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Policy Briefs

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Latest Policy Briefs and Reports

Capturing and Decapturing Democracies: Notes from India

Policy Brief  No.190 - May, 2024 • By Debasish Roy Chowdhury

This Policy Brief addresses the question: How can right-wing populism be electorally reversed, and is democracy automatically restored when it is? A southern state in Modi’s India has important lessons as the world’s biggest election plays out.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Reflections on R2P as a New Normative Settling Point

Policy Brief  No.189 - May, 2024 • By Ramesh Thakur

This Policy Brief is a reflection on the origins, progress, setbacks, and current status of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), the international community’s organising principle for responding to the threat or outbreak of mass atrocity crimes inside sovereign jurisdictions. While the articulation, refinement, institutionalisation, and consolidation of such a norm is one thing, the question remains: has R2P made a difference in practice? This question is addressed by Ramesh Thakur, a former UN assistant secretary-general, and a Commissioner and one of the principal authors of R2P.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Preparations for Nuclear War-Fighting and the Demise of Arms Control

Policy Brief  No.188 - April, 2024 • By Sverre Lodgaard

This Policy Brief examines nuclear war-fighting preparations and asks whether tensions can be ameliorated by risk reduction and confidence-building measures. Arms control used to be based on an assumption of stabilization of big power relations in order to avoid a war that nobody wants. Today revisionist powers in Europe and East Asia defy stability, and in the US and Russia war-fighting preparations include nuclear as well as conventional and other means, especially at theatre level. China may be moving in the same direction, but there is not enough evidence to say so with certainty. US–China relations are facing the Thucydides trap, and the triangular politics of the three leading nuclear powers is inherently unstable. Except for the Cuban Missile Crisis and the critical state of US–Soviet relations around 1980, the present world is more dangerous than it has ever been in the nuclear age.

Cooperative Security, Arms Control and Disarmament

Nuclear War Impacts on Distant, Non-Combatant Countries

Policy Brief  No.187 - March, 2024 • By Wren Green

This Policy Brief examines the rarely-discussed topic of how nuclear war might impact non-combatant countries that are far from likely conflict zones, in particular the likely impacts of nuclear war on New Zealand. Rather than the catastrophic, immediate consequences of exploding warheads, distant non-combatants would face a cascade of economic social, and environmental disruptions which would be pervasive, complex, long-term, highly disruptive and would test the very fabric of their existence. Some of the identified vulnerabilities could be reduced beforehand and such actions could also make it easier for the country to recover from more likely global disruptions. Identifying and reducing key vulnerabilities increases resilience and would help recovery from global shocks including nuclear war.

Peace and Security in Northeast Asia

Understanding China: Myths and Realities

Summary Report  No.186 - March, 2024 • By Hugh Miall

This is a Summary Report of discussion at an international study group hosted by Toda Peace Institute in November 2023. The meeting brought together Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Mongolian and international scholars and diplomats, to discuss the prospects for stable peace in Northeast Asia. There is a sense that the world is at an inflection point and Northeast Asia is a site where these choices are particularly stark. There are large potential gains from cooperation and very large potential losses from conflict. The Toda Peace Institute convened this meeting with the aim of exploring ways to avoid violent conflict between China and the US and its allies and to advance cooperation in the region.