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September 2008

If It Tastes Bad, Spit It Out: Social Norms in the Fight against Corruption

Antonio Lambino's picture

In both the developed and developing world, I've come across people in varying positions of power either hinting or stating in no uncertain terms that I would not receive a government service without "greasing the wheel."  Despite wide disparities between low- and high- income country contexts, these experiences left the same bad taste in my mouth.  But corrupt practices, including bribery, aren't equal and, in a larger sense, understanding the differences among them puts us in better stead in the global fight against corruption.  In a previous post, CommGAP requested feedback on an anti-corruption learning event jointly organized with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.  One of the themes of the event will be the role of communication in shifting social norms toward condemning corrupt everyday practices.
 

 

The Politics of Non-Transparent Aid Flows

Sina Odugbemi's picture

My attention has been tickled by the news that at the recent High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Accra, Ghana, donors apparently agreed to launch an initiative known as the International Aid Transparency Initiative. Under the initiative, according to the DFID press release on the subject, donors have agreed to give:

- Full and detailed information on all aid in each country affected
- Details and costs of individual projects and their aims
- Reliable information on future aid to improve planning by recipient governments.

I hope the initiative will be seriously implemented. But it will not be easy. And the main reason it will not be easy is that the instinct of the technocracy that dominates every aspect of international development is to be non-transparent.

Promoting the Role of Development Communication in UN Organizations

Paolo Mefalopulos's picture

Development communication (or Communication for Development, as it is also known in United Nations circles) is a growing field in the international development context. Every two years the various UN agencies hold a roundtable to share experiences and further promote the adoption of this discipline, or interdisciplinary field.

How do we Make People Value Peace?

Caroline Jaine's picture

International Day of Peace on Sunday 21st September is an annual event that has been organised by the UN for more than a quarter of a century.  International Day of Peace is also a day of Global Ceasefire which, if adhered to, provides a small ray of sunshine for those who endure war and conflict and often allows essential food, water, and medical supplies to reach those most in need. The UN have launched an admirable campaign this year, encouraging like-minded global citizens to network, participate and even send text messages of peace to world leaders.  Jeremy Gilley has even made a film about it, set in Afghanistan and starring Jude Law.  But as a Communications Strategist I have been contemplating the difficulties of selling “peace” both in my work with the UK ministry for peace and as research for a book on the subject.

Connecting Citizen and State in a Post-Conflict Environment

Henriette von Kaltenborn-Stachau's picture

The Missing Link” is out and I am somewhat relieved – it was such a long process.

I started working on this publication more than a year and a half ago. The field research took me to Timor-Leste and Liberia, while a colleague went to Burundi. My goal was to demonstrate the relevance of public sphere dynamics to governance and political stability, particularly in countries emerging out of violent conflict, and to offer practitioners a tool-kit that would help assess and address public sphere capacities and challenges. The unrest that broke out in Timor in spring 2006 had been the trigger to this thinking. I had lived in this country during the transitional period and sensed what had gone wrong: the international community, in its desire to quickly build governance institutions, had forgotten to ensure that these were connected with the people. To the Timorese leadership, used to the hierarchical “closed” communication environment of a military resistance movement, the lack of national dialogue and a culture of “closed” institutions seemed fine. The violence of 2006 proved that they were not; the government and people of Timor paid a high price for this oversight.

Letting Daylight in on 'Magic'

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The presidential election campaign in the United States is suffocating. You can't escape it anywhere, even when on vacation outside the US. Everyone is absorbed in it, I find. They want to talk about it; they want to watch CNN coverage of it nonstop. Now, for the issues we discuss in this blog the campaign is a good thing, but it is also a bad thing.

The presidential campaign is a good thing because it showcases some of the dynamics that we seek to draw attention to here. First, it shows the importance of public opinion in governance. In a sense, the entire campaign can be seen as an attempt to shape public opinion in rival directions by two well-funded campaigns.

Do Citizens Know about their Right to Know?

Theo Dolan's picture

During a working group session as part of the “Access to Information, Media and Accountability” workshop in Dar es Salaam in March, I wondered just how difficult it would be to shift the discussion from advocacy in support of the access to information (ATI) and media services draft laws to key aspects of how to implement these laws. It is no revelation that implementation of access to information legislation is quite challenging, as two other African countries with ATI laws, South Africa and Uganda, have already discovered. But what the workshop in Tanzania (supported by CommGAP) also showed is that even if an access to information law is enacted, people have to be informed enough to use it.

Beyond Partnership

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

"Civil society is an important partner in the development process." Within the current development context, there's nothing particularly remarkable about this generic sentence. If anything, it merely reflects the now commonly espoused viewpoint that civil society should be considered an important constituency in development planning.

Communication for the Demand Side

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Photo Credit: Flickr User vphillI've been with CommGAP for four months now, and since the fall semeser starts at University, it's time for me to take a little break and go back to school. Intermissions are handy occasions to reflect, and I'll make use of this occasion with some thoughts about the role of communication in governance, and my experience at CommGAP.

After more than 10 years of communication practice and training, it often startles me how people are not aware of the crucial meaning of communication in our everyday lives, politics, and yes, development. After four months of development work, I feel that this lack of awareness is shortsighted to the extreme. Here are my top 3 reasons:

Covering Calamities: The News Media and the Day After

Antonio Lambino's picture

Watching the news coverage of Hurricane Gustav yesterday, I was transfixed by images of trees violently swaying and water topping over concrete barriers meant to protect people and property from natural calamities.  Having grown up in a developing country with a tropical climate, I am no stranger to the fury of cyclones and some of their most devastating effects – the grievous loss of life and sense of community, the tragic separation of friends and families, and the seemingly senseless destruction of private and public goods and infrastructure.  As the U.S. news media fixated on Gustav, my mind's eye juxtaposed media coverage of typhoon after typhoon, too many to mention by name, that wreaked havoc in Southeast Asia.