It’s hard not to see 2022 as a “year that changed everything.” The war in Ukraine and other developments certainly represented shocks to the international system. But rather than a year that has changed everything, I see a year that has made everything more possible, at times for the worse but also for the better.
This year’s most underreported event is the renewed fighting in the eastern provinces of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The violence is especially dangerous as it is essentially a proxy conflict between Congo and its neighbor Rwanda, with the potential to become a direct military confrontation—and a regional war.
Three months after voters rejected a draft constitution, Chilean President Gabriel Boric brokered an agreement with the country’s political forces setting out the process for another try at producing a new basic document. This time, though, guardrails are in place to avoid the radical changes attempted in the first draft.
Writing about human security and international law often means writing about the worst things in the world. With the holidays around the corner, it’s worth sharing a few stories that show how numerous strategies—including NGO activism and nonviolent protest movements—are making a positive difference for human security worldwide.
In late November, the leaders of the Accra Initiative, a collaborative security mechanism designed to target the region’s common security challenges, launched a multilateral task force to counter terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime. But the new force and others like it largely mistake symptoms for causes.
Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele appears to have found a formula to maintain sky-high popularity in a region more accustomed to street protests and leaders nose-diving in the polls. Critics of his “war on gangs” revile him for his autocratic ways. But citizens and leaders across Latin America have looked to him for inspiration.
In March, Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele declared a state of emergency and suspended fundamental rights, giving security forces extended powers to detain and arrest people suspected of gang crimes. Since then, over 58,000 people accused of being gang members have been arrested—and human rights violations have spiked.
Recent elections in Brazil and the U.S. may have reinforced the impression that democracy is alive and well in the Americas. But in Guatemala, where in the past few years a backlash against anti-corruption efforts has gathered steam, upcoming elections in 2023 are unlikely to reverse democracy’s downward slide.
Who is to blame for Afghanistan’s food insecurity crisis depends on whom you ask. What almost everyone agrees on, though, is that it is a manufactured disaster stemming from multiple, interrelated policy-driven causes. Ultimately, the blame game only adds a political layer to the problem, making it even more difficult to fix it.
Back in 2020, the West’s initial difficulties in responding effectively to the coronavirus pandemic looked like a propaganda godsend for Beijing. Now, with China’s COVID-19 response triggering the biggest protests the country has seen in decades, it looks like the regime’s effort to capitalize on the pandemic has backfired spectacularly.