Josh Busby

busbyj@utexas.edu

Joshua Busby is an Associate Professor in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas-Austin. He is the author of Moral Movements and Foreign Policy (Cambridge, 2010) and the co-author, with Ethan Kapstein, of AIDS Drugs for All: Social Movements and Market Transformations (Cambridge, 2013). His main research interests include transnational advocacy and social movements, international security and climate change, global public health and HIV/ AIDS, energy and environmental policy, and U.S. foreign policy. He also tends to blog about global wildlife conservation.

http://lbjschool.austin.utexas.edu/busby/

Long-form Writing for Policy Audiences: Part III of a Series

This is the third in a series of posts about bridging the gap between policy and academia. The first focused on principles for engagement. The second on short-form writing, including blogging.  

Another way to engage the policy world is writing long-form papers for think tanks. I’ve written for a number of think tanks and held fellowship positions at several (I’m currently a non-resident fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs). Most of them fell in my lap where a think tank approached me because they were already familiar with my work or I knew folks who were there.

Think tank writing can be an interesting complement to your peer reviewed publications and can occasionally provide some money. Again, it is not a substitute for peer-reviewed publications and will not get you tenure, but you can develop expertise and a reputation in the policy community as a serious person on a topic through long-form writing.

Can I Retain Credibility in Academia and Write for Policy Audiences?

Writing for think tanks is challenging in a couple of respects. First, there is always the need to sharpen your argument to explain why the readers should care, which could be U.S. foreign policy practitioners or some other target audience such as multilateral donors, what have you. In so doing, there is always the temptation to make more dramatic or clearer claims than the evidence suggests.

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Short-Form Writing for the Public: Part II of a Series

This is part II of a series on bridging the gap between policy and academia.

In my last post, I laid out some principles for thinking policy engagement as an academic. In this post, I’ll talk about one such strategy — short-form writing for the public — which includes blogging, Twitter, and other social media. In subsequent posts, I’ll review some others.

I’ve been blogging on and off since the mid-2000s and since 2011 here on the Duck of Minerva. I’ve also contributed to the Monkey Cage a fair amount in recent years, among other outlets, and have a pretty active social media presence on Twitter and Facebook.

All of these things take time and energy so you have to ask yourself, what purposes are served by engaging in those activities? Are you merely doing this because you get some gratification from having a bunch of pageviews, retweets, or likes? It’s easy to fall in to your self-esteem being driven by these metrics, but unlike citation counts, you won’t get tenure based on retweets.

In its early days, blogging provided a number of folks with more visibility for their work. I often think of blogging as akin to a public platform for a rough draft of my work, where I’m puzzling through new ideas and topics. I’ve often seen blogging as a way to better understand a topic through the act of writing and engaging with readers.  Continue reading

Principles and Strategies for Bridging the Gap: Part I

At the recent ISA meeting, I had the good fortune to participate in a roundtable on bridging the policy-academic divide organized by Jim Goldgeier, the Dean of the School of International Service at American University. Fellow panelists included Bruce Jentleson and a powerhouse trio from American University, including Susanna Campbell, Nora Bensahel, and Jordan Tama. All of us in some capacity have participated in the Bridging the Gap project over the years.

I wrote my remarks up in a long form but I thought I’d roll them out in a series of six blog posts beginning with this one. I’ll come back and hyperlink to the others in this piece when I’ve finished the series. I may come back and film them as short videocasts in the coming weeks.

In the series, I talk about five different approaches that I have engaged in to make my work relevant to policy (and the world of practitioners including but not limited to governments). Those five approaches include: short-form writing for the public, long-form writing for policy audiences, policy-oriented courses, grants and consulting, and actual policy practice.

In this post, I want to back out for a moment and have us ask and answer some more fundamental questions.

What’s your theory or understanding of how policy changes? We live in a period described by Tom Nichols as the “death of expertise.” The transmission belt of information to decision-makers who read things and are persuaded by argument and data has been upended. Who are we writing for and what influence do we hope to have? Continue reading

Are You Ready for Some ISA?

Many of us are Baltimore bound for ISA, and other than the Duckies this Thursday night, what are you looking forward to? What panels, receptions, events, new books have caught your attention?

Mike Horowitz winning the Karl Deutsch prize? PRIO folks, Ida Rudolfsen and runner-up Jonas Nordkvell,  winning the Jacek Kugler paper award on demography and geography for work on food price shocks and unrest and rainfall and conflict? Exciting stuff.

