This week’s hot links include gender equality, development and hybrid warfare.

9 Mar

This week marks International Women’s Day 2016. This years theme is gender parity. The World Economic Forum predicted in 2014 that it would take until 2095 to achieve global gender parity. Then one year later in 2015, they estimated that a slowdown in the already painful pace of progress meant the gender gap wouldn’t close entirely until 2133. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights writing for the IPS, implores the need for us to ‘redouble efforts to achieve a world underpinned by gender equality.’ ‘All women must be empowered to realise their full and equal rights.’ She continues by discussing her vision of pushing gender parity up the agenda, she believes targeted approaches are required to ensure all women have a voice and to ensure that this approach ‘leaves no-one behind’ called for by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. ‘Grassroots women must be recognised as key actors in global development.’ Robinson describes the ‘wealth of knowledge’ which has to be harnessed to allow the women to ‘participate meaningfully in the design, planning and implementation of policies and programmes that impact on their lives.’ Writing for The Elders, she discusses how some progress has been made stating that COP21 Paris Agreement brought a robust and people-centred framework, but with poor means of implementation. She concludes by calling ‘on all those in positions of influence to provide the platforms for grassroots women to speak to for themselves.’  Analysis in The Guardian published this week shows that women earn £300,000 less than men over working life. Figures show a gap of £5,732, or 24%, in average full-time annual salaries between women and men – more than four decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1970 was introduced. For more on International Women’s Day and gender equality, The Guardian are having a live Q&A discussing the obstacles to gender equality.

Writing in The Guardian this week, Jason Hickel, Anthropologist at the London School of Economics, asks does the west really care about development. Hickel analyses current development strategies and states that ‘we need to stop pretending that the United States, France and Britain are benevolent champions of the poor’. Citing Hillary Clinton’s flagship speech on development as Secretary of State and David Cameron’s speech to the Sustainable Development Goals Summit in 2015, Hickel expresses that this ‘narrative of western benevolence only works by relying on our collective amnesia.’ He discusses historical examples of countries aforementioned in the above speeches that had ‘growing incomes’ and ‘were reducing poverty at a rapid pace.’ ‘Beginning in the 1950s, countries like Guatemala, Indonesia and Iran drew on the Keynesian model of mixed economy that had been working so well for the west.’ He continues that this didn’t work for the west as ‘the new policies meant that multinational companies no longer had the easy access to the cheap labour, raw materials and consumer markets to which they had become accustomed during the colonial era.’ Hickel states that ‘Western powers – specifically the US, Britain and France – were not willing to let this continue’ and purposefully set out on a ‘decades-long campaign to topple the elected governments’ and to ‘install strongmen friendly to their interests.’ Before this intervention, he states that ‘the gap between the west and the rest began to narrow for the first time in history.’ He concludes by describing how ‘a soul-scorching 4.2 billion people remain in poverty today’ and expresses the need for acknowledge for what happened and for the US, France and Britain to stop pretending they are the ‘benevolent champions of the poor.’

Andrew Korybko’s writing for Global Research, the Centre for Research on Globalisation, discusses hybrid wars: triggering ethnic, religious, regional and political conflict. His research builds off strategies that he first described in his book last year which conceptualized ‘a new paradigm for understanding international relations and invented an accompanying methodology for testing it.’ The “Law Of Hybrid War”, the name of his newest series, states that: ‘the grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state.’ He cites Russia’s Eurasian integration objectives and China’s Silk Road projects as ‘the targets of the US global Hybrid War strategy’. He continues to explore those examples with particular emphasis on the US. Korybko describes patterning the hybrid war stating that ‘the first thing that one needs to know about Hybrid Wars is that they’re never unleashed against an American ally or anywhere that the US has premier pre-existing infrastructural interests.’ Within the patterning, he discusses geostrategic-economic determinants such as ‘entrapping Russia in a predetermined quagmire’ and socio-political structural vulnerabilities. Korybko states that these ‘aren’t physical objects to be sabotaged but socio-political characteristics’ that are used to emphasise ‘separateness’ from the existing national model and ‘thus legitimise their forthcoming foreign-managed revolt against the authorities.’ He outlines factors of ‘unconventional warfare’ such as; ethnicity, religion, history, socio-economic disparity that all inform hybrid war strategies. He also describes domestic preconditioning as a prerequisite for indirect, adaptive regime change, ‘in the event that a state experiences both limited revenue intake and an unexpected need to hike its defense budget, then this would have a compound effect on cutting social services and might even push the war timeframe forward from the medium- to short-term.’ Warfare has adapted and is now hybrid.

Rachel Banning-Lover curating for The Guardian, introduces development finance in 2016: eight steps forward. Eight months on from the Addis Ababa Action Agenda being signed, what’s next for development finance. Sebastian Große-Puppendahl, policy officer at the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) believes that making multilateral development banks (MDBs) fit for purpose is paramount to financing development. He demonstrates this by using an Overseas Development Institute session which outlines three key points; more flexibility, sharing of expertise and use position to assist private funding. Porter McConnell, Director of Financial Transparency Coalition, states that for development finance to move forward, illicit financial flows need to be tackled head on, ‘Ethiopia has also recently launched a new database in partnership with India to help battle trade misinvoicing, and Kenya just gave its revenue authority new powers to go after multinationals avoiding tax.’ Joseph Stead, senior economic justice adviser at Christian Aid, builds on this and suggests that we should pass legislation which forces multinationals to publically report the tax they pay. ‘A high level panel report by the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa recommended public country by country reporting of key information by multinational companies. The EU is currently considering this.’ Read the full Q&A here.

Director of the Overseas Development Institute, Kevin Watkins writing for Project Syndicate writes of empty promises and dead children. The provocatively titled article discusses how the Sustainable Development Goals can assist in fulfilling the ‘vital pledge to eliminate preventable child deaths by 2030.’ Watkins describes the pledge as ‘a cause for our generation’ but is aware that it ‘will take a lot more than UN communiqués to advance.’ He applauds the foundation work of the Millennium Development Goals is bringing about ‘important progress’ and denotes this by stating that the number of children who died before reaching their fifth birthday dropped from ten million in 2000, when the MDGs were adopted, to 5.9 million in 2015. He counts a number of factors in achieving this success but underlines how crucial international co-operation has been with aid for child and maternal health now standing at $12 million. He states that ‘any strategy for achieving the 2030 target for child mortality must go beyond the health sector and focus on the wider inequalities – for example, in nutrition, education, and access to clean water and sanitation – that fuel child mortality.’ He also highlights the gender disparity, ‘girls will need added protection, so that they are not forced into early marriage and childbearing.’ Watkins ends positively believing that the children ‘deserve better’ and this is our chance ‘to ensure they get it.’

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