While we must wait for the final reckoning of most successful national coronavirus responses, it does still appear those countries with memories of MERS and SARS – such as Singapore, Taiwan, Hong-Kong, and South Korea – led the way in being best prepared for COVID-19, with strong contract tracing and isolation measures.
Experience of previous outbreaks informed the containment strategies adopted by countries in East Asia in response to COVID-19. Vietnam reported its first case of COVID-19 in January but, over the following four months with rapid targeted testing, contact tracing and successful containment, only around 300 additional cases with no deaths were confirmed.… Seguir leyendo »
Gon Coulibaly, an economic technocrat and Ouattara loyalist since the 1990s, was earmarked in March as the candidate for the ruling Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP) party in the elections due in October, and represented a handpicked heir, trusted to sustain the strategy established during Ouattara’s nine years in power.
Many RDHP parliamentarians and local mayors are now pressing the 78-year-old Ouattara to run again. This was not what he had planned. He hoped to go out on a high – ‘par la grande porte’ – and set a statesmanlike example of retirement by choice, making way for the next generation.… Seguir leyendo »
Days before the publication of last week’s report into Russian activity in the UK, and the subsequent call from several UK parliamentarians for a swift response to the ‘Russian threat’, Russia tested a new anti-satellite weapon capability releasing a small projectile from its Kosmos-2543 sub-satellite.
Kosmos-2543, a small satellite contained inside a larger satellite, Kosmos-2542, and ‘birthed’ into orbit in late 2019, recently came under scrutiny in January 2020 when it was reportedly caught ‘buzzing’ US spy satellites in Low Earth Orbit.
By releasing a small projectile from the Kosmos-2543 sub-satellite, the US claims that Russia has launched a new projectile into orbit with relatively high speed – estimated at around 500 km per hour – leading to concerns about the potential of Russia to develop this technology as a weapon to target foreign satellites.… Seguir leyendo »
Violent unrest in Addis Ababa and the surrounding Oromia region has led to the loss of over 177 lives, with the detention of thousands and widespread destruction to property. The rise of identity-based conflict and related political tension is the most severe test of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s leadership since he came to power two years ago.
Protests erupted after the assassination on the 29th of June of Hachalu Hundessa, a prominent Oromo singer and activist. They spiralled into widespread rioting, looting and arson which devastated some towns. Targeted attacks and killings, particularly against ethnic minorities in Oromia, have damaged communities’ social fabric and heightened regional tensions.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK has been redeploying diplomatic, defence and development capabilities towards the Sahel since 2018 – a strategic pivot intended to deliver development impact, address long term security threats to UK interests and support alliances with international partners.
The Sahel is one of Africa’s poorest and most fragile regions and has witnessed an escalation in jihadist activity, illegal migration and trafficking since a security crisis erupted in Mali in 2012.
The crisis spread to Niger and Burkina Faso and may now spill over into Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Senegal. With Nigeria also facing insurgency in the Lake Chad basin, all major regional security and economic anchors in the region are under threat including key UK partners.… Seguir leyendo »
Russia is one of the few countries in the region to have no legal definition of domestic violence and, as a result, there are no protective measures specific to domestic violence such as restraining orders or compulsory anger management training for abusers. In fact, the government has taken steps in recent years to remove any legal distinction between assault happening in one’s home, and elsewhere, with battery among family or household members for first-time offences decriminalized in 2017.
The Russian Ministry of Justice explicitly defended this position in its response to an enquiry into Russian domestic violence cases by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in November 2019.… Seguir leyendo »
The UK’s decision on banning mobile providers from buying new Huawei 5G equipment after December 2020 and removing all the company’s 5G kit from their networks by 2027 is a blow to Huawei and China, but that is one battle in a long war that the West is currently losing.
5G’s significance for the next generation of technology is indisputable and so is its key role in helping countries achieve digital transformation and economic success due to not only the faster and better connection speeds and greater capacity it offers, but also to its role in transforming the way we interact with the critical services and its ability to allow industry to automate and optimize processes that are not possible today.… Seguir leyendo »
With all EU economies still reeling from COVID-19, the ongoing heated deliberations on the bloc’s next budget, which will determine the amount of money matching its priorities for the next seven years, have taken on an urgency rarely felt in Brussels.
Relying in part on an unprecedentedly large volume of jointly issued debt, the European Commission’s plan for a €750 billion coronavirus recovery instrument is embedded within a revamped proposal for the EU’s long-term budget, of €1.1 trillion for the 2021-27 period.
Now the ball is in the member states’ court. All seem to agree that getting the EU budget right is crucial to fostering an economic recovery and ensuring the Union is on the right track towards its long-term pre-COVID objectives, from increasing its strategic autonomy to reaching climate neutrality by 2050.… Seguir leyendo »
For a leader who had not travelled abroad since his inauguration – skipping G20 and APEC summits and the UN General Assembly – and who is probably one of the most intellectually incurious and disinterested Mexican presidents of the modern era when it comes to global issues, President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador could have certainly waited until after the US elections in November to travel to Washington and personally engage with President Donald Trump .
Instead, Lopez Obrador – who has sought at all cost to avoid conflict with his US counterpart, having decided that bending the knee was a better option than standing his ground with Trump – waded straight into electoral politics in the US, despite his repeated assurances to the contrary.… Seguir leyendo »
Back in April, nervousness about external debts reached its peak when highly-respected economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff suggested emerging economies with less than a AAA credit rating be offered a moratorium on all their external debt service payments.
Although such a proposal might make sense if emerging economies were actually facing any serious shortage of access to foreign exchange, it is a difficult case to make. What we should worry about is not the external debt of emerging economies, but rather the large increases in government debts denominated in their own currencies.
