China’s Conflict with the NBA Shows Why Companies Can’t Force Social Change by Themselves

A tweet landed a global brand in a clash of politics and cultural demands.

The Lakers play the Golden State Warriors in a 2013 NBA Global Games match in China. Photo: kpang21 CC via Flickr

It was a tough week for U.S. companies doing business in China. Tiffany canceled an ad campaign because the model had a hand over her right eye, prompting critics in China to complain it looked like she was supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Blizzard Activision banned an esports player for one year for expressing support for Hong Kong — and also fired the announcers who interviewed the video game champ. Apple banned pro-democracy singers from selling on Hong Kong iTunes.

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What “Chernobyl” Teaches Us About the Superiority of Democracy

Authoritarian structures made Chernobyl an unavoidable accident.

Photo: Jorge Franganillo CC

The HBO series “Chernobyl” has garnered rave reviews all over the world. Norwegian newspapers have been almost unanimous in their praise of the series. And with good reason. This is television drama at its very best.

One largely overlooked aspect of the series is what it teaches us about some of the completely fundamental differences between non-democratic and democratic regimes.

No doubt this was not one of the objectives of the series creators, but “Chernobyl” provides an unrivaled introduction into how and why democracy is superior to authoritarian forms of government in the longer term. The series shows why it will be the world’s democracies, not China, that will continue to dominate in the 21st century.

Perhaps the most important message conveyed by the series is that all forms of authoritarian regimes ultimately suffer from fundamental structural weaknesses.

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The Iterative Relationship Between Technology and International Security

Photo: Alexandre Debiève CC

Scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations are often subject to public discussion about their capacity to affect international security, either by their military exploitation or their uptake and re-appropriation through non-state actors and terrorists. While accompanying proliferation and militarisation concerns are not new, the challenge of governing emerging technologies is as much about their often-unknown technical affordances as the way in which they capture the imagination of innovators, policy-makers, and public communities.

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Preventing the Work of Rescue Vessels in the Mediterranean Will Not Save More Migrants

The Norwegian-registered vessel Ocean Viking, operated by Médecins Sans Frontières, has recently been at the centre of a debate that has become dominated by one assumption: that search-and-rescue (SAR) operations are encouraging people to attempt to cross the Mediterranean.

Ai Weiwei’s Soleil Levant – migrants’ lifejackets. This artwork in Copenhagen, by renowned Chinese artist and dissident Ai Weiwei, is made up of actual life jackets used by migrants crossing to the Greek island of Lesbos in search of safety or a better life in Europe. Photo: TeaMeister via Flickr.

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A Migrant in the Common European House: Pavel Baev Interviewed by Stein Tønnesson

Pavel Baev in 2008. Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix

Pavel Baev, interviewed by Stein Tønnesson

In the late 1980s, when I took part in drafting speeches for Mikhail Gorbachev underpinning his concept of an ‘All-European House’, one part of my work was to strive towards the elimination of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe. Nothing came out of it at the time. Now, after more than 25 years at PRIO and having become a Norwegian citizen, the same question has taken on a new complexity with the worsening of East-West relations. I want to return to the work I did at the time, and co-operate with my PRIO colleagues on a project aimed to reduce the not negligible risk of a limited nuclear war in Europe.

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Sports Could Be the Greatest Ambassador Kosovo Has Ever Had

On the evening of Tuesday, September 10, Kosovo’s national football team played England in its biggest match to date. Prior to the match, the team had gone undefeated since October 2017. The success of the national team has echoed throughout the world and the team is fast becoming Kosovo’s most successful export. #ENGKOS and Kosovo were respectively the second and sixth biggest trends worldwide on Twitter that Tuesday evening. While not the intention, the success of the national team has given Europe’s youngest (and the world’s second-youngest) state positive international exposure in a time when its sovereignty is under its most serious attack since the declaration of independence in 2008. How can success in sports be of critical value to a small state like Kosovo?

Young Kosovo national team footballers in 2011. Photo: Burim via Wikimedia Commons

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Creating a Third Space in the Cyprus Conflict: Mete Hatay Interviewed by Cindy Horst

At the age of two, Mete Hatay plays in the barricades that surrounded the neighborhood in Cyprus where he grew up. Photo: Private archives

Mete Hatay, interviewed by Cindy Horst

Seeing victim become perpetrator, perpetrator become victim – seeing them change places depending on the situation – triggered a lot of questions in my mind…

Whatever you imagine for the future, you always construct it from the past. And you cannot say, ‘let’s put the past behind us and start now’, because the property title still comes from the past. You cannot say: ‘All right, I’m keeping the property, let’s put the past behind us’, you cannot do that. Rhetorically, of course, you have to start a new life, but in reality, you always have the past haunting you – physically as well as emotionally, both through legal means, and in how history is written.

In order to tackle these problems of the different pasts, and different visions, and different truths, we have aimed to prepare a third space for multiple perspectives. So that everybody can bring their perspectives and have a debate about it. So that we can strive to a certain compromised truth somehow. To help develop new strategies.

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From Anarchy to Enlightened Absolutism? Sverre Lodgaard Interviewed by Hilde Henriksen Waage

Sverre Lodgaard (right) with John Sanness (left; 1913–84), director of the Norwegian Institute for International Affairs 1959–83 and leader of the Nobel Committee 1979–81.

Sverre Lodgaard, interviewed by Hilde Henriksen Waage

What kind of journey was it, from life as a young researcher at PRIO in the 1960s, to directorial roles at PRIO and the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s? How do Sverre Lodgaard’s life and work connect with his research career, his directorial roles, and social trends? And how does his journey relate to the evolution of PRIO over a period of 60 years?

The journey runs from a small village in Trøndelag County, where Lodgaard spent his childhood and early teenage years, to Oslo. When, how, and why did Lodgaard arrive at PRIO, and why did he end up in jail for refusing to do military service? In the 1970s, PRIO became notorious for its political radicalization. Lodgaard’s research areas – East-West relations; the anti-nuclear movement; non-proliferation; disarmament; and heavy water – were a perfect fit with this radicalization.

But 1987 represented a watershed. That year, after having spent several years at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Lodgaard returned to PRIO as the organization’s director and embarked on a massive clean-up operation. PRIO was transformed from an institute of hippies and left-wing radicals into a reputable research institute, welcomed in from the cold by the Norwegian Ministries of Defence and Foreign Affairs, political authorities, and the Research Council of Norway. A new epoch had begun.

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