This week's editor

Jeremy Noble, editor

This week Jeremy Noble and the oDR team edit the front page.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Peace in Syria: civil society and a utopian glimpse of hope in dark times

Attention on the still ongoing Syrian civil war has chronically faded. Last remaining hopes for peace seem to have been dashed. But a peace conference that took place some months ago thought outside the box.

Turkey’s Arab Alawites and the Syrian conflict

Turkey's Alawites do not face the same threats as the people of Syria and Iraq. Despite the porous nature of Turkey's southern border, it is not about to collapse. But the Alawites of Hatay feel vulnerable.

The EU-Mexico global agreement: time to put words into actions

The EU-Mexico Global Agreement is a vestige of a different era, the EU emboldened by ‘its success’ in shaping and promoting the democratisation of southern Europe, then of the post-Communist countries in the early 1990s.

Barroso's farewell speech

In his parting speech, Barroso argued that the EU is, ‘now better prepared than we were before to face a crisis, if a crisis like the ones we have seen before should come in the future’.

Fair taxation: paths to progress

World leaders say they are tackling multinational tax avoidance. If so, they must expand and deepen current reforms.

US Republicans are not alone: fear and hatred on the campaign trail

The blame game allows these commonly quite similar parties in practice to distinguish themselves from each other in rhetoric.

A Syrian fearing exile and return

Many Syrian activists have left Syria voluntarily, either being refused permission to return or being threatened with imprisonment or death. They face an unknown destiny in exile.

Mare Nostrum and migrant deaths: the humanitarian paradox at Europe’s frontiers

An industry has grown up around migratory routes in which care and control functions alternately clash and merge with each other. Understanding the humanitarian-policing nexus at play is key to moving beyond the current impasse.

The state: the final frontier

If Catalan markets are subject to European regulation, if redistribution is increasingly coming under threat, and if the inhabitants of Catalonia prefer a different combination of public services, why should it have to share the same state structures as Spain?

Brazil: the road to 2018

Brazil emerges from the 2014 election with a re-elected president, two problems, and four names in mind.

BDS and the politics of ‘radical’ gestures

Boycotts and divestment can be useful tools for righting wrongs, but they are apolitical tantrums in cases of right versus right.

The most important thing you‘ve never heard of

Introducing a secret trade deal which could affect everything from healthcare to banks to the air we breathe. Plus: find out what we're not being told about Ebola.

A critique of Arab critique

The Arab world is often misunderstood by the tendency to ignore or flatten its differences - through time, across states, between peoples. Challenging this essentialism is the condition of progress. 

Tunisia: elections, justice and dignity

It is widely said that young people did not vote on Sunday, and at some of the polling stations in central Tunis there were few young people in the queues.

Syrian civil society in Lebanon: challenges and opportunities

Instead of empowering Syrian civil society and helping it to build its capacity, the aid community is rendering us more fragile. 

Why not Kurdistan?

As the Iraqi crisis haunts the Kurds, double standards in the principle of self-determination come to the fore.

TTIP and TPP: harnessing the anger of the people

In parallel to the EU-US trade deal currently under way, the US is negotiating a similar agreement with 11 countries of the Asia Pacific: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Walden Bello, leading critic of neoliberal and corporate globalisation, identifies the global strategy underpinning the two agreements. Interview.

When the direction of a few reroutes the journey for all

The TTIP can annihilate any work undertaken so far in the European Union on chemicals safety, consumer protection, workers’ rights and climate change.

A sky full of drones

Western enthusiasm for Malala Yousafzai overshadows the fact that western policies deny children in Pakistan their most basic rights. The short-term memory of the media cycle, coupled with political self-interest and selective attention continue to marginalise the trauma of CIA drones.

"Rwanda: The Untold Story": facts and fabrication

A BBC documentary on Rwanda produced great controversy, including in an article by Andrew Wallis. But his own critique is itself selective and inaccurate in important ways, replies one of those he criticised.

How ISIS impacts on Turkey’s daily life

We must face up to the fact that an Islamic terror has now entered Turkey if we are to find a solution to the danger which is ISIS and the political and societal problems that give rise to it.

Gaza reconstruction package: should taxpayers be concerned?

Israel could be charged with bearing some part of the $7.8 billion price tag for rebuilding what was destroyed in July and August. However, the international community has rushed to shoulder the burden for the third time in six years.

Can the Arab world defeat ISIS?

Maged Mandour

What will three forces contribute to the defeat of ISIS: Arab autocrats, moderate Islamist groups and secular democratic protest movements - the first initiators of the Arab Revolt? We can discount the first...

When the US chooses terrorism

IS was created by lack of justice, dignity and governance. Instead of tackling these root issues, the US chose to target the outcomes through brutal terrorism to maintain its hegemonic power structure in the region. 

Democracy in America, part 5: What's wrong with Congress?

Obstructive members of Congress blame others, of course, the president in particular, but the failing institution in America’s constitutional system is Congress itself. Power has shifted. 

After inspiring fossil fuel divestment, will South Africa's own campaign succeed?

South Africa’s carbon emissions rank among the worst in the world. So why is there debate about a fossil fuel divestment movement which may be close to a transformative victory?

On election day, let Texas voters tip their hats to Hong Kong

On November 4, long lines of unarmed Texas voters can salute American democracy’s counterparts and admirers abroad simply by showing up in huge numbers at the polls.

The Islamic State and radicalisation: the need for informed opinion and proportion

Tough grandstanding, as when London Mayor Boris Johnson called for the reversal of the legal presumption of innocence when Britons are caught travelling to Iraq and Syria, is dangerous and counter-productive.

Nuclear disarmament? Not yet

The world would be a much safer place without nuclear weapons but nuclear-armed states’ belief in the efficacy of “deterrence” continues to stymie progress at the UN.

Popular action against corruption

Some of the biggest corrupt operations are run by governments themselves, and watchdog bodies often lack sufficient power to challenge entrenched problems. There’s another powerful approach: popular action, as documented in Shaazka Beyerle’s new book Curtailing Corruption. Review.

Hong Kong’s umbrella movement

The movement could benefit from encouraging splits within the seemingly unified voice of the elite, bound to have its internal conflicts. Then there are new challenges and new nonviolent opportunities, planned and unplanned.

Democracy in America, part 3: What's wrong with court activism?

The present Supreme Court is activist in all three meanings of the term: it accepts cases that it should not take on, is systematically biased in its rulings, and rules more broadly than it needs.

Kobane: long live Obama

It now appears that Kobane will not fall. But Turkey’s apathy towards the plight of the city, coupled with their stealthy support for ISIS, is something the Kurds will never forget.

Democracy in America, part 2: What's wrong with signing statements?

In his first election campaign, President Obama committed to ending this habit of undermining legislation – but he's continued to do it nevertheless.

Democratic representation of pro-Kurdish political parties in Turkey

In Turkey, political parties are evaluated by the Constitution Court according to their commitment to the 1982 Constitution. But you have to look to Europe for neutral universal principles, or something close.

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