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

[December 2020]

Climate Change and Security

Warming Arctic, heating tensions

(December 26, 2020)

A warming Arctic poses serious environmental consequences for the world. It also presents geopolitical security issues as ice-mass melts and maritime routes open up.

A Bold Request As Climate Change Ravages The Arctic

(December 23, 2020)

As the Arctic warms, a group of scientists draft an open letter calling for an Arctic Ambassador with a climate background to be appointed to the Arctic Council. Appointing an Arctic Ambassador to the Arctic Council will counter a dangerous narrative that the Arctic is merely a region of future battles over resources.

Can We Use Geoengineering to Defend Ourselves?

(December 22, 2020)

As countries experiment with geoengineering to counter climate change, the likelihood of developing technologies that can be used against other nations increases. The world needs to consider geoengineering uses now before we are forced into a hasty decision with potentially disastrous consequences.

Letter: Don’t militarize climate change

(December 20, 2020)

With John Kerry appointed as our new climate envoy, it is time to discuss his national security framing of climate change. After his appointment, Kerry tweeted, “America will have a government that treats the climate crisis as the urgent national security threat it is.” The AP news story on his appointment quotes a Pentagon report that notes increases in border insecurity that will come with a warming planet.

Climate-induced migration set to treble in South Asia by 205 2050, India to face displacement of 45 million people

(December 19, 2020)

More than 62 million people in South Asia, including over 45 million in India alone, will be forced to migrate from their homes due to climate disasters by 2050

How Russia Wins the Climate Crisis

(December 16, 2020)

Climate change and its enormous human migrations will transform agriculture and remake the world order — and no country stands to gain more than Russia.

Restoring 1 billion hectares would mitigate climate change

(December 14, 2020)

Actions to restore some of the degraded 2 billion hectares of land could yield and spread benefits, from food security to livelihoods to peace and security among rural and urban populations, across developed and developing countries.

There will be no lasting peace in the region without climate security

(December 12, 2020)

Local communities affected by the double burden of conflict and climate change need to be given opportunities, time and resources to participate in peace processes.

The costs of tackling climate change keep on falling

(December 11, 2020)

Renewable energy will get cheaper every year so there will likely be little to no net cost to decarbonisation. The Energy Transitions Commission suggests a cost below 1 per cent to achieve net-zero emissions globally by mid-century - a trivial sum to save the world from catastrophic climate change.

Debunking myths around the displacement-climate change connection

(December 9, 2020)

Increasingly, projected figures for so-called “climate refugees” in the coming decades are based on unrobust models, not rooted in science. While the threat of climate change and displacement is real, enormous, sensational figures run the risk of producing more harm in policy than good. 

Human society and the biosphere: Mass extinctions due to human activities

(December 6, 2020)

According to a recent United Nations report, more than a million species of plants and animals are currently threatened with extinction because of human activities. Rates of extinction today are as much as 1,000 times greater than the normal background rate.

Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Hits 12-Year High Under President Bolsonaro

(December 1, 2020)

The Brazilian government has confirmed over 2.7 million acres of the Amazon rainforest were destroyed over the past year — the largest amount in 12 years. Deforestation has surged under the right-wing presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. Scientists say preserving the Amazon is crucial in addressing the climate crisis.

Can We Go Green Without Plundering the Global South?

(December 1, 2020)

Can we go ‘green’ without a new phase of resource and wealth extraction of countries in the Global South?

The true cost of the global military to our climate and human security

Dr. Ho-Chih Lin and Deborah Burton, December 2020

This report focuses specifically on the military-oil industry relationship to reveal its role in climate breakdown. It argues that we must start to quantify, expose and act upon the climate burden put upon people and planet by the world’s big military spenders.

Security and International Relations

New Iran-Pakistan border crossing has implications beyond trade

(December 31, 2020)

For the first time, the Southern parts of Iran and Pakistan have been connected by a new trading route. Talks of establishing further trading routes point to a potential Iranian tilt toward China, while Pakistan’s cooperation with Iran may put pressure on its relation ship with Saudi Arabia.

Recapping 10 of the biggest foreign policy and national security stories of 2020

(December 22, 2020)

The Brookings Institute recaps 10 of the biggest foreign policy and national security stories of 2020 as they relate to the United States and the rest of the world with a new president moving into office.

