Links & Contents I Liked 478
As many Easter breaks are wrapping up, I'm happy to share the usual eclectic mix of food for thought, discussion & re-discovery - from the Peace Studies department in Bradford to the gardens of Lebanon, from Canadian ODA to Central African Republic's strategic engagement with Wagner...a new #globaldev bank, migrant suicides in Nepal, ICRC's budget cuts & 10 bad things about a humanitarian career wrap up this week's post!
My quotes of the week
Sure, meeting the FIAP commitment to allocate 15% of bilateral ODA to gender equality-targeted programs is important, as is investing 0.7% of Canada’s gross national income on ODA. However, if we insist on the fiction that achieving these targets alone will solve our planetary threats, then we have to question our complicity in upholding the status quo. Progress towards gender equality, as an emancipatory feminist objective, is entirely reliant upon the broader agenda of global justice. GAC should improve its reporting systems, (...) as part of a deeper interrogation of its corporate mandate that calls for fundamental transformations of how ODA is interpreted, managed and evaluated. (Dispelling fairy tales: The Auditor General’s misinterpretation of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy)
But how can Wagner engage in these activities and avoid accusations of neocolonialism? First, it helps not to have France’s brutal history of colonialism in the region. Second, but inextricably linked to the first: in the world’s poorest country, diamonds and gold are an unexotic source of income — one of the few that exist. It’s taken for granted that foreigners, including European peacekeepers and diplomats, are there for minerals. Whether Wagner is exploitative or not depends, to an extent, on whether one believes the security it provides for mining rights is a fair exchange. On this point there is significant and open debate among Central African politicians, civil society, and civilians. (Are Russian mercenaries bad for the Central African Republic?)
People within Lebanon and the diaspora are fiercely attached not just to Lebanese cuisine, but to their villages and the surrounding countryside. That provides an easy starting point to build more personal relationships to the land and those who work it, through acts as simple as visiting a neighbor’s farm or asking questions at a local market. Over time, such individual rediscovery may add up to collective changes—not just in how Lebanon eats, but in how it supports those that feed it. (Pity the land)
A public fundraising appeal was launched in 1971 and within 10 weeks they had £75,000, including donations from composer and pianist Benjamin Britten, violinist Yehudi Menuhin and Bradford-born novelist and playwright JB Priestley.Mark Brown for the Guardian; as a proud alumnus of the department I'm really looking forward to the anniversary conference/event at the beginning of September! Radical departments basically no longer exist in UK higher education & peace studies is obviously still ab absolutely relevant topic!
Adam Curle, an eminent peace academic, became the centre’s first chair. His colleagues at Harvard were reportedly astonished that he was willing to swap Harvard for Bradford.
In Curle’s inaugural speech he said that he and his colleagues had come together not for “primarily intellectual” reasons, but because they “cannot resist the obligations imposed upon us by our experiences in this darkening world”.
An update on ICRC’s financial situation
This year we are experiencing simultaneous challenges. First, several end-of-year pledges did not come through at the level we had anticipated. At the same time, our costs during the fourth quarter of 2022 were higher than anticipated partly because of inflation, even as our teams delivered a high rate of assistance and protection services to those in need. Because of these factors, we started 2023 carrying forward a deficit of approximately 140 million CHF.I find it quite shocking that this news has caused very little reactions outside the small humanitarian & #globaldev bubble; with all the money floating around in the financialized BS economy one of the most renowned humanitarian organizations is struggling financially in a climate where they are more needed than ever...
10 (bad) things you should know before choosing a humanitarian career
You will experience a lack of recognition and reward for your good work. You will be treated like a cog in a machine and if you ask for a pay raise, it will be denied under the guise of "budget issues." Oh, and they will replace you in the blink of an eye.Marielys Padua Soto on LinkedIn with a concise overview over humanitarian 'careers'.
Families mourn ‘devastating’ suicide rates among Nepal’s migrant workers
Long periods of separation from families, debt, abusive working conditions, unsanitary accommodation, loneliness and a lack of social support services are all likely to be factors which leave workers vulnerable to severe mental health problems and thoughts of suicidePete Pattisson & Pramod Acharya for the Guardian with more reporting on the negative impacts of labour migration from countries like Nepal.
