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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Watchdogs Under Watch: Media in the Age of Cyber Surveillance
Center for International Media Assistance
The report looks at the implications that electronic surveillance–of e-mail communications, telephone calls, visits to websites, online shopping, and even the physical whereabouts of individuals–presents for privacy and for freedom of expression and association on the one hand and for national security and law enforcement on the other. Striking the right balance between these fundamental human rights and the need for governments to protect their citizens poses a daunting challenge for policy makers, civil society, news media, and, in the end, just about everybody.

Measuring what policymakers want from academics
Washington Post
An increasing number of unsupported, but plausible, claims assert a widening gap between the policy and academic communities in international relations. Certainly both IR scholars and IR practitioners perceive a growing gap between the academic and policy communities. But how would we know if there were an actual gap and whether it was growing or shrinking? Scholars have addressed this question by drawing upon personal experience and anecdotal evidence. Joe Nye and Steve Walt have argued that academic research is increasingly irrelevant and inaccessible to policy practitioners. Others, such as Peter Feaver and Mike Horowitz, offer a more qualified take but provide no systematic evidence. So we still need to do what Kate Weaver has suggested: “mind — and measure — the gap” between what scholars are researching and what policymakers are demanding.

2014 Global Outlook on Aid
The Global Outlook on Aid is a key tool for the international community to better assess the prospects for meeting aid commitments, and to flag potential gaps in aid provision ahead of time. It builds on the annual DAC Survey on Donors’ Forward Spending Plans, a unique instrument that brings together most bilateral and multilateral aid spending plans for the upcoming three years. The report also examines the issue of aid predictability and scrutinises aid providers’ policies and procedures to provide a better understanding of the progress and obstacles in this field.
Social media helps dictators, not just protesters
Washington Post
Since its euphoric beginnings, the Arab Spring has followed a path all too familiar to scholars of democracy: from hope to doubt to disappointment. The role of social media as a way to foster democracy, which first came to the fore in the Arab Spring, has followed a similar painful trajectory. Initially welcomed as a democratic panacea, social media has increasingly come to be seen as a mixed blessing – a potentially useful tool that can nevertheless be blocked and sidelined by clever tyrants. The most recent research suggests that in some cases, social media may actually help dictators, so long as they put up sufficient barriers to contrary views. But what are the actual mechanisms through which autocrats can subvert social media for their own purposes?
Securing communities: redefining community policing to achieve results
Overseas Development Institute
Community policing is a popular donor strategy within wider police reforms in many developing countries – with programmes in places as diverse as Bangladesh, Jamaica and Sierra Leone. It takes a variety of forms, but often includes alternative dispute resolution, police–community forums, joint police–community patrols, community outreach, the establishment of community policing as a police-wide philosophy and/or specific police units tasked with responsibility for community policing. In addition to these multiple forms, community policing is ascribed a diverse set of objectives by the different actors involved (governments, police, communities and donors), including reduced crime, improved police–community relations, increased police accountability and strengthened state–society relations.  As a result of the conceptual confusion surrounding community policing, the ‘Securing communities’ project at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) attempted to map the diversity of practices that fall within its remit, to examine how community policing is shaped in different contexts and to probe the plausibility of many of the objectives ascribed to community policing.

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