Immediately following the violent storming of Brazil’s congressional building, supreme court, and presidential palace, comparisons to the infamous events of 6 January 2021 in the US came quickly and easily – and with good reason.
Both Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro built a fervent – albeit inchoate – political base of grievance which included Christian evangelicals, gun enthusiasts, and the disenfranchised. Both cynically spread doubts about the election victories of their successors without evidence. And it has been claimed both incited their supporters to overturn these results.
But this list of similarities extend beyond mere politics. The attack on democracy in Brazil was recorded, amplified, coordinated, and funded by exactly the same technologies used by the protesters in the US on 6 January.… Seguir leyendo »
Africa’s economy was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic in 2022 when a range of internal and external shocks struck such as adverse weather conditions, a devastating locust invasion, and the Russian invasion of Ukraine – all of which worsened already rapidly-rising rates of inflation and borrowing costs.
Although the direct trade and financial linkages of Africa with Russia and Ukraine are small, the war has damaged the continent’s economies through higher commodity prices, higher food, fuel, and headline inflation.
The main impact is on the increasing likelihood of civil strife because of food and energy-fuelled inflation amid an environment of heightened political instability.… Seguir leyendo »
The UN Security Council has removed an obstacle to humanitarian work. On 9 December 2022, it adopted a resolution establishing a cross-cutting exception to existing – and future – UN financial sanctions for funds or assets necessary for humanitarian assistance and activities to meet basic human needs. In a coup for multilateralism, the council has been able to act, even when the Russian invasion of Ukraine has caused paralysis in other areas.
Resolution 2664 – introduced by Ireland and the US, co-sponsored by 53 states, and adopted by 14 votes in favour, with India abstaining – is the culmination of a decade of engagement between humanitarian organizations and states to find ways of avoiding the adverse impact of sanctions on the most vulnerable: people relying on humanitarian action for survival.… Seguir leyendo »
Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is perhaps simultaneously the most known and unknown field of intelligence today. It encompasses all publicly available information derived from every contemporary source on any given subject. Given this, its range is extraordinarily large, and the knowledge gained from it has long been used by civilians during conflict to tip off their troops and help them in battle.
OSINT has evolved through time alongside the very technology it relies on. From the Foreign Broadcast Information Service during the Second World War to geolocated footage of Russian troops recorded by Ukrainian civilians on their cell phones, OSINT is a long-standing tradition in civilian support to war efforts.… Seguir leyendo »
The world is rapidly approaching a tipping point when it comes to preventing many of the catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis. Across the world, communities are already beset by extreme weather events with tragic results.
As the realities of climate change become ever present, more attention is being paid to adaptation, the ability for communities and countries to minimize the damage climate change is bringing.
Throughout October and November 2022, Common Futures Conversations members from Africa and Europe discussed climate adaptation and generated ideas for how their communities, cities, and countries could better adapt to the impacts of climate change.… Seguir leyendo »
Although the reverberations of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clearly stretch around the globe, the strongest shocks are – and will continue to be – felt by those countries Moscow used to directly rule.
These countries struggle to shrug off a Soviet legacy as, to varying degrees – linguistically, technologically, culturally, and politically – they bear psychological and physical scars of Russia’s colonial past and its present mentality.
It does not help that these countries lack an appropriate collective descriptor. Over the years there has been ‘Newly Independent States’ – hardly appropriate after 31 years – the now-defunct ‘Commonwealth of Independent States’, the ‘post-Soviet space’ and ‘Former Soviet Union’ which both reference the past, and simply ‘Eurasia’ which is hardly appropriate for either Ukraine or Turkmenistan.… Seguir leyendo »
Since the start of Russia’s illegal war on Ukraine, the West has struggled with the difficult question of how to curb Russia’s oil cashflows. How should they cut off Vladimir Putin’s energy profits – used to line Russia’s war chest – while also protecting their economies from price spikes?
After months of member state wrangling and debate, the European Union (EU) has finally agreed a plan which will ban seaborne imports of Russian oil and introduce an oil price cap at $60 a barrel.