She is left with only confusion and her husband’s debts. “I’m still surprised why he did it. I knew he was under pressure because we couldn’t repay the loan, but he didn’t clearly mention anything to me,” she says. She has applied for compensation from Nepal’s Foreign Employment Board but worries that it will barely cover her debts let alone the cost of her sons’ education.
A new leader’s big banking opportunity to improve global development
The first event of President Lula da Silva’s long-awaited visit to China in mid-April 2023 is the official swearing-in ceremony of Dilma Rousseff as president of the New Development Bank (popularly known as the BRICS Bank) on April 13. The appointment of the former president of Brazil to the post demonstrates the priority that Lula will give to the BRICS countries (Brazil, China, India, Russia, and South Africa) in his government.Marco Fernandes for People's Dispatch; let's put in this way for the time being: I'm not convinced...
The two most important instruments created by BRICS are the New Development Bank (NDB) and the Contingent Reserve Arrangement (CRA). The first has the objective of financing several development projects—with an emphasis on sustainability—and is regarded as a possible alternative to the World Bank. The second could become an alternative fund to the IMF, but the lack of strong leadership since its inauguration in 2015 and the absence of a solid strategy from the five member countries has prevented the CRA from taking off.
Are Russian mercenaries bad for the Central African Republic?
But how can Wagner engage in these activities and avoid accusations of neocolonialism? First, it helps not to have France’s brutal history of colonialism in the region. Second, but inextricably linked to the first: in the world’s poorest country, diamonds and gold are an unexotic source of income — one of the few that exist. It’s taken for granted that foreigners, including European peacekeepers and diplomats, are there for minerals. Whether Wagner is exploitative or not depends, to an extent, on whether one believes the security it provides for mining rights is a fair exchange. On this point there is significant and open debate among Central African politicians, civil society, and civilians.John Lechner for Responsible Statecraft with interesting food for thought on the complexities of Wagner's engagement in CAR (the answer is still 'Yes', though...).
Real or perceived, Central African elites have considerable agency in resource exploitation, and there is good reason to believe that the government in Bangui is taking advantage of the Russians. Granting mining and logging concessions outsources the costs of exploiting and securing them. Both Russian PMC and government interests align in retaking mines from armed groups, while Russian PMCs bear the brunt of international criticism.
Saudi Arabia: Microsoft Should Hold Off On Data Center
Given this reality, Microsoft’s intention to invest raises serious concerns about how it can uphold its human rights responsibilities under the United Nations Guiding Principles to prevent or mitigate the potential adverse human rights impacts associated with locating a cloud data center in Saudi Arabia.Human Rights Watch with an important reminder how data infrastructure & digital + human rights are linked (and how the latter two will unlikely be high on the Saudi agenda...).
The SDG Summit and Summit of the Future: A Tale of Two Major Agendas
Unless soon reconciled, the continued perceived competition between the Summit of the Future and the SDG Summit will affect adversely the negotiations on the former’s scope (regarding intergovernmental tracks) and ambition. Fortunately, the two summits are already highly compatible, and skillful multilateral diplomacy can enhance their interactions further. The sooner that the preparations for the Summit of the Future, or SOTF, shift from process-oriented discussions to a focus on meaningful global governance innovations, the quicker that a consensus can be built around creative, practical and targeted ways to overhaul the methods and institutions for advancing the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.Richard Ponzio for PassBlue...I don't know how many times I have written the sentence 'I love the UN, but...' and this another case of possibly almost completely useless summitry to meet and play SDG bullshit bingo...
Security professionals are changing how humanitarian organisations operate
The growing influence of security professionals has caused tensions in the field. A common complaint from aid workers is that security professionals bring an ‘Afghanistan and Iraq mentality’, forcing humanitarian organisations to adopt overly risk-averse or militarised security procedures, such as restrictive curfews and having to move around in armoured vehicles or with armed guards. These tensions are most acute regarding humanitarian access. Many, especially more seasoned aid workers, favour an approach based on community consent — building long-term relationships with community members to ensure safe access. They emphasise flexibility over procedure, relying on self-analysis of the environment rather than deferring to security protocol. Moreover, they at times question the accuracy of security managers’ information, citing examples of duplicated ‘copy and paste’ risk reporting.Jethro Norman for the Danish Institute of International Studies present new insights into the world of security professionals & humanitarian 'securitization'.
