National security wrap

Image courtesy of Flickr user Petras Gagilas

The Beat

Cracking down on corruption

Transparency International UK recently estimated that the amount of corrupt wealth being laundered through the UK annually is at least in the hundreds of millions of pounds—if not billions. With the priorities of the UK government in flux post-Brexit, British Labour MP Jon Ashworth argued on The Huffington Post that corruption should remain a key priority area. A recent article on the London School of Economics’ Europp blog similarly believes it’s important that David Cameron’s anti-corruption initiatives don’t fall by the wayside.

In other anti-corruption news, one of China’s top military generals was sentenced to life in prison on Monday in the latest development in President Xi Jinping’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign. Guo Boxiong was officially stripped of his membership in the Communist Party of China after being found guilty of accepting large bribes and using his position to promote and reassign other members. Australia is a popular destination for Chinese officials fleeing the country, with three of its most wanted fugitives returning from Australia in the past three months to face charges.

Bonus: SDG16 interactive map

The SDG16 Data Initiative has an excellent interactive map that compares how countries across the world are faring in combating corruption, reducing illicit financial and arms trade flows and developing transparency, among other issues. You can access it here.

CT Scan

The importance of getting CT lexicon right

The recent spate of terrorist attacks, occurring mainly in Europe, have highlighted the difficulties of labelling terrorist attackers, with descriptions such as ‘lone wolf’ and ‘ISIS inspired’ among the most frequently used. A new piece on Lawfare blog argues that a common lexicon is necessary to enhance communication and enable different countries to support each other’s strategies and coordinate better—and proposed some alternative terms. The World Bank’s Lead Economist in the Development Research Group, Norman Loayza, recently argued that policy strategies to defeat terrorism must include three components: intelligence, integration and development.

Australian strategy for counterterrorism

In the wake of the Nice attack, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull asked Australia’s counterterrorism agencies last week to develop a strategy to prevent rapidly radicalised terrorists from carrying out ‘lone wolf’ attacks. Counterterrorism coordinator Greg Moriarty has been asked to identify lessons for Australia from the Bastille Day attack where a vehicle was used, rather than automatic weapons, to inflict large-scale casualties. The report will also detail the vulnerability of public areas in Australia, how authorities can protect large numbers of people in open areas, and what measures need to be taken to prevent vulnerable Australians from falling through the cracks of the justice and mental health systems.


Afghanistan and Pakistan to work together

Pakistan will install a new gate at its border crossing with Afghanistan on 1 August as a part of a plan to prevent terrorist entry and illegal movement of people along the 2,600km Afghan frontier. Pakistan’s been criticised for being a sanctuary to militant groups, with Afghanistan’s president saying last week that Pakistan is his nation’s greatest problem. Steps are being taken to improve the relationship, with a trilateral meeting on Tuesday between the two countries and NATO resulting in a commitment to resolve their ongoing border disputes and a vow to combat Daesh together.

A push for more Biometrics at the borders

As of this week, travellers going through the US Seattle-Tacoma International Airport have the option of choosing whether to include iris and fingerprint scans as part of their security check. The initiative coincides with a report by Acuity Market Intelligence which suggests that with the recent wave of violence and terrorism in Europe and the US, there’s a need to expand and improve biometric border security. Check out this recent interview with International Biometrics + Identity Association director John Mears who discusses the need for greater biometric programs in the US.

First Responder

Disaster reconstruction provides opportunities for resilience

A new report (PDF) from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy has highlighted opportunities for disaster-hit metropolitan regions to improve their resilience during the reconstruction process. ‘After Great Disasters: How Six Countries Managed Community Recovery’ analysed six countries that utilised varied management approaches post-disaster to identify some of the lessons governments and other agencies had learnt from the recovery process. The study focused on incidents that occurred in China, India, Japan, the US, New Zealand and Indonesia between 1995 and 2012. It found that post-disaster reconstruction offered opportunities to solve a number of long-standing issues, by improving construction and design standards, creating new-land arrangements, and improving governance.

Link between climate-related disasters and armed conflict

Climate-related disasters have increased the risk of armed conflict in ethnically divided countries, a research paper (PDF) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found. The study’s authors used event coincidence analysis to investigate the links between armed conflict outbreak and climate-related natural disasters from 1980–2010, and found that 23% of conflict outbreaks in highly ethnically-divided countries ‘coincided with climate calamities’. There was no evidence to suggest these disasters were direct triggers of conflict, but the authors warned that Africaparticularly drought-stricken Northern Africaand Central Asia posed the most significant risk of further conflict.