• US and India: A Warm Embrace

    President Obama and the First Lady traveled to India for a three-day visit. Upon arrival the US President and the Indian Prime minister made public show of friendship with a deep embrace.

    The public embrace was widely shared across Indian and US media. The White House and many others have written that these two world leaders have struck up a warm and close bond.

    Prime Minister Modi said, "This is a natural global partnership. It has become even more relevant in the digital age. It is needed even more in our world for far-reaching changes and widespread turmoil. The success of this partnership is important for our progress and for advancing peace, stability and prosperity around the world."

    Discussion starters:

    1. Can we expect, that Obama and Modi will try to capitalize on their personal chemistry to help better the bilateral relationship?
    2. Thinking about “levels of analysis.” Do personal relationships like this one really shape relations among nations?
  • Trust and Inequality: Davos 2015

    The World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2015 will take place from 21–24 January in Davos, Switzerland.

     As world leaders gather in Davos for the World Economic Forum many are calling on world leaders to address vast and growing inequality and trust. In this video, Professor Klaus Schwab talks about trust.

    Professor Schwab states that world leaders must take steps to restore trust.

    “We will look in Davos at all the burning issues like geographical conflicts, the future of the economy, social inclusion, and so on. But the key factor is trust. How can we restore trust in our future in our institutions? 

    Trust is not only related to ethical behavior. Trust means a leadership responsibility, where you respond to the needs of those who have trusted you with leadership, and here we have to start in Davos. We are leaders in Davos, so we should show our trustworthiness in caring for those who are outside the Congress hall.” 

    Discussion starters:

    1. Is Professor Schwab calling for a change? Is he calling for the leaders at Davos to address the growing crisis of inequality?
    2. Should the leadership at Davos follow the lead of Pope Francis who said, wealth must serve people – not the other way round?

  • FDR's Four Freedoms - Everywhere in the World

    Almost a full year before the United States entered World War II, President Roosevelt’s State of the Union address (given in January 1941) made it clear that a fight was inevitable. FDR called for a fight to preserve, protect, and defend four essential human freedoms: 1) freedom of speech and expression, 2) freedom of religion, 3) freedom from want, and 4) freedom from fear – everywhere in the world.

    Roosevelt said, “In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

    The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

    The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

    The third is freedom from want — which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings, which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

    The fourth is freedom from fear – which, translated into world terms, means a worldwide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.

    That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation.

    That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

    To that new order we oppose the greater conception – the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.

    Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change —  in a perpetual peaceful revolution — a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions — without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order, which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.

    This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end save victory.”

    Discussion starters:

    1. Is historian Harvey J. Kaye correct in saying that Americans have forgotten what it takes to realize these four basic human freedoms, that we must defend, sustain and secure democracy by enhancing it?

    2. What are the implications, duties, and policy implications of FDR’s four essential freedoms for the citizens of our global village in 2015 and beyond?

  • Human trafficking and slavery: One of the great human rights causes of our time!

    January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. Human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time!

    President Obama recently proclaimed, “Over a century and a half after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, millions remain in bondage -- children forced to take part in armed conflict or sold to brothels by their destitute families, men and women who toil for little or no pay, who are threatened and beaten if they try to escape. Slavery tears at our social fabric, fuels violence and organized crime, and debases our common humanity. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge in all its forms.”

    “Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action. The United States is shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists, placing sanctions on some of the worst abusers, giving countries incentives to meet their responsibilities, and partnering with groups that help trafficking victims escape from their abusers' grip. We are working with other nations as they step up their own efforts, and we are seeing more countries pass anti-human trafficking laws and improve enforcement,” said Obama.

    For millions of people, legal empowerment offers a path towards justice.


    The law is supposed to safeguard the rights of all. But the United Nations estimates that 4 billion people live outside the protection of the law, mostly because they are poor.

    Discussion starters:

    1. Why do the poor so often live outside the protection of the law?
    2. What must we do to help communities and individuals who lack the information and the expertise they need for legal protection?