Book Review: Referendums and Ethnic Conflict by Matt Qvortrup

Photo: Al Jazeera English/flickr

This article was originally published by the blog LSE Review of Books on 26 June 2014.

Drawing on political theory and descriptive case studies, Matt Qvortrup looks to create typologies of referendums that are held to endorse secession, redraw disputed borders, legitimize a policy of homogenization, or otherwise manage ethnic or national differences. He considers the circumstances that compel politicians to resort to direct democracy, such as regime change, and the conditions that might exacerbate a violent response. Gary Wilson believes the book will be of interest to political scientists and international relations scholars as some chapters are heavy with mathematical formulae used to predict the probability of various outcomes of referendums. » More

The Rise of the Humanitarian Drone: Giving Content to an Emerging Concept

Unmanned/Unarmed Aerial Vehicles, courtesy of MONUSCO

This article was originally published by iRevolution on 30 June 2014.

Kristin Bergtora, who directs the Norwegian Center for Humanitarian Studies (and sits on the Advisory Board of the Humanitarian UAV Network, UAViators), just co-authored this important study on the growing role of UAVs or drones in the humanitarian space. Kristin and fellow co-author Kjersti Lohne consider the mainstreaming of UAVs as a technology-transfer from the global battlefield. “Just as drones have rapidly become intrinsic to modern warfare, it appears that they will increasingly find their place as part of the humanitarian governance apparatus.” The co-authors highlight the opportunities that drones offer for humanitarian assistance and explore how the notion of the humanitarian UAV will change humanitarian practices. » More

Acting Time; or, Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict

Foreign Secretary William Hague and Angelina Jolie chairing the “End Sexual Violence in Conflict” Global Summit in London. Image: Flickr.

This article was originally published June 17, 2014 by The Disorder of Things.

The attention lavished on sexual violence in conflict [three weeks ago] was in many ways unprecedented. As well as convening the largest ever gathering of officials, NGOs and other experts for the Global Summit on Ending Sexual Violence in Conflict, co-chairs William Hague (Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and Angelina Jolie (Special Envoy of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees) also generated very many pages – both print and digital – of commentary.

In some myopic quarters, that achievement was in itself a distraction from the really important politics of blossoming conflict in Iraq. Such views should remind us that there are still those who insist on seeing gender violence as marginal to international peace and security. Worthy, yes, “no doubt important”, obviously a cause for concern , and so on, but naturally not the real deal. » More

The Modi Moment for China and India?

Indian Prime Minister Modi gives a speech, courtesy of Narendra Modi/flickr

This article was originally published June 20, 2014 by Harvard International Review.

When former Indian National Congress (INC) Minister of State Jairam Ramesh coined the term ‘Chindia’ he envisaged a relationship between China and India that was driven by mutually beneficial trade rather than conflict. Today it seems China and India are tipped to become the leading superpowers of the twenty-first century, driving forward the international economy and maintaining peace and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Both among the fastest growing economies, China and India are the two most populous countries in the world with a great deal of untapped trade potential. Beijing and New Delhi recognize this and will harness it under under Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi’s leadership. Whether the Modi moment becomes the ‘Nixon moment’ for Sino-Indian relations rests heavily on the level of cultural engagement between the two countries. » More

Book Review: The Ethics of Armed Conflict: A Cosmopolitan Just War Theory by John W. Lango

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This article was originally published by Europp (European Politics and Policy), a blog of the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The Ethics of Armed Conflict: A Cosmopolitan Just War Theory. John W. Lango. Edinburgh University Press. January 2014.

In recent years, just war theory has witnessed a remarkable intellectual revival. Predominantly a phenomenon in English-speaking philosophical circles, contemporary just war theory has tackled many pressing issues relating to the use of armed force with increasing philosophical sophistication, drawing upon insights from other philosophical subfields, such as political theory, legal theory, and bioethics. John W. Lango’s latest book is best viewed against this background.

Mirroring recent debates on global justice in political theory, contemporary just war theory can be roughly divided into non-cosmopolitan and cosmopolitan approaches.

In a nutshell, the former approach attaches moral significance to communal and state boundaries, whereas the latter, upholding an ideal of world citizenship, deems borders morally irrelevant. As its title suggests, Lango’s book is committed to the second perspective. » More

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