The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health ::
Holistic Development :: Sustainable Resilience
Week ending 25 July 2015

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor &
Founding Managing Director
GE2P2 – Center for Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

pdf version: The Sentinel_ week ending 25 July 2015

blog edition: comprised of the 35+ entries to be posted below on 26-27 July 2015

Violence involving children in conflicts has taken a darker turn — UNICEF

Violence involving children in conflicts has taken a darker turn — UNICEF
Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake on 10th anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1612

NEW YORK, 24 July 2015 – “Millions of children around the world today are caught up in adults’ wars – deliberately killed, injured, raped, abducted. Their schools and homes are being destroyed; they are being denied food, water and health care. Tens of thousands are forced to join armed forces and groups.

“Ten years ago the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1612, to better protect children affected by conflict. Today, enormous efforts are being made to protect children in countries at war. Last year, more than 10,000 children were released from armed forces and groups worldwide, and received support returning to their communities.
“But violence involving children in conflicts has taken a darker turn.

“Reports from Iraq, Nigeria and Syria have shown us how children are being used by adults as perpetrators of extreme violence – children who have been forced to observe and participate in executions, encouraged to believe that violence is normal, their young and impressionable minds exposed to senseless brutality, in total disregard of the sanctity of childhood.

“Every child in a conflict who is killed or forced to kill, or who has witnessed the brutality of war, is a victim. An innocent who has borne the cost of conflict not of her or his making.
“We should be outraged that such suffering continues and that more is not being done to end these horrors and to hold those responsible to account.”

Statement of MacArthur President Julia Stasch on the Foundation’s Russia Office

Statement of MacArthur President Julia Stasch on the Foundation’s Russia Office
MacArthur Foundation July 21, 2015

It is with regret, but with confidence that it is the right decision, that we share the news that the MacArthur Foundation will close its branch office in Moscow.

The recent passage and implementation of several laws in Russia make it all but impossible for international foundations to operate effectively and support worthy civil society organizations in that country. These measures include a law requiring Russian non-governmental organizations to register as foreign agents if they receive foreign funding and engage in “political activities.” The most recent such measure is a law allowing authorities to declare the activities of international organizations “undesirable” if they present “a threat to the foundations of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defense capability of the country or the security of the state.”

These laws, public statements by Russian legislators, and the vote by the Federation Council to include MacArthur on a “patriotic stop-list” of organizations recommended for designation as “undesirable” make it clear that the Russian government regards MacArthur’s continued presence as unwelcome.

Contrary to the premise underlying the Federation Council’s vote, our activities in Russia, at all times, have been to further charitable purposes and benefit Russian citizens and society. We are entirely independent of the United States government and receive no funding from it. We have never supported political activities or other actions that could reasonably be construed as meeting the definition of “undesirable.”

There may be risk for the Russian civil society organizations that seek and receive our funding and to the dedicated Russian citizens that work for us in Moscow. In the process of closing our office, we will take all reasonable steps in accordance with law to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and to work with our grantees to minimize disruption and harm to them.

Since we established our office in 1992, we have awarded more than $173 million in grants to further higher education in Russia, advance human rights, and limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons. We are proud of our engagement in Russia and have deep respect for the many individuals and organizations we have supported.

The MacArthur Foundation is committed to helping to make truly substantial progress on some of the world’s most profound problems. We are saddened that it is not possible to do so in Russia at this time.

A U.S. Humanitarian, Development and Peacebuilding Statement on the U.S. Global Countering Violent Extremism Agenda

A U.S. Humanitarian, Development and Peacebuilding Statement on the U.S. Global Countering Violent Extremism Agenda
July 20, 2015 :: 4 pages
Mercy Corps and 40 colleague agencies express concern that the Obama administration’s new nine-point Action Agenda to counter violent extremism will repeat the same mistakes as post-9/11 stabilization initiatives, mainly prioritizing military funding over investments in solutions addressing the root causes of instability. The coalition urges the administration to modify the strategy ahead of September’s global summit on countering violent extremism.

