By Sarah E L Stricker, on 6 April 2016


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Workshop on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
2nd March 2015
Policy Strategies for the Future

On March 2nd the International Public Policy Review (IPPR) held a workshop entitled The Young Leaders Challenge: Engaging civil society and the public in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The workshop was led by Darshita Gillies, a leadership coach, facilitator, and co-founder and CEO of Blu Dot Global System Integration.

Under Darshita’s direction, the students utilised Theory U Process (Presencing Institute, MIT) along with systemic constellation work as an innovative embodiment technique to drive deep understanding and connection to the problem solving process.

The workshop involved eight participants, all MSc students in the Department of Political Science at University College London. The participants came from a wide range of backgrounds, from public service and health development, to business school and teaching, and many different countries; Israel, Kazakhstan, and France to name a few.

The students were asked to create policy strategies that would contribute toward engaging civil society and the public in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These policy strategies were then presented to an external panel of experts who provided constructive feedback and ideas on the feasibility and next steps of the strategies.

During the workshop the participants were guided by Darshita to imagine and embody the stakeholders involved in the achievement of the SDGs. This took a physical form, as each participant created a sculpture with their body to represent their stakeholder. The stakeholder sculptures came together interacting with each other to form a union that characterised the ideal relationship between them.

The brainstorming and stimulating physical embodiment process gave rise to a wealth of inspiration for policy strategies. As well as presenting their policy strategies to the panel, participants were asked to reflect on what actions they could take personally to support the SDGs in their own lives.

The panel consisted of: Catherine Pearce, Director of Future Justice, Dylan Matthews, CEO of Peace Direct, Dr Sarabajaya Kumar, UCL SPP Lecturer, Associate Fellow of Science, Innovation and Society at Oxford University, Emma Ashru Jones WPP Fellow and Marketing Lead at Collectively and Dr M. Rodwan Abouharb, Director of the International Public Policy Program at UCL.

This diverse panel of experts provided significant, thoughtful, and valuable feedback on the participant’s policy strategies. The considerable experience of the panel in their respective industries allowed them to give practical advice such as people or organisations to get in touch with and provoking questions that challenged the assumptions of the participants and enabled them to deepen their policy strategy and personal commitment.

The process lead to insightful policy strategies, ideas for action and meaningful relationships. The following policy strategies are the product of an in depth and progressive structure to developing policy strategies for an important current issue. 

Policy Strategies for Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Improved Access to Information Driving Awareness and Accountability

The creation of an international protocol aimed at promoting easier access to information. States would have to commit to providing easily accessible, unbiased news on their activities in a variety of forms, e.g. radio, in a manner that is reflective of the national literacy rates of their populations. The idea behind this is to give legitimacy and leverage to civil society. If people are more aware of what’s going in, even if they don’t know what to do with the information, civil society’s campaigns will more likely to stick and together; people and civil society will be able to hold the government to account.

Bobby Wiafe

Integration of SDGs at All Levels of Policy Development in All States

There is not currently a coherent plan to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and monitor progress throughout the UK. Additionally, there is a lack of awareness from the UK public on what the goals are and what they mean. Yet, the SDGs are global and target all countries rather than just developing countries. The SDGs should be integrated into all government sectors and ensure that they are taken into account with all policy decisions. The government also needs to ensure that the public have a much greater awareness of the SDGs and what the government is doing to achieve them.

Eva Hannah


Sharing Relatable Stories to Increase the Longevity of Empathy

The major setback of engaging individuals over the world with the Sustainable Development Goals is how individuals in developing countries are perceived by western individuals. In large part this is due to the “helpless” images used by charities to gain donations, which plays into and reinforces biases between race, ethnicity, and religion, caused by unfamiliarity.

To increase long-term empathy (unlike the short-term induced by the above mentioned images) civil society should share stories by “normal” people to “normal” people across the developing and developed world. These may be able to shatter walls of “otherness”, incapability or helplessness associated with populations of developing countries. Such a change will uncover the complexity of sustainable development and therefore will be an important step toward individual willingness to take part in achieving the SDGs.

