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Essays

Harmony or discord? Foreign policy implications of China's upcoming Party Congress

Mathieu Duchâtel and Oliver Bräuner

As the Communist Party of China prepares for a once-in-a-decade change of leadership at the 18th Party Congress in November, the country’s foreign relations are in worse shape than they were 10 years ago, especially in East Asia but also in terms of heightened strategic rivalry with the United States. How the incoming leadership chooses to manage further the expansion of Chinese economic and security interests has huge implications for the rest of the world. If the incoming Party leadership fails to prevent widening political rifts in China’s political system (including the People’s Liberation Army, PLA), foreign policy could take on an even more assertive tone, complicating international cooperation with China on issues of international security.

Sep. 12: The Iraq Action Team: a model for monitoring and verification of WMD non-proliferation

Ambassador Rolf Ekéus

This month, the United Nations General Assembly opens its annual meeting in New York. The General Assembly’s First Committee on Disarmament is one of the few venues in which both nuclear and non-nuclear weapon state representatives have the opportunity to discuss options to strengthen the worldwide nuclear non- proliferation regime. The ‘action team’ that operated in Iraq in the 1990s provides a model for a more effective non-proliferation body.
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UNSCOM conducts third inspection of Iraqi chemical weapons UNPhoto/Shankar Kunhambu

July/Aug. 12: The new information superhighway: practical methods for sharing knowledge and stemming destabilizing arms flows

Hugh Griffiths

Nearly all destabilizing arms transfers to conflict zones and areas targeted by UN or EU sanctions are clandestine in nature, making monitoring difficult and prevention harder still. However, instead of attempting to create new instruments to tackle these problems, more efficient use can and should be made of existing mechanisms to enforce EU and UN arms embargoes. A recent incident involving a Russian-owned flag of convenience ship that attempted to deliver helicopter gunships to Syria demonstrated the potential effectiveness of such mechanisms. 

Looking back to ensure future progress: developing and improving multilateral instruments to control arms transfers and prevent illicit trafficking

Paul Holtom and Mark Bromley

Between July and September this year, the international community will be faced with the daunting prospect of concluding negotiations on an international arms trade treaty and a review of the implementation of the United Nations programme of action on small arms and light weapons.

Global security norms and institutions: struggling with new and old uncertainties

Recent editions of the SIPRI Yearbook have pointed to persistent contemporary trends that define and shape developments in global and regional security, armaments and disarmament.

A tale of two summits: the Group of Eight and NATO

Dr Ian Anthony

Next month's NATO summit will be held in Chicago, in an election year. While it will be hard to find anyone willing to go on record as saying that the choice of location is intended to be a boost for President Obama, it's difficult to interpret it any other way. The NATO summit will take place at the same time as a meeting of leaders of the most industrialized countries, the Group of Eight (G8). Perhaps unfortunately for NATO, both the agenda and the format of the G8 summit make it the more interesting and important of the meetings.

Using nuclear forensics to increase international nuclear security cooperation

Vitaly Fedchenko

Nuclear forensic analysis (nuclear forensics) has gained prominence as a tool to detect, prevent and deter acts of nuclear terrorism and illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. However, the potential applications of nuclear forensics go beyond nuclear security and demonstrate that cooperation can be achieved in and between a number of international security frameworks.

Feb. 12: Overseas citizen protection: a growing challenge for China

Mathieu Duchâtel

This year, more than 60 million citizens of the People’s Republic of China will travel abroad, a sixfold increase since 2000. In addition, more than 5 million Chinese nationals work abroad, a figure sure to increase significantly in the years ahead. As recent events in Libya, Egypt and Sudan have shown, the growing number of Chinese citizens travelling and working overseas is forcing some unprecedented choices in China about the protection of its citizens on foreign shores. What changes can we expect in China’s government organization and in its foreign policy to deal with this new and growing challenge? What are the implications for security cooperation with major governments, such as in Europe or the United States?

Jan. 12: Nuclear arms programme charge against Iran is no sure thing

Robert Kelley

The conflict between Iran and the West just keeps heating up, with the Iranians announcing earlier this month that they had begun to enrich uranium at a second major facility, Fordo, located in a well-defended tunnel complex outside the city of Qom.

Riot control agents: improve knowledge to improve safety

Dr Sadik Toprak

A number of recent incidents have reinforced renewed concern regarding states' use of so-called riot control agents (RCAs)particularly tear gases and pepper sprayagainst civilians.