Syndicate content

November 2011

Negotiating Globally

Maya Brahmam's picture

Just last week, I attended a presentation on negotiation by Chris Voss, CEO of Black Swan, at Georgetown University.  It was particularly interesting because Chris was also one of the top hostage negotiators for the FBI.

Negotiation is increasingly important because with the spread of globalization, we are constantly colliding with others who may or may not share our cultural mores, and to be successful in our jobs, whether it is working with parties on governance and accountability, consulting with civil society, or communicating around a project, we have to understand how to negotiate globally.

The Enduring Allurement of Technocratic Competence

Sina Odugbemi's picture

The history of political thought has been, in a sense, a tussle between two ideas regarding who should govern: the idea that experts should rule and the idea that the people should rule themselves. It has been a never-ending tussle, and just when you think the idea that the people can and should rule has won, we see established democracies tossing out elected governments and installing rule by technocrats. The issue is important for this blog for a simple reason: in international development, the belief that experts know best and should shape public policy in developing countries is as difficult to kick as an addiction to cocaine.

So, let’s be clear: while the allurement of technocratic competence in a crisis is understandable it remains just a trifle absurd to suppose that technocratic competence can replace democratic politics rather than being its humble servant.  Experts have a huge role in a crisis, financial or otherwise, but to believe that finding a path out of a crisis is the sole business of experts is not only wrong but naïve. For, the response to a crisis is inherently and inescapably political. And this is true on at least two levels.

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
Citizens and civil society tell governments: Make budgets public now!

Last Friday in Tanzania, nearly 100 civil society groups and 12 international organizations, including the International Budget Partnership, Greenpeace and ONE, launched a global effort to make public budgets transparent, participatory and accountable. Budgets are the most critical tool that governments have to address problems like poverty, provide critical services like education and health care, and invest in their country’s future. When the political speeches end, it is how governments actually manage funds to meet their promises and priorities that matters.

The Civil Society Movement for Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation envisions public finance systems that make all budget information easily accessible, provide meaningful opportunities for citizens and civil society to participate in budget decisions and oversight throughout the process, and include strong institutions to hold governments accountable for how they raise and spend the public’s money.  READ MORE

From One-Way to Two-Way Exchanges: Gearing Up to Use Communication in Support of Decentralization in Mongolia

Sunjidmaa Jamba's picture

Since Mongolia shifted to a multi-party political system and market economy in the early 1990s, it has become a young and vibrant democracy. Debates among politicians, policymakers, civil society organizations, political and social commentators, and other stakeholders are now an integral part of Mongolian society. These happen through local newspapers and on the TV channels, at citizens’ hall meetings, as well as during cultural events, particularly in rural areas as nomadic herders gather for such event and authorities take that opportunity to communicate with them.

However, these debates may not always be particularly effective in getting to a consensus. Indeed, the heritage of the socialist system can still often be felt: public authorities, particularly at the local level, see communication as a way to disseminate and diffuse information through a traditional media approach. There is much to do to transform communication from a one-way dissemination tool to an instrument for two-way engagement.  

Quote of the Week: Thomas Friedman

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"One wonders whether the Internet, blogging, Twitter, texting and microblogging ... have made participatory democracy and autocracy so participatory, and leaders so finely attuned to every nuance of public opinion, that they find it hard to make any big decision that requires sacrifice. They have too many voices in their heads other than their own."

 

Thomas L. Friedman

New York Times, November 15, 2011

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.

Daily News and Analysis India
Join the Fight Against Corruption

"'Today, I take oath that if unfortunately my father is corrupt, I will see that he comes out of corruption by way of life.' This was the oath taken by hundreds of school and college students as former president Dr APJ Abdul Kalam prepared the young minds to tackle one of the grim issues facing India today _ corruption. Kalam was speaking at a ceremony to give away awards to winners of IGNITE-11 atRJ Mathai Auditorium of IIMA. In all, 21 young innovators were awarded at the function.

