Guinea-Bissau's president, Jose Mario Vaz, during the United Nations General Assembly, New York, Sept. 21, 2016 (AP photo by Frank Franklin II).

Earlier this month, Guinea-Bissau’s political factions agreed to a six-point roadmap to form a consensus government and end more than a year of deadlock. Although the ambitious plan is a positive step toward ending the small West African country’s political crisis, the deal is unlikely to overcome the deep divisions within Guinea-Bissau’s parliament or address the fundamental drivers of instability. Moreover, the planned withdrawal of an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) peacekeeping mission in mid-2017 will allow Guinea-Bissau’s military to play a greater role in politics, raising the possibility of a coup in the next two years. Guinea-Bissau’s […]

Egyptian women protest violence used against them in clashes between police and protesters, Cairo, Dec. 20, 2011 (AP photo by Amr Nabil).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. The world must find a way to end violence and discrimination against women. In any other context between human beings, the endemic violence committed by men against women would be considered warfare or terrorism. But rather than being seen as a war against a segment of the population—a real genocide or “gendercide”—which it would be if the targets were not women, the violence and oppression targeting half of […]

A police officer stands guard on the Bulgarian-Turkey border, near Lesovo, Bulgaria, Dec. 04, 2015 (Bulgarian Government via AP).

Earlier this month, the Council of the European Union—the body known also as the European Council where EU member states’ leaders and government ministers meet—formally approved a new border agency for the bloc, the European Border and Coast Guard, or EBCG. The new force will replace the EU’s existing border agency, Frontex, and also include national border authorities and coast guards. It will officially start its activities on Oct. 6. Originally proposed last December during the height of the migrant crisis, the new force aims to provide better management of the EU’s external borders in order to deal with migrant […]

A gas transfer station, Volovets, western Ukraine, Oct. 7, 2015 (AP photo by Pavlo Palamarchuk).

Following meetings with Ukrainian officials in Kiev early this month, the vice president of the European Commission, Maros Sefcovic, who holds the energy portfolio for the EU as a whole, laid out his vision for how the often contentious relationship between Ukraine, Russia and the EU ought to be structured. “Russia as an exporter, Ukraine as a transit country and the EU as the main importer,” he said. This pithy formulation also sums up Europe’s geo-economic approach for managing the Ukraine conflict. Geopolitical strategies to keep the peace appear to be breaking down in Ukraine. An uptick in clashes and […]

Tunisians rally demanding human rights, Tunis, Tunisia, Aug. 31, 2013 (photo by Amine Ghrabi via flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0).

Last week, five Tunisian civil society associations submitted a report to the United Nations, decrying systemic attacks on members of Tunisia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Despite progress in some areas since the popular overthrow of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, many say that discrimination against the LGBT community has worsened over the past five years. In May 2015, the Tunisian government authorized the country’s first official LGBT advocacy organization, Shams, making it the only country in the region to legalize such an association. But a smear campaign ensued, propelled by some conservative politicians and religious figures. Abdellatif […]

Kurdish fighters preparing to retake Sinjar from the Islamic State, Iraq, Nov. 13, 2015 (AP photo by Bram Janssen).

The United Nations took a historic step earlier this month, for the first time naming a victim of human trafficking as a goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of such atrocities. Nadia Murad Basee Taha, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman who survived months of captivity as a sex slave of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, was appointed to the position at a ceremony at U.N. headquarters in New York. She gives an international voice to the brutalized young women and children of the Yazidi religious minority, the victims of barbarity and sexual enslavement in northern Iraq. Murad’s new role provides some […]

The Oncupinar camp for Syrian refugees near the border town of Kilis in southeastern Turkey, June 20, 2016 (AP photo by Emrah Gurel).

After five years of relentless conflict and human tragedy, the world has begun to sense the permanence of Syria’s refugee crisis. Those who have fled violence are unlikely to return home anytime soon. Instead of seeing the crisis through a purely humanitarian prism, focusing on aid and resettlement, host countries and international donors are now looking more at how to provide sustainable livelihoods and integrate Syrians into their host communities, in particular by bringing them into the workforce. In countries like Turkey, which hosts some 2.7 million registered Syrian refugees, and Jordan, which hosts more than 650,000, creating a legal […]

President Barack Obama during a meeting with other leaders of the Trans-Pacific Partnership countries, Manila, Philippines, Nov. 18, 2015 (AP photo by Susan Walsh).

As a U.S. presidential candidate in 2008, Barack Obama had strong reservations about free trade. Back then, he referred to the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, as “unfair” and pledged to renegotiate the deal. But as president, Obama has adopted the traditional bipartisan orthodoxy in Washington on free trade. What’s more, his administration has aggressively pursued two mega-regional trade initiatives: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 12 Pacific Rim countries and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union. As the Obama administration draws to a close, though, free trade has become a poisonous issue in […]

Nigerian special forces run past Chadian troops in a U.S.-led hostage rescue exercise, Mao, Chad, March 7, 2015 (AP photo by Jerome Delay).

