Global Challenges
Special Issue no. 1 | June 2020
Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemic
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What is Global Challenges?
Global Challenges
Special Issue no. 1 | June 2020
Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemic

A pandemic is not just a medical emergency – it is also a political, economic, and social crisis. It implies new challenges for democratic institutions and practices, for citizenship rights and human rights as some of the restrictions on civil liberties put in place by liberal and illiberal democracies may well outlive the coronavirus. This special issue explores some tensions and dilemmas of democracies faced with the current crisis. “Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemics” addresses questions like: Can we speak of a decline in politics during the pandemic? While states have been using the full gamut of their sovereign prerogatives, has the political (temporarily) faded in the face of, for example, “expertise”? What will be the lasting impact of the rule by administrative fiat, and of emergency powers put in place in many countries? What kinds of agenda and instruments of civic activism are likely to emerge given that courts are rarely in session and public protest not permitted due to distancing rules? What are the likely consequences of these reconfigurations for democracy, governance, and welfare systems in the global South and North?

Global Challenges

What is Global Challenges?

Global Challenges is a series of dossiers designed to share with a broader, non-specialist audience the ideas, knowledge, opinions and debates produced at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies. The underlying rationale is that in the spirit of a “science for the city”, social sciences and humanities bear the responsibility to provide the general public with answers to the pressing issues and concerns of our time.

The objective of Global Challenges is to examine, in a reader-friendly and comprehensive way, the major issues of the modern world by combining the rigour of academic thought with the techniques and communication methods of an innovative scientific journalism inspired by new web technologies.

Global Challenges capitalises on the breadth of the Graduate Institute’s research community, showcasing contributions and findings from its over 450 professors, researchers and PhD students, and complementing them with inputs from guest writers, state-of-the-art maps, interviews, videos and infographics.

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Issue no. 8 | November 2020
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The New Frontiers of Risk
Global Challenges
Issue no. 8 | November 2020
The New Frontiers of Risk

For the first time ever, a pandemic led more than 4 billion people simultaneously to experience the concept of confinement, remaining locked inside for 24 hours a day. In just a few weeks, around the globe, fear internationalized as a consequence of a genuinely worldwide risk. Even after a vaccine may be found and the COVID-19 risk begins to recede, people’s perceptions of the danger they run from the virus, or other viruses, may persist for many years. By the same token, the pandemic is likely to carry in its wake heightened perception of other risks, ranging from long-term economic disruption, to leaving children behind in terms of schooling, and to psychological distress due to extended periods of time without face to face contact.

At the start of the second decade of the 21st century, what are the major risks that are likely to be seen as confronting our planet? Has the morphology of risk evolved and how? How are hierarchies of risk (and their perception) reconfiguring worldwide in the wake of COVID and how are policy makers aiming to redefine and balance them? Who are the experts and epistemological communities defining risks? Do we observe a consensus? Is there a risk of rising nationalism and protectionism in reaction to the internationalization of fear (terrorism, climate change, COVID)? In summary, what are the new frontiers of risk?

Special Issue no. 1 | June 2020
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Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemic
Global Challenges
Special Issue no. 1 | June 2020
Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemic

A pandemic is not just a medical emergency – it is also a political, economic, and social crisis. It implies new challenges for democratic institutions and practices, for citizenship rights and human rights as some of the restrictions on civil liberties put in place by liberal and illiberal democracies may well outlive the coronavirus. This special issue explores some tensions and dilemmas of democracies faced with the current crisis. “Politics of the Coronavirus Pandemics” addresses questions like: Can we speak of a decline in politics during the pandemic? While states have been using the full gamut of their sovereign prerogatives, has the political (temporarily) faded in the face of, for example, “expertise”? What will be the lasting impact of the rule by administrative fiat, and of emergency powers put in place in many countries? What kinds of agenda and instruments of civic activism are likely to emerge given that courts are rarely in session and public protest not permitted due to distancing rules? What are the likely consequences of these reconfigurations for democracy, governance, and welfare systems in the global South and North?

Issue no. 7 | April 2020
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Global Governance in Peril?
Global Challenges
Issue no. 7 | April 2020
Global Governance in Peril?

The present Dossier takes stock of the current state of the multilateral system and its future prospects. It aims to explore to what extent global governance is in crisis as the global geopolitical order is undergoing fundamental shifts and liberal universalism is losing traction. It assesses potential of reform in extant institutions as well as emerging trends, tools and forums that are reshaping multilateral practice on a daily basis.
Note – The dossier was drafted before the Covid-19 world crisis.

Issue no. 6 | November 2019
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Endangered Earth
Global Challenges
Issue no. 6 | November 2019
Endangered Earth

Soil is an essential component of the Earth's ecosystem. It contributes to and fulfills a wide range of environmental and societal functions such as food production, water filtering, carbon storage and the preservation of biodiversity essential to the survival of the human species. While soils have witnessed significant environmental degradation in recent decades, lands have been the object of increased economic competition and financial speculation. The commercial and financial scramble for land has never been more intense as transnational actors and governments such as the Chinese seek large scale bids for land in the Global South that have been likened to new forms of neocolonialism. The consequences of this double tension include the loss of biodiversity, floods, climate change, famines, forced migration and conflict. 

