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Hi all,

Amazing how quickly another week passed...reparations, localization, narco states, disability rights, feminist foreign policy, UN remote work struggles, crypto as ritual & religion & the 'whiteness' of nature conservation...and more, all in this week's #globaldev review!

My quotes of the week
We have a saying in Arabic that goes, “everyone needs to know their place”. Localisation seems to be the new project from the Global North reminding us to “know our place”. (Localisation only pays lip service to fixing aid’s colonial legacy)

And then Covid came along… At a stroke, documents no longer needed physical signatures, memos were done away with or became meaningless, digital platforms were created, files were shared. All this could have been done before, but it took Covid to make it happen. Think about that the next time you are invited to participate in an innovation task force. (Five things the pandemic has taught us about working at the UN)

Development news
UN court orders Uganda to pay $325m in reparations to DR Congo
The United Nations’ top court has ordered Uganda to pay the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) $325m in reparations over a brutal war between the neighbours that began in the late 1990s.
“The court notes that the reparation awarded to the DRC for damage to persons and to property reflects the harm suffered by individuals and communities as a result of Uganda’s breach of its international obligations,” the court’s president, US judge Joan E Donoghue, said on Wednesday.
AlJazeera on an interesting case of global legal governance-but you can't be the irony that an American judge is presiding over the court...

DR Congo: Sham Trial for Murders of UN Experts
Despite UN assistance, the court ignored leads pointing to the involvement of senior Congolese officials. The United Nations, United States, and Sweden should urgently open a credible international inquiry into the killings and the role of Congolese officials.
“Throughout the four-year trial, the prosecution never examined who planned and ordered the killing of the UN experts,” said Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The UN, US, and Sweden should acknowledge Congo’s failure to adequately investigate this crime and urgently lead a new and credible international inquiry into state responsibility for the murders.”
Human Rights Watch on another important trial in connection with the DRC.
Failed coup puts spotlight back on Guinea-Bissau's role in cocaine trade
Most people in the capital believe the intense, five-hour gun battle was, in one way or another, tied to narcotics.
It is an indication that, despite false dawns in recent years, Guinea-Bissau remains vulnerable to instability that some top officials blame on the illicit trade.
Embalo said at the news conference that many military officers and politicians continue to be involved in the drugs trade.
Aaron Ross for Reuters with some background on the upheaval in Guinea-Bissau & the growing power of narcotics in coups & other political problems.

A rural hospital in Bangladesh is named the world's best new building
The hospital uses an innovative canal system to collect excess rainwater and store it so that it can be used later. The prize's jury felt that the hospital's canal and shaded brick alcoves worked well to respond to the local environment's frequent rains and often blistering summer weather.
Judges noted the hospital was built using local low-cost building materials.
"It is a demonstration of how beautiful architecture can be achieved through good design when working with a relatively modest budget and with difficult contextual constraints," Decq wrote.
Nell Clark for NPR Goats & Soda; some good news-even though the comment from the jury member almost feels like a bit of backhanded compliment when talking about 'contextual constraints'...

Update from our UK Director on the actions we’ve been taking to advance diversity, equality and inclusion at IRC UK
Of our 79 individual commitments, 55 either happened or are now continually embedded in the way we work. These are things like:
Having a Board of Trustees’ diversity and inclusion plan in place and being actioned
Name blinding on job applications
All UK staff participating in unconscious bias training
Holding a decolonising development webinar
Allocating budget to our BAME and PRIDE Network
Creating a new apprentice position
Paying our clients for participation in donor events
Laura Kyrke-Smith for the International Rescue Committee with an update on their DEI blinding applications & paying clients for participating events sound interesting, the rest a bit tokenistic though...

The narrative of decolonization of development aid. Are non-Western alternatives the real issue?
Decolonization in its truest sense, if it is to be applied in any situation, emanates not from the colonizer but from the colonized. In the case of development aid, the case is not to absolve Northern donors of their misuse of power, but rather that the push for control must come from those at the receiving end. A push that challenges the very structures of aid, its purpose, its uses and its modalities. Once that happens, then perhaps we can start talking about decolonization of aid.
Themrise Khan for Revistaidees (a great magazine edited in Catalonia) with a great long-read that provides a very good overview over the 'decolonization of #globaldev' debate(s).

Localisation only pays lip service to fixing aid’s colonial legacy
The discrimination goes even further. As a ‘“local scholar”, those like me from Lebanon will often not meet the eligibility criteria of being the Principal Investigator on many Global North-centric research proposals. In some projects, we are even recruited as co-investigators as a tokenistic gesture to show diversity and inclusiveness.
I often wonder if our place is to operate only in the Global South. I recently applied to conduct research on refugees' experiences in Germany. I wasn’t granted permission from the local government authorities. We were given many excuses, such as data protection regulations, but I can only conclude it was because my institution was from the Global South. After several futile attempts to pursue our project, we had to give up.
We have a saying in Arabic that goes, “everyone needs to know their place”. Localisation seems to be the new project from the Global North reminding us to “know our place”.
Maha Shuayb for the New Humanitarian shares some interesting reflections on the slow implementation of the 'localization agenda'...

Apply Now: £60,000 for Decentralized Web3 Solutions in Aid Programing
The partner will work collaboratively to prioritise the most important elements of web3.0 including:
Distributed finance (DeFi)
Distributed Autonomous Organisations (DAO)
Non-fungible Tokens (NFT)
Market making
Wayan Vota for ICTworks with a reminder that the language & acronyms of web3 are quickly creeping into our #globaldev discussions...

