The Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs is published by SAIS Europe, and is a publication of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies

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We aim to publish an international affairs journal of the highest quality for academics, policy makers, and professionals who are interested in the world's most pressing issues.

Volume 17

The Editorial Board of the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs is excited to announce the theme of the Journal's 17th edition, "Stalemates".

The 16th edition of the Journal may be viewed here.


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US Drug and Gun Policies are Worsening Mexico’s Narco Wars

By Derek Schlickeisen
For a salary of $600 a week, Santiago Meza López made “stew” for the Tijuana Cartel, the notoriously violent drug trafficking organization that for many years controlled the vital US-Mexico border crossing at Tijuana. The ingredients of his stew: more than 300 corpses of the cartel’s rivals, which he dissolved in empty oil barrels using sodium hydroxide.

Stories like this one, which emerged after the arrest of López in 2009, have become increasingly common since the 2006 declaration of full-blown war against Mexico’s drug traffickers by then-President Felipe Calderón in a fight that has since claimed an estimated 80,000 lives.

The violence has continued unabated under the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto (2012-present), who has maintained his predecessor’s strategy of targeting top cartel leaders, most notably the 22 February 2014 capture of Sinaloa Cartel boss Joaquín “El Chapo Guzmán. While this “leadership decapitation” strategy, carried out by Mexico’s military and federal police, has been the hallmark of government policy throughout the drug war, it goes against evidence suggesting that the removal of cartel bosses simply leads to the violent splitting of their organizations into smaller, competing factions. Moreover, with a shocking 2% criminal conviction rate, Mexico’s appallingly incompetent and corrupt criminal justice system has hampered the country’s legal response.

Yet for all of the shortcomings of Mexico’s counternarcotics strategy, its leaders are also struggling against two key problems that come from north of the Rio Grande: the US’s meager investments in drug treatment programs to reduce demand, and its political unwillingness to rein in the sale of firearms that are purchased in the US and then smuggled into Mexico. Simply put, it is US dollars and US guns that are fueling the orgy of drug violence south of the border.


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Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime

By Kathleen McGlynn

Modeling the Effectiveness of the International Anti-Sex Trafficking Regime

International sex trafficking is a confounding and complex global phenomenon.  The US Department of Health and Human Services defines sex trafficking as “a modern-day form of slavery in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act is under the age of 18 years”. The US government estimates that between 600,000-800,000 women fall victim to international human trafficking each year. These figures remain high despite efforts by the international anti-sex trafficking regime’s work to inhibit human trafficking on a global level.

Regime theory argues that international institutions or regimes influence states’ interactions. In his book International Regimes, Steven Krasner explains that regimes are exemplified where “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actor expectations converge in a given issue-area”. The international community first introduced laws against the involuntary selling of human beings in 1815 with the implementation of the Declaration Relative to the Universal Abolition of the Slave Trade, and from 1815-1957 approximately 300 documents were issued to condemn slavery. The first laws specifically aimed at combating modern-day slavery, the trafficking of human persons, were implemented 43 years later when the United Nations adopted the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking, Especially Women and Children” in 2000. With the exposure provided by the United Nations, many countries began to recognize sex trafficking as an international quandary and work cohesively to limit its existence. Using Krasner’s definition, we can characterize these nations working in tandem as an ‘international anti-sex trafficking regime’.

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A “Bosnian Spring”: Do Recent Reforms Signal Hope for the Beleaguered Country?

By Madeleine Holland

Violent protests in early February returned Bosnia and Herzegovina to the international spotlight, in what was arguably the greatest instability to emerge from the country since the Balkan Wars ended in 1995.

Beginning in Tuzla and moving swiftly onto dozens of cities across the country, government buildings blazed as Bosnians assembled to protest political corruption and a general ineptitude for addressing the poor socioeconomic conditions of the last 20 years. Participation was widespread, including workers, pensioners, youth, veterans, and other groups. Hundreds were injured in clashes with riot police.

The movement has been dubbed by many a “Bosnian Spring”: a long-awaited people’s defiance of a broken and negligent political system. Indeed, the movement has already brought about several reforms. Local governments have fallen in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Bihac, and Zenica, and cantonal assemblies there have abolished certain perks for state officials. While riots have ceased, citizens’ forums, or “plenums”, continue to assemble throughout the country to voice their grievances. In Sarajevo, hundreds have been lining up daily to participate.

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Ivory and Terrorism

By Derek Schlickeisen

What do endangered elephants and rhinos have in common with one of Africa’s most dangerous terrorist organizations? More than you might think.

Headlines were made around the world last September when masked gunmen attacked the upscale Westgate shopping complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The assault killed six security personnel and 61 civilians, including 2004 Johns Hopkins SAIS graduate Elif Yavuz. Credit for the brutality was claimed by al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda-linked jihadist group that controlled much of neighboring Somalia until late 2011, when a joint Kenyan-Somali military operation began to drive the militants out of their urban strongholds. In a statement after the attacks, al-Shabaab explicitly named Kenyan participation in the offensive as motivation for the slaughter.

Fewer headlines have been made, however, by Kenya’s other long-running battle against al-Shabaab: that being waged by the Kenya Wildlife Service in the country’s northeastern region against poachers from the militant group that slip across the border in search of “white gold” – tusks from the country’s 35,000 African elephants.

The global market for illegal wildlife products funnels more than $19 billion a year to international criminal syndicates and terrorist organizations like al-Shabaab. In 2013, an undercover investigation by Maisha Consulting and the Elephant Action League shed light on the role played by African ivory in this massive illicit cash flow.

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Sino-Japanese Relations: Time to Bury the Hatchet

By Richard Upchurch

By now it is no surprise when a story pops up in the news that China and Japan have engaged in yet another confrontation over a particular set of islands in the East China Sea. A source of contention due to their strategic importance as well as their oil and gas reserves, the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands generated fresh sparks between the two Asian giants in 2012 after the Japanese government purchased them from a private citizen. Ask China, and the islands were originally under Chinese jurisdiction. Ask Japan, and the Chinese claim is illegitimate and ill-founded. Over the following two years, provocations by both sides – including China’s establishment of an Air Defense Identification Zone in 2013 – have escalated tensions, creating a sense of urgency. In light of the countries’ historical animosity toward one another, these developments have led some to prophesize about a third world war. While the risk of military conflict between China and Japan is real and should not be discounted as an impossible, alarmist fantasy, it is by no means inevitable. In order to avoid escalation to the point of devastation, however, it is incumbent upon both nations to restrain their nationalistic tendencies, reconcile historical discrepancies, and enter into negotiations as responsible stewards of economic prosperity in East Asia.

In order to understand the vitriolic and combustible nature of the island disputes, it is important to be familiar with the historical baggage that China and Japan carry together in their relationship. The origins of the two country’s mutual enmity can be traced to the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, in which Japan defeated China and seized Taiwan via the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Included in its acquisition of Taiwan were the surrounding islands, which happen to be those in question today. Flash forward to 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria, an area in Northeast China. There, they installed a puppet government and harassed the Chinese for 6 years, until they invaded China proper in 1937. Then came the indelible blotch on Sino-Japanese history: the Rape of Nanjing, a period of intense bloodlust in which the Japanese committed unspeakable atrocities against thousands of Chinese in the city of Nanjing. The specter of this event haunts the Sino-Japanese relationship to this day. It is true that the Japanese government has attempted to apologize for the event, but unsatisfactory wording and continued visits by Japanese leaders to Yasukuni Shrine, where a number of war criminals are enshrined, have led the Chinese to shrug off those efforts as insincere.

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