Glossary of Scenario Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M
N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

- A -

ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA): A regional free trade agreement among the member countries of ASEAN (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) designed to eliminate tariffs and facilitate commerce among the members.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC): Established in November 1989 with the goal of reducing the possibility for economic conflict in the region. APEC currently has 18 members from both sides of the Pacific (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United States).

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): A pact that links ten nations in Southeast Asia (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) together in the economic, security, and political sectors.

Austerity Measures: Reduced government spending. In order to stabilize the economies of less-developed countries (LDCs), many third world governments are being told by the IMF, World Bank, and other lenders that they must reduce deficit spending and create balanced budgets. Austerity measures result in less government support for health, education, and infrastructure.

- B -

BRIC: An acronym referring to the emerging economics of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. They represent newly-advanced economies that lie between the economies of Developing Countries and those of Developed Countries.

Bilateral Agreement: An exclusive agreement between two nations. This term is generally used for trade agreements, but can be used to describe any two-party agreement between countries.

Biodiversity: The earth's vast array of plant and animal species. Many of the existing species have yet to be fully studied and may hold untapped medical or scientific potential. Industrialization and deforestation currently result in the loss and extinction of plant and animal species.

Biotechnology: The use, creation, or mutation of living organisms to make or improve industrial, agricultural, and medical products. Early examples of biotechnology include breeding plants for specific characteristics and using yeast in bread-baking. A current example is genetic manipulation.

Brady Plan: A third world debt restructuring plan proposed by former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, Nicholas Brady, in 1989. The details of the Brady Plan are negotiated individually with each participating nation. However, the basic framework offers some debt forgiveness and interest rate reduction in exchange for economic reforms including austerity measures, trade liberalization, and privatization.

- C -

Carrying Capacity: The ability of the earth or a specific area of the earth to maintain a specific population and / or human activity.

Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA): A free trade agreement among Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and the United States. CAFTA lowers tariff and regulatory barriers to trade among the members.

Chemical Weapons: Gases and chemicals that are developed for potential use in wartime against enemy troops, populations, or eco-systems.

Colonialism: Foreign rule imposed upon a group of people, such as the European domination of much of Africa. The term is currently applied to situations in which one country's economics and/or culture is heavily influenced by another country, such as when people refer to the spread of McDonald's and Coca-Cola as American cultural imperialism.

Comparative Advantage: The idea that a country should specialize in producing goods for export based upon which resources it can access and use most cheaply. For example, Saudi Arabia has a comparative advantage in oil production, and can export its oil to pay for other goods that it wants to import. Similarly, a country with low labor costs would have a comparative advantage in labor-intensive industries, such as clothing production.

Compulsory Licensing: Requires the owner of a copyright or patent to license the rights to its product to other companies, provided they compensate the rights-holder. In an effort to combat disease, the Brazilian government has instated compulsory licensing on certain treatments for life-threatening illnesses such as HIV/AIDS.

Conventional Arms: Non-nuclear weapons.

Convertible Currency: A currency that can be freely traded or exchanged on the world open market. Highly indebted countries have to pay their debts in this currency, as their own is generally not accepted by international financial institutions.

Crimes Against Humanity: Serious criminal human rights abuses. They are distinguished from domestic crimes by their scope or their "mass nature" (that is, whether they are targeted against particular groups and/or sponsored by the state).

- D -

Debt Default: Failure to make the required debt or interest payment without making arrangements with the lending government or institution.

Debt Moratorium: A temporary suspension of debt or interest payments.

Debt Restructuring: Various proposals for relieving the debt burden of developing countries. The indebtedness of many developing countries has been increasing dramatically since 1973; most of the loans have been granted by private commercial banks rather than foreign governments. Many governments are currently unable to service their debt. Debt restructuring could involve complete or partial debt forgiveness, temporary or permanent debt moratorium, interest rate reduction, and term extensions.

Debt Servicing: Payment of the basic installments as due on the loans. Without the ability to service the existing debt, many nations find that they are unable to obtain additional loans that they need to maintain government services. Debt servicing is not debt payment; the service payments are usually only a portion of the interest owed, and the debt continues to mount as unpaid interest is added to the original principal.

Deforestation: The destruction of the world's forests, mainly rain forests, through direct human activity such as logging or slash and burn clearing for agriculture and grazing, and the indirect effects of pollution and acid rain.

Developing Countries: The poor, often indebted countries of the world that are currently trying to industrialize or develop alternative methods of supporting their populations. (See Third World.)

Drug Trafficking: The illegal production, movement, and sale of illicit drugs around the world.

Dumping: Depositing garbage, sewage or environmentally harmful materials in unregulated or uncontrolled areas. Often materials are deposited into lakes, rivers, streams or other bodies of water which leads to pollution and contamination and can have a detrimental effect on human and animal health.

