Why those promoting growth need to take politics seriously, and vice versa

Duncan Green - October 14, 2015

Nicholas Waddell, a DFID Governance Adviser working on ‘Governance for Economic Development’ (G4ED) explores the links between governance and economic growth.  Should I play it safe and join a governance team or risk being a lone voice in a sea of economists and private sector staff? This was my dilemma as a DFID Governance Adviser returning to the UK after a stint in East Africa. …

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The C Word: How should the aid business think and act about Corruption?

Duncan Green - July 1, 2015

Went to a seminar on corruption and development on Monday – notable in itself as corruption is something of a taboo topic in aid circles. Aid supporters often cite framing – George Lakoff’s ‘Don’t Think of an Elephant’ or Richard Nixon’s ‘I am not a crook’ (below)- as justification for avoiding the topic; even if you raise it to dismiss it, the connection between aid …

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Reforming FIFA: what can we learn from experience with (other) corrupt autocrats?

Duncan Green - June 11, 2015

This guestie comes from Birmingham University’s Paul Jackson and Heather Marquette Acres (how many football pitches-worth, we wonder) have been written about the footballing earthquake that followed the arrest of several FIFA officials and the melodramatic end of Sepp Blatter’s reign. But here’s another angle. In the world of development politics there are striking parallels between Blatter’s leadership of FIFA since 1998 and the modus operandi …

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What’s at stake in the South African and Malawi elections this month?

Duncan Green - May 6, 2014

Max Lawson, Oxfam’s Head of Advocacy and Public Policy, reflects on impending elections in South Africa and Malawi Malawi and South Africa’s election cycle is identical.  Both had their first democratic multi-party elections 20 years ago this month.  Who can forget the incredible photos of black people queuing from before dawn across South Africa to exercise their right to vote for the first time. Malawi’s …

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Cambodia = Singapore or Myanmar? What does the future hold for a people still recovering from the Khmer Rouge?

admin - November 10, 2011

History is a savage and constant presence in Cambodia, where I spent a few days last week. The Choeung Ek Genocidal Centre is the country’s top tourist attraction, with its ornate stupa enshrining ten floors of skulls excavated from the killing fields of the Khmer Rouge (see pic). And the history is strikingly recent. In the late 1970s, as I was moping around as a …

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Are the middle classes the new revolutionaries in India and China?

admin - September 6, 2011

“The new middle classes rise up: Marx’s revolutionary bourgeoisie finds its voice again”. That’s the title of a nice piece in this week’s Economist trying to identify a common thread in protest movements in India (Anna Hazare), China (the recent high speed rail debacle), Brazil (a spate of corruption-driven ministerial sackings) and, more tentatively, the initial Arab Spring movements (jobless growth + university education). Its …

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Why the Today Programme leads to premature ageing

admin - March 12, 2010

I feel terrible today, all thanks to the Today programme. For non-UK readers, it’s the flagship drivetime radio news show – the one that politicians and chattering classes listen to as they scan the newspapers and munch on their cornflakes. I was on this morning, talking about aid and corruption. What you heard on the radio (should you have been listening) was a relatively coherent …

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Should aid support patronage politics?

admin - December 2, 2009

In this month’s Prospect, Alex de Waal wrestles with the problems posed by state-building in countries where patronage trumps politics. This kind of ‘what do we do about fragile states’ discussion is one of the most intractable issues in development, so don’t expect simple solutions, but Alex (who is one of the most original thinkers on this kind of thing) seems to be arguing for …

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Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries now around $1 trillion a year

admin - January 14, 2009

According to a new paper from the Global Financial Integrity watchdog. The paper defines illicit financial flows as ‘the proceeds from both illicit activities such as corruption (bribery and embezzlement of national wealth), criminal activity, and the proceeds of licit business that become illicit when transported across borders in contravention of applicable laws and regulatory frameworks (most commonly in order to evade payment of taxes).’

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Does Grassroots Activism Work? Two new collections of case studies

admin - December 4, 2008

NGOs talk a lot about empowerment, voice, agency, grassroots mobilisation etc but it sometimes sounds a little woolly and you can’t help wondering if it actually amounts to much more than talk. Still those doubts. Two new collections of case studies, from the Institute of Development Studies and Oxfam, provide a gold mine of real life examples.

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