Afghan-Pak border fencing has wide-ranging ramifications

(December 20, 2021)

The 2,600-kilometer-long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan has remained one of the most porous, destabilized and instable borders in the region. The US War on Terror, and Pakistan’s decision to be a frontline ally, has further destabilized the line between these two states.

Detention of former Saudi crown prince 'risks security of west'

(December 17, 2020)

The detention of the former crown prince of Saudi Arabia in breach of international law is weakening the security of both the kingdom and the west, a cross-party investigatory panel of British MPs has found.

Did the UK’s secret Libya policy contribute to the Manchester terror attack?

(December 16, 2020)

The official inquiry into the 2017 Manchester bombing has yet to probe the links between the terrorist, Salman Abedi, and UK covert action during the 2011 war in Libya – yet there is no point in the inquiry unless it asks difficult questions the British establishment would rather avoid.

US removes Sudan from state sponsor of terror blacklist

(December 14, 2020)

The US has removed Sudan from the state sponsor of terrorism list, a move set to help the African country access debt relief, multilateral lending and western investment for its battered economy.

Why should the US be afforded the ‘power of assassination’?

(December 6, 2020)

The US government’s argument that it has every right to assassinate anyone, anywhere that it deems a national security risk – even its own citizens – heralds its descent into despotism.

Reckless killing in Iran endangers Biden’s nuclear plan 

(December 1, 2020)

Why is Egypt intensifying its military drills?

(December 1, 2020)

After a busy November full of military drills, not least of which took place at sea, Egypt is continuing its training efforts into December and throughout 2021, sending a message about its global reach and capabilities.

Migration and Displacement

Global warming could create 63 million migrants in South Asia by 2050

(December 28, 2020)

The global climate crisis could see more than 63 million people displaced from their homes within South Asian countries in the next 30 years, according to a new report.

Fighting displaces over 500,000 in northern Mozambique, reports UN refuge agency

(December 18, 2020)

Attacks by armed groups in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado, Nampula, Zambezia and Niassa provinces have displaced more than 530,000 people, many of whom have been forced to move multiple times, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said on Friday. 

More uprooted, fewer return, pushing forcibly displaced above 80 million

(December 12, 2020)

The number of people forcibly displaced around the world has doubled in the past decade and is estimated to have passed 80 million in mid-2020, as few could go home and more were uprooted, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said in a report published on Wednesday.

Forced displacement passes 80 million by mid-2020 as COVID-19 tests refugee protection globally

December 9, 2020

While a full picture for 2020 is yet to be established, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, estimates that global forced displacement surpassed 80 million at mid-year, according to a report on trends in global forced displacement released today in Geneva.

A Rights-Centered Paradigm for Protecting the Forcibly Displaced

(December 7, 2020)

The world needs a flexible, inclusive, and rights-centered paradigm to protect people who have been forcibly displaced—and the United States can help build it.

Aid agencies fear for thousands as displacement camps in Baghdad are closed

(December 7, 2020)

Aid organisations working in the camps have expressed concern over the decision to dismantle them by the end of the year as no provision has been made for 60,000 who are to be expelled in winter during a pandemic.

Covid-19, Capitalism & Economy

UK's biggest financial firms have given boards near-80% pay rise since 2009

(December 26, 2020)

The UK’s largest listed financial firms have handed their board members a near-80% pay rise since 2009, prompting shareholder advisers and high pay campaigners to call for greater transparency on director fees.

Trickle-down economics is dead. It’s time to tax the rich harder

(December 20, 2020)

Study after study shows that the tenets of free-market thinking are deeply flawed and that nations that follow a tax-cutting agenda do nothing for the underlying strength of their economies. The latest examination of the subject studied fiscal policies in 18 countries over 50 years and concluded that tax cuts for the rich have never trickled down and only really benefit those individuals who are directly affected.

Gulf economies face major challenges in post-COVID 19 world

(December 18, 2020)

Signals indicate the embargo imposed on Qatar could come to an end, but can the Gulf Cooperation Council play a coordinating role vital to diversify Gulf economies post-pandemic?

The Last Thing We Need Is To “Go Back To Normal”

(December 6, 2020)

After four years of having a xenophobic reality TV host in the White House, the desire to just “go back to normal” is understandable. But a return to normalcy would be disastrous, shoring up the plutocratic status quo that gave us Trump in the first place.

