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Hi all,

Welcome to the last weekly review before my annual summer break!

I don't need to tell anybody what a long and tiring first half of the year it has been, but I'm also grateful for the digital companionship that the blog provides to engage with your work, writings, books, reflections & more!

I will be back in mid-August, probably sharing a book review or two in the meantime, and I wish you a healthy, reinvigorating time, perhaps dismantling the patriarchy, working on decolonization & rethinking #globaldev or reconnecting with family, friends & good books, movies or podcasts.

Thanks for feeding my curiosity, learning, thinking & doing!

P.S.: And don't forget to apply for our permanent full-time Senior Lecturer in Communication for Development position!


P.P.S.: This is a picture I took at Kåseberga harbour during a short spring break & I look forward to returning next week for Swedish Midsomar celebrations (which is not far from Dag Hammarskjöld's summer house in case you are a UN history nerd ;)

Development news

Syria Bombs Hospitals. Now It Will Help Lead The World Health Organization
(WHO) did provide NPR with a written statement saying that Syria was appointed per the "standard process" in which it was chosen by member states and not the World Health Organization in Geneva. The statement said, "WHO's mandate is to achieve better health outcomes for all people, including populations in all countries. We are neither equipped nor mandated to find political solutions."
(...)
Syria will be represented on the WHO executive board by the country's health minister, Dr. Hassan Muhammad al-Ghabbash, who has been on the U.K. and EU sanctions lists since 2020.
(...)
For now, Syria is set to hold this position on the executive for three more years. Despite critics' calls for its position to be revoked, it's not clear what the mechanism would be to do that. There is no sign that the member states that put Syria in this position will vote the country out.
Ruth Sherlock for NPR Goats & Soda; in 2017 I defended the election of Saudi-Arabia into the UN Commission on the Status of Women; 4 years later, despite that fact that UN diplomacy still hasn't changed, I would probably prefer de-platforming certain countries to avoid propping up regime legitimacy/existence.

Lebanese banks swallow at least $250m in U.N. aid
The country received at least $1.5 billion in humanitarian aid in 2020.
An internal U.N. assessment in February estimated that up to half the programme’s value was absorbed by Lebanese banks used by the U.N. to convert donated US dollars.
The document, seen by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, said that by July 2020 a “staggering 50%” of contributions were being lost through currency conversion.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon (ABL), which represents the country’s commercial banks, denied using aid to raise capital.
It said the U.N. could have distributed in dollars, or negotiated a better rate with Lebanon’s central bank.
Timour Azhari for Reuters with (more) bad news from Lebanon.

Severe financial crisis threatens the STL’s ability to fulfil its mandate
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) regrets to announce that it is facing an unprecedented financial crisis. Without immediate funding, the Tribunal will not be able to operate beyond July 2021, which will impact its ability to fulfill its current mandate and conclude the judicial proceedings in the two cases currently before the Tribunal
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon is also in financial trouble.

'Car crash': Politicians release damning trove of UK aid cuts evidence

Members of Parliament who belong to the International Development Committee, which monitors U.K. development policy, released dozens of statements detailing the experiences of NGOs, scientists, academics, and other experts with FCDO while the department set about canceling and cutting development and humanitarian programs.
IDC Chair Sarah Champion, a Labour MP, told Devex the tranche of evidence sent to the committee for its inquiry into the future of U.K. aid was the largest it had ever received.
Will Worley for DevEx continues their excellent coverage of UK's demise in #globaldev engagement.

US Supreme Court blocks child slavery lawsuit against chocolate firms
The court ruled 8-1 that the group had no standing because the abuse happened outside the US.
But it stopped short of a definitive ruling on whether the Alien Tort Act - an 18th century law - could be used to hold US companies to account for labour abuses committed in their supply chains abroad.
The BBC reports; as long as their is corporate greed the battle for better supply chains will continue!

