Public Procurement of Food: Should Governments Buy Local?

By U.S. Department of Agriculture (CRYP Produce) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In all areas of the world, governments spend a lot of money on food.  Governments need food for schools, hospitals, prisons, universities, and many other types of public institutions.  According to a recent UN briefing, for example, the UK spends approximately $3 billion on public food procurement per year.  Governments also spend money on food for various types of food aid programs.  For instance, in 2010-2011, almost 3% of India’s federal expenditures went to food subsidies or direct food aid.  Almost all high-income countries have school lunch programs, and 70 out of the 108 low- and middle-income countries of the world have some sort of school food program.  Since governments purchase such large amounts of food, they have the ability to control not only the quality of the food purchased, but the source of the food.  This presents a great opportunity for governments to support local food producers, fight hunger, and ensure that the food provided in public venues is high-quality and nutritious.

Several nations are already taking advantage of this opportunity.  Brazil’s Food Acquisition Programme (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos, PAA) is one example of how government procurement can benefit local farmers and provide food to those in need.  The program’s goal is to provide food to members of the population who are facing “food and nutritional insecurity.”   Between 2003 and 2008, Brazil spent $1 billion on locally-grown food for the program, and the food was donated to 16.8 million people.  This program, while not without challenges, provides local farmers with a sales venue for their crops, spurs production and consumption of local foods, and provides nutritious foods for those who might otherwise go without.

Another example of a successful local food procurement program is Rome, Italy’s school meal program.  Introduced in 2001, the ALL FOR QUALITY principles provide a guideline for food procurement that focuses on “best value” of the food companies contracted, rather than lowest price as is usual for U.S. public food contracts.  The Rome school system, unlike U.S. schools which generally contract to one large food company, contracts with several smaller local food companies, maintaining a competitive bidding system that ensures higher quality.  The contracts given to local food producers are based on a 100-point system.  51 points are allotted for price of food, whereas the other 49 are for infrastructural considerations that support food quality.  The quality of the food is based on place of origin, organic products, and fair trade.  This system not only supports local food companies, but has raised the quality of school food in Rome considerably by creating a competitive market for local food based on important aspects of food quality.  While Italy seems to be leading the way in locally-sourced school food programs, Scotland, Japan, the United States, France, and Canada all have deployed recent programs which utilize local producers and attempt to increase nutritional value in school food.

Local food procurement empowers local food producers, benefits programs that feed the hungry, and increases the nutritional quality of food served in public institutions.  But that’s not all.  Governments can use their food procurement powers to buy only from local suppliers who use sustainable food production methods.  Sustainable production methods are those that use low-carbon or low-external-input modes of production.  Also, buying seasonally and locally reduces the “ecological footprint” of food being produced.  So, local public food procurement can have a really positive impact on the environment in addition to its multitude of societal benefits.

Check out the sources below for more information on public food procurement!

News and Opinions

Third World Network – Public Procurement and the Right to Food

UK National Audit Office – Smarter food procurement in the public sector

The World Bank – A Decade of Learning: Building a Public Procurement Community of Practice

All Africa – Tunisia: Reform of Public Procurement System Under Focus

The Washington Post – Guess how many memos USDA sent to schools about healthy school lunches?

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Davies, I., & Riley, J. (2005). Drive to give farmers a slice of public sector food budget. Farmers Weekly, 142(10), 12.

He, C., Perez-Cueto, F., Mikkelsen, B. (2014). Do attitudes, intentions and actions of school food coordinators regarding public organic food procurement policy improve the eating environment at school? Results from the iPOPY study. Public Health Nutrition, 17(6), 1299-1307.

Morgan, Kevin. (2008). Greening the Realm: Sustainable Food Chains and the Public Plate, Regional Studies, 42(9), p. 1246.

Sonnino, R. (2009). Quality food, public procurement, and sustainable development: the school meal revolution in Rome. Environment & Planning A, 41(2), 425-440.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Biénabe, Estelle, Peppelenbos, Lucian Peter Christoph. (Eds.) (2011). Reconnecting markets: innovative global practices in connecting small-scale producers with dynamic food markets. Farnham : Gower.

Marsden, Terry. (Eds.) (2014). Sustainable food systems: building a new paradigmLondon, New York : Routledge.

McCullough, Ellen B., Pingali, Prabhu L., Stamoulis, Kostas G. (Eds.) (2008). The transformation of agri-food systems :globalization, supply chains and smallholder farmers. Rome : Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

Morgan, Kevin, Sonnino, Roberta. (2008). The school food revolution: public food and the challenge of sustainable development. London : Earthscan.

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Net Neutrality: Past Rulings and Future Debate

This week, the FCC ruled 3-2 to release a new proposal on net neutrality, which will be opened for comment from the public.  In light of the lively debate that is already starting on this issue, it’s important to understand how the concept of net neutrality has been established in the United States over the past decade.

History of rulings on Net Neutrality

In 2005, the FCC agreed upon the following four principles of “open internet.”

  • Consumers have the right to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use the services and applications of their choice.
  • Consumers have the right to use their choice of devices to access the Internet, as long as said devices do not harm the network.
  • Consumers are entitled to competition among service, application, network, and content providers

The 2005 principles of “open internet” represent the basic tenets of net neutrality.

In 2010, the FCC released the Open Internet Order, which laid out rules for maintaining net neutrality.  The ruling established three important rules for Internet service providers:

  • Transparency – Network providers must make publicly available their network management practices, performance characteristics, and terms and conditions of their contracts.
  • No Blocking – Network providers may not block any lawful content from consumers.  This is important because it keeps network providers from blocking sites or applications from their users that compete with their services.
  • No Unreasonable Discrimination – Network providers cannot discriminate in transmitting network traffic, as long as it is lawful.

However, in Verizon v. FCC in January, 2014, two out of these three rules were rescinded.  Stating that Internet service providers are not common carriers, and therefore are outside of the FCC’s realm of authority, the ruling claims that the FCC cannot impose the rules of net neutrality on Internet providers.  This ruling is seen by proponents of net neutrality as detrimental to the principles of open internet.  While the ruling did not comment on the validity of the rules themselves, it made the 2010 Open Internet Order unenforceable by the FCC.

What’s happening now?

There has been a large public outcry against the Verizon v. FCC ruling, since it is seen by many consumers as a huge step backwards for net neutrality.  The January ruling has the potential to allow Internet service providers to essentially govern the Internet as suits their commercial interests.

The latest proposal by the FCC for creating new rules for net neutrality has also raised concerns that corporate interests are being placed ahead of the principles of open internet.  The proposed rules allow for “commercially reasonable” behavior by Internet service providers to regulate Internet content.  This provision could allow content providers to pay for “fast lanes” of service for certain content, which opponents say would discriminate against slower content.  The possibility that the newly proposed rules could allow for discrimination of Internet content by providers led to a rally of protesters outside of FCC offices as the ruling took place.  But those on the other side of the debate, namely the Internet service providers themselves, claim that the new proposed rules introduce too much regulation, and will inhibit innovation in the Internet industry.  The ruling has strong political implications in the Congress as lawmakers consider future action.

The encouraging part of the proposal for both sides of the debate is its designation of a four-month period to accept public comments on the issue.  Tom Wheeler, Chairman of the FCC, says that this call for comments is intended to open a conversation between lawmakers and the public to ensure that the new ruling upholds the tenets of net neutrality.  The next four months will surely see some lively arguments on the subject of net neutrality, and the forthcoming decisions by the FCC will be important to the future of Internet regulation in the United States.

Check out the resources below to learn more about net neutrality!

**Want to file a comment to the FCC on net neutrality? Here’s the FCC’s information on how to comment.**

News and Opinions

F.C.C. Backs Opening Net Neutrality Rules for Debate – The New York Times

Amid protests, U.S. FCC proposes new ‘net neutrality’ rules – Reuters

The real battle for net neutrality just began – The Verge

Demand Progress – Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality an Oxymoron as FCC Decides Winners and Losers – Bloomberg

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Bauer, J. M., & Obar, J. A. (2014). Reconciling Political and Economic Goals in the Net Neutrality Debate. Information Society30(1), 1-19.

Boliek, B. L. (2011). FCC Regulations Versus Antitrust: How Net Neutrality is Defining the Boundaries. Boston College Law Review52(5), 1627-1686.

Kramer, Jan, Wiewiorra, Lukas, Weinhardt, Christof. (2013). Net Neutrality: A progress report. Telecommunications Policy, 37, 794-813.

Pogue, D. (2014). The Great Net Debate. Scientific American310(4), 36.

Books at the UIUC Libraries

Guadamuz, Andrés. (2011). Networks, complexity and internet regulation: scale-free law. Cheltenham, UK : Edward Elgar.

Nunziato, Dawn C. (2009). Virtual freedom :net neutrality and free speech in the Internet ageStanford, Calif. : Stanford Law Books.

Stiegler, Zachary. (Eds.) (2013). Regulating the Web :network neutrality and the fate of the open Internet. Lanham: Lexington Books.

Zelnick, Robert, Zelnick, Eva. (2013). The illusion of net neutrality: political alarmism, regulatory creep, and the real threat to Internet freedomStanford, CA : Hoover Institution Press.

 

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World Press Freedom Day 2014

World Press Freedom Index 2014 map: “freedom of the press worldwide.” (By Reporters Without Borders)

The Importance of Free Press

Saturday, May 3rd marks World Press Freedom Day 2014. This event, organized by UNESCO, presents a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the importance of free press and intellectual freedom, and the great impact that these issues have on creating a world with just and corruption-free governance.  The role of journalism is to bring issues of government, culture, science, environment, and society into the public light – to inform the people and hopefully to spark dialogues that include the diverse public into the process of shaping public policy.  A UNESCO press release explains that a free news media not only helps in policy shaping but also leads to the reduction of poverty through intellectual empowerment and increased mobility of groups that can be disproportionately affected by poverty, such as women and youth.

Global Obstacles to Free Press

In order to provide this service, journalists and the news media need to be free to report the news truthfully. In many places around the world, journalists do not have this freedom.  UNESCO reports that journalists face obstacles including censorship, arrest, and even threats of physical harm and death.  It is the goal of organizations such as Reporters without Borders, Committee to Protect Journalists, the International Federation of Journalists, and many more, to protect the rights of journalists and raise awareness about the threats to press freedom that exist in the world.

Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index 2014 ranks countries based on pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency,  and infrastructure.  The United States has fallen thirteen places on the list in the past year, currently residing in 46th place.  This change is largely due to the government’s efforts to increase security and track down whistleblowers and leaks. These actions by the government, according to Reporters Without Borders, inhibit journalists from revealing information to the public that may be in the interest of the public good.  Other countries have fallen on the list because of armed conflict. These countries include Lebanon and Iraq (due to the conflict in neighboring Syria), and Mali, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (due to the activities of guerrilla and terrorist groups in the region). In some cases, organized crime is a danger to journalists and has caused a decline in press freedom in certain countries, most notably Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, and Paraguay.

Improving Press Freedom for the Future

Increasing press freedom is a major goal of the UN’s Post-2015 Development Goals.  Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.”  The 1949 Geneva Conventions and the 1977 Protocols Additional 1 and 2 to the Geneva Conventions also include provisions for press freedom.  These international agreements create a powerful impetus for countries around the world to keep striving for greater press freedom and to keep assessing the ways that journalists and reporters are treated.

Additional Organizations

ARTICLE 19 is an international human rights organisation which defends and promotes freedom of expression and freedom of information all over the world.

The Ethical Journalism Initiative website is a new campaign to rekindle old values in media worldwide, launched by the International Federation of Journalists.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) is a press advocacy group representing media organizations in North America, South America and the Caribbean.

The International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX) is a global network of around 90 non-governmental organisations that promotes and defends the right to freedom of expression.

The International News Safety Institute (INSI) is a coalition of news organisations, journalist support groups and individuals exclusively dedicated to the safety of news media staff working in dangerous environments.

International Press Institute is the global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists, dedicated to freedom of the press and improving the standards and practices of journalism.

News and Websites

Tadias – World Free Press Day 2014

UNESCO – Free Media Contribute to Good Governance, Empowerment and Eradicating Poverty

UNESCO Freedom of Expression Toolkit – A Guide for Students

Press freedom in the digital age: new threats, new challenges - The Council of Europe’s Commissioner: Human Rights Comment

Webcast of the UN Briefing for World Press Freedom Day 2014 – May 1, 2014

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-journals)

Policinski, G. (2012). A Free Press? It’s Not That Simple. Insights On Law & Society12(3), 4-7.

THEMUDO, N. S. (2013). Reassessing the Impact of Civil Society: Nonprofit Sector, Press Freedom, and Corruption. Governance26(1), 63-89. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0491.2012.01602.x

Books at the UIUC Library

Czepek, Andrea.; Hellwig, Melanie; Nowak, Eva. (Eds.) (2009). Press freedom and pluralism in Europe :concepts and conditionsBristol, UK: Intellect.

Knightley, Phillip. (2004) The first casualty :the war correspondent as hero and myth-maker from the Crimea to Iraq Baltimore, Md. : Johns Hopkins University Press,

Price, Monroe E.,; Abbott, Susan; Morgan, Libby. (Eds.) (2011). Measures of press freedom and media contributions to development: evaluating the evaluatorsNew York : Peter Lang.

Siegel, Paul. (2014). Communication law in America. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield.

Smith, Dean C.. (2013).  A theory of shield laws :journalists, their sources, and popular constitutionalismEl Paso : LFB Scholarly Publishing LLC.

Wasserman, Herman. (Eds.) (2013). Press freedom in Africa :comparative perspectivesLondon : Routledge.

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IDEALS: Disseminating and Preserving Illinois Scholarship

What is IDEALS?

The Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship, known as IDEALS, is a service at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign that preserves and provides access to a wide body of faculty, staff and student publications and research.  The mission of IDEALS is to provide access and preservation of the works of U of I members, and to give those works the “maximum possible recognition.”  IDEALS was created in 2004 to address the problem of how to archive and preserve the work of the university’s members in light of the massive shift toward digital publishing that was taking place.

Benefits of Institutional Repositories

When scholarship is deposited into IDEALS, the descriptive information (metadata) that is provided by the depositor is not only used in the IDEALS repository for searching and retrieval but is made available to outside services, such as Google Scholar. By making U of I scholarship openly accessible to outside users, IDEALS hopes to increase the impact of the scholarly work taking place at Illinois, which not only furthers the university mission of the dissemination of knowledge but brings professional benefits to the individuals who produce the work.

Another benefit that IDEALS provides is the commitment to preserve the scholarly works that are part of its collections.  The process of digital preservation is extremely important in the swiftly changing technological world that today’s scholarship exists within.  In order to maintain the viability of the digital files that make up the repository, IDEALS adheres to a complicated digital preservation policy, which must remain compliant to accepted standards for digital preservation, the most important of which is the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) Reference Model.  Because of IDEALS’ strict observance of the international standards for digital preservation, the creators that submit their work to the IDEALS repository can be confident that their work will be available and accessible for many years to come.

Copyright Issues

There are two main types of open access publishing for research articles.  “Green” OA refers to publishing in open access repositories; “gold” OA refers to publishing in open access journals. The main difference between these two types of open access publishing is that “gold” OA is a more structured process involving peer review and the traditional editing process found in journal publishing.  Some OA journals require the author to pay a fee in order to publish, and others use subsidies from their host institution. “Green” OA, on the other hand, does not involve a peer review process, and might contain peer reviewed and non-peer reviewed work.

Since IDEALS is an open access repository (an example of “green” OA), it allows individual creators to retain the copyright of their deposited works.  But what if the article being deposited has already been published in a copyright-protected journal?  When scholars publish in most journals, they must sign over their copyright to do so.  This is a complicated issue, and can definitely be an obstacle for making work available in an institutional repository.  Many journals allow authors to publish their “pre-print” work to an IR, which is essentially the author’s first draft of a work before it has been peer-reviewed and edited.   Some journals, however, support “green” OA and will allow authors to deposit their work into and OA repository.

