February 3 Ottawa, Canada: Noting their role in the attack on the United States capitol on Jan. 6, the Canadian government has become the first to designate the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization, according to AP News. “The Proud Boys is a neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence and was formed in 2016,” the Public Safety Canada website stated. “Members of the group espouse misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.” Although France 24 called this motion “purely symbolic,” this designation allows the groups assets to be frozen and members can be charged with terroristic charges if they commit violent crimes. “There is no basis for it. It’s infringement of free speech rights. All the Canadian Proud Boys have ever done is go to rallies,” said Enrique Tarrio, chairperson of the Proud Boys. “They used what happened at the Capitol to push for this.” Tarrio was arrested in Washington prior to the capital riots and accused of destroying a Black Lives Matter banner.
February 3 Paris, France: A French court ruled that France has not followed through on its commitments to fight climate change, including its multi-year plan to cut carbon emissions in the 2015 Paris Climate Accord, according to Reuters. The complaint was filed by four nongovernmental organizations and backed by more than 2 million French citizens. According to Al Jazeera, the court ordered the French government to pay a symbolic one euro fine to each of the NGOs that filed the case. “For the first time, a French court has ruled that the state can be held responsible for its climate commitments,” said Cécile Duflot, Executive Director of Oxfam France, one of the NGOs that brought the case. According to Duflot, the ruling was “a timely reminder to all governments that actions speak louder than words.”
February 5 Palau: The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF)—now a 17-member regional body—is facing growing uncertainties after Palau withdrew from the organization, according to The New York Times. “They’ve said in the past that the relationship in the Pacific is unique—it’s like a family,” said Jonathan Pryke, the director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute. “To have a family member leave altogether, it’s just a very bad sign.” Palau withdrew after a dispute on which countries had the power to select the new PIF secretary-general. This conflict between north pacific countries and south pacific countries in addition to the inability to host in person talks due to COVID-19 has made diplomacy unstable. “The process regarding the appointment of the secretary-general has clearly indicated to the Republic of Palau that unity, regionalism and the ‘Pacific Way’ no longer guide the forum,” Surangel Whipps Jr., Palau’s president, said.
February 6 N’Djamena, Chad: Hundreds of protesters were met with tear gas and arrests by police in the country’s capital, according to Al Jazeera. The protests erupted following the governing party’s confirmation of the nomination of President Idriss Deby for his sixth term. Deby first came to power in the 1990 rebellion that overthrew former leader Hissene Habre. In 2005, a referendum was passed to abolish presidential term limits. Although term limits were reinstated in 2018, the constitutional change would let him stay in power until 2033. According to Reuters, hundreds of protesters were seen with signs reading, “No to a sixth term” and “Leave, Deby.”