September 26, 2022No Comments

Another suspicious move by China: Indivisible Security

Author: Ho Ting (Bosco) Hung.

China has consistently declared its willingness to play an important role in international security, in an attempt to gain greater exposure on the international stage. Nonetheless, its active expansion and coercive policies have threatened the West, thus being perceived as a security challenge to many countries. Still, China shows no hesitance in demonstrating its willingness to involve in international security. At the Boao Forum in April 2022, Xi Jinping put forward the Global Security Initiative to ‘meet the pressing need of the international community to maintain world peace and prevent conflicts and wars’. While most of the GSI’s principles are reiterating China’s foreign policy, a concept worth noting is the idea of indivisible security. The concept’s genuine meaning remains unclear, but considering the sensitive times, it promotes the notion that China could make use of the term to build up a Chinese-oriented order in international security.

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/explosion-the-war-the-military-2096161/

What is Indivisible Security?

The concept of indivisible security is not new, but it is highly contested. The term was first used in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act to emphasise the benefit of cooperation. It means that the security of states in the same region is inextricably linked with each other, so no country should pursue its security at the expense of others. Therefore, the term conveys a positive meaning.

Despite the consensus reached by the signatories on the concept, other countries have put forward their own set of indivisible security principles. Remarkably, Russia considers NATO’s pursuit of indivisible security a security threat. The Kremlin has been discontent with NATO’s eastward expansion and reiterated that NATO should not make its security arrangements at the expense of Russia’s security. This is also used as a justification for its attack on Ukraine.

From China’s perspective, it is debatable what indivisible security truly means in its context. China has acknowledged that no country should pursue its security at the expense of other's security. At the same time, China also emphasizes that strengthening or expanding military blocs could not guarantee regional security, while all countries’ security concerns should be considered seriously.

Sensitive Time, Sensitive Concept

The decision to put forth this concept at a sensitive time when Russia is fighting with Ukraine could be, at best, a call for wholehearted cooperation on security issues, but at worst, a cunning move. 

China has always blamed NATO and the United States for provoking the Russia-Ukraine War. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed ‘The Russia-Ukraine conflict, to a large extent, is the result of Western arrogance and successive mistakes over the last 30-plus years and NATO’s eastward expansion is the root cause of the ongoing conflict.’ He also criticized NATO for engaging in bloc confrontation and making trouble, which largely matches the indivisible security principle ‘strengthening or expanding military blocs could not guarantee regional security’. 

Meanwhile, Beijing has been actively attempting to strengthen its security ties with other countries, especially non-Western countries, to expand its sphere of influence. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has frequently stressed the importance of mutual respectcooperation, and equality in security issues. In other words, China has expressed its concerns about other countries’ security needs and shown its reluctance to become a hegemon on the international stage.It has therefore been attempting to build its image as a responsible and collaborative leader in security affairs.

Together with China’s past criticisms of the West and its eagerness to expand its security ties with other countries, China’s intention of putting forward the concept at the peak of the Russia-Ukraine military conflict is suspicious. China could make use of the notion of indivisible security to accuse the West of ignoring non-Western countries’ security needs, like Russia’s. It could also depict the West’s unilateral efforts of building or strengthening security alliances as a threat, which could by no means guarantee regional security. This way, China could justify that the West is a troublemaker by leveraging the concept of indivisible security. 

On the other hand, China could make use of the term to contrast its attitude on security issues with the West. It could continually reiterate its respect for other countries’ security concerns and passion for collaborating with the international community hand in hand to pursue peace. This allows China to try and shape itself as a saviour of the world’s security while attempting to depict the West as a devil who only brings turbulence and disruption to peace more legitimately. Therefore, Beijing’s concept of indivisible security is an attempt to establish itself as a leader in international security and aims to defeat the West in the competition for supreme discursive power in the international arena.

We Must Stay Cautious

Admittedly, the development of the concept of indivisible security in a Chinese context is still at an initial stage. Chinahas not shown its intention to use this concept to intervene in the Russia-Ukraine War. However, it is beyond dispute that Beijing has been hostile to the West’s dominance in the security field and become more ambitious in recent years. With the escalating Sino-Western tensions, it remains possible that China could weaponize the notion to challenge the West and its approaches to security affairs. The international community must stay alert to China’s promotion and new interpretation of the concept, to fully understand the intention of the adoption of the notion and be prepared for another battle for the leadership position in international security.

August 21, 2022No Comments

Africa: Insecurity of Mobile Banking and Normative Emergency

Authors: Saron M. Obia and Shams Jouve.

While mobile payment already represented a technological success a decade ago, its use exploded in the post-pandemic world. This generalization should be a matter of great concern, as mobile banking is one of the most efficient tools used to finance criminal and terrorist activities on a global level. Indeed, technology facilitates the financing of illegal organizations which benefits from their rapidity, mainly anonymous nature, and the lack of legislation. 

