The World in September 21-27

75th anniversary of the United Nations

This week, the 75th anniversary of the United Nations took place, this time remotely, and the dominant themes were the pandemic and its respective management on a global level, as well as the tensions between the US and China.

At a time when the world is going through a somber phase, plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic and its political and socio-economic consequences, António Guterres characterized the pandemic as “not only a wake-up call” but “a dress rehearsal” for challenges to come. Guterres also mentioned that the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities and inequalities on a global level and “generated ‘an epochal health crisis’, the biggest economic and job losses since the Great Depression, and dangerous new threats to human rights, among other challenges.” According to him, in the face of such a challenge it would be necessary to end “’vaccinationalism’, as countries are reportedly making “side deals” for their own populations, a fact which may foster inequality in the international sphere and in the access that countries will have to the vaccine.

Regarding tensions between the US and China, both presidents, Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, addressed the Assembly of Nations virtually, with antagonistic views of what both countries represent in the international sphere. The Chinese president, on one hand, pictured China as a global and responsible actor in the international arena and in the United Nations, having emphasized his commitment in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic, for which a bigger multilateral effort and cooperation would be necessary. He also referred to the pandemic as an issue that should not be politicized by states, in an allusion to the criticism that president Donald Trump has been levying at China’s management of the pandemic and its transparency.

On the other hand, Donald Trump referred to Covid-19 as “the Chinese virus”, attributing the blame for the spreading of the virus to China, as well as mentioning the the WHO is controlled by China. Trump restated his unilateral vision of the International System, in which the US are the global hegemon, affirming that other states should follow the American example and place their own citizens first.

The political crisis in Lebanon worsens

The designated prime-minister of Lebanon, Mustapha Adib, resigned this Saturday, after a month of unsucessful efforts to achieve a non-partisan cabined, leaving the country closer to total collapse.

Adib was supported by the French state, and he tried to form a cabinet comprised of independent specialists who might be able to work in implementing reforms. This process became particularly complex due to the fact that, as per the sectarian political system in Lebanon, a Sunni Muslim must occupy the role of prime minister, whereas the presidency should be occupied by a Maronite Christian, and the President of the Parliament should be a Shia Muslim.

Adib’s announcement deals a blow to French President Macron’s efforts to break the political impasse in the country. To name an official for the role of finance minister was the hardest task, as the main Shia Muslim groups in the country – Hamal and Hezbollah -, insisted in maintaining control over the ministry of finance.

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