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March 2011

Rights-based Principles for the Internet: Are These Enough?

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

The Internet Rights and Principles Coalition - a group formed out of the Internet Governance Forum - has been working for many months to develop rights-based principles to govern the Internet. Those draft principles are now out, and can be found here. They are duplicated below (excerpted from the Access website):

The Internet offers unprecedented opportunities for the realization of human rights, and plays an increasingly important role in our everyday lives. It is therefore essential that all actors, both public and private, respect and protect human rights on the Internet. Steps must also be taken to ensure that the Internet operates and evolves in ways that fulfill human rights to the greatest extent possible. To help realize this vision of a rights-based Internet environment, the 10 Rights and Principles are:

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.

The Guardian
The future of development: Goodbye aid and MDGs, hello global goods and well being

"The future of development. What a title. It's fraught with hostages to fortune, bear traps and day dreams.
I pick 2030 as "the future". Partly because, 15 years after the first set of millennium development goal (MDG) targets I expect poverty (percent and numbers) in Asia to be much lower, and in Africa I expect the decline to be strong too. But partly because it is far enough away to think a bit more freely."

Myneta.info: India’s Technology Transition From Software Giant to Fighting Corruption

Tanya Gupta's picture

When India first started using technology for national development, it used technology to build a huge software industry which helped the economy grow in the 1990s. In the decades that followed, with a much improved economy, civic minded Indians set their sights on a much loftier goal – tackling corruption.

In July 2008 The Washington Post reported that nearly a fourth of the 540 Indian Parliament members faced criminal charges, "including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder". The criminalization of politics causes a huge drain of public resources and the resulting loss of credibility for politicians dissuades civic minded citizens from stepping forward. Unfortunately the average voter often has little to no idea of the criminal background of some of these Parliament members and hence public opinion cannot be used to throw them out of power. The media, too, does not have capacity to focus on all the corruption cases and usually focuses on the most egregious violations.  

Combating Systemic Corruption in Education

Sabina Panth's picture

Studies have revealed a strong correlation between quality of education and increased corruption in a country.  According to a Transparency International report, data collected to track progress in education in 42 countries showed that the practice of paying bribes is associated with a lower literacy rate among adolescents. Corruption is also linked with increased inequality in the quality of education between the rich and the poor.  When resources allocated for public education is inadequate or do not reach the schools, it is the poor who bear the brunt.  Unlike the rich, who can afford private tuition for their children, the poor have to depend on the government.

Measuring Public Opinion in Challenging Contexts

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

As we have discussed in other blog posts, public opinion is particularly important in countries with weak institutions of governance and accountability. Especially in fragile and conflict states, it can lend legitimacy to the government, help creating a national identity, and support governance reform. Unfortunately, public opinion is particularly hard to measure in those societies where it could be most important.

Grafting, Not Transplanting, Global Good Practices

Antonio Lambino's picture

What relevance, if any, does the 2008 Obama campaign have in the political processes of developing countries?  How, if at all, can modern media production techniques used by global leaders, like the BBC, be made useful to their counterparts in poor countries?  There are obvious limits to transplanting knowledge and practices from one place to another, given all the differences.  However, when it comes to insights regarding the potential influence of political communication on individual and social behavior, it is also possible to graft some of what’s been learned globally to homegrown ways of doing things.  But those who know these environments best should do the grafting.

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.

Berkman Center for Internet and Society
Harnessing technology for social good

"Last month the Ford Foundation hosted the Wired for Change conference ("Inspiring Technology for Social Good"), and a pack of Berkman Center folks, friends, and family were in New York for the event. Ford has posted full videos of all of the sessions, and more, on the Ford Foundation website and Vimeo and YouTube channels."

