Entries with Categories Global Affairs World order, diplomacy and governance .

U.S.-China relations do not satisfy either country; they probably never will. They must try to manage them, peacefully, peacefully

▲meeting between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump [White House video screebshot].

ANALYSIS / María Granados

The National Security Strategy unveiled in December by Donald Trump label formally lists China and Russia as "rivals" of the United States. It presents these two countries as actors that "challenge the power, influence and interests" of Washington and "seek to erode the security and prosperity" of Americans. Although the document also considers "rogue" states such as Iran and North Korea, and transnational organizations, both jihadist and organized crime, as threats, the arguments of the new U.S. Administration focus especially on China. The Asian nation appears as the great obstacle to the realization of the "America First" promised by Trump, because of its unfair trade and currency practices.

Thus, the first National Security Strategy document of the Trump era corroborates the speech that he had maintained as candidate. During the election campaign Trump spoke of China as a "currency manipulator" and accused it of keeping the yuan artificially low. He also threatened Beijing with starting a trade war, complaining about the economic consequences for the US of China's excessive trade surplus in bilateral relations, as well as the reduction of US manufacturing jobs. Shortly after being elected, before the inauguration of his term, Trump provoked a diplomatic friction with China by having a telephone conversation with the president of Taiwan.

However, since his arrival at the White House, Trump has taken care to iron out these differences with China. He committed to maintaining the One China Policy, retracted his criticisms, and met in Florida with President Xi Jinping, agreeing to respect each other's sphere of influence and not to intervene in the internal affairs of the other. This, together with an incipient partnership in the sanctions against North Korea, seemed to be giving birth to a rapprochement that has not materialized. In fact, the treatment of China as a "rival" that the US National Security Strategy officially gives it breaks in a way with a long period of mutual acceptance that began in the 1970s.

Nixon's opening

The United States and China had serious precedents: the Korean War (1950-1953), which pitted China and the USSR in the North against the American-supported South, of which the Vietnam War (1955-1975) was a collateral consequence; and the nuclear danger that began in 1949, the year in which the USSR carried out the first effective essay . For Washington, from an ideological and military point of view, China was an international actor that it was desirable to control. For Beijing, in alliance with the Soviet Union, it was urgent to propagate communism's speech about the "imperialist enemy", which it repeated with intensity throughout the first years of the Cold War.

speech In 1969, the new US President, Richard Nixon, included in his inaugural address reference letter against isolationism (1). From the other side of the world there were also new messages: the distancing that Mao began to establish in relation to the USSR due to their border conflicts. This disrupted the International Office triangle existing in those years of the Cold War (China, USSR, USA), and began to create a link between Beijing and Washington.

Thus, the first signs of rapprochement began to appear. In 1971 the United States voted for Taiwan's seat on the United Nations Security committee to be taken by the People's Republic of China. In 1972 the Shanghai statement was drafted, which established the instructions for Sino-US rapprochement and was embodied in five principles:

1. The One China Policy: establishing diplomatic relations with China meant not being able to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and vice versa, since both claim to be the true and only China.

2. Do not support Taiwan's independence.

3. Not to support the possible invasion of Japan.

4. Peaceful resolution of the conflict with Taiwan, reducing military installations on the island.

5. The commitment to continue being peaceful allies in search of lasting cooperation.

Since the rapprochement of the 1970s, relations between the two countries have been heavily influenced by Washington and Beijing's attitude towards Taiwan and the two Koreas, in a sort of indirect Sino-American relations.


▲meeting bilateral at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, in April 2017 [White House].


The Taiwan issue

The self-styled Republic of China had been the main obstacle to the complete normalization of relations, as seen with the Shanghai statement . Actual reunification by (mainland) China was prevented by U.S. troops.

After 1973 we find two important documents: the so-called Taiwan Relations Act, by which the US recognized the island as having the same privileges as before, but not as a sovereign nation, and the Joint statement (sometimes known as the "Second Shanghai statement ), which drastically cut arms sales to Taiwan. In 1979, Washington and Beijing exchanged ambassadors and the Americans ceased formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

Around 1980, the policy advocated by the mainland Chinese government was "one country, two systems", offering Formosa the exceptionality of a different and economically independent political system, but being part of the one China. However, this formula did not meet the 23rd province's desire for independence. By 1985, the island's government was moving steadily towards democracy (2).

In the late 1990s, Beijing threatened Taiwan with military exercises in the surrounding waters, in which missiles were deployed, prompting a forceful response from the United States: the dispatch of two aircraft carrier battle groups to the region; with this Washington showed a clear decision to protect the former ally because of its strategic importance.

The current status remains complex. No direct courier or telecommunications links have been established between China and its rebel province; no postal or parcel shipments are being sent, and there is no direct flight connection. Face-to-face meetings between delegates have been infrequent and not very productive.

The North Korea problem

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, for its part, constitutes a particularly critical point in Sino-American relations, which also affects South Korea and Japan, both US allies Pyongyang has already conducted six subway nuclear tests and continues with its missile launches over the Sea of Japan.

China is North Korea's only ally: it is its largest trading partner and its main source of food and energy. Beijing has historically opposed tough international sanctions against its neighbor. The desire for the survival of communism is essential to understand the close relationship between the sui generis Korean dictatorship and China. It is easy to guess why: if Kim Jong-Un's regime falls, Xi Jinping's regime could be destabilized. A refugee crisis, with thousands of North Koreans crossing the 1,400-kilometer border between the two countries, would have serious effects on the Asian giant. Although they continue to be strongly linked to Pyongyang, the Chinese have pushed for the resumption of the Six-Party Dialogue and have accepted the application of certain international sanctions.

Trump's blunt assertion that "if China won't solve the North Korean problem, we will" does not really dispel doubts about what might happen if Pyongyang crosses the threshold of nuclear capability. Certainly as the Kim Jong-Un regime has moved closer to that threshold, Beijing has increased its diplomatic, financial and trade pressures on its neighbor (3). But the possibility that North Korea is already on the verge of reaching its strategic goal leaves the United States with the choice of military action, which can hardly be both effective and limited, or having to settle for a policy of containment.

Over the years, Washington has tried to encourage North Korea to irreversibly forget its nuclear program, offering in return a reward consisting of financial aid, diplomatic advantages and the normalization of relations. At the same time, South Korea hosts 29,000 U.S. military personnel. In March 2017, executive orders from the US President and congress went beyond sanctions: a defense system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) (4) was programmed as a preventive measure against a possible attack from the North and with the goal to ensure the stability of the region.

The THAAD battery is particularly interesting to analyze because of the dual perspective it presents. Because of its limited range and capability, it should not be of concern to China, as the interceptors would not be able to reach Chinese intercontinental ballistic missiles at any point along the trajectory from almost any of the possible launch locations. Thus, neither Washington nor Seoul should portray the system as a form of retaliation against Beijing for its failed sanctions on North Korea. Unfortunately, U.S. and South Korean officials suggest that the purpose of installing the THADD system is to send a message to China as a warning. Degree This is counterproductive, as it only offers reasons to justify the nuclearization of the Asian hegemon in the face of the apparent degradation of its medium-range,second-strike capability technology.

Mutual dissatisfactions

If issues relating to Taiwan and North Korea have occupied much of the bilateral diary , the question of China's economic transformation, since its impetus by Deng Xiaoping, has been central to the direct relationship between China and the United States.

The Gǎigé kāifàng (reform and opening up) emphasized modernization and economic and political reform. This led to normalized diplomatic relations and the development of bilateral trade and investment. Cooperation on subject political, economic and security with the former "American imperialists" was based on the prevention of terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation, and the maintenance of peace on the Korean peninsula.

However, there are still unresolved issues. U.S. dissatisfaction is due to China's human rights policy and its financial moves to devalue its currency as a measure to control inflation. These currency movements call into question the control of the market by the American hegemon, which currently has greater weight and primacy, among other things, because the dollar is the international currency of exchange (it could thus "export its inflation" to Beijing). Also of concern in Washington is the dependence of the United States on imports from China, which generates a large bilateral trade deficit for the Americans. Another potential problem is the sale of missiles and nuclear technology to third states in the Middle East and Asia.

From the Chinese perspective, their dissatisfaction is due to US arms sales to the rogue province (Taiwan), the defense system established in South Korea (both the THAAD system and the military financial aid ), and a US international policy that Beijing calls threatening, imperialistic and domineering.

Cooperation channels

The U.S. view of China as a "rival," as reflected in the Trump Administration's first National Defense Strategy document, stems from the realization that the Chinese regime is not moving toward democracy as many in the rest of the world had hoped. "For decades, US policy was based on the belief that supporting China's rise and integration into the post-war international order would liberalize that country," the document says, noting that Beijing is not sliding towards a regime of political freedoms and respect for human rights, so Washington can no longer be as condescending to Beijing as it used to be.

Probably, without China's assumption of the values and principles that give meaning to the United States, a real and confident rapprochement between the two superpowers is impossible. Still, for the survival of both, extensive cooperation between them is necessary.

Although a war between the United States and China is not impossible, it is unlikely for a variety of reasons, as Steinberg and O'Hanlon argue in Strategic Reassurance and Resolve (2015):

The common goals of economic prosperity, trade exchange , and interdependence at the stock market, financial and business levels make a warlike confrontation very damaging for both countries. In addition, China has progressively adopted measures against fraud and destabilization by computer manipulation, at the behest of the United States; the issue of cyber espionage, although it continues to provoke mutual disagreements, is regularly addressed by both countries in their bilateral meetings, aware that it is likely to become more important over the years.

-The South China Sea is a trade route that has never been closed, although it is a source of disputes to be taken into account, since they remain unresolved even though they have been brought before the Court dealing with the Law of the Sea (following the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea). The United States has strategic and commercial interests in the region that link it to its allies (Japan and South Korea), so this could be a source of tension. In any case, at present it does not seem that China wishes to provoke a military escalation in the area, although it has established instructions on artificial islands and moved troops.

-ASEAN's code of conduct for the South China Sea, which precludes the use of force, may cause Beijing to rethink increasing its aggressiveness in the region. That ASEAN's push for China to stop claiming maritime sovereignty that has been rejected by the international community are points against war.

-There are several joint operations in the fight against terrorism (ISIS) and in the prevention of piracy, in which the two superpowers are involved.

-China has increased its humanitarian financial aid and its work in support of UN peacekeeping missions.

In a scenario of no understanding between Beijing and Washington, but at the same time of no armed confrontation, the following actions may be suggested:

-A negotiation that would include reduced U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in exchange for increased coastal security, and a commensurate reduction by China of threats to the island.

-Greater cooperation and transparency in arms and troop movements, militarization, restructuring of armed forces and military exercises in the Pacific.

-Creation of joint organizations to fight organized crime and cyber-attacks, especially against threats to civilian infrastructure.

-Support and consistency in preventing nuclear escalation. Negotiation in reaching a firm conclusion on how to weaken the Pyongyang regime. Serious and consistent criticism, knowing the impossibility (as well as harm) of its direct overthrow.


(1) "We seek an open world--open to ideas, open to the exchange of goods and people--a world in which no people, great or small, will live in angry isolation.
We cannot expect to make everyone our friend, but we can try to make no one our enemy". Inaugural Address (January 20, 1969)

(2) It was the first time that the Democratic Progressive Party succeeded in pushing through the National Assembly and Legislative Yuan elections and forming a unified coalition against the Kuomintang. In 1992 the first free legislative elections took place in Taiwan.

(3) "China will be most likely to put diplomatic and financial pressure on North Korea if it believes that failing to do so will lead the United States to destabilize the regime," write Joshua Stanton, Sung- Yoon Lee, and Bruce Klingner in Foreign Affairs.

(4) The system typically has between 48 and 62 interceptor missiles with ranges of up to 200 kilometers, supported by radar with a range of up to about 1,000 kilometers.

Categories Global Affairs: North America Asia World order, diplomacy and governance Analysis

[Enrique Serrano, ¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? Delirios de una nación que se desconoce a sí misma, Planeta, Bogotá 2016, 273 pages].


review / María Oliveros [English version].

Colombia's history has often been classified as one of the most violent. The long chapter of FARC terrorism or the confrontation of drug cartels are well present, but before that there were violent events in Colombia such as the Revolt of the Comuneros, the Thousand Days War or the Banana Plantation Massacre. A succession of events that has led most Colombians to believe that violence has characterized the country's history and that perhaps they can do little to avoid it.

That belief is challenged by Colombian communicator, philosopher and writer Enrique Serrano in ¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? Delusions of a nation that does not know itself. The book's purpose is to analyze why Colombia has not prospered more as a country. To answer that question, Serrano reviews in short chapters the Colombian mentality since the beginnings of the nation; there he finds reasons why Colombia is a country that has had a hard time getting ahead, growing in progress and being able to develop to its full potential.

Why is Colombia failing?

¿Por qué fracasa Colombia? is a risky book, which combats thoughts that have long remained in the minds of Colombians. Against that central belief that violence has characterized the country's history, Serrano warns from the very first pages: "It is also presumed that this is a nation plagued by the most vicious violence, from its beginnings to the present day. However, it has been more peaceful than violent, at least during most of its slow training and that although the importance of violence cannot be denied, it is episodic, recent, similar to that of other peoples in transition".

Serrano tries to expose the history of a country that does not begin in 1810 with the independence, but its origins go much further back, to the moment when the Spaniards arrived in America and settled in Colombia. All this in order to show the reader that during the three hundred years that followed the arrival of the first conquistadors, Colombia was a peaceful and measured nation.

Serrano's main premise is that those who arrived in Colombia were mostly new Christians, descendants of Arabs and Jews, coming from southern Spain, who were looking for a place provisional to settle and avoid the religious conflicts that were occurring in Spain at that time. The newcomers settled in small urbanizations, some far from others, not only because that was what the country's geography allowed, but also because the last thing they wanted was to come into conflict with other settlers, both European and indigenous, according to Serrano.

In fact, it is questionable whether the new settlers were dominated by a refractory private religious approach or whether the search for refuge for their consciences motivated, in most cases, their departure to America. It seems that the author adjusts the starting point thinking of those later aspects that he wants to explain.

The author also defends the thesis that in Colombia there was a racial miscegenation, but not a cultural miscegenation, because the indigenous culture was very weak, which contributed to the assumption of the religion brought by the Spaniards. In the culture that the Spaniards transmitted to the new generations were ideas such as provisionality or even getting used to failure: "They also had to react in a peaceful, non-violent way when events were unfavorable and they could not fulfill their desires. Therefore, a relative tolerance and awareness that the frustration of the achievement of desires is something probable, is in the old patterns of upbringing of the Colombian nation".

Serrano suggests that this mentality that originated centuries ago is still present in Colombia: the idea of not making the maximum effort, of not taking too many risks for fear of failure, of doing things half-heartedly so as not to lose too much in case they go wrong. Probably this mentality that was created over the years explains why urbanization projects in the country do not progress properly, why the subway project in the Colombian capital has not been able to materialize, or why it has cost the country so much to exploit its resources to the maximum.

Although the book touches on other aspects such as language, body hygiene and social classes, history is undoubtedly the fundamental component. Referring to historical events of the Colombian past, Serrano proposes a vision of national history far from the usual one. Thus, as has been said, his story does not begin with the cry for independence of 1810, but explains the Spanish society of the 15th and 16th centuries, in order to understand the mentality of the first men, women and families who arrived in America. It is an optimistic vision that seeks to share the idea that not everything has been suffering in Colombian history. 

It is a fact that the country's history is not lived or remembered with much encouragement by Colombians. Remembering the past is for many a way of recalling the violence, wars and national polarization that began with the training of the two major parties, Liberals and Conservatives, in the mid-nineteenth century. Knowing the past well, in any case, is paramount for progress; that is what the new law decreed on January 1, 2018, which obliges all schools in the country to teach class Colombian History, seeks to do. 

The book concludes with a series of suggestions about the present and the future. That last chapter, graduate Where can such a nation go? tries to transmit a feeling of hope, while at the same time it is a call to a high level of responsibility. According to the author, knowing the past and not running away from it, but accepting it in order to improve mentalities and habits, is what will give the country the basis for not failing. 

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

[Mai'a K. Davis Cross, The Politics of Crisis in Europe. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. 2017. 248 pages]


review / Mª Teresa La Porte [English version].

