• Justice Delayed, and Delayed, and Delayed Again, but Ultimately not Denied: Radovan Karadzic Guilty of War Crimes

    Radovan Karadzic was the last of the major fugitives from the civil wars among the states of the former Yugoslavia to be captured and brought to justice. On March 24 a verdict was finally rendered, finding him guilty of crimes committed two decades ago. At the age of 70, his 40-year sentence is effectively life in prison.

    The civil wars in the states of the former Yugoslavia were brutal affairs in which large numbers of civilians were killed or displaced. It was the Yugoslav conflicts that brought the term “ethnic cleansing” into widespread use as governments struggled to avoid using the word “genocide” and triggering the terms of the Genocide Convention that required intervention.

    In the aftermath of the conflict, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTFY) was established in the Hague. The tribunal was created in order to bring to justice the perpetrators of a wide range of crimes against humanity. Followed quickly by a comparable tribunal for the genocides in Rwanda and Burundi, the ICTFY showed the strengths and weaknesses of the ad-hoc system of justice in cases of crimes against humanity. While many of its actions became precedents for the procedures of the International Criminal Court (ICC) the ICTFY was also slow, with justice delayed for years, and sometimes decades.

    The results of the trial have had little impact in Bosnia, the country where the crimes were committed. Since the end of the war 21 years ago, the sides have failed to reconcile and the country remains largely divided along ethnic lines.

    The weakness of the ICTFY and its sister tribunal in Rwanda increased calls for the creation of a permanent global court to handle these types of cases more effectively. This led directly to the creation of the ICC, the first permanent court dedicated to war crimes and crimes against humanity at the global level.

    While the results of the trial show that justice can be done, even years after the events, questions remain about how much of an impact these trials have. While they do uphold justice at the international level, the focus on a few conflicts by the ICC, and the limited range of people who have been prosecuted suggests that only a few perpetrators will see justice in this form. It is also unclear what the deterrent effect of such courts is. The ad-hoc tribunals in Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Sierra Leone led to the creation of the ICC, suggesting that there was an expectation of the persistence of these crimes.

    These problems highlight the challenges of seeking justice through international institutions. In the absence of a strong central enforcement mechanism, the rule of law is more difficult to achieve. When any state can shield a defendant from prosecution (as has happened in the case of the Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir) without serious costs, the consistency of the system is undermined. At the same time, we do see that moral pressure can be brought to bear using these international legal institutions. When there is political will and a desire to see laws enforced, legal institutions can provide useful mechanisms for doing so.

    At the end of the day, a person who perpetrated acts of unspeakable evil will see justice. That is a victory for international law. Even if it is a bit later than we would ideally like.

     

    Discussion:

    1. We created ad-hoc tribunals in the cases of several cases of war crimes, but then determined that a permanent court was needed. Does a permanent court like the ICC increase the deterrent power of international law when compared with the potential for ad-hoc courts?
    2. Justice delayed is often seen as justice denied. The delays in getting convictions is often argued to lower the deterrent effect of international justice. Does the deterrent effect of international legal tribunals matter? Or is it more important that we enforce the international legal codes, even if the enforcement does not deter perpetrators?
    3. International law, enforced by international bodies, can be a difficult thing to apply. Would a better solution be the application of “universal jurisdiction” laws that allow any nation-state government to try anyone who commits crimes against humanity or war crimes in their own domestic courts, regardless of where the crimes were committed?
  • The Attacks Continue: Easter Sunday Bombing Kills 70

    On Easter Sunday in the Pakistani city of Lahore, families gathered to celebrate in a public park unaware that they would join the growing list of victims of local branches of international terror groups. The Pakistani Taliban's Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction claimed responsibility for the suicide attack aimed at the minority Christian community in Lahore.

    The attack was the seventh major attack by groups loosely affiliated with global Islamic terrorism and shows the challenges of coping with such organizations. The Taliban was a relatively unified organization focused primarily on ruling in Afghanistan. After the overthrow of the Taliban government, the group moved much of its operations into Pakistan, using the areas of poor central government control as bases for its military campaigns in Afghanistan. As the American and Pakistani forces whittled away at the senior leadership, the Taliban began to splinter into factions.

    It is the splitting of the organization that makes it especially dangerous. While some factions rule large parts of Afghanistan and are negotiating with the Afghan government over an end to the conflict, other factions seek to spread their version of radical Islam within Pakistan. Their links to international terrorism and the degree to which they align their goals to those of other movements vary.

    Conversation: The Lahore Easter Bombing is republished with permission of Stratfor.

