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Vita Activa

There is an inscription on Athens’s ancient city wall which claims that ‘The man with no public business has no business’. Greek ancient philosophy asserts that someone who is ignorant towards public affairs can be considered as being an idiot – an uneducated and self-centered person. However, it is comforting to know that in the same Athenian democracy, idiots were ... Read More »

Who to blame for the “European Dictatorship”

Many European countries experience a drastic increase in far-right and anti-EU political parties. Politicians like Geert Wilders, Marie Le Pen and Heinz-Christian Strache profit from their prominent media appearances and the tiredness of many EU citizens that do not grasp the far-away Brussels bureaucracy. The upcoming elections in May might change the scene and produce a more nationally focused Union. ... Read More »

The Shame of our Time: Human Trafficking (Modern Slavery)

Men, women and children, working extensive days of hard labour in bad conditions without or little pay and no possibility to leave. Impossible as it might be for us to imagine the complete absence of freedom, these practices are not just taking place in distant, shady sweatshops or backstreet brothels in developing countries –human trafficking is very real and happening ... Read More »

Spain’s identity crisis

Like many countries, Spain experiences increasing pressure coming from right-wing parties due to the economic crisis. Minister Mariano Rajoy has introduced the tightening of abortion laws, meaning an almost total ban on abortion except in the case of rape or severe danger of the woman’s mental or physical state. This proposal comes from the Partido Popular, a conservative center-right party, ... Read More »

The postponed conflict – Bosnia’s challenges

When the Dayton Agreements that ended the war in Bosnia were signed on November 21st 1995, they were commonly seen as a major diplomatic achievement that brought peace back to the Balkans. In the protests that rocked Bosnia-Herzegovina in early and mid-February however, the dangerous legacy of these treaties became shockingly visible. On February 4, it was just too much ... Read More »

The EU is making life hard for refugees

Four months ago, a 20-metre long fishing boat carrying more than 500 migrants from Libya sank near Lampedusa, an island of  the coast of Italy. More than 360 people died before the rescue services could reach them. Although many were shocked that such a tragedy could occur at the frontiers of Europe, at least the incident sparked a hope that ... Read More »

Die Energiewende: Germany’s Green Transformation

In the latest edition of our magazine, Japan’s path towards sustainable development was assessed with concluding lessons other states could learn from the country in the Far East. In this article another contender for rigorous green transformation appears: Germany. Can the Energy Transformation campaign prove that prowess and willpower can overcome the current political impotence? Indeed, Germany is taking a ... Read More »

Interview: The Life of a Diplomat: a Football Match

The word diplomat always invokes a promise of success and adventure, at least among many IR/IO students. Checks&Balances interviewed Jan Willem Bertens, who was not only a diplomat in Uruguay, Costa Rica and Sudan, but also the party leader of D66 in the European Parliament. Above all, Bertens is a passionate story-teller, with plenty to talk about: he built a ... Read More »

Has Global Warming Reached its Expiry Date?

The 2013 UN Climate Change Conference in Poland is being considered an utter failure. With 132 walkouts and an all but promising final agreement, one might conclude that creating follow-up for Kyoto has fallen out of most countries national interest. So what are we doing wrong? As early as 1917, Alexander Graham Bell wrote about fossil fuels causing the greenhouse ... Read More »

Hollande’s fall off the governmental pedestal

Recently, it became public that French President François Hollande has been having an affair with actress Julie Gayet for two years. The news reached the headlines of reputable international and European papers and websites such as the BBC and LA Times. Public opinion in France’s neighbouring countries was judgemental to say the least. Surprisingly, the French themselves were rather laconic ... Read More »