The price cap, initially put forward by the G7 in September, is expected to be agreed on 5 December and will see sanctions take immediate effect.… Seguir leyendo »
Countries are increasingly linking climate and trade with measures like the US Inflation Reduction Act and EU Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) although other countries have critiqued these measures including at COP27. However, the EU maintains that the CBAM will only minimally impact trade while simultaneously leveraging further climate action. As the design of CBAM is being negotiated, with the trial period beginning in early 2023, what should we know about CBAM?
What is it?
The EU Green Deal raises concerns that higher carbon prices and industry standards could make emissions-intensive and trade-exposed industries like cement, aluminium, iron and steel less competitive in international markets.… Seguir leyendo »
After nearly a year of political gridlock and violence, Iraq has a new government and a new prime minister, Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani. Sudani has made several reform pledges, including creating tens of thousands of new jobs and tackling rampant corruption. His predecessors all made similar promises, but ultimately failed to deliver. Can Sudani chart a different path, or will he repeat their mistakes?
He takes office at a time when many Iraqis feel disenfranchised. In the almost 20 years since regime change, Iraq’s elite have steadily lost economic and ideological power. The country’s economic decline and a growing youth population have put a strain on the system.… Seguir leyendo »
On a trip to Jakarta last month, I asked a senior Indonesian official if he was excited about hosting the G20 leaders’ summit, which took place in mid-November in Bali. ‘We’re counting down,’ he told me, but more out of frustration than anticipation. ‘We just want to get it done.’
Indonesian President Joko Widodo had hoped to use his country’s G20 presidency this year to support his overwhelming focus on economic development and burnish his legacy as he prepares to step down in 2024, having reached the constitutional two-term limit.
However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, and the ongoing deterioration in US-China relations, put paid to the aspiration that the G20 could be a geopolitics-free forum to promote Indonesia’s inclusive vision of growth and opportunity for all. … Seguir leyendo »
Abdoulaye Bathily was appointed UN Special Representative to Libya in September, the eighth UN representative to attempt to negotiate a way out of Libya’s governance crisis since 2011. He faces steep challenges. The political situation in Libya remains at an impasse, with the re-emergence of rival governments and heightening factionalism. Internationally, Bathily inherits a UN mission that has been subject to significant turnover and capacity challenges, a deeply divided Security Council, and various agendas put forward by interested states.
‘There appears to be broad agreement that Libya’s institutions are facing a serious legitimacy crisis’, Bathily told the UN Security Council on 15 November.… Seguir leyendo »
Last week’s G20 summit in Bali was bookended by two major geopolitical dramas. Just before the summit started, US President Biden and President Xi of China held a three-hour meeting that re-opened the prospect of great power coexistence despite intensifying US-China tensions, especially over Taiwan. And, following difficult negotiations, it produced a summit declaration that opened with language from the UN General Assembly’s 2 March resolution on Ukraine, saying it ‘deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and demands its complete and unconditional withdrawal from the territory of Ukraine’, a much more robust criticism of Russia’s actions than many in Washington and Europe had initially expected.… Seguir leyendo »
Loss and Damage fund is a historic moment
COP27 will go down in history as the UN climate change conference where the Loss and Damage fund was agreed. After decades of pushing, this is a momentous victory for climate-vulnerable developing countries.
The shift in the conversation – and in the positions of developed countries – since COP26 is remarkable. It is critical parties continue to build on the positive momentum created in Sharm as challenging discussions on how the new loss and damage fund will work – and who will contribute to it financially – ensue.
Overall COP27 was a hectic, sometimes chaotic, event that advanced some matters but left others trailing behind where they need to be to drive ambition towards the sort of climate action required to keep alive the possibility of restricting climate change within the envelope of the Paris agreement.… Seguir leyendo »
For a president continually struggling with low approval ratings, the midterms provided a stunning result as the widely anticipated Republican red wave failed to materialize.
