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The World This Week
G-20 and COP-27 Summits: Key Takeaways
TWTW#190, 20 November 2022, Vol. 4, No. 39
TWTW#190, 20 November 2022, Vol. 4, No. 39
G20 Summit: Four takeaways from Bali
On 15 November, the leaders from the G20 member-states and other observer states gathered in Bali, Indonesia, for a two-day long Summit to discuss global issues such as global security, climate change, post-pandemic economic recovery, the war in Europe and more.
Who said what?
President Widodo spoke about the war in Ukraine and said: "If the war does not end, it will be difficult for the world to move forward. We should not divide the world into parts. We must not allow the world to fall into another cold war. Indonesia has tried as best as possible to bridge very wide differences. We have no other option, collaboration is badly needed."
Commenting on the war, Rwandan President Paul Kagame decried the effects of the war on Africa and said: "What Africa wants to see is peace. We are confident that we cannot be accused of taking sides, simply by asking for peace. Africa is here for Africa and our productive relationship with the rest of the world."
China's President Xi Jinping met with the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the sidelines of the G20 and expressed the country's support for the UN-centred international system. He said: "China will strive to promote the overall progress of mankind through Chinese modernization and create new opportunities for the world through its further development, with a view to adding more stability and certainty to a volatile world."
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz expressed his scepticism on consenting on global issues, including the war in Ukraine. He said: "We are working very hard to ensure that we not only make clear, important statements on all the issues that affect the world together ... but also on the issues of peace and the consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine."
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Xi Jinping discussed the issue of growing debt. The Elysee Palace released a statement: "They expressed their determination to move forward with the implementation of a common debt framework, and raised the particularly urgent case of Zambia."
US President Joe Biden tweeted: "I met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India and President Joko Widodo of Indonesia to reaffirm our commitment to the G20 as the premier forum for global economic cooperation. In the face of global challenges, our coalition continues to demonstrate strength."
This analysis identifies the following three key takeaways.
1. Focus on global issues: post-pandemic economic recovery, food insecurity and climate change
The G20 member countries unanimously adopted a declaration to ensure cautious evaluation of rising interest rates to prevent spillovers in the global economy. Emphasis was laid upon supporting smaller countries in dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine. The countries also stressed balancing the increased currency volatility in the economy and making fiscal stimulus measures temporary and targeted. Furthermore, the G20 raised concerns about the rising debt in developing countries and urged the creditors to share the burden.
Besides the growing instability in the economy, the G20 also focused on global issues such as food insecurity and climate change. The Summit attempted to address the challenges posed to food security but was criticized for not taking concrete steps to tackle hunger. The leaders pledged to take coordinated action on the issue. However, international NGOs like Global Citizen called out the G20 for its lack of action. They urged immediate and urgent attention towards the 50 million people on the brink of starvation.
The Summit also highlighted the climate change challenge and agreed to coordinate the mitigation of climate change's effects and restrict the global temperature increase. The leaders underscored the necessity to abide by the temperature goal of the 2015 Paris Agreement on Climate Change. The three largest rainforest countries, Brazil, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Indonesia, also launched a joint partnership to coordinate forest conservation and preservation after decades of negotiations.
2. The focus on the Ukraine war
The G20 Summit in Bali ended without a joint declaration due to the opposition to President Vladimir Putin's aggressive war in Ukraine. The Summit, however, adopted a declaration denouncing Russia and its actions. The declaration is considered contradictory for using strong terms against Moscow but also upholding the opinions of some members who reproved the use of unilateral sanctions in international affairs. The declaration upheld that the war had exacerbated the economic woes, caused inflation, restricted supply chains, increased energy and food insecurity, and engendered human suffering. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Summit via video link and excluded Russia from the group, calling it G19 and urging the world leaders to act responsibly in bringing an end to the violence. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov rejected the declaration for being politicized by the West.
3. Bilateral interaction on the sidelines
The G20 provided a platform for numerous bilateral meetings between the members of the group. The meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden was one of the much-awaited bilateral meet. The leaders discussed global issues of common interest, the war in Ukraine, climate change and more. Xi warned Biden not to cross China's redlines and stressed that the Taiwan question formed an important political foundation for the continuation of Sino-US ties. Biden expounded on the US position to strengthen its presence in Asia if China was unable to control North Korea's irrational missile launches.
The countries also discussed trade restrictions and technology transfers while agreeing to keep the communication line open. Xi also held bilateral discussions with French President Emmanuel Macron, Dutch Prime Minister Rutte, South African President Ramaphosa, Australian Prime Minister Albanese, and more. In his meeting with Canadian President Justin Trudeau, Xi Jinping criticized the country for leaking the details of their bilateral meeting without prior consent. The short disagreement caught the media's attention as it displayed the growing discontent between the two leaders and the representative countries. Joe Biden also met with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and promised to invest USD 15 million in the country's health infrastructure.