    The result is that there is no single leadership with which to negotiate or make compromises. And that is just in the Pakistani Taliban. When you examine the global jihadist movement more broadly, there is no central leadership, no clear line of command and control, and a wide range of motivations. This makes combatting the movement difficult: states must focus on many actors. While none of the actors represents an existential threat (none of these organizations are strong enough to overthrow any Western democracy) they do represent a consistent pressure of low level violence.

    Just what to do about such pressure, and how to end it, is the matter of great debate. The debate is likely to grow if the recent trend of frequent attacks continues and nation-states continue to struggle in their response.

     

    Discussion:

    1. Is it possible for nation-states to wage effective war against small, dispersed groups of independent actors who are willing to use violence? Or is war the wrong analogy, with a response more along the lines of paramilitary policing being more appropriate?
    2. The last period of sustained terrorist violence was the 1970’s and early 1980’s. In that time period the main goals of the terrorist organizations were political, focused on Palestinian statehood, establishing communist governments in Western Europe, and on establishing independent states in areas where local nationalisms dominated. Today’s terrorists have diverse goals, but they also tend to claim to a more universalist set of ends. What does this difference in ends mean for the fight against terrorism?
    3. The Lahore attack in Pakistan killed twice as many people as the one in Brussels. Despite this, coverage in the Western media has spent significantly more time on the Brussels attacks. What does this disparity in coverage tell us about how the media in Western countries covers terrorism around the world?
  • Attack on the Capitol of Europe: Brussels Attacks Challenge Status Quo of Anti-Terrorism Policies

    The city of Brussels, the capitol of Belgium and the host city of both the European Union government and of NATO, was struck by coordinated terrorist attacks during the Monday commute. The attacks were launched in the immediate aftermath of the arrest of the most wanted of the figures in the Paris attacks last year. As of today more than thirty people have been killed and hundreds injured.

     

    The attack on Brussels comes in spite of significant action in recent months by police in various European countries to crack down on militants from a variety of radical organizations. Fear of attacks by groups affiliated with the Islamic State organization have received the most attention, but European police forces must also deal with the rise of radical right-wing organization that have expanded their activities since the start of the migrant crisis last year. In the face of these growing challenges, questions are being raised about the policies that support anti-terrorism efforts across Europe.

    All societies must find a balance between security and safety. The exact balance depends on the cultural, political, and social context and is often the product of complex historical forces. But these established patterns can also be disrupted by shock events that have a powerful impact on the lives of citizens. The United States had tended to resist large-scale government intrusions on civil liberties until the creation of widespread spying programs after the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

     

    In Europe, the attacks in Paris and Brussels have raised policy questions that are likely to shape a wide range of debates across the continent. Fear of immigrants, especially those from Muslim countries, is likely to rise. The pressure to erode civil liberties, already at the forefront in the rise of far right parties in Europe and the increasingly xenophobic tone of the American presidential campaign, is likely to grow as police and intelligence agencies seek the ability for ever greater monitoring of citizens’ lives.

     

    Also troubling is the global frequency of attacks. March has seen attacks by extremist organizations taking place on a regular basis with attacks in Belgium, Pakistan, and Turkey just being those that have made the Western headlines. Several attacks in Africa, as well as attacks in the Middle East and Asia have gone largely unnoticed in the Western Press. The rising tide of these attacks threatens global stability and shows the weakness of global society in countering these followers of radical organizations.

     

    But for now these questions will wait for a few more days as we mourn the loss of innocent lives. Our hearts go out to the people of Belgium as they join the list of countries facing terrorist threats as part of their daily lives. We mourn with them and we offer our condolences in their time of need. There is time enough tomorrow to tackle public policy.

     

    Discussion:

    1. Brussels is a major European city and the home to several key international organizations. It is also a country with a decentralized political system. Does the mix of international institutions and domestic institutions make it harder for Belgium to perform counter-terrorism policing?
    2. The attack on Brussels takes the number of major attacks in March to more than half-a-dozen around the world. Does this suggest that the power of Islamic state and similar groups is growing? Or does the turn to terrorist attacks reflect the weakening of Islamic State on the conventional battlefield as it loses ground to resurgent Syrian and Iraqi forces and American drone strikes kill more of its leaders?
    3. The EU has largely been an economic union, with some cooperation in criminal, intelligence, and defense matters. Do the attacks on Paris and Brussels suggest that the EU needs to think more about security in order to maintain its economic openness?
  • Rape is a War Crime: The ICC Convicts Jean-Pierre Bemba

    War Crimes and Crimes against humanity are special categories of criminal acts under international law. These crimes go beyond the simple horror of the acts themselves and become crimes so terrible that they are considered to be acts against civilization itself. Despite the horror of these crimes, the enforcement of the international law that prohibits them has been spotty. Ad-hoc tribunals following the Second World War, the Rwandan genocide, and in a limited number of other cases showed the need to have a more permanent body to handle these unusual, but horrific cases. The International Criminal Court was founded in order to hold perpetrators of these crimes accountable.

