A replica of planet Earth set ablaze during a worldwide protest demanding action on climate change, in Milan, Italy, Sept. 27, 2019 (ANSA photo by Nicola Marfisi via AP images).

Despite unfolding ecological catastrophes around the world, negotiations on a potentially groundbreaking Global Pact for the Environment have faltered. Its many champions had hoped for a binding multilateral treaty that would place all international environmental law within a coherent legal framework, as well as establish access to a healthy environment as a fundamental human right. In the end, U.N. member states meeting in Nairobi in May could only agree on a watered-down goal: a “political declaration” to be prepared by 2022, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the historic 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Beyond establishing the […]

President Donald Trump meets with President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador at the InterContinental Barclay New York hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

“We signed the agreement because we want to show our friendship to our most important ally, which is the United States,” El Salvador’s president, Nayib Bukele, said in a meeting last week with President Donald Trump during the U.N. General Assembly. Bukele was referring to the “asylum cooperation agreement” struck the week before between his government and Washington. Though its details are still unclear, the deal would require foreign nationals who cross into El Salvador seeking asylum to apply for it there rather than in the United States. It would also give the U.S. the ability to make people with […]

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the Climate Summit at U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2019 (AP photo by Jason DeCrow).

Two big questions about the future of multilateralism surfaced during last week’s United Nations General Assembly. How will the battle against climate change reshape international cooperation in the decades ahead? And will mounting competition between China and the United States render any cooperation impossible? The climate issue dominated the run-up to this General Assembly. Responding to dire warnings about global warming, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres insisted that it must be front and center in New York. He oversaw a masterful bout of diplomatic choreography, as the U.N. welcomed young, superstar activist Greta Thunberg to address a special Climate Action Summit, pushing […]

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 25, 2019 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

It’s hard not to feel a little sorry for Ukraine’s president. The content of Volodymyr Zelensky’s now-infamous July 25th call with U.S. President Donald Trump will doubtless be picked over ad nauseum as the impeachment inquiry against Trump gets underway in Congress. Nor is history likely to forget how the release of a partial, reconstructed transcript of a single phone call between Trump and Zelensky triggered a constitutional crisis in the world’s most powerful country. Zelensky’s obsequious tone, his cloying requests to Trump for Javelin anti-tank missiles and his disparaging remarks about Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, have severely damaged Zelensky’s […]

President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Sept. 26, 2019 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about President Donald Trump’s efforts to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to smear Democratic rival Joe Biden. They also discuss the politics of impeachment in Washington, and the impact the scandal will have on America’s standing in the world. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the […]

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Sept. 24, 2019 (AP photo by Richard Drew).

This time every year, just as surely as summer yields to fall, the United Nations becomes the hosting ground of an annual ritual as fixed as the turning of the foliage or the migration of birds: the General Assembly. It traditionally serves as an opportunity for small nations to speak to the world about their progress or plead for help with problems—think the Pacific islands that are sinking under rising seas—and for countries in conflict to spin their cases, as one can expect this week from Iran and other actors in the inflamed Middle East. Sometimes, the United Nations can […]

A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing, Aug. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

Amid signs that both sides are trying to tamp down the trade war, at least for now, American and Chinese negotiators are planning to resume trade talks in early October. China recently exempted some U.S. goods from its retaliatory tariffs and is signaling that it may allow the private sector to resume purchasing American agricultural commodities. President Donald Trump in turn delayed by two weeks increasing the tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese exports from 25 percent to 30 percent. He said the delay, to Oct. 15, was a “gesture of goodwill,” since the leadership in Beijing will be celebrating […]

President Donald Trump seated before addressing the 73rd United Nations General Assembly, in New York, Sept. 25, 2018 (Photo by Anthony Behar for Sipa via AP Images).

When President Donald Trump takes to the United Nations podium Tuesday morning for his third annual address to the General Assembly, his audience may wonder why he bothered to come. By now, little mystery remains about his “America First” worldview. Foreigners are familiar with his commitment to nationalism, skepticism of treaties, affinity for strongmen, passion for walls, fear of immigrants, antipathy toward refugees, attachment to protectionism and denial of climate change. In sum, he rejects the very purposes and priorities of the United Nations. Those who still believe in multilateral cooperation are likely to endure Trump’s speech much as they […]

