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ESSAY / Emilija Žebrauskaitė
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.
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.
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.
Lexico. (n.d.). Lexicon. Retrieved from https://www.lexico.com/definition/ubuntu
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Schabas, W. A. (2005). Genocide Trials and Gacaca Courts. Journal of International Criminal Justice, 879-895.
June 15, 2021
WORKING PAPER / Jon Paris Oses, Jokin de Carlos Sola and Túlio Dias de Assis
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.
Unlike the abrupt changes of recent presidencies, the new Administration maintains the creation of the Space Force and the Moon as the next goal .
test that the new space degree program is serious is that, for the first time in many years, the United States is sticking to a fixed course in its journey to the stars. George W. Bush proposed going back to the Moon; Barack Obama, on the other hand, spoke of first going for an asteroid and then put Mars first; Donald Trump was more specific than his predecessors: he launched the Space Force and set up a programme, 'Artemis', which should take manned missions to the Moon and at the same time serve as a bridgehead for a future destination on Mars. Joe Biden has made no U-turn, but intends to continue in the direction indicated by what already seems to be an American consensus.
article / Pablo Sanz
The new space age is marked by the interest of the private business in the economic exploitation of space - the satellite industry, space tourism and the prospect of a lucrative mining business - and by the involvement of the major powers both in a hypothetical war scenario and in new horizons of exploration.
At a time of budgetary difficulties, Obama did not prioritise NASA, but left in the hands of private companies the technological development to gain access to close orbits and also lured them with the appropriation of space resources. This privatisation continued under Trump, but the hallmark of his presidency, in a resurgent global geopolitical confrontation, was to again dip into public funds. He launched the US Space Force (USSF) as a new branch of the US Armed Forces, and established a new purpose for NASA: a manned return to the Moon, with the creation of a station in lunar orbit to serve as a staging post for later landing on Mars. Biden maintains the direction he has taken.
US Space Force
Ever since he arrived at the White House, Trump has insisted on the idea of building a Space Force that would have the same rank as the five branches of the existing Armed Forces. First instituted as a germ within the Air Force, the US Space Force would eventually have its own budget, facilities, personnel (under the name of Guardians) and commanders. Its goal was to confront the alleged threats from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran in space. The directive for the creation of this military corps was signed by President Trump in February 2019; it was formed at the end of that year.
With the change of Administration and in view of the doubts that the Pentagon itself had raised, due to questions of expense, about an initiative that many interpreted as a whim of Trump's, some media pointed to a backtracking on the part of Biden. However, the new White House spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, announced in February this year that the creation of this military branch had the president's full support. Psaki commented that the new administration had no intention of modifying or reducing the structure of the Space Force and endorsed its progressive implementation: issue is expected to grow from 2,400 to 6,400 members by the end of this year.
The Space Force recently announced its intention to establish a Space Systems Command (SSC) in Los Angeles, whose goal will oversee the development of next-generation technologies and the acquisition of satellites and launch services. The SSC will assume the responsibilities currently performed by the Space and Missile Systems Centre (SMC) and will oversee a staff of 10,000. The SSC will be one of three Space Force field commands and will be led by three-star generals who will report to the chief of space operations, John Raymond. Raymond argues that the organisational structure of the SSC is specifically designed to anticipate and respond to the challenges presented by a contested space domain.
NASA's new leadership
With the inauguration of Joe Biden, there was also a change at the helm of the American space agency. The NASA administrator appointed by Trump, Jim Bridenstine, resigned from his position to facilitate the changes that the new president deemed appropriate. Biden appointed former Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, a close ally of his, to the post. Although the new administration has yet to make its mark, it is keeping its sights on a manned return to the moon - for the first time since Apollo 17 in 1972 - and continuing the Artemis programme. In recent months, NASA has been able to celebrate the successful arrival of Perseverance on Mars, which is part of several ongoing unmanned exploration missions.
For the time being, Biden has order congress a discretionary expense for NASA of 24.7 billion dollars for the US fiscal year 2022. According to the agency's own announcement, from agreement with the tone of the new administration, this funding will make it possible:
-Keep NASA on track to land the first woman and first black man on the moon under the Artemis programme.
