Latest Developments, April 3

In the latest news and analysis…

Aid and inequality
New data suggest aid actually increases the gap between rich and poor in recipient countries, according to Helmut Schmidt University’s Dierk Herzer and the Kiel Institute’s Peter Nunnenkamp.
“All in all, there is little reason for being optimistic and expecting foreign aid to be effective in alleviating poverty in recipient countries even if it had no discernible average growth effects. Calls on donors to strengthen the conditionality of aid, focus on countries with less corruption and better governance, and prevent leakage by stricter monitoring and closer involvement of the poor in aid delivery are insufficient even if such measures help restrict local rent-seeking. Better accountability is also required on the part of donors. Aid agencies tend to ignore their own incentive problems which prevent aid from reducing inequality. Public outrage in the North about corruption in the South abstracts from the selfish aid motives that lead donors to favour rich local elites. Overcoming the gap between the donors’ rhetoric on pro-poor growth and inequality-increasing aid allocation is no easier than overcoming rent-seeking and leakage in the recipient countries.”

Beyond aid
War on Want’s John Hilary argues it is time to “move beyond aid in any discussion of social and economic justice” and calls for a “radical reorientation” of the global economy towards a system that is not stacked in favour of rich countries.
“Sadly, the millennium development goals agreed in 2000 drew attention away from this pressing agenda. By focusing on the symptoms of human poverty rather than its underlying determinants, the goals have arguably diverted attention from the real business of development. Reclaiming that agenda will be a key part of moving the debate forward beyond 2015.
But perhaps the greatest problem with aid is that it perpetuates the colonial myth that the countries of the global south require ‘our’ intervention to save them from themselves.”

Provoking piracy
The Guardian quotes a Senegalese fisherman who suggests overfishing by foreign boats off Senegal’s coast will lead to violence if left unchecked.
“The catches are already down 75% on 10 years ago because of the foreign fishing boats. They destroy our gear. If this goes on there will be a catastrophe. Until now we haven’t taken any direct action against the foreign fishermen. Once we took the captain from one of the vessels and we beat him around the balls.
For sure, in 10 years time people will go fishing with guns. They are desperate. When people had enough to eat and drink, Senegal was a calm country. As the situation becomes more difficult it will become more and more like Somalia. We will fight for fish at sea. If we cannot eat, what do you expect us to do?”

New paradigm
The UN News Centre reports that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said a new economic model is necessary in order for sustainable development to become possible.
“ ‘Gross National Product (GDP) has long been the yardstick by which economies and politicians have been measured. Yet it fails to take into account the social and environmental costs of so-called progress,’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his remarks at a high-level meeting at UN Headquarters in New York.

‘We need a new economic paradigm that recognizes the parity between the three pillars of sustainable development. Social, economic and environmental well-being are indivisible. Together they define gross global happiness,’ the Secretary-General told the meeting’s participants.”

 

Affirmative action ban
The Associated Press reports that a US federal court has upheld California’s ban on university admission policies that take race, ethnicity or gender into consideration.
“At least six states have adopted bans on using affirmative action in state college admissions. Besides California and Michigan, they include Arizona, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Washington.
Advocates of affirmative action say such bans lead to the exclusion of minority students and less campus diversity.
In California, the year after ban was adopted, the number of black, Latino and Native American students at the University of California’s most prestigious campuses — Berkeley and Los Angeles — plummeted by 50 percent, according to the plaintiffs cited in the court opinion.”

Happy science
Columbia University’s Earth Institute has released the first edition of the World Happiness Report, in which it explains the “new science of happiness.”
“Over time as living standards have risen, happiness has increased in some countries, but not in others (like for example, the United States). On average, the world has become a little happier in the last 30 years (by 0.14 times the standard deviation of happiness around the world).”

EU transparency
The Tanzania Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative’s Bishop Stephen Munga argues that the EITI is useful but limited.
“It provides information at a national level, but does not enable communities to know how much wealth was generated in their locality and should therefore be returned to them. It is also voluntary. Governments decide whether to sign up. Only 35 have done so, leaving dozens of resource-rich countries with no publically available information.
This is why we need robust EU legislation revealing information at project level and published in all countries where EU companies work. Information must be relevant to local communities and attributed to the projects in their area. If not, legislation will simply not achieve its intended aim.”

Food racism
Le Monde reports on the debate in Austria over attempts to change traditional food names that “perpetuate racial prejudice.”
“The rightwing press was quick to jump on the story. Would it be necessary to change ‘Moor in a shirt’ to ‘Othello,’ asked the Kronen Zeitung tabloid, always eager to ridicule political correctness, while a commentator with the daily Die Presse slammed the ‘paternalistic lobby’ and the ‘professional indignants.’

‘Words are a key part of collective identity,’ counters SOS-Mitmensch’s Alexander Pollack. ‘And Austrians proved that by insisting, when they joined the EU, on keeping their own food names, notably for vegetables. If potatoes [erdäpfel in Austria, kartoffel in Germany] are taken so seriously here, the fight for human dignity and respect for others must be too.’” (Translated from the French.)

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