The World This Week

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The World This Week
G7 Summit, China's new anti-foreign sanctions law, Peru Elections, and France's Sahel exit

  GP Team

The World This Week #123, Vol. 3, No. 24

Joeana Cera Matthews, Dincy Adlakha, Vishnu Prasad and Anu Maria Joseph

The G7 Summit 2021: Focus on pandemic recovery, climate action, and global economy
What happened?
The 47th G7 summit took place at Carbis Bay in Cornwall, England. Along with its members, the summit also witnessed Australia, India, South Korea, and South Africa as guest countries.

On 10 June, US President Joe Biden announced: "...the United States will donate half a billion new Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and lower-middle-income countries."

On 12 June, the UK PM and G7 President tweeted: "The #CarbisBayDeclaration marks a proud and historic moment ... the world's leading democracies will commit to preventing a global pandemic from ever happening again."

What is the background?
First, the focus on pandemic recovery. This year's summit assumes significance as it is the first in-person meet between G7 leaders since the pandemic began. The 'return of face-to-face diplomacy' is a welcome change to the 'zoom diplomacy' that affected leaders during the pandemic. The theme of the meeting, 'Build Back Better' coincides with the global effort to rebuild economies from COVID-19. As the UK hosts the summit, four focus areas have been laid out: the pandemic recovery and prevention of future health crises, tackling climate change, free and fair trade, and strengthening shared values. Though each leader of the summit has their own agendas, the pandemic and climate action are likely to dominate the meeting.

Second, Biden's first foreign trip and summit as President. During his tenure, former President Donald Trump managed to antagonize the US allies. One of Biden's major goals through this tour is to undo Trump's damage as well as to reclaim the US' global leadership role. Europe regards Biden as a 'reliable ally' and is relieved that Biden represents the US at G7. They appreciate that he does not cosy up with Russia's Putin and call the EU a foe, unlike Trump.

Third, the discussion on vaccines. The G7 finance ministers discussed a USD 50 billion vaccine distribution plan for poor nations collaborating with the IMF, WHO, and WTO. Before his arrival at the summit, Biden pledged the US would buy 500 million doses of the vaccine for distribution to developing countries. The UK has pledged 100 million doses, and the G7 is expected to make commitments that total to one billion by the end of the year. Johnson has sought a commitment to vaccinate the adult population of major economies by the end of 2022. The signing of the Carbis Bay Declaration aimed at taking steps to prevent another health emergency is also key. Aid experts opine that the G7 has failed to understand the urgency of the situation as their distribution goals only account for a tenth of the number required. Support for the discussion on patent waivers is also in view.

Fourth, talks on Russia and China. The G7's initiative of a global pandemic program is a geopolitical move as it is a humanitarian one. Countering China's vaccine diplomacy, strengthening the Clean Green Initiative rivalling Beijing's BRI, and taking joint action against the human rights abuses in Xinjiang are also key talking points. A call for Russia to tackle groups carrying out cybercrimes from home is also considered. Discussions would also include the ongoing discontent over Russia's destabilizing actions and the prospect of more sanctions on the country. However, Merkel's support for China stating the impossibility of containing the pandemic without cooperating with China complicates things.

What does it mean?
If the G7 remains just as a talking shop that never gets anything realized, it will further global spiralling. A deadline of 2022 is undoubtedly a stretched goal given the inadequate doses. If the doses for distribution are increased and effective implementation undertaken, a substantial difference can be brought about. It is the time for brave global leadership; half measures won't help in achieving this goal – delivery is all. A united front will be key to bringing change.

China: New legislation arms the government against sanctions
What happened?
On 10 June, the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress passed strong self-defence legislation. President Xi Jinping signed a presidential order, promulgating the Anti-Foreign Sanctions law and brought it into immediate effect. Li Zhanshu, the chairman of the committee, said: "No one should expect China to accept any action that damages its own interests. The Chinese government and people resolutely oppose any sanctions and interference." 

What is the background?
First, the rationale behind the new legislation. Earlier, China did not have a legal provision for imposing sanctions or a unilateral sanctions program; rather, it adopted the United Nations sanctions-related resolutions. But, since the early 2010s, China's use of unilateral sanctions has increased. The growing economy and influence have also increased the ambitions of China. Over the past few years, the Chinese government has hinted at developing legal frameworks to provide long-arm jurisdictions. In May 2019, the "Unreliable Entry List" was announced by the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) which bore similar effects as that of sanctions. In January 2021, MOFCOM also issued Order No. 1 on the Chinese Blocking Statute. This allowed the Chinese government to term foreign sanctions as 'unjustified extraterritorial applications' and prohibited persons and entities to comply with these foreign sanctions. Chinese legal experts claimed that a legal provision for imposing sanctions is just as necessary. The significance of retaliation loomed large with the US-China trade war. Discussion over being offensive against those who threaten national security was the loudest in the past few years. 

Second, the main features of the new legislation. It authorizes relevant departments of the State Council to impose sanctions on individuals or organizations that violate Chinese interests, attempt to suppress or restrict Chinese citizens or organizations or interfere in China's internal matters. The Chinese authorities can deny entry and visa issuance, freeze assets, and even deport the person out of the country in response. 

Third, the intense sanctions by the West. The US has imposed multiple sanctions on China, beginning with the ban on Chinese technology giant Huawei and ZTE equipment, on cotton from Xinjiang, and investment in Chinese companies. Sanctions have been imposed due to the crackdown in Hong Kong, and the UK has even passed a resolution to term China's actions in Xinjiang as 'genocide'. China has retaliated with hefty sanctions on individuals, firms, and organizations from European countries. With this new hastily passed legislation, China will be able to have a stronger hold on foreign actions.  

Fourth, the new legislation and China's opponents. China has, on multiple occasions, countered those who oppose it. It has not allowed dissenters and opponents to reap benefits from Chinese sources. Big domestic firms such as Alibaba have faced the wrath of going against China, and external companies, as valuable as Apple Inc., are also following Chinese demands to survive. It has maintained a severe crackdown on the public dissent in Hong Kong, Xinjiang, and other controversial parts of its territory. Many scholars and experts in China firmly believe that previously, China did not have the economic power or political will to use legal methods to retaliate against the US but now, it has both.

What does it mean?
The legislation will have significant consequences for all foreign entities connected with China. It gives clear signals that China is not afraid of a trade war. The law demands respect of and adherence to the Chinese standards. It is yet to be seen how the foreign firms and investors will respond to such hard scrutiny of their actions. But, for all practical purposes, China has placed itself at the center of geopolitical affairs.

Peru: The election is symbolic of the left-right struggle in South America
What happened?
On 6 May, the runoff presidential elections were held in Peru between the top two contenders Pedro Castillo and Keiko Fujimori. On 11 June, with 95 per cent of the vote tallied, Castillo claimed victory by virtue of having a lead of 0.5 per cent over Fujimori, who promptly disputed the results. However, the country's electoral board is yet to certify the elections officially and is reviewing disputed ballots. After Fujimori's allegations, Castillo said: "We call on the Peruvian people to stay alert." 

What is the background?
First, the contrasting background of the two candidates. Fujimori is the scion of Peru's powerful political families. Her father Alberto Fujimori ruled Peru in the nineties and is currently in jail for atrocities committed during his rule. Her far-right philosophies contrast with those of Castillo, a Communist school teacher and an outsider who was not even a member of his Peru Libre party before entering the presidential race. 

Second, the anger in Peru over Lima's political elite. Peru is marked by a deep divide between the capital Lima and the interior regions. More than 65 per cent of the country's GDP is concentrated in Lima. The country's statistics bureau estimates that urban poverty is 26 per cent but the number for rural communities is 46 per cent. Rural indigenous voters were not even able to vote until 1979, when suffrage was extended to illiterate voters as well. Castillo's election slogan — no more poor in a rich country — has managed to tap into the sentiment of the rural population who believe that the rural regions were governed for Lima's benefit. Castillo is only the second president in modern Peru's history to come from the country's interior provinces. Eighty per cent of Castillo's support comes from the Ayacucho, Cusco, and Puno, regions where in recent years, the rise of extractive industries have gone hand-in-hand with an increase in poverty.

Third, the upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Peru has the biggest per-capita death toll from the coronavirus pandemic in the world, with more than 180,000 people dead. A sizeable section of Peru's workforce is informal workers who were particularly hit-hard by the lockdowns and social distancing measures. Multiple reports credited the deep divide in society to the upheaval caused by the pandemic.

Fourth, the battle between right and left in South America. The election in Peru is symbolic of the larger battle between the left and right-wing forces that is characteristic of South American politics. Ever since South American countries established democratic governments after Cold War-era dictatorships, their elections often have been a straight shoot-out between left-wing parties promising social change to the marginalized populace and right-wing politicians seeking to profit off anti-Communist propaganda. The Peruvian elections were no different with Castillo appealing to Peru's rural masses with promises of nationalization of resources but having to fight off allegations of links to the far-left terrorist outfit, the Shining Path. Fujimori, a relatively unpopular candidate, hit by repeated corruption allegations, only managed to gather just 13 per cent of the vote in the initial elections. She was able to close the gap on Castillo in the runoff, only because of the anti-Communist feat among certain sections. 

What does it mean?
The result is likely to continue the chaos in Peruvian politics. Peru has already seen four presidents in the last five years. The uncertain mandate, along with Fujimori's allegations of voter fraud and a hostile parliament, will make Castillo's position precarious. His radical electoral promises of land reforms and a new constitution are likely to be met with significant resistance from the country's conservative forces.

Read alongside victories for the left in Chile and protests against conservative rulers in other South American countries, the result in Peru might be the harbinger of a second pink tide. The coronavirus pandemic has only added impetus to this process by exposing the deep divide between various classes across the continent.

Sahel: End of France's military operation
What happened?
On 10 June, French President Emmanuel Macron said: "The time has come; the continuation of our commitment in the Sahel will not be in the same way. Following consultations with our partners, we will initiate a profound transformation of our military presence in the Sahel. We will keep a counter-terrorism pillar with Special Forces with several hundred forces. And there will be a second pillar that will be cooperation, and which we will reinforce."       

He also said that those left with the French military would join with other European nations as a part of the Takuba Task Force fighting against the militants in the Sahel and the regional forces of Mali and Nigeria. The scaling down of troops would occur in an "organized way", and the details will be finalized by the end of June. Analyst Abudu Bulama Bukarti from Tony Blair Institute for Global Change said: "if France draws down its troops, it is going to create a security vacuum, because clearly the domestic troops and the UN peacekeeping missions don't have the required capacity to do the fight by themselves".

What is the background?
First, the political instability in northern Africa. On 3 June, France suspended its military support in Mali following the second military coup within nine months. President Macron said: "the long-term presence of France in external operations cannot be a substitute to the return of the state and services of the state to the political stability and choice of sovereign states". Fragile political regimes and local militaries are bogging down anti-terrorist operations. In the background, authorities in Mali and Burkina Faso are trying to negotiate with extremist groups. 

Second, France's role so far, and a new approach. France has been actively leading counter-insurgency military operations in the Sahel region since 2013. Currently, it has deployed 5,100 troops in the region as a part of Operation Barkhane. Now, France is attempting to increase the local capacity. On 10 June, the International Counter-Terrorist Academy backed by France was inaugurated in Ivory Coast. The academy expects to train security forces, including national counter-terrorism officials, troops, and magistrates, to bring a regional competition in the fight against terrorism. The academy would be the beginning of the transformation of France's counter-terrorism efforts where it urges for coherent regional cooperation.

The change is also due to anti-French protests. Demonstrations against the French military presence in the region have been taking place on a regular basis. Also the strains within France. France has lost 55 soldiers since 2013. Operation Barkhane costs more than USD 900 million per year alone for France. The deaths of soldiers and the high cost of operation made the mission unpopular in Paris.

