News Timeline: International Organizations 2021

February 26 – Amnesty International

Tigray conflict

In a newly issued report, Amnesty International accuses Eritrean forces of  massacring hundreds of unarmed civilians in the city of Axum in Ethiopia’s northern region of Tigray last November. It also says this could amount to a crime against humanity. Responding to the report the United States calls for Ethiopia and Eritrea to cease fighting in the Tigray region and the withdrawal of their forces from the region.[1]

How a massacre in the sacred city of Aksum unfolded

Amnesty International report: The Massacre in Axum

May 7 – WHO

Global Health: Coronavirus, or COVID-19

The World Health Organization (WHO) gives emergency authorization for China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 Vaccine, which will give access to coronavirus vaccinations in low- and middle-income countries.  The approval allows the Sinopharm vaccine to be included in WHO’s global initiative, Covax, that promotes equitable vaccine distribution around the world.  But so far China itself is facing a vaccine shortage like India, a major vaccine maker, that has stopped vaccine exports due to its worsening coronavirus crisis.[2]

May 24 – ECOWAS

Coup d’état

Just nine months after Mali’s Colonel Assimi Goïta ousted the government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta in a military coup and nominated himself vice-president of an interim government, he stages another coup d’état ousting this time interim President Bah Ndaw and the acting Prime Minister Moctar Ouane.  He says they failed to inform the military about plans to reshuffle the cabinet, as well as to resolve the ongoing strikes.  This time he declares himself president, but claims that elections will still take place next year as planned.  The Economic Community of West African States and the African Union (ECOWAS) suspends Mali’s membership, while France suspends its military operations in the country. French forces have been helping fight militants in the Sahel region.[3]

Mali – country profile

About coups in Africa

About the 2020 coup in Mali (video, 02:06 min)

June 11-13 – G7

The 47th G7 summit

The Group of Seven (G7) holds a summit in Cornwall, England in the United Kingdom, which currently carries out the presidency of this inter-governmental political forum.  The participants include the leaders of the seven member-states (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States), as well as representatives of the European Union.  The G7 leaders put several issues on top of their agenda. 

Covid-19 vaccine: they pledge to supply a billion vaccines to poor countries directly, or to give them to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Covax program to distribute.

Climate: to counter climate change, they make an agreement to get rid of coal-fired power stations that don’t use carbon capture technology.  They also promised to help poorer countries cut emissions and devise a plan to support a ‘green revolution’.  The leaders agree to phase-out cars that run on fossil fuels, and end the use of coal-power energy plants.  At the same time, they establish no dates for this to happen.

Girls’ education: G7Leaders agree to promote gender equality by helping 40 million more girls get into education within the next five years. They also promise $2.75 billion for the Global Partnership for Education, an international charity focused on increasing the number of children in school.[4]

Global tax: Finance leaders from the G7 countries agree to back a new global minimum tax rate of at least 15 percent that companies would have to pay regardless of where they locate their headquarters. This would prevent tax avoidance by some of the world’s biggest multinationals.[5]

Background: The G7 consists of the world’s seven leading industrial countries that work together to tackle important global issues.  Although their decisions are not legally binding, the G7 countries exert strong political influence and determine responses to global challenges.  In 1997, the Group extended to G8 by including Russia.  However, after invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea, Russia was suspended indefinitely reverting the group to G7.

The 2021 G7 Summit in pictures

August 5 – UNESCO

Ongoing conflict in Ethiopia

The Tigrayan TPLF forces take control of Ethiopia’s historic town of Lalibela as the conflict between the Tigrayans and the central government spills beyond the Tigrayan region.  Lalibela, a historic town in the region of Amhara, is famous for its 12th-century rock-hewn churches, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage site.  The town is also a popular pilgrimage site for Orthodox Christians.   Local Amhara forces who are allied with the central government fled the area before the Tigrayan forces enter the town.[6]

More about Rock-Hewn Churches in Lalibela as a World Heritage Site

Background:  The Ethiopian army has been engaged in a military conflict with the TPLF since November, after Tigrayan forces attacked government military installations in the Tigray region.   Neighboring Eritrea is also militarily involved. This conflict together with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Ethiopia’s economy.