By contrast, security managers argue that aid workers are not trained to understand security and often dismiss it as a tick-box exercise. They point out that many humanitarians spend only a short while in any given location, and are naïve to the risks, whereas some security professionals may spend years working in the same environment. In short, the logic of security in humanitarian operations can be fundamentally different from the security professional and aid worker’s respective viewpoints. This can lead to frequent struggles over authority.
Dispelling fairy tales: The Auditor General’s misinterpretation of Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy
Sure, meeting the FIAP commitment to allocate 15% of bilateral ODA to gender equality-targeted programs is important, as is investing 0.7% of Canada’s gross national income on ODA. However, if we insist on the fiction that achieving these targets alone will solve our planetary threats, then we have to question our complicity in upholding the status quo. Progress towards gender equality, as an emancipatory feminist objective, is entirely reliant upon the broader agenda of global justice. GAC should improve its reporting systems, as the Auditor General demands, but it should do so as part of a deeper interrogation of its corporate mandate that calls for fundamental transformations of how ODA is interpreted, managed and evaluated.Gloria Novovic for the McLeod Group takes a closer look at ODA, feminist foreign policy & transformation.
Trepidations of a female student in Port Moresby
The issue of law and order has been a longstanding one in the country, generating concerns of safety among the country’s population, especially its female population. As a female student living in Port Moresby, my safety while travelling to and from school is a cause of concern for myself and my family. The concerns faced by the female population range from petty crimes such as pickpocketing to armed robbery, kidnapping and rape.Sharon Banuk for the DevPolicy Blog with an everyday view on violence, safety & student live from PNG.
Development Studies cannot become an apology for the status quo
It is urgent to advance a transformative agenda from within Development Studies. These crises ought to be confronted together for reasons of practicality and legitimacy, through a democratic economic strategy, including political democracy, focusing on the restoration of a collective sphere of citizenship, the expansion of rights, the distribution of income, wealth and power (focusing on the decommodification and definancialisation of social reproduction, starting with universal public services), and a green transition in the economy.Alfredo Saad-Filho for EADI's Debating Development Research; as much as I agree with the agenda, I'm a bit cautious to put some of the transformations on the shoulders of 'development studies' rather than say, the global financial or tax system.
The difficulty is that those alternatives must be underpinned by new social movements and new structures of representation, from political parties to trade unions to community associations, corresponding to the current mode of existence of a society that has been extensively decomposed domestically, imperfectly integrated globally, that has distinct cultures but is connected through internet-based tools.
Pity the land
These improvised fixes won’t reinvent Lebanon’s outdated and fragmented agricultural sector, any more than foreign aid programs will. But they may help Lebanese begin to reinvent our relationship to food, creating the basis for a more hopeful future. People within Lebanon and the diaspora are fiercely attached not just to Lebanese cuisine, but to their villages and the surrounding countryside. That provides an easy starting point to build more personal relationships to the land and those who work it, through acts as simple as visiting a neighbor’s farm or asking questions at a local market. Over time, such individual rediscovery may add up to collective changes—not just in how Lebanon eats, but in how it supports those that feed it.Diana Salloum for Synaps on the poetics & realities of food in Lebanon.
Future Brief #2 | Storytelling genres in humanitarian communication
How can we make our campaigns ethical, inclusive and equitable?Partos with a neat primer on ethical humanitarian & #globaldev communication!
The answer must be sought in a practice of communication in which values such as solidarity, equality and justice are made central. Campaigns that are steeped in the complexity, history and politics, and based on the agency, dignity and humanity of vulnerable people in the global South, are able to contribute to a more just global society. Particularly, two umbrella strategies could be used in the pursuit of ethical, inclusive and equitable communication: postcolonial criticism and participatory storytelling.
