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Development Theory and the Global Aid Regime  

Franklin Barr Lebo

International development has remained a key driver of global economic relations since the field emerged in the mid-20th century. From its initial focus on colonization and state building, the field has grown to encompass a wide range of issues, theoretical problems, and disciplinary traditions. The year 1945 is widely considered as a turning point in the study of international development. Three factors account for this: the emergence of the United States as an economic hegemon after World War II; the ideological rivalry that defined the Cold War; and the period of decolonization that peaked around 1960, forcing development issues, including foreign aid, state building, and multilateral engagement, onto the global agenda. Since then, development paradigms have continuously evolved, adapted, and been reinvented to address the persistent gap between the prosperous economies of the “developed North” and the frequently troubled economies of the “Global South.” In the early 2000s, a loosely knit holistic paradigm emerged that recognized the deficiencies of its predecessors, yet built on their strengths. Now called “development cooperation,” this holistic approach embraces methodological pluralism in the scholarly study of development, while recognizing that multiple stakeholders contribute to the development agenda in practice from policy practitioners, entrepreneurs, and corporations to nonstate actors such as community groups and Indigenous peoples. In 2015, development cooperation was on full display with the adoption by 193 countries of the expansive United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to serve as the global guideposts for future development initiatives. While exceedingly optimistic in good times, the economic effects of the global pandemic wrought by the spread of COVID-19 in 2020 threatened to undo many of the perceived global gains realized in the development context over the preceding 25 years. Regardless of the speed of recovery of the global system, the profound reverberations on foreign aid and thus the backsliding of global progress indicators is a likely outcome for many years to come.

Article

The Global Economic and Political Causes of Human Trafficking  

Robert G. Blanton and Shannon Lindsey Blanton

While various forms of slavery and forced labor have existed throughout human history, trafficking in humans is a relatively new area of global concern, as specific laws date back only to 2000. As a legal concept, human trafficking is defined according to its requisite acts (recruitment, transport, harboring of victims), means (use of force, fraud, or coercion), and purpose (exploitation). As a basis for scholarly analysis and public policy, trafficking can be viewed in terms of multiple dimensions, as it constitutes a criminal activity, an egregious abuse of human rights, and a pervasive illicit market. Each of these frames suggests different scholarly approaches to examining trafficking, as well as different policy responses to combat it. For example, a criminal activity frame connotes a prosecutorial response toward traffickers by state agencies, while a human rights-based approach suggests increased attention and services to trafficking victims. There is a significant, though underdeveloped, body of scholarship on the causes of human trafficking. Broadly put, extant work focuses on economic, political, and demographic variables, each of which are part of the wider array of factors that can make trafficking more or less likely. Economic factors can be assessed at both micro and macro levels, ranging from the cost–benefit analyses of traffickers to macroeconomic factors such as poverty and globalization. Political correlates of trafficking include armed conflict, the presence of peacekeepers, and the strength and capacity of domestic political institutions. For their part, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) can also play a significant role in shaping state responses to trafficking. As trafficking commonly involves the movement of people across borders, some of the same demographic factors that drive migration are also associated with trafficking flows. Taken as a whole, there are still many underexplored avenues for future research. While well over a thousand articles and books have been published on human trafficking since 2000, a majority of extant research is non-empirical in nature, including general overviews of trafficking or analyses of relevant laws. A key factor contributing to this relative dearth of empirical literature is the lack of comprehensive data that reflects the complex and nuanced nature of trafficking. Given the policy-relevant nature of human trafficking, as well as its implications for human rights, there remains a great need for additional evidence-based research in this area.

Article

International Insertion: A Non-Western Contribution to International Relations  

Fabrício Chagas-Bastos

International insertion is a concept that comes from non-Western intellectual origins and can help individuals understand how peripheral and semi-peripheral countries behave in world politics, and their interests, core values, and strategies. International insertion also expands the knowledge to characterize how agency spaces are created by peripheral countries. Insertion is a necessary step to those countries attempting to transition from the condition of one who seeks to be recognized as part of, to one who is admitted as possessing and capable of seeking status and acting within political, economic, and military global hierarchies. In a nutshell, insertion means being recognized by the small group of gatekeeping states as a relevant part of the specific social networks that constitute the global hierarchy. The conceptualization of international insertion allows a robust middle-range explanation that considers multiple dimensions (political, economic, and military) of the national and international structural and contextual aspects these actors must translate to navigate world politics.

Article

The Maghreb in International Relations  

Yahia Zoubir

Since their independence from colonial rule, the three Maghreb states (Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia) have interacted with foreign powers bilaterally rather than as an integrated region. Despite the foundation of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA) in 1989, the Maghreb countries have pursued discrete foreign policies that reflected the nature of their anticolonial struggle and the ideological choices that they made following, or even prior to, their independence. While Algeria chose nonalignment as the foundation of its foreign policy, Morocco and Tunisia remained attached to the West despite proclaiming attachment to nonalignment. In the decade from 2010 to 2020, the Maghreb states have faced numerous political and socioeconomic challenges which created complicated geopolitical constraints. Thus, even if they wished to drastically reduce their dependency, primarily on the European Union (EU), their “pressing financial constraints and security imperatives in their borderlands ultimately prevented any change of direction or transgression of the existing patterns of their foreign policies,” for “structure prevailed over agency.” Nonetheless, the region is gradually moving away from Europe and the United States in some areas. At the same time, the 2019 pandemic and other constraints have created new geopolitical dynamics that were already in the making, for outside powers had already shown increased interest in the region. While the United States (under President Trump) neglected the Maghreb until September 2020, Russia, China, the Gulf countries, and Turkey have increased their presence. With the extension of the Belt and Road Initiative to the Mediterranean, China has increased its economic presence and extended its Maritime Silk Road, which requires access to ports. Russia has made its return in search for opportunities, including access to ports, which will position it close to NATO’s southern flank. The competition among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states (e.g., Qatar versus the UAE), on the one hand, and the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and UAE, Turkey, and Israel (since normalization with Morocco), on the other, have spilled over onto the Maghreb. Thus, domestic challenges and evolving geopolitical dynamics have compelled the Maghreb regimes to seek the support of outside powers to offset their internal instability and to compete with one another (Algeria versus Morocco).