Third, increasing anti-France sentiments and reasons behind it. There is growing suspicion of France's intentions as it maintains its strong cultural, economic, political and diplomatic influences, which adds hostility towards the French military presence in Sahel. During the NATO summit in London on 4 December 2020, Macron said: "I don't want to have troops on the ground in the Sahel where there is ambiguity towards anti- French movements." 

What does it mean?
First, Africa has to take more responsibility - both at individual and regional levels. Second, the rest of the world has to build capacity in Africa towards the above. Third, the long road ahead in fighting extremism and militancy in Africa. 

Also from around the World
by Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok

East and Southeast Asia This Week 
China: CNSA releases Mars rover photographs
On 11 June, China National Space Administration (CNSA) released four new photographs taken by the Zhurong Mars rover. The photographs included a panoramic view of the landing site, the planet's landscape, and the rover with the landing platform. The Mars rover is surveying an area known as Utopia Planitia, for signs of ice or water. Head of CNSA said: "China will publish the related scientific data in a timely manner to let humankind share in the fruits of the country's space exploration development." China's Tianwen-1 mission, which was launched in July 2020, consisted of a rover, an orbiter, and a lander. Zhurong successfully landed on Mars on 15 May. Xinhua reported, the images "signify the complete success of China's first Mars exploration mission."

China: Approval for the seventh domestic vaccine; Opens vaccine drive for children 
On 9 June, Beijing approved the seventh domestically developed vaccine. The vaccine was developed by the Institute of Medical Biology of the Chinese Academy of Medical Science in Kunming, Yunan Province. The two clinical trials of the vaccine proved safety and immunogenicity. It is the fifth inactivated COVID-19 vaccine to be approved and is estimated to reach the production capacity of 500 million to 1 billion doses per year. China's National Health Commission deputy director said the country aims to vaccinate 70 per cent of its population by the end of 2021. 

Later this week on 11 June, China approved Sinopharm and Sinovac vaccines for emergency use in children aged between three to 17 years old. According to AP, experts noted that inoculating children should be part of the vaccination campaign in order to achieve herd immunity. The National Health Commission said, under the mass vaccination drive, more than 600 million people had received the dosage. 

Hong Kong: Approval for vaccination of children
On 10 June, Hong Kong approved the use of the Pfizer vaccine to inoculate children from 12 to 15 years of age. Hong Kong authorities will start offering COVID-19 shots to 240,000 children in the prescribed age group from 11 June. Children will require parental approval before they can get the jabs.

North Korea: IAEA reports an indication of plutonium reprocessing 
On 7 June, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported, in the quarterly meeting, indications of reprocessing separate plutonium from spent reactor fuel in Pyongyang. The reprocessed plutonium could further be used in nuclear weapons. The IAEA Director-General said: "The steam plant that serves the Radiochemical Laboratory has continued to operate since my last Statement to the Board in March." He also said: "The duration of this operation is consistent with the time required for a reprocessing campaign at the Radiochemical Laboratory. It is not, however, possible to confirm that reprocessing is taking place."

Indonesia: Undocumented migrants set to be deported from Malaysia, amid the upsurge in COVID-19 cases
On 11 June, Reuters reported, according to an Indonesian government official, 7,200 people held in the detention centers in Malaysia will be deported to Indonesia. Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, thousands of undocumented workers from Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, and Bangladesh working in the plantation and construction sector were arrested and deported. The founder of Migrant Care said: "There are no specific migration efforts post-deportation" and noted that the Indonesian authorities are scrambling to accommodate the influx. 

Philippines: Chief of Staff visits Thitu Island
On 9 June, the Philippines Chief of Staff visited Thitu Island in the South China Sea. Cirilito Sobejana said: "(The troops) are in very high spirit, their level of moral is high especially after our visit." He also said that soldiers are playing a commendable role in "guarding the country's territories" in a strategic waterway.