Struggles for Accountability in the 2022 Cost-of-living Crisis:Lessons from the Global Protest Wave
People protested because their governments would not or could not protect them from the crisis, and they believed this failure was due to corruption and collusion between political and economic elites. In several countries with major episodes of unrest, the government was either implementing or seeking an IMF package, typically entailing subsidy cuts or tax rises affecting ordinary citizens. This Accountability Brief focuses on the reasons energy and food protests are matters of concern for accountability in international development, and identifies appropriate responses.Naomi Hossain & Jeffrey Hallock for the Accountability Research Centre with a new publication.
Aid strategies in ‘politically estranged’ settings
However, in a growing subset of FCS, these principles and practices cannot be applied. More than 49 per cent of people in FCS now live in situations where relations between major donors and national authorities are ‘politically estranged’ (Figure S1). Such situations are no longer the exception. Many affected states are at the forefront of growing geopolitical contestation and fragmentation, as global and regional powers vie for influence and access to resourcesSarah Cliffe, Renata Dwan, Betty Wainaina & Leah Zamore for Chatham House; this is such an interesting topic, but the policy brief was really difficult to read, with important findings hidden on the last page or so...I'm sure many policy-makers will not invest the time and effort to engage with this research which is really a pity...
Coloniality and frictions: Data-driven humanitarianism in North-Eastern Nigeria and South Sudan
The analysis focuses attention on the ways in which epistemic injustices have been further perpetuated by the ‘data revolution’ due to the intensification of paternalistic dynamics associated with the coloniality of humanitarianism. It shows how a logic of extractivism structures the humanitarian data ecosystem, while also generating a series of tensions and disagreements. Data-driven humanitarianism, the article concludes, is characterised by recurring colonial dynamics as well as intensified frictions that bring epistemic injustices into sharper focus.Vicki Squire & Modesta Alozie with a new open access article in Big Data & Society.
Feminist foreign and development policy in ministerial documents and debates
I'm revisiting the debate on heterodox econ, so I decided to put together a thread with suggested readings for those interested in learning more about the term, its origins & how hetecon is a rich & constructive research programme rather than an opposition to the orthodoxy. 1/15— Carolina Alves (@cacrisalves) April 12, 2023
Despite coordination between the two ministries and similar consultations with civil society, the ministers presented documents that differ in form and content and also draw on feminist approaches to varying degrees. Together, however, they have initiated a debate in Germany on the goals and means of international policy. In order for the desired cultural and systemic change to go beyond gender equality, a broader inter-ministerial effort is needed.Claudia Zilla for the German Institute for International & Security Affairs with a great overview over feminist foreign policy discourses in German policy-making.
In other news
‘Don’t just publish another paper. Let’s do something,’ says scholar-advocate Cindy Blackstock
“So often we get students in social work and law who say they are doing advocacy, but we don’t train them, and we don’t teach them about the courage it takes to do it,” she says. “Where the academic milieu does young academics a disservice is [that] young academics are so focussed on filling up their CV to get tenure and promotion, they’re doing all kinds of stuff that doesn’t really knit together.”Becky Rynor for University Affairs; it's worth reading the comments as well as they hint at some of the structural issues that make it very difficult for junior faculty to 'do' something rather than publishing about it...
What we were reading 5 years ago
(Link review 268, 2 February 2018)
Decolonizing the Conference
All in all, the Chiapas learning exchange was comprised of people committed to transformation. Therefore, the exchange was carefully and thoughtfully designed to reflect the type of transformation we seek for the world. Intentional design, planning, and strategy underpinned the structure and content of the agenda. Threads of love, humility, patience, curiosity, inquiry, and openness wove the community together. Among other factors, creating a convening where ancestral traditions find their rightful place in dialogue about the future; grassroots activists share their insights and solutions as experts; and pedagogical models rooted in global south traditions are centralized, the exchange decolonized the conference space.Solomé Lemma for Thousand Currents on a great example of how to properly deconstruct 'the workshop'! I hope that whatever 'new normal' is currently emerging post-pandemic is taking more of these values & approaches on board...