Council on Foreign Relations – Daily news brief Oct. 7, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Human Rights Advocates From Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine Win Nobel Peace Prize

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded (AP) to jailed Belarusian rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian rights group Memorial, and the Ukrainian rights group Center for Civil Liberties. Norwegian Nobel Committee Chair Berit Reiss-Andersen celebrated their work toward anti-militarism, the rule of law, and “peace and fraternity between nations.” Bialiatski founded the human rights organization Viasna and was jailed without trial following his participation in the 2020 protests against the reelection of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. A Russian court shut down Memorial in December, and the Center for Civil Liberties has worked to document Russian war crimes against Ukrainian civilians. While Reiss-Andersen said the prize is not intended to send a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, it is seen as an implicit rebuke of Russia’s continued onslaught on Ukraine (Reuters)

“On Putin’s 70th birthday, the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to a Russian human rights group that he shut down, a Ukrainian human rights group that is documenting his war crimes, and a Belarusian human rights activist whom his ally Lukashenko has imprisoned,” tweets former Human Rights Watch executive director Kenneth Roth. “[The laureates] have emerged as some of the starkest challengers to the widespread misinformation and harmful myths disseminated by authoritarian leaders and fueled by globalization, digital connectedness and new methods of surveillance,” write the New York Times’ Cora Engelbrecht, Isabella Kwai, and Euan Ward. 
Pacific Rim

Motion to Debate China’s Treatment of Uyghur Muslims Rejected at UN Rights CouncilThe motion was defeated (RFE/RL) 19-17, with eleven abstentions. It was only the second defeat of a motion in the UN Human Rights Council’s sixteen-year history. This Backgrounder looks at China’s repression of Uyghurs

South Korea: Women’s rights groups issued a joint statement (Bloomberg) criticizing South Korea’s government after President Yoon Suk-yeol announced plans to eliminate the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family.
South and Central Asia

Sri Lankan Supreme Court Approves Case Against Ousted PresidentGotabaya Rajapaksa, who resigned as president after mass protests earlier this year, and other top members of his administration will be tried (Daily Mirror) for economic mismanagement.  

India/UK: Indian carmakers proposed cutting the tax rate for imported cars to 30 percent during ongoing trade talks with the United Kingdom (UK), Reuters reported. India is one of the world’s most protected car markets, with import taxes between 60 and 100 percent.
Middle East and North Africa

U.S. Says It Killed Two Islamic State Targets in SyriaThe U.S. military said its air strikes in northern Syria killed (WaPo) Abu-Hashum al-Umawi and another senior leader of the self-declared Islamic State. 

Israel/Lebanon: Israel rejected Lebanon’s proposed changes (Axios) to a draft agreement that aims to resolve the countries’ dispute over maritime boundaries in a potentially gas-rich area in the Mediterranean Sea.
Sub-Saharan Africa

U.S. Accuses Russian Mercenaries of Exploiting Africa to Fund Ukraine WarU.S. ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said Wagner Group mercenaries are exploiting (Reuters) African natural resources to fund Russia’s war in Ukraine and its military endeavors elsewhere. Moscow rejected the charges as “anti-Russian rage.” 

Lesotho: The country holds general elections (Africanews) today. A tight race is expected between the parties of outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mathibeli Mokhothu, his coalition partner, Nkaku Kabi, and businessman-turned-politician Sam Matekane.

Biden Warns of Nuclear Weapons Use in UkraineU.S. President Joe Biden warned (CNN) of “the direct threat of the use [of a] nuclear weapon” if the war in Ukraine continues to escalate and said it would be difficult to avoid “Armageddon” if a tactical nuclear weapon is used.

Mexican Economy Minister Resigns Amid Energy Dispute With WashingtonEconomy Minister Tatiana Clouthier said she no longer had the capacity (Bloomberg) to lead talks under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade deal about a U.S. complaint against Mexico’s nationalist energy policies. CFR’s Shannon K. O’Neil unpacks Mexico’s energy policies

Peru: Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico abstained from a declaration (MercoPress) condemning Russia’s aggression in Ukraine that passed at an Organization of American States (OAS) meeting in Lima. This Backgrounder looks at the OAS.
United States

Biden Announces Pardon for Simple Marijuana Possession ConvictionsThe pardon will apply (NPR) to more than six thousand people convicted under federal law and District of Columbia code. Biden urged state governors to issue their own pardons. Five states have marijuana-legalization initiatives on their midterm ballots.
Friday Editor’s Pick

The Associated Press visits a camp for displaced persons in Somalia, where more than one million people have fled their homes amid a deadly drought and the specter of famine.
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