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Analysis and Comment (65)

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…
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…
Humans as well as animals are affected by climate change. A treaty could keep them safe and reduce forced migration. AAP

We need a treaty to help people displaced by climate change

Climate change will lead to significant human displacement. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other groups warn that the effects – including rising sea levels, heavier floods, more…
On her recent visit to Thailand, Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said her country had an urgent need for basic education. EPA/Barbara Walton

How education can help Burma on the fragile road to democracy

On June 1, after decades of struggle to be a legitimate voice for the Burmese people, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed the World Economic Forum on East Asia in Bangkok. She did not raise a call to arms or popular…
There is no queue. EPA/Lynn Bo Bo

Refugee populations across the globe: the facts

Refugees are created by wars and persecution. People flee their homes because their governments will not, or cannot, protect them from harm and allow them to live in peace. Under international law, as…
The coalition needs to tread more lightly when it comes to Indonesia. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

Attention Tony Abbott: Indonesia wants collaboration, not confrontation

In his budget reply speech last week, opposition leader Tony Abbott said Indonesia was to be a “vital partner in Australia’s future”. He’s right, and for now, at the government-to-government level, Australia-Indonesia…
Rudd’s commitment to Australia’s bid for a UN security council seat must continue under Bob Carr. EPA/Jason Szenes

Australia shouldn’t give up on a UN security council seat

Now we have a new foreign minister, some have suggested it’s time for Australia to give up its bid for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. During his time as prime minister and foreign minister…
Argentinian President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner is part of a renewed push to reclaim the Falkland Islands. EPA/Leo La Valle

Bald men and combs: the Cameron-Kirchner Falklands showdown

Argentinean wordsmith Jorge Luis Borges could be cryptic. But his powers of perception were always daunting. Borges came up with an excellent description of the 10 week conflict in 1982 that took place…
Solomon Island women were excluded from the peace-making process after the civil war. AAP Image/Lloyd Jones

Excluded: The forgotten women of war and peace

There is a profound silence in conflict. Women’s voices are absent. They are excluded from decision-making and peace processes across the world’s trouble spots. This exclusion not only perpetuates political…
Taxing international aviation emissions could help pay our climate change bill. Flickr/FatMandy

Cutting subsidies to fossil fuels could help Australia meet its financial climate commitments

Wealthy countries have committed to mobilise up to $US100 billion a year by 2020 for climate change action in developing countries. This is almost as much as the total amount of aid provided globally each…
It’s wrong to assume that China makes no effort to reform its political system because its culture does not support such change. Flickr/Katherina

The seeds of democratic culture in China

The skepticism of contemporary China’s multilayered and painful efforts to achieve legal and political reform makes many wonder if democracy can really grow in the Chinese soil. This is such a haunting…
French President Nicolas Sarkozy should be worried about the upcoming elections. EPA/Yoan Valat

France 2012: Sarkozy’s tough road ahead

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has a tight fight on his hands. He’ll be taking on the Socialist Party’s Francois Hollande in the elections next year. And he could struggle to get a second term. Four…
15-M started in Spain, but it has sparked protests around the globe. EPA/Jesus Diges

15-M back on Spain’s streets as protest goes global

This weekend Spain will see the return of its “revolution”. Those involved in the 15-M movement will once again take to the streets en masse to demand urgent reforms. Under the motto “united for a global…
Young people who feel excluded from mainstream politics often join extreme groups to ‘belong’. AFP/Wojtek Radwanski

Youth violence and group identity: understanding radical protest

Many young people in Europe think violent protest can be a legitimate response to the political system they feel no connection to. They believe government pays very little attention to them and have very…
America and Australia have made moves towards defending against online attacks. Johnson Cameraface

Last online of defence: why is ANZUS prepping for a cyber war?

How worried should we be about cyber warfare? The latest amendment to the ANZUS treaty between the US and Australia, announced at the end of last week suggests it’s a genuine threat to the national security…
We all think we know what a child soldier looks like, but we’d be wrong. AFP/Georges Gobet

How child soldiers are recruited from refugee camps

The commander of United Nations peacekeeping forces in Rwanda during the terrible conflict in the early 1990s has put forward legislation in Canada to help former child soldiers seek refuge there. During…
The capture of Colonel Gadaffi’s son was celebrated by crowds in Benghazi. EPA/STR

The next big challenge for Libya

The effort to overthrow Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi appears to be reaching its climax with key elements of his military forces surrendering to the rebels and senior members of his regime* in rebel hands. While…
London’s burning: but the rioters had a point. EPA/Kerim Okten

English riots were neither mindless nor purely criminal

The powers that be describe the street violence and social upheaval which took place in England’s major cities last week as “mindless”. Yet it was anything but. Prime Minister David Cameron, among others…
Change will again come to the White House. And it will come courtesy of another Texan. EPA/Alex Jones/pool

The next president of the United States will be Rick Perry

We now know the name of the next president of the United States: Rick Perry. The range of poor choices facing Republicans – from the bland Mitt Romney to the polarising Michele Bachman – has been transformed…
Stock markets around the world plummeted after news of the US credit rating downgrade (EPA/FRANK RUMPENHORST)

Debt dive: why is the US at the mercy of anonymous credit agencies?

