Abolishing School Resource Officers Amidst the Black Lives Matter Movement: A History and Case Study in Oakland and Los Angeles
May 5, 2021
Written by Wendy Gomez

This paper explores the potential of abolishing school resource officers (SROs), their history in education, and their role in exacerbating the effects of the school-to-prison pipeline and racial injustice. In the midst of calls to defund the police, policies to abolish police in schools are a vital first step. This paper argues that there is an interconnected history between SROs and surveilling youth-led civil rights movements. Today, we see the results—SROs have negatively impacted Black and brown youth subjugating them to higher rates of school-related arrests. Using historical case studies of Oakland and Los Angeles, this research draws on the potential to enact policies that end police in schools. Additionally, this paper places organizers as key actors in policy change. The analysis situates the movement to eliminate SROs as an extension of the civil rights struggle and as a microcosm of the modern-day struggle for abolition.

Formalizing Africa's Informal Sector Through the AfCFTA: An Opportunity for Economic Transformation
Sept. 11, 2023
Written by Funke Aderonmu

As African states move to accelerate regional integration through free trade, can they harness Africa's economic powerhouse - the informal economy?

India's National Register of Citizens Threatens Mass Statelessness
June 2, 2023
Written by Uma Menon

Leaders in support of the National Register of Citizens ought to consider the policy’s harmful consequences, which stand in contradiction to India’s constitutional principles of human rights and secularism. 

Letter from the Editors
May 26, 2023
Dear readers, 

To say the last two years have been transformational is near trite these days, but the impacts of the pandemic era cannot be understated. COVID-19 accelerated the threat of a declining public infrastructure, highlighting the need to rethink fundamental paradigms and processes embedded in our institutions. Beyond the…

Is the Devil in the Details? A Rare Look into a BRI Contract in Kyrgyzstan
May 26, 2023

This analysis delves into the concerns surrounding debt-trap diplomacy in Kyrgyzstan by examining a leaked loan contract of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for the construction of the Alternative North-South Road. This unique occasion—as contracts are usually shrouded in confidentiality—sheds light on the dynamics of BRI lending in the region and on a global level. The analysis considers the political and economic implications of China's investments in Kyrgyzstan, aiming at investigating whether the investment is geared toward exerting political influence, as has been suggested by the active political debate around the narrative of debt-trap diplomacy. While acknowledging the limited data available, this analysis neither finds application for debt-trap diplomacy nor an active attempt by Chinese entities to utilize contractual provision, even though on paper the contract could allow for the latter. Despite the lack of hard evidence, the paper contributes to the academic debate by shifting attention from broader geopolitical considerations and the debt-trap narrative, to increased scrutiny of contractual provisions in large-scale infrastructure projects, in which BRI lending indeed appears to differentiate itself.

China’s Use of Force in Territorial Disputes: Discontinuities Between Land and Sea
May 26, 2023

When does China use force to settle territorial disputes? This paper leverages data from the Correlates of War project and Stanford’s Mapping Interstate Territorial Conflict repository to demonstrate that China takes different approaches to settling terrestrial and sea-based disputes. While China has tacitly accepted the territorial status quo and generally used force only after a rival challenged extant terrestrial boundaries, it has initiated revisions to the territorial status quo in the maritime domain. This paper contends that China takes different approaches to its terrestrial disagreements and maritime disputes due to the Chinese Communist Party’s internal risk calculus. While land-based disputes can stoke unmanageable levels of escalation, factors specific to the maritime domain are more likely to keep militarized incidents contained.

Supporting Female Farming Cooperatives: The Smart Choice for the African Development Bank
May 26, 2023


Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) faces significant challenges in agricultural productivity, with cereal yields far below the global average. Despite improvements in other regions, absolute poverty has increased in SSA over the past three decades. The COVID-19 pandemic further highlighted weaknesses in the region's food security system, exacerbated by pre-existing structural issues. This paper emphasizes the importance of empowering women in agriculture, as they constitute a substantial portion of the agricultural labor force in SSA and play a vital role in food production. However, women encounter gender-specific constraints in addition to systemic challenges. Recognizing these issues, the paper proposes that the African Development Bank (AfDB) prioritize female-centric agricultural cooperatives in its strategy, aiming to improve agricultural productivity, empower women, and achieve Sustainable Development Goals. While some multilateral and bilateral initiatives exist, a comprehensive continent-wide program is lacking. The AfDB's agro-industrial strategy, Feed Africa, provides an opportunity to support farming cooperatives, with a specific focus on female empowerment. Despite some existing investments in female farming cooperatives, the AfDB should allocate more resources to help them realize their full potential. The paper highlights the need to bridge the investment gap between large-scale projects and cooperative support, emphasizing the importance of a strategic vision beyond mere productivity improvement and calling for concerted efforts to improve gender equality and enhance agricultural productivity through female-centric cooperatives in Africa.

A Vicious Circle: State-building, Climate Change Vulnerability and the Monopoly of Violence in Basra, Iraq
May 26, 2023

This paper explores the climate change, conflict, and state-building nexus, challenging the prevailing one-dimensional view of this relationship. While global actors like the UN Security Council and the European Union recognize climate change as a "threat multiplier" that intensifies conflict risks, this paper argues that state-building processes can also significantly influence the impact of climate change. By examining the story of Basra, Iraq, this case study highlights how Iraq's vulnerability to climate change is not solely a consequence of environmental factors but also stems from the enduring legacy of decades of war. This vulnerability, coupled with the state's limited monopoly of violence, creates a feedback loop wherein non-state actors strengthen their control over territory and resources as the state’s climate change vulnerability increases. The findings of this analysis have implications for climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, underscoring the need to address both conflict dynamics and state-building processes to effectively tackle climate change. 

How does the level of success of a transition of power impact Foreign Direct Investment in African countries?
May 26, 2023

Transitions of power mark an inflection point in any society. They come about in all forms—elections, successions, coups, and conflicts—but in each case, it is an instance of a country embarking on a new path. In the field of development economics, it is thus essential to understand how the level of success of these power transitions impact the development of the nation. Specifically, the authors of this paper set out to determine to what extent change in foreign direct investment flows can be explained by the level of success of a transition of power. We conclude that maintaining or increasing good governance practices during a transition of power is a significant explanatory factor for changes in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and discuss the potential policy implications.

Don't Ask, Don't Tell: Approaches to Ethnicity in the Ethiopian and Rwandan Peacebuilding Processes
May 26, 2023

In the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, Rwandan President Paul Kagame banned people from sharing their ethnic identity. While many Western leaders have praised Kagame for ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity after the genocide, activists have cautioned that Kagame’s approach has significant drawbacks for the civil liberties of Rwandans. After their own ethnic conflict, Ethiopia took an approach opposite to Rwanda’s, choosing to divide the country into ethnically federated states. Given that both sub-Saharan African states experienced ethnic conflict in the 1990s and developed starkly different approaches to conflict management, comparing the two makes for an interesting case study. This paper evaluates Rwanda’s and Ethiopia’s approaches to ethnic conflict management by examining how effective they were at curbing the resurgence of violence. In addition to direct violence, this paper will examine political rights and civil liberties to measure the mitigation of structural violence, or structural inequalities between groups. The Uppsala Conflict Data Programme (UCDP) database is used to measure the resurgence of direct violence, while Freedom House’s Freedom in the World reports on political rights and civil liberties are used to measure structural violence.