    The case of Jean-Pierre Bemba highlights both the successes and failures of the ICC in living up to the dreams of proponents of universal human rights. International law is a tricky thing, being derived from a different set of principles from those that undergird domestic laws. The sovereign power of governments to rule within their borders is the foundation of domestic law. In the absence of a sovereign authority, international law derives its power from other sources. While opinions about international law vary somewhat, the ICC is generally seen to draw its authority from an international treaty: The Rome Statute.

    The Rome Statute gives the ICC its formal powers and is binding on all signatories of the Statute. But not all of the states in the international system are members of the Rome Statute. This creates potential gaps in the power of the ICC to act.

    The ICC is given the power to enforce a limited range of international crimes. But these crimes are only partially defined in the actual treaties that describe them. The specifics of just how to apply these legal principles comes from a mix of domestic legal decisions, international treaty language, and past precedent.

    It is the precedent part that makes the Bemba case so important. Rape has been used as a weapon of war for as long as people have fought wars. But commanders have never been held responsible for widespread rape by their subordinates. Not until now. The ICC ruling in the Bemba case argued that rape was a crime and that commanders have a legal responsibility to attempt to stop it. In this case, Bemba made no such attempt, which made him legally responsible.

    This case sets a significant precedent in international law. A commander has been convicted based on a failure of command responsibility, not of the participation in the actions of his soldiers. This creates a legal responsibility on the part of commanders for the maintenance of proper discipline and provides for punishment for failing to act to try and prevent war crimes from taking place. This is an important precedent and one that will make human rights campaigners very happy.

    Crimes against humanity are (thankfully) rare. In the ICC we have an international body that has the potential to hold perpetrators accountable and to establish a consistent set of rules for enforcement of the relevant international laws. While the Court has a long way to go, and key members of the international system (most notably the United States) have refused to sign the Rome Statute, the Bemba case shows that an international adjudicative body can offer some of the benefits provided by domestic courts. The world is one step closer to a system that holds the perpetrators of its worst crimes accountable for their actions.

    Discussion:

    1. The ICC focuses on the worst kinds of international crimes, but there are many other crimes that cross international borders (drug-trafficking, human-trafficking, arms smuggling, etc.) that we resolve using domestic law. Why has the international community decided to place crimes against humanity and war crimes in the jurisdiction of an international court, but not these lesser crimes?
    2. In domestic legal systems, there is a shared legitimacy that comes from the sovereign right of that national government to rule. Where does the shared legitimacy of an international legal system come from? Does that change what “law” means at the international level?
    3. The ICC has prosecuted a limited number of cases, all of them in Africa. Does the focus of the ICC on countries from one region in its prosecutions undermine the credibility of the Court in the international system?
  • Mission Accomplished! What was the Mission?

    Russia surprised the world with the announcement that it was withdrawing its main military forces from Syria. While a limited number of forces will remain to protect Russian facilities, most of Russia’s forces began withdrawing the day after the announcement.

    Entering Syria was a surprise move and leaving is just as surprising. Russia has turned the tide in the Syrian Civil War, with the government forces now being in the ascendant and the moderate resistance essentially eliminated. While the Islamic State (IS) was the nominal target of Russian attacks, most actually fell on other opponents of the regime, with the Russian-led offensive essentially crushing the remnants of the moderate opposition and scattering much of the non-IS anti-government fighters.

    So, Russia has declared victory and begun to bring its forces home. But what did Russia actually want from its intervention? Many theories compete for time among pundits and commentators. It is not clear what the main reasons are, nor is it clear why this particular moment was chosen to withdraw.

    The problem of motivation highlights a key issue in international politics: uncertainty. While we know a number of reasons why Russia might have left now, we do not know the true reasons with certainty. We have to make judgements based on what Russia says as well as the conditions on the ground. We have to make assumptions that could turn out to be wrong. Parties to international negotiations always have to worry about how accurate their information is.

