March 20, 2018        Reading Time: 2 minutes

Your weekly digest of foreign policy commentary*

Reading Time: 2 min read

Raja Mohan explains why India’s partnership with France is likely to get stronger. Image credit – johny007pandp / deposit photo



Banning Social Media Won’t Stop Hate Speech, The New York Times, by Rohan Samarajiva, LIRNEAsia

“It’s just as likely that this violence was organized not only through Facebook and WhatsApp but also through phone calls and words exchanged across a neighbor’s fence.”

  • Rohan Samarajiva argues that the Sri Lankan government’s ban on social media, following anti-Muslim riots, sets an unwelcome precedent for freedom of expression.
  • Governments like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have relied on tactics developed during the colonial era to prevent violence. Those tactics include curfews, which prevent people from gathering in public spaces, and a social media ban is a digital extension of that.
  • Media companies should do more to identify and remove hate speech, rather than waiting for users to report it, and good citizens must also play an active role in stemming hate speech.

LKI Take: Sri Lanka and other countries that are facing issues related to disinformation, like Myanmar, should prioritise media literacy programmes, to help citizens navigate and evaluate digital media.



France: India’s New Russia?, Carnegie India, by C. Raja Mohan, Carnegie India

“Modi and Macron are well-placed to turn India and France into long-term partners in shaping the geopolitics of Eurasia and the Indo-Pacific.”

  • C. Raja Mohan argues that as Russia strengthens ties with Pakistan, India is likely to pursue a deeper partnership with France to fill in any gaps.
  • France is capable of providing India with the defence and strategic support that Russia has provided Delhi in the past.
  • However, Delhi should ensure that its partnership with Paris goes beyond bilateral relations and leads to greater engagement between India and other European states.

LKI Take: Increasing ties between France and India (1) will benefit the French arms industry, and (2) could become part of a collective strategy by the EU to increase its military reach in the Indian Ocean.



How Will New Cybersecurity Norms Develop?, Project Syndicate, by Joseph S. Nye, Harvard University

“[T]he development of cybersecurity norms will be a long process. Progress in some areas need not wait for progress in others.”

  • Joseph Nye argues that the task of developing cybersecurity norms should be shared by a diverse range of actors, including those in the private, public, and non-governmental sectors.
  • States should ensure that the burden of developing cybersecurity norms does not fall on one entity like the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts, which has failed to reach consensus.
  • States could develop principles and practices with like-minded states, which could lead to norms other states could accept in the future.

LKI Take: States will concurrently need to develop innovative methods to monitor compliance with cybersecurity norms; a difficult task given that cyber warfare is more deeply and differently ‘embedded’ than conventional warfare.

Written by Barana Waidyatilake and Malinda Meegoda, and edited by Anishka De Zylva. The opinions expressed in this Weekly Brief are the authors’ own and not the institutional views of LKI, and do not necessarily reflect the position of any other institution or individual with which the authors are affiliated.

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