GGR Issue Briefings / Working Papers

Democracy and Human Rights Program

The Current State of Democracy in Mexico as Seen in Attempts to Reform the Electoral System

AuthorShigeru Minowa
DateNovember 10, 2023

AbstractThe López Obrador administration in Mexico embarked on a major electoral reform effort from 2022 to 2023, amending electoral laws significantly. The reforms included provisions related to the election to electoral positions by voters, a reduction in the number of personnel involved in electoral affairs, limitations on types of violations related to electoral campaigning, and a reduction in penalties for electoral violations. All of these changes were seen as posing a threat to the fundamental principles of democracy, specifically the "fairness and impartiality" of elections. However, in May and June of 2023, the Supreme Court of the Justice of the Nation declared the reforms invalid through constitutional review. This ruling demonstrated the judiciary's role in curbing arbitrary exercise of power, indicating that the separation of powers in Mexico is currently functioning.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Bridging Realities: How Perceptions of Refugees Are Influenced by VR Interactions

AuthorAndrey Kirpach
DateNovember 10, 2023

AbstractDoes virtual reality (VR) possess beneficial qualities as opposed to traditional media? This study examines the effects of viewing a documentary about refugees as an empathy – inducing stimulus and compares the strength of the effects based on the medium used: VR versus a computer screen. An experiment conducted as part of this research could not find evidence that VR is more effective at eliciting empathy for “imagine-other” perspective-taking tasks. On the other hand, the type of perspective-taking itself may be a significant factor. The discussion section synthesizes the experimental results with a critique of VR experiences in international relations contexts from a critical culture studies perspective and highlights how VR experiences are shaped and limited by the power structures within which they are produced.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Geopolitical Challenges of Chinese Smart Cities

AuthorKazuki Ichida
DateOctober 31, 2023

AbstractSmart cities are geopolitical battlegrounds composed of technologies in which the U.S. and China are competing for supremacy. Chinese smart cities are governance systems that prioritize safety, whereas those of American companies are business systems that advocate improving quality of life, optimizing urban functions, and reducing operating costs. Chinese smart city projects are often integrated with economic and informatization support, and are deeply tied to China economically and politically. Authoritarian countries and weakened democracies are seeking Chinese smart cities as political instability increases, and the number of these cities is growing as a result of this increase. There are 144 such projects underway worldwide, and the vast amount of data and networks accumulated could give China a strategic advantage. Smart cities have become geopolitical battlegrounds for supremacy, but the West has been outnumbered.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Malaysia State Election 2023: Prospects for the “Unity Government”

AuthorMuhamad Takiyuddin Ismail
DateOctober 6, 2023

AbstractSince the last general election (GE15) in November 2022, the political landscape in Malaysia has shifted significantly, especially concerning the formation of new political alliances such as the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PHBN) coalition. Dubbed the “unity government,” the alliance led by Anwar Ibrahim however did not gain solid support from Malay voters. The result of the Malaysian State Election held in August 2023 further affirmed this scenario when PHBN suffered a moral defeat to the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition. It remains to be seen whether the government will become more conservative to appease Malay voters.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Problems Facing U.S. Disinformation Measures

AuthorKazuki Ichida
DateOctober 3, 2023

AbstractCurrently, criticism of disinformation measures is spreading, centering on the United States House Judiciary Committee and involving right-wing media, organizations, and critics. Requests for information, congressional subpoenas, and charges have been filed against think tanks, universities, and other research institutions, as well as individual experts. The claim is that the U.S. government, either directly or through research institutions, has been suppressing conservative speech by censoring social media platforms. On July 4, 2023, a federal district court recognized government censorship and ordered a ban on contact between the government and related agencies and social networking platforms and research institutions. The court ordered that the government and related agencies be prohibited from contacting social media platforms and research institutes. Although the order was immediately stayed and an appeal is underway, the series of events has led some social media platforms and researchers to become more cautious in their efforts to combat disinformation. This problem can be attributed to a failure to follow the basic principle that disinformation is more often carried out by domestic actors and that countermeasures must also prioritize domestic approaches.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

The Rise of ESG Investment and Its Controversial Reception in the United States: Implications for Global Governance

AuthorYuki Miyoda
DateSeptember 27, 2023

AbstractSince the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, Environment, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) investment has gained popularity. It has attracted attention from various stakeholders, including those with a social mission of realizing a sustainable society, and also risk-sensitive investors, as well as academia. However, there is a growing anti-ESG movement in the United States, with Republican lawmakers attempting to impede ESG-related financial risk management and hinder the growth of ESG investment. This article aims to explore the background and rationale behind this conflict surrounding ESG investment in the United States and its implications for global governance.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Problems with Hong Kongers’ “Nationality” in Residency Registration and Renewal of Hong Kong SAR Passport in Japan

AuthorPatrick Poon
DateSeptember 21, 2023

AbstractHong Kongers living in Japan face unique challenges when it comes to residency registration and passport renewal. The confusion surrounding their nationality status, particularly the use of "China" instead of "Hong Kong" in official documents, creates practical difficulties and safety concerns for Hong Kongers in Japan. This paper highlights the legal and political differences between Hong Kong and China, the unique visa arrangements and exemptions enjoyed by Hong Kong SAR passport holders, as well as the implications of the Hong Kong National Security Law for Hong Kongers living in Japan. Without asking for special treatment, it is nonetheless important to consider the human rights of Hong Kongers and to provide better assistance, support, and protection for this community at risk.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

“Democracy” in Unrecognized States: Its Variations and Determinants

AuthorTohkairin Takuto
DateAugust 22, 2023

AbstractThe term "unrecognized states" refers to entities that have declared independence but lack international recognition while operating independently from their legal parent state. In recent years, with Russia's invasions of Georgia and Ukraine, unrecognized states and similar entities have emerged, drawing attention to their roles. Many of these existing entities conduct competitive elections, with some even experiencing change of government through elections. However, most of them rely on support from authoritarian states and face severe economic and societal conditions that hinder democratization. Consequently, some studies suggest the existence of unique factors influencing democratization in unrecognized states. According to measures of democracy, however, not all unrecognized states have fully democratized, as there are variations in the quality of democratization among them. This paper reviews the current political regimes in unrecognized states, along with existing research in the field, and identifies the limitations, while proposing new possibilities for hypotheses.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

Implementation of the ASEAN Five-Point Consensus Has Failed

AuthorHnin Htet Htet Aung
DateJuly 7, 2023

AbstractThe Myanmar coup leader and ASEAN leaders agreed on the five-point consensus, rates of deaths, detainees, and internally displaced people. However, the number of conflicts between the Myanmar military, ethnic armed groups, and the People’s Defense Force is rising. In addition, some ASEAN leaders have stated that the process of agreement implementation by the Myanmar military is a failure because the military is still trying to prevent humanitarian aid from reaching the people. Therefore, a number of international organizations have raised their voice to assist those in urgent need. More than two years since the agreement, it is time for ASEAN leaders to review the implementation by the military and take meaningful action, respecting the interests of the people of Myanmar.

Democracy and Human Rights Program

2023 Thai General Election: The Rise of the Opposition

AuthorPrakrit Rakwong
DateMay 12, 2023

AbstractThailand’s general election will be held on May 14. It is time for the Thai people to decide whether they want to stay with the pro-military government led by coup maker General Prayut Chan-o-cha or go for a different way. Despite the undemocratic constitution that favors pro-military parties, the recent trends suggest that the two main opposition parties, the Pheu Thai Party and the Move Forward Party, are likely to win by a landslide, which could result in a pro-democracy coalition government. For the Pheu Thai Party, past records and recent polls have proven that the party is invincible as it wins the most parliamentary seats in every general election and is likely to win again in the upcoming election. On the other hand, the popularity of the Move Forward Party and its leader, Pita Limjaroenrat, has skyrocketed thanks to a clear political stance, impressive policies that hope to bring about change, and great performance in policy debates. For these reasons, we could see a new government from the pro-democracy opposition, which would save Thailand from the legacy of the military regime.