What We’ve Been Reading

| February 2017
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Welcome to our roundup of news and current events related to ethics and international affairs! Here’s what we’ve been reading this February:


Photo credit: Ivan Bandura via Flickr

The Economist: As America and Russia talk, Ukraine fights

Unrest between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed separatists reignited one day after a phone conversation between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, triggering speculation that Mr. Putin is seeking to test his American counterpart. Though the conflict has remained somewhat dormant in recent years, recent geopolitical developments may exacerbate tensions in the country.

Read more on the conflict in Ukraine in Ethics & International Affairs:

Ukraine: Obligated to Assist? by Nick Gvosdev

Ukraine, The Great Powers, Budapest, and Astheneia by Nick Gvosdev

Book Review: Conflict in Ukraine: The Unwinding of the Post-Cold War International Order

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The Guardian: Somalia famine fears prompt UN call for ‘immediate and massive’ reaction

The UN is warning that more than 6 million people are facing acute food insecurity in Somalia. Severe drought, rising food prices and accessibility issues are causing humanitarian agencies to worry that the country could see a repeat of the 2011 famine, when an estimated 260,000 people died of starvation.

Read more on the politics of food security and aid in Africa in Ethics & International Affairs:

How We Count Hunger Matters by Frances Moore Lappé, Jennifer Clapp, Molly Anderson, Robin Broad, Ellen Messer, Thomas Pogge, and Timothy Wise

Hunger, Food Security, and the African Land Grab by Richard Schiffman


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Photo credit: Peter Dowley.

New York Times: ‘Irrational’ Coal Plants May Hamper China’s Climate Change Efforts

Coal gasification is inefficient and emits higher levels of carbon dioxide than equivalent energy production methods. However, coal-to-gas plants are gaining popularity in some provinces of China, despite the country’s efforts to move away from the fossil fuel. The growing popularity of coal gasification highlights tensions between the Chinese central government, which has continued to voice support for the Paris Climate Agreement, and local leaders, who stand to benefit economically from the process.

Read more on climate change and fossil fuels in Ethics & International Affairs:

Climate Contributions and the Paris Agreement: Fairness and Equity in a Bottom-Up Architecture by Nicholas Chan 

Why Fossil Fuel Divestment Is Working by Alex Lenferna

Roundtable: The Facts, Fictions, and Future of Climate Change, Issue 28.3

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Photo credit: Vincent van Zeijst

NPR: Under New Leader, Gambia Cancels Withdrawal From International Criminal Court

In a reversal of policy outlined by his predecessor, Gambia’s President Adama Barrow has confirmed that the country will remain party to the International Criminal Court. Former President Yahya Jammeh, who was recently ousted after refusing to step down after Barrow’s election, had criticized the court for being biased against African leaders and had initiated the withdrawal process.

Read more on the ICC in Ethics & International Affairs:

The ICC’s Potential for Doing Bad When Pursuing Good by Benjamin Schiff

International Judges: Is there a Global Ethic? by Richard J. Goldstone

Trials as Messages of Justice: What Should Be Expected of International Criminal Courts? by Tim Meijers and Marlies Glasius

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The Telegraph: The Muslim refugees converting to Christianity ‘to find safety’

In Lebanon, hundreds of Syrian refugees are choosing to convert from Islam to Christianity. While converting to Christianity is rare in Syria, some refugees hosted in Lebanon are risking taboo in order to benefit from aid provided by Christian charities. Others see conversion as a way to improve their chances of gaining asylum in Christian-majority countries like the U.S. or Canada as Lebanon begins to decrease support for its large refugee population.

Read more on refugees and humanitarian aid in Ethics & International Affairs:

The Normative Terrain of the Global Refugee Regime by Alexander Betts

Self-Interest and the Distant Vulnerable by Luke Glanville

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Photo credit: U.S. Army.

Voice of America: Top US General: Afghanistan War Still a ‘Stalemate’

General John Nicholson told the Armed Services Committee that he believes U.S.-backed forces in Afghanistan have reached a stalemate that can only be broken with additional troops and offensive capability. The conflict, now in its 15th year, resulted in the deaths of at least 6,700 Afghan soldiers in 2016.

Read more on the war in Afghanistan in Ethics & International Affairs:

Proportionality in the Afghanistan War by Jeff McMahan

Ending War by David Rodin 

The Ethics of America’s Afghan War by Richard W. Miller

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Photo credit: UNICEF.

Reuters: “Medicalisation” of female genital mutilation is serious threat – experts

As the risks associated with Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) become more widely known, more parents are seeking to have the procedure performed in a clinical setting. This development worries aid organizations, which fear that the practice will grow as clinics start to profit from the dangerous procedure.

Read more on women’s rights in Ethics & International Affairs:

Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy in the Making: Ethics, Politics, and Gender by Karin Aggestam and Annika Bergman-Rosamond

Transformative Equality: Making the Sustainable Development Goals Work for Women by Sandra Fredman, Jaakko Kuosmanen, and Meghan Campbell 

Book Review: The Hillary Doctrine: Sex and American Foreign Policy

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