Featured

  • Abolishing School Resource Officers Amidst the Black Lives Matter Movement: A History and Case Study in Oakland and Los Angeles

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    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.
  • Is the Raw Coal Ban a Silver Bullet to Solving Air Pollution in Mongolia?: A Study of the Mongolian Government’s Air Pollution Reduction Policies and Recommendations in the Context of COVID-19

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Soomin Jun
    Since 2005, Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia, has become infamous for being one of the most polluted cities in the world. In response to growing public concerns over air pollution, on May 15, 2019, the Government of Mongolia (GoM) implemented a ban on raw coal – a type of fuel that poor citizens in the city use to survive harsh winters in the world’s coldest capital – and introduced “refined coal briquettes” at a subsidized price close to the price of raw coal. Since the COVID-19 outbreak and the country-wide economic shutdown, lower-income families are struggling to afford food, let alone refined coal briquettes; as a result, they are resorting to burning cheap, dirty fuel, including trash to keep themselves warm. Despite GoM’s efforts to reduce air pollution, in October 2020, Ulaanbaatar’s air quality, again, ranked the worst in the world, ahead of Lahore, Pakistan; Delhi, India; Chengdu, China, and other cities infamous for hazardous levels of air quality. While reducing raw coal consumption is critical to improving air quality, the raw coal ban is not a panacea to solving Mongolia’s air pollution. Poverty is the true culprit behind Ulaanbaatar’s subpar air quality. If Mongolia is to sustainably reduce air pollution, the raw coal ban must be accompanied by social and economic policies that aim to lift people out of poverty.
  • The United Nations Children and Armed Conflict Agenda: Integrating Child Protection Issues and Children’s Voices in Peace Processes

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Asha Asokan
    One in five children lives in a country affected by conflict. Despite concerted international and national efforts to protect children, these 415 million children face grave human rights violations that continue to rise. More political will and resources are needed from governments and parties to the conflict to prevent such violence against children and protect children in armed conflict. However, research confirms that out of 431 ceasefire and peace agreements, less than 18 percent of peace agreements included child protection provisions. Often, peace-related documents that mention child protection issues do not mention integrating children's participation into peace processes, which is essential to understanding and addressing children's needs during and after the conflict. To end the cycle of violence against children, a paradigm shift must be made in the way peace agreements address children’s issues and rights. Guided by the “Global Policy Paper on Youth Participation in the Peace Process,” commissioned by the United Nations Envoy on Youth, this paper recommends that mediators and child protection actors employ three integrated but non-hierarchical layers for including child protection issues and children’s participation in the peace process: “in the room,” “around the room,” and “outside the room” of formal peace negotiations. This multi-layered, inclusive approach may help achieve the desired results: preventing violence against children and reaching a sustainable peace.
  • Stealing the Genie from the Lamp: The Politics of Energy and Justice in Canada

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Lauren Kathryn Johnson
    As countries across the world intensify their commitments to mitigating the worst effects of climate change, activists, scholars, and regular citizens are demanding more from this transition than the mere substitution of fossil fuels with low-carbon forms of energy. Increasingly, many call for an energy system that better distributes the benefits that energy provides and more fairly spreads the costs that its production and use creates. However, it is not only those seeking to right past inequities that call for a just transition: justice is a rhetorical device that opponents of the clean energy transition can use to slow its progress. This paper will engage with the conflicting roles that various actors’ sense of justice plays in Canada’s transition to a decarbonized economy. First, it will consider how opposition to Canada’s carbon price was fueled by a sentiment that it would unjustly destroy an industry that many Canadians depend on for employment. The following section explores how the strategic use of energy democracy, or the involvement of people in the decision-making and ownership of clean energy infrastructure, could build political will for the clean energy transition across Canada. This paper ultimately argues that by designing this transition so that it directly benefits as many Canadians as possible, and ensuring that every citizen understands those benefits, Canadian decision-makers can fortify climate policies to withstand false claims and perceptions of injustice.
  • Ratification, Reservations, and Review: Exploring the Role of the CEDAW Compliance Mechanisms in Women’s Rights

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Ellinore Ahlgren
    This paper examines whether frequent engagement with the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, the body of independent experts monitoring the implementation of the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, is linked to improved compliance with women’s rights commitments. It further explores whether the relationship between treaty body interaction and compliance holds for states that have made reservations to articles concerning women’s rights. Data from state reports submitted to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women and indicators from the Social Institutions and Gender Index show that frequent engagement with the body is associated with improved equality for women, irrespective of state reservations. The results from this study challenge the idea that reservations undermine global governance regimes and are detrimental to human rights. Finally, this paper illustrates how compliance mechanisms work using a case study from Iraq. Through participation in the report-and-review process, states engage in negotiation around contentious areas of women’s rights with experts, civil society and the public, which facilitates respect for women’s rights.
  • "Picture a Pasture Open to All:" Recognizing Community Conserved Areas and Territories in Morocco

