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Daily news – February 5, 2022

AFRICA

African Union: Focus on Rights, Justice at Summit. Human Rights Watch: President Macky Sall of Senegal should ensure that civilian protection, human rights, and justice and accountability are the focus of the African Union’s agenda as he takes over leadership of the 55-country body, Human Rights Watch said today. The African Union (AU) summit is scheduled for February 5-6, 2022. African Union: Focus on Rights, Justice at Summit | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

Figure of the week: Vaccine inequity in Africa. Sakinatou Djantchiemo, Tamara White, Brookings: Last month, the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative (AGI) released its annual Foresight Africa report, which explores top priorities for the region in the coming year. Among other themes, the 2022 edition examines major trends for Africa in 2022, including its economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, public health, the empowerment of African women and girls, climate change, technological innovation, and the region’s external relations Figure of the week: Vaccine inequity in Africa (brookings.edu)

CANADA

Death of Immigration Detainee an Urgent Wake-Up Call for Canada. Hanna Gros, Samer Muscati, Human Rights WatchOn January 28, a person held in immigration detention in the Canadian province of Quebec died after they were found in “medical distress.”. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which operates the Laval Immigration Holding Center, disclosed the death two days later, but provided no details regarding the deceased’s identity or cause of death. CBSA said it will not provide further information while an “investigation is ongoing” and for “privacy considerations.”. Death of Immigration Detainee an Urgent Wake-Up Call for Canada | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

CHINA

China’s Hydrogen Industrial Strategy. Jane Nakano, CSIS: China is the largest producer of hydrogen today, at about 25 million tons (Mt), or roughly a quarter of the global total. Most of the volume is produced from fossil fuels (60 percent from coal, and 25 percent from natural gas) as feedstocks in refineries or chemical facilities. However, China is increasingly exploring cultivating the production and consumption of lower-emission hydrogen to help meet energy needs and spur industrial development while also addressing climate concerns. In particular, China’s 2060 carbon neutrality commitment made in 2020 is a major policy-oriented development that could aid the shift in hydrogen production away from fossil fuels to renewables, greater deployment of FCVs, and the use of hydrogen in harder-to-abate sectors. China’s Hydrogen Industrial Strategy | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

CHINA – USA

As the world watches the Olympics, watch these 5 flashpoints in US-China relations. Josh Lipsky and David O. Shullman, Atlantic CouncilThe slogan for this year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, which kicked off with Friday’s opening ceremony, is: “Together for a shared future.”. But in reality, these games are one of the most fractious in recent memory—from the controversial 2015 selection of Beijing as the host city, to the human-rights abuses in Xinjiang that have sparked international boycotts, to a pandemic lockdown that will prevent many people from seeing the games in person. As the world watches the Olympics, watch these 5 flashpoints in US-China relations – Atlantic Council

INDIA

4-step bridge program holds promise for addressing foundational learning in post-pandemic India. Dhir JhingranRamesh Chandra, and Sushruti Sachdev, Brookings: In India, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been disproportionately felt by children in early primary grades who are largely dependent on parents and siblings to access any form of home learning and are the last in priority to return to school. Almost two years of crucial foundational learning has been lost for children in grades one through three, half of whom were struggling to learn to read by age 10 even pre-pandemic. 4-step bridge program holds promise for addressing foundational learning in post-pandemic India (brookings.edu)

PAKISTAN

Glimmer of Hope for Pakistani Workers. Patricia Gossman, Human Rights Watch: Labor rights advocates in Pakistan have after many years persuaded the government of Sindh province, the country’s third largest, to increase and implement the statutory minimum wage. However, this significant victory will be put to the test before Pakistan’s Supreme Court, which on January 27 ordered that Sindh’s minimum wage increase be reevaluated. Glimmer of Hope for Pakistani Workers | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

RUSSIA

The Kremlin’s Quest for Biometric Data. Anastasiia Kruope, Human Rights Watch: Russian authorities have assigned “state system” status to the country’s uniform biometric database (UBS). The system aims to confirm identity in online banking and primarily consisted of bank clients’ facial images and voice samples. The new status (established on December 30) might appear to be a formality — in fact, it shows that the government is seizing ever-more control over biometric data of everyone resident in Russia. This carries serious risks for their rights. The Kremlin’s Quest for Biometric Data | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