-To better understand the functioning of planet Earth.
-Encourage robotic exploration of both the solar system and the universe.
-Investing in aviation.
-Inspiring students to become the next generation of scientists
Fight on the Moon
With the Artemis programme and at partnership with space agencies from Western countries and commercial companies, NASA aims to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon and a space base in its orbit, starting with an estimated first manned flight in 2024. This should help private companies explore the feasibility of a lunar Economics and serve as a stepping stone for human spaceflight to Mars from 2033. Ongoing spacecraft programmes such as Orion, Lunar Gateway Orbital Platform and Commercial Lunar Payload Services are integrated into the framework initiative.
Through this multilateral mission, the United States will work with domestic industry and international partners, following the principles of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which aims to facilitate exploration, science and commercial activities by preventing nations from claiming sovereignty over outer space.
Although the new national security strategy has not yet been published, it is highly likely that it will include a space strategy reference letter , as the major powers are also moving the geopolitical tension between them off the planet. Recently, China and Russia have announced their intention to build a lunar base; although they have invited the international community to join the effort, the initiative is still seen as an alternative to the one promoted by the US and its allies.
With no parliament and a president with a one-year extension, the country complicates the road to recovery.
The global economic and health crisis has affected all countries, but in Haiti the impasse at status has also aggravated a long-standing political crisis. With a president who has refused to leave position and renew parliament, and who has called a constitutional referendum to give himself more power, Haiti finds itself in a destructive spiral from which the international financial aid is unable to extricate it. The neighbouring Dominican Republic has announced the construction of a border fence to control entrance of Haitians.
article / Christian Santana
The coronavirus pandemic has aggravated Haiti's already difficult economic situation status and has also contributed to accentuating the institutional collapse that the country has been experiencing for the last five years, as it has somehow sheltered the exceptional occurrence of electoral postponements. agreement In terms of health, subject the impact of Covid-19 has not been particularly high, at least according to official figures (14,258 people affected and 307 deaths by the end of May 2021, well below the figures for the neighbouring Dominican Republic: 291,910 and 3,628, respectively), although the deficient national health system may suggest a higher incidence: in fact, Haiti is the last American country to begin vaccinating its inhabitants.
In a country with inherently low economic activity, where GDP declines are common, the global downturn in 2020 was understandably modest, while the recovery in 2021 is barely perceptible. Haiti's GDP fell by 3.7% in 2020 and will grow by only 1% in 2021, according to IMF estimates. The economic damage and its social consequences can be seen especially in the inflation rate, which last year was close to 23% and this year will remain above 22%. Moreover, in just two years, Haiti's public debt increased by almost ten points, from 38.3% of GDP in 2017 to 47% in 2019.
As early as April 2020, when the global recession began, the IMF warned of the damage being done by political paralysis. "Due to popular frustration with high levels of corruption and inequality, Haiti has been experiencing a prolonged political crisis and social unrest that has at times paralysed most of the country's economic activity," said report, and stated that "absent sustained implementation of good policies and comprehensive reforms, the outlook remains bleak".
In the following months the pandemic has worsened Haiti's already weak economic outlook. An expected sharp drop in remittance flows, reduced textile exports and falling foreign direct investment will put significant pressure on the balance of payments. Additional social and health expenditures, together with a further fall in tax revenues, will increase the fiscal deficit and financing needs. To address this emergency, the IMF approved in April 2020 the disbursement of USD 111.6 million. The amount was intended to alleviate the impact of the crisis on the population, such as paying the salaries of some teachers and workers, providing cash transfers and food rations to households, and providing subsidies to the transport and sanitation sectors.
goal At the beginning of 2021, the Haitian government introduced a post-Covid-19 (Precop) economic recovery plan, with the aim of achieving an average of 3% growth over the next three years, a gradual reduction of inflation to 10% and the creation of 50,000 jobs. According to the Haitian government, in 2020 the incomes of 95 per cent of households fell sharply and unemployment rose by 10 per cent.
In any case, Haiti lacks the political stability required for a rigorous implementation of the recovery plan. Since the first round of the 2015 presidential elections, the country has experienced its last long period of instability. Allegations of irregularities delayed the second round until November 2016. The victory went to Jovenel Moïse, with 55.6% of the vote and a very high turnout leave . Moïse was sworn in in February 2017, a year later than would have been normal had the two rounds not been so far apart.
The committee High Court of Justice ruled in early 2021 that the five-year term was due to expire on 7 February, but Moïse has remained at position, amid violent protests, claiming that his term actually ends on 7 February 2022. Although the judges appointed an interim president, Moïse has continued to rule, removing politicians and magistrates who have questioned his authority and whom he accuses of orchestrating a coup d'état (23 people were arrested in connection with the coup). He has the support of the armed forces, an institution he himself created anew in 2017 after two decades of being disbanded by Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Moreover, Moïse has postponed legislative elections that should have been held in October 2019, so that since January 2020, when the parliament that was to be elected was to be constituted, he has been governing by decree. He now promises legislative and presidential elections for September and November 2021, but first he wants to proceed with a constitutional reform that should give him more power. A constitutional referendum has been called for 27 June to revalidate a new constitution drafted by a five-person commission, all of them appointed by Moïse. The new text envisages eliminating the Senate, making the system unicameral, and shielding former presidents from prosecution for corruption or other crimes. The 1987 constitution prohibits constitutional amendments by referendum, but Moïse argues that his initiative is not an amendment but a new constitution.
The international community has reacted to the violence and corruption in Haiti, but has failed to turn the tide status. The UN has complained about impunity and the US has applied sanctions against leaders who have violated human rights. However, these bodies have had to come to terms with the reality of Moïse's permanence in power and have gone on to demand that he keep to the announced electoral timetable, as has the Biden Administration and the European Union (although they reject constitutional change).
Relationship with the Dominican Republic
The conditions under which the pandemic has unfolded around the world have given the Dominican Republic the opportunity to propose a border with Haiti that can be hermetically sealed when appropriate and that would provide a greater obstacle to smuggling, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. In his last report to congress on 27 February this year, Dominican President Luis Abinader announced the construction of a fence along the 400-kilometre line separating the two countries on the island of Hispaniola. A dividing line that will combine physical and technological means and which will include "a double perimeter fence in the most conflictive sections and a single fence in the rest, as well as movement sensors, facial recognition cameras, radars and infrared ray systems". By May, 23 kilometres of fence had already been built, with a height of four metres and crowned with hawthorns.
Abinader, of the centre-left, compensated for this hardline policy by promising to give identity documents to Haitians living in the Dominican Republic (an estimated 500,000, or 5 per cent of the Dominican census, although the figure is probably higher). He also announced the concession to Haiti of various types of financial aid, such as the supply of surplus Dominican electricity and the contribution to the construction of hospitals, for use as maternity wards and with international funding, on the Haitian side of the border. Precisely the temporary migration of Haitian women to the Dominican Republic in order to give birth there under the public health system, in many cases despite their illegal status, is one of the most common arguments in the national discussion on migration from Haiti.
The Dominican Republic was hit at the start of the pandemic by a decline in exports and then by a halt in tourism, but this 2021 is seeing a rapid recovery, with total year growth estimated at 6.2% (after a 6.7% drop in 2020), a figure that is close to the growth of up to 7% it has experienced in recent years.
The new administration displays a multilateral diary , but on crucial issues maintains Trump-era measures
With domestic affairs a priority due to Covid, the new Biden administration's attention to Latin America has generally been relegated to a very low priority. Abroad, negotiations with Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been the focus of US diplomacy, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken taking centre stage. But some regional issues have domestic repercussions in the US, such as migration and drug trafficking, and Biden has put his Vice President, Kamala Harris, at the forefront of these problems management . With Biden's direct dialogue with his hemispheric counterparts hampered by the pandemic, it is Harris who is leading the meetings with the Mexican and Central American authorities, as in the trip she will make in June.
article / Miguel García-Miguel
Once in office, Joe Biden found a very different landscape from the one he had left behind after serving as Barack Obama's vice-president. Donald Trump pursued an isolationist and certainly not paternalistic policy compared to what has often been the character of the US relationship with its Western Hemisphere neighbours. Trump had a dominant and imposing tone at times core topic, such as during the T-MEC negotiations or in the application of sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela, but the rest of the time he disengaged from the region. This lack of involvement was to the liking of populist leaders of different persuasions, such as Mexico's Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro.
