The Global Affairs team share some of the most important weekly headlines that you may otherwise have missed.

A note from the editor

Last week was another busy week for the world outside OX1.

The International Court of Justice have ruled that Israel must take preventative measures against genocide in Gaza. A Russian plane have been shot down near the borders of Ukraine, killing 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war.

On the other side of the pond, Donald Trump has won the New Hampshire primary, securing another win for the Republican party nominee. UK and Canada is facing some challenges as talks of beef and cheese trade has come to a halt.

As always, a lot goes on outside the bubble of Oxford, and we hope this week’s outside OX1 helps to explain some of the events.

International Court of Justice rules Israel must take preventative action against genocide in Gaza

Nick Marshall

@John Englart/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr

On Friday, the UN’s highest court ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, but did not insist on a ceasefire. It comes as Israeli forces continue a military campaign in the Gaza Strip that has claimed at least 25,700 Palestinian lives, 70% of which are women and children, at time of writing.

The court further ordered for a report to be submitted by the state of Israel within one month, detailing the steps that are being taken to minimise civilian deaths and prevent incitement of genocide.

A reading at the court in The Hague acted largely, but not entirely, in favour of South Africa’s proposed measures, stating “Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the genocide convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of acts under Article 2 of the convention”, which prevents physical and mental harm against groups. Despite requests from Israel to dismiss the case, and comments from the US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, calling the case “meritless”, the court has stated that it has jurisdiction to rule, and has no intention on its dismissal.

The ruling has evoked criticism amongst politicians within Israel as Itamar Ben-Gvir, the Israeli National Security minister, wrote “Hague Schmague” on X – the first comments by an Israeli official on the matter. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a video address on X, stating that “Israel’s commitment to international law is unwavering. Equally unwavering is our sacred commitment to continue to defend our country and defend our people”. Netanyahu continues to defend the scale of the operation as a war on Hamas, not the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Riyadh al-Maliki, has welcomed “the significant order by the International Court of Justice”, stressing that other states should respect the decision, and that “no state is above the law”. South Africa has also welcomed the court’s decision as a “decisive victory for the international rule of law”.

Being the highest court in the UN, ICJ rules are binding and allow for no right of appeal, but cannot legally be enforced, as was seen by Russia’s dismissal of the ICJ’s ruling for Russia to withdraw from Ukraine in March 2022.

The court was also “gravely concerned” about the welfare of Israeli hostages abducted by Hamas militants on October 7th after a terrorist attack at the Re’im Music Festival. The ICJ has ordered for their immediate release. 

Russia and Ukraine exchange accusations over military plane shooting

Tiffany You 

On Wednesday 24th January, Russia accused Ukraine of shooting down a Russian military transport plane in the rural Belgorod region near Ukrainian borders. Supposedly, the plane was carrying 65 Ukrainian prisoners of war (PoWs) who were headed for a prisoner exchange with Russian PoWs, alongside nine crew members.  Russia’s Investigative Committee said that the plane was struck by a Ukrainian-made surface-to-air missile, furthermore claiming that the Ukrainian side was officially warned and given complete information 15 minutes before the plane entered the zone.

Kyiv, however, has neither confirmed nor denied that its forces downed the aircraft and has challenged details of Moscow’s account. Andriy Yusov, the Ukrainian military intelligence spokesperson, said that Kyiv had received no requests from Russia to refrain from attacks in the airspace where the plane was downed. Moreover, Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets took to X to say that “currently, there are no signs of the fact that there were so many people on the I1-76 plane, be they citizens of Ukraine or not.”

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for a transparent international investigation, believing Moscow to be “playing with the lives of Ukrainian prisoners of war.” Currently, the cause of the crash remains unknown. And with the crash having happened in Russian territory means that any future investigations are likely to be hampered – so far there have yet to be any independent groups that have visited the site.

With there being limited footage revealing little of what has actually happened, the contradicting statements between Kyiv and Moscow respectively can only leave us guessing. These conflicting narratives, however, are not a new site. Since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war almost two years ago, this has become almost a daily occurrence.

