What are the New Sustainable Development Goals?


Consensus has been reached on the Sustainable Development Goals.  The goals represent a 15 year plan of action for people, planet and prosperity.  Here are the goals agreed earlier in the month:

  • Goal 1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Goal 2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture
  • Goal 3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
  • Goal 4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
  • Goal 5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Goal 6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all
  • Goal 7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all
  • Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
  • Goal 9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation
  • Goal 10. Reduce inequality within and among countries
  • Goal 11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable
  • Goal 12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns
  • Goal 13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts*
  • Goal 14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development
  • Goal 15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss
  • Goal 16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels
  • Goal 17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development

For more detail on the goals visit: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

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30th July – Marking United Nations World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

1.   More than 90% of countries have legislation criminalizing human trafficking.

2.  Human trafficking is often underpinned by sexual exploitation and forced labour.

3.  40% of the victims detected between 2010 and 2012 were trafficked for forced labour.

4.  There has been a steady increase in the number of child victims, particularly girls

under 18.

5.  49% of detected victims are adult women.

6.  72% per cent of convicted traffickers are men and 28% are women.

7.  Between 2010 and 2012, victims with 152 different citizenships were identified in 124 countries.

8.  Two thirds of child victims are girls.

9.  Victims are often lied to about work conditions that they will be going into (type of job, the workplace and the salary).

10.  At least 510 trafficking flows have been identified globally.

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Cameron’s Speech on Tackling Terrorism

The ten things you need to know about Cameron’s plans to tackle extremism:

1. Cameron outlined his five-year strategy to tackle subversive doctrine and defeat extremism
2. He argued that defeating extremism is the “struggle of our generation”
3. He still focuses on ‘islamic extremism’ which some would argue is misplaced
4. Specific deradicalisation programmes would be set up, which are in addition to the Channel duties. The discourse of ‘deradicalisation’ reinforces the notion that individuals have been brainwashed and need re-converting. In many cases, the individuals concerned have not been brainwashed, but are making a decision based on their world view and their experiences.
5. He focused on internet companies, suggesting that they are doing too little to tackle extremism online. Expect increased surveillance and data collection on society as a whole. This is part of a raft of hard line measures being introduced that plays on our increasing sense of insecurity.
6. He announced a new scheme to enable parents to apply directly to get their child’s passport cancelled to prevent travel.
7. He is setting up a new community engagement forum to hear directly from Muslim groups who are challenging extremism
8. He pledged to actively encourage reforming and moderate Muslim voices to speak up and provide a platform, but it is not clear if this is only a platform that is being created to enable moderate voices to continually apologies for the actions of a minority of individuals.
9. He argues that there is a need to build a more cohesive society and improve integration, but makes no mention of addressing inequality.
10. Prof Andrew Silke – a counter-terrorism specialist who advises the Cabinet Office and the UN – says research shows that people are drawn to terrorism more because of “identity issues” than ideology.

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The Use and Impact of Economic Sanctions

1.  Robert A. Pape’s article in International Security, titled “Why Economist Sanctions Do Not Work,” argues that sanctions have only been effective 5% of the time
2.  The longer sanctions are imposed, the less chance they have of succeeding.
3.  Many policy makers would suggest that sanctions can achieve ambitious foreign policy goals
4.  There are often high costs to using sanctions, including civilian suffering. The degree of human damage can be considerable, while their likelihood of achieving political objectives is low.
5.  By their very nature, sanctions effectively target the most vulnerable and least political sectors of society.
6.  Economic sanctions are considered by many to be morally and ethically problematic, despite being considered as a humanitarian alternative to war.
7.  United Nations agencies, including F.A.O. and Unicef, expressed concern about the damage being done to Iraqis, especially children, by United Nations economic sanctions after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. One report estimated that 576,000 Iraqi children may have died after the Persian Gulf war because of economic sanctions imposed by the Security Council. There is debate over the numbers of death attributed to the sanctions, based on methodological questions, but consensus that civilians became targets rather than the political regime.
8.  Sanctions are often implemented with the intention of changing a targeted state’s behaviour, to bring about conformity with international ethical norms.
9.  It is important to question if punishing the most vulnerable, using economic sanctions, leads to only short term change in the behaviour of the target state rather than longer term conformity
10.  Since 9/11, there has been a pronounced shift toward targeted or so-called “smart” sanctions, which aim to minimize the suffering of innocent civilians. The jury is still out as to whether sanctions can ever be really smart. See the following article for a further analysis: http://www.danieldrezner.com/research/smartsanctions.pdf

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The Nuclear Deal with Iran

A deal has been struck between Iran and the P5+1 group of world powers – the US, UK, France, China and Russia plus Germany. Here’s my starter for ten:

1. Supporters of Obama, will see the nuclear deal as his crowning foreign policy achievement of his presidency and the centrepiece of his foreign policy legacy.

2. Recent negotiations, spanning twenty months, aimed to curb Iran’s nuclear programme in exchange for lifting sanctions.

3. The rapprochement between the US and Iran may impact on power dynamics in the Middle East. There have already been signs of Saudi unease.

4. Iran’s uranium stockpile will be reduced by 98% to 300kg for 15 years

5. Iran has a number of facilities which will be converted to reduce research/development/proliferation activities.

6. Iran was building a heavy-water nuclear facility near Arak and this was an initial focus as spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor contains plutonium suitable for nuclear use. Iran’s nuclear facilities, including enrichment plants are now under going to be subject to extensive inspections.

7. Obama has outlined that the agreement would oblige Iran to:

– remove two-thirds of installed centrifuges and store them under international supervision

– get rid of 98% of its enriched uranium

– accept that sanctions would be rapidly restored if the deal was violated

– permanently give the International Atomic Energy Agency access ‘where necessary, when necessary’

8. The Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, considered the deal to be a ‘historic mistake’. The White House called the agreement a ‘historic deal’.

9. Arms sanctions will not be lifted immediately, but will be phased out as compliance to the agreement is monitored.

10. The sanctions pushed Iran to the brink and the impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable people in society should not be forgotten.

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Reflections on terrorism and counter-terrorism since 7/7

Reflections-on-terrorism1.  Is terrorism on the rise? Given that there is no consensus on the definition of terrorism (there are over 250 definitions of terrorism, according to a recent study) it means that governments have been able to broaden the definition at will to securitise a wider range of activities. There is, at the very least, a growth in the definitional scale and scope of terrorism.
2.  Despite the millions of pounds that have been spent in the name of counter-terrorism measures, statistics suggest that we feel no safer. Research, conducted by YouGov, highlighted that more than three quarters of people surveyed – 79% – believe another attack on the scale of 7/7 in Britain is likely. This calls in to question the effectiveness and impact of the current UK counter-terrorism policy pathway.
3.  Terrorist threats have evolved and diversified, which poses significant challenges for detection and disruption. There certainly appears to be an increase in the ‘lone wolf’ style of attack, which are often low tech and can be planned beneath the radar. Coordinated attacks require greater coordination and communication, which can leave perpetrators vulnerable to detection.
4.  The new Counter-Terrorism and Security Act that came into force in recent weeks seeks to share the burden of surveillance by placing more responsibility on the health service, prisons, schools and universities. Frontline practitioners in the public sector will be required to identify individuals who may be vulnerable to radicalisation.
5.  The new legislation is considered to be wide-ranging and intrusive by many and includes passport seizure and retention powers; exclusion orders; and further data retention measures.
6.  The Vulnerability Assessment Framework includes indicators such as: changing their style of dress or personal appearance to accord with the group, having technical expertise that can be deployed (e.g. IT skills – we may have to rethink employability skills!), a desire for excitement and adventure, a need for identity, meaning and belonging. Every school and university student is likely to fall under suspicion!
7.  Liberty argue that the Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 ‘plays into the hands of terrorists, by allowing them to shape our laws in a way that undermines our principles’.
8.  According to the Global Terrorism Index 2014 the top 10 countries most effected by terrorism were Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria, Syria, India, Somalia, Yemen, Philippines and Thailand. The UK thankfully doesn’t even make it into the top 20.
9.  In November 2014 the Prime Minister announced £130 million in additional counter terrorism funding.
10.  We need to consider if our current counter terrorism measures are proportionate to the actual threat.


MSc Global Governance

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Impact of Televised Election Debates

1.  Televised election debates have the potential to go down in history, as in the case of the Nixon-Kennedy clash in 1960

2.  In the UK in 2015, the debates have been game-changers for parties who may have been perceived to be on the margins, as the platform has raised their profile significantly. SNP and Plaid Cymru have been key beneficiaries in 2015.

3.  If we take lessons from professional public speaking, research suggests that the audience will be captured by the delivery more than the content. According to social psychologist Albert Mehrabian, words only count for 7% of overall message delivery.

4.  Yougov data from 2010 suggested that televised debates effectively reached out to voters between 18 and 24 years old. It also had particular impact in engaging first time voters.

