By The Diplomat Team
We’re about to bid farewell to a whirlwind of a time. It does not matter whether we talk about the Olympic Games in Sochi, Ebola, or EuroMUN – 2014 was a pretty multifaceted year. Wars and crisis had quite some challenges ready for the world, but outstanding events such as the Football World Cup in Brazil this summer spread enthusiasm amongst all the people. Therefore, the Diplomat team wants to review 2014 in its own way. As an international hub of its own, Maastricht sees the world through a kaleidoscope of filters – thanks to the influence of many colorful perspectives. Through the course of 2014, we are confident that our blog divulged in a diverse medley of relevant, of-the-moment, yet still prevailing topics. Following this, you can find each month’s catchiest slogans from our Blog as we reflect back on a year to remember. Enjoy!
Maastricht’s Diplomat team delved deep into the turmoil unfolding in Ukraine. With many citizens across the nation and in capital city Kyiv publicly calling for the resignation of President Viktor Yanukovych, the democracy of Ukraine careened into a deep freeze as icy as the winter they braced. On January 16th, 2014 the majority of Parliament favored the law that would make protest activity illegal, “These laws were voted in an unconstitutional manner, that is, without any discussion and by
simple hand-voting of the majority in the Parliament, and later signed by the President” (The Diplomat’s Ievgen Bilyk, January 23rd 2014). It was a frigid time for these protestors whose near-constant presence in the streets and Independence Square displayed extreme dauntlessness despite riot police shooting, striking, and injuring citizens; and detaining activists and demonstrators who violated any of the governments newly imposed Orwellian orders. Looking forward into days to come, Ukraine faces even more problems – however with a greater emphasis on Russian intervention versus early 2014’s internal disputes.
We are able to witness, as many different hands overplay their power on Ukraine, the country’s infrastructure is becoming unsettled. Thus, there is a deeper issue impending for Ukraine’s future. As Anatol Lieven of BBC News quotes, “On the one hand, the West is clearly not prepared to make the economic sacrifices necessary to support the Ukrainian economy in the face of Russian hostility. On the other, the existing conflict in Ukraine makes it impossible for any Ukrainian government to conduct the kind of economic and political reforms on which the EU is insisting, and on which Ukrainian progress towards the West depends.” The seemingly obvious solution, as Lieven later states, is the neutralization of Ukraine. Russia and the West will both formally have to abandon the hopes to bring Ukraine into a Russian-led bloc; and the possibility of bringing Ukraine into NATO, respectively. Only then, will a clear resolution be achieved.
Though press regarding the 2014 Sochi Olympics heavily focused on the intense competition, glimmering medals and impressive performances, UNSA’s Diplomat gave us a unique view at Russia’s political injustice happening behind the scenes.
It is argued, however, that Russia’s corrupt policy behavior is relatively of the norm and Sochi just finally thrust it under the limelight. “As the high-speed downhill drama of the Winter Olympic Games wraps up in Sochi, one issue has faded from public view amid the spectacle: Russia’s corrosive culture of corruption…
Now those issues have disappeared. That is a shame because corruption has far more to say about Russia’s troubled future — and its increasingly belligerent stance toward the United States — than anything that happened in the Games, including Russia’s embarrassing hockey loss to neighboring
In March, The Diplomat reminded us of something the media had long forgotten “Fukushima on the 11th March 2011. This catastrophe happened only three years ago, even if it doesn’t seem so. And yet it feels as if it is almost ages ago – nobody talks about it anymore, especially not the media. The news lost its currency. The nuclear radiation did not.”
“In October, he (Buesseler) reported that a sample taken about 745 miles west of Vancouver, British Columbia, tested positive for Cesium 134, the so-called “fingerprint” of Fukushima because it could only have come from the plant. It also showed higher-than-background levels of Cesium 137, another Fukushima isotope that already is present in the world’s oceans from nuclear testing in the 1950s and 1960s. Last month, as more of those samples were processed, Buesseler reported that Fukushima radiation had been identified in 10 offshore samples, including one 100 miles off the coast of Eureka, Calif.” (Tracy Loew, USA Today, 11 December 2014).
In April, The Diplomat reminded us that slavery is still practiced today under the name of human
trafficking. “Traffickers can be anywhere, can victimize anyone, and the fight is not therefore law enforcement’s alone, but also belongs to civilians everywhere.”
July 30th, 2014, marked the first World Day against Trafficking in Persons, on which UN General-Secretary called all nations to action “to end this crime and give hope to the victims, who often live unrecognized among us.”
In May, the issue of different body images was adressed.” It’s okay, cause it’s International No Diet Day – a day to remind us that there are different shapes and sizes in human bodies, no matter if day by day we are being told something different.” That was what the Diplomat had to say about it. The Huffington Post addressed the issue as follows: “Enough With the Thigh Gap! Attacking Body Image Is Not a Hobby!”
