Two events generated significant interest and global solidarity in the final days of December 2020. A court in Saudi Arabia handed down a five years and eight months sentence to activist Loujain Al-Hathloul
for publicly supporting women’s right to drive. Nicholas Opiyo, Ugandan human rights lawyer and defender of persecuted members of the LGBTQI community and political opponents of the president was arbitrarily detained on trumped up charges of ‘money laundering.’ Nicholas Opiyo was granted bail
on 30 December following an outpouring of global support for his activism for justice. In handing out the verdict to Loujain Al-Hathloul, the court partly suspended her sentence raising hope that she might be released from prison in a couple of months due to time already served.
Covid-19 infection and death rates in the Western world and many developing countries in Asia and Latin America have long overtaken East Asia since the second quarter of 2020. Perhaps unsurprisingly, considering prevailing Western accounts of the Asian financial crises, there have been no serious efforts to draw policy lessons from East Asian contagion containment.
A government-backed coalition of international advisors to the Belt and Road Initiative
(BRI) has recommended that China apply more stringent environmental controls over its overseas investments. If adopted, this would be a major departure from China’s usual approach of deferring to host country rules, many of them inadequate, for regulating its overseas investments.
While the world is grappling with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peru is still dealing with an epidemic that it has not been able to control—the mosquito-borne viral disease known as dengue.
2021 is going to be critical, not only for curbing the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic, but also for meeting the climate challenge.
But as Dr Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA) was clear to point out, the climate challenge is essentially an energy challenge. And as large polluters continue to commit to targets of net zero emissions by 2050, the world could -- in theory -- potentially address the climate challenge.
African countries opened their markets on 1st January under the continental free trade agreement and duty-free trading of goods and services across borders is now underway despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other teething problems.
French President Emmanuel Macron convened the 4th edition of the One Planet Summit for Biodiversity
with a concession – that after a decade, the world has failed to take the action needed to stem global biodiversity loss. The Jan. 10 event, hosted virtually by France, the United Nations and the World Bank, focused on four areas for urgent action; protecting land and maritime species, promoting agroecology, mobilising finance for biodiversity and protecting tropical forests, species and human health.
The incoming Biden administration is under tremendous pressure to demonstrate better US economic management. Trade negotiations normally take years to conclude, if at all. Unsurprisingly, lobbyists are already urging the next US administration to quickly embrace and deliver a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
The peoples of the world are unanimous - access to basic services such as universal healthcare must become a priority going forward. So too should global solidarity, helping those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and addressing the climate change emergency.
For 2021, Italy has been given chairmanship of the Group of 20, which brings together the world’s 20 most important countries. On paper, they represent 60% of the world’s population and 80% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). While the shaky Italian government will somehow perform this task (in the general indifference of the political system), the fact remains that this apparently prestigious position is in fact very deceiving: the G20 is now a very weak institution that brings no kudos to the rotating chairman. Besides, it is actually the institution which bears the greatest part of responsibility for the decline of the UN as the body responsible for global governance, a task that the G20 has very seldom been able to face up to.
The new year has arrived, but the situation is worse than in the last months of 2020. The pandemic is still unleashed: the end of the year holidays, the official permissiveness, and the slowness of the distribution of vaccines seem to announce that the disease will continue to wreak havoc for several months in most of the world, particularly in America, Europe, and parts of Asia like India. It has therefore been required to redouble preventive measures: a new lockdown and the disruption of almost all economic and school activities. Therefore, the recovery looks still uncertain and distant.
As the people of Kiribati, Samoa and Tonga gear up as the first nations to welcome 2021, communities around the Asia-Pacific region and beyond look forward to bidding farewell to the most tumultuous year in recent decades.
On 1st January 2021, trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement commenced after months of delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most people around the world were glad to see the back of 2020: From the devastating bushfires in Australia to the plagues of locusts through East Africa stretching across Arabia to Pakistan, extreme weather, melting ice sheets at the poles, and Covid-19 that still engulfs the globe.
Goodbye 2020, but unfortunately, not good riddance, as we all have to live with its legacy. It has been a disastrous year for much of the world for various reasons, Elizabeth II’s annus horribilis
. The crisis has exposed previously unacknowledged realities, including frailties and vulnerabilities.
Happy New Year, Kenya.
Several milestones in my personal and professional life have made Kenya a cherished place for me. I started my UNICEF career in Rumbek, South Sudan in June 2000, and my rest and recuperation breaks were in Nairobi. In fact Kenya was the first African country I had ever visited and, frankly, it was love at first sight.
A cherished snapshot of a happy mother and a smiling grandmother is universally associated with a good childhood. In the movies, TV, or media, a broken or depressed mother’s face is hardly seen. But the reality is somewhat different. The measures communities and society take to ensure that women and girls are protected and supported are often questioned.
Local communities in the vicinity of the abandoned Panguna copper mine, have taken decisive action to hold the global mining multinational, Rio Tinto, accountable for alleged environmental and human rights violations during the mine’s operations between 1972 and 1989.
What a challenging year 2020 has been! A year of living dangerously – “Tahun vivere pericoloso”- perhaps these words of late President Soekarno of Indonesia are the best description.
Fortunately, I managed to remain sane, reading and writing op-eds (mostly about the pandemic, here
Despite its grim record of multiple natural disasters and a deepening climate crisis, one could be forgiven for looking back on 2019 with a degree of nostalgia. There is no disguising the extent of the calamity wrought this year by COVID-19, yet as we approach the end of 2020 we may also draw strength from positive developments emerging.
The year 2020 is ending with the world caught up in an unprecedented human and economic crisis. The pandemic has contaminated 75 million people and killed 1.7 million. With the lockdowns, the global economy has suffered the worst recession in 75 years, causing the loss of income for millions of people. In such a bleak environment, what will the new year bring? Whilst uncertainty is the only certainty, eight points are likely to be key in the year ahead: