The international community

The international community. You have heard it a thousand times. It appears in newspapers and slips off the tongue of TV newsreaders. Its a reoccurent phrase in political discourse. “The international society thinks this … believes that … Is concerned about … Speaks out against… ”

In this board focus we explore the international community. Who is it? Who is part of it? Who isn’t? What “other” international communities exist? How do they differ? How and where do they assert their power? How does it function in our increasing turbulent changing global world? What role can and does it play in peace keeping at a time when conflict which is increasingly complex and intrastate with the majority of conflicts now involving non-state actors such as local tribes, militias, criminal organizations, global security companies, corporates and insurgents. And, perhaps most importantly, how do intenational politics and conflicts play out on the ground, in culture, sport, economics and the everyday?

Stories

 

PAGAD in International Relations – what was PAGAD role in Internation Relations? Does Pagad represent Islam AS a theory of International Relations?
A decade and a half after they emerged with a bang, we revisit the PAGAD story within the context of the growing recognition of Islam AS a theory of International Relations and not simply a subject of study within orthodox International Relations. Does PAGAD and its history, its context within the local and the international support Islam AS a theory of International Relations; inherently political and necessarily international?
Full brief and references here.

What does the AU do?
Since its formation as the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in the 1960s, through its rebirth in 2002, the AU has been clouded in controversy. Massively underfunded, it’s been characterised as lacking in credibility and capability. It is regularly portrayed an “old dictator’s club”, indecisive, divided, lacking the nuanced diplomatic appreciation of power dynamics and corrupt. These simplifications obscure the bigger picture. This story looks at the AU in international relations: illuminating foreign policy, the politics of associations, the power plays and the strategic manoeuvring.
What lies behind the recent power shift in the AU from Ping to Zuma, between Franco- and Anglophone states, Southern and West Africa, large nations and their smaller counter-parts. We go inside the story, the power dynamic, the hidden implications and the future of the AU.

How can there be an Arab Spring in Africa?
The decision of AU to not endorse the military intervention in Libya was largely interpreted as an indication that the AU is out of step with the spirit of freedom sweeping across North Africa and the Arab World or as a sign of military ineptitude and political bankruptcy. We offer a different reading, looking at the AU’s strategic intentions and the politics of associations exploited all parties in the region. Could the AU foster a “different kind of politics” that provides a counter to Western imperial militarism?
See:  See Siba Grovogui, Looking Beyond Spring for the Season: An African Perspective on the World Order after the Arab Revolt and  New Statesman: Why Libya? Why now?

What is Africa’s policy on China? 
Most debates on the China / Africa (see a reading list here) view Africa as passive receiver, or even a victim of Chinese Imperialism. But what is Africa’s policy on China? What decisions are being made in the just-opened $200 million African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa, a “gift” from “the dragon”?  How is the AU shaping the political, economic, military, social and cultural connections between China and the continent?
China-Africa Resources

 

Soft power – German cultural imperialism: Why is Germany suddenly so interested in African Culture?
Over the past few years German cultural diplomatic practices in Africa such as initiatives by the Goethe Institute as well as cultural and educational exchanges have gone into over drive. The Goethe Institut is increasingly playing a more visible roll on the continent. It has doubled its annual budget for the countries south of the Sahara, increasing it by more than five million Euros. At Condition Report, a symposium of independent art spaces organized by Raw Material Company in Lagos, in early 2012, Katharina von Ruckteschell from the Goethe Institut suggested, “Germany had to position itself on a continent where the powers of the West were being ‘usurped’ by the Chinese. It did not want to be excluded from the cultural discourse of things to come.” See A Cultural Encyclopedia by Nana Oforiatta-Ayim
We explore the complex power struggles that play out in the cultural field, the use of “soft” versus “hard” power, and the changing dynamic of cultural diplomacy on the continent.

Think Tanks- Who is really shaping global international policy?

Over the past half-century, think tanks have come to play a central role in policy development — and even in the surrounding political combat. This is no different on the continent where think tanks are booming business. Who do they work for and what roll are they playing in politics on the continent, in shaping international policy and popular opinion? We pop the hatch on “key” think tank/s and go digging in their vaults to explore funding networks, power structures, policies and outcomes of their research.

The Scrabble for Time: the geopolitics of time zones – Who controls time?

Cuban medical internationalism – How is Cuba healing the world? How did Cuba save 4 million people?

 

 

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