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30 years with common but differentiated responsibility, why do we need it ever more today?

4. Mai 2022 - 14:00


The principle of “common but differentiated responsibility” (CBDR), formalized at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, is ultimately pertaining to the matter of climate justice. Its basic meaning is first and foremost a “shared” moral responsibility between different groups of countries to address global climate change, nevertheless the proportions of such responsibility are differentiated. CBDR’s underlying concepts of fairness and equity has also been manifested in other global governance architectures than just the climate. The World Trade Organization, for example, knows the principle of “special and differential treatment” for developing and least-developed countries. The CBDR principle has gone through “ups and downs” in the past 30 years and the world has further evolved. While it is entering the fourth decade, it still remains relevant today.

Where CBDR comes from

The establishment of CBDR was the result of compromise between developed and developing countries during the international climate negotiations in the early 1990s. The fundamental question regarding the application of CBDR has always been how to distinguish between different parties, particularly for the sake of the right of carbon emission and the right for sustainable development. For long time, the application of CBDR in global climate governance system has been struggling to overcome the dichotomy of Annex I and Non-Annex I countries (Parties to the UNFCCC not listed in Annex I of the convention are mostly low-income developing countries) in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol. There has been a transitioning towards the relatively more flexible dichotomy in terms of “developed countries” vs “developing countries” in the later Bali Action Plan, Copenhagen Accord, Cancun Agreement, and to some extent Paris Agreement. This perhaps relaxed the rigid dichotomy of naming the countries in the Annex I and Non-Annex I list while implicitly acknowledging the dynamics that some developing countries would further evolve into the developed group. Yet, the fundamental rational of dichotomy remains arguably unchanged, with regards to the levels of duties and rights.

What did manifest change and innovation in recent climate governance architecture is the means to put CBDR into application. While the previous agreements, in particular the Kyoto Protocol, adopted the top-down approach in allocating duties and rights with respect to CBDR according to the differentiation of Annex I and non-Annex I countries, the Paris Agreement opened a bottom-up approach to self-respect and self-report the differentiated responsibilities through the respective National Determined Contributions of all parties. The Paris Agreement still endorsed that “developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention (Article 9)” , yet giving space for other types of cooperation, such as South-South or triangular climate cooperation. This innovation is sometimes perceived as a relaxation of the rigid dichotomous differentiation into a more nuanced and flexible reflection of CBDR.

Over time of 30 years, the core political implication of the CBDR has been clarified and gradually expanded in terms of connotation, however, there are still prominent divergences in the policy domain regarding the institutionalization of the principle and the mechanisms for its application, both at the international and domestic levels. This is arguably due to the inherent ambiguity of the concept, however, plausibly also a result of the concern over fast-growing carbon emissions from developing countries. As the carbon emission from emerging economies became significant, developed countries tended to dismiss the original dichotomy and advocated the differentiation of responsibilities between major emerging economies and other developing countries. International climate negotiations have also shown a weakened emphasis on “historical responsibility”. This is primarily due to developed countries expanded the discourse towards the “future responsibility” that has been put onto major emerging economies. This narrative is mainly in the sense that “the significantly increasing emission of major economies today would retrospectively be their historical responsibilities in the future”.

Moving from developed-developing to something different?

Emerging economies have been observed as the new cluster in the CBDR debate, among which China is particularly under the spotlight. Today, with China holding the crown of the second largest economy and the biggest emitter of CO2, more dimensions of “responsibilities” are considered: how China can be more proactive in assuming its growing responsibilities in the global response to climate change (“responsibility of reality”), how China could use its economic might to support the large number of small and medium-sized developing countries with weak coping capacities (“responsibility of a major power in South-South cooperation”), and how China could demonstrate its role of a responsible major country with climate leadership (“responsibility of leadership”). These extended dimensions of responsibility in the CBDR debate, may arguably push China to take more ambitious measures for containing global warming. They can, however, hardly be claimed as free from political calculation to shift the contradictions from the dichotomy of “developed vs developing” countries to a more complicated situation where the CBDR manifests a dynamic evolution of the proportions of responsibility from all parties. In response, China opts for adhering to the original dichotomy while examining such narratives with suspicion and alert. Yet, for China, these questions indeed deserve deliberation as the time of graduating from developing camp and becoming the biggest economy in the world is by no means too far in the future. In general, while upholding the solidarity of the global South to express the “differentiated responsibility”, emerging economies also need to address the issue of the dynamic international expectation towards their increasing responsibility in global climate governance.

Why we see CBDR as still relevant today

While disputed, the CBDR is still relevant in global climate governance today for several reasons.

First, the combination of CBDR and National Determined Contributions creates a period of adaptation and inclusive participation for emerging economies and developing countries to gradually assume greater responsibility. The joint application of these two principles, especially embodied in the Paris Agreement, has eased the contradiction between developed and developing countries in the rigid dichotomous model. Under this circumstance, while developed economies assume their respective responsibilities, emerging economies and other developing countries can set reduction targets in the light of their national circumstances. Governments of emerging economies, arguably exempted from being accused of “succumbing to pressure from developed countries”, can now voluntarily interpret the principle to showcase the idea that developing countries are morally and consciously equal to developed countries to set self-defined climate ambitions and take strong actions to contain greenhouse gas emissions.

Second, the economic consequences of the COVID-19 and the Russian-Ukrainian war to developing countries are underlining the leading role of high-income countries. The global economy is now facing distress from both challenges. Albeit most countries suffer economic losses, developing countries, including emerging economies, bear the greater brunt. They have to deal with greater pressure of maintaining economic growth, food and energy supply, and humanitarian crises. Against this backdrop, countries are actually becoming increasingly unequal in terms of structural economic power, hence it is hard to expect developing countries to spend more financial resources on adaptation and mitigation of climate change. It is, therefore, even more urgent to stress the responsibilities of more developed countries to honor their commitments and provide more money to support lower income countries where the human development levels are stalling or sliding.

