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GCN Security Brief: China and International Conventions, Syria, NATO and more


GCN Security Brief: China and International Conventions, Syria, NATO and more

Lead Story: China and International Conventions

china-climate‘China and International Conventions’ seems to the theme for global security this week. On September 4th it was announced that China would sign the Paris Agreement; the most comprehensive agreement on climate change ever. The Paris Agreement Climate Pact says that signatory countries will attempt to cut emissions in a bid to keep the global average rise in temperatures below 2C. As the world’s largest emitter of Greenhouse gases, China plays a vital role in shaping the future of international cooperation in an effort to combat climate change.

The pact has to be ratified by at least 55 countries to come into effect which between them produce 55% of global emissions. To put things into perspective, Before China made its announcement, the 23 nations that had so far ratified the agreement accounted for just over 1% of emissions. Significantly, the US has also signed onto this agreement.

Simultaneously, rhetoric about China’s actions in the South China Sea have intensified a few days ahead of the start of the G20 summitPresident Obama last week urged China to abide by the July ruling of the International Tribunal (under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) regarding its aggressive actions in the South China sea. This comes a few days after the Philippines (who won in the ruling against China) said that China would be the “loser” if it did not abide by the ruling.

By following China’s unwillingness to abide by the ruling, it once again shows that its rise in regional and global affairs as a “responsible stakeholder” will remain a dream; far from being realized. With China reneging on the ruling, it is adding to the already hostile atmosphere of the region.


Turkish forces have reported that they have driven IS forces out of the border region with Syria.  If this is true, supply lines for IS to Syria and Iraq will be jeopardized. Additionally, Syrian forces (backed by Russian air strikes) have recaptured much of Aleppo which they had lost to rebel-forces a few weeks ago. This map shows the territory that is being controlled by various groups in Syria. It is interesting to note, the number of rival factions vying for different parts of what is left of the country. What is important to note is the rapidly diminishing area of land that IS controls.

At the G20 summit that is underway, private talks between Russia and the U.S. on ending violence in Syria broke down. With no political solution in site, the rapidly changing landscape must be watched to monitor the human rights situation and minimal loss of civilian lives.


The unrest in Kashmir has now entered its eighth week. Over 200 people were injured this Sunday, the same day an All-Party Delegation sent from New Delhi was held in Srinagar to assess the ground situation. A memorandum presented to the delegation by the Opposition National Conference blamed New Delhi for failing to right the historic wrongs to the people of Jammu and Kashmir by not restoring their constitutional rights. The committee claims that this is what has led to the continued instability in the region. The memorandum also stated that a lasting solution to the Kashmir situation must involve engagement with several stakeholders including the people of Jammu and Kashmir and the Pakistani establishment.

The visit by the All-Party Delegation is viewed skeptically by the people in the (Kashmir) Valley and is being dismissed as reactionary to the fresh round of violence rather than being proactive to finding a lasting solution.  Hence, this strong indictment against the Indian government will more or less fall on deaf ears.

More on Kashmir


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (better known as NATO) has been in the news often in the last few months. Several factors have contributed to this such as Russia’s aggressive actions in the region, Brexit and the American Republican Presidential candidate statements that would place conditions on the US’s involvement in the organization. All these are potentially devastating for the future of the organization which has played a pivotal role in maintaining global security.

A new threat that has emerged for the organization is Turkey’s involvement in the organization. Following the unsuccessful coup which Turkey believes was led by Fethullah Gülenaided, a Turkish cleric who lives in the US and was aided by the CIA. Another concern for NATO allies is that over 100 top admirals and military staff have been among those who have been detained following the coup. With a hit to its leadership and ambiguous intentions of President Erdogan, Turkey’s role in NATO will be a vital area to watch for.


Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at a weapons expo this week said that Iran has to change its mindset from being defensive and to start boosting its offensive capability. The hardline cleric differs from the more pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani who has tried his best to integrate with the global community, most notably with his signing of the Iran Nuclear deal. The Cleric’s statement is particularly worrying because he continues to view the west as the enemy and more importantly, the country’s military services are under his command.

Further Reading

This week a report outlining Boko Haram’s use of financial services for recruitment titled, ‘Motivations and Empty Promises: Voices of Former Boko Haram Combatants and Nigerian youth’ was published. Read more here.

M. Sudhir Selvaraj

M. Sudhir Selvaraj writes the Weekly Security Brief for GCN. He is a fellow with the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life. His interests lie in security of religious minorities, secularism, U.S. foreign policy and politics of South Asia. He is currently pursuing his doctoral studies at King’s College London. He has a master’s (with distinction) in International Relations from the Department of War Studies, King’s College London and graduated cum laude (with honors) from Concordia College, Minnesota with majors in Political Science and Global Studies and a minor in Business.

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