The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
Week ending 26 October 2019

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
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice

PDF: The Sentinel_ period ending 26 Oct 2019

:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles and abstracts from 100+ peer-reviewed journals  [see PDF]

UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar calls on UN Member States to remain vigilant in the face of the continued threat of genocide

Myanmar – Rohingya

UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar calls on UN Member States to remain vigilant in the face of the continued threat of genocide
23 October 2019
NEW YORK (23 October 2019) – The head of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told the General Assembly on Wednesday that Myanmar is failing in its obligations under the Genocide Convention to prevent, to investigate and to enact effective legislation criminalising and punishing genocide.

Mr. Darusman spoke to the General Assembly at the request of the Human Rights Council. He said the Mission’s findings are based on the fact that the policies, laws, individuals and institutions that laid the groundwork for the brutal “clearance operations” in 2016 and 2017 remain in place and strong.

Mr. Darusman said the Mission found that crimes under international law, which were reported on last year, continue to be committed by Myanmar’s military, called the Tatmadaw, throughout the country, impacting Myanmar’s ethnic communities.

Serious violations of human rights and humanitarian law have been committed in both northern Myanmar and in the context of the continuing conflict between the Tatmadaw and the Arakan Army in Rakhine State. “This confirms our previous conclusion that the cycle of impunity enables, and indeed fuels, this reprehensible conduct on the part of the security forces,” Mr Darusman said.

The harsh persecution of the Rohingya community in Myanmar continues unabated in defiance of the international community. The treatment of some 600,000 Rohingya remaining in Rakhine State is largely unchanged. Their situation has worsened, as they endure another year subjected to discrimination, segregation, movement restrictions and insecurity, without adequate access to livelihoods, land, basic services, including education and health care, or justice for past crimes committed against them by the Tatmadaw.

This makes the return to Rakhine State of close to one million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh simply impossible, Mr. Darusman said…

Joint Statement by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, IOM, OCHA and UNHCR to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Kampala Convention


Joint Statement by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, IOM, OCHA and UNHCR to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Adoption of the Kampala Convention
2019-10-23 13:05
New York – Africa is marking today the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. Also known as the Kampala Convention, this ground-breaking treaty has so far been ratified by 28 countries on the continent.

As the world’s first and only continent-wide legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the Kampala Convention is a testament to the determination of African States to address the multiple challenges of IDPs. The treaty incorporates the basic elements of the 1998 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and outlines the responsibilities of States and other actors.

Internal displacement remains a significant problem in countries across Africa, with more than 17.8 million people being displaced by conflict and violence. Women and children constitute the vast majority of those affected.

We fully recognize the role and contribution that the Convention has made in preventing displacement across Africa, providing effective responses to displacement crises and supporting solutions for displacement situations, whether triggered by armed conflicts, violence or the effects of climate change and disasters.

We also welcome and support the decision of the Assembly of the African Union to declare 2019 as the ‘Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa’. This commemorative decision is an important opportunity to take stock of progress in implementing the Convention and identify outstanding challenges.

Now is the time to fully translate the Kampala Convention into practice. We applaud all countries that have ratified the Convention and taken concrete steps to realize the spirit and letter of the treaty, including through developing relevant national laws and policies. We welcome the latest accession by the Republic of South Sudan to the Convention and call on all those that have not ratified and domesticated the Convention to do so without delay.

We also welcome the announcement earlier today of the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a High-level Panel on Internal Displacement to increase global attention on displaced persons and develop concrete recommendations to improve the response.

We furthermore call on member States of the African Union, international organizations and other partners to support the full and effective participation of both displaced and host communities in the implementation of the Convention. We also call on the international community to do more to strengthen its assistance and solidarity with countries and communities coping with internal displacement, including through a more collaborative and strategic approach and innovative financing mechanisms.

Opinion _ A Win for the Uighurs :: Wall Street Journal

Human Rights – Uighurs / Sakharov Prize

Wall Street Journal
Review & Outlook
A Win for the Uighurs
Europe bestows its Sakharov prize on an imprisoned economist.
By The Editorial Board
Oct. 25, 2019 7:03 pm ET
This week a human-rights activist languishing in the Chinese gulag was awarded Europe’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after the famous Soviet nuclear physicist-turned-dissident. China’s response tells you why the man deserved it. A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman accused the European Parliament of intervening in China’s internal affairs and celebrating “a terrorist.”

The man’s name is Ilham Tohti. By profession he is an economist. Today he is one of the more than a million Uighurs—an ethnic Muslim minority in Xinjiang Province—who have been rounded up and detained in China’s internment camps.

In 2014 Mr. Tohti was arrested and charged with “separatism.” In a statement he gave to Radio Free Asia to be released upon his arrest, he said the only things he ever asked for are “human rights, legal rights, autonomous regional rights, and equality.” The Uighur people, he said, also have a right to be treated with dignity, and not have their culture erased.

