Chaos in Venezuela, shock and awe in the Huawei case, and more

Today’s blog post is a round-up of some of the most important developments this week at home and abroad.

Venezuela and the international rule of law

There is no doubt that Venezuela is in disarray.  But it is hard to see how Canada’s astonishingly ill-advised support for the self-proclaimed presidency of opposition leader Juan Guaido can do anything but further inflame the situation, undermine prospects for a peaceful resolution, and utterly contradict our repeated declarations of belief in a rules-based international order.

We should take note of the far more restrained language of the European Union and the pleas of the UN Secretary-General for an inclusive and credible political dialogue and for all actors to lower tensions and pursue every effort to prevent violence and avoid any escalation.

For a thoughtful commentary on the wider context and background to the Venezuelan conflict see: Venezuela: how Latin American tolerance of illiberalism let a nation slide into crisis (Tom Long,, 25 January 2019).

Latin America’s experiences shed light on how life at the margins of the liberal international order means that, domestically, the gains of liberalisation are shared narrowly and the commitment to democracy and human rights is often paper-thin.

The legal case against Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou

There was shock and horror expressed by pundits and politicians when Canada’s Ambassador to China, John MCallum, weighed in publicly on this highly controversial case. While McCallum probably went too far by expressing a preference on the outcome of the matter, he was on firm legal ground in the rest of his statement, as several legal scholars told CBC’s Mark Gollom.

Canada’s ambassador to China John McCallum raised some cogent legal points when declaring that the Huawei executive arrested in Vancouver at the request of the United States has a strong defence to fight extradition, according to lawyers who specialize in the field.

For the full article see: McCallum says Meng has a strong case against extradition. Is he right? (Mark Gollom,, 24 January 2019).

Getting serious about averting climate catastrophe

Professor Paul Rogers of Bradford University, a leading expert on sustainable common security, devoted his 25 January commentary to a blueprint for jumpstarting effective action at the political, official and non-governmental levels for a transition to a more sustainable world. He identifies three core and interrelated elements:

  • The need to prioritise common global security over national security;
  • A big boost for climate-science research, particularly relating to polar, tropical and oceanic systems and sustained international research collaboration; and
  • A major investment in generating renewable energy.

Professor Rogers concludes:

This is the test of a generation, everyone is involved and we have no choice but to rise to it.

For the full article see: “Planet politics: time to get real” (Paul Rogers,, 24 January 2019).

See also: Oxford Research Group’s Blueprints for a Green Challenge  (23 January 2019) on the practicalities of an integrated programme of rapid decarbonisation.


Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tags: Ambassador John McCallum, climate catastrophe, collaborative climate-science research, decarbonisation, Huawei extradition case, international rule of law, Juan Guiado, liberal international order, renewable energy, sustainable common security, UN Secretary-General, US unilateral Iran sanctions, Venezuela