Protesters call for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a Victorian imperialist, in Oxford, England, June 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

Black Lives Matter protests have erupted in cities across Europe in recent weeks, in solidarity with the uprisings in the United States following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer in May. Some European demonstrators have called on their governments to more formally acknowledge the connections between the slave trade and colonialism and racism in their countries today. In Europe’s two largest former colonial powers, France and the United Kingdom, there are signs that protests are eroding the popular indifference toward their history. While France and the U.K. have never apologized for their colonial past, they have […]

People protest outside Parliament after a court ruling deciding Chagossians were not allowed to return to their homeland, London, Oct. 22, 2008 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

The British government has been vocal about the issue of human rights in China in recent weeks. It recently delivered a joint statement to the United Nations Human Rights Council, on behalf of 27 countries, on abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. And Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has strongly criticized Beijing for imposing sweeping national security legislation that severely undermines the autonomy of Hong Kong, which the Chinese government promised to respect in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration. Raab specifically called out Beijing for violating its international legal obligations, while announcing that the U.K. would not shirk from its “historic […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks during a news conference at the State Department in Washington, July 15, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

How can you square the doctrine of “America First” with the promotion of human rights? It’s a question that has bedeviled the Trump administration since it first took office. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo provided his own answer on July 16, when he unveiled the much-anticipated draft report of the U.S. Commission on Unalienable Rights. In a strident and tendentious speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, Pompeo attacked the “proliferation” of “new rights” claims to cover an ever-expanding set of groups and issues, saying it was time to get back to basics. Henceforth, U.S. human rights policy should […]

Riot police chase a nurse who was protesting at a government hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, July, 6, 2020 (AP photo by Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa appears to be using COVID-19 restrictions as cover for a growing crackdown on regime critics, even as his administration mismanages efforts to provide relief to people suffering under lockdown measures in response to the pandemic. In the latest of a string of arrests of politicians and activists, security forces this week detained a prominent investigative journalist, Hopewell Chin’ono, and opposition politician Jacob Ngarivhume, who heads the small Transform Zimbabwe party. The two are accused of organizing nationwide, anti-government […]

An exiled Tibetan breaks down during a march to mark the 60th anniversary of the 1959 Tibetan uprising, in New Delhi, India, March 10, 2019 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

Over the past several months, China watchers have been closely following as Beijing tightened its grip on Hong Kong and continued its steady strangulation of the Uighur Muslim ethnic minority in Xinjiang. But the regime successfully avoided international attention and opprobrium as it carried out what could prove to be its most devastating push elsewhere, in Tibet. Years ago, Tibet had more success capturing the world’s attention. Under the leadership of the exiled Dalai Lama, Tibetans pared down their demands from China, from full-blown independence to genuine autonomy. The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and […]

Black Lives Matter protesters face off with police officers in front of City Hall in Seattle, Washington, July 15, 2020 (AP photo by Ted S. Warren).

“J’étouffe!”—I’m suffocating! Cedric Chouviat’s plea was repeated seven times as four French police officers sought to subdue him with a chokehold in early January, near the Quai Branly, which runs along the Seine River in central Paris. Chouviat, a 42-year-old father of five who worked as a deliveryman, went into cardiac arrest and died two days later. An autopsy revealed that his larynx had been crushed. His cry echoed that of Eric Garner, who also died after being put in a chokehold by a New York City police officer in 2014. A variation of the haunting refrain was heard in […]

Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, right, and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, wave during a party convention in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Aug. 11, 2019 (AP photo by Eranga Jayawardena).

Authoritarian populism has returned to Sri Lanka. Since Gotabaya Rajapaksa became the country’s seventh president last November, he has, as many feared, brought back the repressive and undemocratic policies of his older brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa, who was president from 2005 to 2015. In the first few months of Gotabaya’s presidency, the Rajapaksas—Sri Lanka’s most prominent political family—moved swiftly to centralize power, with Gotabaya immediately appointing Mahinda as prime minister. The two other Rajapaksa brothers, Chamal and Basil, hold important political positions as well; the former is a Cabinet minister, and the latter is both Gotabaya’s “chief strategist” and the national […]

A lab technician works at the Eva Pharma facility in Cairo, Egypt, July 12, 2020 (AP photo by Nariman El-Mofty).

The new coronavirus field hospital, in a Cairo convention center, has enough space for 4,000 beds. Like so many things in Egypt, it was built by the armed forces. When President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who had once described the virus’s trajectory in Egypt as “reassuring,” toured its vast halls in late June, he didn’t look like he was worried about a surge of COVID-19 patients. Instead, flanked as usual by men in army fatigues, Sisi turned the hospital into another stage to project his authority. But after calling any and all critics of his government’s handling of the pandemic “enemies […]

A Rohingya Muslim refugee at a camp in Bangladesh shows a mobile video of a massacre in the village of Gu Dar Pyin in Myanmar, Jan. 14, 2018 (AP photo by Manish Swarup).

