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Weekly Wire:the Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
 

World Press Freedom Index 2014
Reporters Without Borders
The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where freedom of information is non-existent. READ MORE

Throwing the transparency baby out with the development bathwater
Global Integrity
In recent weeks, a number of leading voices within the international development movement – including the billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates as well as development economist Chris Blattman and tech-for-development expert Charles Kenny - have come out arguing that corruption and governance efforts in developing countries should be de-prioritized relative to other challenges in health, education, or infrastructure. Their basic argument is that while yes, corruption is ugly, it’s simply another tax in an economic sense and while annoying and inefficient, can be tolerated while we work to improve service delivery to the poor. The reality is more complicated and the policy implications precisely the opposite: corruption’s “long tail” in fact undermines the very same development objectives that Gates, Blattman, and Kenny are advocating for. READ MORE

Quote of the Week: Martin Luther King Jr.

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"Men often hate each other because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don't know each other; they don't know each other because they can not communicate; they can not communicate because they are separated."

 

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story, 1958

Quote of the Week: Mohamed ElBaradei

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“Yet we have one undeniable achievement to bolster our confidence: the culture of fear has gone forever.” 

Mohamed ElBaradei, 2005 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Director General Emeritus of the International Atomic Energy Agency

Quoted in the Financial Times, February 8, 2012

International Women's Day: Why Aren’t We More Concerned About Women’s Physical Safety?

Maitreyi Bordia Das's picture

Fundamental rights in most South Asian countries include freedom of movement – you can go where you want, when you want within a country. But for the majority of South Asian girls and women the reality is very different – they need permission to go almost anywhere. Now, does this stem from norms of patriarchal control or a rational response to threat of physical harm? I like to believe the two are mutually reinforcing. When families are afraid of what will happen to their daughters when they go out alone, they tend to be over-protective or over-controlling. This is certainly what happened to me and my peers as we grew up in Delhi in the 70s and 80s. While many more women are out in public spaces now, the very fact of this visibility is often a trigger for violence. Fewer than half of married women surveyed in Pakistan or Bangladesh feel safe moving alone outside their village or settlement, even during the day (World Bank 2006, 2008).

Safety and security of women in public spaces is seen often as a right, which indeed it is, but, lack of it is also a huge impediment to accessing a range of services and markets – for instance, health care, education and employment. In Pakistan and India, one of the reasons why girls drop out of school after puberty and especially when secondary schools are located a long walk away, is the fear of violence en route.

Watch the Watchdogs

Antonio Lambino's picture

Onora O’Neill (2002) contends that advocates of media freedom have erroneously equated the citizen’s right to information and expression with press freedom.  They have claimed for journalists and media organizations what is essentially an individual right reserved for citizens.  A free media, according to O’Neill, “is not an unconditional good… Good public debate must not only be accessible to but also assessable by its audiences.”

Accessibility is often measured through indicators that quantify access to various media, such as newspaper circulation or the number of TVs, radios, and computers per thousand people in the population (e.g., UNESCO, World Bank).  Assessability, on the other hand, is driven by normative standards and can be carried out on at least two levels.