Italy plunged into political chaos

After the referendum celebrated last Sunday with the aim of changing the Italian constitution Matteo Renzi is resigning as prime minister. The defeat of the “no” vote has been marked by a victory for anti-establishment and rightwing parties and has thrown the third largest economy of the European Union into a sharp political uncertainty.

The defeat was not unexpected but it was nevertheless more significant than estimated, with 59.1% of Italians voting against the proposed reforms, which would have made extensive changes to Italy’s constitution and parliamentary system.

The 20-point margin has signified a major victory for the populist Five Star Movement, which led the Italian opposition to the reform, and the Northern League. These parties are not precisely traditional allies but joined to oppose Renzi with the aim of driving him out of office.

The victory for “no” could have serious consequences for Italy and could disconcert European and global markets due to worries about the country’s economic future and support of populist and Eurosceptic parties.

The new government’s immediate task will be to pass a change in the electoral law that will make it more laborious for either the Five Star Movement or the Northern League to win strong majorities in the parliament in the following elections.

New peace deal for Colombia

After more than 52 years of war and six weeks since the original deal was rejected in a referendum, the government of Colombia and the FARC rebels have agreed on a revised peace deal in which proposals from the opposition have been incorporated.

The government has not mentioned holding a second plebiscite to approve the deal yet, although some opposition figures have already demanded one. Copies of the new peace agreement will be made public next Sunday.

The new deal will not change a controversial part which gives the FARC 10 congressional seats through 2026 or stop rebel leaders from being elected to political posts. Nevertheless, the peace agreement will not be integrated into Colombia’s constitution and the rebel group will be required to present a complete record of its capital proprieties, which will be destined for compensation of victims. Moreover, it specifies that the FARC must turn in exhaustive information about its involvement in the drug trade.

All in all, former president Alvaro Uribe, who led opposition to the previous peace deal, is not satisfied with the modified deal.

Donald Trump has become the 45th president of the United States

Republican Donald Trump has shocked the United States and the whole world by defeating Democrat Hillary Clinton in the United States presidential election last Tuesday. With the massive support of white Americans unhappy with the political and economic elites of the country, Trump broke the probe’s forecasts and achieved a victory that pushes his country into the unknown.

He has obtained 289 delegates (19 more than needed), versus the 218 that Hillary Clinton has achieved. Trump has taken away the rural vote while Clinton the one of the great urban nuclei. In addition, Republicans maintain the control of the Congress and the Senate, which will make it easy for Trump to govern.

The elected president, who will swear office in January 20, praised Clinton and said in his victory speech in New Yorkt that it is time to heal the country’s divisions. The current president, Barack Obama, has already called on Trump to congratulate him and invite him to the White House on Thursday to begin the transition into office. Hillary Clinton, however, did not give the traditional speech of defeat, and congratulated Trump with a phone call.

The world was hoping to see the first woman in the US presidency after having an African-American president. But the unexpected happened. The arrival of Donald Trump to the White House may definitely mean a break with some democratic traditions of the USA, such as respect for minorities. The victory of the Republican candidate leaves a fractured and frightened society, which he has promised to start rebuilding. And, as for international relations, with Donald Trump as the most powerful man in the world, the least we can say is that the world has entered a period of ever greater uncertainty.

Hong Kong facing a sharp political crisis

Last month, during the swearing-in ceremony, legislators Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus “Baggio” Leung refused to declare their allegiance to China and carried blue flags reading: “Hong Kong is not China.” Now China has decided to bar the two young legislators, since “those wishing to hold public office must sincerely and solemnly declare allegiance to China”, as China’s rubberstamp legislature affirmed.

About 13,000 people marched on Sunday to protest against China’s last intervention, ending in clashes with police which led to four arrests.

After the United Kingdom gave Hong Kong to China in 1997, the city maintained its own laws, courts and freedoms not enjoyed in continental China, under a framework known as “one country, two systems”. However, many citizens agree that these freedoms have been diminished in the last years.

In fact, previous dissatisfactions led to nearly three months of street protests in 2014 and to the election in September this year of six politicians who demand greater autonomy for the city.

This action is thought to be Beijing’s most direct intervention in the territory’s legal system since the 1997, and it has set up a new conflict between pro-Beijing and pro-democracy camps.

UN troops failed to protect civilians in South Sudan

Last Tuesday a report was issued into the performance of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in South Sudan, where in July government soldiers went on a killing, raping and looting in the capital, Juba. UN troops failed to respond to the attacks in the Terrain Hotel, which included sexual violence by armed South Sudanese soldiers against civilians. Five United Nations staff members and more than a dozen other humanitarian workers were killed.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appointed a group of independent investigators so as to give light to UN troops’ intervention in the country. The report concluded that there has been “a lack of leadership on the part of key senior Mission personnel” which definitely culminated “in a chaotic and ineffective response to the violence.”

The investigation has found that the peacekeeping force, formed by troops from China, Ethiopia, Nepal and India, did not operate under a unified command. In fact, it received opposing orders, and the Chinese military abandoned its posts at least two times. Moreover, it has been discovered that rescuers never appeared even though several calls were done to the mission’s headquarters. Consequently, most of the victims were rescued by a private security company the following day.

A month after the attacks in Juba and as a consequence of the ineffective intervention of UN soldiers, the UN Security Council commanded thousands of additional troops in order to reinforce the South Sudan peacekeeping missions.

UNESCO ratifies new contentious resolution on Jerusalem

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s World Heritage Committee has approved a resolution on the status of conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem and its Walls. The international body agreed to maintain the place on the list of endangered world heritage and criticized Israel for its continuous rejection to let the UNESCO’s experts enter Jerusalem’s holy sites to verify their conservation condition.

UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list is known for its work in emphasizing sites of historic and cultural importance and endangered global heritage. The Old City of Jerusalem have been on UNESCO’s endangered list since 1982.

This resolution is the latest of diverse measures taken over decades and Israelis see it as another significant proof of inherent anti-Israel tendency within the United Nations. It was passed by the Committee’s 21 member countries from which ten voted for, two against, eight abstained and one was absent. Neither Israel, the U.S. nor Palestine is on the World Heritage Committee.

Israel suspended ties with UNESCO earlier this month over a similar resolution.

Iraqi and Kurdish troops to recapture the city of Mosul

The long-expected battle to seize back Mosul after more than two years of ISIS control has begun with military units moving on the northern part of the Iraqi city.

After months of planning, 30,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops have surrounded the last urban stronghold of Islamic State in Iraq for several days, giving a start to the most critical assault against the caliphate. US, British and French special forces are also taking part in the offensive and will play a significant role, especially in airstrikes against ISIS targets inside Mosul.

Since ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a caliphate in June 2014, Mosul has been central to the group’s objectives. It is believed that they have about 6,000 fighters ready to defend the city, hidden among approximately 600,000 civilians.

Triumph over ISIS seems to be likely. However there are great concerns about the terrible effects this decisive offensive may have on the civilians: International humanitarian agencies are preparing themselves for the aftermath of this battle.

Burundi aims to exit the International Criminal Court

Burundi’s lower house of parliament has voted in support of a withdrawal from the International Criminal Court (ICC), after the court’s chief prosecutor had announced last April a preliminary investigation of the ongoing situation in Burundi, where hundreds of people have died in violent street protests and political killings.

This has been the first step towards a full investigation in which the government has been blamed for murder, torture, rape and forced disappearances. In August, Burundi also rejected the proposed deployment of more than 200 United Nations police officers to monitor the country’s social instability.

Burundi has been plagued by violence since April 2015, when the current president Pierre Nkurunziza tried a third term despite massive protests by citizens who defined the move as unconstitutional. Hundreds have been killed in the uprisings.

Many African leaders see the court as a European postcolonial tool to beat up on Africa and have repeatedly threatened withdrawal from the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC. Nevertheless, no country has ever withdrawn from the ICC.

Under the Rome Statute, a country that seeks to exit its jurisdiction must formally write to the United Nations secretary general stating its intention. The formal process that comes after could go on as long as a year.

The course of Yemen’s war could drastically change

The air raid on Saturday, which hit a funeral with thousands of mourners in Yemen’s rebel-held capital, Sana’a, killed 140 and left 525 people wounded. It was one of the deadliest attacks of the country’s civil war since the Saudi-led coalition started a campaign of airstrikes against the Houthi-Saleh alliance in March 2015.

The conflict in the country broke out in 2014 when rebels known as the Houthis took the capital by force and sent the government into exile. The Houthis are allied with army units loyal to a former president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and they have been struggling for control of the country against groups that are loyal to the current president, Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is supported by Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf allies.

The airstrikes on Saturday came after a period of escalation since August, when the last round of peace talks definitely broke down. The last attack seems to impede any return to talks aimed at ending the conflict, while stimulating support in northern Yemen for military escalation against Saudi Arabia. Instability and uncertainty rule the country at the moment.

The attack has been condemned by the UN, the European Union and the United States. The US, like the UK and other European countries, supplies arms to Saudi Arabia and practical military advice. After the last attack’s repercussion, the White House issued a statement affirming that it had begun an “immediate review” of its support for Saudi Arabia in Yemen “to better align with U.S. principles, values and interests”.

Uncertainty governs Colombia

The historical peace deal that the President Juan Manuel Santos and the country’s largest rebel group’s leader Rodrigo Londoño “Timochenko” had signed days before has been defeated by Colombians in a referendum yesterday, throwing the country into sudden confusion about its future.

With counting concluded from 98.98% of polling stations, the “no” vote won by 50.2% to 49.8%, a difference of fewer than 54,000 votes. The verdict on the peace deal between the government and the FARC, achieved after four years of intense negotiations, means it cannot be now implemented.

After publishing the results, Santos said he would send his negotiators back to Havana to meet with FARC leaders today, adding that he would continue seeking peace until the last of his presidency. Moreover, he will also meet with all political parties in order to find a way to achieve the final peace process.

The FARC leader, on the other hand, claimed that the insurgent group would maintain its desire for peace, reiterating its disposition to “use only words as weapon to build toward the future”.

Although the bilateral ceasefire that has been in place since 29 August will continue, there is a high uncertainty on how the peace process will proceed and what steps need to be taken from now on in order to maintain social and political stability in the country.