Professor Alessandro Monsutti speaking at the annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture, hosted by the Refugee Studies Centre. Credit: Ian M. McClelland/RSC
Last Wednesday I attended the Refugee Study Centre’s annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture given by Professor Alessandro Monsutti, Research Director, Transnational Studies/Development studies, The Graduate Institute, Geneva.
Drawing from his research with Afghan refugees living in the diaspora, Monsutti outlined a world witnessing shifting sovereignties in which the lines between the nation-state and transnational actors were blurred, and displaced people could increasingly be viewed as agents of their own lives rather than the passive victims seen from a state-centric perspective.
A wide view of the Security Council during a briefing by the Chair of the Council’s Committee established pursuant to resolution 1737 (2006), which deals with sanctions imposed on Iran, 21 March 2012. Credit: United Nations
The second half of this month sees two important meetings in the continuing negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The cost of failure is high and expectations are worryingly low.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) met with Iran this week with talks continuing next Monday, after failed attempts earlier in the year to negotiate access to the military site at Parchin. On 23 May the ‘P5+1’ (five permanent member of the UN Security Council with the addition of Germany) will meet with the Tehran regime in Baghdad to try and reach a deal to constrain Iran’s uranium enrichment and subject it to enhanced verification. Given that the entire purpose of a daylong meeting in April was merely to test Iran’s willingness to negotiate seriously on its nuclear programme, no one will be holding their breath for significant progress.
“China is like an elephant riding on a bicycle. If it slows down, it could fall off and then the earth might quake” – Anon.
It’s almost five years since I submitted my MSc dissertation on China’s energy security strategy so I recently decided to retrieve it from my bookcase and take another look. I found it a fascinating research topic at the time and I’m interested to know how much has changed in the intervening five years and whether the predictions made and points raised still hold true. This will be the first part of a series of blogs re-examining the different themes that I explored. But first for a quick review and a bit of naval gazing…
I received a Distinction for my dissertation of which I am rather proud, but upon reading it now I certainly feel that I could have made some significant improvements. Although it contains some very interesting research—most notably regarding the development of China’s “String of Pearls” and predicted changes in the dynamic of Sino-US relations—I feel that it would have benefited from a better structured argument in support of a clearly defined proposition.
The founders of Invisible Children – Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole, and Jason Russell – posing with guns alongside members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). “We thought it would be funny to bring back to our friends and family a joke photo. You know, ‘Haha – they have bazookas in their hands but they’re actually fighting for peace’” said Jason Russell. Yeah, hilarious.
KONY 2012, a film and campaign by Invisible Children, has become an internet phenomenon in the past 48 hours with an astonishing 38 million people — and counting — viewing the video on YouTube and many millions more on Vimeo. The viral success of this campaign has reverberated across the internet and the following extracts from my Twitter stream offer just some of the many opinions and reactions elicited by the video.
The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs – one of Moscow’s “Seven Sisters”. Credit: Ian M. McClelland
Arriving in Moscow at night is a disorientating experience. On the surface, the city looks like many other European capitals, complete with heavy traffic, billboards advertising well-known brands, and endless grey apartment blocks looming over the streets. But it was when I caught a brief glimpse of St. Basil’s Cathedral through the window of my taxi that I first saw a city unlike any other I have visited.
Architecturally, Moscow is an imposing place with the beautiful domes of Orthodox Christian churches contrasted against a series of giant gothic skyscrapers—known as the “Seven Sisters” and commissioned by Stalin in the wake of World War II—which encircle the city. It is a city engulfed in a tumultuous history, reflected not only in its architecture, but also in its culture and politics, and in the everyday lives of Russian people.