The African continent is particularly affected by the insecurity of mobile banking platforms. This article tends to raise awareness upon how the disrespect of legal norms by mobile operators and the lack of vigilance of the concerned states provoke dangerous opportunities for illegal organizations. This alarming situation must be considered to adopt strong and efficient policy methods and look after their actual enforcement.

Security menace posed by mobile payment in Africa 

Mobile Payment and Cyber Criminality

One of the major services rendered by mobile operator in Sub Saharan Africa is mobile payment. First, the cheap rate for transfers, in some cases receipt is not issued or required, and the sender does not need to have a phone, which creates anonymity of the individual. Then, the sale of Sim cards at a low price (100xaf-300xaf in Cameroon), and sometimes identified with the sale agent’s credentials is a menace to population.

Cybercriminals exploit Sim cards registered with credentials of airtime vendors to perpetrate crimes. Some create accounts with identity cards obtained from the streets. Often at times, interns and even workers (inside threats) in these mobile operating companies provide information of profile individuals to be victimized by cybercriminals.

Cryptocurrency and bitcoin have become more secured channel used by cybercriminals. When someone is scammed in Europe, they require payment via cryptocurrency or bitcoin. When it is done, the transaction is channeled to a mobile money number before being withdrawn.

Money Laundering

With the advent of mobile payment, money launderers no longer use banks, because of traceability of funds via bank to bank. They now transfer money to different persons in Europe via mobile money, and when they need money, it is sent back to them. For instance, in some Sub-Saharan African countries, money launderer will send 300000xaf-500000xaf to five different persons at a nearby agent without requiring a receipt or without being identified. After which, they can order a close person to do the same with other contacts either to an individual in Africa or Europe. When they need money to carry out a task, the person sends, and is considered legit.

Terrorist Financing

Terrorist financing is a major threat in the global war on terror. With the evolution of technology, which is being exploited for national security and by terrorist, mobile payment creates another avenue for terrorist groups to be easily sponsored. An authority intending to sponsor terrorist activities, will not use his phone to effectuate a transfer, it will rather go to a nearby agent give the money to be transferred, send an SMS (done), and mission will be carried out. More so, through cryptocurrency and bitcoin, terrorist can exploit some mobile payment agents to effectuate their cash-out. Money paid via crypto, is converted and paid through mobile payment, for mission to be carried out.

Victimisation of Clients 

Phishing and Smishing are two methods used by cybercriminals to swindle funds from clients with mobile money accounts. They either send a message, requiring an individual to change their password due to a breach on system of operating company, or send message requiring a client to valid with their mobile money pin and ‘game over’. Clients are increasingly losing their funds to these schemes and some even commit mistakes when transferring money. There is need for mobile companies engaged in mobile payment to review some of their policies in relation to services offered.

Policing methods to be adopted by African states and operating companies

Mobile Companies

Mobile operating companies have helped change the landscape of information and communication technology. Though, several innovations are available, cybercriminals, money launderers and staff (insider threat) equally exploit these services to make money and commit crimes. There is need for these companies to review the pattern for mobile money transaction above a certain amount, though corruption will still enter the ‘game’. Moreover, these companies must sort a system to identify Sim cards before sending to the market. In relation to client service, mobile companies must sort out a recovery method when a mobile payment is done to a wrong number. They could charge a certain amount (250xaf-300xaf) for recovery of funds of the individual. 

Law Enforcement and State

Policy and regulation of telecommunication industry relay on the state. The increasing victimization of clients and terrorist financing through this method of payment, requires states to double their efforts in the fight against transnational crimes. States must ensure that mobile operators which offer such services must have written contracts with clients. They must ensure that mobile payment is in accordance with regulations of states and region. Law enforcement officers should work alongside mobile operators to track and apprehend cybercriminals and those engage in money laundering through mobile payment. Innovation should not be a menace to national security, neither should be threat the life of citizens.

July 19, 2022No Comments

Over-tourism, Housing Security and Mobility in Venice

Author: Sarah Toubman.

Venice recently announced that from January 2023 it will charge a fee of between €3 to €10 to tourists who visit the city for a day only, a long-awaited measure by locals who feel the negative effects of overtourism on a day-to-day basis. Overtourism poses both a nuisance and a hazard to those living in the city. Tourists leave garbage by the canals, posing an environmental and health risk. Large tour groups also swarm the city’s small streets, making it difficult for everyday people, especially the elderly, to easily reach their destinations. Oversized cruise ships also previously damaged the Venetian Lagoon’s natural ecosystem and the city’s historic built environment, such as medieval walls and docks, until a change in regulation last year banning these boats from the port.

Venice also has problems with Airbnb, like many global tourism hubs. Many properties are owned by wealthy landlords who live outside the city and rent their homes to those passing through for a short period of time, failing to contribute to the city’s economic or cultural life. This also creates a housing security issue, as those who live or seek to move to Venice are limited in choice and price. “If we don’t fix these problems, Venice will be like Disneyland – just a park for the tourists without people living there,” Venetian activist Matteo Sechi commented in 2010. In fact, as of 2016, less than 55,000 people live in the city of Venice, while over 60,000 tourists can visit per day in the high season.

