Myanmar: a golden opportunity for Australia’s Human Rights Council bid (Thulasi Wigneswaran, The Strategist)

Australia officially launched its candidacy for membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2018–2020 term in October last year. If elected to a seat in the 2017 vote, Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop said Australia would aim to ‘advance human rights in practical ways that have far reaching systematic effects’. Given that it’ll be up against France and Spain, with a reliable bloc of EU votes, Australia will need to prove its genuine interests to the claim. One way to do so would be to turn its attention to Myanmar—where human rights concerns are plentiful—to address ongoing violations in the country.

Reviewing intelligence: send in the red team (Andrew Davies, The Strategist)

By all accounts, there’s to be another review of Australia’s intelligence agencies in the near future. The ‘major independent review’ will be the third in 15 years and it’s variously reported that the focus will be on cyber threats or the balance between short-term operational counter-terrorism and long-term strategic intelligence or, well, pretty much everything.

Shaming Beijing over the Spratlys needs to be a green button issue (Anthony Bergin, ASPI, The Australian)

International law spoke two months ago on the South China Sea. But to date it’s not looking as though the ruling by the Arbitral Tribunal in The Hague is having much strategic impact in the region.

GDP growth — is it “good enough” or does it distort policymaking? (Carol Graham, Brookings)

Today, standard benchmarks of progress, productivity, job quality, and democracy are being upended. Income-based measures such as gross domestic product (GDP) served us well for decades, yet when GDP counts pollutant-generating economic activity on the positive side of the balance sheet, or when it fails to measure unpaid labor activity, it falls short. This is especially worrying given that we live in a world wracked by social inequities.

Where are Latin American economies headed? (Ernesto Talvi, Brookings)

For the better part of the past decade, close to 80 percent of countries in Latin America were ruled by center-left and populist governments. However, this hegemony seems to be coming to an end, with center-right parties recently rising to power in Argentina, Brazil, Guatemala, Paraguay, and Peru. Should this come as a surprise? The short answer is no.

Are certain countries doomed to remain emerging? (John Page, Brookings)

Incomes in developed and developing countries have been converging, especially since the turn of the century, but the unevenness of that trajectory merits further examination. Beginning in the early the 2000s, the average per capita income of developing countries (adjusted for purchasing power parity) has increased substantially relative to the average per capita income of developed countries (Figure 1). Output per person in developing countries almost doubled between 2000 and 2010. The average annual rate of growth for all developing countries over the decade was 7.6 percent—4.5 percentage points higher than the growth rate in rich countries.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Land of promise or of peril? (Amadou Sy, Brookings)

After more than a decade of relatively strong economic progress, sub-Saharan Africa’s aggregate GDP growth is slowing as external shocks threaten recent advances. According to the International Monetary Fund’s April 2016 Regional Economic Outlook for sub-Saharan Africa, between 2000 and 2015, the continent grew at an average rate of 5.5 percent.

Can globalization be rescued from itself? (Homi Kharas, John McArthur, Brookings)

Globalization—the integration among national economies of markets for goods, services, technology, capital flows, and, to some degree, labor—has played an enormous role in advancing global prosperity. Yet a backlash has emerged, manifested in the recent U.K. Brexit vote, strident “local first” demands, and calls to block trade agreements. The issues are not entirely new. In 1997 Dani Rodrik’s book famously asked Has Globalization Gone Too Far? Joseph Stiglitz published Globalization and Its Discontents in 2002. In between, the 1999 “Battle in Seattle” protests forced the World Trade Organization’s ministerial to shut down.

Skills in the digital age—How should education systems evolve? (Rebecca Winthrop, Timothy P. Williams, Eileen McGivney, Brookings)

At no point in history have more children been enrolled in formal education. Thanks to global commitments and movements such as the Millennium Development Goals and Education For All, more than 90 percent of all primary-age children are now in school.