A Summary of “Obtaining Verification: The IAEA and Nuclear Inspections”

Reviewed by Associate Editor Uma Gonchigar

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the world’s leading monitor of nuclear arms agreements. In 1957, various countries joined to create the IAEA to stop the proliferation of nuclear arms. The IAEA’s role grew after the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which required signatories to accede to review by the IAEA. While not part of the United Nations (UN), the IAEA works in cooperation with UN agencies. For one, the IAEA often reports non-compliance to the UN Security Council, which can use its authority to compel a country to comply with nuclear arms agreements. Today, the IAEA states three goals: safeguards and verification, safety and security, and science and technology.

The IAEA is led by a Board of Governors comprised of thirty-four countries. The Board’s most important power is its ability to refer rogue states to the UN Security Council. Another body of the IAEA, the General Conference, meets once a year and holds little real power. The Secretariat forms the IAEA’s civil service bureaucracy. Overseen by the IAEA Director General, the Secretariat contains six departments (Management, Nuclear Sciences and Applications, Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Safety and Security, Technical Cooperation, and Safeguards) and is comprised of inspectors, analysts, technical officers, engineers, and other technical experts.

The conciliatory “spirit of Vienna” that guided the Board of Governors in the past has ceded to a more divisive atmosphere. Two caucuses within the IAEA, G77 and the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), focus more on technical assistance for developing countries than on preventing nuclear proliferation. NAM has expressed skepticism over the proportion of the budget that is allocated for verification. Meanwhile, Western countries advocate increasing safeguards.

Zhou draws upon the ideas of exit and voice to examine why states remain in the IAEA. Exit is an economic tool by which a participating state invests resources outside the organization. Voice is a political tool by which states petition superiors to reform the organization. Although the IAEA has no viable competitors, exit stresses the IAEA because one rogue state may push nuclear proliferation in many countries that are still in the IAEA.

Then, Zhou recommends several measures to democratize the IAEA. First, the General Conference could meet two to four times per year rather than only once. Second, Zhou suggests that the Board of Governors allow any country to attend the Board’s meetings. To alleviate budgetary constraints, Zhou proposes that the IAEA increase mandatory contributions from participating countries, particularly wealthy developed countries, along with states that have seen significant development in the past twenty years, such as China and Brazil.

Zhou cites Iraq as one of the IAEA’s notable failures. In 1990, the IAEA declared that Iraq was complying with the NPT. After the First Persian Gulf War, the IAEA sought to improve its investigative methods. The Iraq misstep taught the IAEA to give inspectors more autonomy, partly through the creation of Additional Protocols. When the IAEA used U.S. intelligence in its verification process, Iraq accused the IAEA of acting as the United States’ puppet. After Iraq, the IAEA reconsidered its use of intelligence.

Finally, Zhou highlights the importance of the IAEA’s perceived legitimacy. Here, Zhou argues that the IAEA should allow a country to select the inspectors who will verify it. Further, Zhou recommends more judicious use of intelligence. Zhou underscores the importance of the IAEA maintaining a non-political role.

UN Peacekeepers and their Role in Modern Operations

Reviewed by Associate Editor Upasna Saha

In “The Use of Force in UN Peacekeeping Operations,” Antonia Miller considers how the changing role of UN peacekeepers in the modern world and their ability – or lack thereof – to use force as part of their operational duties impacts peacekeeping operations’ eventual success. Miller believes that the UN has not paid enough attention to how the use of force may be used by peacekeepers. The interaction between these aspects of international law and management has implications for what the UN stands for.

Miller starts by discussing the theory behind and the definitions that underlie peacekeeping in general. She also provides a short history of how peacekeeping originated – in the Middle East in 1956 – and how operations have changed from peacekeeping’s “original concept” as conflicts have increasingly deviated from traditional forms of war. Miller uses this section to propose the question, where is the line between peacekeeping and enforcement actions?

She then moves to discuss the laws outlined in the UN Charter which govern the use of force, noting that there is no such equivalent for peacekeeping missions, and if and how peacekeepers can use force. A large amount of attention is given to the Brahimi Report, which outlines recommendations for peacekeepers and which Miller sees as a turning point in reconciling with the difficulties that arise from the ambiguity. Nevertheless, Miller still shows how, even though the UN took this monumental step, it has been insufficient. She uses the peacekeeping mission that was established in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1999 as a case study to show how the UN’s failure in delineating exactly what force peacekeepers may and may not use constrained these peacekeepers, who were unable to use the necessary military force and so could not effectively resolve the ongoing conflict and subsequent expressions of violence.

Miller concludes her paper with another look at peacekeeping in the DRC, showing how these same issues arise in the operation that began in 2013. Her final policy recommendations for this mission are that the UN should clarify what use of force by the peacekeepers is legal and appropriate. She also recommends that the UN should work with regional organizations whose mission matches its own.

In regards to Miller’s use of case studies, it would be more helpful if she paid more attention to how the peacekeepers’ inability to use appropriate force really impacted the people negatively instead of discussing the conflict in broad terms. For instance, she mentions that the peacekeepers were unequipped to stop the rape of 300 people in the DRC. It would have been useful to see what actions they tried to take to prevent this tragedy from occurring and why they were inadequate, as well as what uses of force had been used in other peacekeeping operations or by other enforcement officers that might have effectively prevented this. Moreover, to further prove her argument about the vagueness underlying peacekeepers’ use of force, other case studies that can similarly show the misfortunes which occur because of peacekeepers’ inadequacies would be necessary. Miller’s argument is ultimately very interesting to read and potentially has large-scale policy implications for current operations, so it would be illuminating to see how this phenomenon has played out historically and what lessons can be translated to the present-day.

Art, Religion, and Diplomacy in the life of Costantino de’ Servi (1554 – 1622)

Reviewed by Iris Aikaterini Frangou

In “Art, Religion, and Diplomacy in the Life of Costantino de’ Servi (1554 – 1622)”, Davide Martino quite brilliantly recreates a somewhat obscure historical figure, while offering insights into different components of early modern cosmopolitan life. He thereby manages to both reconstruct Costantino as a truly multi-faceted and multi-versed individual, and to provide in-depth outlooks on the early modern epoch of the 16th and early 17th centuries by addressing aspects including, but not limited to, architecture and painting, diplomacy and politics, means of communication and travel.

The paper is composed of three chapters, each sub-composed of sections addressing different aspects of Costantino’s pursuits, through which Martino reveals various features of early modern cosmopolitan life. The main source from which the paper draws its material is Costantino’s own letters to the grand-ducal secretaries, written while he was conducting his travels around Europe. The diversity of the letters’ subject matter, ranging from letters composed to King Henri IV of France to ones sent to the overseer of the Grosseto grain trade, is very much representative of the spirit of miscellany that characterizes the paper as a whole, and which constitutes one of its most remarkable feats.

Chapter I paints a rich picture of Costantino as not only an architect, but also a “skilled courtier” and an unflagging traveler, in his own right. Martino largely achieves this, by approaching the “cosmopolitan Mannerist artist’s” writings not as a pellucid manifestation of who he is but rather, as a means of self-projection. The adoption of such a disposition towards Costantino’s works enables Martino to make statements about the notion and perception of the early modern self during the epoch under examination.

This focus on the question of identity is constitutes the central theme of Chapter II. The divergence between the self and the reflection of the self facilitates the exploration of art education, of financial life, and of religion, in regard to both Costantino and the general historical context.

Although Chapter examines Costantino’s informal diplomatic activity, demonstrating the connection between art and politics in the Medici Grand Duchy. Therein, Martino results in an evaluation of the role of artists in early modern marriage negotiations.

At times, the paper could benefit from less analysis of the errors of previous biographers’ reconstructions of Costantino; a notable example is the frequent references to such errors by Baldinucci in Chapter II. Another is the misplaced focus of previous biographers on Costantino’s “Italian” identity. Nevertheless, the paper is unique in its masterful presentation of both the Costantino and early modern cosmopolitan life. Martino’s paper is a testament to the fact that historical depth and individual focus are not mutually exclusive pursuits.

Read the whole paper here!

Nationalism in the Arab Spring: Expression, Effects on Transitions, and Implications for the Middle East State; A Comparative Analysis of Egypt and Libya

Reviewed by Iris Aikaterini Frangou

In her paper “Nationalism in the Arab Spring: Expression, Effects on Transitions, and Implications for the Middle East State; A Comparative Analysis of Egypt and Libya” Danielle Bella Ellison examines whether the status of a state as a nation-state is a central determinant of the country’s viability.

The author engages in a comparative analysis of Egypt and Libya, two countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) which display vastly divergent levels of nationalism, to show how nationalism contributed to their respective trajectories following the eruption of the Arab Spring. The contrasting levels of nationalism are primarily manifested through the discourse of uprisings, the cleavages that arose and deepened over the respective transitional periods as well as the demands made by key divisive actors, and finally, the violence and the future of the states. These three domains constitute the three mechanisms upon which Ellison bases comparative analysis. The hypotheses are consistent with the existing literature on nationalism in the Arab Spring and more generally, on the role of nationalism in political transitions.

Ellison first examines how mobilization took place in Egypt and Libya and where identity became salient to this political process. The second hypothesis that Ellison makes, on cleavages and demands, focuses on the intermediate steps involved in transitions and, in particular, on the manner in which political, social, and military groups join or separate to confront the power vacuum generated by the collapse of an old regime and to establish a new governing order. The third and final hypothesis, on violence and the future of the state, engages with existing literature in reflecting upon the long-term vivacity of a post-revolution state under several circumstances, on whether the establishment of a new stable government is probable, and upon whether the violence which has been produced as a result of the transition process is likely to abate or escalate, and subsequently endanger the future trajectory of the country.

The author’s investigation concludes that the independent variable of the existence or non-existence of nationalism in a given country will, through the three mechanisms outlined above, impact the trajectory and viability of a country undergoing conflict and even separation. As Ellison demonstrates, her findings are not limited to Egypt and Libya but can be generalized in revealing the role of nationalism in the Arab Spring overall.

Read the whole paper here!

Disrupting Narratives of Gift and Commodity in the Illegal Organ Trade

Reviewed by Uma Gonchigar

In “Disrupting Narratives of Gift and Commodity in the Illegal Organ Trade,” Vincent Benlloch condemns organ trade for its devastating effects on the world’s poor. First, Benlloch introduces the fundamental inequity of the global organ market: the Third World providing body parts for the First World. Central to the tragedy of organ trafficking is the fact that organ transplantation is an effective treatment, and often the only treatment, for end-stage organ failure. Moreover, organs from living donors produce significantly longer survival rates than do organs from cadavers. As a result, a global market for buying and selling biological materials has arisen. Critically, demand for transplantation exceeds supply of organs. This scarcity has led to the rise of illegal organ trafficking, with practices like transplant tourism and clandestine donation. To justify both legal and illegal organ trade, the practice is framed in language of human and technological progress that obscures the disquieting actualities.

In the final section, Benlloch draws upon interviews and surveys with organ vendors to show the disturbing reality for the organ market’s suppliers. The vast majority of surveyed donors sold their organs because of poverty or debt. One of many examples, it is heartwrenching to read about a forty-three-year-old Bangladeshi man who did not know what a kidney was when he decided to donate his. Through the the vendors’ stories, Benlloch contradicts the notion that organ sale is a matter of rational individual choice.

Benlloch is astute in noting that illegality is incidental to global organ trafficking. Laws are useless in deterring organ trade. Benlloch is also correct that the language of altruism around organ trade is a farce. Why would the destitute provide charity for the better-off? Further, Benlloch is brave for criticizing neoliberalism’s championing of progress. Medical innovation that entails shattering human rights is neither medicine nor progress.

At times, the essay would benefit from further explanation. For example, it is unclear how commodification of bodily materials causes metaphysical atomization of the human body. Moreover, the paper leaves a crucial question unanswered. If poverty is the driving force behind organ trade, does selling organs help vendors’ economic plight at all? If organ trade did have an actual economic benefit for the poorest in the Third World, then Benlloch’s claim that organ trafficking imprisons vendors in poverty would be unfounded. In that case, Benlloch would have only a moral argument, not a social nor economic one, against organ trade.

Benlloch’s essay shows the troubling reality of the supply side for organ transplantation. At one point, Benlloch makes the incisive point that trading body parts, essential to life, for money is not an equal exchange. Benlloch does not go so far as to call life sacred, but he has compiled persuasive evidence for those who promote the sanctity of life.

Read the whole paper here!

Online Jihad: ISIS’s Foreign Recruitment Strategies—Who, What, and How?

Reviewed by Kelly Butler

Christina Martin Ristori explains how ISIS uses the Internet to recruit international jihads in “Online Jihad: ISIS’s Foreign Recruitment Strategies—Who, What, and How?” According to Ristori, ISIS uses the Internet to spread propaganda that presents ISIS as a tight-knit and righteous Muslim community. Ristori argues that this presentation of ISIS as a close community with a higher moral cause is especially appealing to lonely Westerners who feel their lives lack greater significance. Further convincing Westerners to become jihads, ISIS’s propaganda characterizes Western society as the source of individuals’ loneliness and lack of purpose.