IDEALS describes its purpose as “a complement to traditional scholarly publishing.”  In other words, it does not aim to inhibit the process of traditional journal publishing, but rather wishes to provide a secondary option to authors that allows them to make their work openly available.  For instance, IDEALS informs authors that they may have the option in their contract when publishing in a journal to retain rights for the depositing of the work into an institutional repository.  Just by educating authors about their options, IDEALS is helping to make sure that Illinois scholarship is made available and disseminated as widely as possible.

Now you know what IDEALS is – go check it out! 

You can use IDEALS to find scholarship about topics you might be interested in, or maybe you have some of your own work you’d like to deposit.  You can find out how at Getting Started with IDEALS.  Either way, all members of the University of Illinois community should take advantage of the opportunity to take part in the community of scholarship available through IDEALS.

Further information about Open Access and Institutional Repositories

International Open Access Repositories and Directories

Scientific Electronic Library Online (SCIELO) - a directory of open access scientific repositories focusing on developing countries and regions.

OpenDOAR - Listings of open access repositories around the world.

Websites

Open Access Overview – Peter Suber (Includes great explanation for “green” vs. “gold” OA)

PLOS – The Case for Open Access

SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) – Open Access

Sherpa/RoMEO - a database of copyright information for journals.

Scholarly Articles (Accessed through UIUC E-Journals)

Casey, A. M. (2012). Does Tenure Matter? Factors Influencing Faculty Contributions to Institutional Repositories. Journal Of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication1(1), 1-11.

Cullen, Rowena, Chawner, Brnda. (2011). Institutional Repositories, Open Access, and Scholarly Communication: A Study of Conflicting Paradigms. The Journal of Academic Librarianship. 37(6), 460-470.

Kennison, R., Shreeves, S. L., & Harnad, S. (2013). Point & Counterpoint: The Purpose of Institutional Repositories: Green OA or Beyond? Journal Of Librarianship & Scholarly Communication(4), 1-7.

Books at UIUC Libraries

Crawford, Walt. (2011). Open access: what you need to know nowChicago : American Library Association.

Jones, Catherine. (2007). Institutional repositories: content and culture in an open access environment. Oxford : handos.

Nabe, Jonathan A.. (2010). Starting, strengthening, and managing institutional repositories :a how-to-do-it-manual. New York : Neal-Schuman Publishers.

Suber, Peter. (2012) Open access. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press.

 

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Preserving Cultural Heritage: A Worldwide Cooperative Effort

 

Our cultural and natural heritage is an irreplaceable source of life and inspiration. It is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to future generations.

–UK National Commission for UNESCO

Since the conclusion of World War II, the effort to preserve important sites of national and cultural heritage has been a priority for hundreds of nations around the world. According to UNESCO, “Cultural heritage refers to monuments, groups of buildings and sites with historical, aesthetic, archaeological, scientific, ethnological or anthropological value. Natural heritage refers to outstanding physical, biological and geological formations, habitats of threatened species of animals and plants and areas with scientific, conservation or aesthetic value” (2008).

The preservation of cultural and national heritage becomes excessively important during times of turmoil or war, when many times important sites and objects are lost.  Recently, for instance, archives in Sarajevo were burned due to violent political protests in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The documents lost included archives from the Ottoman empire, archives from the period of 1878-1918, as well as documents from the war crimes committee after World War II. The current war in Syria is also resulting in the damage and destruction of many cultural heritage sites.  The Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology is one Syrian group that has emerged from these events to document threats against important archaeological sites in the country and raise awareness about their preservation. The organization Heritage for Peace and the UK National Committee of the Blue Shield have released a “No Strike” list of twenty of the most important cultural heritage sites in Syria which they are asking any armed forced involved in conflict to avoid.  In addition to war, cultural heritage can also be threatened by natural disasters, such as the earthquake in the Phillipines in October, 2013, which not only resulted in the loss of many lives but also in the destruction of some significant heritage landmarks.  

The preservation of cultural heritage is not merely a suggestion, however.  It is an obligation that 126 countries of the world are bound to uphold through international agreements. The first international treaty protecting cultural and national heritage sites was the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict (1954). The Hague Convention requires states to protect cultural property during war.  This convention created an international symbol for identifying cultural property that is to be protected.  This symbol is the Blue Shield.  The Convention concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage was then adopted by UNESCO in 1972.  This international treaty was created to identify, protect, and preserve cultural and national heritage around the world.

There are currently 981 cultural heritage sites in 160 countries of the world.  The International Committee of the Blue Shield (founded 1996) has country-level sections all over the world that work to protect national and cultural heritage property.  The organization describes itself as “the cultural equivalent of the Red Cross.”  It does this by collecting and disseminating information about threats to cultural heritage, spreading awareness about cultural heritage, and facilitating the creation of localized cultural heritage organizations.

We have some great opportunities to study international cultural heritage right here at the University of Illinois.  CHAMP @ Illinois (Collaborative for Cultural Heritage Management and Policy at the University of Illinois) is a research center that focuses on worldwide cultural heritage and museum practices in the context of globalization.  Through Heritage Studies and Museum Studies graduate minors, as well as nearly thirty faculty members teaching in these areas, CHAMP maintains an active research program.  CHAMP also frequently hosts talks and discussions on different aspects of world cultural heritage.  This month, CHAMP is hosting a lecture series by Professor Mike Robinson, Director of the Ironbridge International Institute for Cultural Heritage at the University of Birmingham.  These talks will take place April 3rd, 7th, and 14th. A full schedule of events for CHAMP can be seen at their home page.

Many members of the University of Illinois community are involved in research on the preservation of cultural heritage.

Some selected publications by University of Illinois faculty:

Jenkins, Christine; Wayward, W Boyd. (2007). Introduction: Libraries in Times of War, Revolution and Social ChangeLibrary Trends 55 (3).

Moustafa, Laila Hussein. (2013). Disaster Management Planning in the Times  of War: the Case of the Middle East’s Libraries and Archives.  Conference Poster.

Silverman, Helaine. (2010). Cultural Heritage: Opportunities and Conundrums.  Policy Brief. Center for Global Studies.

Urban, Richard J.; Twidale, Michael B.; Adamczyk, Piotr D. (2010). Cultural Heritage Information Dashboards. Conference paper/Presentation.

Some additional important cultural heritage organizations:

International Council of Museums (ICOM)

The International Council on Archives (ICA) 

International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

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Global Challenges for Gender Equality

UN Commission on the Status of Women

This week, the 58th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW58) coincides with International Women’s Day (which took place on March 8th), as well as Women’s History Month in the U.S.  These events present a great opportunity to discuss and examine the challenges faced by women and girls in today’s world.  Let’s focus on three key target areas for gender equality (UN Women, 2013).

Freedom from violence against women and girls

The World Health Organization reported in 2013 that 35% of women worldwide have experienced some type of violence  in their lifetime. This violence can have serious and long-lasting effects on women’s mental, reproductive, and sexual health (WHO, 2013). This issue is addressed in the UN Millennium Development Goals, and will undoubtedly be addressed by the post-2015 development goals.  UN Women works to encourage legal reform, create safe spaces for women, provide health services for victims of violence, increase awareness of the problem, and prevent violence by addressing the root causes. This cause has also been taken up by many private organizations, such as End Violence Against Women International and Springtide Resources. These organizations focus on education initiatives, prevention programs, as well as conducting research to guide efforts at reform.

Gender Equality in the Distribution of Capabilities

This area involves women’s access to education, healthcare, and opportunities such as land or work with equal pay.  The Millennium Development Goals Report of 2013 indicates that progress is being made in all of these areas, but this progress varies by region and demographic.  For instance, the report reveals that women tend to hold less secure jobs than men in developing regions.  The statistics for education reveal that in Northern Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, the gender disparity in education still remains high (UN, 2013).  The World Economic Forum’s World Gender Gap Report also shows that the “Gender Gap” varies greatly depending on region and tends to be higher in developing areas(World Economic Forum, 2013).

Gender equality in decision-making power

This issue is about women holding positions of influence in public forums and government, but also in their own homes and families.  The number of women that hold parliamentary seats has increased in almost every world region since 2000, mostly due to the creation of legislative or voluntary quotas that require a certain number of female members. However, women’s decision-making power at home remains significantly lower than men’s in many regions of the world (UN, 2013).  These types of decisions range from money-related decisions, to women’s ability to visit friends and family, to decisions about women’s own health.  Family dynamics are greatly influenced by societal and institutional norms, and the hope of many organizations is that by increasing women’s access to education and work opportunities, these norms will begin to change in a direction that is less discriminatory towards women.

Why is gender equality so important?

In a recent report, the UK-based Department for International Development explains that economic stability and growth for developing countries is greatly boosted by improved gender equality.  It makes sense – if women and girls can gain access to improved education, they will eventually get better jobs and be able to better contribute to the economy. The same study shows that including women in political decision-making leads to more effective governance, since women’s presence in government brings greater diversity and different experience to the process (DFID, 2013). This makes the problem all the more pressing and important.  Gender equality is not only a significant concern from a human rights standpoint, but it will allow for the economic and political growth that developing nations need to make them competitive in world markets.

But on a more basic level, gender equality is about advancing human rights for all citizens of the world.

Check out the resources below to learn more about this subject:

Organizations

He for She

UN Women

Women Thrive Wordwide

International Labour Organization Bureau for Gender Equality (GENDER)

End Violence Against Women International

Springtide Resources

Women for Women International

 

Informative Websites and Web Articles

Timeline of International Agreements and Standards to End Violence against Women

Five Human Rights Issues for U.S. NonProfits on International Women’s Day - Non-Profit Quarterly

International Women’s Day: Mainstream Messaging For The Radical Cause Of Full Economic Empowerment - Forbes

 

Scholarly Articles (Available through UIUC E-Journals)

Corinne L. Mason. “Global Violence Against Women as a National Security “Emergency”.” Feminist Formations 25.2 (2013): 55-80. Project MUSE. Web. 14 Mar. 2014.

Hendra, J., FitzGerald, I., & Seymour, D. (2013). TOWARDS A NEW TRANSFORMATIVE DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: THE ROLE OF MEN AND BOYS IN ACHIEVING GENDER EQUALITY. Journal Of International Affairs67(1), 105-122.

Munin, N. (2013). NGOs, Multinational Enterprises and Gender Equality in Labor Markets: A Political Economy of Conflicting Interests?. Journal Of Multidisciplinary Research (1947-2900)5(1), 5-26.

Chant, SylviaSweetman, Caroline.  (2012). Fixing women or fixing the world? ‘Smarteconomics’, efficiency approaches, and gender equality in development. Gender & Development. 20(3), 517-52.

 

Latest Books at the UIUC Libraries

Joffe, Lisa Fishbayn.Neil, Sylvia. (Eds.) (2013). Gender, religion, & family law: theorizing conflicts between women’s rights and cultural traditionsWaltham, Mass. : Brandeis University Press.

