Categories
Development Justice Politics

Dirty Money, Damaged Democracy: What to Do?

Corruption complaint box in Leh, India. Image: watchsmart/Flickr

This article was originally published by Open Democracy on 4 September, 2015.

This summer in Pakistan, a massive corruption scandal erupted involving collusion between between political parties and public officials over illegal land-grabbing in the city of Karachi, capital of the country’s most populous province, Sindh. A report published in June 2015 by the Pakistani Rangers, a legal paramilitary force under the direct control of the interior ministry, provided hard evidence of the so-called “evil nexus”.

The role of political parties is important, for in Pakistan they are perceived – along with the national police force and civil servants – as among the most unreliable and corrupt institutions. Data from Transparency International confirms this distrust, which this most recent scandal did nothing to rebuild. Instead it stands as yet another example of how dirty money, when it seeps into politics, can seriously damage democratic institutions.

Categories
Technology Development Politics

Cities Emerging Soft Power: 5 Key Advantages for Improved Global Governance

Tradition vs. modernity in China. Image: 月明 端木/Flickr

This article was originally published by the Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB) on 27 May 2015.

With the majority of the world’s population already urban, people have voted cities as the place to live. This emerging trend is an outcome of the spread of globalization, which generates economies of scale by clustering economic activities -fueled by technological change, international trade, finance and foreign direct investment- in cities.

Urban congregations are nests that attract opportunities -based on accumulation of resources- and act as recipients of hazardous global challenges -climate change, security, immigration or poverty- alike. However, the unstoppable power of cities is underrepresented at a global scale, where cities still have a limited voice in the architecture of international big decision-making. Against this backdrop, what are the influence and implications of cities as a key actor for global governance? What can they bring to the world? Cities’ differentiated proposition adds a more efficient model -than nation-states- in dealing with matters of relevant global concern that hinge upon the following five advantages.

Categories
Environment Development Humanitarian Issues

Minimum Criteria for Sustainable Global Governance

The globe. Image: geralt/Pixabay

Strong statist positions and a fixation on state sovereignty once inhibited progress toward more just and effective models of global governance. However, there can be no denying that globalization has not only led to the unprecedented transformation of our societies, but also the role that states play in the international system. Yet, even as states gradually share more responsibilities with corporations, sub-national entities and international organizations, their structural significance still remains indisputable – particularly when it comes to finding near-term solutions for better modes of global governance. This should result in a more equitable and representative international state system to which global governing structures will remain accountable.

Categories
Government Foreign policy Conflict Diplomacy

Managing Paul Kagame, Africa’s Enfant Terrible

Image: Flickr

Editor’s note: This article was originally published by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) on 30 March 2014.

South Africa is conducting a fairly delicate struggle with Rwanda, trying to choreograph and coordinate complex moves to manage the difficult and dangerous President Paul Kagame – on the hard streets of Johannesburg, in the polite halls of diplomacy, in the courts of law, and, by proxy, on the field of battle.

On Tuesday this week the terrain of this struggle moved to multilateral diplomacy in Luanda, where President Jacob Zuma once again attended a summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR). South Africa is not a member of this body, but Zuma has become a sort of country member, having been invited to the last few summits as a special guest.

Categories
International Relations Government

Signing Up for Peer Review Will Test Both Obiang and the AU

17th Ordinary AU Summit in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Photo: Embassy of Equatorial Guinea/flickr.

When Equatorial Guinea’s President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo stepped up to the podium at the African Union (AU) this week to sign up to the AU’s African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), it was not clear whether this was a high point or a low point for the initiative.

Was it a great triumph for the 11-year-long effort by the APRM to reform the political, economic and social governance of Africa that it had managed to entice one of the continent’s most notorious autocrats into its democratic embrace? After all, when the APRM was launched in 2003, it was strongly criticised for being a voluntary mechanism that would leave the least democratic African leaders untouched. And yet, here was one of them joining.

Or was Obiang’s signing onto APRM a Groucho Marx moment instead: as one journalist quipped, a case of ‘who would want to join any organisation that would have Obiang as a member?’