Then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden arrives to speak at McGregor Industries in Dunmore, Pa., July 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Slocum).

Joe Biden’s election as president offers the United States an opportunity to recast its relationship with the United Nations after four years of “America First” disengagement under Donald Trump. The president-elect is already declaring that “America is back.” But to make good on his promise, Biden needs to reinvigorate American leadership within the U.N. itself, while tempering expectations about what the world body can deliver at a time of intense geopolitical rivalry. Beyond reversing Trump’s misguided assaults on the U.N., Biden must strengthen U.S. capabilities to conduct multilateral diplomacy, promote institutional reforms to bring the U.N. into the 21st century, […]

President Donald Trump meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, April 9, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. Plainclothes security agents showed up at a beach resort in the Sinai last week, looking for Karim Ennarah, the director of the criminal justice unit at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, a Cairo-based NGO. Egyptian state security officers had apparently looked for Ennarah at his home in Cairo the day before, only to learn he […]

A policeman walks past a burning barricade during a protest in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, Nov. 3, 2020 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

DAKAR, Senegal—Mohammed Ouattara, an activist from Cote d’Ivoire who lives in exile in Senegal, doesn’t mince words when speaking about his country’s recent presidential elections. “It’s a constitutional coup d’état,” he told me, as we sat in a café along the corniche in Dakar. “He doesn’t have the right to be a candidate,” he said, his eyes wide and intense. “He stole the elections.” Ouattara was referring to Cote d’Ivoire’s president, Alassane Ouattara, who was reelected to a controversial third term last month in a landslide, according to election officials, although his two main opponents had boycotted the vote and […]

President-elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaks in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 16, 2020 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

Now that world leaders and the D.C. foreign policy establishment have breathed a collective sigh of relief over Joe Biden’s election as U.S. president, things can get back to normal when it comes to preparing for a new administration in Washington. For world leaders, that means scrambling for access and favor, while readying offer sheets of how their governments can be of help to Biden’s team. For the D.C. establishment, that means angling to be part of that team, or else writing lengthy policy proposals that, unlike in 2016, might actually be read by the people who do end up […]

Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong speaks to media after arriving at a court in Hong Kong, Sept. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

More than a year ago, months into the escalating protests in Hong Kong, a reporter with a local television station, Tsang, put on a bulletproof vest for the very first time.* She had gone for a drink the night before, wondering if it would be her last. A few days earlier at a protest, a reporter standing next to her was hit in the eye and permanently blinded by a police projectile; on another occasion, her cameraman had yanked her from the spot right before a Molotov cocktail exploded at her feet. The vest proved to be a wise decision. […]

U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin at a press conference in Helsinki, Finland, July 16, 2018 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

It’s no coincidence that while congratulations for Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential race came quickly from Western democracies, many thuggish regimes remained conspicuously silent. The many despots who welcomed Donald Trump’s crass indifference to the fortunes of freedom are right to be wary of Biden. The president-elect intends to make America decent again, not only at home but abroad, by restoring the promotion of liberty and defense of democracy as pillars of U.S. foreign policy. Rebuilding U.S. credibility on human rights will take time, however. Trump’s affinity for autocrats is well documented. “It’s funny,” he mused to Bob […]

President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 10, 2020 (AP photo by Carolyn Kaster).

To say President-elect Joe Biden has his work cut out for him when it comes to U.S. foreign policy and national security would be a gross understatement. China, Russia, Iran and North Korea all loom large, right alongside climate change and the still-worsening coronavirus pandemic. Yet with a persistently polarized American electorate and a possibly divided Congress, it will be hard for his administration to make significant progress on the biggest security challenges facing the United States. Whatever happens with the messy transition period leading up to Biden’s inauguration on Jan. 20, the Republican Party’s obstructionism and Donald Trump’s decapitation […]

People drive past burnt toll gates showing anti-police slogans, in Lagos, Nigeria, Oct. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Sunday Alamba).

Oct. 20 might be remembered as the day Nigeria’s historic uprising against police brutality died. The government’s use of live ammunition against peaceful demonstrators that day reportedly killed at least 12 people and injured dozens more. As President Muhammadu Buhari implicitly threatened to crack down again, the Feminist Coalition, one of the Nigerian organizations spearheading the protest movement, released a statement refusing further donations and calling for Nigerian youth to observe curfews and stay home. The streets of Lagos, Nigeria’s most populous city and the one-time epicenter of the demonstrations, are now clear of the tens of thousands of people […]

Gambian President Adama Barrow arrives at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, March 15, 2017 (AP Photo by Thibault Camus).

