1963-2018 - 55 years of Research for Social Change

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Blogs and Think Pieces by Keyword - International frameworks

  • Shrinking Opportunities: Social Mobility and Widening Inequality in Vietnam (20 May 2019) | Andrew Wells-Dang and Vu Thi Quynh Hoa
    Rising inequality is threatening Vietnam’s continued socio-economic development. Young people have fewer opportunities for higher earnings and improved social status than a decade ago. These trends make it harder for Vietnam to meet its commitments to achieve the SDGs and stand in contrast with its past experiences of inclusive growth. Our research shows how social mobility can provide a window into understanding mechanisms of inequality, especially among youth and disadvantaged social groups such as ethnic minorities. For many young people, industrial-led development is not delivering on expectations of greater social mobility.
  • Fault Lines and Front Lines: Shifting Power in an Unequal World (31 Oct 2018) | Katja Hujo, Maggie Carter
    Economic and social inequalities have grown within and between countries over recent decades, with the growing divide between the privileged and the rest fracturing society in new and more dramatic ways. In a context where governments have agreed to redouble efforts to address inequalities as part of their commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals, this introductory think piece to the UNRISD series Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization raises questions around the drivers and consequences of inequalities, and how people, communities, social relationships and institutions are shifting, adapting and innovating in response to them.
  • Winning Across the Agenda: Tackling Policy Incoherence to Localize the SDGs (8 Aug 2018) | Paul Ladd
    Trying to get global initiatives to gel with local needs and priorities, and make sure we leave no one behind across all dimensions of sustainable development, has always been a challenge. In this blog, UNRISD Director Paul Ladd thinks aloud about how the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is faring.
  • Big Data and Monitoring Sustainable Development Goal 3: Not Counting Those Left Behind? (13 Mar 2018) | Carmel Williams
    Big data is being heralded by some as the solution to the missing statistics which are needed to measure progress on the Sustainable Development Goals. But big data is beset with its own flaws and pitfalls that may in fact compound human rights issues associated with the SDGs. This think piece discusses the role of indicators and whether new forms of statistics gathering are helping or hindering efforts to leave no one behind.
  • Realizing the Human Right to Clean Water: Time to Rethink the Legal Architecture? (20 Nov 2017) | Julie Gjørtz Howden and Claudia Ituarte-Lima
    Having access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as enshrined in human rights law and SDG 6, is intertwined with the governance of transboundary river basins and other issues connected to water and healthy ecosystems. Yet the laws governing human rights and international water law do not reflect this. This piece argues that a transformation of international water law, guided by human rights principles, is needed to foster the resilience of the legal system and achieve the SDGs related to water and ecosystems.
  • SDG 17: Transformative Partnerships? (21 Sep 2017) | Annekathrin Ellersiek
    Partnerships are a central Means of Implementation (MOI) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to Targets 16 and 17 of SDG17. This emphasis on partnerships points to the need to effectively harness additional resources, while at the same time highlighting the aim of ‘leaving no one behind’. But are they always both effective and inclusive, and hence transformative? This blog argues that stronger alignment of different approaches is needed for partnerships to bring about the progressive change that the 2030 Agenda requires.
  • Facing the Future: Institutions and Work in the 21st Century (8 May 2017) | Kelly Stetter
    The rapid advance of digital technologies has left an undeniable mark on modern labour markets and is almost certain to continue to reshape the world of work in the future. How we address the challenges posed by this digital transformation depends on how we come to understand its impacts, and how well we are able to adapt our social policies and institutions to the new reality of work in the 21st century.
  • Africa’s Energy Transformation: Rewriting the Global Rules (1 Dec 2016) | Caroline Kende-Robb
    Africa is undergoing a remarkable energy transformation. But African governments and their international partners have to accelerate that transformation if we are to achieve our collective ambitions. Access to clean modern energy, especially in Africa, where 620 million people have no electricity, is critical to the success of global efforts to tackle poverty and achieve the SDGs.
  • Transformation for Better or for Worse? The Evidence from South East Europe (24 Nov 2016) | Marija Stambolieva
    The UNRISD Flagship report 2016 sees transformational change as a set of policies and structures that “expand rights, increase equality and reduce power asymmetries, and support sustainable and equitable structural change of the economy”. For scholars of post-socialist transformation, however, the notion of “transformation” is typically associated with structural changes that generated social inequalities and boosted power asymmetries in societies which were previously relatively equal but perceived as inefficient. This blog post discusses the social policy pitfalls of transitions after political and economic crises.
  • The Ethic of Care. Why Care Policies Need to Recognize the Interdependence of Us All (17 Nov 2016) | Ruth Evans
    Care is finally receiving more of the attention it deserves in international development policy. But rather than using the language of 'burden' and 'dependency', care needs to be re-framed to recognize the vulnerability and interdependence of us all. This blog explores a a more holistic understanding of the complexity of caring relations in line with an ethic of care and human rights perspective that recognizes and re-values care.
  • Emprendimientos económicos solidarios y empoderamiento: el papel de las redes locales en el territorio (10 Nov 2016) | Leandro Morais
    En los últimos años la Economía Social y Solidaria (ESS) ha adquirido cada vez mayor visibilidad económica, social y política. Sin embargo, además de estos avances, en la vida cotidiana de los emprendimientos económicos solidarios hay muchas fragilidades enmarcadas por factores internos y externos. Muchos de estos factores podrían ser abordados y enfrentados a partir de la formación de redes de emprendimientos en el territorio.
  • The Just Transition: Making Sure a Low-Carbon Economy Leaves No One Behind (2 Nov 2016) | Edouard Morena
    Climate change is without doubt the most urgent and critical issue of our times. Given the scale of the problem and its consequences—which are already being felt, especially by the world’s most vulnerable populations—the climate challenge requires us to adopt a holistic approach and to rethink our growth and development models. This blog post discusses the need for not just a green but also a just transition for workers and their communities.