If there was yet another reason to be critical of America’s ‘intervention’ in Iraq in 2003, the rise of the extremist Sunni group, ‘the Islamic state in Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) and its viciously effective seizure of northern Mesopotamia is the unsurpassed example yet.
Hundreds of thousands are dead, and there is a strong possibility that if ISIL manages to provoke another religious conflict, those casualties will be simply the tip of the down spiral into chaos.
New York Times from November 5: Today, roughly a third of Iraq is dotted by active battle fronts, with intense fighting and occasional Islamic State victories. But analysts also say the days of easy and rapid gains for the jihadists may be coming to a close in Iraq, as the group’s momentum appears to be stalling.
The very troubled Gaza strip has been a topic covered by our writer Thomas Gidney in July. The article gives an analysis of why many European and Anglosphere countries show empathy towards the Israelis more than Palestinias, even though they suffered considerably fewer casualties and posess infinitely more firepower.
The news publications confirm that Gaza is still a topic of major concern and the dispute remains unsettled. Most recently The Guardian has published an article on an attempt of 37 Palestinianchildren to visit Israel after having lost their parents in the July-August war. Hamas authorities prevented the visit to the Jewish state.
“Apart from the current trouble spots in Ukraine and the Middle East, there is very little else the new European Commission in Brussels is talking about.” In September, the Commission was struggling with the allocation of portfolios as there was pressure for a certain quota for women. Member States were indirectly promised should they nominate a woman they would get a more desired portfolio. The BBC confirms: “There has been intense national rivalry over the top jobs. There are seven vice-presidents for key areas such as growth, better regulation and energy. Three of the seven powerful new posts have gone to women.”
The new Commission now comprises nine women and nineteen men. Not the 50% quota promised by Schulz but still more than the initially proposed amount of six women.
On the 22nd of October 2014, The Diplomat published an article about why “that Harry Potter girl” Emma Watson is exactly the right person to front the HeforShe campaign at the UN, a movement which focuses on including boys and men in the fight for gender equality.
But is feminism really an issue in 2014? Well yes, it is. In late November this year, the New York Times published an article expressing concern that Western leaders may be trading women’s rights in an attempt to achieve a peace deal with Taliban leaders.
In November, the US Midterm elections caught the interest of our readers. Intellectuals and politicians across the globe are calling Obama the “shrinking president” (NYTimes.com). His own party abandoned him. Two thirds did not even vote, with the youth making up a dramatically unimpressive 13% (NBC News.com). Meanwhile, Obama would rather sit paralyzed in a gridlock than attempt to compromise. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the Republicans buying support, splurging close to $2 billion and even committing supposed accounts of fraud just to ensure better footing than their opponents.
Where in this callow mess are the national goals? Political principles? Values? Surely, they are absent but the politicians aren’t the only ones to blame. Because, when you look closer, you see how similar these parties really can be. The Republican campaign heavily focused on core aspects of the liberal agenda. Republican candidate, Dan Sullivan, of Alaska, called attention to unemployment. Rob Maness, who ran in Louisiana, advocated minority rights. The list goes on. Obama also has major Republican interests in areas such as economics. He is a big supporter of the Trans-pacific and Transatlantic partnership agreements, which coincides with right-wing priorities. There is so much potential for
compatibility but no one, not even the voters, seem to want it.
The Economist also took up the issue. In the end it was a massacre. The Republicans easily gained control of the Senate in the mid-term elections, with projections showing them picking up at least six of the seats they needed, and probably more. Polling had showed that West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana were already in the bag, but other wins came thick and fast, and by wider margins of victory than had been thought. The Democrats were also defeated in Arkansas, Colorado and North Carolina, giving the Republicans their six seats. In Georgia David Perdue sailed past the 50% ne
eded to avoid a run-off and held the seat for the Republicans. Mitch McConnell, the next Senate majority leader, retained his seat in Kentucky by swatting away his Democratic challenger with a 15-point margin of victory; the polls had suggested a closer result. Elsewhere there was little comfort for the Democrats in governors’ races, with the Republicans winning close elections in Wisconsin and Florida. Our analysis of how the Republicans are likely to govern the Senate for the next two years is here.
In December, a lot of attention was directed towards the Umbrella movement in Hong Kong. The Diplomat outlined “While it is a generally accepted notion that Beijing will not allow full democratization of Hong Kong in the near future, it cannot be known to what extent it is willing to perform minor reforms or whether it will follow through on silencing the movement.” The BBC concluded that “[. . .] the umbrellas remain a potent symbol of the desire of many in this city for greater democracy, and while the protests may be over, the
fight probably is not.”