The main thesis of the extensive research presented in this work is condensed in one of its last conclusions: 'Indeed, what the crisis over Iraq, the constitution, and the Eurozone have revealed is that even in the face of extreme adversity, and even when the easy route of freezing or rolling back integration is on the table before them, Europeans routinely choose more Europe, not less' (p. 235). The author justifies this assertion by arguing that the perception of existential crisis that periodically plagues the European Union is a social construct, initiated and orchestrated by the media and public opinion shapers who control the elaboration of narratives and determine public perception of the facts. Media coverage amplifies a problem that, although undeniable, does not question the existence of the European Union. This negative vision provokes in citizens what Cross calls 'integrational panic', generating a feeling of catastrophe that is multiplied through political discourse. The absence of a 'real crisis' would be demonstrated by the fact that, after these apparent catastrophes, there is a noticeable advance in European integration and a renewed desire to find a consensus.

The book presents an analysis of three recent 'crises' that the European Union has gone through: the dispute over participation in the Iraq war (2003), the discussion over the European Constitution (2005) and the economic crisis in the Eurozone (2010-12). Each of the cases comprises a qualitative and quantitative study of international leading media content, an examination of public opinion reaction and a monitoring of political decision making. Despite the difference between the case studies, the author finds a common patron saint to all of them that allows the comparative study and is developed as follows: emergence of the conflict that provokes the discussion, negative reaction of the social instigators elaborating alarming narratives, perception of existential crisis by the citizenry, state of 'catharsis' (catharsis) in which tensions are relaxed and a serene reflection on the events takes place, and, finally, the resolution phase in which political measures are adopted that reinforce European integration (European Security Strategy, 2003 (European Security Strategy); Lisbon Treaty, 2009 (Lisbon Treaty); European Fiscal Compact, 2012 (Fiscal Compact)).

The Politics of Crisis in Europe

The European Union is understood as a project in the process of development: 'a work in progress, a project that is perennially in the middle of its evolution, with no clearly defined end goal' (p.2). The disagreements between the member states, in relation to foreign policy or to the Degree integration, are typical of an ambitious initiative, which is in the process of maturing and which is always moving forward with the agreement of each and every one of its members. However, the study does not underestimate the real difficulties faced by the Community institution, which are present throughout research.

Of particular interest is the close monitoring of the social dynamics generated by the interpretation of the 'crisis of existence' of the European Union. The processes of elaboration of narratives by the media, the multiplier effect through the discourses of political actors and experts, and the reaction of European and global public opinion provide a knowledge on the political impact of social behavior that should be further considered in the discipline of International Office. The study devotes special attention to the resolution of the crisis and the phenomenon of 'catharsis' that occurs as a consequence of political reflection. This stage would begin when the options are broadened and different solutions begin to be assessed, the political elites recover their decision-making power and the consideration of potential opportunities to generate consensus and advance integration begins. As the author remarks, catharsis does not eliminate tensions, but it allows an open discussion that concludes with a positive proposal .

The scientific review of the concept of 'crisis' in the main intellectual perspectives of subject is also a positive contribution: the systemic, behavioral and sociological views. Based on the previous production, the author contributes a new concept 'integrational panic' which she defines as 'a social overreaction to a perceived problem'.

The criticism coming from academia, while not failing to underline the interest of approach of work, considers the political analysis of each of the conflicts analyzed to be insufficient and claims that the book does not reflect well the complexity of the problems facing Europe. In particular, she questions whether the Brexit crisis and the rise of Eurosceptic parties do not dismantle the argumentation set out in these pages. The author includes a brief commentary on both issues (the British referendum coincides with the publication of the book) arguing that both problems respond to a national and not a European policy conflict, but the review considers it incomplete.

In any case, the relevance of work is justified for several reasons. Firstly, its novelty: although the crises that the European Union has gone through have been studied before, very few studies have done so in a comparative way and concluded common behaviors. Secondly, and although it is a debatable thesis , the analysis of the effect of the media and public opinion leaders on the existential crisis of the EU contributes to a more accurate and realistic political evaluation of the phenomenon. Finally, the research favors a better management of these periods of turbulence, allowing to reduce the wearing effects of a constant discussion on the survival of the institution inside and outside Europe.

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

essay / Andrea Pavón-Guinea [English version].

  1. Introduction

The combination of terrorist attacks on European soil, the rise of the Islamic State, the Syrian civil war and the refugee crisis have highlighted the importance of intercultural dialogue between the European Union and the Islamic world. In this context of asymmetric warfare and non-traditional security challenges, the European Union is focusing its resources on soft power-based civil society initiatives that can contribute to the prevention of radicalization. Through the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation for Intercultural development , the European Union has a unique instrument to bring civil societies on both shores of the Mediterranean closer together and contribute to the improvement of Euro-Mediterranean relations.  

  1. Euro-Mediterranean relations and intercultural dialogue 

Relations between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean began[1] to be formally regulated with the creation of the Barcelona Process in 1995[2].

The Barcelona Declaration would give rise to the creation of the association Euro-Mediterranean; a forum for multilateral relations which, 'based on a spirit of association', aims to turn the Mediterranean basin into a 'area of dialogue, exchange and cooperation guaranteeing peace, stability and prosperity'. The Barcelona Process would thus bring to mind one of the founding principles of the European Union, that of achieving common objectives through a spirit of co-responsibility (Suzan, 2002). The Declaration pursues three fundamental objectives: firstly, the creation of a common area of peace and stability through the reinforcement of security and political dialogue (this would be the so-called 'political basket'); secondly, the construction of a zone of shared prosperity through the economic and financial association ('economic and financial basket'); and, thirdly, the promotion of understanding between cultures through civil society networks: the so-called intercultural dialogue ('social, cultural and human affairs' basket). 

More than twenty years after the Declaration, the claims of today's politics in the Southern Mediterranean underline the importance of development intercultural dialogue for European security. Although European politicians rejected Huntington's thesis of the clash of civilizations when it was first articulated, it would nevertheless become a scenario to be considered after the September 11 attacks: a scenario, however, that could be avoided through cooperation in the 'third basket' of the Euro-Mediterranean association , i.e. through enhanced dialogue and cultural cooperation (Gillespie, 2004).

  1. Fighting radicalization through intercultural dialogue: the Anna Lindh Foundation 

Thus, emphasizing that dialogue between cultures, civilizations and religions throughout the Euro-Mediterranean region is more necessary than ever for promote mutual understanding, the Euro-Mediterranean partners agreed during the fifth Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers' meeting lecture in Valencia in 2002 to establish a foundation whose goal would be the development of intercultural dialogue. Thus was born the Anna Lindh Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures which, based in Alexandria, would start operating in 2005.

It should be noted that Anna Lindh is unique in its representation and configuration, as it brings together all Euro-Mediterranean partners in the promotion of intercultural dialogue, which is its only goal. To this end, it relies on the coordination of a regional network of more than 4,000 civil society organizations, both European and Mediterranean.

Although it has been in operation for more than ten years now, its work is currently focused on development intercultural dialogue in order to prevent radicalization. This emphasis has been continuously highlighted in recent years, for example at the Anna Lindh Foundation's Mediterranean Forum in Malta in October 2016, its mandate on intercultural dialogue contained in the new European Neighborhood Policy (18.11.2015) and in High Representative Mogherini's strategy for the promotion of culture at International Office.

However, it has been the recent terrorist attacks in Europe that have highlighted the urgent need to address the phenomenon of radicalization[3], which can ultimately written request lead to violent extremism and terrorism. In this sense, the prevention of radicalization[4] is a piece core topic in the fight against terrorism, as has been highlighted by the diary European Security in 2015[5]. This is so because most of the terrorists suspected of attacks on European soil are European citizens, born and raised in EU member states, where they have undergone radicalization processes that would culminate in acts of terrorist violence. This fact evidences 'the transnational dimension of Islamist terrorism' (Kaunert and Léonard, 2011: 287), as well as the changing nature of the threat, whose drivers are different and more complex than previous radicalization processes: 'Today's radicalization has different foundations, operates on the basis of different recruitment and communication techniques and is marked by globalized and mobile targets inside and outside Europe, growing in diverse urban contexts'[6]. The following map sample the issue of arrests for suspected jihadist terrorism in Europe in 2016.


source: Europol (2016)


Consequently, the Anna Lindh Foundation can be understood as an alternative and non-confrontational response to the speech of the clash of civilizations and the US-led war on terror (Malmvig, 2007). Its main goal which is to create 'a space of prosperity, coexistence and peace' by 'restoring confidence in dialogue and reducing stereotypes' is based on the importance given by the European Union to development intercultural dialogue between civilizations as a crucial element of any political and strategic program aimed at neighboring Mediterranean countries (Rosenthal, 2007). In other words, the creation of a area of dialogue, cooperation and exchange in the southern Mediterranean is a priority core topic of the European Union's foreign policy. Furthermore, with the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation, the European Union is recognizing that for the Euro-Mediterranean association to work, dialogue between civil society organizations, and not only between political elites, is essential.