Myanmar: China assures its support, UN human right chief draws attention to escalating catastrophe in the country
On 8 June, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, assured Beijing's support and friendly policy towards Myanmar to remain unaffected by the country's domestic situation. He said: "China will always support Myanmar in choosing its own developmental path." On 11 June, the UN human rights chief said: "Escalating violence across Myanmar including attacks on civilians must be halted to prevent even greater loss of life and a deepening humanitarian emergency." In the last three weeks, more than 108,000 people have fled from their homes. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reported the use of civilians as a human shield by the security forces in Kayah State. The High Commissioner said: "In just over four months, Myanmar has gone from being fragile democracy to a human rights catastrophe."

South Asia This Week 
Afghanistan: Taliban asks Turkey to withdraw its troops
On 10 June, the Taliban spokesperson asked Turkey to pull out troops from Afghanistan. According to Reuters, he said: "Turkey was part of NATO forces in the past 20 years, so as such, they should withdraw from Afghanistan on the basis of the Agreement we signed with the US on 29 February 2020." The Taliban's statement is in response to Turkey's proposal to guard and run Kabul's airport after the withdrawal of the US troops. On 11 June, NATO Secretary-General said, NATO is coordinating with allies to maintain support for the international airport in Kabul after the US coalition forces withdraw from Afghanistan. He said: "Partly this is something NATO will support, and also we're looking into how NATO Allies can be part of that effort. Turkey is today a key Ally when it comes to the running of the airport." He also highlighted the importance of basic infrastructure in Afghanistan for the diplomatic presence across the international community, development aid, and different aid organizations.

Sri Lanka: European Parliament resolution on the violation of human rights  
On 11 June, the European Parliament adopted a resolution drawing attention to the human rights situation in Sri Lanka and called on the government to revoke the Prevention of Terrorism Act (PTA). The resolution was adopted by 628 votes in favor, while 15 voted against and 40 abstained. PTA grants Sri Lanka police broader power to search, arrest and arbitrarily detain suspected civilians. The resolution also called for the "temporary withdrawal" of Sri Lanka from the Generalized Scheme of Preference (GSP+). GSP+ gives the country easy access to the EU market in return for implementing international treaties on human rights.

India: Ministry of External Affairs statement on talks with Taliban 
On 11 June, The Hindu reported India's contact with "various stakeholders" in Afghanistan. Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said: "Look, I'm not going to comment on any particular reports. Let me just say that our relations with Afghanistan are historical and multifaceted. We have been engaging with Afghans across ethnicities as friendly neighbors. We are concerned about peace and security in Afghanistan and the region. We support all peace initiatives and have been engaged with several stakeholders, including regional countries. As you are aware, the External Affairs Minister participated in the inaugural ceremony of the intra Afghan talks held in Doha last year. A senior official delegation attended the talks in Doha. In the recent past, we have had visits by multiple Afghan leaders to India. We have also had official visits to Kabul. We are in touch with various stakeholders, as I said, in pursuance of our long-term commitments towards the development and reconstruction of Afghanistan."

Central Asia, Middle East, and Africa This Week
Lebanon: Economic crisis worsens due to acute shortage of food, fuel, and medical equipment
On 11 June, pharmacies in Lebanon shut down in protest against the extreme shortage of supplies and a decades-long financial crisis. There is an acute shortage of food, fuel, medical supplies, infant formula, and Beirut is constantly in a state of blackouts after the currency collapsed a few months ago. On 8 June, the armed forces ministry of France announced that it will conduct a virtual meeting on 17 June to seek funds for the Lebanese army. The Lebanese army is currently facing a severe economic crisis as the country is still unable to establish a new government and restore order in the country. The meeting will attempt to raise donations to provide for food, medical supplies, and spare parts for military equipment.
Israel: New government signs power-sharing agreement to end Netanyahu era
On 11 June, the ultra-nationalist Yamina party and the centrist Yesh Atid party signed the final coalition agreements. According to the agreement, Naftali Bennett will serve as the Prime Minister for the first two years after which Yair Lapid will take over the position. Naftali Bennett said: "The coalition brings to an end two and a half years of political crisis." The agreement seeks to limit the prime minister's tenure to two terms, improve infrastructure, stabilize the country's finances, decriminalize marijuana and other initiatives involving Arab countries as well.

