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ESSAY / Emilija Žebrauskaitė

Introduction

While the Western Westphalian State - and, consequently, the Western legal system - became the default in most parts of the world, Africa with its traditional ethics and customs has a lot to offer. Although the positive legalism is still embraced, there is a tendency of looking at the indigenous traditions for the inspiration of the system that would be a better fit in an African setting. Ubuntu ethics has a lot to offer and can be considered a basis for all traditional institutions in Africa. A great example of Ubuntu in action is the African Traditional Justice System which embraces the Ubuntu values as its basis. This article will provide a conceptualization of Ubuntu philosophy and will analyse its applications in the real-world scenarios through the case of Gacaca trials in Rwanda.

Firstly, this essay will define Ubuntu: its main tenants, how Ubuntu compares with other philosophical and ethical traditions, and the main criticism of Ubuntu ethics. Secondly, the application of Ubuntu ethics through African Indigenous Justice Systems will be covered, naming the features of Ubuntu that can be seen in the application of justice in the African setting, discussing the peace vs. justice discussion and why one value is emphasized more than another in AIJS, and how the traditional justice in Africa differs from the Western one.

Lastly, through the case study of Gacaca trials in post-genocide Rwanda, this essay seeks to demonstrate that the application of the traditional justice in the post-genocide society did what the Western legalistic system failed to do - it provided a more efficient way to distribute justice and made the healing of the wounds inflicted by the genocide easier by allowing the community to actively participate in the judicial decision-making process.

It is the opinion of this article that while the African Traditional Justice System has it's share of problems when applied in modern-day Africa, as the continent is embedded into the reality of the Westphalian state, each state being a part of the global international order, the Western model of justice is eroding the autonomy of the community which is a cornerstone of African society. However, the values of Ubuntu ethics persist, providing a strong basis for traditional African institutions. 

Conceptualization of Ubuntu

The word Ubuntu derives from the Bantu language group spoken widely across sub-Saharan Africa. It can be defined as "A quality that includes the essential human virtues; compassion and humanity" (Lexico, n.d.) and, according to Mugumbate and Nyanguru, is a homogenizing concept, a "backbone of African spirituality" in African ontology (2013). "Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu" - a Zulu phrase meaning "a person is a person through other persons" is one of the widely spread interpretations of Ubuntu. 

In comparison with non-African philosophical thoughts, there can be found similarities between Ubuntu and the traditional Chinese as well as Western ethics, but when it comes to the modern Western way of thought, the contrast is striking. According to Lutz (2009), Confucian ethics, just like Ubuntu ethics, view the institution of family as a central building block of society. An Aristotelian tradition which prevailed in the Western world until Enlightenment had some characteristics similar to Ubuntu as well, namely the idea of Aristotle that human being is a social being and can only reach his true potential through the community (Aristotle, 350 B.C.E.). However, Thomas Hobbes had an opposite idea of human nature, claiming that the natural condition of man is solidarity (Hobbes, 1651). The values that still prevail in Ubuntu ethics, therefore, are rarely seen in modern liberal thought that prevails in the Western World and in the international order in general. According to Lutz (2009) "Reconciling self-realization and communalism is important because it solves the problem of moral motivation" which Western modern ethics have a hard time to answer. It can be argued, therefore, that Ubuntu has a lot to offer to the global ethical thought, especially in the world in which the Western ideas of individualism prevail and the values of community and collectivism are often forgotten.

Criticisms

However, while Ubuntu carries values that can contribute to global ethics, as a philosophical current it is heavily criticised. According to Metz (2011), there are three main reasons why Ubuntu receives criticism: firstly, it is considered vague as a philosophical thought and does not have a solid framework; secondly, it is feared that due to its collectivist orientation there is a danger of sacrificing individual freedoms for the sake of society; and lastly, it is thought that Ubuntu philosophy is applicable and useful only in traditional, but not modern society. 

When it comes to the reproach about the vagueness of Ubuntu as a philosophical thought, Thaddeus Metz examines six theoretical interpretations of the concept of Ubuntu:

U1: An action is right just insofar as it respects a person's dignity; an act is wrong to the extent that it degrades humanity.

U2: An action is right just insofar as it promotes the well-being of others; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to enhance the welfare of one's fellows.

U3: An action is right just insofar as it promotes the well-being of others without violating their rights; an act is wrong to the extent that it either violates rights or fails to enhance the welfare of one's fellows without violating rights.

U4: An action is right just insofar as it positively relates to others and thereby realises oneself; an act is wrong to the extent that it does not perfect one's valuable nature as a social being.

U5: An action is right just insofar as it is in solidarity with groups whose survival is threatened; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to support a vulnerable community.

U6: An action is right just insofar as it produces harmony and reduces discord; an act is wrong to the extent that it fails to develop community (Metz, 2007).

While arguing that the concept U4 is the most accepted in literature, Matz himself argues in favour of the concept U6 as the basis of the ethics is rooted not in the subject, but in the object (Metz, 2007).

The fear that Ubuntu tenants make people submissive to authority and collective goals, giving them a very strong identity that might result in violence against other groups originates, according to Lutz (2009), from a faulty understanding of Ubuntu. Even though the tribalism is pretty common in the African setting, it does not derive from the tenants of Ubuntu, but a corrupted idea of this ethical philosophy. Further criticism on the idea that collectivism might interfere with individual rights or liberties can also be denied quoting Lutz, who said that "Ethical theories that tell us we must choose between egoism and altruism, between self-love and love of others, between prudence and morality, or one's good and the common good are individualistic ethical theories" and therefore have nothing in common with ideas of Ubuntu, which, unlike the individualistic theories, reconciles the common and staff good and goals. 

