1) Trend of reconciliation in the Middle East
The P5+1, which includes the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, reached an agreement with Iran on its nuclear program. Under the agreement, Iran committed to not enriching uranium beyond 5% in 6 months.
Russia, in the last minute, proposed that Syria hand over and destroy all its chemical weapons to avoid a US military attack. All these developments indicate a trend of reconciliation by world powers to settle global issues while focusing on their internal affairs.
2) International diplomatic crisis over US PRISM surveillance program
Former CIA contractor Edward Snowden revealed the secret spying program of the US National Security Agency. The US government has been strongly criticized for having spied on its own citizens and many other countries, including its allies.
The UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution on the right to privacy in the digital age drafted and submitted by Germany and Brazil. US President Barack Obama has promised to consider an NSA reshuffle.
3) Nelson Mandela, first black South African president, died at 95
Former South African President Nelson Mandela, who devoted his whole life to fighting against oppression, injustice and Apartheid while defending freedom and social progress, died at the age of 95. He was considered a great man of reconciliation. Mandela was respected and admired by people around the world.
4) Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio elected Pope Francis
Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected to succeed Pope Benedict the 16th, who was the first Pope to abdicate since Pope Celestine the 5th 7 centuries ago. This was the first time that a Latin American was elected Pope.
5) Strong regional and world reaction to China’s Air Defense Identification Zone
Territorial disputes have escalated in North East Asia. China unilaterally established its Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) which covers the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands with Japan and overlaps the Republic of Korea’s ADIZ in the East China Sea. Many countries, particularly Japan, the Republic of Korea and the US have vehemently opposed China’s move.
6) Political instability rife worldwide
Opposition protests following the Thai government’s proposal to adopt the Amnesty Bill have had a serious impact on social life. Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament and called for a snap election early next year.
In Cambodia, the National Salvation Party continued to boycott the new parliament, whose majority is controlled by the Cambodian People’s Party. Ukraine is, meanwhile, deep in crisis because of prolonged protests opposing the government’s decision to withdraw from a trade deal with the EU.
7) Extremist and terrorist organizations expand operations in Africa
Extremism is growing in Africa with a series of terrorist attacks in Somalia, Nigeria, Mali, and Algeria. 62 people were killed and approximately 200 wounded in a hostage situation at Westgate Mall in Kenya.
The incident demonstrated the seriousness and scale of terrorist acts by Islamic Somali gunmen with links to Al Qaeda.
8) Saudi Arabia denied non-permanent membership at the UN Security Council
Saudi Arabia declined non-permanent membership on the UN Security Council. The move was in protest of the Council’s handling of the crisis in Syria and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Analysts, however, say the decision was Saudi Arabia’s reaction to US policies on Middle Eastern issues.
9) WTO’s breakthrough in global trade negotiations
The World Trade Organization reached the historic Bali agreement, which it is believed will lead to the completion of the Doha Round of Talks on global trade liberalization launched 12 years ago.
The Bali agreement includes commitments to boost global trade by simplifying customs procedures and removing trade barriers. If fully implemented, tax solutions will likely generate 1 trillion USD for the global economy and create 21 million jobs.
10) Super-typhoon Haiyan hits the Philippines, claims more than 7,000 lives
Haiyan has been one of the most powerful typhoons in human history. It devastated many provinces in eastern Philippines, killed more than 7,000 people and destroyed nearly 2 million houses.
Typhoon Haiyan and the record rise of sea water of 3.2 millimeter a year are evidence of the serious impact of climate change on our planet. However, the UN Climate Change Conference failed to make any progress. Only some principles in reducing carbon dioxide were achieved.