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Array ( [0] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 918 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-07-05 14:32:46 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-05 14:32:46 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Stephen Minas examines the positions taken by the so-called BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) of emerging economies in UN global climate change negotiations. The report explores their priorities and the relationships with both developing and developed countries, looking at their cooperation so far and what challenges lie ahead. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: BASIC positions-Major emerging economies in the UN climate change negotiations [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Stephen Minas examines the positions taken by the so-called BASIC group (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) of emerging economies in UN global climate change negotiations. The report explores their priorities and the relationships with both developing and developed countries, looking at their cooperation so far and what challenges lie ahead. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-basic-positions-major-emerging-economies-in-the-un-climate-change-negotiations [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-basic-positions-major-emerging-economies-in-the-un-climate-change-negotiations/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [1] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 655 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-21 13:19:02 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-21 13:19:02 [post_content] => Although there does not seem to be any anti-PT, anti-Lula or anti-Dilma sentiment among the protesters, their resentment may suggest that they are no longer solely satisfied with the economic and social benefits provided by the PT’s leadership since 2003.Fully aware of this, the opposition - especially the PSDB - allied with sectors of the mainstream press and financial markets are leveraging the negative turn of events to try and undermine the President’s popularity. In recent months, despite the president's high approval rating (above 50%), various events have managed to generate a negative atmosphere in Brazil. They include: 1) rumour-mongering surrounding the supposed end of the Bolsa Família welfare programme, 2) inflationary increases 3) the rise of the dollar against the real 4) Dilma’s falling approval ratings 5) The booing of Dilma during the ceremony opening the Confederations Cup. These factors combined with the outbreak of demonstrations opposing the government have created a favourable environment for the opposition, who also have the covert support of the press and the financial markets. It was not by chance that yesterday, during the inauguration of an exhibition that celebrated the 25th anniversary of the PSDB and 19 years of the Real Plan, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso warned of "discontent" among the population and said this was being illustrated through the protests across the country. He said, "All is not going as well as the government would like to think." Cardoso stated, "when inflation starts to rise, the people on the street start to get restless" and in his opinion the "thermometer" of this dissatisfaction is inflation. On the same line Senator Aécio Neves (MG), the likely PSDB candidate for the presidency in 2014, declared that "it is clear that the rose-tinted version of Brazil, disseminated through official propaganda, of a Brazil without poverty, companies setting records for production and the advancement of health and education clearly bears no resemblance to the life of real people." Another potential candidate for the presidency in 2014, Governor Eduardo Campos (PSB-PE) also sent a message. He suggested that senior government figures "open their ears to society." In his view, there is a need for a new agenda, an "agenda for the 21st century, which is based on improving the quality of life." As a result of the action of her main rivals, President Dilma, her government allies and her supporters were keen to be seen addressing the issue at hand. Yesterday in São Paulo the president met with former President Lula, the Education Minister Aloizio Mercadante, PT president Rui Falcão and campaign manager João Santana. The presence of Santana indicates that the government is already considering the impact of the demonstrations on Rousseff’s popularity. The strategy of the opposition will be to exploit the negative press to the furthest extent thereby co-opting the force of the demonstrations of the last days to convince the public that the country is experiencing paralysis at a governmental level. For Dilma, former president Lula is essential to help contain the climate of radicalisation, principally due to his extensive union experience. The idea is to use his experience to help avoid a scenario that would be detrimental for the government in the 2014 elections. Another important player in this process will be the PMDB, especially the vice-president, Michel Temer, President of the House, Henrique Eduardo Alves, and the Senate President Renan Calheiros. Their role as political arbiters will be instrumental in guiding Congress through the resolution of the crisis. As a consequence, Dilma’s dependence on the PMDB will be further entrenched. The protests: • Will force the federal government to put pressure on mayors and governors to use measures to alleviate the demonstrations. According to press reports, the federal government will provide additional help to cities struggling with the costs of transportation • Could affect the popularity of the president Dilma in the short term • May assist the opposition • Could exacerbate the tension between the executive and legislative branches at a federal level • May generate apprehension in the markets and the wider economy because there is no way to accurately predict the consequences of the demonstrations. Dilma’s reaction to the demonstrations Yesterday during the announcement of the new Mining Code, President Dilma spoke about the events that are occurring across the country. In her speech, she said "The great extent of demonstrations yesterday illustrates the power of our democracy, the strength of the popular voice and the civil nature of our people. It's good to see so many young people and adults - grandchildren, fathers, grandfathers - together with the Brazilian flag, singing the national anthem with pride and saying ' I'm Brazilian’ and advocating a better country. Brazil is proud of them. We praise the peaceful character of the protests." She also revealed that her government is “engaged and committed to social change." With her conciliatory approach, Dilma is trying to avoid confrontation with the protesters and, if possible capitalise on the support from her support base. It is also worth noting that, even after the protests in Brasilia, the president continued with launch of the new mining framework despite the demonstration that took place in Congress yesterday. The decision shows that the government continues to function as normal and does not want to be seen as being overly affected by the events of the past week. However, the president’s trip to São Paulo for a meeting with Lula Rui Falcão, the Aloizio Mercadante, and João Santana has been widely misunderstood. The meeting gives the impression that the president did not know what to do, so she went to consult the former president. The participation of João Santana shows that Dilma is concerned about what effect the demonstrations could have on her electoral prospects. An emergency meeting in Brasilia with authorities linked to the transport sector would have had a more positive impact on public opinion. Rousseff also could also have had an audience with the CDES (Conselhão), which brings together representatives of civil society to listen to their concerns. June 2013 [post_title] => The opposition aims to capitalise on popular dissatisfaction towards Dilma while the government seeks Lula’s help [post_excerpt] => The wave of demonstrations that are currently sweeping Brazil saw yet more developments on Wednesday. Not only did protesters return to the streets (especially in São Paulo) but the protests seem to be intensifying. While these demonstrations are not linked to a particular party - indeed, participants who are protesting against government inadequacies are rejecting being linked to any party at all - political developments are inevitable. Especially from the opposition who have planned actions to play on the dissatisfaction expressed in the streets against President Dilma Rousseff. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-opposition-aims-to-capitalise-on-popular-dissatisfaction-towards-dilma-while-the-government-seeks-lulas-help [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:23 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:23 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-opposition-aims-to-capitalise-on-popular-dissatisfaction-towards-dilma-while-the-government-seeks-lulas-help/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [2] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 916 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-20 10:19:40 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-20 10:19:40 [post_content] => Mehmet Ugur, Professor of Economics and Institutions at the University of Greenwich, examines some of the major issues around the Summer 2013 protests in Istanbul, looking at the historical and economic background as well as some of the major human rights issues that fuel the protests. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Protests in Turkey and the discontents of a flawed model [post_excerpt] => Mehmet Ugur, Professor of Economics and Institutions at the University of Greenwich, examines some of the major issues around the Summer 2013 protests in Istanbul, looking at the historical and economic background as well as some of the major human rights issues that fuel the protests. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-protests-in-turkey-and-the-discontents-of-a-flawed-model [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-protests-in-turkey-and-the-discontents-of-a-flawed-model/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [3] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 654 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-19 15:45:12 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-19 15:45:12 [post_content] => The Emerging Prime Minister Hamdallah heralds from Anupta near Tulkarem in the north of the West Bank. Embarking on an academic path he specialised in linguistics, obtaining an undergraduate degree from Jordan before moving onto the UK where he was awarded with a Masters from the University of Manchester and PhD from Lancaster University. On returning to the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt), Hamdallah rose through the ranks of academia at An Najah National University in Nablus where he became President in 1998. A published writer, avid reader and enthusiastic lecturer, he earned his reputation as a scholar and academic leader not only in the Middle East but throughout the Mediterranean region and Europe, becoming a committee member and representative of numerous international academic organisations. Indeed, under his tenure An Najah University has developed in both size and quality with 20,000 students and 3,000 staff making it the largest university in the oPt, while facilities such as a state of the art media centre, a specialised IT centre, plus a teaching hospital make it a valuable institution for the sustainable development of a Palestinian state. However, such success in a highly politicised and restricted environment has required a considerable degree of savoir faire, particularly in a university that has shown itself in the past to be a microcosm of the larger unstable framework, a place where political actors such as chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority (PA) Saeb Erakat, and Nasr Al-Shaer the former Deputy Prime Minister of the Hamas formed government from 2006, form part of the academic faculty. At times, disharmony amongst both staff and students reflecting either the Fatah-Hamas divide or more local grievances have on occasion spilled over into violent confrontations. In facing the constant threat of Israeli incursions (as witnessed during the First Intifada), it has been Hamdallah’s ability to negotiate and remain uncompromising in many of his decisions in the process that has created the necessary stability for An Najah to flourish. In sum, during a presidency that has covered an intifada (the Second) and an election victory for Hamas, Hamdallah has proven himself to be a strong leader, and one that has chosen to put the welfare of society and education above all discriminatory accusations and political beliefs. During a meeting with Hamdallah in 2011, he stated “We Palestinians have helped build countries all over the world, particularly the Gulf, and one day we will have the chance to build our own. It is therefore important that we put education at the foundation of this development as to enable our competitive growth”. Maintaining this emphasis in regards to An Najah has however required considerable infrastructural development and subsequently financial support, which under the circumstances of the occupation has proved a difficult task. According to a financial advisor of An Najah “There is a sustainable running cost deficit of 14%. However, with the state covering only 2% of the overall costs and tuition fees 73%, there is a constant need to boost revenue by other means, through expat donors or international projects for example.” Based on an ethos of ‘build it and they will not only stay but come’, the establishing of alumni networks and an international relations office under the guidance of Hamdallah have gone some way to supporting this goal, but it is the current Prime Minister’s relations with the Gulf States that have provided the most significant source of funding for the University’s expansion. As an advisor of Hamdallah stated “he has spent weeks at a time in the Gulf negotiating with various dignitaries which more often than not has produced positive results”. This is evidenced by the 870 seat theatre built on the University’s new campus with funds provided by Prince Turki Bin Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia. It is therefore estimated that during his time as President of An Najah, Hamdallah through various networks has helped raise US$400 million for the University. It is precisely this acumen which led to Hamdallah being appointed as Secretary General of the Palestinian Central Elections Commission in 2002, where as part of a body called by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter as “”, he oversaw the 2006 Legislative elections. Although to the dismay of the international community this resulted in a victory for the Hamas-led political bloc, it did nevertheless universally bolster the reputation of Hamdallah as a transparent and efficient professional, which also led to his being selected as the Chairman of the Palestine Securities Exchange in 2008. National development and politics have therefore remained an integral part of Hamdallah’s career path and it is understandable that as his credibility has increased, so have the demands for his expertise amongst the local and international political elite. As a close associate of Hamdallah said “even Abbas and Fayyad themselves have sought consul with Rami at regular intervals”. A Poisoned Chalice? Despite being a very important period of time for Palestinian politics, the restrictive framework in which the PA’s political leaders have to work within can be considered somewhat of a curse rather than an opportunity. Therefore, for close observers the resignation of Fayyad from his position as Prime Minister did not come as such a surprise. Relations with Abbas, Fatah and Hamas were at an all time low, and with national debt reaching there have been justifications for concern regarding the long term stability of the PA and Palestine itself. Given the conditions and lack of progression in regards to peace negotiations, Abbas has also begun to feel the strain and his reputation amongst the international community has waned somewhat, particularly since Fayyad stepped down. In Rami Hamdallah however, Abbas has had a natural replacement for PM in waiting, a man whose credibility spreads across the political divide plus the diplomatic community and therefore is a person who has been presented as the last opportunity for Abbas to maintain international relations and ultimately funding for the PA. Nevertheless, from the perspective of the new PM the situation inherited is far from ideal and relative success will depend on how much political and financial flexibility he will be able to obtain in implementing an administrative strategy. It has been stated that Hamdallah will fulfil his duties as an interim PM up until August, when it is thought that upon the announcement of successful unity talks between Fatah and Hamas, elections will finally take place. Nevertheless, this as history tells us is an uncertain process and despite Hamdallah’s reluctance to continue beyond this period, the interim situation could be prolonged. It is therefore advised that Hamdallah be given the necessary space to fulfil his role as a proven leader. This of course will require concessions and less interference from the President’s office, which up until now under both Arafat and Abbas has held considerable sway over Palestinian national affairs. Even Abbas himself has suffered such restrictions when serving as Prime Minister alongside Arafat and a repeat of the Fayyad situation will only further decrease his popularity domestically and internationally. From a financial perspective it is also essential that the PM be able to service both the debt incurred under the state building process and the needs of the people, who require access to land, water, work and finance. In the short term, Israel can aid this by agreeing upon a return to the logistic agreements and financial mechanisms developed under the Oslo Accords and respectively, despite their , as this will allow for a more consistent flow of goods and revenue, particularly . Beyond this, new agreements will need to be forged but as it stands it is in the best interest of Abbas and the Israeli government for that matter to allow the PM a less restrictive framework in which to work within. The Challenge Ahead If the international community is determined in promoting peace and a two state solution then it should fully endorse the appointment of Rami Hamdallah as Prime Minister by providing both financial and political support for his office’s activities. For the first time then, and unlike his predecessor, Hamdallah is a leader who by majority commands the respect of the Palestinian people, domestic political parties, Gulf States, Israel and key Middle East peace process actors such as the United States, United Kingdom and France. Therefore, acknowledging prospective unity, pushing for negotiations that recognise the growing imbalance between Israeli settlement expansion and Palestinian needs, and fulfilling funding obligations will provide sufficient leeway for the PM to carry out his domestic duties in the short term. As we know, the long term is uncertain but by pledging support to the new PM at this current juncture will undoubtedly improve stability and perhaps as a consequential positive promote Hamdallah’s name as a future President, a prospect that would be welcomed by many internally and externally. June 2013 Stephen Royle is a PhD candidate at Lancaster University and over the past five years has operated as an international relations consultant for An Najah National University. [post_title] => A Prime Minister for Peace and the Unity of Palestine? [post_excerpt] => On Sunday June 2nd Professor Rami Hamdallah was tasked by President Mahmoud Abbas to form a new Palestinian government. Amongst the myriad of newspaper reports that emerged the following day were accusations that this relatively unknown figure was a , or was simply a . However, the dismissive nature of these comments not only proved a distinct lack of knowledge regarding the environment in which Hamdallah has honed his leadership qualities, but they also misunderstood the nature of the appointment. This piece will therefore provide a more detailed political narrative regarding Hamdallah’s experience while addressing the potential role that the new PM will undertake and the many challenges that will confront him in the coming months. In doing so, reasons will be presented as to why it is important for the international community to confirm their support, particularly at this current juncture when unity talks between the domestic parties, peace negotiations with Israel and financial difficulties enhanced by a burgeoning debt, pose considerable stresses to an already unstable situation. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => a-prime-minister-for-peace-and-the-unity-of-palestine [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/a-prime-minister-for-peace-and-the-unity-of-palestine/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [4] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 653 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-17 10:06:34 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-17 10:06:34 [post_content] => Against the backdrop of the current round of bloodletting that is wracking the region, the Kurdish success story continues to establish itself. In Turkey before the headlines became dominated by the street protests one of the biggest story’s of the year was the deal made in the decades old conflict between Ankara and the PKK. The negotiated agreement that saw hundreds of PKK fighters moving into the borderland of Iraqi Kurdistan followed a sustained improvement in relations between Turkey and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) of Iraqi Kurdistan. The landlocked KRG have steadily looked to connect their two greatest assets, energy supplies and stability, through to Turkey. Albright would never have predicted that Turkey, previously so opposed to Kurdish autonomy, would develop such close economic relations with the nearest thing to a state-like entity that the World’s largest stateless people have ever had. As Iraq endures its most violent period in five years, with over 1,000 people killed in May according to the UN, those media that visit the north of the country run out of superlatives to describe the contrast. The standard headlines involves variant around the word ‘boom’ or ‘booming’. This month the Guardian’s Ian Black made the pilgrimage to Iraqi Kurdistan to witness the final steps towards the completion of an oil pipeline that will snake into Turkey carrying with it 300,000 barrels of crude oil a day. Back in the UK industrialists, entrepreneurs, analysts and journalists alike receive a regular stream of invitations from the Middle East Association, the KRG’s office in London or the well connected All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kurdistan to tourism conferences (In 2012, over 2.2 million tourists visited Kurdistan), business talks or trade delegations to the region. The invitations often tease with introductions outlining how with 45 billion barrels of oil reserves and 3-6 trillion cubic meters of gas reserves, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq is “one of the last remaining conventional oil and gas frontiers on earth”. Iraqi Kurdistan’s geography, landlocked with conflict-ravaged Syria to the West and quasi-Pariah Iran to the East, may have been a blessing in pushing the KRG towards finding a modus vivendi with Turkey but it limits their long term supply of international investors. I travelled to the region in March and saw their newfound wealth translated into five star hotels, conference centres and infrastructure. It can come as no surprise to see the KRG look to Europe for high-tech investment. Against this frenzy of opportunity and activity you’d think that a government in Westminster that has put commercial diplomacy at the heart of its foreign policy would be at the vanguard of international relations with the nascent Kurdish entity. There are flickers of the potential for a far stronger relationship in the making; this February the UK Parliament recognised Saddam Hussein’s murderous ANFAL campaigns as genocide against the Kurds. This important political recognition is backed by steadily increasing economic links - in July the KRG is holding a one-day tourism infrastructure development, investment and business match-making conference in London, with the support of UK Trade and Investment. However an Iraq-phobia felt by British politicians has combined with an innate wariness as to the region’s long term stability by economic investors. The Director of the APPG, Gary Kent, who has visited the Kurdistan Region 12 times since 2006 with fact-finding delegations, told me: "People were initially confused as to where Kurdistan was, literally. When Iraq was mentioned, they became wary. The APPG and others have made the case that increasing cultural and commercial connections with the Kurdistan Region are of mutual benefit to the UK and the Kurdistan Region. The message has got through. Kurdistan is now on the map.....the export of oil and gas to Turkey will also benefit the UK and Europe. Turkey can become an important energy hub, fuel its growing economy and become a critical cog in the secure and reliable energy resources to Europe”. Indeed the pipeline is both a moment of high opportunity and risk. Relations between Erbil and Baghdad have been poor for some time and in the absence of a constitutional agreement around the hydrocarbons law some fear that a cold war between the centres of Iraqi power could turn hot. Black wrote in the Guardian that the Kurds were “improving their bargaining position to try to force a reluctant Baghdad to comply with the federal constitution”. This tension has manifest in fire fights across the internal border between Iraqi Kurdistan and Iraq. In May three suicide bombers attacked Kurdish security forces and the local headquarters of a Kurdish political party in the disputed area around Kirkuk. Only this week AFP reported that more than 1,000 Kurdish career soldiers in the Iraqi army have deserted and want to be integrated into forces loyal to the KRG. A stronger relationship with a UN Security Council permanent member like the UK could prevent the completion of independent exporting capacity to Turkey becoming an issue of systemic division, as has happened between Sudan and South Sudan. The UK government commitment to the KRG does not have to come with an implicit acceptance of Kurdish independence as paradoxically enough that appears to be that last thing on the KRG’s mind. Independence brings a host of unpredictable consequences in a region whose only stability lies in the seeming permanence of the borders lovingly drawn by Britain and France nearly 100-years ago. Far better, it would seem, to embrace the pragmatisms of trade than the explosive redlines of separatism. Iraq descent into violence is of course a worry to Erbil but their security forces and internal borders buffer themselves against the aftershocks of surrounding regional conflicts. Downing Street should not underestimate the warmth of feeling generated by the House of Commons debate recognising the Kurdish Genocide. A formal government acceptance of this history and real commitment to economic partnership would appear to be a politically and economically sensible step forward. Such a surge in relations could be launched with the hugely symbolic agreement of direct flights, an issue apparently sitting in a technical no-man’s land but surely one that a little bit of political leadership can cure. As Gary Kent explained “we need improved visa issuing facilities in Erbil and direct flights”. The Kurds famous phrase that they have ‘no friends except the mountains’ could be one for the history books as the UK and other European powers discover that amongst the bloodshed of the region there is an emerging gem in the Kurdish north of Iraq. June 2013 [post_title] => From Mountain People to Partner? [post_excerpt] => Speaking at a recent Chatham House event former US Secretary of State Madeline Albright was asked her predictions for the Middle East. Ignoring the continued flux of both the Arab Spring the bloody civil war in Syria Albright responded that the modern relationship between Turkey and the Kurds is evidence of how “things you think will never change – change”. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => from-mountain-people-to-partner [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/from-mountain-people-to-partner/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [5] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 914 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-13 11:23:43 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-13 11:23:43 [post_content] => Gilberto Algar-Faria from SPAIS at the University of Bristol explores North Korea’s nuclear and military posture and suggests that the US and wider international community should consider a change of approach towards the country. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: North Korea wants peace, and it should be given peace [post_excerpt] => Gilberto Algar-Faria from SPAIS at the University of Bristol explores North Korea’s nuclear and military posture and suggests that the US and wider international community should consider a change of approach towards the country. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-north-korea-wants-peace-and-it-should-be-given-peace [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:24 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-north-korea-wants-peace-and-it-should-be-given-peace/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [6] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 652 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-11 09:37:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-11 09:37:59 [post_content] => We at Publish What You Fund applaud the UK’s role in furthering the case for transparency in general. Our particular priority is how aid transparency will improve effectiveness. As DFID is currently the most transparent aid agency, according to our , we think it would be a missed opportunity if UK does not use their leadership role to push the (IATI) in international forums as well. IATI is a cutting-edge global standard which offers a common standard for publishing aid information. It satisfies our four pillars of transparent aid, ensuring data is published in a manner that is timely, comprehensive, accessible and comparable. Our message to David Cameron is that now he must go beyond talking about transparency and make sure world leaders deliver on it, at a time when the UK is in a unique position of influence in four major international development agendas: • (OGP) • (GPEDC) • (MDGs) • The first three agendas involve both donor and recipient countries – a marked shift in the traditional power dynamics of international relations. The fourth (the G8) represents the world’s largest bilateral donors, i.e. countries that have a lot of influence over reducing poverty. In all these forums, transparency demands essentially boil down to the same thing: better governance, better use of public resources and improved accountability. The G8, taking place in the UK in a week’s time, has three themes, including transparency. There has already been a lot of public discussion around tax transparency and an important push on transparency of extractive industries, with the UK and France signing up to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative in May. We are keen that aid transparency will not be forgotten in the conversations at the G8. Aid sits alongside tax, corporate and government income transparency as different pieces of the bigger good governance puzzle. A clearer understanding of governments’ incomes and expenditures requires transparency on how they are funded from all kinds of flows. Only then can local campaigners hold governments to account for their decisions, disbursements and service delivery. Transparency across the piece is therefore a starting point for dynamic relations of trust between governments and citizens throughout the world. Donor nations have been promoting good governance in recipient countries for over twenty years. Aid transparency is an important step here, too. It is high time that leading bilateral and multilateral aid agencies practiced what they preach. Anyway, the best way to achieve openness in developing nations is not to harp on in a discredited top-down way, but to exchange ideas on a more equal footing. The Open Government Partnership is the perfect setting for this. Currently co-chaired by the UK with Indonesia, the dynamic of the OGP is flat and co-operative, replacing donor-recipient power dynamics with national action plans and peer review. The OGP is not about development at all. It promotes openness and good governance everywhere, and provides a forum for sharing best practice and encouraging other governments. This means that although UK cannot preach, it can evangelise advantages of openness. This is a message that needs to be pushed proactively, as evidenced by Russia’s recent withdrawal from the initiative. Once again, this is a forum that the UK could use more actively to promote IATI, which would particularly benefit aid-dependent countries in Africa and Asia. IATI allows these governments to track external development finance, and to properly align aid flows to their own budgets, helping them to decide where best to allocate their resources. In turn, those governments will be able to present a more complete picture of public spending to their citizens. The UK is also co-chair of the GPEDC, which emerged from the High-Level Forum on Aid-Effectiveness at Busan. The GPEDC again reflects the changing power dynamics of development, including emerging powers and emphasising their importance for future of development cooperation. The co-chairs – Justine Greening, Nigerian Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Armida Alisjahbana of Indonesia – represent donors, recipient nations and emerging South-South Co-operators respectively. The GPEDC is a key forum for the UK to push transparency and benefits of openness, and although its first ministerial meeting has disappointingly been postponed from autumn 2013 to early 2014, it is still an important opportunity for different stakeholders – including civil society and private sector voices – to make transparency demands of each other. Donors have committed to comply with a common open standard for aid data – to include all aspects of IATI – by the end of 2015. The GPEDC will play a central role in ensuring compliance, as well as bringing new development actors into the fold. Finally, David Cameron has positioned himself firmly at the centre of the Post-2015 MDGs agenda. The updated recommendations, released in late May, are a dramatic shift from the existing goals, and call for a ‘data and information revolution’. Transparency and accountability are at the heart of this new framework to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. A focus on improved data and measurable goals will mean, for the first time, that policymakers and citizens will be able to track progress of the new goals, monitor the delivery of services and hold governments accountable for their actions. Access to information can potentially transform the relationship between not only citizens and governments, and also donors and recipients. Open data for all to use has the power to reduce corruption, improve decision-making and allocation of resources, empower citizens and support good governance: all prerequisites for creating local ownership and responsibility and ultimately, successful poverty reduction. We have worked alongside and other partners to develop civil society training modules on how to use – and demand – transparent aid data, alongside other fiscal information. Aidinfo have worked in Kenya, Nepal and Uganda to support the use of open data and to improve its quality. They tell us that people in developing countries are increasingly realising the potential of open data and the role it can play in ending poverty. We applaud the High Level Panel for recognising the critical importance of transparency. Its call for an “international initiative to improve the quality of statistics and information available to citizens” has the potential to be genuinely transformative. But we can not stop there. The Prime Minister needs to show imagination and perseverance to achieve an agenda that will deliver change and real outcomes. Organisations, like us at Publish What You Fund, believe that as more donors continue to publish information to the IATI standard, it will be easier for all stakeholders to hold their institutions and governments to account. Publication of aid information to IATI is a flagship transparency initiative for the UK Government, with DFID publishing to the highest standard. This means we are able to point to the UK as an example for other large donor nations – such as the U.S. – of how they should be publishing their aid information. The time for transparency and open data is now, and we want to see agreed goals and commitments. We know this is an issue that the UK takes this seriously, but the government cannot afford to be coy about pushing it. They are world leaders in aid transparency and should encourage others to follow. June 2013 Dr David Hall-Matthews is Managing Director of [post_title] => The UK needs to show leadership on transparency of international development aid [post_excerpt] => From hosting the G8 to leading on the Open Government Partnership, this continues to be a landmark year for the UK leadership on the world stage. Prime Minister David Cameron has been clear that the common thread running through all these international development events centres on transparency, openness and accountability. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-uk-needs-to-show-leadership-on-transparency-of-international-development-aid [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-uk-needs-to-show-leadership-on-transparency-of-international-development-aid/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [7] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 912 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-06-05 11:54:45 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-06-05 11:54:45 [post_content] => In this FPC Briefing Dr Simon Mabon explores the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has manifested itself in proxy competition in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Syria. It suggests that while sectarian issues shape the rivalry it is important to consider other factors, namely a legacy of Arab – Persian tensions and geopolitical considerations to fully understand the nature of the rivalry and how this fuels across the Middle East. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: The Middle Eastern ‘Great Game’ [post_excerpt] => In this FPC Briefing Dr Simon Mabon explores the rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has manifested itself in proxy competition in Iraq, Lebanon, Bahrain and Syria. It suggests that while sectarian issues shape the rivalry it is important to consider other factors, namely a legacy of Arab – Persian tensions and geopolitical considerations to fully understand the nature of the rivalry and how this fuels across the Middle East. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-the-middle-eastern-great-game [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-the-middle-eastern-great-game/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 651 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-05-31 11:52:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-31 11:52:51 [post_content] => is the Turkish version of the satirical fake news site, The Onion. Mimicking the increasingly sensational writing style of Turkish conventional print media, it produces spoof news and comments on current affairs. With an irreverent style, it parodies the public figures and serious publications. What makes it a new phenomenon in Turkey is not so much its original wit but its plausibility. More than once, its fake news items have been . have shaken the trust in Turkish mass media in recent years. Many publications have become the mouth-pieces of the government. Investigative journalism is rare. Endless columns and commentaries contain more speculation and rumour than fact. Media in Turkey barely covers the war in Syria. Turkish public heard about only after it was reported in western media, even though he crossed the border from Turkey. It isn’t just the state of the media that provides a wealth of satirical material. Pronouncements and decisions by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have become so arbitrary and extreme in recent months, even careful followers of the current affairs wonder whether what they read is real or Zaytung-style spoof. Drink at home! Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s weekly speeches at his party group have each become something of an agenda setting, opponent bashing occasion. As well as making the headlines in conventional media, inevitably they feature just as prominently in all kinds of satirical publications. Take the latest speech by the prime minister, telling off the critics of a new law severely restricting the sale, service and advertising of alcohol. Having declared the yoghurt drink “ayran” as the real national drink for Turkey earlier in April at those that saw the recent changes as an illiberal interference in personal lives. “If you want to drink, drink at home” he said, adding “When two drunkards made the law, you respected it. But when we make a law according to what our faith orders, you reject it.” Zaytung didn’t even try to be funny about it. The sentence with reference to two drunkards made it to their headline as it is. Spoof comments that followed weren’t that different to those expressed by the real ones in mainstream media. Both questioned whether the prime minister was referring to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the republic, who was known for his fondness of aniseed flavored raki (now the disgraced former national drink of Turkey). A member of the main opposition party immediately tabled a question about it in Parliament. Zaytung commented that the prime minister finally let the cat out of the bag. Hurriyet daily columnist : “It looks as if the prime minister reverted back to his earlier belief that the democracy is a tram you get on until you reach your destination. Clearly, the tram stop is getting closer.” The Justice and Development Party government had already taken measures against alcohol by heavily taxing it before. Consumer taxes on raki went up 249% during the past ten years. Outside tourist destinations and big cities, it has already become very difficult to have an alcoholic drink in public spaces in Turkey. , Turkey is one of the lowest alcohol consuming countries, with rates well below four litres per adult. In comparison, the average pure alcohol consumption per adult across EU member states stand at 10.7 litres. So, alcoholism and alcohol related problems aren’t exactly a pressing public health issue in Turkey. By banning the sale of alcohol from 10 pm to 6 am and by refusing license to premises at a distance less than 100 meters from educational establishments and places of worship, the new law brings fierce limitations on availability and personal choice. According to The Directorate of Religious Affairs, there are around the country, with many more mosques being built all the time. Number of schools is estimated to be . It is already difficult to be less than 100 meters away from a mosque in any built-up area. Intervention in personal lives by the government and lecturing by the prime minister has become the norm in Turkey. In June 2012, Mr Erdogan said he was against births by caesarean because it was unnatural. He saw it as a planned move to restrict population growth in Turkey. He also considered abortion, which is currently allowed up to ten weeks, to be murder. Mr Erdogan compared legal terminations to the aerial bombardment of civilians in Uludere near the Iraqi border, where 34 Kurds were killed by the Turkish military in December 2012. “You keep talking about Uludere but every abortion is like an Uludere” he said. The prime minister and in recent years, he even has started to make similar calls abroad. In September 2011, addressing their prime ministers . Are government and society on the same track? Growing social and religious conservatism is a fact of life in Turkish society. Tolerance for different life styles and beliefs has been visibly eroding in recent years, particularly in Anatolian towns. Despite having to recalibrate its Syria policy following his visit to the USA and the unanswered questions left by the where two car bombs killed over 50 people near the Syrian border, Mr Erdogan’s government seem confident that they have the majority of the public support behind them. There isn’t any strong evidence to the contrary. Occasional protests becoming visible are quickly and violently put down. For example on the 1st of May, riot police gassed and fired water cannons at demonstrators wishing to attend an International Worker’s Day rally in Istanbul’s iconic Taksim Square. The whole city was shut down, traffic restricted and public transportation suspended. The Government’s rapidly expanding urban renewal projects have turned the country into a big construction site. Giant shopping malls pop out everywhere, often at the expense of already-scarce green spaces. The latest to cause controversy is again in Istanbul’s Taksim Square. The Prime Minister announced last April that one of the rare open green squares, which was the site of an Ottoman army barracks, would be reconstructed to be used as a shopping mall and a residence. When the bulldozers moved in to remove 75 year-old trees, a large and diverse group of demonstrators gathered to stop them. As was the case in every other peaceful demonstration in recent months, the police resorted to tear gas to disperse the crowds. In down raids, . A picture . Dismissing the Taksim protests, Mr Erdogan said: “Whatever you do, we have decided about that place and we will do it”. On the 29th May, the 560th anniversary of Istanbul’s conquest, Prime Minister Erdogan, along with Turkey’s President Abdullah Gul, attended the foundation laying ceremony for the $3 billion new bridge to be built over Istanbul’s Bosporus. They decided to name it after the Ottoman sultan Selim the Grim. Yavuz Sultan Selim, as he is known in Turkey, is also renowned for being the first sultan to assume the title of caliph, as well as being notorious for the massacres of Shias and Alevis. The choice of the name for the latest Istanbul landmark infuriated Turkey’s Alevis. Thanks to a handful of courageous young satirists, Turkey may at last be discovering “how to recognise irony,” but “consensus” seems still to remain a totally alien concept. May 2013 [post_title] => Turkey- No laughing Matter [post_excerpt] => The Turks are not normally known for their caustic satire or their ability to laugh at themselves. Irony is one of the most difficult words to express in Turkish. But curiously, political satire has a long and proud history in Turkey’s less than pluralistic media. In a country rocked by military take-overs and periods of authoritarian rule, satirical magazines have always symbolised resilience in the face of adversity. The best-selling publications in the 70’s and 80’s were the cartoon-magazines like Girgir with a circulation of up to 450,000, more than most national dailies. As the country yet again comes under the spotlight for attacking the right to freedom of expression with heavy-handed prosecutions of journalists, lawyers, even celebrity musicians such as the world renowned pianist , so, too, satirists sharpen their sense of humour. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => turkey-no-laughing-matter [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/turkey-no-laughing-matter/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [9] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 910 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-05-22 10:45:42 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-22 10:45:42 [post_content] => FPC Research Associate Tom Blass analyses the use of international sanctions and their humanitarian and political impact, examining if their current application is appropriate. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Time to reappraise the sanctions/diplomacy imbalance? [post_excerpt] => FPC Research Associate Tom Blass analyses the use of international sanctions and their humanitarian and political impact, examining if their current application is appropriate. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-time-to-reappraise-the-sanctionsdiplomacy-imbalance [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-time-to-reappraise-the-sanctionsdiplomacy-imbalance/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [10] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 650 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-05-18 13:21:27 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-05-18 13:21:27 [post_content] => Azerbaijan became the host of the contest through Eurovision’s normal process: the country whose entry wins the contest one year becomes host the next. Azerbaijan’s competitors, Ell & Nikki, won Eurovision 2011, and so Baku was set as the location for Eurovision 2012. However, Azerbaijan’s poor human rights record made the country a . Over the past several years, Azerbaijan has become increasingly authoritarian, as the authorities have used tactics such as harassment, intimidation, blackmail, attack and imprisonment to silence the regime’s critics, whether journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders, political activists, or ordinary people taking to the streets in protest. When pressed, even the ineffective European Broadcasting Union, which organises Eurovision, that Azerbaijan did not respect the right to freedom of expression. But Eurovision 2012 is by no means the only time the question has arisen: should international sporting and entertainment events be held in non-democratic countries? Other notable examples of controversial events include last month’s , , and . The question of whether to boycott such events in non-democratic countries is complex, and responses are often divided, both among the international community and domestic groups, even those staging protests in connection with these events. For example, during the protests in the run-up to the Formula One Grand Prix race in Bahrain, protesters did call for a boycott, chanting: “Your race is a crime”. However, Sheikh Ali Salman, the head of opposition bloc Al-Wefaq, which organised some of the protests, “We do not want to hold up the race, but we are trying to benefit from the increased media presence”. Indeed, the increased international media attention on non-democratic countries when they host such events can help significantly in shedding light on human rights abuses that would otherwise not be exposed to the mainstream international public. But once this international attention has faded, local activists can be left in a worse position than when they started – as currently . The Azerbaijan Eurovision experience Rather than calling for a boycott of Eurovision 2012, Azerbaijani activists opted to use the higher than usual level of international media interest in the country to draw attention to human rights violations and press for democratic change. They, like most Azerbaijanis, did not oppose holding the event in the country, and in fact, many were proud to host Eurovision. But they wanted to ensure that , behind the “glitz and glam” of Eurovision, was exposed. Most international human rights organisations also chose not to call for a boycott of Eurovision 2012. Instead, they supported the efforts of local activists through initiatives such as the which used Eurovision as a platform to expose human rights issues in the country and promote democratic reforms, and exposing human rights violations in the country. This tactic was by some measures effective, as for a brief period, there was intense scrutiny by mainstream media outlets in countries with previously scarce media coverage of non-energy related issues in Azerbaijan. At the time I was working with ARTICLE 19, coordinating the , a coalition of international organisations working to promote and protect freedom of expression in the country, and was struck by the stark contrast in the media’s interest in our issues during this period as compared to the norm. Typically, stories on Azerbaijan are a difficult pitch for the international press, and often even significant human rights developments are covered only by outlets with a strong focus on the Former Soviet Union, such as Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Eurasianet. But in the run-up to Eurovision 2012, journalists began to seek out those of us with expertise on human rights issues in the country, asking for information, interviews, and local contacts. Suddenly, television stations such as , , and the UK’s , and newspapers such as , , and were running in-depth coverage of human rights issues in Azerbaijan. Eurovision’s aftermath But this victory was short-lived, and not without costs. President Aliyev and other high-level officials have repeatedly called activists who were critical in the run-up to Eurovision “” and “traitors”, with a senior presidential adviser . Human rights lawyer Bakhtiyar Mammadov, who represented families who were forcibly evicted from the area where the Eurovision venue, Crystal Hall, was constructed, was on politically motivated charges of extortion. Photojournalist and activist with the Sing for Democracy campaign Mehman Huseynov if convicted of politically motivated hooliganism charges stemming from a pre-Eurovision protest. Human rights defenders Emin Huseynov and Rasul Jafarov, two of the organisers of Sing for Democracy, were , where they were studying law. One year later, the human rights situation in Azerbaijan is markedly worse than before Eurovision. The authorities are currently engaged in an unprecedented crackdown to silence the few remaining critical voices in the country. NGOs argue there are now , including , two human rights defenders, and scores of political activists, including the opposition Republican Alternative (REAL) movement’s presidential candidate, . The authorities are making moves against local and foreign NGOs alike, and becoming . They are and applying it politically to target their critics. They are now crossing what many see as the last red line, by taking action to . The situation is likely to continue to deteriorate in the run-up to the country’s October presidential election. Views of local activists Despite this, most Azerbaijani activists stand behind their decision not to call for a boycott of Eurovision 2012. Further, many remain open to the prospect of other international events taking place in Azerbaijan in the future. For example, in January it was announced that the first European Olympics would take place in Baku in 2015. Some local groups are already planning campaign activities in connection with the event. Human Rights Club Chairman and coordinator of the Sing for Democracy campaign Rasul Jafarov explained, “We knew the campaign wouldn’t solve all of our problems. We knew there would be retaliation, and it has happened. But Eurovision helped us to raise international awareness about the situation in Azerbaijan, and there were some positive results”. Jafarov believes that a temporary decrease in the level of political arrests and the early release of some political prisoners was a direct result of international attention related to the contest. He views the current crackdown as more connected to the upcoming presidential election than a lingering effect of Eurovision 2012. Human rights defender Vugar Gojayev agrees that the 2012 song contest was beneficial from an advocacy perspective. “In recent decades, no other event has captured that level of international attention to human rights abuses on the ground”, he said. However, he also believes that Eurovision directly caused a number of violations. Gojayev himself was forced to leave Azerbaijan for safety after he and his family were threatened in connection with Gojayev’s human rights work in the period surrounding Eurovision. He pointed to new cases of political imprisonment and widespread violations of property rights as other examples of Eurovision’s impact. As for the prospect of hosting Eurovision again in the future – which could be possible as early as 2014 as Azerbaijan’s representative, Farid Mammadov, has made it through to tonight’s final – the two have split views. Jafarov has been using social media networks to encourage people to vote for Azerbaijan. As he told me, “We wish we could win Eurovision again, in fact, as often as possible”. But the cost of Eurovision 2012 has weighed heavier on Gojayev, who told me he would object to hosting Eurovision in the country again. “It is definitely not worth it when the basic rights of people are ignored for the sake of an entertainment event”, he said. While he would also think twice about other such events in the future, Gojayev said it was too early to make the call about whether to call for a boycott of the 2015 European Olympics. He said rights groups and international organisations should be working now to develop a clear strategy for how best to use the event as a platform to improve the human rights situation in the country and press the government to fulfil its international obligations. The boycott dilemma It can be difficult for international observers to determine their best course of action when it comes to these events being held in non-democratic countries. As a general guideline, we should take our cue from the local activists, assessing how to approach each event on a case-by-case basis. We should strive to abide by a “do no harm” principle, seeking not to make the situation unnecessarily worse for individuals already at risk. Activists in repressive countries are used to taking on a certain degree of risk, and are best placed to assess what tactic is more likely to be effective, and whether the potential gains are worth the potential costs. And most importantly, we should ensure that we remain attentive and supportive in the aftermath of these events, as local activists become more vulnerable to acts of retaliation once international attention has shifted from their country. Although there certainly were repercussions against activists who were critical in the run-up to Eurovision and other international events in Azerbaijan in 2012 (and in fact, I was in connection with my human rights work shortly after the country hosted the Internet Governance Forum in November 2012), I stand by the decision we took not to call for a boycott of the event. Because of the courageous efforts of local activists in the run-up to Eurovision 2012, the world now knows more than it used to about human rights violations in Azerbaijan. These brave individuals deserve international support and protection as they face retaliation for exposing unsavoury truths. And tonight, as Europe’s eyes are on Malmö, it is worth remembering the words of Eurovision 2012’s winner, Swedish pop star Loreen, who was the only competitor to take the time whilst she was in Baku to visit local rights groups and ask questions about the human rights situation in the country. When by a local newspaper, Loreen said “Human rights are violated in Azerbaijan every day. One should not be silent about such things”. Indeed, one should not. [post_title] => When the music dies: Azerbaijan one year after Eurovision [post_excerpt] => As an anticipated 125 million viewers tune in tonight (May 18th 2013) to watch the 2013 Eurovision Song Contest Final in Malmö, Sweden, it is worth considering how different this year’s Eurovision experience has been from the 2012 contest held in Baku, Azerbaijan. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => when-the-music-dies-azerbaijan-one-year-after-eurovision [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/when-the-music-dies-azerbaijan-one-year-after-eurovision/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [11] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 649 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-04-30 12:13:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-30 12:13:24 [post_content] => What does the law say? Law No. 76 ‘On the Public Monitoring of the Protection of Human Rights in Places of Detention and Assistance to Persons in Places of Detention’ was formulated by human rights activists Valery Borshchyov and Andrey Babushkin in the 1990s and responded to a Council of Europe that member states’ detention facilities should be monitored by an independent body. The bill was introduced into the Duma in 1999, and shunted back and forth between its authors, the Duma (lower house) and the Federation Council (upper house) for nearly ten years before Medvedev eventually signed a much watered-down version into law in June 2008. The law allows members of organisations whose charter specifies protecting rights (up to two from each organisation) to submit an application to the Public Chamber to join a PMC through which members check that detainees have access to adequate food, space, medical facilities, and so on, and provide assistance to prison authorities in the enforcement of human rights. The Commissions have three main tasks: to perform inspections of detention facilities, prepare recommendations for improvement to the facility authorities and handle complaints by inmates. PMC members make inspections in pairs, and the cost of travel to the various facilities is covered by the NGO that put the member forward. Importantly, the law requires PMC members to work with a string of government bodies: the prison authorities, with whom PMC members must discuss any immediate complaints and recommendations, as well as arrange visits; the regional administration which handles more serious complaints by the PMC regarding violations at the facility; the regional Public Chamber which organises training seminars and round tables and can be involved in the selection process; and the human rights ombudsman, who provides material and other support. On the surface, it sounds like a much-needed breath of air into Russia’s historically closed and severe prison system. But, as with other similar monitory bodies, their structure and selection process favour compliant individuals, and NGOs are only allowed to perform public scrutiny if they are members of these Commissions. State control over membership is, albeit somewhat obliquely, retained by the fact that the Public Chamber, a third of whose members are directly chosen by the President, must approve applicants. Furthermore, the kind of close and often integrated work with government bodies required by the PMC work means, first, that it is in the Public Chamber’s interests to select members with whom they know the authorities can work well and, second, that it becomes much more difficult for PMC members to take a critical position on conditions inside detention facilities. A testament to its controversial place in Russian legislation, law No. 76 has barely been left untouched since it was passed. In 2011, the term of service in PMCs was increased from two to three years, and the maximum number of PMC members was raised from 20 to 40. Another change has been introduced for debate in the Duma which would allow religious organisations and political parties to be represented within PMCs, with its authors claiming that the inclusion of such figures will 'increase the performance of public scrutiny.' This is unlikely, as political parties and religious organisations are known for their close relationship to incumbent authorities. Rather, it will undoubtedly decrease the critical capacity of PMCs. More Problems in the Law Overall, there are a number of problems with the law as it stands. Firstly, and most importantly, there is no description of what is understood by a ‘human rights organisation’ - and most organisations claim to protect the rights of their members, be they the Interior Ministry advisory council (as in the case of Moscow PMC) or the society of law enforcement agency workers (as is the case in Samara PMC). As such, organisations which have at best a tangential relation to human rights work – and at worst, may actively hinder the protection of human rights in prisons – have been accepted into the Commissions. During the selection process of the second convocation, human rights activists were rejected in favour of members of organisations for veterans of law enforcement agencies, among which is the Federal Penitentiary Service, the very institution the PMCs are supposed to be monitoring. Second, in one paragraph the law states that PMC members can turn up for an inspection without prior warning, but in another paragraph it contradicts itself and states that prior warning must be given before PMC members arrive at a detention centre for a spot check. According to this paragraph, a letter must be sent in advance stating the time of the visit, the intended goals and the full names of the inspectors. As a result different practices have developed in different regions, with some facilities demanding a whole day's notice, thus giving authorities the chance to put things in order before the inspectors arrive. Third, changes to the law made by the Duma and Federation Council removed the possibility for PMC members to talk to inmates without a member of prison staff present. This means it is now very difficult for inmates to lodge a complaint without fear of reprisal by prison guards afterwards. In the words of one St Petersburg PMC member, 'Whichever inmate dares to tell of any crimes will pay for it later.' Fourth, the fact that NGOs must cover the expenses of PMC members from their organisation means that those with few funds can take part. The most well-funded organisations tend to be Soviet-style organisations, such as veterans organisations and women's groups from the Soviet era with close links to the government and will therefore be less likely to enact a critical public scrutiny of detention facilities. Reactions by the Human Rights Community When the law was passed, Borshchyov called it 'very, very spoilt'. Then, in autumn 2010, after the second round of PMC members were selected, a group of activists from Memorial wrote a letter to the Public Chamber asking it to remember that 'the spirit and sense of public scrutiny consist in defending the rights of people deprived of freedom, but not in guaranteeing membership in Public Commissions to the power structures that are supposed to be monitored.' Last month, leader of NGO Gulagu.net and president of the ONK.RF council, Vladimir Osechkin, published an open later to the Public Chamber on his website signed by 143 colleagues, stating the following: 'All of you, gentlemen, are adult and educated people. You have all read The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn. And are you not ashamed that thanks to your inaction “former" law enforcement officers have joined and taken over power inside many PMCs in the regions, and there are constantly coming pseudo-reports and news of yet another murder, suicide, death of prisoners?' In short, human rights activists feel that the potential for PMCs to perform independent monitoring of prisons and to hold detention centre authorities to account, has been undermined by the desire instead to create institutions that will endorse the status quo. PMCs, as they stand, permit a hybrid, state-controlled form of scrutiny, which is dependent on the energy and integrity of individual PMC members, rather than the institution itself. Conclusion: A Bleak Prognosis for the Third Convocation The forecast is not good for the next set of Public Monitoring Commissions. In Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia’s most liberal cities, only half of the current members belong to organisations broadly recognised as human rights groups. In the regions, where activists are fewer, the average salary is much lower and the distance between detention facilities can take days to traverse, most commissions are devoid of critical members. And in many places there are simply not enough people to do the job. Furthermore, in recent months a witch-hunt for ‘political’ NGOs with funding from abroad has been instigated by the Kremlin, demanding they brand themselves as ‘foreign agents’. These organisations are generally the most out-spoken on rights issues and regional authorities have little choice but to distance themselves from co-operating with them. Who would want a ‘foreign agent’ in a government-sanctioned prison watchdog? While it is a victory for the human rights movement that the possibility for the independent monitoring of prisons exists at all in Russia, their slow and painful evisceration is just another example of the increasingly strained relationship between the state and human rights activists in the country. April 2013 [post_title] => State Co-optation not Independent Control: The Slow Evisceration of Russia’s Public Monitoring Commissions [post_excerpt] => In 2008 then-President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law authorising the creation of Public Monitoring Commissions (PMCs) to perform spot-checks on Russian prisons and other detention centres in order to ensure prisoners are being treated fairly and in accordance with Russian law. Five years after their inception, there are 729 PMC members checking facilities and suggesting improvements in 79 of the 83 Russian regions. The term of office was extended from two to three years in 2010, and the selection process for the third convocation began this March: NGOs are putting members forward for selection into the commissions by the , and the new teams will begin their term in the autumn. However, the current teams have included large numbers of former prison workers and law enforcement officials in their membership – and they have been less critical of conditions than the first round. Human rights groups are worried that if this trend in membership continues into the third convocation, PMCs will become little more than window dressing for the Federal Penitentiary Service, serving only to legitimize the brutal treatment of prisoners. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => state-co-optation-not-independent-control-the-slow-evisceration-of-russias-public-monitoring-commissions [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/state-co-optation-not-independent-control-the-slow-evisceration-of-russias-public-monitoring-commissions/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [12] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 648 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-04-30 09:30:04 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-30 09:30:04 [post_content] => Although the state’s reports for these reviews portray the country as having made progress towards achieving its international obligations, increasing reports of human rights violations on the ground suggest otherwise. In reality, rather than taking steps to respect and protect human rights in preparation for these reviews, the Azerbaijani authorities have been engaged in an to silence all forms of criticism and dissent. Since January, the human rights situation in Azerbaijan has become even more alarming. Authorities have responded harshly to a number of peaceful protests, using to disperse crowds and carrying out mass arrests of protesters. , with critical journalists facing harassment, intimidation, imprisonment, and physical attack in connection with their work, and opposition newspapers being saddled with from defamation lawsuits, many filed by public officials. The government has also taken worrisome steps towards limiting . Cases of political arrest and imprisonment have continued, with the harsh sentencing of journalists and to eight and nine years in jail respectively, and the arrest of , Popular Front Party youth activist , the Republican Alternative movement’s presidential candidate , and Yeni Musavat newspaper journalist , all of whom face serious jail time on trumped-up charges. In April, authorities the office of Azad Fikir (Free Thought) University, a project that provided a forum for youth to learn about and discuss issues that would not be possible elsewhere. Recently adopted and made by top officials suggest that the government is poised for a broader crackdown on independent NGOs. In recent months, the government has also demonstrated an increasing . Notably, in March, it was announced that the government had requested a for the Baku office of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). However, Azerbaijan has generally engaged somewhat more constructively at the UN, where it currently holds a seat on the Security Council, so it remains to be seen how it will approach this week’s reviews. Local and international human rights organisations have issued outlining Azerbaijan’s failure to implement the recommendations made during its first UPR in 2009. Human rights advocates hope that a significant number of delegations will take the floor during this UPR, noting their concern over the many cases of violations and making strong and specific recommendations for measures needed to improve the human rights situation in the country. These recommendations will be used as a benchmark to assess Azerbaijan’s progress during its next UPR, so making the recommendations as specific as possible will help the Human Rights Council to be able to hold the government accountable for their implementation. There has been less focus on the CESCR review as many human rights organisations focus primarily on civil and political rights in Azerbaijan, but there are still serious issues at stake. Since Azerbaijan’s last CESCR review in 2004, there have been increasing reports of as authorities have carried out widespread forced evictions as part of an urban development project in Baku. are also an issue of concern for the CESCR, as highlighted by the Baku-based Human Rights Club, which has faced pressure in connection with its “Art for Democracy” campaign (with which the author is involved). However the Azerbaijani government chooses to engage during these reviews, they provide key opportunities for UN delegations and the CESCR experts to come on record with their concerns over human rights practices in Azerbaijan and to press the country for much-needed reforms. Increased international pressure on Azerbaijan to fulfill its human rights obligations is vital to protect the few remaining critical voices in the country and to address this alarming state of affairs before it becomes even worse. April 2013 [post_title] => UN reviews Azerbaijan’s human rights record amidst unprecedented crackdown [post_excerpt] => This is an important week for Azerbaijan at the United Nations (UN) in Geneva. Today (30 April 2013), the country will undergo its second (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council, which examines the human rights records of all UN Member States. Then, on 3 May, Azerbaijan will be reviewed by the (CESCR) that examines countries’ implementation of their obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => un-reviews-azerbaijans-human-rights-record-amidst-unprecedented-crackdown [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:26 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/un-reviews-azerbaijans-human-rights-record-amidst-unprecedented-crackdown/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [13] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 908 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-04-15 12:04:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-15 12:04:06 [post_content] => As North Korea continues to flout international pressure, FPC Research Associate Dr Chris Ogden analyses the positions of the major regional powers – the US, Japan, China and Russia – on the current crisis. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: High Stakes Gambit- Regional Positions on the North Korea Nuclear Crisis [post_excerpt] => As North Korea continues to flout international pressure, FPC Research Associate Dr Chris Ogden analyses the positions of the major regional powers – the US, Japan, China and Russia – on the current crisis. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-high-stakes-gambit-regional-positions-on-the-north-korea-nuclear-crisis [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-high-stakes-gambit-regional-positions-on-the-north-korea-nuclear-crisis/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [14] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 647 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-04-12 13:56:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-12 13:56:13 [post_content] => The current year is particularly significant in shaping the continuity or change of these policies in the face of a fast-moving regional context. The United States appears to have largely disengaged from the South Caucasus since the election of Barack Obama in 2008 and the famous ‘reset’ of relations with Russia in the following year. The days when Sergei Lavrov could credibly, and somewhat denigratingly, refer to Georgia as Washington’s ‘pet project’ are long gone, and NATO membership is certainly discounted as a possibility in the short and medium-term by most observers. In Moscow, following the musical-chairs exercise between Putin and Medvedev, an externally assertive and internally repressive leadership is actively pushing the idea of a ‘Eurasian Union’ between the states of the former Soviet space. And in the region proper, all three (globally recognised) states are due to hold presidential elections – which, in Armenia, have already been won by the incumbent, despite of accusations of electoral fraud by the main challenger in the race. Will Yerevan, Baku and Tbilisi be able to continue on their chosen foreign policy paths following their ballots, in a fast-changing regional and global environment? In Azerbaijan’s case, the answer seems clear: despite of some unrest in recent months, the opposition in Baku would seem unable to mount any kind of credible challenge to the Aliyev regime in the short to medium-term. On the contrary, confident in oil’s ability to ensure the acquiescence of Western capitals and of its own population, Baku has started actively challenging the role of pan-European and Western institutions in the monitoring of its commitments to Council of Europe and OSCE human rights and electoral standards, using a combination of assertive diplomacy and references to ‘national sovereignty’ reminiscent of discourses heard in Moscow. The , and pressures on other “fake”i.e. foreign-funded NGOs seem to fit into this overall pattern, echoing in Moscow. The Aliyev regime’s coveted hydrocarbon reserves will probably allow it to continue testing the limits of its commitments to democratic reforms: Azerbaijan may or may not be in good stead with Western human rights institutions like the CoE or OSCE, oil and gas will continue flowing through the pipelines nonetheless. Its increasing challenges to these Western IGOs and NGOs are therefore not necessarily a move away from its previous, multi-vectoral approach, of balancing the West with Russia, in favour of Moscow. Neither should too much be read into the at Qabala last year: it will be easily replaced by a similar facility in southern Russia, and much of the resonance given to it in Azeri media was more an assertion of independence aimed at domestic audiences than a serious challenge to Russian regional predominance. Azerbaijan’s foreign policy will therefore be marked by continuity, of walking the tightrope between West and East, testing the limits of Western acquiescence to human rights abuses and regularly asserting independence in relation to Moscow, without, however, seriously challenging either side. In the immediate future, this attitude should also ensure Baku’s unwillingness to deliberately restart a war over the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, even if Azeri threats to take the region by force in the absence of a final solution in its favour should not be taken lightly over the longer term. While Armenia does have a slightly more assertive opposition than its arch-rival, its pro-Russian strategic orientation is, generally, not a matter for internal debate-the overwhelming majority of Armenia’s politicians don’t see an alternative to Yerevan’s links to Moscow. There are notable exceptions, most importantly, Sargsyan’s main challenger in the latest presidential vote – Raffi Hovannisian – who is on the record as suggesting that Armenia pull out of the Russia-centred CSTO alliance. It remains to be seen if he will be followed in this in other opposition groups, and, in any case, it does not appear his post-election challenge to Serj Sargsyan’s re-election will succeed any time soon. The main questions regarding Armenia’s strategic orientation will therefore continue to centre on rapprochement with Turkey, and on the extent to which Armenia will be able to maintain the elements of engagement with Western institutions (like the EU) in light of its pro-Russian strategy. Little is to be expected on the first issue, in the absence of any tangible progress on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict – Ankara has made it abundantly clear in recent years that any progress in its relations with Yerevan would depend on an amelioration of relations with Baku. The is just another example of this stance, which is unlikely to change fundamentally in the immediate future. On the issue of its relations with the EU and (or?) Russia, Armenia seems to be nearing a decisive crossroads: Brussels is holding out the prospect of the country signing an Association Agreement in the near future, which would in effect be incompatible with membership in Russia’s Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC), or an even deeper ‘Eurasian Union’. While avoiding membership of EurAsEC has been a longstanding Armenian policy (first justified through the requirements of WTO membership, which Armenia joined in 2003, well before the Russian Federation), the question is in how far this stance can be maintained in the face of Moscow’s renewed push for integration in the FSU. Two possibilities emerge: either Moscow is so confident of its dominant position in Armenia that Yerevan could get way with not joining EurAsEC, in light of the negligible marginal advantage this would afford Moscow; or Russia will insist on Yerevan following its lead, destroying one of the last elements of complementarity in Armenia’s foreign policy. Only time will reveal Putin’s openness to his only remaining South Caucasian ally’s surviving European aspirations; in any case, in view of its extreme strategic dependence on the Russian Federation, Yerevan would seem to have very little leeway if Moscow chose to press its case. Tbilisi is where domestic and international conditions combine to create the greatest uncertainty regarding future policies vis-à-vis the West, and Russia. On the domestic level, much of this uncertainty relates to the country’s competing factions’ attitudes towards Moscow, complicated by an internal constitutional arrangement that is bound to shift in the coming year. On the international level, questions remain as to Moscow’s openness to co-operation with Tbilisi in spite of the latter’s stated intention to continue its Euro-Atlantic integration strategy. Finally, there is the contradiction between Georgia’s continuing insistence on Abkhazia’s and South Ossetia’s re-integration into its body politic, and Russia’s seemingly irreversible recognition of these entities as independent states. The winner of last year’s parliamentary elections, the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, has stated his intention of improving relations with Moscow while maintaining Georgia’s pro-Western strategy and striving for reunification with both separatist entities. With Georgia , his control of the legislature will become even more significant in determining the country’s foreign and security policies. His party’s victory in upcoming presidential elections, in October this year, would further strengthen his hand. But external policies have already been subjected to significant changes, even before these significant domestic transformations. The appointment of Zurab Abashidze – generally respected as an interlocutor in Moscow, Sukhumi and Tskhinvali - as the new prime minister’s envoy to talks with the Russians was one such move, so was the announcement of a , instead of the policy of isolation applied by the Saakashvili administration since the 2008 war. It must be stressed, however, that Ivanishvili and his Georgian Dream party have vehemently denied accusations from the president’s camp that they intend to abandon Georgia’s post-2003 policies of Euro-Atlantic integration, signing up to a joint parliamentary resolution strongly affirming the country’s Westward strategic gaze. The key question remains whether such a strategic outlook would at all be compatible with improved relations with Moscow? In any case, it would go against Russian policies that have been well established in the post-Soviet era, and that vehemently oppose any Western encroachment on Moscow’s “sphere of special interest”. The initial optimism accompanying Georgian-Russian talks in Geneva has somewhat receded in recent months; the main indication of a potential warming of relations has been . Russia has moreover made it clear, in response to expressions of concern from Sukhumi and Tskhinvali, of what have, in essence, become its protectorates. In short, improving relations with Moscow while striving for NATO membership would require squaring several circles. Even if the current Saakashvili-Ivanishvili standoff is resolved in the upcoming October presidential elections and constitutional alterations, difficult choices would have to be made. On the one hand, acquiescing to Moscow’s demands by dropping Georgia’s NATO aspirations (or pushing them into the indefinite long-term) would make Ivanishvili vulnerable to accusations of a sell-out on the domestic level. On the other hand, maintaining a pro-NATO course would most probably cause continuing consternation in Moscow, while offering little in terms of direct (security) benefits for the Georgian state. Considering the far lower ideological commitment of the ‘pragmatic’ Ivanishvili’s Georgian Dream to the latter (and his hitherto furious denials notwithstanding), a strategic readjustment in favour of the local hegemon, Russia, would seem to be a distinct possibility in coming months and years, especially in the absence of stronger American regional engagement. It remains to be seen whether such a scenario could make it through the inevitable domestic backlash it would provoke. In sum, except in Georgia, the foreign policy landscape in the South Caucasus seems to be marked by continuity, at least given current conditions. But, as events in 2008 showed, the region remains plagued by insecurities and conflicts that remain fundamentally unpredictable. An unexpected event, a renewed conflagration in Nagorno-Karabakh, for instance, or sudden internal political unrest in any of the three recognised states might invalidate anything that is being said today about the future. But known unknowns and unknown unknowns being a feature of international politics, this is one uncertainty no one will be able to address any time soon. Dr Kevork Oskanian, Visiting Lecturer, Department of Politics and International Relations,University of Westminster. April 2013. [post_title] => Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan: Between Russia and the West [post_excerpt] => Since their independence, the three South Caucasian states have come to adopt widely divergent strategic responses to the complex structural realities underlying their region’s security landscape. Following the 2003 Rose Revolution, Georgia became unequivocally pro-Western: the goals of EU and NATO integration were firmly inscribed in two National Security Concepts, adopted in 2006 and , which were recently confirmed in a uniting the otherwise fractious supporters of President Saakashvili and Prime Minister Ivanishvili. Over the past ten years, Armenia’s pro-Russian orientation has, if anything, deepened, with Moscow gaining control of Yerevan’s strategic industries and extending its basing rights till 2044; the Sargsyan regime has nevertheless maintained some elements of a ‘complementary’ foreign policy, most importantly an active engagement with the European Union, and, to a lesser extent, NATO. Azerbaijan’s oil reserves, meanwhile, have allowed it to continue what it calls a ‘multi-vectoral’ approach, combining positive relations with Western states (mostly in the field of energy) with generally friendly interactions with Moscow. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => armenia-georgia-and-azerbaijan-between-russia-and-the-west [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/armenia-georgia-and-azerbaijan-between-russia-and-the-west/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [15] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 646 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-04-11 14:38:09 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-04-11 14:38:09 [post_content] => First, some background: for most of the post-war period, changes of government were far more likely to be prompted by a coalition partner’s change of heart than an election. Specifically, the liberal FDP played the role of “king-maker”, alternating between the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) – alongside its Bavarian CSU sister party – and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD). Since the mid-1990s, that changed, with the FDP positioning itself as a market-liberal ally of the CDU/CSU, and the Greens becoming the SPD’s natural coalition partner. 