All in International Policy

By Mike Burrows, staff editor Events in authoritarian regimes across the Middle East have brought additional attention on China’s role in Africa, in terms of both small-scale unrest in the world’s largest centrally-run country and China’s service as financier and presumed backstop of other dictatorial regimes. China is unlikely to introduce full democracy anytime soon, but the chain of events provides a new reason to look more closely at China’s evolving position on the African continent.

By Agustina Laurito, staff editor On November 28 Haiti held a presidential election to choose Rene Préval’s successor. The election was characterized by fraud, corruption and low turnout. After a series of protests, it was determined last week that Michel Martelly will compete against Mirlande Manigat in the March 20 runoff election. Despite this advance, in a country still dealing with the crippling consequences of last year's devastating earthquake, and where institutional weakness is the norm, the road to the runoff election is full of challenges.

By Jade Lamb, staff editor The Economist loves a good graph. In the past week’s issue, it put together a table showing the results of its ad hoc “Shoe-Thrower’s Index,” which measures the likelihood of unrest in Arab countries. Yemen comes out far ahead, rating nearly 90 on the hundred-point scale; its closest competitor, Libya, comes in around 70. Confirming the Economist’s place as a leader in current events reporting, popular protests in Yemen have already started. How was the Economist’s index so prescient? In essence, the index measures two categories: whether people have cause to protest, and whether the country has a protest-inclined (i.e. young) population. Yemen, with a government 32 years in power and a median age of 18, fits the bill on both counts.

By Jamie Attard, staff editor “War’s overlooked victims,” as reported by The Economist on January 15, 2011 focuses on one weapon of war that has often been used with impunity throughout history. The weapon is not a knife, arrow, or stick; it is rape. The article details not only how commonly rape is used in war, but also how hard it still is to measure, document, and prevent. But rape is not an inevitable aspect of war. International organizations and national governments must take steps to ensure prevention, punishment, and the improvement of social services. While the problem may seem intractable, there are a number of concrete steps that can be taken.

By Agustina Laurito, staff editor On Wednesday December 15 the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that the ICC was issuing summons against six Kenyan citizens involved in the post election violence that engulfed the country during sixty days at the end of 2007 and the start of 2008. This is a bold new move for a prosecutor who has been accused of double standards against African countries, but it gains significance when put in the context of the events in Côte d’Ivoire, the many violent elections around the world, and Kenya´s future contest in 2012.

By Mike Burrows, staff editor Egypt’s elections on November 28 went ahead as feared without independent election monitors. There was, however, plenty of violence (eight were killed, more than in recent shark attacks) and an abundance of money changing hands. So far the US response has been disapproving but muted. After all, political capital is essential and scarce in the Middle East. With the Obama administration seeking conclusions in Iraq and Afghanistan, pressure against Iran, and effective Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, maintaining good relations with the ruling National Democratic Party and the Mubarak regime is a priority.

By Jade Lamb, staff editor Egypt’s decision not to allow monitors at its recent election bodes ill for democracy in that country. Though Egypt is no paragon of emerging democracy—Egypt has had only three presidents since the British left after World War II, and President Hosni Mubarak will probably be replaced by his son when he finally leaves office in five or ten years—election monitors can still have some positive influence.