First Impressions: Press Review February 2013

Welcome to our internal press review, featuring the latest publications by UNU-MERIT and its School of Governance: from working papers to policy reports to entire books. Expect more from ‘First Impressions’ at the end of every month.

February 2013 brings five new working papers, on issues ranging from IQ performance to innovation capacity to fixing the global climate. Geographically, the focus spreads from the Netherlands to Brazil and across 24 developing countries.

Pakistanis affected by their country's widespread, torrential floods receive wheat flour and other provisions from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) in Alipur, in the Muzaffargarh district of Punjab Province. Continue reading

AlumniWatch: Innovating India from the Inside

In the first of a new series featuring illustrious alumni, we ask Dr. Lina Sonne to share her insights and impressions of the working world. Now based in Mumbai, she speaks of the city’s energy and optimism, as well as the challenges of breaking through years of patriarchy and bureaucracy.

It’s an exciting time to be living and working in India, not only to witness the massive social transformation but also to play a role in the whirlwind of top-down and bottom-up development. Change is now being spurred on several fronts, and academia is no exception. In particular, the setting up of new universities allows more students to follow tertiary education while improving home-grown research.

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Cold Turkey for Cars in Mexico?

“Poor Mexico. So far from God, so close to the United States,” declared Mexican President Porfirio Diaz in the late nineteenth century. His words passed into history, summing up the interdependent relationship of these two powerful countries.

Today, as well as losing massive territories from California to Texas, modern Mexico is still overshadowed by its northern neighbour. For decades nearly all major Mexican cities have followed the failed US model of urban development: sprawling car-dependent cities with urban centres fractured by highways and overpasses. Besides destroying quality of life and human interaction in historic districts, this model is incredibly devastating precisely because it is self-perpetuating: more cars call for more highways; more insecurity in the centre causes more people to flee to the outskirts.

Mexico City traffic jam Continue reading

Hybrid Political Orders and Fragile States: Lessons from Lebanon

Intervention in fragile states will increasingly form the centre of the discourse on aid effectiveness, humanitarian relief and regional and international governance. Since the start of the Arab Spring and following on from the global economic crisis, we have seen various strategies of intervention in various fragile states – from Cote D’Ivoire, Libya, Somalia, DRC and more recently the question of how to design and execute intervention in Mali.

In Syria, where UN Security Council support for intervention, even for creating a no-fly zone over Syria for Assad’s air force, is absent, the model of intervention has been to isolate the regime financially and politically – as was the case in Libya and Cote D’Ivoire. But whereas in these cases military intervention was sanctioned by the UN, in Syria the absence of a UN sanction has lead to intervention strategies, at least at the time of writing, limited to supporting the creation of a more unified  (and pro-Western) opposition.

In this photo taken by a UN observer, a shell lays in the middle of the street in Homs, Syria, a remnant of the heavy attack levelled on the city.

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