Saturday 15 Dec 2018 | 02:38 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Dimly lit renewable energy initiatives for the Pacific

Renewable energy is high on the development agenda for the Pacific. The Lowy Institute’s Pacific Aid Map showed that donors and Pacific Island Countries are making a concerted effort to implement ambitious renewable energy goals. For example, the Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu aim to

Xi and Trump at G20: A tariff truce

This truce is by no means the end of trade tensions between China and the US. Over what was undoubtedly a delicious dinner last Saturday night on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires, US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to extend the deadline for the

International justice: tackling impunity in Asia

Nuon Chea and Khieu Samphan, high ranking officials of the Pol Pot regime, have been sentenced to life imprisonment twice over for their role in the genocide of the Cham Muslim and ethnic Vietnamese minorities during the Khmer Rouge era. The landmark judgment delivered this month by the

Asia’s space sale

A Chinese rover on the Moon. An Indian satellite at Mars. A Japanese commander of the International Space Station. An imminent launch of a Chinese lander to the far side of the Moon. Future Chinese plans for robot missions to Mars and Indian plans for Venus. Spaceflight across Asia has advanced

Beijing’s online gaming clampdown

Last month, Tencent Chairman and Chief Executive Pony Ma (马化腾) sent out an open letter, announcing a major strategic shift in direction for one of Asia’s most valuable technology firms. “We believe that the first stage of the mobile internet, the consumer internet, is drawing to a close

Chipping away at trust in democracy

With a series of state elections due and the federal election looming, there are important lessons that Australia needs to learn from the tone of US politics. In particular, there is a responsibility for Australia’s political leaders to act in ways that ensure, and do not undermine, the integrity

Why boycotting palm oil achieves nothing

In a bid to promote its palm oil-free products for the looming Christmas consumption frenzy, British supermarket chain Iceland recently sought to repurpose a moving Greenpeace campaign ad. The Disney-like cartoon shows a baby orangutan in a British child’s bedroom, disturbed by chocolate and

Disinformation campaigns and US elections

A New York Times article this month revealed a new tactic in the US war against election disinformation. US election officials had notified Russians suspected of involvement in online disinformation campaigns in the lead up to the mid-term elections that they were “on notice”, and that their

Is the TPP worth it?

The TPP, the biggest and most controversial trade deal in recent decades, has just passed the Senate in Australia with bipartisan support. Despite its speedy confirmation, the TPP warranted more serious scrutiny than it was afforded. While for its proponents, the TPP is a “gold standard” “

Australian energy diplomacy

Successive federal governments have declared Australia to be an “energy superpower”. The 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper is the most recent example, highlighting the size of Australia’s exports of coal and liquefied natural gas. Yet Australian foreign policy has often overlooked energy

Daylight robbery: cyber escapades of North Korea

When a gang robs a bank, it’s a crime. When a nation launches an attack on another state’s territory, it’s an act of war. But what is it when a nation state robs another state’s banks, without ever setting foot on their soil? While political leaders and policymakers are increasingly aware

Japan’s complicated relationship with coal power

At first glance, it appears a sea change is underway in how Japanese banks and financial firms treat fossil fuels. According to a comprehensive study released by 350.org in September – Energy Finance in Japan 2018 – Japanese financial institutions underwrote over US$80 billion in loans for

China: how big tech is learning to love the party

In mid-September, rumours swirled that Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications firm, would be acquired by an unnamed Chinese state-owned enterprise (SOE), effectively nationalising the company, which operates in 170 countries. The rumours were substantial enough to warrant a

Decoding the bombshell story for China

It is near impossible to find any mention of the Chinese chip hacking story in Bloomberg Businessweek that does not use the words “bombshell” or “explosive” to describe the piece. These descriptions have become cliché. But the cliché is fitting because even if the story unravels amid

End the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war

Gender advocates cheered around the world last week, despite events in Washington and elsewhere putting a dampener on hope for gender equality. Nadia Murad and Dr Denis Mukwege were announced as the joint winners of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence

A slap in the face for diverse diplomacy

The US appointed its first openly gay ambassador in 1999. President Bill Clinton gave James Hormel a recess appointment as US Ambassador to Luxembourg after two years of a blocked Senate campaign. Since then, an additional six openly gay male ambassadors have been appointed by the US, including

The other Rohingya crisis

As the world’s eyes are focused on the unfolding Rohingya refugee crisis Bangladesh, to the east in India another danger may be brewing for the Rohingya Muslim community. Over the past year since the latest wave of state-backed violence and displacement began in northern Myanmar, almost a

Trump to take on Iran at UN Security Council table

As it happens, the United States holds the presidency of the United Nations Security Council during the annual diplomatic gabfest at the UN General Assembly. Traditionally, that means the president of the US can choose to chair a Security Council meeting if he or she desires to spotlight a

Explaining green and blue growth

A new report co-authored by Lord Nicholas Stern made headlines earlier this month with the projection that efforts to transition to a low carbon economy within the next 15 years could add $26 trillion to the global economy. The report is underpinned by the concept of “green growth”, an

