Links & Contents I Liked 416
My quotes of the week
U.N. staffers past and present told me they feared that if they spoke up in the current atmosphere, they would be contributing to the dismantling of an organization many of them had first revered as Model U.N. participants. Several (...) described how their identities were enmeshed with an organization that was deeply flawed but also genuinely beloved. (The U.N.’s Own Humanitarian Crisis)
Press’s cases are diverse and compelling, among them the story of the prison psychiatrist who felt she had no choice but to turn a blind eye to the violence meted out by the guards, and of the oil rig worker in Louisiana who personally has to live amid the pollution his own employer has wrought on that state’s coastline.
(The Emotional Toll of Dirty Work)
New from Aidnography
In the aftermath of the floods in Germany, traditional humanitarian challenges emerge
The expertise of “international” humanitarians will be needed “at home” and organizations need to add them to their local teams and volunteer groups, especially on “softer” topics such as fostering participatory dialogue, supporting vulnerable groups to be seen and heard in the reconstruction process and making sure such processes are culturally appropriateDevelopment news
10 shows about nonprofit and philanthropy that would be way better than “The Activist”
Roots and Reparations: Each episode features a rich person going on an emotional journey diving into their family history to find out where their family’s wealth came from. Is it from slavery? Stolen Indigenous land? Tax avoidance? A combination? The rich person gets a chance to talk to the people exploited by their ancestors and receives assistance making reparations.Vu Le for Nonprofit AF; this list has been shared widely this week, but this doesn't make it any less poignant!
90% of global farm subsidies damage people and planet, says UN
Earlier this year I was approached to appear on this show #TheActivist— Clover Hogan (@cloverhogan) September 11, 2021
I was contacted by someone "looking for passionate activists who are actively engaged in making an impact in the areas of environment, health, education, and reducing world hunger."
I took a call with them. https://t.co/B7Bj6FIIZE
Almost 90% of the $540bn in global subsidies given to farmers every year are “harmful”, a startling UN report has found.Damian Carrington for the Guardian with high-/low-lights from a new UN report.
This agricultural support damages people’s health, fuels the climate crisis, destroys nature and drives inequality by excluding smallholder farmers, many of whom are women, according to the UN agencies.
The biggest sources of greenhouse gas emissions, such as beef and milk, received the biggest subsidies, the report said.
How big companies are targeting middle income countries to boost ultra-processed food sales
To grow and sustain its markets, Big Food has not only made large investments in marketing and promotion. It has also implemented political strategies to prevent, delay or weaken regulations that constrain its marketing activities.Edwin Kwong, Joanna Williams, Phillip Baker, Ron Moodie & Thiago Santos for the Conversation with your regular reminder that large multinational corporations can never be 'sustainable'.
The U.N.’s Own Humanitarian Crisis
Very good news to see the World Bank finally end the ideological nonsense that was its 'Doing Business' rankings. But the report the Bank has published on the reasons why is almost unbelievable - the extent of corruption in the organisation is just mindblowing.— Alex Cobham (@alexcobham) September 16, 2021
U.N. staffers past and present told me they feared that if they spoke up in the current atmosphere, they would be contributing to the dismantling of an organization many of them had first revered as Model U.N. participants. Several — like Kirstie Campbell, or a UNICEF worker who told me she had slept with a UNICEF flag over her bed as a youth — described how their identities were enmeshed with an organization that was deeply flawed but also genuinely beloved. They wanted to avoid scandals like the one at Oxfam Great BritainMay Jeong for the Cut with a powerful long-read on the UN's continued challenges to deal with sexual violence.
Reporter’s Diary: Finding forgiveness in Burundi’s mass graves
Désiré Nimubona for the New Humanitarian with a thoughtful essay from Burundi and how to write about something seemingly unspeakable.
Things have worsened since 2015: The space for civil society and independent media has shrunk, while international criticism has pushed the government into isolationism. Our new president, Évariste Ndayishimiye, has been praised for freeing journalists and renewing diplomatic ties in his first year in office – but there is much still to be done.
Our issues rarely get mentioned by foreign media, and our needs rarely get met by humanitarian groups. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, an international aid organisation, Burundi is currently the third most neglected crisis in the world.