It can be tempting to dismiss these awards as empty symbolic gestures, but China doesn’t make that mistake. When the Nobel Committee in 2010 awarded its peace prize to imprisoned democracy activist Liu Xiaobo, it went bananas and took its displeasure out on trade with Norway.

President Xi Jinping and his fellow Communists appreciate that with this prize Europe is directing the world’s attention to China’s larger assault on the Uighur people. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has called this assault “reminiscent of the 1930s.” The U.S. government has begun to take a stronger line on behalf of the Uighurs, imposing sanctions on the Chinese officials who are responsible. Good to see Europe join in.

Seven Mining, Metals Companies Partner on Responsible Sourcing with World Economic Forum


Seven Mining, Metals Companies Partner on Responsible Sourcing with World Economic Forum
News 25 Oct 2019
:: Leading mining and metals companies have joined forces to accelerate responsible sourcing of raw materials with the World Economic Forum.
:: The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will explore the building of a blockchain platform to address transparency issues, the track and tracing of materials, the reporting of carbon emissions or to increase efficiency.
:: Antofagasta Minerals, Eurasian Resources Group Sàrl, Glencore, Klöckner & Co, Minsur SA, Tata Steel Limited, Anglo American/De Beers (Tracr), are founding members.

Geneva, Switzerland, 25 October 2019 – Seven leading mining and metals companies have partnered with the World Economic Forum to experiment, design and deploy blockchain solutions that will accelerate responsible sourcing and sustainability practices.

The Mining and Metals Blockchain Initiative will pool resources and cost, increase speed-to-market and improve industry-wide trust that cannot be achieved by acting individually. It aims to be a neutral enabler for the industry, addressing the lack of standardization and improving efficiency. The intention is to send out a signal of inclusivity and collaboration across the industry. The group will look to develop joint proof-of-concepts for an inclusive blockchain platform. Over time, this could help the industry collectively increase transparency, efficiency or improve reporting of carbon emissions.

In many cases, blockchain projects to support responsible sourcing have been bilateral. The result has been a fractured system that leaves behind parts of the ecosystem and lacks interoperability. This new initiative is owned and driven by the industry, for the industry. Members will examine issues related to governance, develop case studies and establish a working group.

Key areas of collaboration and development could include carbon emissions tracking and supply chain transparency. They will work to use blockchain technology to increase trust between upstream and downstream partners, to address the lack of industry standardization and to track provenance, chain of custody and production methods.

“Material value chains are undergoing profound change and disruption”, said Jörgen Sandström, Head of the Mining and Metals Industry, World Economic Forum. “The industry needs to respond to the increasing demands of minerals and materials while responding to increasing demands by consumers, shareholders and regulators for a higher degree of sustainability and traceability of the products.”

The World Economic Forum has offered its platform and expertise to help industry leaders better understand the impact and potential of blockchain technology. It will provide guidance on governance issues related to the delivery of a neutral industry platform and the expansion of members.

New $90 Million Fund to Address Global Climate Change through Catalytic Capital [Terra Silva]

Heritage Stewardship – Forests

New $90 Million Fund to Address Global Climate Change through Catalytic Capital
October 23, 2019
Terra Silva to accelerate climate-smart practices in tropical forests worldwide
The David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced the launch of Terra Silva, a $90 million impact investing collaborative designed to respond to the challenges of global climate change. Terra Silva will make investments focused on the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of critical tropical forests worldwide.

“Forests currently provide the only proven carbon-negative solution at scale,” said Susan Phinney Silver, Mission Investing Director at the Packard Foundation. “Given the urgency of climate change, we are committed to using mission investments in new ways to amplify and accelerate efforts like Terra Silva to reduce greenhouse gases as fast as possible.”

Terra Silva is launching at a pivotal time for sustainable forestry and related agriculture practices in the market. It will focus on three targets: accelerating reforestation, conservation, and afforestation in tropical forest regions; creating more environmentally and socially sustainable forest management practices at scale within critical tropical forests; and improving the sustainability of emerging climate-smart forestry and agriculture practices. In these ways, Terra Silva will mobilize private financing to conserve and restore tropical forests, promote biodiversity, and support thriving communities in and around critical tropical forests worldwide.

The ultimate goal of Terra Silva is to significantly expand opportunities for commercial investment in sustainable forestry and agriculture by pioneering new investment models, accelerating their adoption, and helping build market infrastructure for climate-smart forestry. More information can be found here.

Terra Silva will incorporate catalytic capital – investment capital that is patient, risk-tolerant, concessionary, and flexible in order to unlock impact and additional investment that would not otherwise be possible – in the form of an investment vehicle financed by the Packard Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and another mission-driven investor…

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019

Development Research

The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019
14 October 2019
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019 to
:: Abhijit Banerjee, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
:: Esther Duflo, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA
:: Michael Kremer, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
“for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty”

Their research is helping us fight poverty
The research conducted by this year’s Laureates has considerably improved our ability to fight global poverty. In just two decades, their new experiment-based approach has transformed development economics, which is now a flourishing field of research.