Ristori suggests that ISIS’s online recruitment methods are especially effective because they use the Internet on two levels: general outreach and personal engagement. As examples of how ISIS uses general online propaganda to present itself as a tight-knit savior of morality, Ristori cites Dabiq—ISIS’s official online periodical—and Al-Hayat Media Center—ISIS’ official media department. Although an essential part of online recruitment, Ristori argues that general propaganda is far less important that personal outreach. Ristori defines personal outreach as current jihadists individually contacting potential recruits through various social media platforms. By explaining the nuances of how ISIS uses general propaganda and personalized outreach, Ristori ultimately shows that ISIS is more successful than other extremist groups at international recruitment because it takes advantage of the Internet’s networking capabilities.

See the full paper here!

The Politics of “Genocide”: A Critical Look at the Naming-Game

Reviewed by Amy Liu

Throughout history, the word “genocide” has garnered significant power —we have only used the word to describe events so horrific that we feel almost reluctant to process them. Emily Schraudenbach, in “The Politics of ‘Genocide’: A Critical Look at the Naming-Game,” calls on her audience to explore the conscious process in which we make the decision to label something as a genocide, and explores how the “naming game” affects the way we process and provide solutions to such tragedies.

Schraudenbach starts by first outlining her desire to break down the concept of “political will” that goes into the decision of labeling a mass killing a genocide, claiming that her study reveals that such decisions are susceptible to a variety of “pervasive and subtle frameworks” (Schraudenbach 6). She then goes on to trace the definition in international law doctrines of genocide itself, and states that the decision to label something a genocide is an extension of its legal definition, and by association, by the countries who contribute to writing, framing, and enforcing that law.

To demonstrate the effects of outside countries and their political decisions on the naming-game of genocide, Schraudenbach then compares the actions of the international community in response to the crises in Rwanda and in Darfur. She highlights the different views towards the Rwandan conflict that existed within the United States alone, stating that the Clinton administration felt concerned towards labeling the event as a “genocide,” while the Bush administration immediately expressed desire to intervene. However, the conflicts in Darfur were universally agreed upon as “unimaginable atrocity” (Schraudenbach 27), and received widespread media coverage. Schraudenbach is clear in pointing out that the legal definition of genocide applied to the situations in both countries, and that NGOs like Human Rights Watch were quick to immediately apply the label to both situations.

Schraudenbach’s work presents a unique insight into how even a tragedy can be constructed as a political weapon, and asserts that names and labels are integral in determining how countries respond to international crises. For peacebuilding and prevention efforts to be successful in the wake of the genocides in Rwanda, Darfur, and other countries, the work articulates that victims, perpetrators, and outside nations must all acknowledge the “truth of a genocide” (Schraudenbach 34), and push for a universal label that accurately describes the events occurring.

Creating the Cult of Xi Jinping: The China Dream as a Leader Symbol

Reviewed by Melanie Shi

“Creating the Cult of Xi Jinping: The China Dream as a Leader Symbol” explores the role that China Dream propaganda art has played in refashioning the relations that Chinese political subjects have to their president. Author Brian Hart claims that China Dream art, which advertises a dream of Chinese economic and political rejuvenation, has contributed to the cult of personality around current leader Xi Jinping, which is in turn transforming China into a leader state in which the relationship between Xi and the people is a relationship between ruler and ruled.

The author begins by providing evidence—ranging from party officials’ practices of self-confession to media mentions of the president—of Xi Jinping’s cult of personality. From this point on, however, he delineates the purpose of his research as that of illuminating the particularly central role of China Dream propaganda art in consolidating Xi’s personality cult; this demonstrates the contribution that his findings add to the discussion of Chinese politics.

As proof of the art’s political centrality, Hart interprets the art’s proliferation in a historical context, comparing the cults of personality around Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping. Creatively, he performs this comparison around the 6 parameters of Jae-Cheon Lim’s theory of leader symbols (communication, relationship objectification, meaning condensation, integration, legitimacy promotion, and mass mobilization), a structuring that provides a rich framework for his analysis.

The author’s invocation of North Korean power consolidation as another area for comparison seems sometimes to diverge from the contained comparison of Mao and Xi. However, under the parameter of relationship objectification, he observes keenly that the China Dream’s pictorial and textual invocation of Confucian values, particularly filial piety, has enabled it to generate a cult of personality around the leader. Indeed, the author finds that the use of Confucianism is “more powerful than any other potential source of ideological legitimacy.”

Importantly, it is also the China Dream campaign’s utilization of Confucianism that explains why it is indirectly leading to a range of restructuring effects. In a discussion of implications, Hart asserts that China Dream propaganda art’s particular emphasis on Confucian filial piety reflects the political regime’s desire to not merely maintain power but fundamentally reshape the nature of Chinese citizenship into a leader state. The propaganda art is steeped in an ideology of an “inherently hierarchical” nature—in the realm of politics, then, it conveniently establishes “a more stable order with Xi and the party at the top.”

