Signing off with some Inspiration for Christmas and a big 2009

admin - December 22, 2008

I’m taking a two week break from the blog over Christmas, (should be long enough to get over any withdrawal symptoms). This blog was originally designed to help launch From Poverty to Power. That is largely done now – the book is in its 4th printing and doing fine, the Spanish edition is out, with Italian and Portuguese versions due out next year. But I’ll …

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Reasons to be Cheerful: progress on international justice, arms control, economic and social rights and democracy in Africa

admin - December 17, 2008

After Monday’s fairly depressing post, I thought I’d add some good news, from an unlikely source. Perhaps because it can break free from its heavy ideological baggage of laissez faire, the further the Economist strays from economics, the better it gets. This week’s issue has some really nuanced reporting on the impact of the International Criminal Court (ICC), on the cluster bomb treaty, and some …

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How Change Happens: a framework, some case studies, and some reading

admin - December 16, 2008

Why are ‘change studies’ not a recognized academic discipline? Politicians, social movements and NGOs think about little else, and portray themselves as ‘change agents’, but the intellectual basis for thinking about political and social change seems particularly arbitrary and threadbare. In discussions on this issue at various book launches and seminars, a few people have asked for references, so here goes:

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3 crystal ball overviews on global security – not looking good

admin - December 15, 2008

The futurologists (from NIC, ippr, and DCDC) have been busy, with varying degrees of success. The US Government’s National Intelligence Council has a good report out, ‘Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World.’  Media coverage has focussed on its predictions of US decline and the ‘rise of the East’, but it’s much richer than that. Here are a few examples from the two page summary table of …

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A definitive overview of education in the developing world

admin - December 12, 2008

My predecessor at Oxfam, Kevin Watkins, went off into the labyrinth of the UN system where he has produced a series of monumental reports. At UNDP he led (i.e. wrote) a series of landmark Human Development Reports on International Cooperation, Water and Sanitation and Climate Change. From there it was off to UNESCO where his latest tome, the Education For All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report …

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Cuba beats USA again, this time on child welfare

admin - December 10, 2008

I’m no apologist for the Cuban government, but it’s noteworthy that despite its much lower GDP per capita, Cuba keeps beating much richer countries in social and environmental league tables drawn up by some highly respectable NGOs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Oxfam America contrasted the carnage in New Orleans with Cuba’s extraordinarily effective disaster response. Then the Worldwide Fund for Nature’s 2006 Living …

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Why my wife is half-right on the Tobin Tax

admin - December 9, 2008

I’ve always been a bit of a Tobin Tax sceptic, which made for interesting domestic dynamics when my wife Cathy was director of War on Want, one of the main TT advocates in the UK (she’s since moved on to become a psychotherapist – I say it’s a natural progression from NGOs; she doesn’t think that’s funny). Now, however, even Dani Rodrik is weighing in …

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Wales in the World: what can a small country do on climate change, trade etc?

admin - December 5, 2008

I’ve just got back from promoting the book in Wales – the universities in Aberystwyth and Swansea, followed by a launch at the National Assembly of Wales. Since the Assembly was established in 1999, it seems to have galvanized a sense of nationhood – Welsh is much more widely spoken these days and more schools are teaching it – and that has also tapped into …

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