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International Law

What is nation?

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The concept of nation is a very ancient, broad and multifaceted concept. Although it is not known exactly when the concept of nation came into being, it is more or less known to the world of science when the concept of nation was understood and activated. As we know, until the 19th century, our world consisted of a system with different realities and different perspectives. Geographical territories, states, and people within states were not divided by any nation, and were not defined in this way. However, events such as the Industrial Revolution and the Enlightenment in the 19th century forced the world into a different reality and a different system. Thus, thanks to these different realities, after people realized who they were as a nation and fought for it, the traditional system of the world began to change, and thus people, nation-states and geographical areas began to be divided and defined by nations and groups. Therefore, today I will try to give a brief overview of the concept of nation and the importance of this concept for the national state.

Part 1

In general, in order to understand the concept of nation, there are 3 features that we need to know. The first is the formation of the concept of nation, the second is what a nation is, and the third is the activity and activity of a nation in our world. These three concepts are able to explain the concept of nation one by one, from its inception to its activity in our modern world.

The first of these is the process of formation of the concept of nation. Anderson himself once claimed that the emergence of the concept of nation was mainly due to the loss of connection between the three great cultural concepts historically.

1) For example, the first cultural concept was languages ​​that were considered sacred. These languages ​​were mainly Latin and Arabic. For example, if we look at historical processes, the beginning of the Arab occupation in the East in the 7th century and the use of Arabic as the main language in the territories occupied by the Arab caliphate led to the expansion and unification of the Arabic language in the East. Later, in the West, the long history of the Roman Empire and the fact that Latin was the main language made Latin the main and unified language in science, books and basic concepts in the West. Thus, the predominance of Arabic in the East and Latin in the West, and the sanctity of these languages, enabled people to be persuaded and governed by similar truths under the same religious identity. However, the concepts we call similar truths made it difficult for people to understand the concept of nation. However, Anderson argues that the historical loss of influence of these sacred languages ​​was the first factor in the emergence of the concept of nation. For example, the weakening of Latin as a result of historical processes in Europe and the emergence of European languages ​​such as French, Italian, Romance, Spanish, and Portuguese contributed to the formation of the concept of nation in the West. A number of political processes and national enlightenment movements in the East also weakened the Arabic language and lost its strategic power. Thus, the loss of Latin and Arabic languages ​​in the West and the East and their emergence from the prism of a single language became one of the factors that led to the formation of national understanding and the concept of nation in people. This was the first separation of the cultural concept in the historical understanding of the concept of nation.

2) The second cultural difference in the understanding of the concept of nation was the disappearance of the dynastic government, ie the monarchy. Anderson claimed that one of the obstacles to understanding the concept of nation was the power of the church and the monarchy. Because of the church’s strong position in society, he claimed that the king and queen were chosen by God, and in this case, too, the people unconsciously obeyed the king and queen. Thus, the king and queen could easily keep the people under their control and control their thoughts easily. Even in this situation, the formation of the concept of nation and what the concept of nation could not be formed among people could not be formed. However, the French Revolution of 1789, the weakening of the kingdoms and monarchs in Europe, and the subsequent spread of the values ​​of this revolution globally to the West through Napoleon Bonaparte, led to a strong sense of nationhood and nationalism in Europe and Latin America. Later, the Decembrist uprising in Russia and the deportation of Decembrists led to the spread of this idea and its spread to all Eastern countries. The deportation of the Decembrists and the spread of their ideas in the places where they were sent began to form a serious notion of nationhood in the East. Thus, the French Revolution in both the West and the East, the Decembrists and other similar revolutions weakened the power of the monarchy and the kingdoms, and led to the emergence of new administrations. Thus, the process of understanding the concept of nation began in people, and this process led to the formation of the concept of nation.

3) In addition, Anderson argues that there is a third factor that has allowed people to imagine the concept of nation. Going a step further here, given the capitalist attitudes and social changes that have taken place in modern times, the author claims how they affect people’s outlook on life. In other words, in addition to the previous sacred languages, books were published in languages ​​understood and spoken by the common people, which changed the attitude of the common people towards life.

