a bulletproof vest and protective helmet with the inscription “PRESS”. Avoid wearing military-style clothing as there is a significant risk of being confused with military personnel. 
Marking the car with a “PRESS” inscription is vital. Do not go for options like “TV” as in Ukraine it might be read as “V”, which is used by the Russian Armed Forces. In case of a drone attack, the usual “PRESS” sign can be hardly visible. Consider using polyvinyl magnets, which are easy to apply and remove. The marking should be large and visible on all sides of the car: on the front, on both sides, and on the roof. To avoid being identified as military personnel and becoming a target, avoid marking your car with any signs associated with the military (such as yellow tape, white crosses, etc.), even if this is suggested by the local armed forces. Ensure that the car is in good condition and has spare wheels, as well as other necessary tools for emergency repairs. 
Make sure your vehicle always has clear “PRESS” markings. Try to avoid changing vehicles, and do not get in a car with unknown people or military personnel, who can be targeted by the opposing military. Be careful when using taxis to travel to dangerous areas. Ensure that your driver fully understands the risks; will not abandon the crew in case of an attack; and has the necessary spare parts for the vehicle in case of an emergency. 
Never rely on technology while in the conflict zone. If you are a journalist working for a media outlet, try to obtain a satellite phone. This can often be costly for freelance journalists who can use a cheaper alternative, like a satellite navigator. Always have a backup plan if the technology fails. Remember that both sides use electronic warfare equipment near the combat zone, while mobile gadgets may not work properly or provide unreliable GPS navigation data. Avoid using your GPS in a combat zone unless you have no other means to determine your location. For more information, please see - Maria Ordzhonikide is Director of the Justice for Journalists Foundation and a member of FPC Advisory Council. Valeriya Chudarova is the Research Manager at the Justice for Journalists Foundation. [1]NSJU, List of journalists who have died since the beginning of full-scale Russian aggression (updated), February 2024, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two Years On: New recommendations for the safety of journalists working on the frontline [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-new-recommendations-for-the-safety-of-journalists-working-on-the-frontline [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-03-01 16:20:16 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-03-01 15:20:16 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7359 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-26 13:02:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-26 12:02:42 [post_content] => In the two years since Russia’s unlawful invasion of Ukraine, policymakers in the Western block have made big statements of their intention to seize Russian oligarchic wealth in their countries. Sanctions were rolled out quickly to freeze assets. It was thought that their confiscation would come just as nimbly. Experts were, however, quick to point out that confiscation was going to be an uphill and lengthy battle.[1] The most obvious solution, devising a new mechanism that would allow the seizure of sanctioned assets within the boundaries of the law and in full respect of human rights, needed time and skilled researchers. However, political interest, and with it funding for research, ran out quickly. Despite this, proposals on how to break the deadlock on asset recovery have been made. First, it was suggested to focus on sanctions evasion as a short-term route for confiscation, albeit with limited scope, given it would only allow for confiscation where sanctions evasion is proved.[2] Supporting this approach, in early February this year, the UK government announced new reporting obligations for sanctioned individuals to disclose their UK assets, making it easier to tackle sanctions evasion attempts.[3] It is a little early to claim victory, but it’s a step in the right direction. Still, the UK response remains far from ideal. While confiscations have started appearing in the US, the UK’s Combatting Kleptocracy Cell is yet to announce a high-profile case.[4] Upgrading the overall asset recovery response is also required.[5] After all, the oligarchs’ wealth has notoriously been amassed through corrupt practices. Enhancing the ability to recover the proceeds of crime would be a sensible move. Two Economic Crime Acts later, one of which included amendments to the Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs) regime, no significant case has been initiated against any high-level sanctioned kleptocrat, and law enforcement remains largely under-resourced to meet the challenge. With sanctions and asset recovery not doing the trick, a voluntary donation route has been proposed. But even there, rhetoric and reality mismatched. Last June, the UK Government promised a route for sanctioned oligarchs to donate their frozen funds for Ukrainian reconstruction.[6] Since then, neither the route, nor an oligarch offering to donate has appeared. Even the much-anticipated sale of Chelsea FC, the result of an agreement between Abramovich and the UK Government, has stalled – provoking the ire of the House of Lords.[7] While the UK has taken every opportunity for inaction, Ukraine has kept itself busy. As a country at war, Ukraine has developed and employed three distinct mechanisms for asset seizure: confiscation via sanctions, forcible seizure of objects of property rights of the Russian Federation and its residents, and confiscation within the criminal proceeding framework.[8] The forcible seizure mechanism is currently being applied against the financial assets of Ukrainian subsidiaries of bank Sberbank.[9] Meanwhile, the High Anti-Corruption Court has issued 34 decisions on seizure of the assets of Russian oligarchs.[10] Ukraine's confiscation mechanisms may potentially result in contested cases in international arbitration. They also represent an exceptional scenario, given Ukraine is currently under martial law. However, they are a good reminder of the benefit that recovered assets could bring to Ukraine’s cause. It seems that it is not just the oligarchs’ assets that are frozen in limbo; the Western asset recovery response is too. If at the beginning the legal difficulties of moving ‘from freeze to seize,’ and the lack of understanding of the issue by policymakers, could be blamed, now these seem just an excuse for inaction. Western governments had all the opportunities to act. Whether by tackling sanctions evasion, funding research to develop new legislation, strengthening existing asset recovery mechanisms against any kind of kleptocratic wealth, or encouraging voluntary donations to materialise – the options to confiscate these assets are many. In the words of the House of Lords, this ‘reflects poorly’ on Western governments, and the UK in particular.[11] What is needed now is for rhetoric and reality to meet. Not all is lost: the sanctioned oligarchs’ pot is still there, albeit slightly depleted by their attempts to evade sanctions. The options mentioned above are all still viable and are not mutually exclusive – now it is up to governments to listen and act. This year, different countries will undergo election processes. While the focus will inevitably shift to domestic issues, it is important that support for Ukraine, and long-term commitments to sustain its reconstruction, remain high on the agenda – if oligarchs pay, taxpayers that have been supporting Ukraine will feel some relief. Despite the complexities involved, asset confiscation still stands as one of the tangible means of bolstering Ukraine's pursuit of freedom. Maria Nizzero is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at RUSI. She is a member of the Financial Crime Policy Programme, which tracks the implementation and evolution of anti-financial crime policy both in the UK and globally. Oksana Ihnatenko is a Researcher for the SMURF project at the Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies at RUSI. [1] Maria Nizzero, From Freeze to Seize: How the UK Can Break the Deadlock on Asset Recovery, RUSI, October 2022,[2] Maria Nizzero, Sanctioned oligarchs should have to list their UK assets, The Times, February 2023,[3] Giles Thomson, New reporting requirements for Designated Persons under the Russia Regime, Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation,, February 2024,[4] RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service, U.S. Attorney General Allows First Transfer Of Russian Oligarch’s Confiscated Assets To Ukraine, RFE/RL, February 2023,[5] SOC ACE Research Programme, How to Seize a Billion: Exploring Mechanisms to Recover the Proceeds of Kleptocracy, RUSI, March 2023,[6] FCDO, HM Treasury, Home Office, The Rt Hon Suella Braverman KC MP, The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, and The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, New legislation allows Russian sanctions to remain until compensation is paid to Kyiv,, June 2023,[7] Kiran Stacey, ‘Incomprehensible’ that Abramovich’s Chelsea funds not yet spent on Ukraine, The Guardian, January 2024,; House of Lords European Affairs Committee, Call for UK and Eu to continue support for Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia, UK Parliament, January 2024,[8] The Law of Ukraine, About sanctions (Reports of the Verkhovna Rada (VVR), 2014, No.40, Article 2018),; The Law of Ukraine, About the main principles of forced seizure in Ukraine of objects of property rights of the Russian Federation and its residents,[9] National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Decision from May 11, 2022,[10] Higher Anti-Corruption Court, Decisions in administrative cases (Part 7 of Article 283-1 of the Code of Administrative Procedure of Ukraine),[11] House of Lords European Affairs Committee, Call for UK and EU to continue support for Ukraine, and sanctions on Russia, UK Parliament, January 2024, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Legal impasse or excuse for inaction? The state of play in the efforts to seize oligarchs’ assets [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => legal-impasse-or-excuse-for-inaction-the-state-of-play-in-the-efforts-to-seize-oligarchs-assets [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-04-22 13:05:12 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-04-22 12:05:12 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7352 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-23 11:59:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-23 10:59:22 [post_content] => The Ukrainian army has been holding the Russian aggressor off for two years already. In its desire to destroy Ukraine at any cost, the Kremlin has spared neither its missiles nor its soldiers. Moreover, Putin has also spared no resources to fight on the parallel informational front, in order that the world receives distorted information about his crimes. Once Russian soldiers have seized a new piece of our land, the propaganda machine immediately begins to inundate local residents with Russian-printed newspapers. At the same time, the enemy often resorts to falsifications, including using the names of Ukrainian local media, so that people believe more in what they read. Today, it has become common practice that a journalist with the inscription ‘PRESS’ on his body armor is a target no less important than a tank or artillery unit for a Russian soldier. Ukrainian and international journalists document the war crimes of the Russians so that, thanks to the international court, Putin will be brought to justice. Unfortunately, more than 80 journalists have already been killed in Ukraine, and the fate of several more is unknown. Of that number, 16 colleagues were killed while performing their professional duties; nine became civilian victims of the aggressor state, and others have been mobilised to the Armed Forces of Ukraine (AFU). Journalists who reveal the truth about the war in Ukraine to the whole world understand their extremely important mission. While the Russians convince the world that their targets are only military facilities, Ukrainian and international journalists show the world destroyed cities with civilians. Currently, a critical situation has developed in the thousand-strong town of Avdiyivka, Donetsk Region. The city has almost been destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians who continue to live in the front-line and de-occupied territories remain in an information vacuum. They have neither electricity supply nor communication. Sometimes, Russian or Belarusian radio reaches their territory. Therefore, the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine (NUJU) is doing everything possible to find funding for Ukrainian newspapers. Today, thanks to the cooperation of the Union and international partners, we have resumed the work of 30 newspapers in the front-line and de-occupied territories. Hundreds of thousands of people in the Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and the Kharkiv Regions are now able to obtain information from Ukrainian sources. Since the beginning of the war, the NUJU, together with UNESCO, has also launched six assistance centers for Ukrainian and international journalists, where they can receive protective equipment, advice, and/or use an equipped workplace in a co-working space. Due to the constant danger to the work of journalists in Kharkiv, we recently opened the Journalists' Solidarity Center. There, hundreds of colleagues receive both protective equipment and a place where they can work readily and easily. Two full years have passed since the full-scale invasion. The war continues. The world is increasingly talking about fatigue. Ukrainians are also tired. But evil does not exhaust… and so we must continue. Support Ukraine. Support Ukrainians! Support journalists who fight injustice. Journalists are important! Sergiy Tomilenko is the President of the National Union of journalists of Ukraine. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: The importance of protecting the media and winning the informational frontline in Ukraine [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-the-importance-of-protecting-the-media-and-winning-the-informational-frontline-in-ukraine [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-23 12:32:09 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-23 11:32:09 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7349 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-23 11:56:14 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-23 10:56:14 [post_content] => The full-scale invasion of Ukraine is a result of the total impunity that Russia enjoyed for decades. The Russian military has committed terrible crimes in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Syria, Mali, and Libya but was never punished. They believe they can do whatever they want. Now, Russian troops are destroying residential buildings, churches, museums, schools, and hospitals in Ukraine. They are shooting at evacuation corridors. They are torturing people in filtration camps. They are forcibly taking Ukrainian children to Russia. They are abducting, robbing, raping and killing in the occupied territories. This is a conscious policy. Russia uses war crimes as a method of warfare. Russia attempts to break people’s resistance and occupy the country by means of inflicting immense pain on civilians. At the Centre for Civil Liberties, we document this pain. Over the past two years alone, with the joint efforts of the ‘Tribunal for Putin’ initiative, we have documented 62,000 episodes of war crimes. However, we face an accountability gap. The Ukrainian legal system is overloaded with an extreme level of war crime cases. Meanwhile, the International Criminal Court restricts its investigations to just a few selected cases and has no jurisdiction over the crime of aggression to hold Russia to account for its actions against Ukraine. If we want to prevent wars, we have to punish the states, and their leaders, responsible for starting them. In the whole history of humankind, we have only one such precedent. That’s why we still look at the world through the lens of the Nuremberg Trials, where Nazi war criminals were tried only after the Nazi regime had collapsed. But we are living in a new century. Justice should not depend on how and when the war ends. We must establish a special tribunal now and hold Putin, as well as Belarussian President Lukashenko and others, guilty of the crime of aggression, accountable. Besides the crime of aggression, there are other international crimes – war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. These crimes should not have to remain as simply information stored in our archives, in the media, and in reports of international organisations. New technologies allow us to document war crimes in a way that we could not even dream of 15 years ago. The experience of the open source media outlet Bellingcat and other investigators convincingly proves that we can rebuild a picture of what took place without even being on the spot. The challenge facing Ukraine is the unprecedented amount of international crimes. The Office of General Prosecutor has registered more than 125,000 criminal proceedings. International donors can finance thousands of training and hundreds of advisors; but in a situation where Ukrainian investigators need to investigate more than a thousand criminal cases simultaneously, we will not get results. Instead, we must ingrain an international element into the level of national investigation and national justice. Ukraine requires the support of foreign professionals, judges, prosecutors and detectives, in order to properly investigate and ensure court proceedings for the tens of thousands of crimes, in compliance with international standards of justice. We must break this circle of impunity. Not only for Ukrainians. But also for the people who could become the next target of Russian aggression. And prevent it this time. 

Oleksandra Matviichuk is the Head of the human rights organisation Center for Civil Liberties, which won the Nobel Peace Prize 2022.

 Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Breaking the cycle of impunity for Russian war crimes [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-breaking-the-cycle-of-impunity-for-russian-war-crimes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-23 12:37:14 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-23 11:37:14 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7343 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-22 10:52:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-22 09:52:53 [post_content] => Two years have elapsed since Russia initiated its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, yet the reverberations persist across the European continent. Moldova, standing among the most affected states after Ukraine, grapples with the enduring repercussions of Russia’s hybrid aggression. Amidst these challenges, Moldova has showcased a resilient spirit and an unwavering commitment to fortify its defenses, secure its future, and advance on its path to becoming a member of the European Union (EU). The national aspiration, as set by President Maia Sandu, is for Moldova to be prepared to join by 2030. In April 2023, the EU reaffirmed its support for Moldova by deploying the EU Partnership Mission (EUPM), signaling a robust commitment to bolster the country's crisis management structures and ability to combat hybrid threats, including cyber warfare and foreign information manipulation. Moldova's embrace of this collaborative initiative underscores its determination to safeguard its sovereignty in the face of external pressures and fortify its ties with European allies. The adoption of Moldova's new National Security Strategy in December 2023 marked a pivotal moment in the country's security agenda. President Sandu's vision for Moldova prioritises strengthening democracy, fostering prosperity, and ensuring the protection of all citizens through a modern security sector. Central to this vision is the imperative of building resilience to hybrid threats and modernising Moldova's armed forces and civil security sector. The strategic partnership with the EU emerges as a cornerstone for comprehensive security enhancement, encompassing economic, energy, cyber, and environmental dimensions. In 2023, Moldova faced escalating hybrid aggression from Russia, including attempts to undermine the country's democratic process. Kremlin-backed forces sought to manipulate Moldova's local elections, prompting decisive action to preserve the integrity of the country's democratic institutions. The resilience displayed in the face of external interference underscores Moldova's commitment to upholding democratic values and protecting its national sovereignty. Supported by the EU, the United States, and other Western allies, Moldova has made significant strides towards economic resilience and energy independence. By reducing its dependency on Russian gas, Moldova has charted a path towards self-reliance and sustainability, mitigating vulnerabilities to external pressures and advancing its integration into European networks. As Moldova continues on its European path, the forthcoming constitutional referendum initiated by President Sandu will determine the country's strategic objective of EU accession, solidifying Moldova's commitment to becoming a member of the EU in the next decade. The overwhelming support for European integration reflects the Moldovan people's aspirations for prosperity, stability, and security within the European family of nations. The referendum, slated to coincide with presidential elections, symbolises a pivotal moment in securing the country's future within the Western democratic fold. Two years after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Moldova stands as a testament to resilience and determination. As Moldova charts a path towards a brighter future, its resilience serves as an inspiration for nations striving to uphold democratic values and principles in the face of adversity. Iulian Groza is an expert in international relations, European affairs and good governance. He is a former Deputy Foreign Minister of the Republic of Moldova in charge for European integration and international law. Currently, Groza leads the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) – a Moldovan think-tank that aims at supporting Moldova’s accession to the EU. Since 2022, Groza is representing Moldovan civil society in the Supreme Security Council and the National Committee for European Integration chaired by the President of the Republic of Moldova. He holds a University Degree in Law. He also did postgraduate European Studies at Birmingham University and NATO Security Studies at SNSPA in Bucharest. He is fluent in English, Russian and Romanian (native) languages. Groza is a career diplomat and holds a diplomatic rank of Minister-Counsellor. He is also an FCO Chevening Scholar. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: in the face of continued Russian aggression, Moldova is navigating its path towards the West [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-in-the-face-of-continued-russian-aggression-moldova-is-navigating-its-path-towards-the-west [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-22 12:01:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-22 11:01:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7330 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-21 12:53:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-21 11:53:13 [post_content] => The war in Ukraine has entered its third year with no end in sight. This is not surprising. The future of the Putin regime depends fully on victory and cannot survive a defeat, thus fighting will continue to the bitter end. For Ukraine this is a nightmare scenario. The war is nothing less than a war of destruction, with large swaths of territory totally devastated, towns eradicated, agriculture destroyed for many years to come (if for no other reason than the massive use of landmines and unexploded ordnance), and the country facing a decreased population. About one-fourth of the population are now displaced, either inside the country or abroad. The longer the war lasts, the less likely it is that people will return, and of course those who have the best prospects of building a new life abroad are those with education and knowledge of languages. At the front, the losses of personnel are immense, even though no official data is given. Those who should be on the forefront of rebuilding the country - the young men and women who believe in Ukraine and are willing to sacrifice their lives - are dying. Ukraine will probably emerge from this war devastated, with a greatly reduced population, a destroyed economy and a large number of traumatised people. With over one million Ukrainians under arms and more than 600,000 with front-line experience, we estimate up to 100,000 people will need long-term psychosocial support. However, veteran mental health services in Ukraine are disorganised, highly dependent on volunteers and NGOs, and it is unlikely that the country will have sufficient resources to develop a system in time. Traumatised veterans have families and live in communities, who will also suffer from the inflicted trauma. With millions of refugees eventually returning to Ukraine, mainly women who will have spent time in countries with greater gender balance, higher levels of domestic violence and divorce can be anticipated. Furthermore, while the Ukrainian society is still highly supportive of the military and veterans, we already see a decline. When veterans have outbursts of violence as a result of war-related trauma, this support will gradually change to stigma and fear. This does not bode well for the future. What Ukraine will need is a system of community-based support for those traumatised by war, both military personnel and civilians who provided the vital support at the front by providing food, care, and medical support, and who are now not eligible for any participation in services earmarked for the military. Such a system should be sustainable and based on what Ukraine can really afford, even when Western support gradually disappears and the country will be left to start the long and winding road to recovery and rebuilding a severely affected society. Robert van Voren is Chief Executive of the international foundation Human Rights in Mental Health-FGIP, an international foundation for mental health reform. He is also Executive Director of the Andrei Sakharov Research Center for Democratic Development and Professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania. Robert van Voren in an Honorary Fellow of the British Royal College of Psychiatrists and Honorary Member of the Ukrainian Psychiatric Association. He has worked in the field of human rights and mental health in Ukraine since 1990. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Proactive measures are needed to address the conflict related mental health crisis [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-proactive-measures-are-needed-to-address-the-conflict-related-mental-health-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-21 12:59:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-21 11:59:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7326 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-21 12:44:35 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-21 11:44:35 [post_content] => At the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 I wrote in the British Medical Journal that, based on my experience of the Syrian conflict, I feared for Ukraine’s healthcare workers.[1] Tragically, my predictions have been proved correct. In Syria, where the charity I co-founded has worked since 2012, attacks on healthcare in non-government areas have been a consistent feature of the conflict. Far from being ‘collateral damage’, there is evidence - including cockpit recordings from Russian air force pilots - that healthcare institutions and workers were intentionally targeted.[2] Two years in to the full-scale invasion and the statistics are shocking. The World Health Organisation has  verified over 1,000 attacks on health care in Ukraine since February 2022;[3] more than 60% of all attacks against health care worldwide in that period. Citizen researchers at the Centre for Information Resilience have documented attacks on Ukrainian facilities including maternity units and cardiology treatment centres in Kherson, calling them “strikingly reminiscent” of Russian tactics in northwest Syria.[4] Absent a clear link to any military ground operation, the parallel objectives are to create insecurity among the Ukrainian population and demonstrate ongoing determination to secure victory to the Russian public. Attacking civilian infrastructure frays the ties that bind, both between citizens, and citizens and their government. A strong state relies on an active, vibrant civil society and Ukrainians have valiantly resisted attempts to denigrate their national esprit de corps despite the damage wrought to their infrastructure. The weaponisation of healthcare and disruption of essential services harms public health and morale in a way that can test that resilience to breaking point. If the state can no longer provide services, it can prompt the forced displacement of large numbers of people as they seek safety abroad, putting further stress on host nations and in some cases exacerbating social tensions. These actions constitute hybrid warfare tactics, which Ukraine and its allies need to be alert to. To date, there has not been a prosecution or indictment brought for attacking a healthcare institution. A first step toward accountability is gathering evidence which grassroots entities like the Ukrainian Healthcare Centre are doing.[5] In areas close to the frontline, healthcare facilities may also need to consider moving infrastructure underground or changing their location as protection measures. There is every indication that attacks on health will continue to be part of the ongoing conflict, necessitating a full spectrum of practical and legal measures to protect healthcare institutions and workers. Elly Nott is a leader in the humanitarian sector and PhD Candidate, King’s College London. [1] Elly Nott, Ukraine invasion: Why I fear for Ukraine’s healthcare workers, BMJ, March 2022,[2] The New York Times, Russia Tapes: Healthcare and Civilians Under Attack in Syria,[3] United Nations Ukraine, Attacks on healthcare in Ukraine are a grave violation of international humanitarian law, August 2023,,on%20health%20care%20in%20Ukraine.[4] Centre for Information Resilience, Kherson after occupation: Mapping Russian attacks on medical infrastructure, September 2023,[5] UHC, Annual Report of the Ukrainian Healthcare Center (UHC) in 2023, February 2024, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Russia continues to weaponise and attack healthcare in Ukraine [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-russia-continues-to-weaponise-and-attack-healthcare-in-ukraine [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-21 12:56:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-21 11:56:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7322 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-20 11:05:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-20 10:05:51 [post_content] => Soon to enter its third year, Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine continues to highlight a stark geopolitical split between the Global North and the Global South. For the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe, which represent the ‘Global North,’ resisting Russian aggression is an existential issue to save humanity from hell. By bringing the full force of sanctions, lawsuits, and military might, they stood together as democracies. However hard it may have been, they were united against the bewildering reality of global disorder brought by the Russian invasion. These Global North states have displayed a steadfast commitment to preserving the rules and norms that define and guide the conduct of states. Many have also revised their foreign and security policies to preserve global order in ways that were simply unimaginable before. Two years into the war, how they articulate and hold these commitments together and stay true to the promises made to fierce Ukrainians poses new challenges. Particularly within the context of emerging democratic crises and changing public opinion on the war within the West. For many Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American states, making up the majority of the ‘Global South,’ this war is an existential issue but from another reality. It has created food insecurity, rising energy prices, and a supply chain crisis. It led to the weaponisation of the US dollar, which made international borrowing costly. The war has relied on disruptive technologies to spurt out simplified images of supporters and detractors from the non-Western world. Furthermore, the rejection by the West to calls for a ceasefire, not the least in part due to an academic-military-industrial complex which is justifying the war to protect liberalism, has created, and in some places entrenched, mistrust and dissatisfaction. For the Global South states, the approach of countries in the Global North has appeared ever more like a continuation of the established practices of the West, oblivious of the concerns of the rest. For many poor Global South states, Western hypocrisy toward upholding the norms of sovereignty, human rights, and the rule of law is not new. The Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine only brought these further out in the open. However, many other powerful Southern states have amplified these hypocritical practices to drive their exclusionary nationalism, using the crisis to point out the unfolding of a global disorder. Russia in turn has seized the opportunity to strategically reach out to the Global South, and declaim its association with the West, a move that was simply unimaginable before. At this juncture, there are new challenges facing those seeking to win over the Global South states. Working within new coalitions and blocs, many of them have become emboldened and fastidious about speaking truth to power. Two years since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Global South and its leaders are more central than ever on the international stage. Dr Sasikumar Sundaram is a Lecturer at the Department of International Politics at City, University of London. His main research interests lie in International Relations Theory and the Global South States, focusing on India, Brazil, and China. His book Rhetorical Powers: How the Global South Asserts Competence in World Politics is forthcoming from Columbia University Press (June 2025). Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: The ongoing war in Ukraine is further highlighting the ‘Global North’ and ‘Global South’ divide [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-the-ongoing-war-in-ukraine-is-further-highlighting-the-global-north-and-global-south-divide [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-20 11:52:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-20 10:52:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7319 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-20 11:02:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-20 10:02:00 [post_content] => Two years after the renewed Russian invasion of Ukraine, war weariness has descended on Washington. The initial American reaction to the attack seemed to be a fulfillment of President Joe Biden’s promise that “America is back”.[1] After the chaos of the Trump years, Washington took on its traditional role as the leader of an international coalition of states, in this case coordinating the provision of international assistance to Kyiv. Since then, the United States has provided about $75 billion in aid to Ukraine.[2] Continued American assistance now seems in doubt, mostly due to shifts within the Republican Party, which controls the House of Representatives. The party’s supporters increasingly oppose aid to Ukraine and demand a focus on perceived problems at home. Their leader, Donald Trump, has long sought friendly relations with Vladimir Putin and has promised to end the war in “24 hours” if elected, presumably by pressuring Kyiv to cede territory to Russia.[3] While a new tranche of aid has been approved by the Senate, it looks unlikely to be passed by the House. American support for Ukraine has also been undermined by the poor results of Kyiv’s 2023 offensive, in which a substantial number of American-trained and equipped troops failed to make substantial headway in regaining Ukrainian territory. American military commanders have been critical of the Ukrainian military’s tactics and have begun to concede that further breakthroughs by Kyiv seem unlikely.[4] As a result, the Biden administration has begun to shift its approach and prepare for what it views as inevitable negotiations in which Ukraine will be forced to make territorial concessions to Russia.[5] Barring a sudden Ukrainian military collapse this summer, the next decisive event in the conflict will likely be the US presidential election later this year. The Biden administration may have decided that negotiations are inevitable, but unlike Trump it does not intend to pressure Kyiv into joining them. Meanwhile, Putin is likely to wait for the outcome of the election before entering serious talks, given that he would be able to achieve much better results if Trump were in office.[6] Washington’s fraying support for Ukraine also has broader implications. If isolationist and Russia-friendly Republicans can pull the plug on American support even under a strongly internationalist president, then many other American security guarantees – for instance to NATO or Taiwan – begin to look questionable. As a result, America’s domestic political divisions, which only look set to widen in a contentious election year, may well persuade many other countries that the time has come to reassess whether Washington is still a reliable ally. Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office. [1] Joe Biden, Remarks By President Biden On America’s Place In The World,, February 2021,[2] Jonathan Masters and Will Merrow, How Much Aid Has The U.S. Sent Ukraine? Here Are Six Charts, Council on Foreign Relations, December 2023,[3] Jack Forrest, Trump Won’t Commit to Backing Ukraine in War with Russia, CNN, May 2023,[4] Washington Post Staff, Miscalculations, Divisions Marked Offensive Planning By U.S., Ukraine, The Washington Post, December 2023,; Washington Post Staff, In Ukraine, A War Of Incremental Gains As Counteroffensive Stalls, The Washington Post, December 2023,[5] Michael Hirsh, The Biden Administration Is Quietly Shifting Its Strategy in Ukraine, Politico, December 2023,[6] Michael Crowley, U.S. Rejects Putin’s Latest Call for Ukraine Negotiations, The New York Times, February 2024, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Will Washington remain a reliable ally to Ukraine? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-will-washington-remain-a-reliable-ally-to-ukraine [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-20 11:06:49 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-20 10:06:49 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7309 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-19 11:58:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-19 10:58:51 [post_content] => Following ten years of gradual progress towards European Union (EU) integration, driven by the impetus created by the Revolution of Dignity in 2014, Ukraine applied for EU membership in the first days of Russia’s full-scale invasion. Many in the EU thought this was only about showing symbolic support to the war-torn country and its brave people, with these sentiments prevailing even after the EU had adopted a lightning-fast decision to grant Ukraine candidate status. While the decision was never seen as symbolic in Ukraine, importantly it is no longer seen this way in the EU either. Over the course of the past two years, Ukraine has demonstrated its unwavering commitment to EU integration, not just with words but with deeds. The European Commission's recommendation to commence accession negotiations, swiftly endorsed by the European Council, reflects an acknowledgement of Ukraine's tangible efforts.[1] The Enlargement Package report of December 2023 reveals a commendable trajectory in Ukraine's transformation, with an overall assessment climbing from 2.15 to 2.2 on a scale of 1 to 5 throughout 2023.[2] This progress becomes even more significant when considering the addition of new indicators; a comparison with the EU annual report of 2022 would show an improvement from 2.15 to 2.28 in 2023.[3] Although the change might seem small, the EU accession process requires fundamental reforms in virtually all public spheres, not to mention close to 30,000 EU legal acts, with which the legislation of the candidate countries has to be eventually aligned. Among the current nine candidate countries, Ukraine stands out as one of the fastest-moving, underscoring the nation's determination despite the most challenging context. Unlike other candidate states, Ukraine is navigating its transformation amid a full-fledged war. In Ukraine, EU integration is seen as a way to secure its geopolitical choice, finally cutting ties with the Russian empire and ceasing to be a buffer zone between the EU and Russia. Moreover, everyone in Ukraine understands that the rebuilding efforts would require new approaches, ones that only a substantial transformation of the country’s economy and all institutions can provide. With EUR 18 billion granted in 2023 and a commitment of an additional EUR 50 billion in the next four years, the EU's support becomes a lifeline for Ukraine's survival and recovery, along with the support coming from the UK and the US. This financial backing underscores the mutual understanding that Ukraine's commitment to democratic and market reforms is not just an internal matter, but a shared responsibility for stability and progress in the region. As Ukraine marks the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion, the narrative extends beyond conflict and resilience. It is also a story of building a future amidst the existential threat to the nation at present, leveraging EU integration as a catalyst for transformation. Although often overlooked in favour of purely military context, Ukraine’s EU integration is a process of profound importance for its success in the war. And if sister democracies are determined to see Ukraine repel the Russian invasion and win the peace, they should also do whatever possible to support and secure its successful accession into the EU. Yuliia Shaipova is a Ukrainian EU integration professional with experience in the governmental, business, and non-governmental sectors. She focuses on the political issues of Ukraine’s EU accession and the comparative studies of other countries' EU integration experiences. Сurrently, Yuliia is an MSt in Diplomatic Studies candidate at the University of Oxford. [1] Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Ukraine Report 2023, European Commission, November 2023,; General Secretariat of the Council, European Council meeting (14 and 15 December 2023) – Conclusions, European Council, December 2023,[2] Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, Opinion on Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union, European Commission, June 2022,[3] Commission Staff, Analytical Report following the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Council and the Council, European Commission, Commission Opinion on Ukraine’s application for membership of the European Union, February 2023, Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Ukraine’s integration into the European Union is driving domestic transformations [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-ukraines-integration-into-the-european-union-is-driving-domestic-transformations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-19 12:14:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-19 11:14:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7306 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-02-19 11:43:21 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-02-19 10:43:21 [post_content] => As Europe contemplates further support for Ukraine, it glances furtively at what is happening in Washington DC. The internal machinations on Capitol Hill alone are not enough to stop the European Union (EU) and its European allies from continuing support, but they allow those who would prefer an alternative course to make their pitch. Chief amongst those is Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who shows a distinct lack of support towards Ukraine. The scale of European support for Ukraine to date is huge and largely not understood. The EU has committed nearly 90 billion euro in aid, weaponry, budget support and hosting of millions of Ukrainian refugees. The UK’s 12 billion pounds [14 billion euro] is in addition to this. However, Europe knows that to continue on this scale is increasingly challenging, and will be much more difficult if the USA does not maintain its own commitments. So, how long can European unity last? The most obvious worry is of sweeping gains from the far right in the elections to the European Parliament in June 2024. Nevertheless, a good working assumption is that the European Parliament will maintain a sufficient number of centre left and centre right MEPs to continue support for Ukraine. Yet another concern is that Slovakia’s Robert Fico may decide to join forces with Viktor Orbán. Sending one leader out of the room while a decision is made is a ploy the European Council has used in the past and could use again, but sending two feels like a slippery slope. Despite his rhetoric, Fico has so far tucked in behind major decisions; and the hope in Brussels is that this will last. The recently greenlit package of support for Ukraine, which will make available up to 50 billion euros in grants and loans until 2027, is a positive sign, - but how this will continue year on year will remain to be seen, particularly with Orbán inserting additional review clauses into the deal.[1] More worrying would be Russia taking more ground and higher Ukrainian casualties. In this instance, the concern is not so much that European support would disappear, but that it would morph into support for a negotiated deal. Some might go further and suggest Ukraine should be prepared to make concessions which will effectively mean conceding territory. Either way, Ukraine’s hand would be poorer in such high stakes negotiations. If Ukraine is taken, ripped apart and turned into a part of Russia or a vassal to it, what is the price for the security of Europe? I know wars end messily, with ragged edges; even outright victors must mourn loss and destruction. But wherever this moves, Europe has to stick with it. When the day comes, as it always does, when people sit around a table to work out an ending, Ukraine should feel Europe has its back. Baroness Ashton is the Former High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and former Vice President of the European Commission. [1] EU Commission, EU solidarity with Ukraine,,grants%20and%20loans%20until%202027; Gregorio Sorgi, Barbara Moens and Elisa Braun, EU approves €50B Ukraine aid as Viktor Orbán folders, Politico, February 2024,,Orb%C3%A1n%2C%20 to%20 drop%20his%20 veto Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => Two years on: Will international support stay sufficiently united behind Ukraine to pay the price for security in Europe? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => two-years-on-will-international-support-stay-sufficiently-united-behind-ukraine-to-pay-the-price-for-security-in-europe [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-21 18:15:04 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-21 17:15:04 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7284 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2024-01-20 00:00:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2024-01-19 23:00:42 [post_content] => It is often said that the Americans and the British are two people divided by a common language. If that language is democracy, then developments in 2024 could lead to the divisions becoming wider than ever. Both countries are expected to head to the polls this year – the United States (US) in November, and Britain sometime in the spring or autumn.[1] Both elections will have consequences for the United Kingdom (UK)’s foreign policy, be it towards the US itself or in other parts of the world. However, perhaps surprisingly, the most profound consequences for British foreign policy are more likely to arise not from its own election but from the one taking place on the other side of the Atlantic. Despite the divisions caused by Brexit, there is remarkable cross-party consensus between the Labour and Conservative parties on the principles that should underpin British foreign policy. In both its 2021 Integrated Review and its 2023 foreign policy “refresh”, the Conservative Government committed to “working towards the higher goal of an open and stable international order”. It also placed heavy emphasis on ensuring the security of Europe, including by thwarting Russia’s designs on Ukraine.[2] In its response, the Labour Party has generally agreed with these goals and criticised the Government for not providing sufficient resources to achieve them.[3] By contrast, the politics of American foreign policy is much less consensual. One result of the polarisation which has gripped American politics in recent years is that elections have become far more consequential. Because the two parties are so far apart on so many issues, the country can radically change direction based on a single election result.[4] This potential is heightened by the fact that Donald Trump, the candidate currently leading in the polls, and emboldened after his recent win in the Iowa caucus, has both an erratic personality and a marked hostility to most international institutions. The result is that if Trump wins the November election, the UK Government’s “closest ally and partner” – to use the words of the 2023 Integrated Review refresh – will be led by a president profoundly hostile to the stated principles of UK foreign policy.[5] Trump has suggested that he may withdraw the United States from NATO, impose a 10% tariff on almost all imports, and withdraw support for Ukraine.[6] Any one of these decisions would send shockwaves around the world, including through London. Regional securityAccording to the Integrated Review, the UK has two main regional priorities: Europe and the Asia-Pacific.[7] Ever since the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, London has seen the defence of Ukraine as pivotal to the defence of Europe as a whole. The UK has become the second biggest donor of military aid to Kyiv and the UK Government has increased defence spending in order to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank. The goal of defending Ukraine is shared by American internationalists of both parties but contested by Trump and many within the Republican Party, including many members of Congress. This ‘America First’ camp disparages the idea that Russia poses a systemic threat to either the US or the international order, believing that China poses a far greater one. They portray Russia’s conflict with Ukraine as essentially a local dispute which should be managed either by Ukrainian concessions or by European countries themselves.[8] Congressional Republicans have already delayed – and may ultimately kill off entirely – a fresh tranche of aid to Kyiv requested by the Biden administration. Despite this difficulty, a new Democratic administration would continue to provide strong diplomatic support for Ukraine and attempt to find alternative channels for aid, for instance from allies. Trump, by contrast, has claimed he would end the war in 24 hours – presumably by wielding diplomatic influence against Ukraine and forcing it into territorial concessions to Russia.[9] Even more dangerous to the UK Government’s priorities is Trump’s attitude towards NATO, which the UK Government regards as “the bedrock of our security”.[10] Trump was reportedly on the brink of ordering an American exit from the alliance several times during his first term.[11] Even if he doesn’t order an outright withdrawal, he has committed himself to “fundamentally reevaluating NATO’s purpose and NATO’s mission”.[12] Any downgrade in the American commitment to Ukraine or NATO would force a re-evaluation of the most fundamental principles of British foreign policy. There is no conceivable way for Europe and the UK to replace American assistance to Ukraine, much less the capabilities that the US provides to NATO as a whole. Either development would likely lead to renewed calls for Europe to enhance its own defence capabilities and cooperation. But with its domestic economy struggling and the politics of Brexit complicating cooperation with Europe, Britain would be ill-placed to take a leading role in these efforts. The US election will also have implications for Britain’s other main regional priority, the Asia-Pacific. There is a bipartisan consensus in Washington in favour of containing the rise of China, but the two parties differ significantly in their preferred methods. The Biden administration has placed heavy emphasis on multilateral cooperation with European countries, for instance with Britain through the AUKUS pact. It has also reinforced American security commitments in the region. In his first term, Trump was much more narrowly focused on trade and repeatedly questioned American defence commitments to South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.[13] Throughout the campaign he has continued to speak highly of Xi Jinping, who he seems to regard as a peer with whom he can cooperate rather than a systemic threat to the current international order.[14] As a result, a Trump victory would likely also force London to re-evaluate its Asia-Pacific “tilt”. Firstly, any downgrade in US support for NATO and Ukraine would force the UK to divert its limited resources closer to home. Secondly, a new Trump administration would be much less interested in multilateral or so-called “minilateral” arrangements like AUKUS as a component of its approach to China. Rather than attempting to coordinate with Europe against China as the Biden administration is doing, Trump would be much more likely to pursue American interests unilaterally – including at the expense of Britain. An open international economyOne area in which there is likely to be a direct clash between London and Washington in a second Trump administration is trade. UK policymakers are seeking a new free trade agreement with the US, which Conservatives have touted as a potential benefit of Brexit. More generally, policymakers in both major UK parties are in favour of maintaining an open international economic order based on the free flow of goods and capital.[15] The first goal – a new US-UK trade agreement – is likely unobtainable whoever wins the November election. The Biden administration has refused to enter serious negotiations and is unlikely to do so in a second term given widespread hostility to new trade agreements across the American political spectrum.[16] The current administration has also resurrected American industrial policy, pouring state investment into strategic industries in a way which makes it difficult for British businesses to compete. This process is likely to accelerate whoever wins the election, although the Biden administration would almost certainly proceed with more sensitivity to the concerns of its allies. It is Trump, however, who is likely to launch a broader assault on the entire international economic order. His campaign has called for a 10% tariff on “almost all” imports and a near-total decoupling of the American economy from China. This would affect UK interests as defined by its government in two ways. First would be the direct economic impact, which would be significant given the high volume of trade between the two countries. To mitigate the damage, UK policymakers would be forced to make a diplomatic scramble for exemptions, pitting them against dozens of other countries seeking the same relief. Yet British policymakers would likely find this need at odds with their desire to maintain open trade relations with China, a predilection which American China hawks view with suspicion and disdain and may wish to punish.[17] Secondly, such a serious American challenge to the international economic order would likely rapidly accelerate its fragmentation. In a deglobalised world, nations and economic blocs will thrive if they possess large, integrated markets and deep pools of capital to drive investment and innovation. As with security affairs, the logical course of action for British policymakers would be to seek re-integration with Europe to pool resources and obtain a measure of protection by joining a large regional economic bloc. Yet post-Brexit politics would profoundly complicate this, likely rendering it a non-starter under a Conservative government and difficult to pursue in any impactful way even under Labour. Which direction?Perhaps the most profound impact of a second Trump victory on British policymakers will be psychological: the realisation that America is no longer a reliable partner in upholding a free and open international order. Although segments of the Conservative Party have some ideological affinity with Trumpian nationalism, no major grouping on the British political spectrum is hostile to international trade and investment or the European security order in the same way as the former president. Nationalism is ultimately a thin basis for cooperation given its emphasis on upholding the narrow material interests of nations, which often clash. The result of the next American election hence has profound implications for Britain. Will America remain committed to upholding a relatively free, open and multilateral international order, or will it return to ‘America First’? For many decades before 2016, British foreign policy was based on two pillars: economic integration with Europe, and close alignment on diplomatic and security priorities with the US. Brexit severely complicated the first pillar. If the second pillar is undermined or even demolished in the aftermath of 2024, British policymakers of both parties will be forced into an agonising reappraisal unlike any in their post-war history. Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [1] Archie Mitchell, Rishi Sunak Rules out a 2025 General Election: ‘2024 Will be an Election Year’, The Independent, December 2023,[2] HM Government, Integrated Review Refresh 2023: Responding to a More Contested and Volatile World, March 2023, pp. 7, 19, 22 - 28 (quote 19); HM Government, Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy, March 2021, pp. 10 – 22.[3] David Lammy Responds in Parliament to the Government's Statement on the Integrated Review, Policy Mogul, March 2023,; David Lammy, Britain Reconnected: A Foreign Policy for Security and Prosperity at Home (London: Fabian Society, 2023), p. 17.[4] Andrew Gawthorpe, 2024 US Presidential Elections: A Fork in the Road for the Future of American Foreign Policy?, Foreign Policy Centre, November 2023,[5] HM Government, Integrated Review Refresh 2023, p. 23.[6] Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, A New Tax on Imports and a Split From China: Trump’s 2025 Trade Agenda, The New York Times, December 2023,; Charlie Savage, Jonathan Swan and Maggie Haberman, Fears of a NATO Withdrawal Rise as Trump Seeks a Return to Power, The New York Times, December 2023,[7] HM Government, Integrated Review Refresh 2023, pp. 3, 6, 9.[8] For instance, see Freddie Sayers, Elbridge Colby: China is More Dangerous than Russia, unHerd, April 2023,; Sen. Josh Hawley on China and Ukraine, Heritage Foundation, May 2023,[9] Jack Forrest, Trump Won’t Commit to Backing Ukraine in War with Russia, CNN, May 2023,[10] HM Government, Integrated Review Refresh 2023, p. 9.[11] John Bolton, The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2020).[12] Donald J. Trump, Agenda47: Preventing World War III, March 2023,[13] Josh Rogin, Chaos Under Heaven: Trump, Xi, and the Battle for the Twenty-First Century (Boston: Mariner, 2021).[14] Newsroom, Hear Donald Trump Praise Dictators at New Hampshire Rally, CNN, November 2023,[15] HM Government, Integrated Review 2023, p. 45; Lammy, Britain Reconnected.[16] Graham Lanktree, Biden Quietly Shelves Trade Pact with UK before 2024 Elections, Politico, December 2023,[17] HM Government, Integrated Review 2023, p. 31. [post_title] => Transatlantic Shifts: Impacts of UK-US elections on the ‘special relationship’ [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => transatlantic-shifts-impacts-of-uk-us-elections-on-the-special-relationship [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2024-02-05 11:19:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2024-02-05 10:19:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7272 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-12-19 11:58:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-12-19 10:58:33 [post_content] => This year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), held from 30 November to 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), got off to a rocky start. Hosting the conference in the UAE, a country where fossil fuels make up 30% of the economy, was always going to be controversial, as was the decision to pick as President of the Summit Sultan Al Jaber, the CEO of the country’s state oil company.[1] When audio emerged of Al Jaber recently claiming that there is “no science” to indicate that a phase-out of fossil fuels is necessary for the world to meet its climate targets, many analysts were ready to write the conference off entirely.[2] Especially when judged against such low expectations, the final results of the conference are best described as ‘limited but positive.’ For the first time ever, a UN climate summit ended with a declaration that explicitly mentioned the need to “transition away from” fossil fuels.[3] Traditionally such a statement has been opposed by, among others, China, India, Saudi Arabia, and sometimes the United States (US). On the other hand, the Summit’s final text has been criticised for containing numerous loopholes and for doing little to provide low-income countries with the financing that they need to transition away from fossil fuels.[4] The outcomes of UN climate summits are profoundly influenced by geopolitical and political trends unfolding in the world at large. In particular, the attitudes of China and the US have often played a key role in determining whether progress can be made. The two countries are the world’s largest emitters, key green energy innovation hubs, and potential sources of climate finance for less developed countries. They also have a fiercely antagonistic relationship, one which has, at times, threatened to extinguish the possibility of climate cooperation altogether. The climate and US-Chinese competitionIn recent years, climate policy itself has become a key arena of US-Chinese competition. Both countries want to be the global leader in green energy technology, to ensure a sustainable energy transition at home as well as to enhance their influence abroad. China has been heavily subsidising its renewables industry for decades, with the result being that the West is now heavily reliant on China for a number of technologies vital to the green transition, such as solar panels and electric vehicle batteries. In response, US President Biden’s administration has unveiled expansive subsidies for American green energy companies and placed a number of trade sanctions on China. These moves were denounced by China, which sees them as an attempt to suppress the rise of the Chinese economy.[5] This has coincided with a general downturn in US-Chinese relations prompted by former Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan in August 2022 and the Chinese spy balloon caught floating over the United States earlier this year. Beijing cancelled ongoing climate talks with Washington after Pelosi’s trip, raising fears that the two countries’ climate envoys would not even be talking to each other in the run up to this year’s COP28 Summit. The talks finally restarted in the summer of 2023, just in time to begin preparations for COP28.[6] Although this reopening of dialogue did not represent any major underlying improvement in the relationship between the two countries, it did indicate that both see the climate issue as having significance beyond their own bilateral relationship. The leadership in both countries recognise the need to address climate change and that failing to do so will harm their diplomatic standing among the nations which stand to suffer from unchecked global warming the most. Crucially, this summer also coincided with a renewed push in Beijing to improve its relations with the US as the Chinese economy experiences unprecedented difficulties.[7] With this, the stage was set. One of the great virtues of the UN climate summit system is that it creates periodic bursts of pressure on world leaders to come up with new commitments to tackle climate change. For the US and China particularly, there is a powerful incentive not to be seen as a spoiler. This has enabled – or forced – Washington and Beijing to come together to enable important breakthroughs in the past; as they did in the run-up to the Paris Climate Summit in 2015 and the Glasgow Summit in 2021, which saw a breakthrough on methane reduction. Once again, in the run-up to COP28, this system worked – but it also exposed the ways in which geopolitics continues to shape and limit the extent to which progress can be made. The key issues at COP28At COP28, the two main issues facing delegates were the phasing out fossil fuels and the provision of climate finance to developing nations. Both required US-Chinese cooperation to come to fruition, but in the end only one of them did. The phase-out of fossil fuels has traditionally been a point of major contention at UN climate summits. Although the entire edifice of international climate diplomacy is premised on a transition away from greenhouse gas-emitting fuels and towards renewable energy sources, actually explicitly calling for fossil fuels to be abandoned has proved a step too far for many countries. Producing countries like Saudi Arabia have an obvious reason for refusing to denounce their major source of revenue. However, less-developed countries like India and various African nations have also been wary of abandoning the only affordable source of energy they have access to. In the past, China has aligned itself with the less-developed countries, claiming that it is unfair for developed nations to now deny others a cheap source of energy after using it to get rich themselves.[8] The Trump administration was also opposed to endorsing a phase-out of fossil fuels, particularly as America was undergoing an oil and gas boom, which has now transformed it into the world’s largest producer.[9] China’s decision at COP28 to endorse a “transition away from” fossil fuels will hence be remembered as a key moment in international climate diplomacy. Although the decision-making of the Government in Beijing is notoriously opaque, one reason for the shift may be that China’s energy mix is increasingly starting to look like that of a developed rather than a developing country. In 2023 alone, China built enough renewable energy capacity to power all of France.[10] As the global center of production for many of the technologies, which will power the green transition, China also stands to benefit as the world becomes increasingly reliant on those technologies. In the end, the Summit declaration’s language on fossil fuels was agreed between the US and Chinese delegations, highlighting once again the importance of their cooperation.[11] Yet on the other key issue at the Summit – finance – no breakthrough was found. Developing nations require trillions of dollars annually to keep the global green transition on track.[12] Where this money should come from is a key point of contention. China argues that the developed countries that have benefited the most from past greenhouse gas emissions should cover it, whereas the United States and other Western countries thinks China – and also India – should pay.[13] However, the West’s position is undermined by the fact that it has often not even fulfilled its own pledge of paying $100bn annually. With an election looming in the United States next year, there was little chance that the Biden administration would make any new commitments in this area, and the deadlock encountered at past summits remained. The limits of progressOverall, the outcome of COP28 shows that while progress can be achieved when the interests of the world’s most powerful countries align, the battle against climate change remains dependent, at least to some measure, on geopolitical harmony. In their written submissions to the conference, many countries – including China – warned that rising trade and technology protectionism was a threat to global climate cooperation.[14] Yet there seems little chance that either the US or China will bow out of the race to dominate the green sector anytime soon. Moreover, a major blow-up in some other aspect of the relationship – say, over Taiwan – could derail progress entirely. The world therefore finds itself in an uncomfortable position, with any future progress on climate change dependent on stability in what is a heavily contentious bilateral relationship. With the US Presidential election looming next November, there is also the possibility of Donald Trump returning to the White House, a development that is likely to result in the US abdicating itself once more from its global responsibilities. Amid these swirling geopolitical and political currents, all progress on the climate is fragile and reversible. COP28, at least, turned out somewhat better than expected. We must hope that the same can be said of future summits too. Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [1] United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs, UAE Economy, undated,[2] Damian Carrington and Ben Stockton, Cop28 President Says There Is ‘No Science’ Behind Demands for Phase-Out Of Fossil Fuels, The Guardian, December 2023,[3] United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, First Global Stocktake, December 2023,[4] Damian Carrington, Failure of Cop28 On Fossil Fuel Phase-Out Is ‘Devastating’, Say Scientists, The Guardian, December 2023,[5] Andrew Gawthorpe, U.S.-China Competition Is Weaponizing The Green Transition, World Politics Review, September 2023,[6] Aime Williams and Demetri Sevastopulo, John Kerry Visits Beijing To Restart Stalled US-China Climate Talks, Financial Times, July 2023,[7] Laura He, Beijing Is Ready To Improve Ties With US, Says Chinese Vice-President, CNN, November 2023,[8] Andrew Freedman, Top Emitter China Says No To Fossil Fuel “Phase Out” Language At Cop28, Axios, September 2023,[9] Lindsay Maizland and Anshu Siripurapu, How The U.S. Oil And Gas Industry Works, Council on Foreign Relations, August 2022,[10] Xu Yi-chong, COP28: Why China’s Clean Energy Boom Matters for Global Climate Action, The Conversation, December 2023,[11] Maha El Dahan, David Stanway and Valerie Volcovici, How The World Agreed To Move Away From Fossil Fuels At COP28, Reuters, December 2023,[12] News Wires, Developing Countries Need ‘Radical’ Investment To Fight Climate Change, UN Says, France24, November 2023,[13] Navin Singh Khadka, COP28: Should India and China Benefit From A Climate Change Fund?, BBC News, December 2023,[14] COP28, China’s Submission On The Elements For the Consideration Of Outputs Component Of The Global Stocktake, undated, [post_title] => The geopolitics of international climate diplomacy: A read-out from COP28 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-geopolitics-of-international-climate-diplomacy-a-read-out-from-cop28 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-12-19 12:18:03 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-12-19 11:18:03 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[18] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7257 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-12-13 00:01:41 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-12-12 23:01:41 [post_content] => Since the 2023 G20 Summit in September, FPC has been running an interview mini-series that delves into the six thematic priorities set by host country India: – Multilateral institutions for the 21st century;– Accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);– Women-led development;– Technological transformation & digital public infrastructure;– Accelerated, inclusive & resilient Growth; and– Green development, climate finance & LiFE. Below is an overview of the series and the experts that contributed to it, with a focus on what the UK could do to improve their policy-making in these key areas.  UK Policy Opportunities: “As a country that recently left a regional bloc, the UK should ensure it maintains its historic leadership role in international fora. A nuclear powered country, a G7 member, and one with strong ties with increasingly influential states such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, the UK should focus its role in promoting greater inclusion of these and other countries and support substantial roles for them in the multilateral, democratic ecosystem.”

- Thomas E. Garrett, Community of Democracies

 “As is well known, the UK’s retreat from spending on [Official Development Assistance] ODA has been noticed and has come at a cost in terms of global credibility, particularly on critical issues such as climate, finance and health. What is less often mentioned is the UK’s retreat as a troop contributor to UN peacekeeping. While the UK’s mission to Mali was no longer sustainable, the fact that it was not replaced by a similar deployment elsewhere has seen the number of UK blue helmeted troops shrink back to pre-2016 levels. It is perhaps here, and in voluntary funding for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the best value for money can be found when contributing to the multilateral system.”

- Fred Carver, Strategy for Humanity

  UK Policy Opportunities: “The UK needs to strengthen the means of implementation on the SDGs so that they can be implemented in a way that promotes integration and policy coherence across the framework. This includes meaningfully engaging all stakeholders and to improve accountability and transparency around how SDG gaps and progress are being monitored. As one of the major creditors of multilateral development banks, it is positive to see that the UK has announced its intention to get behind some of the key reforms of the international financial architecture that are being proposed – however, there needs to be clarity on how these will now be taken forward and to ensure that these proposals do not further entrench debt unsustainability of low and middle-income countries. Finally, it is important that the UK’s approach on the SDGs is grounded in the transformative principles of the 2030 Agenda, namely the pledge to Leave No One Behind, universality and human rights.”

- Lilei Chow, Save the Children

 “Multi-stakeholder engagement mechanisms are one way of engaging broad support towards SDG implementation. The UK Government should deliver on their 2019 voluntary national review commitment to establish a multi-stakeholder engagement mechanism as a way to mobilise cross-sectoral support. This should be accompanied by specific support to civil society organisations, who play a critical role representing people, holding governments and others to account and supporting communities.”

- Dr Abigael Baldoumas, Policy and advocacy consultant

  UK Policy Opportunities: “There are several important mechanisms the UK Government must have in place in order to see significant progress on the aims of women-led development, mirrored in its current gender equality initiatives. Firstly, such work cannot be siloed into stand-alone programmes, but must be incorporated across the entire Government as priorities in domestic and foreign policy. Secondly, the UK must put its money where its mouth is and provide sufficient resources to achieve these agendas. Such efforts also require close working relationships with feminist civil society, where the input of activists and academics are prioritised and compensated. Lastly, and crucially, the UK must take accountability and recognise its own role in creating the global instability that leads to violence against women and girls. Then and only then can we expect to see progress toward safeguarding women and girls’ rights.”

- Marissa Conway, UNA-UK

 “Ambition means not only restoring the aid budget to a level where the UK is able to meaningfully confront the consequences of transnational challenges including rising conflict, climate change and a growing anti-gender movement, it must also change how it funds: providing core, flexible, long-term funding directly to women’s rights organisations on the ground.”

- GAPS (Gender Action for Peace and Security), Civil society network

  UK Policy Opportunities: “Arguably, the most important lesson the UK should learn from recent experience is that the UK’s freedom of action is limited. It can achieve more through cooperating with other states than it can achieve alone. The Government deserves credit for recognising the national priority of having a thriving sector of science and technology, but the boldness of its ambition (for the UK to be a ‘science and technology superpower’ – irrespective of the vagueness of the term) is not matched by the necessary scale of resources. Increasing investment and reducing hyperbole would not be a bad place to start.”

- Dr Joe Devanny, King’s College London

 “The UK Government should become the world’s biggest advocate for open source, push open technologies as a differentiator against closed systems which are not transparent and accountable and lead on public interest AI. By becoming the world’s largest advocate for open source, could provide the UK Government with an effective new voice, demonstrating its ongoing ability to be a global leader in forefront technologies.”

- Catherine Stihler, Creative Commons

  UK Policy Opportunities: “On the global stage, the UK Government could position itself as a champion of an inclusive and resilient global economy. It could help to change the narrative so that trade is fully aligned with key UK foreign policy ambitions such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement. A UK trade strategy that sets out how this might be done would be a good start.”

