Earth Trusteeship:

State sovereignty in the Anthropocene

Klaus Bosselmann

 At the opening speech for last year’s Climate Week at the United Nations in New York, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern presented the Maori concept of kaitiakitanga as the key for combating climate change. She explained it in this way:

"It means guardianship. But not just guardianship, but the responsibility of care for the environment in which we live, and the idea that we have a duty of care that eventually hands to the next generation, and the one after. We all hold this responsibility in our own nations, but the challenge of climate change requires us to look beyond the domestic. Our duty of care is as global as the challenge of climate change.”

‘Guardianship’, ‘responsibility of care’, ‘duty of care’, ‘beyond the domestic’ – what does that all mean?

Can kaitiakitanga save the planet?


Multilateralism –

with Chinese Characteristics

Fraser Cameron

If you were to read the speeches and articles of Chinese leaders you might conclude there was no country on Earth more committed to multilateralism.  Certainly, China has benefited enormously from the rules-based, international system established after 1945.  How genuine is China, along with the other major powers assembled at the United Nations, in its commitment to multilateralism – 21st century-style?


The University in the Global Age:

Challenges and Opportunities

Chris Gallavin

 Last year I had the privilege of travelling around the US as an Eisenhower International Fellow. The experience was the most amazing of my professional career.

In this column, I outline my Fellowship project - Global University 2.0

Let me convey what I see as the challenges facing the modern global university, the imperatives that face humanity, some of the options available for change within tertiary education and the possible form of the ‘new global university’.



How to Prevent Genocide?

Early Intervention

Abbas Nazari

The best conflict is one that doesn’t happen. This blog argues that the best global approach (short of a full-fledged military intervention) to prevent a potential conflict from developing into all-out conflict is early interventionThe blog analyses a counterfactual approach to the Rwandan genocide, and how early intervention, had it been utilized, could have prevented the genocide of the Tutsi.

The memo demonstrates how heeding early 'warning signs' and  a concerted diplomatic effort could have prevented the genocide. Interspersed throughout are policy recommendations for the prevention of future conflicts.  



Individual Rights and State Responsibilities:

R2P & the Global Community

Ramesh Thakur

The Responsibility to Protect (R2P) principle recalibrated the relationship among and between peoples, states and the international community.

State sovereignty comes with responsibilities, domestic and international, along with privileges. Citizenship confers rights alongside responsibilities, including the right to be protected by States and, should that fail, by the international community. There is a corresponding global responsibility to protect people threatened by mass-atrocity crimes.

R2P became the normative instrument of choice for converting a shocked international conscience into collective action to prevent and stop atrocities. All of us who live in zones of safety have a duty of care to anyone and everyone trapped in zones of danger.  But how did R2P come into being, in a world of contestable values and competing interests?


The new omnipotence:

Global opportunity or global threat?

Chris Williams

What is the oldest organisation within the UN? What is missing from Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’?

What fuels the richest organisations in the world?  

Is the digital revolution an opportunity, or a threat, to the emergent global community?

While reading this on a smartphone, how many of us immediately recognised the answer to all three: information and communications?


Multilateralism & the Rules-based Order:

What role for international law?

Kennedy Graham

Yesterday I attended MFAT’s annual Beeby Colloquium on International Law. Having had the privilege of working closely with Chris back in the ‘80s, it is quite a moving experience to attend these events.  It is also, equally, an annual highlight in terms of intellectual stimulation and insight into issues of international law.

In earlier blog-posts, I have touched on the issue of a multilateral rules-based order and the competing perceptions among prominent national leaders as to what this means and what is might be composed of. At the 2019 Colloquium, a more penetrating and analysis emerged from the informed and thoughtful contributions, not least from one of the Centre’s Board members, Duncan Currie, on the ‘common heritage’ concept and the law of the sea. 

A highlight yesterday was some personal comment advanced by MFAT’s Acting Dep-Sec, Victoria Hallum.  Here are a few of her observations:


Strengthening Multilateralism:

The sovereignty debate at the UN

Kennedy Graham

My first column (9 Oct.) noted the ‘bipolar mind-set’ discernible among national leaders at the UN General Assembly debates in recent years.  An ‘intellectual rivalry’ was playing out between two apparent doctrines – ‘patriotism’ and ‘universalism’.

Both address the issue of a rules-based order, though from apparently different premises and reasoning. The debate revolves around two central principles of the UN Charter: national sovereignty and international law.

The debate is not new, but the modern pace of change and the onset of existential challenges put the framing of global problem-solving in starker relief than before.  The UN, with 193 Member States, is founded on the mid-20th c. principle of national sovereignty, yet three-quarters of a century later the emerging global community faces global problems unanticipated back then.  How is this handled by today’s leaders?


Global Security and UN Peacekeeping:

Logistical and Legal Challenges

Kennedy Graham

Jayden van Leeuwen’s column on UN peacekeeping and its accounting to the global community raises some important issues that thematically fall within the Centre’s global security programme.

Jayden addresses the problem of sexual abuse by personnel in UN peacekeeping missions – and the ‘startling lack of accountability’ applied to contributing member states.  The main barrier to accountability is the ‘legal status quo’ imposed by the Status of Forces Agreements under which individuals in UN missions are subject to the jurisdiction of the contributing State for any criminal offence committed in the host country. 

As Jayden observes, the foundation of the UN system is state consent, so the UN can only pursue non-legal accountability, such as financial assistance to victims and support for whatever redress the contributing State decides, which is usually inadequate.   

The UN itself acknowledges that it lacks ‘the authority or legal mandate to criminally prosecute individuals’, and can only refer allegations to the ‘relevant national authorities’ for action. 



UN Peace Keeping and the Global Community:

A specific, and sensitive, challenge

Jayden van Leeuwen

The United Nations (UN) is a key actor in the international sphere, and plays an integral role in the maintenance of peace and security across the world. One of the key mechanisms for doing so are its peacekeeping operations, which see peacekeepers inserted into some of the direst situations on the planet. The work of peacekeepers is absolutely crucial, but the UN has been marred by decades of scandal, as its peacekeepers have carried out instances of sexual exploitation and abuse while on mission. Not only does this significantly affect the credibility of the UN and its peacekeeping missions, but it also has truly horrific impacts on the victims, their families, and their communities. Successive Secretaries-General have strived to tackle this issue, with mixed success – at its heart, there is a startling lack of accountability, with the perpetrating peacekeepers often being subjected to little sanction.



The Multilateral Crisis in Trade:

What it means to Millennials

Renee Moorjani

The 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit saw the Director-General of the WTO lament the multilateral crisis, stating that it is the worst crisis “not only for the WTO but for the whole multilateral trading system since the GATT in 1947”

No doubt, the foundations of trade in the WTO were laid in an economy that no longer exists- the exponential growth of the service industry, e-commerce and the rise of emerging economies pose a fatal threat to the operating modalities of the WTO. Trade tensions are amplified by a lack of periodic performance evaluations, failure of the Doha Round in 2001, pursuit of strategic interests by China and others, aggressive unilateralism by USA and the consequent engagement in trade negotiations outside the auspices of WTO.

Why are these trade tensions of such pertinence to us as the youth of New Zealand?



Global Studies

in a Time of Global Angst

Kennedy Graham

Welcome to this revamped website of the NZ Centre for Global Studies which has just gone live (11 Oct. 2019). 

After five-years of activity in research and policy prescription, the Board sees it now as time to reach out more to the general public with its research findings and individual conclusions and views – not least to the younger generation pursuing their study and commencing their careers.

Most of the content of the original website is retained in the new updated version, but the main innovation is the series of columns on global affairs, commencing today.  Four columns will be maintained, consisting of separate commentary from the Director, and from a member of the Board, a member of the International Advisory Panel, and of the Young Global Scholars Group. There will also be invited commentary from others.

Global Studies

Website designed and hosted by The Island's Computer Guy