Part 2

In addition to all this, there is a second feature to understand the concept of nation, which is called the concept of nation. We have learned how and in what way the process of understanding the concept of nation has been historically formed. But let’s clarify what we mean by the concept of nation.

There are basically two basic concepts in the concept of nation. The first is the analysis of the concept of nation on the cultural level, and the second is the analysis on the political level.

1) The cultural analysis of the concept of nation is mainly based on several values. These values ​​are mainly based on factors such as common language, traditions, geography, religion, history and art. When analyzing the concept of nation in a cultural way, academics mainly refer to these factors. Academics, who see the concept of nation as cultural, claim that having a common mass creates an identity among people. For example, in World War II, Jews needed an ideology and an identity to save the Jewish nation from torture and to reunite it as a disintegrated nation. This idea was the idea of ​​struggle and the ideology was the ideology of nationalism. Therefore, the Jews saw that there was no other way but struggle and nationalism, and focused on struggle and nationalism. The identity that united them in this struggle was a common language, religion, historical tradition and common culture. Or, in the formation of the Finnish nation as a nation and in the reform of the Finnish state, and in the struggle for this reform, the identity that united them as a nation was mainly cultural identity and values. These identities and cultural values, as I said, were common religions, languages, geographies and historical traditions. Therefore, the concept of cultural identity and values ​​is a concept that helps nations to come closer to each other and work together in the idea of ​​struggle. Cultural national identity makes nations feel safe, comfortable and happy. For example, a person can never feel psychologically comfortable in a country he never knows, among people who speak a language he never knew. However, speaking the same language with a member of the same nation can make them happier. Because in this case, a mechanism of cultural identity is activated between them, and they feel more comfortable psychologically. These were the cultural analysis of the concept of nation.

2) In addition, there is an identity analysis of the concept of nation as a political entity. Unlike the cultural analysis of the concept of nation, the concept of political unity is more related to civil and political loyalty. For example, in the cultural sense of the word, if people are united by a common language, customs, history, art and geographical area, they are united here mainly under the identity of a citizen. Academics who support this approach are mainly academics who support the notion of nation as a cultural concept. Academics, who see the nation more as a political union, claim that it is impossible for a nation to remain culturally pure and unchanged. Its traditions change over time or disappear altogether. For example, the values ​​and languages ​​of each nation change over time through the soft power of different countries and through today’s globalization process, or disappear altogether. Therefore, the concept of nation should be analyzed politically, not culturally. Because political interests can keep the nation together at any time, anywhere.

In general, these were ideas about what the concept of nation was. I tried to explain how the concept of nation came into being and what it is, both with practical examples and with theoretical foundations.In addition, there is a third and final concept to understand the concept of nation, which is how the nation operates and how it actively participates in the process. The functioning of the nation is mainly based on some principles. For example, the first principle is common customs, the second principle is common language, the third principle is common geography, the fourth principle is common art, the fifth principle is common history and the same race, the sixth principle is political existence, and the seventh principle is common citizenship. As you can see, some of them are culturally based on the concept of nation, and some are based on the concept of identity as a political union. When all this is one, the nation exists and can function. Otherwise, the nation cannot be formed. For example, Ireland, which had been ruled by others for centuries, had such a nation at that time. Or, on the contrary, Ottomanism ended its political existence without becoming a nation. The unity of the race is the same. In general, most European nations belong to the same races, but they have not been able to form one nation. Or, on the contrary, France, full of different races, is one of the greatest examples of the concept of nation alive. Language is a bigger factor. However, it is possible to see that people who speak the same language belong to different nations. For example, we can give examples of Iran and Afghanistan, Britain and America. Religion, on the other hand, has lost its former political power in many countries, and it is possible to see that people of the same nationality today belong to more different faiths.

Conclusion

As we know, the concept of nation is a very serious and ancient concept. In our modern world, people, states, and geographical areas are often divided and analyzed by nationality rather than by name. However, despite the fact that the concept of nation has such a wide and ancient history, today, multiculturalism internally, and the globalization of culture externally, is one of the factors damaging the concept of nation. With the development of communication and transport technologies, people can now easily travel to other countries and keep in touch with other countries. This can lead to the emergence of a global common culture in humans. The emergence of a global culture is one of the concepts that seriously harms the concept of nation in the world today and is likely to degrade the concept of nation.

