Friday 20 Apr 2018 | 12:44 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Drones level the battlefield for extremists

In early 2016, I contributed to an Armament Research Services (ARES) report on the use of commercially available drones by non-state actors in contemporary conflicts, including in Syria, Iraq, and Ukraine. We predicted that the use of commercial drones, which up until that point had been used

Is Japan’s rare earth discovery fool’s gold?

Rare earth. The term sounds like something derived from the imagination of J. R. R. Tolkien, but these composites of seventeen rare minerals are a silent but central foundation of global industry. Rare earth metals are critical to the production of a massive array of industrial goods,

The lack of appeal in Nauru

The decision to terminate a long-standing arrangement that saw the Australian High Court act as a partial appellate court for Nauru, as reported last week, has heightened concerns about Nauru’s appropriateness as a venue for an Australian immigration detention centre. The timing of the

Facebook’s May day

Facebook has now spent almost two years careening from public relations disaster to public relations disaster. Fake news, election meddling, radicalisation, and the relatively unknown mental health effects of using the social media network have all had their time in the media spotlight. With&

The sky is falling again: should we worry?

China’s first space station is coming home, but not in the way China originally planned. The Tiangong-1 space laboratory was launched in 2011 and hosted two crews of Chinese astronauts. In 2016, while carrying out an extended (uncrewed) mission with its externally mounted cameras and sensors,

Resettlement in PNG was never a viable option

In mid-2015 I was approached to work as a claims assistance provider at the Manus Regional Processing Centre. Initially, I was hesitant because I did not want to be part of an arrangement I believed was morally, if not legally, reprehensible. The processing of asylum seekers was of concern

CPTPP wobbles over foreign investor rights

With the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) now signed and awaiting ratification by the member states, the issue of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is again being debated. The high-profile opinion-catalysing group GetUp is encouraging 

Gender parity at the UN: promises to keep

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,But I have promises to keep,And miles to go before I sleep,And miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” (1923) Early in 2018, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres delivered on the

CVE: the “reinvent the wheel” research field

In a recent article for The Interpreter, Madeleine Nyst rightly pointed out that while researchers in the field of countering violent extremism (CVE) are still immersed in the challenges of trying to determine best practice for implementing programs, “governments are forging ahead with

Collaborating with China in Antarctica

In 1912 a team of explorers were stranded for a miserable winter at Inexpressible Island, in Terra Nova Bay, Antarctica. “The road to hell might be paved with good intentions,” the team doctor noted of the experience, “but it seemed probable that hell itself would be paved something after

Syria: a plan to name and shame chemical weapons suspects

Last month, France hosted the launch of the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. The effort is aimed at holding to account individuals and groups in the Syrian Government responsible for chemical weapons attacks, and to deter any possible further use of

Don’t renegotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership

Australia was quick to welcome US President Donald Trump's casual comment that the US might be prepared to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership if a "substantially better" deal could be struck. Yet while making it clear that we would welcome US participation on the terms already negotiated,

Behind the Australia–Canada ‘wine war’

Australia has formally lodged a complaint against restrictions some Canadian provinces have placed on the sale of imported wine in grocery stores, in what has been described, somewhat dramatically, as a 'wine war'. Australia's action was described in the Ottawa Sun under the headline&

Finding Australia’s fair share of climate finance

Climate finance was high on the agenda in Paris last month as French President Emmanuel Macron co-hosted the 'One Planet Summit' with the UN and World Bank, preceded by a 'Climate Finance Day' with bankers and major institutional investors. Climate finance has been a central pillar of global

An emerging role for the UN in the North Korean crisis

Last month, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman visited North Korean officials to promote a political solution to heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear program. Feltman's mission has not received the attention it should have. The visit was the first

The Kyoto Protocol 20 years later: Heroes and villains

He was hailed as the ‘hero’ of the Kyoto climate talks 20 years ago, but the diplomat who oversaw negotiations for the world’s first legally binding emission cuts had some remarkably simple approaches to success. The first was to cut back on time. Raul Estrada Oyuela reduced the length of

Does the nuclear weapon ban treaty warrant the Nobel Prize?

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) for: Its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of

Leading the prevention of global health threats

Australia's tyranny of distance is no protection from global health threats. In recent months, the government has taken a number of positive steps to reaffirm the importance of international norms and cooperation to protect against threats to global health security. This includes participating in an

Zimbabwe: New crocodile, same teeth

It has been a strange coup. First the army leadership held a press conference two days in advance to warn it might occur. Then when the troops did move, the main targets President Robert Mugabe and his hated and ambitious wife Grace were neither killed, nor held incommunicado, nor put on a

Whoa, Canada: Explaining the TPP deal that wasn’t

The strong expectation of the leaders of many countries involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, was that an agreement would be concluded in the margins of the APEC Summit at the weekend in Vietnam. This was to be a significant achievement given the

The two Americas at COP23

Before his fall from grace, former Democratic vice-presidential candidate John Edwards used to talk about 'the two Americas' to describe the gap between the poor and the wealthy. But the phrase earned an afterlife, not least to describe the philosophical chasm between the coastal areas that

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