    Good communication makes it easier for political leaders to see what other states want. The stronger the ties of communication, the clearer the communication can be. The United States and the United Kingdom have strong ties, a long history of cooperation, and significant shared interests. This makes it much easier to clearly communicate.

    The US does not share such strong ties with Russia. In fact, the Russians and Americans have strong incentive to mislead each other in some key areas. It is not clear why Russia intervened in Syria as it did. While the intervention gave Russia a significant role in negotiations on a final settlement, it also was a costly commitment. A lack of certainty over Russia’s goals makes the withdrawal harder to understand, sowing more confusion.

    States actions can signal intentions, but they depend on good communications to make those signals work. This leaves us in an interesting moment. While many like the idea that Russia has begun to withdraw, it is hard to judge what the withdrawal mean when there is only a rough idea of why Russia intervened in the first place. For now, policy-makers have to use their best judgement and try to act accordingly. But it is likely that events in Syria will continue to surprise us.

     

    Discussion:

    1. What kinds of actions could the Russian leadership take to make its signals to the US and other states clearer? Would these actions help resolve some of the problems of international uncertainty around the Syrian Civil War?
    2. The US and Russia often see each other as adversaries. This creates a sense of rivalry between the two states. How does this rivalry relationship impact how each country judges the other’s actions in a world of uncertainty?
    3. International institutions often make communication between states easier. If Russia had chosen to act through the United Nations rather than unilaterally, would this have made the perception of its actions by the United States and other Western states different? Explain your answer.
  • Commonwealth Day: Inclusiveness for Former British Subjects

    The Commonwealth, one of the world’s oddest intergovernmental organizations (IGO’s), held its annual Commonwealth Day event. Every March, the Commonwealth comes together to celebrate an organization that ties former British colonial possessions in an organization based on shared colonial history and respect for a common experience. The theme of the 2016 Commonwealth Day was “An Inclusive Commonwealth” which is emblematic of the diverse nature of the organization and its membership.

    At first glance, the Commonwealth should not exist. It is an organization that binds independent states together based on the fact that they were once subject peoples of the British Empire. The widespread rejection of imperialism in the Twentieth Century stands in stark contrast with building an IGO based on shared colonial culture.

    The Head of the Commonwealth is the Queen of England, who serves as the nominal Head of State in a number of Commonwealth nations. Queen Elizabeth II of England remains popular in many Commonwealth states, representing one of the only IGO’s with a hereditary monarch as the head of the organization. Given the powerful anti-colonial sentiment of the 1950’s and 1960’s, the positive view of the Queen seems odd. In spite of the concerns about the past, the Queen remains a popular figure in the Commonwealth states.

    A more interesting question is this: Why build and IGO based on shared colonial experience? Few states look on colonialism as anything short of an historic evil. Yet as the basis of shared interest and cooperation, IGO’s have been built on flimsier foundations. In the absence of other factors, shared British colonial rule provides a solution to problems of cooperation and coordination that often underpin other IGO’s.

    IGO’s solve practical problems for states. Cooperation and coordination are central to why states act through international organizations. A shared political culture makes this communication easier. A formal mechanism that provides an avenue for cooperation and communication can reduce the costs of international action for member states. In these ways, the shared colonial experience fits in with a number of other potential foundations of cooperation. Shared interest and shared history can reduce the cost of coordination and lower the barriers to cooperation. In this sense, the Commonwealth serves a function that is entirely normal, but the character of what brings that lower cost is unusual.

    But once a year this diverse group of nations sets aside other differences and gathers to tell the common tale of many peoples with a shared history.

     

    Discussion:

    1. Shared colonial history seems an odd foundation for an IGO. What other foundations for IGO membership do we observe among nation-states? Is shared region, the basis for many IGO’s any stranger than shared colonial history?
    2. Consider the broad question of why states act through international organizations. Why would states agree to membership in an IGO like the Commonwealth? What solutions to the basic problems of international affairs does it help solve?
    3. Is the British Empire unusual in its creation of an IGO based on colonial ties? Are there other examples of IGO’s that base their membership on colonial era common experiences?
  • Transparency is in the Eye of the Stakeholder: the EITI and the Challenge of Multi-stakeholder Governance

    It is one of the most interesting organizations you have never heard of, and their meetings can occasionally get rowdy. The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is one of those organizations that is meant to solve one of the key problems of globalization: the lack of accountability for some actors when they violate norms of good behavior, and occasionally local laws.