More on Ethiopia’s economy battered by Tigray war

August 9 – UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

IPCC Report on climate change

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change releases the first part of its Sixth Assessment Report, which concludes that the effects of human-caused climate change are now “widespread, rapid, and intensifying”.  This warming is affecting weather and climate extremes in every world region, such as recent heatwaves in Greece and western North America, and floods in Germany and China. 

IPCC report key points:

  • Global surface temperature was 1.09C higher in the decade between 2011-2020 than between 1850-1900,
  • The past five years have been the hottest on record since 1850,
  • The recent rate of sea level rise has nearly tripled compared with 1901-1971,
  • Human influence is “very likely” (90%) the main driver of the global retreat of glaciers since the 1990s and the decrease in Arctic sea-ice,
  • It is “virtually certain” that hot extremes including heatwaves have become more frequent and more intense since the 1950s, while cold events have become less frequent and less severe.

It is believed that deep cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases could stabilize rising temperatures.[7]

Established in 1988, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an intergovernmental body of the United Nations responsible for advancing knowledge on human-induced climate change.  Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, it has 195 member-states.

More about the IPCC Report on climate change

IPCC Report

More on drought in western U.S.

More on Greece fires

More on California fires

October 6 – World Health Organization (WHO)

Malaria vaccine

The World Health Organization (WHO) endorses the first malaria vaccine for use among children in sub-Saharan Africa and in other regions with moderate to high P. falciparum malaria transmission.  The recommendation is based on positive results from an ongoing pilot program in three countries, Ghana, Kenya and Malawi that has reached more than 800 000 children since 2019.  The program showed significant reduction of 30 percent in deadly severe malaria.

Malaria remains a primary cause of childhood illness and death in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 260 000 African children under the age of five dying from malaria annually.[8]

More about the malaria vaccine and the history of its development

October 7 – The Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize in Literature

The 2021 Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded to Abdulrazak Gurnah from Tanzania, the first Black writer to receive the prize since Toni Morrison in 1993.   In his novels, Gurnah explores the themes of exile, identity and belonging, as well as trauma of colonialism, war and displacement.  The Literature Nobel Prize is widely regarded as the most prestigious literary award in the world.[9]

More on Gurnah Nobel Prize and his novels

October 8 – The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development

Economics: Global Minimum Corporate Tax Rate

More than 130 countries agree to set a global minimum corporate tax of 15 percent, cracking down on tax havens and the avoidance of corporate taxes.  Under the agreement, which has been led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, corporations will be required to pay taxes in countries where their goods or services are sold.  The new fairer minimum tax rate will apply to companies with annual revenue of more than $866 million.[10]

While this new tax will generate around $150 billion in additional global tax revenue per year helping the economies, economists say that a 15-percent tax still gives the multinational companies a lower rate than the average American pays in state and federal income tax.  They argue the global corporate tax should be set at at least 25 percent to start reversing decades of inequalities.[11]

More on the argument of the need for the global tax higher than 15 percent

October 31 – November 13: United Nations Climate Change Conference

Countries attending the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, United Kingdom, also known as COP26, agree to the Glasgow Climate Pact that aims to reduce the worst impacts of climate change.  The agreement is not legally binding, but it does set the global agenda on climate change for the next decade.


Coal – after intervention from India and China, the deal includes a phase down rather than phase out of coal, but it is the first climate deal to commit to reducing the use of coal that is responsible for 40 percent of annual CO2 emissions.  

Methane – more than 80 countries agreed to cut emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) – a greenhouse gas which causes climate change – by 30 percent by the end of the decade to keep warming limited to 1.5 °C (2.7 °F).  Australia, China, Russia, India and Iran did not sign the deal.  The US and China, the world’s biggest CO2 emitters, pledged to cooperate over the next decade in areas including methane emissions and the switch to clean energy.

Trees – leaders from more than 100 countries with about 85 percent of the world’s forests promise to stop deforestation by 2030.  This program gets better funding than before. 

Help to developing countries – the agreement pledges to increase financial help for poor countries to cope with the effects of climate change and make the switch to clean energy.

Money – financial organizations controlling $130 trillion agreed to back “clean” technology, such as renewable energy, and direct finance away from fossil fuel-burning industries.[12]

What did the scientists make of COP26?

