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The United Nations Security Council’s primary responsibility is maintaining international peace and security – a task aided by the veto power. Francois Proulx/Flickr

Don’t be too quick to condemn the UN Security Council power of veto

Recent events in Gaza and Ukraine and the ongoing gridlock in Syria have dominated newspapers and airwaves – and debate in the United Nations Security Council. Despite UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…
The Sydney Opera House is still earning us soft power points. What else makes the world pay attention? M Norris

Australia has more soft power than ever but can we keep it?

Australia has moved up in the world – to seventh place on the 2013/14 Soft Power Survey published in the December/January issue of Monocle magazine. The Soft Power Survey is conducted yearly by Monocle…
Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa. Alexander Nikiforov

Time for Britain to rethink its place in the Commonwealth

It is difficult to do justice to the mood of despair that has been haunting the corridors of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters in Marlborough House in recent months. The decision to hold the…
It’s too early for the new government to lose interest in international climate negotiations. EPA/NIC BOTHMA

Abbott’s climate ‘diplomacy’ sends the wrong message

This week, the Australian Government announced that it would not send a minister to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations in Poland for the first time since 1997. This announcement…
A lot of people have made a lot of promises about reducing emissions, but what do they actually mean? UN Climate Change

Making sense of chaotic emissions reduction pledges

The idiosyncratic nature of pledges by countries to stem their greenhouse gas emissions is an indicator of the chaos that characterises international climate change policy. The countries that have quantified…
Getting an agreement on gas could set the tone for other industry emissions reduction agreements. stefo/Flickr

Could sectoral agreements solve climate change?

This is part two of a three-part series that follows on from the release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report, looking at emerging alternatives to the UN climate agreement…
It’s hard to go places when no-one can agree on the road rules. Flickr/mike nowak

Think politics is frustrating? Welcome to climate negotiations

The latest climate negotiations in Bonn have been stalled for two full weeks and climate multilateralism is in crisis mode leading up to the next major gathering in 2015. So, what is the problem? There…
On thin ice? Alan D. Wilson/naturespicsonline.com

All eyes turn to the prize as the Arctic opens for business

Foundation essay: This article on the future of the Arctic by Tavis Potts, Senior Lecturer in Oceans Governance at the Scottish Association for Marine Science, is part of a series marking the launch of…
Heading into the next climate treaty, it looks like getting everyone on board will be more important than reducing emissions. RB Reed

Universal and useless? The 2015 global climate agreement

It looks as though everyone will be happy to sign the next global climate agreement, due in 2015. Why? Because there will be very little in the agreement that will force countries to act on climate change…
The Falkland Island may be cold, windswept and remote, but they retain major geo–political importance and this weekend’s referendum on sovereignty will define the relationship between the UK and Argentina for years to come. Felipe Trueba/EPA

Falklands referendum will change little

History is about to be made on the Falkland Islands, which holds its first official sovereignty referendum this weekend. Some 1,600 Islanders will be asked whether they wish to retain their current political…
Mourners accompany the remains of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez through the streets of Caracas. EPA/David Fernandez

In death, Chavez is more alive than ever in Latin America

The recent death of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez from cancer comes as no great surprise. The former military leader had rarely been seen in the public eye since December last year when he travelled…
Hugo Chávez was public persona was crafted over years of domestic revolution and international rebellion. Boris Vergara/EPA

The many faces of Hugo Chávez, and the challenge ahead for Venezuela

In Hugo Chávez, Venezuela has lost the most iconic leader the country has seen since Simón Bolívar fought for independence from Spain. The rest of the world has lost one of the most polarising leaders…
We were delighted to be elected to the security council, now we must make the most of our tenure. AAP/Andrew Gombert

Australia must take a human rights focus at the security council

Now that Australia has taken its seat on the UN Security Council, it is worth considering how we might make a difference. Former diplomat Bruce Haig has recently dismissed Australia’s new role as chair…
All eyes are on Doha, but most of the action is taking place in Asia. almasudi/Flickr

Doha is worthwhile, but real decisions are elsewhere

The irony of the world’s climate change negotiators meeting in Doha this week cannot be lost on anyone taking an interest in climate change. Qatar is hardly a model of the low carbon economy. With annual…
Global energy use must grow substantially every year to keep up with population - our decarbonisation efforts aren’t making inroads. Carolyn Chan

The Australian Government, Kyoto and the illusion of progress

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, announced on Friday that Australia is “ready” to join a second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework…
Failing to reach a decision on protecting Antarctic waters doesn’t mean the process is over. Dean Lewins/AAP

Don’t write off Antarctic marine protected areas

The annual meeting of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) wound up in Hobart on Thursday last week without declaring a system of marine protected areas (MPAs…
Rape as a weapon of war needs to stop – but how can local and international communities help? EPA/Nicolas Postal

Rape as a weapon of war: what the law can do

During the chaos of war, rape is used by the powerful as a deliberate strategy to destroy any opposition. The law, seemingly, has little role to play. After all, during conflict the normal rules of law…

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