Without the firing of a single shot in anger, a country has been, at least in a sense, brought to its economic knees. The capitalist system, with variations and aberrations, is now reacting. Shares are…
The lawyer for the self-confessed Norway killer, Anders Breivik will enter a plea of insanity AFP photo/Facebook - Youtube.

The lone mad man? Breivik’s lunacy label stops vital questions

Societies, if we are to take the Freudian line, prefer to subordinate chaotic urges in favour of dull order. Civilization implies stability. By the nineteenth century, human society was digesting a range…
Malaysia’s history with human rights spells disaster for its refugee deal with Australia AAP Image/Karlis Salna.

Malaysian refugee swap spells human rights disaster

On Monday, Australia and Malaysia signed a deal that will mean 800 refugees that have arrived in Australia will be swapped with 4,000 verified refugees from Malaysia. This deal from both Australian and…
The suspected killer, Anders Behring Breivik’s extreme views motivated his twin attacks on Norway AFP/Facebook.

Norway killings a sign of extremism on the rise in Europe

As the self-confessed perpetrator of the Norway attacks, Anders Behring Breivik is due to face court today, The Conversation spoke with Dr Binoy Kampmark, lecturer in Global Studies at RMIT about whether…
Anti-US feelings run high after drone attacks in north-western Pakistan EPA.

US aid cuts won’t hit Pakistan where it hurts

Washington’s decision last week to suspend $800 million in military aid to Pakistan should not have come as a surprise to anyone who has been following recent developments in the US-Pakistan relationship…
The final edition of the News of the World carried a full page apology to its readers. AFP/Ian Nicholson

News of the World scandal reverberates beyond the Murdoch empire

The dramatic events around the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s London News of the World are unprecedented in a major news media organisation in an advanced industrial country. A newspaper closed…
Australians don’t know enough about Indonesia to judge its farming practices. AFP/Sonny Tumbelaka

Why being a better neighbour could ease our biggest political problems

We need to learn more about the countries we are exporting livestock to, or swapping refugees with. Two recent publicly-funded television documentaries have revealed just how little most Australians know…
The phones of victims of the London bombings were allegedly hacked by staff at the News of the World. AFP/Dylan Martine/WPA pool

‘Deplorable and indefensible’: the ethics of the News of the World

The British newspaper The News of the World is being investigated over allegations of hacking into the phones of relatives of the victims of the bombings in London in July 2005. It’s also thought those…
Many Greeks are ashamed by what has happened to their country. EPA/Orestis Panagiotou

Greece debt crisis threatens democracy

Athens is no longer considered by scholars as the birthplace of democracy but all of a sudden it has become the epicentre of a powerful political earthquake rocking the foundations of every democracy in…
Mexico’s Agustin Carstens is expected to lose out to France’s Christine Lagarde. AAP

A lost opportunity for IMF reform?

The International Monetary Fund executive board will complete interviews of the two leading candidates to replace Dominique Strauss-Kahn this week, with the aim of picking a new managing director by June…
OPEC president Mohammad Aliabadi believes speculation in futures is inflating oil prices. He is wrong. AAP

Why it’s wrong to blame speculation for pushing up oil prices

OPEC Conference president Mohammad Aliabadi recently joined a chorus of international observers to blame speculation as the source of ongoing volatility in the global oil market. Speaking at an OPEC Conference…
The protest which started here in the Puerta del Sol in Madrid in mid-May has now swept throughout Spain. AAP/Pedro Armestre

How Spanish outrage could transform Europe

On 15 May 2011, one week before Spanish regional and municipal elections, young people gathered on Madrid’s Puerta del Sol square to start a protest known as 15-M movement. It has since acquired a universal…
Israelis have a right to live in peace. But Israel has no ‘right to exist.’ AAP/Gali Tibbon

Israel has no ‘right to exist'—and neither does any other state

Since the 1970s, Israel’s leaders have insisted that their Palestinian interlocutors acknowledge Israel’s “right to exist” as a pre-condition for negotiations on a settlement of the conflict. Amongst other…
Greece would be better off defaulting on its debt than languishing under tough austerity measures. AAP

A Greek debt default wouldn’t be a tragedy

A poll of international investors last month found that 85% expect Greece to default on its debt this year. As market expectations go, that is very high. Moody’s has since downgraded Greece’s already abysmal…
China can easily rouse its banks, but awakening its consumers will be tougher. AAP

Questioning Rudd’s version of ‘China 2.0’

West Australian Premier Colin Barnett’s bold claim on Friday that his state was looking “over the horizon” past Canberra to forge stronger links with China capped off a few weeks of strong rhetoric from…
Christine Lagarde is the favourite to become the IMF’s new chief. AAP

Fund and games: loosening Europe’s grip on the IMF

Speculation last week that Paul Keating and Peter Costello could nominate for the top job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was a mere distraction, but the hoopla did manage to highlight a crucial…

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