Wednesday 20 Sep 2017 | 01:21 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

The international system is changing rapidly. Economic and strategic power is moving eastward; the hierarchy of states is being reshuffled; regimes of long standing, especially in the Middle East, are falling; influential new non-state actors are emerging, from al-Qaeda to WikiLeaks; and issues such as climate change and migration are climbing the international agenda. These changes are disruptive for old powers and old institutions such as the United Nations. On the other hand, the United States is proving more resilient than its doubters claim, even as the world becomes more multipolar.

The Lowy Institute watches these broad developments and examines what they mean for Australia – a middle power with regional and global interests.

Using economic diplomacy to reduce financial risks in Asia

If Australia’s economic future lies in Asia, then managing the risk of financial crises in the region should be a top concern. Especially as any crisis could also have significant geopolitical consequences. In an analysis for the Lowy Institute, Barry Sterland looks at what Australia can do

The Asian Development Bank at 50: A spent force?

In May, the Asian Development Bank celebrated its 50th anniversary with a big bash in Yokohama. Senior ADB figures repeatedly pointed to the record crowd of more than 6000 attendees as evidence of the meeting's success and the ADB's enduring relevance. Not all of the 6000 were convinced. If there

Toward more stable capital flows

Globalisation has received a bad rap lately, being blamed for lost jobs, depressed wages, rising income inequality, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump. As the European Central Bank's President Mario Draghi observed at this year’s gathering of central bankers at Jackson Hole, the social

How the UN Security Council failed Syria

The UN Security Council has unequivocally failed the Syrian people: over 400,000 of whom have been killed, over 5 million of whom are refugees, and around 6.3 million of whom are internally displaced.  The recent resignation Carla del Ponte from the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria is

Humanitarian corridors: Safe passage but only for a few

There is a counter-narrative emerging in Europe’s approach to irregular migration, even as EU governments seek new ways to discourage desperate journeys across the Central Mediterranean route to Italy. Via the skies over Rome and Paris, other journeys are getting safer, as church groups fly asylum

Climate change will place new pressures on LHD vessels

Greg Colton’s article on Talisman Sabre 2017 highlights Australia’s new amphibious assault capacity through the Landing Helicopter Class (LHD) ships HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra. Colton states that 'for the first time in three decades, Australia now has the military capability to back up its

The G20 Hamburg riots and the German election

In many ways, the city-state of Hamburg embodies the self-image that contemporary Germany likes to project. With sparkling new galleries and trendy cafés interspersed among rough-and-tumble beatnik quarters and burly workers' bars, it exudes an elegant but unpretentious charm. The gleaming new

Three focus points for Turnbull at G20 summit

You have to hand it to Kim Jung Un. In politics, as in comedy, timing is everything. The launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile two days before the G20 summit ensures that North Korea jumps to the top of the Summit's agenda. With one push of the button - probably practically as well as

How China views the plight of refugees

With assistance from Zixin Wang, an intern with the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. Following World Refugee Day on 20 June, Chinese netizens have been heatedly debating whether China should accept refugees. 'Debating' may be too strong a word – social media users are for the most part

#WorldRefugeeWeek: How Australians feel about refugees

Results from the 2017 Lowy Institute Poll reveal how Australians feel about refugees being settled in Australia. Almost half (48%) of the 1200 Australians surveyed believe that refugees currently in Nauru and Manus Island detention centres should never be settled in Australia (versus 45% who agree

The liberal order is not America’s to break

As the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union imploded, many attributed the change entirely to American power. The hubristic ‘unipolar moment’ claim was not only wrong as history, it proved disastrous as policy guidance, ultimately running aground in the sands of Iraq. Today, that same

Trump has compromised climate security strategies

Much has been said about the global environmental, economic and leadership consequences of US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement but there is also a national security dimension. Trump’s decision ignores an important development in global security centred

America sidelined, the climate caravan moves on

It's been only a few days since US President Donald Trump announced the US will withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. And it is already clear the greatest damage has been done not to global climate action, but to America’s influence and standing in the world - and its own economic trajectory

How Trump may have helped the climate cause

Whether or not US President Donald Trump withdraws the United States from the Paris Agreement is less important than how other countries respond to his decision. By dismantling Obama’s Clean Power Plan, Trump has made it clear that his government would put little to no effort into reducing the

Refugee detention in Indonesia

It was a morning like any other until Mohammed, the 16-year-old refugee, was arrested by Indonesian immigration officials at a local market. In order to support his family, who had fled Afghanistan to seek asylum in Indonesia, he had taken up work assisting a shopkeeper. Before he had a chance to

Securing progress in Somalia

It’s never a good sign when the recommended mode of transport through a national capital is by armoured convoy. As I bumped along the streets of Mogadishu during my visit in March, passing one sun-bleached ruin after another, I had a sense of the destruction wrought by Somalia’s years of turmoil

Trans-Pacific Partnership without America

When President Trump took America out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, this seemed to be the end of the quest for a ‘platinum standard’ set of rules to govern global trade. Japan, the second-largest signatory, quickly announced that it was not interested in pursuing a TPP-11, with

457 visas: All Australia had to do was hold the line

Instead of grasping the opportunity presented by anti-migrant sentiment across the developed world, the Turnbull Government yesterday decided to join the party. And while the talking points and headlines will likely be greeted with satisfaction in some pivotal marginal seats, the rhetoric and policy

Lessons from India on migration’s role in trade policy

Prime Minister Turnbull yesterday carefully signalled a potential India-Australia Free Trade Agreement is not a priority for his government. This comes after the Abbott Government set a very public benchmark for concluding an India-Australia FTA by the end of 2015, an overly optimistic commitment

Australia's role in the refugee compact

The Lowy Institute recently held an expert workshop on the Global Compact on Refugees as part of its research collaboration with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. This is the second in a series of posts from workshop participants. 2016 was a year of ‘extraordinary meetings

Skilled migration: Solving the puzzle

Recently we were presented with duelling pictures of skilled immigration. On the one hand, we have this news report about China making it easier for highly educated migrants to stay. This is a reminder that countries compete aggressively for foreign talent and for good reason, with studies showing

What happens to failed asylum seekers?

Forcibly returning unwanted migrants is not only intuitively unpleasant, it is also one of the most difficult areas in the immigration policies of liberal states. Unwanted migrants (or unlawful non-citizens) include those who overstay or misuse their visas, and, most sensitively, what

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