Commonwealth Security: Weekly Round-Up

Updated: May 26




1. EasyJet admits data of 9 million customers stolen in cyber-attack


After a “highly-sophisticated” cyber attack on British airline EasyJet’s servers the company admitted that the email addresses and travel details of 9 million customers had been stolen. As well as this, the credit and debit card details of 2,208 customers had been accessed, including the three-digit security number on the back. As of yet, there is no evidence that this information has been used maliciously.


CSG Comment: Cyber attacks are a regular occurrence, targeting companies large and small, and in jurisdictions large and small. These attacks emanate from a range of sources, from state agencies to criminal gangs and online political 'hacktivists'. Their impact can be significant and hugely destabilising. Cooperation on standards and values across governments and the private sector is vital to stemming the tide of these attacks, and to ensuring a secure online environment.


CSG co-hosted the Commonwealth Cyber Security Dialogue with the India Future Foundation and the United Nations in Delhi, India in September 2019. This programme was the start of an on-going focus on cyber issues including our forthcoming webinar series on fake news and the subversion of democracy. Contact us for more information about participation.



2. At least 300 people have been killed as violence resumes in South Sudan


South Sudan, an aspiring Commonwealth member, has seen a fresh wave of violence in Jonglei state this week. In a spate of inter-communal violence, pastoralists (those who cultivate livestock) clashed with farm workers starting on Saturday in the north-eastern town of Pieri. Whilst 300 people have been killed, including 3 aid workers, more than 1000 have been driven from their homes and forced to flee to the bush. This marks a pattern of continued violence in South Sudan despite the peace treaty signed between President Salva Kiir and main rebel leader Riek Machar.


CSG Comment: With the government in Juba pinned down by the COVID-19 pandemic the ability for South Sudan to maintain peace is severely threatened. We believe the fledgling peace presents a huge opportunity for the Commonwealth community to leverage its breadth of experience, capability, and diversity to support the government establish stability, and in time prosper.



3. Financier of the Rwandan Genocide arrested in France after evading capture for 23 years


A businessman suspected of financing extremist militias during the Rwandan genocide has been apprehended by French police after years on the run. Felicien Kabuga had been living under a fake identity just outside of Paris. The arrest came in light of cooperation between several nations, including Rwanda. It is expected that Kabuga will be handed over to United Nations prosecutors in order to stand trial in Arusha, Tanzania.


CSG Comment: The Rwandan genocide took place and the world stood by; bringing to justice all the perpetrators of genocide and their supporters must be a priority. The apprehension of Kabuga should be lauded by the wider Commonwealth community. The Kabuga case demonstrates how international cooperation is vital in bringing all 'génocidaires' to justice.



4. India and Bangladesh have been struck by a powerful cyclone resulting in multiple deaths


Cyclone Amphan has made landfall in India and Bangladesh with gale force winds destroying houses, uprooting trees and telephone lines as well as leaving 14 million people in Kolkata without power. Scores of people are known to have died so far as a direct result of the cyclone. The devastation is compounded by the fact that both countries are also dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks.


CSG Comment: Cyclone Amphan struck in the week a major study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States confirmed that the warmer global climate is directly leading to more ferocious storms. As the earth's climate continues to warm we believe cooperation across the Commonwealth in disaster management will help save lives and mitigate the human and economic toll of these catastrophes.


For further information on options for the Commonwealth in disaster management we spoke to Ronald Jackson, Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and Dr Ulric Trotz, Deputy Director of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (5Cs). The interviews form part of our research ahead of a feature on disaster resilience in the forthcoming Commonwealth Security Review 2020, and will be published first here online.



5. Chinese ship leaves Malaysian waters after month long stand-off


The Chinese ship Haiyang Dizhi 8 has left Malaysia’s Exclusive Economic Zone after a month of posturing near a Malaysian-chartered energy exploration ship, the West Capella. Despite Beijing’s claims that the vessel was carrying out routine activities, many commentators see this as an easing off of their pressure on Malaysian territory in the South China Sea.


CSG Comment: The incident in the South China Sea, now brought to a conclusion, is further evidence of irregular and unwelcome activity by China in its near neighbourhood. China is a respected member of the international community, but countries must show solidarity with one another when China strays from international norms of behaviour. The Commonwealth framework has the potential to maximise that solidarity, while simultaneously continuing to engage positively and as friendly partners with China. It is in ensuring that balance that a concerning growth in adversarial activity can be stymied.

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