Monday Briefing | December 4

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Buddhist monks attend a ceremony at the Angkor Wat temple to pray for peace and stability in Cambodia | Photo courtesy Samrang Pring/Reuters

Stories to Follow

Cambodian Center for Human Rights will not be shut down: In a surprising twist of events, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that NGO Cambodian Center for Human Rights would remain open after an investigation by the Interior Ministry.  CCHR is an outspoken critic of the Cambodian government, and was founded by former opposition leader Kem Sokha, who is now in jail following politically fuelled treason charges. In mid-November the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved by the nation’s Supreme Court. In the lead-up to the 2018 elections, the CNRP posed a legitimate threat to Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party, which has ruled for thirty years. 118 members of the CNRP were given five-year political bans. Deputy opposition leader Mu Sochua, who has now fled to the U.K., said, “the situation for democracy and for peace in Cambodia looks really bleak.” 

US withdraws from UN Global Compact on Migration: United States Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has announced the withdrawal of America’s commitment to the U.N. Global Compact on Migration on the grounds that it limits American sovereignty and contradicts U.S. immigration policies. This comes right as the conference on migration is set to begin this week in Mexico. The mandate for the Global Compact on Migration comes from the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, of which the U.S. has been a member since 2016. Instead, Haley stated that “Americans and Americans alone” will determine U.S. immigration policy and decide how its borders are controlled.  Reports state that within the Trump administration, Ambassador Haley was the lone dissenting voice—expressing the opinion that U.S. interests would be better served if it were to lead negotiations.

US-ROK forces to conduct “Vigilant Ace” joint-exercises: On November 29, North Korea test-launched the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which experts believe can deliver a 1,000kg payload to any location on the U.S. mainland. Experts also believe that North Korea has already developed nuclear warheads weighing less than 700kg. In response, U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster stated that, while the risk of war increases with such missile tests, “there are ways to address this problem short of armed conflict, but it is a race.” The United States and the Republic of Korea are scheduled to begin the annual Vigilant Ace 18 air combat exercises, involving 230 aircrafts and 12,000 personnel. Exercises will run from December 4-8. North Korea sees the use of U.S. F-22 and F-35 stealth fighters as particularly threatening, as these are the aircrafts that would lead airstrikes in the event of military action. North Korean radar is unable to detect these fighters. North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency said the U.S. is “begging” for war with these joint-exercises.

This Week in JPI

Op-Ed | Under Different Kinds of Attacks: Syrian Refugees in Lebanon
In the face of ongoing threats in Syria, Marianna Al Tabbaa sheds light on the challenges refugees face even after fleeing. Read her analysis here.

Happening This Week

Present Past: Time, Memory, and the Negotiation of Historical Justice | Thursday, December 7–Saturday, December 9 | Columbia University
In considering the politics and policies of commemorating the past, this conference probes how public discourses about memory change over time. How has the passage of time changed the way memories of historical violence, atrocity and genocide are represented in the public sphere? In what ways do political, social and cultural forces influence, appropriate, or stifle these memories in different ways as the original event recedes into the more distant past? Related topics include the globalization of memory, and with it the increasing popularity of commemorative memorial practices. Click here for a full program and to RSVP.

Charting China’s Digital EconomyMonday, December 11 6:30PM–8:00PM | Asia Society 725 Park Avenue New York, NY
Join the Asia Society for a report launch that seeks to answer the following questions: How does China’s dramatic shift to a digital economy account for economic indicators such as labor productivity and GDP growth? What does the future hold for Chinese producers, consumers, and the workforce as digitization gains more momentum? Has the country’s regulatory framework put in place necessary policies to capitalize on new technologies while safeguarding against potential unintended negative consequences? Click here for discounted student tickets and webcast information.

In Your Free Time

Consider the Arms Control Wonk podcast with Prof. Jeffrey Lewis (Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey) and Aaron Stein (Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East) for your commute or free time between classes. These podcasts give a lively in-depth look, with expert analysis, at trending arms control, disarmament, and proliferation topics such as the JCPOA and North Korea.

In Naples ’44 (now playing at Film Forum) filmmaker Francesco Patierno uses archival war footage, as well as clips from movies set in Naples from the 1950s and 60s, to show how the city and its inhabitants were both deeply affected by the destruction of World War II. The film makes a profound statement about not only the horrors of that war—but of all wars.

This week’s Monday Briefing is brought to you by Andrew Keough.

 

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