Jan 26, 2021 Letters
I wish to highlight four areas in which world governments have failed.
They include the fight against:
1. Domestic terrorism;
2. The COVID 19 pandemic;
3. Climate change;
In the case of failure number one, the assault on the US Capitol, though of a national character, must be placed in an international context. The fact of the matter is that an attack of that nature is bound to have international reverberations. It is emblematic of the long reach that a national security breach in the United States would have for the world at large.
Domestic terrorism is defined by the Rand Corporation as, “Violence against the civilian population or infrastructure of a nation by citizens of that nation with intent to intimidate, coerce, and to influence national policy to achieve broad political goals.”
National security experts in the US claim that the principal terrorist threat in America today is domestic terrorism. In terms of realpolitik, and simplistic as it may seem, countering domestic terrorism in America , is to counter domestic terrorism in any part of world. Domestic terrorism is influenced by and large, by international terrorism. The two are mutually reinforcing.
Extremists groups in the US like the Boogaloos, Antifa, the Proud Boys, Three Percent and QAnon, among others, have recently risen to prominence. Their international connections are of different shades and hues, from the fundamentalists, the religious right, the far right, the ultranationalists, and the xenophobists to the pro-fascists.
According to the Global Terrorism Index 2020, ‘One of the more worrying trends in the last five years is the surge in far right political terrorism. In North America, Western Europe and Oceania, far right attacks have increased by 250 percent since 2014 with deaths increasing by 709 percent over the same period. There were 89 deaths attributed to far right terrorism in 2009, with 51 of those occurring in the Christ Church mosque attacks in New Zealand. There have been over 35 far-right terrorist incidents in the West every year for the past five years.’
The response to threats from these groups have been varied. In most cases, it has been to maintain a balance between a military, para- military or law enforcement approach to addressing the legitimate concerns of those who mistakenly follow the extremist elements because they were fed false narratives based on lies and conspiracy theories. We in Guyana have had our own experiences during the crime spree period from 2002 to 2006.
Failure number two is reflected in the statement by UN Secretary General who, on the occasion of the COVID 19 death toll reaching two million, pointed out, “The pandemic has been made worse by the absence of global coordination.”
The ‘absence of global coordination’ referred to by Guterres, was demonstrated clearly when the US withdrew from the World Health Organization (WHO). Guterres went on to stress, “In the memory of those two million souls the world must act with far greater solidarity”.
“The greater solidarity” that Guterres called for was because of the scramble by the rich countries to purchase and hoard huge amounts of vaccines with scant regard to the needs of poorer nations who can ill afford the high cost of the vaccine. It is hoped that the incoming Biden administration will return the United States to its rightful place at the WHO.
It was these dire circumstances in which poor countries found themselves that prompted Jeffery Sachs in his book ‘The End of Poverty’ to recognize that , “Our safety and prosperity depends at least on collective decision to fight disease, promote good science and action in unison to help the poorest of the poor.”
The third failure is in Climate Change – 29 years after the Rio Summit and the adoption of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) followed by the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement in December 1997 and December 2015 respectively, the world’s governments are yet to take decisive steps to curb the emission of greenhouse gases that contribute to long term global warming and other threatening climatic changes. World governments have a commitment to keep global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius the (2.7degrees Fahrenheit).
However, with world governments failing to raise their ambitions in respect to the goals set out in the Paris Accord, there is a prevailing view that extremists groups will step in to fill the vacuum. It is widely recognized that militant groups are now feeding off climate- induced crises as a result of deforestation, rising sea levels, floods and contaminated water among others.
It is hoped that the upcoming 26th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UNFCC scheduled to take place in Glasgow in the UK in November this year will “according to UNFCC Executive Secretary “…finish the work that COP25 was unable to conclude – setting out the rules for a carbon market between countries and that countries will up their ambitions expressed in enhanced nationally determined contributions.”
The Biden administration’s decision to return to the Paris Agreement will constitute a shot in the arm for enhanced global negotiations.
The fourth failure is in the area of poverty. Roughly 1 billion people live in extreme poverty while another 1.5 billion or 40 percent of humanity live in poverty. In his book ‘The End of Poverty’ Jeffrey Sachs states, ‘The time to
end poverty has arrived, although hard work lies ahead.’ Sachs identified nine steps that are required to win the war against poverty, they include; Commit to Ending Poverty, Adopt a Plan of Action, Raise the Voice of the Poor, Redeem The Role of the United States in the World, Rescue the IMF and the World Bank, Strengthen the United Nations, Harness Global Science, Promote Sustainable Development and Make a Personal Commitment. Sachs identified 2025 as the year for ending poverty.’ He went on to add that, ‘Collective action through effective government provision for health, education, infrastructure, as well as foreign assistance when needed underpin economic success.’
And Cheddi Jagan in his call for a New Global Human Order declared;
‘…a Development strategy for the eradication of poverty must be global and positive not the South against North and the North against the South in interdependence, cooperation and partnership…’
2021 will be a defining year for global governance. The people’s active participation in the process of rescuing the world will assume even greater importance since it is they who will be affected by the outcomes of decisions by world governments.
Clement J. Rohee
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