only search

This week’s editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Everyone likes the idea of fair, accountable and effective international institutions to cope with global economic, environment and security issues. But what form should they take? David Held and Paul Hirst argue for gradual reform within. George Monbiot advocates root and branch democratisation of the UN, and the creation of a new economic order. Other contributors identify key dilemmas and suggest creative solutions.

Al-Qaida today: a movement at the crossroads

What is happening to al-Qaida: does it still constitute a threat to its adversaries, and if so how grave? Fawaz A Gerges, author of "The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global", uses extensive survey evidence to examine the movement’s standing in the Muslim world and take the measure of its ability to continue its campaign

Mexico: living with insecurity

The Mexican state’s routine failure to guarantee the safety of citizens eclipses even the flu-virus emergency in importance, says Sergio Aguayo Quezada.

(This article was first published on 12 May 2009)

France’s lost and found ideals

The noble principles on which modern France was founded are in trouble. But the effort to give them new life is underway, says Patrice de Beer.

Andijan: prelude to a massacre

The massacre in eastern Uzbekistan is rooted in the impact of the country’s post-Soviet economic collapse on its citizens. Deniz Kandiyoti, drawing on her Fergana valley fieldwork in the late 1990s, maps the road to tragedy.

(This article was first published on 20 May 2005)

Poverty and activism: the heart of global civil society

The multiple realities of poverty in India are a key arena where the arguments about global civil society are being tested, say the editors of the new edition of the Global Civil Society Yearbook.  

The wrong target: air strike, legal limit, human voice

Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza...all have witnessed a cycle of deadly air-strikes that inflict civilian casualties but are surrounded by evasion, confusion and dispute. To break the pattern requires a cultural shift, says John Wooding.

Maoist lock, Nepali key

The resignation of the Maoist prime minister could break the logjam preventing constitutional and political movement. But it will be a close call, says Kanak Mani Dixit.

(This article was first published on 5 May 2009)

Esther Duflo: the new French intellectual

A young French development economist is reinvigorating her profession by pioneering new anti-poverty strategies focused on experiment and evaluation, finds Patrice de Beer. 

Nepal’s misty season

A cynical Maoist government, disarrayed parties, rival armies, a racked economy, a drifting peace process, ethnic and caste divisions - Nepalis are being failed by their leaders, says Manjushree Thapa. 

North Korea’s uncertain future

The Pyongyang regime's mix of domestic economic challenges and political uncertainties makes the path towards international agreement over its nuclear plans more difficult, says Charles K Armstrong.

(This article was first published on 3 November 2008)

Too big to save: the end of financial capitalism

The financial logic of neo-liberal capitalism has devoured the world and exhausted itself in the process. A new model beyond "financialisation" is needed, says Saskia Sassen.

A new world order

The financial crisis afflicting much of the world is part of more fundamental shifts in the world's economic power-balance. It is time for a new model of global governance that recognises the reality of current trends - starting with the creation of a Global Strategic Council, says Krzysztof Rybinski.

(This article was first published on 4 December 2008)

The ICC and the Gaza war: legal limits, symbolic politics

The allegations that war crimes were committed during Israel's attacks in Gaza focus attention on a possible role for the International Criminal Court. The debate on the issue - including in Israel itself - could benefit from greater clarity on what an ICC investigation would involve, says Marlies Glasius.

(This article was first published on 25 March 2009)

Lockdown in Vienna: the UN’s drug summit

The global orthodoxy on the international narcotics trade lags far behind its spreading realities, says Ivan Briscoe.

El Salvador’s long march

The victory of a representative of the former guerrilla FMLN movement in El Salvador’s presidential election - the culmination of a process that began with the peace accords in 1992 - is an exemplary case of conflict transformation, says Victor Valle.

Mr Lula in Washington…and politics in Brazil

Brazil's president commands the global stage at a moment when the contest over his political legacy at home is sharpening, says Arthur Ituassu.

Sudan, the ICC and genocide: a fateful decision

The logic of the International Criminal Court's case against President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan is to make genocide ever less cogent as a legal category, says Martin Shaw.

Taro Aso: the millionaire slumdog

A desperate economic constellation magnifies the embarrassing flaws of Japan's prime minister Taro Aso, says Noriko Hama.

Life and death in the Bangladesh-India margins

A young boy is killed in the shadow of a security-fence separating his Bangladeshi village from neighbouring India. In visiting the border region and quietly uncovering the story, Delwar Hussain reveals much about the area, its people and the wider politics

(This article was first published on 13 January 2009)

La grève: republican spirit

The French readiness to strike and demonstrate deserves not condescension but a true appreciation that the spirit of republicanism survives even as its structures are so visibly failing

“Solidity or Wind?” What’s on the menu in the bill of rights debate?

A British Bill of Rights: real safeguard or "giving solidity to pure wind"?

Iran’s Islamic revolution: three paradoxes

Iran’s century-old constitutional and democratic heritage is a key to the future of its current theocratic polity, says Abbas Milani.

France’s politics of regicide

The embrace of an "anti-capitalist" option is symptom of rather than escape from France's exhausted politics, says Patrice de Beer.

The Gaza war and the Syria-Israel front

The strategic and diplomatic fallout from the war Gaza leaves the future of a major regional peace initiative open, says Carsten Wieland.

No hay mujeres: Latin America women and gender equality

There has been real progress in guaranteeing the fuller participation of women in Latin American political life. The lessons of the past generation are a vital resource in ensuring that the process continues in the next, says Kristen Sample.

World Social Forum 2009: a generation’s challenge

The "alter-globalisation" movement gathers in Brazil at a moment of crisis in the system it has long opposed. But its triumph is qualified as it searches for a way to turn global breakdown into political opportunity, says Geoffrey Pleyers.

(This article was first published on 28 January 2009)

Bulgaria and Russia: a cold marriage

Bulgaria's energy dispute with Russia is a bitter reminder of the country's long and costly dependence on a partner it can neither love nor leave, says Irina Novakova. 

Iran and the Gaza war

Tehran's most bitter criticism during Israel's assault was directed at leading Arab states, says Sadegh Zibakalam.

China’s political tunnel

China's deepening economic crisis is provoking social discontent that will place the Beijing leadership in an impossible political predicament, says the renowned democracy campaigner Wei Jingsheng.

Bolivia: new constitution, new definition

A constitutional referendum is another landmark in Bolivia's fractious but exciting political landscape, says John Crabtree. 

Global development: Barack Obama’s agenda

The new United States president inherits major challenges of climate change, poverty, global governance and aid policy reform. The responsibility to help meet them is on development professionals too, says Simon Maxwell.

Cuba’s revolution: survival, loyalty, change

The Cuban revolution has been championed and assailed for five decades. But what are the real sources of its endurance, and will these be enough to extend its life far beyond its fiftieth anniversary? An assessment by Antoni Kapcia, of Nottingham University's Centre for Research for Cuba.

China in 2009: a year for surprise

The problems of China's economy and the discontent of its people are worrying the Beijing leadership. Its response over the next months could be bolder than many expect, says Kerry Brown.

Egypt’s dilemma: Gaza and beyond

The Gaza war exposes the longer-term security and political predicament of the country at the heart of the Arab world, says Tarek Osman.

An end and a beginning

The world's economic foundations lost their moorings in 2008. Only a return to active and large-scale government can restore the balance, says Godfrey Hodgson. 

Syndicate content