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Syed Munir Khasru
Syed Munir Khasru
Professor Syed Munir Khasru is chairman of the international think tank, The Institute for Policy, Advocacy, and Governance (IPAG) with a presence in Dhaka, Delhi, Melbourne, Vienna, and Dubai.

Formed during the Cold War, the non-aligned movement allowed newly independent and developing countries to pursue their own goals free from US or Soviet influence. With the world again split, emerging economies must once more assert their autonomy and prioritise their own development needs.

As the only country to be the victim of a nuclear attack and then have constitutionally underpinned pacifist values, Japan is in a unique position to lead the global discourse on the dangers of nuclear rhetoric and the consequences of a potential nuclear attack.

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At a time of weakened unity within the G20, new host India will have its work cut out tackling issues like the Ukraine war, Indo-Pacific rivalry and pandemic recovery. New Delhi must use its position as a champion of multilateralism to carry the group through the next 12 months.

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Leaders from countries that could make a difference in stopping climate change – including from China and India – are either absent or making token appearances at COP27. There are also more than 600 fossil fuel lobbyists at the summit, outnumbering any community affected by climate change and threatening to stall negotiations.

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November’s meeting in Bali will be attended by world leaders increasingly at odds with one another amid rising geopolitical tensions. First-time host Indonesia has a chance to position itself as a champion of diplomacy and consensus building.

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While fractures have long existed in the group of former British territories, they remained more or less held together by the unifying power of Queen Elizabeth. As Charles takes on the hereditary role of head of the Commonwealth, many members will again question the value of the group and the legitimacy of its figurehead.

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Climate change threatens Australia’s fragile ecosystem as well as lives and livelihoods, yet the country remains heavily dependent on its massive coal industry. The challenge facing the new Labor government is how to pursue progressive environmental policies without driving economic hardship.

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As Myanmar’s humanitarian crisis deepens, Asean’s non-interference principle has become a barrier to safeguarding rights and freedoms. Asean needs to decide whether it is merely a trade body or an organisation bound by common values.

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Abe stood out on several fronts, becoming Japan’s longest-serving prime minister and breaking with his predecessors to lead from the front. His domestic reform efforts were complemented with a push to build international alliances and bolster Japan’s global standing.

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The current pledges of financial and policy support are nowhere near enough to meet the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees. Instead of protecting carbon-emitting industries, the world needs economic diversification and green jobs for a just, sustainable transition.

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Fiscal prudence, export industrialisation and policies such as the empowerment of women and girls have allowed Bangladesh to leapfrog India in per capita GDP and other indicators. But even as the smaller neighbour outpaces the bigger one, untapped economic gains remain to be explored between the two.

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Tech giants are among major employers under scrutiny as workers remain at risk of exploitation in unfair and dangerous conditions. As work traditions change, labour laws and enforcement must evolve.

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Russia’s invasion has displaced millions of Ukrainians who are desperately seeking warmth, food and shelter at home or abroad. The global response remains underfunded while measures by host countries, such as issuing visas or allowances, are only short-term solutions.

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Between an emerging China-Russia axis and US-led sanctions, Asian countries are feeling the pressure to pick sides, amid complex and evolving ripple effects on energy prices and trade and economic ties.

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As the US seeks to increase its presence in Southeast Asia through diplomacy, China prefers to put its money where its mouth is with investment and trade deals. The creation of the RCEP and rise in China-Asean trade suggest Beijing’s approach is working.

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Despite the many other measures put in place, achieving herd immunity is still essential to ending the pandemic. That job remains only half done as developing countries are struggling to get vaccine doses while the wealthy world hands out booster shots.

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Given Pakistan’s close ties with the Taliban, how it chooses to proceed will have a significant bearing on the country’s international standing. By being an honest mediator, Islamabad can rise to the occasion and help establish peace and stability.

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As a growing number of athletes report positive Covid-19 tests, the system of preventive rules set by host Japan and the IOC is already showing cracks before the Games even begin.

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The pandemic has accelerated Southeast Asia’s adoption of e-commerce, which holds great economic potential. But, for the region to become a major digital economy, gaps in infrastructure, access, inclusion, skills and policy must be addressed.

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Asia’s culture, united pandemic response and tech boom have left it better prepared for economic recovery. But geopolitical tensions and challenges in poverty, health care and climate change remain.

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As Asia continues its upwards trajectory to surpass Europe economically and strategically, a key challenge for Joe Biden will be to recover lost ground with the continent and re-establish the US’ leadership role in the region.

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The messages coming out of Trump and those near him suggest a strong possibility of armed conflict with North Korea, especially as the investigation into collusion with Russia closes in.