HARD NUMBERS

68.5 million: Some 68.5 million people were recorded as forcibly displacedby persecution, conflict, or other forms of violence at the end of 2017, the largest number ever, according to the new report from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Despite all the political noise about migration in the developed world, 85 percent of the world’s refugees are hosted by developing countries.


3 million: Around three million Chinese tourists visit the United States each year, spending more money per trip on average than visitors from other countries. That makes travel the rare industry where the US enjoys a trade surplus with the People’s Republic. But as trade tensions between Washington and Beijing heat up, could Chinese vacations get cut short?

100: Starting this September, 100 percent of workers at bakeries, electronics stores, and furniture shops in Saudi Arabia will have to be Saudi nationals. Well, on paper at least. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is pushing the quotas as part of his attempt to wean the Kingdom’s economy off its dependence on oil-funded largesse, is having trouble finding home-grown talent that’s willing to work in these positions.

39: Just 39 percent of Japanese adults use social networking sites, according to a recent Pew study, the lowest of any advanced economy. The report found that a median of 60 percent of people across 17 more affluent countries used online social networks in 2017–18. In 19 developing countries, median use was 53 percent, up sharply from just 34 percent half a decade ago.

37: A band of Afghan peace marchers arrived in the country’s capital, Kabul, on June 18 after walking for 37 days to demand an end to the Afghan war. The journey concluded as the Taliban declared an end to a surprise three-day ceasefire coinciding with the Eid-al-Fitr holiday marking the end of Ramadan. It was the first-ever ceasefire in the country’s 17-year long war. 

Microsoft announced earlier this year the launch of a new United Nations representation office to deepen their support for the UN's mission and work. Many of the big challenges facing society can only be addressed effectively through multi-stakeholder action. Whether it's public health, environmental sustainability, cybersecurity, terrorist content online or the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, Microsoft has found that progress requires two elements - international cooperation among governments and inclusive initiatives that bring in civil society and private sector organizations to collaborate on solutions. Microsoft provided an update on their mission, activities for the 75th UN General Assembly, and the team. To read the announcement from Microsoft's Vice President of UN Affairs, John Frank, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

News broke across the United States on Friday evening that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died, ending her long and distinguished career as a jurist. Tributes poured in quickly from men and women on both sides of the political spectrum. But just as quickly, her death has sharply raised the stakes for the upcoming US elections for president and the Senate, as well as the longer-term ideological balance of the nation's top court.

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In this extended version of Ian Bremmer's conversation with UN Secretary-General António Guterres for GZERO World, the two discuss a wide range of geopolitical issues and how they've been exacerbated by the pandemic. Guterres shares his views on the urgent need for global climate action, equitable distribution of vaccine once approved, and Europe's emerging role as an example of successful intergovernmental cooperation. Guterres also lays out his vision for a more "inclusive" multilateralism, one that involves deeper partnerships between organizations like the UN and World Health Organization with multinational corporations and private stakeholders.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on the biggest development in US politics this week:

So, the scriptwriters for 2020 have thrown as a real curveball, introducing the most explosive element in US politics, just six weeks before the election. The tragic death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who will be remembered as a trailblazing jurist, but also a reliably liberal vote on a court that was divided along ideological lines with a five-four conservative majority. This has the potential to upend the presidential election. And likely will motivate turnout on both sides. But also, importantly for president, Trump could remind some Romney voting ex-Republicans who were leaning towards Biden why they were Republicans in the first place. Which means that it has the potential to push some persuadable voters back towards the president.

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(Some) Thais fed up with royals: In their largest show of force to date, around 18,000 young Thai activists took to the streets of Bangkok on Saturday to rally against the government and demand sweeping changes to the country's powerful monarchy. The protesters installed a gold plaque declaring that Thailand belongs to the Thai people, not the king — a brazen act of defiance in a country where many view the sovereign as a god and offenses against the royal family are punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Activists also got the royal guards to accept a letter addressed to King Vajiralongkorn with their proposed reforms. We're watching to see if the Thai government — made up mostly of the same generals who took over in a 2014 coup and then stage-managed last year's election to stay in power — continues to exercise restraint against the activists. So far, some protest leaders have been detained but they are growing bolder in their defiance of the military and the royal family, the two institutions that have dominated Thai politics for decades. Prime Minister and former army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha is in a tough spot: many young and liberal Thais will hate him if he cracks down hard on the peaceful protesters, but not doing so would make him look weak in the eyes of his power base of older, more conservative Thais who still venerate the monarchy and are fine with the military calling the shots in politics.

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