The new tax on day-trippers aims to address this by setting a tourist “threshold of 40,000 or 50,000 visitors a day,” according to Simone Venturini, Venice’s tourism councilor. Those who stay in Venice overnight will not have to pay the fee, as, since 2011, they have been subject to a nightly city charge on hotel or Airbnb bills. There is also a robust list of exceptions to the tax on day trippers. The list includes: residents of Venice, residents of the Veneto region, relatives up to the 3rd degree to anyone living in Venice, those who work or study in Venice, anyone who was born in or owns property in Venice, those visiting Venice for official business or a sports competition, and more.

One issue that has not yet been comprehensively analyzed by many considering limiting tourism to Venice is the way these restrictions will interact with EU mobility law. Under EU law, the freedom of EU citizens to move, reside, and work across the EU is guaranteed. In fact, it is guaranteed that as tourists, “EU citizens may enter and stay in the territory of another Member States for up to three months without being subject to any conditions or formalities other than the requirement to hold a valid identity card or passport.” Technically speaking, Venice’s charge for tourists may evade categorization as a “condition or formality”  to enter the territory of an EU member state, as it does not actually prevent visitors from entering, but requires they pay a tax upon arrival. Furthermore, it concretely addresses the very real issues related to overtourism Venetians face. 

However, addressing these issues in this manner means the city of Venice essentially draws legislative lines between who is a “good” or a “bad” tourist, and who is or isn’t a “real” Venetian, and therefore exempt. For example, even if an EU citizen grew up in Venice, but was born elsewhere and no longer had family in the city, they may still have to pay the new fee if they visit for a day only. On the surface, this may seem like an inappropriate application of the regulation, but on the other hand, it would likely take the local Venetian government a huge amount of resources and funding to accurately sift through this level of nuance. For the moment, the tax on daytrippers to Venice, the vast majority of whom arrive via large cruise ships, seems to be a suitable measure to discourage overtourism in the city. However, were the range of tourists subject to tax to be expanded this would certainly raise a number of legal, moral, and security-related issues.

Venice is not the only city in Italy or Europe struggling with problems related to overtourism and housing security, however it is one of the few struggling with both these issues and a rapidly depleting population. Florence has also called for restrictions related to Airbnb, while Barcelona plans to ​​introduce a pollution tax for cruise passengers, and Amsterdam taxes cruise guests. But while Barcelona has a population of 1.6 million, Amsterdam has 907,976 inhabitants, and Florence has 383,083 residents, Venice has less than 55,000. Nevertheless, Venice is not alone in these concerns, with Dubrovnik, Croatia, recently raising its tax on overnight tourist stays in light of its issues with overtourism, housing security, and population depletion. Therefore, there must be a systemic approach to addressing overtourism and housing security while maintaining the freedom of mobility in Europe.

Image Source: https://static01.nyt.com/images/2020/07/02/travel/02travel-venice1/merlin_155672235_0dd1e2ac-e90d-4916-805e-e168bb8876f7-superJumbo.jpg?quality=75&auto=webp

Italian Translation

La città di Venezia ha recentemente annunciato che i turisti giornalieri dovranno pagare una tassa di entrata tra i €3 to €10. Il provvedimento era a tempo atteso dai cittadini, i quali subivano gli effetti negativi dell’overtourism, ovvero il sovraffollamento turistico giornaliero. L’overtourism porta fastidio ma anche opportunità ai cittadini di Venezia. I turisti lasciano immondizia a ridosso dei canali, generando rischi sanitari e ambientali. I grandi gruppi turistici affollano i piccoli vicoli della città, rendendo difficili gli spostamenti per gli abitanti, particolarmente per gli anziani. Enormi navi da crociera hanno precedentemente danneggiato l’ecosistema della Laguna e l’ambiente storico della città, come i muri e porti storici, fino all’anno scorso in seguito al provvedimento che vietò l’arrivo di queste navi nei porti.  

Venezia ha anche problemi con Airbnb, come molti luoghi turistici. Molte proprietà appartengono a proprietari provenienti da famiglie benestanti che vivono fuori dalla città ed affittano le loro case a coloro che passano per la città per un breve periodo, fallendo nella possibilità di contribuire alla vita economica e culturale della città. Inoltre, questo crea un problema di sicurezza abitativa, in quanto coloro che vivono o cercano di trasferirsi a Venezia hanno una scelta limitata e prezzi esorbitanti. “Se non risolviamo questi problemi, Venezia sarà come Disneyland - come un parco di turisti senza abitanti,” un attivista Veneziano, Matteo Sechi, commenta nel 2010. Infatti, nel 2016, Venezia registra meno di 55.000  abitanti, mentre in alta stagione in numero di turisti giornalieri supera i 60.000.

