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November 2020 Media Roundup

Security in Context 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. It does not reflect the views of Security in Context . The goal is to shed light on knowledge production on security related issues 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

[November 2020]

Climate Change and Security

Arctic Turbulence: Why Indigenous Communities Are Fighting Wind Farms

(November 30, 2020)

The Arctic is experiencing climate change at a faster pace than the rest of the world. Having already had to adapt, the Indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland and north-western Russia – the Saami – now face a new threat to their existence as industrial wind farms are constructed on their ancestral lands to supply the western world’s growing demand for green energy.


War isn’t the biggest threat to the UK’s security – but is getting the money

(November 20, 2020)

The UK is going to spend billions more on its military while cutting foreign aid and failing to tackle either pandemic or climate crisis seriously. 


Thanks for polluting the planet: emails blamed for climate change

(November 18, 2020)

Research suggests that unnecessary emails, due to sheer volume, contribute hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions every year in the energy used to charge devices, send and store data. Reducing those unnecessary emails could be one unconventional way to reduce carbon emissions. 

Security and International Relations

Universities as vehicles of regional de-escalation: Unpacking the Potential of Cultural Diplomacy

(November 30, 2020)

The role played by Universities in forging networks of non-state intercultural partnerships can be a significant long term de-escalation mechanism in the Persian Gulf region.


Assassination in Iran Could Limit Biden’s Options. Was That the Goal?

(November 30, 2020)

The killing of Iran’s top nuclear scientist is likely to impede the country’s military ambitions. Its real purpose may have been to prevent the president-elect from resuming diplomacy with Tehran.


China-Led Trade Pact Is Signed, in Challenge to U.S.

(November 14, 2020)

The deal stands as a potent symbol of Beijing’s growing economic sway in Southeast Asia at a time of uncertainty over Washington’s economic ties with the region.

Migration and Displacement

Iraq empties camps for the displaced as military warns on Isis

(November 28, 2020)
Iraqi officials have stepped up efforts to evict tens of thousands of people with perceived links to Islamist militants Isis from sprawling camps that military officials warn could become breeding grounds for extremism.


Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis: Escalating Violence and Mass Displacement Threaten Ethiopian and Regional Security

(November 25, 2020)

On Nov. 4, simmering political tension turned into armed conflict in northern Ethiopia, as fighting broke out between the government and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a powerful political party and armed group that controls the Tigray region in northern Ethiopia. The conflict has already claimed hundreds of lives and displaced thousands more, including more than 40,000 refugees who have fled across the Ethiopian border into eastern Sudan.


UN warns that millions are at risk of displacement as Ethiopia approaches possible civil war

(November 11, 2020)

The United Nations has said escalating fighting in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region could displace 9 million people. The conflict has closed roads and communications with the region and a report by the UN warned that the violence may disrupt food and safety net assistance that is needed by over a million people in Tigray.


Violence and wildfires driving people from their lands in Iraqi Kurdistan

(November 11, 2020)

Between May and September 2020 nearly 300.000 acres of land were burned during military campaigns taking place in Iraqi Kurdistan. Shelling and bombing resulted in bushfires and caused the displacement of thousands of people, destroying their livelihoods and damaging fragile ecosystems.


Iraq camp closures 'could leave 100,000 displaced people homeless'

(November 9, 2020)

The rapid closure of displacement camps in Iraq could leave more than 100,000 people without shelter in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic and as winter approaches, an aid group has warned.

Covid-19, Capitalism & Economy

UK’s high Covid spending delivers worse outcomes than peers

(November 29, 2020)

The UK has spent more money fighting coronavirus than almost all comparable countries but still languishes towards the bottom of league tables of economic performance in 2020 and deaths caused by the virus, according to Financial Times research.


US Billionaires Have Increased Their Riches By $1 Trillion During the Pandemic

(November 24, 2020)

A trillion dollars could maintain wages at pre-crisis levels for all workers in America, enabling people to stay home and stop the spread of the virus, for four months. Instead, it’s gone into the personal piggy banks of a handful of billionaire owners and investors.


Covid-19 has shone a light on racial disparities in health

(November 21, 2020)

This article discusses racial disparities in health outcomes as highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated requirement for better data.


Is Dissent Still Possible? Making Up the Covid-19 Democratic Deficit

(November 20, 2020)

The combination of war discourse, scientific technocracy and opaque algorithmic technologies is making it difficult for dissenting and marginalised voices to speak up in times of pandemic. 


China will be key driver of the global economy from pandemic-induced contractions

(November 20, 2020)


How the link between racism and Covid is being ignored

(November 2, 2020)

A report shows black and minority ethnic people are dying at a higher rate, but has little to say on the cause.

Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AI

China’s surveillance state sucks up data. U.S. tech is key to sorting it.

(November 26, 2020)

U.S. technology is powering one of the most invasive parts of China’s surveillance state. The Chinese government uses these computers to watch untold numbers of people in Xinjiang, a western region of China where Beijing has unleashed a campaign of surveillance and suppression in the name of combating terrorism.


