Saturday 25 May 2019 | 02:20 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

The Global Issues program examines themes that lie at the intersection of global political trends and Australia’s interests, specifically US foreign policy, global migration & multilateral institutions.

The program has published ground-breaking papers on diasporas, the provision of consular assistance to Australians overseas, and Australia’s asylum-seeker policy.


Latest Publications

London: Was it terrorism?

I'm not surprised to see a debate flaring up over the weekend about whether to call the brutal murder of British Army Drummer Lee Rigby an act of terrorism. See in particular the discussion between Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald, and this and this. There are arguments on both sides. My

Reader riposte: More on pro-US media bias

Sinclaire Prowse, a Lowy Institute intern and post-graduate student with the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, writes: There is definitely an uneven distortion towards the US in Australian international news coverage, but it is interesting to note that this isn't an issue in

Two documentary trailers

Approved for Adoption tells the story of Jung Henin, a Korean boy adopted by Belgian parents who becomes obsessed with Japanese pop culture. The story is told partly in live action and partly animated, and will screen at this year's Melbourne International Film Festival. The second trailer,

Reader riposte: Pro-American news bias

Rob McKay responds to Sam Roggeveen's post about the Australian media's bias towards American stories: While no doubt there is a cultural bias and it is one of the main drivers for the amount of US news Australia gets, a supply aspect is also at play and the two are connected. Also it comes

China and the Arctic: What's the fuss?

For a few hours this evening Australian time, media outlets from around the world will zoom in on Kiruna, Sweden's northernmost city of 18,000 inhabitants and host to the Arctic Council ministerial meeting. The foreign ministers of the eight Arctic Council member states – Canada, Denmark, Finland

Consular Conundrum: The Swiss solution

Dr Daniel Woker is the former Swiss Ambassador to Australia and now a Senior Lecturer at the University of St Gallen. Gar Pardy, formerly with the Canadian MFA, has just added Canadian solutions to the exchange of best national practices on the growing consular affairs problem. The Lowy

10 tips for writing op-eds

The Lowy Institute has launched its first-ever undergraduate op-ed competition (the deadline is 24 May, so plenty of time to enter; you could win a $500 Westfield voucher), so I thought this would be a good time to reflect on what I think makes a good opinion piece, having written several dozen

Reader riposte: The Asian Century in one map

Michael responds to an item in Wednesday's links: I looked at, and liked, the visual representation of the Asian Century, but then thought a bit more, and asked myself two questions: For how long could we have drawn the circle that way? (I imagine the bulk of the world's population has

Say goodbye to your afternoon

Via Kottke, a totally addictive game that makes ingenious use of Google Street View to test your world geography knowledge. Geoguessr places you at a random Google Street View location and asks you to take your best guess of where you are by placing a pin on a world map. After five turns, you'

Modernising the world of consular affairs

Gar Pardy was the Director General of the Consular Affairs Bureau in the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs for more than a decade until he retired in 2003. The Lowy Institute's Alex Oliver is one of only two or three researchers and commentators in the world of foreign policy who broadens

More on art and politics

A footnote to the recent exchange between Rodger Shanahan and myself on whether politicians could do their job better if they made art. Take it away, Hollywood director Steven Soderbergh (who made Contagion, above), speaking at the San Francisco International Film Festival last Saturday:

After the MDGs: What's next for Asia?

Later this month, a high level panel convened by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will deliver its recommendations on what should come after the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It's no ordinary panel. Co-chaired by UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Reader riposte: The politician at play

Steve Weintz comments on our thread about political leaders as recreational painters: The psychological underpinnings of those who attain the 'commanding heights' are always of great interest, and play in all its forms provides a special window into the mind. An anecdote: Churchill also

The politician as painter

Sam Roggeveen's post raises an interesting question as to whether George W Bush would have been more inquisitive (and hence made better decisions) if he had taken up painting before his presidency. The argument being that the painter's need to determine perspective is a good grounding for

More on George W Bush, artist

My piece got a Twitter reaction from Nasya Bahfen, a Senior Lecturer in Journalism at UNSW: Thanks Nasya; extra points for the '90s movie reference. But how about some other artistic depictions of the Bush Administration? Thomas Cole's landscape series, The Course of Empire, perhaps? Or one

Syria and the chemical weapons norm

There's no easier way to demonstrate the appalling standard of online political debate than to cite comment threads: abusive, intolerant, disrespectful, rude, inflammatory etc. That's true, but it's not the whole truth. I give occasional seminars here at the Lowy Institute for groups of public

Shining a light on wartime sexual violence

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. Important issues can sometimes be neglected by the popular media until a celebrity gets involved. So Angelina Jolie's visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, together with British Foreign Secretary William Hague, helped to shine a

Social media to the forefront in Boston

  So unfolded the abhorrent events on the Boston Police Twitter feed today. The feed – with its updates, instructions and attempts to crowd source — went out to the Police Department's 110,000 followers. Through Twitter's network effect, many, many more were able to see the Boston

Deconstructing reconstruction (part II)

Naima Lynch was a researcher for MSNBC and worked in media and communications in Yemen and Afghanistan. She is currently an intern in the Lowy Institute's West Asia Program.   My previous post on The Interpreter unpacked some of the vocabulary used to discuss reconstruction. In that piece I