Brexit, Beef, and Cheese: UK-Canada trade talks abandoned

Louis Treasure

@Shkuru Afshar, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons (‘High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom’)

The proposed post-Brexit trade deal between Canada and the UK fell through on Thursday, with the UK abandoning negotiations due to a perceived lack of progress on beef and cheese. The negotiations were intended to replace the agreement the countries had before 2020 when the UK had not left the European Union.

The Canadian Government had been pushing for the UK to relax its ban on hormone-treated beef, as without a relaxation Canada would be effectively shut out of the UK beef market. The National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales saw the halting of negotiations as a ‘relief’; UK farmers are already seeing stiff competition from their Antipodean colleagues who have tariff-free access to UK markets. Rishi Sunak promised last year not to allow hormone-treated beef or chlorinated chicken into UK markets, making any progress on the issue difficult.

Cheese exports to Canada will likely also be harmed with a 245% tariff placed on UK exports since the beginning of the year; UK cheese exporters had previously enjoyed tariff-free trade with Canada under an interim agreement after the UK left the EU and before a full trade agreement could be negotiated. This could ‘cripple’ Canadian cheese importers and small cheese shops, but is unlikely to have much of a wider impact on dairy markets due to the relatively small volume of cheese exported to Canada – just 2.4% of total UK exports.

The halting of negotiations has also raised questions about UK car exports to Canada – it is unclear whether the UK will be able to sell to Canada without facing high import taxes. The UK’s biggest export to Canada is cars, valued at £745.8 million in 2023, according to the Department for Business and Trade. A similar interim agreement had allowed the UK to sell cars tax-free, but no promises have been made that this will continue. However, there are no statistically significant imports of Canadian cars into the UK.

Whether or not negotiations resume, the UK and Canada are likely to continue to blame each other. The UK Government will have been wishing to capitalise on this opportunity as arising directly due to freedom from EU trade regulations, but the failure to reach an agreement will put a damper on any notions that this is a Brexit ‘win’.

Trump 2 – Haley 0 : Trump (and Biden) win in New Hampshire 

Eric Balonwu 

@Liam Enea/CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED via Flickr

Trump won the New Hampshire primary last Tuesday with 54% of the vote beating Nikki Haley who received 43% of the vote. While the result was closer than the polls predicted, Trump’s victory was still a blow to the Haley campaign. The following states in the primary calendar demographically are more pro Trump (as they are more southern, religious, conservative states with fewer college educated voters). Haley’s loss in New Hampshire means it is unlikely that she will be able to gain enough support to secure the presidential nomination. Haley, however, refused to concede stating that the race is “far from over” and that she plans to stay in the race and start campaigning against Trump in South Carolina. 

Meanwhile, Biden also won his first presidential contest in New Hampshire on Tuesday with 64% of the vote. Biden had boycotted the New Hampshire primary and did not appear on the ballot – but there was a write-in campaign encouraging people to still vote for Biden. Biden boycotted the primary in protest of New Hampshire’s decision not to push back the date of its Democratic Presidential Primary, which meant it fell foul of DNC rules and will not award any delegates that are needed for a candidate to secure the presidential nomination. Biden did well enough in New Hampshire to avoid negative stories after the primary and significantly improved on his showing in 2020 (where he only got 8% of the vote).  This gain was expected though because incumbent presidents usually do very well in primaries. 

In fact, the New Hampshire primaries reveal that while a Trump-Biden rematch is almost inevitable, it won’t be a popular outcome. A relatively unknown Minnesotan congressman Dean Phillips got nearly 20% of the vote – whose campaign seems to be mostly centred on not being Joe Biden. Meanwhile, Haley did very well in highly college-educated parts of New Hampshire. For example, in a town called Hanover, Haley won nearly twice as many votes in the primary than Trump won in the last presidential election. This result reflects how the Republican Party’s coalition has changed in the age of ‘Trump’ and potentially foreshadows how the 2024 race will shape up. Many of these Haley voters were previously loyal Republican voters but who are now turned off by Trump. Now the question is what do they do in the November presidential elections?  

Write for us!

Interested in writing for the OX1 column, looking for somewhere to turn your article idea into a reality? Then look no further. Both the Global Affairs and Environment Section are looking for new writers and contributors. If you’re interested in student journalism and want to get involved make sure to join the Oxford Blue writers group on Facebook.

Oxford Blue Writers Group:


Global Affairs Writers Group: