Contributions were received from Claudia Astarita, Dario Sabbioni, Maria Chiara Slucca and Lorenzo Vai.
La Cina e la questione ambientale / Alessandro Gobbicchi. -Milano : F. Angeli, c2012. - 229 p. - (Società e politica ; 74). - ISBN 978-88-204-0374-4
Discussing China's approach to global warming is not an easy task. Beijing's attitude to this sensitive issue has often appeared confusing. Alessandro Gobbicchi's book, which tries to retrace what the People's Republic has been thinking, doing and achieving in this context over the last three decades, is therefore a welcome tool.
The book argues that China systematically approached the environmental issue for the first time when its historical "modernisation" started in the late 1970s. He writes, however, that the Party was aware of the fact that economic growth and development could have a dangerous impact on the environment as of the late 1950s, even if it never designed a consistent and effective environmental policy. Although it is particularly difficult and risky to forecast Beijing's political and economic intentions, the author seems convinced that things might change in a long-term perspective.
The author emphasizes the connections between economic growth, environmental problems and social stability. While fast economic growth is crucial for maintaining social stability in the People's Republic of China, China's economic prosperity has already had a deep and negative impact on the environment. In turn, the recent increase in social protests triggered by environmental disasters has transformed ecological problems into sources of instability, pushing the author to conclude that this dangerous chain reaction can be broken only by reorienting economic growth in a more 'ecological' direction - a choice that, according to Gobbicchi, could have other positive spillovers in terms of people's health and the preservation of primary sources and ecological and geological equilibria.
The author clarifies that at the time of Zhou Enlai (considered the leader with the strongest environmental consciousness in China), China's Communist Party was convinced that environmental problems were an inevitable consequence of capitalist society and that such problems would never become the source of trouble under Chinese socialism. He also reminds us that the then premier elaborated the principle of the 'Three Simultaneities', according to which anti-pollution policies and devices should be implemented and installed 'simultaneously' to the realization of industrial policies and plants to control their environmental impact, implying that it was already clear in the 1970s that boosting economic growth without taking its environmental implications into consideration might have a destabilizing political, social and cultural impact.
The first part of the book investigates the evolution of China's environmental policy since Deng Xiaoping's reforms, highlighting the way in which each Five Year Plan approached the issue, overviewing the (limited) improvements achieved by the measures implemented, and pointing out the reasons for failures. The second part retraces the background to the policy and the circumstances that influenced its subsequent evolution, stressing the impact of China's legislative, executive and judicial systems, as well as its fiscal and financial constraints.
The author emphasizes the huge contradiction in contemporary China: the idea that there can be any kind of environment protection if the strategy for maintaining high growth rate is to stimulate internal consumption. The book suggests that while most Chinese efforts have until now been focused on reducing (or, better, trying to limit) the impact of industrial waste on the environment, Beijing should rather consider the long-term effects of a rapid increase in internal consumption.
In conclusion, the author reiterates that what China has been doing over the last three decades to limit pollution and boost energy saving has not been enough to achieve remarkable results. Furthermore, he emphasizes that no matter how urgent it is to address the environmental issue in a consistent way, the Beijing government seems to continue to consider economic growth its main priority, thereby reducing, albeit indirectly, the effectiveness of any environmental policy. (Claudia Astarita, also in Italian)
National and European foreign policies : towards Europeanization / edited by Reuben Wong and Christopher Hill. - London and New York : Routledge, 2011. - xxii, 280 p. - (Routledge advances in European politics ; 74). - ISBN 978-0-415-61084-1 ; 978-0-203-81603-5 (ebk)
The 'puzzle' of European foreign policy is composed of many different pieces and can be seen from various perspectives. It also gives rise to many questions: are national foreign policies Europeanized and, vice versa, to what extent do they contribute to shaping a particular logic in highlevel European foreign policy decisions? What is the intersection between the two?
This book by Reuben Wong, Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department of the University of Singapore, and Christopher Hill, a renowned scholar on these issues and Sir Patrick Sheehy Professor of International Relations in the POLIS Department at the University of Cambridge, tries to contribute to a greater understanding of how national politics and traditions affect the European Union in its external relations, and whether Brussels' decisions are taken as a lodestar for EU countries. Following a series of Foreign Policy Workshops at the London School of Economics and Political Science (the most relevant one being a joint conference with the University of Birmingham's Institute of German Studies on foreign policy and Europeanization in 2002), the two editors asked scholars from ten different EU countries to list the policies their countries have put in place in order to be in harmony with other member states (MS) in Europe, as well as what they think still has to be achieved and what their main common European foreign policy concerns are. The selection of case studies was based on three criteria: large/small, north/south, developed/developing countries. The book considers three founding MS (France, Germany and Italy), two 'opt-out' countries (Denmark and UK), two Mediterranean countries (Spain and Greece), Finland, and two 'latecomers' (Poland and Slovenia).