Article

The Past, Present, and Future of China–Latin America Relations  

Carol Wise

The theme of China’s relations with Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) may be analyzed across three distinct phases. The first is 1949–1978, which entailed the efforts of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to reach out economically to LAC in its pursuit of raw material inputs; the CCP also made political gestures toward leftist parties in countries like Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico; and there was considerable sociocultural interaction between the two. The second phase spans 1979–2000, which encompasses the first 2 decades of economic opening and structural reform in China. The LAC scenario during this time was one of economic volatility as well as a transition to democracy in a majority of countries. Economically, LAC’s debt-riddled “lost decade” of the 1980s gave way to the Washington Consensus in 1990, based on policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation. Similar to China’s reform thrust, LAC policymakers sought to incorporate the market more assertively into their respective economies. A third phase began in the wake of China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). As China gained market access to the entire WTO membership, its demand exploded for those raw materials needed to ratchet-up the country’s export-led manufacturing strategy to produce more sophisticated and higher value-added products. Within this third phase, the main highlights of China–LAC relations in the 21st century included the following: positive economic shocks and aftershocks; China’s public diplomacy and foreign policy toward LAC; China–LAC “Strategic Partnerships;” and the so-called triangle with the United States. The article concludes with a final tally on LAC progress vis-à-vis closer economic integration with China since the turn of the new millennium.

Article

The Politics of Regional Integration in Africa  

Paul-Henri Bischoff

On the African continent, a commitment to Pan-African unity and multilateral organization exists next to a postcolonial society whose 54 Westphalian states interpret the commitment to unity and integration to different degrees. The tension between a long-term Pan-African vision for a unified continent that prospers and is economically self-empowered, and the national concerns of governing state-centered elites with immediate domestic security and political and economic interests, lies at the heart of the politics surrounding African integration and affects both the continent and its regions. The politics of integration demand that a patchwork of regionalisms be consolidated; states give up on multiple memberships; and designated regional economic communities (RECs) take the lead on integration or subordinate themselves to the strategy and complement the institutions of the African Union (AU). In the interest of widening the social base of regional organization, politics needs to recognize and give status to informal regional actors engaged in bottom-up regionalism. Of issue in the politics of integration and regionalism are themes of norm adaptation, norm implementation, intergovernmentalism and supra-nationality, democracy, and authoritarianism.

Article

Reimagining Africa: A Continent in Transition and Its Implications for World Order  

Clement Adibe

Africa has made significant progress at home and on the world stage that belies its image as the backwater of the global system. Far from being marginalized, African states have exercised their agency in the international system through an extensive mechanism of institutionalized diplomacy—anchored on the African Union (AU)—that they have forged over several decades of collective action. Changes are taking place in 21st-century Africa as a result of these collective efforts. Socioeconomic data from the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations, and the World Bank, indicate the economic, political, and demographic forces that are remaking Africa. Finally, the changes in Africa have implications for the evolving world order. Objective conditions warrant a reimagining of Africa as an agent in the international system, rather than as a passive victim of a predatory, anarchical order. Current challenges facing the post-war liberal international order make such reimagination imperative.

Article

Researching Modern Economic Sanctions  

Menevis Cilizoglu and Bryan R. Early

Economic sanctions are an integral part of states’ foreign policy repertoire. Increasingly, major powers and international organizations rely on sanctions to address an incredibly diverse array of issues—from fighting corruption to the prevention of nuclear weapons. How policy makers employ economic sanctions evolved over time, especially over the past two decades. The recognition of the adverse humanitarian impact of economic sanctions in the late 1990s and the “War on Terrorism” following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks have led to major changes in the design and enforcement patterns of economic sanctions. Academics’ understanding of how these coercive tools work, when they are utilized, what consequences they create, and when they succeed are still heavily shaped by research findings based on observations from the latter half of the 20th century. Insights based on past sanctions episodes may not fully apply to how sanctions policies are being currently used. In the latter half of the 20th century, the majority of sanctions cases were initiated by the United States, targeted governments, and involved restrictions on international trade. In the last two decades, however, additional actors, such as the European Union, the United Nations, and China, have emerged as major senders. Modern sanctions now most commonly involve targeted and financial sanctions and are imposed against individuals, organizations, and firms. The changing nature of the senders, targets, stakeholders, and economic tools associated with sanctions policies have important implications for their enforcement, effectiveness, and consequences. The legal-regulatory and bureaucratic infrastructure needed to implement and enforce modern economic sanctions has also become far more robust. This evolution of modern sanctions has provided the scholarly community with plenty of opportunities to explore new questions about economic coercion and revisit old ones. The research agenda on economic sanctions must evolve to remain relevant in understanding why and how modern sanctions are used and what their consequences are.

Article

The Coloniality of the Scientific Anthropocene  

Vishwas Satgar

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.