The Role of Hypersonic Weapons in Russian Military Strategy. Roger N. McDermott, The Jamestown FoundationToday, Moscow is modernizing and increasing its high-precision strike systems, partly reflecting the drive to implement the pre-nuclear deterrence element contained in its 2014 Military Doctrine. The context provides an explanation as to why the Russian political leadership places such emphasis upon hypersonic systems: Moscow can present those new weapons as capable of overcoming “any” foreign missile-defense systems. Yet hypersonic weapons also have strategic value for Russian military planners. In the references to these systems and the context in which they are being developed, it is clear that the General Staff leadership assigns the highest levels of importance to these capabilities. Conceptually, hypersonic systems are closely tied to the “strategy of active defense” (strategiya aktivnoy oborony), which was referred to in the speech, and later article, by the Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov, when he addressed the annual conference of the Academy of Military Sciences in Moscow on March 2, 2019. Gerasimov asserted, “The basis of ‘our response’ is the ‘strategy of active defense,’ which, taking into account the defensive nature of the Russian Military Doctrine, provides for a set of measures to preemptively neutralize threats [uprezhdayushchey neytralizatsii ugroz] to the security of the state.”. The Role of Hypersonic Weapons in Russian Military Strategy – Jamestown

RUSSIA – ASEAN

Russia’s blossoming ties with ASEAN. Andrey Gubin, East Asia Forum: Russia and ASEAN celebrated the 30th anniversary of official relations in 2021. There was no special ceremony for the occasion, but Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a congratulatory speech virtually to participants at the 4th Russia–ASEAN Summit in October. As cooperation deepens, the two parties are now realising how much they have in common. Russia’s blossoming ties with ASEAN | East Asia Forum

RUSSIA – UKRAINE – WEST

Hunger on the Heels of a Possible Ukraine Invasion. Eilish Zembilci, Caitlin Welsh, CSIS: Both Russia and Ukraine are suppliers of, and markets for, major agricultural commodities. If diplomacy fails, how could sanctions and conflict affect food security—for these countries, the region, and the United States? Hunger on the Heels of a Possible Ukraine Invasion | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

Russia and the Threat of Massive Cyberattack. James Lewis, CSIS: Concern about Russian cyber activities highlights that cyber actions occur in the larger framework of nation-state strategies. They are not sui generis. Russia’s leadership has done remarkably well in playing what is a relatively weak hand, and this will guide its thinking on cyber actions. Putin has gained and kept the initiative. The United States reacts to Russia, not the other way around. Part of the explanation for this comes from Russia’s cold-blooded calculations of how and when to push the limits of conflict and how to manipulate the West. These calculations shape the probability of a cyberattack against U.S. critical infrastructure and suggest it is very unlikely. Russia and the Threat of Massive Cyberattack | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

Russian Hybrid Threats Report: Missile battalion confirmed in Belarus. Atlantic CouncilOver the past week, the Russian military buildup near Ukraine and in Crimea has continued at a steady pace. In Belarus, the DFRLab noted the arrival of the 69th Covering Brigade and the 101st Logistics Brigade in Gomel Oblast from the Eastern Military District. On February 3, the DFRLab confirmed the arrival of the 2nd S-400 Triumph Missile Battalion in Belarus at Luninets station, fifty kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Additional footage of S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems had first surfaced on February 2. This is the first time the DFRLab has observed S-400s inside Belarusian territory. Russian Hybrid Threats Report: Missile battalion confirmed in Belarus  – Atlantic Council

Putin has Put Ukraine on the Horns of a Dilemma. Jack Watling and Nick Reynolds, RUSI: After eight years of war, Ukraine is surrounded by a massive Russian build-up of forces on its borders. Russia has the combat power to seize the country, but likely sees doing so as a sub-optimal course of action. If Russia invades it will face an international backlash and be left seeking to govern a virulently hostile population. Moscow would prefer that the Ukrainian state collapsed, to make way for a government in Kyiv that would accommodate Russian interests. Preventing this from happening requires that the Ukrainian government reconciles two conflicting imperatives: deterrence and stability.­­­ Putin has Put Ukraine on the Horns of a Dilemma | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)