In the next four years, the Biden-Harris administration can be expected to return to multilateralism, action on climate change and the promotion of democracy and human rights, issues that are at the heart of the current US diary . These issues, as well as those related to migratory pressure and the desirability of countering China and Russia in the region with a "vaccine diplomacy" of their own, will shape relations with neighbouring countries. For the moment, however, Biden has maintained Trump's signature measures and is taking his time to detail what his Latin America policy should be.
NORTHERN TRIANGLE: Aid and growing tension with Bukele
During his election campaign, Joe Biden promised that if he became president he would carry out an aid plan for Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that would amount to 4 billion dollars over four years and that would aim to promote the region's development in order to prevent the massive flow of migrants to the United States. Previously, as vice-president, Biden was directly involved in the Alliance for Prosperity that Obama launched in 2014 in the wake of a previous migration crisis, which sought to provide more than 750 million dollars a year to the Northern Triangle; the programme, which Trump reduced budget , did not prevent the new migration boom seen in recent years.
Undoubtedly, the region, one of the poorest in the world, needs incentives for its development development, but it also continues to face serious problems such as its propensity for natural disasters, dependence on foreign companies to exploit its resources, and the poor governance of its politicians. Thus, Washington has included among its priorities the denunciation of corruption in the Northern Triangle countries, publishing lists of corrupt politicians, already begun with Trump and now expanded with Biden. Precisely these denunciations and the anti-democratic drift of El Salvador's president, Nayib Bukele, are turning a relationship that Bukele had cultivated during the Trump era into a hostile one.
MEXICO: Migration and environment
Mexico, as a country with which it shares an extensive border, has always been a point core topic in US foreign policy and one of its priorities. With the arrival of the Biden Administration, more friction with López Obrador is expected than during Trump's presidency. Increased migratory pressure on the US-Mexico border is complicating Biden's presidency and risks damaging the electoral prospects of Vice President Kamala Harris, whom Biden has directly tasked with managing the migration crisis, which this year is breaking a new record. In addition, Mexico's limitations on the presence of the DEA, the US counter-narcotics agency, have strained relations. Biden has not yet travelled to Mexico, despite the fact that visit is one of the first visits made by US presidents.
Biden's environmentalist policy clashes directly with the interests of the Mexican president, who is focused on building a new large refinery instead of promote renewable energies. Precisely one of the points of tension will be the electricity reform that López Obrador plans to carry out, which will further limit the participation of private companies in the electricity sector and promote the use of non-renewable energies, which are in the hands of the state. The reform was recently suspended by a federal judge, but the government is expected to appeal the blockage. The obstacles to liberalisation fit poorly with the renewed agreement Free Trade Agreement between the US, Mexico and Canada (T-MEC).
COLOMBIA: Protests, peace accords and Venezuelan refugees
With Colombia, the Biden administration is in a period of trial and error. Following President Iván Duque's rapprochement with Trump, despite the latter's initial rebuffs, the Colombian government was praised by Biden for having decided to grant temporary protection status to the almost two million Venezuelan refugees living in the country. Biden congratulated Duque in February by letter, but so far there has been no interview between the two, not even by telephone.
The violent protests in Colombia, which have been met by a police management that has been widely criticised by civil service examination, have not undermined the Biden administration's expressed support for Duque for the moment, but the status could become unstable with the prospect of the presidential elections in May 2022. Washington is uneasy about some missteps in the implementation of the 2016 peace accords, such as the assassination of former guerrillas who have laid down their arms and of social leaders. In any case, Colombia is a convenient ally in the fight against drug trafficking, a task in which the two countries have long collaborated closely since the US's push for Plan Colombia.
