These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
By The People (America.gov)
Civil Society and Social Media
“The term “civil society” can seem almost as amorphous as the term “social media.” Yet the two are becoming ever more powerfully linked to the promotion of democracy and human rights in the modern world.
Civil society can encompass any collection of nongovernmental activists, organizations, congregations, writers and/or reporters. They bring a broad range of opinions to the marketplace of ideas and are considered critical to a vibrant, well-functioning democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has described a free civil society as the third critical element to democracy – the other two being a representative government and a well-functioning market.”
“CIMA is pleased to release a new report, Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011, by Jeffrey Ghannam, an independent media consultant, attorney, and veteran journalist with experience in the Middle East. This report was commissioned several months before the unprecedented popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and other countries of the region, which by all accounts were enabled by communication and citizen mobilization via social media platforms and mobile technology. The report examines the impact of digital media on freedom of expression in the Middle East prior to the 2011 protests. We have accelerated our production schedule to publish it now, as we believe that it will provide a useful backdrop to the events unfolding in the Arab region.”
The Economist Intelligence Unit
The Democracy Index 2010: Democracy in Retreat
“The results of the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index 2010 show a decline in democracy across the world's regions since 2008. The economic and financial crisis boosted some authoritarian regimes and accentuated existing negative political trends, most notably in Europe, both east and west.”
“If you’ve been following the news from Egypt on TV, chances are good you’ve seen some Tweets on air. If you haven’t, here’s a quick sampling of segments to give you a sense of how Twitter is being used to tell the story.”
Taking on Corruption
“Fighting corruption requires sustained focus and commitment across sectors and communities. Transparency International (TI) is addressing corruption in North Africa and the Middle East on two fronts: from the top-down and bottom-up. Our National Integrity System studies provide a comprehensive evaluation of a country’s governance system, including both public institutions and non-state actors. The studies examine the independence, transparency and accountability of key institutional pillars in a given country, including the legislature, executive, judiciary, anti-corruption agencies, business sector, media and civil society. Where these are weak, corruption can flourish.”
Publish What You Pay
“Civil Society representatives of Francophone Africa met in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, on January 26-28, 2011 for a regional workshop to assess their countries' implementation of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) to date. Participants, including many from the Publish What You Pay coalition, attended from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Togo.”
The FCPA Blog
Best Anti-Corruption Ad
“The Super Bowl commercials were great. Our favorites were VW's The Force and Bud's Tiny Dancer.
What about anti-corruption ads? None made it to the Super Bowl this year. But there are some goods ones out there.
We like the ad because (a) it's colorful (2) with snappy music (3) and easy visuals. We also like the simple message -- that most petty bribery (think facilitating payments) is really extortion. So what the victims need most is some clout to fight back.”
NatGeo News Watch
Africa's Innovation Generation: Dynamos and Mobile Wiz Kids
“Leapfrogging PCs, Africa's burgeoning generation of mobile tech-savvy entrepreneurs is bursting with ideas and practical inventions, from African apps for smart phones to software solutions that address uniquely local challenges.
In this installment of Mobile Message, Kenya-based Erik Hersman, a co-founder of Ushahidi, a free and open source platform for crowdsourcing information and visualizing data, writes about iHub (Innovation Hub), a project that brings together Nairobi's entrepreneurs, hackers, designers and investors. And he reflects on how Africa is brimming with ideas and inventions that are making real technology progress.
Mobile Message is a series of blog posts about how mobile phones are being used throughout the world to improve, enrich, and empower billions of lives.”