International politics is an arena for resolute decision-makers, and Europe has historically encountered numerous obstacles in trying to reach a consensus on its external projection. Differences in culture, institutional procedures and political legitimacy have strongly influenced the way in which states have related to the EU. This book addresses the problems underlying European foreign policy processes in four main areas: the evolution of relations with major powers such as the US, China and Russia; the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP); Middle East policy (generally neglected in most works) and, finally, the decision-making process, which could seem a minor issue but turns out to be a very important one. The introduction provides a framework for working out the theoretical perspective: how to conceptualize Europeanization? What aspects are worth noting and discussing? Which theories are best suited for understanding the implications of foreign policy convergence?
The concept of Europeanization, a recent concept, and European policymaking itself have undergone considerable changes since the first research was done a decade ago, research that was based on only a few case studies and characterised by a somewhat simple approach. The authors acknowledge this change and try to respond to this difficulty by formulating a coherent research question, looking for the relevant empirical data and turning the abundant material into an organic whole.
Through the years, the burgeoning literature has identified three dimensions to Europeanization (top-down, bottom-up and cross-loading), which the authors use as a point of departure. They then give a neofunctionalist account of elite interactions (which shows that the réflexe communautaire is now more the rule than the exception for civil servants working in the foreign policy field) and an intergovernmental view, backed by Stanley Hoffman's famous article in 2000, "Towards a Common Foreign and Security Policy?". In the end, they think that the two approaches are mutually self-excluding, and that Europeanization has to be seen as a sui generis matter, a multifaceted conundrum.
As the examples of Germany and Italy show, it is difficult to define a set of common decisions and guidelines for any single country because national mechanisms are often unpredictable when it comes to European matters, as policies are mainly determined by domestic factors. The events that led to the 28 June 2012 European Council showed that the policies a government will adopt cannot be predicted on the basis of the country's tradition or history, as they are often contradicted by contingencies.
Germany and Italy, in fact, are or have been key players in Europe, but have not developed any real European or anti-European traditions. In the last sixty years, their actions have often been dictated by domestic policy, rather than by predetermined positions or specific political behaviour. The recent euro crisis and the need for a profound rethinking of European policy has triggered a debate that may lead to greater Europeanization in the near future.
In conclusion, the book's findings are useful and provide researchers with fertile material for debate. Newcomers to the field of Europeanization will gain thorough and solid knowledge, while both practitioners and intellectuals will learn how to apply different methods and point of views in analysing foreign policy outcomes. Nevertheless, there are some shortcomings that have to be highlighted. They have to do with the complexity of clearly identifying the differences between 'uploading', 'downloading' and 'crossloading' national foreign policies, or the constructivist factors that shape consolidated foreign policy views, such as the ideological hostility to further integration that occurs in times of crisis. These factors all contribute to the infringement of established norms, but there is no getting around the problem unless a common strategy for European external relations is worked out. When and how that will happen depends on whether Europe is able to cope with "monolithic" national decisions. (Dario Sabbioni)
Peace operations and organised crime : enemies or allies? / edited by James Cockayne and Adam Lupel. - London and New York : Routledge, 2011. - x, 230 p. - (Cass series on peacekeeping ; 28). - ISBN 978-0-415-60170-2 ; 978-0-203-80473-5 (ebk)
While scholars and practitioners have often drawn attention to the links between organised crime and state fragility, armed conflict and terrorism, there is a surprising dearth of systematic thought addressing the relationship between organised crime and international peace operations. In this respect, this book edited by James Cockayne and Adam Lupel (co-director of the Center on Global Counterterrorism in New York and editor at the International Peace Institute, respectively) tries to answer a challenging question: what are the intended and unintended links between organised crime and UN-led peace operations?
After a general analysis of the role of UN peace operations in countering corruption and organised crime, the core chapters of the book explore the multiple shapes the relationship between international peacekeeping missions and criminal networks and related activities may have. To this end, it adopts a comparative approach based on eight country studies, from the Balkans to Africa, Latin America and, more recently, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The relationship between peace operations and organised crime is not univocal or simply dichotomist. The several types of criminal organisations around the world (categorised using three specific criteria: type of coercion, capital and legitimacy), the different countries in which they act, and the various characteristics of a peacekeeping operation can lead to opposite scenarios. On the one hand, if peace operations aim to build peace, security and the rule of law, they are logically enemies of any national or transnational criminal organisation. On the other, these two actors can become tacit allies due to the potentially dangerous structural symbiosis created by the economic opportunities offered, implicitly, by an international peace mission. This might be the case of Guatemala, for instance, dealt with by Patrick Gavigan (chapter nine), where criminal networks have grown stronger during an internationally backed peace process, despite the decade-ling presence in the country of a UN verification mission. Another example is illustrated by Roland Marchal (chapter six), who examines the successive peace operations and other interventions in Somalia and finds they created room for the emergence of specific business activities labelled 'criminal'.
