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Weekly Spotlight: 24 September 2023

1. Bahamian Authorities Endorse Caribbean Get Safe Online’s “Check a Website” Campaign

Get Safe Online, a leading global online safety advisory service, announced the launch and introduction of the “Check a Website” service on 19 September in several Caribbean countries, including The Bahamas, in an attempt to increase awareness of online safety across the region. The “Check a Website” tool encourages users to enter a website’s URL into a custom-built algorithm, based on more than 40 data sources and reports from global regulators and law enforcement agencies, which then generates a trust score with which users can assess the reliability of a given website. In response, a representative from the Bahamas Computer Incident Response Team (CIRT) commented that they “realised the importance of securing digital citizens,” and that the program “was in line with the country’s goals of improving online security.”

2. Venezuelan Government Announces Referendum over Disputed Territory with Guyana

In a hugely controversial statement, the Venezuelan National Assembly announced its intention to hold a referendum concerning a territorial dispute with Guyana on 23 September. The topic’s controversy stems from Georgetown and Caracas’s adherence to different official resolution processes regarding the disputed territory, with the former favouring a mechanism agreed in collaboration with the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and the latter instead preferring to settle the matter bilaterally. In response, Venezuelan Ambassador to Guyana Carlos Amador Perez Silva was summoned by the Guyanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a formal rebuke the following day. Multilateral bodies including the United Nations, Organisation of American States (OAS), and Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Guyana have offered to help resolve the matter peacefully by promoting constructive dialogue between the two governments, and by ensuring that adherence to international law is observed consistently during the resolution process.

3. Global Security Topics Take Centre Stage at United Nations General Assembly

From 18-22 September, leaders from across the world, including from several Commonwealth member states, gathered in New York City to attend the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly. During the summit, pertinent global security topics such as climate-driven physical threats, artificial intelligence, and threats to state sovereignty were discussed at length. Representatives from commonwealth nations including British Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, all delivered speeches to the general assembly highlighting the urgent need for collaborative action to address the far-reaching security challenges faced by the UN’s 193 member states. The summit also provided opportunities for smaller nations to raise important issues with the international community. For example, Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka’s was able to discuss Pacific Islands regionalism and maritime security directly with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres during a bilateral meeting, while several Caribbean nations including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and St Lucia were able to publicly express their collective support for a multilateral security intervention in Haiti.

4. Royal Navy and Marines Conducts Maritime Security Exercises in Nigeria and Ghana

This week, HMS Trent departed Lagos for further travel to Ghana, following successful joint maritime security exercises between Royal Navy, Royal Marines 42 Commando, and Nigerian Naval personnel. During HMS Trent’s five-day visit to Nigeria, training on crucial maritime security skills such as vessel boarding, search-and-seizure, and firefighting was conducted, while broader strategies on combatting piracy and illegal trafficking were also discussed. HMS Trent’s Commanding Officer, Commander Tim Langford reported that it was “a pleasure to witness the strengthening of the relationship between my Ship’s Company and our friends and partners in the Nigerian Navy,” and that “the integrated training achieved over the past few days will allow our two nations to work increasingly closely in improving maritime security within the Gulf of Guinea.”

5. Fijian Government Responds to Police Station Firebombing

Following a firebomb attack against Suva’s Totogo Police Station on 21 September, the Fijian Government has urged citizens not to panic amidst fears of broader violence developing within the capital. The attack, conducted by a thirty-three-year-old suspect in broad daylight, was acknowledged by Homa Affairs Minister Pio Tikoduadua as an “alleged attempt to attack a key security facility, which represented a direct threat to Fiji’s security forces and the peace and security of the nation.” However, the Home Affairs Minister also stated that “the public should remain calm and confident in our commitment to maintaining peace and security.” The suspect was admitted to the Colonial War Memorial Hospital after receiving burns during the incident, and will reportedly be taken into police custody once recovered.


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