Meirav Katzav

Promote Crowd Funding as a Legitimate Aid Vehicle

As of today, there are 344 million households in developing countries which can make small crowdfund investments (World Bank), which have become an established, alternative source of financing after the recent financial crisis. The benefit of using crowdfunding stems from the fact that it represents a low-cost way to target niche groups of potential donors that are spread across the world and raise capital for an exact outcome. This allows policy-makers not only to engage but also empower civil society by turning citizens into investors. Secondly, governments can gain citizens’ support by giving them the opportunity to invest their money for a region/issue they are particularly interested in and have control over where their money is going. By promoting the main crowdfunding platforms (Indiegogo and Kickstarter) it gives these projects legitimacy, reduces competition with local financial markets and ultimately make SDGs more visible to civil society.

Chiara Amato

Enhanced Education Opportunities for Empowerment and Inclusion

As part of the Sustainable Development Goal Number 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, refugees and marginalised youth should be empowered through educational programmes to ensure that affected youth have access not just to education but a certain quality of education. There are two ways in which this could done, one way would be to generate a fund for scholarships for youth from vulnerable communities to access education in the West and remove the stigmas around being a refugee and finally experience what it is like to be treated as a human being. The second way is to enhance and promote the online learning platforms that exist, so that more youth can access educational programmes abroad from their homes, this would ensure that the leaders of tomorrow are not removed from their communities but are equipped to lead and take up positions to rebuild their societies.

Tara Hermes

Raise Public Awareness

Increase the level of SDG information coverage for the public at large. Specifically awareness-raising for the general public to encourage full engagement with achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

Zhanar Shaimenova

Systematic and Multi-faceted Evaluation to Generate Smart Development

Evaluations of programs and projects need to become systematic, whether they take place in NGOs, international organisations, or by private actors. There is a need to see what has worked in the past, what hasn’t, and in what context in order to identify the patterns and mechanisms that make development work. Additionally, not all evaluation should be performed in a quantitative way and some categories of development programs require more qualitative assessment of results and performance.

Kim Chardon

Creating Shared Value by Corporate Employee Engagement in SDGs

People might be aware of the SDGs and willing to make a change, but they often struggle to channel their goodwill: they don’t know how to make a change or on which door to knock.

To ensure that solutions to achieving the SDGs are embedded in everyday lives, companies should have the responsibility, not only to educate their employees about the SDGs, but also to give their employees free time or even provide company programs to dedicated to the SDGs. This could come from letting employees use a paid two hours per week to work on personal projects related to SDGs, or more ambitiously it could be a program involving the entire company. For example, the company could educate their employees about the SDGs, and propose a vote by all employees in January about which of the SDGs the company is going to work on for the year to come. Employees would be assigned to teams by February, and all team could be given a mission to accomplish throughout the year, whose outcome would benefit the company’s chosen SDG. This would educate a large part of the population about the SGDs, while also giving them the tools and channels to work on it without any costs (it would be on their working time). On the other hand, it would also benefit companies by bringing their employees together, creating networks, creating a strong company atmosphere, and sense of belonging, enhancing employees well-being and building a positive reputation for the company, which in turn would benefit future recruitment.

Charlotte Goujon

Educate the World’s Youth on the Sustainable Development Goals

One of the most important ways to promote worldwide goals and improve SDG achievement is to make sure that the global community buys into it from the beginning. It would be easier to foster the environment needed if the UN sponsored a curriculum to teach the Sustainable Development Goals at the primary level around the world. By partnering with state governments to promote the SDGs and general UN awareness at the primary level could help foster the next generation of world citizens engaged with and motivated to achieve global goals.

Photography of Politics and People – Interview with Nick Danziger

By Sarah E L Stricker, on 6 March 2016

IPPR President Alexandra Heaven interviews Nick Danziger. Nick Danziger is one of Europe’s finest photojournalists having spent a life documenting what he sees in best-selling books, and in award-winning documentaries and photography. His most recent books have included: Mana, a unique behind-the-scenes look at New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team and Onze Femmes, tracing the lives of 11 women from countries in conflict over the last 10 years. His photographic work is held in museum collections worldwide. His ‘mirror’ image of Tony Blair and George W. Bush shot during a 30-day, ground-breaking study of a Prime Minister at war won the World Press Photo Award. 


