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Image by Ajay Kumar Singh from Pixabay.

Viewpoint by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

The writer is United Nations-Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (ESCAP).

BANGKOK (IDN) — The world is emerging from the biggest social and economic shock in living memory, but it will be a long time before the deep scars of the COVID-19 pandemic on human well-being fully heal.

Image: U.S. Flag. Credit:

Viewpoint by M.K. Bhadrakumar

The writer is a former Indian diplomat. This article was produced in partnership by Indian Punchline and Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute where it first appeared.

NEW DELHI (IDN) — In a statement marking the “return” of the United States to the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 24, Secretary of State Antony Blinken disclosed that the Biden administration is placing democracy and human rights at the centre of American foreign policy.

Image: Sunrise, Fog, Landscape, Mountains, Mist, Morning, Dawn as in diplomacy. Source: Pixabay.

By Kester Kenn Klomegah*

MOSCOW (IDN) — Russia is committed to helping eradicate the rapidly increasing coronavirus infections in Africa amounting to approximately 3.8 million with its latest developed Sputnik V vaccine. Such a step will enable Russia to reassert its geopolitical influence that involves a keen competition with other foreign players on the continent.

An official media release in mid-February said that the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team — set up by the African Union to acquire additional vaccine doses so that Africa can attain a target immunization of 60% — has received an offer of 300 million Sputnik V vaccines from the Russian Federation.

Photo: A worker observes construction at a harbor in Colombo, Sri Lanka, commissioned by China Harbour Engineering Co Ltd on Dec 1. Credit: XINHUA

Viewpoint by Dushni Weerakoon

The writer is the Executive Director and Head of the Institute of Policy Studies of Sri Lanka.

COLOMBO (IDN) — The unprecedented disruptions of COVID-19 are causing a geopolitical reset — and as the global order is redrawn, small emerging market economies like Sri Lanka are vulnerable to the fallout. Sri Lanka straddles vital shipping routes and is at the centre of diplomatic spats between China and the United States, who called on Sri Lanka to make ‘difficult but necessary choices’ over its growing economic and political ties to China.

Photo:Silverton Hotel by Kalinga Seneviratne | IDN-INPS

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SILVERTON (IDN) – With over 9.3 million international visitors spending close to $34 billion in Australia last year, Tourism Australia’s executive director Bob East predicted a rosy picture for the county' tourism sector, in its annual report for 2018-19 released at the beginning of this year. He said the sector has seen “exceptional achievements” in the past year, and thousands of tourism operators are “making a good living from a strong and sustainable industry”.

Even before the rosy report could be properly distributed, the tourism sector came crashing down, when Australia became the first country in the world to seal its borders in January this year. It was just before the peak of the international visitor arrivals during the lunar new year holidays in Asia.

Image credit: Global Times

Viewpoint by Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY (IDN) – A one-sided trade war has been gathering momentum between China and Australia, ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called for an “independent” international investigation of the origins of Covid-19, which infuriated China.

China is Australia’s biggest trading partner with two-way trade worth A$ 235 in financial year 2018-19, which amounts to 26% of Australia’s total trade.

Photo: The panorama of Port Vila, capital and largest city of Vanuatu. CC BY 2.0

Viewpoint by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP).

BANGKOK (IDN) – The Pacific Island Developing State of Vanuatu has emerged as one of the region’s great success stories. Vanuatu has joined the ranks of Samoa and the Maldives as one of only six countries to graduate from being a least developed country since the category was introduced by the United Nations in 1971.


Viewpoint by Jayasri Priyalal*

SINGAPORE (IDN) – They are fighting an invisible enemy taking a warpath. Many countries grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic interpret the situation like a war. Frontline heroes are found in battlefield scenarios.

These heroes come from different professions, medical and healthcare workers being the binding force, the rest including, security, transport, postal logistic, financial service providers, and employees attached to retail industries etc. Aside from them, many unsung heroes are working in hospitals, morgues, in burial grounds and the health and sanitary service providers who provide an invaluable essential service to keep the communities together.

Photo: "I've just spoken to President-elect @JoeBiden to congratulate him on his election. There are no greater friends and no greater allies than Australia and the US," PM Morrison on November 12. Source. @ScottMorrisonMP

By Kalinga Seneviratne

SYDNEY (IDN) – The government of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been closely aligned with that of the US President Donald Trump on climate change and policy towards China. But, media commentators here in the past few days have been arguing that a Biden administration may put pressure on Australia to change its climate change policies in particular and tread a more cautious approach to diplomacy with China.

Australia is one of the world’s biggest per-capita greenhouse emitters as well as a major exporter of coal. The Morrison government has set a 2030 emission target of 26-28 per cent reduction from 2005 levels, after having rejected a scientific report by the Climate Change Authority recommending reducing the emission levels by 45-60 per cent over the same period.

Photo: UN ESCAP Executive Secretary Ms Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana against the backdrop of web slider Regional Conversation Series on Building Back Better. Collage IDN-INPS

Viewpoint by Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana

The writer is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

BANGKOK (IDN) – As the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the length and breadth of Asia and the Pacific, finance ministries are continuing their relentless efforts to inject trillions of dollars for emergency health responses and fiscal packages. With continued lockdown measures and restricted borders, economic rebound seems uncertain.


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