1998 therefore saw a change of government brought about by an election, with Helmut Kohl’s CDU/CSU-FDP coalition ousted by an alliance between Gerhard Schröder’s SPD and the Greens. In 2002, Schröder’s coalition pulled off an astonishing victory, successfully shifting the terms of political debate away from his (mediocre) economic record towards his attitude towards Iraq (rejecting German involvement) and flooding in eastern Germany. In 2005, Schröder’s luck ran out. He was forced to hold an early election after losing the support not only of the CDU/CSU-dominated upper house of the German parliament, but also a sizeable chunk of his own backbenchers over the controversial Hartz reforms to welfare. The CDU/CSU, by then with Angela Merkel at the helm, managed narrowly to overtake the SPD, but was then forced to invite precisely that party into a “grand coalition”. It would have preferred an alliance with the FDP, but that would not have given Merkel the majority she needed, as, put together, the SPD, Greens and the Left Party had more seats, yet a coalition involving the Left Party – a diverse and colourful grouping even by the standards of the far left – was unthinkable for the SPD and the Greens. The 2005 to 2009 period was unkind to the SPD, which found held in a tight embrace by Merkel’s CDU, and lost its distinctive profile (while Merkel’s party trimmed to the centre ground). As with previous grand coalitions – both in Germany and abroad – the 2009 election saw the two parties forming the government lose out to their minor competitors (the SPD, with 23%, getting its worst post-war result), and the Greens, Left Party and FDP all performed strongly. The SPD’s implosion, coupled with the FDP’s strength, this time allowed Merkel to form her preferred coalition with the FDP, an alliance which has bumbled along since. As things stand, only two scenarios appear likely after September’s elections. The first is a continuation of the existing CDU/CSU-FDP coalition. A few months ago, with the FDP in chaos, this seemed unlikely–, it looked likely to get well below the 5% threshold required for seats in the German parliament, and its occasional policy interventions look like they might even provoke Chancellor Merkel to look elsewhere for a coalition partner. But after and a compromise having been reached in the FDP’s leadership crisis, . The other potential scenario is a further grand coalition. This would occur if neither the CDU/CSU and FDP, nor the SPD together with the Greens, secures a majority, because of the presence of parties that neither would be willing to do business with. This might be the Pirate Party, in internal strife (currently hitting just 3% in the polls – a far cry from its successes in state elections over the past couple of years). More likely, the Left Party will act as the “spoiler” of a centre-left or centre-right majority. The Left Party remains unthinkable as a coalition partner for the SPD, and even Left Party support for a minority SPD/Green government was ruled out by the SPD’s leadership. And here lies the first paradox: the SPD’s best chance of getting back into government lies in becoming the junior partner in a grand coalition. Yet precisely that role took it to its worst post-war election result back in 2009. It is almost guaranteed to lose its profile in a coalition alongside the CDU/CSU under Merkel, and its party members would likely become demotivated due to the sort of compromises necessary in such a coalition, with left-wing support haemorrhaging to the Left Party (or perhaps to the Greens). So the first paradox is that the SPD’s long-term interests may be served by losing out on joining the government this time around. A second paradox is that voters wishing to issue a left-wing protest against austerity, if they vote for the Left Party, make the formation of a grand coalition more likely. Such a grand coalition will do very little to change the course of politics. Parties of the left and centre left might end up with a majority of seats in the German parliament, but this is most unlikely to result in the format of a left-wing government. A third paradox is that, while debate over austerity in Europe rages, this is not the defining feature of the German election campaign. Notwithstanding a few rhetorical flourishes from the SPD’s leader, Sigmar Gabriel, the SPD’s campaign will certainly not include a full-frontal assault on austerity or suggest a radical shift in Germany’s course. There will be pledges to stabilise the banking sector (with a reiteration of German support for a Europe-wide tax on financial transactions), a desire to reduce inequality and support for a minimum wage across Germany. The draft manifesto presents interesting ideas about setting minimum levels of social and educational expenditure for EU members. But those hoping to see a radical shift in Germany’s approach to the Eurozone crisis are likely to be disappointed. Faced with these three paradoxes, Germany’s election looks more likely to be a footnote in history than a European turning-point. Dr Ed Turner, Lecturer in Politics at the Aston Centre for Europe, April 2013. [post_title] => Looking forward to the German elections – a tale of three paradoxes [post_excerpt] => The 2013 German elections will be eagerly watched. Even if the battle between the Chancellor Angela Merkel of the ruling Christian Democrats and her Social Democratic opponent, former finance minister Peer Steinbrück, doesn’t have quite the glamour of Sarkozy against Hollande, Germany’s central role in the politics of the entire Eurozone makes the election incredibly important. However, radical change, and a leftward shift, is extremely unlikely, for the reasons this post sets out, and the Social Democrats, in particular, find themselves in a desperately difficult position. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => looking-forward-to-the-german-elections-a-tale-of-three-paradoxes [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:27 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/looking-forward-to-the-german-elections-a-tale-of-three-paradoxes/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [16] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 906 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-20 17:12:55 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-20 17:12:55 [post_content] => This briefing by Stephen Royle addresses growing concerns surrounding access to finance in the occupied Palestinian territories. Under occupation a rigid framework has been applied that has restricted development capabilities and therefore detached Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank from the formal financial sector. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Access to Finance in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt)- Overcoming a rigid framework [post_excerpt] => This briefing by Stephen Royle addresses growing concerns surrounding access to finance in the occupied Palestinian territories. Under occupation a rigid framework has been applied that has restricted development capabilities and therefore detached Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank from the formal financial sector. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-access-to-finance-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territories-opt-overcoming-a-rigid-framework [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-access-to-finance-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territories-opt-overcoming-a-rigid-framework/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [17] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 644 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-19 12:27:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-19 12:27:03 [post_content] => About a year ago it seemed that the South Caucasus had to come to a standstill. In Georgia Mikheil Saakashvili’s party was expected to keep its leading role as the country was switching from a presidential to parliamentary republic. In Azerbaijan Ilham Aliev’s rule seemed as firm as ever. And in Armenia Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party, which convincingly won the parliamentary vote in May, seemed to be heading for a similar victory at the presidential polls. Today, however, things look different. New government has come to power in Georgia, while a new opposition movement is taking the streets in Azerbaijan. And in Armenia, a movement is emerging, which supporters of Hovannisian are calling ‘the revolution of hello’ or ‘barevolution’ , from the Armenian word barev – hello. (The name ‘revolution of hellos’ is a reference to Hovannisian’s campaigning style, when he was walking around the streets of Armenian cities and villages, greeting strangers in the street.) The post-election developments in Armenia have been both predictable and unexpected. Predictable, as almost every major presidential election in Armenia has lead to similar political crises (in 1996, 2003-2004, 2008): incumbents have been declared winners in disputed elections and mass protests had been quelled by the government with use of force. On the other hand, the post-election developments were unexpected this time, since the last election campaign seemed to be different. While in previous elections the incumbents faced serious competition, this election outcome seemed to be decided even before the campaign began. The two most powerful Armenian political forces after the ruling Republicans, the Armenian National Congress (ANC) and “Prosperous Armenia” Party (PAP) decided not to take part in the election. Thus, most probable contenders, Armenia’s first president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the leader of ANC, and one of Armenia’s richest people, former wrestler Gagik Tsarukyan, the leader of PAP, decided not to run in the upcoming elections. As PAP decided not to take part in the elections, another possible contender, former Foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, a PAP member, also was out of the game. With these political forces and leaders out of the picture, many observers believed that the fate of elections was decided. Moreover, these elections could become the first election, in which the official results would be recognized not only by the designated ‘winners’ and government controlled courts but also by other political forces, civil society and even opposition supporters. Most previous elections, albeit to various extent, have been marred by accusations of fraud, refusal of the losing sides to accept official results, equivocal assessments of international observers, and criticism of the local civil society. But most of all the legitimacy of the elections suffered because of mass anti-government protests that usually followed the elections and were ultimately suppressed by the government with use of force. In this respect the 2008 protests were probably the most dramatic: the police crackdowns on March 1 lead to clashes between protesters and pro-government forces, which left 10 people dead and dozens wounded. Dozens of opposition activists were arrested or went into hiding, newspapers were suspended, web-sites were blocked, curfew was declared in the capital and the military were stationed on the streets of Yerevan. Armenia was on the brink of civil conflict. In the five years that followed, the Armenian government, opposition and society managed to step away from the abyss, to which they came so close in 2008. Eventually opposition activists were released, newspapers were allowed to re-open and other restrictions on civil liberties were lifted. The government became more tolerant towards pluralism in the media than before 2008. However, the disputed elections and subsequent tragedy of March 1 meant that Sargsyan’s government did not enjoy legitimacy in the eyes of at least a large portion of Armenia’s population. The presidential elections of 2013, it seemed, would help to solve this problem. With all major challengers out of the picture, it seemed, the incumbent would receive a comfortable amount of votes, which would bring political legitimacy to the incumbent government both from within and outside of the country. Some analysts even argued that in 2013 the real problem for the incumbent was not to receive too many votes: a high percentage over 80 or 90 %, usually typical for hard-line dictatorial regimes, would expose the authoritarian character of Armenia’s political system and be disastrous for Armenia’s external image and especially its European aspirations. However, this kind of idyllic picture was shattered by unexpectedly high results of one of the remaining opposition candidates, Raffi Hovannisian. Hovannisian, successful US-born lawyer, moved to Armenia in 1991, where he became the first minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia, but soon resigned over disagreements with president Ter-Petrosyan. Since then he remained in Armenia, working mostly in a non-governmental sector, however some time later he moved into politics and created the opposition party Heritage, which became part of the National Assembly in 2007. In 2012 Hovannisian’s Heritage party did not do that well in the parliamentary elections, and received just a little over 5 %, even in spite the electoral alliance it formed with another party ‘Free Democrats’. Moreover, the alliance with the Free Democrats broke up, as the two parties started quarrelling over the few places they actually received in the new parliament. The modest showing of Hovannisian’s party at the parliamentary elections was probably one of the reasons why few observers and analysts expected him to present a serious challenge to the incumbent in the presidential poll. Moreover, Hovannisian seemed exactly the kind of challenger that could be comfortable from the government’s point of view: someone who could get enough votes to prove the democratic nature of the elections and yet not enough to deprive the incumbent of a victory. However, things did not work out quite that way. Unexpectedly for most observers Hovannisian was able to consolidate the protest electorate. He ran a successful campaign, conducting a door to door campaign, visiting various regions of Armenia and different districts of the capital Yerevan. Greeting strangers in the street became Hovannisian’s trademark, it even became a subject of jokes and Internet memes. Many observers ridiculed Hovannisian’s campaign, calling to too American, unsuitable for post-Soviet context and therefore doomed to fail. However, many Armenian voters proved willing to accept Hovannisian’s down-to earth style of communication, which strongly contrasted with the paternalist style of most local politicians, whether government or opposition. However, probably the biggest contributor to Hovannisian’s success, ironically, was the government itself, which did its best to neutralize possible contenders in the course of political struggle in the run-up to the elections. As a result, disgruntled voters all over Armenia decided to express their protest against the current government by voting for Hovannisian. It is hard to assess the veracity of the claims of both sides regarding the outcome of the elections. What is clear, however, is that, as it usually happens in countries with authoritarian or semi-authoritarian political systems, the votes, which the government received, are to a large extent a result of a wide use of administrative resources rather than genuine support. Therefore, a protest movement like the one lead by Hovannisian presents a deadly danger for the ruling government: as the examples of ‘Colour revolutions’ or ‘the Arab spring’ suggest, the government camp may disintegrate if the protest movement becomes strong enough. The opposition, however, has its own issues. Hovannisian has so far not been able to create an alliance with the most influential opposition parties. It is also not so clear what effect would rallies have and how long will his supporters be able to sustain the momentum. As the experience of mass protests show, if the government forces exercise restraint and do not resort to violence or other inadequate steps, such protests tend to lose the momentum. The urge to keep the momentum was probably the main motivation behind the hunger strike declared by Hovannisian. Opposition can also use the upcoming municipal elections in the capital Yerevan to advance its demands. Given the importance of Yerevan as the centre of Armenia (about one third of Armenia’s population live here) this election may be instrumental as the key to power in the country, especially since the support for the opposition has traditionally been strong in Yerevan. However the success of the opposition in the local election depends on its ability to unite, which at least at this point seems quite a complicated task. Also a lot depends on the success of the so called ‘million's march’, planned for April 9, the day of inauguration of Serzh Sargsyan. Also, external support, which can be instrumental for success of similar movements, is missing. EU and US officials have already congratulated Serzh Sargsyan upon his election. As for Russia, given the recent rise of anti-Americanism and the paranoid fear of colour revolution among its political elite, it is extremely unlikely to welcome a pro-democracy protest movement, especially one lead by a US born diaspora Armenian. Even though in the past Putin's government has been displeased with certain moves of Sargsyan, particularly his reluctance to join a customs union with Russia, it will probably see Sargsyan, a former Communist apparatchik, as the lesser evil compared to Hovannisian. The government, however, also faces a serious challenge. The elections and post-election protests showed that discontent among the population is so high that the ruling government cannot be sure of its future, even if it manages to outplay its main political rivals. Only systemic reforms, aimed at reducing the monopolization of the economy and fighting corruption in the state apparatus can help to raise the standards of living and thus reduce the discontent. However, decisive reforms are not something a government with questionable legitimacy can afford, which means that the government has found itself in a vicious circle. The elections proved a defeat for a small group of younger politicians from the Republican party, who had an image of reformers or technocrats, as they were considered to be behind the election campaign strategy in the parliamentary elections of 2012 and the current presidential campaign. The unofficial leader of this group, Sargsyan's son-in-law Mikayel Minasyan has been appointed Armenia's ambassador to Vatican, which many observers interpret as ‘honorary exile’, marking the defeat of the reformers' faction within the government. With its legitimacy challenged by opposition, Sargsyan’s government will have to rely more and more on the so called oligarchs and the corrupt state bureaucracy. In any case, however situation develops, it is clear that a new political landscape is emerging in Armenia. Both the government camp and the opposition will emerge of the current post-election period thoroughly transformed. Together with the events in the neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan, the ‘barevolution’ in Armenia is a sign that South Caucasus has a chance to shake off the image of a provincial Soviet backwater region with corrupt authoritarian regimes. In the late 1980s it was the South Caucasus where the processes that lead to the break-up of the Soviet system started. Who knows, may be the current developments in the South Caucasus are a sign that the times are changing in all of the post-Soviet region. Mikayel Zolyan is historian and political analyst from Yerevan (Armenia). Currently, he teaches at several universities in Yerevan and works at Yerevan Press Club NGO in Yerevan. [post_title] => Hello, Revolution? Post-Election Protests in Armenia Challenge the Official Results of the Presidential Election [post_excerpt] => Post-election protests are the rule rather than the exception, when it comes to elections in many post-Soviet countries. However, even for a place as turbulent as post-Soviet Caucasus, when a presidential candidate, who came second (according to official results), starts a hunger strike, this is something unusual. That is exactly what is happening in Armenia these days. Raffi Hovannisian, opposition leader, who received 36.7 % according to the official results of the February 18th elections, is continuing his hunger strike in Yerevan’s central Liberty Square. While Hovannisian’s result is already quite impressive compared to post-Soviet standards (incumbent Serzh Sargsyan received 58.6 %), opposition supporters claim that the election has been stolen and the real winner is Hovannisian. Hovannisian calls on Sargsyan, whom he refers to as ‘former president’, to leave the post and vows to fight for justice, whatever the price. Mass rallies in support of Hovannisian’s claims started immediately on the day after the presidential elections on February 18 and continue to this day, albeit with less enthusiasm than in the beginning. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => hello-revolution-post-election-protests-in-armenia-challenge-the-official-results-of-the-presidential-election [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/hello-revolution-post-election-protests-in-armenia-challenge-the-official-results-of-the-presidential-election/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [18] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 904 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 18:06:18 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 18:06:18 [post_content] => Mark Henstridge, Acting Executive Director, International Growth Centre. [post_title] => Banking on Africa conference: Mark Henstridge presentation [post_excerpt] => Mark Henstridge, Acting Executive Director, International Growth Centre. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => banking-on-africa-conference-mark-henstridge-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/banking-on-africa-conference-mark-henstridge-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [19] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 902 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 18:04:44 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 18:04:44 [post_content] => Vanessa Erogbogbo, Independent Consultant. [post_title] => Banking on Africa conference: Vanessa Erogbogbo presentation [post_excerpt] => Vanessa Erogbogbo, Independent Consultant. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => banking-on-africa-conference-vanessa-erogbogbo-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:28 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/banking-on-africa-conference-vanessa-erogbogbo-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [20] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 900 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 18:03:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 18:03:29 [post_content] => Barclay O'Brien, AYANI Consultants & Opportunity International. [post_title] => Banking on Africa conference: Barclay O'Brien presentation [post_excerpt] => Barclay O'Brien, AYANI Consultants & Opportunity International. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => banking-on-africa-conference-barclay-obrien-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/banking-on-africa-conference-barclay-obrien-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [21] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 868 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 18:00:51 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 18:00:51 [post_content] => Presentation by Chris West, Director of the Shell Foundation to the FPC, Barclays and City of London Banking on Africa conference. [post_title] => Banking on Africa conference: Chris West presentation [post_excerpt] => Presentation by Chris West, Director of the Shell Foundation to the FPC, Barclays and City of London Banking on Africa conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => banking-on-africa-conference-chris-west-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/banking-on-africa-conference-chris-west-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [22] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 898 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:48:39 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:48:39 [post_content] => Please click below for the presentation of Abdirashid Duale(British Somali entrepreneur and CEO, Dahabshiil, one of Africa's largest money transfer agencies)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age- Abdirashid Duale presentation [post_excerpt] => Please click below for the presentation of Abdirashid Duale(British Somali entrepreneur and CEO, Dahabshiil, one of Africa's largest money transfer agencies)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-abdirashid-duale-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-abdirashid-duale-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [23] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 896 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:43:06 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:43:06 [post_content] => Please click below for a presentation on The Challenges of Replicating and Scaling Up Mobile Banking Services from The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age-The Challenges Replicating & Scaling Up Mobile Banking [post_excerpt] => Please click below for a presentation on The Challenges of Replicating and Scaling Up Mobile Banking Services from The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-the-challenges-replicating-scaling-up-mobile-banking [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-the-challenges-replicating-scaling-up-mobile-banking/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [24] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 894 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:38:59 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:38:59 [post_content] => Please click below for the presentation from Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Managing Director, Cash Management, Africa, Citigroup) and Tomasz Smilowicz (Managing Director, Global Head of Mobile Solutions, Citi Global Transaction Services)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age- Ireti Samuel-Ogbu and Tomasz Smilowicz presentation [post_excerpt] => Please click below for the presentation from Ireti Samuel-Ogbu (Managing Director, Cash Management, Africa, Citigroup) and Tomasz Smilowicz (Managing Director, Global Head of Mobile Solutions, Citi Global Transaction Services)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-ireti-samuel-ogbu-and-tomasz-smilowicz-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-ireti-samuel-ogbu-and-tomasz-smilowicz-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [25] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 892 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:34:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:34:38 [post_content] => Please click below for the presentation of Kwaku Ofosu-Adarkwa (Chief Director (Permanent Secretary), Ministry of Communications, Ghana)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age- Kwaku Ofosu-Adarkwa presentation [post_excerpt] => Please click below for the presentation of Kwaku Ofosu-Adarkwa (Chief Director (Permanent Secretary), Ministry of Communications, Ghana)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-kwaku-ofosu-adarkwa-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:29 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-kwaku-ofosu-adarkwa-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [26] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 890 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:29:17 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:29:17 [post_content] => Please click below for the presentation of Adela Klirova(Public Policy Executive, Emerging Markets, Vodafone Group External Affairs)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age- Adela Klirova's presentation [post_excerpt] => Please click below for the presentation of Adela Klirova(Public Policy Executive, Emerging Markets, Vodafone Group External Affairs)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-adela-klirovas-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-adela-klirovas-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [27] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 866 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:24:03 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:24:03 [post_content] => Please click below for the presentation of Funmi Omogbenigun (General Manager, Corporate Communications, MTN Nigeria)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age- Funmi Omogbenigun presentation [post_excerpt] => Please click below for the presentation of Funmi Omogbenigun (General Manager, Corporate Communications, MTN Nigeria)to The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-funmi-omogbenigun-presentation [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-funmi-omogbenigun-presentation/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [28] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 880 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-03-05 17:14:24 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-03-05 17:14:24 [post_content] => The summary report and recommendations from the FPC and UK Foreign Office's 'The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age' conference. [post_title] => The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age: Summary Report [post_excerpt] => The summary report and recommendations from the FPC and UK Foreign Office's 'The African growth revolution? Mobile banking in a global age' conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-summary-report [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/the-african-growth-revolution-mobile-banking-in-a-global-age-summary-report/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [29] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 888 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-02-27 12:06:29 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-27 12:06:29 [post_content] => Policy Forum Armenia’s Zaven Kalayjian and Sassoon Kosian present a statistical analysis of voting patterns in the Armenian Presidential Election held on February 18th 2013 that indicates serious irregularities took place , bringing the final result into question. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Results of Preliminary Analysis of February 18th 2013 Presidential Election in Armenia [post_excerpt] => Policy Forum Armenia’s Zaven Kalayjian and Sassoon Kosian present a statistical analysis of voting patterns in the Armenian Presidential Election held on February 18th 2013 that indicates serious irregularities took place , bringing the final result into question. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-results-of-preliminary-analysis-of-february-18th-2013-presidential-election-in-armenia [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-results-of-preliminary-analysis-of-february-18th-2013-presidential-election-in-armenia/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [30] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 886 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-02-25 12:05:57 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-25 12:05:57 [post_content] => In this double-headed paper Jason Ralph examines the principles that might inform the kind of foreign policy that might be expected from a Labour government led by Ed Miliband. Ralph focuses on a Fabian Society paper, Labour’s Next Foreign Policy by David Clark, to discuss the historical and theoretical context of Miliband’s approach and to provide a framework for a wider discussion about Labour foreign policy. David Clark then provides a response to Ralph’s analysis in this new format Foreign Policy Conversation Piece briefing paper. It aims to prompt further debate and reflection on the challenges and opportunities facing centre-left foreign policy makers. [post_title] => FPC Conversation Piece: Labour’s Next Foreign Policy. A Response. [post_excerpt] => In this double-headed paper Jason Ralph examines the principles that might inform the kind of foreign policy that might be expected from a Labour government led by Ed Miliband. Ralph focuses on a Fabian Society paper, Labour’s Next Foreign Policy by David Clark, to discuss the historical and theoretical context of Miliband’s approach and to provide a framework for a wider discussion about Labour foreign policy. David Clark then provides a response to Ralph’s analysis in this new format Foreign Policy Conversation Piece briefing paper. It aims to prompt further debate and reflection on the challenges and opportunities facing centre-left foreign policy makers. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-conversation-piece-labours-next-foreign-policy-a-response [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:30 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-conversation-piece-labours-next-foreign-policy-a-response/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [31] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 884 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-02-06 13:44:31 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-06 13:44:31 [post_content] => In this briefing Zeynep Dereli sets out some of the key challenges facing Turkey as it looks to expand its role as a regional energy hub, including the complex relationship with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq and access to Caspian gas. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: Turkey’s Pivotal Role in Energy Supply [post_excerpt] => In this briefing Zeynep Dereli sets out some of the key challenges facing Turkey as it looks to expand its role as a regional energy hub, including the complex relationship with the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq and access to Caspian gas. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-turkeys-pivotal-role-in-energy-supply [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-turkeys-pivotal-role-in-energy-supply/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [32] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 882 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-02-06 12:47:11 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-02-06 12:47:11 [post_content] => In this briefing Dr Simon Mabon explores the successes and limitations of British Soft-Power. He argues for UK soft-power to be supported by a more normative, values driven approach to foreign policy with particularly reference to the arms trade and the middle east peace process. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: A ‘New Hope’ as the ‘Empire Strikes Back’- British Soft Power in 2013 [post_excerpt] => In this briefing Dr Simon Mabon explores the successes and limitations of British Soft-Power. He argues for UK soft-power to be supported by a more normative, values driven approach to foreign policy with particularly reference to the arms trade and the middle east peace process. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-a-new-hope-as-the-empire-strikes-back-british-soft-power-in-2013 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-a-new-hope-as-the-empire-strikes-back-british-soft-power-in-2013/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [33] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 643 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-01-28 11:31:53 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-28 11:31:53 [post_content] => The success of the first resolution was not surprising. It accompanied a monitoring report compiled by the two co-rapporteurs of the PACE Monitoring Committee on Azerbaijan, Pedro Agramunt (Spain) and Joseph Debono Grech (Malta) following several visits to the country. Although some – such as Estonian PACE delegate Andres Herkel – argued the report could have been stronger, it was harder-hitting and contained some important recommendations for measures needed to improve the human rights situation in the country. But the outcome of the vote on the second resolution had been difficult to predict, as it was a long-standing source of controversy within the Council of Europe and had in committee in June 2012. The resolution’s defeat was deeply disappointing to the rapporteur tasked with compiling the report, Christoph Strässer (Germany), and his supporters, who had worked for four years to produce the report and accompanying resolution despite the of the Azerbaijani authorities to issue Strässer a visa to undertake a fact-finding visit to the country in accordance with his mandate. During the debate, the Azerbaijani delegation’s lobbying strategy became evident: in a seemingly constructive step, they supported the somewhat critical monitoring report, at the same time using it to make the political prisoner report look both biased and unnecessary. The Azerbaijani delegation and their supporters argued that two separate reports were unnecessary as the issue of political prisoners was also included within the monitoring report, which they praised as being balanced and constructive. They in turn criticised Strässer’s report as lacking credibility based on the fact that he had not travelled to the country to conduct research, and some alleged that he had approached the work with a pre-conceived agenda. Some 50 speakers took the floor during the debate, the majority of whom voiced support for the monitoring report and indicated they would vote against the political prisoner resolution. The tone of the is perhaps best captured by a comment made towards the end by head of the Azerbaijani PACE delegation Samad Seyidov: "I am completely against the approach it takes to Azerbaijan, but I will still be a member of the Assembly because this is not Mr Strässer’s Council of Europe; it is my Council of Europe, just as it is my Azerbaijan, as it will be for ever. I am in favour of the Monitoring Committee report, but I am totally against Mr Strässer’s report”. Indeed, during the four years leading up to the vote, the balance within the Council of Europe often seemed to be tipped in Azerbaijan’s favour. The Azerbaijani delegation was able to interrupt progress on the report for quite some time by creating a debate within the Council of Europe about the need for a definition of political prisoners before any individual country should be examined, and by questioning why Azerbaijan in particular should be scrutinised while there were political prisoners in other member states. As a result, PACE eventually did adopt a of political prisoners in October 2012, but the Azerbaijani delegation’s attempt to pass an amendment stating that only the European Court of Human Rights could make determinations about political prisoners failed in a highly . In addition, it remains unclear why the co-rapporteurs’ completion of the monitoring report – which was initially expected to be presented to PACE in October 2011 – was delayed for so long and then suddenly achieved in time for it to be added to the agenda for debate alongside the political prisoner resolution. Whether intentional or not, the timing of the monitoring report’s completion contributed significantly to the defeat of the political prisoner resolution. International and Azerbaijani civil society activists viewed the negative vote on the political prisoner resolution as a failure by the Council of Europe to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its obligations as a member state at a key opportunity, and more broadly as a signal that the body’s stance on human rights was weakening. Further, sources within the Council of Europe voiced concern that PACE’s failure to take action to address Azerbaijan’s refusal to issue Strässer a visa could set a worrisome precedent for other member states which may not wish to cooperate with special mandates, as now appears to be the case with Russia in relation to Marielouise Beck (Germany), PACE’s rapporteur on IDPs and returnees in the North Caucasus. Regardless of the outcome, the four-year saga culminating in last week’s vote had positive implications for the political prisoner situation in Azerbaijan, not least of all in ensuring that the issue remained on the international agenda during that time. As pointed out by UK PACE delegate Christopher Chope during the debate, Strässer’s work ensured that the issue of political prisoners was included in the monitoring report, and led to the release of many persons he had identified as potential political prisoners. In moving forward, PACE should use all available mechanisms to hold Azerbaijan – and all other member states – accountable for their Council of Europe obligations to avoid further damaging the body’s already weakening image as an institution that promotes and protects human rights. A good start would be to ensure effective follow-up to the recommendations contained in the resolution accompanying the monitoring report. [post_title] => Votes on two key resolutions highlight PACE’s mixed approach to human rights in Azerbaijan [post_excerpt] => The vote on 23 January 2013 by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) on two key resolutions pertaining to the human rights situation in Azerbaijan marked the end of a significant era for the country. passed in a vote of , and failed to pass with a vote of . [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => votes-on-two-key-resolutions-highlight-paces-mixed-approach-to-human-rights-in-azerbaijan [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/votes-on-two-key-resolutions-highlight-paces-mixed-approach-to-human-rights-in-azerbaijan/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [34] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 642 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-01-18 17:36:13 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-18 17:36:13 [post_content] => Some what overlooked when analysing the results of the 2012 US presidential elections, was the extent to which Asian Americans backed Obama. The figure was up to 73 per cent; surpassing the Latino and female vote. Romney’s Chinese bashing was ill judged, sitting uncomfortably with Asian Americans. Attacking China as an economic cheat served only to raise fears amongst Asian Americans thereby alienating this group of voters. Asian Americans make up 3.4 per cent of the national electorate, and it is estimated by some that by 2050, this figure will rise to 10 per cent. Although in states like California, it could be at least 20 per cent from the present 11 per cent. Therefore the Asian American voted is growing and its potential should not be underestimated. Obama’s appeal to the Asian American is mirrored by a wider global appeal, illustrated well by Pew Research and the fact that much of the world cheered the November re-election of US President Obama. This support was not necessarily an endorsement of US foreign policy. In particular there is still widespread opposition to US drone strikes as part of his anti-terrorism policy; his failure to meet expectations that he would tackle climate change; and crucially his failure to position the US as a more even-handed broker between Israel and Palestine. Yet, his popularity in Asia, especially South East Asia is undented. His relationship with South Asian countries is, however more complex. In Indonesia he enjoys massive popularity; this is not surprising considering that Obama has placed a lot of importance on relations with this Muslim majority country. In 2009, in other Muslim majority countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan, people hoped he would be different from the Bush administration. However, after his re-election and second term in the White House, his popularity in these countries has dipped and has never been lower. As for relations with China, this is likely to evolve into a working but competitive one, particularly in the East of Asia, as illustrated by his trip to Myanmar otherwise known as Burma. So what should we make of his recent trip to Burma? Well it was part of a three leg tour which also took in Thailand and Cambodia for an ASEAN conference in the middle of last November. This made him the first US President to visit Burma and meet their President Thein Sein and Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the pro-democracy party. The White House itself called it the "pivot" towards Asia, as their strategic focus becomes the fast-growing Asian countries, away from war and terrorism in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Clearly this trip reflects a watershed in policy and focus following the importance the US has placed on normalising relations with Burma. For the US, this represents an opportunity to have a greater stake in the region, partly to counter the influence of China. Interestingly Robert Kaplan, academic and journalist in his book Monsoon about Burma, observes the following; “In short, Burma provides a code for understanding the world to come. It is a prize to be fought over, as China & India are doing so right now. Recognising the importance of what Burma and its neighbours represent at a time of new energy pathways, unstable fuel prices, and seaboard natural disasters………….For the US, Indian Ocean states like Burma are now, or should be, central to their calculations. " Importantly, he wrote this well before Obama’s re-election last November, so clearly some one is listening in the state department. Further, Kaplan, based on his knowledge of the state department, argues that the appointment of special envoys for Israel-Palestine; Afghanistan-Pakistan & North Korea, will free up the Secretary of State to concentrate on the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific regions. Structurally at least, the State department is now better organised then it’s been for some time to respond to a rising India and China. Indeed John Kerry, the newly appointed Secretary of State should consider himself fortunate to be taking over at such a time of freed up resources within the state department. So, Asians both in the US and aboard are set to have even more dealings with Obama in his second term. He is naturally more in tune with the region having lived in Indonesia in his formative years and by having an Asian half-sister. This backdrop inevitably acts to make him culturally more approachable and appealing to the Asian electorate. Arguably, the future of American power lies in the East; this notion is strengthened by the re-election of President Obama, who has already made a clear play for Asia. Based on recent policy and the apparent lean towards Asia, it looks as though Obama himself would have little trouble being perceived as the first Asian President of the USA. Murad Qureshi is a Labour member of the London Assembly [post_title] => Is Obama the first Asian President of the USA? [post_excerpt] => It is said that Bill Clinton was the first black president of the United States, such was his popularity amongst the black electorate. So by the same token, is Obama, in his second term, becoming the first Asian President of the US? With the overwhelmingly endorsement of Asian US citizens; his first trip to Asia already undertaken this term and his tilt of foreign policy towards the East, this may not be as strange as it first sounds. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => is-obama-the-first-asian-president-of-the-usa [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:31 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/is-obama-the-first-asian-president-of-the-usa/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [35] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 878 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-01-15 13:10:38 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-15 13:10:38 [post_content] => Claire Alexandre, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - presentation to '' conference. [post_title] => Presentation from 'The financial revolution in Africa: Mobile payments services in a new global age' conference [post_excerpt] => Claire Alexandre, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation - presentation to '' conference. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => presentation-from-the-financial-revolution-in-africa-mobile-payments-services-in-a-new-global-age-conference [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/presentation-from-the-financial-revolution-in-africa-mobile-payments-services-in-a-new-global-age-conference/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [36] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 876 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2013-01-15 12:52:52 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-01-15 12:52:52 [post_content] => The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) and in association with the City of London Corporation and ‘This is Africa’, (the FT's bimonthly magazine), hosted a (2012) focused on how best to regulate and expand the provision of mobile payment services across Africa and beyond. This report distils the main ideas and experiences shared through a series of main plenary sessions and a range of working group discussions at the London conference. The report comprises of two central elements. The first provides guidelines and principles that could support the development of a framework outlining how effective regulation might be shaped. The second suggests potential implementation features which could explore how effective regulation might be implemented, scaled up and replicated. [post_title] => Summary Report: The financial revolution in Africa-Mobile payments services in a new global age [post_excerpt] => The Foreign Policy Centre (FPC) in partnership with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office(FCO) and in association with the City of London Corporation and ‘This is Africa’, (the FT's bimonthly magazine), hosted a (2012) focused on how best to regulate and expand the provision of mobile payment services across Africa and beyond. This report distils the main ideas and experiences shared through a series of main plenary sessions and a range of working group discussions at the London conference. The report comprises of two central elements. The first provides guidelines and principles that could support the development of a framework outlining how effective regulation might be shaped. The second suggests potential implementation features which could explore how effective regulation might be implemented, scaled up and replicated. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => summary-report-the-financial-revolution-in-africa-mobile-payments-services-in-a-new-global-age [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/summary-report-the-financial-revolution-in-africa-mobile-payments-services-in-a-new-global-age/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [37] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 874 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-18 15:21:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-18 15:21:15 [post_content] => Jan Gaspers sets out an evaluation of the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize win against the three key judging criteria the Nobel Committee are required to use. He argues that the EU meets these criteria more than most recent most recent recipients and looks to possible future developments. [post_title] => FPC Briefing: The European Union and the Nobel Peace Prize: A Criteria-Based Assessment [post_excerpt] => Jan Gaspers sets out an evaluation of the EU’s Nobel Peace Prize win against the three key judging criteria the Nobel Committee are required to use. He argues that the EU meets these criteria more than most recent most recent recipients and looks to possible future developments. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => fpc-briefing-the-european-union-and-the-nobel-peace-prize-a-criteria-based-assessment [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/fpc-briefing-the-european-union-and-the-nobel-peace-prize-a-criteria-based-assessment/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [38] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 641 [post_author] => 38 [post_date] => 2012-12-13 13:58:15 [post_date_gmt] => 2012-12-13 13:58:15 [post_content] => In March 2013 the conflict will have raged for two years. The breathtaking momentum of the Arab Spring has been stuck in the deep bloody mud of a civil war that has seen over , more than and an estimated 13% of the population (3 million) forced from their homes. At time of writing that the eastern city of Deir Azzour (pre-war population 600,000) is under siege and in a desperate state. In Syria the unstoppable force of the Arab Spring has clashed most spectacularly with the unmoveable realities of the region’s geopolitics. An American diplomat has described Syria as a proxy war, a civil war and lots of small internal wars all happening at once. CIA officers sent to the country in 2011 reported back that the conflict was far too fragmented for them to see any easy answer to what Washington should do. Russian and Chinese intransigence at the United Nations has gummed the mechanisms of international war and peace. Special Representative Lakhdar Brahimi has admitted that his job is looking at a wall, trying to find any cracks. The US has been unwilling to grasp a complex nettle with a war weary population and a weak economy at home. Obama’s ‘leading from behind’ is a policy backed by the American public as well as the media establishment, both the New York Times and the Washington Post publishing editorials recently praising his pragmatic approach to the conflict. However on the ground things are changing quickly, forcing both the US and the Europeans to adopt a far more proactive approach in order to influence what happens in Syria. In Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and its economic hub, the rebels continue to push forward. As the US discovered in Iraq, long supply lines through hostile rural areas are prime territory for roadside bombs and other deadly ambushes. The Regime’s supply lines are stretched and their increasing reliance on airpower in the north is a reflection of such weakness. An analyst recently back from the region predicted Aleppo’s fall in 2013, a body blow to the regime and an opening of a space that some say could be Syria’s Benghazi allowing massively ramped up logistical support to the Opposition. In Damascus, despite the failure of the rebels ‘Operation – Damascus Volcano’ in July, a new offensive has focused on the suburbs and the symbolic and tactical location of the international airport. Since the start of the protests and then the fighting the regime has steadily ramped up the fire power it has deployed. What started with tear gas and bullets has evolved into and Scud missiles. Unnamed US officials have even begun to speculate that Assad would use chemical weapons in a final act of desperation. Prompted by the rapid rebel advances on the ground and continued fears of insecurity over spilling into key allies such as Turkey and Jordan, the Western powers have upped their game. November’s meeting in Doha nominally linked all the opposition elements together under one hat – the aptly long named 'National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces' (NCSROF). This wasn't a cathartic coming together of different opposition elements but rather London and Paris leaning on Doha, Riyadh and Ankara to ensure that the groups under their patronage signed up to what was seen as the only game in town. Likewise the decision this week by rebel commanders from across Syria to join forces under the ‘Supreme Joint Leadership Military Council’ reflects a stronger ‘push from behind’. The US, Germany and the Netherlands are putting Patriot missiles along with battery personnel into harms way along Turkey’s border with Syria and soon enough real questions will likely be asked as to why the West is only providing non-lethal support to what it now officially recognises as the legitimate representatives of the beleaguered Syrian people. In short the questions as to whether Syria will become a Lebanon, an Iraq or even a Somalia are forcing the hand of reluctant Western governments to get more involved in Syria. The US attempt to marginalise the Nusra Front as a ‘terrorist organisation’ within the Opposition reflects a desire to shape things going forward rather than letting the chips fall as they may. With the demanding a confidential report into military options and the White House likely to pivot around new studies into Syria expect a more proactive approach to country to combine with rapidly moving events on the ground. The general consensus around Assad’s demise may rapidly shift to serious questions as to what a post-regime Syria will look like. [post_title] => Syria: End of Year Report Card [post_excerpt] => Earlier this week the Telegraph’s Chief Foreign Correspondent surmised that “the disaster in Syria is getting steadily worse, and no one has any idea what to do about it”. I would agree with the first part of his argument but would suggest that the internal dynamics in the country don’t reflect a stalemate absent of ideas, but rather the continued erosion of the regime’s sovereignty over the country. [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => syria-end-of-year-report-card [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_modified_gmt] => 2017-11-27 09:02:32 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => https://fpc.clearhonestdesign.com/syria-end-of-year-report-card/ [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )
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The financial revolution in Africa: Mobile payment services in a new global age

This pamphlet builds on an FPC and UK Foreign Office event series, the first of…

14/12/12