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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

US-Soviet Arms Control During Détente: Lessons for the Present

Policy Brief  No 47 - September, 2019

Arms control during the years of détente remains almost a legend: it was born in the middle of a dangerous stand-off between two implacable rivals and achieved reasonable successes in substance and the overall atmosphere of cooperation. As the world has entered an unstable and dangerous phase in 2010s, we look back to the 1970s in search of lessons to be drawn and examples to follow. Can that experience be replicated? How can we launch a new arms control effort at the time of worsening and increasingly dangerous geopolitical competition? If two rival superpowers could engage in a cooperative endeavour in the midst of a geo-political conflict, perhaps we could repeat the experience today and mitigate the more dangerous aspects of the conflict that will likely continue for an extended period of time.

Climate Change and Conflict

Urbanisation and Natural Disasters in Pacific Island Countries

Policy Brief  No 46 - September, 2019

The growth of urban populations in Pacific Island Countries is reflected in growing numbers of informal settlements with high levels of exposure and vulnerability to natural disasters. As urban populations grow and become increasingly dense, with large numbers living in informal settlements, the potential for major catastrophes is increasing. Despite this, most disaster risk management throughout the region still focuses on rural areas, reflecting historical practices and experience and some political preference for rural areas. There is a greater need in the region to develop measures that reduce people’s exposure to hazardous events in towns and cities, mostly by incorporating urban planning measures that discourage settlement in marginal and hazard-prone areas. This will be challenging given the complexity of land tenure arrangements throughout the region. It is also important that the root causes of people’s vulnerabilities are addressed, so that the processes by which they come to live in unsafe conditions can be understood and measures introduced to reduce people’s risks and losses. This policy brief focuses discussion on urban communities and concludes by outlining a number of activities which would contribute to reducing people’s exposure to hazardous events in Pacific Island towns and cities.

Social Media and Peacebuilding

Polarisation and Peacebuilding Strategy on Digital Media Platforms: Current Strategies and Their Discontents (Part II)

Policy Brief  No 45 - July, 2019

This is the second of two policy briefs on polarisation in relation to digital media. It describes interventions currently being attempted by NGOs and other peacebuilders using digital platforms as their medium, and interventions that the platforms themselves have tested and/or put into action, including in some cases how the impacts are measured. Many organisations and individuals are working on digital peacebuilding, while a larger number explore broad societal impacts of digital media and the research questions identified in the first brief. The conclusion of this brief categorises interventions according to the degree of invasiveness felt by their subjects, discusses their costs and benefits, and provides recommendations for digital media platforms.

Social Media and Peacebuilding

Polarisation and Peacebuilding Strategy on Digital Media Platforms: The Current Research (Part I)

Policy Brief  No 44 - July, 2019

This policy brief is one of two which examines the issue of polarisation and the extent to which it is driven by digital media. Even if polarisation is not driven by digital media, severe conflicts playing out on the digital stage are in themselves an urgent problem. It is plausible that some forms of digital media drive polarisation and others do not, and also possible that digital media impacts vary by culture. No matter “who is to blame,” new opportunities to build peace are blossoming on digital media. Many people are working hard to build peace using the Internet, and we can learn a lot from their approaches. This first brief is a research overview about polarisation and policy issues related to digital media. After summarising a range of studies in this area, the policy brief closes with a series of questions highlighting where further research is most needed.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

The Dragon and the Elephant: India’s Perspectives on Sino-Indian Relations

Policy Brief  No 43 - July, 2019

Throughout this policy brief, we vet the use of social media in a major Middle Eastern country - Egypt - where the youth took to the streets to express frustrations that lasted almost a lifetime. While social media helped topple autocratic dictator, Hosni Mubarak, it played the role of Pandora’s box, unwittingly showing the strengths and weaknesses of the society’s fabric. The brief follows a string of events that changed the face of the Egyptian state and with it came conflict. We also discuss how extremism infiltrated potentially every home with access to internet and offer solutions that can aid this creeping disease that lures sympathisers. Finally we list a number of recommendations that could help civil society groups sustain a dialogue and a have a strong impact on the general public.