Karamessini, Maria.Rubery, Jill. (Eds.) (2014). Women and austerity: the economic crisis and the future for gender equalityMilton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Ringrose, Jessica. (2013). Postfeminist education?: girls and the sexual politics of schoolingLondon : Routledge.

Rose, Susan D.. (2014). Challenging global gender violence: the Global Clothesline ProjectNew York : Palgrave Pivot.

Runyan, Anne Sisson,Peterson, V. Spike. (2014). Global gender issues in the new millenniumBoulder, CO : Westview Press.

Yarwood, Lisa. (Eds.) (2013). Women and transitional justice: the experience of women as participantsAbingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

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The Politics of Water

 

The Problem:

Water scarcity is one of the most pressing humanitarian crises facing the world today.  Access to water resources has far-reaching political and social implications, especially in areas where water is scarce. Natural water basins do not comply with man-made political borders, and as a result the allocation of precious water resources becomes a point of negotiation in transnational treaties and agreements.   Adding to the politicization of water is the connection between water and energy production.  Water is needed for all types of energy production, and energy is needed for the extraction and dissemination of clean water (UNIDO, 2014).

Water also affects social and cultural issues, such as gender and income inequality.  Since women are traditionally the family members responsible for the retrieval of water, women end up spending many hours of their day collecting water (many times still from polluted or unclean sources) for their family’s survival rather than working outside the home or pursuing education.  When people must spend such a large portion of their time procuring basic resources such as water, their ability to better their situation through work or education becomes even more limited.  This means that the poorest people in the world remain poor, as long as they are struggling daily to obtain water.

Probably the most heart wrenching aspects of the global water crisis is its disproportionate effect on children.   Unicef reported in 2013 that over 2,000 children die every day from diarrheal diseases, an estimated 1,800 of which stem from issues of water and hygiene. Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, puts these numbers into perspective, saying, “The numbers can be numbing, but they represent real lives, of real children. Every child is important. Every child has the right to health, the right to survive, the right to a future that is as good as we can make it” (UNICEF, 2013).

Solutions:

The UN’s Millennium Development Goals address the issue of clean water and sanitation. Target 7.C of the goals promises to, “Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation” (UN, 2013).  According to the UN website, this goal was met in 2010, five years ahead of schedule.  More than 2 billion people gained improved access to drinking water between 1990 and 2010.

How are these goals being met?  In addition to awareness campaigns such as World Water Day (which happens to be coming up on March 22nd!), there are countless organizations working to provide clean and accessible drinking water to the world’s poor and to manage and conserve freshwater resources.  Many organizations work to set up programs in water-scarce countries that provide financing to families and communities for setting up clean water and sanitation services.  Others directly provide wells, pumps, and latrines, as well as training for community members on maintaining the clean-water technology.  Organizations range from non-profits to institutional coalitions to for-profit companies that donate a portion of profits to the cause. These types of charities and organizations are making strides in bringing safe and clean water to world populations, but it is a massive undertaking and the effort will require cooperation across cultures and political borders.

Learn more about water! Check out the resources below:

Websites

FAO Legal Office – Water Treaties Database

UNESCO Water Links Worldwide

27 Water Crisis Orgs to Follow Right Now

World Water Day 2014

UN Millenium Development Goals

Selected Scholarly Articles (Accessed through UIUC E-Journals)

Ciampi, M. (2013). ‘Water divide’ in the global risk society. International Review Of Sociology, 23(1), 243-260.

Lall, U., Heikkila, T., Brown, C., & Siegfried, T. (2008). WATER IN THE 21ST CENTURY: DEFINING THE ELEMENTS OF GLOBAL CRISES AND POTENTIAL SOLUTIONS. Journal Of International Affairs, 61(2), 1-17.

Sivakumar, Bellie. (2011). Water Crisis: from conflict to cooperation, an overview. Hydrological Sciences Journal. 56(4), 531-552.

Trottier, J. (2008). Water crises: political construction or physical reality?. Contemporary Politics, 14(2), 197-214.

Latest Books at UIUC Library

Allan, J. A. (Eds.) (2013). Handbook of land and water grabs in Africa: foreign direct investment and food and water security. London : Routledge.

Chellaney, Brahma. (2013). Water, peace, and war :confronting the global water crisis. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Groenfeldt, David. (2013). Water ethics: a values approach to solving the water crisis. Abingdon : Earthscan from Routledge.

Hughes, Richard. (2013). Religion, law, and the present water crisis. New York : Peter Lang.

Thielbörger, Pierre.. (2013). The right(s) to water: the multi-level governance of a unique human right.  Berlin : Springer.

Additional Resources from UIUC

Multimedia: 

How to Ensure Sustainable Access to Water for Food in a World of Growing Scarcity

Problematizing Production Potential: Water Scarcity, Access, and Borders in the 21st Century Agricultural Economy

 

 

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The World Watches as Protests Escalate

In the past weeks, mass protests have been swelling in Venezuela, Ukraine, and Thailand, sparking discussions among world political leaders over the rights of protestors and the nature of political dissent.  The world is watching as three different countries in three very different parts of the world struggle with opposition between government and civilian groups, and as the protests escalate from peaceful demonstrations to bloody clashes that verge on all-out battle.  Here is the run-down on what’s happening in each of these three countries.

