By Sosamma Samuel-Burnett, JD
Founder & President, G.L.O.B.A.L Justice
2015 was a significant year for major news stories related to international issues and global justice. Throughout this year we have seen wide scale global concerns on topics ranging from race & religion to violence & terrorism to natural disasters. The following is a summary of my selection of the Top Ten Global News stories and themes for the year based on their international impact and relevance for global justice, but they do not diminish the relevance of the many other significant events and issues raised throughout the year:
10. Immigration Debate: The debate on immigration issues reached a heightened level in 2015. Partially fueled by the bravado and base comments of Donald Trump, both political parties and Americans at large have discussed and debated how best to address the concerns related to illegal immigration and the global refugee crisis. This issue is not only the focus of news for 2015 but carries over into the New Year.
9. Benghazi hearings: Hillary Clinton and her staff are under investigation for the attacks that occurred in Benghazi in September 2012 that killed four Americans, including the Ambassador to Libya, while she was Secretary of State. Although the hearings have yet to have a direct bearing on her current campaign for President, they still represent significant concerns for international security and partisan politics on global issues.
8. High Profile Criminal Trials and Sentences: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev who, along with his brother, orchestrated the Boston marathon terrorist attacks in 2013 was tried and found guilty in 2015 on thirty counts including usage of a weapon of mass destruction resulting. He was sentenced to the death penalty. James Holmes was tried and convicted for the killing of 12 and injury of 70 in the shootings in an Aurora, CO movie theater in 2012. While each of these cases was U.S. based, they received wide global attention and also raised a host of concerns related to violence and terrorism.
7. Race Based Shootings: The shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC that killed 9 parishioners and injured another showed the starkness of racial violence but also the impact of Christian-based response. In addition, the racial conflicts raised by the deaths of Freddy Gray, Sandra Bland and others in the context of police arrests also signify the ongoing racial concerns that plague the U.S.
6. Terrorist attacks in the US: Not since 9/11 has the U.S. had a major terrorist attack of the scale that occurred in San Bernardino in December. Married couple Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik opened fire at a holiday party killing 14 people and injuring 22 others. This tragic event illustrated once again the need for state side vigilance against terrorism.
5. Airplane Tragedies: Just as in the prior year, 2015 was marked by a series of tragedies in airplane travel. The airplane crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps carrying 150 passengers and the disintegration of Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 carrying 271 passengers after take-off from Egypt are most notable in 2015 given the scale of losses and international impact.
4. Natural Disasters: 2015 also included some of the world’s most significant natural disasters in many regions. Most notable among these disasters was Nepal’s 7.8 scale earthquake causing a death toll of more than 9,000 and injured more than 23,000. The ripple impact of that earthquake was the avalanche at Mount Everest killing at least 22 people making it the deadliest disaster on the mountain. In addition, the widespread wildfires in the Western U.S. caused significant losses in life, property, and major concerns for rebuilding.
3. Terrorist attacks in France: Throughout 2015, France has been at the center of international news but sadly for a series of terrorist attacks. The attack on the French satire journal Charlie Hebdo left 14 dead including its founder and editor. The would be attack on a French train was diverted by American passengers who received a hero’s recognition both in Paris and Sacramento. Most significant were the broad scale, multi-site attacks in Paris in November leaving 130 people dead and 368 injured. While other violent and terrorist attacks have happened in the Mideast, Africa, and other locations, including that same weekend in Beirut and Baghdad, the attacks in France throughout the year are particularly of concern given that the country serves as a symbolic seat of democracy.
2. ISIS: Palmyra, Ramadi, and the broader Mideast region have been ravaged by the violence and brutality of ISIS. But the global community also has been directly impacted by their terror, whether in the form of recruitment or attacks around the world. The failure of the US and other countries to contain ISIS in 2015 has made it among the most significant and difficult topics of this year and forseeably for 2016.
1. Global Refugee Crisis: The Syrian war has resulted in approximately 4.3 million refugees, 6.6 million displaced in Syria. The extended result is that millions of displaced, entering Europe, Canada, US and other parts of the globe, have created the largest refugee crisis since WWII. Taken together with the overall refugee situation around the globe, the estimated numbers of refugees are upwards of 21 million people. The scale and the range of concerns related to this topic make it the most important issue in global news for 2015 and certainly will continue into the next year and years that follow.