This week's editor

En Liang Khong

En Liang Khong is a submissions editor at openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

War, globalisation, nationalism, revolution: Fred Halliday illuminates the forces shaping 21st-century world politics

Iran behind the conciliatory veil

Right-wing US and Israeli venom against the outline agreement is one thing; genuine concern about the Islamic regime’s Shia expansionism and human-rights record is however another.

European vs Arab revolutions: regimes, ideas, violence

Why did east-central Europe find a non-violent freedom path in 1989-91, while the Arab world failed to do so after 2011?

When will Islamic State use its chemical weapons?

The west turned a blind eye to the possible use of chemical weapons by militant Islamists allied against the Assad regime in Syria. Now that Islamic State almost certainly possesses them, the chickens are coming home to roost.

Climate-chaos migrants set to face increasingly closed borders

Climate change is set to trigger dangerously soaring temperatures this century, forcing many of humankind’s most vulnerable to migrate to survive. Yet the growing global obsession with border security will stifle their safe movement.

Ukraine ceasefire announced at Minsk summit—what next?

The ceasefire agreement in Minsk over Ukraine was better than no outcome at all. But only a little better.

In Ukraine, NATO has ceased to be an instrument of US foreign policy

In the renewed cold war over Ukraine, while Russia’s economy has been weakened by European sanctions, the US is no longer the hegemon it once was—and NATO is under strain.

Space shrinking for freedom of expression in South Korea

‘National security’ is often the card played by states denying human rights. With the North Korean dictatorship next door, in South Korea it is a regular trump.

After the demonstrations ...

The popular outpouring in France, taken with the climate marches in September with which it would not at first be bracketed, may be a harbinger of change.

Latin Americans pay price for corporate environmental destruction

As the COP20 conference comes to a close in Lima, can the corporations whose ‘externalities’ foster climate change ever be brought to book?

Myanmar: the human-rights story behind the spin

The authorities in Nay Pyi Taw are steering the former authoritarian pariah state to open engagement with the world. Well, that’s what they say.

Choosing the next UN leader should not be left to three people

The secretary-general of the United Nations holds the world in his hands. It shouldn’t be possible to count those who decide who that is on the fingers of one.

Climate summit, climate justice

The climate summit called today by the United Nations secretary-general, Ban Ki-Moon, will not bring the commitments needed to avert global chaos. Only popular mobilisation for climate justice can do that.

On Israel-Palestine and BDS

Those dedicated to the Palestinian cause should think carefully about the tactics they choose.

Twenty-first century protest: social media and surveillance

The internet is a two-edged sword—a vehicle for mass surveillance on the one hand and the organisation of civil-society protest on the other.

A great unravelling, and a new map

The crisis around Iraq-Syria reflects the weight of a past that is no longer relevant to the region's peoples, says Hazem Saghieh.

They got up, they stood up: the Global Day of Citizen Action

Activists around the world have been standing up for their rights and freedoms. Photoessay.

How do we change the global nuclear order?

The Non-proliferation Treaty has survived for nearly half a century but it has not fostered nuclear disarmament—and it could be facing decay

How to end child marriage in a generation

Reports that more than 200 girls kidnapped in north-eastern Nigeria have been forced to marry members of the rebel group Boko Haram bring home the brutal human-rights abuse—and, increasingly, security concern—that is child marriage.

Libya, Syria and the “responsibility to protect”: a moment of inflection?

Since the Rwandan genocide and the wars in former Yugoslavia, the idea of a “responsibility to protect” vulnerable populations has acquired currency. The Libyan and Syrian crises have, however, seen the value of that currency recalibrated.

Tunisia, from hope to delivery

Tunisia has turned a political corner. But great economic problems remain which require careful management and good government, says Francis Ghilès.

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

Mandela: explaining the magnetism

While the world stops for Nelson Mandela’s departure from it, his iconic status is unquestioned. Yet there is a more complicated underlying narrative to tell.

Afghanistan: beyond ethnicity

The international community has addressed Afghanistan through an ethnic prism. As anxiety grows about the future after international forces leave in 2014, a trajectory needs to be established towards a post-ethnic society--and the dispersed diaspora can play a role.

Gulf states and Iran: don't moan, act

The international deal over Iran reveals the weakness of Arab Gulf diplomacy. It's time for a new approach, says Khaled Hroub.

Typhoon Haiyan: natural disaster meets armed conflict

The huge destruction in the Philippines in the November typhoon hit a poor region already long affected by violent conflict. The two are deeply related, says Colin Walch, who was conducting research in the area when the typhoon struck.

Sharing our future: how the world can avert climate chaos

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report calculated a ‘budget’ for greenhouse gas emissions  if global average temperature rise is to be contained within 1.5-2C. Amid fractious debates between rich and poor at the UN climate talks in Warsaw, Phil England spoke to Christian Aid’s expert, Mohamed Adow, about how countries could agree to share the remaining allowable emissions.

Revolution in the revolution: a century of change

A continuing cycle of revolutions, albeit irregular and unpredictable, is a feature of the modern world. But comparing experiences across the decades reveals a transformation in the nature of revolution itself, says Hazem Saghieh.

Young Afghans in the UK: deportations in the dead of night to a war-zone

Each year around 400 children forced by war to leave their families and homes in Afghanistan seek sanctuary in the UK. Lisa Matthews writes for Young People Seeking Safety Week on the young adults who, having rebuilt their lives, are now at threat of return. 

The Rohingya: bargaining with human lives

One year on from the violence of June 2012, new empirical evidence about the treatment of the Rohingya in Rakhine State, Burma, has taken the issue from the realms of international human rights and humanitarian law to that of international criminal law, says Amal de Chickera.

Paths to change: peaceful vs violent

The diverse experiences of the Arab spring renew the question of whether non-violent movements are more effective than armed struggle in achieving the overthrow of authoritarian regimes, says Martin Shaw.

Convincing suicide-bombers that God says no

The dominant perception of suicide-attackers has paid too much attention to the unchallenged assumptions of past experts and too little to the clinical evidence, says Adam Lankford.

Refugee studies: the challenge of translating hope into reality

It is one thing for rigorous research to influence policy, and another for that policy to then go an and achieve its intended positive outcome. James Souter argues that Refugee and Forced Migration studies has an important, yet ultimately subsidiary role in the task of improving the lives of refugees and forced migrants

The 'politics' in Ethiopia's political trials

The Ethiopian regime is using the legal system to eliminate dissident voices and drag protesters to court under terrorism charges. Far from guaranteeing equality and justice, the country’s courts serve as an instrument in the Government’s hands to legitimize persecution of political adversaries while justifying its practices to the west.

India Burning

When the rice harvest season finishes in a few weeks, fields in India will turn black as farmers burn thousands of acres. This practice shows one of the failures of the Green Revolution, with devastating regional and global consequences. A food-security-obsessed India cannot ignore these issues for much longer.

Stateless in Burma: Rohingya word wars

In order to understand how the ‘Rohingya crisis’ has come to pass we need to consider the narrative built by three groupings of international actors - the Burmese government, host countries for Rohingya who have fled and the international community at large.

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