Category: Blog


US Withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement could open the door to a new global leadership

On June 1st, 2017, the United States, the second largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world, announced its withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate change. The global deal to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases was ratified last year by almost 200 countries. Although the decision had been previously announced in Donald Trump’s campaign, his decision to follow through on his word came as a shock to the international community. Why did the US leave such a major framework for cooperation?  What are the international effects of the US withdrawal? Will this decision propel American leadership? Or will it bury it?

Aid and Violence in Kashmir

The violence in Kashmir is one of the longest-running and unresolved disputes in contemporary times. It is also at the centre of a nuclear flash point between two arch rivals – India and Pakistan. Both powers have engaged in three wars before nuclear acquisition (1947, 1965, 1971), as well as several military skirmishes (1999, 2001-2002). Relations between the two states are acrimonious at best.  Much of the hostility stems from unfettered terrorist activity in the region that is at times openly backed by Islamabad as means to undermine Indian hegemony. The September 2016 terrorist attacks in Uri attest to this reality, the consequences of which have virtually severed relations between the two states.

Adama Barrow’s New Presidency | Gambia Risk Report: A New Dawn?

On 1st December 2016, Gambia had what some might call its first “real” presidential election. A strong and united group of opposition parties, led by Adama Barrow, was able to defeat the incumbent autocrat, Yahya Jammeh, who had sat in power since 1994. While initially accepting the results, Jammeh would change face and dispute the results, triggering a constitutional crisis that was only thwarted following military and political pressure from several countries in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The result was cheered by international commentators and Gambians alike. The result was of particular significance for those Gambians who had fled to Europe during the past 20 years in an attempt to flee persecution under Jammeh’s rule. Many see Barrow’s victory as a critical juncture in Gambia’s future.

Aid channels that had been previously shut during the last few years of Jammeh’s rule – either by the humanitarian organisations of Jammeh himself – have slowly started to reopen. Political prisoners have been released from jails, and press freedoms have been greatly increased.

Risk Report | Nigeria: The economic and security implications of the renewed militancy in the Niger Delta.

Situating the Militancy

Located on Africa’s Western coast on the Gulf of Guinea and with an estimated population of 183 million people, Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Over the years, Nigeria has also emerged as Africa’s largest economy, with a GDP worth $481.07 billion in 2015. Even when ranked against other African resource-rich countries, Nigeria stands out as the leading economy on the African continent. Egypt’s GDP – despite the fact that the country is the second-largest African economy and natural gas producer – it does not exceed the threshold of $400 billion. Likewise, Angola – that led the African oil producing countries well above Nigeria in the first half of 2016 –  has a GDP worth only $102.96 billion, less than a third of Nigeria’s. Historically, the risk within Nigeria’s economic growth, has been that income and revenues have been tied to the exploitation of its resource-rich soil, with the oil and natural gas industry primarily located in the southern Niger Delta region.  Since crude oil was first discovered in 1956 in Oloibiri, in the South-Eastern Bayelsa state, the Niger Delta region has played a crucial role in the economics, politics and security of Nigeria. This has cultivated the conditions necessary for the emergence of the so-called politics of oil. A common practice of governance shared by other oil-rich countries across Africa. For Nigeria, this means that oil and natural gas revenues are the mainstays of its economy, accounting for roughly 70% of the Nigerian government’s income and 90% of foreign exchange earnings.

The Dangerous Business of Humanitarian Aid

How Aid Organisations Should Go About Providing Safety and Security

With about 280,000 humanitarian aid workers worldwide, the United Nation’s Office for Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that the odds of an aid worker experiencing an attack are 1 in 1,000, making the business of assisting the world’s most vulnerable citizens a very dangerous undertaking.1 The complexity of today’s threat landscape has caused the business of humanitarian action to become more physically dangerous. In 2015 and 2016 alone, 616 aid workers fell victim to violent attacks, 229 of which resulted in death, with the most prevalent acts of intentional violence stemming from armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, IED’s, landmines and assault.2 Overall, the rate of major attacks against aid workers, measured by the number of killings, kidnappings and casualties over the population of aid workers in the field has increased over the past decade in a handful in violent environments. With the highest-risk degree of attacks taking place in: Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and the Central African Republic.