Council on Foreign relations – Daily news brief Dec. 19, 2022

Top of the Agenda

Countries Reach Landmark Deal on Protecting Biodiversity

At a UN biodiversity summit in Canada, nearly two hundred countries agreed to extend protected status (AP) to more than 30 percent of the world’s land and water by 2030, a goal known as 30×30. Currently, about 17 percent of all land and 10 percent of marine areas are protected. 
China held the presidency of the conference and pushed for the final deal (The Guardian) despite objections from African countries that sought a new fund for biodiversity. The deal calls on rich countries to provide $20 billion per year by 2025 and $30 billion per year by the end of the decade to prevent biodiversity loss in poor countries. It also mandates reform of $500 billion in environmentally damaging subsidies in areas such as food and fuel and emphasizes that Indigenous communities should lead conservation efforts.


“The devil will be in implementation, but this is great news for both People and Planet,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Stewart Patrick tweets.
“You can set up a protected area, but you’ve not dealt with the fact that the whole reason you had habitat loss in the first place is because of demand for land,” Rutgers University’s Pamela McElwee tells the New York Times. “You have to tackle the underlying drivers, otherwise you’re only dealing with like half the problem.”
 This article looks at the promise and the problems in achieving the 30×30 goal.
Pacific Rim

North Korea Says Latest Missile Test Was Prep for Spy Satellite

North Korea launched two medium-sized ballistic missiles (Yonhap) into the sea off its east coast yesterday. State media said Pyongyang had conducted a “final-stage test” in its effort to put a military reconnaissance satellite into orbit next year.  The Foreign Affairs Interview podcast discusses whether Washington is ignoring the North Korean nuclear threatFiji: The final results of last week’s election showed that the FijiFirst party of Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama lost its majority (AAP) but remained the largest party in Parliament.
South and Central Asia

Detained Pakistani Militants Take Over Government Security Outpost

Fighters from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan took over the detention center (Dawn) where they were being held and demanded safe evacuation to Afghanistan. They entered talks with government authorities but have not yet reached a deal. 

Nepal: President Bidhya Devi Bhandari gave a week deadline (Reuters) for the country’s political parties to form a government. Parliamentary elections last month left both the ruling alliance and the main opposition party short of holding a majority.
Middle East and North Africa

Iran-Saudi Arabia Talks Reportedly Stalled Over Iran Protests 

The Iraq-mediated rapprochement talks have stalled largely because Iran is claiming that Saudi Arabia helped incite anti-government protests in the country, Iraqi officials told the Associated Press

France/Israel/Palestinian territories: The French foreign ministry criticized Israel’s deportation (Times of Israel) of a French Palestinian lawyer whom the Israeli government accused of terrorism offenses. 
Sub-Saharan Africa

Ghana to Default on Most of Its Foreign Debt

Ghana announced it will suspend payments (Reuters) on most of its external debt. A staff-level bailout agreement it reached last week with the International Monetary Fund was conditioned on a commitment to debt restructuring. In a rundown of the year’s most significant events, CFR’s James M. Lindsay writes that high interest rates are increasing the risk of debt crises in poor countries.  

South Africa: President Cyril Ramaphosa was reelected (BBC) leader of the ruling African National Congress party, defeating his challenger by nearly five hundred votes despite facing money-laundering allegations. 

European Union Negotiators Reach Deal on Carbon Market Overhaul

The provisional agreement will extend trading of carbon emissions (Bloomberg) to heating, shipping, and road transport. It is pending formal approval by the European Parliament and European Council. 

United Kingdom: The High Court of Justice in London ruled that a controversial government policy of sending asylum seekers to Rwanda was lawful (NPR), but said authorities must consider the circumstances of each case more carefully. The court justices wrote that the government had previously implemented the policy in a “flawed” manner. 

Peru’s President Announces Cabinet Reshuffle

President Dina Boluarte Zegarra removed the country’s prime minister (Bloomberg) and other officials ahead of tomorrow’s congressional debate on whether to hold new elections. Boluarte became president earlier this month after President Pedro Castillo Terrones was impeached. 

Guatemala: The country aims to hold a summit (Reuters) of “Taiwan-friendly” countries in March, the Guatemalan ambassador in Taipei said. Guatemala is one of only fourteen countries to have official diplomatic ties with Taiwan. This Backgrounder unpacks Taiwan’s status.
United States

January 6 Investigation Committee Recommends Charging Trump

The House of Representatives committee that investigated the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol recommended that the Justice Department pursue criminal charges (WaPo) against former President Donald Trump for his role in the attempt to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. It is the first such referral for a former U.S. president.

The House committee recommended that Trump be prosecuted for insurrection, obstruction of Congress, conspiracy to defraud the United States, and conspiracy to make a false statement. The Justice Department is conducting its own investigations (AP) of the attack on the Capitol and is not obligated to act on the committee’s referral. If charged, tried, and convicted for insurrection, Trump would be banned (Bloomberg) from holding public office. 


“I’m sure the Attorney General will welcome any new evidence the committee sends over, but the authority to indict rests with the executive branch, not Congress,” the University of Baltimore’s Ronald Weich tells Politico.

“Don’t expect to hear much about the [Justice Department’s] progress, as the [department] tends to stay pretty quiet, if not wholly silent, on the details of ongoing investigations until they present them in court,” NPR’s Domenico Montanaro writes. 

Jury Selection Begins in Sedition Trial Against Proud Boys

Five members of the white supremacist group are accused of plotting the attack (AP) on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. In November, members of the Oath Keepers extremist group were convicted of sedition for their role in the attack. 
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