Indo-Pacific Geopolitics Newsletter 07/24/2023

RADAR SWEEP Geopolitics Newsletter July 17 – 24 2023 UN SECURITY COUNCIL HELD FIRST MEETING ON AI — JULY 18 


Geopolitics Newsletter July 17 – 24 2023


The UN Security Council held its first meeting on artificial intelligence (AI) in New York City to discuss the potential threat that AI could pose to international peace and security. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Jack Clark, the co-founder of AI startup Anthropic, and Professor Zeng Yi, co-director of the China-UK Research Center for AI Ethics and Governance briefed the council. At the meeting, Guterres commented that there should be a globally coordinated strategy for mitigating AI’s worst consequences and maximizing its potential.

Guterres advocated for creating a new UN entity along the lines of other bodies like the International Atomic Energy Agency or the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. China’s UN ambassador Zhang Jung highlighted AI’s potential as a “double-edged sword” that could support research, health care, and other areas while also being used to spread misinformation and worsen human rights abuses. Similarly, US Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis reaffirmed the need for international cooperation on AI to address emerging human rights risks.

Some of the early suggestions for regulations and approaches to AI proposed at the meeting included prohibiting the use of AI for censorship or to disempower people and ensuring that AI does not replace human decision-making. Ensuring gender-based discrimination and other biases are addressed when developing AI was also brought up at the meeting. As one of the key deliverables of the meeting, Guterres called for the UN to draft a binding agreement that would ban the use of AI in automated weapons by 2026.

While there appears to be a consensus that there should be a coordinated global approach to AI technology, its transboundary effects and unpredictable nature will make it a highly difficult issue to address. Before a new UN body can be established, Guterres will work towards bringing together an advisory council to develop principles for the ethical use of AI by the end of this year. Tensions stemming from China and Russia are likely to complicate the development of international standards, as Russia has questioned whether the Security Council should be discussing AI. China, meanwhile, has called for national-level regulations and suggested that more developed countries seeking technological hegemony obstruct the technological development of other countries.

UN Security Council AI

The UN Security Council meets to discuss AI | Photo: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid



Cambodia held its 2023 general elections — July 23

Cambodia held general elections for the lower house of parliament, known as the National Assembly, on July 23. Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party is expected to win all 125 seats in what many international observers call sham elections. Read more

The President of Algeria concluded his China visit — July 21

President of Algeria Abdelmadjid Tebboune visited China. Discussions primarily revolved around energy investments by China in Algeria and joint agreements to fight extremist groups. The visit is a further sign of Algeria’s political movement away from the West and towards China. Read more

Indian parliament session began today — July 20 

The Monsoon Session of India’s parliament began on July 20. During the session, which runs until August 11, 21 new bills will be introduced and discussed. Tensions loom as opposition parties form a united front against the Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party ahead of elections set for next year. Read more

Politics and Society

World Conference on Gender Equality began in Copenhagen — July 21

The World Conference on Gender Equality, a three-day academic gender conference, was held in Copenhagen. Participants, including scholars, government officials and non-profit organizations, addressed numerous pressing gender-related issues, including reproductive rights, sexuality, and sexism.  Read more

British doctors’ strike began — July 20

Consultant-level doctors in Britain’s National Health Service held a strike after a 6% pay increase announced by the government was rejected as insufficient. These strikes are only a part of a larger movement of healthcare workers fighting for pay increases to keep up with rising inflation and higher costs of living. Read more

Peruvians held major protests against the national government — July 19

Major protests against incumbent Peruvian President Dina Boluarte’s government were held across Peru. Peru has been gripped by social unrest since the ouster of Pedro Castillo last December, as much of Peru’s left-wing and regional leaders who are ideologically aligned with Castillo view Boluarte’s presidency as illegitimate. Read more

Deutsche Bahn began arbitration talks with EVG trade union — July 17

Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway company, began an arbitration process seeking to mediate the collective bargaining dispute with the EVG, a trade union, consisting of more than 200.000 railway workers. Though the EVG has promised not to organize strikes during the arbitration process, in the case of a no-deal outcome indefinite strikes may be expected. Read more


Black Sea Grain Deal expired — July 17

An international agreement to allow the safe passage of grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea expired this week. Moscow opted to not renew the agreement and has escalated attacks on ports and ships in the region. While a new deal could be struck, the collapse of the current agreement is bad news for food prices in developing countries. Read more

EU Bosnia-Herzegovina Council met in Brussels — July 19

The EU Bosnia-Herzegovina Stabilization and Association Council met this week in Brussels to discuss issues related to Bosnia-Herzegovina’s accession to the EU. In December last year, the EU granted the country candidate status. However, the EU, though advising Bosnia on how to continue proceeding in the accession process, did not offer the country any additional aid. Read more

Finance, Economics, and Technology

Luanda International Fair ended — July 22

The Luanda International Fair, a multisector business event in Angola aimed at increasing foreign investment and development in the country, ended on Saturday. This year’s conference focused on increasing Angola’s digital infrastructure and economy to promote global economic integration. Read more

The Russian Central Bank held rate setting meeting — July 21

The Russian central bank raised interest rates a full percent from 7.5 to 8.5% on Friday. The move comes as Moscow faces economic difficulties brought on by increased military spending and decreased energy revenues brought by its war in Ukraine. Read more

The South African Reserve Bank released interest rate decision — July 20

The South African Reserve Bank released its interest rates decision on July 20, deciding to hold rates steady at 8.25%. This is the first time since 2021 that they have not raised interest rates, however the bank signaled that it will most likely continue to raise rates in the future. Read more

Thailand diesel tax cut set expired — July 20

Thailand’s diesel excise tax cut expired. Although the next Thai administration will make the decision on whether to renew the tax cut or not, the Ministry of Finance advised that discontinuing tax relief will not have a significant impact on consumers. The industrial sector, however is likely to face pressures. Read more


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken begins Indo-Pacific tour — July 24

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will begin a diplomatic tour of the Indo-Pacific with a visit to the island nation of Tonga on July 24. He will also visit Australia and New Zealand. The visit comes as the US seeks to strengthen ties in the region to counter growing Chinese influence. Read more

EU to extend relaxation of Moldova trade restrictions — July 24

The European Council renewed trade liberalization measures with Moldova. The measures are aimed at mitigating the economic effect of Moldova losing access to Ukrainian transport networks and infrastructure due to the Russia-Ukraine War. The renewal demonstrates the EU’s resolve to use soft power to prop up economies on the European periphery. Read more

US expected to announce $400 million aid package to Ukraine — July 25

President Biden is expected to announce another military aid package to Ukraine on July 25 totaling USD $400 million. The package will reportedly prioritize artillery, anti-air defenses, and ground vehicles to aid Ukraine’s slower than expected counteroffensive. Ukraine has been unable to achieve the rapid breakthrough to recapture large swaths of territory that many Western commentators expected, and instead has conducted a slow grinding offensive in the face of strong Russian defenses. Read more [EXTERNAL]


Contributions by: Wescott Yeaw, Kyle Rose, Simran Sharma, Tudor Boanda, and Andrew Alipui