IPPR interviews Scilla Elworthy

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 22 January 2016

On the 15th of December, the President of IPPR, Alex Heaven had the pleasure of speaking with Scilla Elworthy – 3 times nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, the founder of the Oxford Research Group, Peace Direct and the Bee School, the author of Pioneering the Possible, Making Terrorism History (co-author), and Peace and Security Now, previous adviser to Peter Gabriel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up ‘The Elders’, chair of the Civil Society sector of the Hanwang Forum in China and a Councillor of the World Future Council among many other things. Scilla and Alex spoke about social entrepreneurship, the power of social media and how to be heard. 

To find out more about Scilla Elworthy check out her website here: www.scillaelworthy.com.

Scilla Photo

AH – So I wanted to start the conversation with a bit of a thorny question. There is a lot of debate about the particular definition of social business, and given that you are an advisor for the DO School in Hamburg, I wanted to know how you would define social business.

SE – Well I’m not an expert on social business, I know a little bit about social entrepreneurship and I wouldn’t define them as the same, I think there is a difference. What I think is special about social entrepreneurs –  those that I’ve worked with, and I can only speak from my own experience – is that they operate in a very new way in terms of their efforts to change the world. In other words, they are not setting out as people might have done, as real amateurs when I started out in the 60’s. Where we were just driven by passion and sometimes fear, anger, all those sort of things. Social entrepreneurs are now far better trained. There are places like to DO School in Hamburg where they can apply, they might be one of 2000 applicants for a place on one of their courses. The one I ran was a peace challenge, where they filtered out 20 successful applicants from all over the world. I challenged them to find a way to locate and make known all the effective local peacebuilders in their country. So it was a case of Pakistan, India, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Burundi and so on. The way they set about it was very methodical, with high use of social media and extraordinary global outreach. What I shared with them was the importance of incorporating self-awareness in anything you do, because if you bring your personal fury into an interaction with, say, a politician or a policy maker, you usually lose out. You have to contain your own anger before you enter into that kind of dialogue if you want it to be successful.

AH – In those sort of projects, how do you go about teaching people how to make it a reality? If someone wants to dedicate their life to that, in terms of say funding, how do you suggest that they approach it?

SE – Well any decent social entrepreneurship training will give you a section on fundraising. Where I think the advantage lies now, for millennials, is that there are so many crowd funding possibilities. Where how quickly you can get yourself started is really up to you and your personality. So I would start with crowd funding, I think that’s the obvious one. Or, you know, running your marathon or whatever, you put yourself on the line in some way. Preferably something more novel than running a marathon. Show your survivability, your determination, your charisma and so forth. Then people will notice you, you will start getting fan mail, messages, being talked about on twitter and so on. You will be able to find out who is interested in you, and if you ask them who they know, who has got disposable cash they would like to invest, then you can start some sort of a share scheme or you can run it as a business or you can run it as a charity, but it takes a bit longer to get registered as a charity.

AH – As you say social media is a huge tool for any change maker these days. However, we are still seeing people who know a lot and have a lot of awareness about what is going on, but it is sometimes difficult to translate all that public care or what seems like public care into action or giving or something more solid. In your experience, have you seen any particular campaigns that have really grasped that social media care and turned it into something more solid?

SE – Yes, two things: authenticity and real stories. So at Peace Direct, which I founded in 2002, what we do is always bring in people from the areas in which they worked. Like Henri Bora Ladyi, who rescues child soldiers in the Congo. He is authentic because he himself was a child solider. And now he goes back into the bush and trades goats, at a price of $5, for a child he can bring back to their family. So that’s a very, very memorable story, everybody remembers that story. Mark Rylance, the star of Bridge of Spies, most recently, did a one man show about Henri on Broadway, so he has in his own way has become a star.

AH – Do you see these things being translated in policies and action further up the chain?

SE – Oh yea, and again it is a question of media. Outstanding politicians have said to me over dinner when I want them to change their policy. They say “fine, run a campaign, make it absolutely unavoidable in the public eye that I have to pay attention to this. Then I can do something”. So the louder you get and the more noise you make, and be careful about the kind of noise you make, the more reason you give to a decent politician, who wants to make change, to say “look I have to do something because there are 1000 people dressed up as sheep running down the street” or whatever.

