Latest activities of group #15 - The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Top 100 NGOs 2013 2013-01-28T16:22:33Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" title="Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition" src="/s3/cache%2F6f%2F36%2F6f36bcca364b764888acb9e5ee0c7dca.jpg" alt="Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition" width="419" height="580" /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>The Global Journal</em> is proud to announce the release of the second edition of its annual <a rel="nofollow" href=""><strong>Top 100 NGOs</strong> special issue</a>. The only international ranking of its kind, this exclusive feature reflects the increasing global influence of NGOs in all facets of modern life, in the process shining a light on a dynamic, innovative and inspiring sector estimated by the Public Interest Registry (PIR) to encompass close to 10 million organizations.&nbsp; In the multilateral context alone, the number of UN-accredited NGOs had risen from 40 in 1945 to 3,536 by the end of 2011.&nbsp; The Top 100 NGOs ranking will inform policy-makers, business, academics and non-profit leaders.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Continuing to refine its evaluation methodology, <em>The Global Journal</em> considered a pool of approximately 450 NGOs this year based on three key criteria: impact, innovation and sustainability.&nbsp; For some organizations, these changes have resulted in a climb up the ranking, for others, a no doubt unwelcome slide.&nbsp; Beyond the fortunes of individual NGOs, however, the following are some key takeaways from the 2013 list:</p> <ul style="text-align: justify;"> <li>While the overall top 10 continues to be dominated by major international development and humanitarian NGOs, the most <span style="text-decoration: underline;">innovative</span> NGOs reflected a more diverse mix of education, peacebuilding, environment and health activities.</li> </ul> <ul style="text-align: justify;"> <li>The best represented sub-sectors overall were <em>Development</em> (23), followed by <em>Health</em> (17), <em>Education</em> (15), <em>Children &amp; Youth</em> (13), <em>Environment</em> (10) and <em>Peacebuilding</em> (10). &nbsp;</li> </ul> <ul style="text-align: justify;"> <li>While the United States again outpaced other countries in geographical terms &ndash; with one-third of the NGOs headquartered there &ndash; another third of the NGOs featured were based in developing countries, led by India (6), Brazil (5) and Kenya (4).&nbsp; Only the United Kingdom (11) and Switzerland (9) outperformed these emerging actors, while major donors like France (2) and Germany (1) were only a marginal presence in the list.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: justify;">Beyond profiles of the 100 NGOs that made it into the 2013 edition of the ranking, <em>The Global Journal&rsquo;s</em> Top 100 NGOs special issue also features a fascinating history of international NGOs by Thomas Davies, an eyewitness account of the &lsquo;dark side&rsquo; of NGOs in post-earthquake Haiti by Jonathan M Katz, a thought-provoking essay on the globalization of ideas by Harvard professor David Armitage, a worrying report from Laurent Vinatier on Europe&rsquo;s &lsquo;last dictatorship&rsquo; in Belarus, an exclusive interview with leading historian Mark Mazower on the past and future of global governance and an evocative photo essay by Daniel Blaufuks capturing the everyday beauty of today&rsquo;s Iran.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Further information &ndash; including regarding the evaluation methodology &ndash; is available <a rel="nofollow" href="">here</a>.</p>Special Feature: The Top 100 NGOs 2013 Edition2013-01-23T13:24:59Z<p><br /><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Fec%2F92%2Fec922dddbffee816ef61604990d97c4e.jpg" alt="Top 100 NGOs 2013" width="580" height="387" /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">We are pleased to present the second edition of <em>The Global Journal</em>&rsquo;s Top 100 NGOs ranking. In introducing the inaugural list, we began by asking: just what is a non-government organization? On this, our definition remains the same &ndash; an operational or advocacy-focused non-profit organization active at the local, national or international level.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">This time around, however, in a climate of financial crisis, reduced aid budgets and economy-wide fiscal austerity, it is probably more appropriate to ask a more fundamental question: in the broader global scheme of things, why do NGOs matter?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">To come up with an answer, we need look no further than our top-ranked NGO for this year, the Bangladeshi giant BRAC. While undoubtedly a deserved winner, the sheer size and influence of the organization gives one pause for thought. This is an entity that reaches 126 million people directly through its programs, that provides health care to 100 million people, that employs a growing staff of 102,000, and that has lent $9.73 billion in micro-loans to over five million borrowers. Yet, for all its benevolence and clear social value, BRAC is ultimately accountable only to its donors &ndash; and in that regard, due to an astute foray into social business ventures, will only find this a less and less onerous burden to bear.