(I mostly want to use this post to test our new Facebook auto-post image, but serious responses, including self-nominations most welcome).

I’ve got an 8:15 bridging the gap panel on Thursday morning led by Jim Goldgeier that includes Nora Bensahel, Susanna Campbell, Bruce Jentleson, and Jordan Tama.

I’m also excited about being on a Saturday 1:45 panel on the strategic use of norms that has been organized by Jennifer Dixon and Jennifer Erickson. Fellow panelists include Adam Quinn, David Capie, Courtney Fung, and John Gentry.  I’ll be presenting updated research on shaming from my long-time joint project with Kelly Greenhill.

What are you excited about?

Academic Freedom

President Trump tweeted this on Friday. Even before he issued this egregious tweet, I had prepared a thread on Twitter of my observations from a recent trip to DC. This builds on my post from earlier in the week on how to defend democracy from the perch of the Ivory Tower.

After my trip to DC, it occurred to me that academics, particularly tenured ones, have the freedom to resist this administration and speak out in a way that many NGOs and think tank folks cannot. We should exercise our liberty while we can.

I was really inspired to write this thread when I read a series of tweets from Paul Musgrave on how liberalism has embraced data and facts as the way forward  when it is not at all clear that is the moment we are living in (says the guy writing a blog post). Storify below after the jump.

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Trump’s Randian Foreign Policy

This is a guest post by Zachary C. Shirkey, an Associate Professor of Political Science, Hunter College, CUNY.

Attempts by observers to give Trump’s foreign policy some coherence by finding an underlying ideology that motivates it have largely focused on Jacksonianism. Certainly, aspects of Trump’s outlook and those of a number of his advisers fit the description of Jacksonianism. Jacksonians see US interests in white ethno-nationalist terms and they emphasize strength, unilateralism, self-reliance, and coercion. Jacksonians also seize upon simple solutions for complex problems. Early Trump policies and goals such as protectionism, the proposed border wall with Mexico, and the Muslim immigration ban fit into this worldview.

While such a description of Trump’s worldview has much to recommend it, focusing solely on Jacksonianism risks missing another important influence on him and his advisers: that of Ayn Rand. Many current Republican officials cite Rand as a major influence on their thinking. Trump himself has spoken favorably of Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, and its hero Howard Roark. Likewise, both Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and CIA Director Mike Pompeo have spoken highly of Rand. This is not to claim that all of Trump’s key advisers admire Rand’s works. Steve Bannon—the adviser whose views perhaps most closely align with the white ethno-nationalist component of Jacksonianism and who has cited influences as diverse as Lenin and the Italian reactionary Julius Evola—is strongly averse to Randianism. Still, enough members of the Trump administration admire Randianism that it needs to be taken into account when thinking about Trump’s likely foreign policy. Continue reading

Defending Democracy from the Ivory Tower

What is the role of the academic in defending democracy at a moment like this? I am 46 years old and have lived through some politically searing times in U.S. and world history, but the election of Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States feels different. It feels like an existential threat to world order and American democracy like nothing else.

It has turned all of us in to news junkies hanging on every inflammatory, norms-busting tweet from POTUS at the expense of productivity and mental health. This is not about partisanship. It is about country (if you are American) over party. It is about the fate of the world (which sounds overblown but I mean it). How the hell are we supposed to function as normal human beings, as professionals when the world is on fire?

The inclination is to do or say something. Anything. And, I think we are all struggling to figure out what is right for each of us in terms of public engagement. My colleague Charli Carpenter has started with her entrepreneurial flare the hashtag “#StudytheWorld!” in reaction to Donald Trump’s comments about how having studied the world he’s lead to make certain choices.

What is Our Theory of Change?

That said, I think there is a broader need to think through our theory of change. The times seem to require popular mobilization that is converted into electoral victories and it appears that name recognition and celebrity are more valuable commodities than expertise. How then do experts have influence (a question animating Chris Hayes‘ and Tom Nichols‘ work)? Continue reading

Understanding Trump’s Worldview

Over the weekend, Donald Trump gave an interview with Michael Gove of The Times of London and Kai Diekmann, a former editor of the German newspaper Bild. (The interview is behind a paywall, but you can register for free for access to two articles a week from The Times.)

There has been ample coverage in the press (see here, here), focusing on Trump’s ambivalence to NATO (“obsolete” “very important”), hostility to the European Union (“Personally, I don’t think it matters much for the United States”), and equal regard for Angela Merkel and Putin (“Well, I start off trusting both — but let’s see how long that lasts. It may not last long at all.”)