- E -

East Asia Free Trade Area (EAFTA): EAFTA is a proposed trade agreement that would enlarge AFTA (the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement) with the inclusion of China, South Korea, and Japan.

East Asian Community (EAC): A proposed political and economic grouping that would enlarge ASEAN by including China, Japan, and South Korea.

Economic Sector: A term used to define the specific production and exchange of a particular type of good. For example, the agricultural sector includes sales and the production of pesticides and fertilizers as well as farming activities.

Ethnic Cleansing: Sometimes used as a euphemism for genocide. Some people distinguish it from genocide, however, by saying that ethnic cleansing does not necessarily mean killing groups of people, but can include the use of coercive methods for driving people out of a territory, including rape and the destruction of homes and villages.

European Currency Unit (ecu): The single EC currency, known as the euro, proposed under the Maastricht Treaty.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA): A free trade zone including many non-EU countries in Europe. Members are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland.

European Union (EU): A union created in 1958 to encourage and facilitate trade among the member countries. Currently, there are 28 EU member states, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, among others. Before November 1993, the EU was known as the European Community.

- F -

Food Security: The availability of and access to food.

Free Trade Zone: An agreement between two or more nations to significantly reduce or eliminate tariffs and trade barriers.

- G -

Geneva Convention: One of a series of agreements first formulated at an international convention held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1864, establishing rules for the treatment of prisoners of war, the sick, and the wounded.

Genocide: Systematic, state-sponsored or encouraged killings of members of a specific, identifiable group.

Global Warming: The gradual warming of the earth's atmosphere as the result of the accumulation of greenhouse gases. While the earth has always undergone cycles of heating and cooling, the current round of global warming is the direct result of human activity.

Globalization: The process of worldwide integration of economic or political systems. Economically, globalization is driven by free trade and foreign investment. The concept of globalization can also be applied to cultural products (such as movies or music) or values (such as beliefs about human rights).

Green Technology: The use of environmentally friendly tools and methods for energy production, industry, and agriculture.

Greenhouse Gases: These gases -- primarily water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), nitrous oxide, methane, and ozone -- are the main culprit behind global warming. While they occur naturally in the environment, they are also caused by human activity, including emissions from the combustion of fossil fuels. The accumulation of these gases in the atmosphere creates a "greenhouse effect" that does not allow heat to escape properly into space.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP): The value of all goods and services produced domestically in a given year. This is an indication of the size of a country's economy.

Group of Eight (G8): A group of the world’s eight largest economies, which holds an annual summit of the members’ leaders to discuss the most pressing economic issues.

- H -

HIV/AIDS: Human immunodeficiency virus/Acquired immune deficiency syndrome; a disease that prevents the human immune system from fighting disease. Millions globally have been infected with HIV/AIDS, the majority of them living in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Hard Currency: An internationally accepted means of exchange. Hard currencies are currently considered to be U.S. dollars, Japanese yen, and German marks. Since most international obligations must be paid in hard currency, it is very important to have enough exports, which bring in hard currency, to be able to meet foreign obligations.

Human Rights: Almost all states profess that they observe the basic human rights of their citizens. These rights exist based upon the universal belief that one is human and is therefore entitled to be treated in a way befitting that status. However, some states disagree about the precise content of this body of rights and others deny that these rights are governed by international law. Nonetheless, there has been a change in the last forty years, stemming from three major precedents: the Nuremberg Trials, genocide, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This change has moved international law away from its traditional, exclusive focus on the state toward a new interest in protecting the individual through treaties and documents. However, the will to enforce such laws rests with the states, which can be tenuous at best.

- I -

Import-substitution Industrialization: A development strategy in which countries promoted industrialization by protecting domestic industries from competition by imposing high tariffs or quotas on imports. Because the industries protected are not always determined by comparative advantage, they are not always internationally competitive.

Infrastructure: Services and facilities that support day to day economic activity. Infrastructure includes roads, electricity, telephone service, and health care facilities. Infrastructure has traditionally been provided and maintained by the government. However, some nations are currently experimenting with privatization of some elements of the infrastructure as governments seek to cut their expenditures.

Intellectual Property Rights: The legal protection of patent and copyright laws. The international protection of intellectual property rights has become an issue under GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) because companies are often reluctant to do business in a nation that does not provide legal protection for their patents. Some LDCs are reluctant to provide patent protection because it prevents domestic industries from competing in the field and often keeps prices of products too high for domestic consumers.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): People who have fled their homes either due to conflict, fear of conflict, or human rights violations but remain within their own country borders.

International Court of Justice: The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the judicial arm of the United Nations. According to Article 38 of its statute, the ICJ's function is to decide submitted disputes in accordance with international law. The court applies international conventions which establish the rules recognized by the contesting states; international custom; the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations; and judicial teachings of highly qualified publicists.