Five things the pandemic has taught us about working at the UN
We all gave it a try. Global conferences online. You got to peer into delegates’ sitting rooms and listen to their dubious music choices. But we soon saw that once-vibrant conferences were reduced to a series of statements. There were no informal discussions to try and break the deadlock or reach an important agreement.
Meanwhile, interpreters struggled to understand what their delegates were saying, leading in certain cases to health problems, speakers didn’t know if their audiences were listening to them, delegates struggled with clunky conference platforms (interprefy anyone?) and ambassadors worried that their capitals would question the expense of operating embassies if meetings could anyway be done from home. And then we realised that accommodating delegates in different time zones who couldn’t travel meant meetings could only run for three hours a day. Face-to-face meetings are rightfully making their comeback.
Do you remember all those innovation working groups that were set up before the pandemic? Lacking the genuine support of senior managers, who in many cases created the groups in a fit of style over substance, their reports gathered dust on office bookshelves, or somewhere in the cloud.
And then Covid came along… At a stroke, documents no longer needed physical signatures, memos were done away with or became meaningless, digital platforms were created, files were shared. All this could have been done before, but it took Covid to make it happen. Think about that the next time you are invited to participate in an innovation task force.
Ian Richards for UN Today is quite pessimistic about the 'new normal' & what it could/should mean for working at the UN.

How Well Can the UN Development Program Manage Global Climate Funding?
The memo states that whistleblowers reporting fraud were typically removed from projects rather than having their claims heard, and it lists nine countries where UNDP employees were either hired despite conflicts of interest or let go after trying to draw attention to funding mismanagement. The memo is largely based on “a primary whistleblower source.” Where possible, PassBlue verified information in the memo by cross-referencing the details with public documentation.
“A network of persons within UNDP (at the international level) appear to be supporting each other in carrying out and covering up fraud,” the memo notes.
Anna Bianca Roach for UN Dispatch; I know, it's tempting take the headline as a bit of a rhetorical question really...

This isn't just a women's issue
It has led to a strategic approach to staffing. A review of the entire chain of recruitment, leadership programmes and the process of appointing managers was undertaken. As a result, we have seen an increase in women managers and the proportion of women managers is now close to 50 per cent.
All diplomats and civil servants view everything through a gender lens, taking an integrated and systematic approach to integrating gender equality into all policies and actions.
Our feminist foreign policy is completely integrated into the daily operations of our more than 100 diplomatic missions abroad.
Sofia Calltorp for Chatham House takes stock of Swedish Feminist Foreign Policy.

As I was saying
Well-meaning friends have asked me to lay low, take a fellowship, head off on a vacation, chill with family, or just move to another country for a short period of time. Top mainstream media in India has reported on the targeted harassment that I have faced; that scrutiny can break and silence the strongest. But I cannot leave. During my 15-year career in journalism, this has been a routine occurrence. When I am not threatened with rape and murder, made-up news stories attacking my character trend on social media; there is a pattern and it is not a subtle one. Leaving the country, going low-profile, or (as my therapist suggested), writing on lighthearted topics is no longer a choice.
Rana Ayyub with a reminder of how bad things in general & for critical (female) journalists in particular are in India at the moment.

Lessons learned from partnerships with organisations of persons with disabilities
With many organisations of persons with disabilities, especially more established ones, CBM Global works based on shared goals and mutual respect. A balance is maintained between providing support and acknowledging expertise and skill. Partnerships with smaller organisations, however, have been more challenging, in particular where partnership was formed through an intermediary organisation. Much more can be done to ensure they are still involved and fully benefit from these partnerships.
CBM Global Disability Inclusion shares some interesting insight from a recent listening exercise with their partners...really curious to learn more what the localization/decolonization agenda means for disability rights organizations...
Our digital lives
InĂȘs Faria on Crypto as Ritual and Religion
I did come across people in the crypto community with more critical approaches – and concerns about sustainability after the hype, money laundering, and energy costs – but most were not connected to major financial actors and were more related to independent projects. Within the more entrepreneurial side, there seemed to be a dominant technology ‘pitch’ discourse, as a lot of smaller and bigger projects were appearing at the time. For these, in general, most concerns were not about the consequences of the technology on political, democratic, or economic activities at large, but mostly on how to put it forward and become competitive in the area. The consequences were generally analyzed as part of the more technocratic approach, within innovation labs, startups, or the regulatory sandbox environment. From the part of the financial supervisor, there was, of course, a concern about systemic risk.
Evgeny Morozov talks to InĂȘs Faria for the crypto syllabus about her ethnographic research on crypto communities.

The “White Saviour” Deal for Nature
For the privileged classes, the ecological challenge has become a question of, firstly, managing public relations to deflect potential risks to future profit. Secondly, it has meant finding novel ways to extract profit from nature conservation itself. Finally, it has entailed draconian protection measures that attempt to fence off significant tracts of the planet, in the name of protecting natural and other species, to compensate for intensive and continuously expanding human development elsewhere.
What unifies these options is a worldview that we refer to as “whiteness”. Beyond a matter of skin colour, “whiteness” refers fundamentally to belief systems rooted in Western European aesthetics and unequivocal faith in logics of modern progress that have historically shaped (neo)colonial strategies of resource exploitation and dehumanisation.
Gert Van Hecken & Vijay Kolinjivadi for the EADI blog on the 'whiteness' of conservation discourses.

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 224, 17 March 2017)

Stop Raising Awareness Already
Because abundant research shows that people who are simply given more information are unlikely to change their beliefs or behavior, it’s time for activists and organizations seeking to drive change in the public interest to move beyond just raising awareness. It wastes a lot of time and money for important causes that can’t afford to sacrifice either. Instead, social change activists need to use behavioral science to craft campaigns that use messaging and concrete calls to action that get people to change how they feel, think, or act, and as a result create long-lasting change.
Ann Christiano & Annie Neimand for the Stanford Social Innovation Review; one US President & a pandemic later we know that getting people to do the right thing has even become more complicated...


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