4. India's presidency
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over the G20 presidency and revealed the key agenda for the coming year. He said: "In the next one year, it will be our endeavour that G20 works as a global prime mover to give impetus to collective action." Modi highlighted that India would be presiding over the G20 during intense geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown caused by the pandemic and the Ukraine war, and the increasing food and energy costs. Modi pledged to keep gender parity at the centre of the G20's activities and planned to make the forum a catalyst for global change.
COP27: Ten key takeaways
Rashmi BR and Akriti Sharma
On 20 November, the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) culminated in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The summit began on 6 November; it witnessed intense negotiations on important aspects and was extended for a day as parties failed to reach an agreement on the final day.
In the UN's words: "COP27 builds on the outcomes of COP26 to deliver action on an array of issues critical to tackling the climate emergency- from urgently reducing greenhouse gas emissions, building resilience, and adapting to the inevitable impacts of climate change, to delivering on the commitments to finance climate action in developing countries."
COP27 recognizes 'just transition', a concept emphasized by developing countries, as an important element of the discussions. It states its goals under four broad areas of concern- mitigation, adaptation, finance and collaboration. COP27 will keep the 1.5 C target alive and work to keep warming well under 2C, look for implementation of the Glasgow Pact and review NDCs. While COP26 brought out the Global Goal on Adaptation, COP27 aims to enhance actions on the adaptation goals. Climate finance is one of the priority focus areas in this COP, as it is the key to achieving the goals agreed upon in the Paris Agreement.
On 20 November, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in his closing remarks that COP27, from the beginning, has focused on two most important themes- justice and ambition. He welcomed the decision to establish a loss and damage fund, which is an important step towards achieving climate justice.
Major statements and announcements
On 6 November, the UN Secretary-General said: "Greenhouse gas emissions keep growing. Global temperatures keep rising. And our planet is fast approaching tipping points that will make climate chaos irreversible. We are on a highway to climate hell with our foot still on the accelerator."
On 7 November, former US Vice President Al Gore said: "We have a credibility problem all of us. We're talking and we're starting to act, but we're not doing enough." UAE President Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan said that his country would continue to supply oil and gas "for as long as the world needs" it. Pakistan Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif reiterated the importance of climate justice and climate finance, given that the country recently suffered from deadly floods that killed more than 2000 people and displaced millions.
On 8 November, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "Climate security goes hand in hand with energy security." Sri Lankan President remarked: "the developed nations should be giving leadership to overcome climate challenges rather than abdicating their responsibilities. It is no secret that climate financing has missed the target."
On 11 November, US President Joe Biden said: "Every nation needs to step up. At this gathering, we must renew and raise our climate ambitions."
The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) jointly launched "In Our Lifetime" campaign to encourage youth between the ages of 18 to 23 years to become message bearers of sustainable lifestyles.
Indian Minister of Environment Forest and Climate Change said: "We have embarked on far-reaching new initiatives in renewable energy, e-mobility, ethanol blended fuels, and green hydrogen as an alternate energy source." He added: "We also seek to foster strong international cooperation through action and solutions-oriented coalitions like International Solar Alliance and Coalition of Disaster Resilience Infrastructure, both of which were launched and nurtured by India."
On 16 November, the EU proposed a policy called Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism aimed to tax products, such as cement and steel from 2026, that are extremely carbon intensive. However, developing countries like India held that such measures could result in market distortion and aggravate the trust deficit among parties.
This analysis identifies the following ten as key takeaways.
1. Climate justice
COP 27 underlined the differing socio-economic impacts of climate change on vulnerable communities. Therefore, the concept of loss and damage, along with increasing the aid for climate financing. COP 27 attempted to gain momentum for ensuring climate justice even though a lot needs to be done. On 20 November, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: "The world still needs a giant leap on climate ambition...The red line we must not cross is the line that takes our planet over the 1.5 degree temperature limit...[not to relent] in the fight for climate justice and climate ambition."
2. Loss and damage
In climate negotiations, 'loss and damage' refers to the costs already incurred due to climate change-related weather anomalies and extreme events. In the case of small island states, rising sea level is a major impact that poses existential challenges. Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua Barbuda and the chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS), said that India and China are liable to pay for the loss and damage caused. He added that while the greater onus lies on the developed world, current major polluters should be responsible.
The focus of the discussions on the final day was loss and damage, and efforts were directed towards agreeing on establishing a fund dedicated to the cause. On 20 November, countries adopted a final agreement to help the developing countries bear the immediate costs of climate-fuelled extreme weather events. A transitional committee will be responsible for recommendations to states on the contentious issues of the fund that were not agreed at Egypt and prepare a roadmap for discussions in COP28 next year. Pakistan Climate Minister Sherry Rehman welcomed the decision and said: "This is how a 30-year-old journey of ours has finally, we hope, found fruition today."
COP27 called for urgent action to reduce emissions from most carbon-intensive production sectors, such as fossil fuels, steel and fertilizers. The agenda "The Decarbonization Challenge" witnessed speakers from the US, Egypt and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Major announcements include the Sharm El-Shiekh Methane Roadmap, East Mediterranean Gas Forum's regional decarbonization initiative, and John Kerry's announcement launching an initiative to support Egypt in deploying 10GW of new wind and solar energy plants, decommissioning gas plants generating 5GW natural gas.
4. Climate Finance
Developing countries like India are pushing for the new collective quantified goal on climate finance. Currently, the investments by the developed world are around USD 500 million, which is less than the required investments. The developing countries have called for securing USD one trillion by 2030 to accelerate climate action. If climate finance by the developed countries is not released in adequate amounts, climate adaptation will be a difficult target to achieve.
5. Scientific Studies
International networks Future Earth, The Earth League and the World Climate Research Program, launched a report prepared by leading scientists and experts from natural sciences and social sciences. The report titled "10 New Insights in Climate Science" presents the latest climate-related research and insights since 2021. The report's primary findings spell out that the potential for adaptation is not limitless, and thus adaptation cannot be a substitute for mitigation efforts. It also maps the vulnerability hotspots, implying the areas most vulnerable to climate change-related hazards. The consequential mortality in these hotspots is 15 times higher than in the least vulnerable areas. Climate change has a negative impact not only on physical health but also on mental health. Additionally, the outbreak of infectious diseases is linked to climate change.
The report also discusses complex relations between climate change and conflict, displacement, migration and security. Climate change furthers the existing vulnerabilities caused by factors such as governance and socio-economic conditions. Tangible transformational changes are being impeded by current structural barriers, including a "resource-intensive economy and its vested interests in maintaining the status quo".
6. Africa's energy poverty
African countries have advocated for developing fossil fuel resources to address energy poverty. After the war, African countries realized the potential to develop their fossil fuel industry. Namibia's petroleum commissioner said: "There is a lot of oil and gas companies present at COP because Africa wants to send a message that we are going to develop all of our energy resources for the benefit of our people because our issue is energy poverty." On the other hand, the financial need to pursue climate action was realized at the meeting.
On 11 November, Egypt and the US announced a major package of support of over USD 150 million for adaptation launched at a special session on "Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa." COP President Shoukry said, "The key challenge for African countries is to access funding for climate action. Recognizing that progress towards adapting to climate consequences and enhancing resilience is crucially needed." On 15 November, Africa Just & Affordable Energy Transition Initiative (AJAETI) was launched by COP 27. It aims to provide clean energy to Africa while addressing its energy needs.
7. Persisting gaps
The developed and rich countries were expected to come to COP27 with revised NDCs as a follow-up to the Glasgow Summit in 2021. However, the submitted targets have not been very ambitious. Climate Action Tracker noted that only Australia has substantially enhanced the NDCs. Concerning financing, Norway is the highest per capita supplier of climate finance and is the only one to commit to doubling its provision by 2026. The developing world continues to demand action and repairs for the damages incurred. Since COP27 is being held in Africa, the global south and north gaps have become more under focus.
8. Transformative climate technologies
The UN Environment Program (UNEP), UNFCCC and several state governments launched a five-year joint work program for the Technology Mechanism. The program aims to ensure the faster deployment of transformative climate technologies in developing countries. Inger Anderson, the Executive Director of UNEP, said: "the launch of this joint work program is an important opportunity for us to step up rapidly efforts to deploy technology to address through mitigation and adaptation." Set up with a timeline for 2023-27, the program focuses on digitalization, gender and technology, industry, and innovation. The US, European Commission, Germany and Canada pledged funds for the initiative.
9. Energy trilemma
The trilemma refers to a mix of energy security, affordability and sustainability. Energy security and affordability are the biggest concerns in Asia and Africa when many countries are increasingly reliant n fossil fuels. According to the World Energy Trilemma Index published by World Energy Council, EU countries are top rankers and many African countries, including Congo, Niger and Malawi, rank the lowest. Nepal is also one of the lowest rankers in the index.
10. Adaptation agenda
COP27 launched the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, a shared agenda to gather global action to achieve a better resilient world by 2030. The Agenda points to 30 outcomes that will enhance the resilience of four billion people in climate-vulnerable areas and communities in the next seven to eight years. The crux of the Agenda is to adopt global solutions at the local level to respond to local climate change problems.
The contributors have announced an additional USD 172 million Adaptation Fund for climate-vulnerable developing countries. The countries include the US, Spain, Sweden, Japan, France, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland, the Republic of Korea and Iceland.
So far, the Adaptation Fund, launched in 2010, has committed over USD 998 million for climate adaptation. The funds have fostered 139 resilience projects and programmes, localized projects in the most vulnerable communities of developing countries. The fund has over 38 million total beneficiaries. US Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry said: "The Adaptation Fund is already proving itself to be remarkably effective."
