COP26 has refocused the world’s attention on climate action. And the continuing flurry of litigation suggests citizens are now more serious than ever about pressing those in positions of power to address the climate crisis.
Two weeks before COP26, a small NGO was already taking matters into its own hands, filing a claim at the International Criminal Court (ICC) to end impunity for environmental destruction in the Amazon.
The complaint, submitted by Austrian NGO AllRise on 12 October, accuses Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his administration of committing crimes against humanity for their role in fuelling ‘the mass destruction of the Amazon with eyes wide open and in full knowledge of the consequences.’ Bolsonaro, who has been the subject of three previous ICC complaints since he assumed office in early 2019, denies all wrongdoing.
Across Latin America and the Caribbean, more than one million people have already died from Covid-19, making it the worst-hit region worldwide. The reasons are complex but, undeniably, have exposed deep inequalities across the region’s 33 countries.
Latin America’s excess death toll – those that exceed the number that normally occur over a given period – has rocketed. The failure by many countries to establish an effective public health strategy has been compounded by overwhelmed and underfunded health systems and social protection mechanisms that have not responded adequately to the enormity of the crisis.
The slow response – or in some instances complete inertia – of many nations has sealed their fate. ‘Governments in certain countries adopted a position of denying the pandemic and not establishing policies to control it,’ says Fernando Peláez-Pier, former IBA President and a senior consultant at FPeláez Consulting.
When it was first coined in 2001, the term ‘BRIC’ seemed little more than a quirky acronym. Since then, the term has quickly become universal shorthand for the emerging markets’ ascent in the global economy.
Brazil, Russia, India and China – and South Africa since it joined the fold in 2010 – have all come a long way since former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O’Neill first spotted their potential 14 years ago. Despite riding out the global financial crisis remarkably well, the mighty BRICS have not been left completely unscathed. The average growth rate of each country has slipped by more than two percentage points over the past decade.
At a recent IBA conference, From BRICS to MINT… and Beyond!, O’Neill said that China was the only one of the original BRICS that hadn’t disappointed him, clocking an average growth rate so far this decade of eight per cent. Although he acknowledged weaker commodity prices were partly to blame for poorer performances in Brazil and Russia, he maintained his view that rule of law is vital for economic success. If all these countries can ‘succeed in doing all the things that are necessary for rule of law, then they’re going to get somewhere’, he says.
After years of negotiations behind closed doors, the US and Cuba finally brokered a deal last December, which saw the release of US government contractor Alan Gross and three Cuban agents convicted of spying on anti-Castro groups in Miami.
The significance of the move cannot be underestimated. Fernando Peláez-Pier is a former IBA President and a partner at Hoet Peláez Castillo & Duque in Caracas. He says:
‘It has been an enormous step to take the decision to re-establish diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba and to lift the embargo in the short term, although it is not yet envisioned that it will lead to a reopening of embassies in each country.
‘This is the most important decision since Carter and Castro decided to establish representation of each country’s interests in Havana and Washington. It’s the beginning of a new era in the relations between both countries, marking a before and an after.’
However, the process is far from over. ‘Whoever thinks this process will be fast would be mistaken and would fail to understand the complexity of the case and what it implies for the re-establishment of relations between two countries after more than 50 years,’
As images of the terrorist attacks that paralysed France at the start of 2015 reverberated around the world, thousands of miles away, in the south-western Mexican state of Guerrero, families were still waiting for accountability regarding the biggest massacre in the country’s recent history.
On 26 September 2014, more than 100 students from a teacher-training college in Ayotzinapa were taking part in a peaceful protest against alleged discriminatory hiring practices in Iguala, when a number of them clashed with local police and were bundled into police cars. The exact chain of events that ensued is still unclear, but it soon became apparent that 43 of the students had vanished without a trace.
Large-scale protests against corruption and violence erupted across the country after a mass grave was discovered on the outskirts of the city. Some of those police officers involved (who have since been arrested) told investigators they handed students over to the drug cartel Guerreros Unidos.
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