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The tracks of 2023-2024

Each academic year, The West Wing answers four policy questions commissioned by foreign posts and State Department directorates. Each policy question has its own track, which consists of a track leader and 12 selected West Wing members. In 2023-2024, The West Wing writes four policy recommendations commissioned by Directorate of Sub-Saharan Africa, Directorate of Asia and Oceania, Embassy Costa Rica and Embassy Tanzania

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Directorate of Sub-Saharan Africa (DAF)

Track DAFxDIE-EX-SU will examine the role of sanctions policy within the EU's geopolitical ambitions; specifically, the current sanctions policy towards the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sanctions play a central role in the EU, specifically in the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), but they are not an end in themselves or the answer to every problem. They are therefore also primarily a political tool with an economic foundation. EU sanctions that are accurate and timely can help redirect conflict, reduce its effects or prevent violations of international law in the future. However, sanctions can also create backlash when they are seen as a "punishment," a reminder of the colonial power relationship, as is often the case in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. This is also a narrative that countries like Russia like to use in disinformation campaigns. This narrative is reinforced by unwanted consequences of sanctions; think of the malaise that can be felt by the local population that is not the purpose of the sanctions. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has therefore asked The West Wing to formulate policy recommendations regarding the situation in the DRC. The track will consider the geopolitical forces present within the DRC, the background of the conflict, situate the current sanctions policy within the context of communication, the role of regional and local actors, and formulate policy recommendations from this background.


Directorate of Asia and Oceania (DAO)

The theme of the century: climate change. While major conferences such as the COP are negotiating to meet the Paris goals, we are collectively experiencing the turbulent effects of an Earth that cannot show resilience to intense human pressures. Two of the regions hardest hit are Southeast Asia and Oceania. Small developing islands (SIDS) lack sufficient resources to resist rising sea levels and have little diplomatic pressure at multilateral conferences. Larger countries such as Indonesia also experience low resilience, particularly due to a discrepancy between their large area, overpopulated cores and limited resources. The Netherlands and the EU have developed indo-pacific strategies through which they intend to support climate transition in the region. Within track DAO of The West Wing, we aim to convert the strategy into an effective short-term implementation. Specifically, we envision diplomatic representation for the SIDS and educational programs for large to small countries to increase knowledge about natural disasters and climate change among the population. With this policy vision, track DAO expects to kick off closer climate cooperation in the regions!


Track Costa Rica focuses on the links between climate change and human rights in Central America. The question was submitted on behalf of the Dutch Embassy in Costa Rica. As a result of global warming, extreme weather events such as droughts, heat waves and hurricanes are becoming more frequent. Worldwide, entire populations are already suffering from the effects of climate change, but vulnerable people are usually the hardest hit. Central America is one of the most vulnerable regions where climate change is exacerbating poverty, food insecurity and water shortages. Addressing climate change must therefore go hand in hand with protecting basic human rights such as the right to food and water. The research question of this track is as follows: What are the opportunities for cooperation between Central America and the Netherlands on climate adaptation, with a focus on the climate-food-water nexus? The goal of the track is to weave the embassy's two pillars - climate change and human rights - into a single policy advice.

Costa Rica



African countries produce 90% of the raw cashews traded worldwide, but are not benefiting enough from growing global demand. This is due to a shortage of processing industries. Only 10% of Tanzania's cashew nuts are processed locally, while that is precisely what generates the most money. Two Dutch companies are responsible for half of the cashew nuts processed in Tanzania. Our goal, in cooperation with these companies and the Dutch Embassy, is to fully utilize the value of the cashew harvest in Tanzania. Every step in the cashew chain - from cultivation to branding - adds value. If a country only participates in cultivation, it misses out on significant opportunities. The Tanzanian government has stated that their goal is to process 100% of cashew nuts locally in the next four years, quite an ambitious goal, and the Dutch embassy is eager to have Dutch expertise investigate how Dutch expertise can play an important role in this. The central policy question is therefore: How can the domestic processing of cashew nuts in Tanzania be significantly increased in the next four years with the help of Dutch expertise, and what role can the Dutch Embassy play in this? The answer to this question, and the impact it can have on the economic development of Tanzania and the broader region, may lie in the story of the cashew.

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