A friend on Facebook said she was struggling with explaining Trump’s foreign policy strategy. A number of people weighed in with suppositions about his business relationships in Russia, whether or not he is subject to blackmail from compromising information.

Leaving that aside, even in the absence of some specific connection between Trump and Russia, what might explain his coziness to Russia, his disdain for NATO, the EU, traditional allies? Or, put a little differently, since first-level analysis of individuals and agency is in vogue again, how can we understand Donald Trump’s worldview?

Tom Wright’s Politico piece from a year ago January 2016 is seen as one of the most accurate and helpful depictions of Trump’s worldview, and his forthcoming book will anchor Trump’s rise in the wider geo-strategic context. Wright focuses on Trump’s mercantilism and perception that the U.S. has gotten a raw deal from the liberal order and that alliances are sapping the country of resources. On Russia, Wright attributes Trump’s views to his general appreciation for authoritarians.

I think that’s generally right, but another idea woke me up at 2am last night and led me to some bleary-eyed tweets. Here is what I said.

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Being a Doctoral Student in the Time of Trump: Six Challenges

This is a guest post from Ariya Hagh, Andrew Szarejko, and Laila Wahedi. All three authors are doctoral students in Georgetown University’s Department of Government. Author order is alphabetical by last name.

As we consider the broader ramifications of a Trump presidency, it is important to take a moment to consider how we in the discipline are likely to be affected so that we can adequately prepare for the coming years. If past behavior and rhetoric is any indication, which we expect it to be, the incoming Trump administration will present a unique set of challenges to doctoral students in political science.

Being aware of these challenges will help students to navigate the next four years as well as the rest of their careers and, we hope, will allow faculty to help their students along the way. Specifically (though not exhaustively), we expect reduced access to government data; less federal funding; a more difficult job market; obstacles to activism and teaching; and greater insecurity for international students. Continue reading

How Are You? On Coping in the Time of Trump

I’m not going to assume that all of our readers are non-Trump fans, but let’s be honest, Trump support in the social science academy is probably slim. And, if you are like me, you are dismayed by what transpired with the election and continue to try to figure it out, both personally as a human being and as a citizen of whatever country you are from.

At moments, you think, maybe it won’t be so bad, but then he tweets or says something and you fear it will be worse. I think Americans are often preternaturally disposed to thinking things will work out, but events of late make me wonder.

So, in the meantime, I think many are coping as best they can,  spending more quality time with family and friends, starting that fitness routine up again, going camping or getting outside, vegging out with some escapism (the Ghostbusters reboot, a little Westworld), or finding community service projects to donate to or serve in.  There is some collective on-line therapy happening with friends and colleagues or groups like Pantsuit Nation.  There is the temptation to retreat from the public sphere and to cut out unpleasant news. I think some unplugging and going offline for a bit is warranted. I tried that for like 12 hours.

I think it is important though that we gradually pick up the pieces and re-dedicate ourselves to fight the good fights ahead, whether that be public service inside the government, citizen advocacy (I’ve called my legislators to let them know about a few choice appointments I’m not happy about), or possibly other forms of public protest if and when they are warranted.

In the meantime, let’s celebrate with some gallows humor.

#1

#2


#3

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In the end, I come back to this to get ready for the next chapter.

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World AIDS Day 2016

December 1 is World AIDS day.  Throughout the 2000s, AIDS received unprecedented attention and resources, particularly to support ten of millions of people’s access to life-extending anti-retroviral therapy. Attention and resources peaked in recent years, and while the problem in some respects has gotten better, it hasn’t gone away. More than 35 million people have died from AIDS already.  And yet,  there are still more than 35 million people living with the virus that causes AIDS, only half of whom have access to ARVs. While new infections and deaths have come down from their peaks, there are still more than 2 million new infections a year and more than a million deaths from AIDS.  We still have never gotten very good at AIDS prevention strategies, as changing risky behavior is hard.

AIDS funding largely held steady after the financial crisis, and with the U.S. the world’s largest source of foreign aid for AIDS, that reflected the durability of the bipartisan consensus to address AIDS that emerged under President George W. Bush. However, for the first time in five years, we saw a significant drop in resources for AIDS, and we’re starting to see negative signs in some places and some countries as new generations grow up without as much safe sex messaging.

