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Civil Society and the State: Opponents or Partners?

Sabina Panth's picture

When the globalization agenda pushed for democratic reform and decentralized system of governance in the early nineties, aid agencies began investing in civil society organizations to demand and deliver development services that the centralized state was not deemed effective in providing.  Now, with over two decades of civil society hype and non-government organizations (NGOs) mushrooming all over the developing world, it is time to appraise how or whether the contributions of these organizations have been integrated into national development priorities and goals.  
 

Information is Power: CSOs Play Unprecedented Role in Shaping Bank's Access to Information Policy

John Garrison's picture

The Banks’ new Access to Information policy, which became effective on July 1, is ground breaking in several respects.  First, it represents a paradigm shift to a ‘presumption of disclosure’ in which the great majority of Bank documents will be accessible to the public and introduces an appeal mechanism for those that aren’t.  In this way, the Bank is setting a global standard for transparency and leading the way among other multilateral development Banks.  This policy is also remarkable due to the unprecedented role CSOs played in the consultation and implementation phases.

WikiLeaks: “The Intelligence Agency Of The People”

Naniette Coleman's picture

I am not sure if I stumbled upon a tool for fighting corruption or a conspiracy theorist’s dream. Either way, I will report and leave the judgments and interpretations to you, the reader. Before you begin reading this particular blog post, I would recommend that you close your door, pull down the shades and close all other browser windows; after all, you never know who could be watching.

WikiLeaks says they have a “history of breaking major stories in every major media outlet and robustly protecting sources and press freedoms.” They claim that “no source has ever been exposed and no material has ever been censored since their formation in 2007.”  WikiLeaks claims they have been “victorious over every legal (and illegal) attack, including those from the Pentagon, the Chinese Public Security Bureau, the Former president of Kenya, the Premier of Bermuda, Scientology, the Catholic & Mormon Church, the largest Swiss private bank, and Russian companies.” And, as if that is not enough of a soap box on which to stand, WikiLeaks claims to have “released more classified intelligence documents than the rest of the world press combined.” If you do not believe WikiLeaks, perhaps you might trust another source, Time Magazine who suggests that WikiLeaks “...could become as important a journalistic tool as the Freedom of Information Act.”

Quote of the Week: Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Antonio Lambino's picture

"... I have travelled widely and met many leaders, ambassadors and statesmen from around the world. I address you today as Queen of sixteen United Nations Member States and as Head of the Commonwealth of 54 countries.

I have also witnessed great change, much of it for the better, particularly in science and technology, and in social attitudes. Remarkably, many of these sweeping advances have come about not because of governments, committee resolutions, or central directives - although all these have played a part - but instead because millions of people around the world have wanted them."

- Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the United Nations, July, 2010

Public Budgeting, American Style

Taeku Lee's picture

On Saturday, June 26th, nearly 4,000 Americans from all walks of life participated in an all-day country-wide deliberation on the nation's fiscal future.  Town hall meetings held in 19 sites occupied the main stage for the day, with smaller scale discussions in more than 40 additional communities across the country and online venues for participatory input as well.  The event, organized by AmericaSpeaks had all the markers of political deliberation, American-style: electronic keypads and networked computers that lent a technologically updated verisimilitude to George Gallup's idea of palpating the "pulse of democracy" and, of course, lots of political contestation (more on this below).

Those Dreaded Red Cards

Antonio Lambino's picture

As the World Cup semifinals rage on in South Africa, I noticed that a number of those dreaded red cards have been issued both on and off the football field.  They are of particular interest because, while they communicate formal authority and official sanction against the most grievous offences on the football field, they have also become symbols of various good governance and anti-corruption initiatives in the broader public arena. 

The innovation was first introduced more than 4 decades ago by legendary British referee Ken Aston and, since then, has diffused into the global public sphere.  A Google search utilizing the phrase “red card campaign” resulted in around 283,000 results.  Some recent examples include the campaign against human trafficking in Africa, the Khulumani campaign for human rights in the DRC, and the UNAIDS campaign against HIV in South Africa.  The International Labour Organization and UNICEF have both run red card campaigns for children’s rights, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime and USAID have used them in anti-corruption efforts, and a number of controversial campaigns have been launched against high-level politicians in several countries.

Putting Your Heart Into It

Caroline Jaine's picture

As I write this I realise that my favourite reference book on “Hearts & Minds” was stolen some months back.   I will persevere nevertheless.  As usual, I have something on my mind and having one foot in academic reference could distract me from an eloquent rant.

I am almost as tired of the misuse of the term “hearts and minds” as I am about the generic tossing of the words “strat-com” around the media centre - without applying its meaning.  We are told of its importance in communications (particularly when policies begin to fail), but few think deeply or employ it properly.  Perhaps because no-one has articulated what hearts and minds means (or strat-com for that matter). Google tells me:

Congress Shall Make No Law

Shanthi Kalathil's picture

Quick: can you list all the freedoms guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment?

If not, you're not alone. Apparently sparked by the fact that only one in twenty-five Americans can name all five freedoms listed in the First Amendment, the 1ForAll initiative aims to build support and awareness of the First Amendment among American youth. Its website notes that it intends to provide educational materials for teachers, hold events and engage the public through a variety of media.

What’s the Link Between Social Development Practice and Communication? Some Techniques and Approaches

Sabina Panth's picture

In development practices, the process of information gathering and dissemination has remained in the domain of social development.  While the process itself contributes to social development through knowledge transmission and critical consciousness (topic for another blog post), the tools and techniques required for effective use and dissemination of information comes from the communication school.  Yet, rarely do we find social development experts with communication training and vice-versa.   My recent exposure to CommGAP’s work and my decade long experience as a social development professional have impelled me to examine areas where communication and social development are intertwined and where they complement one another.  In this blog post, I wish to sketch an outline of a research work that I wish to undertake on the subject for feedback and suggestions from readers and practitioners in the field.

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