Can Foreign Aid Strengthen the Rule of Law?
While institutional considerations are important, these efforts are insufficient and have limited success in strengthening the rule of law – particularly, the reach of the law. This approach may therefore paradoxically lead to aid contributing to the “laws on the books” becoming further removed from the reality on the ground. Aid may help diffuse various models of legal reform and legislation among countries, but if it does little to enhance their application, then its impact on the rule of law for everyday people will be minimal.Andrew Dawson & Liam Swiss for the McLeod Group summarize their latest research.
Ten Challenges for the UN in 2021-2022
Even if the UN’s members can find common ground on the challenges listed here, multilateral security diplomacy is likely to remain difficult in the year ahead. The geopolitical tensions complicating UN action will persist, and even if the U.S., China and Russia can cooperate on some matters, the overall trajectory of their relations is likely to remain negative. Yet the UN is valuable in this turbulent period precisely because it still offers a vehicle for divided powers to contain conflicts and mitigate the suffering they create despite their strategic differences. Despite its apparent irrelevance in many crises, the UN system still plays a crucial part in managing an unstable international environment.The International Crisis Group with a comprehensive briefing to prepare you for the forthcoming UNGA week.
Don’t blame China for the rise of digital authoritarianism in Africa
Ultimately, the argument that China is bent on exporting its tech-governance model around the globe is as flawed and hypocritical as it is accusatory. Instead, like its Western counterparts, it is more likely that China, through its tech giants, is exporting aspects of its brand of surveillance capitalism. We must avoid becoming trapped by conveniently amnesiac arguments and generalisations that paint China as this digital baddy. It would be more prudent to assess African countries that import Chinese technology on a case-by-case basis to determine whether there really is a causal link (supported by evidence and data) that Chinese tech tools are being used for malignant purposes with the intent to replicate aspects of Beijing’s brand of tech-governance.Mandira Bagwandeen for Africa at LSE makes some good points about 'Western' and 'Eastern' surveillance capitalism into context.
Towards a real feminist foreign policy
But all those serious about a feminist foreign policy can generally agree on three basic ingredients. Firstly, representation. Ensuring more women are in foreign policymaking roles doesn’t automatically lead to change, but it is a verifiable step that can only help in terms of moving the thinking along—and equality can’t be achieved without it. Secondly, the integration of a gender perspective into every stage of the process of making policy—perhaps especially in the “hard power” realms of defence and trade, where conventionally women (and many others at the sharp end) are overlooked—and ensuring they are consulted. Finally, relentless monitoring and evaluation—gauging progress on specific measures, and fixed timetables—to track what’s working, and hold governments to their word.Jessica Abrahams for Prospect Magazine with an excellent discussion of FFP.
Today I am taking my first pill
A couple of weeks ago I was in a small town in Samburu. There had been a protest because a 13 year old boy who was grazing the family herd had inadvertently entered a private conservancy and was shot and killed by guards. The protest was led by mothers from the village.— Nanjala Nyabola (@Nanjala1) September 11, 2021
I do know that things have changed after I have lived in humanitarian settings for three years. That I am even more sensitive. That when I see the news on television, it feels like I know all the people who are dying personally. I became extremely sensitive to rejection, completely out of balance as if I was in a life threatening situation. If there is a car driver getting angry on the road towards me, it is affecting me for days. I have a hard time letting go of things. I am having physical reactions, stomach aches and sweating, when I feel in danger. I am very jittery. I can be very angry. Everything is a bit more extreme. My body is still in a survival mode, although I have left the survival scene.Annegreet Ottow for Wondering Nomads on dealing with humanitarian work induced PTSD.
My biggest fear is that at one point I can’t bear the pain of this world anymore. That I can only see it’s getting worse. That I can’t see it’s beauty. That I will completely break. That my family and friends are done with me for once and for all. That I can’t experience their love anymore and that I think they don’t care about me. That I cut myself off from all the pain and have nothing to add anymore.
Disability Debrief in Rehab
I'm back at home, “in the community” as they call it when you're in hospital. I'm also happy to be coming back here to the community of friends and readers from around the world interested in disability.I am really glad that Peter Torres Fremlin is back with his excellent newsletter!