Additionally, a serious concern for international peacekeepers is to understand and identify what activities are to be considered as criminal. In fact, the definition of 'organised crime' - fundamental for policymaking and result assessment - does not seem to be univocal. As explained in the book, 'organised crime' is a label that must be applied with care as it can obscure the intricate interpenetration of legitimate and illegitimate activities, as experienced in many weak and conflict-affected states. If used imprudently, the label may potentially turn allies from civil society into sworn enemies, as happened in conflict-ridden countries in West Africa where, according to William Reno (chapter five), peacekeeping missions contributed to the social buildup of crime.
Following the in-depth analysis of the eight case studies, the volume returns (chapter eleven), to a thematic assessment of international efforts to reduce armed violence in post-conflict situations, seen as the first step in fighting criminal organisations. According to Robert Muggah and Keith Krause, these interventions are often ineffective due to the lack of tailored approaches to each post-conflict context. Finally, the conclusion cites a number of good practices and lessons learned to counter negative connections between international peacekeeping operations and organised crime. These include, among others, the need to distinguish among various strategies and adopt those that both contain organised crime and transform the political economies in which it flourishes.
All in all, the book will be of great interest to students and scholars of peacebuilding, peace and security studies. Thanks to its accuracy and the numerous case studies built on a solid theoretical framework, it is a valuable tool for both academics and policymakers. (Lorenzo Vai)
Rule of law after war and crisis : ideologies, norms and methods / Richard Zajac Sannerholm. - Cambridge [etc.] : Intersentia, c2012. - xvi, 276 p. - (Series on transitional justice ; 7). - ISBN 978-1-78068-008-8
How can rule of law be promoted (and enforced) in the aftermath of a war or a crisis? This is the question Sannerholm's book tries to answer. By analysing past failures in countries like Kosovo, Liberia and Somalia, which are taken as case studies, the author puts forward his view of rule of law reform. His perspective is not just descriptive, but also prescriptive: the aim of the book is to suggest methods and ways whereby damaged societies can reorganise their administrative, judicial and legal structures.
Sannerholm begins by analysing rule of law reform from a theoretical and historical point of view. In the first part of the book, he explains what initiatives might come into play in post-war and post-crisis societies. On the one hand, policy-formulating activities, like peace agreements, can influence rule of law development. According to Sannerholm, peace agreements imply an understanding of the causes of the conflict and therefore provide useful indications for avoiding further crises. In addition, they may contain rule of law principles and, as such, become the basis for setting up a new postwar constitutional framework. On the other hand, international organisations usually contribute to reform processes. In this respect, he illustrates why players like the UN, EU, OSCE, IMF, and bilateral aid agencies promote reforms and what their objectives (political, social, economic or financial) are.
In the second part of the book, the question addressed is how international models of rule of law and national structures can be reconciled. In this regard, the author investigates the role played by international actors in the abovementioned case studies and how they influence rule of law development, either transferring Western models or assuring assistance to local initiatives. In this respect, according to the mandate of the international actor, international organisations usually provide budgetary support, assistance in the constitution-making process or institution-building initiatives (like selecting personnel, training judges, lawyers, prosecutors and civil servants).
In the third part of the book, Sannerholm identifies some common denominators of rule of law reform that can ensure reasonable approximation and enhance the predictability of success: if reformers are acquainted with these starting points, it should be easier for them to forecast outcomes, choose better solutions and avoid failure. The common denominators include the 'importation' of suitable model laws from other (Western) countries, the use of international standards in institutional reform and the vetting of programmes. In the last chapters, Sannerholm focuses on how rule of law should be applied to reality: in his view, it cannot be an imported or externally imposed model or set of values. Rather, it should reflect local historical, social, political and legal backgrounds and can be subject to detours or resistance. In addition, his case studies demonstrate that reforms are most likely to succeed where there is a real demand for them and when they do not require complex institutional arrangements or reforms that are unlikely to be realized.
In hindsight, Sannerholm identifies past faults in implementing rule of law reforms: low political stability and governance efficiency, disregard of legal rules, poorly trained public officials, citizens' unawareness of their legal rights, corruption, lack of transparency, and rules developed and applied with no regard for social needs. Accordingly, he sets out some guidelines to make future reforms work and to build new, sound and reliable structures. What a successful reform needs are institutions (like courts) to monitor the performance of administrative, social and justice systems; 'bottom-up initiatives' to improve citizens' access to newly formed institutions; and the vetting and training of public officials. In this sense, Rule of law after war and crisis is something of a 'handbook', suggesting general criteria to avoid failures in rule of law promotion. However, it should not be read as a recipe for guaranteed success. In most cases, war-torn and crisis countries have fragile and complex institutions that are difficult to stabilise with standard guidelines or a priori solutions. (Maria Chiara Slucca)