Reference

  • Peter Alter, Nationalism, p. 9
  • Andrew Heywood, Politics, p.5
  • Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities, p 186-189
  • Andres. B, 1983 Imagine communities; Reflection on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism

I am a 3rd year student at Khazar University in Azerbaijan. My specialty is political science. My main areas of focus are South Caucasus politics and Asian studies.

International Law

Omicron and Vaccine Nationalism: How Rich Countries Have Contributed to Pandemic’s Longevity

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In a global pandemic, “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe”, – it is more of true with respect to the current globalized world system. It is said that crisis strikes the conscience and forces the ‘commonality of purpose’ on one another- and a major one in magnanimous scale. But the current Covid-19 crisis seems to have emerged in oddity with this very axiom, of course, due to self-serving, in WHO’s words- ‘self-defeating’ and ‘immoral’, approaches to dealing the pandemic by wealthy countries.

 A new and potentially more transmissible variant of Covid-19 virus, named Omicron by WHO, has been detected in South Africa. With scientists yet to be confirmed about new variant’s epicenter and its likely implication on human immune system, the emergence of Omicron has brought the long-warned case of ‘vaccine nationalism’– a phenomenon in which each nation prioritizes securing ample doses without considering impact on poor ones- to light.

Unheeded to the repeated warnings by scientists and pandemic specialists, many of the world’s richest countries had embarked on a vaccine-acquisition frenzy and hoarded jabs more than their requirements. Some countries have even gone to the extent that they had acquired up to four times what their population needed. Thereby, it has left majority of poor and developing countries, particularly those in global south, unvaccinated, with further risk of the virus being muted into more virulent variants, as in the case of Omicron.

A simple numerical data over vaccination rate across the world exposes the grotesques picture of pandemic recovery divide among the countries and immoral hoarding and hedging efforts on vaccine supplies by wealthy countries. As of now, whereas only 3% of people in low income countries have fully been vaccinated, the figure exceeds 60% in both high-income and upper-middle –income countries. In Africa, the most under-vaccinated and the epicenter of ominous Omicron, only some 7% of its 1.3 billion people are fully immunized.

Given the 9.1bn vaccines already manufactured and 12bn expected by the end of this year, the question is- why does vaccination effort remain so discriminatory and dividing across the regions? The answer, in most part, lies in the ‘pervasive economic inequity’ inherent in initial vaccine-acquisition process. With their enormous capacity to pay out, rich countries, even before pandemic took devastating hold, had pursued a ‘portfolio-approach’ in investing on vaccine development research by pharmaceutical companies- simultaneous investment on multiple ones. In exchange, those countries stroke bilateral deal with each drag company to secure enough prospective vaccine doses to inoculate their respective population several times over.

This absolutist vaccine-acquisition drive of wealthy nations had substantially thwarted the holistic approach taken up by World Health Organization(WHO) under the platform of COVAX, a vaccine sharing program. With the aim of reducing the delay in vaccine allocation to poor and developing countries, and thus ensuring vaccine equity, the multilateral platform didn’t get enough incentives from wealthy ones, since started its journey in April 2020. Both investment and acquisition by well-off countries, having bypassed the COVAX, kept them into the front of manufacturing line, thereby, contributed to the distributional injustice.

‘What starts wrong ends wrong’- initial absolutist approaches in vaccine acquisition started to be manifested in discriminatory distribution of vaccines. Thereby, an amazing scientific breakthrough, development of vaccine in record time, has been offset by awful political policy. In mid-2021, when one portion of world were almost on the track of carefree normalcy, people in bigger portion were struggling to breath. Today, problem is not in production of vaccines, as 2 billion doses of vaccines are being manufactured in every month, rather in the ‘unfairness of distribution’.

