The U.S. health care system is in crisis. In America, the health of our citizens not only compares unfavorably to many other nations; annual health care costs account for 18 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and drive a large portion of our growing annual budget deficit. There is no other country on the planet where the cost of health care is so disproportionate to the results achieved.
Infectious diseases do not respect borders. In today’s era of easy transportation, what happens in one country can have implications for other countries near and far.
The world is changing at an increasingly faster rate—income growth, shifts in consumption patterns, climate change, and natural resource depletion are all occurring faster now than at any time over the last century—and the responsiveness of our food system needs to change too if we want to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future. We need a food system that can feed every person, every day, in every country; that can raise incomes of the poorest people; that can provide adequate nutrition; and that can better steward the world’s natural resources. Urgently, we need a food system that shifts from being a major contributor to climate change to being part of the solution.
In delaying proactive measures to upend entrepreneurial, political, and wage inequality, we postpone the equal representation of women in the formal sector, and, as a direct result, a more equitable society. These obstacles do not stand alone; rather, they are linked. Lopsided labor markets in which women are failing to meet their full economic potential is not only inefficient—it is stifling. Where there is a deeply demarcated gender gap in the workforce, there will also be a representational divide evident in politics and power.
On April 2, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) with 154 countries voting in favor of the measure. The treaty seeks to implement an array of measures that would hold nations more accountable in international trade of firearms and is aimed at establishing a more transparent record of arms trade among nations, with the goal of discouraging transactions that might lead to violations of human rights. The insular opposition to this measure was raised by Iran, Syria, and North Korea, the only three states that voted against the treaty. Twenty-three countries, including Russia, Egypt, and India, abstained. On September 25th, Italy joined the ranks of 9 other countries that have so far ratified the treaty as the first European state to cement its support for the measure. Negative reports and sophistry surrounding the passage of the treaty clearly diminish the potential impact of this legislation on mollifying chaos and the growing death toll in many areas that are ravaged by both interstate and intrastate strife.
Less than a month since Thailand’s military seized power by a coup d'etat, the junta has been quick in attempting to “normalise” their illegal power grab.
During a recent digital panel discussion among diplomats in Washington, D.C., the word “emojis” came up and perplexed the audience. Emojis are combinations of keyboard characters that form various pictorial representations of mood. Popularly used today by young Technorati, they are indicative of digital culture or “digiculture” around the globe. But whether one speaks of the ubiquitous emoji or the rise of mobile messaging apps or emerging wearable technology, we are only at the beginning of a rapidly changing communication dynamic that says as much about technology as it does about the attitudes and behavior with which it interacts. A very real challenge for most diplomats in 2014 will be to keep abreast of digital behavior and to forecast trends in order to use them more effectively.
Presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled to take place on May 25th, are to become a key factor for the normalization and stabilization of the situation in Ukraine.
Azerbaijan sent a brave and vital message to the international community on March 27th—a message the U.S. and the European powers would do well to acknowledge and applaud. As the Ukraine crisis deepened, the Baku government became the only post-Soviet state (apart from Georgia) to vote in favor of a UN resolution declaring Russia's annexation of Crimea illegal.
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