- Ruth Bergan, Transform Trade

 “One key change that could be transformational to our economy: the purpose of the corporation [...] This is a radical agenda for the UK, (though now increasingly mainstream across Europe and some emerging markets): it would mean company directors have a higher duty of care for the public interest; are accountable to communities and workers, not just investors; and act on ‘double materiality’ – namely the risks to the company of human rights abuse and pollution, as well as risks to workers and communities, in the company’s operations and supply chains.”

- Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

  UK Policy Opportunities: “Bodies such as the UK’s Climate Change Council can provide independent expert advice on optimal policy mixes tailored to the specific circumstances of countries. Besides, democratic governments can ask citizens about their policy preferences on climate action: this is what deliberative democracy mechanisms such as citizens’ assemblies on climate are for.”

-  Rafael Jiménez Aybar, Westminster Foundation for Democracy

 “The G20 and UK need to consider countries’ historical emissions and the role they have played in the past and current to develop a global carbon-based economy. The pandemic, war and economic crisis can problematically obscure the playing field of global power structures and inequality, in addition to the unevenness in emissions and burdens of climate change. The debate on loss and damage is important in this regard as it also puts in sharp focus how countries need to act in order to address future loss and damage.”

-  Professor Naho Mirumachi, King’s College London

[post_title] => Insights on India's G20 Thematic Priorities and UK Policy Opportunities [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => insights-on-indias-g20-thematic-priorities-and-uk-policy-opportunities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-12-12 17:10:41 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-12-12 16:10:41 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[19] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7237 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-12-12 10:55:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-12-12 09:55:00 [post_content] => The battle Ukraine fights is not just for its survival as a nation but for values we hold dear in the United Kingdom. The values of an open society – respect for individual rights, full participation in political and economic life and the rule of law to institutionalise those rights – are anathema to the leadership of the Russian Federation. Being at the receiving end of the malign attentions of the Russian state is something that unites Ukrainian and Syrian civilians, so there was much to discuss when experts and activists from both nations met under the auspices of the Syria Ukraine Network in Kyiv on 16-17 October 2023. The meeting aimed to stimulate new ways of thinking about justice and accountability in the two conflicts and foster solidarity between people who have suffered occupation and violence in response to their calls for democracy and human rights. My conclusion was that active, engaged citizens are essential to create the conditions for justice and thriving open societies. Justice for war crimes is, understandably, commonly conceived as being secured through the mechanisms of the international legal system. In humanitarian relief operations, the multilateral institutions of the UN have traditionally been front and centre in media coverage of responses to emergencies. Less visible, but just as valuable, is the role of engaged citizens in collecting evidence and providing not just emergency responses to humanitarian disasters caused by conflict, but principled, long-term support and grassroots governance. Among our group in Kyiv were investigative journalists, lawyers, policy experts, storytellers, healthcare workers and representatives from Syrian and Ukrainian NGOs. One such group was Truth Hounds, who have been documenting, monitoring and carrying out investigations into human rights violations in Ukraine and neighbouring states since 2014. The Senior Legal Counsel of Truth Hounds shared a précis of their latest report on the abuse and torture of staff at the Zaporizhizhia Nuclear Power Plant. The plant was captured by Russian forces on 11 March 2022 and has since then been under the ‘management’ of Rosatom, Russia’s state nuclear power company. Truth Hounds report that war crimes were aided and abetted by Rosatom, yet despite this the company conducts business in large parts of the world without sanction. Getting Rosatom’s directors facing charges in court could take decades, if it ever happens at all, but the actions of Ukrainian lawyers to gather evidence and investigative journalists to bring these stories to light can exert pressure on companies that continue to do business with Rosatom and connected commercial entities. From the start of the Syrian revolution in 2011, when large swathes of the Syrian people dared to dream for greater political and economic freedom, citizen journalists have broadcast the brutality of the suppression of that revolution. As in Ukraine, Syrian-led organisations like the Syrian Network for Human Rights have conducted the painstaking work of gathering evidence, establishing databases to archive and catalogue incidents and seeking opportunities to bring perpetrators to justice. On 10 October 2023, Canada and the Netherlands asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to rule on seven ‘provisional measures’ designed to end ongoing torture and human rights abuses carried out by the Syrian state against the Syrian people. Among the sources of evidence referenced in court transcripts were fourteen contributions from the Syrian Network for Human Rights. In further example of the importance of Syrian-led efforts to secure justice, on 15 November 2023 French criminal investigative justices have sensationally issued arrest warrants for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, his brother and Commander of the Fourth Division of the Syrian Army Maher al-Assad, and two more senior officials.  The warrants were issued for the use of chemical weapons against civilians in Douma and eastern Ghouta in August 2013, attacks in which more than 1,000 people perished. Instrumental to convincing French judges there is a case is the testimony of survivors, filed by the Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM). The SCM have pushed for Syrian civil society involvement in international investigation and justice mechanisms and the French decision represents a degree of success for their endeavours, though there is still far to go. In northwest Syria, locally-led organisations have also been at the forefront of the response to humanitarian challenges. From 2011 onwards, Syrian citizens in the nation and diaspora mobilised to create NGOs that provided services in areas where the regime had been expelled. As well as providing services, health organisations provided a degree of governance from the ground up. The Idlib Health Directorate holds elections to its board, the process is transparent and the result respected. This democratic exercise is admittedly on a small scale, but in a state that has been ruled by a succession of authoritarian Ba’athist governments since 1963 the determination to hold elections is an expression of independence and defiance of the regime and hardline religious groups. Doctors have a particularly special role in Syrian society, regarded as hakim, meaning ‘wise’ in Arabic. Throughout the Syrian conflict, healthcare workers have been at the forefront of the narrative war that has raged alongside the conflict. Healthcare workers are in a unique position to speak to the carnage caused by barrel bombs, missiles and bullets as they witness it daily. Too often, violence is inflicted on the caregivers themselves. The endless violence takes an immense toll on healthcare workers. Recent research by Aula Abbara, Diana Rayes and colleagues details the far-reaching impact that working in a conflict-afflicted area has. The notorious ‘double-tap’ attacks, where an initial strike is followed up with another when first responders and medical staff are on the scene, is identified as particularly disturbing for healthcare workers, creating anticipatory stress when they arrive to help. In 2021, leaders of twelve of the world’s leading democracies including the UK stated in a joint Open Societies Statement that values of freedom and democracy are under threat from: ‘rising authoritarianism, electoral interference, corruption, economic coercion, manipulation of information, including disinformation, online harms and cyber-attacks, politically motivated internet shutdowns, human rights violations and abuses, terrorism and violent extremism.’ The threat is real, but the UK Government can help those at the civic frontline by targeting support to locally-led and grassroots groups doing the hard work of collecting evidence, documenting war crimes, providing essential services and grounding the principles of the open society in everyday lived activity. International institutions and multilateral bodies are often overstretched and constrained by labyrinthine internal procedures. Individual states have the ability to target greater support to locally-led organisations on a bilateral basis. Funding cycles should be for the long-term and include funding for the documenting evidence, and protection of staff and infrastructure. Rather than targeting support on programmatic activity only, there should be support for governance and development too. Active citizens make for vibrant, open societies but political will and financial support is needed to create and secure the space for them to thrive.  Elly Nott, leader in the humanitarian sector and PhD Candidate at the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre.Image by WikiCommons.  [post_title] => Op-Ed: Accountability in Conflict - reflections from the inaugural meeting of the Syria Ukraine Network [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => op-ed-accountability-in-conflict-reflections-from-the-inaugural-meeting-of-the-syria-ukraine-network [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-12-12 11:01:50 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-12-12 10:01:50 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[20] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7228 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-12-05 10:28:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-12-05 09:28:07 [post_content] => In this interview, Rafael Jiménez Aybar (Westminster Foundation for Democracy) and Professor Naho Mirumachi (King's College London) discuss where we stand with climate mitigation and adaptation strategies today and address the increase in natural disaster episodes seen throughout the summer of ‘Global Boiling’. Full series around the G20 can be read here. Can you explain how green development, climate finance and LiFE are different and yet interlinked climate-related concepts? Rafael Jiménez Aybar: ‘Green development’ has been the umbrella concept for a pact put forward by India’s G20 presidency, including a roadmap to tackle the environment crisis through international cooperation. ‘Lifestyle of Environment (LiFE)’ is one of the five pillars of this Green Development Pact (the others being the more intuitive Climate Finance, Circular Economy, Accelerating Progress on SDGs, and Energy Transitions & Energy Security). India presented LiFE as a cross-cutting theme, promoting a mass movement lifestyle and behaviour shift towards more sustainable choices. It is commendable that India, with its massive and growing domestic market, chose this theme. But the focus of this conversation was limited to nudging consumer behaviour and pushing markets to innovate towards more sustainable offerings. The level of ambition falls very short of what is required to make a meaningful contribution to deliver the +1.5C Paris target. Arguably India, as a developing country, is ill-placed to promote maximalist ambition on sustainable lifestyles and consumption. Under the “common but differentiated responsibilities” principle, other more developed G20 countries, with greater historical responsibilities for resources and global carbon budget depletion, ought to build on this LiFE approach and explore shifting from a consumer to a sufficient society.[1] Professor Naho Mirumachi: Green development facilitates economic development and prosperity as we move away from carbon intensive societies. Climate finance focuses on supporting mitigation and adaptation to climate change through various types of financing mechanisms. LiFE is motivated by individual and collective action that can better address changes to lifestyles and societal activities to deal with climate change. These three concepts fundamentally relate to the values and choices of society in the face of climate change.

These three concepts fundamentally relate to the values and choices of society in the face of climate change.”

 These concepts might be variously used by institutions, organisations, communities and individuals to fit their mandates and goals. However, questions about how we want to grow our economy, prioritise development projects, modify our behaviour to address climate change underpin the decisions in green development, climate finance or LiFE. What actions can you detail that reflect the UK Government’s commitment to investing in the issues above? And what areas require further attention? Professor Naho Mirumachi: The UK set up its International Climate Finance (ICF) initiative, earmarking £11.6 billion to implement its commitment to the Paris Agreement. This funding underscores that developing economies need to have various funds to enable a myriad of issues relating to water, food, energy security that will be impacted by climate change. It is already clear that climate change exacerbates already existing precarity and risks that poor, vulnerable and marginalised communities face. The UK Government (and any government committed to climate financing) should understand the very nuanced ways in which existing socio-economic and political structures render parts of society more vulnerable to climate change impacts.

“The UK Government [...] should understand the very nuanced ways in which existing socio-economic and political structures render parts of society more vulnerable to climate change impacts.”

 Moreover, there are issues of maladaptation where actions to address climate change adversely bring about more inequality and problems. There needs to be an active assessment of such adverse impacts from funded climate interventions. Year on year we are tackling increasingly severe weather events and biodiversity loss. What are policies that governments can implement now that will have a tangible, positive impact on changing global temperatures? Rafael Jiménez Aybar: Theoretically, there are many ways to deliver greenhouse gas emissions reductions. However, in practice the agency of governments is restricted by many factors. Cost-effectiveness is one of them, but also, for democratic governments in particular, public support for specific measures can be a major constraint. Luckily, bodies such as the UK’s Climate Change Council can provide independent expert advice on optimal policy mixes tailored to the specific circumstances of countries. Besides, democratic governments can ask citizens about their policy preferences on climate action: this is what deliberative democracy mechanisms such as citizens’ assemblies on climate are for.

“[...] democratic governments can ask citizens about their policy preferences on climate action: this is what deliberative democracy mechanisms such as citizens’ assemblies on climate are for.”

 The policy recommendations of citizens, informed by sectoral expertise and backed by solid, representative majorities after free deliberation, provide sound guidance that ticks the boxes of scientific integrity and societal consent. Climate Assembly UK’s 2021 report, The Path to Net Zero, shows how UK citizens believe the UK should deliver climate action with detailed recommendations across areas including travel; land use and food systems; consumption; heat and energy use in the home and power generation.[2] Their recommendations, like those from similar exercises around the world, show a consistent preference for policy options conducive to sufficiency and climate justice.[3] Professor Naho Mirumachi: Many of the severe weather events are water-related, whether they be droughts, cyclones or flooding. These cause not only human deaths but also loss of infrastructure and livelihoods. There are also indirect impacts such as cholera in the wake of flooding, putting pressures on public health. Reconstruction after severe weather events thus has high economic costs as well as time to rebuild communities and their social fabric.

“Many of the severe weather events are water-related, whether they be droughts, cyclones or flooding […] Policies need to seek co-benefits across different sectors, for example flood protection but also improvements in drinking water and sanitation.”

 Policies need to seek co-benefits across different sectors, for example flood protection but also improvements in drinking water and sanitation. Policies supporting nature based solutions and green infrastructure are helpful in this regard. Governments need to consider the tricky transition phase to net zero, and support economic costs as well as ensuring that these policies do not disproportionately affect the poor. How can the G20, and the UK as an individual nation, address the hurdles to climate mitigation that have arisen since COVID-19, Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the inflation crisis? Rafael Jiménez Aybar: Most G20 countries included climate change mitigation as a theme in COVID-19 economic recovery packages – with varying ambition and often accompanied by other investment decisions that watered down or nullified impact.[4] Russia’s war in Ukraine added to prior inflationary pressures by making fossil fuels more expensive. This has left populations feeling the pinch of the cost of living and created an environment where malicious misinformation about the cost of climate mitigation can undermine societal support for action. Russia’s efforts undermining liberal democracy across the world has also made ambitious climate action more difficult in societies increasingly polarised, questioning their political leaders and with weakened institutions and sources of authority.

“Russia’s efforts undermining liberal democracy across the world has also made ambitious climate action more difficult in societies increasingly polarised”

 In this context, policies capable of delivering multiple benefits, not only in terms of climate change mitigation but also of employment and social justice (i.e. support to energy efficiency schemes, such as housing stock retrofits) and targeted small-scale renewable energy rollout options that democratise access to energy (e.g. through self-consumption schemes and energy cooperatives) would help shelter citizens from energy poverty and from inflation driven by global energy costs. They would also strengthen the majority of the population’s trust in democratic governance as the most enabling framework for a good life. Professor Naho Mirumachi: The hurdles to climate mitigation have not magically appeared in the wake of the pandemic, war in Ukraine or the inflation crisis. The G20 and UK need to consider countries’ historical emissions and the role they have played in the past and current to develop a global carbon-based economy.

“The pandemic, war and economic crisis can problematically obscure the playing field of global power structures and inequality, in addition to the unevenness in emissions and burdens of climate change.”

 The pandemic, war and economic crisis can problematically obscure the playing field of global power structures and inequality, in addition to the unevenness in emissions and burdens of climate change. The debate on loss and damage is important in this regard as it also puts in sharp focus how countries need to act in order to address future loss and damage. From the discussions that took place at this year’s G20 Summit, what can we expect at this year’s COP Conference? Rafael Jiménez Aybar: The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration contains historic, record figures acknowledging the funds that developing nations require to deliver their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).[5] This will inform conversations on loss & damage and climate finance in the context of G20 proposed reforms of the World Bank, the IMF and debt. The Declaration is silent on fossil fuels phaseout, however, and the United Arab Emirates are an unlikely broker for such an outcome. The EU call to phase out “unabated” fossil fuels is the most ambitious stance of a major block, but it is inadequate to deliver +1.5C. This ambition gap will become patent when debating the findings of the 1st Global Stocktake, namely that the first NDCs, already insufficient, have not been fully implemented, and that this inertia leads to climate dystopia.[6] This will cast shadows on the adoption of the Global Goal on Adaptation – we cannot adapt to climate dystopia.

“[there is hope if] a renewed sense of urgency translates into greater oversight from democratic institutions like parliaments to secure implementation; and into opening climate governance to citizens.”

 Nonetheless, there is hope if reform of multilateral financial institutions encourages developing countries to formulate adequate second NDCs and enables them to deliver; and if, everywhere, a renewed sense of urgency translates into greater oversight from democratic institutions like parliaments to secure implementation; and into opening climate governance to citizens. Professor Naho Mirumachi: This year’s COP conference will feature many debates on phasing down fossil fuels. This is a protracted debate with many fissures between states on what they are willing to commit. There are also discussions to be had on how renewable energy can be ramped up and for energy transition to take place.

“For anyone attending or observing the event, rethinking how fairness and inclusiveness can actually play out from the global, national to local scale will be important.”

 There are likely to be calls for increased climate financing by developing economies. A key aspect of COP28 is to ensure inclusive climate action. For anyone attending or observing the event, rethinking how fairness and inclusiveness can actually play out from the global, national to local scale will be important.  Rafael Jiménez Aybar is the Environmental Democracy Adviser at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD). Rafa has over 15 years of experience supporting decision-makers worldwide to advance inclusive environmental governance. Through his work as part of the International Secretariat of the environmental parliamentary association GLOBE, he led the formulation and delivery of numerous demand-driven, capacity-building interventions, from providing policy development capacity support to facilitating the exchange of best legislative practices, in collaboration with the national government agencies and civil society of the beneficiary countries, institutions such as UN Environment, the UN Statistics Division, the African Union Commission or the Pan-African Agency of the Great Green Wall, and with knowledge institutions such as the LSE Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, and the UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources. He has worked on climate change mitigation and ecosystem-based adaptation and disaster risk reduction, marine and terrestrial biodiversity governance including fisheries, forests and drylands, and environmental economic accounting. Since 2020 he has supported the mainstreaming of climate and environmental dimensions in WFD's programming, and promoted the environmental democracy approach to unlock the potential of democracy to tackle climate change and environmental degradation. Rafa holds an MA in European Integration and Development from the Free University of Brussels - VUB and an MA in International Relations from the University Paris XI – John Hopkins Institute. Prof. Naho Mirumachi is Professor of Environmental Politics at the Department of Geography, King’s College London, UK.  She leads the King’s Water Centre that works to incubate, elevate, and empower the best science and innovation to tackle the world’s water problems.  Her research focuses on the governance of water resources and environmental security, examining the interconnections of water, food, energy and climate.  Her research extends to issues of water diplomacy, virtual water and agriculture, water-climate security, water resilience and socio-political barriers to water sustainability. Naho previously served as lead author on freshwater policy for the UN Environment’s flagship report, GEO-6, and contributing author to Chapter 7 Health, Wellbeing, and the Changing Structure of Communities of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report.  She has been commissioned by the European Parliament to examine agriculture and virtual water impacts on the human rights to water (2021).  She is the co-chair of the water governance core group of the Sustainable Water Future Programme under Future Earth.  Naho has published widely and is the author of forthcoming Water: A Critical Introduction (Wiley, Feb 2023); Water Conflicts: Analysis for Transformation (Oxford University Press 2020); Transboundary Water Politics in the Developing World (Routledge 2015).  Along her international academic citizenship as chair of review panels for major UK and European research councils and associate editor roles of scholarly journals, she is active in engaging with policy makers. She has designed courses and trained over 200 policy makers and professionals from around the world on water security and water cooperation. [1] World Resources Forum ‘23, Sufficiency: from a consumer to a sufficient society, January 31, 2023,,for%20all%20within%20planetary%20boundaries%E2%80%9C[2] Climate Assembly UK, The path to net zero, June 2020,[3] Jonas Lage, Johannes Thema, Carina Zell-Ziegler, Benjamin Best, Luisa Cordroch, Frauke Wiese, Citizens call for sufficiency and regulation – A comparison of European citizen assemblies and National Energy and Climate Plans, Science Direct, Energy Research & Social Science, Volume 104, October 2023,[4] OECD Policy Responses to Coronavirus (COVID-19), Assessing environmental impact of measures in the OECD Green Recovery Database, April 2022,[5] European Council, G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, September 2023,[6] United Nations Climate Change, Technical dialogue of the first global stocktake. Synthesis report by the co-facilitators on the technical dialogue, September 2023, [post_title] => Green Development, Climate Finance & Lifestyle for Environment (LiFE) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => green-development-climate-finance-lifestyle-for-environment-life [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-12-05 14:00:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-12-05 13:00:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[21] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7217 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-11-21 00:01:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-11-20 23:01:27 [post_content] => In this interview, Ruth Bergan (Transform Trade) and Phil Bloomer (Business & Human Rights Resource Centre) analyse what is meant by ‘Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth’, how to anchor these issues within a growth metric and its potential impacts on the international economic system. Full series around the G20 can be read here. How can growth be ‘accelerated, inclusive and resilient’? Ruth Bergan: Given that discussions around economics have broadened in recent years to include concepts such as donut economics and the circular economy, the focus of India’s G20 presidency comes as a surprise. Recent evidence suggests that accelerated growth is often neither inclusive nor resilient. In a globalised economy, the benefits of growth often accrue to the most powerful actors: the richest countries, companies and individuals.[1] Examples of this include the ‘hourglass’ shaped concentration of power in supply chains that see major agribusinesses making huge profits or the significant amounts being raked in by energy companies, both at a time when communities are struggling to afford food and keep the lights on.[2] It is also clear that, despite some evidence of decoupling for a small number of economies, growth tends to entail increased greenhouse gas emissions.[3] Free trade – both the liberalisation of trade through international agreements, and more globalised supply chains – has been viewed as one of the main mechanisms driving accelerated growth. However, recent years have seen a growing consensus that the gains from increased international trade will not necessarily be equitably distributed and that the trade system has not lived up to its promise to help raise living standards and ensure full employment, “while allowing for the optimal use of the world’s resources”.[4] In the UK, scoping studies ahead of trade negotiations continue to show an increase in emissions as a result of new agreements. Phil Bloomer: The ‘growth model’ of the last forty years is unsustainable. It has encouraged business and investors to externalise their environmental and social costs – accelerating climate breakdown, a fifth mass extinction, and unsustainable levels of inequality that now threaten the fabric of our societies and democracies. These are major market failures.

Business as usual is not an option. Governments will need to be far more active in shaping markets to deliver a form of growth that delivers a just transition to climate security and shared prosperity.”

 Business as usual is not an option. Governments will need to be far more active in shaping markets to deliver a form of growth that delivers a just transition to climate security and shared prosperity. This will require more assertive business regulation and incentives that send unambiguous market signals to business to stop emitting greenhouse gases, respect human rights across their supply chains, and generate growth with productivity gains shared by the majority. The good news is that key governments are tentatively moving towards this new approach with green industrial policy, and human rights and environmental due diligence legislation as two examples. The mis-named Inflation Reduction Act in the USA, and the European investment in the Green Deal are massive incentives for investment in economic transition to zero carbon economies, with resilience and inclusion at the core of their strategies. In Europe, these incentives are complemented with business regulation to insist companies adopt transparent reporting, and human rights and environmental due diligence. Does this require the refiguring of growth metrics, such as Gross Domestic Profit (GDP)?  Ruth Bergan: The short answer is yes: growth, together with increased free trade, cannot be seen as ends in themselves.

“Growth must be actively oriented towards an economy that is inclusive and resilient. This means redefining what success means for an economy in the context of the climate and inequality crises…”

 Growth must be actively oriented towards an economy that is inclusive and resilient. This means redefining what success means for an economy in the context of the climate and inequality crises: we are likely to need some growth, but in which industries? And how will that growth operate within planetary boundaries? Our definition of an inclusive economy must include the aim of achieving decent work for all and, unlike current GDP measures, recognise the huge contribution of workers in the informal sector who often experience the poorest conditions and worst abuses. But that won’t be enough: a sustainable economy must also take into account the ‘caring economy’, recognising in particular the significant unpaid reproductive work that women continue to do around the world.

“[...] a sustainable economy must also take into account the ‘caring economy’, recognising in particular the significant unpaid reproductive work that women continue to do around the world.”

 Fresh thinking about what an inclusive, resilient trade system might look like will need to be at the heart of this. At Transform Trade we have already started developing ideas, in collaboration with the communities and producers we work with around the world.[5] One of the essential building blocks will be shifting the power within supply chains so that workers and communities can help to shape them for good.[6] Phil Bloomer: GDP is a powerful indicator of the amount of goods and services provided by an economy each year. That’s important to know, but that’s all it is. It is a very poor measure of what society actually values or of our progress towards human welfare, climate security and shared prosperity.[7]

“[GDP] is a very poor measure of what society actually values or of our progress towards human welfare, climate security and shared prosperity.”

 GDP alone says nothing of the distribution of wealth in our societies, or the scale of pollution of the environment on which we all depend, and simply ignores unpaid care work that plays such a critical welfare role. The UK economy grew after 2008, but all the growth was captured by the top decile (in fact more than all). This scale of active inequality leads swathes of people to believe the ‘system’ does not work for them. And, at present, unfortunately, they are right. The alternatives, or additions, to GDP are legion. But whether it is Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, Europe’s Quality of Life indicator, or Canada’s Quality of Life Framework, they need to measure wellbeing (health, housing, work and wages, and inequalities), sustainability and resilience (our stocks and flows of capital – environmental, economic, human, and social) and inclusion (inequalities and deprivations). Of course, GDP is neat and tidy – just one indicator that is relatively easy to calculate. But it is like mountaineering with a compass but no map.

“Of course, GDP is neat and tidy – just one indicator that is relatively easy to calculate. But it is like mountaineering with a compass but no map.”

 What lessons can be learnt from analysing the economies of the G20 who are developing in an age of sustainability and inclusivity? Ruth Bergan: What is striking about the G20, as a club of the world’s richest economies, is that it demonstrates that a strong economy that is more open to trade does not necessarily equate with inclusivity or resilience. For example, South Africa ranks as the world’s most unequal country (more equal countries aren’t necessarily so because they are poor, Belgium and Iceland figure in the top ten at this end of the scale).[8] India itself is both the world’s fifth largest economy and also home to almost one quarter of the world’s poor.[9] Of the individual G20 country members, only Argentina is not also a member of the top 20 most greenhouse gas emitting countries.[10]

“In trade terms, the evidence that the world’s most powerful countries are pushing towards greater sustainability and inclusivity is mixed at best.”

 In trade terms, the evidence that the world’s most powerful countries are pushing towards greater sustainability and inclusivity is mixed at best. Some, including the UK, Canada and the US have taken steps to incorporate mostly non-binding provisions on things like climate change, gender equality and labour rights into their trade agreements. However none are members of the Agreement on Climate Change Trade and Sustainability, which, whilst far from perfect, goes further than most initiatives in seeking to align three crucial and interdependent areas. Instead of focusing on inclusivity and sustainability, the biggest global powers, the US, China and the EU, have been engaged in a fight for pole position in key strategic areas such as energy, critical minerals and setting global norms, for example in regulation and the digital economy. Phil Bloomer: Democratic politicians in Europe, the USA, and other key G20 countries like Brazil, have realised that the rise of anti-democratic and authoritarian forces is linked to the public’s rising fear that their economies are not serving them. As Mark Carney, former Governor of the Bank of England, said “Rather than a new golden era, globalisation is associated with low wages, insecure employment, stateless corporations and striking inequalities”.[11] The growth in extreme inequalities belies the once confidently proclaimed mantras of rising tides, lifting boats and trickle-down economics. Populist, authoritarian leaders thrive in these waters of public fear and uncertainty, providing easy answers that blame ‘others’ and tear at the tissue of our societies’ mutual trust.

“Populist, authoritarian leaders thrive in these waters of public fear and uncertainty, providing easy answers that blame ‘others’ and tear at the tissue of our societies’ mutual trust.”

 This has given new impetus to assertive government action to shape markets in G20 countries and beyond. The ‘Overton Window’ is expanding with previously unthinkable policies becoming sensible and desirable.[12] The economic downturn and cost-of-living crisis has heightened this struggle between populist and democratic forces, as have the consequences of worsening conflicts, especially Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and now the human suffering in Gaza and Israel. Industrial policy is rightly back after 40 years of ideological disparagement: ‘governments cannot pick winners’. The USA has focused market-shaping on unprecedented business incentives. The Chips Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2023, together include more than $400bn in tax credits, grants and loans. By April 2023, the Financial Times reported over 75 major projects with companies promising to create at least 82,000 jobs and capital spending commitments nearly 20 times greater than in 2019.[13] The IRA incentives also promote rights for workers. Europe has an equivalent investment in the European Green Deal.[14] And Europe increasingly complements these incentives with regulations to insist companies adopt transparent reporting (Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive), and to demand they identify and address the human rights and environmental risks for workers and communities in their operations and supply chains (Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive - CSDDD).[15] The European Commissioner, Didier Reynders, was clear when he initiated the process of developing the CSDDD: it is meant to fundamentally shift European business models to respect human rights and stop environmental harm. If final negotiations are successful, the Directive will fundamentally shift the calculus of risk in boardrooms towards respect for human rights and environmental regeneration. This is why responsible companies and investors welcome the Directive as creating a ‘level playing field’ for social and environmental responsibility. Other examples of this shift to community and workers' empowerment, plus ecological regeneration include: Brazil’s proposed Corporate Accountability Bill that will “require companies to respect and protect human rights, conduct due diligence on human rights risks in their operations, and establish mechanisms to remedy any human rights violations that may occur”; a “major overhaul of Mexico’s Mining Regulation” that expands community workers’ and environmental rights; and outside the G20, Sierra Leone’s Mines and Mineral Development Act that enshrines community consent and women’s land rights.[16] How can the UK Government institutionalise inclusive and resilient growth for the widest benefits? And what would be/are the largest obstacles and opportunities to the UK’s approach? Ruth Bergan: On the global stage, the UK Government could position itself as a champion of an inclusive and resilient global economy. It could help to change the narrative so that trade is fully aligned with key UK foreign policy ambitions such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement. A UK trade strategy that sets out how this might be done would be a good start. As Antonio Gutterres has said, keeping global warming to 1.5 degrees will need us to “massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe”.[17] Trade cannot be excused from these efforts. Inclusivity and resilience go hand-in-hand. To design a truly resilient approach to trade, the UK could pioneer ways of ensuring that communities are able to participate in the development of trade policy.