The Approaching Boom for Sultans of Spin

Sina Odugbemi's picture

As the Arab Spring struggles not to return to winter - sometimes with a little help from powerful friends -- I came across this fascinating thought concerning one of the likely but entirely unintended consequences of the emerging political reality in North Africa and the Middle East. In a piece contributed to TIME Magazine, the articulate and insightful blogger, Issandr El Amrani, [I recommend his blog: the Arabist] wrote:

 

In these countries where leaders were long used to sycophantic interviews, they now face combative interviewers out to make a reputation for themselves. It will be a while before spin doctors come in to teach the politicians to stay on-message  ---in the meantime, they are walking the tightrope without a net.

Quote of the Week: Roberts, Hsiao, Berman, & Reich

Antonio Lambino's picture

 

 

 

"Reforms need to be judged, not on reformers' intentions, but by the changes they actually produce."

 

- Marc J. Roberts, William Hsiao, Peter Berman, & Michael R. Reich (2004, p. 4)
Getting Health Reform Right: A Guide to Improving Performance and Equity

Women and ICTs: Different Strokes?

Sabina Panth's picture

Mainstreaming a gender perspective is considered essential in assessing the implication of any development program, project or policy on men and women. This holds true of the modern Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) as well, as research studies are showing a significant gap between men and women in their access to and understanding of ICT opportunities.

“Women Make the News”

Johanna Martinsson's picture

This month, thousands of events are taking place around the world to celebrate women and their economic, political and social accomplishments.  Also, this year is extra special since it marks the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day.  In 1911, more than a million people took to the streets in several countries to campaign for women’s rights, including the right to vote.  Today, the International Women’s Day, March 8, is an official holiday in many countries, and the celebration extends throughout the month in many places.  Just a few years ago, for example, the U.S. declared the month of March Women’s History month.

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.

One International
Why transparency in the extractive industries matters for women

"Each year around the world, International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8, with thousands of events occurring not just on this day, but throughout March to mark the economic, political and social achievements of women.

As the world marks this special day ONE spoke to Winnie Ngabiirwe, Chairperson of Publish What You Pay Uganda and Executive Director of Global Rights Alert, on why transparency in the extractives industries will benefit women in Uganda and other countries.

Winnie leads the effort to make sure revenues received for Uganda’s recently discovered oil are not wasted, and are put towards social and economic development programmes."

Civil Society Finds its Voice in Tahrir Square

John Garrison's picture

While it may take historians years to understand the historic conditions and political factors which triggered the democratic revolution in Tunisia, Egypt, and other countries in the Middle East, one thing seems to be certain.  The political actor which has gained the most prominence in these political uprisings has been ‘civil society’. This term encompasses the large sector within any given society which sits between governments and the for-profit or private sector.  As such it includes youth movements, workers unions, NGOs, political parties, and faith-based organizations among others.  It is a term still little understood, often derided by authoritarian governments, and rarely heard in the Middle East until now. The term in Arabic is “mojtama'a madani” and has the same broad meaning as in English.  It is said that when Egyptian ex-President Mubarak first heard the term he mockingly quipped, “So what’s wrong with military society?”

Give Peace a Chance

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Talk of citizen agency and citizen power is all over the place these days - the media, the international community, academia and everybody else who cares about change and how it happens is looking in awe at current events. Civil protests have changed the political face of an important part of this world, and so far they have done so mostly peacefully. The persistence of protesters to not use violence is one of the most outstanding features of what we're seeing unfold in some Northern African countries. The rejection of violence may be one of the most important factors that contribute to the success of these uprisings.

Cruelty, Sacrifice, and the Public Sphere

Antonio Lambino's picture

Cruelty is always senseless; selflessness, inspiring.  I have been deeply moved for the past few weeks by story after story of individuals, maimed and mutilated by those who should be serving them, heading back out into the public arena and risking it all to fight tyranny.  A way to make sense of individual sacrifice is by reflecting on what it might gain for the larger community.  I find comfort in the idea that human suffering could eventually lead to the opening up of inclusive public spheres wherein considered public opinion keeps power in check. 

USIP: Communication for Peacebuilding Grant Program

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The United States Institute for Peace has initiated a Communication for Peacebuilding (CfP)  priority grant program to support innovative practice and research designed to increase our understanding of how communication flows and technology can best be leveraged to improve the practice of peacebuilding.

