Le blog de Daniel Warner

  • The World Trade Organization and Saving Multilateralism

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    The new head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) has gotten off to a promising start. In her initial public declarations, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the first woman and first African to lead the WTO, has said that the organization must “deal with people in their everyday lives.” For an organization that has been mired in a deadlock over members of the appellate body and who, after 14 years of negotiation, was unable to finish the Doha Development Round to facilitate global trade in 2015, her election and comments were a breath of fresh air.

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  • Judgment Days: The Trials of Pierre Maudet and Donald Trump

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    Two elected officials have recently been tried, Pierre Maudet in Geneva and Donald Trump in Washington D.C. Maudet, a Council of State and former mayor of Geneva, was tried for “accepting unauthorised financial perks” tied to a visit to Abu Dhabi in 2015. Trump was tried for “incitement of insurrection” for the events of January 6. While the charges against the two were as different as the settings and world media coverage, the fact that one was a trial before the Geneva Police Court with one judge deciding and the other before the U.S. Senate raises a pertinent question: What is the difference between a criminal trial and a political trial?

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  • Trump Impeachment and Swiss Burqa/Niqab Vote: Déjà Vu All Over Again

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    Despite riveting and compelling presentations by the House of Representative Lead Managers in the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump, the Senate voted 57-43, not enough to find him guilty, just as they had voted not to find him guilty in the previous impeachment trial in 2020. Despite the fact that researchers say there are only between 20 to 30 women in Switzerland wearing a burqa or niqab, the Swiss People’s Party is poised to win a ban on facial coverings in a national vote on March 7, just as they won a 2009 referendum against building minarets although there are only four minarets in Switzerland.  

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  • Are We Ready For Vaccinating With Sputnik V?

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    Millions of people have died from Covid-19. Many more are infected; many more are at risk. With new variants popping up as the virus mutates, scientists around the world are searching for better protection with different vaccines. As supplies of the approved vaccines become limited, any new vaccine should be universally welcomed. After all, the pandemic has become a global danger. Any new and successful vaccine should be globally welcomed. 

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  • Russia Confronts International Law: Nyet, Nyet

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    “What good is international law when countries do whatever they want?” I aggressively asked my international law professor years ago. “Well,” he replied with a certain pride, “the United States president usually confers with the State Department legal adviser before he sends troops somewhere.” “But does that change anything?” I insisted. “No,” he replied, “but at least he asks.”

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  • Deniers, Narratives and Quantum Politics

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    The insurrectionists of June 6 and the vaccine deniers are all part of a larger struggle about how we know and what we know. In different ways, we all search for knowledge, we all search for truth.  “Great is the truth and it prevails” is the motto of my high school. Really? The world now seems in conflict between fact and fiction. The search for knowledge and truth has become fractured. “We create our own reality,” is a famous quote attributed to a senior adviser to President George W. Bush. Or, in senior adviser to President Trump Kellyanne Conway’s infamous phrase, there is an alternative reality. 

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  • A Reminder: Black Lives Matter and Woodrow Wilson in Geneva

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    The recent insurrection in Washington is a reminder, if one is needed, that not speaking up against injustice has dire consequences. The invasion of the Capitol was the physical culmination of at least four years of collective amnesia/appeasement. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is an ongoing manifestation against hundreds of years of amnesia/appeasement. While reactions against the insurrection have been swift and powerful, the BLM movement needs continuing vigilance and updating. 

     

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  • 1968 – A Dress Rehearsal for 2020

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    Around this time of year, there will be speculation about how 2020 was a special year. People will point to the pandemic as a unique experience, not lived through since the pandemic of 1918. Comparisons will be made with World War II. And what about the Great Depression of 1929 or World War I?

     

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  • A Frustrated democrat

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    When I am asked if I am a Democrat, I always answer that I am a Democrat with a capital D and a democrat with a small d. The two are not the same. While the first means being a member of a United States political party, the second means believing and defending inclusive values. To be a true democrat is to recognize that all eligible voters are equal, that Lincoln’s government “of the people, by the people, for the people” is not limited to those who think like you.

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  • Humanitarian Aid in the Time of the Virus

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    The holiday season around Christmas and New Year is a time for family get-togethers, the sharing of gifts and sending cards. It is a particular moment of friendship and solidarity. Traditionally, it has also been a propitious time for fundraising by charitable organizations. How will this appeal resonate at a time of pandemic and general economic hardship?

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  • Status Quo Ante and the Return to Normal

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    People in Geneva and around the world are hoping that the presidency of Joseph R. Biden Jr. will return the United States to the way it was before the presidency of Donald Trump.

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  • How Should Former Presidents Behave?

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    There is something disconcerting about watching former United States President Barack Obama being interviewed on French television to market his new book “A Promised Land.” Already the author of several best-sellers - publishing about one’s life seems to be a prerequisite for presidential candidates – Obama was all the literary figure during the interview on a book tour looking to justify the $65 million deal he and his wife had signed. The Obamas do have two daughters in expensive colleges, but ethical questions remain: How should former presidents behave? Should they profit from their prestige as the former highest elected public servant?

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  • Can multinationals be responsible?

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    As part of anger against the 1%, many of the 99% are turning against multinational corporations such as Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. On November 29, the Swiss will vote on a referendum concerning corporate social responsibility.