AH – What do you think about the big, old world institutions like the WTO, IMF, World Bank, UN in supporting these local grassroots entrepreneurs? (… for those at home – that was a yawn!)

SE – I mean, I think they are yesterday.

AH – What about even as a way to fund these smaller projects?

SE – They don’t. Unless you are above $5 million a year turnover, which is quite hard for a charitable start up to get to, they don’t take any notice of you at all. They are not interested in grassroots stuff. For reasons of their own, because they find it too messy. Even the department for international development here in Britain, which has stuck to its guns and given away a lot of money for reconstruction and rehabilitation and so on. But even they say look we can’t deal with smaller outfits that need $100,000 or even $500,000, it’s too messy for us do all the accounting and all the checking up and the due diligence and evaluations and all the things you have to do to be responsible in giving away money. So it’s a question of you putting your passion on the line and you’ll get there.

AH – In terms of international collaboration, we were talking before about social media giving unprecedented access and a global perspective, do you see particular areas of international collaboration that we should be fostering?

SE – Oh yes, I mean it depends on your subject. But yes, I mean your networks need to extend to China, definitely now, Russia, South America. You need to be global on your issue, assuming that it is a global issue. Did I understand your question right?

AH – Yes, well I guess it has 2 parts. What are the ways a global network can help in terms of domestic politics, if you are trying to change something locally, how can you use the global network? Secondly, on particular issues, do you see some issues that need to be more global than they are now? For example labour rights, do we need to have a global system of labour rights?

SE – I’ll take your first question first. Your global reach will be important in the sense that you can get stories about what has worked in other countries and that make people more willing to believe that what you’re proposing can work here. For example de-radicalisation programs. We’ve got a brilliant woman working in north western Pakistan who originally stated when she was 15 getting girls into school in the Swat Valley. Her life has been threatened more or less every day since, and what she is doing now is training teams of young people to go into the Madrasas and identify the men who have been trained as jihadists and then go home with them to their families and talk about why the Qur’an wouldn’t want them to do that. She is now in contact with about 2000 young potential jihadists. Now that is powerful work. So if you can relate what you are suggesting to something that has worked elsewhere and that could be applied in this country then that adds credibility.

(To the second question) Sure, well definitely. I think that is happening far more than it used to. And I’m thinking of women’s rights and issues like rape as a weapon of war and so on, that’s becoming much more internationally recognised.

AH – And on that, have you seen any particularly amazing women’s rights campaigns around the world?

SE – Yes, well I think One Billion Rising is good. It was brilliantly animated with music and dance and so forth and huge amounts of energy. Eve Ensler, who started it, who did the Vagina Monologues, she is not afraid of saying anything (AH – you wouldn’t be after that, SE – No!), so I think, be outspoken, don’t necessarily be angry, but be really clearly outspoken. Get your message into a very short statement and try it out on all your friends and see if it works with them and back it up with a short story of how this works. And that’s the sort of short cut to getting through, rather than writing a 13,000 word essay.

AH – There’s a real lack on engagement of men on women’s issues. Do you think we should be engaging with men more on women’s issues?

SE – The field that I know that I can talk about is in peace building. Before we started Peace Direct we analysed 350 different locally led peace initiatives, in hot conflict areas around the world and we isolated the 50 most effective of them, and wrote them up in a book called War Prevention Works. And of those, the ones that were women led or largely women run were the most durable and the most cost effective in the long run. So women are exceptionally good at all the sort of key but unglamorous bits of peace building like bridge building, confidence building between religious minorities, rediscovering weapons dumps and things like that. Brokering local agreements showing that they can do it, you know agreements between clans in north eastern Kenya and so forth. There are 1000’s of examples of how brilliantly women do it. There have been some very good academic studies, there hasn’t been a good popular book, except, a book by Nicholas Kristof and his partner (Sheryl WuDunn) called Half The Sky, which is wonderful.

AH – What role do you think young people have in this space?  We are seeing lots of international issues or previously “charity issues” being brought together, labour rights, the environment, women’s rights, what role do you see business taking in these issues?