La nuova tassa sui turisti giornalieri ha l’obiettivo di stabilire “una soglia tra 40.000 e 50.000 visitatori al giorno”, dice Simone Venturini, assessore al turismo di Venezia. Coloro che passano una notte a Venezia non dovranno pagare la tassa, in quanto, dal 2011, è stata introdotta la tassa di soggiorno nel conto di hotel e Airbnb. C’è anche una lunga lista di esenzioni alla tassa per visita giornaliera. La lista include residenti di Venezia, residenti della regione Veneto, parenti fino al terzo grado di chiunque abiti a Venezia, coloro che lavorano e studiano a Venezia, chiunque vi sia nato o possieda una proprietà nella città, coloro che visitano Venezia con bus ufficiali o per competizioni sportive. 

Una problematica che non è stata ancora propriamente analizzata riguarda come le restrizioni funzioneranno rispetto le leggi di mobilità dell’Unione Europea. Secondo la legge dell’UE, la libertà di movimento, residenza e lavoro dei cittadini europei nell’Unione deve essere garantita. Infatti, questa garantisce che in quanto turisti, “i cittadini dell’UE possano entrare e rimanere in un territorio di un altro Stato Membro fino a tre mesi senza essere soggetto a condizioni o formalità se non il requisito di possedere un valido documento di identità o passaporto.” Tecnicamente, la tassa per i turisti a Venezia potrebbe evadere la categorizzazione come "condizione o formalità” per entrare in un territorio di uno Stato Membro dell’Unione Europea, in quanto non impedisce ai visitatori di entrare, ma richiede il pagamento di una tassa all’arrivo. Inoltre, questo provvedimento agisce concretamente contro l’overtourism a cui Venezia è soggetta. 

Ad ogni modo, affrontare questo problema con questa norma significa per la città di Venezia tracciare una linea legislativa tra il turista “buono” e quello “cattivo”, stabilendo chi è un vero Veneziano e chi no, per determinare chi di conseguenza è esente dalla tassa. Per esempio, anche se un cittadino europeo fosse cresciuto a Venezia, ma fosse nato altrove o se non avesse più famiglia nella città, allora dovrebbe comunque pagare la tassa turistica se volesse visitare la città per un solo giorno. Questo può apparire inappropriato, ma d’altro canto porterebbe al comune di Venezia grandi risorse e fondi per fronteggiare questa problematica. Al momento, la tassa per i visitatori giornalieri a Venezia, che per la maggior parte arrivano con grandi navi da crociera, sembra essere una misura adatta a scoraggiare il sovraffollamento turistico nella città. Comunque, se il numero di turisti che possono giornalmente entrare nella città pagando la tassa dovesse aumentare, certamente si incorrerebbe a diverse problematiche legali, morali e di sicurezza.  

Venezia non è la sola città italiana ed europea ad affrontare le difficoltà poste dall’overtourism e dalla sicurezza abitativa, ma è una delle poche che affronta entrambe contemporaneamente ad una riduzione della sua popolazione. Firenze ha anche richiesto l'implementazione di restrizioni per Airbnb, mentre Barcellona pianifica di introdurre una tassa sull’inquinamento per passeggeri di crociera, così come Amsterdam. Ma mentre Barcellona ha una popolazione di 1.6 milioni di abitanti, Amsterdam ha 907,876 abitanti e Firenze ne conta 383,083, Venezia ne ha meno di 55,000. Nonostante ciò, Venezia non è l’unica con questi problemi, in quanto anche Dubrovnik, Croazia, ha recentemente aumentato la sua tassa sul pernottamento dei turisti a causa dell’overtourism, problemi di sicurezza abitativa e diminuzione della popolazione. Per questo, ci dovrebbe essere un approccio sistematico per risolvere i problemi legati al sovraffollamento turistico e alla sicurezza abitativa, cercando di preservare allo stesso tempo la libertà di movimento in Europa. 

July 18, 2022No Comments

Russia’s Plans for War with Ukraine

Authors: Igor Shchebetun, Greta Bordin, Fabrizio Napoli and Davide Gobbicchi.

Why war is happening, what could justify an invasion of a sovereign independent state such as Ukraine? The only way to answer this question is to look at the situation from Russia's perspective. Because despite the raging battles on the ground, the war is not really about Ukraine, but about Russia and its pursuit of geopolitics.

This concerns the Kremlin and its relationship with the White House. One of Russia's initial demands for de - escalation shortly before the war began was for NATO to wind down its activities in Eastern Europe, and that is what it ultimately comes down to. Geopolitically, the war is more than Ukraine; it is Russia's attempt to restore a multipolar world order that has been lost as a gambler making a living off false hopes. Russia believes that either it must be a world power or it will not be. The collapse of the Soviet Union was a turning point in world geopolitics. No fewer than 14 Union republics seceded and declared sovereignty and independence. The Russian Federation lost centuries of geopolitical struggle. Russia was pushed back to the territorial boundaries of the 18th century. To this day, with the collapse of the USSR come broken promises, falling health care, industrial decline, and kinship ties replaced by hostility and all those glorious technological wonders and infrastructure projects left to rot. 

Part of the Russian rationale for invading Ukraine is the core theory The core theory divides the world into three bodies, the first body being the world islands, which consist of Europe, Asia and Africa, the second body refers to shelf islands such as the British islands and the Japanese archipelago, while the third body points to America and Australia as distant islands within these parameters, focusing on the world islands because they are the most populous and resource-rich continent. Imagine if a superstate controlled politics from France to China, from Saudi Arabia to South Africa, this power would have the technological prowess of Europe, the resources of Africa, and the labor force of Asia, and nothing would stand in its way, so whoever controls the world island would have the means to dominate the globe, but within the world island.

There is a heart region that extends from the Volga  River to the Yangtze and from the Arctic to the Caspian Sea. This heart region is the area from which one power can For example, Alexander Dugin, who is Russia's most influential political orator, has consistently argued for the creation of a Russian power in Eurasia, while the Russian political elite, known as the siloviki, still adhered to the focal point theory. From St. Petersburg to Kazan and Volgograd extends the Russian core 80 percent of the Russian population lives in this area, and most of the Kremlin's decisions are based on the needs and interests of its core, but the terrain itself is flat, and parts of Europe are part of Russia.

Image Source: https://www.deviantart.com/ynot1989/art/Russo-Ukrainian-War-Areas-of-Russian-Control-908348937

To put pressure on the Russian core from the Swedish invasion in the 18th century to the German invasions in the 20th century many European powers have tried to subdue Russia by going through the Baltics today but Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are part of Nato, making them beyond the reach of Russian enslavement, however, geopolitics dictates that Russia take over the Baltics if the opportunity presents itself, allowing Russians to connect the Kaliningrad region to mainland Russia. Control of the Baltics would also strengthen Russia's presence and power on the Baltic Sea as a whole, while the Carpathians represent a favorable bridgehead for the Russians, a buffer against the marching armies carpeting If the European plane represents a highway for invading armies, the Carpathians are a speed bump in the middle of that highway whose strategic depth is priceless, and this consideration is the ultimate justification for Russian invasion. Russia's invasion of Ukraine at the same time means that Russia's goal in Ukraine is to take over the whole country, so as much as the rhetoric focuses on the Donbass, Kharkov, Kiev, and Odessa, it misses the more important point from the Russian perspective, they need to advance as far as the Carpathian mountains.

So Russia needs all of Ukraine, but also all of Moldova, when Lukashenko spoke to members of the Belarusian Security Council, the map he used had an arrow going to the Moldovan separatist region of Transnistria, so if Russia's military invasion of Ukraine were more successful, there would be fighting in Moldova. By and large, with the invasion of Ukraine, Russia sought to drop anchor, seizing all of Ukraine and eventually Moldavia. Russia would have restored some of the Soviet borders enough to reduce its European airplane flights to 600 kilometers. which is a significant reduction from the current 2,000 kilometers. Ideally, the Russians would like to advance as far west as they can, preferably capturing all of Poland and the Baltics. If Russia wins, the Baltics and Poland would be next, count on it.

Likewise, if Russia loses the war in Ukraine or can't get everything today, it will try again tomorrow, and no treaties and armistice will last long. Think of the European plane as a chess game where each player seeks to maximize the position of his pawns, strategically placing them the further east NATO  moves into the European plane. Eastward on the European plane toward the Russian Federation, the more flexible its strategic planning becomes and the more room for error it gets. For example, to the east of the border with Ukraine, the flat terrain of the European plane continues uninterrupted for 750 kilometers to the shoreline of the Caspian Sea. The Volgograd Gap is fundamental to the existence of the Russian state; if a hostile force closes this gap, it will deprive Russia of its connections to the Caucasus, the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea, and NATO-allied Ukraine will no doubt try to exploit this vulnerability.

A Russian-controlled Ukraine would militarize Poland, Romania, and the Baltic states even more than it does now. Russia believes that it can elevate itself as a leading world power while securing its core demographic space, based on this for Russia it is either expand or die Russian politicians especially given the fact that political legitimacy depends on military conquest.

July 18, 2022No Comments

Shinzo Abe’s Legacy in the U.S.-China Competition

Author: Francesco Cirillo.

The Period of Shinzō Abe, who was assassinated on July 8, 2022, profoundly changed Japan's role in the Indo-Pacific chessboard and in the competition between the United States and the People's Republic of China. During the Abe years, foreign policy has put Chinese relations on two parallel and separate rails. The First, related to trade relations, focused on pragmatic cooperation aimed at rebuilding Sino-Japanese relations. The Second track, on the other hand, focusing mainly on international security issues, aimed to strengthen Japan's war potential to counter China's assertive action in several key East Asian areas, such as the East China Sea and the Senkaku Islands. 

Another key point of Abe's legacy in Japanese foreign policy has been Tokyo's role in bringing the Taiwan dossier to Washington's attention. After stepping down as prime minister, Abe had stated that Taiwan's security was an integral and fundamental part of Japan's national security. In addition, Abe had criticized Washington's strategic ambiguity and that the latter needed to engage in defending Taipei. In fact, the former Japanese premier was seen, by the Taiwanese leadership, as a close ally of Taiwan and strong supporter of the de facto sovereignty of the Formosa Island.