Third, the CBDR is practically useful for the United States (US) and China, who are the two largest emitters. The US and China, to certain extent as defined by the Biden administration, are now experiencing “intense competition”. Although the two actors share divergences in numerous aspects, they agree on the significance of tackling climate change. In their joint declaration on enhancing climate action in the 2020s released in November 2021, which surprised the world, the CBDR principle was emphasized. Such principle, acknowledged by both the US and China, constitutes the foundation of their cooperation on climate change. The original contradictory nature as of the dichotomy of countries from the CBDR is significantly softened by both countries. CBDR in this context should be appreciated as the binding force of global climate ambitions.

Perspective beyond state categories

While developing countries have recently reiterated the CBDR in the face of policies perceived as unilateral, such as the carbon border adjustment mechanism, and called for true multilateralism, it is noteworthy that CBDR has also been applied outside of the traditional multilateral process, namely “CBDR beyond the national state” in the transnational climate actions. Analysis has shown that transnational climate governance (TCG) initiatives that involve high costs or large benefits to their participants would particularly need a differentiated treatment approach. It is vital to level the playing field for their members by providing differentiated treatment in a pragmatic way. We argue, the value of respecting CBDR would be on one hand encouraging more non-state actors in developing countries to join the TCG initiatives, on the other hand enable non-state actors from developed countries to gain responsible and reputable image for them to access developing countries and carry out joint climate actions.

Der Beitrag 30 years with common but differentiated responsibility, why do we need it ever more today? erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Elusive vaccine solidarity – A long shadow over globalisation

6. April 2022 - 14:00

By Ezequiel Octaviano on Pixabay

If there ever was a litmus test on whether the world would cooperate in solidarity in the midst of the greatest global challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic provided such a test given its transferability across borders and the need for a rapid global response. In this blog post I argue that the onset and response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a watershed event that has significantly – or perhaps irreversibly – ushered the world where cooperation will be more challenging than ever before.

The pandemic was different from other slow onset challenges such as climate change. For two years or so, the entire world battled with the pandemic, which has been dubbed a once in a century event. While the initial reaction to the pandemic was marked by the introduction of lockdowns and travel restrictions and export restrictions on medical goods to limit the spread of the virus, the subsequent opportunity was the development and sharing of a vaccine. Indeed, the world succeeded on the former, as several vaccines were developed in record time. Yet, the world failed miserably on the sharing of vaccines. Instead of expressing solidarity by sharing, vaccine nationalism instead prevailed as countries that had developed the vaccines hoarded them even when they had surplus doses. In a broader sense, the global response to the pandemic cast a dark cloud on efficiency and solidarity as the primary cooperation mechanisms of globalisation.

While the pandemic’s challenge to cooperation might in the short-term be eclipsed by the war in Ukraine, it is relevant for its broader repercussions. If the world could not cooperate on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic by sharing vaccines, then how could we expect to cooperate on other more complex issues? Not even the connective tissue of globalisation, either through empathy or the intense web of trade interconnectivity could alleviate the devastating impacts of the pandemic.

What are the prospects of globalisation as a mode of cooperation, and the role of global institutions – especially the G20 – in responding to global challenges? Let’s focus on the implications on Africa, a region characterised by a high degree of vulnerability and limited capability.

The illusion of efficiency and solidarity

At its core, globalisation has been characterised by the logic of efficiency and solidarity. Economic globalisation has been undertaken with unprecedented momentum, especially in the past three decades. Even though the multilateral trade cooperation has stalled for the last two decades, hundreds of free trade and investment agreements have been concluded during that time. Goods flowed from and to all corners of the world, as capital also moved in real time across what seemed to be porous, if not non-existent, national borders. Efficiency was the name of the game.

In the cultural and social context, ideas could travel in real-time. Transmission of ideas was not only in the form of films and music, but also through the proliferating social media networks. Sentiments could therefore travel from one corner of the planet and spread rapidly, capturing the public imagination. In many ways, the world – at least the virtual one – seemed to coalesce around these platforms, thus strengthening solidarity.

Failing the litmus test

One would assume that when the pandemic struck, the world would leverage efficiency and solidarity to address the challenge. But the complete opposite happened. Especially during the initial stages of the pandemic, actions created impressions of lack of global solidarity that are now hard to overcome: Instead of using the well-developed supply chain networks to share equipment such as personal protective equipment (PPE), countries scrambled to ban the export of the equipment. Self-sufficiency in PPE and other relevant supplies became an important policy.

When the COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time, the countries that developed them first tended to their own citizens. Of course, one would expect governments to prioritise serving their citizens first, before extending assistance to others. Moreover, Research and Development (R&D) and production capacities are too centralised, which impeded the distribution of vaccines. But even when most of the citizens in these countries had been vaccinated, the much-anticipated assistance especially to low income countries was not forthcoming. Global efforts to promote the supply of the vaccines, especially under the auspices of the G20, indicated the necessity of ensuring that almost every country received sufficient vaccines. After all, it was widely noted that no one is safe until we are all safe. For that reason, the COVAX initiative, co-led by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, alongside key delivery partner UNICEF, in principle marked a major milestone in international cooperation. COVAX was premised on the notion of vaccine equity, which relied on solidarity. But it did not live up to the promise: vaccine equity was supplanted by vaccine nationalism (with some commentators terming it as vaccine apartheid). Consider that on average G20 members have received fifteen (15) times more vaccine doses per capita than sub-Saharan Africa. Not even the various cooperative mechanisms between the G20 and Africa could alleviate the situation. At the World Trade Organization (WTO), battles to protect intellectual property rights overshadowed efforts to ensure speedy and wide access to the vaccines. In the end, solidarity was replaced by apathy. A quick consultation of global COVID vaccination rates would underscore the conclusion. Even the most optimistic observer or commentator of international cooperation would struggle to defend the record of the global response to the vaccine.