Venezuela

In Venezuela, at least 4 people were killed and many more injured as government forces pushed back against protestors in the capital city of Caracas on February 12th.  Anti-government protestors are part of a movement led by Leopoldo López, leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, who has long been a proponent of grass roots political reform in the country.  According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, Venezuela is the number three economy most damaged by violence.  The country currently has the highest inflation rate in the world, at 56.2%.  Protestors are calling for the ousting of President Nicolas Madura, who was elected after the death of Hugo Chavez in April, 2013.  Rallies have been held both in opposition to and in support of the Madura government.  The government has arrested many protesters and is holding them in custody, along with López, who turned himself in to the police on February 18th.

Ukraine

In the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesters took to the streets in November in response to President Viktor Yanukovych backing out of a trade deal with Europe in favor of closer ties with Russia.  Protests have spread to other cities in Ukraine, but Kiev remains the center of conflict.  Many demonstrators have been camping out in Independence Square in Kiev for months, determined to see the conflict through.  On February 18th, after parliament refused to pass a law limiting the president’s powers, protests surged and security forces took steps to quell them, resulting in violent clashes that left at least 25 dead and hundreds wounded.  Violence came from both sides of the struggle, with deaths and injuries on the side of the protesters as well as the security forces.  Protesters set fire to buildings, including the headquarters of the ruling Party of Regions.  The opposition headquarters, the Trade Union House, was also set afire and Independence Square resembled a battle scene on the morning of February 19th.

Although Yanukovych and opposition leaders sat down to a truce on February 19th, fresh fighting broke out in Independence Square on February 20th between protesters and police.  News outlets are reporting up to 100 deaths in these clashes.  The renewed uprising led to an extra-legal parliamentary takeover, after which Yanukovych fled the city.  Parliament set up an interim government and announced presidential elections in May.  Opposition leader Vitali Klitschko announced that he would be on the ballot for the May elections.  Ukraine’s new government announced on February 24th that Yanukovych would be tried for mass murder charges in connection with the deaths of protesters during clashes with police, but he remains on the run.  Meanwhile, the newly formed government of Ukraine is scrambling to avoid economic default, entreating the United States and European Union to pull together as much as $35 billion to get the country back on its feet.  The next weeks will be critical for the fresh leadership in Ukraine to avoid economic collapse and unite the differing opinions of a still-uncertain new government.

Thailand

In Bangkok, Thailand, protesters have been camped out since November calling for the removal of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and the implementation of an unelected “people’s council” to push through reforms.  On February 18th, after Yingluck expanded the powers of police to disband protesters, attempts to clear protesters from government buildings in Bangkok led to violent clashes between police and protesters.  Five people were killed during this standoff, as both police and protesters fired guns.  Witnesses claim that protesters threw a grenade at police, injuring several. Thai authorities estimate that 15,000 people are involved in the protests, and nearly 200 protesters have been arrested.

 

Stay informed on these important events! The following sources will get you up to speed:

General Reference Resources

CIA World Factbook - provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.

EIU Country Intelligence: Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) Country Intelligence provides users with reports and analysis about political, business and economic issues by country, category and subject.

 

News Sources

Venezuela

In Venezuela, Protest Ranks Grow Broader – New York Times

Most neighbors silent as Venezuela reels – CNN

Mercosur condemns violence in Venezuela and calls for dialogue. - MercoPress

17-year-old dies during Venezuelan protests. - CNN

Venezuela’s Maduro Holds Mass Rally to Reject Violence as Protests Continue. - Venezuelanalysis.com

Ukraine

The Guardian – Ukraine

Ukraine crisis: Vitali Klitschko says he will run for presidency – The Independent

Ukraine wants runaway president to face international justice – Reuters

EU, U.S. Scramble to Pull Together Aid for Ukraine – The Wall Street Journal

Thailand

10 questions: What’s behind the protests in Thailand? - CNN

Thailand police and protesters clash fatally in Bangkok – BBC News

Thai protests end in violence and deaths – Al Jazeera

 

Scholarly Articles (Full text available through UIUC E-Journals)

Venezuela

Denis, R. (2012). The Birth of an “Other Politics” in Venezuela. South Atlantic Quarterly, 111(1), 81-93.

Jefferson, A. (2013). Venezuela’s Bolivarian Democracy: Participation, Politics, and Culture under Chávez. Latin Americanist57(3), 108-110.

Kingsbury, Donald. (2013). Between Multitude and Pueblo: Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution and the Government of Un-governability. New Political Science, 35(4), 567-585.

Nadeau, Richard; Bélanger, Éric; Didier, Thomas. (2013). The Chávez vote and the national economy in Venezuela. Electoral Studies, 32(3), pp. 482-488.

Ukraine

Antoaneta Dimitrova & Rilka Dragneva (2013) Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful VetoPlayers, Europe-Asia Studies, 65:4, 658-681.

Dimitrova A, Dragneva R. Shaping Convergence with the EU in Foreign Policy and State Aid in Post-Orange Ukraine: Weak External Incentives, Powerful Veto Players. Europe-Asia Studies [serial online]. June 2013;65(4):658-681.

Thailand

Paul Chambers (2013). Military “Shadows” in Thailand Since the 2006 Coup. Asian Affairs: An American Review, 40:2, 67-82.

Sinpeng, A., & Martinez Kuhonta, E. (2012). From the Street to the Ballot Box: The July 2011 Elections and the Rise of Social Movements in Thailand. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal Of International & Strategic Affairs, 34(3), 389-415.

Taylor, J. (2012). Remembrance and Tragedy: Understanding Thailand’s “Red Shirt” Social Movement. SOJOURN: Journal Of Social Issues In Southeast Asia, 27(1), 120-152.

