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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports
Policy Brief No.140 - November, 2022 • By Raushan Zhandayeva and Rachael Rosenberg
This Policy Brief explores the January 2022 Kazakhstan government shut down of internet access for several days while enacting a violent crackdown on initially peaceful protests which were triggered by hikes in fuel prices. It examines Kazakhstan’s internet and media landscape, the (re)actions of civil society and the state, and the factors that set the stage for this extreme act of digital repression, which created a disturbing precedent for the country and the Eurasia region more broadly. The paper concludes by briefly exploring the potential implications for Kazakhstan’s governance, economic development, and collective memory nearly a year on from the events.
Policy Brief No.139 - November, 2022 • By Ramesh Thakur
This Policy Brief describes the journey from the prioritisation of nuclear nonproliferation in the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to the reprioritisation of nuclear disarmament in the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW or Ban Treaty). It then discusses the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on the global discourse over the utility and limits of nuclear weapons as a deterrent and as tools of coercive diplomacy. Finally, it addresses the question: What does all this mean for the agenda of UN reforms?
Policy Brief No.138 - October, 2022 • By Ramesh Thakur
This Policy Brief, in classic thriller style, looks at means, opportunity and, most revealingly, motive of the suspects in the Nordstream sabotage. On 26 September, the Nordstream 1 and 2 pipelines were badly damaged in a deliberate act of sabotage that released huge amounts of methane gas. Almost all the Western media has pointed the finger at Russia but Moscow blames actors hostile to it. There are four plausible suspects: Russia, the US, Poland and Ukraine. Given the actors involved, the issues at stake and the impotence of the UN system caught in the crossfire of great power rivalry, an impartial independent investigation is extremely unlikely.
Policy Brief No.137 - September, 2022 • By Prithvi Subramani Iyer
This Policy Brief examines the different ways in which big data collection serves autocratic agendas by hiding the oppressive potential of heightened surveillance through promises of enhanced safety, convenience, and modernisation. Political actors with autocratic agendas can package their governance agenda via these promises of big data to bolster their legitimacy as leaders and avoid backlash for their invasive policies. The paper explores case studies illustrating that in some cases citizens welcome or do not object to invasive policies when autocrats frame the collection of private information as enhancing citizen safety and convenience. The paper then unpacks how the narrative push for digital solutionism and technology optimism unwittingly serves autocratic agendas. Finally, recommendations are provided for policymakers and civil society organisations seeking to resist the sinister alliance of big data and autocratic repression or what some have rightfully called, “digital dictatorships.''
Policy Brief No.136 - August, 2022 • By Robert J. Muscat
This Policy Brief explores the history of apology and presents a definition of official apology. Since World War II, governments, some church authorities and other bodies have apologised for specific injustices, including violence, which they deliberately committed against other countries, peoples, or their own citizens. The Policy Brief explains how apology can provide cement for a peace settlement. The post-World War II apologies referenced above are then categorised into seven types or purposes. This is followed by a discussion of Truth and Reconciliation Commissions, and the difference between an effective apology and an inadequate apology. The question of apology and compensation is explored, along with the efficacy of enhancing apology with national commemoration and physical memorials and realising the potential of official apologies for promoting justice, post-conflict healing, and peace. Finally, the new and unprecedented situation of climate change, with multiple perpetrators and victims, is touched upon.