From efficiency and solidarity to capability

Going by this record of tackling humanity’s challenges in a pandemic, the future of globalisation will be challenging at best, and bleak at worst. Should we assume that the future of global cooperation will be defined not by efficiency and solidarity, but the ability to compete?

Concluding that the anticipated support from partners, especially through the G20 and related institutions, wasn’t sufficient, African countries have turned their focus towards strengthening their institutional capacity to respond to future pandemics. A first step has been the elevation of the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) to a fully-fledged public health agency, following a directive by heads of state during the African Union’s annual summit in 2022. In tandem, several African countries including South Africa, Nigeria, Rwanda and Kenya, are strengthening their vaccine manufacturing capacity, for instance the partnership with BionTech to set up vaccine manufacturing hubs in these countries.

To be clear, we should not conclude that cooperation will be impossible. Rather, we need creative policy making and diplomacy that reflects the political realities of the post-COVID world. The just concluded EU-Africa summit points in this direction. Living up the promise, however, would require shifting the focus of Europe-Africa relations from a tokenistic approach based on ad hoc appeals to supporting African countries to strengthen their endogenous capability to respond to global challenges.

Der Beitrag Elusive vaccine solidarity – A long shadow over globalisation erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

Neuigkeiten aus dem Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21)

30. März 2022 - 16:22

©Centre for Global Cooperation Research

Postdoctoral Research Fellowships 2022–2023: Open Call for Applications

The Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) invites applications for Research Fellowships with duration of 12 months starting no later than February 2023. We are particularly interested in proposals regarding (1) legitimation and delegitimation in global cooperation and (2) global cooperation and diverse conceptions of world order (see more below). The fully funded fellowships are available to postdoctoral researchers. We especially encourage researchers from the ‘Global South’ to apply. Deadline for applications is June 1st, 2022.

Call for applications

Letzte Veranstaltungen:


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Der Beitrag Neuigkeiten aus dem Käte Hamburger Kolleg / Centre for Global Cooperation Research (KHK/GCR21) erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

The war in Ukraine: financial, political and credibility challenges for EU-Africa cooperation on peace and security

23. März 2022 - 14:00


On 24 February, Russia invaded Ukraine. The invasion prompted a strong reaction from the EU in a manner and speed that few had anticipated. Just a week prior, the EU summit with the African Union convened 40 African heads of state and government and 27 of their European colleagues. As the global setting for EU security policy has dramatically changed within a few weeks, the war in Ukraine will also have important implications for EU-Africa cooperation on peace and security.

Former Finnish prime minister Alexander Stubb remarked on social media that he had “never seen the EU acting with more determination, speed and unity.” In a similar fashion, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Borrell called the EU’s response to the war the ‘geopolitical awakening of the EU’, while Commission President von der Leyen described it as a ‘watershed moment’ in the history of the Union.

Within the span of twenty days, we have indeed witnessed EU unity and action, covering the full range from expressions of solidarity to strong sanctions. The actions taken also involved leaving behind old taboos: the Union decided to use the European Peace Facility (EPF) to procure and distribute lethal military equipment to Ukraine. This is the first time ever the EU provides weapons to another country, with a first €500 million agreed on 28 February and EU foreign ministers reaching political agreement to an additional EPF contribution of the same size during their meeting on 21 March.

Ramifications beyond Ukraine

Significant questions remain both on if and how the AU and EU may jointly respond to the conflict, and how their cooperation on peace and security will be affected – both intentionally and unintentionally – by the war in Ukraine.

Supporting peace and security in Africa has been a key priority of the EU’s foreign and security policy since the first Africa-EU summit in 2000. The EU has currently deployed eleven military operations and civilian missions under the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) to African conflict contexts. These include two maritime operations at the Horn of Africa and the Mediterranean, four military training missions deployed in Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, and Mozambique, and five civilian missions in Libya, Central African Republic, Somalia, Mali and Niger. Recent months have shown some tensions between the EU’s engagement and the involvement of Russian private military corporation Wagner as requested by some of these states.

European funding for African security efforts

In addition to its own military and civilian missions, the EU has made important and predominantly financial contributions to the long-term strengthening of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA). Under the motto „African solutions to African problems,“ the EU has since 2004 provided nearly €3 billion under the African Peace Facility (APF) for AU-mandated African peace support operations, capacity building of APSA structures, and short-term crisis prevention and peace mediation. A substantial portion of the APF funds were dedicated to the African Union peacekeeping mission AMISOM in Somalia.

On 21 March 2021, around a year ago, EU foreign ministers agreed to create a European Peace Facility that replaced the APF. This was part of a larger reform in the EU’s legal basis for the financing of its external action, specifically the integration of the European Development Fund through which the APF was funded into the EU’s general budget. By remaining outside the EU’s budget as an intergovernmental fund, the EPF can finance assistance measures to support the military aspects of peace support operations led by a regional or international organisation. In addition, the EPF can also fund the provision of lethal military equipment to partner countries’ armed forces, which was not possible through the APF. To pursue these objectives, the EPF was equipped with a financial ceiling of €5.692 billion in current prices (€5 billion in 2018 prices) for the period 2021-2027, with an annual ceiling that increases from €420 million in 2021 to €1.132 billion in 2027. While the EPF will also provide financial support to peace operations in Africa in the same way the APF has, it does not require an AU mandate to do so. Moreover, the ‘demand-driven’ nature of the EPF means that no funds are earmarked or otherwise reserved for countries or regions, including Africa.