International Financial Institution (IFI): A generic term that includes both commercial banks and international organizations such as the IMF who provide credit internationally. Indebted nations owe their debt primarily to IFIs rather than individual governments, making issues of debt forgiveness and moratorium very complex.

International Law: Although opinions differ on the definition and scope of international law, in general international law can be defined as the body of rules that nations recognize as binding upon one another in their mutual relations. The existence of international law is different from the enforcement of international law. The latter depends upon the will of many sovereign nations and no overall, superior entity exists that can force nations to comply with international law. Sources of international law include treaties, customs, general principles of law, resolutions and declarations of international organizations, equity, and writings of judges and legal scholars.

International Monetary Fund (IMF): An independent international organization created in 1945 as a result of the Bretton Woods conference. The IMF aims to maintain international monetary stability. The IMF has taken a very active role in the budgetary and economic policies of the highly indebted nations that work with it, and has been roundly criticized from all sides for their policies. However, it remains the lender of last resort for governments.

International Norms: International norms are ideals, values and practices held in common by a majority of states in the international system. If enough states recognize a specific norm and consistently use it in their relations with other states, that norm will likely become part of international law.

Intervention: Interference in the domestic affairs of another state by diplomatic, economic, military and other means

- K -

Kyoto Protocol: An international treaty that obligates countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to combat climate change.

- M -

Maastricht Treaty: The EU treaty completed in December 1991 that outlines plans for a single currency, coordinated social policy, mutual defense force, and coordinated foreign policy.

Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR): An informal and non-binding export control arrangement among 29 of the world's most advanced suppliers of ballistic missiles and missile-related materials and equipment. The regime is designed to control the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles primarily capable of delivering a nuclear, chemical or biological warhead.

Most Favored Nation Status (MFN): The application of the lowest tariff rate given to any other nation. All members of the WTO (World Trade Organization) offer most favored nation status to each other.

Multinational Corporations (MNCs): Corporations that operate in more than one country. MNCs generally seek to maximize their returns by locating their operations based on labor costs, transportation issues, lax regulations, etc.

- N -

New Economy: Generally refers to an economic system increasingly based upon information and communications technology, which is believed to greatly improve worker productivity. The new economy can be discussed at either the domestic or international level. Individuals or countries that participate in the new economy are said to be on the other side of the "digital divide" from those who work in the old economy.

Newly Industrializing Country (NIC): Countries such as Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea or Malaysia whose rapid economic growth over the past 30 years made the label 'third world' inappropriate. All such countries exhibited strong market orientations, developed industrially, and heavily emphasized exports.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs): Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are organizations whose membership is composed of private individuals and private groups, but not governments or states. For example, the International Red Cross is an international, non-governmental organization (IGO) as is the World Council of Churches.

Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT): An international agreement intended to prevent and reverse the spread of nuclear weapons and their technologies. Originally signed in 1968, the Treaty was extended indefinitely in 1995. (See Nuclear Proliferation).

Non-tariff Barrier to Trade (NTBs): Regulations or requirements designed to meet non-trade related goals, but which limit or restrict imports. Health regulations may be considered non-tariff barriers to trade if one nation has higher health standards than another.

North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA): A free trade grouping including Mexico, Canada, and the United States. NAFTA lowers tariff and regulatory barriers to trade between the three member states.

North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): A 19 member collective defense agreement established in 1949 to protect Western Europe. Members include the United States, Canada, and 14 Western and Central European nations.

Nuclear Proliferation: The spread of nuclear weapons to states that had not previously maintained nuclear forces.

- P -

Paris Club: The wealthiest members of the IMF who provide most of the money to be loaned and act as the informal steering committee. The members are: Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Patent: Gives an inventor the exclusive right to use a certain process of making or using and selling a specific product for a specified period of time.

Peacekeeping: International forces (often under the auspices of the UN) helping to control and resolve a conflict (through protecting ceasefires or assisting in implementing a settlement) and protect humanitarian operations, with the consent of the parties in conflict. Usually applies once the overt conflict has ended.

Peacemaking: Military support for diplomatic efforts by third parties to try to end a conflict, such as disarming combatants and creating buffer zones to separate warring parties.

Political Economy: The idea that politics and economics are linked, and one must study the interrelationships among political and economic variables to better understand the overall system. Political economy also refers to the use of economic models of rationality such as rational choice theory to explain political actions.

Privatization: The process of selling government owned industry and services to private companies. Privatization is currently taking place in many LDCs that are trying to reduce government spending and generate income by selling unprofitable services and industries.

Protectionism: A policy designed to shield the local economy from outside competition through high tariffs, subsidies, or trade restrictions.

Public Goods: Also known as collective goods, public goods are goods that cannot easily be denied to others once allocation and payment for goods are provided. In addition, the use of a public good by one does not deny the use of that good by others. For example, providing clear air and water or providing national security can be considered as public goods.

