Tuesday 18 Jan 2022 | 05:51 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Novak Djokovic – a symbol for anti-vaxxers?

After the Czech doubles player Renata Voracova was deported from Australia last week following her visa cancellation for not meeting a requirement for non-citizens to be vaccinated against Covid-19, it became obvious that Novak Djokovic would soon be subject to the same fate. The Australian

Australia should build its green infrastructure presence

A group of former diplomats are among the many parties making a persuasive case for Australia to adopt a more climate-conscious foreign policy. One particularly beneficial endeavour in this respect would be to fully embrace the increasingly popular and strategically potent financing of regional

Peace and security are not the same thing

Billed as a “monumental” agreement, the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) recently signed a Strategic Partnership Framework Action Plan with the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPO). The role of this action plan is to guide the development of counter-terrorism and

The power of mercy and the death penalty in PNG

In late 2021, thirty years since the death penalty was reinstated as an amendment to the Criminal Code Act 1974 for the crime of willful murder, the Papua New Guinean Department of Justice and Attorney General (DJAG) formally announced the establishment of the Advisory Committee on the Power of

When no shots are heard around the world

Time may be linear, but history really can play tricks and throw up oddities of connection. Take the tennis. Just over a century ago – a Sunday, 28 June 1914, a 19-year-old named Gavrilo Princip shot dead Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian empire, and his wife Sophie in

Kip-to-currency?

A rare spate of headlines out of Laos last month trilled about a new bullet train that runs from the capital Vientiane to China, with the government heavily in debt after the exercise. But the country was also recently included in a less than auspicious list. The International Monetary Fund ranked

A climate changed – Best of The Interpreter 2021

With Australia spared the urgency of a major bushfire disaster over the summer, Roland Rajah foresaw a rapid and positive shift for the country in the economics of climate change. Australia’s natural cost advantage in renewable energy means we would be well-placed in a decarbonised world to

China, Australia, and the Internet of Things

The world is being transformed by the Internet of Things (the IoT) as ever more devices and activities are linked through the internet and endowed with computing power. This transformation brings an exponential rise in the security challenges inherent in digital connections, especially connections

Covid in Asia: the immediate payoff of donating vaccines

Covid-19 has loomed large over everything again this year and the new Omicron variant is a warning that there is still plenty of fight left in the virus. But the pandemic is ultimately an economic and geopolitical story as well as a health threat. Donations of vaccines and the economic impacts of

Honouring the dead on the path to Korean peace

Almost 70 years on, the Korean war is still not formally over. The United States and South Korea are in the final stages of drafting an end-of-war declaration text. Since his address at the United Nations General Assembly in September, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has made the declaration

Time to step up on global kleptocracy

When the Pandora Papers were published last month, few registered their significance for Australian statecraft. Spanning 11.9 million leaked documents, and exposing the property empires and shell companies of kings, presidents and celebrities, the revelations generated scandals and condemnation. But

Trouble on the Mekong

Two reports released last month by The Mekong River Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental organisation that works with the governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam to jointly manage the river’s resources, serve as a crucial health check on the state of Southeast Asia’s longest

India, China cop finger pointing in climate politics

Two weeks of negotiations in Glasgow meant that COP26 resulted in a resolution – of sorts. Nations agreed to resume next year with stronger 2030 emissions reduction targets in a global bid to try to alleviate the worst consequences of the climate disaster. It wasn’t the achievement that was

Glasgow delivered, but what, exactly?

The Glasgow climate conference – the 26th meeting of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Convention – was held in uniquely difficult circumstances compared to its 25 predecessors: during a global pandemic, facing a two-year backlog of work due to its postponement from 2020

Forecasting vaccination in the Pacific

While Australia reopens to the world, its Pacific neighbours continue to face the dire consequences of the pandemic. Despite a guaranteed flow of vaccines thanks in large part to Australia, widespread coverage for some Pacific nations is far from reach. Early in the crisis, Pacific countries were

A good idea gone nowhere? Diaspora policy in Australia

Over the past two decades, an array of organisations and individuals – including PwC, the Asia Society, the Business Council of Australia, academics and public intellectuals – have called on the Australian government to adopt a diaspora policy to help promote Australia’s economic and social

Framing globalisation

  Six Faces of Globalization: Who Wins, Who Loses, and Why it Matters, by Anthea Roberts and Nicolas Lamp (Harvard University Press, 2021) People use mental shortcuts to organise their thinking about complex issues, but because the same situation can be presented in different ways,

Australia-Indonesia: burn the boats

Last week, Australian Border Force released photographs of burning Indonesian fishing vessels allegedly caught fishing illegally in Australian waters. Border Force reported it had found 16 Indonesian vessels operating unlawfully near the Rowley Shoals Marine Park off the northern coast of Western

China: rejecting rubbish

On hearing Beijing had instituted the ominously named “Operation National Sword” it would have been easy to imagine Chinese warships crashing across the Taiwan Strait or perhaps submarines emerging from the depths of the South China Sea. But this “sword” had a different edge. On 31 December

Regulate against the machine

Book review: We, the Robots? Regulating Artificial Intelligence and the Limits of the Law, by Simon Chesterman (Cambridge University Press, 2021) From Tesla’s self-driving cars that can comfort your dog, to OpenAI’s large language model that writes decent essays and code, more and more

Politics and Covid-19 funds in Papua New Guinea

In 2020, Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister James Marape directed 20 per cent of the District Services Improvement Program funds (DSIP), which are paid to the 89 open MPs representing the district electorates, to be spent on health. The government then allocated an additional K2 million in 2020 to

It’s time to talk about existential risk

Italian-American physicist Enrico Fermi was having lunch with his colleagues in 1950 when he asked a now famous question: where is everybody? He was referring to the apparent contradiction that, despite the mathematical probability that humans should have seen evidence of intelligent extra-

Filipino migrants are agents of change

The Philippine labour diaspora is one of the largest in the world with around 9 million people or 10 per cent of the population working overseas, and sending massive remittances (US$33.5 billion in 2019) that contribute to the economy. Yet the popular construction of the Filipino migrant is that of

The dynamics of dust

Many effects of a warming climate are well understood – increased temperatures, longer fire seasons, drought, rising sea level and intense storms. But drier conditions are also increasing the amount of dust blowing around the globe. In 2009, a dramatic “Red Dawn” dust storm overwhelmed Sydney

Is Russia finally getting serious on climate change?

At last month’s annual Valdai forum in Russia, President Vladimir Putin said it was “impossible” to deny climate change when disasters had become “almost a norm”.  Acknowledging the reality and hazards of climate change is a big change for Russia’s leader.  But how

Just how serious is Xi about climate change?

As the leaders of world’s largest carbon emitters meet in Glasgow in the coming days, it is still undetermined whether the single most influential individual of the group will show up. Despite pleas from his counterparts to attend in person, it currently appears that China’s President Xi Jinping

The legal case for defending Taiwan

In a recent discussion in The Interpreter of whether it would be legal to come to the defence of Taiwan, Ben Saul concludes that “a betting person might be tempted to back the more conventional legal answers favouring China”. This misrepresents how the creative use of international law underpins

Protecting people who lose their homes to climate change

A long-awaited report released last week in the United States by the Biden administration recommends a new legal pathway for humanitarian protection for people facing serious threats to their life because of climate change. The US has a compelling national interest to strengthen protection for

Glasgow: a tipping point for serious action

In a little over a week, the most consequential climate meeting in human history begins in Glasgow, Scotland. The Earth has warmed by up to 1.3°C since 1880. Devastating fires, cyclones and weather are wreaking havoc around the world. And current emissions trends put the world on a path toward 3°C

There is life in the Non-Alignment Movement yet

Local observers of international affairs may have missed the Non-Aligned Movement’s 60th anniversary commemorative summit earlier this month. A Cold War relic, NAM, as it is typically known, held a two-day special meeting in Belgrade, Serbia. The guest list boasted Indonesian

Australia, Indonesia and climate change

In February 2020, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo made a state visit to Australia and addressed a joint sitting of the Australian parliament. This was a rare privilege granted to only a few world leaders, and Indonesia’s popular president – known as Jokowi – used the opportunity to

The right climate for central planning

If there really is a marketplace for ideas, it’s fair to say that central planning hasn’t been flying off the shelves of late. It’s not hard to see why. The murderous regimes of Stalin and Mao are not good advertisements for the brand, or for the possible merits of socialism, for that matter.

Coming up for air: global action to stop pollution

The Indonesian government lost a “citizen lawsuit” last month against 32 Jakarta residents after the court ruled that the defendants, which included President Joko Widodo, had responsibility for controlling air pollution in the capital city. The decision also pointed a finger at the governors of

Would a war over Taiwan be legal?

Australia’s former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “solidarity” with Taiwan in the face of China’s “intimidatory sorties” testing its air defences. As the war drum incessantly beats, would a war against China to defend Taiwan be legal? For all the abstract talk about a rules-

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