Knowledge-sharing workshop in China highlights wave of new poverty measures

John HammockBy John Hammock

The inaugural Asian alumni event for Oxford University, held recently in Hong Kong and led by the Chancellor and Vice-Chancellor, made plenty of waves, marking as it did the University’s largest ever gathering of graduates in Asia.

A few days later I was part of a much lower-profile delegation from Oxford University to arrive in Asia Continue reading

The colours of a potential Indian prime minister

By Nikita Sud

Nikita-SudIndia’s Hindu Right is associated with the colour saffron. The saffron flag, or bhagwa dhwaj adorns the offices of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS or Sangh for short), which is at the core of the Hindu nationalist movement. The Sangh stands for an India of ‘one nation, one culture, one people’. Under this philosophy, the Muslims and Christians of multi-religious, multi-cultural India must either depart the country’s shores, or live as second-class citizens under Hindu supremacy. Continue reading

How to predict breakthroughs in climate negotiations

Corneliu BjolaBy Corneliu Bjola

Delegates from across the world gathered late last year in Warsaw for the 19th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The purpose of the meeting was to find common ground for the architecture of a new global agreement to be signed in Paris in 2015 as promised by the “Durban Platform for Enhanced Action adopted at COP17 two years ago. The meeting failed, however, to produce tangible results, further fuelling speculation about the diminishing prospects for the conclusion of a meaningful legally binding, global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris in 2015. That being the case, is it still possible for climate negotiators to achieve a breakthrough in Paris and if so, can we design a method to predict it? Continue reading

Latin American and Caribbean migration: A new research network

MIGRALAC-web-bannerBy Olivia Sheringham and Maria Villares

Last March, the idea for a Latin American and Caribbean Migration Network was developed in an informal workshop held at COMPAS. We realised the need to create a forum for dialogue and knowledge exchange between scholars working on migration to, from and within Latin America and the Caribbean.

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Refugee livelihoods and engagement with host economies

By Naohiko Omata and Josiah Kaplan


Contrary to popular perception, refugees’ economic lives by no means exist in a ‘vacuum’, shut off from the wider economic structures of their host country. Indeed, no refugee camp, regardless of how remote its location, is ever fully closed to traffic in goods, capital and people from outside.

In urban settings, self-settled refugees are tied to the larger host economy even more directly. While existing studies have identified broad connections between refugees and external economies, little is known in detail about how, and in what ways, refugees are linked with local, district or regional economic actors in a refugee-receiving state.

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Against happiness: why ‘happiness’ is not a good measure of progress

Frances Stewart 3By Frances Stewart

Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence’ – Aristotle

Gross national income (GNI) per head is generally accepted as the dominant indicator of country progress. Yet it is a bad indicator. It does not allow for externalities, for income distribution, nor for the many aspects of human well being which are not measured by income – such as health, education, personal safety, social relations, work conditions, spirituality, and so on. Incomes are a means not an end. Dissatisfaction with GNI per capita as a measure of country progress has led to the development of a number of alternative indicators of development. Famous among them is Morris Morris’ suggestion in the 1970s of PQLI (physical quality of life index), a composite indictor, including a measure of infant mortality, life expectancy and education. Yet in the context of the debt crisis of the 1980s, this never took off, and indeed growth of GNP per capita appeared more attractive as an indicator at a time of declining incomes. Continue reading

Creating critical comparative perspectives: the new IBSA working paper series

SJ Cooper KnockBy Sarah-Jane Cooper-Knock

Back in 2011, Indrajit Roy, Cinitia Kulzer Saliciotto, and I sat down to discuss the possibility of doing a comparative seminar on India, Brazil and South Africa. As an Indianist, Brazilist, and South Africanist respectively, we had each been reflecting on the buzz around ‘BRICS’ and ‘IBSA’: To what extent did it make sense to talk about these groups of emergent powers? Were they ‘emerging’ in similar ways, and to similar degrees? How might our analysis be reinforced or changed if we were to look beyond the economic lens that many commentators had adopted? Continue reading

Beyond ‘zero tolerance’ of FGM: transforming traditional practices

To mark InKirrily_web commentternational Day for the Elimination of Female Genital Mutilation, Young Lives Policy Officer Kirrily Pells, explores how efforts to end FGM in Ethiopia are faring.

The Ethiopian government has taken a strong stance against female genital mutilation so anyone who performs, commissions or publically encourages the practice can be punished with a hefty fine or prison sentence. They’ve also promoted a wide range of preventative initiatives, including advocacy campaigns in schools and the media to spread knowledge of the adverse health and social consequences. Continue reading

Don’t trust the government’s citizenship-stripping policy

By Matthew J. Gibney

matt-gibneyShould British nationals suspected of terrorist offences or other serious international crimes be stripped of their citizenship? The British government thinks so. Over the past ten years, UK governments have passed legislation that makes it easier to strip citizenship from UK dual nationals when the home secretary deems their citizenship to be “not conducive to the public good”.

Now things have taken a more radical turn. In an amendment just passed by parliament, the government intends to extend denaturalisation powers to naturalised citizens even if it would make them stateless. This is no idle threat. No fewer than 37 UK nationals have been stripped of citizenship since the Conservative government came to power in September 2010, a figure that dwarfs the handful of people who lost citizenship when Labour was in power. Continue reading

Learning For All by 2015: Are we on track? And where are we going?

ElisabettaAurino_DSC_7496_croppedBy Elisabetta Aurino

Yesterday (29 Jan) the annual UNESCO Global Monitoring Report was published. The report provides a timely update on the progress countries are making towards reaching the global ‘Education For All’ goals, a set of six measurable education goals to be achieved by 2015. The focus of this year’s report is learning, which is unsurprising for habitués of the post-MDG debates. While the MDGs were instrumental in massively increasing primary school enrolment (without forgetting that 57 million children are still out of school, probably the most vulnerable), there is wide acknowledgment that the delivery of quality education is the fundamental imperative for the post-2015 agenda, as enrolment alone does not automatically translate into good attendance, progression and learning for all children. Continue reading