Commonwealth Security: Weekly Round-Up
Updated: May 30, 2020
1. 28 States at risk of heavy flooding in Nigeria in 2020
According to the Nigerian Hydrological Survey Agency 28 of Nigeria's 36 states are at risk of severe flooding this year. The 2020 Annual Flood Outlook included the following states in their at risk cateogry: Rivers, Cross River, Delta, Lagos, Ondo, Bayelsa, Sokoto, Kogi, Niger, Kaduna, Gombe, Adamawa, Benue, FCT, Nasarawa, Delta, Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ekiti, Ebonyi, Edo, Abia, Anambra, Imo, Borno, Kano, and Kebbi. Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, stated the purpose of the report was to highlight probable flood projections, and to communicate this risk as widely as possible. He noted the additional threat posed by the 2020 floods given the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.
CSG Comment: The current coronavirus pandemic has brought to the collective global consciousness the health consequences of major weather events. This week CSG spoke to Madeleine Thomson, Director of the Our Planet, Our Health Team at Wellcome Trust on how the world's fourth largest charitable foundation are approaching these issues. Our conversation will be featured in the forthcoming Commonwealth Security Review 2020.
2. Locust swarms are sweeping swathes of East Africa generating huge food insecurity in countries including Kenya and Uganda
Kenya has seen its worst case of Locust swarms in seventy years as East Africa is ravaged by the insects. The swarms have come at a particularly inopportune time as not only it is it the height of the regions growing season, it is also battling Coronavirus. As a result, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation has predicted that up to 25 million East Africans will face extreme food shortages this year. It is thought that this year’s locust outbreaks have been particularly widespread as extreme weather patterns linked to climate change and warmer seas provide ideal breeding conditions for the insects.
3. Tensions along the Sino-Indian border initially thought to be insignificant are becoming a cause for concern for the Indian military
According to the Indian press, Chinese troops have crossed the border at several points allegedly making incursions up to three or four kilometres past the disputed border. It is believed that they have destroyed Indian built bridges and outposts as well as digging themselves in with trenches. Reports of such behaviour have been noted at the confluence of the Galwan and Shyok rivers; the hot springs area and the Northern bank of Pangong lake. Whilst patrols meeting on the LAC (Line of Actual Control) are common – the latest breaches are not the norm, involving larger forces and areas of land not previously thought to be in dispute.
4. UK, Canada, and Australia join US in condemning Chinese security law in Hong Kong
Three Commonwealth countries, the UK, Canada and Australia have joined the United States of America in issuing a statement scolding China for passing a law that threatens to breech the 1984 Sino-British agreement on Hong Kong's autonomy. According to the statement the law "lies in direct conflict with its international obligations under the principles of the legally-binding, UN-registered Sino-British Joint Declaration. The proposed law would undermine the One Country, Two Systems framework. It also raises the prospect of prosecution in Hong Kong for political crimes, and undermines existing commitments to protect the rights of Hong Kong people – including those set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights." The passing of the law has seen protests spark across Hong Kong.
CSG Comment: Hong Kong has enduring and warm relations with the wider Commonwealth. The prosperity and rights of the Hong Kong people must be a priority, and where those are threatened the international community should be robust in defending them. Simultaneously, it is important that the autonomy of Hong Kong remains at the centre of this debate, and it is not used as part of the wider and emerging US - China frictions.
5. Australia and India are set to sign a series of defence co-operation agreements at an unprecedented virtual summit
This week it appears that both the Australian and Indian governments are keen to deepen the two countries strategic relationships. The two countries are poised to sign a variety of treaties on issues ranging from defence, to trade and medical policy at a virtual summit scheduled for 4th June. On the defence front, the two countries are likely to agree to sharing some military bases and working together on military technology projects. Australian PM Scott Morrison spoke of the “shared values” of the two Commonwealth partners.