Smoke billows from the chimneys at Lethabo Power Station, a coal fired power station, in Vereeniging, South Africa, Dec. 5, 2018 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Summer is the time of year when climate change dominates the public conversation, and it came earlier this year than ever before. Hurricanes are battering the Caribbean, and record heat waves—exacerbated by climate change—are scorching Europe and Western North America, with wildfires increasingly encroaching on population centers. This year, over 100,000 more acres have already burned than at the same time last year, though last year’s fire damage was record-breaking as well. Smaller, island nations are in a fight for their very survival. In this context, global efforts to gradually reduce carbon emissions seem paltry at best. The Paris Agreement […]

A medical worker gives a coronavirus vaccine shot to a patient at a vaccination facility in Beijing, Jan. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, China Note, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about China. Subscribe to receive it by email every Wednesday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. After getting off to a slow start when it was launched in January, China’s vaccination campaign has picked up pace, hitting 1 billion total doses administered Saturday, according to the National Health Commission. It is well on track to meet its goal of vaccinating 40 […]

Protesters take part in a Campaign to Ban Killer Robots demonstration in front of the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin, Germany, March 21, 2019 (Photo by Wolfgang Kumm for dpa via AP Images).

In late May, news broke that a Turkish-made Kargu-2 drone had possibly taken action without the intervention or command of a human operator to hunt down, engage and possibly kill or injure human beings in the Libyan desert last year. The incident, described in a recent United Nations report, spurred a rash of media coverage and commentary along the lines of an Axios article, titled, “The Age of Killer Robots Has Already Begun.” Though some observers argue that what happened, as described by the U.N. report, is less serious than what the media is reporting, the event represents a watershed […]

A man walks past a mural on how to wear a face mask to prevent the spread of coronavirus, in Soweto, South Africa, May 15, 2021 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Africa Watch, which includes a look at the week’s top stories and best reads from and about the African continent. Subscribe to receive it by email every Friday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. COVID-19 cases are rising across Africa, just as the limited supply of vaccines the continent has received is running dangerously low. Health officials are now asking Western nations that have hoarded early vaccine supplies to share more doses in a desperate bid to […]

People mainly from Morocco stand on the shore as the Spanish Army cordons off the area at the border of Morocco and Spain, at the Spanish enclave of Ceuta, May 18, 2021 (AP photo by Javier Fergo).

As it has unfolded over the past several years, the migration crisis linking Europe and Africa has revealed many facets. At its simplest, it is one of the worst ongoing human tragedies in the world today, but one that only commands the attention of a broad public under specific circumstances. One is when it is discovered that a large number of Africans have died at sea while trying to reach Europe, whether from thirst or after their boat capsizes. The other episodic way we learn about the fate of these desperate people is when their overloaded vessels are intercepted close […]

Women march in a procession to celebrate the 25th anniversary of proclaimed independence in Hargeisa, Somaliland, May 18, 2016 (AP photo by Barkhad Dahir).

On May 18, the people of Somaliland celebrated the 30th anniversary of their decision to unilaterally declare independence. Like the 29 such occasions before it, the jubilant fanfare was tempered by a cloud of formal diplomatic exclusion. The government of this self-ruling republic in the Horn of Africa has yet to be recognized by any United Nations member state, despite offering functional, peaceful and inclusive leadership to its citizens. However, this time feels different. While Somaliland’s final status remains in limbo given its existence within the internationally recognized territory of Somalia, geopolitical conditions have changed, opening up unprecedented political and […]

The “Broken Chair” monument to land mine victims at the Place des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, July 16, 2009 (AP photo by Anja Niedringhaus).

While Americans commemorated their fallen soldiers on Memorial Day this week, a group of activists in Luxembourg were inaugurating a different kind of war memorial. Handicap International Belgium, that country’s chapter of an NGO originally dedicated to civilian victims of landmines, unveiled a sculpture by artist Manolis Manarakis commemorating the civilian dead of all modern wars. It was the latest in a series of monument unveilings, including another just last month in Brussels, meant not only to recognize civilian victims of war, but to underscore their absence in the global culture of war memorials. In the United States, Memorial Day […]

A man holds a poster that says “Danger!” in Spanish, during a protest against the presidential candidacy of Keiko Fujimori, in Lima, Peru, May 22, 2021 (AP photo by Martin Mejia).

Less than one week before a pivotal election in Peru, authorities released a revised count of the pandemic death toll in the South American country. It’s no secret that COVID-19 has devastated Peru, but the figures, nonetheless, were breathtaking. The government put the true number of deaths at 180,764, three times higher than earlier estimates. Other countries will likely recalculate their earlier numbers, as well. But for now, Peru holds the painful distinction of having the world’s highest pandemic death toll by population. Confirmation of just how catastrophic the pandemic has been for Peru helps explain the similarly disastrous political […]

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshide at a news conference in Tokyo, May 7, 2021 (AP photo by Hiro Komae).

Speaking at the opening of a new parliamentary session in mid-January, Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide vowed that this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo would be “proof of humanity’s victory against the coronavirus.” Nearly six months later, Suga’s promise has yet to materialize. Authorities this week extended states of emergency in Tokyo and Osaka, Japan’s two largest cities, in light of COVID-19 caseloads that, while down significantly from their May highs, remain elevated. The country’s health care system is under severe strain, and the government’s vaccine rollout is proceeding at a painfully slow pace. While Japan controlled the […]

Herero women sit in a mile-long queue of voters in Katutura, Namibia, Nov. 7, 1989 (AP photo by Billy Paddock).

A decade ago, while researching a book about Chinese migration to Africa, I made an extended stay in Namibia, then one of a small number of African countries I had never visited in a lifetime of writing about the continent. To get to know the place as well as I could, I rented a car and drove with my brother, James, throughout much of the country, a land more than twice the size of Germany. The reference here is appropriate, because it was Germany, a relative latecomer to European imperialism in Africa, that colonized Namibia toward the close of the […]

Women who lost family members at Srebrenica watch a TV broadcast of the sentencing of Radovan Karadzic at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, in Tuzla, Bosnia, March, 24, 2016 (AP photo by Amel Emric).

Editor’s Note: This article contains descriptions of wartime violence and rape. PRISTINA—It’s a cold morning in Rance, a mountainous village east of Kosovo’s capital, Pristina, and Isak Asllani is preparing to pay tribute at a memorial for his fallen family and friends. It is a painful ritual he carries out every Feb. 17 to mark the anniversary of Kosovo’s declaration of independence in 2008, and the end of decades of conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Asllani was 40 years old in May 1998, when he decided to join the Kosovo Liberation Army, the ethnic Albanian, separatist guerilla group that fought […]