Early monopolistic exercise by G20 on acquisition and subsequent stockpile of vaccines has resulted in such galling situation that they have commandeered over 89% of vaccines already produced and over 71% of future deliveries. Consequently, the global inoculation drive, since started, is so unjust that for every vaccine delivered to the poorest countries, six times as many doses are being administered as third and booster vaccines in the richest countries. Adding further to the crisis being escalated, while more than 100 countries, for past one year, have desperately demanded emergency waiver on TRIPs related regulatory restriction on Technologies crucial to pandemic recovery, it has repeatedly been blocked by UK and EU.

Picture is not all-about gloomy with respect to vaccine collaboration but it is quite tiny to the scale of requirements. Rich countries could not deliver on the commitments they did to help poor countries immunize their population. For instance, WHO’s target of having 40% of global population vaccinated by end of this year, through COVAX, seems certainly to fall short largely due to the rich countries failing to deliver on their promise to use their surplus vaccines to immunize the under-vaccinated countries. Far from near, the G7 countries had drastically failed to deliver on their promises made on G7 summit in June. As of last week, USA has delivered only 25%, with further embarrassing arithmetic of EU only 19%, UK 11% and Canada just 5%.

Given the frightening predictions from WHO that another 5 million could be added to the already 5 million death tolls across the world, in the next year or more, it is high time starting a collective endeavor with herculean efforts to inoculate large swaths of unvaccinated people in un-protected areas. Keeping large portion out of vaccination will only make the pandemic endure with no time to end, as virus continues to persist through mutating in un-protected area into a more menacing variant. If so, then again someone else may say, after next the worst wave-We were forewarned- and yet here we are.             

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International Law

The Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty (TPNW): Wishful daydream or historic milestone?

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The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), adopted in 2017, has entered into force on the 22nd of January of this year and the number of ratifying states continues to grow, with Mongolia being the latest to announce its accession. This positive trend is certainly welcomed with enthusiasm by the Civil Society campaigners and growing number of supporters of this treaty that represents a huge step forward for the global movement to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons. It would certainly be dishonest to ignore the fact that this new international legal instrument remains controversial, to say the least, for most of the members of the so-called nuclear deterrence community. As preparations are ongoing for the first Meeting of States Parties, scheduled to take place in Vienna on 22-24 March 2022, it is useful to address some of the main doubts and arguments against the treaty.

In this regard, the main criticism is that it makes no sense to support a treaty on nuclear weapons if those states that possess them have not joined nor any intention to join it.  

In order to address this claim, it may be useful to recall that in the case of the Mine Ban and the Cluster Munition treaties, its main promoters and supporters were also states that did not possess those weapons, and that those international instruments also received some harsh criticism for this reason. Despite of this, there is no doubt now that both of those treaties have become remarkable success stories, not only by achieving the goal of approaching universalization, but also by consolidating a general moral condemnation of those categories of weapons. Therefore, the argument that a treaty necessarily needs to be joined by the possessors of the weapons can easily be rebutted. Despite of the current position of the nuclear weapons states, each new ratification of the treaty is not meaningless: on the contrary, it provides the treaty more authority and contributes to the growing pressure on nuclear weapons states to adopt further steps towards nuclear disarmament.

The other major contribution of the TPNW is that it facilitates the process of delegitimisation of nuclear weapons, necessary to finally amend the well-established foundations of nuclear deterrence doctrines. The humanitarian principles that are underlying the treaty are totally incompatible with those doctrines, and therefore are having an impact on them by highlighting the inherent immorality and illegitimacy of nuclear weapons.   

Another argument for the case of ratification is that it provides states the opportunity to support the process of democratization of the global debate on nuclear weapons, as this new treaty has been the result of a very open discussion with active engagement of delegations from all geographic regions and, in particular, of representatives of Civil Society. This is not a minor aspect of this process, but a key element. Indeed, unlike in negotiations of previous international legal instruments, in this era of growing complexity and interlinkages, the main challenges faced by humankind are being addressed by a diverse group of citizens, from all walks of life and regions. Traditional diplomacy is certainly not enough, and in the case of the TPNW, the positive results would clearly not have been possible without the decisive boost provided by the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which was able to mobilize Civil Society and likeminded governments towards the goal of negotiating a nuclear weapons ban treaty. 