In the first six months of 2020, borrowers from emerging economies issued more than $400 billion of Eurobonds to international investors, up by one-fifth over the same period in 2019.… Seguir leyendo »
Although the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is focused on the Line of Contact around Nagorny Karabakh, a new – and significant – outbreak of violence has happened some 300 kilometres away on high ground along the de jure Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
Although not a first, violence in this area has generally been contained by the proximity of major transport and infrastructure arteries, and of civilian populations on both sides of the border. Plus, unlike in Nagorny Karabakh, the extended deterrents conferred by Armenia’s membership of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and bilateral agreements with Russia are also – theoretically at least – in force.… Seguir leyendo »
Flaring is a significant source of economic and environmental waste. Except when safety-related, flared gas can often be captured and monetised using low-cost proven solutions.
In doing so, governments can improve health and safety, reduce emissions (of carbon dioxide, methane, and particulates) and add value by driving up revenue, increasing reserves and production, creating jobs and improving the industry’s ‘social license to operate’.
Flare capture also helps countries to deliver on the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #13 while, for example, providing affordable alternatives for heating and cooking.
The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region accounts for 40% of the world’s flaring.… Seguir leyendo »
Observers of the Israel-Palestine conflict have been anticipating Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu’s, announcement to annex parts of the West Bank. It has been a tumultuous year for Israeli politics which has seen three inconclusive elections and resulted in a sharing of power between Netanyahu and Benny Gantz of the Blue and White party. However, since the coalition government was sworn in, Netanyahu has appeared to not lose any time in moving forward with his plans.
Annexation has long been Netanyahu’s political aspiration and was part of his recent re-election platform but the anticipated announcement from the Israeli government didn’t come straight away.… Seguir leyendo »
The World Bank estimates that the magnitude of internal migration is about two‐and‐a‐half times that of international migration. Within India, an estimated 40 million internal migrant workers, largely in the informal economy, were severely impacted by the government’s COVID-19 lockdown.
With transportation systems initially shut down, many had no recourse to travel options back to homes and villages, resulting in harrowing journeys home. Those who were able to make it home found, in some instances, villages refusing entry because of fears of transmission.
The shocking images of migrants forced to walk in desperation showed the enormity of the crisis as well as some of the challenges posed by an extended lockdown in India where so many people live hand to mouth and cannot afford not to work.… Seguir leyendo »
When the resolution was passed by World Health Organization (WHO) member states at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May requesting an evaluation ‘at the earliest appropriate moment’ of lessons learned from the WHO-coordinated international health response to COVID-19, it was generally thought the appropriate moment would be when the pandemic was on the wane.
Yet the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response has actually been established at a time when – as noted by WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in his announcement of the panel – the pandemic is still accelerating.
In most of the world the virus is not under control, and cases have actually doubled in the last six weeks.… Seguir leyendo »
As with any history, Chatham House has a long and complex one. Progress has come in fits and starts, sometimes driven by wider social change, but often led by individuals within the institute. When examining the institute’s work on Africa, five seminal moments from the history really stood out.
Lionel Curtis is credited as the founder of the institute, having proposed the idea at a meeting at the Hotel Majestic while attending the Treaty of Versailles talks.
Curtis served in South Africa during the Second Boer war and subsequent period of unification. He was one of the cohort of officials that served under Lord Milner, later dubbed ‘Milner’s Kindergarten’.… Seguir leyendo »
Many people are aware that the scourge of malnutrition affects a vast number of individuals and communities around the world. However, most tend to view it as a problem to be addressed by governments, charities or donors, rather than the corporate sector.
Certainly, when considered at a societal scale, malnutrition makes the complexities of delivering inclusive growth all the harder. It ratchets up the public health burden while restricting the potential for at-risk populations to take part in productive employment. Economies are hindered, lives are blighted and the potential for people to reach their full potential can be severely limited.
A number of upcoming summits represent a window of opportunity to address nutrition in the context of resilience, particularly in the wake of COVID-19 and the much-referenced ambition for governments to ‘build back better’.… Seguir leyendo »
Trade policy is a blunt instrument for realizing human rights. Although many trade agreements now include commitments on human rights-related issues – particularly labour rights – not everyone agrees that linking trade to compliance with human rights norms is appropriate, let alone effective.
Sceptics point out that such provisions may become an excuse for interference or ‘disguised protectionism’ and admittedly anyone would be hard-pressed to identify many concrete improvements which can be directly attributed to social and human rights clauses in trade agreements.
This lack of discernible impact has a lot to do with weak monitoring and enforcement. A more fundamental problem is the tendency of trading partners to gloss over – both in the way that commitments are framed and in subsequent monitoring efforts – significant implementation gaps between the standards states sign up to, and the reality.… Seguir leyendo »
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was clear that the world is undergoing a transition away from fossil fuels and carbon-intensive sectors, towards renewable energy and clean growth. The collapse of oil demand and prices have simply compounded the challenges that oil and gas producers already faced.
What happens next will have significant implications for Norway, as one of the world’s largest exporters of both energy and capital, and for the UK, as it plans its recovery and looks ahead to its hosting of the next major climate change summit in 2021 – COP26.
While the speed and scale of the transition has always been uncertain and contested, an accelerated transition with deep implications for future oil and gas demand looks plausible.… Seguir leyendo »
Lockdowns are being eased in many countries, but from different starting points in terms of prevalence of the virus, and with different near-term trade-offs between protecting life and easing constraints on economic activity.
The pressure to ease is understandable. The IMF estimates $10tn has been spent so far on official support measures worldwide, and forecasts global GDP will contract by an unprecedented 4.9% in 2020.
However, the WHO director general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, recently insisted that there is an ‘urgent responsibility to do everything we can with the tools we have now to suppress transmission and save lives’, even as research into vaccines and therapeutics continues.… Seguir leyendo »