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Is the UN Security Council Losing Legitimacy?

Image courtesy of JD Lasica/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 7 June 2018.

The UN Security Council (UNSC) is at a precipice. The Trump administration’s recent announcement that the US would no longer abide by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the multilateral agreement to restrict Iran’s ability to acquire and develop nuclear weapons – breaks both a UNSC agreement and UNSC procedure. Breaking the JCPOA has the potential to undermine the UNSC’s legitimacy and the important functions it serves; the value the permanent five members of the UNSC (P5) place on the UNSC as a deliberative, policy-producing body in international politics is unlikely to persist amidst repeated, major violations of UNSC agreements and procedures by the P5, with downstream consequences for a broad swathe of international peace and security outcomes.

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Prior focus: CSS Graphics

Price Range of Electricity Costs by Source, 2010 and 2016

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This graphic contrasts the price range of electricity costs stemming from renewable sources with that of fossil fuels for the years 2010 and 2016. For more on the interplay between technological innovation and the geopolitics of energy, see Severin Fischer’s chapter for Strategic Trends 2018 here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on economics, click here.

After Crimea: The Future of Nordic Defence Cooperation

Image courtesy of Johannes Jansson/Norden.org. CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

This article was originally published by the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in 2018.

Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO) was originally about cost-effectiveness. The Nordic states sought to work together when training and educating their soldiers, procuring new equipment, and logistically supporting their forces. Faced with a relevantly benign security situation at home, with Russia regarded in principle as a partner, operational military cooperation was primarily about expeditionary operations far from northern Europe. Even if NORDEFCO never became the beacon of Nordic cooperation that some political speeches sought to paint it as, it nonetheless provided the Nordics with a flexible and non-bureaucratic framework through which various forms of defence cooperation could be pursued.

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Merkel and Macron: Edging towards Change?

Image courtesy of the European External Action Service/Flickr. (CC BY-NC 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 7 June 2018.

Angela Merkel finally responds to Emmanuel Macron’s Europe reform plans – but through the pages of a newspaper, and in only the most guarded of terms.
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Iran, Russia: What’s at Stake in the Syrian Civil War

Image courtesy of Kremlin.ru. CC BY 4.0.

This article was originally published by Geopolitical Futures (GPF) on 23 May 2018.

The era of foreign intervention in Syria is coming to an end – at least that’s what Russian President Vladimir Putin said when Bashar Assad, Syria’s president, visited Sochi last week. Granted, Putin’s statement was ambiguous – “in connection with the significant victories … of the Syrian army … foreign armed forces will be withdrawn from the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic” – but Russia’s Syria envoy clarified the next day that Putin was, in fact, calling on all militaries to vacate the country.

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