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Engaging Today's Global Citizen January 2010
In the Issue
Features

The Challenges of State Fragility in an Interdependent World. What does US national security mean in a world where scores of countries are severely underdeveloped and in danger of getting worse? How can we best respond as the chances of widespread state failure seems to be increasing? What policy tools, plans, and actions are needed in a world where the worst threats to both US and global security may come from state weakness rather than state strength? The Stanley Foundation recently brought together experts and officials from the US and abroad to examine these questions and more for its 50th Strategy for Peace Conference.


Multilateralism and the Shifting Global Balance of Power. The global balance of power has been shifting with the rise of countries like China, India, and Brazil. Asia has become critically important to future peace and prosperity. And the solution to any contemporary problem requires the involvement of many different stakeholders: affected nations, nations contributing to problems, key powers, civil society, the private sector, etc. On January 8-9, 2010, the Stanley Foundation and three co-conveners held a conference on "New Foundations for Global Governance." Leading experts from a wide range of specialties were asked about the implications of the shifting tectonic plates of the global order for the future of multilateralism.


The Copenhagen Accord: A Mixed Bag. Two years and two weeks of negotiations culminated with an agreement that allows for world temperatures to rise above a 2 degree Celsius target. The Copenhagen Accord falls short in many respects, but it does lay the groundwork for all major economies to reduce and verify their emission targets—a feat never achieved before, says Simeon Talley, University of Iowa student and former Stanley Foundation intern. Read more from Talley who was in Copenhagen as part of a delegation sponsored by the Iowa United Nations Association.


Beyond the Headlines

A Lot Can Change in a Year. President Barack Obama’s approval rating looks something like a ski slope. In sharp contrast to a year ago, when it hovered at 67 percent, today his approval rating is around 47 percent. Only one year ago Obama was featured as Time magazine’s "Person of the Year" and his campaign of "hope" was still on the minds of many Americans. Now, amidst setbacks on health care, the still limping economy, and what some view as foreign policy failures, writers and pundits alike are taking swings at Obama’s first year. Some argue that the problems are inherited from the last president, who left challenges across the board. Others say that he has "spent nearly a year getting it wrong." Then there are those who try to simply present the facts. Regardless of the point of view, Obama is ending his first year in office with some of the lowest post-World War II approval ratings for the first year of a presidency.


The Outlook for Sudan. Sudan is facing a year that may well determine its destiny. Reports are indicating that a sharp uptick of violence in the southern region has left 250,000 displaced in 2009 alone. This, on the eve of an April 2010 presidential election that will likely keep President Omar al-Bashir at the helm, is one of many signs that point toward the resurgence of civil war between the Chinese-backed north and the Western allied south. UN diplomats have noted that a sudden flow of weapons to the south may suggest that northern Sudanese officials are again arming competing clans in a bid to send the south into turmoil so that a January 2011 referendum vote for southern independence may be cancelled. The referendum, if successful, may produce a southern state incapable of alleviating issues of corruption, human rights violations, and the absence of a unified security force. Thus there is rising concern over the prospect of Sudan transforming from one into two failed states if the referendum were to pass. And for those in support of a Responsibility to Protect norm, the inadequate global response and worsening human rights conditions inside Sudan have only provided a heavy dose of further distress.


Stay Active
Now Showing

In March the Stanley Foundation will release the latest of its Now Showing event-in-a-box toolkits. Radioactive Challenge features a video that helps viewers examine the challenge of securing vulnerable nuclear materials globally. The Now Showing toolkit contains everything needed to have a successful event. Included are guides for planning and moderating an event, as well as discussion questions to get people talking. Also included are full color posters for promotion and background materials to provide further information on the discussion topics. Sign up now to receive your FREE toolkit in the mail when it comes available. An online version of the toolkit will be available in March.


Tools for Action

The Pittsburgh Human Rights Network is sponsoring a blog contest encouraging posts that have something to do with human rights as envisioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Check it out as an example of creating an interactive forum around an issue or make your own blog post before March 10 to be eligible for the contest. Winners will get either a $50 gift card or a $50 donation to a charity of their choice.


New Resource

PolitiFact, a project of the St. Petersburg Times, has created a tool that looks at more than 500 campaign promises made by President Obama and tracks progress made on them. The Obameter is a way to gauge steps the administration has taken to implement campaign promises like "convene a summit on preventing nuclear terrorism," "secure nuclear weapons materials in four years," or "strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency and double its budget in the next four years."


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