Enemies of the State: How governments and business silence land and environmental defenders Global Witness July 2019
Calls to protect the planet are growing louder – but around the world, those defending their land and our environment are being silenced. More than three such people were murdered on average every week in 2018, with attacks driven by destructive industries like mining, logging and agribusiness. This year, our annual report on the killings of land and environmental defenders also reveals how countless more people were threatened, arrested or thrown in jail for daring to oppose the governments or companies seeking to profit from their land. These are ordinary people trying to protect their homes and livelihoods, and standing up for the health of our planet. Often their land is violently grabbed to produce goods used and consumed across the world every day, from food, to mobile phones, to jewellery. Continue reading.
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Graphic. Environmentalists killed 2018 by country and sector. Credit: Global Witness.
Vision of Humanity
average level of global peacefulness improved very slightly in 2019, for the
first time in five years, on the 2019 GPI. [However,] the average level of
global peacefulness has deteriorated by 3.78 per cent since 2008. Over that
period, 81 countries deteriorated in peacefulness, while 81 improved.
global economic impact of violence improved for the first time since 2012,
decreasing by 3.3 per cent or $475 billion from 2017 to 2018. The improvement
in the global economic impact of violence is largely due to the decrease in the
impact of Armed Conflict particularly in Iraq, Colombia and Ukraine, where the
impact of Armed Conflict decreased by 29 per cent to $672 billion in 2017. The
global economic impact of violence was $14.1 trillion PPP [ a measure of GDP which
takes account of differences in the purchasing power of various currencies; see
Wikipedia] in 2018, equivalent to
11.2 per cent of global GDP or $1,853 per person. Syria, Afghanistan and the
Central African Republic incurred the largest economic cost of violence in 2018
as a percentage of their GDP, equivalent to 67, 47 and 42 per cent of GDP,
respectively. In the ten countries most affected by violence, the average
economic cost was equivalent to 35 per cent of GDP, compared to 3.3 per cent in
the ten least affected.
gap between the least and most peaceful countries continues to grow. Since
2008, the 25 least peaceful countries declined on average by 11 per cent, while
the 25 most peaceful countries improved by 1.8 per cent on average. Conflict in
the Middle East has been the key driver of the global deterioration in
peacefulness. The indicator with the most widespread deterioration globally was
the terrorism impact indicator. Just over 63 per cent of countries recorded
increased levels of terrorist activity. However, the number of deaths from
terrorism has been falling globally since 2014.
An estimated 971 million people live in areas with high or very high climate change exposure [where climate change issues such as water scarcity can increase the probability of conflict], . Of this number, 400 million (41 per cent) reside in countries with already low levels of peacefulness.
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Transparency International January 29, 2019
The 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) released today by Transparency International reveals that the continued failure of most countries to significantly control corruption is contributing to a crisis of democracy around the world.
“With many democratic institutions under threat across the globe – often by leaders with authoritarian or populist tendencies – we need to do more to strengthen checks and balances and protect citizens’ rights,” said Patricia Moreira, Managing Director of Transparency International. “Corruption chips away at democracy to produce a vicious cycle, where corruption undermines democratic institutions and, in turn, weak institutions are less able to control corruption.”
The 2018 CPI draws on 13 surveys and expert assessments to measure public sector corruption in 180 countries and territories, giving each a score from zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). To view the results, visit: www.transparency.org/cpi2018
Freedom House February 4, 2019
In 2018, Freedom in the World recorded the 13th consecutive year of decline in global freedom. The reversal has spanned a variety of countries in every region, from long-standing democracies like the United States to consolidated authoritarian regimes like China and Russia. The overall losses are still shallow compared with the gains of the late 20th century, but the pattern is consistent and ominous. Democracy is in retreat.
In states that were already authoritarian, earning Not Free designations from Freedom House, governments have increasingly shed the thin façade of democratic practice that they established in previous decades, when international incentives and pressure for reform were stronger. More authoritarian powers are now banning opposition groups or jailing their leaders, dispensing with term limits, and tightening the screws on any independent media that remain. Meanwhile, many countries that democratized after the end of the Cold War have regressed in the face of rampant corruption, antiliberal populist movements, and breakdowns in the rule of law. Most troublingly, even long-standing democracies have been shaken by populist political forces that reject basic principles like the separation of powers and target minorities for discriminatory treatment.
Some light shined through these gathering clouds in 2018. Surprising improvements in individual countries—including Malaysia, Armenia, Ethiopia, Angola, and Ecuador—show that democracy has enduring appeal as a means of holding leaders accountable and creating the conditions for a better life. Even in the countries of Europe and North America where democratic institutions are under pressure, dynamic civic movements for justice and inclusion continue to build on the achievements of their predecessors, expanding the scope of what citizens can and should expect from democracy. The promise of democracy remains real and powerful. Not only defending it but broadening its reach is one of the great causes of our time.