Topic: Conflict and Security

The Civil Society Flashpoint: Why the global crackdown? What can be done about it?

This guest post comes from Thomas Carothers and Saskia Brechenmacher of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, drawing from their new report, Closing Space: Democracy and Human Rights Support Under Fire When the concept of civil society took the international aid community by storm in the 1990s, many aid providers reveled in the alluring idea […]

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How to fix fragile states? The OECD reckons it’s all down to tax systems.

‘Over-generous tax exemptions awarded to multinational enterprises often deprive fragile states of potential revenues that could be used to fund their most pressing needs.’ Another broadside from rent-a-mob? Nope, it’s the ultra respectable OECD in its Fragile States 2014 report. After years of growth, aid to fragile states started to fall in 2011, so the […]

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World Protests 2006-13: Where? How big? About what? Did they achieve anything?

Following on from last week’s food riots post, some wider context. The news is full of protests (Kiev, Caracas, Cairo), but to what extent is it really ‘all kicking off everywhere’ as Paul Mason claims? Just come across a pretty crude, but thought-provoking paper that tries to find out. For World Protests 2006-13, Isabel Ortiz, Sara […]

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Somaliland v Somalia: great new paper on an extraordinary ‘natural experiment’ in aid and governance

Could someone please clone Sarah Phillips? The University of Sydney political scientist has a great new Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) paper out on Somaliland, following her excellent paper a few years ago on Yemen. Political Settlements and State Formation: The Case of Somaliland may not sound like much of a page turner, but it is […]

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Why conflicts can also be opportunities for (positive) change for women

The November edition of Oxfam’s Gender and Development Journal focused on conflict and violence. Here one of the contributors, Julie Arostegui, a human rights and gender specialist, discusses Gender, conflict, and peace-building:  how conflict can catalyse positive change for women. In my years as a human rights and women’s rights advocate, I have witnessed the resilience of […]

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How to build accountability in fragile states? Some lessons (and 2 new jobs) from an innovative governance programme.

One of my favourite Oxfam programmes is called (rather arcanely) ‘Within and Without the State’. It is trying to build civil society and good governance in some pretty unpromising environments – Yemen, South Sudan, Afghanistan and OPTI (Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel). It’s currently advertising two new jobs (one on learning and communications, the other […]

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Can aid donors really ‘think and work politically’? Plus the dangers of ‘big man’ thinking, and the horrors of political science-speak

Spent an enjoyable  couple of days last week with the ‘thinking and working politically’ (TWP) crew, first at a follow up to the Delhi meeting (nothing earth shattering to report, but a research agenda is on the way – I’ll keep you posted), and then at a very moving memorial conference for the late Adrian […]

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Do fragile states evolve like forests? Insights from complexity thinking

Oxfam’s engagement with physics-trained complexity enthusiast Jean Boulton is starting to generate some really interesting ideas. Jean has been helping us think through our work in fragile states – the big challenge for a lot of aid organizations over the next few years. Just before Christmas, she came in to tell us where her thinking […]

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What’s happening with the world’s civil wars and how do they end?

Here’s an edited-down version of a brilliant overview of the state of civil wars around the world in this week’s Economist: Ending civil wars is hard. Hatreds within countries often run far deeper than between them. The fighting rarely sticks to battlefields, as it can do between states. Civilians are rarely spared. And there are […]

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Why on earth is Barclays (still) cutting the remittance lifeline to Somalia?

Oxfam’s tame ex-banker Will Martindale wonders what on earth Barclays is up to in cutting the remittance lifeline to Somalia “I can skype my mum, and see her, and watch her go hungry, fall ill. But they’re saying I can’t transfer money for food or to see a doctor. How can that be?” Istarlin lives […]

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Working in Fragile States, as seen from Australia and New Zealand

I’m currently nearing the end of my three weeks in Australia and New Zealand. These trips typically involve several meetings a day with government officials, politicians, NGOs and journalists. The to and fro produces a churn of topics and ideas, out of which emerge some themes, but you never know in advance which ones are […]

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This will make your day. Especially if you are a humanitarian with fantasies of being the subject of a rock anthem.

I really should be writing something more intelligent, but this video has destroyed any hope of that. Jan Egeland, a Norwegian Labour party politician, was the United Nations Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator from 2003-2006. He is currently Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council. But most importantly, he is the subject of this […]

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