With a Trump administration, we have almost no signs of what it intends to do on global health, as Jeremy Youde suggested here and Laurie Garrett wrote about yesterday.

Below, I’m going to embed some tweets from Jennifer Kates from the Kaiser Family Foundation who has done tremendous work in tracking AIDS finance over the years. I’ll try to say more what’s needed going forward in a separate post, as there is a need hold the line on efforts in the AIDS space but also do wider health systems strengthening. Accomplishing those twin tasks without adequate and even more resources is impossible so global health advocates will need to make their case on why doing the right thing now will avoid unnecessary deaths and expense later.

Finally, two books are worth your attention. David France, director of the Oscar nominated documentary How to Survive a Plague, is out with a print version of the story of US AIDS activists from ACT UP who made the cause a national issue in the era of Reagan and hastened the faster development of anti-retrovirals and wider changes in AIDS policy. There may be some lessons learned about civil disobedience and speaking truth to power that will be important in the years to come.

LGBTQ activist Cleve Jones, who was close to the gay activist Harvey Milk, is also out with a memoir on his life and advocacy including his work in founding the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Continue reading

Climate and Security in the Trump Era

I’ve been asked by some reporters about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the agenda of climate and security, the emergent concern that climate change is likely to produce consequences that rise to the level of security challenges for the United States and rest of the world (some background here and here).  Some of my initial thoughts were quoted today in Scientific American and I’ve expanded on them here.  As I noted in my last post, we’ve already seen considerable speculation about what the Trump administration might yield on climate change and wider environmental policy.

We’re kind of entering in to  Kremlinology territory here. We don’t really know what is going to happen, and I think assuming the worst might actually be strategically counter-productive. Donald Trump has already signaled that he was going to walk away from a number of his previous hardline policy commitments like the border wall.

To the extent that he does possess an inner pragmatist as President Obama has suggested, then those baby steps in the direction of the light out to be encouraged. True, it is easy to read too much in to ambiguous statements like Trump’s apparent open mind on climate change policy in his New York Times interview last week.

My general sense is that yes we have reasons to be concerned, but we should also wait to see what Trump intends to do, who he actually appoints to key positions,and whether some of the more out there ideas — like zeroing out NASA’s earth science efforts — actually get taken up in policy.  I also think we need a theory of how to influence Donald Trump personally and the Trump administration broadly. Let me speak to both issues and the significance for the climate and security agenda.

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What Does Trump’s Victory Mean for the Environment?

Much has already been written about the significance of Donald Trump’s victory for the environment, with particular emphasis on climate change. There is some speculation that Trump, based on campaign promises, will try to undo some of President Obama’s signature achievements, namely some scuttle that he’s looking for a fast exit from the 2015 Paris climate agreement that recently entered into force.

The noted climate denier Myron Ebell was named to lead Trump’s transition at the EPA. President Obama in his press conference today made a vigorous case for why his efforts to green the economy could and should live on under a Trump administration. Most analysts fear the worst, though a few see some of the changes, like the fading role of coal, as more long-lived and less subject to presidential influence. I’m going to focus on climate change here.  Continue reading

Processing this Election

So this is ostensibly an academic blog, though there is something quite confessional and personal about the blog format. I suspect many readers of the Duck are experiencing what I’m feeling, which is profound heartache over the election results. I’ve been writing on Facebook and trying to grieve and process with others, but I’ve got to stop. Life has to go on, and other urgent writing and work require my attention.

Still, I thought I’d share some of those reflections here, for what it is worth. I’ve refrained from partisan blogging here, though was profoundly opposed to the kind of campaign Donald Trump ran and was open about it. My main objection was the lack of decency in his behavior and rhetoric and fear that tone set a poor example which others would emulate. There were plenty of policy differences to be sure, and I’m not naive about the rough and tumble of politics, but these transgressions I thought were disqualifying and would be apparent to all or enough people.

Here are my reflections in order of their appearance, which I suspect reflect stages of grief I guess. I’m in Texas and grew up here so my audience on Facebook (such that it is) is intended to be wider than fellow travelers on my side of the ideological spectrum. In any case, here they are, for what they are worth.

I fear that progress on issues I care about like climate change will see abrupt reversals, but beyond that, I worry that this Trump victory validates and encourages hateful people to come out of the woodwork, as some are already. I haven’t quite figured out how I intend to respond to all of this as a citizen, but this is a start. I see people donating to charitable causes, others have joined the protests, some are thinking about 2018. I’m not there yet.

