Saturday 26 Sep 2020 | 11:19 | SYDNEY
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Global Issues

Syria: What the UN can do, and must do

As the Syrian Government intensifies its offensive against Syria’s Idlib province, the final opposition stronghold in the nine-year old war, diplomats and UN officials are running out of words in their attempts to convey the severity of the crisis to the UN Security Council. The UN Emergency

Covid-19: Nearing a global pandemic?

The novel coronavirus, or Covid-19, has spread throughout the world in three short months. Outbreaks have been reported in more than 50 countries, there are 88,000 confirmed cases, and at least 3000 people have died. But while the numbers of new cases and deaths in China might be steadying (based on

Is media literacy the magic bullet for fake news?

As online news and social media have proliferated over the last decade, a whole new category of information has entered the popular lexicon: fake news. Online disinformation has come a long way from “On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog” to a place where a malicious article hatched from a

South Korea’s struggle with coronavirus

South Korea now has the second worst coronavirus outbreak in the world, surpassed only by China. More than 1100 people are infected, and seven have died. Unsurprisingly the political fallout is widening. The media coverage is getting sensational. Everyone has watched too many movies, and even South

If a tree falls in Nepal, will anyone care?

For all its natural attributes, Nepal is considered a country that provides a template for what not to do, ecologically. Officials from neighbouring states will quietly admit to looking at Nepal in horror, as a country that has blithely sacrificed its environment in favour of rampant

Climate change, security, and the Australian bushfires

It’s hard to overstate the devastation of the Australian bushfires of 2019–20. More than 30 people have been killed, communities devastated, millions of hectares of forest destroyed, and more than a billion animals have lost their lives. Some fires are still burning. Inevitably, the

Next steps in Australia’s coronavirus strategy

Australia is one of 72 countries that have so far imposed coronavirus travel restrictions. This has slowed the virus and bought us time, but at a price: people’s lives have been interrupted (especially students) and industries have taken a big hit (especially education and tourism). That time

Five urgent issues for Indonesia’s president

On 10 February, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (“Jokowi”) will address Australia’s parliament. Indonesia is often referred to as the democratic success story of Southeast Asia and a model of Muslim democracy, yet it has been responsible for significant backsliding on human rights in recent

Chart of the week: Trust in China

Almost 30,000 cases of coronavirus have been officially confirmed, amid reports of Chinese authorities increasingly cracking down on information at the epicentre of the crisis. With governments around the world imposing travel bans, as well as local Chinese communities being unfairly stigmatised,

For Rohingya, the long distance between law and justice

One would think that, after 100 years, the International Court of Justice would know about administering international justice. To the extent that the “world court” does or doesn’t understand international justice really depends on your interpretation of the term. The ruling on Myanmar’s

Wuhan coronavirus: How upfront has Beijing been?

It is too early to make a definitive judgement about how Beijing has handled the outbreak of the potentially deadly coronavirus in Wuhan, a city of 11 million in central China. But it is already clear that any assessment will have to take into account not just the medical side of the virus’s

At the UN, paying dues and having a say

The recent news that Tonga was among seven countries that had lost their right to vote in the United Nations General Assembly over unpaid dues has brought an additional element to an already complex issue over the financing of the United Nations. In 2019, the Secretary General highlighted the UN’s

The Australian lag in tech policy

Last month, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a much-awaited reform package to regulate the tech giants and their immense market power. Australia was to be “the model jurisdiction” for “dealing with digital platforms”, he declared. However, strong language aside, the promised reform

Australia’s new strategic geography

Australia’s strategic geography is not what it used to be. Technology has made the “sea-air gap”, an artefact treasured since the 1980s by a generation of Australian strategic planners, obsolete. Three developments compromise the idea that geography offers Australia defensive depth and

New Year on Australia’s fire ravaged coast

This was supposed to be an idyllic week on the east and south coasts of Australia, when thousands of families traditionally set off after Christmas for their beach holidays at houses, caravan parks and campgrounds scattered down our long, magnificent coastline.  We were among

Best of The Interpreter 2019: A festival of democracy

After the polling stations closed across Australia in May and the count rolled in, the public and pundits alike did a double take, and Sam Roggeveen asked, what the hell just happened? Not everyone who was hoping for a Labor victory took the loss well. But if, as the sore losers claimed, the

Best of The Interpreter 2019: The world of sports

Some people believe politics and sport should never mix. Not here at The Interpreter. The field of play may provide a distraction from a world of troubles, and great achievements may bring together a divided folk, but sport is also a theatre of symbols – of power, money, identity – that carries

Best of The Interpreter 2019: Technology

The endless blessings of technology – where would we be without them? Not reading this page, for a start. Several decades into the so-called digital revolution (depending where you mark the start), tech has become almost as essential to our everyday lives as air and water, and yet behind the

Best of The Interpreter 2019: Your most read

This year has seen more than 20% increase in the number of readers for The Interpreter, with a growing audience in Papua New Guinea, Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines, as well as new readers from the US, Britain, India, and, of course, Australia. Your interests are many, predominately

Should you lie to your children about reality?

Is the world currently too awful to contemplate for the so-called “snowflake generation”, which apparently can’t face the realities of life in even the most fortunate of nations? Should responsible parents attempt to insulate their offspring from some of life’s less pleasing aspects for as

How many Cold Wars does it take to make a “new” one?

The Cold War is not an easy term to define, which makes its increasing use as a term of reference for any great power conflict today problematic. When any “new” Cold War is announced, what exactly about the “old” Cold War is being invoked? Traditionally, the grand narrative of the Cold War

Hollowed out, but not unhinged

Sam Roggeveen has written a lively essay on the current state of Australian federal politics, centred on the hypothetical scenario that one of the two major parties takes an anti-immigration policy to an election, overturning Australia’s post-war bipartisan commitment to immigration to gain

Behrouz Boochani: Still in limbo

Although Behrouz Boochani has never set foot on the Australian mainland, his is a familiar name in the country, a link to the men on Manus Island subject to Australia’s offshore processing arrangements in the Pacific. His escape to be “free in New Zealand” this month, after six years

Shock therapy: why Australia needs a political jolt

In recent years, the world has witnessed a number of “black swan” events – surprises with massive implications for the particular countries involved and also the international system. The global financial crisis, Brexit, and the election of Donald Trump to the US presidency are the most

Review: Australia, real and imagined

Review: Tim Watts, The Golden Country: Australia’s Changing Identity (Text Publishing 2019) Summer reading bins have been well stocked with memoirs by retired Australian parliamentarians casting experienced eyes over political lives lived hard and full. It’s not often we find engaging books

Beijing’s cryptic blockchain gambit

China is going berserk for blockchain these days, and doing so with oh-so-very Chinese characteristics. The recent hype is certainly not without cause. After years of cautious support for the game-changing digital ledger technology behind Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Beijing has been

The Rohingya Football Club

I’ve worked a lot in development areas, but I have never run a charity before. So, when I decided to set up a locally based international aid and development not-for-profit, it was with as much fear as hope.  As an ex-player, I turned to football (soccer). The world’s leading team sport by

The worrying precedent of Turkey’s “safe zone”

There is a reason the Kurds say they have “no friend but the mountains”. Time and again human rights atrocities have been perpetrated against them, and they are not strategically important enough for any country to take their side. News of death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

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