Thus, Anna Lindh, as an organization based on network of civil society networks, becomes a crucial instrument to address the prevention of radicalization. Along these lines, the group of work of the United Nations counter-terrorism implementation[7] has argued that the State alone does not have the necessary resources to combat terrorist radicalization, and therefore needs to cooperate with partners of a different nature to carry out this task. The involvement of civil society and local communities would thus serve to increase trust and social cohesion, even becoming a means of reaching out to certain segments of society with which governments would find it difficult to interact. The nature of local actors, as highlighted by the European Union through the creation of the Anna Lindh Foundation, would be the most successful in preventing and detecting radicalization in both the short and long term deadline[8].


In this way, intercultural dialogue constitutes a tool to address the phenomenon of radicalization in the Southern Mediterranean region, where the legacies of a colonial past demand that 'more credible interlocutors be found among non-governmental organizations' (Riordan, 2005: 182). With the goal of preventing terrorist radicalization inside and outside Europe, and assuming that practices based on dialogue and mutuality can offer a suitable framework for the development and improvement of Euro-Mediterranean relations, the European Union should move towards real partnerships aimed at building trust between people and reject any unilateral action program that involves a reproduction of the speech of the clash of civilizations (Amirah and Behr, 2013: 5). 

[1] Prior to the Barcelona Declaration, an attempt was made to regulate Euro-Mediterranean cooperation through the Euro-Arab Dialogue (1973-1989); however, although conceived as a forum for dialogue between the then European Economic Community and the Arab League, the tensions of the Gulf War would end up frustrating its work (Khader, 2015). 

[2] The association Euro-Mediterranean would be complemented by the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) in 2004. Based on the European enlargement policy, its underlying logic is the same: "To try to export the norms and values of the European Union to its neighbors" (Gsthöl, 2016: 3). In response to the conflicts in the Southern Mediterranean regions, the rise of extremism and terrorism and the refugee crisis in Europe, the ENP has undergone two major revisions, one in 2011 and the other in 2015, outlining a more differentiated approach among ENP countries to achieve further stabilization of the area. The ENP is based on differential bilateralism (Del Sarto and Schumacher, 2005) and abandons the prevalence of the multilateral and regional principle inherent to the Barcelona Process.

[3] Although several types of political extremism can be differentiated, this grade focuses on Islamist extremism and jihadist terrorism, as it is Sunni extremism that has been manager of the largest issue of terrorist attacks in the world (Schmid, 2013). It should also be noted in this regard that there is still no universally valid definition of the concept of 'radicalization' (Veldhuis and Staun 2009).

[4] Since 2004, the term 'radicalization' has become central to terrorism studies and counter-terrorism policy-making in order to analyze 'homegrown' Islamist political violence (Kundnani, 2012).

[5] The European diary on Security, COM (2015) 185 of 28 April 2015.

[6] The prevention of radicalization leading to violent extremism, COM (2016) 379 of 14 June 2016.

[7] First Report of the Working Group on Radicalization and Extremism that Lead to Terrorism: Inventory of State Programs (2006)

[8] The prevention of radicalization leading to violent extremism, COM (2016) 379 of 14 June 2016.



Amirah, H. and Behr, T. (2013) "The Missing Spring in the EU's Mediterranean Policies", Policy Paper No 70. Notre Europe - Jacques Delors Institute, February, 2013.

Council of the European Union (2002) "Presidency Conclusions for the Vth Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Foreign Ministers" (Valencia 22-23 April 2002), 8254/02 (Presse 112)

Del Sarto, R. A. and Schumacher, T. (2005): "From EMP to ENP: What's at Stake with the European Neighborhood Policy towards the Southern Mediterranean?", European Foreign Affairs Review, 10: 17-38.

European Union (2016) "Towards an EU Strategy for International Cultural Relations, Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council" (

European Commission. "Barcelona Declaration and Euro-Mediterranean Partnership", 1995.

Gillespie, R. (2004) "Reshaping the diary? The International Politics of the Barcelona Process in the Aftermath of September 11", in Jünemann, Annette Euro-Mediterranean Relations after September 11, London: Frank Cass: 20-35.

Gstöhl, S. (2016): The European Neighborhood Policy in a Comparative Perspective: Models, Challenges, Lessons (Abingdon: Routledge).

Kaunert, C. and Léonard, S. (2011) "EU Counterterrorism and the European Neighborhood Policy: An Appraisal of the Southern Dimension", Terrorism and Political Violence, 23: 286-309.

Khader, B. (2015): Europe and the Arab world (Icaria, Barcelona).

Kundnani, A. (2012) "Radicalization: The Journey of a Concept", Race & Class, 54 (2): 3-25.

Malmvig, H. (2007): "Security Through Intercultural Dialogue? Implications of the Securitization of Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue between Cultures". Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean Area. London/New York: Routledge: 71-87.

Riordan, S. (2005): "Dialogue-Based Public Diplomacy: A New Foreign Policy Paradigm?", in Melissen, Jan, The New Public Diplomacy: Soft Power in International Relations, Basingstoke, England: Palgrave Macmillan: 180-193. 

Rosenthal, G. (2007): "Preface: The Importance of Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Co-operation in the Euro-Mediterranean Area". Conceptualizing Cultural and Social Dialogue in the Euro-Mediterranean Area. London/New York: Routledge: 1-3.

Schmid, A. (2013) "Radicalization, De-Radicalization, Counter-Radicalization: A Conceptual Discussion and Literature Review", ICCT Research Paper, March 2013.

Suzan, B. (2002): "The Barcelona Process and the European Approach to Fighting Terrorism." Brookings Institute [online] [accessed 14 August 2017].

Veldhuis, T. and Staun, J. (2009) Islamist Radicalisation: A Root Cause Model (The Hague: Clingendael).

Categories Global Affairs: European Union Middle East World order, diplomacy and governance Essays

High levels of corruption and impunity in the region make it difficult to eradicate millionaire bribes in public procurement contracts

The confession of the construction and engineering company Odebrecht, one of the most important in Brazil, of having delivered large sums as bribes to political leaders, parties and public officials for the awarding of works in various countries in the region has been the biggest corruption scandal in the history of Latin America. The B budget increase during the "golden decade" of raw materials occurred in a framework of little improvement in the effectiveness of the rule of law and control of corruption, which led to high levels of illicit deviations in public contracts.

article / Ximena Barría [English version].

Odebrecht is a Brazilian company that conducts business in multiple industries through several operating sites. It is engaged in areas such as engineering, construction, infrastructure and energy, among others. Its headquarters in Brazil are located in the city of Salvador de Bahia. The business operates in 27 countries in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Over the years, the construction company has participated in public works contracts in most Latin American countries.

In 2016, the U.S. Justice department published a research denouncing that the Brazilian company had bribed public officials in twelve countries, ten of them Latin American: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. The research was developed from the confession made by Odebrecht's own top executives once they were discovered.

The company provided officials in these countries with millions of dollars in exchange for obtaining public works contracts and benefiting from the payment for their execution. The business agreed to submit millions of dollars to political parties, public officials, public candidates or persons related to the Government. Its purpose was to have a competitive advantage that would allow it to retain public business in different countries. 

In order to cover up these illicit capital movements, business created fictitious corporations in places such as Belize, the Virgin Islands and Brazil. The business developed a secret financial structure to cover up these payments. The research of the U.S. Justice department established that bribes in the aforementioned countries totaled US$788 million (almost half in Brazil alone). Using this illegal method, contrary to all business and political ethics, Odebrecht obtained the commissioning of more than one hundred projects, the execution of which generated profits of US$ 3,336 million.

Lack of an effective judiciary

This matter, known as the Odebrecht case, has created consternation in Latin American societies. Its citizens consider that in order for acts of this nature subject not to go unpunished, countries must have greater efficiency in the judicial sphere and take more accelerated steps towards a true Rule of Law. 

From agreement with World Bank indicators, none of the ten Latin American countries affected by this bribery network reaches 60% of effectiveness of the rule of law and corruption control. This would explain the success of the Brazilian construction company in its bribery policy.


source: World Bank, 2016


Judicial independence and its effectiveness is essential for the resolution of facts of these characteristics. The proper exercise of justice shapes a proper rule of law, preventing the occurrence of illicit acts or other political decisions that may violate it. Although this is the ideal, the countries involved in the Odebrecht case do not fully comply with this due judicial independence.

Indeed, according to the Global Competitiveness Report for 2017-2018, most of the affected countries obtain a leave grade regarding the independence of their courts, which indicates that they lack an effective judiciary to judge the alleged people involved in this case. This is the case, for example, with Panama and the Dominican Republic, ranked 120th and 127th, respectively, in terms of judicial independence, out of a list of 137 countries.

One of the problems suffered by the Judicial Branch of the Republic of Panama is the high issue of files handled by the Supreme Court of Justice. This congestion makes it difficult for the Supreme Court to work effectively. The high number of processed files doubled between 2013 and 2016: the conference room Criminal Court processed 329 files in 2013; in 2016 there were 857. Although the Panamanian Judicial Branch has improved its budget, that has not represented a qualitative increase in its functions. These difficulties could explain the Court's decision to reject an extension of the research, even though this could mean some impunity. In 2016, there were only two detainees for the Odebrecht case. In 2017, of the 43 defendants who could be involved in the acceptance of bribes valued at US$60 million, only 32 were prosecuted.

The Dominican Republic is also at a similar status . According to a survey of 2016, only 38% of Dominicans trust the judicial institution. This low percentage may have been contributed to by the fact that active members of political parties were elected to serve as Supreme Court judges, something that tarnishes the credibility of the judiciary and its independence. In 2016, Dominican courts only inquired about one person, when the U.S. Supreme Court estimated that the Brazilian business had given $92 million in political bribes, one of the highest amounts outside Brazil. In 2017, the Supreme Court of the Dominican Republic ordered the release from prison of 9 out of 10 allegedly involved in the case due to insufficient evidence.

Need for greater coordination and reform

In October 2017, public prosecutors from Latin America met in Panama City to share information on money laundering, especially in relation to the Odebrecht case. Officials expressed the need to leave no case unpunished, thereby contributing to solving one of the biggest political, economic and judicial problems in the region. Some prosecutors reported having suffered threats in their investigations. All of them valued positively the meeting, as it highlighted the need for greater fiscal coordination and legislative harmony in Latin America. However, it is important to note that the Dominican Republic was absent from meeting.

Any awareness of public ministries in Latin America is essential given the correlation observed between the countries affected by Odebrecht bribes and their poor ranking in indexes provided by different international organizations and centers of research. Ineffective rule of law and lack of control of corruption enable companies like Odebrecht to succeed in their bribery policy to gain a competitive advantage. 

The shortcomings of the judicial systems in countries such as Panama and the Dominican Republic, in particular, may make it possible for public officials to go unpunished for crimes committed. In addition, the Odebrecht case, of great magnitude in the region, could further congest judicial activity if effective reforms are not made in each country. 

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

essay / Marianna McMillan [English version].

I. Introduction

On March 31, 2016, EU High Representative Federica Mogherini presented the new cultural diplomacy platform, whose goal is to enhance visibility and understanding towards the Union through intercultural dialogue. The fact that all influential actors are committed to this platform (from a vertical, bottom-up perspective), makes us reconsider three factors of the EU: (1) the context in which it operates; (2) the internal constraints it has to address; and (3) the foreign policy to which it aspires. However, the EU wants to give a single cultural image, with a single voice and coherent with its policies; that is why, first and foremost, the EU must defend its motto "unity in diversity". This motto means the integration of national cultures in other countries, without this integration jeopardizing the different national identities of the member states. Consequently, in its status as an international actor and regional organization, the EU is lacking when it comes to intercultural dialogue and negotiation between identities (European External Action Service, 2017). It must therefore strive in both the one and the other (intercultural dialogue and the negotiation between identities) to address threats to European security such as terrorism, cyber insecurity, energy insecurity or identity ambiguity.

The goal of this analysis is, on the one hand, to understand the importance of culture as an instrument of soft power, and on the other hand, to reflect on the influence of culture as a theoretical foundation of the new European cultural platform.

II. Unity in diversity through the New Platform for Cultural Diplomacy

If the European Union aspires to be a liberal order founded on cooperation, then to what extent can the EU be globally influential? What is undeniable is that it lacks a single voice and a coherent common foreign policy.

The fact that the EU lacks a single voice is result of the course of integration throughout history, an integration that has been based more on diversity than on equality. On the other hand, the statement about the incoherence of the common foreign policy makes reference letter to all those cases in which in the face of a coordination problem, what was agreed in the Maastricht treaty 1992 takes precedence (Banús, 2015: 103-105 and Art. 6, TFEU): competences may be of the member states, of the EU or they may be shared competences

As a consequence of the acceleration of globalization, the increase of non-traditional security threats (international terrorism, energy vulnerability, irregular migration flows, cyber threats or climate change) the idea of a common foreign policy between member states and the EU is challenged. Such threats require not only a new security paradigm, but also a new paradigm of coexistence. This paradigm shift would allow the EU to have a greater capacity to reduce radicalization and to steer coexistence towards the needs of civil societies (see European Commission, 2016). As an illustration about the new paradigm, we can name the promotion of narratives of a shared cultural heritage that financial aid to the regional integration process. However, at the same time that initiatives such as the above are implemented, skepticism towards immigrants is growing and narratives contrary to the community narrative projected by the EU are being promoted. These institutional and structural constraints - diversity and shared competences - reflect the dynamics of the cultural landscape and its unintended consequences within the EU. They also give a vision of the European project as a process of integration (unity in diversity) and European identity as a single voice. Therefore, the EU as an international actor and regional organization, based on unity in diversity, has a need to establish an intercultural dialogue and a negotiation of shared identities from within its organization (EEAS, 2017). This would serve not only to establish favorable conditions for Brussels policies, but also as an instrument or means for the EU to counter non-traditional and external threats, such as terrorism, populist narratives, cyber threats, energy insecurity and identity ambiguity.

Regarding the difficulty in distinguishing internal constraints and external threats, Federica Mogherini established the New Platform for Cultural Diplomacy (NPC) in 2016.

With the goal to clarify the terminology used previously, 'cultural diplomacy' is understood as "balance of power" according to the realist approach and as a "reflexive balance" from a conceptual approach (Triandafyllidou and Szucs, 2017). On the one hand, the realist approach understands cultural diplomacy as a subject of dialogue that serves to advance and protect national interests abroad (e.g., joint European cultural events or bilateral programs, such as film festivals, support for the strengthening of Tunisia's cultural sector, the creation of European cultural houses, the Culture and Creativity program, Communication and Culture for the development in the Southern Mediterranean region, and the NPC). On the other hand, the conceptual approach , more reflective, understands cultural diplomacy as a policy in itself. The potential of the synergies of culture for a sustainable social and economic development through individuals (e.g. cultural exchanges such as Erasmus Plus, the Instrument for development and Cooperation and its sub-programs, the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR), the ENI Cross Border Cooperation and the Civil Society Facility) is encouraged. The application of cultural diplomacy to the EU seeks to have global visibility and influence, and on the other hand, it seeks to promote economic growth and social cohesion through civil societies (Trobbiani, 2017: 3-5).

Despite being funded by the Partnership Instrument (PI), which has as goal to foster visibility and understanding of the EU, the NPC is a balance between the realistic approach and the conceptual approach of cultural diplomacy (European Commission, 2016b). Consequently, it is a resilience strategy that responds to a new reality (resilience is understood in terms of societal inclusiveness, prosperity and security). In this reality, non-traditional security threats have emerged and in which there has been a change in the position of citizens, who have gone from being independent observers, to active participants demanding a constructive dialogue involving all stakeholders: national governments, international organizations and civil societies (Higgot, 2017:6-8 and EU, 2016).

The 2016 Global Strategy seeks pluralism, coexistence and respect for "deepening work in Education, culture and youth" (EU, 2016). In other words, the platform invests in creative Structures , such as think tanks, cultural institutes or local artists, to preserve a cultural identity, advance economic prosperity and enhance soft power.

In seeking global understanding and visibility, one sees how the EU's interest in international cultural relations (ICR) and cultural diplomacy (CD) has grown. This, in turn, reflects the EU's internal need for a single voice and a common foreign policy. This effort demonstrates the fundamental role of culture in soft power, thus creating a connection between culture and external power. Perhaps the more appropriate question is: to what extent can Mogherini's NCP turn culture into a tool of soft power? And are the strategies-ICR and NCP-an effective communication and coordination model in the face of internal and external security threats, or will it inevitably undermine its narrative of unity in diversity?

III. Culture and Soft Power

The change in the concept of security requires revisiting the concept of soft power. In this case, cultural diplomacy should be understood in terms of soft power, and soft power should be understood in terms of attractiveness and influence. Soft power, from agreement with Joseph Nye's notion of persuasion, arises from "intangible power resources": "such as culture, ideology and institutions" (Nye, 1992:150-170).

The EU as a product of cultural dialogues is a civil power, a normative power and a soft power. The EU's persuasive power depends on its legitimacy and credibility in its institutions (EU, 2016a and Michalski, 2005:124-141). For this reason, coherence between the identity the EU wishes to display and the practices it will follow is fundamental to the projection of itself as a credible international actor. This coherence will be necessary if the EU is to fulfill its goal of "strengthening unity in diversity". Otherwise, its liberal values would be contradicted and populist prejudices against the EU would be solidified. Therefore, internal legitimacy and credibility as sources of soft power ultimately depend written request on the consistency between the EU's narrative identity and the democratic values reflected in its practices (EU, 2016).

Cultural diplomacy responds to incoherence by demanding reflection, on the one hand, and enhancing that identity, on the other. For example, optimizing Europe's image through the European Neighborhood Instrument communication program and association (ENPI) help to promote specific geopolitical interests, creating more durable conditions for cooperation with countries such as Algeria, Libya and Syria to the south; and Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine to the east. This is relevant in relation to what Nye coined as soft power or "co-optive power": "the ability of a country to manage a status in such a way that other countries develop certain preferences or define their interests from agreement with its own" (Nye, 1990:168). Soft power applied to culture can function indirectly or directly. It works indirectly when it is independent of government control (e.g., popular culture) and directly through cultural diplomacy (e.g., PCN). Foreign policy actors can act as advocates for domestic culture, both consciously (e.g., politicians) and unconsciously (e.g., local artists). In doing so they serve as agents for other countries or channels of soft power.

IV. Culture and foreign policy

Considering soft power as an emergence of culture, values and national policies, we can affirm that culture is both a foundation and a resource of foreign policy (Liland, 1993:8). Foreign policy, in turn, operates within the cultural framework of any society interacting at the international level. Therefore, a European cultural context capable of influencing globally (as for example, the difference in accession negotiations between Croatia and Turkey and the attractiveness of economic integration or the ability to adjust human rights policies) is necessary. Culture is in turn a resource, as the exchange cultural endows the EU with power. This new capacity of the EU allows it to learn new popular attitudes, feelings and images that are capable of influencing foreign policy, domestic politics and social life (Liland, 1993:9-14 and Walt, 1998). Another function to highlight of culture is that of information dissemination and its ability to elicit favorable opinions in the foreign nation (Liland, 1993:12-13).

Thus, cultural diplomacy is at the forefront of European foreign policy; however, this does not mean that the use of culture can replace traditional foreign policy objectives - geography, power, security, politics and economics - but rather that the use of culture serves to support and legitimize them. In other words, culture is not the primary agent in the foreign policy process, but is the rationale that reinforces, contradicts or explains its content - thus, Wilson's idealism in the 1920s can be linked to a domestic culture of "manifest destiny" (Liland, 1993 and Kim, 2011:6).

V. Conclusions

The purpose of this article has been to highlight the importance of culture in relation to soft power and foreign policy, as a theoretical foundation for understanding the logic of the EU's new Cultural Diplomacy platform. By identifying the role of culture as a fundamental part of social cohesion within the EU, we can conclude that culture has made the EU a more influential global actor. Culture, likewise, has been identified as source of soft power and as an instrument of foreign policy. But the sources of soft power -culture, political values and foreign policy- depend on three factors: (1) a favorable context; (2) credibility in values and internship, and (3) the perception of legitimacy and moral authority (see Nye, 2006). The EU has to first legitimize itself as a coherent actor with moral authority in order to be able to deal effectively with its existential crisis (European Union, 2016a:9 and Tuomioja, 2009).

To do so, the EU must overcome its institutional and structural limits by collectively confronting its non-traditional external security threats. This requires a strategy of resistance in which the EU is not identified as a threat to national identity, but as a cultural, economic and legislative entity.

This article has discussed various issues related to culture, soft power, EU foreign policy and its internal dynamics; however, it has not analyzed in depth the impact of a "uniform cultural system" and how foreign policy can influence the culture of a society. Culture is not an end in itself, nor are intercultural dialogues and the development of cultural diplomacy.

The Union must avoid the risk of evolving into a dehumanizing bureaucratic structure that favors a standard culture to counter its internal constraints and external non-traditional security threats. According to Vaclav Havel, the EU can avoid this phenomenon by supporting cultural institutions that work for plurality and freedom of culture. These institutions are fundamental to preserving the national identity and traditions of each nation. In other words, culture should be subsidized to better accommodate its plurality and freedom as is the case with national heritages, libraries, museums and public archives - or the witnesses of our past (Havel, 1992).

As a final and historical reflection, cultural diplomacy promotes shared narratives about cultural identities. To do otherwise would not only solidify populist rhetoric and internal prejudices against the Union, but would also make cultural totalitarianism, or worse, cultural relativism, endemic. To aspire to a "uniform system of culture" through an agreed European narrative would be to negotiate away pluralism and freedom and, consequently, contradict firstly the nature of culture and, secondly, the liberal values on which the Union was founded.



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Higgot, R. (2017). Enhancing the EU's Internatioanl Cultural Relations: The Prospects and Limits: Cultural Diplomacy. Institute for European Studies.

Howard, Philip K. (2011). Vaclav Havel's Critique of the West. The Atlantic.

Kim, Hwajung. (2011) Cultural Diplomacy as the Means of Soft Power in an Information Age.

La Porte and Cross (2016). The European Union and Image Resilience during Times of Crisis: The Role of Public Diplomacy. The Hague Journal of Diplomacy, 1-26.

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

essay / Celia Olivar Gil [English version].

The global context continues to pose new challenges to European collective action at subject of development, the most important of which is migration from the Southern Mediterranean and the difficulty of articulating a well-articulated joint reaction. Aware of the urgency of status, the European Union is trying to offer a new and ambitious response in the form of the New Consensus on development (hereafter 'Consensus') which also coincides with the review of the Millennium Development Goals by the United Nations.

The Consensus is a 'framework of action' to promote the integration and coherence of cooperation to development of the European Union and its member states. This framework of action requires the adoption of those changes necessary for both EU and national legislation to comply with the diary 2030 of development Sustainable proposal by the United Nations and with the agreement of Paris on climate change.

The Consensus maintains the eradication of poverty as its main goal, goal , but includes a novel vision, proposing that poverty be addressed from a triple economic, social and environmental perspective. In addition to the eradication of poverty, the Consensus aims to achieve diary 2030, and to this end articulates its five pillars: population, planet, prosperity, peace and cooperation. To this articulation, the Consensus adds some novel and cross-cutting elements, which are: emphasis on youth (meeting the basic needs of young people such as employment); gender equality; good governance (achieving a rule of law that guarantees human rights, promoting the creation of transparent institutions, participatory decision-making and independent and impartial courts); mobilization and migration; sustainable energy and climate change; Investment and trade; innovative engagement with countries at development more advanced (building new partnerships with these countries to implement diary 2030 here); domestic resource mobilization and use (effective and efficient use of resources through the "raise more, spend better" initiative).



In order to achieve all the initiatives and objectives set out above, the application of the Consensus extends to both the policies of the European Union and those of all its member states. In addition, it emphasizes that the Consensus should also be applied in new, more tailored and more multilateral partnerships involving civil society and greater participation of partner countries. The means of implementation combine traditional financial aid with more innovative forms of financing for development, such as private sector investments and mobilizing additional domestic resources for development. In terms of follow-up, the new consensus will have a regular monitoring mechanism, including accountability through the European Parliament and national parliaments and reporting obligations.

Initial assessments of the new consensus agree that it is a good synthesis of the international concerns of development. However, it raises some criticisms regarding the effective capacity to address these concerns.

First of all, as the Overseas Development Institute points out, it is not a real strategic plan, but a set of unconnected priorities. development For it to be a real strategy, the roles of the Commission and the member states would need to be determined, the thematic, sectoral and geographic priorities defined (the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) contained in the diary 2030 are treated with equal importance), and new European institutions built or existing ones (such as the International Climate Fund) used to coordinate national funds more effectively. Likewise, the Consensus should determine the form and content of cooperation with income countries average, establishing horizontal, vertical and sectoral coordination. At the same time, this coordination would require the establishment of a division of tasks within the EU to achieve a better use of resources.

