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 […]

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, right, speaks as Vice President Kamala Harris listens, during an event at the Treasury Department in Washington, Sept. 15, 2021 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

On Oct. 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released 11.9 million confidential files, known as the Pandora Papers, that documented how world leaders, oligarchs and business elites park their wealth in offshore jurisdictions. Like the Panama Papers of 2016, this new leak brought shell companies and offshore jurisdictions under intense public scrutiny for their role in helping the rich and powerful evade taxes and ignore the transparency requirements by which their fellow citizens and competitors must abide. What was perhaps most damning was the inclusion of five U.S. states—South Dakota, Florida, Delaware, Texas and Nevada—among the list of favored offshore […]

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 […]

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 […]

A virtual high-level meeting of the United Nations Security Council is seen on a computer monitor at U.N. headquarters, New York, Sept. 24, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

As the world gradually distributes COVID-19 vaccinations and starts to reevaluate coronavirus-related restrictions, many in the international community are pushing for societies to go back to “normal.” Leaders at the helm of the international system want to return to the comfort zone of structured interactions in their New York offices; they are tired of days filled with  back-to-back Zoom meetings and the chaotic distractions of working from home. But should we really welcome “normal” back with open arms?  The pandemic has uprooted everyone’s usual work patterns. This has been traumatic, certainly—but also disruptive in positive ways. Much of what I […]

John Kerry, the U.S. special presidential envoy for climate, speaks with Alok Sharma, president of the COP26 summit, during a stock-taking plenary session at the COP26 U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 13, 2021 (AP photo Alberto Pezzali).

As former U.S. President Barack Obama once mused, there are times in global diplomacy, as in baseball, when “hitting singles” is adequate. This month’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow was not one of those moments. With the fate of the planet on the line, world leaders should have been swinging for the fences. Instead, they played small ball, chalking up only incremental gains rather than the historic breakthrough the occasion demanded.  Going into the Glasgow summit, the United Nations Environment Program had delivered some blunt news: The world’s emissions reduction pledges before COP26 accounted for only one-seventh of the reduction actually needed to […]

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 […]

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 […]

Polish border guards stand near barbed wire as migrants from the Middle East and elsewhere gather at the Belarus-Poland border near Grodno, Belarus, Nov. 10, 2021 (BelTA pool photo by Ramil Nasibulin, via AP).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your inbox. There is growing frustration across Europe with the European Union’s slow reaction to what the bloc’s leaders are calling “hybrid warfare” at its eastern border with Belarus. But fraught relations with Poland, the member country most affected by the crisis, are complicating a collective response, with growing concerns that a further round of sanctions […]

Climate protesters demonstrate outside the local government legislature’s offices in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sept. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Themba Hadebe).

The standard, “flirting with apocalypse” narrative that dominates U.S. media coverage and political debates regarding climate change goes something like this: China, which is the world’s biggest carbon emitter, and India, which is lightly industrialized and still quite substantially poor, currently represent the biggest threats to saving the environment. The supposedly more altruistic West, by contrast, is prepared to make huge investments to forestall disaster. People who cling to this all-too-easy framing correctly say that if the world’s two most-populous countries do not radically constrain their carbon output, nothing the United States or Europe can do, including rapidly attaining net-zero […]

U.S. President Joe Biden, center, speaks with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg during a plenary session at a NATO summit in Brussels, June 14, 2021 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Tensions within NATO over the past two decades have led some to assert that the old military alliances of the 20th century are a thing of the past. Soon, the argument goes, they will give way to looser, ad hoc groupings like the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or Quad, comprising Australia, India, Japan and the United States; the AUKUS security pact among Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States; or other “coalitions of the willing” formed to address specific concerns, like those that intervened in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. To be sure, the past 30 years have punched some […]

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

In early August, I watched the frenzied U.S. exit from Afghanistan from my hotel room in Accra, Ghana. I was not the only one in West Africa transfixed by the events in Kabul. Though Ghana is some 7,000 miles from Afghanistan, the chaotic scenes from the Kabul airport played on a loop in hotel lobbies, government buildings, restaurants and homes, broadcast not only by global networks like Al Jazeera, BBC and CNN, but also by local news channels.  The distressing images playing out on the TV came up repeatedly in my conversations with government officials, scholars and friends in Accra […]

Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti speaks during the opening ceremony of the COP26 U.N. Climate Summit, Glasgow, Scotland, Nov. 1, 2021 (AP photo by Alberto Pezzali).

The 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, or COP26, currently taking place in Glasgow, Scotland, has brought together a wide array of African leaders, policy specialists, businesspeople and activists focused on one goal: how to square the goal of reaching net zero carbon dioxide emissions globally with the continent’s industrialization needs and financial realities. During the first two days of the summit, more than 25 African leaders representing nearly half of the continent’s 54 countries took center stage to make the case for a justice-oriented approach to solving the climate crisis. Speaking Tuesday at an Africa-focused event at the conference, Congolese […]

Young climate campaigners take part in a protest to coincide with the U.N. climate talks in Glasgow, in central London, Nov. 5, 2021 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

There is still a week to go before the scheduled conclusion of COP26, but that has not stopped climate change activist Greta Thunberg from declaring this year’s U.N. climate summit in Glasgow, Scotland, “a failure.” Thunberg castigated the world’s wealthy countries for “giving beautiful speeches and announcing fancy commitments and targets,” while refusing to take the kind of drastic action that scientists agree is necessary to avert a global catastrophe. Earlier this week, WPR’s Elliot Waldman sat down with Stewart Patrick, a WPR columnist and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, to discuss some of this week’s developments from Glasgow, […]

A sign reading “Daniel 2021” next to a picture of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on a public transportation bus, Managua, Nicaragua, June 22, 2021 (DPA photo via AP Images).

This is the web version of our subscriber-only Weekly Wrap-Up newsletter, which gives a rundown of the week’s top stories on WPR. Subscribe to receive it by email every Saturday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your email inbox. On Sunday, Nicaraguan voters will go to the polls to choose the country’s next president. In reality, they do not need to wait until those votes are counted to know who the winner will be. The outcome is already a foregone conclusion: President Daniel Ortega will win reelection, with the only uncertainty being the percentage of the […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks to the media at the conclusion of an EU summit in Brussels, Dec. 13, 2019 (AP photo by Olivier Matthys).

Editor’s Note: This is the web version of our subscriber-only weekly newsletter, Europe Decoder, which includes a look at the week’s top stories from and about Europe. Subscribe to receive it by email every Thursday. If you’re already a subscriber, adjust your newsletter settings to receive it directly to your inbox. Brexit-watchers had their eyes fixed on Paris today for a meeting between French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune and U.K. Brexit Minister David Frost to discuss the two countries’ dispute over fishing licenses. It doesn’t appear any solution has yet been found, though France isn’t yet following through on its threat to ban British […]