Current focus: Our Perspectives

Why Term Limits Matter for Africa

Poster of former president of the Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo. Image: Clara Sanchiz/Flickr

Africa has a problem of presidents not leaving office when it’s time to do so.  The latest illustration of this is the maneuvering of Burundi’s President Pierre Nkurunziza. After 10 years in office, he is attempting to stay on for a third five-year term – in contravention of Burundi’s constitution that limits presidents to two five-year terms.

Nkurunziza’s determination to stay in power has brought the country to the brink of another civil war. (It’s estimated that 300,000 people were killed in Burundi’s ethnically-based civil war of 1993-2005). The government’s hardline response to protests against a third term has resulted in more than 100 deaths, the arrests of some 500 media and civil society leaders, a fracturing of the military, and the exodus of some 200,000 refugees since April.

Unfortunately, Nkurunziza is not alone among African leaders who defy the fundamental requisite of democracy that leaders must step down when their terms expire. In fact, the continent as a whole is in the midst of a wider battle over governance norms. Burundi’s relevance to this larger struggle compels assertive action on the part of key African and Western governments interested in upholding the rule of law. » More

Prior focus: Global Views

PKKistan: Brought to You by American Close Air Support

Parts of the Kurdish autonomous territory (red and blue) in northern Syria. Image: PANONIAN/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 22 June 2015.

Last week, Kurdish forces fighting for the Syria-based Democratic Union Party (PYD) wrested control of the border town of Tel Abyad from the Islamic State. The seizure of the town cut off a key supply line to the Islamic State’s de-facto capital in Raqqa and allowed for the unification of two Kurdish controlled cantons, Kobane and Jazira, between which sits Tel Abyad.

The victory came after the Islamic State nearly defeated PYD forces in Kobane last October, before the dramatic increase in coalition air strikes helped turn the tide of the battle. During the Islamic State’s siege of Kobane, the United States set up a conduit for the PYD to provide targeting data to a military planning office in Erbil, which is then relayed to coalition aircraft. The PYD has since relied heavily on U.S. airpower to aid in their advance and eventual capture of IS-held territory. » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

Cities Emerging Soft Power: 5 Key Advantages for Improved Global Governance

Tradition vs. modernity in China. Image: 月明 端木/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) on 27 May 2015.

With the majority of the world’s population already urban, people have voted cities as the place to live. This emerging trend is an outcome of the spread of globalization, which generates economies of scale by clustering economic activities -fueled by technological change, international trade, finance and foreign direct investment- in cities.

Urban congregations are nests that attract opportunities -based on accumulation of resources- and act as recipients of hazardous global challenges -climate change, security, immigration or poverty- alike. However, the unstoppable power of cities is underrepresented at a global scale, where cities still have a limited voice in the architecture of international big decision-making. Against this backdrop, what are the influence and implications of cities as a key actor for global governance? What can they bring to the world? Cities’ differentiated proposition adds a more efficient model -than nation-states- in dealing with matters of relevant global concern that hinge upon the following five advantages. » More

Prior focus: Academic Perspectives

South America’s Moves to Liberalise Irregular Migration are in Stark Contrast to the Policies of Europe

Image: steinchen/Pixabay

This article was originally published by USAPP, a blog on American politics and policy run by the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

Political scientists have long identified a paradox in the immigration policies of wealthy Western countries. Although governments typically condemn irregular migration, assuring their electorates that they are working hard to stem any ‘illegal flows’, they often tolerate the entry and residence of substantial numbers of irregular migrants due to structural labour market demands.

In South America, on the other hand, over the course of the past 15 years many governments have turned away from the previously often openly racist ‘criminalization’ of irregular immigrants and adopted surprisingly liberal discourses of universally welcoming all immigrants, irrespective of their origin and migratory status. Instead of distinguishing between desired ‘legal’ and undesired ‘illegal’ immigrants, South American politicians stress non-discrimination, the universality of migrants’ human rights irrespective of their status. » More

Prior focus: Partner Insights

Putting Air Defense Identification Zones on the Radar

China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone. Image: voa/wikimedia

This article (PacNet #36) was originally published by the Pacific Forum CSIS on 22 June 2015. It draws upon a recent CIGI Graduate Fellows Policy Brief, which is available here.

In November 2013, much to the surprise and alarm of the international community, China announced the creation of its “first” Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea. There is growing concern that China will implement a second in the South China Sea, an unstable area riddled with maritime and territorial disputes. The November announcement prompted journalists, policy makers, and scholars to understand and explain the political and security implications of China’s ADIZ. A common concern was that China appeared to be using its ADIZ as a means of asserting sovereignty over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Much of the subsequent analysis and commentary misrepresented the actual global state of play with respect to ADIZs, as well as their purposes and functions. The result was a great deal of unnecessary criticism and tension. A better understanding of ADIZs is required to prevent similar disputes in the future. But even better than an improved understanding would be a uniform global regime with consistent and transparent practices so that aviation safety and maritime or territorial disputes do not compromise each other in the future. » More

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