As Americans have risen up in protest against police brutality, attention has understandably focused on the racist incidents of police killing Black Americans and their implications. How these outrages have come to light, however, remains underappreciated. They might never have been exposed without new technologies like smart phones and social media, whose use for accountability is transforming human rights. Until recently, documenting human rights abuses was a time-consuming and often imprecise activity. As a law student in the early 1990s, I worked on a United Nations project, led by the international legal scholar M. Cherif Bassiouni, to document war crimes […]

People wade through a flooded street in Beledweyne, central Somalia, May 17, 2020 (AP photo).

This time last year, countries in East Africa were leading the continent in economic growth. Now, much of that progress is at risk as the region faces a dangerous triple threat: torrential rain and flooding, voracious swarms of locusts and the coronavirus pandemic. The three crises are compounding each other’s impacts. Border closures that were put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 have strained the supply of pesticides and other equipment to fight the locusts that have ravaged the region for months now. Food supplies that were already under siege from the pests have been further devastated by […]

Armed police officers wearing face masks block an area in Almaty, Kazakhstan, March 19, 2020 (AP photo by Vladimir Tretyakov).

In April, the Kyrgyz news outlet Kloop posted a video on YouTube showing a new app called STOP COVID-19. Developed by the government of Kyrgyzstan, it allows the authorities to follow the whereabouts of those exposed to the coronavirus. The video shows the movements of two individuals being tracked by combining their digital profiles and phone locations with their government-issued IDs. In theory, STOP COVID-19 is a valuable tool in the government’s efforts to track and trace confirmed or suspected coronavirus patients. But the app goes much further than most Kyrgyz citizens would likely be comfortable with. In addition to […]

Police officers enveloped by teargas in Portland, Oregon, March 29, 2020 (photo by Dave Killen for The Oregonian via AP Images).

Shelby Rose, a correspondent for KATV news, was in the middle of a live broadcast in Little Rock, Arkansas, when someone in the crowd smashed an object on her head. It was May 30, less than a week after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis, and the first night of protests against the incident in Little Rock. Rose and her crew had set up near the state capitol. She recounted that they were swarmed by angry people who screamed at them. “I didn’t understand,” Rose said. “It was the first night of protests, so […]

Police stand guard during a march marking the anniversary of the Hong Kong handover from Britain to China, Hong Kong, July 1, 2020 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Freddy Deknatel and Prachi Vidwans talk about the new national security law that China imposed on Hong Kong, and the chilling effect it has already had on dissent and speech there. They also discuss a new proposal for a one-state solution for Israel and Palestine based on equal citizenship rights for all, and how the debate over ways forward in that conflict has broadened recently, in part due to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles […]

The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups steam in formation in the South China Sea, July 6, 2020 (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Tarleton for U.S. Navy via AP Images).

With the unrelenting news of soaring coronavirus cases in the United States, and the historic push to address long-ignored questions of racial and social justice, one of this era’s most consequential issues has received less attention, but it will soon stand out again. How should the United States and the West more broadly respond to the continuing rise of China? Consider some major developments in recent weeks, starting with the imposition by Beijing of a new security law on Hong Kong. The law sharply curtails what was left of Hong Kong’s semiautonomous status, which was promised to last for 50 […]

A man walks past a large video screen showing Chinese leader Xi Jinping speaking in Beijing, June 30, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. Chinese police on Monday detained prominent legal scholar Xu Zhangrun, one of the few academics in China who still dared to openly criticize Xi Jinping’s leadership. Xu’s arrest is further evidence that under Xi, times have changed for well-known intellectuals who were once spared detention for airing measured grievances about the government. Xu first drew widespread attention in 2018 when he denounced Xi’s hard-line policies in an essay that The New York Times described as a “rare rebuke” of […]

Police special forces stand next to illegal mining machinery in Peru’s Tambopata province, April 1, 2019 (AP photo by Rodrigo Abd).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Neil Bhatiya is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott this week. Last week, the presidency of the Financial Action Task Force, the global intergovernmental standard-setter for combatting illicit financial threats, passed from China to Germany. The presidency of the FATF is an important platform for countries to highlight critical threats to the global financial system. Among Germany’s incoming priorities for its two-year term is a focus on the illicit financial flows behind many crimes related to the environment. Such a campaign is an overdue step to combat a lucrative but not widely understood criminal enterprise, one […]

An Uber Eats cyclist during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown in Glasgow, Scotland, March 28, 2020 (Photo by Andrew Milligan for Press Association via AP Images).

In that foreign country that was our world before the pandemic, the so-called “sharing economy” was in full bloom. Uber and its ride-sharing competitors dominated point-to-point ground transportation. Airbnb was beating the world’s largest hotel brands in rooms rented and consumer spending. New startups were applying digital matching services to facilitate everything from food delivery to toilet rentals. And the phenomenon was global: China and India had their own ride-sharing giants, Didi Chuxing and Ola, while companies around the world—Comparto Mi Maleta in Chile, Sharemac in Germany, Gojek in Indonesia, Stashbee in the U.K. and Lynk in Kenya—connected consumers to […]

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