Filming Thatcherism

The Guardian's film blog has a couple of excellent posts on the impact Thatcher and Thatcherism had on British films. Two films from the late 90s come to my mind as interesting depictions of Thatcherism. Brassed Off (1996) and The Full Monty (1997) both depict life in towns struggling with

In the room with Margaret Thatcher

Sandy Hollway is a former senior public servant and diplomat, and was CEO of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games. From my time working for Prime Minister Bob Hawke as Chief of Staff and as the head of International Division in the Prime Minister's Department, two memories of

Thatcherism: Up North and Down Under

A quick addendum to my earlier post. In that piece, the penultimate para is my best go at an objective (or at least as close as I can manage) assessment of the economic legacy of Thatcherism. It's also a classic economist's two-hander. My own personal opinions on Thatcher's legacy have been

Strong, stubborn, defiant: The Iron Lady indeed

Professor Don Markwell is Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre, and was formerly Warden of Rhodes House, Oxford. As an Australian living in Britain for most of the Thatcher years, I watched at close hand the remarkable performance in foreign affairs, as in economic policy, of this

Thatcherism and economic leadership

In the years of economic turbulence that have followed the onset of the global financial crisis, a common lament has been the absence of effective economic leadership and an unwillingness to take tough decisions. The early obituaries and assessments of Margaret Thatcher offer a potent reminder

Aid from traditional donors continues to fall

Philippa Brant is a Lowy Institute Research Associate. Foreign aid from 'traditional' donors slipped another 4% in real terms in 2012, according to the latest statistics released by the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC). This comes on top of a 2% fall in 2011. The ongoing financial

Reader ripostes: Zombie institutions and Iraq

Below, Iraq commentary from Alison Broinowski and Richard Broinowski. But first, Tony Grey responds to Malcolm Cook's post on Zombie-like international institutions: According to Greg Sheridan the Commonwealth is a zombie-like international institution that has no future — but is it? Since

Documentary trailer: We Steal Secrets

Judging by the trailer, We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks is an admirably balanced treatment of the subject. If I have a concern, it's that it sounds like there's a lot of splicing in the audio. Understandable, on one level, since the people who put together these trailers need snappy

The decline of consent in international law

Marie-Eve Loiselle is a member of the Security Council Analysis Network, a research group focused on the work of the UN Security Council during the period of Australia's membership 2013–2014. International scrutiny of the North Korean and Iranian nuclear programs always has a strong legal

Whaling: Japan does conduct research

I thank Mr Watson for his response to my recent post. Unfortunately, space doesn't allow me to respond in kind to everything he has said, so in my final response I'll focus on the following: 1. I'll begin by affording Mr Watson the same qualifier he graciously afforded me. That is, he has a

Pope Francis I, economic crusader

Crispin Rovere has done research on Australia-Holy See relations and is now a PhD candidate at ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre. He recently wrote on Ratzinger the Reformer. The past few weeks have been a persistent break with Vatican tradition. Pope Benedict retired, being the first to

Habemus Papam

The Conclave in the Vatican surprised with its election as Pontiff Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope Francis represents a number of firsts for the Roman Catholic Church. He is the first Pope from South America, the first non-European in 1200 years, the first Jesuit, and the

Why the papal election matters

Why should international policy observers care about the election of a new pope? If you're a realist, the answer is not obvious. The Catholic Church, after all, has no divisions. But Dan Drezner offers a realist answer: ...the biggest reason the Pope matters from a power perspective is that,

Whaling: A sanctuary is a sanctuary

Captain Paul Watson is founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.  Michael Heazle proclaims both Rear Admiral Goldrick and myself to be wrong. That is his right. Like everyone else, he has an opinion and the freedom to express it. His viewpoint is that Sea Shepherd is not upholding

Movie trailer: No

Synopsis: After fifteen years of military dictatorship, the public are being asked to vote in the national plebiscite of 1988 on whether General Augusto Pinochet should stay in power or whether there should be an open presidential election a year after. René works as part of a team to create

Whaling: Watson and Goldrick are both wrong

While I certainly support Rear Admiral Goldrick's condemnation of Sea Shepherd's actions in the Antarctic, I do not agree with either his representation of Japan's whaling ambitions or the link he makes between whaling and Japan's territorial tensions with China. Japan's refusal to stop whaling is

In defence of the UK Justice and Security Bill

Paul Madden is the British High Commissioner to Australia. Cynthia Banham's Interpreter article yesterday about the UK's Justice and Security Bill was rather one-sided. It's not an easy policy area. Any liberal democracy wants to uphold justice and the rule of law, but also safeguard our most

The Cameron Government's secret courts

Cynthia Banham is a former diplomatic correspondent for Fairfax and a PhD candidate at the ANU. This is part 3 of her series on counter-terrorism after the 9/11 decade. Part 1 here; part 2 here. To get an idea of the level of concern in the UK over the Cameron Government's proposed Justice

Realism with a Hedley Bull twist

Prompted by Hugh White's latest Fairfax op-ed, I read DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese's recent AsiaLink speech today. There's a lot to think about in the speech, not least the fact that Varghese continues the recent trend among senior figures in Canberra to embrace the term 'Indo-Pacific' (take a