SOUTH KOREA

South Korea’s strong economic performance faces post-pandemic challenges.  Troy Stangarone, East Asia Forum: South Korea’s economic performance since 2020 cannot be divorced from its handling of COVID-19 and its role in global supply chains. After winning praise for its handling of the pandemic, Seoul was able to minimise the initial economic damage of the pandemic and saw a relatively strong economic recovery in 2021. South Korea must now navigate a slowdown in exports and rising inflationary pressures to maintain economic growth in 2022. South Korea’s strong economic performance faces post-pandemic challenges | East Asia Forum

SYRIA

Northeast Syria: Fate of Hundreds of Boys Trapped in Siege Unknown. Protect and Clarify Conditions of Detainees Recaptured from ISIS, Human Rights Watch: The Kurdish-led armed force in northeast Syria should ensure the humane treatment of all men and boys it has evacuated or recaptured from a prison that the Islamic State (ISIS) assaulted and held for several days, Human Rights Watch said today. The regional fighters and US and UK forces supporting them should assess whether their forces complied with the laws of war during operations to recapture the prison and take all feasible measures to protect civilians during operations to find ISIS members and escaped detainees. Northeast Syria: Fate of Hundreds of Boys Trapped in Siege Unknown | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

USA

Financial markets fueled Colorado’s fires. Joseph W. Kane, Adie Tomer, Brookings: Even by recent standards of the destruction wrought by climate change, December’s wildfires in Boulder County, Colo. were especially haunting. In just a few hours—in some cases, minutes—fires engulfed entire homes and then whole neighborhoods. Families had little time to collect their belongings, if they could get back home at all. The fires caused at least $513 million in damage and destroyed 1,100 buildings. Many households may be underinsured or unable to recoup their lossesFinancial markets fueled Colorado’s fires (brookings.edu)

USA – MEXICO

US Border Program’s Huge Toll on Children. Data Analysis of ‘Remain in Mexico’ Shows Impact. Human Rights WatchThe United States and Mexican governments have subjected more than 20,000 children to the risk of serious harm under the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, Human Rights Watch said today based on analysis of new data. The United States sent at least 21,300 asylum-seeking children together with their families to dangerous Mexican border cities under Remain in Mexico during the administration of former US President Donald Trump, newly available records show. Children made up about 30 percent of asylum seekers placed in the program, based on data from records given to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) by US immigration courts. US: Border Program’s Huge Toll on Children | Human Rights Watch (hrw.org)

COUNTERRORISM FINANCING

The Next Decade of Counterterrorism Financing. Stephen Reimer, RUSI: In the two decades since the 9/11 attacks, terrorists have adopted diverse financing methods, new terrorist actors have emerged, and autocrats have co-opted CTF standards for their own nefarious purposes. Host Stephen Reimer is joined by RUSI Associate Fellow Jessica Davis and Amit Sharma of FinClusive to explore how to make CTF more effective, while mitigating its unintended consequences. – Episode 2: The Next Decade of Counterterrorism Financing | Royal United Services Institute (rusi.org)

DEVELOPMENT – DECARBONIZATION

Divestment Doesn’t Mean Degrowth. Development in an Age of Decarbonization. Emily Benson, CSIS: There is ongoing debate at the nexus of climate and international economics about whether the Global South ought to scale up investments in fossil fuels. A recent article published in Foreign Policy, for example, argues that because Africa’s carbon footprint is so low, growth in the use of fossil fuels would not endanger climate progress elsewhere. Citing a pledge agreed to at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) among countries to halt overseas fossil fuel projects, the authors describe these Western policies as “green colonialism” that amounts to “climate redlining.” To achieve energy and economic autonomy, the thinking goes, the African continent deserves to increase its use of fossil fuels. Divestment Doesn’t Mean Degrowth | Center for Strategic and International Studies (csis.org)

The Global Eye is in cooperation with The Science of Where Magazine