Although Democrats look set to lose their majority in the House, it is by a much smaller margin than either history or today’s pollsters anticipated. However, the counting continues and, although the Democrats are now leading in the race to win a majority in the Senate, confirmation of this hinges on the final result in Nevada and could even come down to a 6 December run-off in Georgia.
The midterm elections were not good for the Republican party but were especially bad for Donald Trump who has until now managed to defy expectations and maintain his grip on the party even after his 2020 defeat at the polls.… Seguir leyendo »
Since joining the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, China has regularly unveiled a grand new strategic concept every four years or so.
Each has been deeply rooted in the Chinese political system and communicated via ambitious slogans, such as A Harmonious World, or New Types of Great Power Relations. And all have reliably generated both excitement and confusion abroad and within China.
China’s latest grand concept, the Global Development Initiative (GDI), is no exception. When Chinese president Xi Jinping introduced it at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in September 2021, it made hardly any splash in the West, perhaps because China has already signalled its determination to shape international development in the post-COVID era.… Seguir leyendo »
Although global attention on COPs fluctuates from year to year, ultimately all of them are important, even those where big decisions are not expected. One of the reasons for this is that the coming together of all parties can act as push mechanisms for new political leadership on climate to emerge, in sometimes unexpected ways.
At COP26, the US turnaround on climate following the election of President Joe Biden provided hope and momentum. For COP27, it appears likely Brazil’s president-elect Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil could be the star attraction, with the potential to inject new urgency into the process.… Seguir leyendo »
Africa’s 48,000 kilometres of coastline, shared among 38 coastal states, are resource rich and hold some of the world’s most strategic sea lanes, including the approaches to the Suez Canal, which carries 12 per cent of worldwide trade, and the Gulf of Guinea, a critical route for global energy. But despite the vast potential this represents, piracy and maritime insecurity have dominated the narrative of Africa’s coasts, and further propagated the image of African states as beholden to external intervention.
Yet African agency is established and evolving in the sector, with African littoral states enhancing their capacity to face collective security threats and exercising increasing autonomy in responding to the recent rush of external actors looking for port facilities and military bases.… Seguir leyendo »
The future of Brazil’s democracy as well as its environmental integrity was at stake in Brazil’s presidential election and, with the success of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, supporters of climate change action in Brazil and around the world can take a temporary sigh of relief.
During Jair Bolsonaro’s four years in power, the rate of deforestation increased by 72 per cent, after key government agencies were defunded and their ability to enforce environmental protection regulations were eroded.
This contrasts with the eight years of Lula’s presidency, where the rate of deforestation systematically decreased by 70 per cent between 2004-12 as command-and-control policies and regulations were implemented, such as the blacklisting of municipalities with the highest illegal deforestation rates so that producers in these areas were not able to access rural credits.… Seguir leyendo »
The second round of Brazil’s presidential elections is shaping up to be far closer than expected with leftist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva running at only 1-8 percentage points ahead of the current right-wing incumbent, Jair Bolsonaro – a clear sign of the division currently within a country struggling to cope with a multitude of crises.
The description of Jair Bolsonaro as right-wing applies more to his social views and disregard of environmentalism than any commitment to economic orthodoxy. As with many other populists on either end of the ideological spectrum, Bolsonaro was willing during COVID-19 – and twice during the presidential campaign – to loosen the state’s purse strings in order to build popular support.… Seguir leyendo »
After all the theatricality and derision over the UK’s political process in the last few months, Rishi Sunak may well be eventually judged on terms set by one of his predecessors. The new prime minister will, declared Theresa May, provide the ‘calm, competent, pragmatic leadership our country needs at this deeply challenging time’.
In his first statement on winning the Conservative MPs ballot following the withdrawal of first Boris Johnson and then Penny Mordaunt, Sunak set out his priorities – to ‘fix’ the economy, unite his party, and ‘deliver’ for the country.
The first two are to a large degree measurable, the latter is a matter of opinion.… Seguir leyendo »