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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 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance – you better take it seriously!

“In three weeks, the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance will enter into force. The Charter was adopted by the African Union (AU) five years ago. Now that fifteen member states have ratified it, the Charter becomes legally binding and operational. Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria and Cameroon were the 13th, 14thand 15th countries to ratify the Charter. Why should we bother about this document? A Charter that was ratified in majority by countries that don’t lead by example in terms of good governance; a Charter that might be just another paper tiger without any teeths; one of a range of legal documents that don’t change anything about the real lives of African citizens?

Not quite.

The African Charter actually doesn’t contain many new elements. But, much more important, it summarizes and reconfirms existing African engagements on good governance that the continent’s leaders have taken over the last thirty years or so. And the Charter takes them a step further, in operationalizing their implementation. So instead of adding to the pile, it tries to rationalize the African good governance architecture and improve its translation into reality.” READ MORE

Voices from Eurasia
Social media for anticorruption: lessons from the trenches

“As anticipated in a previous post (Social media for anticorruption? Exploring experiences in the former Soviet block), we have been putting quite a lot of thought into the use of social media for anticorruption in our region.

How can we use social media to capitalize on existing efforts by ordinary citizens and NGOs to enhance accountability of public institutions? How can we harness the amount of information concerning corruption scandals and maladministration shared on the Internet by the independent websites, media and bloggers? How can we move beyond the hype of well publicized cases to get into the mechanics of what works and doesn’t work?”  READ MORE

Media Shift Idea Lab
How Journalists Are Using FrontlineSMS to Innovate Around the World

“So much can be said in 160 characters. As we've started to look at tailoring FrontlineSMS software for journalists, we've realized just how much potential there is to use text messaging as a news source.

As FrontlineSMS's community support coordinator, I interact every day with people and organizations that are using SMS in innovative ways. Increasingly, I've come across uses of FrontlineSMS as a journalistic tool, and this is particularly exciting for us as we embark on building new mobile tools to help increase media participation in hard-to-reach communities.”  READ MORE

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Is This How Africa Tweets?

“A first-of-its kind survey, conducted by Tweetminster and Portland Communications, of 500 of Africa's top tweeters (11.5 million "geo-located" tweets) has been condensed into one infographic. It may not be the most comprehensive picture - and looking at the comments section in The Guardian online, there are those who take objection to how some of the information is presented. Still, hopefully this will spur others to think more broadly about and delve more deeply into how social networking is being used around the world; especially as it relates to social good and social change.

Some of the interesting insights the study puts forth: Africa's tweeters are young (60 percent are 20 - 29 years old); while the average age of tweeters around the world is 39 years old). Also, Twitter is an important source of information -- 68 percent of those polled said that they use Twitter to monitor the news.”  READ MORE

Democracy & Society
Censorship, Technology & Free Speech

“Over the past year I’ve written pretty regularly on the value I see in technology as a tool to promote free speech.  Anyone who’s read my thoughts on the subject recognizes that I am clearly not without my biases or presumptive beliefs on the issue.  My beliefs aside, the past year’s ongoing saga of public unrest, contrasted by technological repression is obviously deserving of attention.  New technologies that allow individuals to communicate, motivate and organize with others have become a clear target of repression in the past year and the trend suggests this form of repression isn’t due to vanish any time soon.

Most recently Twitter (lauded by some as an essential tool throughout the year’s political uprisings) has announced a new censorship policy triggering rage across the blogosphere just days after changes in privacy policy from several tech companies and the recent action against SOPA and PIPA.  There is argument by some that the new policy from Twitter allows for greater awareness of government repression and provided tools for the tech savvy to circumvent censorship.  Certainly those competent in these technologies will find a way to be heard, as they always do, but how important are the voices of the technological elite contrasted with those of your average user?  Perhaps then these changes in policy are positive forces in the push toward transparency, but what does the fact that this discussion is occurring now amid so much unrest have to say about relationships between businesses and government repression?”  READ MORE

Photo Credit: Flickr user fdecomite

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