A neighbor in her seventies or eighties paused last week when she saw my husband playing in the garden with our four-year old daughter, in the lockdown we now face. She told him that she was on her way to have her one daily cigarette—no doubt medically inadvisable, but why not have a small pleasure now?—and that she was thinking about how the world had changed with “the virus.” And then she said, “you know, I think that there are birds chirping now in Beijing, people can breathe the air better in Rome and Madrid.
South Africa is preparing to back one of the largest infrastructure projects on the continent: the Inga III hydroelectric dam in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A new report from CIC’s Congo Research Group and Phuzumoya Consulting, I Need You, I Don’t Need You: South Africa and Inga III, places South Africa’s backing of Inga III in the context of foreign policy, arguing that the contradictory and uncertain dynamics of South African support for the dam puts into question the bankability—and indeed the feasibility—of the whole project.
Afghanistan, along with the rest of the world, faces major uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic—a shock that complicates this assessment of the Afghan peace process and the challenges that lie ahead, After nearly two years of formal negotiations, the United States and the Taliban signed an “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan” in Doha, Qatar on February 29, 2020.
The novel coronavirus pandemic poses widespread risks to public health and economic stability around the world—but it also has particularly worrying implications for the recent progress towards ending the decades-long conflict in Afghanistan. The pandemic will greatly complicate efforts to overcome the already significant obstacles to the implementation of the Afghan peace process foreseen in the February 29 agreement between the United States and the Taliban. The prevalence of the virus in Afghanistan is still unknown, given the weakness of healthcare systems and the lack of testing.
This week, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank all cancelled big meetings in favor of virtual connections due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic. We’re watching multilateral institutions switch gears in real time to cope with impact of a novel coronavirus outbreak that’s unfolding rapidly on a global scale.