“To design a truly resilient approach to trade, the UK could pioneer ways of ensuring that communities are able to participate in the development of trade policy.”

 There are many organisations globally who seek to ensure trade happens in a sustainable way and could be part of such an initiative. Seatini, Third World Network, GRAIN and Focus on the Global South are just a few examples. Citizens’ assemblies provide an interesting model for this kind of engagement and there have been a number of projects in the UK using related techniques and focusing on trade, including Which?’s National Trade Conversation.[18]

“If the UK can learn one thing [...] it’s that ordinary people recognise the importance of trade and want to engage, given the opportunity.”

 If the UK can learn one thing from the existence of these organisations and the success of creative consultation on trade, it’s that ordinary people recognise the importance of trade and want to engage, given the opportunity. Phil Bloomer: In the few lines available, let me focus on one key change that could be transformational to our economy: the purpose of the corporation.

“[...] one key change that could be transformational to our economy: the purpose of the corporation.”

 Our chances of achieving ‘accelerated, inclusive and resilient growth’ are stymied by the current blinkered interpretation of corporate law to maximise the short-term financial returns to shareholders. This interpretation helps drive inequality, too many socially useless outcomes, and our climate emergency. In 2019, the British Academy, with many senior business advisors, concluded “that the purpose of business is to solve the problems of people and [the] planet profitably, and not profit from causing problems.” They went on to state eight ‘Principles for Purposeful Business’. They included “Regulation should expect particularly high duties of engagement, loyalty and care on the part of directors of companies to public interests where they perform important public functions.” And “Corporate governance should ... establish accountability to a range of stakeholders.” And “Measurement should recognise impacts [...] in their workers, societies and natural assets both within and outside the firm.[19] This is a radical agenda for the UK, (though now increasingly mainstream across Europe and some emerging markets): it would mean company directors have a higher duty of care for the public interest; are accountable to communities and workers, not just investors; and act on ‘double materiality’ – namely the risks to the company of human rights abuse and pollution, as well as risks to workers and communities, in the company’s operations and supply chains. As Andy Haldane pointed out in 2015, when Chief Economist at the Bank of England: “A generation ago...the average share was held by the average shareholder for around six years. Today, that average share is held by the average shareholder for less than six months.” He also highlighted that in 1970, 10% of profits were typically paid to shareholders through dividends. Today, however, that figure is between 60% and 70% - essentially "eating themselves" by starving investment for growth.[20] Of course, there are many other key elements to inclusive and resilient growth including green industrial policy, public investment in sustainable infrastructure, paid for by taxes on the super-rich as Prof Jayati Ghosh recommends and the strengthening of workers’ rights to ensure growth in productivity is better shared.[21] In the context of the current inflation crisis, how should the UK’s political parties look to prioritise ‘accelerated, inclusive and resilient growth’ as we approach the next general election?  Ruth Bergan: Both David Cameron and Lisa Nandy, in their new international roles, have spoken about the need for the UK to regain its standing when it comes to international development. The UK was at one time recognised for its global leadership on aid and debt, but trade remains unfinished business.

“The UK was at one time recognised for its global leadership on aid and debt, but trade remains unfinished business.”

 Even Crawford Falconer, the UK’s second permanent representative for trade and a devout free-trader, admitted earlier in November that the trade system was not fit for purpose for tackling climate change.[22] The UK Government has tended to emphasise the self interest in meeting our international commitments, for example giving high priority to seeking benefits for the UK private sector at the food security summit on 20th November.[23] This needs to change. In a context of climate change and increasing instability, no strategy for resilient growth can be shaped by the national interest alone. Instead, it must be built on the SDG commitment to “leave no-one behind”.[24] The challenge for UK political parties as they approach the coming General Election, will be to break free from a narrative that has for too long been dominated by domestic issues and rediscover their internationalist credentials, this time shaped by the people at the sharp end of growth and globalised trade. Phil Bloomer: There is perhaps a year to the next General Election in the UK. In this year, the major political parties have a critical role to play in explaining to the British public the enormous opportunity of our transition to a net zero economy. All political parties need to invest heavily in building public trust to counter the active disinformation of nefarious conspiracy theories on social media against rapid climate action. Politicians must speak to a new social contract where, with care and strategy, the growth and benefits of the transition accrue to the majority, and the costs are minimised. It will also demand honesty and openness about the disruptions there will be as dirty industries transform, alongside genuine promises of major investment in social protection for affected workers and communities. The UK current model does not deliver climate security or inclusive growth. The New Economics Foundation found the poorest half of UK families were £110 worse off since the General Election in 2019 while the top five per cent are an estimated £3,000 better off.[25] In 2022, the CEOs of Britain's biggest companies gained a 16% pay rise, sending their average earnings to 118 times the median UK full time pay.[26] The International Monetary Fund states: “Excessive inequality can erode social cohesion, lead to political polarization, and lower economic growth.”[27] UK political parties need to explain the growth penalty from high inequality, and the importance of investing more at the bottom of the pyramid which generates demand in the economy, increases tax revenues, and reduces public spending on essential welfare while enhancing human dignity and freedoms.

“[...] the UK public seeks a candid conversation about our economic future – the opportunities and the challenges we face half-way through the decisive decade for our climate security.”

 In this final year before the election, the UK public seeks a candid conversation about our economic future – the opportunities and the challenges we face half-way through the decisive decade for our climate security. Ruth Bergan is Head of Policy and Advocacy at Transform Trade. She has worked on international trade policy for over 13 years, including work on the impact trade rules have for climate goals, improving democratic scrutiny of trade policy and exposing the injustice in the international investment protection regime. Previously she worked on workers’ rights in international supply chains and international migration. Phil Bloomer became Executive Director of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in 2013. Phil leads strategy and outreach globally working with 80 global team members and allies. Programmes are focused on transformation of business and investment models especially in areas of the just transition to net zero carbon; labour rights in supply chains; rights in technology and civic freedoms. Phil sits on several external groups including Civil Society Advisory Group for Principles for Responsible Banking, the Expert Review Committee of World Benchmarking Alliance; Climate Outreach’s Board, and the European Citizen’s Initiative for a Living Wage. Prior to joining the Resource Centre Phil was Director of Campaigns and Policy at Oxfam GB, joining them after 11 years in Latin America working on human rights and indigenous rights. [1] Bob Sternfels, Tracy Francis, Anu Madgavkar, and Sven Smith, Our future lives and livelihoods: Sustainable and Inclusive and growing, McKinsey Featured Insights, October 2021,[2] Researchgate, Figure 3, Source publication: A global food polity: ecological-democratic quality of the twenty-first century political economy of food, August 2017,[3] Esin Serin, Can we have economic growth and tackle climate change at the same time?, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, June 2022,[4] World Trade Organization, Marrakesh Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization,[5] Transform Trade, People centred trade,[6] Ese Emerhi, #ShiftThePower Manifesto for Change: Where it started and where we are now, BOND UK, March 2022,[7] Anam Parvez, The Gross Domestic Problem: What would a new economic measure that values women and climate look like?, Oxfam Views & Voices, August 2023,'s%20paper%20published%20today%2C%20a,compass%20of%20an%20economic%20system[8] World Population Review, Wealth Inequality by Country 2023,[9] Roy Katayama & Divyanshi Wadhwa, Half of the world’s poor live in just 5 countries, World Bank Blogs, January 2019,[10] WorldOMeter, CO2 Emissions by Country,[11] Speech given by Mark Carney, The Spectre of Monetarism, Bank of England, December 2016,[12] Explainer on the ‘Overton Window’: Maggie Astor, How the Politically Unthinkable Can Become Mainstream, The New York Times, February 2019,[13] Amanda Chu and Oliver Roeder, ‘Transformational change’: Biden’s industrial policy begins to bear fruit, Financial times, April 2023,[14] European Commission, The European Green Deal: Striving to be the first climate-neutral continent, The European Commission Priorities 2023,[15] European Commission, Corporate sustainability due diligence: Fostering sustainability in corporate governance and management systems, The European Commission, February 2022,[16] Carrot & Sticks, Bill No. 572, of 2022. 2022,; Dante Trevedan and Hernán González, Major overhaul to Mexico’s mining regulation, Norton Rose Fulbright, May 2023,[17] United Nations Meetings Coverage and Press Releases, Secretary-General Statement, Secretary-General Calls on States to Tackle Climate Change ‘Time Bomb’ through New Solidarity Pact, Acceleration Agenda, at Launch of Intergovernmental Panel Report, March 2023,[18] Advocacy team, National Trade Conversation, Which?, November 2020,[19] The British Academy, Principles for Purposeful Business: How to deliver the framework for the Future of the Corporation, 2019,[20] Duncan Weldon, Shareholder power 'holding back economic growth', BBC News, July 2015,[21] Jayati Ghosh, Davos Man Must Pay, Project Syndicate, January 2023,[22] Jon Stone, Britain's chief trade negotiator backs scrapping UK regulations to get deals, Independent, September 2017,[23] British Embassy Mogadishu, UK to host global summit to turn the dial on world hunger,, September 2023,[24] UN Sustainable Development Group, Principle Two: Leave No One Behind,[25] Dominic Caddick and Alfie Stirling, Half of UK Families are £110 worse off a year since 2019 General Election, New Economic Foundation, December 2021,[26] Rosie Neville, Andrew Speke and Luke Hildyard, Analysis of UK CEO Pay in 2022: High Pay Centre, High Pay Centre, August 2023,[27] Income inequality Overview, International Monetary Fund Website, Last updated September 2023, [post_title] => Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => accelerated-inclusive-resilient-growth [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-11-21 10:55:57 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-11-21 09:55:57 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[22] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7208 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-11-11 12:12:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-11-11 11:12:17 [post_content] => The Foreign Affairs Committee (FAC) published yesterday the findings from its recent inquiry into the UK’s engagement in Central Asia, the first such inquiry into the region since 1999. The aim of the inquiry was to “establish the nature of the [UK] Government’s current engagement as well as to identify opportunities for broadening and deepening engagement”.[1] The Committee’s report ‘Countries at crossroads: UK engagement in Central Asia’ highlights a number of key areas of concern, from illicit finance, human rights, trade and the environment, and sets out twenty-eight recommendations for the UK Government to take forward in order to be “both a reliable long-term partner and a critical friend” to the countries in the region.

“The UK Government now needs to adopt a clear, values-led approach to engagement in Central Asia”[2]

- the Foreign Affairs Committee

 Below is a summary of FPC’s engagement with the inquiry, as well as the FAC’s key findings and recommendations included in the report. FPC Research Fellow Dr Aijan Sharshenova and Professor John Heathershaw at the University of Exeter, who both gave oral evidence to the Committee’s inquiry (transcripts of which are available here), have also provided their initial reactions to the Committee’s report. Background to FPC’s Engagement with the Inquiry In March 2023, the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC), based on our publication series Can Britain be a ‘force for good’ in Central Asia?, submitted written evidence to the inquiry, which is available to read here.[3] In June 2023, FPC and the John Smith Trust co-organised an online roundtable with experts from the region with the aim of providing an opportunity for a timely discussion on these themes. The outcomes and recommendations of this roundtable were also shared with the Committee, and are available here. FPC’s has been referenced in the FAC’s report seven times, and our Research Fellow Dr Sharshenova thirteen times. Responding to the report’s release yesterday, Dr Aijan Sharshenova, said:

“[The report spotlights] the UK’s link to illicit financing and the Central Asian states, with an emphasis on the need to get its own house in order if the UK’s going to lead a values-based approach and promote democracy in the region.”

 “This report goes further than anticipated on spotlighting the UK’s link to illicit financing and the Central Asian states, with an emphasis on the need to get its own house in order if the UK’s going to lead a values-based approach and promote democracy in the region. The report also looks more closely at the often overlooked tensions in Gorno-Badakhshan.” “As a Chevening scholar myself, I am pleased the Committee took on my recommendation and is arguing for the expansion of Chevening scholarships for applicants from the Central Asian states.” “The UK’s soft power influence and how the UK can restore its credibility in this area is outlined, but the report does not officially recommend the need for restoring funding to the BBC World Service in the region as was put forward by multiple expert witnesses as a way of countering the Russian-language monopoly. It does however state the need to combat Russian disinformation.”

“The report [...] fails to mention media freedom, which is an omission as the UK is seen as a frontrunner in promoting this value alongside the US and the EU”

 “The report also fails to mention media freedom, which is an omission as the UK is seen as a frontrunner in promoting this value alongside the US and the EU, especially in Kyrgyzstan where the UK Embassy supports independent local media jointly with the EU, Germany, France and the US.[4] More support and measures could be done earlier in this area. This seems a missed opportunity, given the importance for people in the region to be able to access a range of independent information regarding the issues that concern their societies, and would have sat well alongside the human rights recommendations made by the report.” And, Professor John Heathershaw, University of Exeter: “This is a strong report which is especially hard-hitting on the kleptocracy problem. It also shines a light on little-known problems such as the terrible oppression of the people of the Pamirs by the dictatorship in Tajikistan.” “As the report itself acknowledges, British financial and legal services have brought the kleptocracy problem to the UK. The BBC was a major source of free media in the region but has been harmed by government cuts. The Chevening scholarships to study in UK universities should be expanded, as the report argues.” “The weakness of the report is that it’s too focused on geopolitics – where the UK has almost-zero power – and not on business and culture where UK-based non-state actors have huge global significance.” “It is not realistic to form a CA5+UK forum at anything other than a junior level. Such a forum would be largely performative and achieve little. The UK is simply not at the level of the US, EU, Russia, and China who have similar forums with Central Asian states. The reason that France and Germany have far greater diplomatic engagement with Central Asia is not just a matter of choice but of their membership of the EU.”

“The power of ‘Global Britain’ is its non-state actors – in business and culture – not its shrunken aid budget, its relatively small armed forces, its beleaguered diplomatic service, and the diminished global position of the UK state following Brexit.”

 “The power of ‘Global Britain’ is its non-state actors – in business and culture – not its shrunken aid budget, its relatively small armed forces, its beleaguered diplomatic service, and the diminished global position of the UK state following Brexit. British business and culture can either worsen or improve corruption and human rights violations in Central Asia when they engage in the region. It is the business of foreign policy of a middle power such as the UK to ensure that British institutions make things better not worse. They can do so, for example, by increasing scholarships to the UK and enforcing economic crime laws – as the report recommends.” A Summary of the Key Recommendations in the Committee’s Report:

“For too long UK engagement has been characterised by reactiveness and short-termism […] We urge the Government to be considerably bolder and more ambitious in approaches to trade, human rights, regional cooperation, cultural exchange, and the environment.”

 - the Foreign Affairs Committee

  • On UK engagement, the report calls for a Central Asia 5+UK meeting to be held in 2024 and recommends further high-level ministerial engagement with the region outside this meeting and to be held more regularly over the coming three years.
  • On illicit finance, an issue that features heavily in the report, the Committee lays out key actions for the Government to take domestically and regionally for the UK to lead by example, as well as, outlines the implications of not doing so on the UK’s engagement with the Central Asia states.[5]
  • On the environment, the vulnerability of the region to climate change is emphasised and roadmaps for the UK to offer assistance are suggested, particularly on how to foster collaboration regionally on water use and renewable energy through the use of the UK’s convening power.
  • On human rights issues, the report recommends:
    • Ways to “prevent tensions and escalation of violence in Gorno-Badakshan”.[6]
    • Implementing the recommendations made in the Committee’s previous report - Never Again: The UK’s Responsibility to Act on Atrocities in Xinjiang and Beyond.[7]
    • Applying lessons learned from the reforms on forced labour in Uzbekistan to forced cotton picking in Turkmenistan.
    • An overhaul of how the UK Government supports local civil society organisations and makes appropriate amendments to reduce the reporting burden on recipients of UK funding.
    • Coordinating action with the EU and US on suspending trading arrangements with Central Asian industries that are perpetuating human rights abuses, when and where appropriate.
  • On education, the report outlines key areas where the UK can be ‘force for good’ and develop its soft power influence through establishing permanent British Council offices in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (a recommendation from the 1999 report);[8] supporting Uzbekistan’s World Conference on Creative Economy through high-level ministerial presence; expanding the Chevening scholarships available for Central Asian applicants; and responding to calls for engagement with UK expertise on educational reform.
  • On security, the report calls for the UK to not “shirk its responsibilities” when it comes to drug trafficking with both drugs themselves and the illicit gains derived from them having links to the City of London.[9] Secondly, it recommends that the Government focus on offering training to Central Asian armed forces when and where appropriate, keeping in mind the potential of misuse of the security apparatus by authoritarian leaders.
  • On trade and investment, the report calls for a longer-term coordinated strategy in regards to the UK and its business community’s engagement with the region, making sure that ethical standards are maintained and “choosing noregret investments, which can be adjusted in light of any changing political situations on the ground.”[10]
 Disclaimer: This is a rapid analysis of the Committee’s report. The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [1] Foreign Affairs Committee, Countries at crossroads: UK engagement in Central Asia - Report Summary, UK Parliament, November 2023,[2] Ibid, summary.[3] Adam Hug, Can Britain be a ‘force for good’ in Central Asia?, Foreign Policy Centre, December 2022,[4] UK in Kyrgyzstan, Twitter statement, Twitter, November 2023,[5] Ibid, paragraph 36, page 22.[6] Ibid, paragraph 51, page 31.[7] Foreign Affairs Committee, Second Report of Session 2021–22, “Never Again: the UK’s responsibility to act on the atrocities in Xinjiang and beyond”, HC 198[8] Foreign Affairs Committee, Sixth Report of Session 1998–90, South Caucasus and Central Asia (HC 349-I)[9] Ibid, paragraph 78, page 49.[10] Ibid, paragraph 88, page 53. [post_title] => ‘Countries at crossroads: UK engagement in Central Asia’: Experts respond to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s latest report [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => countries-at-crossroads-uk-engagement-in-central-asia-experts-respond-to-the-foreign-affairs-committees-latest-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-11-11 12:12:17 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-11-11 11:12:17 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[23] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7183 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-11-07 10:48:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-11-07 09:48:38 [post_content] => In this interview, Dr Joe Devanny (King's College London) and Catherine Stihler (Creative Commons) examine whether the UK’s approach is fit for purpose in the age of digital transformation, especially in regards to Artificial Intelligence, and discuss the challenges and opportunities this presents. Full series around the G20 can be read here. In your view, how has digitisation transformed the international system in recent history? Dr Joe Devanny: Digitisation has not transformed the international system, but it has created a new series of challenges and opportunities for states to address and exploit. Technological transformation is firmly on the international agenda – for example, in the UN’s Global Digital Compact – but the underlying realities of the international system have not shifted.

“Digitisation has not transformed the international system, but it has created a new series of challenges and opportunities for states to address and exploit.”

 Where states have significantly increased their ‘cyber power’ over the last 20 years – for example, in China – this is principally symptomatic of wider, non-cyber factors in the international system. And where states perceive vulnerabilities as a result of dependence on technology – for example in the cyber security of critical infrastructure, or the domestic political threat from digital disinformation – these can be seen as new examples of perennial problems against which states have always needed to defend. Catherine Stihler: We live increasingly interconnected lives which makes access and the speed of access to information both a challenge and opportunity. At the tap of your phone you can now access knowledge it may previously have taken weeks to gather. Yet the rise of misinformation and disinformation can be witnessed daily leaving citizens questioning what is real and what is not. Back in 1996 Fukyyama recognised this in his book 'Trust: The Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity':“By contrast, people who do not trust one another will end up cooperating only under a system of formal rules and regulations, which have to be negotiated, agreed to, litigated, and enforced, sometimes by coercive means. This legal apparatus, serving as a substitute for trust, entails what economists call “transaction costs.” Widespread distrust in a society, in other words, imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust societies do not have to pay.”[1] What we witness today in our international system is a breakdown at a time where we require international institutions to step up. At last month's UN General Assembly, few of the key leaders attended, signalling a lack of importance in the meeting. Without political support, no international organisation can succeed.

“[...] we need clear rules of engagement, accepted internationally, to provide a digital operating framework for governments, organisations and society at large.”

 In order to ensure trust can thrive, we need clear rules of engagement, accepted internationally, to provide a digital operating framework for governments, organisations and society at large. How do you perceive the continual, and accelerating, sophistication of technology affecting public space, privacy and equality? And how can it be regulated both domestically and internationally? Dr Joe Devanny: Technological change – and the pace of that change – certainly affects the public space, our privacy and equality. A good example of how the accelerating pace of technological change is shaping government reactions is the last year of frenzied activity relating to generative Artificial Intelligence (AI). International forums had discussed AI for several years beforehand, and states had increasingly issued public statements or developed national strategies about AI, but the urgency of this agenda has undoubtedly intensified in the last year. Regulation is certainly possible, but there are inevitable trade offs and consequences of different approaches. And it remains the case that some states have more choices available than others. For example, the recent initiatives by both the European Union and the United States to regulate AI are examples of what can be done (and indeed of the limits of what can be done) by two powerful international actors. Most states in the international system cannot hope to have the same impact. That is why international cooperation is so important, notwithstanding how difficult it is to reach substantive agreement. Catherine Stihler: The rise of AI is proving that the acceleration witnessed in the past 20 years with the Internet is once again morphing, at ever increasing speed, into something different which is more disruptive. No longer do we need websites to navigate information. Just like the way mobile technology has transformed the way we work, AI will set change to another level. AI also means changes which we cannot currently even imagine. Only the EU is at the final stages of a cross national state system of agreed regulations on AI across 27 independent member states. This will set a global standard in AI which countries who want to trade with the EU will have to follow. Just like GDPR before, the EU is pushing on openness, transparency and accountability — all important to gain the public’s trust.

“Without the pluralist system of international organisations helping nation states agree to rules which transcend their borders, we are not going to see technology regulated at a global level anytime soon.”

 Without the pluralist system of international organisations helping nation states agree to rules which transcend their borders, we are not going to see technology regulated at a global level anytime soon. This will have an impact on standard setting, norms and holding AI companies to account globally. It may also create unlevel playing fields between competing jurisdictions, with some nations wilfully gaming the system, potentially for nefarious activities, undermining the entire order. How can we set standards which are not regulatory? Creative Commons set a global standard of sharing because we created a solution to the problem of all-rights-reserved copyright. Today we are being called upon to apply our creative thinking to solve the challenges which creators face concerning AI. What security risks and threats do you see, or anticipate, with technology advancing at a faster rate than technological policy? Dr Joe Devanny: There is certainly a risk that innovation, occurring at a faster rate than policy or regulation can match, will lead to adverse consequences. This was the premise of the recent Bletchley Park Summit on AI safety.[2] As so much of the innovation occurs in the private sector – and in a relatively small number of countries – there is a clear need for effective dialogue between these private sector actors and governments. The challenge for governments is to strike the right balance between supporting innovation and reducing risk. This is particularly difficult in circumstances in which the potential risks are not well understood. In this context, initiatives such as the AI Policy Observatory, supported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), are valuable ways in which states can improve both shared understanding of the potential and risks of new technologies, and also share knowledge about how to pursue effective policy-making. Catherine Stihler: I think the security risks concern holding the technology companies who are driving change to account. We know from practice that voluntary measures do not work and if we want AI that serves the public interest, it is hard to see how with a concentration of power in the hands of a few US companies, we will see transparency, responsibility and accountability. From a policy specific angle there are clearly important political and ethical challenges for policymakers to consider when it comes to ensuring fundamental rights are preserved within AI frameworks, particularly in areas such as defence/national security; healthcare; and access to basic (digital) services. Which countries are leading the way in their strategies to mitigate the challenges, and seize the opportunities, of the digital age? Dr Joe Devanny: The question highlights the two sides of this policy dilemma: how best to seize opportunities whilst also mitigating challenges. The more prescriptive and prohibitive the regulation, the greater the risk of stifling innovation and missing out on opportunities. Conversely, the looser and more permissive the framework, the greater the risk of harm.

“There is a genuine competition for influencing the world’s digital future.”

 Using the example of AI again, the European Union and the United States are showcasing different approaches to this challenge, the former based on legislation and the latter – to date – on executive action. Both approaches are proceeding in tandem and it is too early to say what the combined impact of both will be on the future development of AI. Similarly, being first in the lead doesn’t mean you will remain out in the lead. For example, China has started to articulate a more global vision for its approach to AI. There is a genuine competition for influencing the world’s digital future. Catherine Stihler: The EU is leading the way with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Digital Services Act (DSA) and Digital Markets Act (DMA) rule setting. The new rule setting on AI could be transformational on how AI globally will be regulated.

“The UK Government’s AI Safety Summit was an important exercise in attempting to bring together multiple jurisdictions in search of common solutions to shared problems.”

 The UK Government’s AI Safety Summit was an important exercise in attempting to bring together multiple jurisdictions in search of common solutions to shared problems. Having said this, it remains unclear as to whether or not developed and developing, as well as democratic and non-democratic jurisdictions will be willing and able to find common ground when it comes to regulating AI and creating a shared vision for the digital age. What can the UK Government be learning, and prioritising, from these strategies? Dr Joe Devanny: The recent Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit was prominently associated with the current Prime Minister, but AI-related deliberations in Whitehall pre-date and will inevitably outlive this premiership. The UK already has a national AI strategy, a defence AI strategy, and has prioritised technological innovation in its national security strategy (currently called an ‘Integrated Review’).

“The Government deserves credit for recognising the national priority of having a thriving sector of science and technology, but the boldness of its ambition is not matched by the necessary scale of resources.

 Arguably, the most important lesson the UK should learn from recent experience is that the UK’s freedom of action is limited. It can achieve more through cooperating with other states than it can achieve alone. The Government deserves credit for recognising the national priority of having a thriving sector of science and technology, but the boldness of its ambition (for the UK to be a ‘science and technology superpower’ – irrespective of the vagueness of the term) is not matched by the necessary scale of resources. Increasing investment and reducing hyperbole would not be a bad place to start. Catherine Stihler: The UK Government is wise to consult with other countries with the AI Summit in November which provides an effective way to listen and learn from others.

“By becoming the world's largest advocate for open source, [the UK Government could demonstrate] its ongoing ability to be a global leader in forefront technologies.”

 The UK Government should become the world’s biggest advocate for open source, push open technologies as a differentiator against closed systems which are not transparent and accountable and lead on public interest AI. By becoming the world's largest advocate for open source, could provide the UK Government with an effective new voice, demonstrating its ongoing ability to be a global leader in forefront technologies. Dr Joe Devanny is a Lecturer in the Department of War Studies and deputy director of the Centre for Defence Studies at King’s College London. He is writing in a personal capacity. Catherine Stihler has been an international champion for openness as a legislator and practitioner for over 25 years. In August 2020, Catherine was appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of Creative Commons, a global non-profit organisation that helps overcome legal obstacles to the sharing of knowledge and creativity to address the world’s pressing challenges. More recently Catherine has been called upon to apply her expertise in public interest technology to Generative AI serving on the Governor of Pennsylvania’s AI Task force and the World Economic Forum’s AI Alliance. She was selected to the Fellowship of Scotland’s National Academy, the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), in 2022. [1] Fukuyama, Francis. 1995. Trust: the Social Virtues and the Creation of Prosperity. New York :Free Press.[2] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, AI Safety Summit 2023,, November 2023 [post_title] => Transforming Technology & Digital Public Infrastructure [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => transforming-technology-digital-public-infrastructure [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-11-07 10:54:13 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-11-07 09:54:13 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[24] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7169 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-11-06 12:24:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-11-06 11:24:17 [post_content] => Barring some unforeseen event, or unexpected late addition to the race, the next US presidential election is shaping up to be a contest between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. With a year to go until the election, it’s far too early to say who will be the winner. But it’s not too early to think about what the consequences of a victory by either candidate might mean. Biden and Trump offer sharply divergent views on American foreign policy, the future of the international order, and the fate of global democracy. For the world outside of the United States, this means that the stakes of the coming election are unusually high. Let’s start with Biden. After winning the 2020 election, Biden declared that “America is back”.[1] During the campaign he pledged to restore multilateralism and democracy to the heart of American foreign policy, and he has taken many initiatives in this direction. He re-joined the Paris Climate Accords and the World Health Organization and stopped treating the United Nations and European Union (EU) as enemy combatants. He has frequently framed American foreign policy as a contest between democracy and autocracy – one which will define the coming century and in which America must be firmly on the side of democracy.[2] A Biden victory in 2024 would therefore deliver predictability and stability in American foreign policy. We could expect the administration to stay engaged with multilateral institutions, prioritise relations with America’s traditional allies, and keep attempting to construct coalitions to contain Russia and China. Biden’s experience and basic competence at both diplomacy and governing – two things sorely lacked by Trump – mean that America would continue to fill the leadership role that much of the world has come to expect of it. America would indeed be back. On the other hand, it’s important not to get too carried away by Biden’s own rhetoric. The administration’s policy has also been marked by contradictions which make a simple story of multilateralism and democracy misleading. In particular, Biden has been willing to bend his principles abroad if he deemed it necessary to protect American democracy at home. Early on, the administration promised to run a “foreign policy for the middle class” which would deflate the appeal of Trumpian populism by putting the economic interests of American citizens first.[3] This has sometimes come into conflict with the administration’s commitment to democracy and human rights abroad, for instance when Biden abruptly reversed his decision to isolate Saudi Arabia’s Mohammed bin Salman in a quest for lower oil prices – despite the latter’s brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.[4] More broadly, the administration has sought a quiet transformation of the international economy which would continue to reverberate into a second Biden term. Believing that globalisation has empowered populism, the Biden administration has refused to negotiate new multilateral free trade agreements or even increased market access with individual allies. New trade agreements are so politically toxic in the United States that there’s little reason to expect that this would change even in a second Biden term. The administration has even declared the death of the “Washington consensus” of pro-market policies which has been central to the international economy for decades.[5] Worried about economic competition with China, the administration has sought to build a new system of managed trade and investment which concentrates the supply chains for key sectors in the United States. At the same time, the policy risks fragmenting the world into competing economic blocs and leaving many regions – from the EU to developing nations – behind.[6] In a second Biden term, other countries will continue having to scramble to adapt.

