Columnists

Lest we forget

Diplomacy refers to all forms of communications, networking and negotiations practiced in international relations to advance the interests of a given state. Formal international platforms - whether security or economic communities - seek to coalesce states around shared interests, and create protection against conflicts of interest becoming violent.


Can the 'P5' process deliver on disarmament?

Given political will, what could nuclear weapon states, individually and as a group, realistically do to positively affect change and inject hope into the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

The Scottish referendum: a chance to challenge our nuclear assumptions?

The removal of nuclear weapons from Scottish soil may be a “red-line” issue for the SNP today, but as the complexity of other defining issues - currency, European Union membership, national debt - begins to surface, this “red-line” may well evolve into a bargaining chip.

India: jostling for geopolitical control in Afghanistan

Forecasts past the withdrawal of US and British forces in Afghanistan tend to prize fears of violence and instability spilling over into Pakistan, obscuring the country's vital importance to both India and China. 

Harper’s discordant notes

Unlike the US, Canada has always had a positive reputation in the strife-tone Middle East as an impartial broker and peacemaker. Until now.

Nuclear disarmament: the case for engagement, not division

While understanding the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons are key to acheiving disarmament, efforts for a new convention outside the nuclear non-proliferation treaty will only fragment the nuclear debate further.

India and Pakistan: time to call time on proxy wars

India and Pakistan’s zero-sum game is hindering development and the proxy wars in which the two states have indulged need to come to an end. If they do, big dividends would follow.

North Korea: totalitarianism in transition?

Periodically wracked by famine and lambasted in a UN human-rights inquiry, North Korea remains a state without parallel. What lies behind the regime’s latest purge?

Syria: from corridor diplomacy to humanitarian corridors

With the larger substantive issues of ceasefires and political transition at an impasse, the ground broken over humanitarian access has suddenly become a metric for whether the first phase of Geneva II will be considered a success.

Rethinking nuclear catastrophe

The increasing discussion of the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons may be able to move disarmament talks beyond the political disparities between the weapons haves and have-nots – and shift our understanding of the consequences beyond simply national interest. 

Iran: making the deal work

Only strengthened diplomatic efforts, treating all partners as equal, can defuse the deep mistrust threatening the interim nuclear deal and enable a long-term agreement. 

China and the Great Game

Almost all discussion of Afghanistan after 2014 hinges on the withdrawal of western forces. Yet into that gap a major power is stepping—China. China’s involvement in turn poses major questions, vis-à-vis Pakistan, India and their own point of friction—Kashmir.

After Snowden: UN takes first small step to curb global surveillance

The debate on international electronic spying, blown open by the US National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden, moves this week to the United Nations General Assembly. It begins what is set to be a long battle to affirm the privacy rights of global citizens

Japan's designated secrets bill - the sound of the jackboots

Japan's new secrecy law is yet another disturbing symptom of the country's rising militarism, broadening the government's power to classify state secrets amidst increased belligerence in the region. 

More sanctions could undermine the Iran deal

US congressional efforts to introduce new sanctions legislation threatens the fragile ground gained through diplomatic efforts to secure an interim nuclear deal with Iran. 

Syria's chemical weapons: is the UN exceeding its mandate?

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons should be a technical agency of the UN. But it has arguably become a piece in a geo-political chess game dominated by the US, invited into Syria to act in contravention of its remit. 

Geneva II: prospects for a negotiated peace in Syria

With a fractious opposition internally and rival external powers engaged, the prospects are challenging for the ‘Geneva II’ conference on Syria. Threat of indictment for war crimes by the International Criminal Court could concentrate combatant minds.

Brokering Geneva II

How can the US and Russia look past their longstanding rivalry to move the political track forward and bring Syrian parties to the negotiating table?

Making progress with Iran

Given the tumultuous history between the negotiating countries, the interim deal signed over Iran’s nuclear programme is a real achievement. Provided all sides deliver on their commitments, this deal is an opportunity to build confidence and potentially break through the historic trust deficit.

Gambling with our security?

How much risk are we willing to accept? The dangers of maintaining nuclear weapons remain the same but the issue has fallen out of public awareness, and a mistake could be disastrous.

MI5 in Ceylon - the untold story

Britain's collusion in the Sri Lankan state's violent tactics of repression is finally coming to light. But it's only one part of its long history aiding police brutality across many former colonies - and much more remains unknown.

A way out of the Afghanistan conundrum

%22Bordering"A comprehensive peace will clearly not be achieved militarily, but how can the warring factions engaged with the complex conflict in Afghanistan be brought into negotiations? Engagement with Alternative Dispute Resolution practices at the regional level offers potential.

Why diversity matters to the nuclear debate

Nuclear weapons policy reaches far into our daily global economic, trade and foreign relations, yet for the most part is inaccessible to public scrutiny. This week the EU will discuss the presence of America's B61s in Europe: an opportunity to open up the debate.

Working towards a WMD-free Middle East

Despite notes of caution and a lack of concrete offers, Presidents Obama and Rouhani set the stage for increased engagement at the UN last week. With calls for a WMD-free zone in the Middle East reaffirmed, Israel's game plan will be central.

US scuppered deal with Iran in 2005, says then British Foreign Minister

Talks foundered because the US insisted that Iran must not have uranium enrichment facilities on its own soil in any circumstances, and the EU3 bowed to this diktat from Washington. This time, we must do better.

The return of the Arab Peace Initiative

It would be comforting to believe that a revitalised API could provide sufficient incentive for a successful peace process. Sadly, this discussion is almost certainly theoretical.

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