ASEAN: Cambodia hosts the 40th and 41st Summit
On 10-13 November, Cambodia hosted the 40th and 41st ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh –the first in-person meeting since covid pandemic. As the Chair of ASEAN in 2022, Cambodia is committed to leading ASEAN under the theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together” for harmony, peace, and prosperity in the whole region. Leaders from the U.S., China, South Korea and Japan also met the ASEAN leaders. Out of the 10 nation bloc, Myanmar was not invited to this year’s summit, following the military coup in February 2021.At the open ceremony, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said, “We are now enjoying the fruits of our efforts and moving towards sustainable growth. We should always be vigilant as the current socio-economic situation in ASEAN as well as in the whole world remains fragile and divided.” He further added that “The U.S.-China relations are the most important relations, not just to the two countries, but also to our regional development as well.”
Statements from around the world
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said that both the US and China are ASEAN’s top trading partners and would extend their partnerships with other countries as well. The free trade agreements between the two countries enable growth in the region as China looks for trade and the US for innovation which is unavoidable. Hun made these statements owing to the growing conflicts and competition between the two countries. Besides establishing strong economic cooperation, ASEAN is also in ongoing dialogue with other nations to establish peace. Ukraine signed the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, a peace treaty among Southeast Asian countries. Hun said that ASEAN doesn’t support threats or the use of force, and Ukraine being one of the partners would also abide by the treaty. The statement was made regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Ukraine Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged ASEAN to “take every method possible to stop Russia from playing hunger games with the world” when it comes to the grain corridor.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo aired his country’s proposal that the Myanmar junta be excluded from all ASEAN meetings in the future until it shows progress in a so-called five-point consensus that includes stopping violence and committing to elections. ASEAN later came out with a more neutral statement to say it will review Myanmar’s representation at ASEAN meetings “if the situation so requires.”
Russia and the US failed to agree on a joint statement and were unable to reach a consensus. Russia blamed the US and its allies, saying that they “insisted on absolutely unacceptable language regarding the situation in Ukraine.” The US and the Southeast Asian leaders elevated relations to a comprehensive strategic partnership as the White House lauded the partnership and called it an “unprecedented expansion” in ties between the two sides under President Joe Biden. The new partnership entails the two sides with new high-level dialog processes on health, transportation, women’s empowerment, environment and climate, and energy.
Joe Biden held talks with the Southeast Asian heads of government,, who hailed the launch of a new US-ASEAN pact as a critical step towards tackling "the biggest issues of our time.” In his first visit to Southeast Asia as president, Biden said thatthe region was at the heart of his administration's Indo-Pacific strategy and said: “Washington was committing resources, not just rhetoric, under a new Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Together we will tackle the biggest issues of our time, from climate, to health security, to defend against the significant threat to the rule-based order," , in a meeting in Cambodia with leaders of ASEAN.Additionally, he said:"We will build an Indo Pacific that's free and open, stable and prosperous, and resilient and secure."
Premier Li Keqiang said that East Asia is an important driver for world economic growth, and that the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Summit is a major mechanism for East Asia cooperation. Since its launch 25 years ago, the APT cooperation, owing to overall peace and stability in the region, has enjoyed rapid development and lasting progress, boosted the development of respective countries, and safeguarded regional financial and food security as well. It is conducive to the stable and unimpeded international industrial and supply chains. In the face of the current complicated and volatile international situations, APT countries should continue to commit themselves to safeguard peace and stability, as well as achieve development and prosperity in the region and the world, so as to improve the well-being of the people.
ASEAN and India adopted a joint statement announcing the elevation of the existing Strategic Partnership, to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and over flight in the Indo-Pacific region.
APEC: Thailand hosts two-day long summit themed “Open. Connect. Balance.”
On 18 November 2022, Thailand hosted the APEC summit in Bangkok for two days. The theme for the 2022 APEC meeting is "Open. Connect. Balance." Leaders and representatives from 21 economies on both sides of the Pacific met to discuss how best to promote growth in the region, which sits on the fault lines of US-China competition and regional tensions of the economic fallout of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Statements from around the world
Thailand urged world leaders to “rise above differences” and focus on resolving impending global economic issues in areas such as trade and inflation. While Thailand hopes to make progress on forming a Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), the talks come amid geopolitical tensions over the war in Ukraine and other flashpoints such as Taiwan and the Korean peninsula. Thailand’s Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai said the meeting of the 21-member bloc was taking place at a “pivotal juncture” with the world facing multiple issues APEC rise above these challenges and deliver hope to the world at large.”
Russia is a member of both G20 and APEC but President Vladimir Putin has stayed away from the summits. First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov will represent him at APEC. Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is among those also attending the main meeting, while French President Emmanuel Macron and Saudi prince as special guests. Xi held a rare summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida while in Bangkok, the first leadership-level meeting between the countries in nearly three years, after which Kishida said he conveyed concerns about peace in the Taiwan Strait. Xi Jinping has stressed the need to reject confrontation in Asia, warning against the risk of cold war tensions. Xi in a separate address to APEC leaders called for stability, peace and the development of a “more just world order.”
US Vice-President Kamala Harris said the US had a “profound stake” in the region, and described America as a “strong partner” to its economies and a “major engine of global growth.” Without mentioning China in her address, she also promoted American initiatives to counter Beijing’s regional influence, including the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, launched by Washington earlier this year, and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.
French President Emmanuel Macron urged the APEC forum to “Let’s Build Together!” and reiterated that “France is not only a European country but also an Indo-Pacific Ocean country.” Macron also insisted APEC nations invest in its far-flung island outposts New Caledonia, French Polynesia, and Reunion Island.
Saudi Arabia’s Prince was invited by Thailand to join the APEC forum as a guest of honor despite Saudi Arabia not being a member of the group, an indication of Thailand’s desire to enhance cooperation, trade and investment to serve both kingdoms.
Jacinda Ardern has spoken with Xi Jinping about cooperation between New Zealand and China, while also raising areas of tension and warning that international norms that had benefited the two countries were “being tested.” Ardern had spoken of “significant areas of bilateral cooperation including trade, agriculture, climate change and the environment” and “the strength of our bilateral connections, and of the bilateral trade relationship, which provides significant benefit to both sides.”
Also in the news...
East and Southeast Asia This Week
Taiwan: President says Island belongs to Taiwanese people in a fiery pre-election speech
On 13 November, Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen said that her mission in her life was to ensure that the island always belongs to its people and that Taiwan's existence is not a provocation to anyone, in a fiery pre-election rebuff to China. Tsai said that she has not surrendered to China’s President Xi Jinping on one county, two systems, and has proposed autonomy under China’s sovereignty. She highlighted that under her leadership, more and more countries considered Taiwan as an individual country.
China: HKSAR government demands complete, detailed probe into wrong song played in a rugby game held in South Korea
On 14 November, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, Sports Federation & Olympic Committee of Hong Kong, China (SF&OC), and the Hong Kong Rugby Union (HKRU) severely criticized and condemned a rugby sevens tournament in South Korea, following a wrong song played by the organizers which was associated with the violent pro-democracy protests in 2019 instead of China's National Anthem at the final match. Many lawmakers and observers have deemed the error to be "completely unacceptable." The Chief Executive of Hong Kong, John Lee told reporters that the chief secretary for administration of the HKSAR government called upon the South Korean Consul General in Hong Kong to investigate the incident comprehensively.
The Philippines: US Vice President announces visit to Manila
On 17 November, Reuters reported that US Vice President Kamala Harris will be visiting the Philippines for the first time, on 21 November as Washington seeks to shore up ties with its oldest ally in the region. Harris is expected to hold meetings with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice President Sara Duterte. In a first, Harris is also scheduled to visit Puerto Princesa, Palawan, as the US seeks to demonstrate its commitment to back the Philippines in the West Philippine Sea.
South Asia This Week
Bangladesh: Bangladesh abstains from voting against Russia in the UNGA
On 15 November, Bangladesh abstained from casting a vote in the UN General Assembly against a resolution that was adopted to hold Russia accountable for its crimes against Ukraine. The resolution which was passed on 14 November, asked Russia to pay reparations for its invasion of Ukraine, including “loss, damages and injuries” resulting from the war. Out of the 193 member countries of the UNGA, 94 voted in favour of the resolution, 14 voted against, and 73 countries abstained from the vote. It was the lowest level of support that Ukraine-related resolutions that the UNGA adopted recently.
Nepal: China and Nepal decide on a grant of RMB 800 billion
On 16 November, China and Nepal signed an agreement for the utilisation of RMB 800 billion in Chinese grants, which will be utilised for various projects by the Nepali side. The agreement was signed between the Nepali ambassador for China, and the chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA), which has already invested in a wide array of Nepal’s developmental projects. The agency has the task to complete 15 small projects spanning over 13 northern districts. An MoU was signed between the agencies, where both the sides hoped for “speedy implementation” of the projects.
Sri Lanka: Navy arrests Indian fishermen
On 17 November, 14 Tamil Nadu fishermen were arrested by the Sri Lankan navy from the southeast of the Indian Ocean of Kodiakkarai. The fishermen belonged to Ramanathapuram, Karaikal, and Nagapattinam districts of Tamil Nadu.
Sri Lanka: President instructed the immediate implementation of FTA with Singapore
On 16 November, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe instructed officials to implement the Singapore-Sri Lanka Free Trade Agreement (FTA). He issued the instruction during the Presidential Secretariat and highlighted the existing problems, where he asked to provide quick solutions to resolve the issues. The initiation of the FTA took place immediately after the visit by the Non-Resident High Commissioner of Singapore to Sri Lanka, Chandra Das. After meeting the President, Das met Sri Lanka’s Foreign Affairs Minister Ali Sabry and discussed a wide range of issues related to enhancing bilateral relations between the two countries. Das also visited the Minister of State, Tharaka Balasuriya, to discuss issues related to finance, investment and tourism between the two countries.
