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".

Previous editions of the Journal may be viewed here.



View the 2014 Edition of the BC Journal here!



Stalemates: the 2014 Edition of the BC Journal is Here

Dear Readers,

Today, we release the 2014 edition of the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs. The Journal is the print version of what we have tried to do all year on the website – provide a forum for SAIS students to contribute to vital debates in international relations.

The theme of this year’s Journal is Stalemates, by which we meant those international problems that seem locked in a state of inertia. The obvious issues come to mind: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Syrian Civil War, and efforts to address global climate change, among others. We were pleasantly surprised to receive papers applying this theme not only to these familiar questions, but also to issues we had not anticipated, like the future of the World Trade Organization or the International Criminal Court’s response to atrocities in Sudan. For some of these conflicts, solutions are known, but the political will to implement them remains elusive. For others, answers remain unknown. Additionally, though the notion of ‘stalemate’ refers to a lack of action, it also contains the possibility of breakthrough. We asked our authors to consider how these issue might be resolved as technology, globalization, and other forces reshape the world. We hope that the Journal’s 17th edition will help add to the scholarly debate over these issues. The quality of the analysis in this edition gives us hope that these issues will not remain stalemated forever.

This edition also features interviews with three veteran observers of the international scene. Ahmed Rashid, an experienced Pakistani journalist and the author of the definitive book on the Taliban, helped us envision the future of South Asia after the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan this year. Serge Schmemann, a former New York Times bureau chief in Moscow, spoke with us about how Russia understands its role in the former Soviet sphere, shedding light on its recent moves in Ukraine. Finally, we sat down with SAIS’s own Prof. Filippo Taddei to hear about his role as economic advisor to Matteo Renzi, Italy’s new prime minister, and the government’s plans to overhaul the Italian economy.

The Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs is an entirely student-run enterprise, and its publication would not be possible without the selfless work of many in the SAIS community. That is especially true of the website, and I want to especially thank our web editor, Laura Mojonnier, for her hard work this year that has given SAIS students an open forum for their writing on a range of important international issues.

On behalf of the Journal’s staff, I am pleased to present the 17th edition of the Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs. It has been our pleasure to produce it, and we hope you enjoy reading it. 

Jeffrey S. Wright
April 2014


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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