Posts Tagged

Development

A Review of Inequality and Democratization: An Elite-Competition Approach, by Ben Ansell and David Samuels In this dense and absorbing review, Professor Ben Ansell explains how past and current models have failed to capture the paradox that development may lead to greater income inequality. He explores the roles of actors and structures in his own approach to the study of this relationship and casts a critical light on the plight of those who live in poverty despite democratization. Turning to the other end of the income spectrum, he discusses the global trend towards capital mobility and how it relates and affects different political systems. Overall, Inequality and Democratization raises a number of critical and highly relevant questions concerning the relationship between …

Appealing to his Eurosceptic domestic constituents, Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent proposal for a UK-wide referendum on Britain’s membership to the European Union has been declaimed by EU supporters as an easy, if irresponsible, exit strategy. While the UK has a history of ambivalence towards European integration, Cameron’s official speech has placed the EU at a strategic inflection point in its development. Using his speech to ask ‘tough’ questions about the future of the European project, Cameron rejected the argument that a Europe in crisis ought to eschew such introspection. Instead, he declared that this is the moment to “examine thoroughly what the EU as a whole should do and should stop doing”, with nothing “off the table”. Although Cameron’s announcement raises anew the long-standing ‘widening versus deepening’ debate for some, the context of Cameron’s pronouncement ought to bring new scope to these questions.

I was recently traveling in Dakar, Senegal. I was there visiting an American friend, I will call her A, who has been teaching English language at a local high school for three years. One evening we were hailing a taxi across town, accompanied by a friend of A who is also an American and a high school teacher in the city; I will call her B. My friend negotiated the price of the taxi prior to our taking a seat, as is the custom in Senegal. The taxi man insisted that the price was 2,500 CFA (500 CFA: $1US: £0.62BPS) and A insisted that we pay 2,000 CFA, the price that the Senegalese routinely pay to get across town. The …

On Friday, May 4 and Saturday, May 5, the University of Oxford Centre for International Studies (CIS) hosted an international interdisciplinary conference, jointly convened by the Academic Council on the United Nations System (ACUNS), and the Centre for Sustainable Development & International Peace at the University of Denver. Featuring a variety of scholars and leaders in the field of peace and conflict studies, international development and theology, the conference aimed to “deepen the understanding of the paradoxical role of religion and spirituality in the contemporary social and political context, and its potential to shape global governance.” The first panel, entitled “Religion, Civilization and Globalization”, began with a presentation by Katharine Marshall, Senior Fellow at the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace and World …

Compared to the Taliban era of the 1990s, Afghanistan has made impressive gains in the sphere of human rights, especially women’s rights. The Afghan constitution prohibits discrimination between citizens “whether man or woman”. Consequently, Afghan women have a visible presence in parliament, cabinet, civil administration and media. As pillars of civil society activism, they have played a crucial role in expanding female education across the country. For the moment, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission keeps the government under scrutiny and the country’s vibrant media promotes a culture of free enquiry in what is still a predominantly tribal society. What Afghanistan has been able to achieve in the middle of a war, with international help, was virtually unthinkable over a …

‘Resource control is a right. It is not a privilege’ -A member of a peaceful youth rally in the Niger Delta, from the film Sweet Crude. In the first couple of minutes of the opening of the film, Sweet Crude, director, Sandy Cioffi, discloses, ‘this is not the movie I intended to make’.  She had travelled to the Niger Delta to film the building the Niger Delta Friendship Library, which was to serve as a ‘symbol of peace’ in the region. While traveling, visiting and listening to local voices, the true value of this library as an empty symbol was revealed. Sandy says, the ‘reality of their lives are far more complex than a community library. Knowing them would change …

Tony Blair’s establishment of the Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) has been lauded by reporters and bloggers as being indicative of a “new” way for the international community to engage with African countries to assist in poverty reduction and to move “beyond aid” by “attract[ing] sustainable investment” to the continent. While the tenets of Blair’s AGI are fairly clear — focusing on strengthening African leadership and good governance and boosting economic growth through sustainable development of infrastructure — a visit to the AGI website is less than clear on how the initiative will (or can) ensure the necessary good governance. The AGI model can be summarized as: Leadership (founded on skills, systems and structures)  + prioritisation  + planning  + performance management  …

Last week, Professor Rehman Sobhan, Chairman of the Center for Policy Dialogue in Dhaka, Bangladesh, visited the UN Development Programme in New York City to discuss his most recent book. I had the opportunity to speak with Professor Sobhan about the motivation behind his work and learn about the years of field research that preceded it. Challenging the Injustice of Poverty: Operationalizing an Agenda for Inclusive Development Across Southeast Asia is a culmination of Professor Sobhan’s efforts to understand the roots of economic exclusion across 5 countries over the past 4 years. At its core is Sobhan’s uncompromising insistence on identifying the source, as opposed to merely addressing the symptoms of poverty. According to Sobhan, poverty is not a social …