Backgrounders

Current political and economic issues succinctly explained.

Human Rights in Iran

Authors: Jayshree Bajoria and Robert McMahon

Global monitors say Iran's human rights situation is poor and unlikely to improve amid a climate of political uncertainty and growing external pressures. But activists urge continued international scrutiny of Iran's violations.

See more in Iran; Human Rights

Abenomics and the Japanese Economy

Author: Beina Xu

Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has focused his second term in office to implementing an audacious set of economic policies designed to spur the country out of its decades-long deflation and sluggish growth.

See more in Japan; Economics

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria

Authors: Zachary Laub and Jonathan Masters

Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has capitalized on Iraq's Sunni minority's alienation from the state, driven by sectarian politics and heavy-handed approaches to security, to wreak havoc and establish zones of authority while expanding its reach into neighboring Syria.

See more in Terrorism; Iraq

U.S. Antitrust Policy

Author: Steven J. Markovich

Antitrust law, which has evolved primarily through landmark Supreme Court cases, plays an essential role in the maintenance of efficient markets and promotion of long-term U.S. economic prosperity.

See more in United States; Corporate Regulation

Governance in India: Women's Rights

Author: Beina Xu

Several high-profile sexual assault cases in India have sparked a national debate over women's rights and the need for social reform in a rapidly modernizing country.


See more in India; Women

Germany's Central Bank and the Eurozone

Author: Christopher Alessi

Germany's Bundesbank remains an influential actor in eurozone policymaking, and its recent disagreements with the ECB raise concerns about managing the zone's debt crisis. This Backgrounder explains.

See more in EU; Monetary Policy

Renewing America

Renewing America

The U.S. Immigration Debate

Author: Brianna Lee

Ongoing arguments over U.S. immigration policy play out against concerns about curbing illegal immigration, changing demographics, and maintaining the country's global competitive edge.

See more in Immigration; United States

Mexico's Drug War

Author: Brianna Lee

Since 2006, the Mexican government has been in embroiled in a bloody drug war, which has failed to significantly curb trafficking. The ongoing conflict poses mounting challenges for Mexico, which is trying to polish its image as an investment hotspot, as well as the United States, its most important regional partner.

See more in Mexico; Drug Trafficking and Control