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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Aid and Beyond:  Transparency, Accountability and Results

"As negotiations heat up ahead of the Fourth High Level Forum on aid effectiveness (HLF-IV), many countries are keen to move beyond a narrow aid effectiveness agenda, bringing in a broader range of actors and issues in recognition of the changing development landscape. Emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil are becoming ever more important. The demand for Africa’s oil and mineral resources is growing, providing many African countries with new revenue streams. Traditional donors’ aid budgets are under pressure. And people are taking to the streets and the twitter-verse to demand more transparent and accountable governance, from north Africa to north America and beyond. However, broadening the conversation to include more actors and issues beyond aid, must not and need not be at the expense of clear, measurable and time-bound commitments on aid effectiveness."  READ MORE

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Freedom House
Report Finds Governments Restricting Media Freedom Through Regulation

A range of governments are increasingly restricting media freedom using licensing and regulatory frameworks and receive little criticism or attention for doing so, according to Freedom House’s newest report, License to Censor: The Use of Media Regulation to Restrict Press Freedom.

The report provides an overview analyzing this trend at a global level and in-depth analyses of the regulatory environments in eight countries:  Ecuador, Georgia, Indonesia, Lebanon, Pakistan, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. It describes some of the most commonly used methods to regulate the media—legal controls on licensing and registration, regulatory bodies that are not independent or operate in an nontransparent or politicized manner, and the imposition of vague content requirements on media outlets—as well as detailing the use of arbitrary or extralegal actions, including license denials and the suspension or closure of media outlets to restrict media freedom.  READ MORE

Learning from the Last Five Years: CommGAP and Good Governance

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

As CommGAP draws to a close, I've been reflecting a bit on what I've learned from the program over the last five years and the many interesting research, practice and policy questions still left to be explored.

For me, CommGAP was one of the first programs to take a critical look at the phenomenon we call "good governance" by drawing linkages between the related but conceptually distinct strands of accountability, transparency, access to information, citizen voice and mobilization, civil society capacity building, media development, public opinion formation, democratic deliberation, and state capacity/ resilience/ legitimacy. I still remember a conversation I had with Sina at a conference many years ago, asking him how he envisioned the "connective tissue" between all these concepts. The CommGAP program, in a sense, was Sina's answer, and I've been lucky to be able to help articulate some of this work.

Marching citizens: when elections do not produce accountability

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In several rich, post-industrial constitutional democracies, angry citizens are marching once again. And can you blame them? They watched as out-of-control banks took outrageous risks and brought hitherto sound economies to their knees. They watched as these banks were rescued with tax-payer resources. They watched as the same bankers and banks returned to their buccaneering  ways, while escaping any accountability. Now, everywhere austerity measures are crushing the underclass and shrinking the middle class. The culture of impunity at the top of society is driving ordinary citizens into paroxysms of rage.  Now, they are beginning to march, and march. Nobody knows where it is all going to lead.

Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mobile Active
Mobile Stats for Africa: Video Report on the Growth of Mobiles

“The Praekelt Foundation, a South African organization that runs several mobile-based programs in South Africa, recently produced a catchy video infographic of mobile statistics for Africa. Looking at accessibility, growth, and usage, the video gives a good look at how mobiles have taken off in in the continent of Africa.

The video covers a lot of facts about mobiles, from a breakdown of the rapid growth of mobile phones compared to other forms of media (like radio and television) to the huge drop in price points (the first mobile phone cost US $3995 in 1973 compared to roughly US $15 for certain models today).”  READ MORE

Getting Ukrainians to Use Their Right to Information

Dmytro Derkach's picture

The Ukrainian Law on Access to Public Information came into force on May 9, 2011. Before this new law was adopted by the Ukrainian Parliament, international bodies had described the effective legislation as “confusing” and having overly broad exemptions.

Several international organizations, including OSCE and the Council of Europe, as well Article 19 and International Media Support (IMS)  have repeatedly urged Ukraine to move forward with the adoption of the new Access to Public Information Law and provided expert support to the draft.  The World Bank had not been directly involved in this process, but I participated in developing and promoting this law both as a media professional and a member of the Donor-Civil Society Working Group in Ukraine.

Of Legitimacy and Flash Mobs

Sumir Lal's picture

For those of us committed to democracy and interested in matters of governance and citizen accountability, the theatrics in India involving the anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare pose a neat little dilemma. For, we love freely-elected governments and positively swoon over articulate civil society advocates, and here we have a situation where the two are in a head-on collision. So who’s the good guy? Whose side should we be on?

Hazare is pushing an anti-corruption bill that would give immense (possibly corruption-inducing and governance-disrupting) powers to an unelected ombudsman. The government is countering with a version that would keep key functionaries out of the ombudsman’s purview, arguably defeating the very purpose. Take your pick.

Post-Conflict Lessons: Reconstruction, Stabilization, Governance . . . and Gryffindor?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

For those who haven't yet seen, this Foreign Policy piece presents a detailed, highly nuanced plan for stabilization, reconstruction and post-conflict reconciliation and good governance - as applied to the world of Harry Potter after the (er, spoiler alert, I guess) defeat of Voldemort at the end of the last book.

I appreciate the section on good governance and the nod to public sphere issues in particular - media diversification (the Daily Prophet really could use some serious competition), involvement of new media, etc. Could use a bit more emphasis on the role of civil society in the wizarding world, both in holding the new Ministry of Magic leaders to account as well as in helping create a post-conflict consensus around the legitimacy of the transitional government. But, overall, it's a decent plan - and a nice refresher on some major post-conflict issues. 

Answering the Right Questions

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

In good governance circles, we love to champion accountability tools: citizen score cards, civil society-local government linkages, participatory budgeting, etc. They sound wonderful on paper, and frequently work well off paper, but one can sometimes detect a certain weariness on the part of the supposed recipients/beneficiaries of these tools. These initiatives may be effective at times, but they simply don't address the underlying power structure, development practitioners often hear. What is one supposed to do about the shadowy but real network of frequently unaccountable elite, particularly in the context of a developing country that features a culture of impunity and lacks deeply rooted institutions of accountability?

Why Media Literacy Matters

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

For those of us who care about the media and its role in society and politics, the recent events surrounding News Corp in the UK have provided plenty of fodder for conversation. While there are many ways to analyze the situation, one aspect which has proved interesting to follow from a CommGAP perspective is the debate over how competing media outlets (or even the ones owned by News Corp) are and should be covering the story. This Washington Post article unpacks some of the ownership ties and potential (or perceived) conflicts of interest behind the coverage, noting that corporate affiliations have raised suspicions about the independence and objectivity of coverage.