  • Blind Spots in Agenda 2030: What Happened to Improving Global Social Governance? (27 Oct 2016) | Bob Deacon
    The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) would seem to have ushered in a new era of global governance, but will the status quo be sufficient to fulfil the full potential of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development? This blog expands on the important issue of what improvements in global social governance will be needed to achieve everything that is set out in the SDGs, and some things which aren’t there but should be.
  • Transformation and the Tax Collector. How to Make Tax Reform Work for Sustainable Development (20 Oct 2016) | Katja Hujo
    Mobilizing sufficient financial resources to implement the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is one of the key challenges countries and the international community face in the run-up to 2030. But the challenge is not only to increase the quantity of revenues. The quality of financing policies also needs improvement. This blog discusses how mobilizing domestic resources can impact positively on production and employment, redistribution, social inclusion and gender equality, as well as sustainable use of natural resources.
  • Marking International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (17 Oct 2016) | Paul Ladd
    The launch today of UNRISD’s new Flagship report, Policy Innovations for Transformative Change, coincides with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In this post Paul Ladd asks whether, in moving to the expansive 2030 Agenda that has added climate change, environmental degradation, inequalities, decent work, urbanization and better governance to the development ‘to-do’ list, we have lost the focus on poverty.
  • Prosperity, People or Planet? Eco-Social Priorities for Sustainable Development (13 Oct 2016) | Pascal van Griethuysen
    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development constitutes a major shift in the way development is addressed in international governance, reconnecting it with the imperative to shift towards sustainable development. This blog argues that this means re-thinking our priorities and changing the hierarchy which puts economic choices ahead of sustainable and just social and ecological outcomes.
  • When Can Public Policy Work for SSE? (5 Oct 2016) | Peter Utting
    An increasing number of governments are adopting policies and programmes that aim to support different types of SSE organizations and enterprises. This potentially bodes well for implementing the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But whether or not such initiatives are effective is an open question. The state-SSE relationship is fraught with tensions and contradictions, which under certain conditions may be mitigated. This blog post explores how.
  • Social Policy is a Must for Integrated Sustainable Development (20 Sep 2016) | Ilcheong Yi
    The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is by now well-known as a set of 17 Goals and 169 Targets, but it is noticeably silent on how to achieve them. This blog post identifies social policy as a crucial building block in the development community's efforts to create an integrated strategy for sustainable development.
  • Up and Down the Political Agenda: Pathways to Transformative Care Policies (2 Aug 2016) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
    What do preschool childcare, safe water and paternity leave have in common? All of them can contribute to achieving Target 5.4 in the SDGs on unpaid care. Find out where UNRISD research has discovered transformative care policies and effective strategies for getting these policies put into place.
  • Inequality and the SDGs: Not Only a Developing Country’s Burden (24 Mar 2016) | Kelly Stetter
    On March 30 in New York, ECOSOC will host a Special Meeting on Inequality, bringing together high-level representatives from Member States, the UN system, academia and civil society to discuss unequal distribution of wealth, its implications for the Sustainable Development Agenda and what can be done about it. However, despite SDG 10’s clear objective of reducing inequality within and among countries everywhere, too much of the focus on inequality centres on developing countries, ignoring serious economic, social and cultural divides in many of the world’s advanced nations, which contribute to rising global inequality levels.
  • WTO: Missing in Action? (22 Jan 2016) | Sophia Murphy
    UNRISD is committed to ensuring that social development concerns and objectives remain prominent in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This requires balancing social, environmental and economic goals so that the effects of change in one domain do not undermine progress in another. Many contend that the existing multilateral architecture is not yet sufficiently coherent for governments to realize their sustainable development objectives. The following commentary considers the outcomes of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi in December 2015. It offers a critical look at those outcomes given governments’ parallel commitments to the realization of a complex and interdependent set of Sustainable Development Goals, and to limiting the causes while addressing the consequences of climate change.
  • Why the SDGs need Institutional Political Economy for Inclusive, Resilient Cities (7 Jan 2016) | Franklin Obeng-Odoom
    Research and policy aiming to meet SDG11 and make "cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable" will have to centre on planet, people, and places rather than property and profit for the few and poverty and privation for the many, if they are to reflect the spirit of the SDGs and flesh out the relatively sparse research on uneven urban and regional development. It is this gap that this think piece seeks to fill by offering a suitable framework for understanding cities.
  • The Paris Agreement (Part II): The First Step on the Long Road Ahead (18 Dec 2015) | Dunja Krause
    Last weekend, the world witnessed a historic success in international diplomacy. Years of international negotiations on a follow-up agreement to the Kyoto Protocol culminated in the adoption of a universal climate agreement at COP21 in Paris. Tireless efforts of a diverse range of stakeholders, including member states, the UNFCCC Secretariat, civil society and scientists seem to have finally exorcized the ghost of Copenhagen. This is the second of two think pieces on COP 21 by Dunja Krause.
  • The Paris Agreement (Part I): Landmark or COP-out? (26 Nov 2015) | Dunja Krause
    As 2015 draws to an end, the 21st Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), COP21 in short, marks the concluding milestone in a series of potentially game-changing international agreements aimed at transforming our world towards sustainability. This think piece considers whether the Paris document will be a landmark agreement limiting global warming, or if it will remain simply one small step in an extremely technical and painfully slow negotiation process.
