November 4 – Middle East / International Organizations:
BAHRAIN / AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
The Bahraini Court sentences opposition leader Sheikh Ali Salman to life in prison finding him guilty of spying for Qatar. Bahrain severed its relations with Qatar in 2017. Human rights group, Amnesty International, calls the verdict a travesty of justice that demonstrates the Bahraini authorities’ relentless and unlawful efforts to silence any form of dissent. Ali Salman led the now outlawed Al-Wefaq movement, which called for reforms including a constitutional monarchy and elected prime minister. The movement was dissolved in 2016. Amnesty also calls on the international community to stop ignoring the continued crackdown on dissent in Bahrain because of its strategic location and value as a defense and security hub.
November 6 – North America: UNITED STATES
The United States holds midterm elections with voters filling 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate and all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. Americans also vote for governors in 35 of 50 states. With the highest turnout in decades (just shy of 50 percent), Democrats win the majority in the House with 35 seats; however, the Republicans maintain the Senate majority gaining additional two seats. With their first House majority since 2010, Democrats will have power to block the Republican legislative agenda. They will also control various oversight committees allowing them to hold hearings and issue subpoenas to investigate. A record number of women were elected to the House, with the total of 111 women now in Congress.
Mid-terms 2018: How these elections broke records
November 6 – International Organizations / Middle East:
UNITED NATIONS / IRAQ
The Human Rights Office of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) release a report documenting a discovery of 202 mass graves with more than 12,000 victims in the areas of Iraq that fell under the occupation of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) between June 2014 and December 2017. The graves were found in the north and western governorates of Nineveh, Kirkuk, Salahuddin and Anbar. The ISIL militants were known for brutal rule and widespread violence that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and possibly genocide under international criminal law. Iraqi forces captured ISIL last stronghold in Iraq in November 2017 although pockets of resistance still exist and the group controls some parts of the deserts of western Iraq.
Full UNAMI/OHCHR Report
November 16 – East Asia / International Organizations / Global Issues:
CAMBODIA / UNITED NATIONS
The United Nations-backed Cambodia Tribunal finds two leaders of the Khmer Rouge regime guilty of genocide. Nuon Chea, age 92, and Khieu Samphan, age 87, were top leaders in the brutal regime led by Pol Pot in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Considered one of the bloodiest regimes of the 20th century, it is responsible for killing up to two million people in those four years. Nuon Chea was found guilty of genocide for the attempt to wipe out Cham Muslims and ethnic Vietnamese Cambodians, and Khieu Samphan was found guilty of genocide against the ethnic Vietnamese. It is estimated that 36 percent of the Cham population was wiped out, while most of the Vietnamese minority deported, and those who remained were all killed. The two men are already serving life sentences for other crimes.
What is genocide
November 25 – Europe: RUSSIA / UKRAINE
Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) border patrol fires upon and captures three Ukrainian Navy vessels that were sailing from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the narrow Kerch Strait off the coast of Crimea. Russia detains 23 Ukrainian crew members; six of them wounded. In 2014, Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula by force, which continues to be internationally recognized as part of Ukraine. While Russia maintains that the Ukrainian ships illegally entered its territorial waters, Ukraine accuses Russia of violating international law stating that under a 2003 treaty, the Kerch Strait and the Sea of Azov are supposed to be shared territorial waters for both countries. As a result of the incident, Ukraine declares martial law along the border with Russia and in Black Sea coastal areas for a month. This incident serves as a reminder that the tensions between Ukraine and Russia over access to the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov remain high.
November 25 – Europe: European Union / UNITED KINGDOM
The European Union and the United Kingdom reach two agreements on the UK’s exit from the Union and on the future relations between the two sides. However, the withdrawal agreement has yet to be approved by the British Parliament in December and then by the European Parliament. According to the withdrawal agreement, the UK’s departure from the Union will take place on March 29, 2019 with a 21-month transition period during which the UK will remain under the EU’s regulations. The UK will also pay the EU a financial settlement of $50 billion. The agreement covers such issues as what happens to UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK. It also proposes a method of avoiding the return of a physical border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Labour Party and other opposition parties in the UK Parliament say they will vote against the deal. Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, said “the agreement gives us less say over our future, and puts jobs and living standards at risk.”
November 26 – North America / International Organizations / Global Issues:
UNITED STATES / UNITED NATIONS
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which analyzes human-induced and natural trends in global climate change and projects major trends for the next 25 to 100 years, issues the Fourth National Climate Assessment report. The report stresses that “Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activity. The impacts of global climate change are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.” It concludes that “with continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century—more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states.” It also notes that the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the country. More frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events will continue to damage infrastructure, ecosystems, and social systems.
Full Climate Assessment report
On October 8, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 °C, which discusses the impacts of global warming of 1.5° C above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways. The report summarizes the findings of scientists, showing that maintaining a temperature rise to below 1.5°C remains possible, but only through rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure, and industrial systems. In order to achieve the 1.5°C target, CO2 emissions must decline by 45 percent (relative to 2010 levels) by 2030, reaching net zero by around 2050, but also deep reductions in non-CO2 emissions. A warming of even 1.5 degrees will result in large-scale drought, famine, heat stress, species die-off, loss of entire ecosystems, and loss of habitable land, throwing more than 100 million people into poverty. The areas especially affected will be in arid regions including the Middle East and the Sahel in Africa, where fresh water is expected to dry up completely if the rise reaches 2°C.
Full IPCC Climate Report
Five things we have learned from the IPCC report
November 29 – North America: UNITED STATES
The National Center for Health Statistics issues government reports showing that the life expectancy in the U.S. has declined over the past few years. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), comments that “this troubling trend is largely driven by deaths from drug overdose and suicide. Life expectancy gives us a snapshot of the Nation’s overall health and these sobering statistics are a wakeup call that we are losing too many Americans, too early and too often, to conditions that are preventable.” According to the statistics, life expectancy in the United States has declined to 78.6 years in 2017. In 2017, there were 70,237 drug overdose deaths in the United States, 9.6 percent higher than in 2016. The suicide rate also increased by 3,7 percent and 33 percent from 1999 becoming the second leading cause of death for ages 10–34 and the fourth leading cause for ages 35–54. It used to be the 10th leading cause of death for all ages. The national nonprofit Mental Health America has identified that many people with depression in the U.S. are left untreated. More than 56 percent of adults with mental illness received no past year treatment, and for those seeking treatment, 20.1 percent continue to report unmet treatment needs. The state prevalence of uninsured adults with mental illness ranges from 3.3 percent in Massachusetts to 23.8 percent in South Carolina.
Global life expectancy for almost every country will rise in the next 20 years, with Spain overtaking Japan as the country with the longest-living population. And while the average U.S. lifespan will increase, the United States will fall from 43rd to 64th place on a global list of 195 nations.