Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reviews a military honor guard during a welcome ceremony, in Ankara, Turkey, June 22, 2022 (AP photo by Burhan Ozbilici).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s recently announced trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has sparked a great deal of comment and no small amount of controversy. At issue is whether a U.S. president who loudly condemned Riyadh’s human rights record during his 2020 election campaign should be instrumental in helping Saudi Arabia cast off the pariah status it has labored under since its state-sponsored murder of Saudi dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018. Upon taking office, Biden talked about reorienting U.S.-Saudi relations to put greater emphasis on human rights, and he has refused to meet with the kingdom’s de facto […]

Protest outside the Supreme Court after Roe v. Wade is overturned on June 25, 2022 in Washington D.C. (Photo by JT/STAR MAX/IPx 2022).

The threats to the longevity of democracy in the United States keep growing. Last week’s ruling by the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which for five decades guaranteed the right to abortion, has put the spotlight on that once-revered institution, which is now steadily losing credibility in the eyes of the U.S. public and adding instability to a system in crisis. The ruling came in the midst of dramatic public hearings by a select congressional committee investigating the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The hearings are presenting mountains of evidence indicating that former U.S. President […]

A pregnant woman looks at her smartphone near a logo marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Communist Party in Beijing, July 8, 2021 (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion since 1973, has brought the question of state involvement in reproductive rights issues on both sides of the Pacific into sharp focus. Abortion is not overtly central to debates about China’s One Child policy, a mass-scale reproductive control infrastructure introduced in 1980 that is now being gradually rolled back. But as in the post-Roe U.S., the Chinese state’s encroachment on individual autonomy and family planning choices nonetheless looms large when it comes to reproductive rights. Forced intrauterine devices, or […]

Maya Iribarren participates in an abortion-rights protest at City Hall in San Francisco following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, June 24, 2022 (AP photo by Josie Lepe).

Editor’s note: This will be Aishwarya Machani’s final weekly column for World Politics Review. We’d like to thank her for her forward-thinking coverage of the issues that affect young people around the world. We wish her the best of luck and are excited to continue working with her as a regular contributor.  On Friday, the Supreme Court of the United States officially reversed its ruling on the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, thereby eliminating the constitutional right to abortion. It will now be up to individual U.S. states to decide whether abortion should be decriminalized in their jurisdictions. Reactions to this decision […]

Gustavo Petro, presidential candidate with the Historical Pact coalition, waves upon his arrival to a polling station to vote in presidential elections in Bogota, Colombia, May 29, 2022 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

When Colombians went to the polls Sunday to choose a new president, both choices on the ballot meant change and more than a little uncertainty about the future. It’s no surprise, then, that now that the results are in, Colombia finds itself on edge, teetering between high expectations and high anxiety. The victory by Gustavo Petro, a former mayor of Bogota who once belonged to a radical leftist urban guerrilla movement, was above all a forceful rejection of the status quo. Petro promises profound change but speaks with the well-honed rhetoric of a smart, polished politician who has spent years […]

Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman meets with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at Al Salam Palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2019 (AP photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

U.S. President Joe Biden’s “reset” of Washington’s approach to the Middle East increasingly looks like a continuation of the policies of his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, with an added measure of piety and evasion about what’s really driving the administration’s decision-making process. But an unwitting admission might have come last week when a White House reporter asked Biden why he changed his mind about meeting Saudi Arabia’s once-blacklisted de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, known as MBS. “The commitments from the Saudis don’t relate to anything having to do with energy,” Biden responded, despite the fact that […]

Members of the Ethiopian military parade with national flags attached to their rifles at a rally to show support for the Ethiopian National Defense Force, in Meskel square in downtown Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Nov. 7, 2021 (AP photo).

During an African Union summit on humanitarian work in late May, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed affirmed his government’s “commitment to ensuring assistance reaches those afflicted by natural and manmade disasters,” and called on international partners to “scale up their support for humanitarian services across the continent.” The statement drew the ire of some commentators, who regarded it as an empty promise at a time when Ethiopia itself is enduring a dire humanitarian crisis, particularly in the war-ravaged northern region of Tigray and the neighboring regions, Amhara and Afar, to which forces under Abiy’s command have contributed. Nevertheless, Abiy’s statement […]

Indigenous Constituent Assembly representatives celebrate after the final vote on constitutional reforms, Santiago, Chile, June 14, 2022 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

After a messy and controversial drafting process that had to be extended by three months, the text of Chile’s new constitution is mostly finalized. The final document is overly long, and many of its key promises will require substantial legislative guidance to determine how they should be implemented. Many on the political right feel as if they have been left out of the process, in part due to their own failures when the Constitutional Assembly drafting the document was elected. Meanwhile, many on the far left feel that the proposed constitution makes too many compromises and doesn’t go far enough […]

Protesters shout anti-U.S. slogans during a protest condemning President Joe Biden's decision on frozen Afghan assets in Kabul, Afghanistan, Feb. 15, 2022 (AP photo by Hussein Malla).

