Diplomacy

How Viktor Orban degraded Hungary’s weak democracy

The roots of democracy in Hungary are shallow. John Shattuck The Conversation That’s been especially clear in the last nine years, as Prime Minister Viktor Orban has created a repressive and increasingly authoritarian state, operating under a pretense of democracy. In recent weeks the political situation has become volatile. By early 2019 the Hungarian government was the target of a series of major demonstrations in Budapest and other Hungarian cities. A flash point was a new labor law allowing employers ... Read More »

SNP ‘will help block Brexit’ for new independence vote

A government of national unity is needed to halt Brexit, a leading SNP MP has argued – but the Nationalists should only take part if the right to hold a second independence referendum is granted. Paris Gourtsoyiannis The Scotsman Joanna Cherry said a temporary cross-party government would be required to extend the Article 50 process to allow a second EU referendum to take place. But the SNP MP for Edinburgh South West said the Scottish Government “must be granted the ... Read More »

Rights of prisoners with intellectual disabilities must be respected

Study exposes shortcomings in treatment of prisoners with IDs, treatment they are entitled to George Winter The Irish Times In 2006, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) was adopted, promoting autonomy, choice, independence, equality and participation. The CRPD includes provision for those with intellectual disability (ID). This is typically diagnosed if individuals have an IQ below 70; an impaired ability to effectively interact with society on all levels and care for themselves; and have had developmental ... Read More »

European Parliament is failing on transparency

Voters have to be reassured MEPs are being held accountable. Heidi Hautala Politico When it comes to transparency, the European Parliament’s motto has become: Do as I say, not as I do. Members of the key European institution are fighting crucial reforms to ensure MEPs act by a shared set of public spending rules. As a relatively new member of the European Parliament Bureau — where decisions regarding the Parliament’s administration and budget are made — I have experienced first hand how ... Read More »

How Big Is Turkey’s Stick? #TurkeyUS

The strained relationship between Turkey and the U.S. appears unlikely to improve any time soon. Semih Idiz Sigma Insight Turkey There is simply too much of a backlog of unresolved issues for the situation to change for the better. The visit to Ankara by the high level delegation, headed by President Donald Trump’s national security advisor John Bolton, did little to ameliorate tensions between the two capitals. To the contrary, it seems to have aggravated the… The atmosphere was already ... Read More »

Don’t Blame Everything on Erdogan

The Turkish government doesn’t have a soft spot for the Islamic State, and Ankara stands to lose more than anyone if the terrorist group makes a comeback. Selim Sazak FP Washington’s Turkey experts were left working overtime during the holidays when a routine conversation between Donald Trump and Recep Tayyip Erdogan ended with the announcement that the… Trump’s maneuver had raised worries that a premature withdrawal risks reversing the gains that have been made against the Islamic State. Indeed, on ... Read More »

Picturing Baghdad

Despite their traumatic history, Iraqis are finding individual and civic solutions to their country’s political failures. Julie David de Lossy ICG Crisis Group photographer Julie David de Lossy visited Baghdad in October-November 2018 and returned with portraits of its people’s search for normalcy. Iraq has endured decades of sanctions, war, invasion, regime change and dysfunctional government. These span Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship, a devastating eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s and crippling UN sanctions throughout the 1990s. Those difficult years ... Read More »

Are women escaping family violence overseas considered refugees?

Saudi teenager Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun’s story has travelled around the world this week, highlighting Saudi Arabia’s repressive treatment of women and that not only those who seek asylum by… Tamara Wood The Conversation For now, al-Qunun remains in Thailand, and it’s been reported the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) has deemed her to be a refugee. Australia has said it will consider granting her asylum. Reports say al-Qunun fears, if she is returned to Saudi Arabia, she will be abused and ... Read More »

Turkey and the Kurds turn to Russia to solve problems sparked by U.S. exit from Syria

BEIRUT — Both Turkey and the Syrian Kurds are now pinning their hopes on Russia to resolve the problems created by President Trump’s abrupt decision last month to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, which has threatened to ignite a… Liz Sly The Washington Post Turkish officials said Wednesday that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is planning to visit Moscow this month for talks on Syria and other issues with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Kurds have already reached out to Russia ... Read More »

Vietnam requests other countries to respect international law

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang underlined Vietnam’s stance on the US vessel USS McCampbell’s passage through Vietnam’s Hoang Sa (Paracel) waters, while responding to reporters’ questions regarding the… Hanoi (VNA) “Vietnam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence testifying its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagoes in conformity with international law,” the spokesperson said. She stressed that as a member of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) 1982 and a ... Read More »

Norway PM chides China obliquely; asserts might is not right

New Delhi: Norway on Tuesday commended India for adhering to the international rules of law with respect to the law of seas and indirectly pulled up China for using might as right. By Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury The Economic Times “When large countries respect international law, smaller countries take note. The principle of ‘might is right’ cannot be used as a basis for governing our oceans, or anything else, for that matter,” Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said at the… Earlier ... Read More »

Rohingya left in border limbo amid new Myanmar border clashes

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since a military crackdown started in 2017, desperate to escape persecution. AFP – SBS Panic is gripping thousands of Rohingya Muslim refugees living in no-man’s land on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border, with daily clashes between Myanmar security forces and ethnic Rakhine insurgents. Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar since a military crackdown started in 2017 – most to sprawling refugee camps in Bangladesh – but many have been living in ... Read More »

Need for International Unity as DR Congo Awaits Electoral Results

The Democratic Republic of Congo awaits the official results of 30 December 2018 elections, amid hints that unofficial numbers show an opposition presidential candidate winning. ICG Conflicting tallies could spark violence. Outside powers should stand together in urging calm and careful verification of the electoral outcome. The Independent Electoral Commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo will likely declare results of the 30 December elections this week. Already there are worrying signs of divisions among international actors, after a… Need ... Read More »

Japan Slams China for Unauthorized Research Around Okinotori Island

Japan’s exclusive economic zone around the remote island is being challenged by China again. Thisanka Siripala The Diplomat The Japanese Embassy in Beijing has filed official protest with China after they admitted to conducting marine surveys around the Japan-held Okinotori island without permission. In mid-December last year, the Japanese Coast Guard intercepted a Chinese research vessel in waters surrounding Okinotori Island. Japan claims the uninhabited Okinotori island in the Pacific Ocean as its southernmost territory, which is 1700 kilometers south ... Read More »

Fire and Ice: Conflict and Drugs in Myanmar’s Shan State

Civil strife has turned Myanmar’s Shan State into a crystal methamphetamine hub. ICG The richer the traffickers get, the harder the underlying conflicts will be to resolve. Instead of targeting minor offenders, the military should root out corruption, including among top brass, and disarm complicit paramilitaries.  What’s new? Shan State has long been a centre of conflict and illicit drug production – initially heroin, then methamphetamine tablets. Good infrastructure, proximity to precursor supplies from China and safe haven provided by ... Read More »

Why the UK should stay within the EU’s asylum system after Brexit

Until recent media coverage of an increase in people crossing the English Channel by boat, Brexit debates have largely overlooked the future of asylum and international protection after the… Ali Bilgic The Conversation The UK’s options are challenging – and the risks for current and future asylum seekers are real and serious, particularly if the UK were to leave without a deal. Complications will stem from the UK’s involvement in the EU’s international protection and asylum governance structures, known as ... Read More »