An ambitious agenda for EU-Africa cooperation

In view of this track record, the February summit in Brussels provided the first occasion for a political ‚continent-to-continent‘ dialogue on peace and security since the previous Abidjan Summit of December 2017. The resulting outcome document did not include very specific statements on next steps, but confirmed key thematic areas for future cooperation. These commitments include the strengthening of cooperation in the area of military capacity building and the provision of training and equipment, the continued support of African-led peace support operations and a stronger integration with EU military and civilian missions as well as enhanced cooperation on cybersecurity. The text also includes a general commitment to intensify cooperation in the field of civilian crisis prevention, but overall there is clear focus on intensifying military-related domains of cooperation.

The invasion of Ukraine: three implications for EU-Africa relations

The war in Ukraine already challenges the realisation of the peace and security agenda agreed at the AU-EU summit, with the EU facing its financial implications for the EPF, the political implications for the EU member states, and the credibility related to the design and added value of the EPF.

Financial implications. With an annual ceiling of €540 million for 2022, the two assistance measures for Ukraine adopted on 28 February worth €500 million already account for 90 percent of the planned budget for 2022. On 21 March, foreign affairs ministers reached a political agreement on an additional €500 million to be mobilised under the EPF, which will necessitate re-negotiations of the EPF annual ceilings. But it will also require member states to have a more strategic discussion about how the assistance to Ukraine affects (planned) EPF engagements in other countries and regions. An open dialogue with the African Union about what the war in Ukraine and the EPF expenses means for the implementation of the priorities agreed at the AU-EU summit is warranted, as well as for the planned and continued EU financial contributions to African peace operations through the EPF.

Political implications. The immediate focus of European foreign and security policy will be on Eastern Europe. The measures adopted at the EU level to provide military and economic support to Ukraine, the strengthening of NATO’s military presence in the Baltic and Eastern European states, and the bilateral support provided to Ukraine by many European states demonstrate this shift of priorities. It may also lead EU member states to put a stronger focus on tasks of territorial and collective defence, which may decrease their willingness to contribute troops to peacekeeping missions abroad. The EU’s engagement in the Sahel could be seriously affected, as the Ukraine war may make EU-wide debates about how to compensate for the French military withdrawal from Mali even more complex. Again, this may lead to a (partial) winding down of the EU’s military presence in Africa, the implications of which are hard to predict at this point. At least it is clear that the EU will need to seriously engage with its African partners to ensure that any decisions on withdrawals or adjustments are well coordinated with them.

Credibility challenges. The use of the European Peace Facility in Ukraine to provide lethal equipment to a country facing a full-scale military invasion by another country along the EU’s external borders is a dramatically new situation. Assistance measures were primarily intended to support military capacity building and train and equip efforts of the EU in partner countries that face armed conflict within their territory and that need long-term support in strengthening their security forces.

Given the urgency of the situation in Ukraine, it is hard to imagine that the EU could follow its integrated methodological framework for EPF assistance measures. As per this framework, the EU would be required to conduct rigorous conflict risk analyses and impact assessments for the first-ever provision of lethal equipment to a third country. Their relevance notwithstanding, the EU officials who negotiated the legal basis of the EPF may not have anticipated the use of the instrument in an ongoing war where monitoring and evaluating the measures would however be close to impossible. The current situation in Ukraine indeed makes it impossible for the EU to send in personnel to monitor how the equipment was used and if compliance rules have been followed. In view of the exceptional nature of the situation under which the assistance measures for Ukraine were adopted, the EU should ensure that the decisions made are well-communicated, well-understood and accepted by its African partners.

The need for dialogue

Communicating the exceptional nature of this war along the EU’s borders – and the pressure it puts on its new European Peace Facility – should be the starting point of the AU-EU dialogue on peace and security, as opposed to an impediment to it. Many African states chose not to support the recent UN General Assembly resolution on Ukraine, which shows that this dialogue will not always be easy. Yet, it is also a crucial case where both continents are challenged to show that their commitment to international cooperation goes beyond the words expressed in their summit document. To this end, the EU needs to engage in serious and open dialogue with African partners on the possible implications of the Ukraine war for EU-Africa cooperation and to identify possible areas for cooperation and a joint response.

Der Beitrag The war in Ukraine: financial, political and credibility challenges for EU-Africa cooperation on peace and security erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

What future for cooperation in the Arctic? Scenarios after Putin’s war on Ukraine

16. März 2022 - 14:00

BY_NTNU Vitenskapsmuseet – Moser på Nordøst-Grønland, CC BY 2.0,

The war in Ukraine gives reason to fear the worst: Will the Arctic turn again into a region of confrontation, remain a region of cooperation or become a region “on hold”? Three scenarios for future collaboration in the Arctic and their implications for global cooperation on climate change

Since the very first day, people around the globe are in shock about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The misery and human tragedy unfolding in this country has also severe effects on transnational and international cooperation at large – also in “the far North”. The voting behaviour in the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on a resolution condemning the Russian Federation’s attack on Ukraine seven days after it had started “showed great solidarity with Ukraine and support for the fundamental principles of the UN Charter”. Seven of the eight Arctic states voted in favour of the UNGA resolution and contributed to Russia’s isolation in international relations by also deciding to temporarily pause “participation in all meetings of the [Arctic] Council and its subsidiary bodies”. Russia is currently chairing the Arctic Council (until May 2023). The Arctic Council is the main intergovernmental forum promoting cooperation in the Arctic. It was formed in 1996 as a high-level forum by the Arctic states to ensure peace, environmental protection and sustainable development in the region. Together with six organizations representing Arctic Indigenous Peoples and experts from 38 Observers (non-Arctic states including Germany and Poland, intergovernmental and interparliamentary organizations and non-governmental organizations) the Arctic Council produced regularly comprehensive assessments on the Arctic and provides a forum for the negotiation of binding agreements between the Arctic states.

The decision of the “Arctic-7” puts cooperation in the Arctic “on hold” for the very first time since the end of the Cold War – at a time when particularly in the Arctic, where climate change is most visible, cooperation is desperately needed to facilitate research and policy making for limiting its effects in and beyond the Arctic. Also the Barents Euro-Arctic Council condemned Russia’s “unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine” and “suspend[ed] activities involving Russia in the Barents Euro-Arctic cooperation”. While the popular saying “what happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic” has mostly been used to emphasize the need of holistic, integrated approaches to fight climate change, in these times it seems very likely that future collaboration in the Arctic – its scope and possible formats – will also be exemplary for global cooperation on climate change, likely also in other areas.

How will the war in Ukraine affect Arctic politics and research on and in the Arctic? There are many uncertainties at this point in time, given the dynamics, but at least three scenarios seem likely to realize.

Scenario 1: The Arctic will be a region of confrontation (again)

During the Cold War, the Arctic was widely perceived as “an arena of great power competition”. Before Putin’s invasion in Ukraine, concerns from that time revived in light of Russia’s military presence in the Arctic and its build-up, which are now seen as “amplif[ying] the potential for a conflict between Russia and NATO-allied states to spill over into the region”. The successful cooperation among the members of the Arctic Council and its institutional expansion seemed to balance this perception to some degree. Last year, the Arctic Council celebrated its 25th anniversary and the Council was described once more as an exceptional venue for peace and collaboration. At the same time, hard security has always been excluded from the mandate of the Arctic Council. As the statement of the “Arctic-7” shows, Putin’s war in Ukraine changes this. As a response to this statement, the Russian chair of the Senior Arctic Officials (high-level diplomats working underneath the ministries) warned that the decision of the “Arctic-7” to pause collaboration in the Arctic Council will “inevitably lead to the accumulation of the risks and challenges to soft security in the region”. Further, with Moscow’s warnings expressed on Finland and Sweden possibly joining NATO trust in peaceful relations between the Arctic states has been significantly damaged, which is why hard security questions will most likely dominate any potential collaboration with Russia, like the more intense “development of a security co-operative regime between the Americans and northern Europeans”. Against this background, it is difficult to imagine any pan-arctic cooperation in non-military issues under the auspices of the Arctic states, including research or cooperation for sustainable development in the near future.

Scenario 2: The Arctic remains (partly) a region of cooperation – the Arctic Council will be replaced by an “Arctic Council 2.0”

In this case, environmental concerns like climate change, which have been treated as matters of soft security, remain dominant. In view of climate change, the newest IPCC-report stresses that it is still possible to avoid the worst, it requires, however, urgent action. Given the Arctic’s exceptional vulnerability to climate change and the cutting edge reports that have been co-produced by a wide range of experts from Arctic states, Indigenous Peoples Organizations and from Arctic Council observers, it is most likely that cooperation will continue to better understand the role of the Arctic in the global climate system. For that reason, it has been suggested to form an Arctic Council 2.0 or “Nordic Plus cooperation” allowing continued informal cooperation by the Arctic Council working groups – without Russia. Russia is the largest state in the Arctic, it accounts for almost a third of the Arctic that is inhabited by over 2.5 million people. Any potential output in this scenario would lack the perspectives of researchers based in Russia, including the traditional knowledge shared by Indigenous experts from Russia’s Arctic. This has also negative effects on knowledge production on climate change, which requires cooperation among scientists irrespective of their nationalities, the sharing of resources and expertise to reach the best knowledge available, as well as permits to conduct research in all Arctic regions. Although this scenario is not a desirable solution, it still offers some important opportunities for cooperation for the Arctic region, where political boundaries have never been a barrier to changes in the natural environment.

Scenario 3: Circumpolar scientific cooperation will be “on hold”

Also in transnational Arctic forums that are not driven by states, research collaboration with experts from Russia will be limited for the time being. Various research organizations already decided to no longer fund scientific cooperation with state institutions and business enterprises in Russia. Despite the open letter from Russian scientists to protest against the Putin’s hostilities in Ukraine, which has been supported by thousands, other statements, such as the one released by the International Arctic Sciences Committee (IASC) and by the Arctic Economic Council illustrate that researchers and experts in Russia follow different narratives. Even though these forums did not officially stop scientific collaboration yet, in practice, it will be impossible to continue “research as usual”. Panels proposed at international conferences, like the UArctic Congress 2022 to be held in Moscow have already been cancelled. At this point, it is also not clear if and how the Russian government will sanction researchers from Russia who collaborate with researchers elsewhere. The suspension of scientific cooperation means the end for many ongoing projects and it requires rethinking future projects. Like the previous two scenarios, this is also a kind of shock for the international Arctic research community.

All three scenarios are disruptive and triggered by Russia’s aggression and the drastic loss of trust in cooperation. None of them is desirable. At this point in time, it seems likely that the “Arctic-7” will agree on “one or another form of interim arrangement” to continue collaboration with Indigenous Peoples Organizations and experts from Arctic and non-Arctic states. In a longer-term perspective, it will be important to develop avenues for including knowledge on and research from Russia’s Arctic again to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change also elsewhere.

This text was produced by the team members collaborating within the research project “Sustainable Urban Development in the European Arctic (SUDEA): Towards Enhanced Transnational Cooperation in Remote Regions” (project no. 426674468), which is being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and by the National Science Centre (NCN) in Poland (Agreement UMO – 2018/31/G/HS5/02448).

