300 episodes

Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

The Real Story BBC World Service

    • Government
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Global experts and decision makers discuss, debate and analyse a key news story.

    Afghanistan's challenges after US withdrawal

    Afghanistan's challenges after US withdrawal

    A 5.9 magnitude earthquake last week in Afghanistan destroyed hundreds of homes and left around 1,000 people dead - including at least 155 children. The country, now ruled by the Taliban, was already struggling to feed and provide health services to its people just 10 months after the United States and its allies completed their hasty withdrawal. The UN says millions are going hungry and the hospital system is on the brink of collapse. Meanwhile the Taliban are subject to global sanctions and Afghan central bank reserves remain frozen after the fall of the Western-backed government. The Taliban’s decision in March to bar teenage girls from schools has divided opinion in the group and created headaches for organisations keen to work more closely with the Afghan government in order to improve the lives of citizens. So, is it possible to help the people of Afghanistan without helping the Taliban? Or is that approach wrong and should donors and governments just work alongside them?

    Owen Bennett-Jones is joined by a panel of expert guests.
    Producers: Ellen Otzen and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min
    From rebel to president: Colombia’s new leftist leader

    From rebel to president: Colombia’s new leftist leader

    Colombia this week elected a former rebel as its first left-wing president. Gustavo Petro’s win on Sunday represents a rejection of the establishment in a country facing strong economic headwinds, high levels of inequality, and continuing gang violence fuelled by the cocaine trade. Mr Petro and his running mate Francia Márquez - who will become the country’s first black vice-president - plan to reform taxes, phase out new oil exploration projects, and rethink the war on drugs. Colombia has long been a close partner to the United States in the region, recently designated by Washington as “a major non-NATO ally”. The new leadership team in Bogotá want to take a fresh look at trade relations with both the US and Venezuela. So, who is Gustavo Petro and what does he stand for? What will his historic win mean for Colombia’s place in the region and the world? And can the new president deliver on his promise of sweeping change without control of the country’s congress? Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.

    Ritula Shah with a panel of guests.
    Producers: Rozita Riazati and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min
    The repatriation of precious artefacts

    The repatriation of precious artefacts

    The King of Belgium this month handed back a Congolese mask, one of about 84,000 artefacts taken during the colonial-era which the country has agreed to return. In 2018 a report commissioned by the French government recommended the return of thousands of African artworks taken from the continent during colonial rule. This week the director of the V&A museum in London, Tristram Hunt, told The Real Story that he’d like to see a review of decades-old UK laws which prohibit historical pieces being returned to their countries of origin. The clamour for the return of objects which may have been taken, stolen or bought during the colonial era is growing louder. The people and communities who want them back say it's about preserving their cultural identities. So, is it time for some of the planet’s biggest and most visited museums to repatriate many more of the items they’ve acquired from around the world? And how can the educational value of so-called ‘encyclopaedic museums’ continue to educate millions if the number of artefacts they have on display is diminished?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.
    Producers: Paul Schuster and Ellen Otzen.

    • 49 min
    The rocky road ahead for Boris Johnson

    The rocky road ahead for Boris Johnson

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week narrowly survived a confidence vote within his own party, but more than 40% of Conservative Members of Parliament thought he should go. His premiership has come under pressure after investigations into parties in Downing Street during pandemic lockdowns concluded he broke the rules he introduced. His government was elected in December 2019 with a large mandate to “get Brexit done” and his supporters insist that only he can hold the party together and deliver victory in the next election. But given the large number of Tory MPs who now think he’s an electoral liability rather than an asset, will Mr Johnson be able to survive and govern? And what will Boris Johnson staying on in Number 10 mean for the UK and its place in the world?

    Presenter: Ritula Shah
    Producer: Ellen Otzen and Paul Schuster

    • 49 min
    China v the West in the Pacific

    China v the West in the Pacific

    China’s foreign minister Wang Yi this week held a meeting with 10 Pacific nations aiming to reach agreement on a region-wide trade and security pact. Consensus wasn’t reached but bilateral deals – like the one China’s already signed with Solomon Islands – are under discussion. The United States and regional allies, led by Australia, see the idea of greater security cooperation between China and Pacific island countries as a threat to Western security. Beijing says it’s offering help in the areas of policing, infrastructure, trade and resilience from disaster. Fiji’s Prime Minister, who's one of those who hosted Mr Wang this week, called on China to increase its efforts to tackle climate change, an existential threat to many of the nations meeting this week. So, what do Pacific states want from their partnerships with China and the West? And could the Pacific quickly become a new front line in growing tensions between East and West?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.
    Producers: Paul Schuster and Ellen Otzen.

    • 49 min
    How do we stop high inflation?

    How do we stop high inflation?

    Business leaders meeting this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, have warned that high levels of inflation are likely to cause a global recession, or worse. Financier George Soros told the annual gathering that ongoing coronavirus lockdowns in China mean “global inflation is liable to turn into global depression”. Meanwhile the head of the World Bank, David Malpass, told a business event in the US that given the rising cost of energy, food and fertiliser prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it’s now difficult to “see how we avoid a recession”. Government and central bank spending aimed at cushioning the economic shock of the pandemic is also being blamed for the rising cost of goods and services. So, why have authorities so far failed to get rising inflation under control? If increased spending is contributing to prices going up, what can officials do to cushion the economic impact on the poorest without making things worse? And is another recession likely and perhaps even necessary?

    Ritula Shah is joined by a panel of expert guests.
    Producers: Ellen Otzen and Paul Schuster.

    • 49 min

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