On Feb. 11, U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order that proposed a plan for the $7 billion of frozen Afghan reserves that have been locked up in U.S. financial institutions since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August. Half was to be placed in a trust that would benefit the Afghan people, with the rest remaining frozen until a U.S. court rules as to whether it could be used to settle the Taliban’s legal debts with the families of 9/11 victims. The president did not determine whether that latter portion could in fact be used for 9/11 reparations—but […]

Supporters hold banners as they wait for of Zhou Xiaoxuan outside at a courthouse in Beijing, Dec. 2, 2020.

When Zhou Xiaoxuan, a former intern at China’s state broadcaster, was groped by Zhu Jun, a prominent news anchor, in 2014, she was told by police to keep quiet about her ordeal and consider his status as a national “positive energy” icon. Simply put, Zhu’s value as a newscaster was deemed by law enforcement to be more important than justice for Zhou. Zhou, who also goes by the nickname of Xianzi, later filed a civil suit in 2021 to seek damages, a move that turned out to be unsuccessful. Though her civil suit was dismissed a year prior to the Johnny Depp-Amber […]

Protesters chant slogans and hold placards during a protest in Istanbul, June 1, 2020.

Nine years after the Gezi Park protests erupted in Istanbul and quickly spread to many other parts of Turkey, the “culprits” behind the demonstrations were sentenced in April. Civil society leader and philanthropist Osman Kavala was convicted of having attempted to overthrow the government and sentenced to life imprisonment; seven other co-defendants received 18 years. Like many other prosecutions in Turkey these days, the Gezi case was based not on evidence, but pure conjecture. Kavala has long been a target of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. He had already been imprisoned for four years based on spurious accusations that […]

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the U.S. Congress by video to plead for support, March 16, 2022.

On the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, amid the cacophony of war, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he heard the “sound of a new Iron Curtain” falling across Europe. That message resounded loudly in Washington and across Europe, where ever since the West has framed the war in ideological terms: Autocratic Russia, they explain, is waging a brutal and unprovoked war against Ukraine, because the latter aspired to follow the Western model of liberal democracy. As such, the world must help Ukraine to defend itself—or risk imperiling the entire “free world.” This strategic narrative has been very effective in mobilizing the United […]

Students at the China Executive Leadership Academy listen to a classroom lecture in Jinggangshan, Jiangxi province, April 9, 2021.

Discussions in Washington and Beijing about U.S.-China decoupling, both potential and actual, often focus on diplomacy, technology and trade. But while the growing tensions between the two strategic rivals are most visible in these areas, decoupling is also taking place in other, often-overlooked dimensions of the relationship, including in the academic and intellectual realm. In late May, China’s Ministry of Education and the Chinese Communist Party’s Propaganda Department jointly released an action plan to develop a distinctly Chinese approach to the academic disciplines of philosophy and the social sciences in China’s higher education. A report in the state-run People’s Daily newspaper explained that the plan […]

Angolan President Joao Lourenco

In August 2022, Angolans will go to the polls for parliamentary elections that—under the country’s electoral system, in which the leader of the party with most votes becomes president—also serve as a presidential election. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, or MPLA, which has been in power for half a century, has confirmed that its leader and incumbent President Joao Lourenco will stand for reelection. Lourenco’s first term has been characterized by a failure to make good on a number of his initial promises, resulting in protests that have in turn been met with a crackdown on […]

A demonstrator shouts slogans during a protest asking for immigration reform, ahead of the Summit of the Americas, June 7, 2022, in Los Angeles (AP photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez).

Wedged between highways and railroads, on a barren stretch of moldy concrete and sickly palm trees in Sao Paulo, sits the headquarters of the Latin American Parliament, or Parlatino, designed by famed Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. Created in 1964, the Parlatino was modeled on the European Parliament as a legislative body that would drive the integration of Latin American and the Caribbean around their unique regional and hemispheric interests. Today, though, the Parlatino is irrelevant, detached from national and even regional policy debates—just one of a succession of Latin American efforts to create a body to coordinate the hemisphere’s interests […]

A protester lights candles to mark the anniversary of the 1989 military crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests, outside the Victoria Park in Hong Kong, June 4, 2021 (AP photo by Kin Cheung).

The events of June 4, 1989, in Tiananmen Square were part of a distinct moment in time. At the heart of what took place there that day was a question of succession hovering over Deng Xiaoping, the then-paramount leader whose stewardship of the Chinese Communist Party stood at a crossroads following the death of Hu Yaobang, the CCP’s former general secretary. June 4 was an opportunity for the protesters in Tiananmen Square to communicate not only to their political leaders, but also to Mikhail Gorbachev, the then-leader of the Soviet Union who was visiting China at the time. The square […]

A man holds a banner as Gambians cheers in Serrekunda, Gambia, Jan. 19, 2017 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

BANJUL, Gambia—The Gambian government’s announcement last week that it will prosecute exiled former President Yahya Jammeh for a wide range of atrocities committed under his rule offers new hope to his victims for justice and closure. The announcement, made in a white paper, was the government’s formal response to the recommendations of the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, or TRRC, which were delivered in November 2021. The TRRC was launched in 2018 to hear cases and compile an impartial record of alleged human rights violations and abuses between 1994 and 2017, when Jammeh had ruled Gambia with an iron fist. From January 2019 […]

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