Der Beitrag What future for cooperation in the Arctic? Scenarios after Putin’s war on Ukraine erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

UN General Assembly voting on Ukraine – What does it tell us about African states’ relations with external partners?

4. März 2022 - 14:02

Picture by Chickenonline on Pixabay

On 2 March 2022, the UN General Assembly voted in a special emergency session on a resolution condemning the Russian attack on Ukraine. The General Assembly dealt with the issue on the basis of a referral from the Security Council, which was paralysed by a Russian veto. The resolution calls for an immediate ceasefire and clearly names Russia as the aggressor.

Voting behaviour in the UN General Assembly should not be over-interpreted, assuming that votes are transferable to other bodies and situations. Nevertheless, this vote in New York can be seen as a key moment that shows which states are currently ready to condemn the violation of the UN Charta by Russian aggression.

The General Assembly condemned Russia with a clear majority (141 out of 181 voting states);the two-thirds majority required for adoption was comfortably exceeded. Ninety-six states alone joined the resolution as so-called co-sponsors. Russia’s opposition to the resolution was shared only by Belarus, North Korea, Eritrea and Syria. However, 35 states abstained and a further 12 states did not cast their vote. Around a quarter of the community of states did not want to explicitly condemn Russian aggression, including China, South Africa, India, Pakistan and Ethiopia. As expected, China and India both abstained, as they previously did in the Security Council. Noteworthy was the lack of support from Russia’s hitherto close allies such as Serbia, Cuba, and Nicaragua, but also from states in its immediate neighbourhood like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Some of these did not cast their vote, which is more ambiguous than abstention, but nevertheless contributed to Russia’s isolation.

The voting behaviour of African states, however, was very diverse and illustrates the lack of a concerted African Union (AU) response to the Russian invasion. By either abstaining or not taking part in the vote, 26 African states chose not to take an explicit stand against Russia. Why was this the case, and what could it mean for Africa’s position towards its external partners?

Different voting behaviour of Africa states

With 28 votes in favour, the support by African states on the multilateral stage is clear. Seven African states were sponsors of the resolution and thus visibly condemned the Russian attack in advance of the vote. So did the African members of the Security Council Kenya, Gabon and Ghana with widely noticed statements. Only slightly smaller, on the other hand, is the group of states that did not want to support the resolution, which included South Africa and Algeria as political and economic heavyweights.

South Africa backed away from its original clear condemnation by Department for International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and abstained. Algeria, Angola and Eritrea are the only African states to belong to the UN Group of Friends in defence of the UN Charter, established in 2021 in reaction to the re-engagement of the Biden administration at the UN with China and Russia as prominent members. All members of this group of friends abstained, did not vote or voted against the resolution, with the exception of Cambodia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

How can this voting behaviour of African states be explained?

Many African states seek to diversify and consolidate their international cooperation relationships; the West cannot claim exclusivity.  The group of states’ choice not to support the resolution contrasts with Kenya’s forceful message on the invasion during last week’s UN Security Council meeting, which some hoped would prompt other African states to take a similarly principled stance.

We do not have a comprehensive account of the cooperative relations of African states and Russia; Russia does not report its financial resources for international cooperation and is not the subject of international research investigations to the same extent as China. Yet generally, Russia’s interests in African states are considerable, as also underlined in earlier plans to convene the next Russia-Africa summit in the second half of this year.

During the Cold War, the USSR nurtured close linkages to African liberation movements, including the South African ANC, Angola’s governing party, and others. Russia is often seen as the (sole) heir of the USSR and regarded through that prism. For more current reasons, reports cite a variety of economic and military ties between Russia and African states and mercenary activities, for example in the Central African Republic, Libya, Sudan, Mozambique, and Mali. Some observers call Russia a “partner of last resort” for African embattled “strongmen”.

Furthermore, Algeria and Egypt, and more recently Nigeria, Tanzania and Cameroon, are major importers of Russian arms (as is India). Voting behaviour in the UN could be part of cooperation agreements, as Russia has been able to count on African allies to support it on key votes in the past. There seems to be a correlation between arms imports and voting behaviour also in this vote at the General Assembly: On the basis of SIPIR data, Eric Voeten preliminarily showed that with three exceptions (Rwanda, Nigeria and Egypt), the countries that have imported at least 20% of their arms from Russia in the last five years did not vote in favour of the resolution.

It is interesting to note the statements made by African regional organisations, with those whose mandates allow have distanced themselves from Russia to varying degrees. These statements tended not to take sides, but called on all parties to cease hostilities and seek a peaceful solution. The African Union (AU) issued a statement co-signed by the current AU Chair and the Chair of the AU Commission, explicitly not reflecting the organisation’s position. This contrasts with the AU’s subsequent statement regarding the reported poor treatment of African citizens at Ukraine’s borders with Europe, which the entire AU has supported and which should also be read in the context of the AU-EU Summit just over a fortnight ago.

Augurs for future co-operations?

Interests, perceptions – often based on historical experiences – and positionality matter greatly in international relations. These observations on voting behaviour are a snapshot, a first international „sentiment test“ in New York. Overall, they showed great solidarity with Ukraine and support for the fundamental principles of the UN Charter. Yet, we are at an early stage of the conflict, whose further development is naturally unclear. The economic impact (including of sanctions) will sooner or later be felt by all: imports of grain from Russia and Ukraine seem particularly relevant for African states, and trade in fertiliser is also an important factor that will affect national and global food security.

