During this academic semester, I have told my students several times, whatever situations, phenomena or topics you choose for your research and countries/jurisdictions or institutions for your comparative legal research, please always keep in mind that they are not frozen in time. Perhaps for the purpose of your research, you might have chosen a particular period of time as a very specific boundary for your research project. However, I’d argue that current developments within a jurisdiction may have some major impact in delineated historical or previous events in terms of our understanding and analysis of those same events and phenomena. This does not mean we shouldn’t strive for specific time frames in research. It just means that a good grasp of current events related to the research topic, institutions and jurisdictions of your choice is crucial no matter the time frame you have selected for your research.
In this post, I will feature five current situations in several flashpoints around the world over the month of August 2022. As in previous posts, these summaries aim to be descriptive, introductory, and to provide a stepping stone for further research. Each summary also includes at least three important secondary sources. The jurisdictions I have chosen for this post are Guatemala, Western Sahara, Kenya, Taiwan and Marshall Islands.
- Corruption and Impunity in Guatemala Post-CICIG
José Rubén Zamora, director and founder of elPeriódico, a major newspaper in Guatemala was arrested late July on charges of money laundering and extortion. Zamora himself, civil rights groups in Guatemala and abroad, and experts in the region have interpreted his arrest as political retaliation against the paper’s independent investigations on widespread and entrenched government corruption over the last decade or so. Recent charges on activists, indigenous advocates, journalists, prosecutors and judges brought by the country’s attorney general, María Consuelo Porras have created an atmosphere of impunity and persecution, forcing anti-corruption leaders into exile. Guatemala’s current President, Alejandro Giammattei, has continued efforts to dismantle and silence all anti-corruption investigations linked to the now-defunct International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG in Spanish), a pioneering UN mission which was ousted in September 2019 by the previous president, Jimmy Morales. Back in May 2022, the US State Department barred Porras from entering the US among other sanctions “due to her involvement in significant corruption.” However, Guatemala’s Giammattei is still a crucial partner for the Biden Administration in terms of immigration, trade and international affairs such as Ukraine, Taiwan and Israel.
- Allison, M. E. Guatemala: The Ongoing Struggle Against Corruption and Impunity. In Latin American Politics and Development (pp. 436-453). Routledge.
- Michel, V. (2021). Institutional Design, Prosecutorial Independence, and Accountability: Lessons from the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). Laws, 10(3), 58.
- Zamudio-González, L. (2020). The International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG). In International Intervention Instruments against Corruption in Central America (pp. 67-92). Palgrave Pivot, Cham.
- Once Again Western Sahara and Morocco Meet the International Community
- Allison, S. Z. (2021). A Paradigmal Shift in the Recognition of Moroccan Sovereignty Over Western Sahara. The Journal of Middle East and North Africa Sciences, 7(05), 20-23.
- Ani, N. C., & Louw-Vaudran, L. (2018). How the latest AU decision on Western Sahara could affect other crises. ISS Peace and Security Council Report, 2018(105), 2-3.
- Zunes, S., & Mundy, J. (2022). Western Sahara: War, nationalism, and conflict irresolution. Syracuse University Press.
- Despite Close Results, Kenya Has a New President
After a chaotic release of tallying votes and very close final results, William Samoei Arap Ruto was declared the new President of Kenya on 9 August 2022. However, the opposition candidate and main rival, Raila Oding rejected the results and vowed to go to the country’s Supreme Court for an annulment and final decision. Odinga’s decision to request a judicial answer to his concerns is widely perceived as a major departure from previous violence and riots after general elections in the country. Meanwhile, Ruto has begun transition talks and processes with the previous president, Uhuru Kenyatta. Despite the low voting turnout, Ruto has claimed a strong mandate to unify the country amidst economic woes overtaking traditional ethnic and regional loyalties. During his presidential campaign, Ruto appealed to the most vulnerable among the Kenyan electorate eager for alternatives to abject poverty and lack of opportunities under the previous government. Despite his work as Deputy President during Kenyatta’s administration, experts note the successful political campaign and portrayal of Ruto as a self-made and successful leader separate from previous administrations and policies. However, trouble from Odinga’s partisans, international economic fallout and regional upheavals could derail any sign of progress and alternative programs. In an unanimous decision, Kenya’s Supreme Court confirmed Ruto as the country’s new and fifth president.
- Cheeseman, N., Kanyinga, K., Lynch, G., Ruteere, M., & Willis, J. (2019). Kenya’s 2017 elections: winner-takes-all politics as usual?. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 13(2), 215-234.
- Cheeseman, N., Maweu, J., & Ouma, S. (2019). Peace, But at What Cost? Media Coverage of Elections and Conflict in Kenya. In Media, Communication and the Struggle for Democratic Change (pp. 83-105). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
- Kanyinga, K., & Odote, C. (2019). Judicialisation of politics and Kenya’s 2017 elections. Journal of Eastern African Studies, 13(2), 235-252.
- Taiwan’s Woes After Pelosi’s Two-Day Visit
- Lin, B. (2021). US Allied and Partner Support for Taiwan: Responses to a Chinese Attack on Taiwan and Potential US Taiwan Policy Changes. RAND PROJECT AIR FORCE SANTA MONICA CA.
- Mastro, O. S. (2021). The Taiwan temptation: why Beijing might resort to force. Foreign Aff., 100, 58.
- O’Hanlon, M. (2021). How to Defend Taiwan: Leading with Economic Warfare. The Washington Quarterly, 44(4), 183-196.
- The Marshall Islands Are No Longer COVID-free
- Clarke, C., Wheatley, A., Fraser, M. R., Richey, T., & Ensign, K. (2022). US-Affiliated Pacific Islands Response to COVID-19: Keys to Success and Important Lessons. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 28(1), 10-15.
- Leal Filho, W., Lütz, J. M., Sattler, D. N., & Nunn, P. D. (2020). Coronavirus: COVID-19 transmission in Pacific small island developing states. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(15), 5409.
- McElfish, P. A., Purvis, R., Willis, D. E., & Riklon, S. (2021). Peer reviewed: COVID-19 disparities among Marshallese Pacific Islanders. Preventing chronic disease, 18.