Blog

Letter from the editors

Dear Readers,

We are very excited to introduce ourselves as the new Head Editors for King’s Think Tank. The readership for the KTT blog has grown over the past year and we intend to push it further for the academic year. A little about ourselves:

Paakhi Bhatnagar

I am a final year International Relations student currently researching the role of Indian media in the conflict in Kashmir. I love to read and write and some of my favorite writers include Plath, Fitzgerald, and Chomsky. I am very excited to take on the role of Head Editor alongside my colleague, Julia. 

Julia Bennett

I’m a third year History student at Kings. My main interests include Indigenous history, the role that dictatorship and democracy played in twentieth century Latin American politics and the relationship between migration and identity. I love reading all your articles and can’t wait to read many more of them!

We are currently working hard to publish original and creative content on all things policy for you to read. Our platform has grown to include KTT’s very own podcast: The Policy Plug, we do recommend you check it out. 

If you would like to get involved with the KTT blog or have any questions at all, please send us an email at editor@kingsthinktank.org

Best wishes,

Julia and Paakhi. 

Climate Change and its Impact on Businesses

Climate change has come to the forefront of global politics in recent years, with large scale protests led by international organisations such as Extinction Rebellion gaining considerable momentum. In particular, the protests at the end of September 2019 were the largest display of resistance against climate change in recent history, and were timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Summit. This protest saw over 6 million people take to the streets in 180 countries to demand faster and stricter action on climate change. What made this movement unique was that it displayed not only the realities of climate change but it also demonstrated the widespread concern that consumers around the world feel for it. It is important to consider the impacts that this issue and the heightened awareness that surrounds it has on businesses around the world. 

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China’s oppression of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang

Introduction

Xinjiang provides a fascinating example of the fusion of diverse and complex heritage by the cultural and spiritual influence of Islam and Buddhism. The trade and complementary influences enriched human development and left a profound impression on the political, economic, and social life throughout the region. Referred to as the ‘pivot of Asia’ by noted American scholar Owen Lattimore, Xinjiang is China’s declared core strategic area, where it brooks no international interference in its internal affairs.

The status of Xinjiang (a provincial-level autonomous zone of China) can be classified as highly geostrategic. It shares borders with the Central Asian Republics of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan in the west and north, Mongolia in the northeast, India’s Jammu and Kashmir in the southwest, Tibet in the southeast, and Afghanistan in the south. Covering a vast amount of land amounting to nearly one-sixth of China’s total territory, Xinjiang is its largest province with a majority of Muslims.

Continue reading “China’s oppression of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang”

The Existing Structural Problems that Led to the Latin American Debt Crisis

The Latin American Debt Crisis of the 1980s (also known as the Lost Decade) was one of the most traumatic economic events in Latin American history. Before the 1980s, Latin American countries borrowed capital from foreign commercial banks to fuel their development. However, to soften the effects of the 1973 Oil Shock, the US Federal Reserve increased real interest rates. This increase led to a rapid rise of the real value of Latin American debt. In fact, by the 1980s, Latin America’s foreign debt amounted to nearly half of the region’s GDP. The crisis became evident when the Mexican government announced it could no longer service its debts in August 1982. Indeed, when foreign commercial banks halted the inflow of capital and demanded the repayment of existing foreign loans many other Latin American governments – including Brazil, Argentina, and Bolivia – also announced that they could not make payments on their foreign debts.

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The paradox of abundance: the future of work in the face of automation and degrowth

In the coming years, the climate crisis will present a myriad of problems and challenges for our societies to overcome. As humanity is forced to abandon perpetual economic growth, we will have to find new policies to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of resources among all people.

In recent years, the threat that automation poses to workers has risen to prominence within Western political discourse. This is nothing new. From the Luddites rebelling against the mechanisation of the textile industry to fears that the US’s ‘Green Revolution’ in agriculture would leave farm labourers destitute, technological change in our economic processes has always been met with fears of job losses. This presents a specific challenge to efforts to roll-out measures such as a ‘Green New Deal’, aimed at limiting further growth in order to mitigate the climate emergency.

Continue reading “The paradox of abundance: the future of work in the face of automation and degrowth”

Migration and pandemics: an Immiscible Mix

 In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been widely reported that marginalised groups in societies have been disproportionately impacted by the outbreak. Among those who are likely to suffer greater consequences the migrant communities across the world. 

Migrants endure the consequences of the pandemic to a greater extent when compared to other groups – such as natives – for various reasons. Firstly, migrants often suffer from unequal access to basic services such as healthcare. This is more common for those on short-term visas or in irregular situations. In situations where migrants are granted access to healthcare services in the host nation, they remain constrained due to the lack of linguistic diversity in service provision, xenophobia, and limited knowledge of the host country. 