Iran: IAEA Director-General pushes for clarity on four undeclared locations
On 7 June, the IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi raised concerns regarding Iran's nuclear programme and said: "Iran has provided no new information in relation to one location, has not answered any of the Agency's questions nor provided any information in relation to two other locations, and provided a written statement on a fourth location without any substantiating documentation." The statement was made to the IAEA Board of Governors where Grossi also touched upon IAEA's nuclear verification work, assistance to member states and issues related to nuclear energy.
Iran: The US lifts sanctions; Tehran regains vote in UNGA
On 10 June, the US Treasury Department announced that it would lift sanctions on three Iranian officials from National Iranian Oil Co. and numerous energy companies related to shipping and trading petrochemical products. The sanctions have been relaxed while the Vienna talks on Iran's nuclear agreement are in session. The relaxation of sanctions showcases US' willingness to cooperate with Iran on the issue of nuclear negotiations. On 11 June, Iran recovered its vote in the United Nations General Assembly after it paid the minimum dues. Iranian Ambassador to the UN said: "After more than 6 months of working on it, the UN today announced it has received the funds. ALL inhumane sanctions must be lifted NOW."
Iraq: Proposal to build eight nuclear power plants to deal with power shortage
On 8 June, Al Jazeera reported that the Iraqi government planned on building eight nuclear reactors to help generate more electricity to end the widespread blackouts. The country requires atomic plants to deal with the power shortage that threatens to paralyze the growth and progress in Iraq. The country will attempt to build these reactors worth USD 40 billion with the help of partners and will repay the amount in 20 years. As of now, discussions are underway with the Russian and South Korean officials to assist in the plan.
Mali: Military leader sworn in as interim President; cabinet appointed
On 7 June, military commander Assimi Goita was inaugurated as the interim President in the capital city after being sworn in. Despite local and international reprisal over Goita's second power grab in nine months, he accepted the new position and said: "I swear before God and the Malian people to preserve the republican regime ... to preserve democratic gains." On 11 June, national television announced that a new cabinet had been appointed and military officers had been positioned at strategic posts in the government.
Africa: Roundtable with European leaders kicks off in Berlin
On 9 June, the first Africa Roundtable was attended by politicians, businessmen and civil society workers in Berlin. In the meeting, the delegation declared that the aim of the conference was to form an equal partnership between the African and European counterparts when the pandemic ends. According to the CEO of Global Perspectives Initiative — the event organizer, "The neighboring continent offers opportunities in every respect and should top the European Union's agenda." German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also focused on cooperation in fighting the pandemic, climate change, migration, digitization, terrorism, and globalization.
Ethiopia: Eritrean foreign minister accuses the US of instability in Tigray
On 7 May, the Foreign Minister of Eritrea issued an open letter to the United Nations Security Council blaming the US administration for its involvement with the TPLF in Ethiopia. The letter accused the US administration of supporting the Tigre People's Liberation Movement (TPLF) for over two decades and called it the causal factor for the instability in Ethiopia. The US President Joe Biden and his administration have also been accused of "instigating further conflict and instability through interference and intimidation in the region."

Europe and The Americas This Week
Russia: President Putin pulls out of Open Skies treaty
On 7 June, President Vladimir Putin signed a law which officially announced Russia's exit from the Open Skies arms control treaty. The treaty permitted unarmed surveillance flights to fly over member countries. The Russian government cited US withdrawal from the treaty in 2020 and Biden's refusal to re-enter the pact as the reason behind its exit. A Kremlin spokesperson said: "This (US withdrawal) caused serious damage to the treaty's observance and its significance in building confidence and transparency, (causing) a threat to Russia's national security."