Despite recent dramatic improvements, one of humanity’s most urgent issues is the reduction of global poverty, in all its forms. More than 700 million people still subsist on extremely low incomes. Every year, around five million children under the age of five still die of diseases that could often have been prevented or cured with inexpensive treatments. Half of the world’s children still leave school without basic literacy and numeracy skills.

This year’s Laureates have introduced a new approach to obtaining reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty. In brief, it involves dividing this issue into smaller, more manageable, questions – for example, the most effective interventions for improving educational outcomes or child health. They have shown that these smaller, more precise, questions are often best answered via carefully designed experiments among the people who are most affected.

In the mid-1990s, Michael Kremer and his colleagues demonstrated how powerful this approach can be, using field experiments to test a range of interventions that could improve school results in western Kenya.

Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, often with Michael Kremer, soon performed similar studies of other issues and in other countries. Their experimental research methods now entirely dominate development economics.

The Laureates’ research findings – and those of the researchers following in their footsteps – have dramatically improved our ability to fight poverty in practice. As a direct result of one of their studies, more than five million Indian children have benefitted from effective programmes of remedial tutoring in schools. Another example is the heavy subsidies for preventive healthcare that have been introduced in many countries.

These are just two examples of how this new research has already helped to alleviate global poverty. It also has great potential to further improve the lives of the worst-off people around the world.


The Lancet
October 26, 2019
Where next for randomised controlled trials in global health?
The 2019 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to three economists—Esther Duflo, Abhijit Bannerjee, and Michael Kremer—for their experiment-based research to mitigate global poverty. The award was notable for several reasons. Esther Duflo was only the second woman to win the prize since it began in 1969, and the youngest ever winner. Previous prizes were awarded largely for contributions to theory—for example, by observing and interpreting the behaviour of markets. But this year, the Sveriges Riksbank committee’s recognition of the randomised controlled trial (RCT) elevates a method long used in medicine, but much less so in human development.

Although based in the USA, the three laureates have worked with some of the poorest people to understand their lives and the constraints that keep them poor. They made important discoveries. Those living in poverty often spend their meagre disposable income on activities to relieve tedium or bring small pleasures. In India, they found that people spent their budgets on religious festivals. In Nicaragua, it was owning a radio or television. The laureates concluded that simply providing money to the poor to alleviate poverty was not enough because there are too many competing expenditures. They decided to break down the problems into smaller manageable questions and use empirical data to examine which interventions work and which do not, and what motivates people to make the choices they make. They used RCTs to assess the causal effects of an intervention.

Together, their work has made important contributions to health care, education, agriculture, and gender issues. Understanding how demand for de-worming medicines to treat parasitic infections in Kenya is affected by price provided the case for why governments should subsidise health care. In India, vaccination uptake increased by improving service quality and providing families with small incentives. The laureates have used their findings to develop new anti-poverty programmes and influence policy. Despite their success in producing evidence for social change, many notable economists and social scientists have criticised RCTs on philosophical, epistemological, political, and methodological grounds. Of course, other study designs and approaches, such as more qualitative analyses, aid our understanding of health and development too, but the RCT remains the best means of discovering whether any proposed intervention may work.

While development economics has drawn lessons from medicine, what can medicine learn from this experimentalist turn in economics? The laureates have shown that RCTs can be done in some of the most challenging human circumstances. Importantly, the design of interventions must be based on a detailed understanding of context. Too often, a policy shown to work in one setting is transplanted to another, with scant regard for whether the situation is at all similar. This scenario is especially true for health policy, in which a community of highly paid international consultants travel business class from country to country peddling their favourite idea.

A good example of where these lessons have been learnt is the HOPE-4 trial, published last month in The Lancet. This cluster RCT of hypertension management in Malaysia and Colombia achieved impressive results. The intervention had multiple components—task shifting, peer support, free medicines, and simplified guidelines. But what was particularly important was that the intervention in each country was designed following a detailed study of the lived experience of patients and after interrogation of policy makers. This knowledge was integrated with systematic reviews of experiences elsewhere. Why would someone be expected to take a tablet for high blood pressure for life when they feel perfectly well? Only by answering this question and others might interventions be successful.

RCTs in global health must evolve to become more meaningful. Too often, trials are severely restricted, with little ability to plan for changes across the study (adaptive) and being ready for unforeseen decision making (simulation modelling) at a huge cost and effort. An upcoming Lancet Global Health Series on improving efficiency in global health clinical trials aimed both at researchers and funding bodies will focus on innovative designs and avoiding research waste.

The lesson from this year’s Nobel Prizes is that one size does not fit all. In conceiving and doing rigorous experiments to find out what really works, we need to listen to the voices of the poor and design interventions that respond to their beliefs, needs, and expectations.