Monday 18 Oct 2021 | 20:21 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

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-

An opening on the ICJ and an opportunity for renewal

In the early 20th century, the Peace Palace in The Hague – seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 1946 – was envisioned as “a sort of holy place”, “prized … by thinking men throughout the world … to which, in … danger of war between any two countries, the minds of men

Vietnam had seemingly conquered Covid. Then Delta spread

Ho Chi Minh City and the wider south in Vietnam finished its 24-hour-a-day Covid-19 lockdown of three months last week, allowing people to venture out to buy food rather than wait for soldiers to coordinate deliveries to their homes. Soldiers had manned barricades between precincts as part of social

Zooming out of digital diplomacy

We’re firmly entrenched in an era of hybrid diplomacy, floating between in-person and videoconference diplomacy. In speaking to those in the game, three facts have come to light: there’s no turning back; videoconferences are inadequate; and the only way out, is forward. Foreign ministries have

Australia should donate surplus vaccine to Indonesia

In the middle of this pandemic, every vaccine is precious. Australia should give its spare locally-made AstraZeneca vaccines to friends in Indonesia. Indonesia has a vacuum of need for vaccines that is predominantly being filled by China, and yet Australia happens to have millions of spare doses

China and the future of the Antarctic mining ban

China’s fast-growing logistical and scientific capability in Antarctica and more active participation in Antarctic affairs continue to draw attention and scrutiny. In recent years, China has notably spoken about striking a “balance between protection and use” in the Commission for the

Indonesia: painted politics

Street art has been much discussed across Indonesia’s airwaves in the last couple of months. Three spray-painted murals expressing a critical perspective on the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic were quickly covered over by officials, igniting heated debates about free expression

Australia’s real leverage in China’s CPTTP bid

When China applied earlier this month to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the renamed 11-nation trade pact spanning Asia and the Pacific, Beijing seemed to hand Australia the rare diplomatic gift of leverage. Australia, like other existing members of

Afghanistan: The Hazara dread

As the Taliban takes control of Afghanistan, violence is once more widespread across the country. Global awareness of the oppression of women and girls under the Taliban is well known; less understood is the persecution of Hazaras. As one of the largest ethnic groups in Afghanistan, the Hazara

Whipping the Covid-19 vaccine market into shape

The question of equitable Covid-19 vaccine distribution is likely to be an important topic of discussion at the upcoming G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in Rome during late October. As the cost of a Covid-19 vaccine ranges from US$2–$40, it averages around US$35 to fully vaccinate a

Digital authoritarianism not just a China problem

According to 2019 data from the World Trade Organisation, China is the largest global supplier of telecommunications equipment (generating US$296 billion compared to US$169 billion for the whole of the European Union) as well as office and telecom equipment (US$633 billion compared to US$363 billion

Myanmar’s extreme Buddhist nationalists

In a surprise move, Myanmar’s ruling military junta announced on 6 September the release from prison of Ashin Wirathu, a controversial Buddhist monk whose sermons have been blamed for inciting anti-Muslim violence over the last decade. In a statement, the military said it had dropped charges

Semiconductors: the skills shortage

Semiconductors are foundational to the digital revolution. A global chip shortage – accentuated by US-China tensions, Covid-19, extreme weather events, as well as industry consolidation over the last decade – has galvanized attention around supply chain security. But alongside multilateral

Beyond Fortress Australia

The reality of living in a pandemic has dawned on Australia. Covid cases at the time of writing are high and still climbing. The virus is here to stay. Equally clear is that ring-fencing the country from the world — the ‘Fortress Australia’ policy — is no longer viable

Diagnosing Indonesia’s health challenges

In July, Indonesia was dubbed one of the global epicentres for Covid-19. Media reports warned of a health system collapse and cemeteries overwhelmed with burial demands. But a little more than a month later, Indonesia’s situation seems to be improving. The second week of September marked seven

