For many of Argentina’s voters the choice on 19 November was between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, the minister overseeing an economy with the world’s third-highest inflation rate, or Javier Milei, an erratic far-right libertarian outsider promising to shut down the Central Bank, adopt the US dollar as the currency, cut taxes and privatise public services.
Australia had the chance to take a step forward in redressing the exclusion of its Indigenous people – and chose not to. In a referendum held in October, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to establish an institution for Indigenous people to have a say on matters that concern them.
For many of Argentina’s voters the choice in the 19 November presidential runoff is between the lesser of two evils: Sergio Massa, economy minister of a government that’s presiding over a once-in-a-generation economic meltdown with a whopping 140-per cent inflation rate, or Javier Milei, a far-right libertarian who admires Donald Trump, wants to shut down the Central Bank and wields a chainsaw in public as a symbol of his willingness to slash the state. Many will rue that it ever came to this.
In response to lawsuits brought by LGBTQI+ activists, the Mauritius Supreme Court has issued two landmark judgments
striking down the criminalisation of consensual sex between adult men as unconstitutional. Its reasoning turned upside down the argument used by anti-rights forces to attack LGBTQI+ activists in many African countries: it acknowledged that criminalisation is the foreign import rather than gay sex, and a relic of colonialism it’s high time to shake off.
Brazil’s Supreme Court has delivered a long-awaited ruling upholding Brazilian Indigenous peoples’ claims to their traditional land. It did so by rejecting the ‘Temporal Framework
’ principle, which only allowed for the demarcation and titling of lands physically occupied by the Indigenous groups who claimed them by 5 October 1988, when the current constitution was adopted. This excluded the numerous Indigenous communities who’d been violently expelled from their ancestral lands before then, including under military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.
Mexico’s Supreme Court recently declared abortion bans unconstitutional, effectively decriminalising abortion throughout the vast federal country, so far characterised by a legislative patchwork.
The ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed by a civil society organisation, Information Group on Reproductive Choice. It forces the Federal Congress to repeal the Federal Penal Code articles that criminalise abortion. Effective immediately, those seeking abortions and those providing them can no longer be punished for doing so. The ruling also enshrines the right to access abortion procedures in all institutions of the federal health system network, even in states where the crime of abortion remains on the books.
Maryam al-Khawaja’s journey home ended before it had begun: British Airways staff stopped her boarding her flight at the request of Bahraini immigration authorities. Maryam was no regular passenger: her father is veteran human rights activist Abdulhadi al-Khawaja, in jail in Bahrain for 12 years and counting.
It’s a year since a photo of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini – bruised and in a coma she would never recover from after being arrested by the morality police for her supposedly improperly worn hijab – went viral, sending people onto the streets.
On 26 August, Gabon went through the motions of an election. Official results were announced four days later, in the middle of the night, with the country under curfew. Predictably, incumbent President Ali Bongo, in power since the death of his father and predecessor in 2009, was handed a third term. Fraud allegations were rife, as in previous elections. But this time something unprecedented happened: less than an hour later the military had taken over, and the Bongo family’s 56-year reign had ended.
On 20 August, Guatemala witnessed a rare event: despite numerous attempts to stop it, the will of the majority prevailed. Democracy was at a dramatic crossroads
, but voters got their say, and said it clearly: the country needs dramatic change and needs it now.
The title shouldn’t fool you: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is one of the world’s longest-ruling
autocrats. A political survivor, this former military commander had been bolted to his chair since 1985, presiding over what he turned into a de facto one-party system – and now apparently a dynastic regime.
At a meeting with European and Latin American leaders in Brussels this July, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva reiterated the bold commitment
he had made in his first international speech
as president-elect, when he attended the COP27 climate summit
in November 2022: bringing Amazon deforestation down to zero by 2030.
When Guatemalans went to the polls on 25 June, distrust and disillusionment were rife. First place in the presidential contest was claimed by none of the candidates: it went to invalid votes, at 17 per cent. Many didn’t bother, resulting in an abstention rate over 40 per cent.
If you’ve never heard of the Cybercrime Convention, you’re not alone. And if you’re wondering whether an international treaty to tackle cybercrime is a good idea, you’re in good company too.
As a matter of global justice, the climate crisis has rightfully made its way to the world’s highest court.
On 29 March 2023, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) unanimously adopted
a resolution asking the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an advisory opinion on the obligations of states on climate change. The initiative was led by the Pacific Island state of Vanuatu
, one of several at risk of disappearing under rising sea levels. It was co-sponsored by 132 states
and actively supported by networks of grassroots youth groups from the Pacific and around the world.
On 7 May, Chileans went to the polls to choose a Constitutional Council that will produce a new constitution to replace the one bequeathed by the Pinochet dictatorship – and handed control to a far-right party that never wanted a constitution-making process in the first place.
The uncertainty that’s the hallmark of a democratic election was absent on 26 March, the day Cubans were summoned to appoint members of the National Assembly of People’s Power, the country’s legislative body. A vote
did take place that day – people went to the polls and put a ballot in a box. But was this really an election? Cubans weren’t able to choose their representatives – their only option was to ratify those selected to stand, or abstain.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an organisation whose motto is ‘For democracy. For everyone’, just held its global assembly in a country with a mock parliament and not the slightest semblance of democracy.
For Bahrain’s authoritarian leaders, the hosting of the IPU assembly was yet another reputation-laundering opportunity: a week before, they’d hosted Formula One’s opening race.
Brave protests against women’s second-class status in Iran; the mass defence of economic rights in the face of a unilateral presidential decision in France; huge mobilisations to resist government plans to weaken the courts in Israel: all these have shown the willingness of people to take public action to stand up for human rights.
On 9 February, Nicaragua’s dictator, Daniel Ortega, unexpectedly ordered the release of 222 political prisoners, including several former presidential candidates, opposition party leaders, journalists, priests, diplomats, businesspeople and former government supporters branded as enemies for expressing mild public criticism.
In late January, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, finished an official visit
to Venezuela. He said
he’d found a fragmented society in great need of bridging its divides and encouraged the government to take the lead in listening to civil society concerns and responding to victims of rights violations.