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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.

Redefining aid could undermine fragile nations, says UN development chief
The Guardian
The decision to redefine overseas aid to include some military spending in fragile countries will hinder international efforts to help the poorest nations and could even undermine their stability, the UN’s development chief has warned. Last week, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) revised the rules on what can be counted as foreign aid – technically known as official development assistance (ODA) – following lobbying from the UK and other member countries. Although proponents of the new definition argue that supporting military or security forces in fragile or war-ravaged states should be seen as a development aim and paid for from the aid budget, the move has been criticised by charities who fear it will mean less money reaches the poorest countries.

Emerging, developing countries gain ground in the tech revolution
Pew Research
A new Pew Research Center survey shows that across 40 countries surveyed in 2015, a median of 67% use the internet and 43% report owning a smartphone. But one trend stands out: People in emerging and developing nations are quickly catching up to those in advanced nations in terms of access to technology. Here are five takeaways on technology use in the emerging and developing world:
Towards a Principled Approach to Engagement with Non-state Armed Groups for Humanitarian Purposes
Chatham House
The challenge of meeting the humanitarian needs of people affected by conflict in areas controlled by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) is growing in complexity, not least as it may be difficult to reconcile with counterterrorism objectives. The challenge of meeting the humanitarian needs of people affected by conflict in areas controlled by non-state armed groups (NSAGs) is growing in complexity. This briefing, including a set of emerging core propositions, is based on research and consultations undertaken by Chatham House with a view to understanding the dynamics that will determine support for a principle-based approach to engagement by humanitarian actors with NSAGs.

Civil Society from the BRICS: Emerging Roles in the New International Development Landscape
Institute of Development Studies
There is a burgeoning literature on the (re)emergence of the BRICS countries – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa – as significant actors in international development. To date, however, most attention has focused on the government-to-government relations established through state-led South–South Development Cooperation (SSDC) and the BRICS’ engagements in multilateral processes. This report focuses on ‘civil society’ in just one of the many senses in which the term is used: the sense summarised by Edwards (2009) as referring to ‘the world of associational life’ (rather than alternative conceptualisations of civil society as ‘the good society’ or ‘the public sphere’). We are particularly interested in a fairly limited subset of the collective actors who populate this ‘world of associational life’ in the BRICS countries: that is, formally structured civil society organisations (CSOs) with a history of engagement in project implementation, policy dialogue and/or public debate in relation to issues of social and economic development at home and abroad.

A Year of Ocean Regeneration
Project Syndicate
The importance of the world’s ocean cannot be overstated. They supply 50% of the oxygen we breathe, feed billions of people, and provide livelihoods for millions more. They are the great biological pump of global atmospheric and thermal regulation, and the driver of the water and nutrient cycles. And they are among the most powerful tools for mitigating the effects of climate change. In short, the ocean is a critical ally, and we must do everything in our power to safeguard them. This is all the more important, given the unprecedented and unpredictable threats that we currently face.

How humanitarian intervention makes protecting the innocent more difficult
The Washington Post
The Responsibility to Protect, or R2P, is an emerging norm in international law. Although the idea can be amorphous, over time the norm has developed into a respectable — and worthwhile — endeavor. Yet its effectiveness remains hindered by its history, and its history is often re-invoked when the norm is put to the test. The Responsibility to Protect is the idea that states and the international community have a responsibility to build up the institutions that can promote and protect human rights, and when a state is manifestly failing in this responsibility, it is the duty of the international community, acting through the United Nations, to assist that state in fulfilling its obligations. But if the state rebuffs all efforts, as a last resort the international community is authorized to deploy military assets to protect the rights of those within the state. The norm itself is clear, but to understand where it came from, one must also understand its predecessor: humanitarian intervention.

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Photo credit: Flickr user fdecomit

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