Climate crisis: Undue influence undermines global efforts

As final preparations are being made for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, there are serious concerns that undue influence and conflicts of interest are undermining the global effort to combat the climate crisis. Leaked documents have revealed how a handful of fossil-fuel producing nations have been attempting to influence the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to water down its draft recommendations on steps needed to address the crisis. Tens of thousands of comments by governments, corporations, academics and others were leaked to Greenpeace UK.

An IPCC spokesperson said its processes were ‘designed to guard against lobbying – from all quarters’. However, the leak illustrates how influence ‘can be exerted behind closed doors, including to manipulate science,’ says Brice Böhmer, who leads Transparency International’s work on climate governance integrity. Although not new, when countries are ‘running out of time to solve the climate crisis’, he says such practices ‘are not acceptable anymore’.

Published on 25-10-21. Read on here

Climate Crisis: A Race against Time

Ugochi Anyaka-Oluigbo understands the devasting impact of climate change better than most. She was born and raised in the commercial city of Aba, Abia state in Nigeria but regularly travels to her home town, Amucha, in Imo state where she witnessed first-hand how erosion of the local landscape swallowed up her neighbourhood’s homes and farmland, cut off communities and threatened livelihoods.

Today she’s one of Africa’s leading environmental journalists and has made it her mission to give a voice to vulnerable communities in Nigeria and across the continent that continue to grapple with erosion, flooding, desertification and other extreme weather patterns exacerbated by climate change.

African women are particularly at risk, she says. “I think women are hugely affected by climate change. I’ve seen the impact of this, where women have no place to go to: they are threatened, they know that they might sleep and never wake up and that they might be swallowed up.”

Published on 25-10-21. Read on here

Russia’s rule of law crisis

The September 2021 Duma elections in Russia will define the composition of Russia’s lower house of parliament for the next five years. They come at a testing time for the Pro-Putin ruling party Edinaya Rossiya, whose popularity has plummeted following the controversial decision to raise the state retirement age in 2018 and, more recently, its mishandling of the pandemic.

This IBA Global Insight podcast looks at the continued efforts by the Russian authorities to suppress dissent and silence critics like Alexei Navalny and what these measures mean for the rule of law.

With:

  • Maria Logan, legal counsel to Mikhail Khodorkhovsky during the Kremlin critic’s imprisonment in Russia for fraud
  • Galina Arapova, Director, Mass Media Defence Centre, Voronezh; human rights lawyer
  • Sir Tony Brenton, the United Kingdom’s Ambassador to Moscow, 2004-2008

Released on 07-09-21. Listen here

Afghanistan: ‘Shocking’ situation raises grave concerns for safety of judges and legal profession

The last US military aircraft departed from Kabul airport on 30 August, marking an agonising end to a dramatic two weeks that saw Taliban fighters effortlessly topple the Afghan government and President Ashraf Ghani forced to flee the country. As the Taliban returns to power 20 years after the regime was ousted by US forces, the rule of law and the safety of the legal profession is once again seriously under threat.

The speed of the Taliban takeover left armed forces, governments and the international community scrambling to evacuate civilians before the 31 August deadline imposed by Taliban leaders. Rescue efforts were severely hampered by security concerns. As thousands waited to be evacuated at Kabul airport on 26 August, a blast killed more than 170 people, including 13 US military personnel and other foreign nationals. Islamic State has since claimed responsibility for the attack.

‘It’s shocking that we find ourselves in this situation,’ Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, who served as the UK’s Attorney General from 2001–2007, told Global Insight. ‘It’s crazy that we weren’t better prepared for this. We will have to look at where the responsibility lies, but the problem is that this is not about political posturing. This is about people’s lives. For people who’ve done tremendous things that we and the IBA very rightly stand for – the rule of law, justice and a fair society – it’s shocking that some of them are being left in this situation.’

Published on 01-09-21. Please read on here

Biden-Putin meeting signals testing time for US-Russia relations

‘Reset’ is often the term used to describe a fresh start in diplomatic relations. After a tumultuous period for US-Russia relations it seemed particularly significant that President Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva during his first foreign presidential trip in June.

The meeting followed the G7 Summit in Cornwall – the first face-to-face gathering of major world leaders since the start of the pandemic – and the NATO Summit in Brussels. It also came in the wake of escalating Western sanctions against Russia for egregious human rights violations, namely the poisoning and detention of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

It was the first time the two nations’ presidents had met since June 2018. Sir Tony Brenton, who served as UK Ambassador to Moscow from 2004-2008, believes the discussions were largely fruitful. ‘You have to allow for the fact that there are always going to be really quite sharp disagreements, with the West criticising Russia’s domestic behaviour and some of Russia’s external behaviour,’ Brenton tells Global Insight. ‘Conversely, Russia has now found it in itself to criticise what’s going on in America. But both sides set out their positions and, usefully, both sides made clear their red lines. They agreed to talk further on actually the two most important things that they have to talk about: strategic nuclear weapons and cyber.’

Published on 04-08-21. Read on here