South Africa and India push for COVID-19 patents ban

(December 5, 2020)

South Africa and India have called for the World Trade Organization to suspend intellectual property rights related to COVID-19 to ensure that not only the wealthiest countries will be able to access and afford the vaccines, medicines, and other new technologies needed to control the pandemic.

Technologies of surveillance/Data Analytics/AI

The geopolitics of artificial intelligence

(December 24, 2020)

As artificial intelligence technologies become more powerful and deeply integrated in human systems, countries around the world are struggling to understand the benefits and risks they might pose to national security, prosperity and political stability.

Powerful Mobile Phone Surveillance Tool Operates in Obscurity Across the Country

(December 23, 2020)

CellHawk helps law enforcement visualize large quantities of information collected by cellular towers and providers.

Corruption Cuts Both Ways in Russia’s Surveillance State

(December 20, 2020)

The same tech-based methods that governments use to track and persecute citizens also enable citizens to fight back.

Dozens of Al Jazeera journalists allegedly hacked using Israeli firm's spyware

(December 20, 2020)

Citizen Lab researchers say cyber-attack using NSO Group software likely ordered by Saudia Arabia and UAE.

Alibaba ‘dismayed’ by its cloud unit’s ethnicity detection algorithm

(December 18, 2020)

Alibaba Cloud AI services have been used by China as an ‘ethnic minority algorithm’ to identify whether or a person is “Uyghur”, to great alarm.

As China Tracked Muslims, Alibaba Showed Customers How They Could, Too

(December 16, 2020)

The website for the tech titan’s cloud business described facial recognition software that could detect members of a minority group whose persecution has drawn international condemnation.

Israeli spy firm suspected of accessing global telecoms via Channel Islands

(December 16, 2020)

Israeli spy firm suspected of accessing global telecoms via Channel Islands

Huawei worked on several surveillance systems promoted to identify ethnicity, documents show

(December 13, 2020)

Huawei has worked with dozens of security contractors to develop surveillance products, some of which were touted as able to identify a person's ethnicity or to help suppress potential protests, according to company marketing documents that shed light on a little-publicized corner of one of China's most valuable tech empires.

“My Phone Haunts Me": Kashmiris Interrogated and Tortured by Cyber Policer for Tweeting

(December 6, 2020)

The crackdown on social media users in Kashmir is part of a sharp escalation of the Indian government’s censorship efforts.

Gender, Race, Ethnicity and Sexuality

Air Force investigation finds disparities in how Black and White members are treated

(December 22, 2020)

Black members of the Air Force are treated differently than their White counterparts when it comes to job placement, leadership opportunities, educational options, criminal investigations and administrative discipline, according to the findings of a months-long investigation by the service’s independent watchdog.

Lebanon passes law criminalizing sexual harassment

(December 21, 2020)

Lebanon's parliament on Monday passed a landmark bill criminalizing sexual harassment that puts the worst offenders behind bars for up to four years — but activists say it doesn't go far enough to end discrimination against women.

Police five times more likely to use force against black people than white people in England and Wales

(December 18, 2020)

Police use force against black people five times more frequently than against white people in England and Wales, new figures show.

In tackling the country’s biggest problems, Biden and Harris need to prioritize gender and racial equity

(December 17, 2020)

Gender and Race need to be primary lenses through which issues surrounding the economy, politics and climate change are addressed. 

Finally, we have the data to prove what anti-racist campaigners have been saying for months

(December 16, 2020)

This week official figures showed what anti-racist campaigners have been saying for months: that Black, Asian and minority ethnic groups have suffered a triple whammy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Bame people are overwhelmingly more likely to have worse mental health, to have less financial security, and to be put at more risk of catching the virus.  

Documenting police violence is a form of resistance

December 15, 2020

The Macron administration’s attempts to prevent people from filming police officers shows that the French state is still determined to suppress the growing debate on racism and demands for racial justice in the country.

The Future Reset: Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

(December 14, 2020)

Washington Post Live brings together prominent thought leaders and scholars to discuss the complex and intersectional factors that have allowed the Black-White wealth gap to endure and identify remedies – both cultural and policy-based – that address racial wealth inequality today.

Rethinking homeownership incentives to improve household financial security and shrink the racial wealth gap

(December 9, 2020)

The U.S. has relied on homeownership—subsidized through federal tax policy—as a means of wealth-building. However, because of racial discrimination in housing and mortgage markets over many decades, a reliance on homeownership continues to exacerbate the wealth gap between Black and white families. A more balanced set of policies could both increase financial security (particularly for low- and moderate-income households) and shrink the racial wealth gap.

