By Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, J.D.
Founder/President, G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice
One of the significant areas of our work at G.L.O.B.A.L. Justice is to inform the broader public about key global news, on a variety of topics and from a range of regions and sources. Each year holds tremendous stories about global challenges and ways that peoples and countries have overcome those challenges. 2016 was a year of particularly important global news stories, making it difficult to select just 10 to highlight. But here are my selections for the “Top 10 Global News of 2016:”
10. Election of Donald Trump
After arguably the most challenging presidential election year in recent memory, with a range of candidates and difficult decisions for the voting public, Republican candidate Donald Trump was elected President over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. While Trump was a departure from both traditional Republican and Conservative perspectives, he tapped into the pulse of at least half of the American people dissatisfied with the status quo and wanting a leader that represented their concerns. The result was a president-elect unlike any other with no previous political experience but business assets unlike any before him. While his candidacy was mired in controversy, his presidency is sure to be as distinctive as his election.
9. Panama Papers
Some 11.5 million documents amassed by a Panamanian law firm listed the offshore accounts and shell companies used by world leaders and business people to hide their wealth. These Panama Papers were leaked in April by a consortium of international journalists from more than 100 media organizations in 80 countries. The result of their reporting was an international new story of significant financial impact and proportions.
Britain’s exit from the European Union was long time coming but still caused ripples across global community. Britain stunned Europe and the world with a narrow vote of 52 to 48 percent in June to leave the European Union. Global markets immediately plummeted and the British pound fell to a 31-year low. Prime Minister David Cameron resigned after the results. The movement was led by far right British politicians who felt the relationship with the European Union impacted negatively the economic strength and opportunities of Great Britain. What the long-term implications will be from this decision are yet to be seen, but Brexit demonstrated that the European status quo is now changing.
7. Passing of arts and culture icons.
2016 was an unusual year, especially for the unusually high number of deaths of legendary and iconic figures in music, film, sports and culture. Among the dozens of well-known figures were international recording artists David Bowie, Prince, and Leonard Cohen; film legends Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, Gene Wilder; writers Harper Lee and Elie Wiesel; political figures and judicial leaders Nancy Reagan, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, and Antonin Scalia: sports giants Muhammad Ali, Gordie Howe, and Arnold Palmer. Many of these figures created a back drop to the formative years of so many in America and the world more over.
6. Police shootings and killing of police officers in Dallas and Louisiana.
This year marked another sad page in the tense story of race relations in America and in particular between African American communities and law enforcement. The killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota by police officers were protested across the country. In addition, the killings of five policies officers and injury to nine others who were ambushed in Dallas, Texas as well as the shooting of six police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana two weeks later magnified the violence and aggression against law enforcement and the need for reform and reconciliation.
5. Dozens killed at Orlando, Florida nightclub
On June 12, Omar Mateen killed 49 people and wounded 53 others inside Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando. A 911 call indicated that Mateen swore allegiance to the leader of the so-called Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but later investigation showed no links to ISIS. The severe violence and tragic loss of life created a ripple impact not only in Orlando but around the country, and particularly among the gay community.
4. Terror attacks in Brussels, Nice, and Berlin
Europe has experienced many terrible incidents of terrorist violence in past years and 2016 marked yet another level of terrorism in this region. In March, three coordinated attacks in Belgium at the Brussels Airport and Maelbeek metro station during rush hour killed 32 and injured another 300. On July 14, a truck was deliberately driven into crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice, France – killing 86 people and injuring more than 400 others. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks and the perpetrators were linked to the November 2015 Paris attacks. And, on Dec. 19, a truck rammed into crowds at a Christmas market in Berlin killing 12 people and injuring 48 others. These incidents not only resulted in tragic loss but grave concerns for security in Europe.
3. Failed coup attempt in Turkey
In July, Turkish Armed Forces attempted to overthrow the government of President Recep Erdogan. The military stormed media outlets and forced them off the air. Erdogan addressed the nation via FaceTime and urged people to take to the streets to stand up to the military faction behind the uprising. At least 290 people died and more than 1,400 were injured in a night of violence. The Turkish government arrested tens of thousands following the coup attempt and more than 50,000 people have been dismissed or fired from their jobs in the military, public service and police agencies.
2. Earthquakes in Italy and Ecuador
Italy and Ecuador endured the deaths of hundreds and injuries to thousands after massive earthquakes. On April 16, a 7.8 earthquake struck near the coast of Ecuador leaving nearly 700 people dead and injuring more than 16,000. In August, a powerful earthquake struck central Italy killing nearly 300 people. Some 15, 000 Photos 15,000 residents were left homeless as a result of the quakes.
1. Aleppo and the Syrian Crisis
The Syrian Civil War continues to be one of the most significant and difficult news stories in the world. Since 2011 the death count has reached more than 400,000 people. Airstrikes from President Bashar-al Assad and Russia have caused more destruction. Several ceasefires were nearly reached but failed. By mid-December, government forces reclaimed the city of Aleppo from rebels and Islamist fighters. The United Nations called it a “meltdown of humanity” as civilians were reportedly killed trying to flee the city. These terrible events highlight the most severe of circumstances for global concern.