Weekly Round-Up


1. Canada joins Gambia’s efforts to prosecute perpetrators of Myanmar’s genocide against the Rohingya.


Canada will officially join Gambia’s legal effort to hold Myanmar accountable for allegations of genocide against the country’s predominantly Muslim Rohingya population. Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Phillipe Champagne said in a joint statement with his Dutch counterpart that Canada was joining Gambia’s legal bid in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to “to prevent the crime of genocide and hold those responsible to account". Canada’s role in the international effort to seek justice for the Rohingya will have a special focus on violence against women and sexual violence.


After a crackdown by the government of Myanmar on the Rohingya starting in 2017, 720,000 people fled to neighbouring Bangladesh where many of their number live in poor conditions in refugee camps. In November 2019, the Gambia initiated a formal case against the government of Myanmar in the ICJ accusing the government of mass murder, mass rape and destruction of communities in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In January 2020, the government of Myanmar was ordered by the ICJ to implement provisional measures to protect the Rohingya people, showing the effectiveness of the Gambia’s ongoing bid.



2. United States lifts decades old arms embargo on Cyprus.


The United States is set to lift its arms embargo on Cyprus to allow “non-lethal” military equipment to be sold to the island nation. Starting from the 1st of October, the US will remove impediments on the sale of “non-lethal defence articles and defence services”, for one year. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted alongside this announcement that the administration "reaffirmed US support for a comprehensive settlement to reunify the island".


This announcement has come as Cyprus has been placed in the midst of an ongoing geo-political struggle between Turkey and Greece, primarily concerning their maritime borders and energy extraction rights, which has pulled in a host of global actors. Both nations have engaged in drilling projects in the Eastern Mediterranean, in part in Cypriot waters, to assert their rights in the region, but both the EU and the US have put pressure on Ankara to withdraw their presence or face sanction. Turkey have condemned these statements and the lifting of US arms restrictions arguing that it will destabilise the region.



3. The security situation in Cabo Delgado continues to escalate as government forces score a victory.


Swathes of Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces are travelling northward from Cabo Delgado’s capital Pemba to reinforce the ongoing battle against insurgents in the province. Reports suggest that the government has retaken the village of Miangalewa, close to the key battleground of Mocimboa da Praia, after 300 troops defeated around 100 insurgents.


Alongside this, Total, the French oil giant, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the government in Maputo regarding the security of their energy developments in Cabo Delgado. Whilst the exact details of the agreement are unknown, Total will be contributing logistical support to the joint task force established to ensure the security of Mozambique’s liquid natural gas projects. Official government communications note that the agreement will “bolster security measures” in the region.



4. Singapore is using ingenious lab-grown mosquitoes to fight a Dengue outbreak.


Scientists in Singapore are using lab-grown male mosquitoes which prevent eggs from hatching to lower the country’s mosquito population. This comes after an outbreak of Dengue, a virus spread by mosquitos, which has killed 20 people out of a total of 26,000 cases. The lab-grown males can mate with female mosquitos but prevent reproduction, lowering the overall population and reducing the spread of viruses like Dengue. Some areas with high mosquito populations have seen up to a 90% decline using this technique. This development serves as a reminder of the power of emerging technology to combat the world’s worst problems.



5. Last week, Cyber-attacks crippled the New Zealand stock exchange for four days


Last week, the New Zealand Stock Exchange (NZX) was ground to a halt for four consecutive days as it was targeted by Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) cyber-attacks of unknown foreign origin. These kinds of attacks seek to overwhelm a service with internet traffic to prevent it from operating to its full capacity or even at all. The attacks forced NZX to cease trading in its cash markets, which disrupted other parts of the country’s financial ecosystem. The exchange has now continued operations. New Zealand’s central bank has said that similar attacks could potentially cost the banking and insurance markets 2-3% of their profits each year.


CSG Comment: In the upcoming Commonwealth Security Review 2020 we discuss the threat of such attacks on critical infrastructure with Dr Albert Antwi Boasiako, National Cybersecurity Adviser of Ghana.

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