The G8’s New Course – Turning Away from Austerity

For more than three decades, inflation has been economic “public enemy number one,” often justifying calls for austerity. This status emerged at the London G7 summit meeting in 1977: Acceding to pressure from the Germans – whose fear of inflation may be innate – the G7 leaders at the time affirmed that “Inflation does not reduce unemployment. On the contrary, it is one of its major causes.” This shift was a dramatic one, breaking with three decades of policy directed at unemployment. Indeed, only a few months earlier, German Prime Minister Helmut Schmidt had dismissed Carter administration appeals for a stimulus, urging that U.S. officials “please better shut their mouths.”

In contrast, this weekend, at the Camp David G8 Summit, a new “wanted poster” went up. The long-vanquished bogeyman of inflation finally yielded to a more pressing public enemy: Unemployment. The first line of the G8 communiqué was clear “Our imperative is to promote growth and jobs.” Taking a more ambiguous line than her predecessor Schmidt, Angela Merkel was reserved, suggesting that there existed alternatives to fiscal stimulus as a means to growth – and that such measures might include new public investment. In contrast, Barack Obama affirmed. “’There’s now an emerging consensus that more must be done to promote growth and job creation right now.”

Continue reading “The G8’s New Course – Turning Away from Austerity”

Sixty-fifth session of the World Health Assembly Geneva 23 May 2012

Address by Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre to 65th World Health Assembly.

“Now, after almost seven years as Foreign Minister, I am more convinced than ever that improving health is crucial for achieving growth, development, equity and stability throughout the whole world…”

Excerpt:

Ladies and gentlemen,

From what I have said so far, it might seem that a partnership between health and foreign policy will only be a defensive one – a partnership to face serious threats. Yes, there is a lot that needs to be defended. But the interplay between health, economic and foreign policy also offers real opportunities for economic and social progress.

In 1993 the World Bank published its paradigm-changing World Development Report, “Investing in Health”. That report, together with subsequent findings included in the 2001 report of WHO’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, provided strong evidence for the link between improved health and increased productivity.

Over the last 20 years, we have built up an impressive body of evidence about the role of health as a driver of economic growth and social development.

Today we know beyond doubt that – together with investments in education – wise investments in health provide impressive returns in the form of increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, reduced turnover of staff and greater ability to attract investment.

Inspired by the progress they have achieved in controlling epidemics, immunizing children and reducing mortality through effective and affordable treatment regimes, several middle-income countries have significantly boosted their health spending in recent years.

In fact, a telling illustration of emerging states is how they have succeeded in increasing their public health budgets – look to India, China, Brazil and South Africa, to mention just the largest countries. And – yes, a number of the poorest countries have also improved the health of their people to a remarkable extent in relation to their growth rates and aid levels.

These achievements do not come as coincidences. There is no inexorable link between growth and improved health and welfare. It is politics that drives history, not inevitable laws of economics.

See full speech here: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/events/2012/wha65/jonas_gahr_store/en/index.html

Economic Hard Times: Orthodox Sources of Instability and Human Insecurity

The humanitarian tragedies of the 1930s and 1940s are often cast as resulting from a failure to intervene in time, or take action against a mounting threat. However, while this argument is most prominently attached to critiques of those who appeased Hitler and his allies, it can also be directed to economic policymakers, whose near-theological attachment to the gold standard in the 1920s prevented economic interventions – whether in the form of macroeconomic activism or simple humanitarian relief – that might have deprived radicals and demagogues of a key basis for their eventual appeals. In this light, from the economic paralysis and hard times of the 1920s and 1930s, one might argue there emerged the civilizational calamities of later decades.

To be sure, one cannot draw a direct line from the macroeconomic paralysis of the 1920s to the instability of later decades, but to the extent that the economic collapse provided fertile ground for later mass atrocities, it is worth reflecting on the connections between these trends. Moreover, it is worth noting that a similar paralysis may be afflicting policymakers in Europe today – with implications for renewed economic turmoil and radicalism.

Continue reading “Economic Hard Times: Orthodox Sources of Instability and Human Insecurity”

US Politics in an Election Year

 

 

 

 

 

Griffith University Centre for Governance and Public Policy Seminar Series Roundtable

4 May 2012

Panel Experts: John Kane, Zim Nwokora, Wesley Widmaier

Moderator: Dennis Grube

Below is a brief summary of the very entertaining debate on the US Presdiential Race 2012 between President Barack Obama (Democrat candidate) and Mitt Romney (Republican candidate) presented by the above experts.  For further details kindly contact the experts themselves. Don’t forget to vote in the poll below.  For Griffithstudents reading this – you are always welcome to attend CGPP seminars and GAI seminars.

