On Friday, 20 January 2017, Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. He used the occasion to remind his fellow US citizens and the rest of the world of his campaign promises, summing up with the nationalist slogans “America First” and “Make America Great Again”. The new President did not lose time before starting to implement some of those promises.
What a year it has been! The last few days of it serve as a reminder of what we went through in the previous 12 months.
The UN’s 22n climate change conference, or COP22 as it is broadly known, ended in Marrakech, Morocco. Trump’s election cast a shadow over its relative successes.
For many months now the world has been watching the unfolding drama of the US presidential campaign, starring Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The American elections are of global relevance, as the USA remains the single most powerful country with a unique combination of economic, military, diplomatic but also cultural and normative strength. We have…
Antonio Guterres, former socialist Prime Minister of Portugal and until last year head of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) has emerged as the broadly accepted choice to replace UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term ends on 31 December 2016. Mr. Guterres has been the frontrunner in all six informal votes held at the 15-member Security Council of the United Nations in New York in the recent months. Before that he had presented his vision for the United Nations to the 193 members of the UN General Assembly and had participated in debates and other events, as did the other declared candidates for the job.
This year’s summit of the G20 took place from 4 to 5 September in Hangzhou, China. The agenda once again went beyond the classical economic issues of growth, trade and investment, and covered climate change, the 2030 Agenda or Sustainable Development, Brexit and even terrorism and health issues. These summits are gradually turning into sessions of some kind of a Global Economic Security Council, if not of a Global Directorate bringing together the most important established and emerging world powers. Should the G20 remain a stage for those preferring the freedom of ad hoc actions than global multilateral scrutiny, or should it be integrated into the more legitimate UN structures, revitalizing them at the same time?
Britons have voted to leave the EU with a clear margin – 4% of the vote corresponding to more than a million voters. One hoped that the mobilization of UK and European leaders, Obama’s intervention, the warnings of businesses and the financial sector, and wide condemnation of Jo Cox’s murder would have persuaded the British electorate to vote for Remain. Nothing of that sort. When the popular millstone starts rolling there is nothing that can stop it…
The millstone has rolled and has crushed the hopes of many for a positive referendum outcome. Particularly hit are the dreams of the British youth, the majority of whom voted for a European future for themselves and their country. Also the EU migrants to the UK, who could not vote, expect to be seriously affected by the result. The value of the pound is collapsing and no doubt many businesses and financial firms that had chosen the UK as their EU base are considering where to move next. They may be followed by many Britons who feel European and have every right to continue as European citizens elsewhere in the EU.
The untimely death of British MP Jo Cox in the hands of an extreme English nationalist has deprived her constituency, her country and Europe of a hard-working and inspiring individual dedicated with body and soul to the good causes of humanity. It has also deprived the British Labour Party and UK politics from a rising star, and the campaign for the UK staying in the EU of a passionate and committed voice.
UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon, caused a stir a few days ago when he admitted publicly that he had agreed to remove a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia from a list of armies attacking civilians, because the Saudi government and its allies had threatened to stop funding UN humanitarian activities in Palestine and elsewhere.