Finally, Bogotá can also be useful to the US government in managing the Venezuelan crisis, and not only when it comes to retaining immigrants in the Andean country. The new channels of negotiation that Biden wants to open, while maintaining pressure on Maduro, require a regional consensus of support.
CUBA: The unknown of a post-Castro openness, at least economically
The Obama administration, in which Biden was vice president, carried out a historic rapprochement with Cuba by re-establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. Although Trump maintained this diplomatic recognition, he eliminated some provisions that extended the contact with the island and imposed new sanctions. After the harsh policies of his predecessor, Biden will not for the time being stage a return to Obama's policies. The Cuban government did not reciprocate with signs of openness and favouring an immobile regime may have electoral consequences in the US. The possibility of Trump running in 2024 could project a new struggle for the Latino vote in Florida, particularly the Cuban vote, in a state that Biden lost in 2020.
Even so, the Biden Administration will try to loosen some of the sanctions, as has been seen with the authorisation to send remittances to the island. For its part, Cuba will probably play quid pro quo diplomacy and wait for its neighbours to take the first steps towards open policies, basically on economic issues.
VENEZUELA: Options for a credible dialogue
In Venezuela, the recovery of democracy and free elections remain the main focus goal and Biden has maintained the sanctions against the regime of Nicolás Maduro established by Trump. The new administration has moderated its language and taken off the table the possibility of military intervention, which was more rhetoric; however, it still considers Maduro a dictator and recognises Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president.
The priority is a negotiated solution, based on upcoming electoral processes, but talks have only been tentatively opened and so far no clear interlocutors or forums have been established. The US will try to cooperate with multilateral organisations such as the OAS, the group de Lima or the European Union to try to resolve the country's political and economic crisis. Cuba also enters into the equation in some way, as a change in Venezuela would considerably harm the island if the Castro successors decide to continue with the communist model .
Moreover, as with the Cuban issue, the attitude towards Chavismo has electoral consequences in the US, especially in Florida, as seen in the 2020 presidential election, so it is difficult for Biden to ease pressure on Maduro before the mid-term elections in November 2022. Biden has granted Venezuelans in the US temporary protected status.
BRAZIL: The Amazon as a touchstone
Due to the tone of Jair Bolsonaro's presidency, Brazil is another of the countries in the region with which the new administration has worsened its relations compared to the Trump period. Biden's emphasis on the environment and combating climate change pits him against a Bolsonaro who is clearly less sensitive to these issues, and who does not seem to react sufficiently to the increasingly deforested Amazon. However, even if Biden finds the relationship uncomfortable, the US will continue to work with Latin America's leading Economics , whose role remains important in regional development issues.
The year and a half remaining until Brazil's October 2022 presidential election presents a stalemate as the two countries wait for a possible political shift to bring the two countries more in unison, although a return to power of the Workers' Party would not necessarily mean a special consonance, as there was none with either Lula da Silva or Dilma Rousseff even with the Democrats in the White House.
Human rights and vaccines
In addition to the aforementioned countries, some others are also on the US agenda, especially in relation to human rights, such as the case of the democratic regression in Nicaragua or the attention that Bolivia could give to former president Jeanine Áñez.
On the other hand, it is expected that in the coming weeks, with most of the US population already inoculated, the US will proceed to submit million doses of vaccines to Latin American countries. In addition to the real financial aid that these deliveries will represent, they will be a way of counteracting the influence that China and Russia have secured in the region by sending their respective vaccines. If the US-China tug-of-war will mark Biden's presidency, as it will undoubtedly mark this entire decade, one area of contention will be the US "backyard".
[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.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Marina Díaz, Lucía Montón and Paula Mostajo
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.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / Corey J. Hubbard and Paula Mora Brito
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.
STRATEGIC ANALYSIS REPORT / María G. Fajardo, Marcelina Kropiwnicka and Matilde Romito
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.
[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.