Links & Contents I Liked 453

Hi all,

Just as the #globaldev community started to discuss the new UK government, including a new minister for development, another breaking news story may have appeared in your newsfeeds as well...even your trusted #globaldev link review kicks off with a thoughtful reflection on Queen Elizabeth's passing-but we are also looking at the state of the humanitarian system, UN politics, Eritrea & Nigeria plus long reads on global nomads & how Silicon Valley conquered the post-Cold War consensus.

My quotes of the week
Death is not the solution to injustice, nor does it heal the wounds caused by life for those who remain in the wake of a leader who refused to stand boldly against injustice. Collective change and each person benefitting from racial and economic castes surrendering that privilege is the answer. I warmly embrace the opportunity for change, and each of us seeing our part (not a monarch’s) in loving one another. (Xavier Ramey on the death of Queen Elizabeth II.)

We diplomats like to think that no problem is too big that it can’t be managed by thoughtful engagement and negotiation. Often that approach is the right one. But it won’t work with the Eritreas of the world. We need to be intellectually prepared for the coming challenges of the emerging international dynamics. When someone shows you who they are, Maya Angelou once warned, believe them the first time.
(Totalitarianism Is Still With Us)

Development news
Xavier Ramey on LinkedIn
Death is complex. Responses to it are as well. As a Black man, and a social equity practitioner, Queen Elizabeth’s passing is complex. A dynasty has ended, for the most part, with her passing into eternity today. Prepare for the think pieces from far and wide, and for the shaming or proclaiming of who has a right to speak on death. Know that people are not speaking on death, they are speaking about the impact of life. About the value of the breath of life and how it impacts another’s breath, and life.
The hard part of honoring the dead is that your legacy is different to different people. I hope y’all can really understand that.
What is order to the spider is chaos to the fly. And my people have been the fly in the spider of colonizing nations’ web for centuries. We have not forgotten. And we have the emotional, intellectual, and linguistic complexity to hold multiple truths in such a way that many privileged people cannot.
The truth is never a dishonor. It is a fact. Be unemotional about it. Do not weigh it. Do not force your imagination upon it. The truth of a monarchs legacy is found in the cries of the people no longer here, the nations built or ravaged, and the trees not yet planted. Impact is about what comes from your leadership. Legacy is about what remains from it.
(...)
As for me, I do not proudly or humbly clap for colonizing nations (including my own) or their leaders, I do not excuse or forget the harms of those who embraced systemic injustice and White supremacy while they had breath to change, I do not patently excuse those who don’t repair and return stolen property or people, nor do I happily celebrate the death of a person—regardless of who they are.
Death is not the solution to injustice, nor does it heal the wounds caused by life for those who remain in the wake of a leader who refused to stand boldly against injustice. Collective change and each person benefitting from racial and economic castes surrendering that privilege is the answer. I warmly embrace the opportunity for change, and each of us seeing our part (not a monarch’s) in loving one another.
Volker Turk to be appointed next UN High Commissioner for Human Rights after opaque nomination process
In two joint letters, NGOs had called for an open, transparent and merit-based process involving wide and meaningful consultation with independent human rights defenders and organisations. NGOs argued that the nomination process was critical to identifying the most qualified candidate and ensuring the credibility of their appointment.
The International Service for Human Rights on the nomination of an experienced Austrian UN bureaucrat as new Human Rights Commissioner. I have mixed feelings: On the one hand I understand why the UN would nominate an internal expert with 30+ years of experience working in the organisation-especially as a broad range of countries need to agree on his appointment; on the other hand we have the typical backroom-talks-and-white-Northern-man-emerges-as-winner scenario that gets rightly criticised when World Bank, IMF or UN agencies appoint very senior positions.

Who is Volker Türk? Guterres picks confidante for human rights chief
Türk’s ascendance as a candidate for the world’s most visible human rights job has been received coolly by some human rights groups and other civil society organizations which say he either lacks a robust track record as a human rights advocate or the standing of previous high commissioners.
Some rights advocates privately voiced concern that Guterres’ promotion of a close adviser may suggest he wants his own imprint on the U.N.’s human rights work, or at least to exercise greater control over a highly sensitive political post that often puts the U.N. in the crosshairs of powerful member states such as China, Russia, and the United States.
“Is this the best we can do?” asked one human rights advocate, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid offending the U.N.'s likely next human rights chief.
Colum Lynch joins DevEx & provides a bit more background on the new human rights chief.

