Headlines

Cost-benefit analysis

March 2017 Newsletter

Finding kindness in cruelty

Duncan Green on the global citizenship index

Mutually assured restoration

UN to monitor Syrian “synonym for hell”

Free Expression, Free People

Even in Era of Disillusionment, Many Around the World Say Ordinary Citizens Can Influence Government

Post-war Political Settlements: From Participatory Transition Processes to Inclusive State-building and Governance

Cost-benefit analysis

The costs of not participating in the Paris Agreement are more than just environmental, according to the Brookings Institute.

“In terms of returns on investment, climate finance is ridiculously cheap for what America gets for it: goodwill and cooperation, less warming, clean and resilient growth, and, importantly, fewer refugees.”

March 2017 Newsletter

Featured Story

Cost-benefit analysis

The costs of not participating in the Paris Agreement are more than just environmental, according to the Brookings Institute.

“In terms of returns on investment, climate finance is ridiculously cheap for what America gets for it: goodwill and cooperation, less warming, clean and resilient growth, and, importantly, fewer refugees.”
Global Peace & Justice

Finding kindness in cruelty

To make progress against the greater evils in the world, individuals need to connect on a personal level, argues American ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers.

Russian, Syrian forces both guilty

A UN investigation has created a confidential list of suspected war criminals to share with a new body in Geneva.

Human Rights

Populism fueling intolerance

Antonio Guterres asked the Human Rights Council to “be part of the cure” for what he called the spreading disease of “disregard for human rights” during his first address of the council as UN chief.

Gender Equity

“The biggest robbery in history”

At the latest meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women, the UN and International Labor Organization teamed up with celebrities and activists to create the Equal Pay Platform of Champions.

Does it really take a village?

Decreased stigma and increased economic status for women have been contributing factors in the rising rate of out-of-wedlock births.

“Violent extremism, human rights violations, xenophobia” endanger women

The UN Secretary General described global threats to women’s rights in an apparent reaction to Trump administration anti-refugee travel bans and recent decriminalization of domestic violence in Russia.

Environment & Sustainable Development

A planet in hot water

A new method in ocean temperature measurements means scientists can now show that the speed of upper ocean warming quadrupled between 1960-1991 and 1992-2015.

Dirty air, water, kill 1.7 children annually

The World Health organization estimates that 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 are caused by environmental pollutants.
Global Governance & Connectivity

“U.S. losses from TPP are everyone else’s gains”

With the U.S. pulling out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, countries are swooping in to take advantage of reduced tariffs.

The magic (or maybe not) of the internet

Tech moguls are eager to point to internet access as the quick fix to international development. But is connectivity really the way to growth?

Finding kindness in cruelty

To make progress against the greater evils in the world, individuals need to connect on a personal level, argues American ambassador to the UN Samantha Powers.

Duncan Green on the global citizenship index

NOTE: This opinion piece has been republished from its original post on Medium.

Written by Duncan Green.

How are different governments performing as global citizens? Time for a new index!

Apologies. I get given stuff at meetings, it goes into the reading pile, and often takes months to resurface. So I have

just read (and liked) a Country Global Citizenship Report Card handed to me in New York in December. It’s put together by the Global Citizens Initiative, run by Ron Israel.

Time to assuage my guilt.

The ‘citizens’ in question are actually 53 governments, and the report assesses them against their signature, ratification and particularly implementation of 35 international agreements, conventions and treaties. These fall into 6 domains: human rights, gender equity, environment, poverty reduction, governance and global peace and justice. The implementation part is the trickiest, and the initiative seems to pull together a range of multilateral and academic scorecards for the various issues, eg environmental stewardship includes:

‘Reduce Pressure on Earth’s Resources

  • Ecological Footprint — Global Footprint Network
  • Ecological Reserve/Deficit — Global Footprint Network
  • Energy Use per $1,000 GDP — World Bank
  • Forests score — Yale University’s 2014 Environmental Performance Index

Reduce Air Pollution

  • Ambient (Outdoor) Air Pollution (PM2.5 ug/m3) — World Health Organization
  • Air Quality score — Yale University’s 2014 Environmental Performance Index
  • CO2 Emissions (metric tons per capita) — World Bank’

And so on — 116 indicators in all. Here’s the overall country ranking — not many surprises, with the Scandinavians top of the heap, as usual, and Iran, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan at the bottom.

Some other findings jumped out:

The highest scoring domain by far is Gender Equity, with 26 countries signing all six selected international commitments, although implementation is much more patchy

‘Ratifying international treaties and conventions does not necessarily lead to measurable progress in those particular areas’. Argentina was the only country to ratify all 35 international commitments, yet came in 19th on implementation.

The report rather bravely sets out its theory of change (see diagram below) which begs a lot of questions — what assumptions lie behind the arrows? What else is required for publishing the card to galvanize all this advocacy? E.g. buy-in from powerful players, crises and scandals which open up decision makers to new ideas, grassroots movements to push for the same issues (see Htun and Weldon on violence against women)?

Which took me back to the Sustainable Development Goals. What is the SDGs’ theory of change? Is it any more sophisticated than this? I suspect not. In fact, it may not even be as good — for example merely assuming that government commitments + measurement will trigger some kind of change. So are we going to see a comparable SDG scorecard that ranks countries, shames foot-draggers and gives civil society something to shout about? Can we build on some of the interesting research out there about which international instruments get traction on national governments and why?

Because of its apparent lack of a coherent theory of change, I more or less gave up on the SDGs long ago, but would be happy to be proved wrong — what do the SDG watchers among you think? Are they generating traction on national decisions and if so, how and where? Is there a brilliant SDG theory of change that I am just not aware of?

Anyone know of other global scorecards on rights commitments and implementation?

Even in Era of Disillusionment, Many Around the World Say Ordinary Citizens Can Influence Government

A new survey of nine democracies found that there is now a common perception that government is run for the benefit of the few. In spite of this negative outlook, the majority of citizens in eight of the nine countries say ordinary people can have a lot of influence on government. Read more from the Pew Research Center

Post-war Political Settlements: From Participatory Transition Processes to Inclusive State-building and Governance

The realization that the social, economic or political exclusion of large segments of society is a key driver of intra-state wars has many to search for the right formula to support inclusive and participatory conflict transformation mechanisms and post-war state-society relations. This report examines the consequences of inclusive processes and outcomes in peace processes and political transitions. Read more from Reliefweb