International development post-2015

The UN High Level Panel (HLP) on the Post-2015 Development Agenda has  reported. Compared to the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) the big change is that peace and good governance have been brought in front and centre where they belong. The HLP’s report is far from the last word in a continuing debate on international development but it marks an important moment and has a lot – though not everything – to offer. Continue reading

Positive News about the State of the World in 2013

Anybody can be forgiven for feeling these are gloomy times. National economies are largely sluggish, abysmal at worst. Political leaders can’t fix a range of problems from the Euro to carbon emissions. From Mali via Syria to the Korean peninsula, peace in the world seems at risk. So it’s important to find the positive news. Continue reading

Peace in Mali needs more than more troops

The situation in Mali is quietly dropping out of the headlines. But last week Ban Ki-moon called for 11,000 peacekeeping troops, possibly backed by combat forces so it’s a good time to be thinking about what the peacebuilding needs are in Mali. The French intervention seems to have been driven by a very short-term view (or perhaps just by the hope for a quick result), based on seeing the problem in terms of terrorism and therefore concentrating on hard security measures. This seems to be backed by a superficial analysis of Mali’s political economy focusing on the north rather than on the whole country and how power is organised, and on the Tuaregs rather than all the different ethnic groups. International Alert has published a briefing paper that goes into the background and explores what is needed for peacebuilding. I have drawn on it for a shorter piece in the Huffington Post

The state of the world’s states

The state is the organising principle of national and international politics and states are the subject of abundant historical research, academic theory and contemporary analysis.  That perhaps makes it a little strange to say that both the state as a category and states in general tend to be taken for granted. But that’s how it is – and it’s a problem. Continue reading

The state of the world

Today is publication day for the new edition of The State of the World Atlas. It presents information about the world – economics, politics, conflict, health, environment and demography – in a variety of forms, primarily in maps and other visuals, also in text. If you will excuse me, I want to introduce it to you. Continue reading

DRC’s deadlock – new dangers, new beginnings

Democratic Republic of Congo: In Kinshasa , the summit meeting of La Francophonie replete with heads of state, resounding speeches and ringing declarations; in the east, 2 million displaced people and rising tension as the M-23 rebels sit just 15 kilometres from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, held back only by an uncertain ceasefire; on TV, repeated statements that this is the 187/8/9th day of aggression by Rwanda.

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Development aid debate – today and post-2015

Further to my 24 September post on the re-emerging debate in Britain about foreign aid, I neglected a major reason why the government’s commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of GDP on development assistance isn’t changing: Prime Minister David Cameron is co-chair of the UN High Level Panel on the future of development. No surprise, then, that he confirmed the 0.7 per cent commitment straight after the panel’s first meeting. Continue reading

The UN Peacebuilding Fund – four years on

The decision to set up the UN Peacebuilding Commission, Peacebuilding Support Office and Peacebuilding Fund was taken in September 2005 and bit by bit the new architecture was ready for business in 2006 and into 2007. I have just finished four years on the Fund’s independent Advisory Group, the last two as its chair, so here are my reflections. Continue reading