Publications

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The Republic of Moldova, a sliver of land bordering the European Union (EU) and NATO’s eastern edge, finds itself at a critical crossroads twenty-seven years after gaining independence from the Soviet Union. Eager to forge closer ties with Brussels and Washington, the government has made concerted efforts to bring the country closer in line with the West’s expectations and conditions required for a strong ally and partner. Genuine progress has been made over the past couple of years and the country has achieved financial and economic stability with the support of its development partners; it has reached over 4 percent economic growth, lowered inflation, fixed huge problems in the banking sector, and replaced Russia with the EU as its main trading partner.

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On Sunday, August 26, Colombians went to the polls again, this time to vote in a “popular consultation” on a series of seven initiatives intended to counter corruption. A significant share of the campaigning involved spreading misinformation — or countering it.

The consultation asked Colombians to vote on seven initiatives intended to crack down on Colombia’s endemic corruption. If approved, they would have strengthened punishment for convicted corrupt officials, improved the transparency of public offices and public contracts, imposed a maximum of three four-year periods for holding seats in public corporations — Congress, department assemblies (something like state legislatures in the United States), and city councils — and lowered the salary of Congress members and other high-ranking public officials.

The consultation was backed by both the president and the opposition, requiring a high turnout and a high vote to be approved, but failed to achieve the former. Disinformation aimed at suppressing the vote likely had a serious impact on the outcome.

Read the full analysis on Medium.
Macedonia will hold a naming referendum on September 30, which will decide by ballot an initiative to rename the country the Republic of North Macedonia. The issue does raise the question of what is in a name, but it could also resolve a long dispute between Macedonia and Greece, which has kept Macedonia from ascending into the European Union and NATO.

Leading up to the approaching referendum date, an online campaign called #Бојкотира (translates to #boycott) is steadily growing on Twitter and Facebook. The aim of this far-right campaign is boycotting the referendum.

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In a new issue brief, “Beyond the Three Seas: A Strategy for Extending the 3SI Energy Security Vision to Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova,” Global Energy Center Senior Fellow for Energy Diplomacy David Koranyi outlines the importance of the Three Seas framework for Ukraine and Moldova, and the importance of these countries for the initiative. While not formally a part of The Three Seas framework, which aims to enhance north-south interconnections in energy, transportation, and communications, Ukraine and Moldova are crucial countries for European energy security and would benefit from enhanced interconnections in all three areas—namely energy.

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In “Climate Leadership in Uncertain Times,” authors Joshua Busby and Nigel Purvis argue that international climate cooperation continues to have promise and potential, even in the current political climate. The authors lay out a comprehensive view of climate leadership, examining climate policy in the United States under President Trump, the potential for climate leadership around the world, best practices for pursuing change, and areas to target for effective cooperation and maximum impact.

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Of all the political ideas to defend themselves before the court of human history, few have proven as potent and as compelling as that of electoral democracy. Yet in recent years, electoral democracy has once more come under challenge, facing off against popular discontent, revisionist governments, and—most significantly—the rise of new media and digital technologies. These technologies have at times demonstrated exhilarating promise, but they have also created new vulnerabilities that malicious actors have proven able and willing to exploit. This Issue Brief aims to provide a taxonomy of different forms and levels of state involvement in election interference, giving states a common lexicon to respond to cyber threats. It is not enough to simply speak of “hacking the vote”—and hopefully, by providing these initial terms, this report will spur a wider discussion on defining actions and sponsorship in this domain.

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Seven years from the Syrian revolution, the conflict in Syria has altered the course of history for the generation coming of age in the region. It has killed, wounded, or displaced millions of Syrians, worsened regional sectarianism, raised the risk of war between Israel and Iran, generated the worst refugee crisis since World War II, and created a new and more pernicious wave of violent radicals. Its effects extend beyond the region, shaping the outcome of politics around the world.

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Sweden’s leadership in pushing European values in former Soviet republics, combined with the end of its neutrality, has placed the country in a values-based conflict of interest with Russia. Sweden faces a time of political turmoil. In recent years the migration crisis in Europe has come to dominate Swedish politics, with the debate growing more polarized and an increasing number of voters turning to antiestablishment parties.

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The Islamic Tradition and the Human Rights Discourse is a collection of thought provoking articles that aim to elevate the conversation on Islam and human rights beyond the confines of "compatibility." The report, compiled and edited by Dr. H.A. Hellyer, nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, sheds light on new methods for the exploration and engagement of the Islamic tradition and the rights discourse, featuring theoretical and practical accounts by Muslim scholars, academics, and human rights practitioners.

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A conspiracy theory that began as a throwaway joke in 2001 was amplified on YouTube and ended up being seriously quoted in a debate between Brazil’s presidential candidates on August 9.

YouTube played an important role in the spread of the ­­United Socialist Republics of Latin America (URSAL) conspiracy theory in Brazil. YouTube algorithms consistently expose viewers who watch URSAL-related content to recommendations for other conspiracy-prone topics, making the theory an entryway into further online disinformation and potential radicalization.

The acronym “URSAL” was coined as a throwaway comment in an article 17 years ago. It was subsequently taken up by far-right supporters who took it seriously and later resurfaced on YouTube, finally being denounced as a genuine Communist conspiracy by a candidate during the first presidential debate in Brazil.

The incident shows the audience impact on YouTube, and the danger its algorithms pose in steering viewers toward content promoting fictitious conspiracy theories.

Read the full analysis on Medium.