Antony Blinken: The New Face of U.S. Diplomacy

Since January 2017, the world has suffered a State Department that treated foreign policy more like a yo-yo than a strategy. Whilst he was a candidate, Donald Trump repeatedly mulled pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate AccordsIran nuclear deal, and even NATO. As President, he went two for three on those agreements, putting peace in the Middle East and America’s commitment to fighting climate change into jeopardy as a result.

At Foggy Bottom – a colloquialism originating from the State Department’s headquarters in Washington’s north-west quadrant – things were little better. From Rex Tillerson reportedly calling Trump a “f****** moron” to Mike Pompeo allegedly ordering staffers to walk his dog, these have not been easy years for America’s allies, or even State Department officials for that matter.

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United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG): A Turning Point in Civilian Policing?

By the end of the Cold War, United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK) operations had entered a second generation. During the Cold War, UNPK had been largely military and “with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, threats to peace have taken on a new character,” challenging the nature of peacekeeping. The United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) was deployed to Namibia in 1989, during the “transformation of the international system”, a year after “the new readiness of the United States and the Soviet Union to work together, [which] created a renewed demand for peacekeeping.” The revival of relations, in some way, reflected the nature of the mission of UNTAG. It too marked a revival of its own, in which UNPK attempted to engage “in multidimensional conflict after the demise of the Congo operation (ONUC) in 1964.” 

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Should the COVID-19 Vaccine become a Global Public Good?

When the inventor of the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk, was asked who owns his discovery, he responded, ‘the people. There is no patent. Could you patent the sun?’

As we enter the second year of COVID-19, various pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Novavax have completed their final round of vaccine trials at a record pace, and the roll out in some countries has now begun. Despite this being a cause for hope as we finally start to see some light at the end of the long COVID tunnel, the world has started to witness the phenomenon of ‘vaccine nationalism,’ which may hinder the global battle against the pandemic. Such a term is used to define the actions taken by governments of wealthy countries, who have signed direct deals with pharmaceutical companies in order to receive first access to billions of COVID-19 vaccine doses for their own populations. In doing so, these countries restrict the access to vaccines for other states.

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United Nations Emergency Force I (UNEF I): The Stepping Stone of United Nations Peacekeeping

The effectiveness of United Nations Peacekeeping (UNPK) has been debated over the course of its 70-year history. Peacekeepers have shown that they are resilient among crises and adaptable in the 21st century’s ever-changing landscape. This article explores the historical context of United Nations Peacekeeping, from its foundation to the contemporary era, specifically examining their mission’s establishments and breakthroughs and their respective influence in shaping the course of peacekeeping for the years to come. 

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Saving lives with language

Foreign aid is often associated with goods such as food parcels, medicine, and infrastructure. However, one of the most crucial services provided to areas suffering from natural disasters and pandemics is translation. Translation also plays a crucial role in conflicts, allowing differing narratives to spread and compete. Additionally, translation is often weaponised as a propaganda tool. Although English is often regarded as the global language, 6 billion of the Earth’s 7 billion people  ‘don’t communicate in English at all’.  As a result, appeals for aid from war zones or areas affected by natural disasters are frequently translated into English in order to resonate with anglophone audiences. Furthermore, with organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières providing relief workers from all over the globe, language barriers multiply, and translation becomes ever more necessary. 

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Overcoming Foreign Dependency: Palestine’s Aid Problem

At a joint White House press conference on 28 January, alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed the long-awaited political framework of his Peace to Prosperity plan: a series of proposals aimed at resolving the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fulfilling the Palestinian demand for an independent state. The 180-page document rejects the Palestinian right to return and supports the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The move has since provoked criticism from the UN, which reaffirmed its commitment to a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders, and from Palestine National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who in response to the plan announced the severing of all ties with Israel and the U.S. Beyond the feasibility of the ambitious proposals, which  include the longest road tunnel in the world, the complete lack of Palestinian involvement in the project illustrates the varied forms of foreign domination that the Occupied Palestinian Territory has historically been subjected to. Since the creation of Israel in 1948, Palestinian dependence on foreign assistance has seen it become the second largest recipient of international aid per capita in the world, yet 29% of the 4.8 million residents continue to live under the poverty line, with 2.4 million living in need of food assistance. The Palestinian experience raises questions about the effectiveness of long-term development aid that often fails to confront institutional limitations that inhibit self-sufficiency, while perpetuating the political and economic power dynamics that facilitate foreign dependency. 

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Event Review: Life at the Edge of Nations: Hong Kong, Kashmir, Catalonia

On 14 November, King’s Think Tank’s Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centre hosted a panel discussion on the topic ‘Life at the Edge on Nations: Hong Kong, Kashmir, Catalonia’. The main aim of the event was to create an interactive space for students and expert speakers to discuss the factors which influence the rise of secessionist movements and the identity crises faced by minorities within a region. With a diverse set of panel speakers, the event addressed different secessionist struggles around the globe and identified differences and similarities among various separatist movements. 

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The Disappearance of Kashmiri Autonomy: What the Indian Government Needs to Do

Kashmir’s struggle for autonomy was recently subdued when India revoked its special status under Article 370 and abrogated Article 35A, which granted special privileges to the people of Kashmir. India’s government under Prime Minister Narendra Modi has considered the rising terrorist attacks, religious violence and lack of economic development in the region as symptoms of the long-lasting privileges granted to the state. 

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Event Review: Policy Hackathon, International Migration in Crisis

On 17 October, King’s Think Tank’s  European Affairs and Defence and Diplomacy Policy Centres co-hosted an event exploring migration policy in a time of regional, and potentially global, crisis. The event was interactive, with teams of students grouped together, each with a different migration focus. The event’s aim was to create successful and enactable policy suggestions which would alleviate certain pressures within each migration focus. Whilst the teams were each allocated a specific migration crisis (US-Mexico Border Crisis, European Refugee Crisis, Post-Soviet State migration, Migration from the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar, or Venezuelan/Colombian Migration), they were free to set their own identity and policy focus. Each group then had 2 minutes to present their proposals, competing for the chance to be published on the  King’s Think Tank Blog. 

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What is the Current Framework Behind Military Exports Regulation in the UK?

At the panel discussion on the global defence industry we tried to understand the framework behind the regulation of military export licenses in the United Kingdom. Professor Trevor Taylor, who is currently working at the Defence Management at the Royal United Services Institute, mainly spoke about the current structure of military export regulations. As he explained, the United Kingdom operates under the European code conduct – or at least in theory. This conduct consists mainly of eight criteria that all the members of the European Union – even the United Kingdom – are required to follow. Continue reading “What is the Current Framework Behind Military Exports Regulation in the UK?”