Women preparing food in mud hut on March 20 , 2014 in Jaisalmer,India

End of year reflections

The Guardian development blog is running a series of end of year reflections on development, including one by me. Many of the articles are upbeat about progress in developing countries, but pessimistic about the short term economic prospects for … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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Rakesh Rajani speaking at the Open Government Partnership in New York

Warming to the Open Government Partnership

This joint post with Stephanie Majerowicz first appeared on the Views from the Center blog at the Center for Global Development

“The defining division these days is increasingly: open or closed? Are we open to the changing world? Or do

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A screen capture of twitter on a website

Twitter: society’s new dial tone

This blog post first appeared on the Media and Government site.  It suggests that new media is not just a faster and 24 hour news channel. The political economy of media is changing in three important ways. Read the full post »
Street sign showing Parliament Street and Whitehall

In praise of Special Advisers

From the Financial Times comes news that David Cameron and Nick Clegg are planning to employ more political special advisers than the previous government; while the media and public try to work out whether there is anything improper about the … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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Boris Johnson in the Conservative Party Political Broadcast - East Africa Appeal

Conservative Party gives up party political broadcast

This is very impressive.  Here in the UK we do not have paid political advertising: instead political parties are given a limited number of slots on British TV for a ‘party political broadcast’ to put their point across.

This year … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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A lesson in winging it

This piece by Simon Kuper in the Weekend FT is so close to the bone it makes you wince:

I recently went on a business trip with three members of the British ruling classes. The late-night banter over drinks was

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Kids going to school near Bole

Does the public care about development?

Development advocates have to make the case for aid. They are right to say that development is in the national interest of the donor, but it may be a mistake to put this at the centre of the argument. Most people don’t need to be convinced that development is desirable; they need to be convinced that aid works.

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Born to shine

Save the Children has today published a new report, <a href="http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/54_14725.htm">No Child Born to Die: Closing the Gaps</a>. This blog post looks at what is good about the report (most of it) but quibbles with the recommendations to prevent the recruitment of health workers by developed countries, and with the call to drive down vaccine prices.

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Apart from aid, how are we doing?

Judging by the 2010 Commitment to Development Index, the UK is  doing a better job at securing and spending a rising aid budget than it is at getting the rest of government to pursue development-friendly policies.

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A loss to the House of Commons

Reflections on the loss to Parliament of retiring and defeated MPs and especially the loss of Dr Evan Harris, who has stood up for science, secularism and freedom of speech. Read the full post »

Political pedantry

Since there will be a lot of politics on our TV screens in the next 48 hours, I should like to take this opportunity to issue some timely pedantic reminders:

  • England, not the House of Commons, is the “Mother
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Development policy in the UK election

We have been told that the three largest parties in the UK are committed to retaining DFID as a separate government department, with its own Cabinet Minister, and with a budget that rises to meet the UK's commitment to increase aid to 0.7% of GDP. If we want to help to accelerate development, then some of the time we will need to put the UK's broad, long-term interest in building a safer, more equal and prosperous world ahead of the UK's narrower and short-term commercial or political interests. The most important international development question for the UK election should be: which of the political parties is willing to do that? Read the full post »

Protect development from party politics

On January 13th, a leader in The Times and Kevin Watkins in The Guardian attacked the development policies of the UK Conservative Party, from opposite sides of the political spectrum.  The Times Leader says that the Conservatives are wrong to … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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A market for aid

My new working paper, Beyond Planning: Markets and Networks for Better Aid is on the Center for Global Development website in the innovations in aid series.

In the paper I argue that more planning and coordiation among donors will not … Go to www.owen.org to read the rest

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“We are all in this together”

George Osborne said eight times in his speech to the Conservative Party Conference that "we are all in this together". Let's consider what this might mean. Read the full post »

Tobin Tax and International Development

It worries me that people who are interested in reducing world poverty leap so readily on the Tobin Tax bandwagon.

There are three questions to answer:

  • should we spend more on reducing global poverty?
    (my answer: yes, if
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Special advisers and civil servants

Danny Finkelstein in The Times sticks up for Special Advisers.  Alex Evans, who was a Special Adviser in DFID, tells a funny story about being put at the end of a corridor

I returned from leave to discover that

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Gordon Brown: technology has changed foreign policy

The BBC reports Gordon Brown’s speech at the TED conference today:

The power of technology – such as blogs – meant that the world could no longer be run by “elites”, Mr Brown said.

Policies must instead be formed by

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The mother of Parliaments

In which I pedantically criticise Nick Robinson, the BBC Political Editor, who should know the meaning of the phrase "Mother of Parliaments". Read the full post »

Good sentences

From John Naughton:

The most satisfactory sight yesterday was that of Dick Cheney, looking for all the world like Dr Strangelove, being wheeled off the scene in a wheelchair. The only problem is that he was then helped into a

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