How to decode a UN Report on Global Finance (and find an important disagreement with the World Bank on private v public)

May 15, 2018
A giant coalition of UN-affiliated aid organizations (3 pages of logos!) recently published Financing for Development: Progress and Prospects 2018. These big tent reports are a nightmare to write, and not much easier to read. Anything contentious is fought over by the participants, and the result tends to be pretty bland. I’m not sure how many people read them, tbh.

Once every 20 years the UN focuses on cities, but the wrong people will be there

September 28, 2016
Urbanization guru David Satterthwaite raises the curtain on next month’s big Habitat III conference.   Surprising though it may seem, I once got mistaken for the mayor of London. I was at a conference for mayors in Latin America and not realising the mistake, for half a day I had all the most prominent mayors greeting me like a brother

Some cautionary thoughts on this week’s SDGs summit

September 22, 2015
The crescendo of discussion and debate over the successor to the Millennium Development Goals reaches its climax this weekend in New York, with the Sustainable Development Summit. The Guardian has a good scene setter. I’ve ploughed a contrarian furrow on the SDGs so far, so why stop now? Here are some things you might want to keep in mind over

The highs and lows of peacekeeping in South Sudan

October 7, 2014
Oxfam’s head of humanitarian policy and campaigns, Maya Mailer (@MayaMailer), just back from South Sudan, reflects on some major progress in UN peacekeeping, with mountains still to climb. ‘Even if an attack was happening right outside our base and we could see it, we would close the doors. Our job isn’t protecting civilians but monitoring the peace agreement’. This is

How did a global campaign bring about a UN Arms Trade Treaty?

August 6, 2014
The last (but most definitely not least) of the case studies in active citizenship that I have been blogging about over the last couple of months is the inspiring global campaign that led to the agreement (and impending ratification) of a UN Arms Trade Treaty. It is co-authored with Anna Macdonald, one of the key activists in the campaign. Full

A seismic shift in improving the behaviour of large companies? Guest post from Phil Bloomer

July 17, 2014
My former boss, Phil Bloomer is now running the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (check out its smart new multilingual website). Here he sees some signs of hope that the debate on corporate responsibility is moving beyond trench warfare over voluntary v regulatory approaches. Fingers crossed. ‘Mind the gap’ is a refrain that any visitor to London’s Underground trains will

Impressive progress in guaranteeing the right to food in poor countries (Olivier de Schutter’s final big report to the UNGA)

October 28, 2013
UN Special Rapporteurs are independent experts, appointed (but not paid, I think) by the UN to beaver away to raise important issues such as disability, indigenous peoples, or torture. They include some bright stars – important thought leaders on the international development stage such as Magdalena Sepulveda, UNSR on extreme poverty and human rights. But the star that has shone

Some Monday Morning Inspiration: Malala Yousafzai at the UN

July 15, 2013
Moving and astonishingly confident speech at the UN last week by Malala Yousafzai on the UN-declared ‘Malala Day‘ (12 July – her birthday). Think we’ll be hearing a lot more from her – a future president? Here’s the film my sister-in-law Mary Matheson made for Plan International to celebrate Malala’s birthday (which got shown at the UN event) And ‘I am

Blogging in big bureaucracies round two: the view from the World Bank

May 10, 2013
Had a useful discussion with the World Bank’s social media team this week, off the back of Tuesday’s post on the struggles that the UN seems to behavingin getting its people blogging (actually, the comments on that post suggest there are lots of UN blogs, but most of them seem to be outside New York). How, I asked, has the

Why are there so few bloggers at the UN? A conversation with staff.

May 7, 2013
I spent a busy few days in New York last week, talking to (well, OK, mainly talking at) about 200 UN staff at various meetings in UN Women, UNDP and UNICEF. There was a lot of energy in the room (and even outside the room – people at UNDP spilled over into the corridor), and plenty of probing viva-like questions

Crises in a new world order: challenging the humanitarian project

February 7, 2012

Sustainable Development Goals: easy win or slippery slope?

January 30, 2012