Action for Community Development
Alliance for Peacebuilding
Association Femmes Sans Limites (Women Without Limits)
American Friends Service Committee
The Carter Center
CDA Collaborative Learning Projects
Charity & Security Network
Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)
Cure Violence
Facilitating Peace
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Humanity United
International Center for Religion and Diplomacy
International Rescue Committee
Islamic Relief USA
Jewish World Watch
Life for Relief and Development
Mercy Corps
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Nonviolence International
Nonviolent Peaceforce
Oxfam America
Partners for Democratic Change
Pax Christi International
Peace Alliance
Peace Direct
Project on Middle East Democracy (POMED)
Relief International
Salam Institute for Peace and Justice
Save the Children USA
Search for Common Ground
The Shift Network
Student Peace Alliance
Syria Relief and Development
United to End Genocide
World Vision


Press Release
Invest in Non-Military Efforts to Counter Violent Extremism
July 20, 2015
Civil society coalition urges governments to prioritize prevention, peacebuilding and political solutions
Washington, DC — A coalition of U.S. civil society organizations, led by the global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps, is calling on the Obama administration to address the drivers of community grievances before violent extremism takes root, rather than relying primarily on militarized counter-terrorism responses.

“Billions spent on security operations are coupled with relatively minor investments in development, governance or humanitarian activities,” reads the coalition statement. “We urge that any strategy to address today’s complex threats focus on supporting communities and states to build safe, just, and resilient societies and addressing the core grievances fueling global radicalization.”

Mercy Corps and 40 colleague agencies express concern that the Obama administration’s new nine-point Action Agenda to counter violent extremism will repeat the same mistakes as post-9/11 stabilization initiatives, mainly prioritizing military funding over investments in solutions addressing the root causes of instability.

The coalition urges the administration to modify the strategy ahead of September’s global summit on countering violent extremism by:
:: Increasing investments in underfunded civilian-led prevention and peacebuilding programs.
:: Ensuring that security operations run by the Departments of Defense or State do not work at cross-purposes with development and peacebuilding efforts.
:: Reforming counterterrorism laws and regulations that prevent U.S. humanitarian organizations from working with communities affected by violent extremism.

“To have any hope of long-term success, a strategy to counter violent extremism must target the drivers of grievances, not just the symptoms,” says Andrea Koppel, vice president of Global Engagement and Policy at Mercy Corps. “Prevention and peacebuilding activities are chronically underfunded by the U.S. and other major government donors.”

A recent Mercy Corps study of key contributors to youth engagement in conflict found that experiences of injustice and abuse, not just unemployment or poverty, propel young people to take up arms. Mercy Corps believes that any initiatives to prevent violent extremism must address the root causes compelling young people to join.

Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation that Starts with Communities

Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation that Starts with Communities
Refugee Studies Centre (RSC); University of Oxford.
17 July 2015 :: 52 pages
Alexander Betts, Director Refugee Studies Centre and Humanitarian Innovation Project;
Louise Bloom, Research Officer, Humanitarian Innovation Project; Nina Weaver, Research Coordinator, Humanitarian Innovation Project

About the report
Even under the most challenging constraints, people find ways to engage in creative problem-solving. Refugees, displaced persons, and others caught in crisis often have skills, talents, and aspirations that they draw upon to adapt to difficult circumstances.

On July 17th, we launched the report “Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation that Starts with Communities” which focuses on examples and case studies of ‘bottom-up innovation’ among different refugee populations. This report takes you on a journey – from Jordan to South Africa to Uganda to Kenya to the United States. We look at a range of refugee situations, drawing upon examples from different stages of the ‘refugee cycle’: recent mass influx, protracted situations, and resettled refugee populations.

Understanding the processes of refugee innovation and the constraints and opportunities experienced in ‘bottom-up’ problem-solving also has far-reaching implications for humanitarian practice.

Conference: Religion and sustainable development

Conference: Religion and sustainable development
July 24, 2015
Islamic Relief
Islamic Relief co-sponsored a highly significant conference, which brought together 130 attendees to discuss Religion and Sustainable Development earlier this month.

The ‘Religion & Sustainable Development: Building Partnerships to End Extreme Poverty’ conference was convened and co-hosted by the World Bank Group, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (implemented by GIZ), U.S. Agency for International Development, UK Department For International Development, GHR Foundation, World Vision and the Joint Learning Initiative on Faith and Local Communities, a coalition of faith-based organisations and academic institutions.

Co-sponsors included the Catholic Medical Mission Board, Catholic Relief Services, Islamic Relief USA, Tearfund, American Jewish World Service, IMA World Health and McKinsey & Company.

From July 7-9, the conference attracted a unique combination of policy makers, multilateral and bilateral agencies, religious leaders, development professionals from faith-based organisations and academics.

The goals of the conference were to connect frontline policy makers to the evidence base and expertise to support more effective partnerships with religious and faith-based groups in the common cause of ending extreme poverty and promoting sustainable development.

The conference process focused on reviewing the evidence base and developing specific recommendations for action to strengthen effective partnerships between religious and faith-based groups and the public sector. It sought to obtain leadership commitments to follow-on activities and to establish specific next steps.

In his opening remarks, World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim cited the Catholic social teaching for “a preferential option for the poor.” He said that every religion shared this fundamental commitment to the poorest and most vulnerable and that this provided a common platform with the international development community aim to end extreme poverty.

“We are the first generation in history that can say we can end extreme poverty in our lifetime,” Dr. Kim said. “We can’t get there without all of you,” he added, addressing the faith communities. “We need prophetic voices to inspire us and evidence to lead the way.”
The conference was set up to resource an open and vigorous discussion about the potential and challenges of faith partnerships with the public sector. It started with the launch of The Lancet medical journal’s series on ‘Faith-based Health Care.’

The issues of religion and sustainable development were debated from the perspectives of public sector leadership and religious and faith-based communities. Sessions also drilled down into the evidence base and key learning in relation to health systems strengthening, Ebola and HIV, sexual- and gender-based violence, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The issues of religion and politics were also debated along with approaches to scaling up faith partnerships for development outcomes.

The participants considered these topics through the lens of the conference’s overarching themes: how to frame and communicate the case; how to build on a common foundation; how to overcome complexity in the plurality of faith actors, potentially through the role of intermediary entities; and how to strengthen the evidence…

WTO members reach landmark $1.3 trillion IT trade deal

WTO members reach landmark $1.3 trillion IT trade deal
24 July 2015
WTO members representing major exporters of information technology products agreed today (24 July) to eliminate tariffs on more than 200 such products.

In a meeting this afternoon at the WTO headquarters in Geneva, a tentative accord reached by 54 WTO members on 18 July was confirmed as the basis for implementation work to begin. Ministers from the participating members will now work to conclude their implementation plans in time for the WTO’s 10th Ministerial Conference which will be held in Nairobi this December.

“Today’s agreement is a landmark,” said WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo. “Annual trade in these 201 products is valued at over $1.3 trillion per year, and accounts for approximately 7% of total global trade today. This is larger than global trade in automotive products — or trade in textiles, clothing, iron and steel combined.

“Eliminating tariffs on trade of this magnitude will have a huge impact. It will support lower prices — including in many other sectors that use IT products as inputs — it will create jobs and it will help to boost GDP growth around the world.

“This is the first major tariff-cutting deal at the WTO in 18 years. Coming so soon on the heels of the historic Bali Package which members agreed in 2013, it shows that the multilateral trading system can deliver. The WTO has now negotiated two deals in the space of two years which deliver real, economically significant results. I hope that this success will inspire members in other areas of our negotiations.”

The Director-General added that no other negotiating forum could include so many countries. He pointed out, as well, that all 161 WTO members will benefit from this WTO agreement, as they will all enjoy duty-free market access in the markets of those members who are eliminating tariffs on these products. The terms of the agreement will be formally circulated to the full membership at a meeting of the WTO General Council on 28 July…