Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, right, at a press conference with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, in Vilnius, Lithuania, Aug. 9, 2021 (AP photo by Mindaugas Kulbis).

The government of Lithuania caused a stir this summer when it announced that it would allow Taiwan to open a de facto embassy in the capital, Vilnius, with plans to open a reciprocal Lithuanian representative office in Taipei. China responded by withdrawing its ambassador to Vilnius and demanding that Lithuania do the same. And in May, the Lithuanian parliament passed a resolution labeling China’s treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang as a “genocide.” China is not the only authoritarian power that Lithuania is facing off with. Vilnius hosts the Belarusian opposition leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled her home country last […]

Victor Ruiz Valencia removes his hat during the burial of his cousin, Yaqui Indigenous rights leader Tomas Rojo, who was found dead amid local opposition to construction in the area, in Vicam, Sonora state, Mexico, July 10, 2021 (AP photo/Luis Gutierrez).

According to a report released last week, 2020 was the deadliest year on record for environmental and land rights activists around the world. The human rights organization Global Witness recorded 227 killings of such activists, a tally that it said was almost certainly an undercount.  As the report makes clear, the victims were most often killed while resisting the activities of extractive industries on their land: logging, mining, the clearing of forests for agribusiness and other environmentally destructive activities that fuel the climate crisis. Of the confirmed lethal attacks, the highest number was recorded in Colombia, and nearly three-fourths of […]

Detail from the Catalan Atlas, a medieval map produced in the 1370s, depicting Mansa Musa of the Mali Empire (Bibliotheque Nationale de France, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

The history of Europe’s Age of Exploration and Empire usually follows a familiar narrative. Starting in the late 15th century, European explorers set out to find maritime trade routes to the lucrative spice and textile markets of Asia. Happening by chance upon the “New World” of the Americas, they quickly established colonies whose wealth, mainly in the form of gold and silver, combined with advances in military technology, propelled what would become known as the West to centuries of global dominance that has only begun to wane today. In this narrative, Africa and Africans are all but invisible, except as […]

U.N. headquarters in New York, Sept. 23, 2020 (AP photo by Mary Altaffer).

The 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly will kick off next week in New York, and over the course of the following week, the assembly will host speeches from leaders and representatives of U.N. member states. The highlight will be U.S. President Joe Biden’s first address to the U.N. since taking office in January, but as with previous years’ diplomatic confabs, there will be plenty of developments to keep an eye on. This week on Trend Lines, Richard Gowan, the U.N. director at the International Crisis Group and a former WPR columnist, joins Elliot Waldman to preview Biden’s […]