1. CARICOM Celebrates 50th Anniversary
Countries across the Caribbean including Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, and Antigua and Barbuda have begun celebrations commemorating the 50th anniversary of CARICOM. Several events have been planned to mark the establishment of this economic and political union including a state gala dinner, concert, and local festivities across several islands. At an official ceremony, which will take place from the 3rd to 5th of July in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago, several high-profile guests including the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, and United Nations Secretary General António Guterres are expected to be in attendance. This anniversary highlights the continued importance of regional and multilateral institutions in facilitating deeper inter-island cooperation within the Caribbean. It also underlines once more, the opportunities for smaller states to leverage collective power to further and advance their interests. The Commonwealth, bringing together smaller states with some of the world’s largest, is perhaps the greatest example of this globally.
2. Kenya and Pakistan Experience Ongoing Jihadist Violence
Both Pakistan and Kenya have reported increased jihadist activity over the past week, with Pakistan successfully conducting raids against Taliban aligned separatists near its western border with Afghanistan, and Kenya suffering an Al-Shabaab attack on two border villages near Somalia. On 1st July, an official statement from the Pakistani military confirmed the deaths of six Tehreek-e-Taliban affiliated militants in the Peshawar region, during which ammunition stores and weapons were also seized by authorities. Meanwhile, on 25th June, the southeastern Kenyan villages of Salama and Juhudi suffered brutal attacks by Al-Shabaab militants, which claimed the lives of five civilians. Police reports indicate that the group indiscriminately inflicted violence upon residents such as burning local property and beheadings. Both incidents demonstrate the consistently grave threat that jihadist terrorism presents to many Commonwealth countries, and the continued importance of having well-equipped, well-funded, and well-organised state level security systems in place to tackle such threats. And of course, the fundamental value of sharing information, expertise and capability.
3. UK and Singapore Sign Technology and Data Agreements
During a two-day visit, British Deputy Prime Minster Oliver Dowden announced the signature of two memoranda of understanding relating to new technology and data agreements between the United Kingdom and Singapore on 28th June. The new agreements, signed between Mr Dowden and Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information Josephine Teo, aim to facilitate further alignment of data research and regulatory cooperation between the two nations. Specifically, the agreements contain proposals to jointly develop new technical standards for artificial intelligence, establish channels for sharing best practices for responsible corporate data use, and the establishment of a new Strategic Intergovernmental Dialogue for data regulation and consumer protection. This announcement follows shortly after the UK-Singapore cyber security dialogue, both of which continue to show the shared commitment of both nations to collaborate closely regarding matters of cybersecurity and technological regulations.
4. Australia and Solomon Islands Conduct Security Talks
Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles travelled to the Solomon Islands from 28th – 30th June to conduct security discussions with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare. Amongst other issues, the review and renewal of their existing 2017 security pact, the extension of Australia’s ongoing troop deployment, and the possibility of Australia providing security for the upcoming Pacific games in Honiara were discussed. Following the discussions, Mr Marles reiterated in an official statement that Australia and the Solomon Islands are "enduring partners... With shared values and deep connections” and that their “future prosperity and security is closely linked."