ASEAN (and the EU)

The foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are meeting in the beautiful mountain resort of Ubud in Bali this week. An editorial in the Jakarta Post calls for renewed action in the association:"ASEAN risks becoming irrelevant if it does not respond to the huge challenges it faces today, nearly 40 years after it was first formed. The foreign ministers have the task of convincing the international community that the regional grouping continues to be relevant by taking strong action against any members who threaten the existence of the association.Established…Read more …

Around the World in 1 Post

I haven't had the time to write many posts this week. Besides, I did not come across any news items of real urgency this week. However, a few items caught my attention.***First, there was an interesting statement of Australia's Minister of Education Julie Bishop. She claims that uniform degree structures, a diploma supplement and international recognition of qualifications are among radical changes Australia needs to adopt to meet competition from a powerful higher education bloc forming in Europe. She warns that if Australia does not align itself with the changes taking place in…Read more …

The Pot and the Kettle?

Joseph Stiglitz, in Globalization and its Discontents, shows how the principle of conditionality is increasingly used as a political instrument by institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. According to this article in the International Herald Tribune, current World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz now speaks up for including freedom of the press as one of the conditions for loans of the Bank.Wolfowitz and senior World Bank economists know that strong, independent news media play a key role in promoting transparency and good governance, which in turn lead to economic and political development.…Read more …

Spitting Image

It's been a bit over a year now since I moved to Australia. Roughly 399 years after another Dutchman, Willem Janszoon, the first European to visit Australia. In honour of this 400 year anniversary, Dutch Prime Minister Jan-Peter Balkenende is visiting Australia this week. He wrote an article about the Dutch and the Ozzies which was published in the Australian yesterday.Obviously it is not hard for a Dutchman to feel at home here. He claims that despite the differences, The Netherlands and Australia are well matched:Our societies share the same values: freedom, democracy,…Read more …