TACKLING THE BOMB
Trump addresses leaders at UN as nuclear weapon ban treaty dawns
The 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will convene today in New York City, where President Donald Trump will give one of the first speeches to open debate.
As the UNGA tackles issues ranging from climate change to migration, UN member states will have the opportunity to sign the newly negotiated Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, a legally binding pact banning the development, acquisition, or possession of nuclear weapons among its signatories. The treaty was approved by a 122-1 margin on July 7, but 40 nations, including all nine nuclear-armed powers, boycotted the vote.
Nonetheless, the treaty garnered support from surprising corners. Iran, which had a controversial nuclear program prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, voted in favour. Saudi Arabia, thought to be considering nuclear proliferation as part of its regional rivalry with the Islamic Republic, also approved the treaty.
Given the vote margin, the treaty will almost certainly attain the 50 signatures needed to come into effect. Although the nuclear powers’ disinterest makes disarmament a dead end for now, the widespread approval of the treaty will help arrest further nuclear proliferation.
ALL EYES ON SUU KYI
Myanmar’s de facto leader addresses nation on Rohingya crisis
Aung San Suu Kyi will address her majority Buddhist country today on the forced displacement of the Muslim minority Rohingya people within her country.
Since August 25, the military has cracked down on the minority group in response to Rohingya extremist attacks on police posts. This has led to the mass flight of Rohingya refugees to Bangladesh amid fears of mass military killings of civilians.
Ms Suu Kyi must walk a tightrope with today’s speech. First, she needs to keep the military—where real political power still lies—on side. Second, she must maintain the support of Myanmar’s 88% Buddhist majority who view the Rohingya as illegal immigrants and terrorists. Finally, she has to assure the international community that she will act to stop the crisis further developing into a humanitarian disaster.
If Ms Suu Kyi does not satisfy the international community, her legacy will be tarnished. If she goes too far the other way, she could risk losing the support of her people and the military.
Delve Deeper: The Rohingya refugee crisis: ethnic cleansing in Myanmar
Trump’s Russian ambassador pick appears before Senate committee
Jon Huntsman will come before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, launching his confirmation process.
Although the former ambassador to China and Singapore has the experience to head the Russian diplomatic mission, he conspicuously lacks colleagues; 48 American embassies still lack an ambassador, including geopolitical hotspots South Korea and Qatar.
Compounding the manpower shortages, more than half the State Department’s 141 senior positions remain unfilled and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has moved to eliminate dozens of State Department special envoys. Critics charge that Mr Tillerson’s downsizing will cause long-term damage to America’s Foreign Service.
However, Trump and Tillerson have faced bipartisan pushback from Congress. Two weeks ago the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated the State Department $10 billion more than the administration requested and maintained billions in aid programs targeted by Trump.
A Republican who served under President Obama with bipartisan respect, Huntsman should be confirmed with ease. But the larger success of his mission will depend on whether Congress can force President Trump to fund and staff the State Department. If not, America’s diplomatic corps will be stretched thin trying to deal with a myriad of international crises.
GERMAN AUTO BANE
Investor confidence report to measure auto industry jitters
ZEW, an economic research centre, will release its latest measure of investor confidence in the German economy today.
The report comes amid recent allegations of cartel-building and rigging of emissions software among the top 5 German carmakers, resulting in plummeting investor confidence as EU watchdog investigations were launched. In August, ZEW recorded a large 7.5 point drop to 10 points.
The latest report is expected to reveal any ongoing investor pessimism over the future of the automobile industry. While the famed “Mittelstand” backbone of the German economy is small- to medium-sized businesses, large car manufacturers employ some 800,000 people and account for 20% of the country’s industrial revenue—making it the heart of the economy.
A further drop in confidence will continue the downward trend into a third consecutive month. This will pose a major medium-term risk to the German economy and could spur Berlin to embark on major heart surgery on the automobile industry. With an election on September 24, increased oversight of the industry is likely.
Sharif’s lawyers in court, Saakashvili causing a stir
Lawyers for Pakistan’s ousted PM Nawaz Sharif will appear in an Islamabad court today to answer corruption charges against the former leader. Despite ongoing controversy, Mr Sharif and his family remain deeply popular in segments of Pakistani society; on Sunday, his wife Kulsoom clinched the parliamentary seat vacated by the ousted prime minister.
Controversial ex-Georgian president and former governor of Odessa Mikheil Saakashvili may hold a rally in Ukraine’s capital today. The stateless former statesman has emerged as an outspoken critic of President Petro Poroshenko.