Dennis Grube (DG): The Republican primary race has seen many varied characters competing for the top ticket, how should we interpret this race and its impact on the Presidential race?

Continue reading “US Politics in an Election Year”

KONY 2012 – who are the real cynics here?

 

Joseph Kony, Lords Resistance Army
© Joram Jojo/Flickr  Global/IRIN

“On 30 September [2011], the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported that the LRA has carried out 240 attacks so far this year, resulting in 130 deaths and 327 abductions, including 113 children in the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Sudan. An estimated 440,000 civilians continue to be displaced or living as refugees in the affected areas.”

Before last week, the above report did not inspire 100 million people from around the world to collectively consider what they could do to end this violence. In the past week, if you have been living under a technological rock and haven’t seen it, there has been a flurry of such engagement through Twitter hash tags, Facebook links and Youtube alerts for KONY 2012.  Created by US-based charity, Invisible Children, the 27 minute video argues (essentially) three things:

1)       Joseph Kony, head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), operates a guerilla style war in Northern Uganda, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo and Sudan.  He has escaped arrest for 25 years.   The LRA, originally a secessionist movement, has become a messianic cult devoted to keeping Kony in power and avoiding arrest by Ugandan authorities.  There is no political agenda to the LRA’s continued existence.

2)       Kony has been indicted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) – in fact he was the first individual to face indictment by the ICC – for crimes against humanity and war crimes.  It is believed Kony has kidnapped, over the course of the conflict, between 25 000-60 000 children. Young children are murdered to frighten other children into becoming child soldiers in Kony’s LRA; others are forced to commit heinous crimes such as killing their parents and siblings; and thousands of girls have been forced into sexual slavery for the LRA soldiers.

3)       The United States government, under President Obama’s administration, agreed in late October 2011 to send 100 special operations ‘combat-ready’ troops to assist the Ugandan military to find and arrest Kony.  The Invisible Children KONY 2012 campaign is directed at alerting people to this mission, ensuring that the Obama administration knows that the world supports this mission, and make Kony an ‘infamous’ figure to ensure that by the end of 2012 as many people as possible know who he is, what crimes he has committed and why every possible means should be engaged to ensure his capture.

It is easy to view this campaign with skepticism.  To argue, as others have done, that Invisible Children exaggerates the cause, the campaign is misleading and construes the situation to further the advocacy agenda of Invisible Children.  Others propose that supporting the Ugandan military is support for a military that should face serious questions about its own conduct.  Moreover, it has been argued that the removal of Kony will not see the end of the LRA, the end of abject poverty in the region where he resides, nor will it remove the guerilla warfare tactics that has plagued the Great Lakes region for too long.

Much of the dissention plays on the notion that Invisible Children is a cynical operation that serves its own interests above anyone else.  Perhaps most misleading of all though is the notion that such cynics of KONY 2012 are basing their critique on ‘real fact’ while Invisible Children deploys phony numbers and arguments.  There is no doubt Invisible Children goes for a simple message and a simple solution.  But does this mean we shouldn’t support the objective of KONY 2012 – to capture Kony? I consider some flaws in the cynics’ argument below. Continue reading “KONY 2012 – who are the real cynics here?”

Welcome to Protection Gateway. The blog site for Human Protection Hub.

“Human protection is a subset of the more encompassing concept of human security. The latter reminds us that the security of “we the peoples” matters every bit as much as the security of states. Human protection addresses more immediate threats to the survival of individuals and groups.

The task of human protection is neither simple nor easy. We don’t always succeed. But we must keep trying to make a difference. That is our individual and collective responsibility.”

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Cyril Foster Lecture, 2011

The Human Protection Hub (HPH) is a research and policy unit situated in the Griffith Asia Institute. The Hub aims to provide governments, international organizations, civil society groups and the research community with new knowledge to inform policy concerning the prevention of human protection crises and protection of vulnerable populations. This includes human protection in the face of humanitarian emergencies, including man-made and natural disasters.

In this blog we will be providing updates and information that relates to our projects.  We will also be discussing current issues about human protection matters, relevant readings, reports and events.

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Very best, Alex.