"...Biden offers: strong American leadership which places a priority on democracy and alliances but which also puts US interests first, even if they conflict with those other values."

This, then, is what Biden offers: strong American leadership which places a priority on democracy and alliances but which also puts US interests first, even if they conflict with those other values. Compared to what’s on offer from Donald Trump, that’s not such a bad deal. During his first term, Trump distinguished himself from every other modern president in the severity of his hostility to multilateralism, his disdain for democracy both at home and abroad, and his approval of foreign autocrats. He described the EU as a “foe” while speaking glowing words about Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping.[7] He withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords, the Iranian nuclear deal, and even from the World Health Organization amid a deadly global pandemic. He started trade wars not just with China, but also with the EU and the United Kingdom. And he has hinted that in a second term, he would do all this again and more.[8] Pinning down Trump’s precise foreign policy views is somewhat tricky. He is often described as an isolationist, but in his first term at least, this wasn’t really true – he proved willing to use American military force against Syria and Iran, and even his trade wars had the ostensible purpose of rebalancing international trade in the favour of the United States, not ending it entirely. It’s more fruitful to see Trump as part of an American tradition of unilateralism – the belief that the United States is powerful and righteous enough to do whatever it wants without the help of others, and that US allies are free riders looking for a handout rather than force multipliers who help Washington achieve its goals.

“It’s more fruitful to see Trump as part of an American tradition of unilateralism – the belief that the United States is powerful and righteous enough to do whatever it wants without the help of others.”

 There are at least three reasons to think that this worldview would make Trump especially dangerous in a second term. Firstly, the world is confronting multiple serious crises that require American leadership of a bloc of nations rather than America acting alone. Some of these crises are global – such as climate change – whereas others afflict regions, such as Ukraine and the Middle East. Trump shows no appetite for leading on the former and on the latter, his instinct is to accommodate local strongmen. For instance, he has suggested that he would pressure Ukraine to settle its conflict on terms favourable to Russia, and it’s clear that his vision for the future of the Middle East involves no accommodation of Palestinian aspirations.[9] Secondly, Trump’s second term is likely to be even more chaotic and unconstrained than his first. Not only is he now advancing more radical ideas – such as invading Mexico or placing a 10% tariff on all US imports – but he would also face far fewer institutional restraints.[10] Trump’s allies are developing plans to gut the civil service and place America Firsters in control of the foreign policy bureaucracy, and the “axis of adults” – experienced officials who helped contain Trump’s worst impulses in his first term – are unlikely to return.[11] If he returns to power having survived two impeachments and multiple criminal indictments, Trump is also likely to feel able to get away with almost anything. But perhaps the most serious consequence of a Trump second term is what its very possibility says about the future of American democracy – and, by extension, democracy around the world. After losing the 2020 presidential election, Trump embarked on a campaign to overturn the result, culminating in the deadly insurrection on January 6th. If he were to overcome both the legal and political consequences of this and return to power regardless, the entire future of democracy in America would be in question. This is especially the case because it seems likely that Trump would accelerate his attacks on democracy at home during any second term. He has said that he would seek to use his office to shield himself from accountability for his past actions while politicising law enforcement agencies and persecuting his political opponents.[12] Whilst, he would surely once again seek to interfere with the functioning of America’s electoral process, casting doubt on its outcomes and using the powers of his office to tilt the results in his favour. This matters to the world not only because it would plunge America into political and constitutional chaos, making any stable foreign policy difficult to maintain, but also because of the precedent it would set for other countries. Political trends which begin in the United States rarely stay there, and a crisis of democracy at the heart of the Western alliance would likely weaken the commitment to democratic and legal norms throughout the rest of the world.

 “An America that could elect Donald Trump once might be redeemable  –  one which elects him twice, perhaps not."

The result would be a far cry from Biden’s vision of a global struggle between democracy and autocracy – if anything, what Trump is offering is more of a case of autocracy versus autocracy. Faced with such a world, America’s democratic allies would have to consider the possibility that American leadership and commitment to international rules, however merely aspirational the latter might sometimes be, is a thing of the past. An America that could elect Donald Trump once might be redeemable – one which elects him twice, perhaps not. In a world of rising challenges to democracy, both at home and abroad, such a future would look very bleak indeed. Andrew Gawthorpe is an expert on US foreign policy and politics at Leiden University and the creator of America Explained, a podcast and newsletter. He was formerly a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, a teaching fellow at the UK Defence Academy, and a civil servant in the Cabinet Office. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. Image by Emma Kaden under (CC). [1] The White House, Remarks by President Biden on America’s Place in the World, February 2021,[2] The White House, National Security Strategy of the United States, October 2022,[3] Andrew Gawthorpe, Taking US Foreign Policy for the Middle Class Seriously, The Washington Quarterly, 45:1, 57-75, April 2022,[4] MJ Lee and Kevin Liptak, ‘There Is Only So Much Patience One Can Have’: Biden Appears To Back Off Vow to Punish Saudi Arabia, CNN, February 2023,[5] The White House, Remarks by National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Renewing American Economic Leadership at the Brookings Institution, April 2023,[6] Andrew Gawthorpe, Biden’s ‘New Washington Consensus’ is Weaponizing Trade, World Politics Review, May 2023,[7] Andrew Roth, David Smith, et. al., Trump calls European Union a ‘foe’ – ahead of Russia and China, The Guardian, July 2018,[8] Daniel W. Drezner, Bracing for Trump 2.0, Foreign Affairs, September 2023,; Joseph S. Ny, If Trump Returns, Project Syndicate, May 2023,[9] Jack Forrest, Trump won’t Commit to Backing Ukraine in War with Russia, CNN, May 2023,; Aron Heller and Matthew Lee, Trump Peace Plan Delights Israelis, Enrages Palestinians, AP, January 2020,[10] Asawin Suebsaeng and Adam Rawnsley, Trump Asks Advisers for ‘Battle Plans’ to ‘Attack Mexico’ if Reelected, Rolling Stone, March 2023,; Jeff Stein, Trump vows Massive new Tariffs if Elected, Risking Global Economic War, Washington Post, August 2023,[11] Allan Smith, Trump Zeroes in on Key Target of his ‘Retribution’ Agenda: Government Workers, NBC News, April 2023,[12] Maggie Haberman and Shane Goldmacher, Trump, Vowing ‘Retribution’, Foretells a Second Term of Spite, The New York Times, March 2023, [post_title] => 2024 US Presidential Elections: A fork in the road for the future of American foreign policy? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 2024-us-presidential-elections-a-fork-in-the-road-for-the-future-of-american-foreign-policy [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-11-06 12:45:51 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-11-06 11:45:51 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[25] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7148 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-10-24 13:49:00 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-10-24 12:49:00 [post_content] => In this interview, Marissa Conway (UNA-UK) and GAPS (Gender Action for Peace and Security - the UK’s Women, Peace and Security civil society network) discuss what women-led development should, and could look like, as well as how the UK can be ambitious to make progress in this area moving forward. Full series around the G20 can be read here. Why has there been a shift from ‘women’s development’ to ‘women-led development’?  Marissa Conway: The recent multilateral push towards women-led development stems out of the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, which cites a commitment to the social and economic empowerment of women.[1] India in its capacity as G20 President has championed this shift as one of its six priorities, the rationale being that the terminology of ‘women-led’ invokes a framing in which women are not passive participants or recipients of development and aid but rather active leaders in their own right.[2] Interestingly, India seems to recognise the importance of implementing this agenda domestically as well as encouraging wider take up amongst the G20. This consistency in application across the local and global is laudable and seems to mark a new chapter of the Indian Government’s engagement with gender equality initiatives; for example, it has never implemented a National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security despite widespread international take up and only a few years ago downplayed the United Nations’ criticism of the high numbers of cases of sexualised violence against women. I am hopeful about the emphasis on domestic cohesion alongside the wider calls for multilateral engagement.[3] GAPS: Women’s development follows a tradition of where women are treated as the passive recipients of foreign policy, and especially as aid predominately goes to the global majority, there is a strong racialised and colonial component to who gives and who receives. Within this paradigm, women still barely receive any funding, as 1% of global peacebuilding funding goes to women and a majority of that goes to north-based organisations.

Women-led development understands that women in all their diversity must be in the driver’s seat for successful development and sustainable peace.”

 The shift to women-led development is important because it aims to redistribute power across intersecting axes of difference. Women are on the frontlines, they face the consequences of conflict the hardest, as they do with climate change and other transnational challenges, yet their expertise and experience is not included at the table. Core to their communities, they hold solutions to complex problems as local experts, and we know their participation in peace processes will lead to longer and more sustainable peace. Women-led development understands that women in all their diversity must be in the driver’s seat for successful development and sustainable peace. How does this shift need to be a priority within international multilateral systems? And do you see progress towards greater dialogue on ‘women-led development’ in multilateral forums? Marissa Conway: Language is a powerful tool for creating normative changes, something which the development sector indeed needs. At best, development is a method to redistribute resources between High Income Countries (HICs) and Low and Middle Income Countries (LMICs). At worst, it’s a tool used by HICs to leverage economic influence to ensure global adherence to certain commercial and political interests. For example, under the Trump administration, the United States prohibited American aid spending to foreign organisations that discussed abortion as a family planning option.[4]

“For women-led development to be successful, it must also seek to challenge the patriarchal, racist, and capitalist principles that shape our societies today.”

 Drawing a more explicit link to women’s leadership in development initiatives will no doubt help to establish a new and needed expectation about women’s agency and action. However, the gendered and racialised themes seen across the development sector cannot be addressed by women’s leadership alone, nor should women be expected to bear this burden alone. For women-led development to be successful, it must also seek to challenge the patriarchal, racist, and capitalist principles that shape our societies today. And these are challenges that require everyone, regardless of gender. GAPS: The shift to using ‘women-led’ and ‘women’s rights organisation-led’ development needs to be a priority within all international systems including the multilateral space, as it is an influential and agenda-setting space that can help shift the approach to development of governments and international NGOs. It moves away from a top-down and patriarchal approach where global institutions can make the decisions as to how to ‘develop’ women, and towards an approach that allows for initiatives to truly reflect the self-identified needs of a broad range of women. There has been progress within some multilateral forums such as UN Women to recognise the need for meaningful participation of women in all development, humanitarian and peacebuilding fora, and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres publicly stated the need for greater and more meaningful participation of women in mediation efforts, saying that this meant “supporting peacebuilding at the local level, even during conflict … We must consistently support the local women’s groups that negotiate humanitarian access and support community resilience; learn from them; and build peace from the ground up”.[5] What examples have you seen of countries effectively investing in women-led development? What lessons can the UK learn from these approaches? Marissa Conway: The principles of women-led development are not unfamiliar. As listed in the 2023 G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, women-led development includes reducing the gap in labour force participation, providing equal access to education, closing the gender pay gap, addressing the unequal distribution in paid and unpaid care, eliminating gender-based violence, promoting women’s inclusion in the financial sector, and eliminating gender stereotypes and biases.[6] All these goals can be found across other feminist and gender equality initiatives, such as feminist development or aid policies, the Women, Peace and Security agenda, or Feminist Foreign Policy frameworks. But outside of government-implemented agendas, these themes have long been championed by grassroots and civil society feminist movements.

“The goals found in women-led development must be connected to wider efforts to reduce sexism and racism within society.”

 The above goals, while fundamentally important to achieve equality, are also the symptoms of a patriarchal society. Increasing women’s inclusion in any given sector, institution, or system, without efforts to change the unequal power hierarchies within those spaces, won’t result in any material change to women and girls’ rights. The goals found in women-led development must be connected to wider efforts to reduce sexism and racism within society. GAPS: Some other countries have incorporated women-led approaches into their development work, such as in Canada, Jordan and Lebanon where civil society is part of the development and implementation of key policies including National Action Plans (NAPs) on Women, Peace and Security. There are further examples of governments, including the Netherlands, undertaking feminist grant making, which removes some of the arduous requirements that are not feasible for small and local women’s rights organisations to access their funding opportunities.[7] The UK should take on a more feminist approach to funding, with its current approach to grantmaking inaccessible to women-led organisations diminishing the UK’s ability to commit to truly women-led development. It has to be noted that the UK has made a start by granting 33 million to the Equality Fund. In 2023 the UK Government renewed their Women, Peace and Security (WPS) agenda for the next 5-year period, and their International Women and Girls Strategy for 2023-2030. In what areas do you see the UK’s policy succeeding or what should they be doing differently with regard to women-led development? Marissa Conway: The commitments outlined in these agendas echo the principles of women-led development as interpreted by the G20. Significant resources have been spent on the UK Government’s Preventing Sexualised Violence Initiative, for example, and the Women and Girls Strategy commits the UK Government to “defend the gains and drive progress for women and girls” in pursuit of a safer, fairer, and greener world.[8] These agendas are aspirational, robust, and position the UK as a champion of women and girls’ rights. However, the Government often acts in opposition to these outlined commitments.[9] A stark example is its decision to cut foreign aid, the first round of which saw a reduction of £1.1 billion in 2020. At this point the United Nations Population Fund’s aid was reduced by 85%.[10] Had this not been cut, it is estimated that 250,000 child and maternal deaths, 14.6 million unintended pregnancies, and 4.3 million unsafe abortions would have been prevented. The commitments in its gender equality initiatives and the consequences of the UK’s actions elsewhere cannot be separated. If the UK is to truly champion women and girls’ rights, then these aims must be incorporated across all areas of domestic and foreign policy. GAPS: The UK has been successful in a number of areas of women-led development including investing in knowledge development through the Women, Peace and Security Helpdesk which provides an expert call-down facility for flexible, responsive and easy-to-use technical advice and support on WPS and gender in conflict and crisis contexts, for the UK Government.[11] The UK has also supported the development of NAPs in Colombia and Jordan, supporting the participation of women-led organisations in the process. There are also areas where the UK must change their approach, especially in order to be coherent with their stated aims and objectives on WPS and women-led development, for example the lack of policy coherence between the UK’s WPS NAP and migration policies, including the recently passed Illegal Migration Bill and announced Rwanda deportation plan which directly impacts the same women human rights defenders (and others) who the UK purports to support. Furthermore, the UK’s foreign policy and defence policy in relation to supporting Ukraine has been inconsistent with their approach and lack of support to women in Palestine, by supporting collective punishment and blockades by Israel. Looking ahead, how could the UK be more ambitious in its approach to women-led development within its foreign policy agenda? Marissa Conway: There are several important mechanisms the UK Government must have in place in order to see significant progress on the aims of women-led development, mirrored in its current gender equality initiatives. Firstly, such work cannot be siloed into stand-alone programmes, but must be incorporated across the entire Government as priorities in domestic and foreign policy. Secondly, the UK must put its money where its mouth is and provide sufficient resources to achieve these agendas. Such efforts also require close working relationships with feminist civil society, where the input of activists and academics are prioritised and compensated. Lastly, and crucially, the UK must take accountability and recognise its own role in creating the global instability that leads to violence against women and girls. Then and only then can we expect to see progress toward safeguarding women and girls’ rights. GAPS: Essential for building peace and eliminating poverty is women-led development, however in July 2021, the UK Parliament voted to reduce spending on Official Development Assistance (ODA) from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI until the economy meets a series of criteria that the sector has branded as unlikely to be met for several years. In 2022, further pressures were placed on the budget as spending for other purposes – including hosting refugees in the UK – were counted towards ODA spend. UK ODA cuts have already had a severe and disproportionate impact on women and girls. This was identified by the Government in an Equalities Impact Assessment published in July 2023, which recognised that the reduction of ODA has lead to a significant reduction of funding to programmes aimed at reaching those ‘furthest behind’, including women and girls and disabled people, and warned that the proposed reductions to specific gender interventions, including violence against women and girls and sexual and reproductive health and rights, would have a negative impact on wider efforts to advance gender equality and achieving peace.

“Ambition means not only restoring the aid budget… [the UK…] must also change how it funds: providing core, flexible, long-term funding directly to women’s rights organisations on the ground.”

 Ambition means not only restoring the aid budget to a level where the UK is able to meaningfully confront the consequences of transnational challenges including rising conflict, climate change and a growing anti-gender movement, it must also change how it funds: providing core, flexible, long-term funding directly to women’s rights organisations on the ground. Marissa Conway is the CEO of United Nations Association UK. She is a feminist activist and foreign policy expert with a focus on human rights, peace and security, and systemic change. She has received numerous accolades for her work and in 2019 was named on the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. Originally from Silicon Valley in California, Marissa began her advocacy career in human trafficking prevention. From 2016-2022 she was Co-Founder and the UK Executive Director of the Centre for Feminist Foreign Policy. She has a BA in Political Science and a BA in Music from Chapman University in California, as well as an MA in Gender Studies from SOAS University of London. Follow her on Instagram or TikTok at @marissakconway and learn more about her work at Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) is the UK’s Women, Peace and Security civil society network. They are a membership organisation of 19 multi-mandate international NGOs, peacebuilding organisations, women’s rights organisations and human rights organisations. They were founded to progress the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security. GAPS role is to promote, and hold the UK government to account on, its international commitments to women and girls in conflict areas worldwide. GAPS does this by working with GAPS members and global partners. [1] G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration, September 2023,[2] G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment, Chair’s Statement, August 2023,[3] Shivangi Seth, India’s inconsistent adherence to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, The Interpreter, Lowy Institute, June 2022,; Sparshita Saxena, ‘Unwarranted comments’: India rejects UN criticism of violence against women, Hindustan Times, October 2020,[4] Trump Revives Ban on Foreign Aid to Groups That Give Abortion Counseling, The New York Times, January 2017, ​​[5] United Nations Peacebuilding, Security Council Open Debate on Women, Peace and Security, 2018,[6] G20 New Delhi Leaders' Declaration, September 2023,[7] Kellea Miller and Rochelle Jones, Towards a Feminist Funding Ecosystem, Awid, October 2019,[8] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative,; Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, International Women and Girls Strategy 2023–2030, March 2023,[9] Keya Khandaker, Opinion – The Hypocrisy of the UK Government’s Plans for Girl’s Education in the Global South, E-International Relations, July 2021,[10] GAPS, Assessing UK Government Action on Women, Peace and Security in 2021, May 2022,[11] Women, Peace and Security Helpdesk, see: ​​ [post_title] => Progressing Women-Led Development [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => progressing-women-led-development [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-10-24 13:59:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-10-24 12:59:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[26] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7123 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-10-10 13:16:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-10-10 12:16:24 [post_content] => In this interview, Lilei Chow (Save the Children) and Dr Abigael Baldoumas (Policy and advocacy consultant) discuss if there is evidence of accelerating progress on SDGs, and whether the UK is doing enough to remain on track to achieve all 17 goals by 2030. Full series around the G20 can be read here. Quick explainer: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), setup in 2015 and adopted by all United Nations Member States, are 17 global goals designed to be a “blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all".[1] The interconnected goals address global challenges and the aim is to achieve them by 2030. In July, ‘The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2023’ was published by the United Nations, marking the halfway point between the creation (2015) and projected achievement (2030) of the SDGs. At this stage, what markers of progress do you see towards reaching the SDGs? Lilei Chow: Early efforts to implement the SDGs were showing positive signs, for example on reducing child mortality, improving access to vaccination and universal health coverage and tackling extreme poverty. Unfortunately, at the halfway point and with the overlapping, compounding crises of COVID-19, climate, inequality, hunger and conflict, the report paints a rather dire picture on where the world is at the moment in collectively delivering on the SDGs, with only 12% of targets on track, roughly half making insufficient progress and about a third reversing in the wrong direction. Analysis by Save the Children shows that unless the current rate of progress rapidly accelerates, by 2030:[2]
  • 3.16m of the 942m children born will not survive to celebrate their 5th birthday.
  • Malnutrition will leave more than 1 in 5 babies stunted.
  • 2 in 5 children who start school will not be able to read and understand a simple sentence by age 10.
  • 67m of the 414m girls who should be finishing primary school will marry as children.
  • 2.6 billion – 4 in 5 – children will have experienced at least one extreme climate event including flooding, drought and heatwaves.
 These figures are of course alarming, but behind every statistic is a child whose voice matters. Ultimately the SDGs are about people. It is also important to underscore that while the lack of progress on the SDGs is almost universal, it is low-income and climate-vulnerable countries and children and communities most affected by inequality and discrimination within those borders that are bearing the brunt of this collective failure. Dr Abigael Baldoumas: The overall picture of progress towards the SDGs is bleak. The pandemic, war in Ukraine and subsequent global economic repercussions of both have contributed to a step backwards across a number of goals. The unfolding climate and nature crisis is already undermining progress, hitting those with the least hardest. In 2023, sustainable economic growth, food security, vaccine coverage, reduction in greenhouse gases, removing fossil fuel subsidies, preventing species extinction, ensuring sustainable food stocks and reducing unsentenced detainees are all deteriorating.

“The pandemic, war in Ukraine and subsequent global economic repercussions of both have contributed to a step backwards across a number of goals.”

 Since 2020 progress towards ending extreme poverty, ending preventable deaths under five, ensuring primary education, access to electricity and reducing homicide rates has been reversed. There are pockets of hope. Increased internet use and mobile access are on track. The 2023 review found increasing skilled birth attendance, full employment, and sustainable and inclusive industrialisation close to meeting the target. Overall, it is clear that business as usual will not deliver. The recent SDG Summit on the fringe of the UN General Assembly set an ambitious tone in the final political declaration. At one point over the summer it was not certain that the declaration would be agreed. So to have a clear reaffirmation of the goals and acknowledgement of the scale of action needed to achieve them is an important prerequisite to further progress. What would you pinpoint as the biggest opportunities as well as obstacles to accelerating progress towards the SDGs? And how can these be maximised and mitigated respectively? Lilei Chow: Having just returned from the SDG Summit at the UN General Assembly in September, I do believe that the world is at a crossroads. There is now consensus that the status quo has to change. Broadly speaking, we can hope to see opportunities emerge around four major themes – the first, as I mentioned, on international financial reform, including reform of the Multilateral Development Banks, the second around climate ambition, the third around the proposed “SDG Stimulus Package” and the fourth around reform of the multilateral system.

“[Political] vision and commitment needed to undertake long-term decisions that may be difficult and to invest in our collective future.”

 These broad areas offer the opportunity to usher in systemic reforms that are needed to unlock progress across the SDG framework. The challenge, of course, lies in political will and leadership – the vision and commitment needed to undertake long-term decisions that may be difficult and to invest in our collective future. For us in civil society, it’s about building on the momentum created by the Summit to push for accountability on the SDGs. Dr Abigael Baldoumas: One of the biggest hurdles to progress towards the SDGs is the lack of adequate and appropriate finance. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UN Development Programme (UNDP) estimated the annual financing gap had reached $4.2 trillion USD in 2020 as needs increased while resources declined.[3] Substantial public investment in public goods like healthcare, education, water and sanitation and social protection systems is needed. This will require:
  • Fair and effective national tax systems, backed by a UN tax convention that tackles international tax avoidance and offshore tax havens.
  • Fast and meaningful debt relief. Unsustainable debt burdens are pushing too many countries into crisis. The current system for negotiating debt relief is not fit for purpose. Countries in debt distress need a comprehensive debt restructuring and forgiveness mechanism that includes bilateral, multilateral and private debt. Debt relief, including forgiveness, would free up resources for progressing the SDGs.
  • A dramatic scale up of Official Development Assistance (ODA) and climate finance. OECD members need to meet their 0.7% commitment, and ensure that ODA is both focused on meeting the SDGs and aligned with the Paris Agreement. Climate finance should be additional to ODA as pledged in Paris.

“Decolonising development is a huge opportunity to progress the SDGs.”

 It is not just about more money, and it definitely is not just about ODA. Low- and middle- income countries (LMIC) and their populations need to be in the driving seat of their own development, including investment in gender-transformative public services and social protection. Decolonising development is a huge opportunity to progress the SDGs. This includes national ownership of development strategies and programmes, increased LMIC voice and agency in multilateral institutions like the World Bank and IMF, and more direct access to development finance including ODA. Furthermore, it also includes fair and effective national tax systems, backed by a UN tax convention that tackles international avoidance and offshore tax havens. Are the current UN reporting mechanisms doing enough to ensure governments deliver on their SDGs commitments? Lilei Chow: The follow-up and review mechanism negotiated as part of the 2030 Agenda was modelled after existing human rights reporting practices such as the Universal Periodic Review. The challenge has not been in the mechanism per se as opposed to the process of follow-up and review, and in particular, the voluntary nature of it, which means there is a tendency for governments to cherry pick what they report on.

“Review process is like a country’s “report card” on the SDGs, but it is written by governments.”

 The Voluntary National Review (VNR) process is like a country’s “report card” on the SDGs, but it is written by governments. Likewise, there is a huge gap in reporting on SDG commitments by the private sector and other actors. There has also been a disconnect between the review mechanisms at the local level through to the regional and global levels, although this is improving. There is now a rich body of spotlight or complementary reporting on the SDGs by civil society, including reports written by children that we have supported that are important accountability tools although much more needs to be done to include them in the High-Level Political Forum. The upcoming High-Level Political Forum review provides an opportunity to strengthen the follow-up and review mechanism on the SDGs, but national parliaments and local councils also offer avenues to strengthen accountability at the national level, for example through parliamentary select committees. Dr Abigael Baldoumas: The distance to reaching many of the SDGs suggests that the current reporting mechanisms are insufficient. Measuring progress is dependent on data and information provided by national and subnational governments statistical agencies and through the voluntary national review process. While the 2023 SDG progress report paints a bleak picture of progress today as well as an ambitious and transformative agenda for achieving the goals by 2030, there are very clear limits to the UN’s ability to compel action by its members. They do help to track progress and understand the gaps. Transparency and accountability are the cornerstones of good development, the SDGs will only be realised if concerted effort is taken by all stakeholders.

“The SDGs should be incorporated into strategies and policies at the national level with clear milestones and budgeted action plans”

 Reporting mechanisms are not a substitute for national-level action. As the ultimate duty bearers, governments need to take the steps necessary to get the SDGs back on track. The SDGs should be incorporated into strategies and policies at the national level with clear milestones and budgeted action plans, including commitments to conduct and publish regular voluntary reviews. This will improve their reporting and more importantly incorporate the SDGs into national-level systems of accountability. How should external expertise, the private sector, and civil society be engaged to support progress towards the SDGs? And are there positive examples you can point to?  Lilei Chow: There are many examples out there now of multistakeholder partnerships on the SDGs.

“There has been little progress in bringing together these actors to deliver on the SDGs in a meaningful way.”

 The UK is fortunate to have a largely engaged private sector, strong civil society that works in some of the hardest to reach places and with the most marginalised communities around the world and active local governments, but to date, there has been little progress in bringing together these actors to deliver on the SDGs in a meaningful way. There are many examples of how this can be done in practice, for example by looking towards Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, South Korea and Indonesia. Dr Abigael Baldoumas: The ambition of the SDGs and the scale of transformation needed to achieve them require a coordinated effort. Civil society, scientific and other experts, the private sector and governments all have a role to play. Multi-stakeholder engagement mechanisms are one way of engaging broad support towards SDG implementation. The UK Government should deliver on their 2019 voluntary national review commitment to establish a multi-stakeholder engagement mechanism as a way to mobilise cross-sectoral support. This should be accompanied by specific support to civil society organisations, who play a critical role representing people, holding governments and others to account and supporting communities.

“Governments need to ensure that private sector investment is focused on delivering the SDGs and reaches those further behind.”