The CfP program is based on two premises. First, communication is fundamental to peacebuilding. Second, in conflict-affected areas, communication technologies are restructuring  the relationship between international organizations, local peacebuilders, and communities in ways that allow more people to communicate, more rapidly than ever before. This has significant and perhaps transformational implications for how peacebuilding programs are implemented.

The call for proposals can be accessed here. The CfP program does not have a geographic focus, and projects in all countries and regions are eligible.

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.

NDI tech
Technology for Peace: Strengthening Democracy

"ICT in the service of “peace” often refers to a broad range of activities encompassing conflict prevention and management, peace operations, humanitarian relief and disaster assistance, and post-conflict peace building and reconstruction.

For example, the ICT4Peace Foundation is committed to effective communication in “crisis management, humanitarian aid and peace building”.  A recent USIP collaboration, Blogs & Bullets examines how new media can change the politics of unrest, revolution, violence, and civil war.  Their work emphasizes five levels of analysis: individual transformation, intergroup relations, collective action, regime policies, and external attention." 

Fascinating FreedomFone

Sabina Panth's picture

As I explore innovative approaches in civilian-led movements, I become increasingly knowledgeable about the latest technological gadgets and devices that have become powerful tools in demand for good governance and democratic reform processes.   Don’t worry, I won’t go on about the Arab Revolution and the role of social media yet again.  Instead, I will talk about a latest invention that does not even require the end users to have a web access, something that can be exploited by just anyone, even the illiterates.  FreedomFone is an ICT invention that has been specifically designed to cater to those that are in most need of information, bearing in mind the barriers they face in accessing information and the opportunities it provides to improve their conditions.

How Do You Measure History?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Over and over again, and then again, and then some more, we get asked about evidence for the role of public opinion for development. Where's the impact? How do we know that the public really plays a role? What's the evidence, and is the effect size significant? Go turn on the television. Go open your newspaper. Go to any news website. Do tell me how we're supposed to put that in numbers.

Here's a thought: maybe the role of public opinion in development is just too big to be measured in those economic units that we mostly use in development? How do you squeeze history into a regression model? Let's have a little fun with this question. Let's assume that
y = b0 + b1x1 + b2x2 + b3x3 + b4x4 + b5x5 + b6x6 + b7x7 + b8(x1x4) + b9(x3x4) + e

Quote of the Week: Hannah Arendt

Sina Odugbemi's picture

 

"Tyrannies are doomed because they destroy the togetherness of men: by isolating men from one another they seek to destroy human plurality.  They are based on the one fundamental experience in which I am altogether alone, which is to be helpless (as Epictetus once defined loneliness), unable to enlist the help of my fellow men."

- Hannah Arendt, The Promise of Politics.

 

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.

Full Disclosure: The Aid Transparency Blog
The Dream Job of the Decade

“Data are becoming cheaper, more plentiful, and easier to access and use. What does that mean for transparency? What does it mean for development? And what does it mean for you?

According to Hal Varian, chief economist of Google, it means that you’re going to be in high demand if you have the complementary skill of making sense of large amounts of data. That’s one of the skills of data story-tellers, like Hans Rosling, and statisticians – the dream job of the decade!

A major source of the “data avalanche” has been the move to open government data. The World Bank launched its Open Data initiative on April 20 last year: Development data are now free, searchable and accessible, and the full range of data sets is listed in a catalog for bulk download and direct access.”

Technology First?

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The other day we received a paper from our colleagues at the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) on "Deepening Participation and Improving Aid Effectiveness through Media and ICTs." I made it until point 3 of the executive summary before I felt a blog post coming on. Read for yourself: "1) Starting as a magic solution from its beginnings, ICTs are now considered as just another normal media channel useful for enhancing the effectiveness of development cooperation programs. 2) It is not the technology that counts; it is the economic and social processes behind the technology that drives the change. 3) Thus, ICTs are instrumental, not a goal in itself, and they should serve to improve the practice of development cooperation."