SE – I think business has got to be really held to account by their younger employees. In other words, as I understand it now, given the surveys that have been done by Deloitte, KPMG and Goldman Sachs who have all established that a majority of millennials have 3 priorities before their own personal profit. That is people, planet and purpose. So, assuming that’s the case, those that are thinking about what companies to apply to join, and they will be sought after if they come from a good university like this one, can establish the conditions. They can say “what is your CSR policy and is it real or is it just on paper? What are you doing and XYZ issues that concern this business?” You can always look up a good example like Unilever and see what the company you’re thinking of applying to is doing compared to them. Lay out your conditions, that’s going to make them sit up and think. Even if you don’t accept that appointment or vacancy, you will have made your mark just in the interview. Because the more candidates that speak out about these things, the more that it will go straight up to the top and give more sleepless nights to CEOs. I mean, you have a huge advantage now that you have never had before, largely because of social media, because you can spread the word if a company isn’t behaving as you would like it to behave. Now you’ve got campaign like Avaaz which are superb, and full of integrity. I’ve checked them out thoroughly. They run really effective campaigns and they use humour and they use all sorts of very, very good methods of getting change to happen.

AH – I really appreciate their multi-pronged approach. Right from grassroots stuff to meeting with politicians.

SE – Yes, and the other thing I’d like to say is that dialogue is really important. I mean, demonstrations in the street are important and certainly petitions have a certain importance, but I set a lot of store by actually finding out who has a yes or no on a decision that you are interested in and writing a very well informed letter to that person. Say, I’d like to come and see you with my 2 colleagues from UCL or wherever and I’d like it to be in the 3rd week of December or whenever it is – be very precise about what you would like to talk about – and offer that person something that you will bring to the conversation, that you’re not just going to bend their ear, but that there is going to be something in it for them. And by writing a well-informed letter you show them you are not going to be wasting their time. That they could learn something from you. And I think that dialogue approach is massively effective and you never know. We ran a huge campaign in the 80s to match up locally led peace groups, whether they were women’s groups or Quaker groups or whatever, with individual decision makers both here and in China. And their job was to learn enough about that person’s responsibility to write them a really well informed letter and ask for a meeting. That campaign had a huge effect. They still talk about it now.

AH – Thank you very much Scilla. If you would like to hear more about Scilla Elworthy and her work you can visit her website on scillaelworthy.com.

Call for Journal Submissions

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 19 January 2016


Want to do something with those essays you just slaved over all holidays? 

Submissions for the 2016 International Public Policy Review Journal are now open! This is a student-run journal which will be published and distributed (mainly online) in June; it’s a fantastic opportunity to get published in an academic journal under the UCL banner, and we’re hoping to get a diverse range of outstanding contributions from SPP. 

We’re looking for contributions from all disciplines across SPP, and are accepting work on any topic, as long as it is relevant to Public Policy. There are several kinds of article we are looking for:

Long Articles

Our long articles showcase academic standards of scholarship. They must be an original submission of policy-based research that treats the subject comprehensively. You are welcome to submit essays you may have written in previous years. However, if you wish to submit an essay which you have yet to submit for marking, please contact your tutor before submission. These should be 2500-5000 word essays, extensively researched and referenced.

Opinion Pieces

 The opinion piece is a short, more informal commentary on any issue of your choice. You should give a short outline of the issue, but the most important thing is that you write persuasively and try to provide meaningful and useful information that can spark a debate. These should be 1000-2000 words.

Policy Review/Policy Recommendation

Policy reviews should give a short overview that outlines the debates currently going on in one of the areas mentioned above. You should identify the relevant actors, outline the big questions within the debate(s) and provide a short guide to what the international community, state actors and non-state actors ought to do to address the policy problem, as well as the likelihood of action being taken. These should be 1500-3000 words and thoroughly researched and referenced. 

 Word limits are not 100% strict, so if you have something close enough send it in, but do try to stick to them where possible! If you have a piece that is much longer but you think is great, get in touch with us anyway and we’ll consider it. Referencing should be in the Harvard style.

Deadline for submissions is 31st March 2016, but we will be looking at submissions on a rolling basis throughout next term, so please do get them in as soon as possible before that deadline! 


We’re also looking for high-quality photos to include in the journal – if you have taken any great Public Policy-related pictures and would like a chance to get them published, send them in!

If you wish to submit a piece of work, please email it to Josh Warland (joshua.warland.11@ucl.ac.ukor Ellen Judson (ellen.judson.15@ucl.ac.uk) with the subject line ‘IPPR JOURNAL SUBMISSION – [category e.g. Policy Review]’. In the email please include your name, course, word count of your piece, one word to describe the topic, and a short abstract of up to 300 words (this will not be published, it is just to make the process easier!). If you are submitting an assessed piece of work please include the mark it received and the module it was submitted as part of.  

The blog is also still taking contributions! Please refer to our website for further details on what we’re looking for and how to submit work.

Happy New Year! 

Josh and Ellen, Head and Deputy Head of Editorial for IPPR

IPPR interviews Baroness Sarah Ludford on Europe’s refugee response

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 14 December 2015

From the ‘Dealing with the Refugee Crisis: Europe and Britain’ talk held 26 November 2015.

Interviewers: Alexandra Heaven (AH), Louis Goddard-Stark (LG)
Interviewee: Baroness Sarah Ludford (BSL)

LG – I first want to talk about refugees, the EU’s response to the situation, and how international human rights law is interacting with refugees through the EU. There has been a debate in academic circles over international human rights law and its applicability to refugees due to their non-national status.  How much of an issue is applying international human right laws to refugees and how serious of an issue is it, given human rights law is sometimes ineffective due to a lack of enforcement?

BSL – This sounds like a legal dispute I am not privy to. My simple understanding is that both through the Geneva Convention and through EU law, it is absolutely clear, that EU obligations towards toward asylum seekers and refugees are, in the legal sense, in conformity with international refugee law and international human rights obligations as well as the EU convention of human rights. Now obviously compliance in practice is regularly tested. I think under the Geneva Convention, a refugee is someone who is outside their country and in need of protection – obviously I summarise that – but technically they don’t have to go through an asylum qualification practice to qualify under the Geneva Convention. But of course in practice you have to have, as EU law provides, a distinction if you like, between an asylum seeker, recognised refugees and someone who needs some other form of humanitarian protection. So you do need to have some sort of determination assessment or procedure. I’ve not seen it, I apologise if it’s my simple ignorance, a suggestion that the EU law as such is not compliant with the Geneva Convention. I mean, we know there are lots of problems, not least at the moment in implementation.

AH – Non-compliance can stem from a range of factors, some based on a state’s perspective of whether they should or not comply, but others’ reasons are based on whether they actually have the capacity to accept and comply. 

BSL – Yes, that’s obviously one of the major issues. It has long been around, the debate, and certainly when I was in the EU Parliament – the balance between solidarity and responsibility of the individual member states. How far you should take collective responsibility and how far should the country of first arrival under the Dublin regulation take responsibility? It has to be said that long pre-dating the current strains on Italy and especially Greece, they have never properly implemented EU law on the reception directive, the asylum procedure directives, the qualification directive. And for some years now, I think the UK actually stopped sending people back to Greece under the Dublin regulation. Even before they were in court in about 2011. I think there was one in Strasbourg court and the Luxembourg court because Greece was not coping. How much they ever tried to cope, is a genuine question, but now of course, everyone has to recognise that whether they tried or not, they are not coping.

AH – Do you see a role for external organisation such as UNHCR or other international organisations to act above the EU on this issue? 

BSL – No, I mean, UNHCR has always worked in partnership with the EU.  I think the EU is the biggest funder to the UNHCR. UNHCR plays sort of a practical and a moral role as a guardian of the Geneva Convention system and we regularly used to meet UN representatives in the EU parliament and regard them as a bit of a touchstone for when the EU was getting it right and they (UNHCR) were often critical of EU measures. I think it was in September that – I think it was UNHCR – was highly critical of the lack of capacity in Greece in basic procedures to cope with the influx. You know, just having personnel there to register people and receive people and to do the paper work.

AH – Which is a legitimate criticism and I wonder whether UNHCR or some other body has a role to help Greece. 

