Links & Contents I Liked 484
Welcome to another review after the weekly tour-de-Internet to highlight some great #globaldev readings; global governance, human rights, US arms sales, UN peacekeeping, the capitalistic history of sugar & many more development, humanitarian & global solidarity connections!
P.S.: Next week will be peak thesis examination season-so the Tuesday newsletter should still go out, but no full review on Friday.
My quotes of the week
Mitchell said: “It’s absolutely a core argument that development is about building safer and more prosperous societies over there, so that the people don’t come over here. It’s absolutely at the heart of it all.” (Giving aid to poorer countries helps prevent migration to UK, says minister)
One of their partners used the (unrestricted) funding to get an office because having their meetings in cafes meant that partners didn’t take them seriously. “Even paying rent – such a basic thing – helped raise the profile and the diversity of funding for this group,” she said. “They may not spend it on bright shiny stuff, but it’s foundational and enables them to continue their work.” (Aid profiles: Aleema Shivji’s lifelong campaign to fight exclusion)
Severe inequities in Global North concentrated global health governance, employment and representation will continue, with claims of allyship ringing empty, if we fail to reimagine ways of addressing visa and passport challenges for Global South citizens to conduct research and to be heard in global fora. (The weight of my passport and my place in global health)
This is the hour of the global south
As with all great would-be revolutionary coalitions, this revamped “non-aligned movement” is a group of vastly different and often competing interests; and some can hardly claim to be neutral. The Brics summit in Durban in August will be a cacophonous showcase for these contradictions. The group consists of two autocracies, Russia and China, two big democracies, Brazil and India (the latter hugely wary of the rise of China) and the host, and junior relation, South Africa. Now over a dozen more countries are interested in joining, including Iran.Alec Russell for the Financial Times; despite my general hesitation to share macro-political tea leaves readings of 'global orders', this is interesting food for thought...
When the war in Ukraine ends, it will be against the backdrop of a subtler world order than that of February 2022. It will be more complex and probably more dangerous; but for some non-aligned countries it will have more opportunity. And it is here to stay.
Russian mercenaries behind slaughter of 500 in Mali village, UN report finds
Published last week after an extensive human rights fact-finding mission conducted over several months by UN staff in Mali, the report gives an hour by hour account of events during a five-day military operation in Moura in March 2022, giving details of the worst single atrocity associated with the Kremlin-linked Wagner group outside Ukraine.Jason Burke for the Guardian on a new UN report.
Investigators from the UN human rights office concluded that there are strong indications that more than 500 people were killed – the majority in extrajudicial killings – by Malian troops and foreign military personnel believed to be from Wagner
Giving aid to poorer countries helps prevent migration to UK, says minister
“International development is about trying to create safer and more prosperous societies over there, so they don’t come over here.”Ben Farmer for the Telegraph; remember the days when at least some of the UK's #globaldev policy was guided by evidence? Well, it's down to 'we need to spend money there, so people don't come here' narrative that is the opposite of evidence...
Advocates for development spending were “not just a bunch of tree-hugging do-gooders,” he said.
Unless the UK worked “upstream” to tackle issues like poverty and climate change abroad, migration towards Europe would only increase, he predicted.
He said: “It’s absolutely a core argument that development is about building safer and more prosperous societies over there, so that the people don’t come over here. It’s absolutely at the heart of it all.”
Norwegian PM Støre dodges loss and damage funding questions
I was sad today to see an aid minister I respect a huge amount suggest aid was about deterring immigration and an aid advocacy organization I also admire say the same thing about climate finance.— Charles Kenny (@charlesjkenny) May 23, 2023
That’s not the point. Not even close. https://t.co/7Uqz0I89TN
Though Støre claimed Norway was ready to play a leading role in key climate finance issues, he declined to answer whether Norway would commit Loss and Damage funding, despite having been asked three times by Devex.William Worley for DevEx on the complex discussions around 'loss and damage' funding that still has a very long way to go before such a mechanism becomes reality & makes an impact on people affected by climate change.
The South Sudanese families stranded while trying to return home
After 35 years in Sudan, Catherine Dimitri, 40, an NGO worker in Khartoum, ran with the clothes and shoes she was wearing when someone yelled at her to get on a truck heading to South Sudan. She grabbed her two grandchildren and left her disabled daughter behind with relatives. “I hope to find a job in Juba, and to reunite all my children there,” she says. For now, a plastic bucket and a blanket are her only possessions.Florence Miettaux for the Guardian with a powerful photo essay from the Sudan-South Sudan border region.
Most east African refugees are hosted close to borders – it’s a deliberate war strategy
What I found is that countries’ policies for hosting refugees are more strategic than expected. Host countries choose their refugee policy to influence the war from which the refugees fled. When Tanzania and Kenya chose the location of camps and the restrictions on work and movement, influencing war informed their policies. Camp location and restrictions, along with maintaining dense refugee settlements, give rebel groups valuable access to refugee camps for exploitation.Kara Ross Kamarena for the Conversation with a great overview over her new research.
My study demonstrates that east African host countries can follow a foreign policy logic for setting refugees up to be exploited. Domestic considerations can matter as well.