5.  Some voice concerns of the danger that televised election debates reduce party politics to personality politics

6.  Analysis of the televised election debates should not just focus on viewing figures alone as that ignores the after burn effect of continuing comment on social media. Over a third of those aged 18-24 said their vote would be influenced by something they read on social media.

7.  In 2010 Tweetminster reported that the first leaders’ debate was the most tweeted event ever around UK politics

8.   Outside of the 18-24 year old age group, social media ranked fairly low in its potential to impact the election. In a recent study, a leaders debate was mentioned by 40 per cent of people as an influence while 20 per cent cited newspapers. Only 13 per cent of the population at large mentioned social media.

9.  A post televised debate may lead to a bounce in the polls, but this is difficult to sustain in the run up to polling day.

10.  Televised debates, while part of how the game is played, are rarely what decide the game itself.

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Human Trafficking in the Spotlight

1.  The ongoing rescue of people in the Mediterranean, arriving in Italy from Libya, highlights the horrors of the human trafficking trade

2. Talking about the humanitarian disaster in terms of migrants attempting to reach European shores places the blame on the victims rather than the criminals driving the human trafficking trade.

3.  If we create power vacuums in countries we need to expect people will flee their homes in desparation in search of safety or tempted by the promise of a better life.  It underlines the importance of the transition and transformation of war economies.

4.  Making the dangergerous and often deadly crossing is an option considered by the most desparate.  Since the beginning of the year at least 900 have died trying to reach Europe.

5.  Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi called for an emergency meeting of European Union leaders this week, saying “We cannot remain insensitive when every day there is a massacre in the Mediterranean.”

6.  The United Nations Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking is based on a simple principle: human trafficking is a crime of such magnitude and atrocity that it cannot be dealt with successfully by any government alone. This global problem requires a global, multi-stakeholder strategy that builds on national efforts throughout the world.

7.  Human trafficking is a lucrative business.  A conservative estimate of the crime puts the number of victims at any one time at 2.5 million. We also know that it affects every region of the world and generates tens of billions of dollars in profits for criminals each year.

8.  There are relatively few convictions of traffickers in proportion to the number of victims.

9.  Last year, British policy was made clear by the new Foreign Office minister, Lady Anelay: “We do not support planned search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean.”  She said the government believed there was “an unintended ‘pull factor’, encouraging more migrants to attempt the dangerous sea crossing and thereby leading to more tragic and unnecessary deaths”.

10.  The ongoing crisis in the Mediterranean is likely to represent human trafficking and human suggling activities.

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A Starter for Ten on the Countering Violent Extremism Summit

Starter for Ten on the 3 day Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE):

1. The aim of the Summit is to discuss community-oriented approaches to countering violent extremism.

2. It is anticipated that representatives at the Summit will develop a comprehensive and concrete action plan against violent extremism.

3. There is an increasing focus on social media as a vehicle for countering extremist narrative. The Summit will provide an opportunity to explore further collaboration with the information technology industry on empowering moderate voices and undermining violent extremists.

4. The approach to CVE is based on building awareness of drivers and indicators of radicalisation and recruitment to violence, countering extremist narratives and emphasising community led intervention.

5. The underlying premise of the approach to countering violent extremism in the United States is that (1) communities provide the solution to violent extremism; and (2) CVE efforts are best pursued at the local level, tailored to local dynamics, where local officials continue to build relationships within their communities through established community policing and community outreach mechanisms.

6. Obama has emphasised that the US is not at war with Islam, but with “terrorists who pervert it”.

7. The key message at the Summit seems to be that we are facing a global challenge that requires us to act locally.

8. The landscape of far right-wing groups is complex and rapidly changing. The danger is that there is a misplaced focus solely on the threat of radicalisation in Muslim communities. Despite attempts to move away from a focus on radicalisation of muslim communities at the Summit, there still seems to be a tendency to conflate religious extremism and political grievance.

9. The conference is expected to produce an action plan leading to a second meeting before the opening of the UN general assembly in September.

10. Is it a coincidence that the Summit was announced on the day of the unity march in Paris, which followed the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket? Some say the announcement was a way to deflect from the notable absence of Obama at the march.

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International Affairs Internships

Are you interested in international affairs and looking to gain experience through an internship? Here’s my Starter for Ten on some of the most prestigious internship programmes:

1. United Nations Headquarters Internship Programme

2. Traineeships with the European Commission

3. OSCE Internship Programme

4. Amnesty International Internships

5. Council on Foreign Relations

6. Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

7. World Affairs Council

8. United nations Human Rights Commission

9. Crisis Group

10. Stokholm International Peace Research Institute


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