Check out how climate change affects every country

November 1 – United Nations Climate Summit

Environment: Deforestation

During the United Nations Conference on Climate Change, to address global warming, leaders of more than 100 countries with around 85 percent of the world’s forests, including Canada, Russia, Brazil, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the United States, agree to end deforestation by 2030.[13]

More on the effects of deforestation

November 4 – United Nations Climate Summit

Environment: Coal power

More than 40 countries pledge, during the UN Climate Summit, to phase out coal power, the dirtiest of fossil fuels. These include Italy, Canada and Denmark, as well as five of the world’s top 20 power-generating countries: Poland, Indonesia, South Korea, Vietnam and Ukraine.  However, some of the biggest coal consumers did not join the pact, including China and India, which together burn about two-thirds of the world’s coal, Australia, the world’s 11th-biggest consumer of coal and a major exporter, and the United States, which generates about one-fifth of its electricity from coal.

Coal is the single biggest source of planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.[14]

More about the coal pledge and why the United States did not sign it

November 30 – The Commonwealth

Barbados becoming a republic

After 396 years, a small Caribbean Island of Barbados votes to stop pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II becoming a republic with its newly elected President Sandra Mason as the country’s head of state.  However, Barbados will remain in the Commonwealth.  Announcing this decision, Barbados prime minister Mia Mottley said the time had come for Barbados to “fully leave our colonial past behind”.[15]

About the Commonwealth


[1] “Ethiopia: The Massacre in Axum.” Amnesty International. 26 February 2021. Accessed March 17, 21 and Aaron Pellish and Laura Smith-Spark. “US calls for withdrawal of Eritrean forces in Ethiopia following investigation into massacre.” CNN. February 28, 2021. Accessed March 17, 21.

[2] Sui-Lee Wee. “W.H.O. approves China’s Sinopharm vaccine for emergency use.” The New York Times. May 7, 2021. Accessed June 5, 21.

[3] “Mali’s coup leader Assimi Goïta seizes power again.” BBC News. May 25, 2021. Accessed June 15, 21 and “Mali’s coup leader Assimi Goïta declares himself president.” BBC News. May 27, 2021. Accessed June 15, 21 and “France suspends military ties with Mali over coup.” BBC News. June 3, 2021. Accessed June 15, 21.

[4] “G7: Vaccines, climate change and girls’ education lead promises from world leaders.” BBC Newsround. June 14, 2021. Accessed July 1, 21 from

[5] Alan Rappeport. “Finance Leaders Reach Global Tax Deal Aimed at Ending Profit Shifting.” The New York Times. June 5, 2021. Updated June 11, 2021. Accessed July 1, 21 from

[6] “Ethiopia: Tigray forces seize UNESCO site Lalibela.” Deutsche Welle (DW). August 5, 2021. Accessed September 27, 21.

[7] Matt McGrath. “Climate change: IPCC report is ‘code red for humanity’.” BBC News. August 9, 2021. Accessed October 7, 2021.

[8] “WHO recommends groundbreaking malaria vaccine for children at risk.” WHO. News Release. October 6, 2021. Accessed February 3, 2022 from

[9] Alexandra Alter and Alex Marshall. “Abdulrazak Gurnah Is Awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.” The New York Times. October 7, 2021.Updated October 11, 2021.

[10] Daniel Thomas. “Nations agree to 15% minimum corporate tax rate” BBC News. October 8, 2021. Accessed February 8, 2022.

[11] Jake Johnson. “Top Economist Warns 15% Global Minimum Tax on Corporations Is ‘Way Too Low’”. Common Dreams. July 7, 2021. Accessed February 9, 22 from

[12] “COP26: What was agreed at the Glasgow climate conference?” BBC News. November 15, 2021. Accessed February 7, 2022.

[13] Catrin Einhorn and Chris Buckley. “Global Leaders Pledge to End Deforestation by 2030.” The New York Times. November 1, 2021.Updated Nov. 10, 2021. Accessed March 8, 22.

[14] Brad Plumer and Lisa Friedman. “Over 40 Countries Pledge at U.N. Climate Summit to End Use of Coal Power.” The New York Times. November 4, 2021. Updated Nov. 6, 2021. Accessed March 8, 22.

[15] Michael Safi. “Barbados parts way with Queen and becomes world’s newest republic.” The Guardian. November 30, 2021. Accessed February 10, 2022.