It is the assumption of the present Dossier that issues such as large scale exploitation of land and natural resources, soil degradation, biodiversity, food security and climate change are closely interdependent and cannot be treated in isolation. Seeking to explore and better understand the interlinkages between the material degradation of soils and the increased extractive, commercial and speculative pressure on lands, the Dossier aims to address some of the broader stakes the Anthropocene is currently facing: How irreversible is the damage that has been caused to earth's soils? Have we reached a point of no return? How many people is the earth able to feed and for how long? Are we trapped in a Malthusian logic? How will climate change depend and interact with changing patterns of soil distribution and depletion? What is the impact of large scale deforestation and natural resource extraction on the environment, particularly the soils? What are the governance patterns and technological solutions emerging to address land depletion and scarcity? What are some of the cybernetic loops and mechanisms of autoregulation through which the earth reacts to human interference? 

Issue no. 5 | April 2019
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New Grammars of War:
Conflict and Violence in the 21st Century
Global Challenges
Issue no. 5 | April 2019
New Grammars of War: Conflict and Violence in the 21st Century

The Dossier aims to explore new trends and expressions of violence in armed conflict in the 21st century. Taking as a starting point the changing paradigm of armed conflict – from conventional wars with clear contours towards more non-linear, fragmented and protracted types of civil and international conflict — it adopts a broad approach to portray changing forms of violence across different types of armed conflicts (including terrorism, international/civil wars or urban warfare). In the context of a fragmenting international order, with increasingly blurred lines between state and non-state, combatant and civilian, domestic and international, the number of actors involved in conflicts and concurrent strategies of violence have multiplied. In face of the ubiquity of violent conflict — despite an overall decline in interstate conflict and global number of casualties — the Dossier aims to shed light on new or changing forms of violence, their contexts, actors and victims. It explores the novelty, heterogeneity, scales and vectors of violent practices in contemporary conflicts by investigating the impact of a series of factors such as new military technologies (drones, robots), new communication tools (social media), gender, migration, or the subcontracting of security to private actors.

Issue no. 4 | October 2018
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Epidemia of Walls in an (Un)free World
Global Challenges
Issue no. 4 | October 2018
Epidemia of Walls in an (Un)free World

We currently face a baffling paradox. While since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 a seemingly inexorable process of globalisation has been foreshadowing a peaceful and frontierless world, the number of walls across the world has been rising at a steady pace. Liberal and open societies buttressed by trade, international law and technological progress were supposed to implacably contribute to the erosion of frontiers and walls between nations. However, in a context of surging populist discourses, securitarian anxieties and identitarian politics as well as concomitant flows of migration alimented by climate change, conflict and poverty, nations have recently started to barricade themselves behind new walls.

Issue no. 3 | March 2018
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Globalization 4.0:
Evolution or Revolution?
Global Challenges
Issue no. 3 | March 2018
Globalization 4.0: Evolution or Revolution?

Has globalisation reached its apex after centuries of growth as suggested by the latest figures of the WTO? In the affirmative, does this imply that we are ushering into a new era of degrowth? Or are we witnessing the reorganisation of the very architecture of globalisation, which remains based on the twin logic of the acceleration and continuous increase of the volume of exchanges, as well as the steady densification of geographic connectedness. Are global exchanges restructuring concomitantly to the fourth technological revolution and the expansion of the digital economy? The present Dossier proposes to approach this question by observing the nature and the evolution of the principal flows that characterize globalisation.

Issue no. 2 | September 2017
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Democracy at Risk
Global Challenges
Issue no. 2 | September 2017
Democracy at Risk

While the 20th century has been characterised by the generalisation of democratisation processes, the 21st century seems to have started with the reverse trend. An authoritarian-populist nexus is threatening liberal democracy on a global scale, including in its American and European heartlands. Charismatic leaders – thriving on electoral majorities and popular referenda – methodically undermine the rule of law and constitutional safeguards in order to consolidate their own power basis. Coupling inflammatory rhetoric with modern communication technologies, they short-circuit traditional elites and refuse to abide by international norms. Agitating contemporary scourges such as insecurity, loss of identity, mass migration and corrupt elites, they put in place new laws and mechanisms to harness civil society and political opponents. In order to better understand the novelty, permanence and global reach of “illiberal democracy”, this second issue of Global Challenges proposes seven case studies (Russia, Hungary, Turkey, the Middle East, Uganda, Venezuela and the United States) complemented by a series of expert interviews, maps and infographics.

Issue no. 1 | February 2017
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South China Sea:
War on the Horizon?
Global Challenges
Issue no. 1 | February 2017
South China Sea: War on the Horizon?

While the global balance of power, under the impetus of the steady rise of China, is shifting towards the Asia-Pacific, and because the future of US policy is uncertain after the election of Donald Trump, tensions in the South China Sea have once again become a major strategic concern. The South China Sea is witnessing a series of sovereignty disputes between littoral states defending rivalling claims to maritime rights and boundaries. Adding weight and urgency to the disputes are the significant natural resources found in the coveted archipelagos and sea beds as well as the rising national sentiments in many of the claimant states. The geostrategic dimension of these quarrels is largely transcending the region and the involvement of external powers such as the United States further complicates the equation. The recent legal victory of the Philippines over China can be seen as a supplementary cause for anxiety in a latent conflict that may at any time escalate into a regional or global confrontation. Henceforth the search for a negotiated solution becomes crucial as military budgets continue to soar in the region.