Once every 20 years the UN focuses on cities, but the wrong people will be there

Duncan Green - September 28, 2016

Urbanization guru David Satterthwaite raises the curtain on next month’s big Habitat III conference.   Surprising though it may seem, I once got mistaken for the mayor of London. I was at a conference for mayors in Latin America and not realising the mistake, for half a day I had all the most prominent mayors greeting me like a brother and asking my advice. It …

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Some cautionary thoughts on this week’s SDGs summit

Duncan Green - September 22, 2015

The crescendo of discussion and debate over the successor to the Millennium Development Goals reaches its climax this weekend in New York, with the Sustainable Development Summit. The Guardian has a good scene setter. I’ve ploughed a contrarian furrow on the SDGs so far, so why stop now? Here are some things you might want to keep in mind over the next few days, with …

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The highs and lows of peacekeeping in South Sudan

Duncan Green - October 7, 2014

Oxfam’s head of humanitarian policy and campaigns, Maya Mailer (@MayaMailer), just back from South Sudan, reflects on some major progress in UN peacekeeping, with mountains still to climb. ‘Even if an attack was happening right outside our base and we could see it, we would close the doors. Our job isn’t protecting civilians but monitoring the peace agreement’. This is what a UN peacekeeper told …

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How did a global campaign bring about a UN Arms Trade Treaty?

Duncan Green - August 6, 2014

The last (but most definitely not least) of the case studies in active citizenship that I have been blogging about over the last couple of months is the inspiring global campaign that led to the agreement (and impending ratification) of a UN Arms Trade Treaty. It is co-authored with Anna Macdonald, one of the key activists in the campaign. Full case study is here – …

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A seismic shift in improving the behaviour of large companies? Guest post from Phil Bloomer

Duncan Green - July 17, 2014

My former boss, Phil Bloomer is now running the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (check out its smart new multilingual website). Here he sees some signs of hope that the debate on corporate responsibility is moving beyond trench warfare over voluntary v regulatory approaches. Fingers crossed. ‘Mind the gap’ is a refrain that any visitor to London’s Underground trains will have had drilled into their …

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Impressive progress in guaranteeing the right to food in poor countries (Olivier de Schutter’s final big report to the UNGA)

admin - October 28, 2013

UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts, appointed (but not paid, I think) by the UN to beaver away to raise important issues such as disability, indigenous peoples, or torture. They include some bright stars – important thought leaders on the international development stage such as Magdalena Sepulveda, UNSR on extreme poverty and human rights. But the star that has shone brightest, at least in my …

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Some Monday Morning Inspiration: Malala Yousafzai at the UN

admin - July 15, 2013

Moving and astonishingly confident speech at the UN last week by Malala Yousafzai on the UN-declared ‘Malala Day‘ (12 July – her birthday). Think we’ll be hearing a lot more from her – a future president? Here’s the film my sister-in-law Mary Matheson made for Plan International to celebrate Malala’s birthday (which got shown at the UN event) And ‘I am Malala’, a rather wonderful rap …

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Crises in a new world order: challenging the humanitarian project

admin - February 7, 2012

Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on this kind of thing, introduces a big rethink of Oxfam’s humanitarian work When it comes to humanitarian crises, Oxfam specializes in the appropriate acronym of ‘WASH’.In 2011, hundreds of Oxfam staff delivered water and sanitation and other relief to millions of people afflicted by drought, floods or earthquakes. But in much of the world, a growing proportion of our …

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