Tag Archives: Governance & Rule of Law

Business benefits from human rights violations, right? Wrong.


Authored with Carolyn Blacklock, Resident Representative, International Finance Corporation.


When one thinks of businesses operating in countries that are still struggling to protect and provide for human rights, a narrative can easily spring to mind involving unscrupulous businesses happily taking advantage of weak labor laws, a lack of minimum wage and poor environmental controls etc.

But, in many places, the reality is very different. Not only is the private sector itself adversely impacted by weak human rights protections but, more than this, businesses are themselves having to take up a leadership role in protecting human rights in order to compensate for weaknesses in governments’ actions.

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The Torture Report: can we come out of the dark?

The investigative report of the Senate Intelligence Committee on the Central Intelligence Agency’s rendition, interrogation and detention practices, also known as the ‘Torture Report’ has been released today. The controversial and much awaited report will likely fuel a heated public debate globally and will undoubtedly have policy implications both domestically and internationally.

We interviewed Major Jason Wright*, who served for 3 years as military defense counsel for Guantanamo Bay detainee and alleged 9/11 mastermind, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

In this exclusive interview, we look at the U.S. interrogation program post 9/11, the methods used, and whether the CIA’s use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ elicited “life- saving intelligence” for the United States. We explore the implications for military commissions and upholding the rule of law, the U.S.’ image overseas and our continued efforts in fighting terror.

Click here to watch a video of the  interview or read a summary  below.

Screenshot 2014-12-09 14.49.21

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Can small business entrepreneurs in conflict countries provide for basic rights?

Protecting and promoting rights in conflict affected and post-conflict states is a tricky  order. These are places where violations and non-provision of basic rights- such as the right food, water or livelihoods opportunities -can be a defining character of the conflict dynamics. As part of our Special Series on Business and Human Rights, we look at how the private sector- in particular small business entrepreneurs-can play a critical role in the delivery of public goods and services essential to citizens’ enjoyment of their rights. 

Going where other actors fear to tread
Government institutions -due to capacity and revenue constraints- are often unable to deliver effectively and flexibly during the transition from violent conflict to peace, and while donor relief initiatives may be able to rapidly (at least somewhat more than government!) meet the basic needs of people affected by conflict, they often inadvertently distort private markets and create vulnerability and a long-lasting dependency on aid.

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What do Afghan Women Really Want?

Afghanistan is still one of the worst countries in the world to be a woman, and some critics warn that we are getting it wrong.

This is a message that will be hard to swallow for the participants of this week’s London Conference on Afghanistan. Undoubtedly, things are better today for Afghan women than they were before the US intervention. For example:

  • A woman giving birth in Afghanistan is less than half as likely to die today than she was in 2000.
  • The number of girls attending school has increased by over 30 percent since 2002, and numbers of child-brides has been declining in recent years.
  • Young women in Afghanistan, particularly those living in large urban areas have been exposed to a life very different from those lived by their mothers, and even older sisters. Women from this generation are making their claims to greater opportunities -education and employment, as well as protection from violence.

This progress has been hard won through the efforts of local groups and activists and the support of the international community. Last week in Olso, in the run up to the London Conference, Senator Bob Casey pledged the United States’ continuing support for women’s rights  in Afghanistan. As former co-chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs and a current member of the Senate’s National Security Working Group, Senator Casey- and Senator Barbara Boxer- have been champions of what was, at the start of the US intervention in 2001, a dire situation for many women in Afghanistan.

Not everyone agrees with this agenda however.

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A Violently Hot Topic: Climate Change and Conflict

climate change and conflict on the table

There is no doubt the topic of climate change can lead to heated debate. Throw in the notion that climate change and its impacts are a proximate cause of violent conflict and the conversation boils over. A potential 54% increase in the incidence of conflict in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030, based on global temperature rise of 2° Fahrenheit, foretells a future where the current downward trend in violent conflict could be completely reversed.

But skepticism and debate on the topic of climate change and conflict abounds. With the most hard-talking IPCC climate change report released to date, we delved further into these issues, consulting a variety of academic articles, publications and colleagues to help frame the debate. We also interviewed Marshall Burke, professor at Stanford University as well as Margaret Arnold, Climate Change and Resilience Team Leader at the World Bank. We summarize the major issues; probe the link between conflict and climate change; and discuss what is currently being done as well as what more needs to be done to mitigate climate change impacts on conflict.

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