The third objection, namely the question of whether Ubuntu ethics remain useful in the modern society which functions according to the Westphalian State model is challenged by Metz (2011). While it is true that Ubuntu developed in a traditional setting in which the value of human beings was based on the amount of communal life a human has lived (explaining the respect for the elders and the ancestors in African setting), a variant concept of dignity that in no way can be applied in a modern setting, there are still valuable ethical norms that can be thought by Ubuntu. Metz (2011) provides a concept of human dignity based on Ubuntu ideas, which, as he argues, can contribute to ethics in the modern African setting: "individuals have dignity insofar as they have communal nature, that is, the inherent capacity to exhibit identity and solidarity with others". 

The Ubuntu ethics in African Indigenous Justice System

The institutionalisation and centralisation of power in the hands of the Westphalian State takes away the power from the communities which are central to the lifestyle in Africa. However, the communal values have arguably persisted and continue to directly oppose the centralisation. While the Westphalian State model seems to be functioning in the West, there are many good reasons to believe that Africa must look for inspiration in local traditions and customs (Malisa & Nhengeze, 2018). Taking into consideration the Ubuntu values, it is not difficult to understand why institutionalisation has generally not been very successful in African setting (Mugumbate & Nyanguru, 2013), as a place where the community is morally obliged to take care of its members, there is little space for alienated institutions. 

Generally, two justice systems are operating alongside each other in many African societies: the state-administered justice system and the African Indigenous Justice System (AIJS). According to Elechi, Morris & Schauer, the litigants can choose between the state tribunal and AIJS, and can apply to be judged by the state if they do not agree with the sentence of the AIJS (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). However, Ubuntu values emphasise the concept of reconciliation: "African political philosophy responds easily and organically to the demands for the reconciliation as a means of restoring the equilibrium of the flow of life when its disturbed" (Nabudere, 2005). As the national court interventions often disharmonize the community by applying the "winner takes it all" approach, and are sometimes considered to be corrupt, there is a strong tendency for the communities to insist on bringing the offender to the AIJS tribunal (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010).

African Indigenous Justice System is a great example of Ubuntu values in action. The system operates on the cultural norm that important decision should be reached by consensus of the whole group as opposed to the majority opinion. AIJS is characterised by features such as the focus on the effects the offence had on victims and the community, the involvement of the litigants in the active definition of harms and the resolution of the trial, the localisation and decentralisation of authority, the importance of the restoration of harm, the property or relationship, the understanding that the offender might be a victim of the socioeconomic conditions; with the main objective of the justice system being the restoration of relationships, healing, and reconciliation in the community (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). Underlying this system is the concept of Ubuntu, which "leads to a way of dealing with the social problems which are very different from the Western legalistic, rule-based system which had become the global default" (Baggini, 2018).

One of the reasons why AIJS can be considered exemplary is its ability to avoid the alienation of the Western courts in which the victim, the offender, and everybody else seem to be represented, but neither victim nor offender can directly participate in the decision making. The system which emphasises reconciliation and in which the community is in charge of the process is arguably much more effective in the African setting, where communities are generally familiar and close-knit. As the offender is still considered a part of the community and is still expected to contribute to its surroundings in the future, the participation in the trial and the decision making is important to the reconciliation: "unlike adjudicated justice, negotiated justice is not a winner take it all justice. Resolution can be reached where the offender, the community, and the victim are each partially wrong" (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). As there is very little hope for an offender to be reintegrated into a close community without forgiving and forgiveness from both parties, this type of approach is pivotal.

Another interesting feature of AIJS is the assumption that the offender is not inherently bad in himself, but is primarily a marginalised victim, who does not have the same opportunities as other members of the community to participate in the economic, political, and social aspects of the group, and who can be made right if both the offender and the community make effort (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010). This concept differs from the Western Hobbesian idea of human beings being inherently corrupt and is much closer to traditional Western Aristotelian ethics. What makes the African concept different, however, is the focus which is not on the virtue of the person himself, but rather on the relationship the offender has with his family and community which, although violated by the offence, can and should be rebuilt by amendments (Elechi, Morris, & Schauer, 2010).

The Gacaca Trials

The Gacaca trials are the state-administered structure which uses communities (around a thousand of them) as a basis for judicial forums (Meyerstein, 2007). They were introduced by the Rwandan government as an alternative to national justice after the Rwandan genocide.

During the colonial times, Rwanda was indirectly ruled by the colonisers through local authorities, namely the Tutsi minority (Uvin, 1999). The Hutu majority were considered second class citizens and by the time of independence were holding deep grievances. The Rwandan Revolution of 1959-1961 overthrew the monarchy and the ruling Tutsi elite. After the independence from the colonial regime, Rwanda was ruled by the Party of Hutu Emancipation Movement, which was supported by the international community on the grounds of the idea that the government is legitimate as it represents the majority of the population - the Hutu (ibid.) During the period of transition, ethnic violence against Tutsi, forcing many of them to leave the country, happened (Rettig, 2008). In 1990 the Rwandan Patriotic Army composed mostly by the Tutsi exiles invaded Rwanda from neighbouring Uganda (ibid.) The incumbent government harnessed the already pre-existing ethnic to unite the Hutu population to fight against the Tutsi rebels. The strategy included finding a scapegoat in an internal Tutsi population that continued to live in Rwanda (Uvin, 1999). The genocide which soon followed took lives of 500,000 to 800,000 people between April and July of the year 1994 when the total population at the time is estimated to have been around 8 million (Drumbl, 2020). More than 100,000 people were accused and waited in detention for trials, creating a great burden on a Rwandan county (Schabas, 2005).

