News

Seeking Safer Shells: An Analysis of Interpretations, Justifications, and Rationales Behind Decisions on North Korean Defectors’ Right to Asylum
April 22, 2024

Despite their known and indisputable need for protection, North Koreans often have their applications for asylum rejected. This paper outlines the differing interpretations of North Koreans’ right to asylum and investigates the rationales and justifications behind them through the case studies of the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and China (PRC). The paper argues that the rationale of the European countries analyzed is based on their generally restrictive view on asylum, independent from their political positioning on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK). Contrastingly, the rationales of the United States and the PRC are grounded in interests directly related to the Korean peninsula and Cold War narratives. 

The Advisory Function of the International Court of Justice: Are States Resorting to Advisory Proceedings as a “Soft” Litigation Strategy?
April 22, 2024

In the last decades, there has been an increase in advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that relate to vital political interests directly affecting the sovereignty of states. Even though advisory opinions are not binding and do not require the consent of the states involved, advisory proceedings have been increasingly and strategically used by states and international actors as contentious proceedings in disguise. Exploring the history of the advisory function of the ICJ and its predecessor, this article argues that advisory proceedings constitute a “soft” litigation strategy and a particularly useful tool for small states or non-state entities, as it has the potential to counterbalance the inherent power disparities in the process of international bargaining by adding the authoritative voice of the ICJ to the debate. This paper connects this development to a modern tendency of states to judicialize international affairs.

Migrant Death and Disappearability at Sea: Mediterranean Necropolitics as a European Strategy of Migration Deterrence
April 22, 2024

The Mediterranean Sea has become the deadliest passage in the world over the past decade, as thousands of migrants lose their lives at sea each year. It has become a key actant of European border violence perpetrated against migrants, as European national and supranational migration institutions instrumentalize the Mediterranean’s natural properties through necropolitical strategies of deterrence. The sea must be understood as a wet ontology and a fluid hybrid border. It is shaped by dynamic and complex interactions between human actors and more-than-human elements through which European violence is passed onto non-European migrants’ bodies. It conceals migrants’ deaths and disappearances, as they become ‘inevitable accidents’ caused by natural and untamable elements. The Mediterranean Sea therefore invisibilizes European structural violence occurring at the border zone and acts as an archive and witness to this violence.

Guam in Washington, 1972-Present: The Overlooked Strategic Implications of Congressional Polarization
April 22, 2024

Contrary to the long-held logic that giving Guam a stronger, more autonomous voice will undermine U.S. strategic interests, failing to provide Guam with a stable pathway of interest advancement beyond Congress hinders its development and with it the federal government’s ability to achieve soft-power advantages and basic military readiness in the Indo-Pacific theater. 

Since the United States assumed responsibility for administering the territory of Guam in 1898, it has treated the prospect of Guam’s status improvement as detrimental to U.S. strategic interests. This has informed its chosen method of territorial administration, which places U.S. territories under the authority of the Department of the Interior. Each territory is then given only one formal representative in Congress, specifically the U.S. House of Representatives, but without full-voting rights. This paper will explore how Guam has managed to advance its interests in Washington since 1972, highlighting how congressional representation has become Guam’s most successful pathway of interest advancement with the federal government to date. However, the agency and success of Guam’s congressional delegates must be framed within a broader discussion of the fragility of the U.S. approach to territorial administration, which has relegated Guam to a pathway of interest advancement incredibly vulnerable to political sea change. Ultimately, this paper will illustrate how Guam’s main pathway of interest advancement in Washington is quickly narrowing at the expense of U.S. strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific.

Is the Government Ready to Take the Lead? Transition of Migration Management in Bosnia and Herzegovina
April 22, 2024

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) is approaching a critical tipping point as it assumes primary responsibility over migration management from the International Organization for Migration. However, few studies have examined whether the government has acquired the ability to take over this responsibility. Such an examination is crucial given the country’s turmoil since 2018, with increased migration inflows, casting doubt over the government's capabilities. Thus, this study explores the current state of migration management in BiH, both to determine whether the government has developed effective migration management capabilities as well as to highlight current migration challenges faced by BiH. Fieldwork at the Temporary Reception Center Usivak in 2023; interviews with 6 non-governmental organization (NGO) officers and 10 migrants in BiH; and analysis of literature and data provided by scholars, governments, international organizations, and NGOs suggest that authorities in BiH, primarily the Ministry of Security, have generally developed effective management capabilities and are ready to assume managing responsibility. Nevertheless, obstacles with providing living conditions in reception centers that meet international standards and with the implementation of coordinated responses among different institutions remain. As the transition proceeds, the Bosnian government should recognize these challenges and implement policies to address them through continued coordination with international organizations and NGOs.

