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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Elections in Chile: a triumphing centre-left and a centre-right at the crossroads

If the Chilean centre-right is interested in surviving and continuing to be a relevant electoral force, it should hear those who promote ideological renovation and resist those who favour ideological entrenchment.

Romania's 1989 revolution redux

This 21 December, around 4,000 people took to the streets of Bucharest to commemorate the 1989 revolution. Protesters were in the streets out of a sense of responsibility for those who died in 1989 to establish a democratic system in Romania. That mission is not yet accomplished.

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.

Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure

A big year in Brazil marked by huge street protests and a major corruption trial creates new tests for the country's democracy, says Arthur Ituassu.

Can Putinism solve its contradictions?

Russia today is a hybrid state, combining democratic institutions with authoritarian practices, which coexist in a continual state of tension. Richard Sakwa analyses its contradictions and suggests how the constitutional state can re-assert itself against the arbitrariness of the regime.

Ukraine, and a Europe-Russia crack

The conflict in Ukraine is part of a wider tussle over eastern Europe's political orientation. The European Union remains pivotal to progress, says Krzysztof Bobinski.

Really breaking the taboo: ending the war on the right to choose

The 'war on drugs' is more than a war on the people that use some drugs, it is a war on perception, consciousness and human potential. [2,560 word essay]

Re-Branding social consciousness and psychedelic knowledge

How Russell Brand's political activism fuses spiritual consciousness with a resurgent psychedelic counterculture.

The blank poster: Russia heading into 2014

Experts agree modernisation and liberalisation present Russia's only chance of enjoying continued economic growth. There is little indication such a programme should be expected in 2014 as Russia's elites value self-preservation above all else.

Russia's 2013: the year in human rights

The amnesty, presidential pardon and resulting ‘celebrity releases’ might understandably overshadow the rest of 2013, says Tanya Lokshina. But it's far too early to suggest they underpin a significant improvement in the rights situation in Russia.

Human rights in Brazil: international funders must empower David against Goliath

Brazil’s recent economic growth – driven by multinational corporations and supported by the government – is a source of human rights violations and perpetuates social inequality. So why are human rights funders pulling out? A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Funding for Human Rights.

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia or racism? Anti-Jewish and anti-Muslim racisms and the question of Palestine/Israel

Both anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish racisms have become part of daily ‘common sense’ constructions everywhere in time of global crisis, expressing insecurity and hostility against ‘the Other’, ‘the terrorist’, ‘the usurper’. The Palestine/Israel question has helped to encourage these conflations and racialisations. Conference report.

Beware of Islamism with a liberal veneer

A furore has broken out in the UK over whether it is permissable for public meetings on university campuses to be sexually segregated. In their claim to exercise this as a right Muslim fundamentalists are hypocritically exploting liberal principles they do not themselves adhere to.

The ignorance of the Lords on their caste legislation shows how redundant they are

A recent debate in the House of Lords on caste saw peers demonstrating a lack of understanding of key issues. What's the point in an unelected chamber if they don't even know what they are talking about?

Georgia and migration: a policy trap

Europe's politics of migration control are being exported to Georgia with potentially dangerous results, says Gavin Slade.

The one that didn’t get away

President Putin’s amnesty which has seen Pussy Riot’s Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova released, as well, perhaps, as the Greenpeace 30, is by no means extended to everyone. Young activist Taisiya Osipova also has a young child, but she remains locked up with no apparent chance of release, says Marc Bennetts

Britain's Bulgaria-Romania phobia

The panic in Britain over prospective Bulgarian and Romanian immigration is based on misunderstanding of European rules. It is also at odds with the country's best traditions, says Dimitar Bechev.

Degrees of privilege

We pretend that the university entry system is broadly meritocratic. But in Britain the privately educated child of a professional family is three times more likely to get into a top university than the child of poorer parents. It will take radical reforms to reverse that.

Austerity policies in Europe are fuelling social injustice - and violating human rights

A new report by the Council of Europe provides detailed evidence that austerity measures have corroded civil and political rights and made economic, social and cultural rights less attainable.  Will the governments of Europe recognise the social cost of austerity – and can ‘human rights’ work as a tool of resistance?

Anti-ngo legislation in Israel: a first step toward silencing dissent

Ultra-nationalist political parties are yet again trying to crack down on dissenting Israeli NGOs. This is the latest in a longer series of efforts to fundamentally re-define Israel as the “state of the Jews,” rather than a state of all its citizens. A contribution to the openGlobalRights debate on Funding for Human Rights.