Likewise, reservations among states of the Global South about double standards of the West, a longstanding bone of contestation, may negatively influence their further support: The political and financial response to a European crisis compared to past and present crises on the African continent or elsewhere will be closely registered. The German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, when she spoke before the General Assembly, signalled her willingness ”to critically question our own actions, our past engagements in the world” as a response to the articulated weariness by her colleagues from abroad when called to show solidarity with Europe.  Europe is well advised to sincerely engage with African countries and societies beyond the recent summit and seek a continuous dialogue on global peace and security, but also climate change and other pressing challenges.

Der Beitrag UN General Assembly voting on Ukraine – What does it tell us about African states’ relations with external partners? erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.

The AU-EU Summit: resetting the continent-to-continent partnership

24. Februar 2022 - 10:00

© European Union, 2022

Finally, the AU-EU Summit took place in Brussels on 17-18 February, after several postponements and a good four years since the last summit was held in Abidjan. Against the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine crisis and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the summit convened Heads of State of 27 EU Member States and 40 of their African counterparts under the auspices of European Council President Charles Michel and Senegalese President and AU Chair Macky Sall. The summit was intended to bring about a new start of the partnership, originally coined by the EU as a “new alliance”, with the partners finally settling on a “renewed partnership”. The changed global context has meant that this new start took a fundamentally different shape than the “comprehensive strategy with Africa”, which the European Council and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, both identified as political priorities during the pre-pandemic time of 2019.

Most experts were skeptical about such announcements and expressed their low expectation for this year’s summit. In view of these forecasts and following the earlier postponements, the mere fact of an AU-EU summit actually taking place was considered a success in its own right.

The partnership between the two regions must be given shape in practice and lives before and after as opposed to during these high-level meetings. Summits should rather be seen as recurrent signposts, as points of evaluation and opportunities to identify new directions and priorities. However, even in this regard, the current record was sobering at times. Strongly divergent positions between European and African representatives with regard to migration, the discussion on intellectual property rights and COVID-19 vaccines, and the allocation of IMF Special Drawing Rights feature among the current sources of tension between the partners. The continuing security situation in the Sahel, and especially the breakdown in relations between Mali and France, added to this.

In view of this overall mixed situation, the recently concluded summit and its final declaration can certainly be seen in a positive light and at least a mixed assessment can be drawn.

New approaches and concrete deliverables

As the hosting party of the sixth summit between Europe and Africa, the EU made efforts to innovate both the desired outcome and proceedings of the summit. A break from the past wordy outcome statements, the EU had proposed a lean final declaration that would highlight concrete measures and focuses on investments to be made. There was also a move away from exclusively plenary debates to engaging through parallel thematic roundtables to facilitate an intensive exchange between the African and European heads of state in smaller groups.

A key figure emerging from the is the €150 billion „Africa Investment Package“, which Commission President Von der Leyen announced in Senegal on 10 February. This package is intended to mobilise public and private investment for physical and soft infrastructure as part of the currently much-discussed „Global Gateway“ EU investment programme. Already during the closing press conference, observers doubted the promised investments and the associated leverage effects, not least with reference to previous investment packages whose effects and results have not been adequately monitored and evaluated to date. Keeping this promise will be crucial to refute earlier criticisms that previous AU-EU summits have mainly resulted in unfulfilled promises.

In addition to concrete (financial) commitments, the summit also serves to define, adapt and possibly adjust the relations between two historically and economically closely linked partners with intense cultural exchanges. In this context, it is particularly important to consider the demand for an equal partnership and to bring about a common understanding of this equality. Such calls were clearly and repeatedly heard both during the opening statements of the summit and in numerous individual statements.

From fragmentation to strategic focus

Although there seems to be broad agreement on the notion of equal partnership on both sides of the Mediterranean, it remains a distant aim in practice. One reason for this are the various overlapping frameworks and arrangements that the EU and its member states have established for cooperation with Africa, as a result of history, the EU’s own development and the path dependencies created in the process. Europe’s cooperation with sub-Saharan Africa has been shaped under the post-colonial institutional framework with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states, while cooperation with North Africa is mainly carried out on a bilateral basis in the form of separate association agreements.

Moreover, over the years, the EU has introduced trade agreements with individual and groups of African states, as well as strategic partnerships with larger African states such as Nigeria and South Africa, in addition to various regional strategies. Individual EU member states, including Germany, pursue their own bilateral strategies and initiatives in cooperation with Africa. This fragmented institutional framework is one factor that stands in the way of a coherent European policy towards Africa. The recent summit made it clear that there is a will for renewal. However, declarations of intent alone are not enough to calibrate the foundation of European-African relations. This requires three more fundamental changes to established practices.

First, one must be aware of the limitations of a partnership between two regional cooperation projects. Unlike powerful nation states that compete with Europe in cooperating with Africa, the EU is not able to provide new funds and initiatives in a short-term and flexible manner, as it is bound by its own financial rules and the long-term budget set by member states and the European Parliament.

Secondly, the EU should ensure coherence in its numerous engagements in Africa. While calling for an equal partnership, the EU was the main driver between migration and investment-oriented development cooperation initiatives proposed in 2015 and 2016. Although the EU supports Africa’s emerging continental free trade area, it continues to engage in talks with regional groups of states to deepen existing trade agreements. The EU’s erstwhile support for the African Peace Facility has now been transformed into a European Peace Facility that gives African states less direct say.

Third and last, the EU and Africa should try to be as explicit as possible about the areas in which they want to cooperate. Long lists of commitments and insufficiently specified measures are often a guarantee for unnecessary disappointment. A greater focus on systematically monitoring and reviewing progress made would be a step in the right direction. Such continuous monitoring should be transparent so that the next summit may celebrate the benefits of cooperation, as opposed to calling for another “reset” of the partnership.