A Land of Violence, A Land of Conquest: Memory, Truth, Historical Continuity, and Imperialism in Rwanda
April 22, 2024

How is the imperialism of a small African country connected with questions about its own identity and troubled past? In this paper, I try to analyze through the lenses of historical continuity how the ghosts of a dramatic past have crafted Rwanda’s foreign policy. My analysis goes deeper into the pre-colonial era, observing patterns of similarities throughout Rwandan history, starting from the kingdoms of Rwanda in the 18th century until Paul Kagame’s presidency (2000–present). Moreover, instead of seeing a historical break between the pre- and post-1994 genocide governments, I have found historical parallels with the Rwandan independent governments, especially between those of Juvénal Habyarimana (1973–1994) and Paul Kagame. Those similarities swing around the necessity of controlling ethnic dissent, determining a common truth, centralizing power, and establishing the cult of the leader. Nonetheless, the dramatic consequences of the genocide and the international legitimation that has brought on Kagame’s party Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) have had, as a result, an imperialistic project based on the necessity of defending “national security.” Rwanda’s delicate balance between managing internal dissent, the homogenization of the society through shared collective memory, and the imperialistic project is at the center of this work.

Friends in Need: Russian Strategic Communications in Africa Before and After the Full-Scale Invasion of Ukraine
April 22, 2024

Africa is becoming an important strategic hub for the Russian state as Putin’s regime faces rising ostracization elsewhere. In this paper, I analyze Russian influence in Africa by examining over 1,700 pieces of online content created or re-posted by 4 Russian embassies in Ghana, Ethiopia, the Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania between January 15 and December 31, 2022. I demonstrate that, despite new developments in Russian strategic communications, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine has mostly fed pre-existing narratives rather than drastically shifting the focus or direction of state rhetoric. All four of the embassies used in the analysis promoted narratives that depicted Russia as a revisionist power going up against a “neocolonial” West, portrayed Ukraine as a neo-Nazi puppet of the West, and attempted to contrast this with Russia’s purportedly friendly relations with Africa. The scale and intensity of these narratives exploded in the leadup to and in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine—to the extent that some embassies began to focus almost exclusively on Ukraine in their communications. Meanwhile, many African nations were willing to pragmatically engage with Russia as an alternative (or complementary) ally to the West. Using both quantitative and qualitative analysis, I show that the war in Ukraine has revealed the fault lines of Russian and African thinking, loyalty, and strategy.

When Life Gives You Lemons: How EU Citrus Standards Can Limit Trade
April 22, 2024

In the early 2000s, the European Union (EU) created multiple standards on agricultural imports. This paper focuses on the effect of stricter maximum residue limits (MRLs) for pesticides on citrus fruit exports to the EU after the limits went into effect in 2005. Using a regression model on overall citrus fruit exports and an interaction term for country-level income, the data shows that the EU’s stricter MRLs hurt exports from high-income, lower-middle-income, and low-income countries. Exports from low-income countries declined the most after 2005, while only upper-middle-income countries saw an increase in exports. For product-specific models, low-income countries saw a reduction in exports to the EU for all citrus fruits, while results varied by fruit for other income classifications. The results of these models demonstrate that the EU’s tightened pesticide regulation hurt low-income countries the most. While the regulation is meant to maintain a standard of food quality in the EU, its impact on low-income countries raises important questions about the unintended effects of import regulations. The EU could maintain its quality of food while alleviating the burden on low-income countries by relaxing its MRL standards or by providing more assistance to developing nations to meet its standards. 

Revising Organ Procurement Organization Guidelines to Obtaining Family Consent for Deceased Donation: An Anthropologically Informed Policy Proposal
April 22, 2024

Organ transplantation has become a widespread medical practice with public policy designed to increase rates of deceased donation. When individuals have not registered as organ donors, next-of-kin are called on to make donation decisions—requiring families to grapple with the often-confusing concept of ‘brain death’ and parse their understanding of what the deceased would have wanted. Current public policy is explicitly designed to promote high donation rates without clear regard to the experiences of donor-families; at best, these policies prime donation conversations to involve unethical practices, while at worst, the disregard of kin’s experiences may also diminish deceased donation rates. Anthropological literature has documented the often aggressive tactics used by transplant organizations that demonstrate a disregard for the emotional experiences of kin. In 2023, Congress passed the Securing the U.S. Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network Act, prompting the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reevaluate organ donation policies and solicit requests for proposal for a new federal contractor to take over the network responsible for overseeing all organ sharing. This article leverages the relevant anthropological literature to provide guiding principles and proposed language amending the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Interpretive Guidance that HHS could implement as part of its modernization initiative. These principles aim to improve experiences for kin without lowering donation rates. The article recommends that HHS and its contractors collect metrics to measure the quality of Organ Procurement Organization (OPO) interactions, counterbalancing current benchmarks focused on procurement rates. It also recommends improved protocols to empathically and systematically support kin’s understanding of brain death.