A Tale of Two Degrees, 22 COPs and Many RINGOs

Or, How Non-state Actors Can Help Accelerate
the Pace of the UN Climate Change Process

By Anukriti Hittle
Visiting Scholar, East-West Center, Honolulu
Instructor, Washington University in St Louis

Rising Above National Interest
Most of the time, nations act in their own self-interest. And much of the time, they cooperate only when they are forced to—such as when facing imminent collective danger (nuclear threat, small pox, dictatorships). But in the face of a slow-boil threat like climate change, they seem to drag their national government-level feet. In such cases, pressure from non-state actors may be the key to achieving collective action.

How can non-state actors complement national actors to ratchet up ambition and speed up action in the area of climate change implementation? By using the well-tried resolutions process of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and applying it to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) process, Research and Independent Non-Governmental Organizations, or RINGOs, or could maximize collective action at the COP (Conference of the Parties) summits where both government representatives and observer organizations gather every year to address climate change issues. Continue reading

EWC Alumna Publishes Book on Hong Kong Return Migration

nan sussman return migration and identityNan Sussman (CLI 77) recently published: Return Migration and Identity: A Global Phenomenon, A Hong Kong Case published by Hong Kong University Press (2010).  The book examines cultural identity shifts and population flows during a critical juncture in Hong Kong history between the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984 and the early years of Hong Kong’s new status as a special administrative region after 1997. Nearly a million residents migrated to North America, Europe and Australia in the 1990s.

The author captures in dozens of interviews the anxieties, anticipations, hardships and flexible world perspectives of migrants and their families as well as friends and co-workers.

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Book Launch of East-West Center Researchers is a Success

Dr. Chia Siow Yue of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, and Dr. Michael G. Plummer (RSI 88, 89; IEP 95; VPRE 96; Wash 07; USAPC 08) of the East-West Center conducted the first comprehensive study of the potential of the ASEAN Economic Community along with a group of researchers from the region. The study was undertaken at the request of the ASEAN Secretariat and prepared through the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility, a joint program of the U.S. Agency for International Development and U.S. Department of State.

At the ASEAN-US Leaders Meeting, Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, presented a copy of "Realizing the ASEAN Economic Community" to President Barack Obama.

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Tales of old Thailand and Japan

AyutthayaIt’s the stuff of high adventure: Warrior kings, mysterious ships from far-off Japan, thriving trade across oceans and generations.

All part of the real-life tale of Thailand’s King Naresuan, who sat on the Thai throne more than 400 years ago when adventurous Japanese traders and samurai first settled in Thailand. And, you can read all about it in English thanks to Kennon “Ken” Breazeale, a projects coordinator at the Center. Here’s the story: Continue reading

Burma and the world in the post-cyclone era

By Justin Liang

On May 2nd, Cyclone Nargis exacted a tragic toll upon Burma, spawning a humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions.
Coming amid a controversial referendum vote on a new constitution drafted by the ruling junta, the havoc wrought by the storm—and the regime’s uninspired response to international assistance—has raised numerous questions about the challenges and opportunities of engagement with the isolationist regime.

I recently had the opportunity to ask some of these questions to Ambassador Priscilla Clapp, who served as Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy clappin Burma from 1999-2002 and recently retired after a 30-year career with the U.S. government. Ambassador Clapp has written extensively on Burma and will be speaking at an upcoming program at the East-West Center in Washington (see details of that program, as well as on another Burma program in Honolulu May 21, below).

Clapp spoke candidly about diplomacy with the ruling junta, prospects for humanitarian assistance, and the road ahead in Burma. Continue reading

Time just right for new U.S. Asia Pacific Council meet

Opening panelTake economic tremors in the United States that quite possibly could spread to Asia, add a billion Chinese who are feeling a little disrespected by the rest of the world, stir in a new conservative prime minister in South Korea and a Mandarin-speaking Prime Minister of Australia and what do you get?

Just about the perfect time, in the thinking of Center President Charles Morrison, for the latest gathering of the U.S. Asia Pacific Council of the East West Center. Continue reading