Kalam urged students to fight corruption by adopting the mantra of giving. "You should go to your father and say, 'Dear Father, if this car is purchased with corruption money, I shall not drive it'," he told kids present in the hall. He said that all kids are ambassadors in the fight against corruption."  READ MORE

Is There a Global Public Sphere?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

One of the ways in which the world we live in today feels very different from the one we lived in even a decade ago is how ‘connected’ we all feel these days. It does seem that there are issues that we all talk about, personages and celebrities that we all know, and technological means of information sharing and exchange that we all share.  Yet, can we say that one of the consequences of globalization is that we now have a global public sphere, especially now that Fareed Zakaria of CNN calls his talk show ‘The Global Public Square’?

You will recall that a public sphere is a metaphor for a space that still exists in some contexts: the village square, the town hall… a place where people come together to talk about common concerns, a process that leads to the crystallization of public opinion.  Beyond the level of the village or the small town --- situations where most inhabitants can conceivably gather and talk – the public sphere becomes a grand metaphor, but a useful one. As Denis McQuail asserts in his classic text on communication theory, in most national contests today the ‘media are now probably the key institution of the public sphere, and its “quality” will depend on the quality of the media’. [See McQuail’s Mass Communication Theory, Fifth Edition, page 566.]

Et Voilà - CommGAP Presents Three More Publications

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

We have mentioned it many times on this blog - CommGAP is no more. But our work lives on! Just before we closed shop at the end of October, we were able to publish three more publications directly aimed at governance practitioners that we hope you will find useful. Please check out the new facilitators guide People, Politics and Change: Building Communication Capacity for Governance Reform, the trainer's guide Generating Genuine Demand for Accountability Through Communication, and the case study compendium Changing Norms is Key to Fighting Everyday Corruption

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
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

Is Candor Terribly Overrated?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

In both the professional life of the individual and in the operations of the public sphere, candid communication is reputed to be A Very Good Thing for two reasons. First, it is reputed to promote integrity, and, second, it is reputed to further the search for truth. In an ideal world, both things are probably true. Yet, when you think about some of the hard realities of these two domains, you wonder if candor is not overrated.

Let’s begin with professional life. In the workplace, candor has at least two great enemies. The first enemy is a truly formidable posse: the fragile egos of bosses. Dale Carnegie’s ubiquitous self-help manual, How to Win Friends and Influence People, has as one of its pragmatic lessons this one: To win an argument is to lose a friend. If that is true, what happens if you out-argue or puncture the fulsome intellectual balloons of your boss? Perhaps we should adapt Carnegie and say: ‘Candor kills a job –yours.’ Still, it is amazing how many meetings open with the boss saying: ‘I want everybody in this room to be frank. If I am the one messing up, let me know point blank’.

Right. It is no surprise that 360 degrees evaluations of bosses are usually made anonymous.

Mainstreaming Civil Society Participation at the Annual Meetings

John Garrison's picture

The participation of civil society representatives at the World Bank and IMF’s Annual Meetings, which brings together the world’s finance ministers to discuss international development policy, has grown steadily over the past six years.  The most recent Annual Meeting, held in October 2011, saw the largest CSO participation to date, with a total of 600 CSO representatives from 85 countries in attendance. They represented a variety of civil society constituencies: non-governmental organizations, youth groups, foundations, faith-based groups, and trade unions.  They came to discuss a broad range of issues ranging from financial transactions tax and aid effectiveness, to energy policy.  In order to ensure that Southern CSO voices are also heard, the Bank and Fund sponsored 60 CSO and Youth Leaders from developing countries to participate in the Meetings. 

A Better Basra – Five Years On

Caroline Jaine's picture

3 November marks five years since CommGap writer Caroline Jaine was evacuated from the Iraqi city of Basra.  In 2006 she was heading Press & Public affairs at the British Embassy Office, during what proved to be one the most perilous moments during the British occupation.  Today her book - a personal account of her 100 days in Iraq - is launched with a seminar at the House of Lords in London.  The seminar, like the title of the book, draws from the then British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s plan for a “Better Basra” and looks at whether the city is in fact any “better” today.

An extract from A Better Basra appears below:

Here was that movie feeling again, but this time the soldiers, perhaps about a hundred or so of them, were like extras waiting to go on set.  I was intrigued about where they had been, what they had done in Iraq so far and where they were off to.  What was their day like? Why weren’t they at that moment busy “soldiering”.