 The role of the private sector is critical. Much has been made of the potential for private investment to bridge the financing gap. However ‘billions to trillions’ remains a slogan and the promised returns on public finance have not materialised. Moreover investments have been limited to a few sectors and higher income countries. Governments need to ensure that private sector investment is focused on delivering the SDGs and reaches those further behind. One way to achieve this is to require all private sector partners meet human, labour, and women’s rights standards as well as environmental regulations. For example, adopting a polluter pays model could help to bridge the SDG financing gap while improving environmental and climate outcomes. At the same time, the potential of the LMIC private sector, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, to contribute to the goals, with the proper incentives and support has been undervalued. Investing in local economies and job creation, builds resilience and serves local needs. What policies should the leading British parties prioritise in order to accelerate progress towards the SDGs as we approach the next UK general election? Lilei Chow: The simple answer is that the UK needs leadership and strategy at the very top levels of government in order to deliver the SDGs not just internationally but domestically as well.

“UK needs leadership and strategy at the very top levels of government in order to deliver the SDGs”

 The UK needs to strengthen the means of implementation on the SDGs so that they can be implemented in a way that promotes integration and policy coherence across the framework. This includes meaningfully engaging all stakeholders and to improve accountability and transparency around how SDG gaps and progress are being monitored. As one of the major creditors of multilateral development banks, it is positive to see that the UK has announced its intention to get behind some of the key reforms of the international financial architecture that are being proposed – however, there needs to be clarity on how these will now be taken forward and to ensure that these proposals do not further entrench debt unsustainability of low and middle-income countries. Finally, it is important that the UK’s approach on the SDGs is grounded in the transformative principles of the 2030 Agenda, namely the pledge to Leave No One Behind, universality and human rights. Dr Abigael Baldoumas:
  • Ensure that the SDGs and Leave No One Behind Agenda are championed at the highest level, and demonstrate that commitment by:
    • Publishing a clear roadmap for getting back to 0.7% and meeting climate commitments.
    • Establishing multi-stakeholder engagement mechanisms in line with the 2019 VNR commitments.
  • Meet commitments to become a locally-led donor that puts countries and their populations in charge of their own development. This will require:
    • An ambitious action plan with transparent targets and metrics on local funding, addressing internal roadblocks to equitable partnerships and rebalancing power dynamics in favour of local and national actors.
    • Centering collaboration and co-creation rather than prioritising British interests and expertise.
    • Investing in diverse, long-term partnerships with LMIC civil society, including women’s rights organisations, youth movements, human rights defenders, groups that represent ethnic, religious and indigenous communities and people living with disabilities.
  • Level the playing field by:
    • Promoting policy coherence based on the SDGs through development, diplomatic and trade relationships as well as domestically, ensuring that domestic policies do not undermine progress.
    • Ensuring that the UK’s trade strategy aligns with international development and international climate finance strategies. Any trade strategy and all trade deals should respect LMIC development strategies, prevent the export of social and environmental risks.
    • Supporting the transformation of the international financial architecture to increasing LMIC voices and agency in multilateral institutions and spaces, making the rules of the game fair, so that they work for people and the planet.
 Lilei Chow is the global technical lead on the SDGs for the Save the Children global movement, with a particular focus on accountability to the Pledge to Leave No One Behind. Lilei has over fifteen years of experience working in international development, including within the UN system, mostly with vulnerable and marginalised groups such as indigenous communities and persons with disabilities. She also has a background in field research. Lilei graduated Summa Cum Laude with Distinction from Boston University in International Relations, and holds a Master's in Public Policy from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore and a Master's in Public Affairs from Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), Paris Magna Cum Laude. Abigael Baldoumas is a senior policy, advocacy and research professional with over a decade of experience in global development and humanitarian response. She has a track record of delivering high quality, evidence-based policy analysis and a proven ability to shift government policies and practices. She has a masters and doctorate in political science with a focus on social justice activism. She led the UK international development sector’s response to successive rounds of cuts and the 2022 international development strategy. Her recent work on the future of international development research brought together leading thinkers and practitioners from across global development and adjacent sectors to challenge current narratives and surface opportunities. Her work on fair share analysis provided an innovative advocacy tool for humanitarian funding. Her work includes policy analysis and development, research and project management, managing donor relations for advocacy and fundraising, leading field-based research for advocacy and communications, drafting policy briefs and high profile reports, briefing high-level representatives, lobbying to improve ODA quality and transparency, humanitarian assistance and gender justice, with a focus on women, peace and security. [1] UN, Sustainable Development Goals, Take Action for the Sustainable Development Goals,[2] Child Atlas, The SDG Summit must unlock new financing and raise ambition with and for children, September 2023,[3] OECD, Closing the SDG Financing Gap in the COVID-19 era: Scoping note for the G20 Development Working Group, October 2021, [post_title] => Accelerating progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => accelerating-progress-on-sustainable-development-goals-sdgs [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-10-10 15:03:00 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-10-10 14:03:00 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[27] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7104 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-28 09:05:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-28 08:05:17 [post_content] => Today’s authoritarian actors, including powerful authoritarian states, can remotely surveil, threaten and harass individuals inside the United Kingdom (UK). The most frequently targeted are those within diaspora communities, students, activists, human rights defenders, exiled political figures and journalists. A result of the confluence of evolving digital communications and rising global authoritarianism, the problem of transnational human rights violations is currently a major blind spot in the UK’s democratic institutions, in particular its human rights protection arrangements. Simply put, the UK Government is legally obliged to protect those living here who are at risk of, or have faced, repercussions as a result of exercising their democratic rights. The UK Home Office’s Defending Democracy Taskforce, established in late 2022 and chaired by Security Minister Tom Tugendhat, has transnational repression within its mandate.[1] Yet with its primary focus on issues related to national security – electoral security, threats to politicians, improper foreign lobbying and the protection of sovereignty – the taskforce offers little support to targeted communities and individuals.[2] In the United States, the FBI has launched a series of criminal cases against alleged perpetrators of transnational repression since 2020 by applying pre-existing offences such as harassment and stalking.[3] While law enforcement is a necessary step, the agency’s cases do not constitute a systematic institutional response to this issue, as acts of transnational repression can often occur via digital platforms, without any crime being committed on the physical territory of the host state.[4] The absence of UK institutional frameworks designed to meet these complex challenges constitutes a dereliction of the UK’s obligations under international human rights law. A focused and effective way  to address these violations of the human rights of vulnerable communities and individuals would be the establishment of a Transnational Rights Protection Office (TRIPO) as part of the UK’s national rights protection institutions.[5] This new office should monitor transnational human rights issues and their manifestations in the UK; provide information, support and safe points of contact to affected individuals; advise the UK Government; and develop future legal avenues of redress. Problem: The blind spot of transnational human rights violationsIn an era of growing authoritarianism globally, transnational rights violations are on the rise.[6] From the Stalinist Soviet Union’s executions of Saudi Arabia’s murder of Leon Trotsky to Jamal Khashoggi, autocrats have often gone to extreme lengths to silence independent voices and political rivals in exile abroad. But today a broad array of authoritarian actors including states, organisations and individuals can surveil and threaten critics and everyday citizens from afar, with minimal cost.[7] Chinese political activists and persecuted groups including Uyghurs and Tibetans face well-documented threats from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) ranging from social media harassment to coercion of family members through to extrajudicial rendition.[8] Political exiles from numerous Central Asian countries have commonly encountered violence outside their home country, and Cambodia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Russia, Rwanda, Vietnam and at least two dozen other states have made well documented attempts to suppress critics abroad.[9] The UK is not a safe haven free from these kinds of threats. Saudi, Libyan and Syrian exiles have faced technology-enabled threats to their exercise of basic political rights in the UK in recent years.[10] Persian-language broadcaster Iran International was forced to shut down its London studio earlier this year after British police warned of escalating “state-backed threats”.[11] The Eritrean Government attempts to levy a 2 percent income tax on UK-based diaspora community members, with those who refuse to pay facing visa denials, and threats against family members and property there.[12] SLAPPs (strategic lawsuits against public participation) have threatened to bankrupt UK journalists and media investigating wealthy kleptocrats in Russia, Kazakhstan, Malaysia and elsewhere.[13] Overseas students, scholars, activists and journalists are subject to technical surveillance of their communications, extraterritorial censorship, employment discrimination and threats of future criminal prosecution for the exercise of basic human rights in the UK.[14] These practices constitute transnational human rights violations: infringements on human rights against a target located remotely across national borders from the originator of the threat. Such situations give rise to a host country’s duties to protect under international human rights law.[15] Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) States have the obligation to “ensure within its territory” the rights in the Covenant, and “ensure that any person whose rights or freedoms as herein recognized are violated shall have an effective remedy.”[16] The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR), meanwhile, requires states to ensure the “conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual” and “to guarantee that the rights enunciated… will be exercised without discrimination of any kind as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion.”[17] The UK’s Human Rights Act accordingly obliges the Government to ensure individuals can exercise their fundamental rights such as freedom of speech, association and protest.[18] Transnational human rights violations that take effect inside the UK are a longstanding challenge significantly exacerbated by globalisation and technology. Today’s authoritarian governments have unprecedented abilities to reach beyond their own borders. New digital communications channels, coupled with intensified cross-border linkages, have created new and effective modes of extra-territorial coercion and punishment to which liberal democracies have yet to develop meaningful responses. In the UK, members of some targeted communities have even reported being afraid to seek help from local UK authorities for fear that doing so would place family members – or themselves – at even greater risk.[19] While direct harassment and intimidation on the basis of political or religious beliefs taking place in Britain is illegal, numerous UK diaspora communities nonetheless face serious encroachments on their rights due to surveillance and repression implemented both from inside the UK and from overseas. The result is that many members of vulnerable communities cannot in practice exercise fundamental human rights in the UK without fear of adverse consequences. Often, such transnational repression is implemented via threats or harm to the target’s family members located in another country.[20] Government must equip the UK’s human rights institutions to provide meaningful support to individuals and communities and others facing issues of transnational coercion, and establish mechanisms to prevent impunity for the actions taken against them. Most importantly, targets of transnational repression need to know where to get support, and trust that the institutions they reach out to understand the specific nature of these types of violations and the driving factors behind them. Proposal: Transnational Rights Protection Office Establishing a UK Transnational Rights Protection Office (TRIPO) would directly mitigate the human rights impact of foreign states’ interference and help meet the UK’s obligations towards vulnerable individuals and groups disproportionately affected by transnational repression. The new office should serve at least five key functions: 
  1. Providing accessible information, advice and support to individuals facing threats of transnational human rights infringements;[21]
  2. Collecting data, research and reporting on the prevalence and forms of transnational infringements against UK residents’ human rights;[22]
  3. Supporting individuals, communities and vulnerable family members to access legal assistance, humanitarian visas and potential avenues of redress;
  4. Advising and supplying information to other UK government agencies to ensure extradition, deportation and freezing of assets are not used to violate human rights;[23] and
  5. Investigating future legal avenues of remedy against perpetrators of transnational human rights violations against UK residents.
 These functions align closely with existing activities of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, though TRIPO would not necessarily need to be institutionally part of the EHRC, which is already overstretched and underfunded. Yet, as the UK’s national human rights institution, the EHRC has the mandate and experience in promoting awareness, understanding and protection of human rights in the UK.[24] While a range of models should be considered, the TRIPO would benefit from affiliation with the EHRC – not only because the matters of sit within its remit, but also because its membership of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions means it may establish an example for other jurisdictions that likewise have currently unfulfilled human rights obligations in respect of transnational repression. The UK Government currently lacks a dedicated body to handle the specific types of challenges that transnational repression creates, and ensure that the UK meets its human rights obligations. TRIPO would provide a focal point for monitoring the issues, delivering direct support, and closing the blindspot of transnational human rights violations in the UK. Dr Andrew Chubb is a Senior Lecturer in Chinese Politics and International Relations in the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster University, and a Fellow in the Center for China Analysis at the Asia Society Policy Institute. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre[1] UK Government, Ministerial Taskforce meets to tackle state threats to UK democracy, November 2022,[2] Ibid[3] FPI, Transnational Repression, see:[4] Sarah Lehmkuehler, Countering Transnational Repression: The importance of integrating new immigrants into society, Foreign Policy Centre, December 15, 2020,[5] The TRIPO could potentially be affiliated to the UK’s national human rights institution, the Equality and Human Rights Commission,[6] Yana Gorokhovskaia and Isabel Linzer, Transnational Repression: Understanding and Responding to Global Authoritarian Reach, Freedom House,[7] Gerasimos Tsourapas, Global Autocracies: Strategies of Transnational Repression, Legitimation, and Co-Optation in World Politics, International Studies Review, 2021, 616-644; Marlies Glasius, Extraterritorial authoritarian practices: a framework, December 2017,[8] Chen Jie, Political Science and International Relations, The University of Western Australia, Australia, The Overseas Chinese Democracy Movement: Assessing China’s Only Open Political Opposition, 2019,[9] See Alexander Dukalskis, Making the World Safe for Dictatorship (Oxford: OUP, 2021), pp. 67-91 and online appendix at Ethiopian and Rwandan Government critics have seen family members arrested over their participation in protests, and Cambodian dissidents have complained of threats and surveillance by agents or supporters of Hun Sen’s Government. Vietnamese agents abducted a businessman in Berlin in 2017, sparking fears among dissident exiles that have reverberated in Vietnamese communities elsewhere. Before Taiwan’s democratisation, the ruling Kuomintang also engaged in intimidation and violence against its critics overseas, including the infamous murder of KMT critic Henry Liu in California in 1984. See: Human Rights Watch, Australia: Protests Prompt Ethiopia Reprisals, November 2016,; Amy Greenbank, Spies in our suburbs: Unearthing an alleged shadowy network of spies and their efforts to silence dissent, ABC News, August 2019,; Stephen Dziedzic, Hun Sen: Calls for Cambodian sanctions intensify in Canberra ahead of key Julie Bishop meeting, ABC News, August 2018,; Silke Ballweg, Berlin bloggers fear the long arm of Hanoi, DW, January 2018,; Reuters Staff, Germany charges Vietnamese man in ex-oil executive kidnapping, Reuters, March 2018,[10] Dana Moss, The Arab Spring Abroad: Mobilization among Syrian, Libyan, and Yemeni Diasporas in the U.S. and Great Britain, 2016,; Siena Anstis & Sophie Barnett, Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, Digital Transnational Repression and Host States’ Obligation to Protect Against Human Rights Abuses,[11] Geneva Abdul, UK-based Iranian TV channel moves to US after threats from Tehran, The Guardian, February 2023,[12] Eritrea Hub, Eritrea’s 2% Diaspora Tax and its impact in the UK, October 2022,[13] Susan Coughtree, London Calling: The Use of Legal Intimidation and SLAPPs Against Media Emanating From the United Kingdom, February 2023,[14] Joshua Rozenberg, A Lawyer Writes, Saudi spyware claim goes ahead, August 2022,; Samantha Craggs, CBC News, McMaster cuts Chinese institute, worried by discrimination, February 2013,[15] United Nations, International Human Rights Law,[16] United Nations, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, December 1966,[17] United Nations, The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, December 1966,[18] Human Rights Act 1998,[19] Index on Censorship, Landmark report shines light on Chinese “long arm” repression of ex-pat Uyghurs, February 2022,; Sophia Yan, The Telegraph, Exclusive: China continues to harass exiles on British soil, claim victims, August 2020,[20] Ibid, Safeguard Defenders; Dana Moss, Oxford Academic, Transnational Repression, Diaspora Mobilization, and the Case of The Arab Spring, September 2016,[21] This could be coordinated with community organisations such as Citizens’ Advice and refugee support organisations.[22] Ibid, CESCR, General Comment No.10.[23] Freedom House, Special Report 2022, United Kingdom: Transnational Repression Host Country Case Study[24] Equality Act 2006, [post_title] => Meeting the Challenge of Transnational Human Rights Violations in the UK: The case for a Transnational Rights Protection Office [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => meeting-the-challenge-of-transnational-human-rights-violations-in-the-uk-the-case-for-a-transnational-rights-protection-office [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-28 13:05:45 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-28 12:05:45 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[28] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7090 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-26 12:18:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-26 11:18:55 [post_content] => In this article, Thomas E. Garrett (Secretary General of the Community of Democracies) and Fred Carver (Managing Director of Strategy for Humanity) look at what role multilateral institutions have in the 21st century, and how the UK should interact with international organisations, especially now it is no longer part of the European Union. Full series around the G20 can be read here. How do you see the current role of multilateralism within the international system? And what changes are needed to strengthen it? Thomas E. Garrett: Multilateralism will encounter change, but at its core the United Nations (UN) system is not fading away. With increasing frequency, we are confronted by global issues that ignore national borders and natural barriers. Issues such as climate disruption, the most recent pandemic, irregular migration or nuclear proliferation tie all nations to a multilateral system. Yet, as the many challenging voices raised during the current 77th General Assembly of the UN shows, the multilateral framework needs reform. No country should be kept out of universal membership bodies such as the UN, even authoritarian nations which are often the source of many of the world’s challenges, as in Russia’s unjustified war on Ukraine with its impact on world food supplies and its gross violation of human rights. The appropriate counter to the challenges of weakness or ineffectiveness within today’s multilateral system is for democracies to unite at every global decision-making forum, to work as a bloc across traditional regional groupings, offering the solutions that self-correcting representative political systems provide. Fred Carver: Doubtless the multilateral system is outdated, but I fear many of the attempts to change that structure amount to hoping that a different shaped cup will change the taste of the liquid. So while many people including myself have made policy suggestions which would help to renew the multilateral system;[1] I think political capital is better invested directly in attempting to achieve political outcomes than in pushing for structural changes, few of which thread the needle between cosmetic and impractical. In terms of those political outcomes: if you look at the UN Secretary-General’s New Agenda for Peace you see an acceptance of the idea that right now the primary value of multilateralism is to mediate between states.[2] As a means of doing this it has some unique advantages over bi- or ‘minilateral’ diplomacy: by providing a mechanism which is a) open to all and b) allows states to converse on terms closer to equality, global divergence can be limited, smaller states are better able to pool their impact and shape the agenda, and the outcomes have an unmatched legitimacy and credibility.[3] A few years back I would have answered more ambitiously: then the early 21st century dream of a broader multilateralism which shifted global governance, and ultimately power, around, and among, sub-state, non-state and super-state actors still appeared possible. That idea is out of fashion now, but it must not be forgotten entirely.

“If multilateralism, and sovereignty, do not keep pace they risk long term irrelevance.”

 The long-term trend of increasing global interconnectivity – at least with respect to information and finance – is still working to make mid-21st century sovereignty a much fuzzier and less absolute concept than its previous versions. If multilateralism, and sovereignty, do not keep pace they risk long term irrelevance. Volatility in the international system — exemplified by food insecurity, resource shortages and climate change — has implications for multilateral international cooperation. What type (or model) of multilateralism is needed in the face of this? Thomas E. Garrett: A new model of multilateralism must prioritise the genuine, substantial inclusion of non-state actors from civil society and informal civil society.

“There should be an immediate inclusion of young people in the international system – their time isn’t coming, it is now”

 Within this, there should be an immediate inclusion of young people in the international system – their time isn’t coming, it is now, and they are presenting non-ideological and fresh concepts to long-standing problems. A multilateralism model which is successful in countering the volatility in the international system must frankly acknowledge issues such as food insecurity or declining adherence to a norms-based human rights framework are not occurring organically or due to time – these and similar issues are direct consequences of an assault on the international system by authoritarian states: China, Russia, and their allies. These countries do not seek reform of the system but to replace it with principles such as might makes right, or a hyper-sovereignty which cloaks human rights abuses. Fred Carver: I’m concerned about the shift to a multilateralism based around adversarial clubs of countries. This is very damaging to the efficacy of the global system particularly with respect to issues like food insecurity and climate change. And while states do approach certain conversations – notably around rights and sovereignty – from different perspectives, history – including recent history – teaches us that even when adversarial groupings purport to be based around shared values those values are likely to be the first thing sacrificed on the altar of competition. That said, I think the idea that we are in a ‘new cold war’ is overstated, at least at the UN. During the 1950s you could see months on months go by when the UN Security Council would scarcely meet or pass any resolutions. In contrast nowadays, away from the geopolitical bluster you get under the limelight, you see quite a lot of collaboration between supposed adversaries at the UN; the High Seas Treaty being a clear example.[4] And while I doubt there is much direct coordination between diplomats from, say, the UK and Russia, you certainly see them in lock step when it comes to protecting their privilege in the process of appointing senior UN officials.[5] What is needed is a nimble (and thus resource intensive) approach which looks to build ad hoc coalitions both to secure progress on specific issues and to subvert this unhelpful and artificial separation of states into permanent interest groups. At the same time states must be sophisticated enough to not be entirely transactional – one of the primary long-term powers of the multilateral system is its ability to build normative standards and expectations of behaviour, which requires consistency in the application of principles. How can partnerships and regional cooperation be better leveraged to restore credibility in the multilateral system, particularly with non-G20 members and the Global South? Thomas E. Garrett: A great step towards this goal occurred recently in India, as the African Union (AU) joined the G20, moving from a past status as an ‘invited international organisation’ to membership as a regional bloc, alongside the European Union. The G20 had already served as a model of the developing and developed world in partnership and the AU ascension further enhances this high level of cooperation. Fred Carver: We need to start by recognising that the reasons non-G20 members and the Global South think the multilateral system lacks credibility are often different to the reasons the West thinks the multilateral system lacks credibility.

“Global South critics tend to be more concerned with hypocrisy and inconsistency in the application of the rules of that order.”

 Many western critics are concerned that the multilateral system is no longer able to maintain the post-war liberal order. Global South critics tend to be more concerned with hypocrisy and inconsistency in the application of the rules of that order. Further, many southern political elites were never sold on this order in the first place and – at best – accepted it as a quid pro quo for a project of political and economic equalisation. They resent the neglect of this agenda and fear it has been abandoned. Restoring credibility with states in the Global South therefore requires consistency – holding oneself and one’s allies to the same standard as one’s adversaries – and requires a willingness to spend money and share power in exchange for influence. Pursuing “subsidiarity” (devolving global governance to regional mechanisms) is certainly a means of transferring money and control.[6] But it is not a panacea. It’s also a concept which is most developed with respect to Africa and which might be harder to apply in other contexts. Smaller South Asian states, for example, might prefer to take their chances in New York than under an inevitably India dominated regional mechanism, and the very idea of pursuing subsidiarity in West Asia is exhausting. If you speak to truly small states – as opposed to mid-tier powers with regional influence – it is often non-regional projects for transferring money and control at the UN (such as Bridgetown) that excite them.[7] What role should the UK play in this multilateral system, and what opportunities and threats do you see impacting the UK’s approach moving forward? From this, what changes would you advise to the leading parties as we look forward to a general election? Thomas E. Garrett: As a country that recently left a regional bloc, the UK should ensure it maintains its historic leadership role in international fora. A nuclear powered country, a G7 member, and one with strong ties with increasingly influential states such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, the UK should focus its role in promoting greater inclusion of these and other countries and support substantial roles for them in the multilateral, democratic ecosystem.

“The UK should reinforce its role as a leading country in international law and multinational fora.”

 In terms of opportunities and threats, the UK should more consciously link, or sync, its domestic and foreign policies, for instance, on the difficult but essential issues such as refugees or de-nuclearisation. In moving forward in its relationship with China, or in dealing with Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the UK should reinforce its role as a leading country in international law and multinational fora. Fred Carver: British politicians have not yet come to terms with how significantly the UK’s global stock has waned. While Brexit hardly helped, the main reasons for this are longer term shifts towards the South and East and away from former colonial powers. Perceptions of the UK at the UN have never entirely recovered from the Iraq war, and the absence of much contrition or reckoning following what many in the Global South saw to be a Ukraine-level outrage. In the General Assembly they were further harmed by the UK’s highly unpopular position on the Chagos Islands, although this may now change.[8]

“Forging an independent foreign policy is hard, but it becomes a lot easier if rather than starting from scratch one looks around the world for building blocks of best practice to emulate.”

 This reduction in influence means that the UK needs to make clear strategic choices to maximise its impact. Regardless of the merits of doing so, the current political climate probably does not allow the UK to take the easy option here and closely align its foreign policy with either the US or EU, leaving the direction setting to them. Forging an independent foreign policy is hard, but it becomes a lot easier if, rather than starting from scratch, one looks around the world for building blocks of best practice to emulate. British political parties should look at states that are punching above their weight in the multilateral system, particularly those that have commonalities with the UK, either as fellow members of Europe’s periphery or as fellow minor anglosphere powers. Ireland is a major and popular player in both peace and security and human rights. New Zealand’s words have significant clout in the world of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Switzerland and Liechtenstein are adept at convening and building both issue specific and values-based coalitions. This approach will need some adaptation in view of the UK’s particular strengths and weaknesses.

