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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.

Poverty Matters Blog (Guardian)
Technology’s role in fighting poverty is still ripe for discussion

"I'm rarely one for predictions, so I shied away from the usual scramble to make a few at the start of the year. Looking back on events, however, is another thing, and for me 2010 has been a particularly interesting year on a number of fronts.

If I were to make one key observation, I'd say that the "D" in ICT4D (Information and Communication Technologies for Development) resembled more "debate" than "development" during 2010. The ICT4D field has always been ripe for fierce discussion – perhaps a sign that all is not well, or that the discipline continues to mature, or that the rampant advance of technology continues to catch practitioners and academics off-guard. Where, for example, does the advance of the iPad fit into ICT4D, if at all?"

Nieman Journalism Lab
Jennifer 8. Lee on raw data, APIs, and the Growth of “Little Brother”

"Editor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2010 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring. Here, Jennifer 8. Lee gives us predictions, about the growing role of raw data, the importance of APIs, and the need for a break-out civic mobile app.

In 2011 there will be a slew of riffs on the WikiLeaks anonymous dropbox scheme, sans gender drama — at least one of them by former WikiLeakers themselves. It will remain to be seen how protective the technologies are.

Basically, this codifies the rise of primary source materials — documents, video, photos — as cohesive units of consumable journalism. Turns out, despite the great push for citizen journalism, citizens are not, on average, great at “journalism.” But they are excellent conduits for raw material — those documents, videos, or photos. They record events digitally as an eyewitness, obtain documents through Freedom of Information requests, or have access to files through the work they do. We are seeing an important element of accountability journalism emerge."

Civil Society: The Clampdown is Real

"The last decade and especially 2009 and 2010, have been particularly hard for civil society and human rights defenders. Negative global trends that began soon after 9/11 have come to a head as governments have continued to encroach on fundamental freedoms through harsh security measures and other legal and policy restrictions.

As highlighted by civil society watchdog groups, UN human rights bodies and other close observers, these trends began soon after 9/11 when UN Security Council Resolution 1373 calling on all UN member states to take concrete steps to tackle terrorism was introduced. While the intention behind the resolution to protect innocent civilians and state structures from mindless acts of terrorism may have been sound, the negative consequences on fundamental freedoms, including the rights of civil society actors have been devastating as governments have used the climate of fear to dilute civil liberties, reduce personal privacy, lower fair trial standards and restrict the free movement of people across borders. Moreover, the ability of citizens and civil society to express democratic dissent has been severely curtailed through a clampdown on the freedoms of expression, association and assembly in the global north as well as the south."


Submitted by s masty on
Most exciting stuff here. I've always longed (but never had the time) to start a website called, contrasting donor pledges against aid delivered. Donors have learnt that they can bask in the media-glory of making pledges (Bosnia, Afghanistan, you name it) and then never bother to keep their pledges knowing that world attention will waddle away before they have to whip out their checkbooks. Here too transparency would be welcome.

But Lee Siegel and Evgeny Morozov warn that it can be used just as well for repression as for freedom.

The Wall Street article is interesting for the new publication just launched by the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre. It reviews evaluations of anti-corruption agencies from around the world and finds that much is still to be done if we want a better understanding of the value and performance of such agencies. Essentially, better outcome or impact oriented evaluations need to be done in order to base our discussions on evidence.

Related story- Failed State- Chicago Homicide Rate Worse Than Kabul, Up To 200 Police Assigned To High-Profile Wedding

Transparency is the greatest detergent to organised crime including corruption. In most of the developing world, we find majority of the population swimming in abject poverty, disease and death whereas a few of the ruling elite have amassed billions in foreign accounts. If transparency becomes a conditionality for development and other aid, such a move will go a long way in curbing corruption, waste and abuse of office. It is time for international law to make transparency in aid an international obligation! I think that the donors bear the brunt of the blame, back in their home governments, they all have access to information laws,which permit citizens to request and know how public funds and related government business is conducted. In the aid receipient nations, access to information laws are a previlege! If the donor community is interested in fighting corruption, then they ought to publish what they fund to governments and civil society around the world. Besides, international anticorruption institutions and the UN should develop legislation on transparency in the international banking sector where billions and trillions from the poor South have been stolen and stashed by the ruthless and shameless thieves ruling most of these countries of the South.