Uncovering the civilian toll of France’s anti-jihadist war in Mali
It was a January afternoon when Madabbel Diallo heard fighter jets circling overhead. He paid them no mind: French aircraft regularly hunt jihadists in this part of central Mali. He was attending a wedding, sitting with the groom’s father just outside his village of Bounti, Diallo said, sipping tea with friends and relatives, looking forward to the feast being prepared.
Emmanuel Freudenthal, Patricia Huon, Héni Nsaibia, Youri van der Weide & Mamoudou Bolly for the New Humanitarian with an investigative long-read from Mali.

UN Shared Rohingya Data Without Informed Consent
The United Nations refugee agency improperly collected and shared personal information from ethnic Rohingya refugees with Bangladesh, which shared it with Myanmar to verify people for possible repatriation, Human Rights Watch said today. The agency did not conduct a full data impact assessment, as its policies require, and in some cases failed to obtain refugees’ informed consent to share their data with Myanmar
This new Human Rights Watch report has been discussed widely in my networks & raises a lot of important questions about 'digital #globaldev' & how the UN can & cannot respond to 21st century data challenges in their work.

‘She just vanished’: Ethiopian domestic workers abused in Lebanon

“I wish I never went to Lebanon, but today I tell myself that I’m strong,” she added. “Life is what’s precious. If I’m alive, I can still work hard and make something of myself one day.”
Meseret, who was sitting across from her, nodded in agreement. “Every day I woke up in that home, [and] I would tell myself that my day would come. If I’m still alive it’s because I’m not going to die in Lebanon. This is what kept me going.”
Zecharias Zelalem for Al Jazeera; Zecharias has report about domestic workers in Lebanon before & continues his most exemplary journalism from the region!

Timor-Leste vs Richard Daschbach

If an effective prosecution is secured it will send a message that in Timor-Leste powerful men can no longer get away with raping women and girls. Done wrong it may seriously jeopardise the hard-fought efforts that women and men before us have undertaken to build a strong protection system for victims of gender-based violence and establish an independent and impartial judiciary.
We understand that Timor-Leste’s young legal system exists in a complex and often fraught environment, which is only exacerbated by the many exceptional political, ecological and social challenges the country is facing. That Daschbach has been brought to trial is a great step – that his case has been politicised, and the subject of a range of bizarre conspiracy theories is not.
Bárbara Nazareth Oliveira, Maria Rosa Xavier, & Maria Agnes Bere for the DevPolicy Blog with a story that confirms that basically not much good has come from missionaries... As travel opens up again, aid voluntourism needs to get real
Instead of mindless praise or endless mockery, a more useful approach may instead be to ask: Is there an ethical way for a young, privileged person to spend time in a poorer community? How might they channel their good intentions in genuinely useful ways?
Sarika Bansal for the New Humanitarian; I'm really looking forward to reading the book soon!

Latest thinking on migration and mobility research in Ghana and beyond
Unfortunately, policy makers still do not recognize migration as an important adaptation strategy for those impacted by climate change. He explained that drivers of migration include seasonal work, political factors, climate change, proximity, colonial legacies, and ethnic ties.
Rachel Dixon, Imogen Bellwood-Howard, Dorte Thorsen & Akosua Darkwah for IDS; this is a short piece, but a great overview over some of the complex issues around 'migration' that often end up as simplified narratives for European audiences.

Internal Audit of SCOPE WFP’s Digital Management of Beneficiaries

The assessed governance arrangements, risk management and controls were generally established and functioning, but need major improvement to provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of the audited entity/area should be achieved. Issues identified by the audit could negatively affect the achievement of the objectives of the audited entity/area. Prompt management action is required to ensure that identified risks are adequately mitigated.
I understand that WFP has huge problems with its digital data management tools, but the opaque bureaucratic audit language make it hard to understand-especially for anybody who isn't familiar with opaque #globaldev lingo...

I have experienced the toll of being a refugee first hand; it's time to treat us differently
This World Refugee Day, I have a question for you. Why not get to know someone in your local community who is far from home? There are so many people who are living in Australia, including many thousands on special visas that allow them to stay in the country while they wait for their asylum claims to be heard. They exist in every city. They bring their stories, diverse backgrounds, professional skills, languages and rich cultures and are only looking forward to living in a peaceful community. To avoid them – us – is to miss out on an incredible opportunity for friendship.
Mireille Kayeye for Harper's Bazaar; '...fled from violence-stricken Burundi' was actually a bit off-putting, but this is a great essay for World Refugee Day!