In recent years there has always been talk about what imprint Abe would leave on Japanese politics both domestically and on the international chessboard. According to several analysts, the real political testament that Abe leaves to Japan was the change in his military policy and the role of Japanese defense as an instrument of international-political projection. His vision of an autonomous Japan in its defensive capabilities was only possible with a program of rearmament of Japan's self-defense forces and in an attempt to bring to fruition Japan's constitutional reform on the thorny issue of Article 9 of Japan's constitutional charter. 

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/flag-banner-nation-emblem-country-2526497/

Thanks to Abe's policies, Japan's role, with Washington's support, has seen consolidation in the Indo-Pacific region with the aim of countering Beijing's geo-economic rise. The current name of Indo-Pacific was coined back in 2007 by Shinzō Abe himself, who with foresight understood that the hegemonic clash would take place between Beijing and Washington in the Pacific. To date, the legacy in Abe's foreign policy consists of the process of returning Tokyo's defense policies to normalcy and greater Japanese engagement in the Indo-Pacific with the consolidation of historic alliances with Australia and India. 

The demise of Japan's longest-serving prime minister in the post-1945 period leaves a heavy burden but a solid foundation for his successors to be able to continue the work of policy reform on Japan's military affairs even in light of the recent state of competition in which the United States and the People's Republic of China find themselves and the sensitive Taiwan dossier, which for Tokyo falls under as an affair related to Japan's national security. One has always wondered what Abe's legacy was; to date, his main political achievement is the radical change of thebasis of Japan's foreign policy and its defense policy with the ultimate goal of deleting Article 9 from the current constitution, a legacy of military defeat in World War II.

July 18, 2022No Comments

Prof. Germano Dottori on Iran’s shifting role amidst developments in the Middle East

In this interview conducted by the "Iran Desk" at ITSS Verona Prof. Germano Dottori addresses and analyzes Iran's role within the new developments in the Middle East. The interview focuses on the possible outcomes of Biden's travel to the Middle East and the developing potentials of new Middle Eastern alliances.

Professor Germano Dottori was the Chair of Strategic Studies at Luiss-Guido Carli University in Rome until November 2020. He was an Adviser to the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee between 2001 and 2006. He has worked with the Rivista Italiana di Difesa (Italian Defence magazine) since 1997. He has published books and research in Italy and Great Britain on security and defence.

Interviewer: Shahin Modarres

July 16, 2022No Comments

Analysing the Security of Mega Sporting Events in the 21st Century

Authors: Shams Jouve and Saron M. Obia.

Introduction: illustration of insecurity issues in the mega sporting events 

Improving security in mega sporting events is a major issue since the terrorist attacks of the Munich Olympic Games on September 5, 1972. These attacks, committed by the Palestinian militant group Black September on the Israeli Olympic team members, reflect a complete lack of security in the Olympic Village and an insufficient preparation of the police forces. Indeed, the terrorists were able to access the quarters of the Israeli Olympic team in the Olympic Village to cause the death of two people and hold nine hostages. The second part of the attack took place at the Fürstenfeldbruck airbase, after the authorities faked an agreement to help the terrorists fly safely to the Middle East. The police organized an ambush, which quickly turned into a disaster because of the many errors in the planification and execution of the operation.

Nearly ten years later, the European Cup Final of May 29, 1985, also suffered from a concerning lack of police resources and preparation. The authorities weren’t expecting the hundreds of Liverpool supporters, nor the high quantity of alcohol consumed. During the match, Italian supporters were attacked by hooligans but couldn’t leave the closed stadium until they broke a wall. As a result, 39 victims and an exclusion of English football clubs from all European Cups for a period of five years. Another alarming event for stadia security happened in 2015 at the Stade de France. In fact, the stadium explosions were the first terrorist attacks of the November 13 series. France was in a climate of fear after the Charlie Hebdo attacks of January 7, which should have increased the vigilance of authorities. However, the prevention of a possible terrorist attack was clearly insufficient because three kamikazes exploded around the stadium, causing one death, and injuring 63 people.

This is a concerning issue, and even if its causes have been identified so far, this paper will argue that security strategies still need to be improved to guarantee the security of participants especially in relation to the densification of security forces around the stadium for each encounters of the competition; proper distance of filtering posts; crowd management, the prohibition of ticket sales and Covid19 tests in the vicinity of the stadium in addition to a variety of other security measures such as the prohibition on selling alcohol and light weapons. This paper highlights four main causes of insecurity during mega sporting events. Those are: ticketing, filtering and access to stadium, health, and terrorism. The paper will then move to provide two examples where possible improvements have been made.

