Tuesday 14 December 2010

Human Rights Tactics in many languages

In case this has escaped your attention: New Tactics for Human Rights offers, on its website, a whole range of resources for human rights workers around the world. A comprehensive overview is available as a manual here: New Tactics in Human Rights - A Resource for Practitioners. The link takes you to a page where you can download the full manual in English, and sections thereof in : Arabic, Bengali, Croatian, Farsi, French, Hebrew, Indonesian, Mayan, Mongolian, Polish, Russian, Kiswahili, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu and Uzbek! A range of other resources are available on-line. Highly commendable.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Simple Words about Complexity

In a helpful comment about my recent post "Donor Playgrounds and Unknowable Outcomes", my friend Hélène complains about jargon. Why do we use fancy words? One reason is that sometimes such elaborate terminology (= fancy words) is more accurate than simpler language - but only if everyone involved has the same understanding of the words used. Then, fancy words convey the impression that you know exactly what you are talking about. And finally, fancy words make harsh truths sound elegant and not too painful - especially if the one who reads/ listens does not understand what you mean. But then, what's the point in saying anything if it is not understood?

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Donor Playgrounds and Unknowable Outcomes

"Donor Playground Cambodia" is the title of a highly commendable paper Adam Fforde and Katrin Seidel have contributed to a conference on development policy, Thinking Ahead, organised by the Heinrich Boell Foundation in Berlin. A core theme of their paper: "the tensions created by the belief that development is both a known product of interventions guided by predictive knowledge, and the sense that, really, the future is unknowable".

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Resolution 1325 - 10th Anniversary

(Logo: Gunda Werner Institute, HBS)
After a decade of deafening silence around Resolution 1325, a flurry of activities has broken out to celebrate its 10th anniversary: New York, Brussels, Geneva, Vienna, Beirut and other attractive locations host international conferences. This year's 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence also plugs into the topic, with the theme "Structures of Violence: Defining the Intersections of Militarism and Violence against Women".

Saturday 23 October 2010

Development speak in many tongues - look it up here

Yesterday in Bujumbura, friends described to me how they had managed to reduce the incidence of particularly violent forms of forced marriage involving abduction and gang rape in their home region, up in the High Plateaux of Southern South Kivu (DRC). It was extremely enlightening, but also sort of surreal because of their generous use of development jargon. Terms such as "baseline assessment", "participatory survey", "target groups", "sensitisation" and "awareness-raising" punctuated every sentence, hiding to some extent what really happened.

Saturday 11 September 2010

Tools again - nicely presented

This is my 101st blog post! Time flies!
I have subscribed to the delightful Pelican mailing list. The pelican, by the way, was the symbol of the Huguenots, that French protestant sect who fled religious prosecution. A statue of a pelican commemorates their arrival in Berlin some time in the... hm... late 17th century. Anyway, this is what I learnt on the mailing list today: the One World Trust has launched a new site, somewhat pompously called Accountability Tools for Policy Research.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Beyond Logframe

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has published an excellent booklet titled Beyond Logframe: Using Systems Concepts in Evaluation, which you can download in English from its web-site. I am particularly enthusiastic about the first article by Richard Hummelbrunner Beyond Logframe: Critique, Variations and Alternatives. Since I experienced difficulties downloading the document from the Japanese site, I summarise some main points below. If you'd like to have a copy of the full article via e-mail, please let me know - for those who have my ordinary e-mail address, use that one, for those who don't, try micraab(at)web.de and be prepared to wait for a few days.

Monday 9 August 2010

For E-campaigners

Hunting for quality step-by-step guides for campaigners, I have come across yet another exciting site - it's Tactical Tech. Try its "Toolkits and Guides" link for pleasantly designed, clear guides on online advocacy, internet security, working with audio and video, SMS campaigning and so on. The guides are recent - 2009 and 2010 - which is important in this rapidly evolving sector. And since you're at it, also drop by at TakeBacktheTech as a good example for effective internet campaigning.

Wednesday 14 July 2010

UN Women!

On 2 July, the United Nations General Assembly finally decided to establish UN Women, a merger of four existing UN structures for the advancement of women - UNIFEM, DAW, OSAGI and INSTRAW - with a US$ 500 million budget. That is only half of what the campaigners for UN Women had asked for, but a fair start. For more information, I recommend the special issue of the UNIFEM e-newsletter Currents.