  • Two Steps Forward, One Step Back? Taking Stock of Progress on Gender Equality since the Beijing Platform for Action (26 Nov 2015) | Andrea Kaufmann, Valeria Esquivel
    The 1995 Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action marked an important moment for gender equality. However, in the decades since then the achievements are under threat or may even be rolled back. The concluding piece in the UNRISD Think Piece Series “Let’s Talk about Women’s Rights: 20 Years after the Beijing Platform for Action” brings together some of the main strands of argument covered by 16 feminist thinkers reflecting on the advancements and challenges in gender equality since 1995. Although there have been some successes—the creation and improvement of legal frameworks for the defence of women’s rights, and progress in efforts to combat violence against women—there are still impediments: rigid gender stereotypes in society and institutions, a lack of funding for activism, and conservative forces coupled with a lack of political will to work for further progress. The need to realize women’s rights is now more urgent than ever.
  • Making the SDGs Transformational: UNRISD and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (17 Nov 2015) | Paul Ladd
    I started as the Director of the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development in mid-October. I’ve spent most of my first four weeks in meetings—with government representatives in Geneva, with UN colleagues, and with the UNRISD team. I’ve been grateful for the warmth with which I’ve been welcomed, and the professionalism and commitment of every single member of staff. In all of these discussions the main questions at the back of my mind have been: What does it mean to work on ‘social development’ at this particular point in history; and what is the best contribution that UNRISD can make?
  • Delivering Social Protection Systems for All: Why Taxes Matter (5 Oct 2015) | Francesca Bastagli
    Social protection and taxation feature prominently as key policy instruments available to governments in the pursuit of development goals in both the Financing for Development (FFD) Addis Ababa Action Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This renewed interest in social protection and tax presents a precious opportunity to promote the closer consideration of the links between the two and the ways in which they operate jointly to shape development outcomes.
  • Destination: Socially Sustainable Development. Will Addis Lead the Way? (25 Sep 2015) | Katja Hujo
    In this concluding think piece of the Road to Addis and Beyond Series, UNRISD Research Coordinator Katja Hujo brings together some of the main strands of argument covered by contributors and situates them in relation to UNRISD research, highlighting the importance of the politics of tax reform over and above the technicalities of reform blueprints. The piece concludes by outlining promising routes to more and better finance at the national level as well as blind spots to be aware of, and provides a concise, compelling view of what direction the road beyond Addis should take if we are to arrive at the destination set out in the sustainable development agenda for people, planet and prosperity.
  • Why the Addis Debt Chapter Falls Short (15 Sep 2015) | Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
    This think piece discusses the shortcomings of the debt chapter of the outcome document negotiated at the Third Financing for Development Conference in Addis Ababa in July 2015. While recognizing that a commitment to uphold human rights was made, the author argues that human rights should be at the core of development financing, guiding both its means and goals, so that funds are spent without unfairly sacrificing anybody´s rights, particularly those of the most vulnerable groups. The author suggests that it is only by adopting a human-rights oriented framework to development financing, including among others, efforts aimed at combating illicit financial flows and those aimed at regaining debt sustainability for countries required to undertake economic adjustment programmes, that the sustainable development goals can be achieved by 2030.
  • Revenue Mobilization for Gender Equity (11 Sep 2015) | Caren Grown and Sudarshan Gooptu
    One factor contributing to slow progress in closing gender gaps is insufficient resources to implement promising policy initiatives. Governments mobilize resources for gender equality from multiple sources, including taxes, overseas development assistance (ODA) and through public-private partnerships. This think piece reviews progress in mobilizing revenue for gender equality from these various sources and provides some overarching suggestions for mobilizing more resources and making existing ones more gender equitable.
  • Shifting Responsibilities without Changing the Balance of Power: What Chance of Equality with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda? (11 Sep 2015) | Nicole Bidegain Ponte, Marina Durano and Corina Rodríguez Enríquez
    The global development financing framework has shifted in emphasis since the 2002 Monterrey Consensus in three ways. First, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda (AAAA) of the Third Conference on Financing for Development moves away from a more balanced sharing of responsibilities between developed and developing countries in the international financial architecture. Second, the document reflects a clear endorsement of the private sector as a privileged development actor. Third, the AAAA takes an instrumentalist view of women’s human rights. As a result, the Conference failed to remove global obstacles to development and to provide the structural conditions and means to move toward sustainable and equitable development patterns and the full realization of human rights, particularly women’s rights. However, the AAAA offers possibilities for continued engagement through the establishment of an FfD follow-up mechanism as a space to redefine the balance of power and negotiate proposals to overcome the regressive trends and reshape the agenda.
  • Beyond Addis: How Can We Finance the SDGs? (8 Sep 2015) | Matthew Martin
    This contribution examines what the Third International Conference on Financing for Development, which took place in Addis Ababa in July 2015, means for financing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and what we need to do next to ensure they are fully financed. It emphasizes the need to double tax revenues, double aid, provide US$500 billion a year of innovative finance, and establish strong debt crisis prevention and resolution mechanisms. It then discusses how each of these could be achieved. Finally it quantifies the public spending needs for the SDGs, emphasizing the need for country leadership, anti-inequality focus, and transparency and accountability, for strong monitoring of post-2015 means of implementation in terms of inputs (spending, aid, tax), and for all sides to redouble their efforts to mobilize the money.
  • Fair Compensation and other Prerequisites to Mining for Development (31 Aug 2015) | Cielo Magno
    This piece challenges conventional approaches to a country’s economic development by suggesting a departure from the mainstream “mining for development” approach. It suggests that mining ventures should follow a set of preconditions that take into account other significant factors such as fair taxing schemes that benefit the state, clear transparency and accountability mechanisms, and an expanded monitoring scheme that covers environmental and social impacts of extractive activities.
  • Addis Ababa Financing for Development Conference: A Missed Opportunity to Discuss the Role of International Public Finance Post-2015 (24 Aug 2015) | Gail Hurley
    The Addis Ababa Financing for Development conference has concluded with an agreement that has both its supporters and its critics. In the run-up to Addis, discussions around international tax cooperation and how to leverage more private finance for development took centre stage. Less in evidence, however, was a frank discussion around how we need to use international public finance in the future; the international community still tends to think of this finance as ‘aid’ when in reality it will have a far larger and more complex role in supporting the realization of the new sustainable development agenda.
  • Financing Development: Tangible Tools to give Meaning to Fine Words (19 Aug 2015) | Eddie Rich
    How can we move from fine words spoken at global conferences to actual results? For resource-rich countries, the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) process can provide a tangible set of policy actions that countries can take to help maximise the value of their extractive resources. These actions can contribute to strengthening government tax collection systems, making countries more attractive investment prospects, and generating informed public debate. Experiences in EITI countries show that these are the kinds of good practices that forthcoming global conferences should catalyse to help countries use their resources to finance development.
  • An Orphaned Tax Agenda? Sacrificing Good Governance and Tax Justice in the Addis Ababa Outcome (18 Aug 2015) | Manuel Montes
    At the Financing for Development Conference in Addis in July 2015, developed countries blocked a proposal to establish an intergovernmental body within the United Nations on international cooperation in tax matters. There is a fundamental difference between North (where international companies are mostly headquartered) and South (whose interest lies in obtaining a fair share of the tax revenues arising from the operations of international companies in its territory). This divide can be better bridged in work by an intergovernmental body in the UN. The Addis Ababa outcome however sacrifices good governance and tax justice.
  • Investing in the SDGs: Whose Business? (18 Aug 2015) | Aldo Caliari
    The role of foreign investment in financing development has been a matter of considerable debate in the negotiations leading up to all Financing for Development (FFD) conferences. But deliberations towards the one which took place in Addis Ababa in July 2015 have seen a definite tendency to propose a greater reliance on foreign investment in financing development. It will be important to watch how the Addis Ababa conference frames the regulatory role of the state, and the practices of using aid as an incentive to attract private sector funding, and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) and institutional investors’ role in closing the infrastructure finance gap. With the transnational corporate sector more involved than ever in defining policies around sustainable development, winning the struggle for the narrative around the contribution of private capital flows to development is a crucial prize at stake in the Financing for Development negotiations in Addis Ababa and beyond.
  • Promoting Tax Bargains in Uganda and Beyond: The Importance of Civil Society and Parliamentarians (20 Jul 2015) | Jalia Kangave
    While developing countries have acknowledged the importance of domestic resource mobilization in development, in practice, not enough attention is being paid to the importance of tax bargains. Attempting to increase tax-to-GDP ratios without promoting negotiations between the taxing authorities and those being taxed is bound to undermine sustainable tax collection and promote poor governance. Successful domestic resource mobilization requires that (1) tax bargains are made more open; (2) civil society organizations (CSOs) and parliamentarians are given more political space in the bargaining processes; (3) systems are put in place to ensure the accountability of CSOs and parliamentarians; (4) governments introduce or reintroduce personal taxes at the local government level (such as the graduated tax – a direct tax that mostly affected poor and vulnerable households – which Uganda abolished in 2005) and (5) indirect taxes are made more visible.
  • Revenue Bargains Key to Financing Africa’s Development (16 Jul 2015) | Yusuf Bangura
    Africa has enjoyed a growth momentum since 2000 after the wasted years of the 1980s and much of the 1990s. However, eradicating poverty will require huge resources, which existing funding strategies will be unable to generate. Global commodity prices have fallen sharply; capacity to mobilize domestic revenues is waning; and aid has been insufficient in plugging funding gaps. Revenue bargains in which states extract revenues from citizens in exchange for investments that impact positively on well-being may be key to financing Africa’s development. They can substantially increase revenues, nurture effective state-citizen relations, force companies to pay correct taxes, push fragmented systems of service provision in the direction of universalism, improve policy space and make aid more effective.
  • International Corporate Tax Reform is Critical to Financing Sustainable Development (6 Jul 2015) | Erika Dayle Siu
    The Third International Conference on Financing for Development presents an historic opportunity to make the commitments necessary to eradicate extreme poverty and reset the development trajectory on a sustainable path. While financing for the post-2015 development agenda must come from many sources, increasing tax revenue will be critical. Although capacity building efforts in developing country tax administrations have been partially successful in the past decade, much more can be done to reform the outdated international tax rules. This think piece argues tax reform is essential to mobilizing the resources required to achieve the SDGs, and surveys current reform efforts.
  • Fair Pensions in an Ageing World (3 Jul 2015) | Manfred Nitsch
    Longevity without misery has always been mankind`s dream. Modern technology and political will can make that dream come true. Fair pensions for everybody are possible and affordable, when compulsory contributions from wages and salaries are topped-up or complemented with tax financing. No formal earmarking is recommended, but an explicit political consensus on linking pension and tax reforms can help for acceptance on both fronts. Pension systems follow a special financial and administrative logic. They are inherently different from the financial sector, because they rely on compulsory contributions and they cover most, if not the whole of a country`s population; they are different from non-financial business, because it is national legislation which governs their structure and their benefits rather than the fate of the businesses or their pension funds, as is the case with most company pensions; finally, they are markedly different from finance ministries which take tax money without any specific counter-claim. Pension insurance also differs from social assistance schemes, which are means-tested and care for the needy. Distinct from finance ministries and the financial sector, their governance structure often includes national employers, pensioners’ associations and trade unions. Increased labour migration flows make the international mutual recognition and portability of pension rights an urgent issue for global UN conventions, ILO standard setting, and bi- or multilateral treaties.
  • The CEDAW Committee 20 Years after Beijing: Progress in the Defence of Women’s Rights and Pending Challenges (3 Jul 2015) | Gladys Acosta Vargas
    CEDAW inspired the Beijing Platform for Action. The combination of CEDAW as a binding instrument and the political agreement made in Beijing together created better conditions for confronting gender-based discrimination. CEDAW considers justice a key element for the protection of human rights. It is now essential to press for compliance with the standards for access to justice. A key objective for coming decades is to build a vision for improving women’s access to justice in all spheres of social life. The UN can be a determining factor at the national, regional and international levels, but only if all of its parts are engaged in common dialogue with each other, with State Parties, and together with social movements and civil society. The CEDAW Committee has played a leading role in educating the international community about the grave consequences of all forms of gender-based discrimination.
  • A Global Fund for Social Protection Floors: Eight Good Reasons Why It can Easily be Done (2 Jul 2015) | Michael Cichon
    We know that social protection is the most direct tool we have to combat poverty and inequality and that implementation can begin when countries are at a relatively early stage of development. However, there are today a few countries which need the solidarity of others to close the social protection gap. This think piece puts forward 8 good reasons why a global fund for social protection is needed and can easily be initiated.
  • The New Cold War on Women’s Rights? (22 Jun 2015) | Anne Marie Goetz
    The United Nations is a crucial arena in which to set universal standards on women’s rights. But in recent meetings of the Commission on the Status of Women an increasingly coordinated misogynist backlash has been building unconventional alliances that transcend familiar geopolitical divisions and draw on the resources of religious organizations. States that have in the past been seen as defenders of women’s rights are losing ground in negotiations. There is a growing reluctance to expend political capital in defense of what has been constructed and maligned as a western social preoccupation. Transnational feminist networks have been deprived of opportunities to revive their networks and effectiveness in the absence of the expected fifth world conference on women this year. Feminist movements in emerging economies now have a crucial role to play in demonstrating that feminism is not limited to the West, and in influencing their national foreign policy establishments to defend women’s rights in multilateral agreements.
  • Bridging the Gap: Sovereign Wealth Funds and Financing for Development (16 Jun 2015) | Sven Behrendt
    Sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), government-owned investment vehicles, have become substantial players in the global financial architecture. As such, they are considered a potential source of financing for sustainable development. For the time being, however, sustainable development is not a theme that is represented prominently, if at all, in SWFs’ investment policies. That can only change if the sustainable development agenda’s cause is framed in the policy context in which SWFs operate. Three possible options come to mind: The asset owners of SWFs, that is governments, benefit from including sustainable development as an investment theme in SWFs’ investment mandates. Sustainable development could be positioned as an instrument to reduce risks to investments in less-developed jurisdictions. Sustainable development-informed investments could be tailored to meet SWFs’ financial performance objectives.
  • Let’s Walk Our Talk: Making Concrete Commitments on Financing the Sustainable Development Agenda (16 Jun 2015) | Inge Kaul, Donald Blondin
    Judging by the current draft outcome document, the Third Financing for Development (FfD) Conference is likely to achieve just one thing: a long list of declarations of intent, statements on what one might wish to consider or what should ideally be done—but few concrete commitments on who will deliver what means of implementation (MOI) and by when. If the FfD Conference is to produce more than just a non-committal piece of paper, it must meet a twofold challenge. It must (1) close the ‘specificity gap’ by moving from declarations of intent to concrete, actionable MOI commitments; and (2) close the ‘ambition gap’ by identifying the MOI issues that are of strategic relevance to the successful implementation of the Post-2015 Agenda.
  • Eliminating Sex Discrimination at Work: Recent Court Decisions since Beijing+20 (26 May 2015) | Jane Hodges
    A fresh way of assessing outcomes of Section F. of the Beijing Platform for Action on Women and the economy is to track how national judicial systems are enforcing the new generation of labour laws, not only labour courts and employment tribunals but also the highest domestic judicial authorities in the form of Supreme or Constitutional Courts. This think piece asks: How have courts reacted to the profound changes of the past years concerning sex discrimination at work? Are complaints being lodged relating to one particular area of employment discrimination law? Have courts received challenges to austerity programmes—a marked characteristic of state responses to the financial and economic crisis of the late 2000s—and have their decisions strengthened or weakened worker rights to gender equality? Are international labour standards (ILS) informing judges as they assess the facts and evidence within domestic legal frameworks? And if so, which ILS influence the final outcome? What can be done to improve matters in the future?
  • 20 Years of Shamefully Scarce Funding for Feminists and Women’s Rights Movements (13 May 2015) | Lydia Alpízar Durán
    For decades, the women’s rights movement and women’s rights organizations have been severely underfunded. AWID research in 2010 revealed that the median budget for 740 women’s organizations all over the globe was a miserly US$20,000. In the same year, as a point of reference, the income for Save the Children International and World Vision International was US$1.442 billion and US$2.611 billion respectively. This is in spite of recent research which proves what feminists and activists have known for a long time—that women’s movements have been the key drivers defending women’s human rights and gender justice worldwide. As the world commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Beijing Conference this year, creates the sustainable development goals (SDGs), and holds the 3rd International Conference on Financing for Development, it is critical to remember that real systemic impact for women’s rights needs significant resources.
  • Twenty Years after Beijing: Time to Re-evaluate Policy Engagements with the State? (7 May 2015) | Kalyani Menon-Sen
    Two decades after Beijing, the Indian balance sheet on feminist efforts at policy influencing is blotched with red. Gains on the social policy front have more often than not been neutralized by economic policies. Past advances are being rolled back as the government moves to insulate policy-making from public scrutiny. Is it time for feminists to walk away from the policy table and join the struggles and movements that are challenging neoliberalism on the streets?
  • Ending Violence Against Women: Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Marai Larasi
    The Beijing Platform for Action called on it signatories to take action in twelve critical areas of concern, including violence against women (VAW). In the 20 years since, we have seen shifts in how the issue is understood, described and addressed. As in other aspects of work around equality for women and girls, we have made progress and we have also experienced setbacks; and in many ways, the feminist thinking that was so critical to the Beijing process has been both mainstreamed and marginalized. While the landscape has changed in various ways, violence against women, and against girls, has remained both pervasive and persistent. This paper offers a brief reflection on where we are today with respect to the commitments made in 1995, acknowledging that while there have been advances, we have yet to come close to achieving the vision that was so clearly articulated in Beijing.
  • Gender Praxis in Emergencies: 20 Years after Beijing (2 Apr 2015) | Anu Pillay
    This think piece offers a brief scan of the humanitarian response environment since the Beijing conference of 1995, within which gender practitioners have been striving to integrate gender concerns. It succinctly reviews the background against which gender mainstreaming entered the humanitarian sector, bringing with it the promise to integrate and mainstream gender concerns into the response to emergencies created by armed conflict or natural disasters. However, looking back on the past 20 years, it shows how gender mainstreaming has emerged as a strategy which is sometimes practiced in a way that is counter-productive to its goal of transforming gender inequality. It takes a look at the way that gender transformative issues of voice, choice, safety and accountability seem to be stuck in the humanitarian-development divide and how resilience is being viewed as the ‘new kid on the block’ which will bridge that divide. The author asks whether gender praxis, as the embodiment of a commitment to human well-being, could be employed to interrogate the relationship between the vision of gender equality and the strategy for its achievement, and whether gender could be flagged as the unifying factor that already straddles the humanitarian-development divide?
  • How Feminist Activism Can Make States More Accountable for Women’s Rights (31 Mar 2015) | Andrea Cornwall, Jenny Edwards
    Despite the gains made on women’s rights since the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, we still have a long way to go in terms of enjoying a gender-equal world. We also need to be vigilant against sliding back on progress already made. This article recognizes the crucial role women’s organizing plays in holding states to account on obligations made under international agreements. Drawing on examples from Brazil and Egypt from the Pathways of Women’s Empowerment programme, the article demonstrates the contribution of women’s organizing to: mobilizing around injustice, harnessing the power of ratified agreements to bring about change in legislation, working on the design of progressive laws, and then ensuring the laws are effectively implemented. In order to be truly successful, however, women’s organizing needs to be matched by responsive, effective government. It is only when citizen voice works in unison with the state that commitments made on women’s rights can be comprehensively achieved.
  • Achievements and Challenges in Gender Equality in International Human Rights Law: The Last Twenty Years (24 Mar 2015) | Fareda Banda
    20 years after the Fourth World Conference on Women, which took place in Beijing in 1995, what has changed for women in the human rights field? There have been many changes in law and policy post-Beijing. Human rights treaty bodies including the Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), have reinforced the message that states have an obligation to both pass laws and ensure compliance. Furthermore, they have noted that states have duties to challenge negative attitudes towards women which are based on gender stereotyping. International and regional courts have taken a more gender-sensitive approach in addressing gender stereotypes especially with respect to violence against women. Given the controversy surrounding the conceptualization of the term gender at the 1995 conference, the paper concludes by arguing for a more comprehensive reading of the term that embraces gender identity and sexual orientation.
  • 20 Years of Mobilization: The Role of Young Feminists (16 Mar 2015) | Ruby Johnson
    Young women and girls continue to experience rights violations in their daily lives such as sexual- and gender-based violence, early and forced marriage, discrimination and limited access to their sexual and reproductive health and rights. Approaching Beijing+20, we arrive at an important juncture, a moment to reflect on achievements to date and challenges ahead. Operating in volatile and resource-constrained environments, young feminists are organizing collectively, facing backlash and barriers within their communities, societies and their own movements. The mobilization, the courage and the experience of this generation have an important role to play in redefining a just development and human rights agenda ahead. Coming from diverse movements and contexts, and using art, technology and sport as key tactics in their work, their contributions can make development more responsive, grounded and sustainable. Let us collectively re-imagine how we work together across generations and movements, and leverage both our critical mass and the technology available to hold all actors accountable.
  • Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: A View from Switzerland (9 Mar 2015) | Flurina Derungs, Ursula Keller
    Despite being one of the world’s wealthiest countries and most modern economies, in Switzerland gender equality remains an elusive challenge. Paid maternity leave, legal abortion and an increase in women’s educational attainment are some of the milestones achieved since 1995. But while legal gender equality may be nearly achieved, much remains to be done to achieve gender equality in practice. Rigid gender stereotypes, wage discrimination, women’s heavy care burden, segregation in the workplace, violence against women, under-representation of women in political and economic decision making, and structural obstacles to reconciling family duties with employment still stand in the way of gender equality.
  • Achievements and Challenges 20 Years after Beijing: An African Perspective (2 Mar 2015) | Faiza Jama Mohamed
    Twenty years have passed since the adoption of the Beijing Platform for Action (BPfA), a comprehensive roadmap to advance women's rights and achieve gender equality. This piece will reflect upon achievements made but also persisting challenges to the successful implementation of the BPfA within the African context, ahead of the review process in March 2015. Discussed in detail are the issues of sexual violence, women's political participation, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), education and maternal health. Additionally, this piece discusses the Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa and successful regional strategies pursued by the Solidarity for African Women's Rights Coalition that have helped to push for particular achievements pertaining to women's rights, especially at the African Union level.
  • Gender Norms: Are they the Enemy of Women’s Rights? (2 Mar 2015) | Raewyn Connell, Rebecca Pearse
    Gender norms do not float freely; nor are they static. Gender norms are part of the weave of social life, embedded in institutions as well as individual lives. Change in gender norms can come from many sources. Norms of gender inequality have proved difficult to shift. But norms of gender equality also exist; and social research shows that new possibilities for change open up all the time.
  • The ‘Feminization of Poverty’: A Reflection 20 Years After Beijing (2 Mar 2015) | Sylvia Chant
    This think piece interrogates the conceptual and empirical currency of a ‘feminization of poverty’ which effectively assumed the status of ‘global orthodoxy’ at the Fourth Women’s World Conference in Beijing in 1995, when it was proclaimed that 70% of the world’s poor were women, and that this figure was rising. Although evidence to substantiate these assertions remains wanting, the ‘feminization of poverty’ meme has been remarkably enduring. Aside from a lack of robust data which points to increased poverty among women relative to men in the past twenty years, I contend that there are problems with the implicit focus on income poverty to the exclusion of other privations, and with the more explicit aligning of the ‘feminization of poverty’ with the ‘feminization’ of household headship. This article offers thoughts on how to enrich the ‘feminization of poverty’ construct with attention to evidence for a ‘feminization of responsibility and/or obligation’. It also supports the wider range of gender targets and indicators anticipated for the post-2015 agenda as a basis for addressing the ‘feminization of poverty’, broadly defined.
  • Why Does the Security Council Have Few Teeth? A Reflection on Women and Armed Conflict 20 years after Beijing 1995 (2 Mar 2015) | Donna Pankhurst
    The Beijing Declaration was key to establishing a series of momentous UN Security Council Resolutions on women in wartime, including the declaration of rape as a war crime. Much money and effort has gone into implementing elements of the Resolutions but women still tend to remain marginalised, if not completely excluded from peace talks and levels of violence, particularly sexual violence, still remain very high in some contemporary wars. I suggest that this is not surprising because attention has not been focused in the right place. Until we understand why some (not all) men choose to commit such violent acts against women, during and after wars, we are unlikely to curb or prevent this violence. Until there is a serious commitment to working alongside local women in genuine partnership during peace-keeping and peace-building endeavours, the UN Security Council Resolutions are likely to remain fundamentally flawed.
  • Women, War and Peace in Africa: A Reflection on the Past 20 Years (2 Mar 2015) | Meredeth Turshen
    This contribution takes the analysis of wartime violence against women out of an individualized context and puts it into the realm of war economies, which are highly criminalized and globalized. Yes, wartime rape was long a neglected topic deserving of our attention. But the protracted wars on the African continent have created a “durable disorder”, wrenching women, children and men from their everyday productive activities, rites and celebrations and pitching them into states of violent turmoil, confused movement, precarious existence and deep grief unrelieved by the normal symbols of mourning. These wars, which include lengthy and intermittent civil strife, ethnic and communal violence, disruptive political discord, internal disturbances, states of emergency and suppression of mass uprisings, occur under global neoliberal regimes in an environment of the so-called war on terror. Their impact on women’s security deserves an expanded feminist analysis that reaches beyond interpersonal violence to encompass the political economy of the “new wars”.
  • The Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors (25 Nov 2014) | Yvonne Theeman
    In the wake of the International Labour Organization’s adoption of Recommendation 202 in June 2012, the “Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors” was created. But that was not the start of the unique network of today more than 80 NGOs and trade unions of which 16 form the Coalition’s Core Team from all parts of the world committed to join forces for one single goal: to achieve social protection for everyone. This think piece reviews the forming of the Coalitions, its membership and mission.
  • Judicial Protection of the Right to Social Security (25 Sep 2014) | Alison Graham
    The right to social security is enshrined in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as other international treaties, and has been upheld by numerous judicial bodies at the national, regional and international levels, both explicitly or implicitly through other rights including civil and political ones, and/or other constitutional and legal guarantees. This brief commentary outlines some of the key decisions that have strengthened the understanding of the right to social security and protection at national levels that may be of particular interest to development practitioners.
  • Sustainable Development Goals and the Case for a Developmental Welfare State (17 Sep 2014) | Gabriele Köhler
    This think piece argues that while the newly proposed Sustainable Development Goals for the post-2015 development agenda have their good points, they do not go far enough.They are not conceptualized as rights-based and, like the MDGs, they are state-blind. These issues mut be addressed in order for the next development agenda to stand a chance of becoming progressive.
  • Unpacking the ILO’s Social Protection Floor Recommendation (2012) from a Women’s Rights Perspective (15 Sep 2014) | Lucie Lamarche
    The twentieth century witnessed the development of national social security and social protection mechanisms aimed at providing economic, social and public answers to address social risks. In the logic of the majority of these mechanisms, however, unless women were formally employed or were widows, they were not rights holders in any meaningful sense independent of male relatives and/or their families. This think piece argues that ILO standards on social protection capture this discriminatory dynamic and that the Organization's heritage constitutes a significant obstacle to the en-gendering of the right to social security.
  • The Case Against the Commodification of Social Protection (10 Sep 2014) | Manuel Couret Branco
    In May 2006, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights expressed its concern about the fact that a significant number of countries that had been ensuring a certain level of social protection through public intervention were transferring part of the responsibility to the private sector (CESCR 2006). More than bringing private actors into the process of supplying goods and services that are needed to secure the human right to social security, it is their commodification that seems particularly menacing. This Commentary explores the tensions between private and public, economic and political needs in relation to human rights.
  • The Compatibility between ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the ICESCR (5 May 2014) | Francine Mestrum
    Are ILO Recommendation 202 on Social Protection Floors and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) compatible? At the discursive level, one can conclude that ICESCR is more complete than R.202, but the language used does not permit any conclusion in terms of incompatibility. Both texts leave room for flexible interpretation. Hence problems may occur at the implementation level. This piece explores issues which may arise as a result.