SOHS 2022 report
The findings in this 2022 edition of the State of the Humanitarian System (SOHS) report have been organised around these core questions, with three fundamental ones framing the report: What is the system? What is it achieving? How is it working?
As we spoke to aid recipients and aid practitioners during our 18-month research period, we heard a clear demand to examine the state of the humanitarian system against the central expectations that people have of it – not only against the criteria and technical areas by which it tends to measure itself. Based on this feedback, we have adopted a different structure for this report – one that allows us to broaden the issues explored and the framework we use to explore them.
ALNAP published its flagship State of the Humanitarian System report.
If the humanitarian system is to meet the growing needs of people affected by crises, we need transformation not tinkering
To break the cycle, we collectively call on all humanitarian actors to support the following actions:
1.Allow more flexible funding to ensure that the humanitarian system remains agile and responsive to crises and the people affected by them.
2.Increase investment in humanitarian standards, learning, leadership development and collaboration amongst all humanitarian actors to improve the quality of aid.
3.Support experimentation and innovation that are evidence-based and can be brought to scale.
4.Reduce bureaucratic impediments for engaging with crisis affected people and community organisations.
5.Shift power, decision making, funding and other resources to local and national organisations and community responders who know best and will carry on when attention shifts elsewhere.
6.Invest in networks and collaboration. Networks have the greatest chance of harnessing collective action, expertise and reach at greater speed, lower cost, reduced bureaucracy and better impact.
The Start Network responds to the SOHS report right away.

Locked out. What do local leaders say about reforming the humanitarian system?
Some of the most powerful interventions came from refugee leaders. Jean-Paul Kasika, Vice Chair of the Africa Refugee Network, summarised some of the core issues when he said “we are being locked out – how can we work together with our big brothers”. Refugee leaders are trusted as incentive workers, as subcontractors, but “why not as consortium partners?”. Naw K’Nyaw Paw of the Karen Women’s Organisation, asked about accountability issues of refugee-led organisations, replied that they are responsive to their communities, to the people around them, to the IDPs and refugees and are arguably therefore more accountable than say UNHCR, asking: “who are they really accountable to?”.
Amy Croome for fp2p with a great summary of a recent event that featured a lot of local participants affected by humanitarian work.

Totalitarianism Is Still With Us
Diplomatic engagement with totalitarian states is futile. The Eritrean regime loves to “engage”—to participate in and publicize talks and meetings that give the impression of openness and reasonability. During these interactions, however, Eritrean officials make clear to their foreign interlocutors that the regime will, as they told one of my colleagues, “compromise on process but not on principles.” In other words, you can “engage” indefinitely, but nothing is going to stop the regime from terrorizing and impoverishing its people, or destabilizing the region. (It has for decades intervened in, or triggered, conflicts and civil wars in neighboring states.) There is a natural tendency among diplomats, in Washington and elsewhere, to favor engagement. This is understandable, but potentially dangerous because engagement, if not carefully calibrated, risks legitimizing totalitarian regimes.
(...)
We diplomats like to think that no problem is too big that it can’t be managed by thoughtful engagement and negotiation. Often that approach is the right one. But it won’t work with the Eritreas of the world. We need to be intellectually prepared for the coming challenges of the emerging international dynamics. When someone shows you who they are, Maya Angelou once warned, believe them the first time. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine wakes us up to the continuing relevance of the lessons we learned during the Cold War, we would all do well to heed her advice.
Steve Walker for the Atlantic on dealing (not just with) Eritrea.

Peacekeeping Desperately Needs a New Model, and a People-Centered Approach Could Work
Such a reorientation would see the community, and not just the host state, as the mission’s ultimate client, allowing them to task the mission, set its priorities and provide its marching orders. Doing so could resolve or at least strengthen responses to all manner of problems that “third generation” peacekeeping faces and can’t manage: from how to lower tensions with the host state, how to exit sustainably and how to improve performance. It would render the breakdown of mission-community relations we have seen in the Congo in recent months far less likely to happen.
Community engagement mechanisms would become an integral part of the mission’s governance structure — the ways through which the mission’s bosses and the local population give the mission its instructions. This approach could underpin the fourth generation of peacekeeping and turn out to be the most successful model.
Fred Carver for PassBlue with food for thought on the never-ending debate on 'reforming' peacekeeping...

Ten Years of the Belt and Road: Reflections and Recent Trends
Although criticism is censored in China, the support for the BRI is not unanimous or universal. Parts of society are concerned about its impact on intensifying China-US competition, or wastefulness in the BRI’s investment and infrastructure. But the BRI has benefited core political groups in China, including local governments investing in globalization and growth, businesses expanding abroad with state financing, national agencies utilizing BRI platforms and scholarly communities gaining exposure, experience and expertise in understanding the world.
Outside China, BRI host countries, to varying extent, have received considerable investment, infrastructure and loans. Even when projects have defaulted or been put on pause, host countries can learn valuable lessons and gain precious experience in infrastructure development and engagement with Chinese capital. However, the BRI is not a miracle. It cannot transform places not yet on the verge of taking off. Nor can it fully solve China’s challenges domestically and globally.
Min Ye for the Global Development Policy Center with a great analytical overview over 10 years of China's BRI.

