Russian Influence Fades in the Middle East

The 2022 World Cup has been dominating global news, and no one is missing the Russian team among the 32 participating nations, unlike, for instance, Italy or Egypt. Neither has Moscow said anything regarding the controversies surrounding this paramount sporting event in Qatar (Novayagazeta,eu, November 25).

Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This absence from a major global event is increasingly characteristic for Russia, which continues to position itself as a key world influencer but has had nothing to contribute, as of late, to the high-intensity debates at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt (Forbes.ru, November 11).Read More

Fewer Children Affected by Conflict, but Conflict Intensity Is on the Rise

Today Save the Children launches its new report Stop the War on Children: The Forgotten Ones.

Photo: Mustafa Saeed / Save the Children

The report is based on PRIO’s sixth annual mapping of children in armed conflict covering the period 1990-2021.Read More

Russia was not Missed in Bali, But It Loomed Large

Global governance was tested at the G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia on November 15-16 by the urgent need to produce responses to many problems – from food insecurity to natural disasters caused by climate change – and the outcome could be marked as satisfactory.

Multiple divisions were negotiated by 16 state leaders, three foreign ministers, two leaders of the European Union and ten invited guests with various success, but no embarrassing failures were registered.Read More

When Are Economic Sanctions Morally Justified?

In spite of widespread support for the sanctions against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine, international economic sanctions remain a controversial instrument in world politics.

In this blog post, we discuss how the ethical criteria of just cause, proportionality, last resort and reasonable chance of success can help us think about the justice of sanctions.

Photo: Jernej Furman / Flickr / CC BY-2.0

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Faith, Hope and a Home of One’s Own

Buying a home is the biggest financial investment most people will ever make and usually involves taking out a loan. A mortgage is the usual solution, but it’s not for everyone. Lack of financial resources is the most common reason for not taking out a loan.

But for some people, the reason is that their religion prohibits interest-bearing loans. 

Photo: Trondheim kommune

In Islam, there is a clear prohibition on riba – often translated into English as ‘interest’ or ‘usury’. In Norway, interest-free alternatives to traditional mortgages are not available.

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Downplaying the Fall of Kherson, Moscow Aims to Freeze War

The liberation of Kherson by Ukrainian forces on November 11 was both predictable and surprising.

Photo: President of Ukraine / Public Domain

The strategic imperative for withdrawing Russian troops from the indefensible position along the west side of the Dnipro River had been abundantly clear long before the “difficult decision” presented by the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, Sergey Surovikin, to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on November 9.Read More

Power Cycle in International Politics: Africa’s Role in this Game

Amitav Acharya characterized the current world order as “a world of multiple modernities, where Western liberal modernity (and its preferred pathways to economic development and governance) is only a part of what is on offer”. A world, he adds, of interconnectedness and interdependence, and “not a singular global order, liberal or otherwise, but a complex of crosscutting, if not competing, international orders and globalism”.

Cold War in Africa in 1980. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This context pushes us to realize that there is no general agreement on what shape the “world order” will take in the decades ahead.

What is certain, however, is that Western democracy is declining.

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Armed Conflict and Climate Change: How These Two Threats Play Out in Africa

The world is falling miserably short of reducing carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement, a 2015 treaty to keep global warming well below 2℃.

The results of this failure are a greater increase in the prevalence and severity of extreme weather events, more rapid sea-level rises and an elevated risk of triggering irreversible climate tipping points, like the collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet or the loss of the Amazon rainforest.

Photo: Stephen Dupont / DFAT / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The speed and magnitude of these changes have immediate consequences for ecosystem health and biodiversity. Further, sustained climate change threatens fundamental dimensions of human wellbeing.Read More

Foreign Policy Setbacks Hamper Putin’s Desires for Bali

The G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, scheduled for November 15–16, certainly presents attractive prospects for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who needs to re-assert his place among the world’s most influential leaders.

However, he has yet to confirm his travel plans and not purely out of concern about affronts from the “hostile” states, which make up half the group.

Putin arriving at G20 Summit in Buenos Aires in 2018. Photo: G20 Argentina/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The G7 leaders and the European Union have recently agreed to stricter sanctions on Russian oil exports and on more support for Ukraine, while Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that he would not partake in the Bali proceedings if Putin did indeed attend (Izvestiya, November 3).

The Kremlin is also uncertain about the attitude from the other half of the group, since only three states (China, India and South Africa) abstained in the recent vote at the United Nations General Assembly, while other group members from the Global South, including Indonesia, supported the resolution condemning Russia’s annexation of the four occupied Ukrainian regions (Kommersant, November 3).Read More

Why has the Puntland state of Somalia been unable to conduct a ‘one person one vote’ election for over 24 years?

Somalia has not held multiparty elections since late 1969 when the military seized power from a democratically elected government in a bloodless coup.[1] The military remained in control until 1991, followed by thirty years of civil war and political instability.

Photo: Garowe Online

After the collapse of the central government, major clans, notably those in the northwest and northeast of the former Somali Republic, retreated to their stronghold territories and formed administrations that restored law and order and provided basic public services. Somaliland (1991) and Puntland (1998) were the first of these administrations to be established.  These two administrations have begun to elect political representatives through indirect elections in accordance with informal clan power-sharing models. In Somaliland, the clan elders and delegates selected leaders, including members of parliament (MPs) and the president. In the case of Puntland, MPs handpicked by traditional elders elected a President.Read More