US Policing and Militarism Perpetuate Sexual Violence

(December 7, 2020)

While supposedly the arbiters of security and justice, the US police and military perpetuate sexual violence and gendered violence on their own.

Arms, Weapons, and Military Industrial Complex

The UK will spend over £350bn on extravagant military projects while failing to ensure national health security

(March 25, 2020)

Britain plans to spend hundreds of billions of pounds on expensive military projects while the UK’s under-funded public health system struggles to address pandemics such as Covid-19.

Trump pardons Blackwater contractors jailed for massacre of Iraq civilians

(December 23, 2020)

President Donald Trump has pardoned four Blackwater security guards who were given lengthy prison sentences for killing 14 civilians in Baghdad in 2007, a massacre that caused international uproar over the use of private contractors in war zones.

Trump To CIA: Say Goodbye to Your War on Terror

(December 19, 2020)

A Pentagon review of its relationship with the CIA will allow Biden to quickly reassess the forever wars from 9/11.

The CIA's Afghan Death Squads

(December 18, 2020)

Investigation reveals that the US has been training Afghan government paramilitary death squads in Wardak province since the American military occupation began. This U.S.-backed militia that kills children may be America's exit strategy from its longest war.

Global arms industry: Sales by the top 25 companies up 8.5 per cent; Big players active in Global South

(December 7, 2020)

Sales of arms and military services by the sector’s largest 25 companies totalled US$361 billion in 2019, 8.5 per cent more than in 2018. The largest companies have a geographically diverse international presence. This is according to new data released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The mapping shows that the international presence of major arms companies continues to be influenced by geopolitical divisions and ties, and generally mirrors the geographical locations of the world’s biggest arms import markets.

A Strategy for Reducing the Escalatory Dangers of Emerging Technologies

(December 2020)

The arms race for nations to develop evermore cutting-edge technologies that can be harnessed militarily without international reflection brings us closer to catastrophe and nuclear war. Understanding of the distinctive threats these technologies pose and the imposition of restraints on their use is essential. 

Trump Pulls the Plug on His Own Ill-Conceived War in Somalia

December 8, 2020

President Donald Trump has ordered the withdrawal of nearly all the 700 U.S. troops based in Somalia. This is likely part of Trump’s effort to portray himself as a foe of the US “forever wars”, even though it was the Trump administration that significantly accelerated the Somalia operation.

Human Security

South Korea: Revise Intelligence Act Amendments

(December 22, 2020)

The South Korean government should revise recent amendments to the National Intelligence Service Act that could be abused by the country’s intelligence agency, Human Rights Watch said today. 

EU Parliament calls for action over Egypt’s human rights abuses

(December 19, 2020)

The European Parliament has passed a resolution urging member states to consider imposing targeted restrictions against Egypt for its crackdown on human rights activists.

France’s War on Terror

(December 16, 2020)

As the threat of terrorism tightens its grip on French life, terrorism has become the main focus of President Emmanuel Macron and his party, the press spends much of its time relaying the government’s proposals and talking points about the issue, and legislation that curtails civil liberties in the name of “security” is now making its way through Parliament. Those who don’t get with the program are regarded with suspicion.

China undermining human rights by locking up rights lawyers, UN independent expert says

(December 16, 2020)

China has mounted a "shocking" five-year assault on lawyers who stand up for human rights, putting them in prison and even torturing them, an expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council said in a statement on Wednesday.

In Philippines drug war, ICC sees ‘reasonable basis’ for crimes against humanity

(December 15, 2020)

There is a “reasonable basis to believe” that crimes against humanity were committed amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s years-long crackdown on drugs in the Philippines, the International Criminal Court said in a report released this week.

Afghan civilian deaths from US air raids rose by more than 300 percent

(December 8, 2020)

Some 700 civilians killed in 2019 – more than any other year since the beginning of war – after the Pentagon relaxed its rules of engagement, the report says.

France security law incompatible with human rights, say UN experts

(December 4, 2020)

UN experts have urged France to completely revise a proposed new security law, deeming it “incompatible” with international law and human rights.

Australian war crimes and racist fantasies in Afghanistan

(December 3, 2020)

Australians continue to believe they are fighting a good war in Afghanistan, despite mounting evidence to the contrary.

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Jan 4, 2021
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