Saturday 21 May 2022 | 05:43 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Lies, damn lies, and North Korea’s Covid statistics

More than two years since North Korea locked down its border in January 2020 and went on to record zero Covid-19 cases and deaths across all the months since, the country last week admitted to a coronavirus outbreak that it claims began in late April. The latest figures from North Korea’s state

A required update for the EU-US Trade and Tech Council

The second EU-US Trade and Technology Council meeting took place in Paris at the weekend. An outcome of the EU-US Summit in June 2021, the TTC was established to strengthen and coordinate transatlantic cooperation and develop values-based approaches to global trade, economic and technology issues

Diplomacy is indispensable to manage the Mekong

Milton Osborne mischaracterises the Mekong River Commission when writing last month in The Interpreter that the regional organisation “ignores reality”. To say we were “celebrating” the health of the river at our Mekong Day event on 5 April overlooks the fact that on that day I continued to

Shanghai lockdown prompts collective action

The Shanghai lockdown following a Covid-19 outbreak last month saw the most stringent restrictions placed upon a Chinese city since the pandemic began. Although Chinese civil society may be heavily circumscribed, a stituation exacerbated by Covid, civic action and protests have continued to occur

Musk’s Twitter: Tweet freedom for Asia?

Now that Elon Musk is the sole owner of Twitter – pending formal regulatory and shareholder sign-offs – it’s fair to say that not only will this change the social media giant, it will impact the landscape of social media generally. That means there are implications for how information will be

Putting Putin on trial to enforce a price for the powerful

Stories of children finding the bullet-ridden bodies of their parents, repeated rapes, and airstrikes have revealed the horrors of Russia’s invasion to the world. In the two months since forces rolled into Ukraine in February, satellite images have shown bodies lining the streets of Bucha, while

Even Putin is not beyond the law

Russia’s ability to launch its so-called “special military operation” to undertake “denazification” in Ukraine has not so far faced international legal sanction. On 25 February, a draft UN Security Council Resolution was debated, but failed to win support after a Russian veto. Since then,

Solomons security pact: Sogavare, China, and Australia

Labor has described Solomon Islands’ security pact with China as Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the Pacific since the Second World War, but this is hyperbole. Australia’s biggest foreign policy failure in the region – ever – is its failure to address (at both a national and

Economic diplomacy: After Ukraine, the IMF ponders the future

Diminishing consensus That grandee of American economic statecraft Robert Zoellick made an uncomfortable return to public life this month by being lampooned for sitting on the Twitter board for four years but never managing to tweet. Nevertheless, the one-time Republican consiglieri has provided

Russia-Ukraine: It always comes down to food

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has led to a food shortage – or crisis for some – in unexpected places across the world. For wheat, maize, barley and sunflower oil, Russia and Ukraine are among the biggest global producers. Russia is also the world’s top exporter of fertiliser and

Law of the sea: A contested watershed ruling

When in 2016 the Arbitral Tribunal issued its watershed ruling in the case between the Philippines and China, responses from the international community were lacklustre. The Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative’s “arbitration support tracker” suggests that eight governments have publicly

How the Mekong River Commission ignores reality

Among the many “days” celebrated by the international community, one entrant seems especially incongruous. “Mekong Day” was proclaimed by the Mekong River Commission’s (MRC) headquarters in Vientiane to celebrate the signature of the “Agreement on the Cooperation and Sustainable

“Lawfare” in the South China Sea disputes

The term “lawfare”, and its etymology in the term warfare, has traditionally been perceived as negative, based on the notion that it meant the misuse of law or legal institutions to achieve a military or operational objective. Law as a “weapon of war” inevitably conjured up images of the law

Youth politics in East and Southeast Asia

From the “Milk Tea Alliance”, an online pan-Asian solidarity movement of anti-authoritarian activists, to young politicians pushing progressive causes, youth politics in East and Southeast Asia has been on the upswing in recent years. While they operate in very different national contexts, what

Changing our view of Pacific visas

Much to the disappointment of Agricultural Minister David Littleproud, in February the Australian Agricultural Visa (“Ag Visa”) was reportedly rejected by Thailand, Philippines, and Vietnam. These were three of the four nations invited to join the scheme (Indonesia, which expressed interest,

Ukraine suffers under realism’s Pyrrhic victory

Thucydides is considered the father of a “realist” approach to the theory and practise of international relations. One of his more celebrated observations was that “the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must”. More than two thousand years later, residents of Ukraine may

What counts for victims of trafficking?

Trafficking in persons is a billion-dollar global industry that seeks anonymity in every aspect of its criminal execution. Yet data related to human trafficking is a rare resource and, until recently, not one that focused on the experience of victims and survivors of human trafficking. A landmark

The logistical challenge of responding to disaster

The humanitarian community has been challenged by major shocks in the past two years – the Covid-19 pandemic, a military coup in Myanmar, an invasion of Ukraine only the most prominent. These events, together with climate change as a threat multiplier, are changing the operating environment for

China’s women “hold up half the sky”

Advocacy for women’s rights is on the rise in China, whether the censors like it or not. And feminism is gathering more support, highlighted in recent weeks across China’s social media through debate on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in an uncomfortable exposition of the country’s

The end of Antarctic exceptionalism?

Moscow’s latest invasion of Ukraine has turned Vladimir Putin’s Russia into a pariah state, essentially overnight, and seen the country saddled with an unprecedented international sanction regime. The long-term implications of freezing cooperation and dialogue with Russia are significant –

Social media in times of war

The dominant narrative of social media during the ongoing war in Ukraine is often reduced to considerations of stopping the spread of dis/misinformation. Reducing social media’s capacity and power in this manner can not only ignore some of the other dangers of social media during crises, but also

Sustainable catch: navigating global fisheries crime

A fish consumed in Australia could be caught near Palau, by a Thai vessel with a Cambodian crew, shipped to a packing plant in Vietnam and sold to a distributor in Taiwan before reaching the Australian market. The global scope of fisheries management makes it a contested area of international

Women’s participation in peace mediation

Mediation to end armed conflict has traditionally been dominated by men. With the conflict in Ukraine currently consuming global narratives on everything from human rights to defence of the so-called international rules-based order, the voices of women in this space remain, as is so often the case,

The election for the future of the internet

In September this year, UN member states will cast their votes for the next secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). While elections for bureaucratic positions in obscure, technical UN bodies normally pass unnoticed, the ITU has emerged as the major battleground in

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