A replica of planet Earth set ablaze during a worldwide protest demanding action on climate change, in Milan, Italy, Sept. 27, 2019 (ANSA photo by Nicola Marfisi via AP images).

Despite unfolding ecological catastrophes around the world, negotiations on a potentially groundbreaking Global Pact for the Environment have faltered. Its many champions had hoped for a binding multilateral treaty that would place all international environmental law within a coherent legal framework, as well as establish access to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. In the end, U.N. member states meeting in Nairobi in May could only agree on a watered-down goal: a “political declaration” to be prepared by 2022, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Beyond establishing the […]

President Donald Trump meets with President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

“We signed the agreement because we want to show our friendship to our most important ally, which is the United States,” El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, said in a meeting last week with President Donald Trump during the U.N. General Assembly. Bukele was referring to the “asylum cooperation agreement” struck the week before between his government and Washington. Though its details are still unclear, the deal would require foreign nationals who cross into El Salvador seeking asylum to apply for it there rather than in the United States. It would also give the U.S. the ability to make people with […]

A rare anti-government protest in downtown Cairo, Egypt, Sept. 21, 2019 (dpa photo via AP by Oliver Weiken).

Egyptians witnessed something rare last Friday night: protests against President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Amid heightened repression, Egyptians have mostly stayed home ever since Sisi took power in a 2013 coup, two and a half years after mass protests had led to the ouster of longtime President Hosni Mubarak. Sisi quickly and ruthlessly crushed any opposition, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood. He jailed Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and other Islamist leaders, along with any perceived critics of his regime. It’s no wonder most Egyptians have opted to keep their heads down. Friday’s protests, which unfolded in Cairo and […]

Rohingya refugees at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, April 24, 2019 (AP photo).

Myanmar’s government is pushing for the more than 1 million Rohingya refugees currently in Bangladesh to start returning to the country, in an effort to project an image of peace and reconciliation to the outside world. Yet as grim as the situation is for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, where they live in what is now the world’s largest refugee settlement, their prospects back in Myanmar are even worse. It is little surprise, then, that few if any Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic minority in Myanmar, have taken up the offer. This is Myanmar’s second attempt at facilitating the repatriation of Rohingya, […]

Opposition demonstrators hold Georgian flags and posters reading “Georgian Interior Minister Giorgi Gakharia go home” during a rally in front of the Georgian Parliament’s building in Tbilisi, Georgia, July 6, 2019 (AP photo by Shakh Aivazov).

Earlier this month, Georgia’s Parliament approved a new government led by Giorgi Gakharia, a controversial former interior minister who was nominated by the ruling Georgian Dream party despite his role in a violent crackdown on anti-government protests that rocked the capital, Tbilisi, this summer. Gakharia will now try to restore public confidence in the government ahead of parliamentary elections that are expected to be held early next year. Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the United National Movement, or UNM, also has work to do if it hopes to retake power. In an email interview with WPR, Olga Oliker and Olesya […]

Across the world, populism has become a prominent feature of the political landscape. This report provides a comprehensive look at the rise of populism and its implications for liberal democracies. Download your FREE copy of The Global Rise of Populism today. In Europe, an anti-immigrant backlash against the 2015 migrant crisis helped fuel the rise of far-right, nationalist parties whose leaders often adopt a populist style. The Brexit referendum in 2016 appeared to be the highwater mark of the populist wave, but in Eastern and Southern Europe, and even in Scandinavia, populist parties continue to either govern or enjoy widespread […]

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern talks to the media in Wellington, New Zealand (AP photo by Nick Perry).

New Zealand’s Parliament voted overwhelmingly last month to advance a bill that would decriminalize abortion and loosen restrictions on the procedure. Under current law, women can only obtain an abortion in New Zealand if they receive approval from two doctors, and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern promised to change that while campaigning in 2017. The bill must pass two more rounds of voting before it can become law. According to Yanshu Huang, a research fellow at the University of Auckland’s Public Policy Institute, Ardern’s push for reform also reflects a broader change in public opinion among New Zealanders, toward more pro-choice […]

President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a rally condemning U.S. economic sanctions on Venezuela, in Caracas, Aug. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Ariana Cubillos).

The day after he fired John Bolton, President Donald Trump was explaining to reporters at the White House why he had ousted his third national security adviser. Among other reasons, Trump said he “disagreed with John Bolton on his attitudes on Venezuela—I thought he was way out of line.” It was a surprising remark because, while Bolton is a well-known hawk, when it comes to Venezuela, Trump has been openly proposing the use of U.S. military force against President Nicolas Maduro’s regime since early in his presidency. So the comment must have been welcome news in Caracas, since it appeared […]

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks at a festival at Kevadiya, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Sept. 17, 2019 (AP photo by Ajit Solanki).

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be in the United States next week to attend the annual session of the U.N. General Assembly, meet with U.S. officials and business leaders, and address a huge rally of the Indian diaspora. As he embarks on the trip, his government finds itself a target of widespread international criticism after it upended the status quo in Kashmir last month, by revoking the special autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir—the latest move in what is widely seen as an increasingly divisive, Hindu nationalist agenda. Given these recent developments, one might expect the Indian […]

People protesting violence against women in Paris, July 6, 2019 (SIPA photo by Jacques Witt via AP Images).

