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Mandela on My Mind

Maya Brahmam's picture

Last Friday, July 18, was Nelson Mandela Day, a day to recognize and remember his legacy to the cause of social justice – including the fight against extreme poverty. Mandela has inspired countless people with his ideas and actions.

The moment of personal inspiration came when I read a friend’s blog post several years ago in which he described a visit to Mandela’s prison cell, where he spent more than 20 years – a small cramped space that couldn’t constrain his larger vision. In Long Walk to Freedom, an autobiography he began writing in prison, Mandela said, “It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another.”  I found these words compelling, as they challenge each of us to examine our own life and direction.

In a very visceral way, Mandela understood the concept of inequality. He established the “Train of Hope,” which made its first journey to deliver health care to underserved rural populations in 1994, the same year that he was elected as South Africa’s president. He also believed in the promise of education. In 2001, at the opening ceremony of a secondary school, he stated, “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of a mine…

Mandela is for my generation what Gandhi was for my parents: A legend in his own time.
 

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

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.