My research can help aid organisations identify whether domestic or foreign policy interests drive border camps in east Africa and elsewhere. When domestic rather than foreign policy considerations drive border camp location, humanitarian agencies can negotiate alternatives that make camps less crowded, move refugees further from the border or provide options for integrating elsewhere.
In Praise of Competitive UN Elections
Many delegations and their regional groups prefer noncompetitive slates. They say all countries should have a chance to serve on UN bodies. But noncompetitive slates undermine the purpose of elections, which is to enable member states to choose the most qualified candidates over others.Louis Charbonneau for Human Rights Watch; I wrote Electing Saudi-Arabia to the UN Commission on the Status of Women is not a bad idea about 6 years ago and I'm not sure I would phrase it like this today given how little progress has been made by Saudi-Arabia (and most other autocracies) through engaging with them in spaces like the UN...
Member countries can’t vote out Russia, China, or the other three permanent Security Council members. But when elections for rotating seats are competitive, member states can and should reject abusive governments.
Why Ukraine (and other crises) urgently need more human rights funding
We are dismayed by the miniscule amount of funding that has been allocated for human rights-based projects in philanthropy’s response to the humanitarian crisis stemming from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.Kellea Miller & Rachel Thomas for the New Humanitarian with a good overview over human rights funding instruments & the lack of funding in many humanitarian crises.
Philanthropic funding for human rights-based interventions is essential when it comes to addressing the humanitarian crises caused by war. It helps ensure equitable access to much-needed assistance while also addressing the short- and longer-term impacts of conflict on people’s fundamental rights and freedoms.
Bye bye reform and human rights, welcome private sector. Unfortunately we will be back!
Incredible work by the media team at @ActionAidUK who today have published exclusive research with @itvnews on the cost of period poverty across the UK and rest of the world. The amount of people struggling to afford period products has almost doubled in the last year - shocking. pic.twitter.com/kRVUJK5X6a— Frankie Leach (@francesleach_) May 26, 2023
Looking at the crises the world is staring at – whether it is the climate emergency is here and now, and the threat of global warming likely to breach 1.5C threshold is a reality, where inequality has touched unprecedented levels, poverty levels have reached newer heights, unemployment rates are high in many countries in the Global South, price rise has pushed the poor to the brink, food scarcity is a reality staring at us – the Bank needs a visionary who can pioneer a radical change in the way Bank functions, humble enough to accept the past mistake and learn from it, and sensitive enough to listen and understand the concerns of the poor and the marginalised.Joe Athialy for the World Bank President on the undemocratic selection process of the new World Bank president, the Bank's history in India & why reforms are needed.
Catch-22: Canada’s attempts to phase out fossil fuel might result in it paying the polluters
Canada faces a no-win situation — a catch-22. If the government does not rapidly phase out fossil fuels, it will fail to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement to address the climate crisis. But when it takes steps to do so, foreign investors invoke international trade and investment agreements like NAFTA and threaten to drain public coffers.Kyla Tienhaara for the Conversation; perhaps not a #globaldev topic per se, but an important reminder about the murky, powerful world of ISDS.
The idea that public finance, desperately needed for the energy transition and climate adaptation, will be redirected to compensate fossil fuel firms currently making record profits is offensive.
In light of the increasing body of evidence that documents how the industry has actively obstructed climate action and helped to spread disinformation about climate science, it is communities impacted by climate change that should be compensated by fossil fuel firms, not the other way around.
Rethinking Arms Transfers: Navigating the Complexities of U.S. Military Aid to the Middle East and Its Implications for Regional Stability and Human Rights
The path forward demands a comprehensive reassessment of U.S. policy—one that transcends an over-reliance on arms sales, acknowledges regional interconnectedness, rejects selective engagement and impunity, and elevates the principles of human rights and accountability. The U.S. must recognize that relying on militarism and maintaining unconditional military assistance to authoritarian regimes are not viable strategies for achieving its strategic goals or contributing to a secure and just future for the Middle East. The U.S. must navigate the evolving landscape of the Middle East with a clear understanding of the interconnected nature of the challenges it faces. The long-standing conflicts in the region, the intricate web of alliances, and the evolving geopolitical dynamics necessitate a policy approach that is thoughtful, holistic, and value-driven. Short-term transactional thinking, selective engagement, and reliance on military power as the primary instrument of influence have proven to be ineffective and, at times, counterproductive.Nancy Okail for Pathways to Renewed and Inclusive Security in the Middle East (PRISME) with a much-needed reminder of the long-lasting & negative impact of US arms sales in the Middle East.
How Not to Do UN Peacekeeping
The point is not that the UN Security Council should shirk its responsibility, but rather that it should not turn to UN peacekeeping operations for the sake of convenience or political expediency. The Security Council has a range of tools at its disposal and a spectrum of peace operations to consider. UN peacekeeping operations are one of these tools. Seventy-five years of peacekeeping experience has shown that it is effective in certain contexts but performs poorly in others, and one of the key factors that influences its effectiveness is whether there is a viable political project in place. If there is not one, then the consistent advice to the Council from the various expert commissions it has commissioned over the years is that it should look beyond peacekeeping to the other tools at its disposal. This can, depending on the situation, imply diplomatic and peacemaking efforts to pursue ceasefire and peace agreements, and when there is a need for peace enforcement, look to coalitions of the willing or regional arrangements, like mandating the African Union to act on its behalf.Cedric de Coning for the Global Observatory reviews the do's & don't of UN peacekeeping projects.
