An elderly patient receives a dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic at Orange Farm, near Johannesburg, South Africa, June 3, 2021 (AP photo by Denis Farrell).

By the late 1990s, an HIV diagnosis was no longer considered a death sentence in the wealthy countries of the Global North. Advances in medical technology had brought new drugs onto the market that could reverse the disease’s progression. However, those life-saving drugs were priced out of the reach of most patients across the Global South, where millions of people continued to die unnecessarily. There are echoes now of that earlier era, as those same regions are largely going without COVID-19 vaccines—even as wealthier countries move on to administer booster shots for their populations. In response to the disparity in […]

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in Kearny, New Jersey, Oct. 25, 2021 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

Next week, U.S. President Joe Biden will convene his Global Summit for Democracy, a virtual gathering of global leaders that aims to promote human rights, counter corruption and discuss ways to strengthen democracy against a rising tide of authoritarianism across the world. The event fulfils a campaign promise made by then-candidate Biden to organize a summit of democracies during his first year in office. The gathering has been dismissed in some quarters as a hollow performative exercise, rendered meaningless by the inevitable controversy over the guest list. But arguments about the substance of the summit, as well as which countries were […]

Police officers carry a casket of a colleague who was killed in a grenade attack, Peshawar, Pakistan, July 30, 2021 (AP photo by Muhammad Sajjad).

On Nov. 8, the Pakistani government and the violent jihadist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, announced a preliminary one-month cease-fire. While the development was shrouded in secrecy, it has potentially major implications for the future of jihadism in South Asia. The agreement—brokered by the Haqqani Network, a group of militants that are designated as terrorists by the United States—gave the Pakistani state respite from a campaign of violence waged by the resurgent, reconsolidated TTP, which maintains loose ties with the Afghan Taliban but is a separate entity. The group’s attacks on security forces along the border with Afghanistan have intensified […]

The United Nations Security Council meets, New York, Nov. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

Editor’s note: Guest columnists Richard Gowan and Pyotr Kurzin are filling in for Stewart Patrick this week. The United Nations Security Council may be about to pass its first-ever resolution on the implications of climate change for peace and security. The council has talked about climate security since 2007, and it has acknowledged that environmental challenges such as droughts and degradation of farming land can fuel conflicts in regions like the Sahel and the Horn of Africa. But it has not laid out a systematic approach to assessing these risks or responding to them. This could be about to change, as Niger […]

China’s Peng Shuai reacts during a first-round singles match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 21, 2020 (AP photo by Andy Brownbill).

Late last week, I found myself at a university podium participating in an unusual event, invited by a conservative group to argue against the proposition that the United States should apply a greatly stepped-up boycott, divest and sanction—or BDS—approach in its relations with China. The person arguing the other side in this debate began by stating that he supported going much further even than BDS. But after this emphatic opening sally, he offered scarce few details of what this might involve or how it would work. Surprised at how little substance I was left to respond to, I began by […]

China’s Peng Shuai reacts during a women’s tennis singles match at the 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, Nov. 21, 2010 (AP photo by Vincent Yu).

The mysterious disappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai from public view since she accused a top Chinese Communist Party official of sexual assault is growing into a diplomatic crisis for Beijing, amid concerns about her safety and the broader scrutiny of freedoms and the #MeToo movement in China. Earlier this month, the former Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion and three-time Olympian disappeared from public view after posting a lengthy message on Weibo—the Chinese microblogging site—accusing former Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli of having sexually assaulted her three years ago. She subsequently reappeared in photos and videos released on China's […]

Delegates attend the opening session of the 33rd African Union Summit, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Feb. 9, 2020 (AP photo).

A number of recent developments, including the civil war in Ethiopia and a spate of military takeovers in Mali, Guinea, Sudan and Chad, have exacerbated longstanding concerns of democratic backsliding, the return of military coups and the viability of the nation-state in Africa. The reactions of regional bodies and the African Union to these developments have been typified by carefully worded diplomatic statements, suspension of erring member states from group activities and weak sanctions, evoking familiar criticisms of those organizations as “dictators’ clubs” beholden to national leaders at the expense of the citizens they ostensibly serve. The inability of these bodies to […]

U.S. soldiers sit in a C-17 aircraft at Sather Air Base in Baghdad as they begin their journey home after a year in Iraq, Nov. 30, 2010 (AP photo by Maya Alleruzzo).

If Washington is as committed as ever to its historical role as security guarantor in the Middle East, why do U.S. officials feel compelled to constantly reassure their regional partners that the U.S. isn’t pulling back from the region? The question speaks to the disconnect between Washington’s strategic interests in the Middle East and the priorities of its regional partners. It also reflects the difficulty U.S. policymakers face in seeking to exert influence in a region beset by poor governance and a multiplicity of state, nonstate and hybrid actors.  But it also reflects a paradox at the heart of U.S. […]

Milorad Dodik, the president of the Republika Srpska, inspects an honor guard during a parade marking the 26th anniversary of the Republika Srpska in the Bosnian town of Banja Luka, Jan. 9, 2018 (AP photo by Amel Emric).