Secret Amazon Reports Expose the Company’s Surveillance of Labor and Environmental Groups

(November 23, 2020)

Dozens of leaked documents from Amazon’s Global Security Operations Center reveal the company’s reliance on Pinkerton operatives to spy on warehouse workers and the extensive monitoring of labor unions, environmental activists, and other social movements.


EU trained Algeria and Morocco police in online disinformation tactics

(November 20, 2020)

The European Union is training police and security forces in North African countries in surveillance techniques including harvesting data from social media sites and mobile phones.


Video Analytics User Manuals Are a Guide to Dystopia

(November 19, 2020)

A new era of video analytics poses a number of problems to society and further discriminates against already vulnerable and persecuted groups. As police and law systems rely more on this technology, non-human errors in mistaken identity will increase; already racialized, religious and activist groups will increasingly become that target.


The ethical questions that haunt facial-recognition research

(November 18, 2020)

Academics and activists have called on publisher Wiley to retract a controversial study published in 2018 that trained algorithms to distinguish faces of Uyghur people from those of Korean and Tibetan ethnicity. This study and others like enable the mass surveillance of certain groups as has happened with the Uyghur people by the Chinese state.


How the U.S. Military Buys Location Data from Ordinary Apps

(November 16, 2020)

A Muslim prayer app with over 98 million downloads is one of the apps connected to a wide-ranging supply chain that sends ordinary people's personal data to brokers, contractors, and the military.


UN warns of impact of smart borders on refugees: ‘Data collection isn't apolitical’

(November 11, 2020)

Special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia believes there is a misconception that biosurveillance technology is without bias. Robotic lie detector tests at European airports, eye scans for refugees and voice-imprinting software for use in asylum applications are among new technologies flagged as “troubling” in a UN report.

Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality

Palestinian rights and the IHRA definition of antisemitism

(November 29, 2020)

An open letter by 122 Palestinian and Arab academics, journalists and intellectuals express their concerns about the IHRA definition.


Saudi women's rights activist's trial moved to terrorism court

(November 25, 2020)

Loujain al-Hathloul has been imprisoned without trial for over 900 days for her activism and advocating women’s rights. Her trial has now been moved to a court that specializes in handling terrorism cases, raising grave concerns. 


UAE halts new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim states - document

(November 25, 2020)

The United Arab Emirates has stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to a document issued by a state-owned business park.


As 2020 Sets Grim Record for Trans Killings, Advocates Call for Holistic & Uplifting Media Coverage

(November 24, 2020)

At least 37 transgender and gender nonconforming people were violently killed in 2020, making it the deadliest year for trans and gender nonconforming people on record, according to a new Human Rights Campaign report.


UK universities perpetuate institutional racism, report says

(November 24, 2020)

Universities UK (UUK), which represents 140 institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, calls on senior leaders to admit where there are problems of racism at their institutions and to improve understanding and awareness among staff and students of racism, racial microaggressions, white privilege and white allyship.


Why Reforming Islam to Fight Violent Extremism is a Bad Idea

(November 24, 2020)

French President Macron’s call to reform Islam into an ‘Islam of enlightenment’ simultaneously misunderstands the drivers of violint extremism and the heterogenous nature of Islam itself as well as risks increasing the marginal voices of those the reform aims to quell. 


'Structural racism': UN urges reforms in Brazil after deadly beating of black man

(November 24, 2020)

The UN has said that the deadly beating of a black man by white guards in Brazil exemplified “structural racism”, and called for an independent investigation and urgent reforms in the country.


UK: ‘One in four’ Muslims experience Islamophobia in Labour Party

(November 14, 2020)

More than one in four Muslim members and supporters of Labour Party – 29 percent – have experienced Islamophobia within the ranks of the United Kingdom’s main opposition party, according to a report.


Georgetown Report Finds Large Disparities, Racial Inequity in US Women’s Well-Being

(November 12, 2020)

Women in the United States vary significantly in terms of well-being depending on the state they live in and their racial identity, according to a study released by Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security on Oct. 8. 


How China used the war on terror to wage a war on the Uyghurs

(November 9, 2020)

Using the ‘War on Terror’ to justify its repression of the Uyghur minority, the mass detentions and totalitarian clampdowns in Xinjiang, appear in fact to be a pretext to eliminate Uyghurs as a distinct people, their culture, their language, and religion.

Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial Complex

More military spending won't keep Britain safe – but boosting overseas aid could

(November 26, 2020)

By increasing the defence budget while cutting aid, Boris Johnson is putting warlike posturing above true security


Feminism Not Militarism: Medea Benjamin on the Movement to Oppose Michèle Flournoy as Pentagon Chief

(November 25, 2020)

Biden has yet to announce his defense secretary, but progressives are already raising alarm over reports that he intends to nominate Michèle Flournoy, a hawkish Pentagon veteran with close ties to the defense industry. If nominated, Flournoy would become the first woman to lead the Department of Defense. 


The Next Administration Should Bring the Shadow Wars into the Light

(November 25, 2020)

As the U.S. moves toward a new administration and a new Congress, there is an unprecedented opportunity to reflect on the need to re-evaluate and reconsider the total costs, consequences, and risks of insufficiently bounded, secret warfare. 


Casualties From Banned Cluster Bombs Nearly Doubled in 2019, Mostly in Syria

(November 25, 2020)

Casualties from cluster bombs, the internationally banned weapons that kill indiscriminately, nearly doubled last year, mostly because of use by the Russian-backed armed forces of Syria in that country’s nearly decade-old war, a monitoring group reported.


The UK military’s overseas base network involves 145 sites in 42 countries

November 24, 2020

Britain’s military has a permanent presence at 145 base sites in 42 countries or territories around the world, research by Declassified UK has found. The size of this global military presence is far larger than previously thought and is likely to mean that the UK has the second largest military network in the world, after the United States. 


Generation Forever War: Biden's National Security Picks Herald Return to Hawkish Normalcy

(November 24, 2020)

President elect Biden’s picks for senior national security posts are a continuation of the former President Obama’s whitehouse. This will likely drive a hawkish centre-left foreign policy and the continuation of US ‘forever wars,’ rather than an opportunity for progressive reform.


Australian special forces involved in murder of 39 Afghan civilians, war crimes report alleges

(November 19, 2020)

Australian special forces were allegedly involved in the murder of 39 Afghan civilians, in some cases executing prisoners to “blood” junior soldiers before inventing cover stories and planting weapons on corpses, a major report has found.


'Vicious cycle of militarism': Biden's defence team criticised for ties to arms industry

(November 17, 2020)

Joe Biden's transition team is facing criticism from Democratic lawmakers and anti-war groups after the president-elect announced a group of Pentagon advisers who have connections to the arms industry.


Foreign Office resists release of files on support for UK mercenaries in Sri Lanka

(November 15, 2020)

The Foreign Office is resisting publishing files relating to its diplomatic support for British mercenaries in Sri Lanka in the 1980s, despite the Metropolitan police launching an unprecedented inquiry into potential war crimes by those individuals.


Major Arms Sales to the United Arab Emirates

(November 13, 2020)

The announcement of a massive $23 billion arms offer to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the largest arms package the Trump Administration has proposed to Abu Dhabi and raises serious strategic and human rights concerns. The UAE’s active role in a number of regional conflicts raises the prospect that the arms and munitions announced as part of the package could directly contribute to ongoing violence and a troubling history of international humanitarian law violations.

Human Security

France: Protesters clash with police over new security law

(November 28, 2020)

Police and demonstrators have clashed in Paris as tens of thousands took the streets to protest against new security legislation, a controversy intensified by the beating and racial abuse of a Black man by officers that shocked France


Incidents of police brutality trigger French climbdown on security law

(November 27, 2020)

Members of French Parliament were discussing plans for a security law to strengthen police powers in the aftermath of a police attack against a black man in Paris. Police brutality and the planned security law has brought many to the streets in protest. 


Over 1m Palestinians under poverty line in besieged Gaza: UN

(November 25, 2020)

The Israel-led blockade of the Gaza Strip cost the Palestinian enclave more than $16bn and pushed more than one million people below the poverty line in just more than 10 years, according to a new United Nations report.


How to Elevate the Status of Human Rights – at Home and Abroad – in a Biden-Harris White House

(November 25, 2020)


Natural Justice joins legal challenge against the East Africa Pipeline

(November 25, 2020)

Natural Justice has joined the Center for Food and Adequate Living Rights, Africa Institute for Energy Governance and the Center for Strategic Litigation in Tanzania in a case in the East African Court asking for a temporary injunction of the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.


Ethiopia: Protect civilians in Mekelle offensive

(November 23, 2020)

The conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray region is on the brink of a deadly escalation after Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave fighters loyal to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) 72 hours to surrender before the military begins an assault on Tigray’s capital Mekelle. 


Climate Change Is Making Winter Ice More Dangerous

(November 20, 2020)

Warmer winters are making frozen bodies of water more dangerous, particularly in the Northern hemisphere. This particularly affects indigenous communities and communities that rely on activities on the ice, putting them at risk of drowning. 


This is how gender-sensitive conflict analysis improves peacebuilding

(November 6, 2020)

To mark the 20th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, last week Saferworld and Conciliation Resources (CR) launched its Gender-sensitive conflict analysis facilitation guide – an important tool for peacebuilders and peace activists to put gender equality at the front and centre of their work. Read the guide here


The ten countries most impacted by terrorism

Conflict continues to be the primary driver of terrorist activity for the countries most impacted by terrorism, according to the 2020 Global Terrorism Index.


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