Topic: Conflict and Security

What to make of the leaked US development strategy?

First the plug: I’m in the US at the moment (for quite a long time, if the ash cloud has anything to do it) and will be speaking at Oxfam America in Washington DC on Tuesday at 12 noon (1100 15th St NW, 6th floor). Subject: the UK elections and development policy. Co-speaker Jim Kolbe […]

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Final Thoughts on Vietnam and the American War

As you’ll probably have realized by now, I spent last week in Vietnam, managing to take in everything from debating industrial policy with the IMF in the Hanoi Hilton to discussing survival strategies with lottery ticket sellers in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City (working for an NGO can be amazing sometimes). Everywhere you […]

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How can the international system cope better with crises? Good new paper

Alex Evans of Global Dashboard is always interesting on risk and global institutions. His latest paper, with Bruce Jones and David Steven takes such a long view that it feels pretty cosmic. But here’s my attempt at a summary/highlights of ‘Confronting the Long Crisis of Globalization: Risk, Resilience and international Order’ (far too many syllables […]

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Why militarizing aid in Afghanistan is a bad idea

Along with several other international NGOs working in Afghanistan, Oxfam last week published a powerful paper on the damage being caused by the militarization of aid. In many ways it resembles the debate on how to ensure that Haitian reconstruction builds, rather than undermines, its battered state. In the last half hour, one Afghan woman […]

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Why is humanitarian work so hard in cities?

By chance, the day before the Haiti earthquake, we were having a discussion at Oxfam about why, when it comes to feeding programmes, disaster relief etc urban work tends to be both harder and less attractive to NGOs than doing equivalent things in rural settings. This reflected an increasing conviction that we need to do […]

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Eight introductory powerpoints on development – please plunder

I recently gave a two week introduction to development (undergrad level) at the University of Notre Dame, consisting of eight 45 minute lectures – here are the powerpoints for anyone wanting to nick them. Each lecture includes a brief illustrative video clip of campaigns, social movements etc. Subjects covered are: Risk and Vulnerability; The Global […]

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Cleaning up Dirty Elections – what works?

The Centre for the Study of African Economies in Oxford (home to Paul Collier, among others) is putting out some fascinating two pagers on its work, including two recent papers on ‘dirty elections’. In ‘Cleaning up Dirty Elections’ Paul Collier and Anke Hoeffler go to work  on a new data set spanning nearly 30 years […]

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Failed States Index 2009, with interactive map

Foreign Policy magazine has teamed up again with the Washington DC-based ‘Fund for Peace’ thinktank to produce an interactive map of state fragility, to illustrate their Failed States Index 2009, covering 177 countries. Most fragile are Somalia, followed by Zimbabwe, Chad, Sudan and DRC. Most stable are (inevitably) the Scandinavians – Norway, followed by Finland […]

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Paul Collier on post conflict reconstruction, independent service authorities, how to manage natural resources and the hidden logic of the G20 London Summit

Paul came to give a talk to Oxfam’s big cheeses last week based on his new book War Guns and Votes (see my review here) and they invited me along. Here are some highlights: Post Conflict Reconstruction: The conventional sequence is ‘build the politics first, then the economics will follow’. Collier thinks the order should be […]

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War, Guns and Votes: what to make of Paul Collier’s latest book?

War, Guns and Votes builds on the strongest section of Collier’s best selling ‘Bottom Billion’ – his investigation of the ‘conflict trap’ that afflicts a disproportionate number of the poorest counties, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (Collier’s real passion). The book is in equal measure hugely stimulating and deeply exasperating. Stimulating because he is an original […]

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Natural disasters will hurt 50% more people by 2015. Why? Climate Change + Inequality

There has been some striking progress in reducing the death toll from natural disasters in recent decades. While Cyclone Sidr killed around 3,000 people in Bangladesh in 2007, similar or weaker storms killed 100 times that number in 1972 and 45 times more people in 1991, largely because governments and local communities have since taken […]

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Is the world running out of water?

Excellent overview of water scarcity in last week’s Economist. Here are a few highlights ‘The overthrow of Madagascar’s president in mid-March was partly caused by water problems—in South Korea. Worried by the difficulties of increasing food supplies in its water-stressed homeland, Daewoo, a South Korean conglomerate, signed a deal to lease no less than half […]

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