China’s tech bubble

In the four decades that have followed China’s initial stage of post-Mao “Reform and Opening Up”, the world has learned to expect great things from the Middle Kingdom’s centrally-planned economy. It has established itself as the low-end “factory of the world” and orchestrated an

Kofi Annan: great expectations

It says much about the UN Secretary-General that the two men widely regarded as the greatest to hold the office went in with the lowest expectations. Dag Hammarskjöld was an unknown Swedish civil servant who found out he was a candidate for the position when he received the telegram offering it

Rights for people forced out by climate change

Imagine living on a low–lying atoll island in the Pacific and having just survived a severe cyclone. Your island is in ruins and you have lost everything. Humanitarian help is insufficient, your children need urgent medical care, but hospitals are not functioning, and your only hope is to join

Kofi Annan: a leader with compassion

Those concerned with global peace and justice are grieving the death of Kofi Annan. Annan was elected UN Secretary-General in 1996 after a vigorously contested election campaign. Boutros Boutros-Ghali from Egypt had been denied a second term by US opposition in the Security Council. There was

Electric vehicles and industrial policy 

A dramatic shift is underway in the global automotive market. Electric vehicles (EVs), once viewed as toys, are gaining momentum. There are now more than 4 million electric vehicles on the road globally, up from only 100,000 a few years ago, and 2018 EV sales alone are on track to exceed 1.6

Drones, clones, and camera phones

Public surveillance has proven to be of great value for a host of public-order interests, from traffic management in large cities to provision of vital intelligence and evidence in criminal activities. The extent of surveillance in a jurisdiction tends to reflect the values of the government

BRICS and mortar

As far as international groupings go, BRICS was always considered head-scratchingly strange: a disparate group of nations with very little to link them, whether it be geographical size, language, or form of governance. What Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the late entrant South

Immigration links: Mediterranean sea rescues, more

At the Overseas Development Institute, Marta Foresti writes about the need to look for ways to “do migration differently”. Foresti argues that recent migration-related news such as the MS Aquarius stand-off and family separations in the US carry hard lessons about which approaches are working

The photos that go down in history

The photograph from the G7 summit at La Malbaie, Canada, released recently on Instagram by German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s team, had the internet buzzing. Jesco Denzel’s image of Merkel in discussion with US President Donald Trump went viral, provoking memes that ranged from an

Exceptional access: Australia’s encryption laws

The Australian Government will soon unveil contentious national security legislation granting law enforcement exceptional access under warrant to the encrypted data of suspected criminals. Getting the regulatory approach wrong could leave Australians exposed to a greater security risk, or left

The technology shock

Developments in technology are challenging economists, businesses, and governments alike, confronting traditional methodologies and foundational ideas. Technology is genuinely disruptive.  There is a growing disconnect between businesses facing frenetic change and economic discussions which

Human Rights Council: reform rather than reject

The announcement the US was leaving the United Nations Human Rights Council did not come as a shock, especially after calls for an inquiry into clashes over the new US Embassy in Jerusalem. US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley described the council as a “hypocritical and

Resiliency no excuse in refugee crisis

This article is based on episodes 2 and 3 of the Good Will Hunters podcast, with Professor Paul James, former Director of UN Cities, and Beth Eggleston, Co-Founder and Director of the Humanitarian Advisory Group.  On 9 June, the first TEDx event to be held in a refugee camp took place in

When Indonesia sits on the Security Council

Indonesia has successfully won its bid for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council 2019–20, but what is the country likely to achieve? There are, of course, significant constraints to what a non-permanent member of the Security Council can do within the UN

Immigration links: US border separations, more

629 migrants aboard the MS Aquarius were allowed ashore at Valencia, Spain, on 17 June, after a week-long ordeal resulting from the Italian government’s refusal to let the boat dock at any Italian port. The Aquarius, operated by Doctors Without Borders, had rescued the migrants from six

What a partial internet shutdown would mean for PNG

Debate arose in Papua New Guinea last week over comments made by Communications Minister Sam Basil about the possible imposition of a month-long ban on Facebook. This partial internet shutdown, according to Basil, would allow the government to conduct research on the use of anonymous

Ebola strikes again

On 8 May, the Democratic Republic of Congo notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of a confirmed outbreak of Ebola. Since early April, there have been 49 reported cases of the disease in Congo, including 26 deaths. While the majority of cases have occurred in the rural town of Bikoro, over the

Asia: jobs policy vs the machines

Concerns about the negative impact of technology on the labour market are not new. As early as 1817, at the beginning of the first industrial revolution, economist David Ricardo explained how jobs in the English textile industry were being lost as a result of the introduction of automatic weaving

Attack of the Twitter bots

One evening recently, over a glass of wine at an art opening, a friend who works in the cultural sector told me an interesting piece of news about my Twitter account. “Do you know my company has put you on the watch list because of your Twitter account?”, she asked. I couldn’t be more

5G dreaming

Do you dream of the day you can download a full movie to your phone in under two seconds? Or of the day you can set up your fridge to order your groceries? What about the day a renewable energy system can detect fluctuations in usage and respond immediately via extraordinarily fast data flows?

Drones level the battlefield for extremists

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

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