BSL – Well, I think all member states do. As I understand it, with Greece and Italy, there is this hotspots idea, and member states aren’t stepping up to the plate. And that is where the UK, I think, is one of the ones who has. But not very much. They have sent a handful of officials, I don’t know the exact details, but I think some of that (support) is direct bilaterally to Greece and some to the EU asylum support office (EASO). Which I think, with the idea of these hotspots, you’d have EASO, Europol and Frontex there on the ground. Partly to try and tackle traffickers, and I suppose the possibility of the few terrorist suspects getting through as well. But the main function is to boost the processing capacity that is not being provided, particularly in Greece. I think that there is not enough; I think the commission is complaining, certainly from something I saw earlier in September, only 6 member states have sent anyone to man these hotspots. Either directly or through EASO, after all, the UNHCR is needed more in Jordan and Lebanon and every other refugee situation in the world, so the EU should be able to provide its own personnel, it shouldn’t have to rely on UNHCR in Europe. The UNHCR has a policy and guidance role in Europe.

LG – You are seeing a lot of issues with regard to the EU failing on its obligation and part of its purpose, to protect refugees. Would you see this as an opportunity to come out as a more refined and tempered organisation with regard to refugees or could this possible spell the end for EU refugee considerations?

BSL – Well it is probably a defining moment, obviously I hope the former. Because, you know, it is part of our mission statement if you like; the EU is an organisation that is supposed to act in accordance with international law and the convention on human rights and the EU’s own charter on human rights all of which bind proper treatment of refugees. And if Europe cannot meet this challenge, then you know God help the rest of the world. But it’s not looking great at the moment. You know, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – well I hope it doesn’t kill us. We are seeing fracturing pressures, pressure to reinstitute national border controls, especially after Paris. This was happening before – the breakdown of Schengen, the rise of populist and racist parties. I saw that the French National Front has the lead in an opinion poll before the French regional elections. They were in the lead with 27%, and of course Marine Le Pen Is expected to be a presidential candidate 2017. It’s all very worrying. And now you’ve got this intermixing of migration and terrorism.

LG – This issue linkage of migration and terrorism, whilst it is putting greater strain on Schengen and bringing Britain into this, it is starting to become a far more prominent part of the referendum debate. For the referendum debate and also Schengen, what would you see as the way forward to deal with the issue linkages that populist parties, right wing parties and sometimes the media are raising between refugees, Schengen and security threats?

BSL – There is obviously no immediate prospect of the UK joining Schengen, I might say not in a million years. As the PM says, “like the Euro – it’s a never”. Well I certainly hope that neither is a never for the UK, but it is certainly not practical politics in the near future. But my, and I think my party’s, attitude is firstly that you have to have a European solution to both of these challenges. And that Britain has to take a leading part in them, whether in Schengen or not. Personally one of the things I criticise is the UK ‘s semi-detached attitude and their half-hearted participation on asylum, migration, justice and home affairs. We have this opt-in arrangement, we don’t have to participate. So we have participated in some of the asylum measures, but none of the migration measures. One of the big gaps is the lack of an EU legal migration policy, there have been little stabs at it, but the member states haven’t been willing to have a sane, legal migration policy – they have got all these measures on asylum, some of which are better than others.  The UK only takes part in some of them. So we sort of hold ourselves aloof. But my response is to say; we can’t run away. We can’t take our bat home on either of these issues. Whether we are in or out of the EU we still have to have some kind of joint response to both of these issues. And you cannot, you cannot seal yourself off. We are supposed to be an open country – you can’t become a police state that totally hunkers down. Of course, that will be the reaction, unfortunately, of the people. That is the concern of the referendum campaign because the images on the screen from summer and autumn have been, in many people’s minds, and unfortunately will be that we want nothing to do with that and they will want to draw up the drawbridge.  My reaction is to say that that will never succeed. You can’t do that, you do have to cooperate, you have to have cooperation on migration and asylum and you also have to have cooperation with policing.

LG – Obviously at the moment the media and public are saturated with why it is a bad to engage in Europe, why we need to draw up the draw bridge. I’d like to give voice just for the sake of equity, to your point of view in that we must engage in Europe,  establish burden sharing, and ask you to lay out what the benefits are for the UK to engage in Europe on burden sharing and engage with Europe more broadly.