Russia: Moscow City Court labels FBK as "extremist"
On 9 June, the Moscow City Court passed a verdict that labels Alexei Navalny's Foundation for Fighting Corruption (FBK) as an extremist organization and thereby prevents all individuals associated with him and his organizations from running for elections in any public office across Russia. The law covers a vast number of individuals and can prosecute anyone who has previously worked with or donated to the organization or shared data for the organization. A Moscow City Court spokesperson said: "It was found that these organizations not only disseminated information that incited hatred and enmity against government officials, but also committed extremist actions."

Portugal: Former Prime Minister recommended for the second term as UN Secretary-General
On 8 June, the United Nations Security Council unanimously recommended the present Secretary General Antonio Guterres for a second term in the position, starting from January 2022. Guterres had previously served as the High Commissioner for Refugees from 2005 to 2015 before he was nominated by the Portuguese government for the position of Secretary-General. In the vision statement, which was circulated in the organization, Guterres said: "As we emerge from the pandemic, the UN is more relevant than ever. We must act as a catalyst and a platform for more inclusive, networked, and effective forms of multilateralism. Our direction of travel is clear on peace and security, climate action, sustainable development, human rights and the humanitarian imperative." 

Northern Ireland: Demonstrations in Belfast against the Northern Ireland protocol
On 10 June, over 3000 people assembled in west Belfast to protest against the Northern Ireland protocol which considers the country as a part of the single market and enforces the EU customs on products coming from Britain. The protestors violated the number allowed to publicly gather under pandemic regulations and also caused damage to public property in the country. The Parliamentarians have condemned the protests and said: "We have witnessed the recent violence on the streets where property was destroyed, police officers injured, and people left terrified in their homes. Those scenes cannot be repeated. The Police Service of Northern Ireland now need to address this illegal parade and the actions associated with it." 

Germany: Foreign Minister pushes for an end to veto on foreign policy 
On 7 June, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas urged member countries of the European Union to abolish the right to veto foreign policy measures. At a conference in Berlin, he said: "We can't let ourselves be held hostage by the people who hobble European foreign policy with their vetoes." The remarks came after Hungary prevented an EU statement from being issued against China on the human rights abuses in Hong Kong.

Brazil: Supreme Court passes verdict to allow Copa America
On 10 June, the Supreme Court of Brazil rejected two lawsuits filed against holding the Copa America tournament due to the dangerous conditions of the country as a result of the pandemic. On 13 June, the tournament is set to open with Brazil playing against Venezuela in Brasilia. The vote to allow the tournament was given unanimously by a bench of 11 judges who relieved the organization committee as well as President Bolsonaro, who has been criticized heavily for his handling of the pandemic.     

El Salvador: President approves Bitcoin as official currency
On 9 June, the Congress in El Salvador passed a bill to make Bitcoin a legally accepted currency in the country. It is the first ever country to include a cryptocurrency as its official currency. Individuals investing more than three Bitcoins in the country will also be given citizenship. The move will enable citizens to show prices in Bitcoin, contribute to tax revenues with digital currencies and exchange bitcoins without having to pay capital gains taxes. The new law states: "The purpose of this law is to regulate bitcoin as unrestricted legal tender with liberating power, unlimited in any transaction, and to any title that public or private natural or legal persons require carrying out."

The US: Investigators recover USD 2.3 million from DarkSide; Meatpacker JBS pays USD 11 million ransom
On 7 June, the Justice Department in the US announced that its investigators had recovered millions in cryptocurrency from the hackers who caused the shutting down of the East Coast pipeline in May 2021. The report claimed that over USD 2.3 million in Bitcoins had been recovered from DarkSide, a criminal hacking group. On 9 June, Meatpacker JBS paid approximately USD 11 million to hackers after the North American and Australian operations of the company were severely affected due to a cyberattack. It is speculated that a Russian cyber gang called Revil and Sodinokibi are responsible for the attack. 

About the Authors
Joeana Cera Matthews, Anu Maria Joseph, Vishnu Prasad and Dincy Adlakha are research interns with the global politics course in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Sukanya Bali and Avishka Ashok are Research Associates at NIAS.

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