Sri Lanka: President unveils 2023 budget, claims to revive and modernise the economy
On 14 November, Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe unveiled the 2023 budget and said that this proposal would restructure and modernise Sri Lanka’s economy. The 2023 budget targets revenue of LKR 3.4 trillion. The expenditure forecast is a staggering LKR 5.8 trillion in 2023, with the deficit gap being bridged via LKR 560 billion in net foreign financing and LKR 1.8 trillion via domestic financing. LKR 1.1 trillion is allocated for subsidies and transfers. LKR 56 billion is for fertiliser subsidies, with LKR 30 billion for the free school textbooks and with33.6 billion for the Thriposha program, school nutrition food program, and a nutritional food package for expectant mothers. Wickremesinghe said that the budget focuses on three aspects: an export-oriented competitive economy, a digital economy, and eco-friendly green and blue economy. He added that there are two ways to implement the budget: First, addressing former concerns about economic reforms and restructuring. Second, focus on modernisation. He also said that the targets included achieving high economic growth of 7-8 per cent and increasing the ratio of international trade by more than 100 per cent by 2023.
Pakistan: Imran Khan no longer blames the US administration for his removal from power
On 13 November, Imran Khan in an interview with Financial Times, stated that he no longer “blamed” the US administration for his removal from power. He said: “As far as I’m concerned, it is over, it’s behind me.” He said, , “our relationship with the US has been as of a master-servant relationship, or a master-slave relationship, and we’ve been used like a hired gun. But for that, I blame my own governments more than the US.” Following this statement, Imran was criticised for backtracking on his stance. However, he clarified his claims saying: “They [the journalists] are told to pick and choose things from my interview and then turn it against me.” Meanwhile, the US State Department spokesperson on the backtracking said: As we’ve previously said, there has there is not and there has never been a truth to these allegations, but I don’t have anything additional to offer.”
Afghanistan: Representatives discuss Afghan humanitarian and economic crisis at Moscow Format
On 16 November, special representatives and senior officials from Russia, China, Pakistan, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan discussed the current situation in Afghanistan at the Moscow Format of Consultations on Afghanistan in Moscow. During the meeting, the representatives highlighted regional security, military-political stability, and socio-economic and humanitarian issues in Afghanistan. A joint statement of the participants said: “Afghanistan was requested to fulfil its commitments to eradicate terrorism and drug trafficking emanating from its territory, take more visible steps against all terrorist organizations, and to firmly fight, dismantle and eliminate them, so as to ensure that Afghanistan would never again serve as a breeding ground, safe haven or source of proliferation for terrorist.”
Central Asia, Middle East and Africa This Week
Azerbaijan: French Senate calls for sanctions against Baku over attacks on Armenia
On 16 November, the French Senate voted 295-1 to adopt a resolution calling on the government to impose sanctions on Azerbaijan for its attacks against Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The resolution also called on Baku to withdraw its troops from Armenia and reiterated the Senate’s 2020 resolution in which they called on the French government to recognise Nagorno-Karabakh. In response, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry stated that the resolution was “completely far from the truth, reflects false and slanderous provisions, and having the character of open provocation, serves to undermine the process of normalization of relations between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Israel: US opens investigation in Abu Akleh’s case
On 14 November, the US informed the Israeli authorities of its decision to conduct its own investigation into the killing of Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. The US Justice Department informed its Israel about the FBI taking up the case. The decision was opposed by Israel, where defence minister Benny Gantz tweeted that it is a “mistake”. He also said that the IDF had “conducted a professional, independent investigation, which was presented to American officials.”
Iran: The new IAEA resolution
On 17 November, the board of governors of the IAEA passed a resolution calling for stricter adherence from Iran. The resolution was jointly introduced by US, France, Germany and UK, and asked Iran to cooperate with IAEA’s investigation into uranium traces found at the undeclared sites. This is the second resolution of such kind, which was earlier passed in June this year. Iran opposed the resolution and maintains its stance that investigation into these sites should be stopped if JCPOA should be finalized.
Iran: Greek ships released
On 16 November, Iran released the two Greek ships that it had seized in May this year in retaliation to the US seizing a tanker carrying Iranian oil off the coast of Greece. The Greek Merchant Marine Ministry issued a statement that both parties had reached an agreement following months of talks. The release has ended a six-month diplomatic impasse between Iran and Greece.