In July, Marine Corps Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser officially took over command of the United States Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, from retiring Army Gen. David Rodriguez. Waldhauser inherits an organization that has overcome initial growing pains and turned into an integral player in responding to African security challenges. Although the U.S. maintains only one official base on the continent, as many as 60 smaller facilities sprawl across 34 African nations. These facilities serve as staging areas for a steadily growing array of joint special force operations, military exercises and other security cooperation activities. Under Rodriguez’s three-year tenure, AFRICOM took […]

Cuban migrants at the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua,, Nov. 16, 2015 (AP photo by Esteban Felix).

Amid the wave of migrants fleeing to the United States from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala—collectively referred to as Central America’s Northern Triangle—another migration crisis is unfolding farther south. The Central American isthmus is increasingly becoming a pressure point for migrants from around the world, whether Cubans attempting to reach the U.S.-Mexico border via a circuitous route that begins in Ecuador, or migrants from Africa and South Asia who have been shut out of Europe and look instead to entry points in South America that lead north. The influx is not only straining the resources of countries in southern Central […]

Burning debris during election protests, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sept. 19, 2016 (AP photo by John Bompengo).

Kinshasa has descended into chaos after the Democratic Republic of Congo’s election commission announced plans on Monday to postpone the next presidential vote, which had been slated for November. The delay is widely seen as an attempt by President Joseph Kabila to extend his presidency in defiance of a constitutional two-term limit. Protesters have been taking to the streets all week, leading to clashes with security forces that have left scores dead. On Tuesday, assailants torched the headquarters of three Congolese opposition parties, killing at least two. Hundreds have been arrested. The violence is the worst the central African country […]

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People, Beijing, Sept. 13, 2016 (Lintao Zhang by photo via AP).

Vietnam’s prime minister, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, concluded a six-day state visit to China last week that included meetings with President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang. Phuc also attended the China-ASEAN Expo and China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit in Nanning and made a business-focused visit to Hong Kong. But the trip’s primary focus was deepening economic and people-to-people ties, which have been strained in recent years by spillover from China and Vietnam’s disputes in the South China Sea. During Phuc’s meetings in Beijing, he and his Chinese counterparts seemed eager to de-emphasize those South China Sea […]

Lebanese troops stand guard as weapons from the United States are unloaded at Beirut's port, Aug. 9, 2016 (AP photo by Bilal Hussein).

Burkina Faso, a small West African country that most Americans have never heard of and that saw a popular uprising in 2014 and attempted coup a year later, has received more than $4 million in the past 10 years to help professionalize its military. However, even with consistent U.S. security assistance, the State Department reports significant human rights concerns in Burkina Faso, including extrajudicial killings by security forces and excessive use of force, such as torture, against civilians. Burkina Faso is not the only country receiving U.S. security assistance despite a questionable human rights record. Every year, the United States […]

A crane hovers at the Oyu Tolgoi mine site in Khanbogd village, Umnugobi province, Mongolia, Nov. 7, 2009 (AP photo by Ganbat Namjilsangarav).

Over the past few years, Mongolia’s once vibrant and high-growth economy, buoyed by mineral riches, has languished to the point that there are some legitimate concerns that the country is on its way to bankruptcy. The Mongolian currency, the tugrik, has plunged nearly 15 percent since the beginning of this year against the U.S. dollar. Foreign direct investment, once bountiful and rapidly growing, has completely evaporated. The economy is contracting; unemployment is spiking; and deflationary trends are continuing. Combined, that makes for a cocktail of trouble for the new government in Ulaanbaatar that has been in office since elections in […]

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker delivers his 2016 State of the Union Address, Strasbourg, France, Sept. 14, 2016 (EU Commission photo).

Last Wednesday, at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave his annual State of the Union address after one of the most difficult years in the EU’s history. Between the ongoing migrant crisis, the continued rise of populism, a series of terrorist attacks and Brexit, there are many reasons to conclude that the EU is in dire straits. “Let us all be very honest in our diagnosis. Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis,” Juncker stated in opening his speech. “Never before have I seen so much fragmentation, and so little […]

Protesting congressional inaction to fund a federal response to the Zika virus, Sept. 14, 2016, Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. (AP Photo by Jacquelyn Martin).

Editor’s note: This article is part of an ongoing WPR series inviting authors to identify the biggest priority—whether a threat, risk, opportunity or challenge—facing the international order and U.S. foreign policy today. The continued impasse in Congress over appropriating funds to combat the Zika virus in the United States perfectly illustrates the challenges that the next American president will face in addressing global health. There is a generalized sense that something needs to be done, but widespread disagreement over who should do what—and who should pay for it. Global health has received less attention from the media in recent months, […]

An Iranian oil worker at a refinery south of Tehran, Dec. 22, 2014 (AP photo by Vahid Salemi).

Since August, there have been growing rumors about an oil production freeze by major oil producers. The deal might be concluded on the sidelines of the International Energy Forum in Algeria from Sept. 26 to 28, where the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will hold an informal gathering along with other producer countries, such as Russia. Seasoned oil market watchers will have a strong feeling of déjà vu. Back in April, members of OPEC and Russia failed to hammer out an agreement to limit oil production at a meeting in Doha. The talks collapsed at the 11th hour after […]

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