Bosnia-Herzegovina could be on the brink of a political collapse that triggers a new conflagration in the Balkans. There is a growing consensus among experts that this is the country’s most dangerous moment since the 1995 Dayton Accords, which ended a war that cost 100,000 lives and displaced more than 2 million people. Analysts also say stability in the Balkans has been eroded recently by the disengagement of the European Union and United States. “The prospects for further division and conflict are very real,” the international community’s chief representative in Bosnia, Christian Schmidt, wrote in a report to the United Nations that was […]

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, Nov. 18, 2021 (AP photo by Andrew Harnik).

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently on a five-day tour of sub-Saharan Africa, his first to the region since taking office in January. Having already visited Kenya and Nigeria this week, he will conclude his tour Saturday in Senegal. The trip comes amid intensifying challenges for U.S. policy across Africa, including a deadly new crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Sudan following last month’s coup, a persistent civil conflict in Ethiopia, and mounting concerns about instability, democratic regression and the viability of the state in Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation. Washington is also concerned about China’s deepening relationship […]

Polish soldiers sit on an army vehicle as they drive past a checkpoint close to the border with Belarus in Kuznica, Poland, Nov. 16, 2021 (AP photo by Matthias Schrader).

There is cautious optimism in Brussels that the temperature seems to be dialing down on the crises with Belarus and Russia on the EU’s eastern border, as Minsk takes a step back in its long-running border standoff with Warsaw and Moscow has not yet made any military incursion into Ukraine, despite once again massing troops on the border. But there is also a feeling in Brussels and across the continent that the events of the past few weeks are a harbinger of dark days ahead. EU defense ministers met Tuesday to discuss both the “hybrid warfare” by Belarus at the […]

Saudi Arabian Minster of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud speaks at the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 10, 2021 (AP photo by Alberto Pezzali).

The COP26 climate change conference in Glasgow that wrapped up Saturday was intended to draw the world’s attention to the slow-burning emergency of global warming, as well as create policies for mitigating and adapting to its worst effects. Above all, however, the international gathering illustrated the problems of timing and collective action that frustrate efforts to stop climate change.  At the summit, world leaders, scientists and activists called for urgent action to reduce emissions and slow the rise in average global temperatures before the world crosses a threshold into an unlivable future. Instead, the conference delegates drafted what amounts to […]

Youth climate activists protest that representatives of the fossil fuel industry have been allowed inside the venue during the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 11, 2021 (AP photo by Alastair Grant).

Lately, leaders of all generations have been referring to the world’s shared obligations toward “future generations.” At the G-20 summit in Rome in late October, for instance, the U.K.’s Prince Charles reminded delegates of their overwhelming responsibility toward “generations yet unborn,” whose health, happiness and prosperity will be determined by the way today’s leaders respond to the climate crisis. More recently, during a Nov. 12 protest in Glasgow, 18-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg called for those attending the nearby COP26 climate summit to listen to the “voices of future generations” that are “drowning” in leaders’ “greenwash and empty words and promises.”  But who […]

Palestinian security forces participate in a drill at the International Police Training Center in al-Muwaqqar, Jordan, a country that receives U.S. support for key counterterrorism training programs, Mar. 17, 2018 (AP photo by Raad Adayleh).

In May of this year, thousands of Colombian citizens took part in weeks of widespread protests against a newly proposed tax reform plan and, more generally, the country's growing economic inequality. The demonstrators included teachers, doctors, students and labor union members, as well as many who were new to protesting. But instead of allowing them to peacefully express their opinions, the Colombian National Police cracked down, killing at least 24 people in clashes that resembled their fights against criminal organizations and insurgents.  Of course, Colombia’s police are not unique in their heavy-handed approach to law enforcement. In 2019, police violence […]

A desolate, semi-arid landscape surrounds the Sahel village of Ndiawagne Fall in Kebemer, Senegal, Nov. 5, 2021 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

At the recently concluded COP26 Climate Change conference in Glasgow, African countries—led by leaders of major continental states including South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya—made the case for firmer commitments on climate funding from rich, more industrialized nations and a longer timeline on the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels.  One of the major announcements to come out of the summit was South Africa’s “watershed” finance agreement with several Western powers to transition off of coal-burning power plants. But despite the triumphalism surrounding that deal, African delegates generally left the Glasgow summit disappointed that their […]

An Afghan inspects the damage at the Ahmadi family house after a U.S. drone strike killed Zemari Ahmadi and nine other family members on Aug. 29, Kabul, Afghanistan (AP file photo by Bernat Armangue).

Last week, the U.S. Department of Defense released a one-page summary of its findings from an investigation into a drone strike in Kabul that killed a family of 10 during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. U.S. military officials had received intelligence that a specific car had visited a “suspected” Islamic State safehouse and loaded what “appeared to be” explosives into its trunk.  After the vehicle was destroyed with explosives in the driveway of the house, it was determined that the driver was actually Zemari Ahmadi, an electrical engineer who worked for a U.S. aid organization. Ahmadi was killed in the […]

Coffins containing victims of a fuel tanker explosion seen lined up during a mass burial in Freetown, Sierra Leone (SIPA Images via AP).

More than 130 people have been reported killed after a fuel tanker hit a large truck and exploded Nov. 5 in Freetown, Sierra Leone’s capital. The tragedy occurred in the city’s densely populated Wellington district. The victims included motorbike drivers who reportedly rushed toward the scene to collect leaking fuel, which they presumably hoped to either use or sell, as well as roadside traders and commuters trapped in vehicles along the busy intersection. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition, and posters of the dead and missing have been stuck on walls and buildings around the site of the […]

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