Catch up on global affairs with a selection of articles you may have missed from September 2020. Articles this month include a look at modern Brazil, and how diplomats are operating during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This article comments on the dual threats facing the black population in Brazil—police brutality and Covid-19.
Drawing parallels between the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in the US, the author begins by detailing the shooting of a 14-year old boy, João Pedro Matos Pinto, by police. He writes that “João Pedro is one of the many Brazilian George Floyds”.
Considering police brutality in more detail, he states that officers are not taught to kill black and poor people, but the attitude displayed by those in charge allows the police to “shoot first and ask questions later”. He quotes data from the Brazilian Public Forum that found that black people make up 55% of the county’s total population, but 75% of those killed in police operations between 2017 and 2018.
The author then discusses the impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the black population of Brazil. He states that, of those that had their race identified, black citizens made up 61% of victims who died from Covid-19 up until June 2020. The article argues that the pandemic has heightened inequalities that were already apparent in society. President Bolsonaro’s lack of effective response to coronavirus has not improved the situation.
The article argues that the Government is effectively deciding “who lives and who dies” through its police activity and public policy inactivity. The author is not optimistic about the near future either, stating that the country has “a long way to go” to fight racism.
Read the full article: Leonardo Sakamoto, ‘In times of Covid-19, black people die twice in Brazil’, New Internationalist, 20 August 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly disrupted the work of diplomats, who are no longer able to travel around the world. The article states that “not a single diplomatic breakthrough has been observed” during the crisis and that tensions between the US and China have grown. The article goes on to consider the future of diplomacy in a “deteriorating international environment”.
The article highlights the inactivity of multinational organisations, like the UN and the WHO, during the pandemic. The author also lists various crises around the world which have continued despite the pandemic, such as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. He uses these examples to demonstrate the shortfalls of diplomacy during this time.
The author then looks at how the pandemic has affected diplomats’ work. Following interviews with them, he finds that diplomats have struggled with not being on the ground in certain situations. This has led to delays in receiving information or negotiating ceasefires. He also found that whilst virtual meetings saved time and money, they do not allow for the networking that comes with meeting in person; for example, chats during coffee breaks, which can be important for negotiating.
The article ends with some suggestions for future working. The author suggests keeping to virtual meetings in the early stages of discussions, to save on time and money, but to wrap up negotiations in person. He proposes that the time saved by working online should be used to put more thought into strategic reflection, which the author feels has been forgotten in recent diplomatic affairs.
Read the full article: Pierre Vimont, ‘Diplomacy during the quarantine: an opportunity for more agile craftmanship’, Carnegie Europe, 2 September 2020.
The article begins by explaining historical issues in Lebanon, such as “systemic” corruption by officials and economic uncertainty. It states that the country has been “adrift for many years”, which culminated in the protests and unrest in October 2019. The explosion in Beirut in August 2020 is described as “just the tip of the iceberg”.
The author then considers some of the current problems facing the country. In 2020, the UN World Food Programme estimated that the price of food had increased 109% between October 2019 and June 2020. By August 2020, the country was dealing with the additional effects of the coronavirus pandemic alongside the consequences of the Beirut explosion. The article also states that Lebanon has the highest number of refugees per capita in the world—30% of its population is made up of displaced Syrians.
Politically, the author believes the country has “never succeeded in closing the chapter” of its civil war. He argues that rival factions have persisted which have increased hostility and extremist ideology within the nation. Additionally, he states that the confessional quota system, established since Lebanon’s independence to allow proportionate representation of religions in public bodies, has prevented the country from forming a single national identity.
The article urges western democracies to help Lebanon realise democracy. However, the author cautions that the key to providing a lasting solution for the area is to take direction from the local people, who are more aligned in their wants for the future than their leaders.
Read the full article: Javier Solana, ‘Lebanon needs a new start’, Project Syndicate, 20 August 2020.