AH – My first question is about working with politicians. They are notoriously good at putting on a face. They have had so much media training, they know exactly how to hold their faces, they know what to say, yet for us as the public the human face is so important for our perception of politicians. So I want to ask you about the challenges you face in representing politicians?

ND – First of all, it is very difficult to get access, especially the kind of access that I want, which is not on a long lens. I shoot on wide angle lenses so I actually have to be pretty close to the politicians that I photograph. And there is no doubt that it has taken almost 30 years to work out the way that you work to get that, not only the access, but the trust. It takes time. I don’t want to have a relationship with the politician because I want to keep that independence. I don’t want to be drawn into becoming a friend. But hopefully the types of pictures that I take are both very intimate but equally very dispassionate in the sense that I am documenting what they are doing. They are doing a job, and I’m not looking to take cheap pictures or funny moments, and I think they understand that. Obviously, what I do, that cannot be achieved in an hour or two hours, so the idea is really always to spend days, if not at least a week or 10 days with the person that I’m profiling because that’s when – you know, they have other things to get on with – they can’t show the public persona that they might like to portray, it just can’t happen for them. You become you part of the scenery and they’ve got to get on with their work. Hopefully I’m with people who have pretty busy schedules and they can’t worry about this photographer, they might initially, but then it’s up to me to take over and blend into the background.

AH – So a lot of it is waiting and looking and watching what they are doing…

ND – Absolutely, also to know when to push to get the access and when to withdraw. Even if I had the access there are moments I realise, right, there is no point me sticking around now because I could ruin the access later on. So it’s a very fine line, it’s a balancing act of having to get the picture and having some kind of strategic plan in your head as to what might be more important later on down the line, so this is not the moment to push.

AH – Are there particular events in that stretch of time that are better (for photographing)? Is it one on one meetings or the big meetings?

ND – Exactly, that’s what I want to do, it’s interesting you say that, I want a variety, of different elements. It might look as if it’s shot in a day, but that’s what you want, the private moments, the one-on-one with a minister, you might want it with the whole cabinet and times at home, so you do get that kind of behind the scenes. It’s not the politician, it’s; who is he? He’s also a human being, man or woman. So yes it is very much trying to build up a picture of the rounded aspects of work and downtime, or family time.

AH- Does that help you choose the end picture, you get so many shots of them at many different times, does that help you choose one where you can say you feel this represents the whole person?

ND – It’s actually very difficult. That’s what I have discovered. And in fact words have become important too, because I don’t think that one image can represent the many aspects and facets, I mean if I say to you pick one picture of yourself, what would you choose as that one defining picture?

Maha Kumbh Mela, 2013

AH – Yeah that’s too hard!  So that leads onto my next question, as consumers of photojournalism in many different spheres, what would you consider important for consumers to understand about what they are looking at?

ND – I think integrity and authenticity of what I am doing is really important. I’m getting on with the work, I’m not particularly thinking this is the message I want to convey, other than when I might be going to a very difficult part of the world, and probably focusing on individual lives, in circumstances that shouldn’t exist. So (in that case) probably I’m getting people to think about the people I’m photographing and trying in a sense to imagine what it would be like if they had to live under that set of circumstances. That’s why I say that the words also become important as well, because with words you can round the story out, inform you, they bring you additional information.

AH – Given you work with some of the most powerful people in the world and some of the most disempowered people in the world, what personally do you find the most fascinating situations to shoot?

ND – You know, I would rather be with the people who are disempowered, as you wanted to use that word, so, the marginalised. Because I think the others have plenty of opportunity to speak, convey messages etc. I’m trying to look at corners of the world that don’t have that kind of access.