ADDENDUM: I published a piece in Real Clear World on election day with collaborators about how the public is actually more supportive of international engagement than elites actually think they are. I’ve been trying to reconcile this with what happened.  Were our survey results wrong like the polls? We have to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, and almost half the electorate didn’t turnout. So, what Americans think and voter turnout are two different things, though it speaks to whether some people care more than others to participate.

SECOND ADDENDUM 11/16: Looks like reports that this was a super low turnout election were wrong, just slightly down compared to 2012. So what follows are my initial reactions as preliminary data came in.

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GOTV

I’m on blogging lockdown to GOTV. Back soon.

Some New and Old Guests and Permanent Ducks

We’re happy to announce some new guest Ducks, some old guests staying on, and additions to our permanent contributors.

In reverse order, Jarrod Hayes and Heather Roff-Perkins have joined us as permanent contributors. They have brought keen insights on a range of topics so we’re happy they have agreed to stay on in a permanent capacity!

Maryam Deloffre, Jeffrey Stacey, and William Kindred Winecoff continue on as guests with important insights on global health, security, and IPE respectively. Our thanks to our guests from last year — Annick, Cai, Seth, Tom, and Wendy — for their valuable contributions to the blog.

We’re pleased to announce that Lisa Gaufman, Alexis Henshaw, Charlie Martel, Akanksha Mehta, Raul Pacheco-Vega, Mira Sucharov, Lauren B. Wilcox, and Jeremy Youde are joining us as new guest bloggers.

Elizaveta Gaufman is a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) at the University of Bremen. She is the author of “Security Threats and Public Perception: Digital Russia and the Ukraine Crisis”.

Alexis Henshaw is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor in Political Science at Miami University (Ohio). She was previously a Visiting Assistant Professor at Bucknell University and Sweet Briar College, and received a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Her work on women in rebel groups and women and sexual violence has appeared in Journal of Global Security Studies, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Sexuality and Culture, and the Journal of Human Security Studies. Her booka book, Why Women Rebel, will be coming out with Routledge in 2017. Follow her on Twitter at @Prof_Henshaw

Charles Martel has an LLM in international human rights law from the London School of Economics, where he wrote a dissertation on the political impact legal opinions on the Israeli separation barrier had on the Israel/Palestine conflict. He also has a law degree from Washington and Lee University. He served in lead roles in Senate investigations as counsel to the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. He has previously contributed to Just Security and Opinio Juris.

Akanksha Mehta is a Lecturer in International Relations and Gender at the School of Global Studies, University of Sussex. She has submitted her PhD in Gender Studies at the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS. Her PhD research examines the ‘everyday’ politics and violence of women in right-wing movements, specifically looking at Hindu Nationalism in India and Israeli Zionist settlers in the West Bank, Palestine. She is broadly interested in the intersections of international relations, critical geography, political violence, war, and conflict, and gender,  feminism, and sexuality. She is also a documentary photographer and can be reached on Twitter at @SahibanInExile

Raul Pacheco-Vega is an Assistant Professor in the Public Administration Division of the Centre for Economic Research and Teaching, CIDE (Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas, CIDE, AC) in Aguascalientes, Mexico. His major research focus is the study of cooperative resource governance, especially water, wastewater and sanitation, domestically and across borders. He is also the founder of the #ScholarSunday hashtag on Twitter. Follow him at @raulpacheco

Mira Sucharov is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Carleton University. She is the author of The International Self: Psychoanalysis and the Search for Israeli-Palestinian Peace (SUNY Press, 2005), and articles on Israeli-Palestinian relations and Diaspora Jewish relations, emotions and IR, pedagogy, and reflections on the craft of being a scholar-blogger. She is a frequent columnist in Haaretz and Jewish Daily Forward. Follow her on Twitter @sucharov

Lauren B. Wilcox is a University Lecturer in Gender Studies and the Deputy Director of the Centre for Gender Studies at the University of Cambridge. Her work is located at the intersections of international relations, political theory, and feminist theory in investigating the consequences of thinking about bodies and embodiment in the study of international practices of violence and security. Her main research project is a book entitled, Bodies of Violence: Theorizing Embodied Subjects in International Relations, published by Oxford University Press, 2015.