Jam today: Nigerians turn a profit from the choked traffic of Lagos
The gridlocks are so consistently bad that some residents have built their life around trading amid the traffic. Adekanmbi has been selling drinks to drivers and frazzled passengers for 11 years, she says, taking a 9am break in a bus shelter as the rain drizzles.
Adebayo Abdul Rahman & Benson Ibeabuchi for the Guardian with a great photo essay on the political economy of traffic jam markets in Lagos.

Century-old family photo studio preserves Ghana’s history in black and white
From glass plates to digital files of nation-shaping events to intimate personal portraits, the family's 50,000-image archive offers a unique glimpse into Accra's transition from a colonial port into a bustling modern metropolis.
(...)
For 100 years, three generations of Bruce-Vanderpuijes have painstakingly amassed the world’s largest collection of 20th century Ghanaian photographs under one roof. They believe their Deo Gratias photo studio is the oldest in West Africa.
IndianExpress/Reuters with a great story about a very special archive...

When will it be over? A fictional civilian’s story in the aftermath of conflict
I don’t know what to do. I do not know who to believe – should we take sides now that the war is supposedly over? Who should be providing these much-needed services, who should be doing this rebuilding, who should be clearing these bombs, restoring electricity and water, who should be releasing or finding the prisoners? The government? The country that provided the bombs? The country that flew the planes over us and launched the bombs? The Red Cross or Red Crescent? The UN?
Kelisiana Thynne for ICRC Humanitarian Law & Policy blog with an interesting approach to storytelling to engage with humanitarian post-war challenges.

3 other news
Digital nomads have rejected the office and now want to replace the nation state. But there is a darker side to this quest for global freedom
As an anthropologist, I have been chronicling the digital nomad lifestyle – and their tangled relationship with state institutions – for the past seven years. Pre-pandemic, the popular stereotype was of a carefree millennial who had escaped the daily grind to travel the world without hindrance, working on a laptop in some far-flung beach cafe with their only limitation being the quality of the wifi.
As long ago as 2015, I was hearing recurring complaints from these nomads about the ideological and practical frictions that nation states pose – it just hadn’t organised itself into a movement yet.
For a while, COVID-19 appeared to put the brakes on the nomadic dream, as most were forced to head home to western countries and the safety net of healthcare systems. Yet now, the remote working revolution triggered by the pandemic has given this borderless lifestyle “project” a new impetus.
Dave Cook for the Conversation takes a detailed look at digital nomadism.

How Silicon Valley Conquered the Post-Cold War Consensus
Political consent does not need to take the form of straightforward active enthusiastic endorsement of the authority and aims of the hegemony. It can often be largely passive in nature, a matter of compliance and casual participation rather than explicit support. Hegemonic leadership is therefore always complex in nature: including domination and consent, and the great grey expanse in-between. For now, the point is simply this: the kinds of power that we have been describing the tech-finance bloc as exercising are absolutely typical of hegemonic power, and exemplify the ways that hegemony operates in the 21st century.
Alex Williams & Jeremy Gilbert for Literary Hub with this week's long-read essay for your weekend reading needs that should include coming across the word 'hegemony'...

No, Most Books Don't Sell Only a Dozen Copies

Are all of these true? None of them? Part of the problem with evaluating claims of “most published books sell [X] copies” is that it—[apologies for the Derrida voice]—it all depends on what you mean by “book,” “published,” and “sell.” No, I’m not playing postmodern games here. It really is confusing.
Lincoln Michel for Counter Craft sheds some light on a Tweet/statistic that I also shared and that, as always, is a bit more complicated...

What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 243, 28 July 2017)

The privilege of giving career advice in international development
The toughest question in terms of career building is the question of the slowly changing ethical framework of international development: How can I justify my engagement?
Duncan writes: ‘I loved writing; I was (broadly) on the left; I wanted to understand social and political change and if possible contribute to it.’
Is this still enough to build a career given our global Northern/ Western, male etc. privileges?
Since social change usually happens slower than we anticipate my tentative answer is ‘yes, to some extent’-but the more important questions for which I have no good answer at this stage is, to put it more provocatively, who should have a career in international development in the future and at what cost will they happen in a globally accelerating labor market?
Me, pondering about a changing #globaldev labor market...so much has (not) happened since then, almost time for another post...

A disrupter at UN: Can new chief shake up bureaucracy to speed progress?
Guterres has some ideas for addressing the gaps and speeding up progress. One is a “funding compact” that would pair sustained and even increased spending for development programs with commitments from receiving entities, including countries, to achieve greater efficiency, “value for money,” and verifiable reporting of results.
Another proposal is to empower UN country representatives in the field by shifting greater authority to the experts on the ground and away from the UN’s centralized bureaucracies.
Howard LaFranchi for the Christian Science Monitor on the never-ending saga of 'UN reform'...

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