According to Meyerstein (2007), the Gacaca trials were a response to the failure of the Western-styled nation court to process all the suspects of the genocide. Gacaca trials were based on indigenous local justice, with Ubuntu ethics being an underlying element of the system. The trials were traditionally informal, organic, and patriarchal, but the Rwandan government modernised the indigenous justice system by establishing an organisational structure, and, among other things, making the participation of women a requirement (Drumbl, 2020). 

The application of Gacaca trails to do justice after the genocide was not always well received by the international community. The trials received criticism for not complying with the international standards for the distribution of justice. For example, Amnesty International invoked Article 14 of the ICCPR and stated that Gacaca trials violated the right of the accused to be presumed innocent and to the free trial (Meyerstein, 2007). There are, undoubtedly, many problems that can be assigned to the system of Gacaca when it comes to the strict norms of the international norms. 

The judges are drawn from the community and arguably lack the official legal training, the punitive model of the trials that arguably have served for many as an opportunity for staff revenge, and the aforementioned lack of legal protection for the accused are a few of many problems faced by the Gacaca trials (Rettig, 2008). Furthermore, the Gacaca trials excluded the war criminals from the prosecution - there were many cases of the killings of Hutu civilians by Tutsis that formed the part of the Rwandan Patriotic Front army (Corey & Joireman, 2004). This was seen by many as a politicised application of justice, in which, by creating two separate categories of criminals - the crimes of war by the Tutsis that were not the subject of Gacaca and the crimes of the genocide by the Hutus that were dealt with by the trials - the impunity and high moral ground was granted for the Tutsi (ibid). This attitude might bring results that are contrary to the initial goal of the community-based justice - not the reconciliation of the people, but the further division of the society along the ethnic lines. 

However, while the criticism of the Gacaca trials is completely valid, it is also important to understand, that given the limited amount of resources and time, the goal of bringing justice to the victims of the genocide is an incredibly complex mission. In the context of the deeply wounded, post-genocidal society in which the social capital was almost non-existent, the ultimate goal, while having justice as a high priority, was first of all based on Ubuntu ethics and focused more on peace, retribution, and social healing. The utopian perfectness expected by the international community was nearly impossible, and the Gacaca trials met the goal of finding the best possible solutions in the limits of available resources. Furthermore, the criticism of international community often seemed to stem not so much from the preoccupation for the Rwandan citizens, as from the fact that a different approach to justice threatens the homogenising concept of human rights "which lashes out to squash cultural difference and legal pluralism by criticising the Gacaca for failures to approximate canonised doctrine" (Meyerstein, 2007).

While it is true that even Rwandan citizens often saw Gacaca as problematic, whether the problems perceived by them were similar to those criticised by the international community is dubious. For example, Rwanda's Supreme Court's response to the international criticism was the provision of approach to human rights which, while not denying their objectivity, also advocates for the definition that better suits the local culture and unique circumstances of post-genocide Rwanda (Supreme Court of Rwanda, 2003). After all, the interventions from the part of the Western world on behalf of the universal values have arguably created more violence historically than the defended values should ever allow. The acceptance that Gacaca trials, while imperfect, contributed positively to the post-genocide Rwandan society has the grave implications that human rights are ultimately a product of negotiation between global and local actors" (Meyerstein, 2007) which the West has always refused to accept. However, it is the opinion of this article that exactly the opposite attitude, namely that of better intercultural understanding and the search for the solutions that are not utopian but fit in the margins of the possibilities of a specific society, are the key to both the efficiency and the fairness of a justice system. 

Conclusion

The primary end of the African Indigenous Justice System is to empower the community and to foster reconciliation through a consensus that is made by the offenders, the victims, and the community alike. It encourages to view victims as people who have valuable relationships: they are someone's daughters, sons, fathers - they are important members of society. Ubuntu is the underlying basis of the Indigenous Justice System and African ethnicity in general. While the AIJS seems to be functioning alongside the state's courts, in the end, the centralization and alienation from the community are undermining these traditional values that flourish in the African setting. The Western legalistic system helps little when it comes to the main goal of justice in Africa - the reconciliation of the community, and more often than not only succeeds in creating further discord. While the criticism of Gacaca trials was undoubtedly valid, it often stemmed from the utopian idealism that did not take the actual situation of a post-genocide Rwanda into consideration or the Western universalism, which was threatened by the introduction of a justice system that in many ways differs from the positivist standard. It is the opinion of this article, therefore, that more autonomy should be granted to the communities that are the basic building blocks of most of the African societies, with the traditional values of Ubuntu being the basis of the African social institutions.

 

REFERENCES

Lexico. (n.d.). Lexicon. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/ubuntu

Mugumbate, J., & Nyanguru, A. (2013). Exploring African Philosophy: The Value of Ubuntu in Social Work. African Journal of Social Work, 82-100.

Metz, T. (2011). Ubuntu as a moral theory and human rights in South Africa. African Human Rights Law Journal, 532-559.

Metz, T. (2007). Towards an African Moral Theory. The Journal of Political Philosophy.

Lutz, D. W. (2009). African Ubuntu Philosophy and Global Management. Journal of Business Ethics, 313-328.

Hobbes, T. (1651). Leviathan.

Aristotle. (350 B.C.E.). Politics.

Malisa, M., & Nhengeze, P. (2018). Pan-Africanism: A Quest for Liberation and the Pursuit of a United Africa. Genealogy.

Elechi, O., Morris, S., & Schauer, E. (2010). Restoring Justice (Ubuntu): An African Perspective. International Criminal Justice Review.

Baggini, J. (2018). How the World Thinks: A Global History of Philosophy. London: Granta Books.

