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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.

Middle-Class Heroes: The Best Guarantee of Good Governance
Foreign Affairs
The two economic developments that have garnered the most attention in recent years are the concentration of massive wealth in the richest one percent of the world’s population and the tremendous, growth-driven decline in extreme poverty in the developing world, especially in China. But just as important has been the emergence of large middle classes in developing countries around the planet. This phenomenon—the result of more than two decades of nearly continuous fast-paced global economic growth—has been good not only for economies but also for governance. After all, history suggests that a large and secure middle class is a solid foundation on which to build and sustain an effective, democratic state. Middle classes not only have the wherewithal to finance vital services such as roads and public education through taxes; they also demand regulations, the fair enforcement of contracts, and the rule of law more generally—public goods that create a level social and economic playing field on which all can prosper.

Humanitarian reform: What's on - and off - the table
As pressure mounts to come up with concrete proposals for the future of humanitarian aid, horse-trading and negotiations have begun in earnest behind the scenes in the lead-up to the first ever World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), to be held in Istanbul in May. The release this week of the UN secretary-general’s vision for humanitarian reforms marks one of the last stages in a multi-year process that has seen consultations with some 23,000 people around the world on how to improve crisis response. (See: Editor’s Take: The UN Secretary General’s vision for humanitarian reform)  Hundreds of ideas are floating around. Which are now rising to the top? And which are being pushed to the side? Here’s our take on the emerging trends:
World Report 2016
Human Rights Watch
World Report 2016 is Human Rights Watch’s 26th annual review of human rights practices around the globe. It summarizes key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide, drawing on events from the end of 2014 through November 2015. The book is divided into two main parts: an essay section, and country-specific chapters. In the introductory essay, “Twin Threats: How the Politics of Fear and the Crushing of Civil Society Imperil Global Rights,” Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth details how fear drove two of the most important global developments of 2015. Fears of terror attacks and of the potential impact of refugee influx led to a visible scaling back of rights in Europe and other regions.

Charities urge European leaders to keep aid for poorest, not refugees
Thomson Reuters Foundation
Hundreds of millions of people in developing countries will lose out if European governments raid their aid budgets to cover the costs of hosting refugees and tightening border security, a coalition of charities said on Tuesday. They issued their warning as the Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a group of the world's major donors that defines and oversees what spending can be counted as aid, meets in Paris this week to discuss the refugee crisis and the rules shaping aid spending for the next 15 years. Faced with the substantial cost of looking after a record one million migrants who arrived in Europe last year, several governments have already diverted money from their development aid budgets to pay for hosting the new arrivals.
Disparities in Cellphone Ownership Pose Challenges in Africa
Mobile phone ownership varies greatly across sub-Saharan Africa, from fairly ubiquitous ownership in Nigeria (87%) and Botswana (85%) to relatively scarce ownership in Madagascar (21%). These disparities underscore the digital divide that still exists in Africa -- despite the recent explosion of technology -- and show where this divide is likely a substantial barrier to future development.
To harness the private sector to achieve the SDGs, we need real measurement of impact
One of the most welcome improvements of the recently released Sustainable Development Goals over their predecessor the Millennium Development Goals is the recognized role of the private sector in achieving them. The creators of the goals have rightfully understood that bilateral aid and development projects alone have no chance of achieving the goals. All hands are going to need to be on deck, and that means the multinational companies who invest in developing countries will need to be active partners in all our efforts to achieve the SDGs.

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