Extracts from the latest edition of The Round Table: The Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) held in Malta witnessed high drama in the election of Patricia Scotland as the organisation’s new Secretary-General. This article notes, among other things, that it once again demonstrated the myth that the Secretary-General is chosen on the basis of consensus. In the view of the author, although the conference discussed a number of issues of substance and importance, there is an urgent need to give the Secretariat new collective purpose and vision. Malta, argues the article, provided an important point of departure, and the next CHOGM, to be held in Britain in 2018, offers Commonwealth organisations and civil society an opportunity to make their own unique and enhanced contributions.
This article examines India’s emerging approach to foreign policy: multialignment. It argues that since the mid-2000s India has developed multialignment as a means of achieving what it perceives as its core interests and ideals in international relations. Characterised by an emphasis on engagement in regional multilateral institutions, the use of strategic partnerships, and what is termed ‘normative hedging’, multialignment is being utilised to boost India’s economic development and national security, as well as to project influence and promote its values. The article traces the emergence of this strategy during the governments of Manmohan Singh and its implementation and extension by the new government of Narendra Modi. It analyses the key arguments that have been presented in its favour and the ways in which it was been put into practice. It concludes with a brief assessment of multialignment as a strategy, as well as the prospect that it will deliver the dividends expected by India’s foreign policy elite.
As part of its growing imperial aspirations that were part of the so-called Mare Nostrum attempt, the Italian Empire sought to build up nationalist propaganda on Cyprus. The irredentist activities and propaganda coordinated by the Italian Embassy in Cyprus alarmed the British governors and the Foreign Office. By drawing upon archival documents, this article analyses the evolution of the strategic importance of Cyprus for the British Empire, which began in response to the perceived threat posed by the Italian Empire during the interwar period. The main argument put forward here is that under these new circumstances Cyprus became a significant geostrategic possession for the British Empire. The Italian Empire, having colonised the Dodecanese islands of the Aegean Sea, was gradually making its presence felt in Cyprus in the 1920s and went on to do so more vigorously in the 1930s. The Italian ambassador was perceived as persona non grata by the British government in Cyprus. It was therefore difficult for the British Empire under the actual, or at least the perceived, threat of Italian influence to permit Cypriots to exercise their right of self-determination.
This article examines Ghana’s foreign policy-making with reference to internal and external determinants (structural/systemic). Besides these determinants, political actors (primarily, presidents/heads of state) have shaped the country’s foreign policy outcomes, but this field of enquiry (i.e. the individual-level analysis) has not, received much attention in the literature. To enhance the understanding of leadership and personality traits in foreign policy-making, this study draws on the theory of Leadership Trait Analysis to examine Jerry John Rawlings and Ghana’s foreign economic policy in the early 1980s. It argues that the leadership traits of Rawlings to some extent shaped Ghana’s foreign economic policy decisions in the early 1980s.
Migration from Bangladesh: Impulses, Risks and Exploitations by Amit Ranjan
Migration and emigration from Bangladesh is a pervasive phenomenon. Historically, large-scale migration from the region constituting the present Bangladesh started after tea plantations were introduced to Assam by the British in the early 19th century. Gradually, the number of migrants from this region increased due to geographic location, climate change and poverty. Over the years, there has been a change in the gender pattern of migration, where the proportion of female migrants has increased significantly. These migrants play a significant role in the Bangladesh economy, as remittances constituted about 8.21% of gross domestic product in 2014. This article examines why, despite the many dangers that the migrants face, including violence in the host countries and exploitation by their ‘masters’, the number of migrants from Bangladesh continues to rise constantly.
Must British-based Commonwealth Institutions Fail? By Richard Bourne
A critical challenge for the new Secretary-General will be to reach out, to demonstrate that the Commonwealth is not a fusty, elitist, immobile club but one that many governments can use to help their citizens to a better, safer life, and where citizens themselves can contribute. There is a huge task of public education here. At the same time, in the UK, those associations that proclaim their faith in the Commonwealth must open up to new ideas, and new participants. Participation is a buzzword in Commonwealth circles, yet it has to acquire real meaning if citizens in the UK are to have more awareness, let alone ownership, before their government hosts the next CHOGM in 2018.
Maldives and the Commonwealth: It is Time to Walk the Talk by Kai Reddy & Uladzimir Dsenisevich
The Maldives has been on the Commonwealth’s radar since the ousting of President Mohamed Nasheed in 2012. The oppressive political climate, with civil liberties being strictly curtailed and threats to the rule of law and democracy, has led to a global outcry. While the Commonwealth has certainly stepped in and exerted pressure on the Maldives government, it has stopped short of taking the firm decisive action needed to save democracy in the island country. Truly, the very survival of democracy is what is at stake in the Maldives today.
In 2004, when there seemed no likelihood that Cecil Rhodes’s legacy would ever again be controversial, I was asked to contribute an essay to a volume on the idea of a Pantheon from classical times to the present. I was commissioned to examine the monuments to Rhodes in southern Africa and in Oxford, including such sites as the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town, Rhodes’s grave in the Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe and Rhodes House, Oxford, headquarters of the Rhodes Trust, virtually a temple laden with imperial symbolism. My focus was on the work of Herbert Baker, Rhodes architect, who played a particular role in giving architectural form to Rhodes’s legacy. At that time, however, the subjects of the recent controversy in Oxford—the Rhodes Building at Oriel College, Oxford, and the plaque to him in nearby King Edward Street—were thought to be insufficiently significant to include in the essay. Few observers, then, noticed these memorials, situated as they were above street level and largely out of sight. I was therefore surprised when last summer, following the removal of the statue at the University of Cape Town and the inauguration of a #RhodesMustFall (#RMF) movement, the hitherto obscure Oriel memorials should become central objects of controversy. Unlike Baker, the architect of the Rhodes Building, Basil Champneys was only marginally associated with Rhodes and as a result the building was not covered in my chapter.
The Maldives: A Threat to Us All by Benedict Rogers
Four years ago, the Maldives’ nascent democracy came to a brutal and sudden end when the country’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Nasheed, was ousted in what amounted to a coup d’état. Officially his departure from power was presented as a resignation; in reality, his resignation statement was delivered at gunpoint.
For the past four years, the country known to the world as an idyllic tropical holiday destination has been the scene of bloody suppression backed up by lies and distortion. Mohamed Nasheed was harassed, hounded, assaulted and arrested periodically, although he was permitted to contest fresh presidential elections held in 2013. Ahead in the first round though just falling short of an outright win, Mr Nasheed prepared to fight the run-off—until the Supreme Court annulled the poll and called for fresh elections two months later. In the end, Abdulla Yameen was elected president.
The June 2016 edition is now available.
Commonwealth Update by Oren Greenbaum
‘The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has always been the Ministerial Inaction Group. Their Idea is to Find a Way of Not Acting’ an interview with Mohamed Nasheed
Commonwealth Book Review and Bookshelf
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