Meyerstein, A. (2007). Between Law and Culture: Rwanda's Gacaca and Postolocial Legality. Law & Social Inquiry.

Corey, A., & Joireman, S. (2004). African Affairs. Retributive Justice: the Gacaca Courts in Rwanda.

Nabudere, D. W. (2005). Ubuntu Philosophy. Memory and Reconciliation. Texas Scholar Works, University of Texas Library.

Rettig, M. (2008). Gacaca: Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation in Postconflict Rwanda? African Studies Review.

Supreme Court of Rwanda. (2003). Developments on the subject of the report and different correspondences of Amnesty International. Départements des Jurisdictions Gacaca.

Drumbl, M. A. (2020). Post-Genocide Justice in Rwanda. Journal of International Peacekeeping.

Uvin, P. (1999). Ethnicity and Power in Burundi and Rwanda: Different Paths to Mass Violence. Comparative Politics, 253-271.

Schabas, W. A. (2005). Genocide Trials and Gacaca Courts. Journal of International Criminal Justice, 879-895.

Categories Global Affairs: Africa World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

June 15, 2021

WORKING PAPER / Jon Paris Oses, Jokin de Carlos Sola and Túlio Dias de Assis

ABSTRACT

South Korea finds itself in the middle of the geopolitical ambitions of regional giants, while at the same time addressing their own conflictive relationship with their northern counterpart. Because of that, a global and also a peninsular overview of their characteristics from an international relations perspective has been analysed, with the objective in mind of identifying the main dynamics and driving factors that strategically influence South Korea in the present times with an eye into the future. Pursuing that analysis, a global perspective and an inter-Korean perspective were suitable to better address the main issues, with special attention to the influence of the two big powers in relation with Seoul, the US and China, as well as the constant uncertainty North Korea generates in the relations between both Koreas. Findings regarding key aspects such as the US military presence in South Korean soil, or the possibility of a Korean reunification suggest the primacy of continuity and controlled stability for the next ten years, as the stakes are too high for the actors involved to take high-risk high-benefit decisions. The main conclusions follow the same direction, with stagnation as present condition South Korea will have to find its way, always with the inter-Korean relations in mind, if it wants to survive and develop its own path under the shadow of two giants.

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Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Documents of work

[Pablo Pérez López, Charles de Gaulle, el estadista rebelde (Ciudadela: Madrid, 2020), 218 pp.]

review / Jairo Císcar

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of Charles de Gaulle's death and the 75th anniversary of the Allied victory in the Second World War, Professor Pablo Pérez López publishes this new biography of "the most illustrious of the French", as he is sometimes referred to. When one undertakes to write a biography, and even more so when it is about a figure about whom countless books and articles have been written, one runs the risk of becoming diluted in what has gone before and contributing nothing new. However, this volume presents the character from a different perspective: his rebelliousness. Rebelliousness understood as a fight for what one believes to be just, as an active non-conformism that pushes one to overcome mediocrity, as love and service to France in its darkest moments. I believe that this is precisely one of the book's greatest achievements: to present, in barely 200 pages and in a friendly and direct style, a new portrait of the French general, who - beyond the excusable chiaroscuros of any person - is a model to be followed and an example of courage that is fully up to date.

The book presents De Gaulle's life chronologically, from his childhood to his death. An analysis of his early life is fundamental to understanding the great man he would later become. We are presented with a restless and dreamy young man, a devout Christian from a very early age. A young man who, at the age of just 14, discovered a vocation, that of military life, which would mark his whole life and the lives of millions of his compatriots, and who would apply himself to it to the point of becoming a leader A . Also noteworthy in the book is the extensive use of passages from his memoirs or handwritten texts of the protagonist, which reveal the most unknown facet of the character: his psyche, his love, his devotion, his rebelliousness. For it must be stressed that sample is a self-aware (but not overbearing) De Gaulle who is clear that he has a mission statement.

We soon move on to introduce the then captain, who excelled during the Great War for his keen analysis and foresight, his love of France never clouding his judgement when it came to pointing out his own and others' failings. A young man who, despite the humiliation of being taken prisoner (despite his heroic efforts that earned him the Legion of Honour), never ceased to learn and examine the enemy, making the most of every moment of his 32 months in captivity.

We follow his development after the Great War, already as a promising member of Petáin's entourage. But it was not all success. De Gaulle's life is marked by the greatness of men who know how to overcome difficulties. Perhaps the most special, and where his true character can be seen, is in the life of his daughter Anne, who suffered from Down's syndrome, and with whom de Gaulle developed an extraordinary bond and closeness. It was with her that the thoughtful general dressed as an affable and affectionate father.

This training of his character seems to me essential to understand the rest of the book, and therefore the rest of his life. Without wishing to end up making a complete summary of the volume (which, as mentioned above, covers his entire life, with special and necessary emphasis on his "political life"), I felt it necessary to reflect the singular proposal and goal of this book, which is none other than to show that more unknown side of the French general, that rebelliousness and non-conformism that led him to play a very important role in the creation of the current form of the French Republic and whose imprint, 50 years after his death, is still alive in Europe and in French politics.

Personally, I was very attracted by the style and organisation of the writing. It makes proposal enjoyable and easy to read, while at the same time a very serious and profound work , which invites constant reflection. sample the intimacy and loneliness of a man faced with the incomprehension of his contemporaries, with respect to whom he was always ahead of the curve. A man who, at final, always put the greater good, his beloved France, before his own. An expert tankman who knew how to lead his country at such different times: the Free French government in London, the parade on the Champs Elysées, the revolt in Algiers, the birth of the Fifth French Republic, May '68 and his final resignation, as a man of honour, after losing the referendum on the Senate and the regions which he called, in one of his last acts of rebellion, against all his advisors.

Finally, de Gaulle was a rebel to the death, refusing any state funeral and resting, with his beloved daughter, in a small French village. His tombstone - which simply reads: Charles de Gaulle, 1890-1970 - merely shows his final rebellion. The man died, but the myth was born.

Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Marina Díaz, Lucía Montón and Paula Mostajo

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

South Korea is considered to have a middle power status, not only in the North-East Asian region but internationally. In this sense, this paper aimed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the stance South Korea might take regarding key international, regional, peninsular and domestic issues in ten years time.

In the international sphere, this paper has focused on the US-ROK stating the plausibility of a further enhancement, in view of the new Biden's Administration's need to reduce the breach created by former President Trump.

Regarding the regional sphere, the present report addresses South Korea's relations with China, in economic matters; Japan, alliance-wise, and Russia, in relation with energy. These bilateral engagements are clearly impacted by South Korea's proximity to the United States, the country's historical memory and North Korea's willingness to be part of a trilateral understanding, respectively.

Second to last, the peninsular approach of the script assesses the development of inter-Korean relations in views of the two incompatible ideologies and approaches coming from the North and the South of the peninsula and presents the maintenance of the current status has the most plausible scenario.

To end up, there is an allusion to domestic concerns as they play an important role in South Korea's development capabilities. In this section the paper discusses the country's SARS-CoV-2 disease successful management and assess why export possibilities might not be taken for granted, the big South Korean concerns on the ever-worsening demographic situation and, lastly, the country's satisfactorily progression towards renewable energy sources.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Corey J. Hubbard and Paula Mora Brito

 

 

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Intense military pressures on South Korea have been present for half a century, with the country being at the centre of numerous regional conflicts. The government's technique for addressing external security threats differs depending on its nature, varying from assuming the position of great foreign powers to implementing its independent policy. The Republic of Korea's reliance on foreign assistance for defence and protection shows no signs of ending, especially concerning North Korea. The incitement of Kim Jong Un's government risks hostility in the region.

The country is under growing domestic pressures to find solutions for a rapidly ageing population and record low birthrates, one of the world's weakest. Failure to do so compromises South Korea's status as a growing power in East Asia, one of the four Asian Tigers, and risks leading the country to economic stagnation. Suppose the South Korean government does not find a way to make immigration more palatable to the Korean people. In that case, it is unlikely that South Korea will avoid a significant population decline.

Well-established antagonism with Japan could worsen as Japanese nationalist policies conflict with the South Korean government's goals. However, the recent signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership opens up several possible developments in Korean-Japanese relations, extending from an unlikely reset in their bilateral ties to an equally unlikely economic confrontation. The Liancourt Rocks dispute also stands to be influenced by recent events, which may incline South Korea to turn to foreign mediation on the issue.

South Korean relations with the United States are evolving, with the Biden Administration recently inking a new cost-sharing deal with the South Korean Government to cover the expenses of American troops stationed on the Peninsula. Nevertheless, China's growing influence threatens to overturn the established order in the region, and a rapprochement of South Korea to China may take place over the coming decades.

The future security of South Korea is directly tied to developments on the Korean Peninsula. Suppose relations with the North Korean Regime significantly improve, which most expect to be unlikely in the near future. In that case, reunification may result, but North Korea's nuclear weapons development could destabilise the region too. Scenarios relating to these events vary from an unlikely reunification to an equally unlikely nuclear war.

South Korea's attempts at navigating the growingly tense feud between the United States and China may force the country to choose a side in the conflict, which will have severe ramifications for its security architecture.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / María G. Fajardo, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Matilde Romito

 

 

 

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Korean Peninsula is central to the political, economic and military policies of several actors in the East Asia region. Due to its geographical location, the peninsula has seen the involvement of major powers throughout history, like the United States, China, Russia and Japan. Currently, the peninsula is a contested territory between the U.S. and China. The latter is the only country capable of challenging American interests and uses its economic power to increase its sphere of influence in the region.

The DPRK has built and maintained capabilities to target areas as far as U.S. soil. The North has always represented one of the biggest challenges for South Korea and its security guarantor, the U.S. President Biden will nevertheless sway for establishing a network line for Kim to potentially cross and instead, new sanctions could be expected despite their lack of effectiveness.

For the U.S. to maintain its dominant role in the East Asia region, deter North Korea, and keep China in check, it must reaffirm its military and economic alliances which entered into a period of uncertainty during the Trump administration. Currently, China is South Korea's principal trading partner and is openly evading international sanctions imposed on North Korea being its principal trading partner as well.

The prosperous South Korea will remain neutral in many aspects related to China, yet if put in a situation where it has to choose between the U.S. and China, it will incline towards the former, which remains its security guarantor. When it comes to Russia, its role in the Korean conflict is now secondary but over the years, Russia has used the U.S.-China battle to increase relations with the latter. In the case of Japan, a close U.S. ally, a shift in relations with the ROK is unlikely to happen any time soon since their political issues have evolved into legal ones. This will remain detrimental to the U.S' New East China Sea policy which requires cooperation between U.S. allies.

