Sunday, November 11, 2007

Attention for the "Bottom Billion"

The Bottom Billion is worth a read. In fairness, I should read the End of Poverty since I already read and have been positively provoked by The White Man's Burden (which I don't feel places me on the right, as Collier suggests, anymore than I would call Sachs a defender of the left, but that is another story for other posts).

Summaries and reviews of Collier are plentiful, here and here and here so I won't bother with that.

I think it contributes some clarity to "conditionality" in the international development discussions and the term "governance conditionality" - that which is based on broadly agreed international norms - is an area I think might gain traction in a new information-obsessed world.

The greatest contribution is his analysis of laws and charters. Clearly, no international court is in the near future, but he cites the progress - note that I stop short of calling them "successes" - of initiatives like the Kimberly Process and Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. I would add that voluntary initiatives such as the Equator Principles, which I use a lot in my work, are re-focusing the debate on role and responsibilities in international development. There is less turning a blind eye to the indirect impacts of our actions.

I was less offended than I expected to be about his arguments for military intervention. He certainly doesn't defend the blunders of Iraq and rather tries to re-think Somalia and Rwanda and how they might have followed a scenario more like what he considers to be successful interventions like Sierra Leone.

No comments: