Prestige, access to information and, above all, power, seem to be the main factors driving countries to run for a seat on the UN Security Council. Less studied, though, are the different ways this power is utilized once there, and, more specifically, what being a member of the world body means for developing countries in terms of economic performance and democratic outcomes.
Recently, a number of papers have shed some light on this issue.Read more
Rankings, classifications and indexes of all sorts have proliferated during the last couple of decades, making country-level comparisons easier and allowing for a better understanding of regional and world trends on such matters as poverty, women’s empowerment, corruption, inequality, CO2 emissions, human rights’ compliance and the like.
These easy-to-understand lists, which are quite welcomed by the press for their simplicity and their visual attractiveness, are becoming not only more common but also more accurate, since this phenomenon grew out of a much freer access to a more thorough statistical data and also hand in hand with the development of new methods that allow for complex analysis of large volumes of information and therefore much better comparisons.Read more
According to the website of the European Union’s executive body, “the democratic deficit is a concept invoked principally in the argument that the European Union and its various bodies suffer from a lack of democracy and seem inaccessible to the ordinary citizen because their method of operating is so complex.”Read more
Police and science are very rare partners. While the former feels constantly criticized and judged by the latter (the police would always be “out of touch”), science is usually neglected by the police in every instance, often accused of working from an ivory tower quite above the harsh reality that constitute police’s everyday experience.
But, sometimes, synergies emerge:Read more
The following in an excerpt from the final report of the UN International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic that was made public a couple of weeks ago. These two paragraphs make reference to the crimes alleged to have been committed by the anti-balaka militias, made up of Christians and animists (I apologize in advance for the oversimplification of the conflict in the CAR):Read more
The facts as we know them
Yesterday morning a group of at least two masked gunmen entered the building of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris and, after shooting and killing a security guard in the reception, they went to the second-floor newsroom and, interrupting an editorial meeting, started a gun rampage that lasted around five minutes. According to some sources, they asked for specific journalists by name. At least 10 killings took place then, the police reported. Afterwards, when trying to take flight, the gunmen bumped into a police car and killed two cops.Read more
Authoritarian leaders are keen on indoctrinating their people with alternate discourses on democracy to disguise their non-democratic nature and better defend themselves against possible pressure for democratic transition. That’s what Jie Lu (American University) tells us in this paper (ungated, here) about different democratic conceptions in today’s China:Read more
As this document from the World Trade Organization observes, introducing a subsidy within a perfect market framework will be inefficient and welfare-diminishing. But if the perfect market assumption is relaxed (welcome to reality), situations may arise where a subsidy improves welfare. In this case, an efficient subsidy would correct a market failure, bringing social and private costs and benefits into alignment.
Said that, it’s worth asking this question: how subsidies can be efficient (good for the market) and also effective in helping those who are most in need?Read more
From an exclusive NYT story (worthwhile to read it from beginning to end): By Thursday evening, the shock created by that bloodshed, the worst in the Ukrainian capital since World War II, had prompted a mass defection by the president’s allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians. ThatRead more
In this paper, Nuno P. Monteiro and Alexandre Debs from Yale University develop a security-based theory of nuclear proliferation, based on the strategic interaction between a state, its enemies and allies. According to them, only powerful but highly threatened states and weaker states whose territory is protected by an ally they consider unreliable are, and will be, capable of acquiring a nuclear bomb.
Also, this is the rationale that explains why there are so few nuclear states today and why Iran is not likely to nuclearize (whatever it takes, apparently).Read more