Risks versus opportunities in national security thinking

National security thinkers follow a distinct pattern when they consider Australia’s future defence requirements. For most, the preferred point of view is risk-based. A policy response is framed in military-diplomatic terms, generally a proposal for increased capability and support for the ANZUS

The right climate for Indonesia-United States cooperation

Indonesia is feeling a little ignored. The recent visit by US Vice President Kamal Harris to Vietnam and Singapore led to speculation that Indonesia was not a priority for the Biden administration. “Snubbed again, Joe?” read one local headline. A few weeks beforehand, US Defence Secretary Lloyd

A blockchain solution to Covid-19 vaccine scams

High global demand and a shortfall in supply for some Covid-19 vaccines have contributed to booming trade in counterfeits. Interpol has called out the risk of fake Covid-19 medicines and products including vaccines, tests and protective clothing. In August, the World Health Organisation issued an

Did 9/11 change our world?

We asked six experts, “Did 9/11 define our world? If so, how? If not, what did?” After each of their responses to these questions, editor Lydia Khalil challenges the experts with questions that delve deeper into their rationales and reasons

Europe turns away from asylum-seekers

Lapped by clear waters, Chios is one of five main islands wedged in the northern Aegean Sea, a stone’s throw from Turkey. Seen from the plane, the island’s interior is dotted with quaint olive groves and walled medieval villages. On the jagged coastline stone watchtowers perch facing out to sea

Why politics and pandemics don’t mix

Book review: Michael Lewis The Premonition: A Pandemic Story (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021) Way back in October 2019, before most anyone had heard of Covid-19, a group of experts from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and The Economist Intelligence

Rules Based Audio (Episode 1): In Conversation with John Ikenberry

In an increasingly contested world, basic questions about how the world works, and how it should work, are being asked anew. In Rules Based Audio we will be posing those questions to some of the world’s leading thinkers and practitioners. This podcast series is part of the Lowy Institute’s Rules

Can the US and China cooperate on climate?

Outlining the Biden administration’s approach to China, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in March that the United States would be “competitive when it should be, collaborative when it can be, and adversarial when it must be”. Climate change looked like an obvious vector for bilateral

What to do after the Taliban take-over

I am not an emotionally detached observer of Afghanistan. The country was once my second home, and I still have friends and colleagues there. Frankly, I am gutted – it is hard to erase the kind of images that emerged from Kabul airport on Monday. Nor should we, this is what desperation looks like

Australia should scale up its vaccine diplomacy

In the 1950s, an unlikely friendship grew between US medical researcher Albert Sabin and Soviet microbiologist and virologist Mikhail Chumakov. Their mutual trust and esteem resulted in a US developed vaccine against crippling polio being tested on millions of people in the Soviet Union.

Economic diplomacy: Burning down the house

Follow the money Forget Extinction Rebellion, carbon border adjustment mechanisms and doctors’ wives in inner city Liberal seats. When Prime Minister Scott Morrison locked onto the existential message in this week’s United Nations climate change report it seems to have been about how foreign

Disinfopreneurs and infodemics

The use of social media in influence campaigns, including grey-zone activities and hybrid warfare, is becoming more complicated, more diverse, more profitable and more dangerous. This is being led, in part, by the privatisation and industrialisation of “weaponised information”. Referred to

Life in a host city, at home, live-streaming the Olympics

One of the unexpected benefits of studying abroad for an extended period is the new perspective it brings to understanding your own country. Certainly, my first two years of study abroad in Tokyo the 1980s, in pre-internet times, taught me things about Australia that I didn’t know, like just how

Cruising into stormy weather

Cruise ships became an unhappy herald of global distress in the first weeks of the pandemic. The virus leapt from deck to deck in the close quarters of these huge floating palaces. Ship owners scrambled. Where once cheerful and cashed-up tourists had been welcomed by their thousands, vessels were

Bad news for Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

The release of recent research from the Netherlands adds an additional insight into what is happening in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, the country’s all-important food producing region that contributes some fifty per cent to its agricultural GDP. In a stark conclusion the research cites 2050 as the

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