Across the world, populism has become a prominent feature of the political landscape. This report provides a comprehensive look at the rise of populism and its implications for liberal democracies. Download your FREE copy of The Global Rise of Populism today. In Europe, an anti-immigrant backlash against the 2015 migrant crisis helped fuel the rise of far-right, nationalist parties whose leaders often adopt a populist style. The Brexit referendum in 2016 appeared to be the highwater mark of the populist wave, but in Eastern and Southern Europe, and even in Scandinavia, populist parties continue to either govern or enjoy widespread […]

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, left, meets with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 18, 2019 (pool photo by Mandel Ngan of AFP via AP Images).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about the attack on two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia and what it means for the U.S., Iran and the region. They also discuss a massive data leak in Ecuador and the challenge of securing data in the digital age, as well as the Israeli elections and whether they signal the end of the Netanyahu era. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising […]

President Donald Trump walks from the Oval Office as he leaves the White House, in Washington, Sept. 16, 2019 (AP photo by Manuel Balce Ceneta).

It’s still too early to say who is responsible for the attack Saturday on two Saudi oil facilities, or what the U.S. response to the incident will be. President Donald Trump and his administration have so far offered mixed messages on both the attribution of the attack, apparently launched with drones and cruise missiles, and possible repercussions. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and intelligence officials have pinned the blame directly on Iran, although so far both the satellite imagery they have provided to the media and the available open source information on the attack are inconclusive. Trump himself first described […]

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, left, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, center, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, prepare for a photo op in Shanghai, China, July 31, 2019. (AP photo by Ng Han Guan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. A Chinese delegation led by Deputy Finance Minister Liao Min traveled to Washington on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for trade negotiations with the United States that are set to begin in October. The visit follows several goodwill measures by both sides, as they seek to contain the costs of an escalating trade war. A comprehensive trade deal is still a distant prospect, but a more limited agreement appears to be within reach. Last Wednesday, China published a short […]

From left, Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Houston, Texas, Sept. 12, 2019 (AP photo by David J. Phillip).

Trade has rarely been a major issue in American presidential elections, but that could change in 2020. The obvious way for Democratic candidates to differentiate themselves from a protectionist, “trade wars are good, and easy to win” President Donald Trump would be to embrace free trade more. But Democrats traditionally have been more critical of free trade than Republicans, and the leftward tilt among party activists and some leading candidates makes that even more likely next year. So far, only former Maryland Congressman John Delaney has embraced the free trade alternative, and he is doing so poorly in polls that […]

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg, center, participates in a demonstration in front of the United Nations, in New York, Aug. 30, 2019 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

In September 2015, the member states of the United Nations unanimously endorsed a blueprint to guide global development efforts through 2030, known as the Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. Next week, world leaders will evaluate progress on the guidelines, together known as the “2030 Agenda,” when they convene in New York for the annual opening of the U.N. General Assembly. Their assessment will be bleak. No country is on track to achieve all of the SDGs, and the United States, a traditional leader on global development, has abdicated this role under President Donald Trump. Those seeking inspiration will need to […]

Former National Security Adviser John Bolton listens as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis in the Oval Office of the White House, Washington, Aug. 20, 2019 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Frederick Deknatel and Laura Weiss talk about John Bolton’s abrupt departure as Donald Trump’s national security adviser. They also discuss the Bahamas in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian and the EU’s newly named executive commission. If you like what you hear on Trend Lines and what you’ve read on WPR, you can sign up for our free newsletter to get our uncompromising analysis delivered straight to your inbox. The newsletter offers a free preview article every day of the week, plus three more complimentary articles in our weekly roundup […]

A container ship docked at a port in Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong province, Aug. 6, 2019  (Chinatopix photo via AP Images).

It didn’t take long for the U.S.-China trade war to get worse. Even though negotiators have agreed to meet in Washington next month, they are unlikely to see a breakthrough. If things continue on their current course, they will keep getting worse from now until the end of the year, when there will be tariffs of 15 to 30 percent on almost everything the United States imports from China. In part because of the trade war, Chinese economic growth is now expected to fall below 6 percent later this year. Slowing global trade is also hitting the export-driven German economy, […]

Smoke rises as angry residents set fire to part of the Green Village compound in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sept. 3, 2019 (AP photo by Rahmat Gul).

After 18 years, it is hard for most Americans to picture the forever wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan actually coming to an end. Yet over the past week, there were growing signs that what seemed unimaginable could really happen soon. First, on Sunday, the U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, revealed in an Afghan television news interview the partial details of a deal for a U.S. withdrawal of 5,400 troops in exchange for a pledge from the Taliban to cut ties with terrorist groups like al-Qaida and reduce violence. Then, on Tuesday, members of Congress once again […]

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