Topic: Politics

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 […]

Read More »

Some things governments can do to support development even without spending more money

Before any general election, anyone involved in advocacy indulges in ‘what would my dream manifesto look like?’ fantasies. (And then usually goes off to lobby the political parties and be told why their ideas are silly). 2010 is no exception, with the impending (probably 6 May) UK general election followed by decisive moments this year on […]

Read More »

Haiti Reconstruction: Two cheers (and one big boo) for Paul Collier’s plan

Oxford economics professor Paul Collier is the policy entrepreneur’s policy entrepreneur. The man who coined the phrase ‘bottom billion’ has an unparalleled ability to reach decision makers with cogent, timely and well written arguments. Paul has a long-standing connection with Haiti – he was previously Ban Ki-Moon’s special adviser on the country, (read his January […]

Read More »

How to turn knowledge into policy (without losing your job)

Together with Martin Walsh, our team’s research methods adviser, I’ve been browsing through some of the literature on how to ensure our work has impact…… After a year in which Britain’s top drugs adviser, Professor David Nutt, was sacked by the Home Secretary (interior minister) for overstepping the line between providing advice and advocating specific […]

Read More »

Reconstruction in Haiti, what do we know from previous disasters?

The Haiti operation is moving rapidly from rescue to reconstruction . What major challenges can we expect to emerge? What sort of policies have delivered results after previous earthquakes? One of the best sources on this is Responding to Earthquakes 2008: Learning from earthquake relief and recovery operations, by the ALNAP network.  Here are some […]

Read More »

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 […]

Read More »

Do loose networks like the G20 strengthen or weaken developing country voice?

Networks are (yet) another development buzzword, contrasting with markets and hierarchies. They are proliferating in the international arena, as well as in academic literature – how many ‘Gs’ can you name apart from the G20 and the G8? What’s the difference? According to ‘Networks of Influence? Developing countries in a Networked Global Order‘, edited by […]

Read More »

How can tax reform build effective states?

Taxation is one of those issues that usually causes the eyes of development types to glaze over. At best it’s relegated to the ‘important but braindeath’ category. When we do talk about tax, it’s often just as a way to raise money for schools and hospitals (if aid isn’t enough to do the job, that […]

Read More »

What's on the Copenhagen table part 2: developing countries

As ministers and heads of state start to fly in, and Copenhagen (hopefully) gets serious,  here’s the companion to my previous post, summarizing key developing country positions in the negotiations. Let me know if there are any mistakes/additions and I’ll pass them on. [sorry for two blogs in one day, but this week is a […]

Read More »

Copenhagen: What have Developed Countries put on the table so far?

Here’s a handy guide from our Copenhagen team to all the offers currently on the table from developed countries (I’m now off to do a companion post on developing country positions). Do let me know if there are any mistakes/additions and I’ll pass them on. European Union Emission Reductions At last week’s EU summit, leaders […]

Read More »

Seattle + 10 = Copenhagen?

I went out for a celebratory (if that’s the word) drink this week with a heroic band of Seattle Survivors. Ten years ago we were besuited NGO delegates at the notorious WTO ministerial, which collapsed in a welter of tear gas and turtles (or at least people dressed in turtle suits protesting at WTO rulings […]

Read More »

Should aid support patronage politics?

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 […]

Read More »