Issue XXXI | July 2020
Global Development Update is a monthly bulletin that informs readers about the events, ideas, and people that are shaping an emerging world community. It is produced by The Global Citizens' Initiative- a non-profit working to help develop a sustainable world community for all. Click below to sign up for a free Global Development Update subscription.
The Human Rights Council Calls Out US Racism
Inspired by the work and legacy of Malcolm X, several African countries have joined forces to ask the UN's Human Rights Council to address racism in the United States. Historically the UN has avoided interfering with US domestic affairs. "One expert in Geneva described the US as part of a handful of ‘untouchable’ countries when it comes to human rights, and the Council addressing the issue comes as a surprise." However, the UN decided to hold a debate on "systemic racism, police brutality, and violence against peaceful protests" in the US and around the world. This decision could be an indication of the tipping of power as China takes on more influence. It has also been to the benefit of communist countries to point the finger at the US's hypocrisy . Read on .
COVID-19: The Widow-Making Machine
According to a new report, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is creating a “widow-making machine” as the virus has proven to kill more men than women. June 23, 2020, was International Widow's day and served as a reminder of the 258 million widows in the world and the 585 million children they raise. For generations, widows around the world have suffered from abuse, struggled with poverty, and faced discrimination and injustice. In places like Kenya, widows make up nearly 15% of the population and are subjected to harmful practices, mental abuse, and sexual widow-cleansing. Read on.
Alarming Record High Temperatures in Siberia
One of the coldest places on earth, Siberia, become one of the hottest last month. On June 20, 2020, a heatwave in Russia drove the temperatures in the Siberian town of Verkhoyansk to a historical 104 degrees Fahrenheit. "Meteorologists say that would be the highest number ever recorded north of the Arctic Circle." The heatwave, which stalled over Siberia for nearly two-weeks on a high-pressure system is to blame, according to experts. Record-breaking temperatures in the Arctic region not only put ecosystems at risk, but it has also lead to disastrous events. An oil spill in May was the second-largest oil spill in Russian history, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Read on.
In the COVID-19 Era, Pollution is Winning
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, polluting industries are benefiting. "Oil and gas giants, mining interests, and coal-fired power plants have all received financial and regulatory relief as governments around the world enact pandemic recovery plans.” These industries are justifying the financial support they received because it eases "economic pains." However, their justifications usually align with agendas that aim to weaken environmental regulations. These moves have the potential of creating a "dirty, high-carbon legacy that long outlasts the current crisis.”
Millions of Children Are Not Getting Educated
In 2018, a quarter billion children, approximately 260 million, had no access to education. According to a new UN report, poverty and education inequality are to blame, and the coronavirus is exasperating the problem. The UN's Paris-based education body UNESCO said that "children from poorer communities as well as girls, the disabled, immigrants, and ethnic minorities were at a distinct educational disadvantage" in many countries. Girls, children with disabilities, and poorer students, in general, are a disadvantaged group that far too often gets "pushed out" and excluded from educational programs and systems that further denies them access to new opportunities. Education segregation is also a factor that reinforces discrimination and stereotypes. Read on.
An Unprecedented Work Crisis
UN Chief António Guterres warns of an unprecedented job crisis fueled by the coronavirus pandemic. In May 2020, 94% of all the workers on earth lived in countries that experienced workplace closures. To address this problem, the UN Chief proposed a three-phase solution. The first phase tackles urgent needs. The plan calls for immediate support for at-risk workers, enterprises, jobs, and incomes to avoid closures, job losses, and income decline. The second phase is developing a comprehensive approach to returning to work without giving up on protecting the health of workers or "forgoing hard-won gains to suppress the spread of the virus." The third phase involves creating decent and productive jobs for a green, inclusive, and resilient recovery and future of work. Read on.
COVID-19’s Toll on Migrant Workers
Migrant workers all over the world are feeling the disruptive effects of the pandemic. The businesses that rely on migrant workers are also feeling the strain. In places like Canada, border closures kept temporary migrant workers from entering, and “the result is an acute labor shortage," and for small farms across the country, there are "real costs to bear." The government addressed the issue by calling on the people in places like Quebec to fill the gaps by taking up essential agricultural jobs. While more than 8000 Canadians volunteered, they weren't as skilled as the migrant workers, which translated into lost revenue for some farms. In other countries, the migrant workforce is facing different types of challenges. Read on.
India, Ireland, Mexico, and Norway Join the UN Security Council
India, Ireland, Mexico, and Norway are the latest countries to win a two-year spot on the UN's Security Council in their respective regions during the General Assembly last month. The race for the African seat was still open, and Kenya and Djibouti were competing. A tally on June 17th left both countries without the necessary two-third vote until a second round on June 18th favored Kenya. Canada, which was also competing, came in third in its region. Security Council members also elected a Turkish diplomat, Volkan Bozkir, as president of the 75th session of the General Assembly.
The Ongoing Demand for Medical Goods
The COVID-19 continues around the world without cases resurging in places where things were once under control. Many states in the US have seen their cases increase, and many reopening plans have stopped or regressed because of continued spread. The growth in cases means that there the demand for medical goods continues. The supply of coronavirus tests, ventilators, and crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) such as N95 masks are still not enough. While some countries are correcting and adapting their methods, it will require more international coordination to promote a more orderly distribution of medical goods. Read on.
Dealing with COVID-19 in a Divided World
The global pandemic could have and should have been an opportunity for the world to come together in a spirit of collaboration. That, however, was never the case. Instead, COVID-19 exasperated the conflicts between the world’s most powerful nations and institutions. When the UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a global ceasefire, the UN was unable to vote on the issue because the US accused WHO of being manipulated by China, resulting in paralysis within the UN Security Council. The European Council said it would meet the challenge in a spirit of solidarity, but while Italy implemented a strict lockdown, Sweden refused to do the same. Read on.
Reflection on 75 Years of the UN
The UN is 75 years old, and Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is reflecting on the achievements and the failures throughout the years. One success, according to Guterres, is that none of the world's most powerful nations have had a conflict with each other since World War II. A failure has been the UN's inability to "avoid the proliferation of medium and small conflicts.” His frustration with this failure steams from the enormous amount of suffering of people that are impacted by these medium and small conflicts. Guterres also reflects on the future and the deepening divide between the US and China and would like to see world leaders put aside their differences, come together and ‘lead the international community in a coherent response to the challenges that we are facing.’” Read on.