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  • Voting Heroes

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    Pictures of U.S. citizens waiting in line for up to eight hours to vote in Georgia are stunning. Ordinary citizens, Mr. and Mrs. tout le monde, some sitting on folding chairs, many reading to pass the time, show a determination to cast ballots that deserves recognition and reflection. Recognition as Time magazine’s Citizens of the Year? Heroes for those worrying about the end of democracy in the United States? Proof that the common man voting remains the bedrock of liberal institutions? There are no signs of cynicism among them. No posters or posturing. They are simply people waiting in line to exercise their constitutional right to choose their representatives in Washington.

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  • Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be

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    Moments of disruption always lead to nostalgia. If only we could go back to where we were before. Remember how free we were to socialize before the pandemic?  Remember what it was like not to wear masks in public places or scrub hands several times a day. And even further back: remember how easy it was to go to airports to board planes before September 11 and security checks?

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  • The Act of Voting and Democratic Deficiency

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    I recently voted by mail in Switzerland and the United States. Historically, less than half of registered Swiss voters actually vote, although the number was higher this time. In the United States, the percentage is slightly higher depending on whether the vote is for the president, vice-president and members of Congress or only for members of Congress in mid-term elections. In both Switzerland and the United States, supposed beacons of democracy, the percentage of eligible voters actually voting should be higher. Beyond the obvious analyses of the Swiss results on September 27 or the U.S results on November 4, there remains the question of why more people don’t vote.

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  • Watching Sports While the World Spins Out of Control

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    Confined and anxious because of the pandemic? Fearful for your home and having trouble breathing because of smoke from raging wildfires? Overwhelmed by high winds and floods because of Hurricane Sally?  Afraid to go out because of violent altercations between police and Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstrators? Worried that your partial employment checks will run out and that your job will disappear in the near future? Ashamed at how many child migrants your country will accept from the devastation on Lesbos? Distraught that Trump might win on November 3 and not sure if a Biden victory would make a significant difference?

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  • Wolves and immigrants: Votes expose our fears

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    I was once asked to give a talk on security in a town in the Swiss Alps. I began by telling how many locks I had on my door when I lived in New York.  I told stories about how fearful it was for me to ride the subways late at night. My stories were met with quizzical looks. Most people in the town didn’t lock their houses or cars. They had no subways. Two different worlds. 

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  • Basketball Plays Outside the Bubble

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    Professional sports are trying to function within the constraints of the coronavirus. The National Basketball Association, in a most novel solution, has tried to finish its interrupted season within a bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida. The remaining games have been played under strict supervision; the players have been in virtual lockdown. But the bubble has burst, and not because of the virus.

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  • Election Creative Destruction

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    For over 200 years the United States has had regular federal elections. In times of war, in times of economic hardship, there has been regular voting for presidents and members of Congress. This phenomenon – and it is a phenomenon – is unique. No other country can boast of having similar peaceful transfers of power over such a long period of time. If the heart of a democracy is voting and normal elections, the United States can be seen as a shining example of how the process should work, although there have been elections with dubious or contested results as my historian friend Matthew Stevenson loves to remind me.

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  • Geneva: The Home of Lost Causes

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    Anniversaries call for celebrations. The 75th anniversary of the United Nations was supposed to be the event of 2020 for the multilateral system. The list of scheduled events and publications is too long to mention. Should we celebrate? What is there to celebrate? A global pandemic with no multilateral response? Increasing economic and social inequality with little international leadership? Wars in Yemen, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan? Growing U.S. – China tensions? Lack of progress on Sustainable Development Goals? World Trade Organization blocked? U.S. withdrawal from the World Health Organization?

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  • Departure of OSCE head a setback for dialogue and negotiation

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    Thomas Greminger's departure from the European security body shows that Swiss ideals of neutrality and humanitarianism are being challenged in the multilateral system. What is the difference between politics and neutrality/humanitarianism? Political theorist Michael Walzer, in a famous 1973 article titled “Political Action: The Problem of Dirty Hands,” argued that getting one’s hands dirty in politics is inevitable. For Walzer, and many others, politicians and politics are fundamentally dirty. (We know that diplomats are jokingly referred to as honest people who are paid to lie for their country). Neutrality and humanitarianism, on the other hand, are supposed to be apolitical, hence clean and above the fray.

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  • Audacity and Hope in the Summer of Discontent

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    We are in the summer of discontent, overwhelmed by the pandemic, civil unrest and economic hardship. In what seems ages ago, Barack Obama talked of the audacity of hope. That audacity now appears as neither audacious nor hopeful. Obama’s “Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream” seem more like a nightmare than a dream. With the pandemic growing in many parts of the United States and the world, and with civil unrest increasing because of greater awareness of gross violations of human rights, that euphoria has long gone.
    Where is the audacity today? Where is the hope?

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  • To Mask or Not, That is the Question

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    On recent tram ride I ran into a friend who was not wearing a mask. When I asked him why not, he responded, “I had the virus. I have been tested for immunity and have a letter from doctors at the HUG saying I don’t have to wear a mask. I am a danger to no one.” Just as he finished his explanation, a passenger came up to him and berated him for “putting the lives of other people in danger.”

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  • Bike Lanes: Perspective and Proportionality

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    The brouhaha over temporary increased bike lanes in Geneva puzzles me. As someone who does not ride a bike or use a car to go to work, I have no dog in this fight. What I do see, and definitely hear, are vehement comments on both sides. Some say: “Traffic is piled up. We can’t get around Geneva to go to work without traffic jams.” Others comment: “The new lanes are encouraging people to use bikes instead of polluting cars. And, it makes it safer to bike around.”

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