Diplomacy, openness and potential reunification in the peninsula depend on external actors. Neither reunification nor openness are likely to take place in the short term due to Kim's personality and the preference of external actors to maintain the status quo. A reunification led under peaceful terms would be most desirable and would ultimately lead to an even larger economic powerhouse in the region. For the U.S, this pathway would be most beneficial if a reunified Korea would align with the U.S. This would be detrimental, however, to China's geopolitical interests in the region. Russia could come out as being the greatest benefactor from a peaceful reunification. Lastly, Japan could continue to feel threatened by a reunified Korea, which is united by hatred over a colonial past under Japanese savage rule.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Reports

[Juan Tovar Ruiz, La doctrina en la política exterior de Estados Unidos: De Truman a Trump ( Madrid: Catarata, 2017) 224 pages].

review / Xabier Ramos Garzón

Every change in the White House leads to an analysis of the outgoing president's policies and speculation about the incoming president's policies. Given the weight of the United States in the world, each administration's vision of international affairs is decisive for the world order. Juan Tovar Ruiz, professor of International Office at the University of Burgos, deals in this book with the essence of each president's foreign policy - mainly from Truman to Trump (Biden's, logically, has yet to be defined) - which in many cases follows a defined roadmap that has come to be called 'doctrine'.

The book's strengths include the fact that it combines several points of view: on the one hand, it covers, from a realist point of view, the structural and internal effects of each policy, and on the other hand, it analyses the ideas and interactions between actors from a constructivist point of view. The author explores decision-making processes and their consequences, considers the ultimate effectiveness of American doctrines in the general context of International Office, and examines the influences, ruptures and continuities between different doctrines over time. Despite the relatively short history of the United States, the country has had an extensive and complex foreign policy, which Tovar, focusing on the last eight decades, synthesises with particular merit, adopting a mainly general viewpoint that highlights the substantive.

The book is divided into seven chapters, organised by historical stages and, within each, by presidents. The first chapter, by way of introduction, covers the period following US independence until the end of World War II. This period is sample as a background core topic in future American ideology, with two particularly decisive positions: the Monroe Doctrine and Wilsonian Idealism. The second chapter deals with the First Cold War, with the Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson doctrines. The chapter contextualises the various postulates and identifies the issues that went to core topic in the creation of doctrines that only affected the foreign policy of the time, but became embedded in the core of American political thought. The third chapter deals with the Distension, the period between 1969 and 1979 in which the Nixon and Carter doctrines came into being. The fourth chapter takes us to the Second Cold War and the end of the US-USSR confrontation, a time when we find the doctrines of Reagan and Bush senior. From this point, the following chapters (fifth, sixth and seventh) deal with the post-Cold War period, with the doctrines of Clinton, Bush junior and the more recent - and therefore still subject to study - doctrines of Obama and Trump.

In the conclusions, the author summarises each of the chapters on the basis of academic or political characterisations and makes some qualifications, such as warning that in his opinion Obama's foreign policy is more of a "non-doctrine", as it combines elements of different ideologies and is partly contradictory. Obama dealt with various conflicts in different ways: he dealt realistically with "wars of necessity" (Afghanistan) and agreement with the liberal internationalist approach to conflicts such as Libya. While Obama's flexibility might be considered a weakness by some, as he did not follow a firm and marked policy, it can also be seen as the necessary adaptation to a continuously changing environment. On many occasions a US president, such as Bush Jr., has pursued a rigid foreign policy, ideologically speaking, that ultimately achieved little practical success written request .

Another example of a variant of the conventional doctrine that sample the author gives is the "anti-doctrine" carried out by Trump. The man who was to be president until 2021 implemented a policy characterised by numerous contradictions and variations on the role that the US had been playing in the world, thereby casting doubt and uncertainty on the expected behaviour of the American superpower. This was due to Trump's political inexperience, both domestically and domestically, which caused concern not only among international actors but also at the core of Washington itself.

From the analysis of the different doctrines presented in the book, we can see how each of them is adapted to a specific social, historical and political context, and at the same time they all respond to a shared political tradition of a country that, as a superpower, manifests certain constants when it comes to maintaining peace and guaranteeing security. But these constants should not be confused with universal aspects, as each country has its own particularities and interests: simply adapting US positions to the foreign policy plans of other countries can lead to chaotic failures if these differences are not recognised.

For example, countries like Spain, which depend on EU membership, would not be able to enter into random wars unilaterally as the US has done. However, Spain could adopt some elements, such as in subject of decision-making, as this subject of doctrines makes it much easier to objectify and standardise the processes of analysis and resolutions.

Categories Global Affairs: North America World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews

WORKING PAPER / Jokin de Carlos Sola

ABSTRACT

During and after the fall of the Soviet Block the three countries of Germany, Denmark and Sweden saw an opportunity to increase their influence on the region that centuries before they had possessed. They did this through diplomatic support of the opposition and communication strategies and once the new countries were either independent or liberal democracies, they used their economic and political power to attract them. This was done by buying and investing in the new privatised assets of these countries, soft power and in some cases diplomatic pressure. By this way Germany, Sweden and Denmark did not only got new investment hubs and markets for their products but also support in the Governance of the European Union.

 

 

 

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Categories Global Affairs: European Union World order, diplomacy and governance Documents of work

With oil production at a record low, the Maduro regime has turned to the precious metal to pay for Tehran's services.

° With no more credits from China or Russia, Caracas consolidated in 2020 the reborn relationship with the Iranians, who are in charge of trying to reactivate the country's crippled refineries.

° In the past year, Iranian-delivered cargo ships have brought more than 5 million barrels of gasoline to the Caribbean nation, as well as products for its Megasis supermarket.

° The involvement of entities related to the Revolutionary Guard, declared group terrorist by Washington, makes any gesture towards the Biden Administration difficult.

► The Venezuelan Vice President and the Iranian Vice Minister of Industry inaugurate the Megasis supermarket in Caracas in July 2020 [Gov. of Venezuela].

report SRA 2021 / María Victoria Andarcia [ PDF version].

