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THE INDEX — December 9, 2009

Over the course of the past 24 hours, the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen has heated up exponentially, as a controversial leaked proposal (dubbed the “Danish text”) appears to propose a series of unequal per-capita carbon emissions targets that would benefit richer countries at the expense of their poorer brethren. The furor surrounding the Danish proposal concerns not just the content of the text itself, but the manner in which it was prepared—in secret, with the rumored input from just three countries: Denmark, the United Kingdom, and the United States. A spokesperson for CAFOD, an NGO involved in the climate negotiations, spoke of the acrimonious reception to the document: "This draft document reveals the backstage machinations of a biased host who, instead of acting as nonpartisan broker, is taking sides with the developed countries. The document should not even exist. There is a UN legal process which is the official negotiating text. The Danish text disrespects the solid, steady approach of the UN process." While the Danish proposal may well be dismissed in the end, what it portends for the future tone and tenor of the current UN conference remains to be seen.

Amnesty International released a report on Wednesday condemning the Nigerian police force for rampant extra-judicial killings throughout the country. According to Amnesty’s Africa Program director, “The Nigerian police are responsible for hundreds of unlawful killings every year,” the majority of which go uninvestigated and unpunished. Part of the problem, according to Amnesty, is a police order that allows law enforcement officers to shoot individuals who resist arrest, regardless of whether they pose a threat or not. The report cites an ongoing case between the police and the parents of a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed last year while playing outside the home of a relative. The police accused the boy of being an armed robber, but he was found unarmed. Following the shooting, the boy’s body was abducted from the mortuary and remains missing.

For more information on Nigeria’s struggle against corruption and illegality, see the newly published World Policy Journal article by Jennifer Wheary, “The Global Middle Class is Here: Now What?”

The military junta ruling Guinea called off negotiations with the opposition over the country’s political crisis after accusing France of being behind the shooting of its wounded leader. Junta leader Moussa “Dadis” Camara was shot in the head last week after a close aide fired on him after an argument. “Several people have been arrested and interrogated,” Minister of Communications Idrissa Cherif told Reuters. “We have confessions which prove French (secret) services were behind the attempted assassination.” The junta said they cannot continue negotiations until Camara recovers.The incident has reinflamed Guinean grievances over the actions of its former colonial power. Discussions had been underway in Burkina Faso between the junta, which grabbed power in an army-led coup a year ago, and the Union of Democratic Forces opposition party. France has dismissed any accusations that they are attempting to foment a coup.

The United States has made another overture to North Korea, this time assuring Pyongyang of a “robust channel” for direct talks between the two nations if it agreed to rejoin negotiations over its nuclear program. U.S. envoy Stephen Bosworth is in North Korea on a three-day visit, and restarting disarmament talks between both Koreas, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States (known as the Six-Party Talks) are expected to be the focus. It is being reported that North Korea will demand a peace treaty and security guarantees from Washington in exchange for restarting nuclear talks. Bosworth’s visit is the first by a high-level official under the Obama administration. In a related story, a North Korean defector told the Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio that the capital city has a network of secret tunnels that could be used for Kim Jong-il to escape to China in the event of an attack. Hwang Jang-yop, a former North Korean government official, said that the massive subterranean network connects Pyongyang to strategic sites around the country. He also claimed that one of the tunnels even boasts clean spring water and green grass. The tunnels were allegedly built shortly after the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

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