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May-June 2020 Media Roundup

This is a roundup of news articles, reports, and other materials focusing on (in)security issues and reflects a wide variety of opinions. The entries and the brief summaries provided do not reflect the views of Security in Context. The goal is to shed light on security related items that are of public interest from different perspectives. Entries may include academic journal articles, think tank reports, non-governmental organizations releases, official documents or government commissioned research, and regular news items. You may send your own recommendations for inclusion in each roundup to admin@securityincontext.com

Climate Change & Security

COVID-19 and ClimateChange Will Change the Definition of National Security (May 18, 2020)

The twin global emergencies of COVID-19 and climate change are forcing the U.S. foreign policy establishment to reassess its traditional conceptions of national security. According to a still dominant paradigm, the gravest dangers the United States faces emanate from adversaries with sufficient military capabilities to attack the nation and its allies or, at a minimum, thwart its political and economic objectives.

Webinar: Climate Change and Threats to Security (May 25, 2020)

This webinar highlights geographical regions in which climate change is posing a security threat and will explore what is being done to alleviate these risks.Climate stress will continue to cause a rise in temperatures, water scarcity and rising sea levels across the globe – all contributing to increased competition for resources and forced migration.

 What are some of the security implications of climate change and how do they differ in different parts of the world? In which regions will both long-term and short-term climate trends pose the greatest risk? And how can countries and regions increase resilience against the effects of climate change?

 

Addressing the Impact of Climate Change on Peace and Security (June 5, 2020)

Among the Special Political Missions managed by the Department of Political and Peace building Affairs (DPPA),, six are deployed in locations that rank among the 15 most climate vulnerable countries in the world, according to the ND-GAIN Country Index.

 

Gender, climate & security: sustaining inclusive peace on the frontlines of climate change (June 9, 2020)

Climate change is a defining threat to peace and security in the 21st century – its impacts felt by everyone, but not equally. Gender norms and power dynamics shape how women and men of different backgrounds experience or contribute to insecurity in a changing climate.Grounded in a series of case studies from research and programming experience, this report offers a comprehensive framework for understanding how gender, climate and security are inextricably linked. The report assesses entry points for action across existing global agendas and suggests concrete recommendations for how policymakers, development practitioners and donors can advance three inter-related goals: peace and security, climate action and gender equality.

A Changing Climate: Exploring the Implications of ClimateChange for UK Defense Security (June 17, 2020)

This study explores the effects of climate change on UK defense and security. It sought to: firstly, understand the strategic defense and security implications of climate change on UK MOD activities; secondly, develop a conceptual framework to help decision makers map a range of impacts of climate change in relation to the UK Ministry of Defense (MOD)'s strategic objectives; and thirdly, produce recommendations to support the UK MOD in mitigating risks and adapting the challenges and opportunities presented by climate change. While recognizing these wider security implications, the study focuses specifically on the strategic implications of climate change for UK MOD activities in relation to the Defense Lines ofDevelopment (DLODs): concepts and doctrine, training, personnel, infrastructure, equipment, information, organization, logistics and interoperability.

 

What Does the COVID-19 Pandemic Mean for Climate Change? (June 23, 2020)

Overall, the global shutdown due to the coronavirus is likely to result in a 4-7 percent decrease in annual carbon dioxide emissions this year. Meanwhile, the largest economic stimulus effort in history is underway—the very kind that will be necessary to transition the global economy in a fashion necessary to combat climate change. In a perfect world, these historic policy and economic changes, coupled with changing consumer behavior, would move the world forward into a future prepared to combat the climate crisis.

How can the world move forward from the coronavirus pandemic to ensure that the next 10 years set humanity on a path toward climate stability? 

 

Foreign ministers flag climate change as major spark for conflicts (June 26, 2020)

Food and water scarcity, in particular, are becoming important drivers of conflict and need to become a security priority now, ministers say.

 

Security and International Relations

Exclusive: Internal Chinese report warns Beijing faces Tiananmen-like global backlash over virus (May 4, 2020)

An internal Chinese report warns that Beijing faces a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak that could tip relations with the United States into confrontation.

 

The Great Decoupling (May 14, 2020)

Washington is pressing for a post-pandemic decoupling from China. But the last big economic split brought on two world wars and a depression. What’s in store this time?

 

Cold war with China is the wrong way to define US policy in Africa (June 10, 2020)

China has used the pandemic to enhance its reputation. While Americans (and Europeans) have been accused of hoarding diagnostic tests and personal protective equipment, massive donations from Jack Ma, the co-founder of Alibaba, have made their way to all 54 countries on the continent.

 

Britain’s ties with China are set for a sea change (June 10, 2020)

The increasingly repressive nature of the Xi regime already provided ample reason to rethink British links, as did a Chinese foreign policy that is ever more assertive in challenging western interests. Mutual finger-pointing over the coronavirus pandemic has deepened tensions between theUS and China, making it increasingly difficult for the UK to maintain ties with its biggest foreign ally while also courting the rising Asian power.

 

Trump OKs sanctions against international tribunal employees (June 11, 2020)

In a broadside against the International Criminal Court, President Donald Trump on Thursday authorized economic and travel sanctions against court workers investigating American troops and intelligence officials and those of allied nations, including Israel, for possible war crimes in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

 

The Caesar Act and a pathway out of conflict in Syria (June 19, 2020)

Unlike previous sanctions, the Caesar Act brings under its jurisdiction third-country actors who engage in such activities, including the cross-border business networks that are crucial to the regime’s survival. Most at risk from the Caesar Act are wartime profiteers in Lebanon, including particularly Hezbollah, and the Assad regime’s authoritarian allies in Russia, China, and Iran.

Migration and Displacement

Migrant and displaced children in the age of COVID-19: How the pandemic is impacting them and what can we do to help (May 5, 2020)

Migrant and displaced children are among the most vulnerable populations on the globe. In 2019, around 33 million children were living outside of their country of birth, including many who were forcibly displaced across borders. At the end of 2018, a total of over 31 million children were living in forced displacement in their own country or abroad due to violence and conflict. This includes some 13 million child refugees, around1 million asylum-seeking children, and an estimated 17 million children displaced within their own countries. It is estimated that 3.7 million children live in refugee camps or collective centers. COVID-19 threatens to bring even more uncertainty and harm to their lives.

 

Under Trump border rules, U.S. has granted refuge to just two people since late March, records show (May 13, 2020)

The Trump administration’s emergency coronavirus restrictions have shut the U.S. immigration system so tight that since March 21st, just two people seeking humanitarian protection at the southern border have been allowed to stay, according to unpublished U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services data obtained by The Washington Post.

 

Deportation with a Layover (May 19, 2020)

An agreement between the United States andGuatemala, the US-Guatemala Asylum Cooperative Agreement (ACA), enables theUnited States to rapidly expel non-Guatemalan asylum seekers to Guatemala without allowing them to lodge asylum claims in the United States, but also leaves them without access to effective protection in Guatemala. As a result, they are effectively compelled to abandon their asylum claims, and some who have a well-founded fear of persecution appear to be returning to their home countries where they are at real risk of serious harm.

  

Will COVID-19 change how we think about migration and migrant workers? (May 22, 2020)

TheCOVID-19 pandemic is causing a shift in migration rhetoric to include individual health security. Limitations on movement, while necessary to manage the virus, can make it difficult for migrants and asylum seekers to access protection, and may exacerbate inequality, discrimination and exploitation.This new migration rhetoric will have long-term implications for socio economic inclusion and social cohesion.

 

SACD Analysis: Impact of Covid-19 on Syrian Refugees in Lebanon (May 25, 2020)

Amidst the crisis, there is one population that is particularly vulnerable: refugees.Exposed to the rampant spread of the virus in overcrowded camps, where social distancing measures are near impossible to implement, already living in poverty and with almost non-existent economic opportunities, and subject to discrimination and hostility, refugees are extremely exposed to the brutal impact of the pandemic.

 

The Impact of COVID-19on Non-citizens and Across the U.S. Immigration System (May 27, 2020)

This report seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of COVID-19-related disruptions throughout the immigration system and identifies recommendations for adjustments and improvements to the federal response. Given that the landscape of immigration policy is changing rapidly in the face of the pandemic, this report will be updated as needed.

 

Europe’s Far-Right Exploits COVID-19 for Anti-Refugee Propaganda (June 4, 2020)

Trying to make political gains, the far-right in Greece and Italy is painting refugees and migrants as carriers of COVID-19.

  

The Federal Agency Running  he Immigration Courts Keeps Deleting Asylum Records (June 9, 2020)

A leading transparency organization is warning that the agency in charge of immigration courts—the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR)—has been deleting database records on tens of thousands of asylum seekers, including data on asylum applications.

 

As COVID-19 worsens precarity for refugees, Turkey and the EU must work together  (June 11, 2020)

COVID-19has adversely impacted the well-being of people in every corner of the world, both as a health matter and an economic one. Those at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder are suffering the most, and within that group, migrants and refugees have been hit especially hard, including in Turkey.

  

Human Rights First Condemns Rule that Seeks to Re-Write Refugee Laws, Eliminate Asylum (June 11, 2020)

The U.S. Departments of Homeland Security andJustice have proposed a new rule, slated to be issued on Monday, June 15, which would gut what remains of protection for refugees seeking asylum at the U.S.border with Mexico and create a near-total elimination of asylum for other applicants in what legal experts see as a clear violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the intent of Congress, and the treaty obligations of theUnited States.

 

Greece Extends Lockdown on More than 120,000 Migrants, Refugees (June 21, 2020)

Even though Greece is slowly but steadily lifting strict COVID-19 restrictions across the country, it is keeping more than 120,000 asylum seekers in lockdown, crammed in overcrowded camps to contain the spread the coronavirus.

 

The U.S. Immigration Debate  (June 23, 2020)

Comprehensive immigration reform has eluded Congress for years, moving controversial policy decisions into the executive and judicial branches of government.

 

EU: the impact of COVID-19 on human rights of migrants and refugees  (June 26, 2020)

The ICJ publishes today a legal briefing on the impact of COVID-19 related measures on human rights of migrants and refugees in the EU.

 

Hunger spreading across Syria amid COVID-19 and economic collapse (June 28, 2020)

COVID-19 restrictions, the collapse of the Syrian pound, and the displacement of millions of people have led to an unprecedented number of families in Syria who are no longer able to put food on the table or make enough money to afford basic necessities. A staggering 9.3 million Syrians are now going to sleep hungry and more than another 2 million are at risk of a similar fate – part of an overall rise of 42 per cent in the number of Syrians facing food insecurity since last year.

 

Enhanced support forSyria refugees vital amid COVID-19 pandemic – UNHCR chief (June 30, 2020)

UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi tells donors enhanced support is needed to prevent refugees and their hosts from slipping “deeper into poverty and despair.”

 

COVID-19, Capitalism, and Economy

Health and Economy in COVID-19 Era: A Plan for Reconstituting Long-Term Economic Security (May 27, 2020)

COVID-19is a rapidly evolving pandemic, which represents a multifaceted global threat.Given the economic consequences, most researchers agree that social distancing measures are an effective strategy relative to the cost. Previous studies indicate that community size as well as viral population risk groups should be considered in forming an effective targeted social distancing strategy. The resultant delay in the occurrence of infections in order to support vaccine development has been shown to be an effective policy.

 

Conflict Economies in Syria: Roots, Dynamics, and Pathways for Change (June 2020)

This discussion paper is the first in a series that emanated from the Development Policy Forum, a new initiative of the Syrian Center for Policy Research. Through this initiative, the center seeks to promote critical analysis of the challenges posed by the conflict in Syria and to explore policy alternatives to address them while analyzing the impact of ongoing policies enforced by the government of Syria and other actors at the institutional and socioeconomic level. This will be the first of a series of discussion papers that will expand on some of the themes and actors discussed in this paper in more detail. These include the role of public institutions, civil society, the private sector, and external actors including regional and international governments and humanitarian institutions.

