In 2022, the world emerged into a post-pandemic society. Students enjoyed mask-free spaces, employees came back to work in-person, and there was a sense that society was reverting back to “normal”.
And in the midst of this transition, the world shifted back into high speed.
From political uprisings and high-stakes worldwide elections, to advancements in technology and countless milestones, 2022 brought headlines in international news that will be remembered for decades to come.
Russia’s war in Ukraine
After announcing a special military operation to “denazify” and “demilitarize” Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian forces launched a full-scale invasion on Ukraine’s capital on Feb. 24, 2022.
Since then, Russian forces have initiated countless missile attacks across Ukraine’s major cities, devastating the lives and property of millions and driving the population into a humanitarian crisis.
The United Nations General Assembly, the U.S., NATO members and other peacekeeping institutions have actively condemned the actions of Putin, calling it a blatant violation of national sovereignty.
As of Nov. 20, the United States has provided over $48 billion in military, humanitarian, and financial assistance to Ukraine, aiding Ukraine’s counter offensives and providing its forces with advanced military technology.
As of January 2023, an estimated 42,295 people have died and more than 15,000 people have been displaced as a result of the conflict. Property damages have totaled to approximately $350 billion, and more than 140,000 buildings have been destroyed as well.
As Ukraine continues to fight to regain its national sovereignty under Russia’s sphere of influence, onlookers wonder how and when this conflict will be resolved.
“I think the war will carry on for at least another year, but it’s anyone’s guess how and when it will end,” said junior international studies and geography major Marcel Van Hemert. “I certainly hope it ends quickly, but I think it’s going to take a lot more pressure to get an end to this war. I can only hope it comes soon.”
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From the U.S. midterm elections to Colombia’s and Brazil’s presidential elections, 2022 brought millions of people to the polls.
In the United States, the midterm elections saw low approval ratings (39%) for current U.S. President Joe Biden, whose unpopularity primarily stems from rising inflation and troubles within the economic sector.
In Colombia, leftist candidate Gustavo Petro secured the presidential victory against independent candidate Rodolfo Hernández. Given the country’s history of poverty and economic inequalities exacerbated under previous leadership, many Colombians believe that Petro’s leadership will become a motor for political, economic and social change.
In Brazil, Workers’ Party (PT) candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva defeated Liberal Party (PL) candidate Jair Bolsonaro in the runoff presidential election on Oct. 30. Given the polarizing nature of the election and the corrupt pasts of both candidates, the results evoked reactions from people on either side of the ballot.
On Oct. 25, Rishi Sunak became Britain’s new prime minister after Liz Truss resigned after just 44 days in office. Sunak primarily faces economic challenges as the UK faces rising inflation and a worsening cost of living crisis..
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The world stood in silence on Sept. 8 when Buckingham Palace released a statement announcing the death of Queen Elizabeth II, sending shock waves across continents. At the age of 96, it seemed to the world that she would live forever. As the UK’s longest-serving monarch, Elizabeth II took to the throne in February 1952 and reigned for just over 70 years.
On Sept. 19, a state funeral was held for Elizabeth 11 at Westminster Abbey, where millions of people gathered to mourn the death of the Queen and honor her life’s achievements and legacy. She is remembered by many for her deep sense of civic and religious duty, and she is also recognized for her widespread philanthropy across more than 600 charities and organizations.
“When I found out that the Queen passed away as I was walking to class, I instantly gasped,” said junior chemistry major Gianna Sesto. Many UM students can recall when and where they learned of her death, given the sudden and surprising nature of the event.
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On Sept. 13, a 22-year-old Iranian woman known as Mahsa Amini was arrested by Iran’s Guidance Patrol, a police force that enforces a strict Islamic dress code, for not wearing the hijab correctly. Following her arrest, Amini was brutally tortured by police and suffered a brain seizure as well as a heart attack. Shortly after her admission to a local hospital in Tehran, Amini fell into a coma and died on Sept. 16.
Amini’s death has led to an ongoing series of protests against the Iranian government and sparked conversations about women’s rights in Iran. Since September, women and men of all ages and ethnicities have performed strikes across the country in schools and universities to call attention to the country’s most pressing human rights issues.
Demonstrators have reacted by cutting their hair or removing their hijabs, while others have blocked roads and formed small-scale riots.
On Nov. 21, the Iranian football team refused to sing their country’s national anthem at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar in solidarity with the protesters.
As a response, the regime has reacted with violence towards the protesters. As of December 2022, over 500 people have been killed by security forces as a response to widespread protests across the country, and over 18,480 have been arrested.
The UN Climate Conference COP27 met in November 2022 to discuss ways to further mitigate climate change and establish a loss and damage fund that will help to restore the most vulnerable nations.
Greenhouse gas emissions reached 58 gigatons in 2022, a record-high level that is expected to climb to 62 gigatons by 2030. The effects from climate change have become ever-present, with historic flooding in Pakistan and intense famine in countries like Somalia and others in the horn of Africa.
While the conference made little progress on discussing energy transitions, COP27 demonstrated a clear focus on tackling food insecurity, particularly in developing countries. However, without global coordination and cooperation, solidifying a global climate initiative and reaching these climate goals will be a challenge.
World Cup in Qatar
At the conclusion of the semester, it seemed as though all anyone could talk about during finals week was the 2022 FIFA World Cup hosted in Qatar. Students gathered at the Rathskeller to watch their favorite teams play head-to-head in one of the biggest sporting events of 2022.
The group stages featured major upsets, like Saudi Arabia’s victory over Argentina and Brazil’s surprising loss to Cameroon. In the round of 16, Portugal swept the stage with a 6-1 victory over Switzerland. Into the quarterfinals, Brazil suffered a devastating loss against Croatia while Morocco stood strong against Portugal, becoming the first African team to advance to the semifinals.
After two well-fought semifinal matches for Argentina and France, the two advanced into a nail-biting World Cup final, with Argentina emerging as the victor.
“It was a surreal experience watching the World Cup for the first time, seeing people from all different nations be so passionate about their country’s involvement in a tournament on the world stage,” said junior marine affairs major Kiera Fielding. “Though I had no skin in the game, it was fun to watch matches during class and see different people’s reactions when a country scored a goal.”
UM students with connections to Argentina had the chance to celebrate the long-awaited victory and the values that are embodied in Argentinian culture.
“Being able to witness your own country accomplish such an amazing and competitive opportunity like the World Cup was an experience that not only gave Argentina the chance to show the world that we are a passionate and very patriotic country, and even though Argentina is going through rough times, there was nothing that could stop us,” said sophomore health sciences major Sofia Casado. “I could not be more proud of my country.”