In April 2018, practitioners of global governance had to respond to the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Syrian city of Douma. In order to do so, however, it was necessary to acquire information on what happened there on April 7. Since establishing facts in a warzone is a notoriously difficult task, one may expect that neutral experts – such as those from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the implementing body of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which aims at eliminating chemical weapons – would play an important role.
The standoff over Catalan secession from Spain continues, with independence leaders in jail and in exile and the Spanish government administering direct rule over Catalonia. The unsettling situation has split not only Catalans and Spaniards, but Europe as a whole. Yet beyond the ongoing pyrotechnics, if we pull back to the ten thousand meter level, we can see that this issue raises a number of bigger questions: When is it appropriate for a region of a larger geopolitical entity to secede? What criteria should be used to decide the legitimacy of an independence bid? These questions are relevant not only for the Catalan situation, but for other regions of Europe where secessionist tensions flare up on a regular basis.
Are we witnessing the end of the Liberal Order as we know it? Two important new books on this pressing question were presented and discussed at a recent WZB event. You can watch the full video recording below.
Populist parties challenge democracy, European integration, and international order. At the same time, authoritarian states openly challenge liberal values. Counter-revolutions and counter-institutionalizations abound. Many people wonder how the liberal world could get into such a crisis. Is Europe disintegrating? How can the resistance to the global governance be explained? Is there a way to overcome the multiple crises?
A specter is haunting the liberal political order—the specter of authoritarian populism. Antiliberal and antipluralist, authoritarian populist ideology questions individual and, especially, minority rights. It questions the rights of “others” to limit the “rights” of the majority culture. Part of this antiliberalism is founded on unconditional support for national sovereignty and the rejection of any political authority beyond national borders, in spite of externalities and interdependencies. Authoritarian populism is also “antipluralist” in the sense that it usually contains a deproceduralized and thus homogeneous notion of the majority. These sentiments are often linked to the “silent majority,” those who—according to Richard Nixon—do not express their opinions, but represent the will of the people. Authoritarian populism asserts that this collective will is known without public debate or other procedures to generate it. Authoritarian populists pit this supposed homogeneous will of the people against immoral, corrupt, and parasitic elites.
Exactly one year has passed since Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union (EU). Accordingly, London and Brussels have only one more year to agree and ratify the details of the United Kingdom’s (UK) orderly withdrawal from the bloc and the principles of their future relationship. Otherwise they will divorce without any deal unless both sides agree to extend the two year period intended by Article 50.
Since the European Council (EC) opened the final and decisive phase of Brexit negotiations on 22–23 March 2018, time seems just perfect to reflect on what has been negotiated so far and what we can expect from future talks.
In her contribution, Friederike Luise Kelle builds on findings from conflict research to understand why the behavior of the conflict parties in the current dispute in Catalonia is much more rational than they are usually perceived. Friederike shows that the Spanish central government’s decision to escalate the democratic process judicially and through the use of force, the references to the legitimacy of their action in the face of widespread systemic corruption, and their rejection of EU mediation are perfectly rational strategies. The same holds for Catalan leaders: The narrative of repression in a democratic country in the heart of the EU, fractionalization, and the lack of support for the election of Jordi Turull by the Popular Unity Candidacy (Candidaturad’Unitat Popular, CUP) are representative of common patterns in (self-determination) conflicts. Underlining the risk of the conflict becoming effectively indivisible, Friederike recommends that both sides engage in argumentative, legal, and tactical de-escalation, embrace the concept of actual concessions, and navigate towards a federal solution. In summary, she asserts that the conflict literature is well-equipped to make sense of the sometimes seemingly irrational behavior in this conflict.
Addressing the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in January 2018, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi followed in the Chinese President Xi Jingping’s footsteps from last year’s event to present a clarion call in defence of globalisation, stating that ‘India is an investment in future’.
A few days after the Davos summit, India welcomed the heads of state from ten member nations of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) for its 69thRepublic Day celebrations in what marked a break from the usual diplomatic practice of inviting a singular head of state. Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, highlighted the essence of ‘shared values, common destiny’ in the India–ASEAN partnership. Despite this historic occasion, a series of developments within its immediate borders have raised question marks on the coherence of India’s engagement to its neighbouring states. Before seeking to understand what these present day challenges are, one first needs to place a historical context on how India moved towards greater regional multilateralism.
On the International Women´s Day, our podcast series’ host Lynda Iroulo interviews Prof. Dr. h.c. Jutta Allmendinger, Ph.D., President of the WZB. Listen in, as we discuss her journey to the presidency, the driving factors of gender inequality, and her vision for the WZB.
Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:
Iroulo: You became a professor of Sociology at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Have you always wanted to be in academia?
Allmendinger: Most certainly not. Up until the age of fifteen, I wanted to become an architect like my father. Then I found out that the study of architecture is really boring because you only have to draw lines but not houses. So, I started to study Sociology and I was immediately into it.
Iroulo: What was your research focus then and how has it changed over time?
International Women’s Day is a celebration of women fighting for their rights. This fight started in the late 18th century with political and legal issues being the main items on the agenda and it gained traction in the 19th and 20th. Since then, women have accomplished a lot in all spheres of life, including academia. Just like men could do for centuries, women can now make significant contributions to scientific knowledge. The more women joined academia, the more they theorized about their everyday experiences, and the more everybody became aware of the inequalities they were facing. Women have been the agents of and the force for change. It was them who insisted to take such concepts as patriarchy, gender bias, and positive discrimination seriously and address them in public discourse and policies. Many challenges, however, still remain. This is why we have come together to write this blog post on women in academia reflecting different perspectives. We claim neither to present the full picture nor to represent the correct perspective. We want to raise some issues relevant to our experiences. Let us walk you through these with some music in the background: