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soldi facili..

February 23, 2011

oddio, quanto facili non saprei, dato che una delle persone più brillanti che conosco è arrivata solo seconda alla passata edizione…

ma se siete di quelli che scrivono o hanno scritto “per l’approfondimento di tematiche relative alle economie e alle società dei Paesi in Via di Sviluppo, ai loro rapporti con i Paesi industrializzati e le Organizzazioni internazionali e multilaterali, ai processi di comunicazione in ambito dei PVS stessi.” e dunque praticamente di ogni cosa appaiata come capre e cavoli, forse la CGIL ed il Premio Augelli hanno qualcosa per voi.


cose vecchie da leggere ora

February 23, 2011

torna sempre comodo scoprire che -in caso di necessità- qualcuno ha provveduto a scrivere una guida per qualunque cosa.  Nelle particolari circostanze di queste settimane, credo in particolare che “From Dictatorship to Democracy” di Gene Sharp faccia al caso di molti.

mi piace soprattutto come inizia:

“Out of these concerns and experiences grew a determined hope that prevention of tyranny might be possible, that successful struggles against dictatorships could be waged without mass mutual slaughters, that dictatorships could be destroyed and new ones prevented from rising out of the ashes.”


risvegli e cambiamenti

February 22, 2011

sicuramente no, non me lo aspettavo che tutto quello che da anni mi aspetterei da molti stati africani sarebbe successo nel giro di nemmeno un mese sulla sponda più prossima del Mediterraneo…. e confesso che quasi ci avevo creduto, quando tentarono di far passare i disordini a Tunisi come disordini causati dall’aumento dei prezzi delle derrate alimentari..

dunque al momento tengo le mie preoccupazioni per me (ma alcune di esse le potete leggere qui), gioisco per chi ce la fa e vorrei che si facesse di più per quelli che non ce la fanno.

nonostante concordi pienamente con lui sul fatto che:

” Despite the importance of Facebook and Twitter as communication and networking tools, Labor unions and factory workers have been more important in the Arab uprisings than social media. In Libya, the regime’s attack on internet service did not forestall a major uprising on Saturday in Benghazi, which the regime met with deadly force.”

mi tengo informata qui (h/T to Wronging Rights).

nel frattempo, se qualcuno fosse interessato ad unirsi alle cassandre del who’s next, vi segnalo questo post per utilissimi indizi (che a trovare gli indizi con il senno di poi sono buoni tutti). stando a quanto leggo qui, per i deterministi alla Paul Collier, nulla di fatto per l’Italia almeno per i prossimi 5 anni..

Africa Leaks

December 16, 2010

An useful summary of what leaked out from US Dep of State cables from Africa.

South Sudan’s 4 unmissable readings: (compendium for people in a hurry)

December 4, 2010

As many of you would probably know, the referendum in which Southern Sudanese will decide wether or not to become an indipendent country is schedule within one month (9th January).

For those of you who know a little about Africa and about this huge, fascinating country, it would be easy to see why this would be (whatever the outcome) an historical date. For those who are just curious: let’s just say this will be the first brand new african country ever recognised by the international community, and that its government faces the enourmous task of building a state and a nation literally from scratch.

As I will probably have the privilege to be there to see how things will shape up in the next 6 months, I thought I need some urgent background readings.  Thus, I asked two real experts of Sudan history and politics to be my reading guides, and they gave me the following suggestions on what are the unmissable readings (if you only have a couple of weeks to spend on it).

Douglas H. Johnson, The Root Causes of Sudan’s Civil War : A punctual account of the history of civil wars in sudan starting with the eighties. Very useful for it has a great chronology of events as appendix.

Mahmood Mamdani, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics and the War on Terror: Given the fact that the author’s previous book (Citizens and subjects) has launched a new way of thinking about politics and power in Africa, there were great expectations for this one.  Needless to say, it has generated a huge debate and fierce discussions for its attacks to the Save Darfur movement of which you can find samples here and here. I am not pronuncing yet. Still, I agree, it is an unmissable reading.

Alex De Waal and Julie Flynt, Darfur: a short history of a long war (updated version): As the person who suggested this told me: it doesn’t matter if you are going only in the South: it is still the very  same country (at least for another month) and what happens in Darfur has its repercussions in the South and viceversa.

Deborah Scroggings: Emma’s war. Love, Betrayal and Death in the Sudan: On a much lighter tone (the title sounds so Liala), but great to bring on the plane to Karthoum, here is the story of Emma McClune, a british aid worker who felt in love and married Riek Machar, one of the rebel commanders who staged the coup against John Garang in 1991.


November 29, 2010

That something was changing in the air (pardon-me the inevitable calembour) started to become apparent on Friday night when I had a look at the Economist editorial before going to bed. The opening article of the issue dedicated to the Cancun Climate Conference was saying that –as climate change is going to happen and no one really believes that we will succeed in keeping the temperature rise below 2 degrees- “we must live with the problem as best we can”.

Cheerful, don’t you think? I have to admit that the article scared me to death, portraying a world in which there will be “inevitable losses”:

“These changes will benefit some. As the melting ice allows access to the Arctic, Russia will become richer still in fossil fuels. For many, though, the prospects are grim. Drought and flood will put the livelihoods of hundreds of millions, mostly in developing countries, at risk. So the question is how to limit those risks. Those who can adapt will do so mostly through private decisions: by moving house, say, or planting different crops. But governments have a role too. The best protection against global warming is global prosperity. Wealthier, healthier people are better able to deal with higher food prices, or invest in new farming techniques, or move to another city or country, than poor ones are. Richer economies rely less on agriculture, which is vulnerable to climatic change, and more on industry and services, which by and large are not. Richer people tend to work in air-conditioned buildings. Poor ones tend not to.”

You are not scared? Then here is another one:

‘The best starting point for adaptation is to be rich. […]Poor countries will often lack the financial means, technical expertise or political institutions necessary for such endeavours. Yet they are often at increased risk, principally because they are usually more dependent on farming than rich countries, and no other human activity is so intimately bound up with the weather. Crops are sensitive to changes in patterns of rainfall and peak temperature, as well as to average temperature and precipitation; so are the pests and diseases that attack them.”

Then, in the past three days the media (and I believe consequently the governments) had buried the word mitigation (reducing carbon emissions) and have discovered ADAPTATION instead. They made it the new buzz word and used it to a great deal and extent.

I have to say that this shift is indeed welcome, as adaptation measures are something that we urgently need NOW and that for too long has been left out of government’s climate talks and confined to side events. It is indeed something that –if well funded and directed- can do a great deal in reducing the risks of famines, unpredictable spikes in food prices and possibly at the same time supporting the agricultural sector.

Here is a good podcast from the Guardian discussing what impact it is climate change already having in the developing world (and on agriculture, in particular). But if you prefer something slightly more scientific and evidence-based on the same topic, here is a very interesting study published by Bioversity International showing that adaptation measures by diversifing crops and rediscovering of local crops is already taking place in African farmers’s fields.

For the series: do not put all your eggs in one baskets. (which is also my humble message to negotiators in Cancun on the perils of forgetting about mitigation measures).

The limits of political exports

November 17, 2010

I am sharing some immediate thoughts on a seminar I am attending these days: it is called “Transfers of political models and state building”.

Here is the main question speakers are trying to address: shall we export democracy? And –more aptly- can we?

Well, apparently the short answer is NO.

Here below are 3 reasons why we shouldn’t (in case you need to be convinced by mean of deductive reasoning and you still think that Afghanistan and Iraq were accidental).

Reason number one: transfers of political models (democracy, constitutionalism, multi-party state) do seldom work. Furthermore, it is really difficult to define what constitute success. Rational choice political scholars have rarely understood why people usually resist these transfers, forgetting that rational choices are probably not at all involved in the process, while ideologies and political culture are.

Number two: I am definitively not a lawyer, but it seems to me that transplants of laws have historically not really worked either: it is not enough opening administrative courts in Thailand, for example, if they are just something called administrative courts which does in practice something else.

Number three: as many historical examples show, especially drawn from African colonial history, the most common effects of institutional transplanting is the “contamination” of the western style institution with the local customs, culture and tradition. This so called some “hybridization in reverse”  will generally not produce the intendend effects.

Still, do you want to build a State from scratch?

Kai Eide has proven in Afghanistan, and here is what he suggests:

1-      Get economic development on track. For the majority of the least developed economies this would mean supporting the agricultural sector (indeed in many developing countries, this can employ up to 80% of the total workforce).

2-      Build roads (always, always build roads. (before schools, hospitals and all the other nice  and quick and ribbon cutting initiatives). Ancient Romans did and they ruled the world.

3-      Try to get yourself some functioning institutions (ministry of finance, anyone?)  This won’t work without economic incentives, which usually means getting sure that bureaucrats got higher salaries (or at least higher than expats’ housemaids). Give them an office, electricity and a car. And then train them, ideally developing a national curriculum.

All this won’t give you a modern, westernized democracy, but will help nevertheless a country to build its own institutions. Whether you like them or not, then it is your own problem.