    The extractive industries (mining, oil exploration, etc.) do not have a good reputation for playing by the rules. Countries with extensive natural resources can often fall into a trap called the “resource curse”. The resource curse is when you can make easy money in extractive industries, so your nation-state does not develop strong governance. It can also become very corrupt as the small number of players in the extractive industry make it easier to engage in bribery and theft.

    During the rapid expansion of globalization following the Second World War, extractive industries became dominated by a small number of global companies. Consolidation when commodity cycles turned down led to consolidation and a shrinking in the number of companies in the sector. The rise of Chinese, Brazilian, and Indian companies (as well as a few others from emerging markets) have added a few more players in the game, but the markets remain dominated by a relatively small number of global companies. This adds to the potential for corruption.

    The problem for some of the companies that dominate these industries is that they are publicly traded companies with headquarters in places like New York and London. In part that means that they must obey Western laws on bribery and corruption. It also means that they have shareholders that may not take kindly to corruption scandals that damage the stock price. But in a globalized world with complex legal jurisdictions, global supply chains, and mines located in remote parts of the world, how can a large, publicly traded company show people that they are playing fair?

    Enter EITI, part of a growing number of sector-based transparency organizations that try to solve the problem of global governance of extractive industries. The anarchic international system means that corporations must also solve problems that cross borders without any global enforcer. There is no global government that can say “they are obeying the law” because there is no one “law” for them to obey. Global companies may have to obey the laws of dozens of nation-states.

    The EITI attempts to show that the companies are playing honestly and that they are treating local people in the areas where they operate fairly. The EITI is a “multi-stakeholder non-governmental organization”: an organization in which multiple groups are represented in its governance. To ensure that companies and the governments with whom they do business are following the rules, they invite groups of NGO’s to join them as part of the body. NGO’s nominate one-third of EITI’s board, ensuring that there will be rigorous supervision of the companies and countries that are members of the EITI. Only companies and nation-states that want EITI’s approval need to join. But joining has benefits: Being monitored by the EITI means that you can make the credible argument that you are playing by the rules. While there is still no powerful enforcer, the EITI’s reputation gives it credibility among other actors.

    Which is why meetings can get rowdy, like the most recent meeting in Lima, Peru. A number of NGO’s objected to a particular person who was chosen to be on the ballot for the EITI Board. This person worked at an NGO, but one that was seen as being friendly to the corporations in the group. This would potentially tip the balance on the board from the rough three-way balance, giving a bit more power to the companies. Some NGO members protested, with minor disruptions to the meeting as the result. But for an organization that depends on its reputation, being accused of being biased can be damaging. Even the appearance of impropriety (especially for a transparency organization) can cause significant, perhaps even irreparable damage.

    After a brief row over the Board ballot, the offending name was removed from the list and the EITI has returned to its normal operations. The delicate balance of governing without a government continues.

     

    Discussion:

    1. The EITI has no power in the traditional, realist sense of how power is defined. In spite of this, corporations, nation-states, and NGO’s all spend time and money to manage the organization. They even fight hard over who sits on its Board. What does this tell us about non-material forms of power in global governance? Would a similar organization (multi-stakeholder) be workable for other kinds of issues, such as the financial sector?
    2. Western companies must follow the rule of law in their home countries, which include transparency provisions. They are also subject to the attentions of many watchdog organizations. In China the rule of law is less strict and there are far fewer watchdog organizations. Does the rise of global extractive industry companies based in China potentially change how transparency in this sector may work?
    3. Why do nation-states join EITI? Companies need to show that they obey the law. NGO’s want a say in how the extractive industries are managed in order to serve their own agendas. But why do governments give up a bit of their sovereignty and let a group like this monitor them? What is the benefit to state members of this kind of group?


    If you are curious, most of the Lima Board Meeting can be seen on YouTube:

  • Cheap Talk or Credible Threat? North Korea threatens to start a nuclear war, but does anybody care?

    Whenever South Korea and the United States engage in joint military exercises, North Korea responds with bellicose language, including frequent threats of military force. In this year’s round of threats, North Korea threatened to start a nuclear war with the United States in retaliation. Despite this threat and the unpredictable nature of the North Korean government, neither the United States, nor South Korea seemed disturbed by the threats.

    Threats are important in international relations. They reflect an important signal to other parties in the international system. They can also play a key role in bargaining. A threat communicates a set of consequences for actions taken by other states, or if conditions in a negotiation are not met.

