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.
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.
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.
This piece has been published as a complementary extension to a previous paper published by Carleton University’s Jean Monnet Network on EU-Canada Relations in partnership with the University of Antwerp. Read that piece here.
The Troubles period in Northern Ireland (1968 to 1998) left victims, their families, and the region with a legacy of trauma that has remained unaddressed for the past 24 years. Despite various legislative proposals to provide victims with forms of recourse, leaders have yet to implement justice provisions detailed in political agreements. As a result of government inaction, victims and survivors have lived without the truth of the past and without the ability to seek criminal charges against perpetrators who inflicted violence against them and/or their loved ones. This paper explores why civil society organizations are the best option to meet victims’ needs in the absence of government intervention.
In the digital age, new technologies and advancements in computing power have transformed the nature of potentially relevant evidence of atrocities evaluated in international criminal law. The International Criminal Court is presently underprepared to meet the challenges of authenticating digital evidence. This paper outlines the challenges and dangers of the ICC’s current approach to digital evidence authentication and verification, explores the debate among scholars over the analysis of scientific evidence as an analogous problem, and identifies policy recommendations for improving the Court’s capacity and capability to authenticate digital evidence.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the influence that private pharmaceutical companies and philanthropic foundations have on global health governance. Private actors have been able to maintain the norm of intellectual property rights, despite opposition from developing countries and growing opposition from powerful actors in developed countries. This article examines how private actors have wielded their material resources, expert authority, and discursive powers to overrule the wishes of governments. It concludes by exploring the public health consequences of their growing hold on international governance and offers some policy recommendations to mitigate distorted public health outcomes.
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.
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.