The CSS Blog Network

A Dead End? The Northern Limit Line and the Future of Inter-Korean Relations

Image by Jon Pavelka/Flickr.

Following her election as South Korea’s first female president on December 19, 2012, Park Geun-hye identified North Korea as one of the main challenges facing her administration. Her approach to relations with the North will likely be different from her predecessors as she seeks a middle ground between Lee Myung-bak’s principled engagement and the unconditional engagement of the Sunshine Policy era. In particular, Park has spoken extensively about the need to establish a trust-based relationship with North Korea. Her success in establishing a trust-based approach will, in part, depend upon the effective management of issues relating to the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the maritime boundary between the two Koreas in the West Sea. However, Park’s diplomatic efforts are likely to be compromised by Pyongyang’s continued refusal to recognize the NLL. And while this dispute requires an urgent solution, reaching a mutually acceptable agreement over how to define the sea boundary between North and South Korea is likely to remain a challenge for the foreseeable future.

But why has this issue been so difficult to resolve? One of the main difficulties has been in how to best approach management of the NLL. Toward the end of his term in office, President Roh Moo-hyun sought to address the NLL issue when he visited North Korea as part of the second inter-Korean Summit. President Roh proposed a “West Sea Peace and Cooperation Special Zone” that would allow free access for fishing vessels from both Koreas and the development of a special economic zone in the North Korean port of Haeju. But while the proposal was identified in the Joint Agreement at the end of the summit, no concrete procedures were established and follow-up discussions failed. One of the major sticking points was Pyongyang’s insistence that waters south of the NLL fell under North Korean territory. » More

India’s Policy Towards Central and Eastern Europe

Indian Flag at Sriperambdur. Image courtesy of rednivaram/Flickr.

Central and Eastern Europe has not occupied an important place on India’s external policy agenda so far. However, since many CEE countries have joined the European Union and India is now a major emerging power, the time is ripe to open a new era in the relationship. The history of close ties and untapped potential for economic cooperation bodes well for India’s re-engagement in the region. Holding a regional economic summit could be the right step to examine the existing opportunities for trade and investment and push for closer cooperation. Poland may use the momentum to play a leading role in this regional dialogue. » More

The UN Arms Trade Treaty: an Inadequate Solution for Illicit Weapons Trafficking?

Image by kcdsTM/Flickr.

While the political mayhem befalling Libya, Mali, and Syria, has been victim to some media sensationalism, the uproar has also shed light on a growing concern over escalating illicit arms trafficking, a generally accepted cause in the senseless killing of thousands. The long-lasting issue has again become a focal point of an international community relentlessly attempting to find new ways to contain it. Discussions have opened another “Pandora’s Box.” The challenge is drowned in the magnitude and complexity of the problem. Licit and illicit arms trade is lucrative, reaching far over $60 billion. A bewildering array of weapons change hands each year. The small arms trade market alone is estimated at $8.5 billion, with illegal sales raising the total by a staggering $2 billion. Direct consequences are alarming. According to UNDP Assistant Administrator Joseph Ryan “more than half a million people die every year as a result of armed violence” and as many as 2,000 people die each day in conflicts fueled by illegally traded arms. » More

Outsourcing Responsibilities: Australia’s Punitive Asylum Regime

This blog is republished here as part of our special holiday selection.

Australia: “Refugee” Island. Image by trulyhectic/flickr.

At the height of British imperialism, the problem of overpopulation was solved through the transportation of society’s outcasts – those the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has described as ‘wasted lives’ – to less populated parts of the empire. What was then a global solution to a local problem has now been reversed; in its search for solutions to the global production of refugees, Australia, which was once a destination for these ‘wasted lives’, has sought to delegate its responsibilities for their welfare to local and regional partners. Despite having rowed back on many of the most troubling aspects of its asylum policy in recent years, the panel of experts appointed by Prime Minister Julia Gillard to tackle the issue in June this year has recommended a series of measures which look increasingly regressive.

As Matt Gibney has described, until John Howard’s Liberal government came to power in 1996, Australia had often exceeded its international obligations to refugees and considered tackling the problem of forced migration as a key way to demonstrate that it was taking its international responsibilities seriously. Over the last twenty or so years, however, Australia’s has become one of the most punitive asylum systems in the developed world. Governmental efforts to evade its obligations to the international refugee regime reached crisis point in 2001 when a Norwegian freighter MV Tampa,which had picked up 438 ship-wrecked Afghan refugees attempting to reach Australia by boat, was denied entry to Australian waters. The country’s wide-ranging practices of detention have also come under international scrutiny. Woomera detention centre in South Australia, which closed in 2003, provoked an outcry among the Australian public after the extent of its mistreatment of detainees was revealed. » More

The Media Cold War

This blog is republished here as part of our special holiday selection.

Internet cafe in Taipei

Internet cafe in Taipei. Photo: jared/flickr.

PRINCETON – An information war has erupted around the world. The battle lines are drawn between those governments that regard the free flow of information, and the ability to access it, as a matter of fundamental human rights, and those that regard official control of information as a fundamental sovereign prerogative. The contest is being waged institutionally in organizations like the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and daily in countries like Syria.

The sociologist Philip N. Howard recently used the term “new cold war” to describe “battles between broadcast media outlets and social-media upstarts, which have very different approaches to news production, ownership, and censorship.” Because broadcasting requires significant funding, it is more centralized – and thus much more susceptible to state control. Social media, by contrast, transforms anyone with a mobile phone into a potential roving monitor of government deeds or misdeeds, and are hard to shut down without shutting down the entire Internet. Surveying struggles between broadcast and social media in Russia, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, Howard concludes that, notwithstanding their different media cultures, all three governments strongly back state-controlled broadcasting.

These intra-media struggles are interesting and important. The way that information circulates does reflect, as Howard argues, a conception of how a society/polity should be organized. » More

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