PARIS—Helene de Ponsay hadn’t heard the word “femicide” until April, when police found the body of her older sister, Marie-Alice Dibon, stuffed in a suitcase, thrown into the Oise River. The 53-year-old Dibon, a pharmaceuticals and cosmetics specialist, was the 51st woman in France to be murdered by her partner in 2019. More than 50 deaths later, the word is hard to miss: in headlines, in presidential speeches, and plastered on buildings in cities across the country. Women’s rights advocates are now calling for femicide to be inscribed into the penal code. “How shameful that it took until now,” de […]

A Venezuelan migrant, cradling a baby, walks along a street in Bogota, Colombia, April 4, 2019 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

Colombian President Ivan Duque has announced a generous policy toward Venezuelan refugees in Colombia, including giving citizenship to children born in Colombia. With Venezuelan immigration likely to continue, though, Colombia needs to begin thinking about the migrants' long-term needs. Editor’s Note: This article is part of an ongoing series on immigration and integration policy around the world. Colombia has historically been a source of migration rather than a destination, but that has changed in recent years due largely to the ongoing economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Approximately 1.4 million Venezuelans have fled to Colombia in recent years, according to […]

A mass funeral after more than 70 people were killed in a series of attacks blamed on Fulani herders who opposed a new anti-grazing law, in Makurdi, Nigeria, Jan. 11, 2018 (AP photo).

After surrounding the villages at dawn, the militias stormed in, armed with machetes and firearms. As Reuters later reported, the “gunmen left the charred bodies of women and children smoldering in their homes.” The attack on two villages in central Mali in March, in which 170 people were reportedly killed, was shocking enough to generate international headlines. But beyond the grisly details were its seemingly stark ethnic dimensions. The militias were made up of members of the Dogon ethnic group, which is primarily pastoralist. The victims in the two villages were mostly members of the Fulani ethnic group, semi-nomadic herders […]

A young boy and a soldier watch demonstrators climb onto a container used as a barricade in the Cibitoke neighborhood of Bujumbura, Burundi, May 19, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

BUJUMBURA, Burundi—Four years after President Pierre Nkurunziza decided to run for a controversial third term, leading to widespread protests and a government crackdown that killed more than 1,200 people and forced 400,000 to flee, this small East African country is still in the throes of political turmoil. With new elections less than a year away, tensions are rising as the government tightens its grip. In a report released Wednesday, United Nations investigators warned of another wave of possible atrocities ahead of the election amid “a general climate of impunity” in Burundi, where Nkurunziza’s supporters portray him as a “divine” leader. […]

A man runs away from tear gas after making off with goods from a store in Germiston, east of Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. A week of riots in South Africa targeting foreign-owned businesses has left at least 10 people dead and dozens of shops destroyed across Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria. The attacks shut down entire neighborhoods, as South Africans, enraged by the perception that foreigners are taking their jobs, looted shops and set them ablaze. This latest eruption of xenophobia comes amid deepening inequality in Africa’s second-largest economy, where more than a quarter of people are unemployed. South Africa has wrestled with xenophobia since […]

A man watches the television as Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam makes an announcement on the extradition bill, in Hong Kong, Sept. 4, 2019 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Hoping to “allay public concerns,” Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday announced the full withdrawal of the controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protests in the semiautonomous Chinese territory. Despite meeting this key demand of the protesters, Lam’s retreat was received with skepticism by the city’s pro-democracy activists and lawmakers, suggesting that Hong Kong’s embattled leader is not yet out of the woods. Lam’s concession came just days after Reuters published details of remarks she made […]

Stella Nyanzi, a women’s rights activist and government critic, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for cyber harassment of President Yoweri Museveni, in court in Kampala, Uganda, Aug. 1, 2019 (AP photo by Ronald Kabuubi).

KAMPALA, Uganda—Pastor Joseph Kabuleta was arrested while drinking coffee in a Kampala shopping center, shoved in the back of a car and blindfolded. Held in police detention for several days in July, Kabuleta said he was tortured by officers, who beat him and drenched him in freezing water. His only crime was a Facebook post criticizing a senior military official, Gen. Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the son of President Yoweri Museveni. Kabuleta’s case is not unique in Uganda, where Museveni has held onto power for decades by almost any means necessary. The pastor’s arrest was another example of how Ugandans are using […]

Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the leader of the Law and Justice party, addressing party members after the results of the European Parliament election were announced, in Warsaw, Poland, May 26, 2019 (AP photo by Czarek Sokolowski).

If the Law and Justice party wins the Polish elections for parliament in October, it will be harder for observers to dismiss its success as a blip in Poland’s post-communist history. What is behind the continued appeal of a party that merges nationalism with populism in a country once seen as a model of liberal democracy? With most of the votes counted, Jaroslaw Kaczynski took the stage and declared victory. “Today is a very important day,” he told a packed room of members of his populist Law and Justice party in Warsaw. PiS, as the party is known by its […]