A volunteer for a COVID-19 vaccine trial receives her second shot at a hospital outside Johannesburg, South Africa, Nov. 30, 2020 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Subscribers can adjust their newsletter settings to receive Africa Watch by email every week. Africa is being left behind in the global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. While more than 40 million doses have been administered in almost 50 higher-income countries around the world, most African nations are still waiting for their first vaccines to arrive. They could be waiting a while. “As the first vaccines begin to be deployed, the promise of equitable access is at serious risk,” World Health Organization Director-General […]

Oil rigs and ships in Claxton Bay, Trinidad and Tobago, Jan. 3, 2015 (Flickr photo by Leslie-Ann Boisselle).

For decades, the Caribbean twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago has relied on oil and natural gas production to guarantee its energy security and provide a measure of fiscal stability for the government.* Even as oil and gas revenues have steadily declined since hitting a peak in the late 1970s, the country’s economy remains highly reliant on the energy sector, which accounts for around 75 percent of exports and 40 percent of GDP. However, the crash of global energy markets amid the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing threat of climate change are providing an impetus for a reevaluation of Trinidad […]

Member states’ flags outside the United Nations headquarters, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

It is tempting to think that Joe Biden’s imminent inauguration will end the crisis of multilateralism. Yet while the new administration will undoubtedly change the way the United States engages with the world for the better, Donald Trump’s perceived withdrawal from global leadership is not the main reason for the current dysfunctional state of global affairs. Nor, for that matter, does it come down to the waxing great-power rivalry between China and the U.S., or the resurgence of Russia as a thorn in the side of the liberal international order. Larger forces are at work. The world has entered a […]

President Donald Trump speaks during an “Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit” at the White House, Washington, Dec. 8, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Nothing could be more normal than to regard the ceaseless spread of COVID-19 across the United States as a public health crisis. Indeed, as many commentators have called it, this pandemic is the preeminent public health crisis of the past century. As almost everyone knows by now, not since the 1918 flu pandemic have the lives and livelihoods of so many Americans—or people elsewhere, for that matter—been so gravely threatened by the uncontrolled spread of a single infectious disease. With the availability of new vaccines, however, this crisis is shifting into a new and completely different phase. The public health […]

A nurse tends to a COVID-19 patient at a hospital in Istanbul, Turkey, Dec. 19, 2020 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

The world has just passed an important anniversary. A year ago, on the eve of 2020, a municipal office in Wuhan, China, reported that 27 people in the city had come down with a strange and unidentified “viral pneumonia.” The next day, the World Health Organization picked up on the report and reached out to the Chinese government for more information. No one realized at the time how significant this new pathogen—later named SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19—would become. One year later, it has changed the world in unimaginable ways. The past year has seen nearly 86 million cases […]

An area of the U.N. headquarters that houses the Security Council is closed off to members of the media during the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Richard Gowan is filling in for Stewart M. Patrick, who will return next week. What lies in store for the United Nations Security Council in 2021? People unfamiliar with the council’s inner workings might be surprised to learn how much of it is routine, as diplomats update mandates for ongoing peace operations and sanctions regimes on a pre-set schedule. But unforeseen wars and crises always force their way onto the agenda. Addressing incoming diplomats of the council’s temporary members at an event in Brussels in December 2019, I warned that they must expect to address at […]