Reports & Papers

1478 Items

Paper - Centre for International Governance Innovation

Getting beyond Norms: When Violating the Agreement Becomes Customary Practice

| Apr. 20, 2017

This paper offers five standards of care that can be used to test individual states' true commitment to the international norms of behaviour. Only with a concerted and coordinated effort across the global community will it be possible to change the new normal of "anything goes" and move forward to ensure the future safety and security of the Internet and Internet-based infrastructures.

Electric cars sit charging in a parking garage at the University of California, Irvine, January 26, 2015.

REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

American Energy Policy

| April 2017

When the country faces a major threat, a dedicated minority recognizes it and lobbies hard for strong actions to address it.  Stakeholders with powerful vested interests in the status quo lobby just as hard (sometimes harder) to block the proposed actions. In many cases, the advocates for change never get past this stage.

 A view of the Yuxi River and suburban towns near Yulin in Shanxi Province.

CNES/Astrium, Digitalglobe. Used with Permission.

Paper - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Low-Carbon Revolution in China

| March 2017

As a vast country with a huge population, insufficient natural resources (as measured on a per capita level), fragile eco-systems, and sophisticated climate patterns, China is vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on many fronts. These fronts include: national economic security, energy security, ecological security, food security, human health, and socioeconomic development. Low-carbon economic growth and actions to slow the rate of climate change are required for sustainable development and the protection of fragile ecosystems. They also bring significant opportunities for economic restructuring, growth mode transformation, and a new type of industrialization. 

Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing's Haidian District


Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Case Study of a World-Class Research Project Accomplished in China: Lessons for China's Science Policy

| February 2017

It has long been a great Chinese ambition to have a high impact toplevel scientific research conducted in domestic China. In this paper, we provide a case study of the recent discovery of the Quantum Anomalous Hall Effect by the group led by Prof. Qikun Xue at Tsinghua University. We analyze the entire experimental discovery process, explore the research culture developed in this condensed matter and materials physics research group, examine China's funding environment and investigate the functioning of this multi-group collaboration. Lessons from this case study will shed lights on how to foster high impact world-class research institutions in China.

A view of the Yangtze River near Chongqing city.

© Landsat/Copernicus. Used with Permission.

Paper - Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center

Unlocking the Deadlock

| January 2017

The world has witnessed a new era of cooperation on climate change between the United States and China. This cooperation between the world’s two largest economies and carbon emitters played a fundamental role in the international negotiations leading up to the adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015. This includes, in particular, the joint announcement of their respective post-2020 climate actions in November 2014 and the crafting of common visions on key issues related to the Paris Outcome in September 2015. The world has high expectations that the United States and China will enhance their future collaboration on climate change. These expectations will be the cornerstone of translating the Paris vision into action. Furthermore, the Joint Presidential Statement released in March 2016 also stressed that “joint efforts by the United States and China on climate change will serve as an enduring legacy of the partnership between our two countries”.

Server racks inside a data center at American Electrical Power headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, May 2015.


Paper - Cyber Security Project, Belfer Center

The Legend of Sophistication in Cyber Operations

| January 2017

In a drumbeat of news stories and corporate press releases, one phrase has dramatically grown in use over the last decade: “sophisticated cyber attack.” These words have been used to describe specific intrusions into telecommunication providers, insurance companies, social media hubs, banks, the Pentagon, a host of security firms, government agencies, research labs, movie studios, and much more. It seems the world is awash in sophisticated network intrusions. 

But if everything is sophisticated, nothing is. This paper unpacks “sophistication” in cyber operations, exploring what it means, and what it should mean, for an operation to attain such a status. It examines the incentives for victims and observers to overstate the sophistication of other actors. Additionally, it offers a more rigorous framework for defining the term that takes into account technical and operational factors. But deploying the lens of sophistication by itself can be misleading; this paper also explores the incentives some actors have to deploy less sophisticated capabilities. 

Discussion Paper

The Challenges and Promises of Greening China's Economy

| January 2017

In the 2014 joint U.S.-China climate announcement, China pledged to peak carbon emissions by 2030. Another serious pledge was then made to lower carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 60-65% from 2005 levels in its Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC). This paper shows the compatibility between the non-fossil fuel share pledge and carbon intensity target and summarizes key challenges China has been facing (and will face) in scaling up non-fossil fuels as promised.

A section of the Delegen mountain range, near Uzynbulak, Kazakhstan.

©2016 Google Earth, DigitalGlobe. Used with Permission.


Lessons from Kazakhstan

| January 2017

When the Republic of Kazakhstan declared independence from the Soviet Union on December 16, 1991, its leaders found themselves in possession of 1,040 nuclear warheads, seven heavy bombers, and hundreds of intercontinental ballistic missiles and other nuclear weapons-related equipment. These weapons and delivery systems were only one part of the new country’s inheritance. Kazakhstan now held one of the largest and most diverse systems for producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in history.

Nuclear materials and sensitive equipment remained strewn across the massive Semipalatinsk nuclear weapons test site, where the Soviet Union conducted its first nuclear weapons test and followed with 455 more. Just to the east, a metallurgy facility in the town of Ust-Kamenogorsk held enough highly enriched uranium to make about 24 nuclear weapons. Further west, the city of Stepnogorsk housed an industrial-scale facility ready to produce and weaponize several hundred metric tons of tons of anthrax and other biological agents if war broke out between the Soviet Union and the United States. At a nuclear reactor along the Caspian Sea, Kazakhstan now possessed one of the largest stocks of weapons-usable plutonium and highly enriched uranium in the world—enough to produce around 775 nuclear weapons. Still other sites held capabilities needed for developing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Skilled scientists and experts with experience relevant to running WMD programs went unpaid or under-employed. Many left the country altogether.

The work of reducing WMD threats remains as critical today as it was in December 1991. Though these threats have changed in time, the world still faces WMD challenges as daunting and diverse as those Kazakhstan inherited.

Jewish settler youth prepare barricades to block the entrance to a building in Amona, an unauthorized Israeli outpost in the West Bank, east of the Palestinian town of Ramallah, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2016.

(AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Time to Decide and Act

  • Dan Meridor
| January 5, 2017

Israel’s success in the face of extraordinary odds is undeniable, writes former Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor. In security, prosperity, democratic rights, innovation, and education, it is an exemplar for the region. But staying the course that Israel has followed the last 50 years, Meridor warns, entails an existential threat to Israel, because it will lead to a one-state reality.

Meridor proposes a new Israeli policy that will change the present course. It will disable the “one state solution” and enhance a “two state solution,” reviving the credibility of Israel’s declared policy of reaching a reasonable solution and returning clarity and justice to the Zionist cause.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

The 2016 Iranian Parliamentary Elections and the Future of Domestic Politics under the JCPOA

| December 2016

As President-elect Donald Drumpf prepares to take office, the status of the nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers is increasingly coming under question.  Since the nuclear agreement was the product of a realignment of Iranian elites toward moderate forces, the unravelling of the agreement holds the potential to disrupt Iranian politics once again. This report, The 2016 Iranian Parliamentary Elections and the Future of Domestic Politics under the JCPOA, by Iran Project Director Payam Mohseni, provides an in-depth analysis of Iran's factional political scene and assesses the impact of the agreement on the 2016 Iranian parliamentary elections and the future of Iranian politics.