R2P RIP? Painful reflections on a decade of ‘Responsibility to Protect’

September 11, 2014
Ed Cairns, Oxfam’s senior policy adviser on humanitarian advocacy, bares his soul on whether R2P has a future, or is best consigned to the dustbin of history Nine years ago this month, the UN World Summit endorsed the Responsibility to Protect. But this summer’s bloodshed in Gaza was only the latest conflict to provoke a heated debate on whether the concept

How to write about development without being simplistic, patronising, obscure or stereotyping

September 10, 2014
It’s all very well writing for wonks, but what about the poor comms people who have to make all those clever ideas about nuance, context, complexity etc etc accessible to people who don’t spend all day thinking about this stuff? Oxfam America’s Jennifer Lentfer has a good piece on this on her ‘How Matters’ blog, discussing her work with a

Can donors support civil society activism without destroying it? Some great evidence from Nigeria

September 9, 2014
The Thinking and Working Politically crew are reassembling next week to discuss how better to apply power analysis, political economy etc in the practice of aid, so I thought I’d highlight a couple of good examples in advance. First up is some really exciting work from DFID’s State Accountability and Voice Initiative in Nigeria, which suggests that even big donors

What are the strengths and weaknesses of a human rights approach to development?

September 5, 2014
Confession time, with a dash of heresy. I have mixed feelings (and a fair amount of confusion) about the whole ‘rights based approach’ to development. First, it has a lot going for it. The human rights framework is: precise: it sets out clearly who has obligations and duties and who has not, and what those obligations and duties are. practical:

Amartya Sen on dangers of climate change ‘obsession’ and nuclear power and need for a new ethics of environmentalism

September 4, 2014
Amartya Sen has an important piece out in the New Republic magazine, on the links between environment and development. It’s quite long, so I thought I’d offer my precis service. He argues that the attention to climate change is disproportionate, not because we should think less about it, but because we should worry a lot more about other environmental issues,

‘Beyond our two minutes’: which international bodies are good/bad at consulting civil society organizations?

September 3, 2014
Ah yes, death by consultation, the fate that awaits all NGO policy wonks. The international civil society alliance CIVICUS has published ‘Beyond Our Two Minutes’, a useful new report trying to assess the efforts of intergovernmental organizations (UN, World Bank etc) to engage with civil society. It’s a pilot project, developing a scorecard to test IGO engagement and produce a

Are progressive cities the key to solving our toughest global challenges?

September 2, 2014
Hugh Cole, who supports Oxfam’s country teams in influencing at national level, wonders if we’ve missed a trick by focusing too much on nation states Given the growing size, number and importance of big cities and their often unique politics, should Oxfam be doing more to work with/on progressive cities to make progress on big global challenges where the global or national