Venezuela's relationship with extra-Hemispheric powers has been characterised in the last year and a half by the resumption of the close ties with Iran seen during the presidencies of Hugo Chávez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. With the financing possibilities provided by China (it has not granted loans to Caracas since 2016) and Russia (its oil interest in Venezuela, through Rosneft, was particularly constrained in 2019 by the Trump administration's sanctions on PDVSA's business) exhausted, Nicolás Maduro's regime once again knocked on Iran's door.

And Tehran, once again encircled by US sanctions, as it was during the Ahmadinejad era, has once again seen the alliance with Venezuela as an opportunity to stand up to Washington, while at the same time reaping some economic benefits in times of great need: shipments of gold worth at least $500 million, according to Bloomberg, are said to have left Venezuela in 2020 as payment for services rendered by Iran. If the credits from China or Russia were in exchange for oil, now the Chavista regime also had to get its hands on gold, as the state-owned PDVSA's production was at an all-time low, at 362,000 barrels per day in the third quarter of the year (Chávez took over the company with a production of 3.2 million barrels per day).

The change of partners was symbolised in February 2020 with the arrival of Iranian technicians to start up the Armuy refinery, abandoned the previous month by Russian experts. Lack of investment had led to neglect of the maintenance of the country's refineries, which was causing severe petrol shortages and long queues at service stations. Iran's attendance would barely manage to improve the refinery status , and Tehran had to make up for this inefficiency by sending in gasoline tankers. Food shortages also provided another avenue of relief for Tehran, which also dispatched ships with foodstuffs.

Gasoline and food

The Venezuelan-Iranian relationship, which without being completely eliminated had been reduced during the presidency of Hassan Rohani, as the latter focused on the international negotiation of the nuclear agreement to be reached in 2015 (known as JCPOA), resumed throughout 2019. In April of that year, the controversial Iranian airline Mahan Air received permits to operate in Venezuela on the Tehran-Caracas route. Although the airline has not marketed the air route, it has chartered several flights to Venezuela despite the closure of territorial airspace ordered by Maduro due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Mahan Air's operations served to transport Iranian technicians who were to be employed in efforts to restart gasoline production at the Paraguaná complex refineries, as well as material necessary for these tasks.

According to researcher Joseph Humire, these and other arrangements were allegedly prepared by the Iranian embassy in Venezuela, which since December 2019 has been headed by Hojatollah Soltani, known for "mixing Iran's foreign policy with the activities" of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). He estimates that Mahan Air would have flown around 40 flights in the first half of 2020.

Similarly, Iran has been sending multiple fuel tan kers to Venezuela to address petrol shortages. The first shipment came in a flotilla of tankers that, in defiance of US sanctions, entered Venezuelan waters between 24 and 31 May, carrying a combined 1.5 million barrels of gasoline. In June, another vessel arrived with an estimated 300,000 barrels, and three others brought 820,000 barrels between 28 September and 4 October. Between December 2020 and January 2021 another flotilla would have carried 2.3 million barrels. To this total of at least 5 million barrels of gasoline should be added the arrival of 2.1 million barrels of condensate to be used as a diluent for Venezuelan extra-heavy oil.

In addition to fuel, Iran has also sent medical supplies and food to help combat the humanitarian emergency the country is suffering. Thus, it is important to highlight the opening of the Megasis supermarket, which is linked to the Revolutionary Guard, an Iranian military body that the Trump Administration included in the catalogue of terrorist groups. The store sells products from brands owned by the Iranian military, such as Delnoosh and Varamin, which are two of the subsidiaries of the Ekta company, allegedly created as a social security trust for Iranian military veterans. The Ekta supermarket chain is subordinate to the Iranian Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces Logistics, an entity sanctioned by the United States for its role in the development ballistic missiles.

Gold and Saab

This activity is of concern to the US. An Atlantic Council report details how Iranian-backed networks prop up the Maduro regime. Venezuelan oil minister Tareck El Aissami has been identified as the core topic actor behind the illicit network . He allegedly agreed with Tehran to import Iranian fuel in exchange for Venezuelan gold. According to agreement according to the Bloomberg information cited above, the Venezuelan government had delivered to Iran, until April 2020, around nine tons of gold worth approximately 500 million dollars, in exchange for its attendance in the reactivation of the refineries. The gold was apparently transported on Mahan Air flights to Tehran.

The negotiations may have involved Colombian-born businessman Alex Saab, who already centralised much of the Chavista regime's food imports under the Clap programme and was getting involved in Iranian gasoline supplies. Saab was arrested in June 2020 in Cape Verde when his private plane was being refuelled on an apparent flight to Tehran. Requested to Interpol by the United States as Maduro's main front man, the extradition process remains open.

The entities involved in many of these exchanges are sanctioned by the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control for their connection to the IRGC. The IRGC's ability to operate in Venezuela is due to the reach of network to support Hezbollah, an organisation designated as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union. Hezbollah has successfully infiltrated Venezuela's Lebanese expatriate communities, giving Iran a foothold to grow its influence in the region. These links make it difficult for Caracas to make any gesture that might be attempted to facilitate any de-escalation by the new Biden administration of Washington's sanctions.

Categories Global Affairs: Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America

Beijing is no longer just a commercial partner and infrastructure lender: it is catching up with the West in pharmaceutical excellence and provider healthcare.

° Only Peru, Chile and Argentina have contracted more Chinese and Russian doses; in Brazil and Mexico, doses from the US and Europe predominate, as in the rest of the countries in the region.

° Huawei wins Brazilian 5G bid in exchange for vaccines; Beijing offers them to Paraguay if it abandons its recognition of Taiwan

° In addition to clinical trials in several nations in the second half of 2020, Argentina and Mexico will produce or package Sputnik V from June.

Arrival of a shipment of Sputnik V vaccines in Venezuela in February 2021 [Miraflores Palace].

report SRA 2021 / Emili J. Blasco [ PDF version].