“The UK has significant amounts of soft power and its diplomatic corps is still strong and capable; but its politicians sometimes exude a sense of exceptionalism and a lack of historical memory”

 The UK has significant amounts of soft power and its diplomatic corps is still strong and capable; but its politicians sometimes exude a sense of exceptionalism and a lack of historical memory that does not play well on the world stage.[9] Again, it would be worth looking comparatively at how other political leaders have navigated historic and more recent foreign policy blunders for examples of best practice. Regardless, it is difficult to get more out of the multilateral system than you put in. As is well known the UK’s retreat from spending on ODA has been noticed and has come at a cost in terms of global credibility, particularly on critical issues such as climate, finance and health.[10] What is less often mentioned is the UK’s retreat as a troop contributor to UN peacekeeping. While the UK’s mission to Mali was no longer sustainable, the fact that it was not replaced by a similar deployment elsewhere has seen the number of UK blue helmeted troops shrink back to pre-2016 levels.[11] It is perhaps here, and in voluntary funding for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the best value for money can be found when contributing to the multilateral system.[12] Thomas Garrett is in his second term as the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, a global intergovernmental coalition comprised of Member States coordinating efforts on the rule of law, democracy, and human rights. Previously, Mr. Garrett was Vice President of Global Programs at the U.S. based International Republican Institute (IRI) a pro-democracy, non-partisan NGO supporting elections, civil society, and democratic governance in 80+ countries.  From 1994 to 2015, he was chief of party for IRI democracy support programs in Ukraine, Moldova, Belarus, Mongolia, and Indonesia.  Fred Carver is a Managing Director at Strategy for Humanity, which works with mission-driven organizations and those who fund them on a range of policy issues. He has written a number of articles on international relations, with specific expertise on the United Nations, Peacekeeping, Atrocity Prevention, civil wars and political violence. From 2011-2016 he ran the Sri Lanka Campaign for Peace and Justice, a human rights NGO, and from 2016-2020 he was head of policy at UNA-UK, a UK campaigning organisation for multilateralism. Prior to that he worked as a researcher specialising in South Asia (primarily Pakistan) and in UK politics. He lives in Norway. [1] Fred Carver, Renewing the UN system: Taking stock after 75 years, UNA-UK, March 2022,[2] Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, A New Agenda for Peace,[3] Moises Naim, Minilateralism, Foreign Policy, June 2009,[4] Karen McVeigh, High seas treaty: historic deal to protect international waters finally reached at UN, The Guardian, March 2023,[5] Blue Smoke, P5 Frenemies, July 2023,[6] “Subsidiarity”, see definition:[7] Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade - Barbados, The 2022 Bridgetown Initiative, September 2022,[8] Seventy-Third Session, 83rd & 84th Meetings (AM & PM), General Assembly Welcomes International Court of Justice Opinion on Chagos Archipelago, Adopts Text Calling for Mauritius’ Complete Decolonization, UN, May 2019,; Patrick Daly, Foreign office rejects Boris Johnson’s Chagos Islands handover fears, Independent, September 2023,[9] UNHCR, UK Illegal Migration Bill: UN Refugee Agency and UN Human Rights Office warn of profound impact on human rights and international refugee protection system, July 2023,[10] Jess Gifkins, Samuel Jarvis and Jason Ralph, Global Britain in the United Nations, UNA-UK, February 2019,[11] Louisa Brooke-Holland, UN ends peacekeeping force in Mali, House of Commons Library, July 2023,[12] See: Q129, Foreign Affairs Committee, Oral evidence: The UK’s role in strengthening multilateral organisations, HC 513, House of Commons, September 2020, [post_title] => Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => multilateral-institutions-for-the-21st-century [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-26 14:18:11 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-26 13:18:11 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[29] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7045 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-07 13:22:30 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-07 12:22:30 [post_content] => When the first G20 Summit was held in 2008, as the global financial crisis was spreading across the world, the hope was that an informal club comprising systemically important developed and developing economies would enable an effective crisis response. The G20 was indeed effective at the time. More recently, however, the G20 has battled to stay above the escalating geopolitical tensions, not only between the West and Russia and China, but also between India and China. This year India has put development at the centre of its G20 presidency, insisting that the Ukraine war should not sideline the imperative of dealing with the world’s significant challenges in this area – from sovereign debt and development financing to the climate crisis and the digital divide. With four consecutive developing country presidencies, starting with Indonesia in 2022 and ending with South Africa in 2025, the G20 can potentially build up momentum on pressing development issues that can then also be advanced at the formal multilateral institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or processes such as the climate COPs, the annual global climate summit convened by the United Nations (UN). South Africa (SA) has been a champion of development issues, specifically African ones, at the G20. As the only African G20 country, it has sought to put the continent’s concerns on the agenda, or highlight where policy initiatives that are intended to address a developed economy problem may impact negatively on developing countries. Strengthening multilateralism is an important element of South Africa’s foreign policy. As such, it sees the G20, not as a replacement to the formal institutions of global governance (such as the UN), but rather as an important vehicle for building consensus among important powers to overcome hurdles in the formal structures. Furthermore, South Africa believes, like India and other emerging economies, that the G20’s focus should be global economic governance, not politics or peace and security. Equally, in line with the position of other emerging economies in the G20, South Africa is a vocal proponent of the urgency to reform the global governance system. The push for more rapid and fundamental reforms, especially to the global financial architecture, has accelerated in recent times. However, it is important that the debate moves beyond platitudes to concrete outcomes. Much of the power to drive such reform lies with the G7 members in the G20. At the recent Paris financing summit, SA President Ramaphosa forcefully reminded the West about the ‘negative’ experiences meted out by the West to African countries. He referred specifically to access to vaccines during the pandemic, but also spoke about the need for these countries to scale up their financial contributions and to change the modalities of finance for climate adaptation and mitigation. In the G20 South Africa has also advocated the need for international action to curb illicit financial flows – some of the world’s major enablers are in the G20 – fairer international taxation and tackling sovereign debt in a manner that doesn’t undermine the ability of developing states to achieve sustainable development. In addition, ensuring that any energy transition is just so that social inequalities are not deepened is a concern that will become even more prominent in the South African narrative both in the G20 and elsewhere. South Africa will succeed Brazil as G20 chair in 2025. None of these issues will have disappeared from the global agenda. Addressing them, however, requires sincere cooperation across the multiple divides that are emerging and of which the G20 is a microcosm. The challenge that both Brazil and South Africa will face is preserving the G20 space as one where genuine dialogue and progress on outcomes can occur in the interests of achieving sustainable development. Failing to do so will only exacerbate both socio-economic and political conflict worldwide. Elizabeth Sidiropoulos is the chief executive of the South African Institute of International Affairs. Her areas of expertise lie in South African foreign policy, Africa and external powers, global governance and south-south cooperation. Her most recent publications include co-edited volumes on Values, Interests and Power: South African Foreign Policy in Uncertain Times (2020), and The Palgrave Handbook of Development Cooperation for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (2021).  She is the editor-in-chief of the South African Journal of International Affairs, a policy-oriented, peer-reviewed and interdisciplinary forum for discussion on Africa’s and South Africa’s international affairs. She is a regular commentator in South African and foreign media. In December 2020 she was appointed to serve on the UN’s Second High-Level Advisory Board on Economic and Social Affairs. She is a co-chair of the task force on the SDGs of the Indian Think 20 presidency in 2023. [post_title] => Preparing for the G20 presidency in a fraught world: Insights on South Africa’s priorities [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => preparing-for-the-g20-presidency-in-a-fraught-world-insights-on-south-africas-priorities [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-07 13:22:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-07 12:22:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[30] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7025 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-05 12:00:32 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-05 11:00:32 [post_content] => As India prepares to welcome members of the G20 Summit to New Delhi, leaders will be confronted with a range of daunting global challenges from technology transformation to the reform of multilateral institutions. Some of these discussions will result in hand wringing and the usual declaration of aspirational targets that will never be met. There are, however, real opportunities for this group to channel its efforts toward meeting the India presidency’s lofty goal of “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” High on the Summit’s priority list is creating a viable pathway toward a green future. While it’s probably a fair critique to question the credibility of ‘an Arsonists Convention on Fire Prevention’, the reality is that the energy transition cannot come to fruition without the likes of the United States, China, India and the other members of the G20 club. Central to mitigating the impact of climate change is continuing to expand the use of renewable energy from wind and solar, and electric batteries. Paradoxically, these technologies are powered by minerals that necessitate digging up the planet in order to save it. Added to the environmental costs involved in extracting critical minerals like lithium, nickel, and cobalt, is the moral and economic quandary of propping up regimes around the world with dubious safety and human rights records to satisfy this massive demand. According to the International Energy Agency, from 2017 to 2022, the overall demand for cobalt rose by 70 percent, nickel by 40 percent and lithium tripled.[1] These figures can no longer be ignored. The United States has begun to chart a path that aims to secure reliable sources of critical minerals by working closely with partners and allies to future-proof its economy from uncertainty or potential economic coercion. Beginning at home with the Inflation Reduction Act, US Congress set out to incentivise the green transition throughout the global supply chain. To bolster this effort, the United States and Japan signed a critical minerals agreement in May 2023, that serves as a blueprint for creating a bloc of countries from Australia to Canada to South Korea with the shared objective to ensure access to the production, processing and delivery of the materials that will shape the decades ahead. In order to capitalise on this momentum, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak agreed during their June bilateral meeting in Washington to, among other things, begin negotiations on a US-UK critical minerals agreement to increasing “our respective and collective clean energy industrial capacity, boosting electric vehicle production and deployment, and expanding access to sustainable, secure, high-standard critical mineral and battery supply chains.”[2] It remains to be seen whether this Anglo-American initiative will yield action, but it is clear that the current winds toward agreement are favourable. With China controlling approximately 60 percent of critical mineral production and 85 percent of processing, the external catalyst for movement is present. Containing China continues to be one of the few bipartisan issues in the US Congress, and there doesn’t appear to be much daylight left between Washington and London on addressing the rising challenges posed by China. Though the US, UK, and its partners among the G20 nations may have been behind the curve in connecting the dots between securing critical minerals and prospering in a green future, the upcoming meeting in New Delhi may prove to be pivotal to defining the road ahead. Tony Silberfeld is the Director of Transatlantic Relations at the Bertelsmann Foundation in Washington, DC. [1] IEA, Critical minerals market sees unprecedented growth as clean energy demand drives strong increase in investment, July 2023,[2] White House, The Atlantic Declaration: A Framework for a Twenty-First Century U.S.-UK Economic Partnership, June 2023, [post_title] => Rocks and Hard Places: A priority for the US going into the G20 Leaders’ Summit [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => rocks-and-hard-places-a-priority-for-the-us-going-into-the-g20-leaders-summit [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-06 11:28:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-06 10:28:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[31] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7020 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-04 10:00:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-04 09:00:17 [post_content] => There are three broad issues that Indonesia will be pursuing at the G20 Summit this year, which primarily relate to their economic and development agenda. Indonesia’s first agenda priority will be the further implementation and realisation of the 2022 G20 Summit commitments. Indonesia successfully chaired the G20 last year, which produced the ‘G20 Action for Strong and Inclusive Recovery’ and the historic ‘Bali G20 Declaration’.[1] There are three key issues that Indonesia pushed last year, including digital transformation, sustainable energy transition, and global health architecture. These issues are related to Indonesia’s current foreign policy priority to support post-pandemic economic recovery and, more specifically, Indonesia’s focus on its national economic transformation, particularly when it comes to the digitalisation of its financial sector and energy security. Related to this agenda priority, Indonesia is also currently seeking broader economic diplomacy with other major economies. Indonesia aims to find foreign financing for its ambitious infrastructure projects, including the development of high-speed railways, and industrialisation initiatives in its outer provinces. Indonesia also seeks to fund the relocation of the country’s capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, which requires massive investment. For these purposes, Indonesia bilaterally engages with other G20 members and wishes to connect the G20’s economic recovery agenda with its own to bring more economic benefits domestically. Finally, Indonesia will use the G20 to support its chairmanship of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).[2] As the current chair, Indonesia envisions ASEAN as an epicentrum of growth. This vision emphasises, heavily, economic recovery as the central agenda for regional cooperation in the future. Nevertheless, as ASEAN chair, Indonesia also faces some regional challenges regarding the conflict in Myanmar and the threat of a great power competition between the US and China. Indonesia will bring these issues to the Summit in an attempt to gain support from other G20 members – especially fellow ASEAN dialogue partners – to discuss possible solutions for the ongoing Myanmar crisis, mediate regional competition between the US and China (both of which are G20 leading members), and highlight its economic goals to bring more investment and boost development in ASEAN countries. Rethinking the UK’s Engagement with AsiaThese agenda priorities show a diverging vision to that of the UK in this year’s Summit.[3] For example, Indonesia’s three-fold economic plans for the G20 – digital transformation, sustainable energy transition, and global health architecture – do not neatly fit with the UK’s five-point action plan for G20, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak outlined at last year’s Summit. Indonesia also diverges with the UK on security issues, particularly with regard to Indonesia’s criticism of the AUKUS cooperation.[4] In addition, it is also unclear how and to what extent the UK shares a commitment to help Indonesia’s development projects, given UK’s current domestic economic priorities, such as ending dependence on Russian energy and mitigating the cost of living crisis. Nevertheless, there are opportunities for the UK to use the G20 to improve bilateral relations with Indonesia, as well as support Indonesia’s chairmanship of ASEAN. The UK formally became ASEAN’s dialogue partner in 2021 and it has improved economic relations with this regional organisation since. In this sense, the UK Government could utilise the G20 Summit as an opportunity to explore their shared interests with Indonesia, particularly in economic cooperation. The UK Government also needs to clarify the UK’s position in the Indo-Pacific region in a way that respects ASEAN, which has been outlined by the UK Government in its Defence Integrated Review. Dr Ahmad Rizky M. Umar is a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Queensland and Griffith University. He is an expert on Indonesia's Foreign Policy and Asian Regionalism. [1] G7 & G20 Document Database, Annex - G20 Action for Strong and Inclusive Recovery, November 2022,; The White House, G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration, November 2022,[2] ASEAN, see:[3] The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, “My five-point economic action plan for the G20”, November 2022.[4] The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, “My five-point economic action plan for the G20”, November 2022.; Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Policy paper: Implementation of the Australia - United Kingdom - Unites States Partnership (AUKUS): Fact Sheet,, April 2022, [post_title] => Looking at Indonesia’s G20 Agenda [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => looking-at-indonesias-g20-agenda [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-04 12:19:55 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-04 11:19:55 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[32] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7016 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-04 09:59:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-04 08:59:55 [post_content] => Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s projection as the Vishwaguru (global seer) finds the ideal occasion as India gets ready to host the G20 Summit. The ‘Modi moment’ envisages steering the G20 towards a collective inclusive global vision, with the host country having selected the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” (One Earth-One Family-One Future) for this year’s Summit.  Meanwhile, within India this motto has been cruelly undermined due to instances of violence that pull at the seams of both ethnic-religious-caste diversity as well as sexual chauvinism. It leaves Indian civil society wondering whether the distinguished participants of the Summit will care that in Manipur, in the country’s Northeast, an ethno-religious civil war has been raging for over three months? The conflict has left behind a wasteland of scorched houses and churches, raped women and brutally killed men, with 60,000 forcibly displaced women and children. All the while, the state has effectively gone into hiding, or worse become complicit.  Towards the West of India, in the latest incident of anti-Muslim lynching, a Railway Protection guard on the Jaipur-Mumbai Express shot dead his senior and three bearded passengers. The guard carried out his actions while shouting a hate-filled rant against Muslims that he asked compliant passengers to record and share on social media.  Up North, the country’s once sole Muslim majority state of Jammu and Kashmir, now divided and diminished to a centrally administered territory, is paraded as ‘normal’ to the point that its capital Srinagar is the venue for the G20 Tourism Working Group meeting. Conveniently ignored however are the reports of the 5,000 people arrested to quell any outcry against the Government’s action in August 2019, that watered down Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status. Detained under the draconian UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act) and PSA (Public Safety Act), getting bail has proved difficult.  Also overlooked is the iron grip on Kashmiri journalists and human rights defenders, many of whom have been arrested, while news platforms have been blocked and others have been stopped from travelling abroad. Central rule of Delhi prevails and an administration run by outsiders from J&K established, new service rules have unleashed a witch hunt against Kashmiri officials. Representative government has been dismantled and its restoration hanging fire for over four years. A massive security cover of an estimated 343,000 forces makes possible ‘normalcy’ but at a cost, attacks on central armed police forces have increased, Kashmiri Pandits and migrant workers continue to be intermittently targeted by home grown militants, and the mountainous districts of Rajouri and Poonch are now on the terrorist radar. ‘Women led development’ is a G20 sub-theme, and the populist commitment to women’s empowerment is much favoured and projected at home. Awkward then that the international media have run headlines regarding the expose of sexual terrorism in Manipur via a notable ‘viral video’ (which breached the blanket internet ban) as well as the surrounding immunity for mob lawlessness, and the nonchalance of the head of the administration who casually alluded to hundreds of such atrocities taking place. Will the world’s powerful take a pause during the Summit and remember the huge failing of the Indian judicial system that took place a mere year ago? In August 2022, Bilkis Bano, who against all odds fought to get justice for gang rape and the brutal murder of her family members in Gujarat 2002 violence, watched in fear as the 11 convicts sentenced to life imprisonment were released. Lastly, this year’s G20 Summit is to be an opportunity for promoting inclusive and sustainable growth. Such anomalies as the Indian Government using its brute majority to fast track the Forest Conservation Act Amendment Bill (2023) and remove the checks to rapacious development, are easily overlooked. When the Indian arms and investment market is in the balance, evidence of laws and policies to discriminate and even disenfranchise own citizens are best ignored. Sadly it seems that India is in too ‘sweet’ a place multilaterally to bother with human rights. Rita Manchanda is an independent Gender-Peace & Conflict Researcher and Human Rights Advocate. [post_title] => India – Is the G20 host failing to live up domestically to its own global vision? [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => india-is-the-g20-host-failing-to-live-up-domestically-to-its-own-global-vision [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-04 12:19:37 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-04 11:19:37 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[33] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 7009 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-09-03 11:00:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-09-03 10:00:45 [post_content] => Can sanctions stop the Russian Federation (RF) in its war of choice against Ukraine? The answer to this question requires an inquiry into the indirect but non-trivial link between the economic effect of the sanctions and political decisions about war and peace. To the best of our knowledge, such an inquiry, quite amazingly, has not been done yet. At the same time, considering the longer-term political, economic, and institutional factors, along with the respective expectations of the involved actors, substantially alters the picture and leads to important implications. Read the authors' inquiry here. Vladimir Dubrovskiy is a political economist based in Kyiv (Senior Economist at CASE Ukraine).Janusz Szyrmer, a macroeconomist, has served as an advisor to the governments of Ukraine and several other emerging market countries. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [post_title] => The political economy of sanctions against Russia: Making the sanctions work as they should [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-political-economy-of-sanctions-against-russia-making-the-sanctions-work-as-they-should [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-03 11:33:21 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-03 10:33:21 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[34] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6990 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-08-11 10:42:23 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-08-11 09:42:23 [post_content] => The UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into the UK’s engagement in Central Asia. The aim of this inquiry is to “scrutinise the UK’s diplomatic activity and soft power influence in Central Asia” and to “examine priorities and challenges for the Government as it seeks to deepen its engagement on security, energy, trade, environment and investment to pursue mutually beneficial objectives.” In June 2023, the Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) and the John Smith Trust (JST) co-organised an online roundtable with experts from the region with the aim of providing an opportunity for a timely discussion on these themes, the outcomes and recommendations of which from are summarised below. To note, in March 2023, FPC also submitted written evidence to the inquiry, which is available hereSummary:While Central Asia has often been viewed from abroad through various lenses, it is important to recognise the value of the region in its own right. Global trends and geopolitical developments in recent years, including digitalisation, the Taliban take-over of Afghanistan and, most recently, Russia’s war in Ukraine, have created a new impetus for the Central Asia region to focus on its own resources and strengths. Each of the five Central Asian countries differs greatly from each other and regional cooperation has been challenging historically. However, the current situation presents a new opportunity, and supporting greater cooperation between different sectors in and across Central Asian countries would enable the UK to contribute to better governance as well as sustainable economic development – and therefore make Central Asian countries more reliable and resilient partners in the long term. Key policy considerations:
  • Threats to Civil Society:
    • Civil society and media in Central Asia (and globally) are threatened by growing populism and nationalism. NGOs, individuals, journalists and activists who are vocal in challenging their governments’ policies in Central Asian countries are facing increasing restrictions and oppression. NGOs receive little support from the public, which views them with suspicion. This is driven by disinformation and propaganda portraying them as treacherous foreign agents disseminating Western values.
    • Civil society faces a legitimacy crisis, the root cause of which lies in its strong orientation towards donor priorities. Donors’ short funding cycles are a huge challenge for civil society organisations (CSOs) and can undermine their legitimacy in the eyes of the public, as they are forced to respond to donor priorities, not local needs. At the same time, there are few funding opportunities internally, creating a vicious circle for the CSO sector.
  • Tackling legitimacy issues in civil society:
    • The most important underlying task is to build legitimacy of the civil society sector – for that, it is necessary to identify shared interests, develop common aims and build trust. Learning how to communicate across different sectors is key to achieving this aim.
    • Pre-colonial, Islamic social norms may provide a solution to the legitimacy issue CSOs face in Central Asia; a system of endowments exists in the region’s Islamic traditions and could become a source of support and cooperation with faith-based organisations. Again, this would require cross-sector communication and understanding of intersection of interests.
    • Cooperation between CSOs and the business sector through social business/enterprise and corporate social responsibility is another potential area for increasing the legitimacy of civil society. Crowdfunding platforms would offer an opportunity for greater financial independence and stability of civil society organisations, but these platforms are currently under-developed in the region.
    • Government funding for civil society organisations (e.g. in Kazakhstan) is in some ways a positive step away from international donor dependence, but also distorts priorities and the independence of CSOs and is very limited.
    • Regional networks (of civil society organisations and beyond) are an important source of motivation and support to each other. Platforms for discussion, sharing and learning across sectors are needed to build bridges and cooperation. Civil society has to learn to speak to business community and for that they may need ‘interpreters’ able to inhabit both sectors.
  • Role of the Private Sector:
    • Cooperation efforts between Central Asian countries cannot be left just to governments, as these are dependent on the political leaderships’ continued interest in cooperation and can therefore be unpredictable. People-to-people contact and relationships are needed across all sectors for regional cooperation to be effective.
    • There is an understanding in the business community that cooperation across the region is beneficial, but there is a vast gap between the attitudes and behaviour of the private and public sectors in this area. There is also a lack of understanding that all three sectors – public, private and civil society – could be more effective if they worked together in pursuit of sustainable economic development and they tend to work separately in their own ways.
    • The private sector shares the public’s suspicion of the civil society sector and does not see that their interests overlap with civil society. The private sector has its own mechanism for philanthropic/charitable giving and policy engagement, but does not generally cooperate with CSOs, particularly activists and human rights defenders.
  • Opportunities for economic development:
    • Opportunities for economic development across the region exist where there is an intersection of interests, including in areas such as energy, trade, digital economy/e-commerce and culture/creative economy.
    • Central Asian businesses learn from each other, adapting successful policies and practices. Therefore, economic interests will be the driver of regional cooperation and (if done with consideration of sustainability, inclusion, and other good practices) can also become an effective driver for social change, peace and security.
  • Climate Change:
    • Governments in Central Asia often lack the political will to act on climate and environmental issues, and such efforts are often part of government public relations strategies. Although all Central Asian governments have implemented laws and policies to protect the environment and combat climate change and are part of international treaties, they have been less successful in integrating these policies into economic policies. Empowering civil society and business to play a greater role here can be an effective strategy in this sphere.
  1. Funding and support for grassroots initiatives:
    • There needs to be a greater focus on ‘grassroots’ i.e. basic civil education, grassroots movement funding, linking ordinary people to formal institutions and formal NGOS – allowing them to mobilise the public and develop legitimacy in public perception.
    • This requires broader and more flexible funding streams – to allow informal actors coming from the grass roots to come up with new initiatives particularly at the community level. With Embassies in each Central Asian country, the UK could lead cooperation efforts among the international donor community.
  1. Vocal and demonstrable support for civil society:
    • There is a need for greater support from the international community (Embassies in particular) to speak up against the new policies and laws that oppress and stifle civil society. There should be conditionality, e.g. to threaten to or actually remove partnerships, aid or trade. This will have greater political and economic weight than official statements.
    • The international community should leverage investment and trade in order to increase standards and commitment to international conventions that all Central Asian states have signed up to. This will require better coordination among the international community.
    • Embassies should be open about their support of civil society and include them in their high level meetings or consult them before high level meetings with national governments take place.
  1. Partnership and open collaboration:
    • There appears to be a generational divide amongst the populations in Central Asian countries in terms of support and suspicion of Western influence and interest in their region – probably linked to media consumption patterns. There is a section of society generally supportive of the UK and its increased interest in their countries. However, in order to maintain and increase this support among the population, the UK needs to demonstrate that it is interested in more than self-serving economic and trade partnerships and stands for and invests in the wellbeing of Central Asian societies.
    • The UK should use every opportunity to encourage openness and cross-sector, cross-regional cooperation beyond governments – i.e. among business and civil society as well as the public sector, as such efforts can have a significant impact on tackling governance and development challenges and encouraging good practice.
  [post_title] => Views from Central Asia on the UK’s Foreign Policy in the Region [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => views-from-central-asia-on-the-uks-foreign-policy-in-the-region [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-08-14 10:22:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-08-14 09:22:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[35] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6964 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-07-27 13:45:22 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-07-27 12:45:22 [post_content] => Summary:Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is turning into a war of attrition, as the battlefield has become more static and decisive battles are being fought on the home front. The Russian invasion lost momentum precisely because the Ukrainian army was effective in disrupting the supply chains of the invading force. This destroyed much of Russia’s material advantage, and turned what was considered ‘a walk in the park’ into a real war with socioeconomic consequences. Moreover, the war is now undermining the once unquestionable political monopoly of the Kremlin. As the military confrontation transformed from a war between armies, to a war between societies, the confrontation between economic systems became as significant as defence systems. In sum, the resilience of each country’s power in the battlefront relies on its resilience in the home front. In theory, this standoff should favour Ukraine given it can count on the support of the most advanced economies in the world. The ability of the Russian economy to control its budget deficit, maintain revenue, and source the technological inputs required to produce ammunition will greatly determine the outcome of the war. That is why a discussion on logistics systems is of geopolitical significance. This study attempts to provide a comprehensive overview of how the war in Ukraine has affected ‘who gets what, how, and where.’ Examining the geopolitical significance of supply chains, this analysis contributes to an assessment of how continuity and change are negotiated in the context of the Russian war economy. The study argues that Western sanctions have been extremely effective in eroding Russian revenue and making the procurement of key technological inputs far more expensive. However, sanctions have been extremely ineffective in denying Russia access to key dual technologies and disrupting revenue altogether. This failure reflects a deeper systemic challenge in the war between open market economies and state-controlled economies. Russia’s state-controlled economy has a greater ability to accommodate its political and economic policy against short-term considerations. Beyond Russia’s relations with the post-Soviet space in the Caucasus and Central Asia, Russia has also been able to rally support in China and the Indian subcontinent. Largely, this accommodation entails the substitution of crude military power with effective economic diplomacy. In making this case, this study offers a review of Eurasian logistics networks, offering a glimpse of how all states in the region accommodate their foreign and economic policy to the Ukrainian crisis. Iran, the Caucasus, and Central Asia are ‘having a good war,’ seizing economic opportunities that may have a long-term effect. The catalytic effect of the war in Ukraine on the relationship between Russia, Turkey, Iran, India, and China is not predictable. The United States and, to a lesser extent, Europe have yet to project the vision of an enduring partnership in the emerging status quo. This is true of logistics but also what this sector reflects, namely ‘value chains,’ networks that contribute to the production of goods and services across the Eurasian landmass. Although the combined economic significance of the West in the global economy is unmatched, the alliance rallying behind Ukraine has been less able to project a common vision for the emerging status quo. Russia maintains the initiative in building partnerships with the economic powers that can tilt the balance, namely Iran, India, Turkey, the UAE, and China. At least in part, the Russian advantage is its ability to rally state-owned companies and oligarchic interests behind broad foreign and security policy objectives. Read the full piece here. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the individual author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. Ilya Roubanis (PhD, European University Institute) is a British-born International Relations analyst of Greek heritage. He is a fellow of the Observatory on Contemporary Crisis (Madrid) and the International Relations Institute in Athens (IDIS). For over a decade, he has worked in the South Caucasus as a government affairs consultant, risk analyst, and journalist. [post_title] => Russia’s invasion of Ukraine: The geopolitical significance of the war’s impact on regional supply chains [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => russias-invasion-of-ukraine-the-geopolitical-significance-of-the-wars-impact-on-regional-supply-chains [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-08-18 13:39:06 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-08-18 12:39:06 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[36] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6911 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-05-18 17:01:16 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-05-18 16:01:16 [post_content] =>  South Africa’s creeping embrace of Russia leans heavily on the country’s collective perception of history; one that imagines Russia as the saviour that delivered South Africa from Western-sponsored apartheid. Having almost completely abandoned non-alignment and now chairing the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) alliance, Pretoria understands its position is elevated, not undermined, by its proximity to Moscow. The West should be concerned, but claiming moral authority is highly unlikely to win over South Africa’s political classes.  The shadows of history, real or imagined, loom large over South Africa’s Russian dilemma. Old alliances, grudges and obligations seem now to be making themselves felt, and Putin’s potential visit to the BRICS summit in August is presenting President Ramaphosa with an ever growing problem. He must choose whether to continue down the road both he, and the ruling African National Congress (ANC), have determinedly followed in embracing Russian narratives, thereby risking South Africa’s international reputation; or, to firmly pull the handbrake on Moscow’s creeping influence and risk one of its most prominent diplomatic positions in the BRICS alliance. The decision Ramaphosa makes will be pivotal for the future direction of South African foreign policy and other nations across the continent will be keeping a close eye on Pretoria. The evolution of South Africa’s position to one of relative warmth towards Moscow began with an initial condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine by South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor. In February 2022, Pandor’s department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) expressed its ‘dismay’ at the situation, using a statement – notably since scrubbed from government websites – to urge Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity and withdraw.