Earlier this month, Japan experienced one of the worst natural disasters in its history, an earthquake and subsequent tsunami that claimed the lives of thousands of people and drastically changed the lives of countless more. Sadly, this tragedy is another in a string of natural disasters that have occurred over the past few years, such as the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, wildfires in Russia, and floods in Pakistan, West Africa, Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Australia.
The World Region
Professor Barry Eichengreen (left) and
Commodity prices are experiencing a lot of volatility right now, with food and oil prices nearing record highs. But what about the medium-term? The answer is fundamental for developing countries as commodity prices will be the key external variable for them to watch—perhaps even more than interest rates. Commodity prices are expected to stay high until at least 2015, before supply responses and lower relative demand by a burgeoning global middle-class moderate them.
The last 20 years have seen a growing engagement between development and human rights practitioners. But are we still mainly talking past each other? Or has there been valuable mutual learning with development results on the ground?
Let’s start by clarifying what I mean when I refer here to human rights. Adapted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, human rights are international norms that help to protect all people everywhere from severe political, legal, economic and social abuses, or, alternatively, which serve to secure and preserve extremely important goods, protections and freedoms in these various areas, for all people everywhere. These rights are now embodied in the 1947 Universal Declaration on Human Rights and nine core international covenants and treaties.
Since 1947 much has happened. And in the last two decades, there has been a growing convergence between human rights and development. Paralleling the broad reach of human rights concerns, the scope of development has also extended enormously. From mainly being concerned with economic growth, the term has broadened to include poverty reduction, inequality, human and social development, the environment, governance and institutions, just to name some. From GDP figures, we now also think about households and the specific needs of specific groups.
A newsclip in the DECPG Daily dated April 19, 2010, noted: “After Greek aid talks were delayed by disrupted air travel, Greek bond premiums relative to German bunds spiked again on Monday. Air travel disruptions caused by Iceland’s recent volcanic eruption delayed the start of talks on a potential bailout package....
2008 is so last decade. And yet, the recent hike in food prices is bringing food costs near the dangerous levels of that year, creating enormous vulnerabilities in developing countries.
The devastating impact of the global financial crisis, which consequently turned into a global economic crisis, created a consensus that pre-crisis financial regulation didn’t take the “Big Picture” of the system as a whole sufficiently into account. As a result, according to the views of many, supervisors in many markets “missed the forest for the tress”.
A lot is being written these days on the global economic crisis. In fact, the volume of research and blogs on various aspects of the crisis particularly in the developed countries is truly overwhelming. There are too many camps and too many ideas being brandied about the causes, consequences and responses to the global crisis.
‘What is diaspora?’ – a senior official of the biotechnology department of India’s Ministry of Science and Technology asked me as she was describing how the department engages with India’s technical and managerial talent abroad. Relevant expertise is drawn upon for peer review of proposals and mentoring of their subsequent implementation.
There has been an ongoing debate on the future need for foreign aid—a debate made ever more crucial by the current budget constraints in many countries as a result of the financial crisis. Some contend that aid budgets should be ramped up to counter the continued existence of severe poverty in the world; others argue that aid has been ineffective in the past, and in some cases, stymied growth in developing countries.