Causes of insecurity during mega sporting events

Ticketing

One of the major aspects of the evolution of technology is the changing patterns of crimes. With the proliferation of new tools, hackers and fans are able to duplicate or produce fake tickets in order to gain access in to the stadium during friendly or international encounter. For example, massive ticket fraud incident before the kick-off of Liverpool- Real Madrid final of the 2022 Champions League in France. In Sub Saharan African, fans wait for kick-off of the match to pay less for ticket (if the ticket is 3000, one can pay 1500) or even access with the help of supervisor without paying. This is a reason for several security incidents during sporting events in SSA, as stewards try to restraint persons from disorder, and even theft. More so, some security agents and administrative personnel’s when in uniform give their badge to friends to easily access the stadium.

Filtering and access to stadium

The distance between filtering post (security duty stations) are usually close to the stadium, when an incident occurs, even innocent persons are victims. The stadium should provide access for women with kids, persons living with disabilities, fans, and normal football lovers in order to limit stampede and crowd crushing. An example, is the stampede during the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon, precisely on 24 January 2022, during the match between the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the Comoros national team, which occurred at the south entrance of the Olembe stadium before the kick-off, resulting in 8 deaths and several injuries. As such, security stations most be provide several meters from the stadium, as well machines and experts to control access badges.

Health

When an individual is well diagnosing or tested, the problem is half solved. With the Covid19 pandemic, the world went on its knees, as mega sporting events organizers limited the number of entry in to stadia. In Europe as in Africa, there are always unscrupulous individuals, who organised business even on medical issues. In the case of Covid19, some pay medical personnel to give them the card without taking the vaccine. With the incident during the qualifier match which opposed Nigeria to Ghana (in Nigeria), which after which fans stormed the pitch, attack Ghanaian fans, if some were not vaccinated, or there are asthmatic patients, the result will be critical.

Terrorism

The globalization era has initiated a new wave of insecurity, that on mega sporting events. The targeted attack on Stade de France, Paris in 2015, where three detonations at 9.20pm,9.30pm and 9.53pm local time were heard during a friend encounter between Germany and France, challenged the level of intelligence alert of the country. The field which hosted 80000 sport fans had no idea about attack believing the attack to be fireworks. Which at the end of the encounter, fans gather at the pitch, with three exits open. The president Hollande convened an emergency cabinet meeting to reconfigure the security of the territory, from border security to state of emergency. Despite this security alert, France continues to encounter several challenges in securing mega sporting events.

Furthermore, in 2018, a poster designed by al-Nur Media Center and published on Telegram, crusading for aspirants and other jihadists, showing flags of countries competing in the FIFA world Cup with text ‘Choisis ta Cible’ (Choose your target). Terror group further produced a graphic of terrorist outside of a stadium armed with a gun and explosives.

Measures adopted to limit insecurity

Case of Cameroon regards to AFCON

Drawing from the incident on 24 January 2022, during the match between the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon and the Comoros national team, which a deadly stampede occurred at the south entrance of the Olembe stadium, resulting in 8 deaths and several injuries. The state machinery was fast to adopt new security measure in order to face the challenge and on recommendation of the president of CAF. The densification of security forces around the stadium for each encounters of the competition, in order to avoid any stampede and ease crowd management, following the incident during the encounter between Cameroon national team and the Comoros national team at the Olembe Stadium. 

The state provided proper distance of filtering posts in order to control the crowd and lead them in to the stadium through different access to different stadia during the competition in Cameroon. It should be noted that, several spots where announced on national radio station by the Cameroon football federation on how to obtain a ticket, as such, the prohibition of ticket sales around stadia was to limit ticket fraud. 

More so, Covid19 tests were prohibited in the vicinity of the stadium, and additional safety and security measures step-up. The prevalence of corruption in Sub Saharan Africa and the low salary of medical personnel, was a strategic threat to the competition. Those chosen for the event, to verify or administer the Covid19 vaccine, engage in illicit activities. Individuals paid and enter the stadium without receiving the vaccine. The state had to recommended special medical centers, in order to limit staff dishonesty at the level of health institutions.  

Case of France, with regards to the Champions League Finals

Securing mega sporting events might be sometimes challenging, but the reaction of law enforcement during incidents are crucial for the state.  Responding to the incident (distribution of fake tickets and inadequate crowd management, which resulted in women and children blown by police tear-gas) before the kick-off of the Champions League Finals 2022 contested Liverpool and Real Madrid. French interior minister Gerald Darmanin attests to the Financial Times, of massive fraud on an industrial scale of ticket.

French prosecutors are investigating the incident link to ticket fraud, and the UEFA, European football governing council has been requested to discuss on the issue. However, a meeting between the French football federation, law enforcement officers, interior minister and representatives to adopt new strategy to avoid similar incidents ahead of the preparation to host the Rugby World Cup next year and Summer Olympics in 2024 in France. 

Lessons learnt from the 2022 champions league final incident in France, appeals for a new strategy for mega sporting events. With focus on the Rugby World Cup and Summer Olympics in France 2024, the state will need to join efforts with private and international organizations like Interpol, to help profile the different fans of national teams, provide restrictive zones and develop crowd management strategy and limit ticket fraud. The international criminal police, through project stadia, would help educate French law enforcement officers and stewards on securing mega sporting events.