BSL – You know it’s very difficult to bring it down to a quantified exercise, but you don’t necessarily gain in the same area that you engage in. We have a broad interest in being part of the single market, for the free flow of goods, services and people. We need to cooperate on things like climate change, pollution, on trade with the rest of the world; you know, we would have much more clout to get free trade agreements with the US, China, Japan which are all in the possible pipeline with obviously the US one being in the forefront. We are a country which has traditionally engaged, and we would be the poorer in all kinds of way – cultural, economic, diplomatic. We are the international country by par excellence, a member of the Security council, we have the Commonwealth network. We are at the overlap of so many networks, so to think of the UK of cutting itself off as cutting itself off from the world by cutting itself off from its immediate neighbours. I mean, you can leave the EU but you can never leave Europe. So we are destined to be here geographically – and even the Euroskeptics say they want a free trade agreement with Europe, but you don’t have any say if you are just a dependant rule taker like Norway. So you know there is a whole range of issues on which we need allies and alliances and you can never quite tell whether because you put in here you got out of a pot over there. But on the whole the UK does very well negotiating in Brussels.

The Prime Minister says one of his four renegotiation aims is to make the EU focus more on jobs, growth, competitiveness, smart regulation, and cutting red tape. There is hardly anything for him to say there, because so much of it is now being done. Officials in Brussels say it is all being done, what we want to happen is already being done – some of it unpublicised. The Franco-British defence Corporation, to a considerable degree, which was initiated actually by Tony Blair, you don’t hear much about that. The Daily Mail would go apoplectic if they knew how much cooperation there was. So you can’t always tell exactly what you are getting out of the bargain but if you engage across a whole range of fronts. You can do a sort of balance –and indeed the last government did – a balance of competencies review. The Tories expected that to come out saying “oh we must repatriate all these policies from Brussels to Westminster”. And in fact that is not what business or civil society said, they did have a few grumbles, but they did say that on the whole it was about right, what the EU does. And we are reasonably happy with the British role in the EU and our gains and advantages from it.

LG – One of the key criticisms from UKIP for example is that the UK lacks some influence in EU negotiations and lacks control on many issues. 

BSL – Of course because you don’t have a veto, what those guys seem to want, they want 100% control. It’s never going to happen. They have never heard the word compromise. You can’t win them all. It’s now a qualified majority voting scenario and the UK does not have a veto. So of course, you can’t. From that stable comes the absurd idea that you can get EU law decided between the Council and the EU parliament and when it comes back to the implementing in the UK, Westminster can have a veto. That’s not compatible with EU member law, however it is being decided. You can’t have a national parliament veto with 28 member states. It’s incompatible with the EU system. But they seem to think that sovereignty, this pure idea of parliamentary sovereignty, I mean a lot of those guys, UKIP and the Tory Eurosketpics they don’t like judges of any kind, domestic as well and European judges because they think that no one should call  them, as MPs to account. They take the idea of parliamentary sovereignty to such a large extent.

Policy and Practice Seminar: A Discussion with the Conflict and Change Group

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 1 December 2015

Written by Vinayak Krishnan

In anticipation of this week’s Policy and Practice Seminar on war, peace and the role of political institutions in preventing civil wars, I prepared a set of questions relating to the issues that were going to be discussed. After attending the Seminar, I was fortunate enough to supplement the talk by further discussing my questions with the speakers: Kristin Bakke, Nils Metternich and Julian Wucherpfennig. The answers to these questions are written below. They were informed both by the discussion and the preceding Seminar and incorporate views from all three of the speakers. As a result, the following answers are not attributed to a specific speaker, nor are they necessarily attributed to all three; they are my own interpretation to the questions based on what I learnt over the course of the evening.

Q. When looking at the effect of institutions on conflict, are we only looking at political institutions or do factors like the media (especially social media), cultural attitudes, religious beliefs also constitute institutions? How do we define ‘institutions’ in the context of conflict?

