Over the past month or so, I have found myself in a situation where most of the international sources that I follow are heavily focused on one conflict. Without a doubt, the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a major geopolitical crisis that has and will continue to have major ripple effects throughout the world. However, if you are a researcher interested in other more local events or conflicts, it might be difficult to find analysis and sources, particularly in English, in traditional media sources, social media and even academic secondary sources providing authoritative information. The ongoing war conflict in Ukraine and a convulsive series of local events could provide a recipe for other major conflicts to erupt in different parts of the world. As a foreign and international law librarian as well as researcher, I believe it’s my job to keep abreast of these flashpoints and trends in order to provide trustworthy and insightful sources.
The five situations that I mention below are the ones I have been following most closely during this past month of April. I invite readers to provide more sources in the comments section. You can read my previous posts here.
- Stumped Pakistan After a Week of Major Political Drama
In the best cricket style possible, Pakistan went from innings, bowls and overs between the parliament, prime minister and the judiciary all in one week that left the country at stumps. After rumors of a coming vote of no-confidence which could remove him from office, former Prime Minister Imram Khan decided to dissolve the country’s National Assembly on 3 April 2022. Khan justified his executive move as an effort to prevent “external sources”, particularly the United States meddling in his country as well as his deteriorating relationship with the military and members of his political coalition. However, a few days later on 7 April 2022, Pakistan’s Supreme Court declared Khan’s move unconstitutional and reinstated the legislative assembly. Following the reinstatement and a 13-hour session on 10 April 2022, Khan was ousted from office after a no-confidence vote that included members of the opposition as well as former members of Khan’s governing coalition that accused Khan of the economy’s stagnation. On 11 April 2022, Shehbaz Sharif, leader of the opposition and member of Pakistan’s well-known political dynasties, was selected as the country’s prime minister at least until elections take place again at the end of this year.
- Cheema, M. H. (2018). Two steps forward one step back: The non-linear expansion of judicial power in Pakistan. International journal of constitutional law, 16(2), 503-526.
- Hafeez, M. M., Ahmed, R. N., Khan, M. D., & Safdar, M. A. (2020). What are the Crisis and Issues of Governance in Pakistan? An Analysis. Review of Applied Management and Social Sciences, 3(1), 53-59.
- Rahman, S. U., & Shurong, Z. (2021). Governing through Informal Mechanisms: Military Control over State Institutions in Pakistan. Asian Survey, 61(6), 942-970.
- Political and Economic Meltdown in Sri Lanka
Not far from Pakistan, another socio-political crisis is brewing in the South Asian region. Inflation, shortages of food and medicine, rationed fuel and electricity have sent Sri Lanka to the brink of bankruptcy and its citizens to the streets in massive protests since the beginning of April. Newly elected President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, the newly elected Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa have been accused of doing nothing to avert economic stagnation and instead they have drawn the ire of protesters calling for their resignation. Despite their refusal to resign, other Cabinet members have sided with protesters and they have abandoned the current government which has been accused of killing at least one protester. The World Bank has proposed to help the country’s economy. However its economic plan promises to be painful and take a few years before the situation improves.
- Kodikara, C. (2022). Inscriptions and erasures, grief, hope and rights: a struggle for truth and justice for disappearances in postwar Sri Lanka.
- Ranjan, A., & Chattoraj, D. (2022). The Tamil Issue in India–Sri Lanka Relationships: Priorities and Interests. India Quarterly, 09749284211068161.
- Wickramasinghe, N. (2022). Mahinda Rajapaksa: From Populism to Authoritarianism. In Contemporary Populists in Power (pp. 113-130). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
- Who Assassinated Burkina Faso’s Thomas Sankara?
Since January, Burkina Faso has been under military regime following a coup that removed former President Roch Kabore. Despite uncertain times in the country, a military tribunal in Ouagadougou found former Blaise Comparé guilty of Sankara’s killing during another military coup in the country in the late 1980s. Comparé was convicted in absentia to life in prison, given the fact that he is in political exile in neighboring Côte d’Ivoire since a country’s uprising pushed him out of office in 2014, after years of authoritarianism. This landmark case could have a significant impact in the country’s judiciary system and its ability to bring justice to a historical figure that has marked the country as well as the entire African continent for decades. However, the impossibility to extradite Comparé and the current political crisis in the country could hinder any signs of progress.
- Bertrand, E. (2022). Nothing will be as before? The 2014 insurrection in Burkina Faso and its political impact. In Popular Protest, Political Opportunities, and Change in Africa (pp. 73-90). Routledge.
- Muiruri, K. (2022). “The Color of African Unity”: The Pan-Africanist Rhetoric and Praxis of Thomas Sankara in the Burkina Faso Revolution, 1983–87. Global Africana, 3.
- Peterson, B. J. (2021). Thomas Sankara: A Revolutionary in Cold War Africa. Indiana University Press.
- Extradition of Honduras’ Former President to the United States
Juan Orlando Hernández, former President of Honduras, was extradited to the United States on 22 April. Since his arrest in February 2022 and following a formal extradition request from the United States, Hernández has been actively fighting against the US’ request through Honduran courts. In March 2022, the country’s Supreme Court unanimously validated the extradition request at a time when Honduras’ new president, Xiomara Castro vowed to dismantle the “narco-state” and develop new relations with Washington, DC. A federal court in New York City formally charged Hernández with drug trafficking, which he allegedly used to fund his political campaigns and government and personal enrichment. Experts argue that Hernández’s case could become one of the highest profile drug trafficking cases in the country since El Chapo in 2019.
- Blume, L. R. (2022). Collusion, Co-Optation, or Evasion: The Politics of Drug Trafficking Violence in Central America. Comparative Political Studies, 00104140211066218.
- Rayo, G. A. (2021). State building, ethnic land titling, and transnational organized crime: The case of honduras. Latin American Research Review, 56(1), 50-66.
- Scott, P. D. (2021). Honduras, the contra support networks, and cocaine: How the US Government has augmented America’s drug crisis. In War on Drugs (pp. 125-175). Routledge.
- Elections in Europe: France, Hungary, Slovenia and Serbia
April was a busy month for presidential and parliamentary elections in Europe. Besides local issues in each country, the Russian invasion in Ukraine has undoubtedly invited itself to all the campaigns and political debates by forcing candidates to take a stance between Zelensky and Putin. Within the European Union (EU), voters seemed to have responded very differently to Brussels’ call of unity against Russia. Voters in France gave a victory to pro-Europe candidate, Emanuel Macron against the rise of the extreme right. However, in Hungary, illiberal and autocratic candidate, Viktor Orban seems to have captivated a more conservative and anti-Zelensky Hungarian electorate. These two candidates represent two dramatically different visions of the EU against the Russian threat close to its borders. Also within the EU, Slovenia’s incumbent populist Prime Minister Janez Jansa suffered a massive defeat in the country’s parliamentary elections. Furthermore, in Serbia, the country’s populist and pro-Russia leader, Aleksandar Vucic declared a landslide victory in both presidential and legislative elections.
- Carvalho, J. (2019). Mainstream party strategies towards extreme right parties: the French 2007 and 2012 presidential elections. Government and Opposition, 54(2), 365-386.
- Ehin, P., & Talving, L. (2021). Still second-order? European elections in the era of populism, extremism, and Euroscepticism. Politics, 41(4), 467-485.
- Halikiopoulou, D. (2018). A Right-wing Populist Momentum: A Review of 2017 Elections across Europe. J. Common Mkt. Stud., 56, 63.