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Iran’s Deal with China and its Implications for the United States

Washington is urging its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) allies to put an end to the standstill with Qatar. The Saudi-led blockade has now lasted for over three years, and on July 26th 2020, US Special Representative Brian Hook stated that the crisis is a threat to security in the region. While Oman and Kuwait have initiated dialogue, it has not led to a promising resolution. The US has continued its attempts to mediate the conflict to no avail, and Hook believes this failure has hindered Washington’s efforts in pressuring Iran. In recent years, the US has supported a geopolitical coalition between Israel and several GCC members against Iran and the proxy-forces it assists in Syria and Yemen. When Saudi Arabia and several other states accused Qatar of excessively close relations with Iran in 2017, they severed ties with the country. The Trump administration appears to be more concerned about Qatar’s reunification with its former allies than before, and the change in perspective comes as China concludes a $400 billion economic and security deal with Iran. It is plausible that the US aims to restore Qatar’s relationship with its neighbours to revitalize the geopolitical pressure against Iran before its deal with China comes to fruition.

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Regulating Fully Autonomous Weapons

Fully autonomous weapons (FAWs), which are robotic systems that can select  and fire upon targets without any human intervention, have the potential to be an enormous revolution in military affairs. Proponents of FAWs believe that they will allow faster, more precise and more efficient military interventions. They additionally maintain that these systems will reduce the human risks connected with military operations since they will replace  soldiers with autonomous machines. However, despite these advantages, FAWs have been  denounced as killer robots and are widely criticized by society and the international community. Critics cite, among other factors, the lack of human supervision, the dangers of the robotic arms race, the limited ability of machines to estimate proportionality of an attack and distinguish legitimate targets from illegitimate ones, and the problems associated with accountability for robot’s actions. Despite these serious arguments against FAWs, a pre-emptive ban on this technology is unlikely because it is opposed by the superpowers mosted invested in the development of the weapons systems. A more feasible solution would be to establish  regulations that would alleviate the most harmful aspects of FAWs.  This policy proposal will introduce regulations that the international community, through the mechanism of the United Nations, should implement  in order to prevent the most harmful effects of FAW development and deployment.

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Tackling the EU democratic deficit by increasing the representativity of the European Parliament

  1. Background

In recent years, political participation of European citizens has been decreasing. Voter turnout has declined from 62% in the first European Parliament (EP) elections in 1979 to 43% in 2014. At the same time, the 2018 Eurobarometer shows low levels of trust of citizens in the European Parliament (50%) and the European Commission (46%). Many critics argue that the EU suffers from a democratic deficit, noting that EU decision-making procedures are either inaccessible or excessively complex for ordinary citizens to comprehend and engage with. The latter accusation contradicts the notion of liberal democracy, which is one of the EU’s core values and a condition of membership.  

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Letter from the Editors

We are excited to mark the 10-year anniversary of the founding of King’s Think Tank with the 10th issue of The Spectrum, a student policy journal that from its conception has striven to publish the most innovative policy proposals that students at King’s College London have to offer. Featuring the largest number of articles to date, this edition contains policy proposals and analytical pieces that address a broad range of topics, from EU immigration policies, to carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, to political upheavals in Hong Kong and Venezuela. 

As the past few months have shown, we live in a world of unprecedented change, reflected in developments including climate change-related disasters, the COVID-19 pandemic, and protests against systemic racism across the United States, Europe, and other parts of the world. While the articles in this journal span a wide variety of issues, they all seek to reconcile governments and wider society to the rapidly changing world we are witnessing. Many of them stress the importance of international unity and cooperation in addressing the increasingly transnational issues we face today.

None of our authors purport to advance complete or exhaustive solutions to the effects of algorithmic bias or the challenge of stimulating a developing economy along environmentally sustainable lines. However, as you read this journal, you will find papers that offer informed, logical, and creative measures in response to the issues they address, reflecting hours of research and careful consideration of multiple aspects of sound policy, from legal issues to those of implementation.

In a world in which the nature of human communication, social fabrics, and our physical environment are all changing at exceptional rates, well-founded and productive policy is more important than ever. As we conclude our time as Head Editors, we remain confident that King’s Think Tank will remain a powerful platform for students to voice their visions for progress and develop their skills in composing constructive, evidence-based policy. We hope you thoroughly enjoy the 10th edition of our policy journal, The Spectrum.

Julia Sandberg and Anais Herne

Head Editors

King’s Think Tank