- R -

Refugee: A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group, or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality, and is unable to or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.

Rogue State: A state that disregards international law and is believed to pose a threat to international security. (The U.S. now calls rogue states "states of concern.")

- S -

Sovereignty: The concept that a nation has complete autonomy to determine its own policies. There is no higher authority that dictates the decisions of a nation-state.

Standards: A set of expected norms and acceptable outcomes. Standards can be enforced by regulation as well as legal or military recourse. Standards vary greatly among countries and cultures, making a single set of international standards for human rights or the environment difficult to achieve.

Structural Adjustment Program (SAP): The most common method of addressing high national debt levels involves agreements between the government and lenders to reduce domestic spending in favor of debt payments. These SAPs generally require debtor nations to cut their budgets for health care, education, economic development, etc. so that more assets can be remitted to the creditor.

Subsidy: A payment that a government makes to a producer to supplement the market price of a commodity. Subsidies can keep consumer prices low while maintaining a higher income for domestic producers.

Supranational: Beyond or above the state

Sustainable Development: Improvements in the standard of living that are not dependent on outside support and do not deplete resources. Sustainable development projects often concentrate on education and the refinement of local production techniques with a great deal of respect for local customs and traditions.

- T -

Tariff: A fee that a government charges to the importer of a foreign good. Tariffs are passed along to the consumer through higher prices on imported goods.

Terrorism: A criminal act that is undertaken with the purpose of achieving political gain. It may or may not be directed against a particular government, and it may or may not be state-sponsored. Defining terrorism is a very controversial subject because of the differing motivations of those who practice it. As the old saying goes, "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

Third World: The poorest nations of the world. Most third world nations are in debt to Western banks and governments or international lending organizations. Many depend on international aid to meet the basic needs of their population. (See Developing Countries.) This term has fallen into disfavor in recent years, replaced by terms such as Less-Developed Country (LDC), developing nations, and the Global South.

Trade Deficit: The value by which a nation's imports exceeds the its exports. For poorer nations, trade deficits can lead to a shortage of convertible currency. When exceedingly large, trade deficits can contribute to an economic crisis and undermine the value of a country's national currency.

Trade Liberalization: The reduction of tariffs and trade barriers to permit more foreign competition and foreign investment in the economy.

Treaty: Treaties are written international agreements between or among states. These are some of the most important sources of international law. For example, bilateral treaties between two states establish mutual rights and obligations directly affecting the two states and no other states. Multilateral treaties are international agreements among three or more states. Lawmaking treaties attempt to create new rules of international law that modify existing practice. The process by which nations negotiate and enter into treaties is determined by the states involved in the process.

- U -

United Nations (UN): Established in 1945, the United Nations is tasked with maintaining peace and stability in the world through cooperation among its member countries. The UN maintains peacekeeping and humanitarian missions around the world, as well as serving as a venue for mediation of international disputes and coordination of global initiatives on many issues.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR): A UN agency that serves to protect and support refugees worldwide, at either the bidding of an individual country’s government or by UN mandate.

Universal Jurisdiction: The ability of a state to prosecute individuals accused of committing certain grave offenses, even if the crime did not occur on the territory of the state, involve nationals of the state, or pose a threat to that state's national security.

- W -

War Crimes: "Violations of the laws or customs of war" (Nuremburg Charter). The Geneva Conventions specify a number of "grave breaches," including torture, inhumane treatment, and making the civilian population the object of military attacks.

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs): Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) are weapons that cause large scale destruction. During the Cold War, nuclear weapons were the main WMD threat. In the Post Cold war era, other weapons of mass destruction including biological weapons and certain chemical weapons have joined or surpassed the nuclear arsenal as a main threat.

Western European Union (WEU): The European defense and peacekeeping structure, formed in 1954. Members are the Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

World Bank: Created as a sister organization to the International Monetary Fund as a result of the Bretton Woods conference. Its purpose, after initially emphasizing the reconstruction of Europe after World War II, has been to lend funds at commercial rates and to provide technical assistance in order to facilitate economic development in its poorer member countries. Officially called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In recent years, it has been criticized for its lending practices, particularly due to the perception that recipients of aid have not been participants in determining their own needs.

World Trade Organization (WTO): The governing body for international trade established by the Uruguay round GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) agreement. The WTO is designed to oversee global trade by standardizing regulations and standards, and to provide a dispute mechanism when disagreements arise between nations, or between nations and corporations.

- Z -

Zero-Sum Negotiations: A negotiation in which one party wins and the other party loses. This is in contrast to "positive sum" negotiations in which it is possible that both or all sides gain something from the negotiation. Successful and lasting negotiations normally depend upon the latter type of engagement and the perception that all parties involved have something to gain from the negotiation.

ICONS Project