Topic: Conflict and Security

Today’s grimfographic: how many people die a violent death, where and how?

From Action on Armed Violence using data from the Geneva Declaration’s Global Burden of Armed Violence report (whose link seems to be down at the moment). Key points to note: Only one in 8 violent deaths occur in the ‘conflict settings’ so beloved of news coverage. Most of the rest are ‘intentional homicides’ committed in […]

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The Act of Killing: the most astonishing, disturbing, original film I’ve seen in years

We interrupt this blog to urge you to go and see an extraordinary film about Indonesia’s aging executioners. Here’s an extract from an NPR review, the wikipedia synopsis and the trailer, which gives a sense of its unique combination of the ‘banality of evil‘ of the old men, and the surreal quality of their reenaction. […]

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Some good news (and lots of guidance) on tackling Violence Against Women

I’m just finalising the first draft of a paper on how states have empowered excluded groups of people (more on that to follow). It’s pretty wide-ranging, as you can imagine, but one of the most striking areas of my reading was on Violence Against Women – a critical barrier to empowerment in far too many […]

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The best thing I’ve read on Syria’s nightmare: Five conflicts in one; don’t send arms

Some excerpts from a great overview of the Syrian conflict in the London Review of Books by Patrick Cockburn. Read the whole piece if you can. It helped confirm for me that Oxfam’s right to oppose the EU’s ending of its arms embargo. Simon Jenkins’ polemic in the Guardian also helped. ‘That Assad’s government is […]

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Are illicit drugs a development issue and if so, what should we do about it?

I spent Wednesday morning taking drugs seriously. OK that’s the last of the lame do/take drug jokes. What I actually did was have a coffee with Danny Kushlick and Martin Powell of the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, and then attend a Christian Aid seminar on drugs and development. Both conversations addressed the same questions: are […]

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Why building ‘resilience’ matters, and needs to confront injustice and inequality

Debbie Hillier, Oxfam’s Humanitarian Policy Adviser (right), introduces ‘No Accident’, Oxfam’s new paper on resilience and inequality Asking 50 Oxfam staff what they think of resilience will get 50 different responses. These will range all the way from the Sceptics (“just the latest buzzword, keep your head down and it’ll go away”), to the Deniers (“really […]

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The state of Africa – report from a 23 country road trip (and I’m in South Africa for a couple of weeks)

I’m in South Africa this week, speaking at various events, including a panel on the developmental state and inequality at Wits in Johannesburg (Tuesday 12th), a book launch in Durban on Thursday 14th, a panel on active citizenship and food justice at the Sustainability Institute in Cape Town on Monday 18th and a lecture on […]

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Bad Governance leads to bad land deals – the link between politics and land grabs

Ricardo Fuentes-Nieva (right) and Marloes Nicholls (left) crunch the numbers to find that big land investments sniff out countries with ‘weak governance’ – aka no accountability, no regulation, no rule of law, and a green light for corruption. If you had bags full of money and wanted to buy land, where would you go for […]

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What have we learned about crisis/fragile states? Findings of a 5 year research programme.

Cards on the table, confronted with a closely argued 11 page exec sum, I am unlikely to then read the full report. But the short version of Meeting the Challenges of Crisis States, by James Putzel (LSE) and Jonathan Di John (SOAS), is a meal in itself. It summarizes 5 years of DFID-funded research by […]

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Arab Spring v Muslim Tigers: what’s the connection between human development and revolution?

Just before the Arab Spring kicked off in early 2011, I was happily linking to some really interesting work by Dani Rodrik (one of my development heroes) on ‘muslim tigers’, pointing out that in terms of human development, the top 10 performers since 1970 were not the usual suspects (East Asia, Nordics) but Muslim countries […]

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‘Resource Futures’: good new report on how to confront resource scarcity and conflict

Looks like this is going to be crystal ball week on the blog – must be the time of year. Just read Resource Futures from Chatham House (inventors of the ubiquitous Chatham House Rule). The analysis is pretty good, but it really raises the bar on communication, with great interactive infographics and killer facts. Advocacy […]

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Global Trends 2030: top report from US intelligence

My inbox regularly receives the latest ‘global trends 20XX’ reports from thinktanks and futurologists, and a lot of them are pretty bland, and the scenarios they describe threadbare and unconvincing. The new ‘Global Trends 2030’ report from the US National Intelligence Council shares the usual flaws on its scenarios, and is understandably US-centric (the NIC […]

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