Seeding by Ceding
Sitting down to write this post, I felt stuck. I want to de-emphasize privileged voices and cede focus to others, yet I know some media stories will focus on wealth. The headline I would wish for this post is “286 Teams Empowering Voices the World Needs to Hear.”
People struggling against inequities deserve center stage in stories about change they are creating. This is equally — perhaps especially — true when their work is funded by wealth. Any wealth is a product of a collective effort that included them. The social structures that inflate wealth present obstacles to them. And despite those obstacles, they are providing solutions that benefit us all.
Mackenzie Scott is giving away mo' money to create less problems...
Publications
Racism, power and truth-Experiences of people of colour in development
We provide recommendations for organisations to surface, understand and address the intersectional inequalities faced by different groups of colour, including those based in the countries where NGOs work. Our recommendations cover policies, systems and culture, which we've broken down for individuals, organisations, CEOs and boards, and the wider sector.
BOND with a great new report!

Decoding Digital Democracy in Africa

What was once thought of as “liberation technology” has turned out to be remarkably compatible with the maintenance of the status quo. Or has it? Does this more pessimistic reading overlook genuine progress?This publication edited by Nic Cheeseman and Lisa Garbe draws together the latest research on the extent to which digital technology has changed Africa ... and the ways in which Africa is changing digital technology.The articles show that we should not miss the wood for the trees: despite disappointment, digital technology has had profound impacts on African politics and society. But, they also highlight how much more needs to be known about digital technology on the continent.
Nic Cheeseman & Lisa Garbe for Democracy in Africa with 100 pages packed with digital #globaldev goodness!


Academia

Reflections from Teaching African Development using Decolonial Perspectives at LSE
The learning experience was for everyone in our virtual class, both for the Africans and the non-Africans. Being white, Asian or African was neither a privilege nor a disadvantage for acquiring decolonial perspectives and applying them in our academic inquiries. As argued by Ramon Grosfoguel, epistemic location does not necessarily reflect the social location. This is why I disagree with people who equate decolonising academia with the diversification of the reading list. Scholars from diverse socio-economic, cultural, geographic and gender background may speak from the perspectives of the hegemonic western knowledge framework. Whilst a diversified reading list for our courses is a virtuous goal in itself, it will not achieve the decolonial agenda unless we are actively promoting diversity at the epistemic level.
Eyob Balcha Gebremariam for Global Policy shares some great reflections on the scope of what 'decolonizing teaching' means for #globaldev studies.

What we were reading 5 years ago

(Link review 199, 9 September 2016)

Rage Against The Busted Medical Machines

Although the future holds promise, the issue of broken medical equipment leaves me uneasy because it is a literal and figurative representation of the power differential between the donor and recipient. Many poor communities accept donations regardless of what they are due to dire needs and not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth. But the sheer waste speaks loudly to the importance of engaging health-care workers and other members of low-income communities in the decision process.
Nahid Bhadelia for NPR Goats & Soda with your regular reminder not to send stuff to Africa...

Bata’s footprint in Africa: The dark story of Canadian shoe giant
Through the 1970s Bata worked under the white regime in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). It broke sanctions against Rhodesia by exporting goods manufactured there to South Africa. Even more controversial, it operated in apartheid South Africa until the late 1980s. The company broke unions and blocked black workers from semiskilled, skilled and executive positions. Listed among the “hardline defenders of investment in South Africa” in Ambiguous Champion: Canada and South Africa in the Trudeau and Mulroney years, Bata faced an international boycott campaign.
During this period Sonja Bata was quoted in the Canadian media justifying the company’s South African policy and Thomas Bata proclaimed, “we expanded into Africa in order to sell shoes, not to spread sweetness and light.”
The Globe and Mail is exposing its elitist, nationalist, bias in ignoring Bata’s unsavory history.

Yves Engler for Pambazuka News with a reminder with a reminder to decolonize footwear...

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