A. Institutions are simply defined as rules governing how people interact. These can be both formal, like political institutions, as well as informal, like ethnicity and culture. When doing research on conflict the speakers refer to the importance of both formal and informal institutions. Often in their research they explicitly look at factors like ethnicity or religious attitudes, without terming them as “informal institutions”. In sum, both of these types of institutions as well as the relations between them are important in explaining conflict.

Q. There is a lot of literature in conflict studies research that focusses on the link between conflict and socio-economic indicators (per capita GDP, poverty, land productivity etc). This research advocates that long-term policies to resolve conflict should be holistic and focus more on development than just territorial protection. Do you think it is possible for policy makers in conflict ridden regions to take these factors into account or are they simply focused on minimizing the damage from conflict?

A. When this question was put to him directly, Paul Collier said that “conflict is development reversed”. Certainly, it is definitely important to look at the effect of development on conflict and it is something that every policy-maker would take account of. Consider the issue of ISIS. The strategy advocated by most people when it comes to dealing with ISIS is stepping up military strikes. However, what is often not known is that ISIS have taken steps to provide public goods and security to the people under its rule since they are trying to establish some sort of legitimacy in the areas they control. Thus any successful post-war strategy must address the problems of inclusion and public good provision to ensure peace in Syria. The economic dimension is therefore always an important one.

Q. Do you think negotiating is a successful strategy for dealing with conflict? Whilst it might seem like the best solution, one of the potential problems with negotiation is that it might lead to a situation where any rebel group can commit a violent act and have that recognised with an invitation to the negotiating table. In such a situation, how does the state identify which groups it can reasonably negotiate with?

A. In conflict studies this is known as a “spoiler effect”. This refers to a situation where a certain set of actors may want to undermine the negotiation process for whatever reason. There is however no easy way to address this. Any successful negotiation process must include all the relevant groups even if there is a chance that including some may lead to a spoiler effect.

Coming back to the ISIS example, the negotiators in Vienna have always stressed that a long-term solution to the conflict in Syria must involve a peaceful arrangement that includes all the relevant actors.

Q. My last question is a more general one on political science research. Most articles in political science today are based on inference models that try to explain the causes of various social phenomena. Do you think it is possible for the literature to move towards predictions of social phenomena?

A. It is possible to build prediction models in political science research. Making predictions is certainly not an easy task. It requires very specialized data sets and the models used to analyze this data must have strong theoretical foundations. One cannot make random predictions that have no basis in fact. But it is definitely possible and there are certain projects that the panel are working on where they are trying to extend the methods of prediction to conflict research.

GLOBAL ECONOMIC GOVERNANCE – Is the System Still Working?

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 13 November 2015

Written by Burcu Yigiter

Professor Daniel Drezner argues that systems of global governance responded efficaciously to the economic stagnation of 2008.

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a regular contributor to the Washington Post. His latest book, ‘The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Great Depression’, formed the basis for this evening’s talk. Former Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, Sir John Gieve, was present to respond to Drezner’s argument, whilst the event was chaired by UCL’s Dr Jonathan Monten.

Drezner covered a lot of ground and his argument was rich and detailed. However, the bottom-line of his argument was clear: contrary to conventional wisdom, systems of global economic governance were effective in assisting the recovery process following the 2008 global recession. In fact, the aftermath to the recession can be deemed a global governance success story.

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Jesse Scott speaks at the Policy and Practice Lecture

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 10 November 2015

The UN Climate Conference 2015: what is it trying to do and can it succeed?
Written by Alex Heaven

196 countries, countless vested interests, 12 days and one agreement to determine the future of the world as we know it. COP21 is politically fundamental for ongoing cooperation on climate change and instrumental in making sure that action is worthwhile.Jesse Scott Photo

Jesse Scott, of the International Energy Agency, with an impressively diverse resume of climate change and energy sector roles and a powerfully captivating voice, elucidated the politics, practicalities and the reasons for cautious positivity in the lead up to November 30 when she spoke at the School of Public Policy’s Policy and Practice lecture on the 5th of November.

With the energy sector contributing to two thirds of anthropogenic global carbon emissions it represents one of the biggest challenges and biggest opportunities for change towards action on climate change. The IEA’s Energy and Climate Change Special Report, summarises the role of COP21 in setting a direction and mandating change in the energy sector.

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