Trojan Horses with Emergency Lights
Nevertheless, Iran’s practice has received little attention by states or UN bodies yet. Considering the grave consequences of the misuse of ambulances for non-medical purposes – particularly during times of civil unrest – and its potential to exacerbate conflicts, there should be heightened efforts to end the prevailing impunity for violations of international law with regard to medical services.Lisa M. Cohen for Völkerrechtsblog; you probably need to be a bit of an international humanitarian law buff to enjoy this post, but it's an interesting engagement with the (ab)use of ambulances in conflicts with Iran as a case study.
Sugar as Modern Capitalism’s Original Sin
The World of Sugar shows the globalized tangle of interests that capitalism creates among consumers, producers, investors, labor, national governments, and transnational organizations. As Bosma writes, “every change for the better [for one of those constituencies] created new problems and contradictions” for the others. Sugar offers a bitter reminder of the enduring tensions between the complexity of national interests and the interests of capital.Bronwen Everill reviews a fascinating new book for Foreign Policy.
Aid profiles: Aleema Shivji’s lifelong campaign to fight exclusion
“The people most impacted by the challenges of inequality or poverty – they’re the ones who have the best solutions,” she said. “Our role is to support the solutions they’re identifying, on their terms, not coming in with our own pre-set strategy.”Jessica Alexander portraits Aleema Shivji, Oxfam’s newly appointed Chief Impact Officer, for the New Humanitarian.
This means a number of things for the organisation, but one of them is giving unrestricted funding to some local partners.
One of their partners used the funding to get an office because having their meetings in cafes meant that partners didn’t take them seriously. “Even paying rent – such a basic thing – helped raise the profile and the diversity of funding for this group,” she said. “They may not spend it on bright shiny stuff, but it’s foundational and enables them to continue their work.”
For Shivji, what solidarity comes down to is broader than that – a mindset shift that considers aid in a completely different way, building on the assets and skills affected people already possess: “They’re not sitting there waiting for us to help them.”
The weight of my passport and my place in global health
My experiences are not unique to me. Visa processes, as currently designed, are often opaque and illogical, with space for humiliation that often invoke anxiety, fear, and shame all at once – a feeling that unless you have gone through the process, is difficult to understand. Fear and anxiety often stemming from questions of how the current results may affect your future visa applications. Also, shame of not being good enough, especially if you are a first-time applicant unaware of the pervasive inequities. You also fear additional layers of challenges, such as being flagged as a security threat. This mixture of fear, shame, and anxiety stops many from speaking truth to power about visa processes or how these unfair restrictions affect lives – masking the widespread impact it has. Severe inequities in Global North concentrated global health governance, employment and representation will continue, with claims of allyship ringing empty, if we fail to reimagine ways of addressing visa and passport challenges for Global South citizens to conduct research and to be heard in global fora.Shashika Bandara for PLOS Speaking of Medicine and Health adds to the ongoing debate on the growing issue visa governmentality for citizens of the majority world.
What we were reading 5 years ago
"NGOs have tamed a generation of activists.— Equinox: Racial Justice Initiative (@Equinoxrji) May 22, 2023
They’ve given up grand visions of social change & mass recruitment in favor of writing grants & wooing foundations; ceded control of the movement to executives in boardrooms..." @incitenews
What is the "NGO-isation" of resistance? pic.twitter.com/hNacs8aNXM
(Link review 274, 16 March 2018)
The Office meets global politics: New sitcom on life inside the United Nations
I caught up with the creators of The Mission Marie-Marguerite Sabongui and Benedict Moran to learn more about their UN sitcom project.Me on a show that never saw the light of streaming reality...
We discussed how to communicate development and international politics issues differently in an age of new TV platforms, satirical commentary as edutainment and what could be the beginning of a global movement of creative talent taking on the absurdities of the aid industry.
UN official questions ethics of sexual misconduct victims in bizarre speech
Sidibé also appeared to criticise staff who have spoken to the media about concerns relating to the handling of the Loures investigation. “Some people don’t have ethics, and they don’t have [a] moral approach to respect this confidentiality,” he said, adding that he would not speculate on the case involving Loures.Rebecca Radcliffe for the Guardian with a wowzer of a speech (in the worst #AidToo meaning) from UNAIDS' director...
Last month, several UN staff members told the Guardian they had been approached at their desks and asked to sign a letter in support of the deputy director.
Two ideas to retire
Any words or phrases like “empower” or “capacity building” that can contain, assume, uphold, or cover up a giver/receiver dynamic and what have been severe and damaging power differentials in the international aid and philanthropy sector, are problematic for me as a Director of Communications.Jennifer Lentfer for How Matters on two words & ideas that are still very much alive in #globaldev...
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