Vaccination in Latin America is being done substantially with preparations developed in the United States and Europe, although media attention has privileged doses from China and Russia. The particular vaccine diplomacy carried out in recent months by Beijing and Moscow - which, with public funds, have promoted the export of injections ahead of the needs of their own inhabitants - has certainly been active and has managed to give the impression of greater influence than is real, often promising volumes of supplies that have rarely been delivered on time.

When, from June onwards, with most Americans already immunised, the Biden Administration turns its attention to providing vaccines to the region, the imbalance in favour of formulas from "Western" laboratories - also basically used in the UN's Covax system stockpiles - will be even greater. Nonetheless, the development of the health crisis over the past year will have served to consolidate China and Russia's foothold in Latin America.

To date, only Peru, Chile and Argentina have contracted more vaccines from China (CanSino, Sinopharm and Sinovac) and Russia (Sputnik V) than from the United States and Europe (AstraZeneca, J&J, Moderna and Pfizer). In the case of Peru, of the 116 million doses committed, 51 million correspond to European and/or US laboratories, 45 million to Chinese laboratories and 20 million to Russian laboratories. In the case of Chile, of the 79.8 million doses, 18 million are from the first group, while 61.8 million are Chinese. For Argentina, of the 62.4 million doses reserved, 22.4 million are "Western", 10 million are Russian and 30 million are Chinese. These are data from AS/COA, which keeps a detailed account of various aspects of the evolution of the health crisis in Latin America.

As for the two largest countries in the region, the preference for US and European formulations is notorious. Of the 661.4 million doses contracted by Brazil, 481.4 million come from the US, compared to 100 million Chinese doses and 80 million doses of Sputnik V (moreover, it is not clear that the latter will ever arrive, given the recent rejection of their authorisation by Brazilian regulators). Of the 310.8 million contracted by Mexico, 219.8 million are "Western" vaccines, 67 million are Chinese vaccines and 24 million are Sputnik V vaccines.

Tables: reproduction of AS/COA, database online, information as of 31 March 2021

Testing and production

The Chinese and Russian vaccines were not unknown in Latin American public opinion, as in the second half of 2020 they were frequently in the news as a result of clinical trials carried out in some countries. South America was of particular interest to the world's leading laboratories, as it was home to a high incidence of the epidemic along with a certain medical development that allowed for serious monitoring of the efficacy of the preparations, compatible with a level of economic need that facilitated thousands of volunteers for the trials. This made the region the focus of global clinical trials of the main anti-Covid-19 vaccines, with Brazil being the epicentre of degree program experimentation. In addition to trials conducted by Johnson & Johnson in six countries, and by Pfizer and Moderna in two, Sputnik V was tested in three (Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela) and in two by Sinovac (Brazil and Chile) and Sinopharm (Argentina and Peru).

Experimentation, however, was due to private agreements between laboratories, which required little involvement of the health or political authorities of the country in question. The commitment of certain governments to the Chinese and Russian vaccines came with purchase negotiations and then with their subsequent authorisation for use, a final step that has not always taken place. A further alliance in the case of Sputnik V has been Argentina's project to produce the Russian preparation on its territory from next June, for its own vaccination and distribution to neighbouring countries, as well as that of Mexico for the packaging of the doses, also from June. Argentina was the first country to register and approve Sputnik V, using information it has since shared with other countries in the region. Mexico's move has been interpreted as a way to put pressure on the US to liberalise the export of its vaccines as soon as possible.

China has also exerted pressure on some South American countries. It has taken advantage of Brazil's dire need for vaccines to force Jair Bolsonaro's government to allow Huawei to bid for Brazil's 5G network , despite having initially vetoed the Chinese business . Similarly, Beijing seems to have promised vaccines to Paraguay in exchange for the country ceasing to recognise Taiwan. In addition, the Chinese government last year averaged a billion-dollar credit for health procurement, as the head of the US Southern Command has warned, drawing attention to China's use of the crisis to gain further penetration in the hemisphere.

Consolidation

Whatever the final map of the application of each preparation in the vaccination process, what is certain is that above all Beijing, but in some ways also Moscow, has achieved an important victory, even though its vaccines may be far behind in the total number of doses injected in Latin America issue . In a region accustomed to identifying the United States and Europe with scientific capacity and high medical and pharmaceutical development , for the first time China is no longer seen as the source of cheap and unsophisticated products, but on a par in terms of research and health efficacy. Beyond Beijing's successful management of the pandemic, which can be relativised considering the authoritarian nature of its political system, China emerges as a leading country, capable of reaching a vaccine as quickly as the West and, to a certain extent, comparable to it. Russia's image lags somewhat behind, but Sputnik V consolidates Russia's "return" to a position of reference letter that it had lost completely in recent decades.

As a result of the emergence of Covid-19, in the collective Latin American imagination, China is no longer just a factor in trade, infrastructure construction and the granting of credits for development , but has established its penetration as a full-fledged power, also in terms of a central element in the lives of individuals, such as overcoming the pandemic.

Latin American countries have suffered the health and economic crisis of the coronavirus like no other region in the world. With 8.2% of the world's population, by October 2020 it accounted for 28% of global Covid-19 positive cases and 34% of deaths. The worsening of status in countries such as India may have changed these percentages somewhat, but the region has maintained important hotspots of infection, such as Brazil, followed by Mexico and Peru. To cope with this status, Latin America receives two-thirds of the IMF's global financial aid pandemic: the region has 17 million more poor people and will not recover its previous per capita income until 2025, later than the rest of the world.

Categories Global Affairs: World order, diplomacy and governance Articles Latin America