Sierra Leone: One in three parliamentarians to be women, says new Act
On 25 November, the parliaments unanimously passed the Gender Empowerment Act which ensures that one in three women in the parliament and the local councillors are women. The leader of the house and the chair of the information committee said: “The government wants to correct the mistakes made in the past for not recognising (women); we want to apologise to all women who suffered discrimination in society.” Currently, only 19 of the 146 parliamentary lawmakers are women. The development comes after a draft bill that expected approval in 2021 was withdrawn over technicalities.
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Regional body commits to end see an end to hostilities in the east
On 18 November, the chairperson of the East African Community, peace envoy to the Horn of Africa and president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo issued a joint communique committing to end the hostilities in the DRC’s east. Evariste Ndayishimiye, Uhuru Kenyatta and Felix Tshisekedi expressed concern over the humanitarian conditions and urged the international community to support the alleviation of the displaced people in Goma and nearby areas.
Africa: EU pledges EUR 1 billion for climate change adaptation
On 16 November, the executive vice president of the European Commission pledged EUR 1 billion to Africa under the EU-Africa Global Gateway Investment Package, for climate change adaptation. The EU official said: Africa has contributed least to where we are today. Yet many of the countries on this continent are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are suffering more than many other places. So, we need to step up our game for adaptation in Africa.” The fund, launched by the European Commission with Denmark, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, focuses on four things: reinforcement of early warning systems; development and implementation of Climate and Disaster Risk Finance and Insurance; enhancement of public sector readiness; data collection on climate risks.
Sudan: UNHRC chief calls for political deal
On 16 November, the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Volker Turk urged Sudanese civilian and military factions to reach an agreement to end the worsening political and economic crisis in the country following the coup last year. He said: “I really call on all sides involved in the political process to go the extra mile, to work towards the prompt restoration of civilian rule in the country, and bring an end to the uncertainty that has left much of the population in peril.” Talks between the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), and the military have been going for weeks. The civilian bloc said that it is seeking for a “framework agreement” with the military as a first step to end the political deadlock.
Mali: UK announces withdrawal of troops from UN peacekeeping force
On 14 November, the UK’s Armed Forces Minister James Heappey announced that the UK would withdraw its 300 troops from the UN’s peacekeeping force in Mali. Heappey said: “This government cannot deploy our nation's military to provide security when the host country's government is not willing to work with us to deliver lasting stability and security.” Heappey opined that the two coups in Mali since 2020 had undermined international efforts to establish peace amid the growing violence linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State. The minister further added that Mali’s partnership with Russia’s Wagner Group was also counterproductive to the region’s security.
Europe and The Americas This Week
Finland: Interior Ministry approves resolution to renew its counter-terrorism strategy
On 17 November, Finland’s Interior Ministry adopted a resolution on the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy for 2022–2025. Although there has not been a significant new provision, the strategy is viewed as important due to the changing security scenario. The aim of the Strategy is to enforce the existing cooperation model and bring new approaches. According to the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service’s assessment, Finland stands at the “Second level, or ‘elevated’, on the four-tier scale,” which remains unchanged since 2017. The Strategy outlines Finland’s counter-terrorism activities, where it strives cooperation across global and the EU. It involves “prevention of the violent radicalisation,” committed to NATO’s framework in counter-terrorism, and extremism.
Russia: Ukraine grain deal extended for 120 days
On 17 November, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on the extension of the Black Sea initiative for 120 days with no objections from the Russian side. The Ministry reiterated Russia’s demand for the implementation of the Russian-UN Memorandum on the normalisation of Russian agricultural exports along with the Black Sea Grain deal and acknowledged the efforts of the UN Secretariat regarding the same. The statement said that obstacles to Russian food and fertiliser exports will be cleared within the extended period of the deal and added that any further delay in shipments will be unacceptable. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasised that if the humanitarian corridor is used for military provocations, then Russia will respond aggressively. Otherwise, they look forward to coordinating and implementing the initiative in the interests of global food security.
Slovenia: First woman President elected
On 13 November, Natasa Pirc Musar was elected as the first female President in Slovenia following her victory in the runoff election. She won the election with 53.86 per cent against the former Foreign Minister, Anze Logar’s 46.14 per cent. On 23 October, Solvenia held the first round of the presidential election in which there was no clear victor crossing 50 per cent of votes from the people. Logar led the first round with 34 per cent, and Pirc Musar trailed second with 27 per cent of the votes. Former speaker of Slovenia’s National Assembly and MEP Milan Brglez secured third place with 15 per cent. However, he did not advance to the runoff. The first round saw a voter turnout of 35 per cent, higher than the 2017 election. The voter turnout for the runoff was estimated to be 49.9 per cent.
