Archive for the ‘International Development’ Category


Will Sudan split set an African precedent? 

On Sunday the people of Southern Sudan will vote on whether to become an independent nation. There is every indication they will vote in favour of cutting their links with Khartoum and become Africa’s 54th state. BBC Africa analyst Martin Plaut considers whether this will increase demands from other African regions for independence. 

Almost four million people have registered to take part in Sunday's referendum on whether Sudan should split in two, with many backing a yes vote

The slogan adopted by the Africa Union – the body representing the continent – is simple: Africa must unite. 

In the 1960s the leaders who brought Africa to independence were faced with a terrible dilemma. Most of the borders they had inherited had been drawn by the European powers who divided the continent in the 1880s, during what was known as the “scramble for Africa”. They cut through ethnic groups, dividing peoples and even families. The countries threw together men and women who had differences of language and religion. Yet Africa’s leaders decided to accept these frontiers: Unpicking them would have set every new country against the other. The independence borders were treated as sacrosanct. 

‘Increased paranoia’  

So does the referendum in Sudan mark the end of this principle? Southern Sudan would not be the first new post-independence country to be recognised in Africa. Eritrea broke away from Ethiopia in 1993. But the Eritreans could argue that they had been an independent state under the Italians and that Emperor Haile Selassie had violated a United Nations resolution when the territory was annexed as just another Ethiopian province in 1962. 

So, it is said, Eritrea does not break the African injunction on new states. But a string of territories might argue that they have a case for secession. These include Somaliland, which was independent from Somalia for just three days in the 1960s. There are movements fighting for greater autonomy in the Casamance region of Senegal, the Cabinda region of Angola or parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo, such as Katanga. And one should not forget the Libyan leader, Muammar Gadaffi’s call for Nigeria to be divided. There is also deep concern in Khartoum that the independence of the south could lead to a disintegration of the country, with some in Darfur also demanding independence. 

The emergence of Southern Sudan is likely to increase the paranoia of African leaders, says Knox Chitiyo, head of the Africa programme at the Royal United Service Institute. Read more…

As published in on January 7, 2011

Want to learn more about this topic? Take a look at Foreign Policy’s Photo Essay The World’s Newest Capital?


The Redistribution of Hope

Optimism is on the move—with important consequences for both the hopeful and the hopeless

“HOPE” is one of the most overused words in public life, up there with “change”. Yet it matters enormously. Politicians pay close attention to right-track/wrong-track indicators. Confidence determines whether consumers spend, and so whether companies invest. The “power of positive thinking”, as Norman Vincent Peale pointed out, is enormous.

For the past 400 years the West has enjoyed a comparative advantage over the rest of the world when it comes to optimism. Western intellectuals dreamed up the ideas of enlightenment and progress, and Western men of affairs harnessed technology to impose their will on the rest of the world. The Founding Fathers of the United States, who firmly believed that the country they created would be better than any that had come before, offered citizens not just life and liberty but also the pursuit of happiness.

Not that the West was free of appalling brutality. Indeed, the search for Utopia can bring out the worst as well as the best in mankind. But the notion that the human condition was susceptible to continual improvement sat more comfortably with Western scientific materialism than with, say, the caste system in India or serfdom in Russia.

Now hope is on the move. According to the Pew Research Centre, some 87% of Chinese, 50% of Brazilians and 45% of Indians think their country is going in the right direction, whereas 31% of Britons, 30% of Americans and 26% of the French do. Companies, meanwhile, are investing in “emerging markets” and sidelining the developed world. “Go east, young man” looks set to become the rallying cry of the 21st century. Read more…

As published in The Economist on December 16, 2010 (Print Edition)



VIDEO: India’s Next Generation

Written on November 5, 2010 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Americas, Asia, International Development, News

Ahead of President Obama’s visit, a diverse group of young Indians share thoughts on relations between the two countries.

As published in


by Riordan Roett (Professor at IE school of Arts and Humanities)

Latin America is deeply divided in terms of development models.  Countries that experienced social and economic crises in the last twenty years have chosen to ignore globalization and opt for inward looking and, ultimately, costly approaches to development.  That collection of “misguided” regime on the Left include Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina, among others.  The countries that have chosen to undertake a careful, sequenced approach to economic – and social – development are benefitting from a decade or so of good governance.  These countries are best exemplified by Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Uruguay.

The states on the misguided Left first experienced a brief period of programs that attempted to address the growing challenges of productivity and competitiveness.  The governments that attempted to implement these programs ultimately failed and were forced from power or were defeated at the ballot box.  The future for this group of countries is unpromising.  Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) is low or practically nonexistent.  These have done little to add value to their traditional exports.  Human capital development has suffered.  And the political leaders of these countries practice a bombastic populist style of government that chooses to ignore the realities of globalization…

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by Gaudenz Assenza (Professor at IE School of Arts and Humanities)

After rising from the ashes of the Second World War, industrialized countries experienced an epoch of unprecedented growth and stability, but instead of preparing for the future, the predominant mode was to live as if there was no tomorrow. Individuals, firms and nations borrowed with abandon, not realizing how overconsumption and lack of ecological stewardship destabilized the very fundament of prosperity. Small fissures in the economic, social and ecological fabric widened to cracks; cracks broadened to crevices; and the crevices expanded to tectonic faults, causing friction and unleashing forces comparable to earthquakes and eruptions of volcanoes.

The idea that the 21st century will be smooth sailing lacks historical awareness. Just like the 20th century experienced great tragedies, the 21st century will experience its share of calamities. Many predictions of the future conducted by agencies like the CIA and the National Intelligence Council are implausible, because they are based on the same assumptions and worldviews that triggered the personal and institutional failures, which we experience today. Predictions assuming an extrapolation of the status quo are improbable, because the status quo cannot be maintained:

  • The much touted rise of China is unlikely to persist in the absence of sweeping changes in policy. As we witnessed during the Olympics, ecological strains have begun to choke China’s economic miracle and social tensions could erupt anytime;
  • Russia is unlikely to become a hegemonic power, not because Putin and Medvedev are ready to relinquish this goal, but because the government is short of resources to pay for a military buildup;
  • America is unlikely to experience a “Golden Age” in the second half of the century, as predicted by George Friedman, because the country lost decades in development by failing to invest sufficiently in human development and the protection of natural resources.

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