    But to be taken seriously, threats must be credible. This requires that threats be made judiciously, and that they are followed up on if the other party or parties do not comply. In the case of North Korea, the annual ritual of threats to coincide with the American-South Korean exercises has rarely seen any action against the South or against America. When threats are repeatedly used, but rarely or never acted upon, they lose their power. Threats of radical escalation are also less credible than proportionate threats that fit the situation. Starting a nuclear war that the North would surely lose is a radical response to military exercises that have been taking place on an annual basis for more than half a century.

    So, the threat of a nuclear attack is not one that leads to serious response from the international community. Coming soon after the application of sanctions for the North Korean nuclear test earlier this year, the threats are seen as typical of the hyperbole that is used in most of the Northern propaganda aimed at a domestic audience. The North Koreans make threats on a routine basis. Only rarely do they follow through, although when they do the tensions rise significantly.

    Fortunately, the likelihood of a nuclear war on the Korean peninsula remains low. The spectacular threats remain in the realm of propaganda. But they also serve as a lesson for political leaders: if you threaten too often, the power of your threats weaken. If you always threaten, but never follow through you become the international relations equivalent of the Boy Who Cried Wolf: You can way what you like, but your credibility declines with each event.

     

    Discussion:

    1. States must balance the kinds of threats they make to match their material capabilities and the political will to use them. Does this mean that larger states can always threaten more effectively than smaller states in international bargaining? Are there conditions where the smaller, weaker state can make more effective threats?
    2. North Korea is a rogue state, and the problem with such states is that they are rogues: you cannot rely on them to make decisions in the way that other states do. This should make North Korea more dangerous than other states of similar size and capabilities. In spite of this, people ignored the threat of nuclear war. Why would this be? If North Korea is a rogue, why do policy-makers ignore the possibility that they would act irrationally?
    3. Do threats have to be military to be taken seriously in international relations? What kinds of non-military threats might be effective during inter-state bargaining?
  • Refugee Crisis Without End: Refugees continue to challenge European Union policymakers

    European Union leaders were forced to turn their attention to the lingering refugee crisis once again as a series of events returned the refugees to the public spotlight. Growing protests in Greece following the closure of sections of the Macedonian border to all but a trickle of refugees led to clashes between refugees and local law enforcement. In France, the use of bulldozers to demolish an informal camp (called “the Jungle”) added the voices of human rights activists to the complaints of the displaced refugees.

     

    In 2015 the flow of refugees from the Middle East and North Africa increased greatly from previous years. That flow has remained strong in spite of efforts by the EU to convince countries in the region to act to prevent the outward flow of people. Response to the continued flow has left the EU flailing in moments when the crisis surges back into the headlines.

     

    While the EU has an agreement in place to share the burden of hosting the refugees, the problem is exacerbated by the strong desire of refugees to settle in specific countries, often those that have an established refugee population. Germany, the UK, and a few others are the preferred host countries for many refugees. This clashes with the desire of EU member states to move new refugees into countries that have had little resettlement thus far. The preference for a limited number of states as host countries has meant that refugees have opted to remain outside of the traditional protections of humanitarian relief in order to register for refugee status in the countries that they hope to eventually settle in.

     

    A combination of refugees who hope to find work and a better life in a few select countries and the desire of many EU states to let others bear the cost of resettlement has meant that the EU continues to struggle to implement its chosen solutions. The crisis continues as the EU appears unable to enforce cooperation among its members.

     

    Immigration is always a powerful issue in any democracy. The number of newcomers to be welcomed is hotly debated, as are requirements related to country of origin and the possibility that the migrants are not truly refugees, but just people looking for economic opportunity. Growing tensions in the democratic states of Europe has meant that political leaders must balance their future political survival with their EU commitments. Thus far, it appears that political survival is winning.

     

    Discussion:

    1. Why are EU states so reluctant to allow refugees to be settled within their borders? What is it about refugees that creates such a negative response? Is this typical of all refugee crises, or is there something specific in Europe that creates this response?
    2. A frequent argument from Europeans who oppose the settlement of refugees in their countries is that the refugees are not simply seeking asylum, but are trying to pick only the states with the best economic opportunities. Given the desperate situation for the refugees, why are so many of them reluctant to simply go wherever the EU offers to send them? Why are large numbers of refugees determined to find particular states as their ultimate places to seek asylum?
    3. The EU member states, the US, and other members of the international community would all benefit from an orderly and stable program of refugee resettlement. What aspects of the refugee crisis make it so hard for the states of the international community to work together to resolve this issue? When the benefits of cooperation are so strong, and institutions to promote cooperation are so well entrenched, why is it that the states remain unable to overcome the barriers to cooperation?