Bosnia and Herzegovina: Appointment of three leaders for the new tripartite Presidency
On 16 November, Bosnia and Herzegovina got their first woman elected along with two other non-ethnonationalist leaders for the tripartite Presidency. The three Presidents, elected as representatives of Bosnia’s three main ethnic groups- Bosniaks Serbs and Croats. The three presidents, namely Bosniak Denis Bećirović and Bosnian Croat Željko Komšić, from the multi-ethnic centre-left SDP and DF political parties, and Željka Cvijanović from the ethnonationalist Bosnian Serb party SNSD. Cvijanović said that would work at the interest of entities. Bećirović said he would focus on poverty and brain drain. Komšić said NATO membership would be his first priority. This is a complex administration established by the Dayton Peace Accords that ended Bosnia’s war 1992-1995. The term period of the Presidency is a four-year term and was established under the Dayton Peace Accords that ended Bosnia’s war 1992-1995. The term period of the Presidency will be for four-years
El Salvador: Crypto conference overshadowed by Bitcoin fall
On 17 November, El Salvador’s crypto conference came to an end amid falling prices of Bitcoin and the collapse of FTX. The "Adopting Bitcoin: A Lightning Summit in El Salvador" which started on 15 November, was held to encourage other countries to adopt Bitcoin as a legal tender and work towards developing crypto technology. The summit ended with El Salvador and Bitfinex, a crypto exchange agreeing to develop digital assets and securities regulatory framework to further El Salvador’s crypto infrastructure.
Costa Rica: IMF to provide USD 1 billion in financing
On 14 November, the IMF announced funds worth approximately USD 1 Billion to Costa Rica. Costa Rica will be receiving USD 725 million sustainability loan towards financing its climate goals and building climate resilience. It will also receive USD 270 million in financing from the Costa Rica Extended Fund for “immediate disbursement.”
US: Judge rules Title 24 unlawful affecting US-Mexico Venezuela plan
On 15 November, US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that the Title 24 policy of expelling migrants is unlawful and that it violated federal regulatory law. Title 24 was introduced by the Trump administration to expel migrants during the pandemic to “prevent further spread of the virus.” This policy was later used by the Biden administration to regulate the flow of Venezuelan migrants from Mexico to the US. With this ruling, migrants from Venezuela can enter the country without the fear of expulsion. In Mexico, authorities are bracing for an increase in migrants looking to reach the US and preparing for massive migrant caravans moving to the US-Mexico border.
Mexico: Mass Protests erupt against proposed electoral reform plan
On 13 November, thousands of protesters flooded the streets to protest the Mexican government’s electoral reform plan. The plan will let citizens elect electoral authorities, reduce financing for political parties, and limit advertising time. Protesters fear that the government will have more power and get more control over the electoral system. Mexico’s president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has criticised these protests calling them “racist” and “classist”. Obrador reiterated that the plan will strengthen democracy not weaken it.
Bahamas: FTX bankruptcy being investigated by Bahama authorities
On 13 November, Royal Bahamas Police reported that they are investigating the bankruptcy filing of FTX on 11 November. FTX a Bahama-based crypto exchange company filled for bankruptcy sending shockwaves throughout the crypto market. FTX was the largest crypto exchange company which registered a withdrawal of USD 6 billion from the platform in 72 hours.
US: Republicans win the House in 2022 midterm elections; Democrats retain the Senate
On 18 November, the results for the 2022 midterm elections were announced with Republicans taking control of the House with a majority of 218 seats. The Democrats with 212 seats have lost the control held since 2018. The Senate still remains under the control of the Democrats with 50 seats and the Republicans having 49 seats.
About the Authors
Rashmi Ramesh and Akriti Sharma are PhD Scholars in the School of Conflict and Security Studies at the National Institute of Advanced Studies. Avishka Ashok, Abigail Miriam Fernandes, Apoorva Sudhakar, Joel Jacob and Anu Maria are Research Associates at NIAS. Madhura Mahesh, Bhoomika Sesharaj, Sethuraman Nadarajan, Sandeep Ganesh and Farhan Hussain are Research Interns at NIAS.
Harini Madhusudan, Rishika Yada, Sneha Surendran, Prerana P, Sreeja JS and Padmashree Anandhan
Rishika Yadav | Research Assistant, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
Rishika Yadav and Nityashree RB | Research Assistant and Research Intern, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore
Padmashree Anandhan | Research Associate National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bangalore
Harini Madhusudan, Rishma Banerjee, Padmashree Anandhan, Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan, and Avishka Ashok
Padmashree Anandhan and Rishma Banerjee
Emmanuel Selva Royan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Angelin Archana | Assistant Professor, Women’s Christian College, Chennai
Shreya Upadhyay | Assistant Professor, Christ (Deemed to be University), Bangalore
Uma Purushothaman | Assistant Professor, Central University of Kerala, Kerala
Debangana Chatterjee | Assistant Professor, JAIN (Deemed-to-be University), Bangalore
Himani Pant | Research Fellow, ICWA, Delhi
Emmanuel Selva Royan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Ashwin Immanuel Dhanabalan
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Chetna Vinay Bhora
Joeana Cera Matthews
Joeana Cera Matthews
Keerthana Rajesh Nambiar
Chetna Vinay Bhora