In Focus

From 30 November to 11 December 2015 the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) takes place in Paris. At this COP an international successor agreement to the Kyoto Protocol is supposed to be adopted by the 195 member states in order to set binding targets for the protection of the world climate. Among other things, the so-called two-degree climate policy target, which aims at keeping the global temperature increase below two degrees Celsius, and the long-term abandonment of fossil fuels will be discussed. Furthermore, the Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in September 2015 by the UN General Assembly, will be taken into account in order to support in solidarity the endeavors of emerging countries to fight climate change.

When considering the trends of global energy markets, the...

Read more

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) measures the economic performance in a national economy. Therefore, it is considered to be an abstract parameter which covers economic growth and wealth insufficiently or from a monetary perspective only. Volunteering for instance is not paid and consequently not included in the GDP, since it is not counted as a part of economic growth. This means that there is no causal link between the increase of GDP and the wellbeing of a society. Changes in nature stock through environmental pollution or scarcity of resources are not included. This results in a fallacy: Environmental catastrophes such as the oil spill in California in May 2015 caused by a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline, in which about 400.000 litres of oil leaked, contributed to an increase in U.S. GDP because of the money spent to repair the damage. But the incident had a far...

Read more

The use of unmanned drones is a much discussed and controversial topic. In particular the United States is internationally criticized for its use of drones, especially in Pakistan. In this context some talk about a downright “drone warfare”. Within the US-American population, there are many sceptics of this mode of warfare, which official sources tend to label as being “surgically precise”. The general mood in the United States is coined by ambivalence: on the one hand, there is a majority of Americans, supporting the military use of drones; on the other hand a survey shows that there is also a majority speaking out against the use of fully autonomous drones.

Present combat drones are working at intermediate levels of automation or even on low levels of automation, where the pilot makes all key decisions – given the technological progress, the possibility of fully autonomous...

Read more

In its World Employment and Social Outlook 2015 the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that more than one fifth of global employment is linked to regional and global value chains. This number has continuously increased throughout the last two decades – it only came to a decrease with the financial crisis in 2007. Since 2010 the number has roughly stagnated – but for ILO it is not yet possible to assess whether this indicates a long-term trend.

It is out of question that the worldwide organization of production processes, which is primarily based on outsourcing and the shift of labour-intensive parts to countries with low wages, has led to high productivity gains for transnational companies. However, at the same time ILO statistics show that, all in all, participating in global value chains has not brought any wage gains. This means that mostly transnational...

Read more

This year the United Nations (UN) celebrate their 70th anniversary. When on 24 October 1945 the UN Charter entered into force, the main goal of the newly founded organization was to preserve peace and security in the world, in light of the experience of World War II. To this end, they developed a range of measures, which were mostly limited to prevention, mediation and implementation of peace agreements and the monitoring of ceasefires during the Cold War. With the changed security situation after the end of the Cold War, the UN developed a new approach, mapped out in the “Agenda for Peace” of 1992. From 1989 to 1994, 20 new operations were mandated by the UN Security Council and the number of peacekeeping personnel increased from 11,000 to 75,000. The UN also expanded their repertoire of traditional peacemaking and peacekeeping missions and for the first time embarked on...

Read more

On 25 September 2015, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new goals follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and represent a change of paradigm: development is still understood in economic terms, but this understanding is complemented by the formulation of goals for social and sustainable development, which by global universalization, expand the SDGs’ scope far beyond the so called developing countries. Similar to the MDGs, the SDGs are defined for a period of 15 years. The qualitative shift becomes particularly obvious in regard to the 8th Sustainable Development Goal, which is seeks to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”. Therewith, all three dimensions of the SDGs are being addressed.

Approximately half of the world’s...

Read more