Saturday 12 June 2010

Monitoring - It's the process that matters

Monitoring is about gathering information that helps us to function effectively, and about verifying whether we do the right things in the right ways. It is a natural part of human life - for example, every morning, I monitor the weather to determine what to wear so as to stay fresh and dry throughout the day. Monitoring makes me more effective in my life.

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Output Outcome Impact Blues

A glorious and instructive song for evaluators, available from the very respectable Institute of Development Research, so it can't be wrong. Click here to enjoy it.

Tuesday 27 April 2010

In Memoriam: Alice Miller (1923-2010)

Last week Alice Miller died. The Swiss psychologist, who achieved international fame with her 1979 book The Drama of the Gifted Child and subsequent publications, devoted her professional life to research on child abuse and its consequences. Alice Miller's books, translated into 30 languages, show how child abuse and violent behaviour in adult life - such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, even terrorism and political dictatorship - are interrelated.

Monday 5 April 2010

"Culture" vs. law enforcement

Just came across a "context analysis" for an African country. In its short section on education - tiny compared to the ample deliberations on economic opportunities - the text claims that "cultural factors leading to early marriage and pregnancy" keep girls out of schools.

Tuesday 16 March 2010

Africa for Women's Rights

An alliance of African human rights groups has launched a campaign for the ratification of the basic treaties for women's rights: the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, and the Protocol to the African Charta on Human and People's Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol). Find the campaign blog here!
The map, gleaned from the website of the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (FIDH) shows which countries have ratified all treaties (green), two out of three (yellow), only one (orange) or none (red).

Saturday 13 March 2010

Why work for more equal societies?

Because in highly unequal societies, even the rich are unhappier than in more equal ones! Find the evidence on The Equality Trust

EVAW - resources on violence against women

UNIFEM has launched its virtual knowledge centre on ending violence against women (ENDVAWNOW.ORG) in three languages - English, French and Spanish. It includes a step-by-step guide for people who run projects or campaigns against VAW (Start Here: Programming Essentials, M&E) which are quite generic, i.e. they could be applied to virtually any kind of project.

Saturday 6 March 2010

"Culture" and how to deal with it

Last month I had the provilege to evaluate an impressive programme, run by the Cambodian human rights organisation ADHOC and its partners, on the Khmer Rouge Trials. While preparing for my research in Cambodia, I came across a few articles written by “Western” observers who raised doubts regarding the appropriateness of trials in the context of “Cambodian culture”. One author, an anthropologist, pointed out that the dominant religion in Cambodia was Theravada Buddhism, which in her opinion favoured a forgiving attitude, as opposed to international criminal justice.
I don't know. Christanism has been preaching universal love for millenaries and still manages to get away with crusades in the Middle Ages, child soldiers in Uganda and war in Afghanistan, to quote but a few major inconsistencies. Why should Buddhism have a stronger influence on people's actions than any other religion?
And then, I tend to feel uncomfortable when people socialised in Europe, the USA or other “Northern” places, make pronouncements as to what is appropriate for a “culture” they know only from books and more or less brief “field trips”. What is it that makes outsiders lump an entire faraway nation into a single, immovable concept of “culture”? And why do they only interview monks and village elders to find out what the country's “culture” is like, and not office workers, school teachers and other people who live ordinary lives full of culture, and who make up the majority of the country's population?
Fortunately the exotic perspectives of “Northern” observers exert an extremely limited influence on the way people construct and explain their realities in Cambodia. Listening to the women and men I interviewed, I was delighted to observe how Buddhism could be bent to fit everyone's needs. A few telling quotes: “The Khmer Rouge Trials follow Buddhist principles – you do good, you get good, you do bad, you are punished.” Or: "Forgiveness? That's the monks' business; they are not allowed to get angry. I am angry and I want these genocide criminals to be punished." Or else: “I have become a civil party to the Khmer Rouge trials because I must obtain justice for my relatives' deaths – otherwise I'll be reborn as a cat or a dog!"
This is how I like culture - as a whole menu of ideas we can pick from to support what we're doing.

Wednesday 3 February 2010

30 Years of CEDAW

The Convention on the Eliminiation of All forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has turned 30. Siyanda has compiled a whole set of recent publications around this anniversary and plenty of other helpful sources on CEDAW which you can find here. For those who don't know yet: The UN Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women publishes country reports, including NGO shadow reports, on the web - usually in several languages. For most recent reports on Armenia, Cameroon, Germany, Guatemala and others, for example, look here.