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    Since the 5th World Parks Congress in Durban (2003) and the 7th COP on Biological Diversity in Kuala Lumpur (2004), the definition of protected areas has evolved. Protected areas now to incorporate principles of participation and inclusion, as well as of traditional and local knowledge. This adjustment shed light on the role of non-state actors, including indigenous peoples and local communities, as guarantors of conservation, and marked a decisive turning point in the evolution of international policies on this issue. Despite the growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation and the role played by local communities to this end, national legislation and policies in Morocco do not yet give due recognition to areas conserved by local communities. Articulated around the case study of a traditional natural resource management regime - the agdal - practiced by communities of the Moroccan Atlas, this paper highlights the extent to which traditional modes of managing common-pool resources (CPR) are compatible with a government’s strategy to decentralize natural resource management. This paper finds that despite the benefits that community-conserved areas and territories represent for maintaining ecosystems, traditions, and livelihoods, as well as their advantages in terms of decentralization, these practices are under threat due to a lack of policies and programs directly supporting or recognizing communities' agency over local natural resources.
  • Leveraging Submarine Cables for Political Gain: U.S. Responses to Chinese Strategy

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Lane Burdette
    Submarine cables are critical infrastructure that carry nearly all internet traffic. However, unclear international governance does not always guarantee their protection, leaving global information networks vulnerable to sabotage and espionage. China’s access to submarine cables for strategic manipulation is greatly expanded through the Digital Silk Road and territorial claims in the South China Sea, posing a clear threat that requires a U.S. response. Current U.S. policy is uncoordinated and can be sorted into the isolationist, cooperative, competitive, and militaristic responses, which each present unique frameworks for future action. The isolationist response would disconnect the United States from insecure cable networks, limiting China’s influence over U.S. assets but reducing international connectivity. The cooperative response emphasizes international norms-setting processes to achieve multilateral agreements protecting cables from state influences. The competitive response advocates U.S. competition with China in the submarine cable market through alternate assistance programs, which would increase the redundancy of a secure network. Finally, the militaristic response explores the role of America’s military in defending submarine cables from foreign exploitation. This article recommends that future policy emphasize a combination of the competitive and militaristic responses in order to most immediately and effectively address China’s threat to information security along submarine cables while minimizing U.S. risk.
  • “Baby Won't You Please Come Home:” Studying Ethnoracial Segregation Trends in New Orleans Pre and Post Hurricane Katrina

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Nathan Babb
    This paper explores the ethnoracial segregation trends of New Orleans, Louisiana between the years 2000, 2010, and 2018. It studies the effect of Hurricane Katrina—which struck in August 2005—on population figures and racial composition within two geographic units of study in Orleans parish: neighborhoods and census tract block groups. Since Hurricane Katrina, White residents have returned in larger numbers than Black residents, and particularly so in neighborhoods that were predominantly Black before the storm. In 2019, New Orleans had 100,000 fewer people than before the storm—nearly the same as the number of Black residents who have not returned. Using a Gibbs-Martin index, which measures racial diversity, the paper finds that decreases in population at the census block group level are associated with racial “diversifying.” This trend invites a conversation on the normative interpretations of racial heterogenization, its causes, and its consequences: who bears the costs of increased “diversity” and what is the historical backdrop it operates under?
  • Overcoming Contemporary Reform Failure of the National Flood Insurance Program to Accelerate Just Climate Transitions

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    by Melissa Tier
    Managing and adapting to flood risk is an increasing concern of policymakers globally, as anthropogenic climate change contributes to sea level rise and the rising intensity and frequency of coastal storms. Moreover, it is critically important that policymakers design and implement equitable adaptation processes that are based in environmental justice principles. In the United States, the primary instrument for flood risk management is the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)—but the program already suffers from debt, low participation rates, outdated flood risk assessments, and myriad other structural issues. By integrating several models of policy development, this analysis offers explanations for why NFIP reform attempts of the past decade have repeatedly failed and offers the present moment (in the early months of the Biden Administration and as the pandemic crisis continues) as a potential policy window for realigning reform efforts. Achieving true NFIP reform remains crucial to ensuring that all coastal residents have affordable options for low-risk housing, despite the expected growth in high-risk flood zones.
  • Powering Households and Empowering Women: The Gendered Effects of Electrification in sub-Saharan Africa

    Wednesday, May 5, 2021
    Despite positive trends in electrification and gender equality in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) over the last two decades, the region lags behind the rest of the world in both dimensions. Recent economic assessments of the efficiency of pursuing universal electrification in SSA show the costs outweigh the benefits. This paper argues that, in the context of SSA, gains in women’s empowerment may strengthen the case for electricity expansion, but are not captured in standard cost-benefit analyses. The paper reviews existing literature to identify four channels through which positive externalities and equity gains may arise from electrification: (1) alleviating time poverty, (2) expanding labor market opportunities (“economic empowerment”), (3) improving maternal health and women’s safety, and (4) changing social norms. Findings indicate that electrification can alleviate women’s time poverty, create opportunities for women and girls to enter the labor force or focus on school, decrease exposure to harmful indoor air pollutants, improve maternal health, reduce exposure to and acceptance of gender-based violence, and change social norms through access to information. Expanding electricity access using renewable energy sources (“sustainable electrification”) presents additional opportunities to enhance women’s economic power by mainstreaming gender in the industry’s development. Falling costs of renewable technologies may also shift traditional cost-benefit analyses of electrification. Based on these findings, the paper recommends that policies continue to promote universal electricity access by prioritizing sustainable technologies that can support high-power household appliances, and integrating gender into every stage of the electrification process.

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