  • ILO Recommendation 202 is Not a Legal Island: Explicit Links between R. 202, the ICESCR and the UDHR (30 Apr 2014) | Michael Cichon
    More than 18 months after the global community unanimously accepted ILO Recommendation No. 202 in June 2012 it remains a most misunderstood document. It is often seen as a minimalist document clashing with demands for adequate levels of protection and hence implicitly not providing adequate standards of living for all. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.
  • A Rejoinder to ‘Pro-Poor and Pro-Development Transparency’ (15 Apr 2014) | Charles Lwanga-Ntale
    Pro-poor transparency laws and policies must have ending poverty as an underlying objective. This can become possible if social protection and access to information are fully recognized as rights that poor people can invoke to exit poverty. Yet uptake of social protection policy in developing countries has been slow, largely because it has not been understood as a human right. The post-2015 development agenda needs to correct this failing to achieve future goals.
  • Realizing Rights in Practice: A ‘Minimum’ Level of Social Security in Relation to an ‘Adequate’ Standard of Living (8 Apr 2014) | Bob Deacon
    ILO Recommendation 202 asks countries to lay down Social Protection Floors providing some basic social security guarantees and promulgating principles like universalism, non-discrimination, dignity, accessible complaints procedure . Its human rights underpinnings are clear, but the Recommendation nevertheless has certain limitations which are further discussed in this contribution.
  • What Do Cooperatives Have To Do with the Post- 2015 Development Framework and Proposed Sustainable Development Goals? (27 Sep 2013) | Emery Igiraneza
    Cooperative enterprises are instrumental in providing opportunities for productive employment as well as offering services such as health care, education, credit, improved infrastructure and sustainable energy. They are guided by values of social dialogue and democracy, and are often rooted in local communities, making them a sustainable option for achieving development. However, recognition within UN processes crafting the post-2015 framework of the current and potential role of cooperatives in achieving sustainable development, reducing poverty and creating employment is patchy. To remedy this situation, the ILO, in collaboration with the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA), UNRISD and other partners has launched an initiative to assess and promote the contribution of cooperatives to sustainable development.
  • Social and Solidarity Economy: A Pathway to Socially Sustainable Development? (29 Apr 2013) | Peter Utting
    As the international community attempts to tackle a complex set of twenty-first century development challenges, attention has focused on the possibilities of more integrated models of development. This think piece argues that both the concept of sustainable development (centred on economic growth, and social and environmental protection) and the classic model of what can be termed “embedded liberalism” (centred on the welfare state and the decent work enterprise), are found wanting from the perspective of integrative development. In today’s world five key dimensions need to be addressed simultaneously: economic development, social protection, environmental protection, gender equality and sociopolitical empowerment. The field of Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE) seems to have considerable potential in this regard. Can that potential be realized?
  • Lessons of Good Social Policy (7 Mar 2013) | Ilcheong Yi
    Social policy is now widely acknowledged as a central instrument of structural transformation to remove the root causes of poverty and inequality. There are good examples of social policy being effective in reducing inequality and poverty, successfully playing more than a residual role, addressing areas beyond a safety net, and engaging with broad public policy issues of distribution, protection, production and reproduction. Two recent UN global social protection initiatives, the Social Protection Floor and Universal Health Coverage should take account of these lessons about good social policy for reducing inequality and poverty.
  • Green Economy: The New Enemy? (11 Jul 2012) | Peter Utting
    This viewpoint reflects on the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), known as Rio+20, held in June. It looks at, among other things, the reactions to the idea of green economy, one of the conference’s main themes; the role of corporations; and the positioning of equity and justice in the sustainable development agenda.
  • The False Dichotomy Between Economy and Society: Implications for a Global Green Economy (6 Mar 2012) | Leisa Perch
    One of the assumptions about green economy is that it will lead to poverty reduction and equity. Since several mainstream arguments for going green are largely economic, the structural changes and incentives envisaged are also largely economic in nature. However, green economy must do more than provide more employment opportunities. To "go green with equity" will require social sustainability principles such as (i) preferential access for the poor and vulnerable to new jobs, green microfinance and green infrastructure; (ii) adaptable social protection mechanisms which mitigate the impact of environmental and disaster risk and also provide income support for green consumption by the poor; and (iii) a rights-based approach which tackles fundamental structural inequalities such as land rights and tenure for women in Africa and Asia.
  • The EU Commission Proposal for a Financial Transaction Tax: Problems and Prospects (23 Feb 2012) | Heikki Patomäki
    In the midst of the ongoing Eurocrisis, the European Commission is arguing that a fairly comprehensive FTT is both feasible and desirable. This represents a welcome departure from neoliberal orthodoxy, and some recognition of the need for measures to address market failures and systemic risks in the financial sector. But it is also a disappointment for the global justice movement and alter-globalizers: far from providing resources for development and poverty eradication, the Commission is looking for an alternative to national contributions for financing the EU budget. As such, the campaign for a global currency transaction tax is as necessary as ever.
  • Civil Society Engagement in the Green Economy Debate (25 Nov 2011) | Edouard Morena
    More than just including the voices of civil society actors and coalitions, the “green economy” debate must take into account the diversity of understandings, interactions and values that characterize the struggle for a unified civil society response.
  • A Fair Green Economy: Framing Green Economy and the Post-MDG Agenda in Terms of Equity (7 Sep 2011) | Alison Doig, Erica Carroll
    In the next few years the global community must address the dual crises of global poverty and global environmental degradation. As the international community develops a successor to the MDGs and at the same time aims at a global green economy, it is essential to recognize the role of inequality in perpetuating high levels of global poverty and undermining attempts at environmental sustainability.