While the link between China Dream propaganda art and the development of leader state citizenship might at face value seem far-fetched, Hart makes a convincing case for the relation between the two by stressing the art’s unique invocation of Confucian values. He ends on the hope that Xi will use his personality cult at home and abroad to pursue peace and prosperity, but his incisive analysis of the Dream campaign, which “in some cases even exceed[s] the effectiveness of those [campaigns] of the Mao Cult,” warns ominously of the potential for altered but augmented authoritarianism.

Reuniting a Nation – the Korean Peninsula and the Way to Reunification

Reviewed by Sean Choi

In his article “Reuniting a Nation – the Korean Peninsula and the Way to Reunification,” Tan Aik Seng from the National University of Singapore presents lays out an alternative approach that South Korea may adapt in order to facilitate the unification of North Korea and South Korea. In arguing for a different approach, Seng discusses the benefits that would arise from a potential reunification, the current approach, and why a different approach would be more effective.

Seng believes that the socio-cultural value and the economic benefits merit the reunification of the Korean peninsula. Currently, many families are separated across the border, and they suffer emotionally from their separation. Additionally, both South and North Korea spend a significant portion of their budget for military preparation against each other. Through unification, such costs can be eliminated and families can be reunited once again. South Korea currently takes a carrot and stick approach in which the country contests against the military demonstrations of North Korea and gives aid for concessions from North Korea. Seng, however, believes that South Korea should give unilateral, unconditional aid because such aid will lead to the increase in the living standards and technological status of North Korea. Drawing from modernization theory, Seng believes that the increased economic status of North Korean citizens will have democratizing forces that lead to exertion of public pressure against the authoritarian regime.

While Seng presents a different framework that may contribute in the scholarship, I believe that he severely overlooks the facts on the ground and takes an overly paternalistic approach in prescribing what will be beneficial for North and South Korea. Contrary to his stance that reunification will have socio-cultural value, many South Koreans do not perceive to have a cultural connection to North Koreans and this separation will increase as time progresses. In addition, Seng assumes that toppling of the authoritarian regime in North Korea will be beneficial for both parties when the fall of the regime may induce chaos from the lack of control. Lastly, Seng’s view that modernization of North Korea will have a democratizing force is too optimistic. This claim makes several assumptions that appear hard to be fulfilled. First, the North Korean regime must be willing to spread technological advancements to its people; second, the people must want to use the technological advancements; and third, the technological diffusion and the ensuing democratization must induce enough change to make the North Korean regime lose its current absolute power.

Hence, because Seng provides a simple solution to a complex problem, his answer overlooks numerous facets that currently hinder the reunification of the Korean peninsula. While it may be important to be optimistic regarding such unforeseeable events, I believe it is also just as important to recognize that such multi-faceted problems do not present straightforward answers.

The Markey for Bribes: Does a High ‘Return on Bribery’ Help Countries Attract FDI

Reviewed by Hari Patel

Many studies have found a significant negative correlation between the levels of bribery in a country and inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) that it attracts. However, in his paper “The Markey for Bribes: Does a High ‘Return on Bribery’ Help Countries Attract FDI,” Mohammad Zuhad Hai offers a more nuanced and detailed analysis of the relationship between corruption and foreign direct investment. More specifically, Hai analyzes the relationship between a measure of net benefit gained by bribing firms which he calls the return on bribery (ROB) and the observed levels of FDI.

Hai restricts his analysis to U.S. firms that operate overseas, using data directly from cases against US firms accused of violating the the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by the United States Department of Justice. Using only those cases where specific figures were given for the amount of bribe and the profits gained from bribery, Hai arrives at 49 unique data points for his analysis. Hai creates multiple methods for determining his ROB coefficients, which take into account a variety of factors including government revenue as a percent of GDP, press freedom, and the time it takes for bribes to create policy changes.

Taking into account the numerous other factors that can affect the correlation of ROB and FDI, Hai concludes that the negative relationship between corruption and foreign direct investment is significantly weakened when a country offers higher returns on bribery. Thus, he implies that companies likely perform careful and pragmatic cost benefit analysis when considering the bribery of foreign officials.

This work offers wide ranging implications, not just for prosecutors working to tackle breaches in bribery laws, but also for countries hoping to tackle corruption while maintaining inflow of foreign direct investments. Tackling bribery in the face of powerful, self interested institutions will involve drastically increasing the risks and consequences of engaging in practices which run in contrast to public values.