The CSS Blog Network

Can International Organizations Help Prevent Civil Wars?

Image courtesy of Victorgrigas/Wikimedia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

This article was originally published by Political Violence @ a Glance on 25 April 2018.

At the recent Kuwait International Conference on Reconstruction of Iraq, countries and international organizations pledged US$30 billion to reconstruct Iraq after years of war, falling well short of the US$80 billion estimated necessary by the Iraqi government. As this case aptly demonstrates, civil wars create lasting damage that can take decades to overcome. Despite such huge costs, the international community struggles to find effective ways to prevent conflict escalation, relegating their involvement to the post-conflict reconstruction phase. But might there be ways to address conflicts before they erupt into all out war?

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China’s Domino Tactics Boost Infrastructure Bank

President Jacob Zuma receiving the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping in Pretoria in March of 2013. Image: GovernmentZA/Flickr

This article was originally published by the CIPS Blog, hosted by the Centre for International Policy Studies on 22 March 2015.

China is looking ever the experienced super-power. In a week it has scooped up all the important European dominos, humiliating a U.S. government which has lobbied hard to block the launch of China’s new $50b Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The dominos have fallen quickly. Last week it was the UK’s turn to join, preferring its commercial interest and geo-political judgment over its friendship with the U.S. Now it is a coordinated set of EU announcements from France, Germany and Italy. The driver was their desire to be well-connected economic partners in Asia, but there was also an element of blowback on U.S. geo-political arrogance, be it spying on Angela Merkel or military jingoism towards Russia. » More

The BRICS Are Back, With a Bank

Image: Presidential Press and Information Office/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the East Asia Forum on 2 August 2014.

The BRICS countries met for their sixth annual summit in Brazil this month, setting out to establish a counterweight to Western-dominated global financial institutions.

The summit’s key achievement was the establishment of the long-awaited BRICS New Development Bank. The bank will press for a bigger say in the global financial order — which is centred on the IMF and the World Bank. While China won the race for the bank’s headquarters, set to be located in Shanghai, India secured the presidency. The bank is a sign of the growing influence of the BRICS which together account for 18 per cent of world trade, 40 per cent of the global population and a combined GDP of US$24 trillion. » More

Zambia Fixes Maize Price Again, Flustering World Bank

A giant Nshima pot

A giant Nshima pot, Zambia 2008. Photo by Mark Hemsworth (used with permission)

Nshima, the stodgy porridge-like substance cooked out of maize-meal, has divided families and triggered food riots in Zambia at one time or other. This is why subsequent governments have kept a keen eye on the growing, harvesting, buying and selling of maize-meal to consumers.

The production of maize — or corn as it is known in other parts of the world —  is an even bigger issue in the mining region of the Copperbelt and metropolitan areas like the capital, Lusaka, where large working populations rely on the commercial supply of the product. Accordingly, maize determines the political direction of the nation.

In May, the World Bank urged the Zambian government not to interfere in determining the floor prices of maize sold by farmers to the Food Reserve Agency and other interested parties in the agri-business chain. Despite such calls, the Ministry of Agriculture announced this year’s floor price of maize at K65, 000 (about $13 USD) per 50 kilo bag. » More

What Should the World Bank Do?

 Robert B. Zoellick

Who will replace Robert Zoellick as World Bank President? (Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr)

NEW YORK – I have been honored by World Bank directors representing developing countries and Russia to be selected as one of two developing-country candidates to become the Bank’s next president. So I want to make known to the global community the principles that will guide my actions if I am elected – principles based on lessons learned from development experience.

That experience has taught me that successful development is always the result of a judicious mix of market, state, and society. Trying to suppress markets leads to gross inefficiencies and loss of dynamism. Trying to do without the state leads to unstable and/or inequitable outcomes. And trying to ignore social actors that play an essential role at the national and local levels precludes the popular legitimacy that successful policymaking requires.

Indeed, the specific mix of markets, state, and society should be the subject of national decisions adopted by representative authorities. This means that it is not the role of any international institution to impose a particular model of development on any country – a mistake that the World Bank made in the past, and that it has been working to correct. Because no “one-size-fits-all” strategy exists, the Bank must include among its staff the global diversity of approaches to development issues. » More

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