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Exploring Global Studies Careers

The great thing about a major or minor in Global Studies is versatility.  Since Global Studies is such an interdisciplinary field, graduates branch out into all parts of the world, in all segments of industry, government, and the non-profit sector.  The whole idea behind the creation of Global Studies programs is that global issues need the expertise of all academic disciplines, and an interdisciplinary background is essential to better understand the problems of our world.  The world needs minds that understand globalization and how it affects all aspects of society, and students who come from a Global Studies background are prepared to address these important issues in whichever field they have chosen.  Some students enter the workforce directly after graduation with entry-level positions in a variety of fields, and others pursue graduate studies or other type of professional school.

Whatever path you choose, it’s never too soon to start thinking about and preparing for your career.  Here are some general tips to think about while you’re pursuing your degree that might make job searching easier down the road:

  • Study Abroad
  • Volunteer or Intern  Abroad
  • Learn languages
  • Get an internship or summer job domestically with an international firm.
  • If you have a “target country” that you’d eventually like to work in, learn as much about the culture, language, politics, and business environment of that country as possible.

An education in Global Studies will provide you with critical thinking skills, the ability to understand diverse cultures, knowledge of international economics, language and translation skills, and many other important abilities that will be invaluable in the global workplace.  The proper planning for your chosen career will help in your future job searches and help you tailor your skills to your chosen profession.

**LAS Global Studies prepares a weekly “Career Prep Bulletin” for Global Studies majors and minors.  If you are not a Global Studies major or minor, but would like to receive this newsletter, please email Melissa Schoeplein at mschoepl@illinois.edu.

Check out the following resources to get a head start on career planning!

Helpful Websites

The Career Center at UIUC – Working Abroad

LAS Global Studies Program – UIUC – Careers

Lehigh University – Careers in Global Studies

 “What Can I Do With This Major?” – from the University of Tennessee

 

Some Print Resources on Global Careers

Christie, Sally. (2004). Vault guide to international careers. New York : Vault Inc.

Kruempelmann, Elizabeth. (2002). The global citizen: a guide to creating an international life and career. Berkeley : Ten Speed Press.

Reis, Christina.Baruch, Yehuda. (Eds.) (2013). Careers without borders: critical perspectives.  New York : Routledge.

Sherman, Dan. (2013). Maximum success with Linkedin: dominate your market, build a global brand, and create the career of your dreamsNew York : McGraw-Hill.

Swartz, Salli. (Eds.) (2012). Careers in international law. Chicago : American Bar Association, Section of International Law.

 

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World Leaders Talk Disarmament at UN Conference

Photo: U.S. Mission by Eric Bridiers

On January 21st, the UN Conference on Disarmament opened in Geneva.  With members from 65 countries including the world’s leading military powers, the conference is designed to create multilateral agreements on arms control and disarmament.  The conference, which began in 1979, has resulted in some of the most important treaties on non-proliferation, such as the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon opened the conference with a speech urging member states to overcome differences and move past the stalemate that the conference has experienced in recent years.  Speaking of the Syrian chemical weapons incident of 2013, and the unified voice that came from United Nations member states against such weapons, he encouraged the conference to use structured discussions and draw out new non-proliferation treaty frameworks.

While non-proliferation has become a strong point of rhetoric for many nations, the steps taken to reduce nuclear arms have fallen short of many expectations in recent years.  In a 2009 speech, President Obama vowed that the United States would “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons” (as cited in Karp, 2012).  Yet, in early January, the U.S. Defense Secretary announced a plan to upgrade the United States nuclear forces that will total $1 trillion in cost over the next 30 years. These discrepancies between ideology and practice are not limited to the United States.  Russia, China, and India are all taking huge steps to expand their nuclear defense programs as well (Wittner, 2014). The Conference on Disarmament could be an important forum for bringing these discrepancies to light and developing structured and open discussions about their meanings.  Hopefully, member states will heed the words of Secretary General Ki-Moon and overcome their differences to engage in these discussions.

You can learn more about non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament with the sources below!

News Sources

UN chief encourages Conference on Disarmament to live up to world’s expectations – UN News Centre

Interview with Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs

The Endless Arms Race: Despite Great Power Promises, New Nuclear Weapons Are On the Way – Huffington Post, Lawrence Wittner

 

Scholarly Articles

Doyle, J., & Streeper, C. (2012). Steps toward increased nuclear transparency. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 68(2), 55-62.

Karp, R. (2012). Nuclear Disarmament: Should America Lead? Political Science Quarterly, 127(1), 47-71.

Lawrence Freedman (2013) Disarmament and Other Nuclear Norms, TheWashington Quarterly, 36:2, 93-108.

Tannenwald, N. (2013). Justice and fairness in the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Ethics & International Affairs, 27(3), 299.

Walker, P. F., & Hunt, J. R. (2011). The legacy of Reykjavik and the future of nuclear disarmament. Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 67(6), 63-72.

 

Books at UIUC Libraries

Chalmers, Malcolm. (2012). Less is better: nuclear restraint at low numbers. London : Rusi.

Jasper, Ursula. (2014). The politics of nuclear non-proliferation: a pragmatist framework for analysis. Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

Kutchesfahani, Sara Z. (2014). Politics and the bomb: the role of experts in the creation of cooperative nuclear non-proliferation agreements. New York, NY : Routledge.

Warren, Aiden. (2014). The Obama administration’s nuclear weapon strategy: the promises of Prague. Abingdon, Oxon : Routledge.

 

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