Secondly, and from agreement with James Mackie (head of the department learning and quality of the European Center for the development) it is difficult to perceive to whom it is addressed and what exactly it demands. The fact that geographic and sectoral priorities remain undetermined leaves the Degree commitment of member states uncertain and if there is commitment, it will be tactical rather than explicit.

The third criticism is related to its implementation. Although the consensus is ambitious in its objectives, it lacks an adequate institutional framework and an efficient mechanism to implement its new proposals. In addition, it gives the private sector a very important role, without providing it with transparency in cases of human rights abuses or environmental damage, as Marta Latek, researcher at EPRS (European Parliamentary Research Service) explained

In terms of its objectives there are many influential actors such as CARE (the international confederation of development) who agree that it focuses too much on migration control and does not prioritize the needs of the poor. This can be seen in the fact that both in the framework cooperation with other non-EU countries, as well as the external investment plan, it prioritizes the security and commercial interests of the EU before helping the population out of poverty.

A fifth criticism makes reference letter to the political dimension. The new Consensus should integrate a holistic as well as a sustainable security concept to connect the problems of stability and democracy with those of security in EU foreign affairs. A holistic concept of development means a vision of lasting sustainability, encompassing aspects such as the condition of sustainability, social justice or democracy. (Criticism according to Henökl, Thomas and Niels Keijzer of the German Development Institute).

Finally, as far as financing is concerned, the European Parliament continues to ask member states to donate 0.7% of their annual budget for cooperation to development. Given that very few of them are able to give this 0.7%, the consensus is on the importance of private sector participation via the European External Investment Plan.

In conclusion, this document reflects the needs of the current global context but requires a series of changes in order to be fully effective and a true strategy. These changes are necessary to prevent the Consensus from remaining only theoretical.



Questions and Answers: New European Consensus on development: 

The new European Consensus on development: EU and Member States sign a joint strategy to eradicate poverty:

The proposed new European Consensus on Development Has the European Commission got it right?

New European consensus on development Will it be fit for purpose?

Seven critical questions for review of 'European Consensus on Development '

The Future of the "European Consensus on Development"

European Union Development Policy: Collective Action in Times of Global Transformation and Domestic Crisis

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

The busy passage, decisive in the strategies of the two countries to counteract each other

The Strait of Malacca, a passage core topic for the connection between the northern part of the Indian Ocean and the Asia-Pacific region, will be a thermometer for measuring the future pulse of forces between China and India. India is responding to the further expansion of Chinese maritime interests, which are forcing Beijing to pay close attention to Malacca, by advancing positions towards the western mouth of the strait.

▲Map of the Indo-Pacific [US DoD].

article / Alejandro Puigrefagut [English version].

Maritime routes are the basis of trade and communication between more than 80% of the world's countries. This fact makes the natural geographical location of states of great strategic importance. A particularly important point for maritime traffic is the Strait of Malacca, core topic for trade in the region with the largest population on the planet.

The Strait of Malacca, which links the South China Sea with the Burma Sea en route to the Bay of Bengal, is the busiest commercial passage in the world and is therefore a strategic location. Approximately 60% of the world's maritime trade passes through this corridor that surrounds the western coast of the Malaysian peninsula and the Indonesian island of Sumatra, exceeding one hundred and fifty ships per day, and it is the main oil supply route for two of the main Asian consumers: the People's Republic of China and Japan. This geographical point is core topic for the entire Indo-Pacific region, so ensuring the free movement of ships is strategic. This is why many states in the region, including China and the United States, see the protection of this passage as necessary in order to be able to supply themselves, export their goods and not be blocked by the control of a third country over this area.

With regard to China, it is not easy to imagine that a blockade of its supplies due to problems in the Strait of Malacca would happen. For this to happen, an armed conflict of extraordinary dimensions would have to be generated, leading to such a blockade by a subject that could control -and potentially interrupt- the passage to the other countries in the region. This potential risk, which today can only be generated by the US Navy, forces China to be alert and to develop sufficient military capabilities to protect what it considers its territories in the South China Sea and, by extension, the supply of vital resources that must necessarily pass through the Strait of Malacca.



The Asian giant's positions and presence in the South China Sea and in the areas surrounding the Strait of Malacca have increased in recent years in order to increase its influence over the states in the region. Moreover, in order to defend its oil and natural gas supplies (from the Persian Gulf), China has extended its presence as far as the Indian Ocean, although this is not enough. The reality is that in this area there is a great skill between two of the most influential Asian powers in the region: China and India. Due to the growing presence and influence of the People's Republic in the Indian Ocean, India has been forced to take proactive steps to enhance peace and stability in the region by mobilizing and expanding its presence from its east coast to the vicinity of the Strait in order to rebalance the regional balance of power. In this way, India can dominate the western access to the Strait and, consequently, have greater reaction time to maneuver in the Indian Ocean as well as in the Strait itself and even gain more agile access to the waters of the South China Sea.

At the same time, India's growing closeness to the South China Sea is viewed with concern in Beijing, and some analysts even see India as a threat in the event of a hypothetical conflict between the two regional powers and India blocking the Strait and, therefore, China's access to certain raw materials and other resources. For this reason, over the past three years China has carried out various military maneuvers jointly with third states in the Strait of Malacca, especially with Malaysia. During the first exercises in the area, the Ministry of Defense of the People's Republic of China concluded that bilateral relations with Malaysia in terms of security and defense cooperation were strengthened and that "joint response capability to security threats was enhanced". Moreover, for China the protection of the Strait is a priority because of its great strategic value and because countries such as the US and Japan also wish to control it.

Categories Global Affairs: Asia Security and defense World order, diplomacy and governance Articles

[Admiral James Stavridis, Sea Power. The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans. Penguin Press. New York City, 2017. 363 pages]


review / Iñigo Bronte Barea [English version].

In the era of globalisation and its communication society, where everything is closer and distances seem to fade away, the body of water between continents has not lost the strategic value it has always had. Historically, the seas have been both a channel for human development and instruments of geopolitical domination. It is no coincidence that the great world powers of the last 200 years have themselves been great naval powers. The dispute over maritime space is still going on today and there is nothing to suggest that the geopolitics of the seas will cease to be crucial in the future.

These principles on the importance of maritime powers have changed little since they were set out in the late 19th century by Alfred T. Mahan. Today, Sea Power. The History and Geopolitics of the World's Oceans, by Admiral James G. Stavridis, who retired in 2013 after leading the US Southern Command, the US European Command and the supreme command of NATO.

The book is the fruit of Mahan's early reading and an extensive degree program of nearly four decades on the seas and oceans with the US Navy. At the beginning of each explanation of the different sea spaces, Stavridis recounts his brief experience in that sea or ocean, then continues with the history, and the development they have had, until arriving at their current context. Finally, there is a projection of the near future of the world from the perspective of marine geopolitics.

Pacific: China's emergence

Admiral J.G. Stavridis begins his voyage in the Pacific Ocean, which he categorises as "the mother of all oceans" because of its immensity, since it alone is larger than the entire land surface of the planet combined. Another remarkable point is that in its vastness there is no considerable landmass, although there are islands all over the world subject, with very diverse cultures. This is why the sea dominates the geography of the Pacific like nowhere else on the planet.


The great dominator of this marine space is Australia, which is very much aware of what might happen politically in the island archipelagos in its vicinity. It was Europeans, however, who explored the Pacific well (Magellan was the first, around 1500) and tried to connect it with their world in a way that was not merely transitory and commercial, but stable and lasting.

The United States began its presence in the Pacific with the acquisition of California (1840), but it was not until the annexation of Hawaii (1898) that the huge country was definitively catapulted into the Pacific. The first time this ocean emerged as a total war zone was in 1941 when Pearl Harbour was massacred by the Japanese.

With the return of peace, the Japanese revival and the emergence of China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong caused trans-Pacific trade to overtake the Atlantic for the first time in the 1980s, and this trend is still continuing. This is because the Pacific region contains the world's major powers on its shores.

degree program At area geopolitics a major arms race is taking place in the Pacific, with North Korea as a major focus of global tension and uncertainty.

Atlantic: from the Panama Canal to NATO

As for the Atlantic Ocean, Stavridis refers to it as the cradle of civilisation, since the Mediterranean is included among its territories, and even more so if we consider it as the nexus between the peoples of the Americas and Africa and Europe. It has two great seas of great historical importance, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.

Undoubtedly the historical figure of this ocean is Christopher Columbus, since his arrival in America (Bahamas 1492) initiated a new historical period that ended with practically the entire American continent being colonised by the European powers in the following centuries. While Portugal and Spain concentrated on the Caribbean and South America, the British and the French concentrated on North America.

During the First World War, the Atlantic became an essential transit zone for the war development as the United States transported troops, war materials and goods to Europe during the conflict. It was here that the idea of an Atlantic community began to take shape, leading to the creation of NATO.

As for the Caribbean, the author sees it as a region that is rooted in the past. Its colonisation was characterised by the arrival of slaves to exploit the region's natural resources for purposes of economic interest to the Spanish. In turn, this process was characterised by the desire to convert the indigenous population to Christianity.

The Panama Canal is a driving force for the region's Economics , but Central America is also sailing along the coasts of the countries with the highest violence fees on the planet. Admiral Stavridis sees the Caribbean coast as a kind of Wild West, which in some places has evolved little since the days of pirates, and where drug cartels now operate with impunity.

Since the 1820s, with the Monroe Doctrine, the United States carried out a series of interventions through its navy to bolster regional stability and keep Europeans out of places such as Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Central America. In the 20th century, politics was dominated by caudillos, and soon communism and the Cold War came with them to the Caribbean, with Cuba as ground zero.

Indian Ocean and Arctic: from unknown to risky

The Indian Ocean has less history and geopolitics than the other two great oceans. Despite this, its tributary seas have gained geopolitical importance in the post-World War II era with the rise of global shipping and the export of oil from the Gulf region. The Indian Ocean today could be seen as a region for wielding smart power rather than hard power. While the slave trade and piracy have dwindled almost everywhere, they are still present in parts of the Indian Ocean. It is a region where countries around the world could work together to combat these common problems.

The history of the Indian Ocean does not inspire confidence about the potential for peaceful governance in the years to come. An important core topic to unlock the region's potential would be to resolve the existing conflicts between India and Pakistan (a conflict with the risk of nuclear weapons) and the Shia-Sunni divide in the Persian Gulf, issues that make it a very volatile region. Due to tensions in the Gulf countries, the region is today a kind of cold war between the Sunnis, led by Saudi Arabia, and the Shiites, led by Iran, and between these two sides, the United States, with its Fifth Fleet, is at the centre.

Finally, the Arctic is currently an unknown quantity. Stavridis sees it as both a promise and a danger. Over the centuries, all oceans and seas have been the site of epic battles and discoveries, but there is one exception: the Arctic Ocean.

It seems clear that this exceptionality is coming to an end. The Arctic is an emerging maritime frontier with increasing human activity, rapidly melting ice shelves and significant hydrocarbon resources coming within reach. However, there are major risks that will dangerously condition the exploitation of this region, such as weather conditions, unclear governance due to the confluence of five bordering countries (Russia, Norway, Canada, the United States and Denmark), and geopolitical competition between NATO and Russia, whose relations have deteriorated in recent years. 

Categories Global Affairs: European Union North America Asia Security and defense World order, diplomacy and governance Book reviews Arctic and Antarctica

Continental U.S. neighbors are having a hard time interpreting the first year of the new Administration.

Donald Trump arrives at his first anniversary as president having set some recent fires in Latin America. His rude disregard for El Salvador and Haiti, due to the volume of refugees welcomed in the United States, and his intemperate attention to Colombia for the increase in cocaine production worsen relations that, although already complicated in the case of Mexico, have had some good moments throughout the year, such as the dinner of presidents that Trump convened in September in New York in which a united action on Venezuela was outlined.

▲Trump, on completing 100 days as president [White House].

article / Garhem O. Padilla [English version].

One year after the arrival of the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald John Trump, to the White House -the inauguration ceremony was on January 20-, controversy dominates the balance of the new Administration, both in its domestic and international performance. The continental neighbors of the U.S., in particular, show bewilderment over Trump's policies toward the hemisphere. On the one hand, they regret the U.S. disinterest in commitments to economicdevelopment and multilateral integration; on the other, they note some activity in relation to some regional problems, such as Venezuela. The balance for the moment is mixed, although there is unanimous agreement that Trump's language and many of his manners rather threaten relations.


agreement In the economic field, the Trump era began with the withdrawal final of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on January 23, 2017. This made it impossible for entrance to enter into force, as the United States is the market for which the TPP was created agreement, which has affected the prospects of the Latin American countries that participated in the initiative.

The renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), demanded by Trump, was immediately opened. Doubts about the future of NAFTA, signed in 1994 and which Trump has described as a "disaster", have been prominent so far in his administration. Some of his demands, which Mexico and Canada oppose, are to increase the quota for products manufactured in the United States and the "sunset" clause, which would oblige the treaty to be reviewed methodically every five years and would cause it to be suspended if any of its three members were not in agreement with agreement. All of this stems from the U.S. president's idea of fail the treaty if it is not favorable to his country. 

Cuba and Venezuela

If the quarrels with Mexico have not yet reached a conclusion, in the case of Cuba Trump has already retaliated against the Castro regime, with the expulsion in October of 15 Cuban diplomats from the Cuban embassy in Washington as a response to the "sonic attacks" that affected 24 U.S. diplomats on the island. The White House has also reversed some of the Obama Administration's conciliatory measures, when it realized that Castroism is not responding with openness concessions.

As far as Venezuela is concerned, Trump has made forceful efforts to introduce measures and sanctions against corrupt officials, in addition to addressing the political status with other countries, so that they support those efforts aimed at eradicating the Venezuelan crisis, thus generating multilateralism among American countries. However, this policy has its detractors, who believe that the sanctions are not intended to achieve a long-term goal deadline , and it is unclear how they would promote Venezuelan stability.

Although in these actions on Cuba and Venezuela Trump has alluded to the democratic principles violated by the rulers of Havana and Caracas, his Administration has not particularly insisted on the commitment to human rights, democracy and moral values, as had been usual in the argumentation of U.S. foreign policy. Some critics point out that the Trump Administration is willing to promote human rights only when they fit its political objectives.  

This could explain the worsening opinion in Latin America about the United States and relations with that country. From agreement with the survey Latinobarómetro 2017, the favorable opinion has fallen to 67%, seven points below the one at the end of the Obama Administration, which was 74%. Said survey sample a relevant difference for Mexico, one of the countries that, without a doubt, has the worst levels of favorable opinion towards the Trump Administration: in 2017 it was 48%, a drop of 29 points compared to 2016, when it was 77%.



Immigration, withdrawal, decline

The restrictive immigration policies applied would also explain the rejection of the Trump Administration by Latin American public opinion. In the immigration section the most recent is the decision not to renew the authorization to stay in the United States of thousands of Salvadorans and Haitians, who once arrived fleeing calamities in their countries.

It is also worth mentioning Trump's efforts to achieve one of his main objectives since the beginning of his political campaign: to build a border wall with Mexico. The U.S. president has not been very successful so far in this goal, since despite having sought ways to finance it, what he has managed to introduce in the budgets is very insignificant in relation to the estimated costs. On the other hand, his decision

Trump's protectionism entails a retreat that may be accentuating the decline of the United States as a leader in Latin America, especially vis-à-vis other powers. China has been increasing its economic and political engagement in countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela. Russia, for its part, has strengthened its diplomatic and security relations with Cuba. It could be said that, taking advantage of the conflicts between the island and the United States, Moscow has sought to keep it in its orbit through a series of investments.

Security threats

This leads us to mention the new US National Security Strategy, announced in December. The document, presented by Trump, addresses the rivalry with China and Russia, and also refers to challenge the Cuban and Venezuelan regimes, for the alleged security threats they pose and the Russian support they receive. Trump expressed a strong desire to see Cuba and Venezuela join in "shared freedom and prosperity" and called to "isolate governments that refuse to act as responsible partners in advancing hemispheric peace and prosperity."

Similarly, the new U.S. Security Strategy alludes to other challenges in the region, such as transnational criminal organizations, which impede the stability of Central American countries, especially Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. However, the document devotes only one page to Latin America, in line with Washington's traditional focus on the areas of the world that most affect its interests and security.

An opportunity for the United States to get closer to Latin American countries will be the Summit of the Americas, to be held next March in Lima. However, nothing is predictable given the President's characteristic attitude, which leaves a great deal of room for possible surprises.

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