21
Jan

Written by Marine Andraud, IE Master in International Relations Student, 2014/2015 Intake

UNWTO Secretary General, Dr.Taleb Rifai

IE’s International Relations Club started off 2015 on a revolutionary note; a travel revolution, that is. We had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, who shared his perspective on the matter. In attendance were some of Dr. Rifai’s esteemed guests: the Malta Delegation with Tourism Minister, Dr. Edward Lewis, the Ambassador of Malta to Spain, Dr. Mark Micallef, and, of course, students, alumni, faculty… all travelers, I’m sure.

Just as the 20th century came to be known as the Industrial Revolution, the 21st will be synonymous with travel; not just of information but also of people. These were the words with which the UNWTO Secretary General began his hopeful story. In 1950, tourism was an elite club whose members included the world’s wealthiest 25 million people. Fast-forward a mere 70 years and you now have 1 billion tourists wandering every corner of the world… now that is a revolution. And if anyone accuses me of hyperbole, just think of the ways that tourism has been transformed as a development tool. It generates vast economic wealth and accounts for 9% of the world’s GDP. It allows countries to rediscover themselves in an effort to showcase their culture to global visitors. But most importantly, it brings together people of all walks of life fostering respect, knowledge, and human well-being.

Of course, with great opportunities come great challenges. An informal sector is developing that not only lacks regulation but protection, as well. In the coming years, a solution will be needed in order to establish a fair playing field between the businesses who play by the rules and the individuals currently untouched by them. Furthermore, it must also be understood that a visitor cannot enjoy a country if it is not enjoyed first by its own people, that if there is not enough food to feed the population how can there be enough for a tourist. Lastly the difficulty of promoting sustainable tourism must be considered, how does one open up the world’s door in such a way that future generations will be able to look through and enjoy the same beauty.

We are starting to experience the fruits of the travel revolution today; but it is our duty, aided by agencies like the UNWTO, to nurture the benefits of tourism so that it can help create a better and more mobile world for tomorrow.

That was the message of hope shared by Dr. Taleb Rifai.

12
Jan

Danilo-TurkOn January 19th, the IE School of International Relations will host Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia. In his conference, Mr. Türk will address the changing security landscape of Europe, 40 years after the Helsinki Final Act was signed.

This session will take place from 16:30 to 18:00 (room MMB603, María de Molina 31bis). Previously, Mr. Danilo Türk will attend the IE Business Leadership Forum, where key players meet to examine challenges in the fields of economy, politics and management.

9
Jan

After the attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead and five injured, Twitter comments are pouring in from around the world.

Many take the form of one of the magazine’s specialties, cartoons. Foreign Policy has compiled some of them here.

4
Jan

The last year was a bad one for international peace and security. Sure, there were bright spots in 2014. Colombia’s peace process looks hopeful. The last round of Iran’s nuclear talks was more successful than many think. Tunisia, though not yet out of the woods, showed the power of dialogue over violence. Afghanistan bucked its history and has, notwithstanding many challenges, a government of national unity. President Barack Obama’s restoration of diplomatic relations with Cuba can only be positive.

But for the most part, it has been a dispiriting year. Conflict is again on the rise after a major decrease following the end of the Cold War. Today’s wars kill and displace more people, and are harder to end than in years past.

The Arab world’s turmoil deepened: The Islamic State captured large swathes of Iraq and Syria, much of Gaza was destroyed again, Egypt turned toward authoritarianism and repression, and Libya and Yemen drifted toward civil war. In Africa, the world watched South Sudan’s leaders drive their new country into the ground. The optimism of 2013 faded in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ebola ravaged parts of West Africa, and Boko Haram insurgents stepped up terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria. The international legal order was challenged with the annexation of Crimea by Russia, and war is back in Europe as fighting continues in eastern Ukraine.

So what do the last 12 months tell us is going wrong?

On a global level, increasing geopolitical competition appears, for the moment at least, to be leading to a less controlled, less predictable world. This is most obvious, of course, with regard to the relationship between Russia and the West. It’s not yet zero-sum: The two nations still work together on the Iran nuclear file, the threat of foreign terrorist fighters, and, for the most part, on African peacekeeping. But Russia’s policy in its neighborhood presents a real challenge, and its relationship with the United States and Europe has grown antagonistic.

China’s relations with its neighbors also remain tense and could lead to a crisis in the East or South China Seas. The struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia shapes the contours of violence between Sunnis and Shiites across the Middle East. Major Sunni powers are themselves divided: The contest between the Saudis, Emiratis, and Egypt on the one hand, and Qatar and Turkey on the other, plays out across North Africa. Elsewhere on the African continent, powers jostle in Somalia and in South Sudan’s increasingly regionalized war; and the DRC has long been a venue for its neighbors’ competition over influence and resources.

Rivalry between major and regional powers is nothing new, of course. But hostility between big powers has stymied the U.N. Security Council on Ukraine and Syria — and leaves its most powerful members less time and political capital to invest on other crises. As power gets more diffuse, antagonism between regional powers matters more. Competition between powerful states increasingly lends a regional or international color to civil wars, rendering their resolution more complex. Read more…

By Jean-Marie Guéhenno: Jean-Marie Guéhenno is president and CEO of the Brussels-based International Crisis Group.

Published on January 2, 2015 in http://foreignpolicy.com

 

30
Dec

Four EU countries in top 10 world economies

Written on December 30, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Global Economy, News

BRUSSELS – Four European countries are in the world’s 10 largest economies, according to research by the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The annual World Economic League Table 2015 published on Friday (26 December) by the London-based think tank puts the US as the world’s main economic powerhouse, followed by China and Japan.

Germany, the UK and France take the fourth, fifth and sixth spots, respectively, with Italy, in the eighth place, the only other EU country in the top 10.

The UK has edged ahead of France into fifth place in this year’s rankings, although the Cebr comments that the $1 billion (€850 million) gap in output between the two countries is “well within the margin of error” and would likely be extinguished if France’s markets in drugs and prostitution, which “may prove to be ‘larger than their British counterparts”, were included.

In June, the UK economy received a statistical boost of £65 billion (€80 billion) following the introduction of new EU accounting rules allowing the so-called ‘grey economy’, which includes proceeds from drug trafficking and prostitution, to be recorded.

Meanwhile, Russia is the main loser in the new list, dropping from eighth place to tenth in the rankings, with Cebr chief executive Douglas McWilliams suggesting that Moscow’s role in the ongoing Ukraine conflict was a factor in the country’s economic decline.

“The fun of the world economic league table is that it brings things back to hard figures,” said McWilliams.

He added that “countries like Russia and Argentina, who have invaded neighbouring countries and whose leaders spout aggressively nationalistic rhetoric, are brought down to earth by their falls in the league table as their economies collapse”.

The Russian economy is poised to endure a 4.5 percent recession in 2015 as a result of falling oil prices and the effects of western sanctions.

Last week the country’s central bank was forced to spent around €3 billion of its foreign currency reserves to prevent a run on the rouble currency.

But the next 15 years are likely to be about the continuing rise of some of the ‘Bric’ countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China.

China is projected to overtake the US by 2025 as the world’s largest economy, the Cebr forecasts, while the “unstoppable” rise of India will see it become the world’s third-largest economy by 2024.

In Europe, meanwhile, Cebr predicts that Germany’s ageing and declining population, coupled with the weakness of the euro, will allow the UK to overtake it by 2030.

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