The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria is an independent international financing institution that was created in 2002 to fight three of the world’s deadliest diseases. Global Fund resources are delivering tremendous progress in the fight against AIDS, TB and malaria and are saving more than 7 million lives through the hard work of thousands of hard-working, honest health workers around the world. To date there are 3 million people receiving ARV treatment, 7 million people receiving treatment for tuberculosis and 160 million nets have been distributed to protect families from malaria, thanks to programs supported by the Global Fund in 150 countries. Regarding the misuse of funds from Global Fund grants, it was the Global Fund’s office of the Inspector General who uncovered these incidents in four countries: Mauritania, Mali, Djibouti and Zambia. To date, the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General has undertaken or is in the process of conducting audits or investigations in 33 (not four as the article states) of the 145 countries where the Global Fund has grants. As a result of the finished audits, the total amount of misappropriated or unsubstantiated funds that the Global Fund is demanding to be returned at present is $34 million. Global Fund grants are subject to a rigorous system of financial controls. All grant spending is verified by an independent agency which is required to report at least annually (and in many cases quarterly) on grant progress. All grant progress reports are posted online. In addition to these controls, the Global Fund’s Office of the Inspector General provides an additional independent layer of oversight and scrutiny to uncover wrong-doing. The Global Fund is committed to the highest standards of transparency and accountability and has acted upon each instance of misuse of its resources by taking strong and swift action, by suspending grants, freezing cash disbursements and by demanding a return of misused funds.

While it is a laudable initiative by Switzerland and other Western powers to freeze the assets of fallen dictators, it should be noted that the Western powers owe the poor of the South an explana the unanswered question is: for how long shall they do this and to what extent can they go? Am tempted to call the Swis decision as a public relations game. Come to think of it, it took close to a decade for the Nigerian government to recover part of the stashed assets of Sani Abatcha from Swiss bank accounts. If eventually the Egyptian and Tunisian governments want to legally get hold of the money stolen and stashed in Swiss Bank accounts by its fallen dictators, it may take at least ten years each. At this pace most of the generation that fought to kick out these leaders will still go hungry and unemployed whereas, their money is sleeping safely in Swiss banks. Faced with this problem of banking secrecy, I am proposing that Transparency International should initiate an international civil society forum on the criminalization of banking secrecy with regards to world leaders and their close aids. Such a move could eventually lead to a UN Convention that will not only criminalise banking secrecy but will equally make the embezzlment of public funds and capital flight by both leaders and ordinary citizens an international crime. If this were done, the statutes of the international criminal court could be revised to enable it hear cases of political corruption by leaders and their associates. Unless international legislation outlaws the stealing of public funds by leaders and makes them liable to being prosecuted in an international tribunal, leaders heading the the majority of the world languishing in infernal dictatorships will continue to subject generations to poverty, disease, hopelessness and death by stealing public funds.

Submitted by Jose Gonzalo Cervantes-Fonseca on
Agencies endorsing transparency look like laws and agencies policing for ethics. Many people protest against all the vices of mismanagement of public resources, just to incurr the same crimes once they are appointed or get elected to an official post. When principles and values falter, "the opportunity makes a thief." It is high time to walk back to education based on mutual respect.

These poverty matters are really wonderful and nice....I really like them.Thank you very much for this nice and beautiful information.

Submitted by José Gonzalo Cervantes Fonseca on

Who rules / rule the world nowadays? Up today we used to point out two "polar" power centers and sources. Meanwhile, short-horizon leaderships have kept rigging and triggering bloody political partisonisms within countries, and blaming the "empires" for own failures. Now the true control wielding over style and quality of life operate over and through the very fountains of life support by means of licences for natural resources exploitation granted by high rank officials of poor countries to transnational firms. What are these countries' leaderships playing?

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