Global Politics HL is one of the most time-consuming IB subjects, in my opinion. But the sooner you start thinking about the coursework, the sooner you’ll have a plan to execute it well.
There are 3 pieces of coursework that need to be completed for this subject:
1 Engagement Activity (EA)
The EA is a 2000-word report that written about a political issue that you have actively participated in – whether that’s volunteering in NGOs, running an in-school campaign about environmental issues, or interviewing relevant figures.
2 Video-Recorded Oral Presentations
These presentations have a maximum time limit of 10 minutes each. Each presentation will have to be chosen from two of the six HL extension topics: Identity, Borders, Environment, Health, Security, and Poverty.
Tips for EA & my personal experience
- Pick a political issue that will be relatively easy to research and engage in within your location. You must be able to find many accessible resources and a topic that people actively talk about. I chose to do my EA on the effectiveness of UNICEF’s strategies to combat child marriage in Malaysia. The topic of child marriage came easily to me since the practice is still widespread in Malaysia’s rural areas due to religious and cultural tradition.
- Plan and reach out to people early. Whether you’re going to run a campaign in school, interview NGO staff, or get an internship, plan early. I started emailing a variety of people and organizations in March although I conducted interviews in June. The sooner you contact relevant people or organizations, the sooner you’ll know if your topic will stick or not.
- Be flexible – prepare to change or tweak your topic. I initially planed on contrasting and evaluating the strategies to curb child marriage employed by NGOs against the ones implemented by the Malaysian government. Several calls and emails later, however, I ran into several walls. The Malaysian Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development department required heaps of paperwork I couldn’t have completed in time. Then, the NGO replied too late and, when they did, they were in the midst of planning an important national convention. They had no time to schedule interviews with the people I had requested. So, I changed my focus to intergovernmental organizations, such as UNICEF.
- Make sure to have different perspectives on your issue. It’s important to include multiple perspectives because they are the gateway to proper analysis. One example of different points of view include examining the impact of your issues on a local vs global scale. Another example is examining your issue from the perspectives of different political theories, such as complex interdependence vs realism.
I interviewed the Chief of Child Protection at UNICEF Malaysia and four policy analysts at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, a local think tank, about child marriage. The analysts’ experience in government policy recommendation enriched my own understanding of policy-making. This knowledge by-product shone through in several parts of my EA, improving the quality of my work. By evaluating the different campaigns and workshops UNICEF Malaysia was implementing to combat child marriage, I concluded that the strategies were not effective enough because they target children in urban areas instead of rural zones, where the practice is much more common.
My oral presentations
My two oral presentations were on:
- Borders – the legitimacy of the 2017 referendum in Iraq for an independent Kurdish state. In this presentation, I analyzed whether the referendum was legitimate from two different theories of statehood: constitutive and declarative. I compared the case of ‘Kurdistan’ to the four criteria outlined in the 1933 Montevideo Convention for a state to be independent and touched on lack of recognition by established states. Additionally, I viewed the case study under the theory of realism and complex interdependence to prove that constitutive theory of statehood was more important when declaring borders in global politics.
- Identity – the global political challenge of religious identity as a cause of conflict between Rohingya Muslims and the state of Myanmar since 2016. My presentation looked at the context of the conflict and used theories such as Galtung’s conflict triangle model to deconstruct the case study. I also analyzed it under the theoretical perspectives of post-colonialism and constructivism, arguing that the conflict is inextricably linked to the British colonial era and is largely due to normalized perception of the Rohingya to be related to Islamist militant groups. To link it to global trends, I compared the persecution of Rohingya Muslims to the arbitrary detainment of Uighur Muslims in China since both governments have cited the fear of Islamist terrorism to be a legitimate justification for the horrible acts they have committed against these minority groups.