DAKAR, Senegal—Michael Sang Correa was indicted in federal court in Denver, Colorado, in July, for allegedly torturing multiple people in Gambia in 2006. The indictment is the first for a member of the Junglers, a secretive death squad used by former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh to arrest, torture, disappear and kill scores of his perceived opponents. His trial is expected to begin next year. Correa’s victims and their family members are relieved that he is finally facing justice. However, experts say that Correa’s trial in the U.S., rather than in Gambia, underscores a lack of political will among Gambian leaders […]

French Prime Minister Jean Castex and Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer attend a memorial service for slain teacher Samuel Paty at a school in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, near Paris, Nov. 2, 2020 (Pool photo by Thomas Coex via AP).

Editor’s note: The following article is one of 30 that we’ve selected from our archives to celebrate World Politics Review’s 15th anniversary. You can find the full collection here. When Rachid Zerrouki, a teacher in Marseille, headed back to his classroom last Monday, he braced himself for the worst. He hadn’t seen his students since the brutal killing of Samuel Paty, a 47-year-old middle school teacher in the Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, who was beheaded by a young Chechen refugee days after he showed his class cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson about freedom of expression. With school back […]

Posters of slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a protest marking the two-year anniversary of his death, near the Saudi Arabia consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, Oct. 2, 2020 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

Editor’s Note: Every Monday, Managing Editor Frederick Deknatel highlights a major unfolding story in the Middle East, while curating some of the best news and analysis from the region. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Middle East Memo by email every week. One of the few countries that waited a conspicuously long time to congratulate Joe Biden on his election win over Donald Trump was Saudi Arabia. King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, finally issued a statement, via the Saudi state news agency, applauding President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, more than 24 […]

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Denis Mukwege speaks at a news conference in Oslo, Norway, Dec. 11, 2018 (NTB Scanpix photo by Lise Aserud via AP).

In 2018, the Congolese gynecologist Denis Mukwege was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end rape as a weapon of war. Speaking to a rapt and tearful audience at that year’s Nobel award ceremony in Oslo, he mentioned a report that was “gathering mold in an office drawer in New York.” The 550-page tome he referred to was released by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in October 2010. It painstakingly documented and mapped the locations of 617 instances of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and perhaps even genocide, allegedly committed by local combatants, militias […]

A climate protest rally in Santiago, Chile, Sept. 27, 2019 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

After nearly a decade of effort, Latin America is on the verge of realizing its first regional environmental treaty. The Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean, better known as the Escazu Agreement, has 24 signatories, 10 of which have ratified it—just one less than is needed for it to enter into force. Curiously though, Chile, one of the countries that spearheaded negotiations over the pact, is missing from the list of signatories, an omission that calls into question its mostly positive record on addressing climate change. Negotiations […]

A nurse prepares to enter the sub-intensive care unit of the San Filippo Neri hospital in Rome, Italy, Oct. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Alessandra Tarantino).

The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone much better versed in basic epidemiological modeling than they were eight months ago. We have all familiarized ourselves with exhaustive data collection and the analysis of epidemic curves based on prior crises, the reproduction rates of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the daily influx of new cases. Yet, even for professional epidemiologists, the question of when this pandemic will end has no simple answer. Certainty is a luxury rarely afforded to scientists, and this is particularly true in the world of public health. However, we do know that pandemics do not attack indiscriminately. While we […]

Myanmar’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, attends a ceremony at the National League for Democracy’s temporary headquarters in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, Sept. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Aung Shine Oo).

Myanmar is preparing to hold general elections this Sunday, an occasion that might have marked a significant milestone in its ongoing transition from decades of military rule. The previous polls, in 2015, saw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy finally win the presidency and a majority of seats in parliament, following the dissolution of the military junta in 2011. Hopes were high that Suu Kyi, who is now Myanmar’s de facto leader, would usher in a new era of peace and expanded freedoms. Yet the consensus today is that Myanmar’s democratic transition has stalled—if it can even be […]