[1] Subsequent statements from DIRCO have emphasised South Africa’s independence and non-alignment, in keeping with its membership of the Non-Alignment Movement, and highlighting what it sees as Western hypocrisy on issues relating to territorial integrity. A solution, said Pandor, ‘will not be found in isolating one party or bringing it to its knees'.[2] Non-alignment no more?Over the past year of ongoing violence in Ukraine, South Africa’s evocation of history to justify its proximity to Moscow has however developed pace, drawing accusations of historical blindness, moral failing and hypocrisy. Internationally, South Africa has drawn international condemnation for allowing joint Russian and Chinese naval exercises and recently hosting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Distancing herself yet more from those words on the first day of the invasion, Foreign Minister Pandor has recently declared Russia an ‘old, historical friend’, of whom ‘we cannot become sudden enemies [with] on the demand of others’.[3] Perhaps this position is less surprising, when given the previously cosy relationship some ANC members appeared to enjoy with Russian representatives in South Africa. Hours prior to Russia’s invasion, Defence Minister Thandi Modise had been pictured at the Russian Ambassador’s Pretoria residence celebrating ‘Defender of the Fatherland Day’.[4] While attending another such gathering, ANC provincial MP Cameron Dugmore recorded a video referring to the event as a celebration of the ‘relationship that started between the ANC and the former Soviet Union, and how that relationship has continued’, and calling for solutions that create a ‘lasting peace’; all while Russia’s imperial eagle looked down on him from a banner in the background.[5] Criticism of ANC’s apparent continued rapprochement with Russia over the past year has been fierce within South Africa, with the leader of the opposition and the political party Democratic Alliance (DA), John Steenhuisen, accusing the ANC of having ‘picked the wrong side of history’, but it has been fiercer still in the Western press. David Pilling in the Financial Times said South Africa’s position “smacks not of respect for human rights or non-alignment, but rather for might is right.” Brian Pottinger, a prominent South African journalist, wrote in Unherd that the ANC had embraced an ideology of “nostalgia, self-interest and greed”.[6] A question of Western moral posturing? Nostalgia it seems does rule the day, and Western governments should be wary of moral posturing if they hope to get South Africa back on side. Congolese politician Jérémy Lissouba makes the astute argument that demands from the West for countries to unambiguously pick a side risk misunderstanding the complexity of their positions.[7] For South Africa’s ruling class, real or imagined ties between the former Soviet Union and the anti-apartheid movement remain strong, while painful memories of US and UK support for the apartheid regime remain very much in living memory. This is not a political class inheriting a generational burden, it is one that actively fought for freedom and bears the scars of fascist violence. Further, as ANC leaders often comment, perceived Western moral grandstanding invokes little sympathy. Minister Pandor argued in an event last September that Western inaction in Palestine undermines its support for Ukraine, “you can’t say because Ukraine has been invaded that suddenly sovereignty is very important, because [according to the US] it was never important for Palestine”.[8] As the terms of Western assistance for Africa have always been so unequal, argues Lissouba, Western affirmations of the UN Charter and Universal Declaration for Human Rights have often been viewed with suspicion as ‘pretences to maintain hegemony in the face of existential threats’.[9] A spotlight on South Africa in the BRICSRenewed attention will be directed at South Africa if Putin attends August’s BRICS conference. As a full member of the International Criminal Court (ICC) it has the legal obligation to carry out Putin’s arrest. Having wavered before, by failing to arrest Sudanese President al-Bashir in 2015, South Africa would truly damage its international standing by shirking its obligations again – and Ramaphosa’s response has been far from confident. Mirroring Pandor’s flip-flop at the start of the invasion, the President initially stated that the ANC wanted to withdraw from the ICC, followed by a statement hours later that South Africa will remain a member and the comment was made ‘in error’.[10] In recent weeks it has become clear that Ramaphosa wishes to avoid confrontation - deciding to shift to hosting the summit online, despite Putin’s previous acceptance of an in-person invite.[11] While eyebrows continue to be raised, both within and outside of South Africa, about the country’s continued relationship with the Kremlin, its role as a BRICS member has elevated South Africa’s diplomatic position. South Africa’s membership is a major diplomatic win; and, despite being a far smaller country, both in economy and population, than any other member, its economic ties are strengthening. Between 2017 and 2021, trade with other BRICS members went from R407bn ($22bn) to R702bn ($38bn), and in 2018 65% of all arrivals into South Africa were tourists from other BRICS countries. [12]  What next? Western countries should be wary of a continued drift that may see South Africa and other regional powers put further distance between themselves and the West. Tackling this, however, cannot rely on claims of moral duty or international obligations based on the will of Western superpowers. Taking a harder approach may go some way – threatening South Africa’s position in the US’s Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has brought opposition and government MPs to Washington. However, ‘big stick’ approaches, such as this and the US's ‘Countering Malign Russian Activities in Africa’ bill, will only stoke allegations of American imperialism and hypocrisy. While the US signalled their intention to engage with the recent US-Africa Summit, lumping an entire continent together furthered suspicion that African leaders are not receiving due respect or understanding. Meanwhile, the UK’s international development fund is spending twice as much within its own borders as it is across the entire continents of Africa and Asia, and further isolation would damage the UK and EU’s chance to follow AGOA’s example and cement meaningful engagement with African countries.[13] Moreover, the openings left by the US, UK and EU’s insistence on continued uni-polarity has allowed Russia to pursue its commitments in Africa and strengthen its economic ties, which are approached without interference in domestic affairs or tying aid to good governance.[14] To counteract this, the West does not have to abandon its commitment to democracy but must rather engage equally and respectfully. Many across the entire continent have not forgotten being bussed to Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral, called ‘shithole countries’ by a sitting US president, or witnessing hypocrisy between words and actions on democracy and human rights. In short, something more has to be brought to the table. Russia’s authoritarianism is a stark contrast to South Africa’s non-racial, rights-based constitution and democracy, so historical support aside they are extremely uncomfortable bedfellows. The US, UK and the European Union should highlight this, bringing South Africa back into the fold by fostering a respectful relationship, not as a former colony, nor as a weapon in a new cold war, but as a democratic nation-state.[15] In turn, this may highlight that Russia’s respect goes only as far as its own economic and strategic interests, creating an opportunity to slow its insidious influence. Cameron Scheijde is a political communications professional who grew up in Johannesburg, with specialist knowledge of African political affairs. He holds Master’s degrees in African Studies and Political Theory from the University of Oxford, and has formerly worked as an Africa expert for the Institute for Historical Justice and Reconciliation and as a Researcher for Justice Albie Sachs at the South African Constitutional Court. He can be followed on Twitter @camscheijde. Disclaimer: The view expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. Image by [1] Peter Fabricius, Pretoria scrambles to repair relations with Russia after calling for invasion forces to leave Ukraine, Daily Maverick, February 2022[2] Naledi Pandor, Minister Naledi Pandor on Russia / Ukraine Conflict, South African Government, April 2022[3] Eyewitness News, 30 March 2023,[4] Tom Eaton, The flip flopping ANC has a lot to be grateful to Russia for, TimesLive, March 2022[5] Eusebius McKaiser, Twitter, February 2022[6] John Steenhuisen, Address by DA leader, Polity,, David Pilling, South Africa’s Russia stance shows it has lost the moral high ground, Financial Times, February 2023[7] Brian Pottinger, Why South Africa is siding with Russia, Unherd, November 2022[8] ​​ Jérémy Lissouba, Relations with Africa, Asia are on the brink of collapse – to Russia’s benefit, Politico, March 2023,[9] ​​Ibid[10] Julian Borger, South Africa’s President and Party Sow Confusion over Leaving ICC, The Guardian, April 2023[11] Kuben Chetty, Putin has confirmed he will attend BRICS summit in Durban says SA’s BRICS sherpa, IOL, April 2023,; Amanda Khoza, SA’s quiet push for virtual Putin visit to solve ICC arrest warrant dilemma, Sunday Times, 30 April 2023[12]  Cyril Ramaphosa, ‘BRICS partnership has great value for South Africa', BRICS Summit 2022, June 2022,[13]  William Worley, Nearly double UK aid spent on refugees at home than on Asia and Africa, Devex, April 2023[14] SAIIA, ‘Moscow’s Continent: The Principles of Russia’s Africa Policy Engagement’, Occassional Paper 341, March 2023,[15] NPR, ‘Russia and the West are vying for influence in Africa and Ukraine is a big reason why’, Associated Press, July 2022, [post_title] => South Africa’s slow embrace of Russia should cause alarm for the West [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => south-africas-slow-embrace-of-russia-should-cause-alarm-for-the-west [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-07 14:58:48 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-07 13:58:48 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[37] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6887 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-05-12 10:49:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-05-12 09:49:45 [post_content] => Six leaders of former Soviet states attended the 9 May Parade on Red Square this week to commemorate the end of World War II (WWII) in Europe in 1945.[1] Among them was the leader of Armenia, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The two other countries of the South Caucasus – Georgia and Azerbaijan – did not participate. While the Russian invasion of Ukraine has elicited a range of reactions from countries around the world, the leaders of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia have found themselves balancing between their aspirations for independent diplomacy and Russia’s enduring influence in their region. These countries view the war in Ukraine through the lens of their own conflicts – Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh). The extent of their political dependence on Moscow varies, meaning that their responses to the war have differed as well. As a country that has had its own conflict with Russia over the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, some might have expected that Georgia's response would have been more aligned with that of Western countries. However, the leadership in the capital Tbilisi looked at the events through the prism of the challenges presented before it. The Georgian side, despite expressing its opposition to Russia’s actions, was extremely critical of the Ukrainian leadership, which at one point claimed that in order to lighten their own burden in Kyiv, a  ‘Second Frontline’ should be opened in Georgia.[2] Azerbaijan, meanwhile, tries to keep a balance between Russia and the West. In many international fora, Azerbaijan has refrained from participating in any decisions against Russia. For example, Azerbaijan opted out of the vote to terminate Russia’s membership in the Council of Europe and similarly from the vote on the United Nations General Assembly's resolution to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council.[3] However, having signed energy deals with both Russia (to import Russian gas to Azerbaijan) and the European Union (to double the flow of gas to Europe in five years), Azerbaijan is in a good position to profit by maintaining this balancing act[4]. Most notably, those in the capital Baku look to Russia in relation to its significant role in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Thus, while demonstrably showing support for Ukraine's territorial integrity (which is the main line of Azerbaijan's foreign policy regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict), President Aliyev still maintains relatively friendly relations with Russia, including keeping silent when the Azerbaijani honorary consulate in Kharkiv was destroyed by Russian airstrikes in March 2022. By contrast, Armenia’s position is more difficult. In light of its devastating defeat to Azerbaijan in the second Karabakh War in 2020, Armenia’s response to the war in Ukraine has been more cautious.  The leader of Armenia, Prime Minister Pashinyan, even avoided calling the Russian invasion a war, instead referring to it from the outset as “the events in Ukraine”.[5] Yet he harshly reacted to the disinformation that Armenia had sent Su-30SM multifunctional jets to Russia, demonstrating a desire to make it clear that Armenia is not helping Russia in this war.[6] Nevertheless, Armenia’s relations with Russia are at a historical low, due to the country’s disappointment with Moscow’s actions during the 2020 Karabakh War and inaction during the attack by Azerbaijan on the territory of Armenia proper in 2022, when Russia and other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) stayed silent.[7] The situation is antagonised further by Azerbaijan’s continued blockade of the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting Armenians of Artsakh to the rest of the world.[8] The tension between Armenia and Russia showed itself once again when Azerbaijan, in a move denounced by Yerevan as a violation of the November 9 Trilateral statement, installed a checkpoint on the Hakari Bridge at the entrance to the Lachin corridor.[9] Amidst the apparent indifference or inaction from the Russian peacekeepers deployed to the region, the United States and France, two key countries involved in mediating the negotiations, have voiced their concerns over Azerbaijan's establishment of the checkpoint on the Lachin corridor, considering that a step that "undermines the ongoing efforts to build confidence in the peace process".[10] A statement by Armenia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in April 2023 called “on the Russian Federation to finally fulfil the obligation under provision 6 of the Trilateral statement by eliminating the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor”.[11] Indeed, Russia seemingly does not wish to confront Azerbaijan, while President Aliyev looks to gain an advantage from Russia’s war, namely the ability to apply pressure on Armenia. This situation, and Armenia’s recent shift towards the West, might have a knock-on impact on the country’s stance on the war in Ukraine. However, while the political centre of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has moved to the West (the next round of peace talks are to be held in Brussels), Armenia’s dependence on Moscow remains strong. [12]  This could explain Pashinyan’s decision to visit Moscow on May 9. Nevertheless, this may not be the only reason. Since 9th May 1992, when Armenian forces entered the town of Shushi (Shusha for Azerbaijanis) in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, May 9 has embodied not only the 1945 victory for Armenians. Every year Armenia’s leaders have congratulated the nation on the 1992 historic victory as well; and prior to the country’s defeat in the 2020 war, Pashinyan was no exception.[13] However, this year Pashinyan noted in his address “In recent years, we celebrate May 9 with bitterness and anxiety. This is primarily related with the severe consequences of the 44-day war of 2020, with the loss of Shushi during the war, with the aggressive policy unfolding around Nagorno-Karabakh and the Republic of Armenia”.[14] In this context, Pashinyan’s visit to Moscow could be seen as a helpful deviation from the tradition of visiting the Yerablur Military Pantheon, where many of those who died fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh rest. With previous visits resulting in uncomfortable political scandals, avoiding this scenario fits with the adopted policy of Pashinyan’s government to achieve peace at any cost and to prevent angering Azerbaijan, and its patron Turkey, in any way. This aside, Moscow also retains the means by which to pressure Pashinyan to participate in the events in Red Square, in order to show that Putin and Moscow still have friends and are not isolated from the world.[15] Potential coercion and blackmail could be effective, especially given the Azerbaijani attacks on Armenia proper, the Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin corridor and the Russian military presence in Armenia.[16] In contrast to Pashinyan, and in a move mostly likely designed to demonstrate that the city is under Azerbaijani control, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva spent 9th May in Shushi*.[17] Interestingly, the President's website made no mention of a visit to a memorial dedicated to the victory of May 9, 1945. The leader of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili meanwhile opted for a third way.[18] He laid a bouquet of flowers at the monument of Meliton Kantaria, a Georgian sergeant in the Soviet Army, and spoke with veterans of WWII. The whole emphasis of the event was Georgians’ participation in WWII, with the May 9 victory seen as a national rather than Soviet celebration. The varied responses by the countries of the South Caucasus to the war in Ukraine, and their level of engagement with Moscow, clearly reflect their complex relationships with Russia as well as the conflicts within their own region. Understanding these can provide important insights into the political dynamics in the region as well as the broader geopolitical landscape. Yet it is difficult to predict with certainty how this might evolve in the near future. While the complex historical, geopolitical, and security considerations will remain unchanged, some shifts towards the West have already been observed. The ultimate outcome of the war in Ukraine will inevitably have an impact, but the current ties and dependencies on Russia, as well as the unresolved conflicts in the region, will continue to strongly shape each country’s position in the near future.  Naira Sahakyan is a Senior Researcher at the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute and is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Cambridge and part of a Turkish-Armenian Relations research project hosted by Cambridge Interfaith Programme and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. She is also lecturing at the American University of Armenia and Yerevan State University. Follow her on Twitter @NSahakyan *Editorial note: As referenced earlier in the article, different place names are used – Shushi for Armenians and Shusha for Azerbaijanis. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre nor of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.  [1] RadioFreeEurope, Russia Holds Victory Day Celebrations Amid Fresh Strikes On Ukraine, May 2023,[2] Prime Minister of Georgia Official Website, Keynote Speech Delivered during Interpellation at the Plenary Session of the Parliament of Georgia, March 2023,[3] United Nations UN News, UN Affairs Team, UN General Assembly votes to suspend Russia from the Human Rights Council, April 2022,[4] David O'Byrne, Azerbaijan's Russian Gas Deal Raises Uncomfortable Questions for European, Eurasianet, November 2022,; O'Byrne, Azerbaijan and EU Agree to Strategic Energy Partnership, Eurasianet, July 2022,[5] The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Official Website, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan's speech at the National Assembly during the discussion of the performance report of the Government Action Plan for 2021, April 2022,[6] The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Official Website, It is necessary to launch an international mechanism for the monitoring of the border situation, Nikol Pashinyan, March 2022,[7] The Collective Security Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance in Eurasia consisting of six post-Soviet states: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. See -[8] Amnesty International, Azerbaijan: Blockade of Lachin corridor putting thousands of lives in peril must be immediately lifted, February 2023,[9] Commonspace.EU, Document: Full text of the agreement between the leaders of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, November 2022,[10]  The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, Azerbaijan – Lachin corridor, April 2023,; US Department of State Website, Press Release, Actions on the Lachin Corridor, April 2023,[11] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia, Press Release, The Statement of MFA of Armenia regarding the installation of an illegal checkpoint by Azerbaijan in the Lachin corridor, April 2023.[12] Henry Foy, Armenia and Azerbaijan to resume peace talks in Brussels, FT, May 2023, [13] The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Official Website, Congratulatory Message by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Victory and Peace Day, May 2019,[14] The Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Official Website, Congratulatory Message by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Victory and Peace Day, May 2019, [15] Hetq, Yerevan Police Remove Protesters at Yerevan's Yerablur Pantheon, Sep 2022,[16] Natalia Konarzewska, What’s behind the new round of clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan, New Eastern Europe, September 2022,; Amnesty International. Azerbaijan: Blockade of Lachin corridor putting thousands of lives in peril must be immediately lifted, February, 2023,[17]  President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev Official Website, Ilham Aliyev and First Lady Mehriban Aliyeva examined works to be carried out in front of administrative building of Special Representative Office in Shusha, May 2023,[18] Government of Georgia Official Website, Irakli Garibashvili: I wish to first of all congratulate our heroic veterans on this day, marking the defeat of this huge evil – fascism – and our victory over it, May 2022, [post_title] => An (In)delicate Dance of Diplomacy? The South Caucasus Response to the Ukraine Conflict [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => an-indelicate-dance-of-diplomacy-the-south-caucasus-response-to-the-ukraine-conflict [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-07 14:58:58 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-07 13:58:58 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[38] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6866 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-05-03 00:00:33 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-05-02 23:00:33 [post_content] => World Press Freedom Day provides an opportunity to reflect – not only on the escalating threats to media freedom around the world – but also on the state of efforts to address such threats, and how they can be improved.[1] If the core goal of media freedom is to hold power to account – then initiatives designed to support media freedom must be subject to the same scrutiny.[2] One important initiative is the Media Freedom Coalition (MFC).[3] This partnership of over 50 governments advocates collaboratively and proactively for media freedom through a combination of advocacy, diplomatic interventions, encouraging legal reforms, international events, and funding. Last year, the Foreign Policy Centre supported the publication of a 70 page evaluation of the MFC’s impact during its first two years, titled Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years.[4] The evaluation was conducted by six researchers – including myself – from three different universities, the University of East Anglia, City, University of London and University of the Philippines-Diliman.[5] Our findings were based on over 100 interviews with relevant stakeholders and led us to conclude that the MFC did require a ‘re-set’.[6] Overall, we concluded that there had been ‘unsatisfactory achievement in most areas with some positive elements’. The report’s lead author, Dr Mary Myers argued that, ‘partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the actions of the MFC have not been as rapid, bold or visible as was initially promised’.[7] We put forward six concrete recommendations in the report with the aim of making the MFC’s work more impactful. These ranged from strengthening the minimum requirement for retaining membership, to improving its financial support, communications strategy, and theory of change.[8] One year later – on World Press Freedom Day 2023 – we ask whether the MFC has achieved the required re-set? A year of progress? In July 2022, the MFC established its own Secretariat.[9] This dedicated team of staff, hosted by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, supports the Coalition through coordination, administration, and communications.[10] Last month, this new MFC Secretariat published a 2022 Activity Report – highlighting its key actions undertaken in the year – though it also noted that many activities cannot be shared publicly, due to the sensitive nature of the work.[11] Perhaps the MFC’s most notable achievement in the past 12 months is the granting of over 1,400 emergency visas to journalists and human rights defenders across eight member countries. This was a direct response to one of the main recommendations of the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom.[12] Embassies involved in the MFC’s new Diplomatic Network Initiative also carried out 40 different ‘actions’ in 2022 – ranging from rapid response public statements and seminars to high-level dialogue and social media campaigns.[13] In response to our recommendations, the MFC has also improved its own governance. It has implemented a new internal and external communications strategy, updated its overall objectives, and set up a basic system of monitoring, evaluation and learning (MEL).[14] This MEL system has already led to positive changes, such as a more flexible approach to speaking out on cases of concern as seen in Cameroon and the Philippines.[15] My co-evaluators and I especially welcome the MFC’s response to our recommendation to, ‘ensure that its actions are informed by an understanding of the complex, dynamic and diverse priorities of the journalists and media workers around the world’. The MFC now integrates regular input from civil society organisations, UNESCO, MFC member embassies and local journalists into its work. In response to this recommendation, the MFC Secretariat has also been having ‘illuminating’ conversations with all member countries, to better understand their perspectives and priorities – and especially to establish how all members can meaningfully engage with the MFC, even if they have limited resources.[16] Such conversations are crucial for developing a more inclusive agenda for supporting media freedom, which – we argued recently – is vital for tackling the growing threats to journalists around the world.[17] Re-set achieved? Does this amount to the ‘re-injection of energy’ into the MFC that our original evaluation argued was required?[18] Well, the MFC is certainly now moving in the right direction – though the level of activity could still be greater. However, it is worth noting that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has undoubtedly reduced the capacity of member countries to support initiatives like the MFC over the past 12 months. Another positive sign is the MFC’s openness to critical, independent scrutiny and willingness to respond directly and explicitly to our evaluation.[19] This demonstrates a commitment to the principles of transparency and accountability that it seeks to promote. If the growing constellation of international initiatives seeking to reverse the global decline in media freedom are to succeed – they will need to practice what they preach – by remaining open to constructive critique.[20] Dr Martin Scott is an Associate Professor in Media and Global Development at the University of East Anglia, and one of the co-authors of the original evaluation of the MFC. The evaluation, entitled, “Reset Required: Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years” - by Mary Myers, Martin Scott, Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen Fernandez and Rachel Khan can be read here Photo credit: MFC Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre. [1] UNESCO, World Press Freedom Day 30th Anniversary, 2023,; UNESCO, Threats to freedom of press: Violence, disinformation & censorship, May 2022,[2] Martin Scott, Mel Bunce, Mary Myers, and Maria Carmen Fernandez, Whose media freedom is being defended? Norm contestation in international media freedom campaigns, Journal of Communication, Volume 73, Issue 2, April 2023, Pages 87–100,[3] Media Freedom Coalition, What is the MFC?,[4] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[5] UEA, Researching Media Freedom in a Time of Crisi, Academic study of the Global Campaign for Media Freedom,[6] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[7] Martin Scott and Mel Bruce, Global effort to defend journalism needs a reset – here’s how to do better, The Conversation, February 2022,[8] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[9] FCDO and Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, New UK funding to support media freedom around the world, GOV.UK, February 2022,[10] Thomas Reuters Foundation, Media Freedom,[11] Media Freedom Coalition Secretariat, Media Freedom Coalition 2022 Annual Report, March 2023,[12] International Bar Association, High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom - Who we are,[13] Temitope.Kalejaiye, What did MFC diplomatic missions do in 2022 to support media freedom?, Media Freedom Coalition, January, 2023,[14] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[15] Media Freedom Coalition, Statements,[16] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[17] Martin Scott, Mel Bunce, and Mary Myer, Towards an Inclusive Approach to Media Freedom, Centre for International Media Assistance, January 2023,[18] Dr Mary Myers, Dr Martin Scott, Dr Mel Bunce, Lina Yassin, Maria Carmen (Ica) Fernandez and Dr Rachel Khan, Reset Required? Evaluating the Media Freedom Coalition after its first two years, The Foreign Policy Centre, February 2022,[19] Martin Scott, Mel Bunce, Mary Myers, and Maria Carmen Fernandez, Whose media freedom is being defended? Norm contestation in international media freedom campaigns, Journal of Communication, Volume 73, Issue 2, April 2023, Pages 87–100,[20] Martin Scott, Mel Bunce, and Mary Myer, Towards an Inclusive Approach to Media Freedom, Centre for International Media Assistance, January 2023, [post_title] => Re-set achieved? Reflecting on the last 12 months of the Media Freedom Coalition [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => re-set-achieved-reflecting-on-the-last-12-months-of-the-media-freedom-coalition [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-05-11 20:35:18 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-05-11 19:35:18 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw )[39] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 6826 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2023-04-04 09:10:07 [post_date_gmt] => 2023-04-04 08:10:07 [post_content] =>  A year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Chief Editor of The Kyiv Post, Bohdan Nahaylo reflects on the war and its wider global implications. Nobody expected the genocidal war that Russia unleashed against Ukraine on February 24, 2022, to happen. Yes, we saw the build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s border and heard the threats from the Kremlin.And there were warnings, of course. We even heard them from the American President. But I think we were all in denial, thinking that this was bluff, sabre-rattling and blackmailing by Moscow and that Putin would never go ahead with such a dastardly, barbaric, deed. But he didWhen it happened, we were all caught in shock. In Ukraine, initially, it was not even a case of panic. It was a question of trying to reassure ourselves that we had the will, strength, courage and forces not only to resist but to fight back and defeat such a seemingly powerful and unstoppable enemy. Ukraine passed this test, and slowly but surely, at an increasingly faster pace, it also began receiving the crucial support that it needed from the West, from those who have become, in effect, de facto, its allies. Despite the horrific losses of people, immense damage, and temporary loss of territory that Ukraine has suffered as a result of Russia’s war crimes, Ukraine managed not only to stand firm but to regain ground and is poised to achieve victory in the not-so-distant future. Ukraine’s president and leadership have risen to the historic occasion; its heroic armed forces have made it proud and confident; and the nation has remained united in its determination to defeat the invaders. And now?We’re at a very delicate stage. Ukraine is desperate for the weapons it needs – the long-range artillery, rockets and fighter planes if possible. Its forces are brave, dependable, and well organised, so this is not a problem. The challenge is to withstand the pressure from the very crude methods that Russia employs in its understanding of warfare by throwing masses of cannon fodder at the Ukrainian forces, and by firing missiles in a cowardly manner from long range into our cities, trying to destroy our infrastructure and also to undermine the morale of the Ukrainians. But if the weapons Ukraine needs arrive in time from its supporters – and they are certainly beginning to be delivered from a host of diverse but united sources ranging from the US and UK to Poland and other European states – it will withstand any new offensives that Russia attempts to launch in the early spring and then go on the offensive and on to victory. We’re the heart of the matterUkrainians are strengthened by the fact that for more than a year Ukraine has been the centre of international attention all over the planet, not only in the countries sympathetic to Ukraine, but in Asia, Latin America, and to some extent within China and India. Even in Russia, with all the distortions notwithstanding, coverage of the Ukrainian issue – and the country’s aspiration to be a sovereign, democratic Western state – is a remarkable achievement in itself. Moreover, the vast number of journalists and politicians visiting Ukraine has also helped the world to discover Ukraine. For many decades, if not centuries, Ukraine and its people had to endure in their predicament under various rulers in virtual obscurity. Now, finally, to paraphrase Gabriel Garcia Marquez, its One Hundred Years of Solitude have ended. Suddenly Ukraine has been rediscovered as a European nation which was unjustly kept off the radar screen by force of circumstances. On its fate depends so many things, ranging from international security to whether some regions of the world will face food shortages because of Russia’s attempts to block the export of Ukrainian grain, energy shortages, and rising prices. Moscow would like the world to view its war as a local, backyard, conflict wherein the Kremlin is simply regaining ‘Russian’ imperial territory that it was forced to give up. But the war that Russia has launched against Ukraine clearly has a much greater significance for the entire world. It has undermined the international order, and challenged fundamentals – the very notion of Europe and European security and indeed, international security as we understand it – the very basic principles on which the UN Charter is based. Russia’s cynical actions have exposed the ineffectiveness of international institutions, such as the UN and the OSCE, that are supposed to prevent wars, invasions, war crimes, genocide and nuclear threats. They have forced the democratic world out of its complacency and united it around the need to defend not only its security but also basic democratic values. The struggle is not just about our independenceUkrainians are fighting for their independence and their identity, but they’re also defending the idea of a democratic, peaceful, prosperous, united Europe. They are defending European ideals and Europe’s borders, and in doing so are also serving as a catalyst in Europe’s reshaping and consolidation. After all, we are witnessing a historic reconfiguration of Europe and what it represents. Britain left the EU after Brexit but on account of the war has become a far stronger European autonomous player on the international scene and a staunch supporter of Ukraine. Poland, the Baltic States, the Czech Republic, and Romania have also gelled together as a force to be reckoned with. So, in the east of Europe, another healthy and much-needed counterbalance to the would-be domination by Berlin and Paris has emerged. Britain has played a leading role in this regard and its principled stance and sterling support for Ukraine have won the admiration and appreciation not only of Ukrainians but many other nations. Britain, in this regard, has set the tone. In Eastern Europe, Moldova now has a pro-Western democratic president. And Belarus itself shouldn’t be written off. Remember, Belarus had a ‘quiet’ but game-changing national democratic revolution a few years ago which we should not forget. That peaceful revolt has been suppressed by crude force and there are hundreds of political prisoners in the country. Yes, Lukashenko is a vassal of Moscow and he allows Russian troops to be based in Belarus, but as soon as Moscow’s power is curbed and Russia defeated it is highly improbable that the majority of Belarusians will prefer to remain a colony of their Eurasian neighbour. China and India, together with many other Asian, South American and African countries, have continued to sit on their fence. Their declared neutrality, or ambivalence, only plays into the hands of Moscow. This is also a moment of truth for them and for all of us. So, in this unfolding scenario, Ukraine’s struggle and eventual victory with the help of its allies, will have had profound consequences not only for its region, but for Europe as a whole and far beyond. Ukraine’s victory and that of the free world over despotic Russia, and by implication its tacit or explicit supporters, will create the conditions for the establishment of an enhanced international security architecture and for the establishment of Europe’s real borders at the frontiers of Ukraine and Belarus with Eurasian Russia. It will also force the self-styled ‘non-aligned countries’ implicitly backing Moscow to come clean and show if they are with the forces for freedom or autocracy or cynical self-interest. And Ukraine’s other taskIn the revamped new Europe, Ukraine will have not only to rebuild and restore the country, but to renew itself. National unity and the wellbeing of a large, regionally diverse, country consolidated in a modern political nation enjoying proper security and economic growth will be the priority. Old ways will have to be discarded and corruption curbed. Conditionality from Western partners offering financial, technical and military assistance will help in this regard to ensure the governance, openness and accountability needed. In the Herculean task of self-renewal of the country and the region, Ukraine is confident it will continue to enjoy the mutual benefits of the special new ‘strategic’ partnership that has come into being with Britain. The latter has not only honoured its strategic partnership with Ukraine with financial and military assistance but, in true Orwellian tradition, helped the country face up to the pressure of Russia’s misinformation warfare. In his historic recent speech before Britain’s political elite in Westminster Hall, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, invoking the image of Winston Churchill, thanked Britain, its leadership and population, for helping Ukraine withstand its darkest hours and move into its finest ones. Who would have thought that Ukraine and Britain, on different sides of Europe and traditional historical narratives, would one day draw so close. But together, they close the circle, and make of Europe a genuine cohesive entity based on shared mutual values and not simply the proclaimed semblance of things. Reproduced with the kind permission of the FCDO Association and the Chief Editor of The Kyiv Post. Image by Office of the President of Ukraine. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this piece are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of The Foreign Policy Centre.  [post_title] => The Moment of Truth: A year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-moment-of-truth-a-year-on-from-russias-invasion-of-ukraine [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2023-09-07 14:59:07 [post_modified_gmt] => 2023-09-07 13:59:07 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ))

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