Our digital lives
Ok, here’s what you need to know about the new @WorldBank report on climate and migration. First up - no, this isn’t an estimate of the number of “climate refugees” there are going to be. This is a report about *internal* migration [Thread] https://t.co/uArqFp1RXk— Alex Randall (@alex_randall) September 13, 2021
The Emotional Toll of Dirty Work
Press’s cases are diverse and compelling, among them the story of the prison psychiatrist who felt she had no choice but to turn a blind eye to the violence meted out by the guards, and of the oil rig worker in Louisiana who personally has to live amid the pollution his own employer has wrought on that state’s coastline. The term Press coins to describe this kind of labor is dirty work, in the sense that the people who do these jobs are doing everybody else’s dirty work for them.Jo Livingstone introduces Eyal Press' new book for New Republic.
Decolonising journalism: what does it mean, why does it matter and where do you start?
TNH is thinking more closely about how to scale up town hall models in local media on a global level, to get more input from the communities it covers and have a stake in its work. This is because its primary audience is international policymakers and practitioners in humanitarian response.Jacob Granger talks for Heba Aly for journalism.co.uk about the New Humanitarian's understanding of humanitarian journalism.
Aly says that newsrooms should be informing, not obscuring, readers. The notion of objectivity is a privilege of journalists who can afford to be detached from issues of marginalisation because they do not face them.
Micro Documentary: 15 Years of Global Press
In Global Press' new micro documentary, members of our all-female reporting team share their experiences as local reporters writing for global audiences.Global Press has been a regular part of my news diet and this 6-minute video is an excellent opportunity to 'meet' some of their journalists!
Can we live within environmental limits and still reduce poverty? Degrowth or decoupling?
Economic growth has resulted in a twin crisis of climate change and environmental breakdown, while millions still live in poverty, a third crisis. Is it possible to resolve all three, or are there trade-offs? Can the crises be tackled by environmental and social policies within the logic of the existing economic system, or is a new paradigm required that rejects GDP growth as an objective?Jason Hickel & Stéphane Hallegatte discuss in an open access article in the Development Policy Review; interesting, but perhaps a bit too focussed on the perspectives of white Northern men?
Epidemic confusions: On irony and decolonisation in global health
India has attempted large scale forest restoration for decades. We have just published one of the first systematic evaluations of these efforts. We find that decades of tree planting have had almost no impact on forest canopy cover or rural livelihoods. A Thread.— Forrest Fleischman (@ForrestFleisch1) September 15, 2021
That Harvard Medical School charges significant sums to help applicants break into the very echelons of coloniality that one of its faculty so decries in Epidemic Illusions suggests that this book presented a real opportunity to interrogate the architecture of global health from within – to shatter the illusions even. Doing so would necessitate dwelling, in empirical depth, on the tensions and contradictions (...) of Richardson’s ‘insane experience’ of global health (...). A more detailed – and ethnographically grounded – journey through those ‘insane experiences’ would perhaps have been a better starting point for a project of intellectual decolonisation than the ‘ironist’ perspective favoured by Richardson.Clare Herrick & Kirsten Bell with an open access book review in Global Public Health; it's more than a book review, a fantastic essay to engage with a recent book that I have also featured here on the blog, perhaps a bit too uncritical?
What we were reading 4 years ago
(Link review 206, 4 November 2016)
Why do NGOs continue to focus their publicity strategies on the mainstream media?
Together, these various factors create what I call “reinforcing path dependencies.” By this term, I call attention to the way in which the enduring emphasis on mainstream media coverage is the result of interactions across a number of sectors. NGOs, journalists, government officials and donors each in their own way contribute to the persistence of media-centered strategies.Matthew Powers' research featured on the Humanitarian News Research Network is still very interesting & relevant!
It is important to note that NGOs that prioritize media coverage are also involved in a range of digital efforts, from multimedia content creation to social media engagement.
Nonetheless, my research suggests that digital possibilities do not automatically translate into digital realities. Instead, NGO communication strategies are shaped by – and likely will continue to be shaped by – the people and institutions in which they are embedded.