North Korean leader Kim Jong-un

Since the beginning of 2020, our attention has been consumed by COVID-19 and its fallout in Australia. If we've looked overseas it's often been at New Zealand, or the health disasters in the US and UK.

But while we were looking there, serious developments arose around the world: several nations have used COVID-19 as a cover to crack down on dissent, single out minorities, abuse human rights, or build up an arsenal.

United States

It would be simply absurd to start this list anywhere else. The US is a basket case. If you draw back from the cultural and political influence and historical entanglements, the bare facts are: rioting supporters of the outgoing president -- who has persistently refused to accept the result of the election -- stormed the Capitol in an apparent attempt at a coup. If this happened in, say, an African nation -- as was gleefully pointed out by Kenya's Daily Nation -- phrases like banana republic would be thrown around with abandon.