 

The Global Economic Outlook During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Changed World (June 8, 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread with alarming speed, infecting millions and bringing economic activity to a near-standstill as countries imposed tight restrictions on movement to halt the spread of the virus. As the health and human toll grows, the economic damage is already evident and represents the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades.

 

China's Economy Is Not Overtaking America's (June 10, 2020)

The conventional wisdom about China’s rise, besides being wrong, has dangerous policy implications. It creates the impression that the United States and China are locked in “Thucydides' trap” in which a rising power challenges the ruling hegemon, and the two slide into a major war.

 

COVID-19:Second Wave or Missing Links? Global Social Determinants of COVID-19 (June 11, 2020)

The widespread and exponential growth of COVID-19 in “advanced” countries compared to “developing” counties contradicts the conventional literature on social determinants of health (henceforth, SHD) such as income, life expectancy, health system, governance among others. This article quantitively explores the association between cases and deaths of COVID-19 and SHD; using available country-level data of the pandemic until 6 May 2020. It highlights two different narratives to explain the breakout of the pandemic in the “advanced”counties: The first one assumes major shortcomings in the conventional analytical framework that led to a failure of capturing key determinants of health; while the second one assumes, that the SHD framework is still valid, thus it is a matter of time to witness the second wave of COVID-19 that will hit mainly the “developing” countries.  

 

Webinar: Middle class economic security during the COVID-19 crisis (June 16, 2020)

From the start of March through early April, 19 percent of adults reported losing a job, being furloughed, or having their hours reduced. Many of these adults are struggling to pay their bills. The Future of the Middle Class Initiative discussed the results of this survey and its implications on financial security and household stability in this troubling time. Jeff Larrimore of the FederalReserve Board provided an in-depth look at the results, followed by a panel conversation where he was joined by Brookings scholars Jenny Schuetz, Camille Busette, and Richard Reeves.

 

The Unregulated and Threatening Growth of Private Security in Latin America and the Caribbean  (June 17, 2020)

In this article, Adam Blackwell, current Secretary for Multidimensional Security at the Organization of American States (OAS), discusses the problems associated with private security firms throughout Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), especially in Honduras. In his paper, Blackwell posits several recommendations, including the establishment of legal frameworks outlining the responsibilities of both governments and the industry specifically related to the licensing of private security companies, expansion of social protection for workers in the sector, and the introduction of entry requirements and training guidelines.

 

Can China’s “Stall Economy” Save Its Stalled Economy? (June 24, 2020)

The COVID-19pandemic has inflicted great economic pain in China. In the first quarter of2020, China’s GDP contracted 6.8% compared to Q1 of 2019. Overall officialChinese unemployment rose for the first time in many years; in particular, employment among disadvantaged groups and rural migrant workers plummeted, corresponding to a 27.4% and 30.6% YOY decrease respectively

Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AI

COVID-19:Surveillance & the Future of Privacy | Angwin, Strahilevitz & Reed (May 11, 2020)

As the COVID-19 epidemic grips the world, new questions arise about the use of surveillance to combat the disease—and the implications for privacy. Join the Stigler Center for a conversation with TheMarkup’s editor-in-chief Julia Angwin and University of Chicago Law professor Lior Strahilevitz, moderated by The Intercept’s editor-in-chief Betsy Reed, on the COVID-19 epidemic and what the future may hold for surveillance and privacy.

 

Israel Eyes Expanding Export of Surveillance Systems in Shadow of Coronavirus (May 13, 2020)

Defense Ministry tender asks civilian companies to provide information on security needs – including systems for tracking civilians – of ‘all countries of the world,’ excluding Iran, Syria and Lebanon.

 

How Domestic Spying Tools Undermine RacialJustice Protests (June 22, 2020)

Digital technology helped spur historic protests for racial justice. But now it is being weaponized to undermine basic rights.

 

Reports of a Silicon Valley/ Military Divide Have Been Greatly Exaggerated (July 7, 2020)

This report is based on an in-depth analysis of all public US federal (sub)contracting data over the last four and a half years to estimate the rankings of tech companies, both in and out of Silicon Valley, as contractors with the military, law enforcement, and diplomatic arms of the United States.

 

Gender,Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality

Women, Peace and Security: The Agenda at 20 (June 20, 2020)

This is the sixth research report by SecurityCouncil Report (SCR) dedicated to the women, peace and security agenda. This report reviews the period since SCR’s last research report, and covers in detail developments during the three years from 1 January 2017 to 31 December2019, while also making some general comments on events in the first months of2020. Ahead of the 20th anniversary of resolution 1325, the inaugural resolution on women, peace and security in 2000, this report examines whether the agenda is regressing, progressing or being maintained.

 

Mapping fatal police violence across U.S. metropolitan areas: Overall rates and racial/ethnic inequities, 2013-2017 (June 24, 2020)

Recent social movements have highlighted fatal police violence as an enduring public health problem in theUnited States. To solve it, the public requires basic information, such as understanding where rates of fatal police violence are particularly high, and for which groups. Existing mapping efforts, though critically important, often use inappropriate statistical methods and can produce misleading, unstable rates when denominators are small. To fill this gap, [the author of this article] use inverse-variance-weighted multilevel models to estimate overall and race-stratified rates of fatal police violence for all Metropolitan StatisticalAreas (MSAs) in the U.S. (2013–2017), as well as racial inequities in these rates.

 

Gender lens essential to addressing linked climate change and security crises, urges joint UN report (June 9, 2020)

As COVID-19 layers crisis upon crisis in communities affected by climate change and conflict, gender-responsive action is urgently needed.

 

Mapping Police Violence across the USA (June 2020)

Police forces across the United States have committed widespread and egregious human rights violations in response to largely peaceful assemblies protesting systemic racism and police violence, including the killing of Black people.

 

Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial Complex

The Trump Effect: Trends in Major Arms Sales 2019  (May 2020)

A new report from the Center for International Policy’s Security Assistance Monitor found that the Trump administration made at least $85.1 billion arms sales offers in 2019, the highest level since it took office in 2017. Because of a lack of full transparency on the value of Direct Commercial Sales licensed by the State Department, the $85.1 billion figure is a conservative estimate.  Over the first three years of the Trump administration, the U.S. made arms offers worth over $240 billion – nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars.

Estimated Number of Guns Sold by State Between 2019–2020 (May 6, 2020)

Data shows significant year to year increase in gun sales ranging from 50% to over 200% in some states.

 

Black Box: Military Budgets in the Arab World (May 14, 2020)

As the double whammy of the pandemic and the collapse in oil prices slams MiddleEastern economies, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank are already providing several Arab governments with billions of dollars in emergency financing and anticipate requests from others. Many Arab states are especially vulnerable to such external shocks because of long-standing economic mismanagement, often exacerbated by exorbitant military spending.

 

The Arms Trade in the MENA Region: Drivers and Dangers (June 17, 2020)

The world’s growing appetite for arms shows no signs of slowing down, with the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region making up one of the most lucrative markets in the world.

 

Trump Mulls Ending Heads-Up to Congress on U.S. Weapons Sales  (June 25, 2020)

Trump Administration Administration officials say they resent efforts by Capitol Hill to review arms exports to Saudi Arabia and other nations.

 

U.S. Arms Deals Continue During Pandemic  (June 26, 2020)

As the Trump administration designated the defense industry as essential, notifications of potential new international arms sales have continued during the coronavirus pandemic. In May, however, the firing of the State Department's inspector general and push for new arms sales raised controversy.

 

Happy Birthday to the Bomb (July 16, 2020)

President Harry Truman limited nuclear authority to just one civilian: himself. All U.S. presidents since have had the unilateral authority to start nuclear war. The case for sole authority is built on myths that should have been debunked long ago.

 

Human Security

Justice to Transcend Conflict (May 2020)

This report is part of a series of reports that provide multidimensional analyses of impacts of the armed conflict inSyria during the period 2011-2019, examining the socioeconomic situation and institutional performance of the country during this time. This report, Justice to Transcend Conflict, diagnoses the conflict based on an innovative HumanStatus Framework that assesses the interlinkages between institutional, social, and economic factors on macro, meso, and local levels. The report also frames the conflict through a social justice lens and provides alternatives based on expert-developed participatory approaches.

 

Looters take advantage of world isolation to plunder HolyLand archaeological sites (May 4, 2020)

Smugglers use Facebook to coordinate their efforts and crowdsource information.

  

101 arrested and 19,000 stolen artefacts recovered in international crackdown on art trafficking (May 6, 2020)

More than 19,000 archaeological artefacts and other artworks have been recovered as part of a global operation spanning 103 countries and focusing on the dismantlement of international networks of art and antiquities traffickers.

 

COVID-19, Severe Locust Outbreaks Compound Economic, Security Woes inSomalia Ahead of Long-Awaited Elections, Experts Tells Security Council  (May 23, 2020)

The COVID-19 pandemic poses grave consequences in Somalia ahead of long-awaited elections as the Government grapples to address terrorist attacks, floods, an extreme locust infestation and at least 5 million citizens requiring humanitarian assistance, including 2.6 million internally displaced persons.

 

COVID-19: Millions at risk of severe food insecurity inLatin America and Caribbean (May 28, 2020)

The socio-economic impact of the COVID-19pandemic in Latin America and the Caribbean could potentially leave around 14million* vulnerable people in severe food insecurity this year, warranting urgent attention to save lives, according to projections by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

 

Food Security in the Face of the Covid-19 Pandemic (June 16, 2020)

At the time of the emergence of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), nearly 900million people worldwide lacked access to adequate and sufficient food. This is why the present challenge to food security is particularly serious. Within this population lacking sufficient food, at least 155 million people suffer from severe food deficiencies, and their situation may be critically aggravated by the advance of the pandemic.

  

Environment in Context: Green Energy Colonialism in the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights (June 17, 2020)

Israel’s feverish plans to build the largest onshore wind farm in the occupied Golan Heights are a good example of why the conversation about a decarbonized economy may not be abstracted from considering prevailing power structures and systems of oppression including colonialism.

Food security in Mexico (June 25, 2020)

Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit Mexico, interrupting the industrial food supply in important ways, small farmers have increased production and rehabilitated abandoned chinampas to fill the demand for fresh, local food.

 

Maps and Charts

US Protest Map & Visualizing Police Violence (June 1, 2020)

A week ago African-American George Floyd tragically died whilst in police custody sparking a wave of unrest and protests in cities across the US. As with any societal issue, to understand the scale of police violence we must analyze and visualize data - which is what Mapping Police Violence has done

 

Syria: Weekly Conflict Summary (July 6-July 12, 2020)

The Russian and Turkish joint patrol reached Ain al-Hawr, Idlib Governorate, the longest distance to date. The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported in the region. There were increased clashes along the frontlines of Idlib and Aleppo Governorate. Anti-ISIS operations by Government of Syria (GoS) armed forces, GoS-backed militias, and the Russian air force continued in Hama Governorate. The United NationsSecurity Council renewed aid delivery to northwest Syria.

 

WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Dashboard

Globally, as of 6:18pm CEST, 22 July 2020, there have been 14,765,256 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 612,054 deaths, reported to WHO.

 

Coronavirus Pandemic(COVID-19) (July 22, 2020)

Daily new confirmed COVID-19 cases.

 

Conferences and Panels   

Sects, Instability and Resistance in Syria (May 16, 2020)

 

Sects & States (May 17, 2020)

 

Geopolitics and the Future of the GCC (May 17, 2020)

 

Conceptualizing Desectarianization (May 17, 2020)

 

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