The year 2015 saw world leaders reaching several important milestones which not only helped restore the global order but has also given a new insight to address key issues and resolve differences among nations. Several urgent issues this year dominated the world headlines from Nepal’s constitutional crisis, Europe’s herculean efforts to address the migrant issue, as a mammoth sea of humanity fleeing from persecution in their native lands, continued to knock on its door to Myanmar’s historic elections that saw pro-democracy crusader Aun San Suu Kyi ascending to power for the first time. The vexed long-standing issue of nuclear proliferation involving Iran saw a dramatic reversal after the tone-down of the respective stands by the key stakeholders, increasing hopes of attaining an amicable solution to the problem. A historic agreement early this year paved way for a durable solution to the troubled issue. Though a lot will now depend on how the affected parties live up to their promises they made at the time of the agreement between Iran and the Western nations. Other major issues like the Syrian war, Russia’s invasion of Crimea, devastating terror attacks in Paris, fresh tensions in South China Sea and the all-important UN Climate Conference too have found prominence in 2015.
1) Nepal in trouble over constitution
In a major development this year, India’s neighbour Nepal has adopted a new constitution as part of a series of steps it has initiated to put an end to its long-drawn political turmoil. However, the constitution’s promulgation didn’t go down well for some section of the society, mainly the Madhesi community, which lives in the country’s southern plains close to the Indian border. And as a result, Nepal has witnessed recurrent strikes staged by the members of the community, sometimes leading to violence, to force Kathmandu to look into their demands. Protesters have blocked a main highway which is lifeline to the country, for ferrying essential commodities from India such as food, fuel and medicine. This overwhelming protests have strained the relationship between India and Nepal, which traditionally enjoy close ties. To end this unfolding crisis, all major political parties in Nepal have meanwhile decided to amend the new constitution so that the demands of Madhesis can be accommodated.
2) Myanmar elections: Aun San Suu Kyi ascends to power
The historic Myanmar election this year was a major milestone for pro-democracy activists across the world. The elections saw relinquishing of power by the country’s powerful military junta and installation of pro-democracy icon Aun San Suu Kyi to the reins of the government. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) had won the November 8 elections in a landslide victory. She she will now need to forge a close working relationship with the powerful military for her government to run smoothly.
The NLD will be the dominant party when Myanmar’s new parliament sits in February, while the armed forces will be the largest opposition group. The development comes after the country witnessed violent pro-democracy protests spanning several decades. Suu Kyi was imprisoned for nearly two decades until her release in 2010. After her release, the country’s military junta had announced several important reforms, including the way the elections were held in the Southeast Asian nation.
3) Migrant crisis puts Europe in a fix
Europe’s current migrant crisis is perhaps one of the biggest mass movement of people between continents ever recorded in the recent past. To escape persecution from the tyrannical regimes, a steady flow of thousands of people from the war-torn nations of Africa and Asia have been making their way to Europe and other continents. Their entry to Europe, or the ‘promised land’, would mean safety for their family and livelihood.
However, this unprecedented scale of people seeking shelter has overwhelmed Europe’s capacity to accommodate them all. Countries like Germany, Belgium, Turkey and France have stretched to their limit and are now finding it increasingly difficult to accommodate this steady stream of people seeking asylum. This mass exodus of people to Europe and other places is now a global concern and the world leaders must have to find a solution sooner than later, and perhaps the answer to which lies in the countries from where the migrants have come from.
4) West secures nuclear deal with Iran
The historic Iran nuclear deal was signed between Iran and six world powers – the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia and China in July this year. The European Union had also contributed to the framework of the deal, which was signed after two years of tough negotiations. As part of the deal, Iran would limit its nuclear ambitions, confining only to civilian purposes, while in return, the international community will provide Tehran its much-needed relief from sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council.
India hopes for a new business bonanza from Iran after the international community agreed to lift sanctions and trade embargo on Tehran. India’s exports to Iran are expected to jump over a third to $6 billion this financial year, according to a report. However, the relief provided to Tehran by the international community will be tied to the steps Iran takes to adhere to the deal.
5) Deadly terrorist attacks in Paris
The devastating terror attacks in Paris have left the world in shock and despair. A total of 130 people were killed and scores of others were injured in a coordinated gun and bomb attack in the French capital on November 13.
The deadly attacks by Islamic State gunmen and suicide bombers hit a concert hall, a major stadium, restaurants and bars, almost simultaneously. The attacks were described by French President Francois Hollande as an “act of war”. Global condemnation came swiftly. From Washington to the Vatican and everywhere in between, world leaders responded in force to the worst attacks in France in decades.
World leaders have pledged to avenge the deaths of the innocent people with a new strategy which would see the complete annihilation of the Islamic State terrorist group. This fresh resolve to fight the scourge of terrorism is important in the light of the dangers posed by the IS and other such organisations to the world.
6) Tensions rise as Beijing lays claim to South China Sea
Tensions rose high in the South China Sea after Beijing laid claims to almost all of the region, a strategic waterway through which about a third of the world’s traded oil passes. Though the dispute is on for past several years, it has escalated this year after Beijing started its island building programme in the South China Sea. This has put China in direct conflict with Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei, which have also laid claims on the waters.
The region have also become the stage for a tussle for dominance between Beijing and Washington, the world’s two largest economic and military powers. Meanwhile, the Philippines has filed a case in the Hague-based tribunal to rule on the dispute, appealing to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.