AH – In what way do you think that journalism should be a watchdog of international organisations as well as states? Do you think there is an important role for following up global development programs?

ND – Absolutely. I think that journalism is one of those pillars that keeps people and society and companies in check. You know we have laws, but also we have what used to be called investigative journalism. I say what used to be called, unfortunately, there are less and less media outlets that do investigative journalism or indeed can finance investigative journalism. I think it’s a really strong and important part of journalism, not just to report but indeed, to really dig deep to find out what are the real issues. What is really happening? And a bit like in development it’s not just about rolling out programs, but are those programs effective? What impact do they have? So I think that’s really, really important.

In the two months leading up to his 50th birthday, PM Blair took on a Labour Party, sceptical electorate, Jacques Chirac and Saddam Hussein. And all of this as he led the nation to war with Iraq. These were the most testing weeks of TB's premiership and photographer Nick Danziger was given unprecedented access to the Prime Minister and his closest aides. Geroge Bush comes to Britain for Security briefing with the UK counterpart, PM Blair, following the beginning of Iraq war. Hillsborough Castle, Belfast, Northern Ireland. 08/04/2003.

AH – We were talking about this today in a Global Ethics class actually, about representation – who gets to represent who?

ND – It’s really, really important. And you know, it’s difficult because journalists also have to be responsible. So equally, to what extent, at times, can you reveal what is happening? Because you have to think of that bigger picture. You as a journalist can have a big impact, but equally, stories are very complex, multi-faceted, and I’ve often maybe wanted to accuse, or point the finger, when in fact you know, more resources and more investigation needed to take place because there is that point when you ask yourself whether you tell the story or not because it can have a big impact and a negative impact on the program or people.

AH – How do you feel about citizens journalism? I know it is connected to the lack of finance for some investigations.

ND – I think there is a place for everything. The problem is today that people from every walk of life are looking to spend the least amount and you get what you pay for. It’s not that media outlets are not wanting to do investigative journalism, but it’s extremely expensive. So there is a place for citizen journalism. Say you were going after a PM because we have talked about heads of state. It is phenomenally expensive! If you wanted to uncover something you would need lawyers and so on, so everything has its place. The sadness for me today is that someone who isn’t wise and hasn’t got experience might take that image that you think is very indicative or true of a situation, when in fact you might be causing greater harm because you haven’t spent the time and investigated and you’ve been tripped up.

AH – How do you deal with representing people who are such a world away from your world? How do you deal with your own personal bias in that situation?

ND – Well you know for a start I’ve been photographing vulnerable people and however I explain it to people, it’s very hard for them to understand, what the impact of their image could be because they don’t have the accesses that we have. So I try to explain as much as I can what I’m doing, why I’m doing it, the uses of the picture etc., but If I’m totally honest, however much you explain, how can someone who doesn’t have access to electricity fully understand the implications of an image on the internet.

I didn’t train as a journalist, and often they start by saying “oh you’ve got to be objective”. But now in what I do, I’m not trying to be objective, if it’s wrong, its wrong and you know that’s the way that it is. I’m not a politician and I’d love things to change but it would be very patronising to think that little me could change anything in this world. So one has to be very careful about overestimating what you do. It’s a personal quest. I see things and I’m drawn back to them because I think that situations could change for the better, but sometimes we need to know about it if we want it to change, you can’t change something that you don’t know needs fixing.

AH – You see this with journalists often, they try to be objective and they’re not.

ND – Yeah well you see this with American journalism, you read American newspapers, they say “one observer noted” well that one observer is you, the bloody writer! You know, just come out with it! It’s insane.

AH – Perhaps, sometimes it is important to say “actually this is where I’m coming from and this is what I think”.

ND – Yes and that’s where I hope a lot of what I do speaks for itself, I don’t think you’ll hear me saying “this should be done” “we need to…” you know? So I’m hoping that people will come to their own conclusions and if they are not conclusions, then I think even just being informed is important.

You can check out more of Nick’s work at:

And support his current project Another Life, at this link:

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:

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

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 ( Ellen Judson ( 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.