July 15, 2022No Comments

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Interviewing Team: John Devine and Anna Lorenzini.

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Marco Bocchese on International Law in terms of Russia-Ukraine War

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Amazonia: A strategic territory for Human Trafficking and illegal mining

Authors: Beatrice Tommasi and Marta Pace.

The Event

On June 5, in the municipality of Atalaia do Norte located in the state of Amazonas, two people disappeared: namely, Bruno Pereira, the indigenous activist member of the non-governmental organization Coordenação da Organização Indígena União dos Povos Indígenas do Vale do Javari (UNIVAJA), and Dom Phillips, an English journalist and contributor to The Guardian. According to UNIVAJA and the Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and Recent Contact (OPI), the last registration of the two occurred on June 5 in the morning while they were travelling on a small boat between the community of São Rafael and the town of Atalaia do Norte. After ten days of search and the involvement of the army, navy, and police, on June 16, the bodies of Phillips and Pereira were found. 

Image Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/fire-forest-fire-children-fear-4429478/

The double world of the Amazon

These killings do not seem to be an accident and unveil serious security issues in the region. The concerned area is the far west of the Amazonas and condenses serious conflicts, both from a social and an environmental point of view. On one side, the area hosts the largest number of indigenous people in voluntary isolation in the world. On the other side, it is a strategic region for drug trafficking, and it is crossed by an international cocaine transit route which goes from Peru to distribute in Brazil, Europe and Africa. Moreover, the already tense situation in the region is worsened by the presence of illegal loggers and fishermen whose activities are profoundly altering the ecosystem of the Amazon rainforest.  

All these activities in the region, carried out mainly within the Indigenous Land Vale do Javari, witness the inability and omission of the bodies responsible for the inspection and protection of indigenous territories. As a result, this power vacuum is filled by the presence of the main criminal organizations, who diversify their activities and cause an increase in violent actions against and murders of those who oppose their main interests in the region. According to a study conducted by Mato Grosso do Sul prosecutor Ricardo Pael Ardengui on the impact of transnational organized crime on indigenous communities, environmental crimes - typical of the entire Amazon - have become another mean of profit for organized crime, which has consolidated the drug trafficking route through the Amazon. In this regard, it is worthy to mention that in the last few years, Amazonia has seen a sharp increase in crimes involving drug trafficking, deforestation, and broader violence against indigenous peoples. 

The growing action of criminal groups is the result of the fact that the Brazilian state lacks a compact and effective strategy aimed at fighting deforestation and drug trafficking activities. Indeed, institutions have failed in preventing the spread of criminal organizations, which are now active on various fronts: from the environmental one with massive deforestation, to the paramilitary one with kidnapping and political assassinations. Initially, the criminal activities of the various factions of the region were aimed at using the territory to create new routes for the drug trade, and environmental crimes were used to open new transit areas and alternative routes. Nowadays, the illegal exploitation of forest resources, such as gold and wood, takes place to expand the profits of organized crime. 

Criminal organizations

Criminal activities in the area see the participation of various factions and organizations. Initially, the Primeiro Comando da Capital (PCC) - a criminal organization founded in 1993 by inmates in the prison of Taubaté (São Paulo) - clashed with the Família do Norte in Amazonas - another organized crime faction present in the region, resulting in a bloody struggle for the control of the region. In recent years, the PCC has consolidated its control over the area by maintaining close alliances with other criminal organizations, such as the Guardioes do Estado and the Amigo dos Amigos, and expanding internationally through the creation of new partnerships with other Latin American criminal groups. Moreover, the fact that they act at the Triple Frontier - a tri-border area along the junction of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay - has given crime a more entrepreneurial and broader vision, favoring timber smuggling and mining. Within the Amazon, particularly the Atalaia region, there is also the presence of other criminal groups resulting from the break-up of the Família do Norte, the PCC and Bolivian and Peruvian drug trafficking organizations. Consequently, all these conflicts threaten the right and the choice of various groups and ethnicities of having non-contact with the non-indigenous and even indigenous populations of the Javari Valley. 

Conclusion

Furthermore, this threat has been exacerbated by the rise of evangelical churches and the interest of missionaries in evangelizing isolated indigenous people.  It was reinforced by the Bolsonaro government's appointment in 2020 of the pastor, anthropologist and former missionary Ricardo Lopes Dias in the position of coordinator of General Coordination of Isolated and Recently  Contacted Indigenous Peoples at FUNAI (Fundação Nacional do Índio), a Brazilian governmental protection agency for Amerindian interests and culture. It was this appointment that replaced the indigenous activist Bruno Pereira, defender of the right of indigenous people to remain isolated. At the time, a group of 14 indigenous people denounced the dismissal of Bruno, one of FUNAI’s most experienced members concerning isolated peoples. This fact was already a harbinger of the deep problems in protecting these peoples by the Brazilian government headed by President Bolsonaro.