Last Week in Foreign Affairs (August 27-September 2)

Theresa May Rules Out A Second Brexit Referendum

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May speaks during a visit to China in January ( source )

Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May speaks during a visit to China in January (source)

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Theresa May declared on Sunday that there would be no second referendum on whether or not the UK should leave the European Union, calling the idea a “gross betrayal” of democracy.  May's statement comes as a group of lawmakers, led by campaign group The People's Vote, continues to call for a final public vote. This growing opposition comes at a politically tenuous time for Theresa May. She has been trapped between a rock and a hard place for much of her time leading the country. Factions on her right have repeatedly called for a strong-armed Brexit, while many to her left have questioned the idea of leaving in the first place. Brexit is due to take place, with or without a deal, on March 29th, 2019.  While there is still quite a ways to go until the UK formally leaves the EU, the country faces a difficult task in creating a deal that a majority of people can agree on.


United Nations Report Blasts China for Uyghur “Re-Education” Camps

China came under fire on Friday in a new United Nations report detailing the horrors of Uyghur “re-education” camps that are found in the country’s westernmost provinces. The report from the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination cited “numerous reports of detention of large numbers of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities held incommunicado and often for long periods, without being charged or tried, under the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.” This comes a week after the Committee heard testimony from the World Uyghur Congress claiming that Chinese authorities detained over one million Uyghur people. These camps are one component of a decades-long effort to crack down on predominantly Muslim and minority descent in Western regions. The United States, among others, are considering sanctions in light of the recent report. Chinese officials have vehemently denied such treatment is taking place, while affirming that any policies taken aim to promote and improve living conditions in the region. Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, labeled the allegations “not true”, adding that "[m]aintaining lasting peace and security in Xinjiang is the common wish of all ethnicities."


Migrant Crisis in Brazil Deepens as Troops Are Sent to Venezuela Border

Demonstrators and military personnel clashing in Caracas last year ( source )

Demonstrators and military personnel clashing in Caracas last year (source)

Tensions continue to mount on the border between Brazil and Venezuela. Brazil placed troops in the state of Roraima on Wednesday to maintain “law and order” as Venezuelans continue to stream out of the country due to abhorrent living conditions. The near collapse of Venezuela has prompted a migrant crisis that has swept across the entire continent. Tensions have flared recently between locals and migrants, with local Brazilians attacking a group of Venezuelans after a robbery was attributed to the migrants. According to the International Organization for Migration, over 1.6 million people in the past two years have fled Venezuela as a result of the domestic chaos, more than doubling the 700,000 that lived outside of the country before the crisis began. Additionally, the group claims that 90% of the 1.6 million have fled to other South American countries. These staggering numbers pose a challenge to South American governments already struggling to maintain control over areas historically prone to violence. The current state of affairs suggests there’s no end in sight.


GlobalShawn GilloolyComment