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Transnational networks as relational governance infrastructure

9. Februar 2022 - 15:33

Photo by Aleksejs Bergmanis on Pixabay

The resource use of our economies currently exceeds the planetary limits. Our way of life requires profound changes to become sustainable. Governing transformation towards sustainability is an orchestration of a multitude of actors and goes beyond top-down state regulations and bottom-up grassroots initiatives. The required transformation touches various types and levels of interactions – from indigenous communities resisting wind energy projects in Oaxaca (Mexico) to youth groups in Copenhagen mobilizing street protests to spark world leaders into action on climate change, from German courts ordering politicians to come up with more ambitious climate protection legislation to European legislation bodies introducing due diligence and sustainable supply chain laws affecting developing countries. The success of transformation towards sustainability depends on how these interactions are facilitated or orchestrated.

Governing transformation needs relational infrastructures that connect people and initiate cooperation for fair and equitable solutions that allow even the short-term losers of transformation to be better off. Cooperation in knowledge networks is one example of these relational infrastructures. How can this type of networks be used to promote sustainable transformation? We argue for three key points: First, they need to acknowledge and align the multiple pathways of aiming for sustainable transformation. Second, social innovation needs to become a basis to change values and behaviour. Thirdly, we recommend to find the leverage points to achieve the most impact with least burdens.

Cooperation in transnational networks is a tool to support sustainable transformation

Knowledge networks provide space for interaction and meaningful dialogue on sustainable transformation, particularly when transcending national borders and disciplinary boundaries. As multi-stakeholder settings, knowledge networks have the potential to enable their members to jointly define the problem and develop creative solutions. In order to fully unleash transformative potential, knowledge networks need to invest in mutual trust and structures that enable easy connection.  . Trustful relations boost the sharing of knowledge, expertise, contacts, , eases dispute resolution, increases learning and therefore supports creativity as well as promote self-organization.

There are multiple pathways of sustainable transformation

There are multiple pathways  towards sustainable transformation, and there are diverse understandings of what constitutes the global common good. Cooperation in transnational networks needs to appreciate the different pathways and provides support in aligning them. There is not one “suitable” way to govern transformation, not least because of different historical experiences or socio-economic contexts of countries. Each pathway is a combination of individual choices, government interventions, historical and current contexts as well as values – the “perfect” in one context might be unsuitable in another. Collaboration in networks can sharpen awareness of positionality, valuing different perspectives and learning about different cultural and historical formed ways of thinking. These are preconditions for mutual learning and finding solutions that benefit all members in society (“Leave no-one behind”). Multi-stakeholder networks such as Managing Global Governance (MGG) with members from both the public and private sector in Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Germany prioritize mutual learning and collaboration and thus regard members as equally important. Jointly defining the challenges at institutional and societal level to find legitimated solutions towards sustainable transformation is key. Networks provide the space and structures to exchange good and bad practices that can be replicated or avoided leading to transformation.

All pathways share social innovation which has the power to change values

Social innovation is crucial because it builds on what is already helping and can change what the society regards as no longer helping. As an example for a social innovation, Bhutan approves any law only if  it improves its “Gross National Happiness.” Although still facing some challenges by its current political transition, Bhutan appraises its legislation through what it perceives as the nine key areas of happiness – psychological well-being, health, education, good governance, ecology, time use, community vitality, culture and living standards. This example shows how norms become a reality by internalisation through daily practice, because people take them as self-evident. There is the need to revisit how values and norms are created, assessed, and distributed. Constantly reflecting and negotiating social norms and rules definition is crucial as our societies often favour unsustainable practices simply because they “were always done this way”, and thus represent a comfort zone as opposed to an alternative that is deemed uncertain.

Creating action at the right leverage points to increase impact

Transformation needs leverage points to unfold its full and sustainable impact. Transnational networks can use several leverage points to target their actions towards the common good. Leverage points refer to mechanisms or strategies that can help achieve the best possible impact with the least invasive actions. . . Dependence on oil imports, for instance, pose barriers to shift from one pathway to another. They are thus “carbon lock-ins” and will need time and additional resources to be dismantled. One important prerequisite of finding leverage points is to see the bigger picture, which is one potential strength of transnational and transdisciplinary networks. In addition, top-down approaches need to mobilize more material and immaterial incentives for more actors, especially for those who have so far resisted change. The best reward that can be given to initiators of voluntary community projects, for instance, is the “feeling” that these projects are actually inspiring changes. This feeling of being valued, however, also largely depends on the public sector remunerating these projects.

Stop, Listen, Change and Move Forward

How is governing transformation towards sustainability possible in its complexity? It is about connecting people, aiming at empowering partners within this process. Networks are able to provide space and resources for exchanges and other types of interactions. With these networks, we constantly negotiate or reconfirm our values, and through social innovation society alters what is regarded as valuable and what not. We often prioritize unsustainable practices merely out of habit, thus revising values is more important than ever. We need the ability to stop, listen, change and move forward.

This blog article was inspired by the discussions during the Panel “The (Im)possibility of Governing Transformation to Sustainability – Between Politics and Self-Governance” organized by PD Dr. Dr. Ariel Hernandez (German Development Insitute) at the 5th International Converence on Public Policy (ICPP5). We kindly want to thank all contributers: Prof. Dr. Jens Newig (Leuphana University Dr. Nicolas Jager (University of Oldenburg), Prof. Dr. Annette Elisabeth Töller (FernUniversität Hagen), Dr. Katharina Schleicher (German Advisory Council on the Environment), Dr. Tobias Schulz and Tamaki Ohmura (Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape), Dr. Koen Bartels (Institute of Local Government Studies, University of Birmingham) and Dr. Johanna Vogel (German Development Institute).

Der Beitrag Transnational networks as relational governance infrastructure erschien zuerst auf International Development Blog.