While it would be naïve to expect the establishment of the nuclear weapons states to be convinced by the humanitarian narrative and in a foreseeable future to amend its defence and security policies base on nuclear deterrence, the TPNW and its focus on the security of the human being instead of the traditional notion of the security of the state, are already having an impact on the academic and public debates in those states.

The second argument used by its critics is that the TPNW weakens the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).  Actually, this is not only incorrect, the opposite is true. In fact, the TPNW can serve as an initiative to help implement article VI of the NPT, by which parties are committed to undertake to “pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament”. This is of vital importance as the treaty clearly attaches a key role to all parties, and not only to those states that possess nuclear weapons. This commitment has also been reflected in the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, and the TPNW can be understood as a reflection of that obligation to contribute to nuclear disarmament by non-nuclear weapons states.

Another common point is that the nuclear weapons industry is too strong and well consolidated and that it would be naïve to pretend that this treaty could actually have an impact on investment decisions.

This pessimism has also been proven wrong. In fact, in 2021, more than one hundred financial institutions are reported to have decided to stop investing in companies related to nuclear weapons production. As a result, the nuclear weapons industry is experiencing a considerable reduction and the trend towards the exclusion of this sector from investment targets is growing steadily. This is not only the consequence from the legal obligations that emanate from the TPNW but a reflection of the devaluation of the public image associated to these industries. As this public image continues to deteriorate, it is likely that this trend will continue and that the moral condemnation of these weapons of mass destruction will be absorbed into the mainstream of society.

Another common misinterpretation is that the TPNW should be understood as an instrument that is only designed to be joined exclusively by non-nuclear weapons states.

In fact, even though the treaty was developed by non-nuclear weapons states, it has been drafted and negotiated with the goal of universal adherence, including, someday, those states that still include nuclear deterrence in their national security doctrines. In particular, the TPNW establishes a clear set of steps for nuclear weapons states in order to eliminate their arsenals of nuclear weapons. Specifically, within 60 days after the entry into force of the treaty for a state party that possesses nuclear weapons, that state must submit a plan for the complete elimination of its nuclear weapons to a competent international authority that has been specially designated by states parties. The treaty also includes a process to designate a competent international authority to verify the elimination of nuclear weapons by a state before acceding to the treaty, and a process for states parties that maintain nuclear weapons in their territories for the removal of these weapons and report this action to the United Nations Secretary General.

It is also noteworthy that this treaty obliges states parties to provide adequate assistance to victims affected by the use or by testing of nuclear weapons, and to take the necessary measures for environmental rehabilitation in areas contaminated under its control. This dimension of the treaty constitutes an important contribution both to the protection of human rights of victims and to the now inescapable obligation to protect the environment, which are aspects that are not covered by the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This certainly does not affect the value and vital role of this key instrument of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime but complements it by addressing the fundamental issue of environmental reparation.

The main challenge now is now not only to achieve a wider universality of the TPNW, but to engage more stakeholders and create awareness on the urgency of bringing pressure on the nuclear weapons states to finally move toward nuclear disarmament. In this regard, Civil Society initiatives have been promoting engagement of members of grassroots, parliament, the media and city governments, particularly in nuclear weapons states, which has had impressive results, with hundreds of local governments expressing support for the treaty and generating discussion among the population. These initiatives serve the purpose of putting pressure on politicians and especially, to facilitate a discussion within democratic societies about the sustainability and risks involved in the possession and harboring of nuclear weapons.

Indeed, the TPNW has a long way to go and overcome many obstacles to achieve its objective, but in its first year of entry into force, it has already had an undeniable impact on the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, despite the expected skeptics and efforts to ignore its existence stemming from the still powerful nuclear deterrence establishment. Most of its technical experts, academics and government officials honestly believe that nuclear weapons have helped to guarantee peace and stability to the world and therefore should continue as the foundation of international security doctrines. These well-established ideas have been based on the questionable assumption that the deployment of these weapons have avoided war and can guarantee permanent peace for all nations. This has served as a sort of dogmatic idea for many decades, but recent research results have shown that the risks involved are significantly higher and that the humanitarian consequences would be catastrophic for every citizen of the planet. The humanitarian impact paradigm, which underlies the process that has inspired the TPNW, has provoked a tectonic shift in the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation debate, which had been limited to the NPT review conferences with its often-frustrating results. Certainly, the persistence of the different approaches needs to be addressed in a more constructive discussion among the supporters of this treaty and the deterrence community.

Finally, the fact that the first meeting of states parties of the TPNW will take place in Vienna is very meaningful as Austria has been one of the leading nations in this process, particularly in drafting the Humanitarian Pledge to fill the legal gap for the prohibition of nuclear weapons, which has been a decisive step towards the treaty that has already fulfilled that commitment. Despite of all the difficulties and the persistence of significant resistance, the active and committed participation of diplomats and Civil Society representatives, under the leadership of Austria, allow to envisage that this first meeting will help to strengthen the treaty and move forward in the long and burdensome road to the final objective of achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.

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International Law

Regional Mechanisms of Human Rights: The Way Forward: Case of South Asia

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Long debates have evolved since the 1948 UDHR as to whether human rights should always be perceived as universal, or whether they need to be regarded as contextual on regional and local cultures. If we look at  Art. 2 of the UDHR the rights apply “with no distinction given to their race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. Still in spite of this, the universality has been criticized by some, who argue that by claiming human rights are universal, we ignore and undermine the cultural differences that exist between societies in different parts of the world

Historically, the first written evidence of human rights was found in the famous universal declaration in 1215 A.D., popularly known as the ‘Magna Carta’. Along with the same, there were many thinkers like Hobbes, Locke Rousseau, Milton, and Voltaire who argued in favour of  individual rights and with passage of time and the conclusion of two world wars, the United Nations Organisation came into being on 24th October 1945 that replaced the League of Nations.

Further, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was established in 1948 and is considered a milestone in the field of human rights whose primary aim is to protect and promote human rights. In contrast to the said aim, the critics of the UDHR label it as a Western-biased document that fails to account for the cultural norms and values which exist in the rest of the world. It is only with regard to a group of certain core rights like that are listed in the human rights treaties as ‘non-derogable rights’ or considered jus cogens such as the prohibition of the use of force, the law of genocide, the principle of racial non- discrimination, crimes against humanity, and the rules prohibiting trade in slaves and piracy that consensus among nations exist.

The core of the issue is that a group of nations are seeking to redefine the content of the term “human rights” according to their own social and cultural experiences as they argue that the principles enshrined in the Universal Declaration reflect Western values and not their own. These countries sign many international human rights treaties and conventions, but the use of reservations and internal obstacles

jeopardize their implementation. Such claims of social and cultural differences in the past have been dismissed by the western countries and the USA who dismissed such claims as being a screen behind which authoritarian governments can perpetuate abuses.

Coming to South Asian Nations, there does exist violations of human rights in India as there is an absence of any regional framework that can hold the government responsible for the acts committed or provide a forum to individuals to appeal against the decisions of the Courts like the one existing under European Court of Human Rights. To illustrate, the aspect of women’s rights needs consideration and improvement in the daily lives of women to meet the gap between formal rights and actual implementation of the same.  What this means is that there exists a necessity to focus on translating the universal values enshrined under International human rights to local contexts that is the only option available to human beings irrespective of the geographical location to the ideals of equality and freedom from discrimination

In this context, there arises a need for establishing regional and sub- regional human rights codes or conventions. This has also been recognized by the United Nations since in absence of a universal approach that the South Asian states refuse to adopt, it is through regional initiatives that the motives of human rights could be achieved. The need for a regional initiative becomes even more significant because unlike Europe, America, and Africa there is no inter-governmental regional system for human rights protection in South Asia. In practice, the reason cited is that the human rights debate revolves around the South Asian views or perspectives. Although the South Asian governments have ratified international human rights instruments, they fail to reflect in the national constitutions or laws of most governments.

The fact that human rights will enjoy certain specificity in South Asia, still to be elaborated and applied, however, does not mean less for the universality of human rights. The reason being that the international human rights do not originate from merely one homogenous European value system or culture, but from various heterogeneous sources, some of these existing in the long history of South Asia. Thus, human rights are universal not only in their applicability to all human beings in every corner of the world, but are also universal because they originated from every corner in the world.

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