Jeremy Youde is a Fellow/Senior Lecturer at Australian National University. His research focuses on questions of global health governance and global health politics. He is the author of three books and co-editor of two recently edited volumes. He has published more than 30 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters in a wide variety of outlets and is a member of the editorial board of Global Health Governance. Follow him on Twitter at @jeremyoude

Open Thread on International Development Syllabi

In previous posts on the environment and health, I highlighted lacunae in the field, which I attributed in part to there being few courses in those substantive areas. By providing a few exemplar syllabi, I thought more of us might find it easier to offer courses on those topics. At the very least, some might find inspiration for courses and mine these syllabi for readings.

Another potentially under-studied area is international development. Here, there may be more course offerings and crossover with IPE, but I’m going to start an open thread with development syllabi because I can. Again, while I had graduate training in IPE,  my knowledge of international development comes from a second bachelor’s degree in England, my experience in the Peace Corps in Ecuador, and a subsequent internship at the Multilateral Investment Fund. Most of my development specific knowledge I picked up along the way.

I still think this is an understudied area in political science, though the politics of foreign aid and international organizations do get some coverage. My syllabus on the topic is gear towards MA students and helping them become better practitioners, particularly through manipulation of data and simple Excel graphical applications. 2016 syllabus here.

I’ll post additional exemplar syllabi in the comments thread.

Global Health Governance Syllabi Open Thread

So, I noted in a post a few weeks ago during APSA that I thought the discipline doesn’t pay enough attention to global environmental politics. Part of this is a function of training. I didn’t have a global environmental politics course to take during graduate school, but I teach one now. I posted a few syllabi in the post and comments thread.

I think the same thing is true of global health. Politics abound with global health whether it be the Ebola virus, Zika, pharmaceutical prices, the on-going HIV/AIDS crisis, the rise of non-communicable disease, the challenges of health systems strengthening. And this stuff is important! Continue reading

It’s That Time Again: A Call for New Guest Bloggers

We’re kicking off a new school year, and we wanted to send out an invitation for a new crop of guest bloggers. We’re really hoping the Duck will continue to be a place for diverse perspectives on international relations.

As you may recall from our last call to arms, here is our policy on a guest blogging stint on the Duck:

So here’s the new policy: anyone with a PhD in IR, plus some expertise in some substantive global policy issue area, and a willingness to post at least 200-500 words, at least once a week, can apply to become a guest for a six-month rotation. If you’re interested in a guest spot, send one of us a letter of interest (just as if you were proposing a one-off guest post) and we’ll consider you for our next rotation.

We look forward to hearing from you and hope to announce the new guest blogging crew by the end of the month.

Is there a connection between the Northwest Passage and the South China Sea?

This is a guest post from Hannes Hansen-Magnusson, a Lecturer in International Relations at Cardiff University (contact by email: Hansen-Magnusson”at”Cardiff.ac.uk or via twitter: @HansenMagnusson)

For centuries the political struggle over the legal status of global oceans was presented as one of mare clausum vs. mare liberum. These concepts concerned the possibility of movement as well as rights and responsibilities of seafaring nations and coastal states which had sometimes been the subject of small-scale physical confrontations at sea, such as the so-called Cod or Turbot Wars, but also of judicial processes, such as the Corfu Channel or Fisheries cases, which followed earlier conflicts. Overcoming confrontations such as these, progress was achieved after nine long years of negotiating the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) between 1973-1982. Since entering into force in 1994 UNCLOS has provided a constitution-like framework with which to quell physical confrontations and opened an institutionalized path for settling disputes and open questions through one of its three organizations (the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, the International Seabed Authority, and the Committee on the Limits of the Continental Shelf) or through the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Given these developments during the last two decades, it may be possible to speak of mare iudicatum or administratum as the new development towards a peaceful use of global oceans.

The point of this contribution is to remind ourselves as academics and practitioners that as progressive as this development may appear, it should be clear that the new order does not assert itself through an invisible force that is inherent in the provisions of UNCLOS and the procedural rules of different organizations charged with its implementation. Much depends on what happens in the day-to-day instantiation of it through the activity of seafarers and their states. Although these activities may be small-scale and local events, there is a chance of global reverberations, which is what this contribution is arguing: because in a global framework there can be no extra-ordinary events and localities, they all matter for the overall architecture.

In order to demonstrate this, I will revert to two current examples: the passage of the Crystal Serenity through the Northwest Passage (NWP), on the one hand, and politics in the South China Sea (SCS), on the other. Remote as they may seem in geographical terms and as they are treated as such by area specialists, there is a wider issue at stake which connects them, centering on the peaceful use of global oceans. Continue reading

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