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Turning to the sector as a whole, the numbers continue to speak for themselves. A Johns Hopkins University study from a decade ago revealed that the global non-profit sector was estimated to be worth $1.3 trillion in the five largest economies alone &ndash; equivalent to the total GDP of the United Kingdom (or the combined GDP of the 50 low-income countries at the time). One can only imagine it has expanded even further in the period since. Some may bristle at any mention of an &lsquo;NGO industry,&rsquo; but what cannot be disputed is the critical role that NGOs play in the context of numerous national economies around the world. Profit margins may be non-existent, but the influence of the financial flows involved is undeniable.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">And, of course, this does not even account for the fact the sector is in the midst of a fundamental transition &ndash; a transition catalyzed, arguably, by the earlier microfinance revolution of the 1970s. BRAC was part of the vanguard then, and remains at the forefront of new developments today. As the lines between NGO, social enterprise and social business blur, the questions of what an NGO should be, which interests it should serve and how it should be regulated by the state, will become more and more relevant.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">But back to this year&rsquo;s ranking. As you will see, there have been changes afoot. We have continued to refine our evaluation methodology, which this time around focused on what we believe are the three key criteria relevant to the activities of any NGO &ndash; impact, innovation and sustainability. For some organizations, these changes have resulted in a climb up the ranking. For others, a no doubt unwelcome slide. In either case though, we return to the same point as last year: despite our best efforts to ensure the ranking is based on concrete information fed through a rigorous, objective process, there is no science in the measuring. We invite you to read the feature that follows for what it is &ndash; a fascinating global snapshot of an often-overlooked sector. Like last year, we hope this list will inform, stimulate debate, inspire and shine a light on one hundred organizations worthy of your time.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">To read more about the Top NGOs rankings&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="">click here.</a></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank"></a></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">Photo &copy; Habitat for Humanity International&nbsp;</span></p>The Return of the Veil2013-01-23T08:21:16Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/photos%2F2013%2F01%2F10eb692bd2b15435.jpg" alt="Quiet Revolution" width="267" height="400" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">A Quiet Revolution: The Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East To America, Leila Ahmed, Yale University Press, $30.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">The <em>hijab</em> is back &ndash; on an increasing number of women&rsquo;s heads, and as a subject of public debate. This discussion is often premised on contentious and stereotypical images of veiled women as a reflection of Islamic oppression. To what extent is the veil&rsquo;s resurgence a reaction to these perceptions? Are there different meanings to the <em>hijab</em>? What do Muslim women &ndash; veiled and unveiled&ndash; have to say about their choices? These are just some of the questions that Harvard professor Leila Ahmed poses in <em>A Quiet Revolution</em>.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Ahmed provides an interesting historical analysis of the issues surrounding the <em>hijab</em> since the beginning of the 20th century, before exploring in detail the &ldquo;unveiling movement&rdquo; in Egypt. She then reflects upon the revival of Islam in the United States, and the different forms of activism that have emerged as a result. A key theme throughout is the connection between the reappearance of the <em>hijab</em> in the East and West. Ahmed argues that understanding the situation in Egypt &ndash; a non-Islamist society that went from unveiled to predominantly veiled society in less then 30 years &ndash; will help shed light on contemporary dynamics in the West.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the same vein, Ahmed demonstrates how religious movements are not static. They can transform across frontiers and generations &ldquo;and take root in environments where new social and political conditions open up new possibilities of belief, practice and interpretation.&rdquo;&nbsp;Ahmed&rsquo;s critical perspective on the politics of the veil in Egypt and the United States is a valuable contribution to the study of <em>hijab,</em>&nbsp;and, thus, to a better understanding of the status of women in Islam.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Z. K.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>A New Biosocial Contract 2013-01-23T08:18:00Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2Fa7%2Fc1%2Fa7c166ddab34b9185dd609e472d3e2a3.jpg" alt="The Fair " width="380" height="570" /></p> <blockquote> <p>The Fair Society: The Science of Human Nature and Pursuit of Social Justice, Peter Corning, University of Chicago Press, $17.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">At the outset of <em>The Fair Society</em>, Peter Corning, Director of the Institute for the Study of Complex Systems, asks some fundamental questions about human development and social justice. Most crucially, if we perceive life as unfair, do we have the power to change society for the better?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In this provocative new book, Corning suggests that selfishness is in fact not a natural human trait, and is instead grounded in biological, anthropological, sociological and organizational evolution. As the basis for affirming &lsquo;yes, we do care,&rsquo; he points to the two dominant aspects of our nature: survival and reproduction. With amoral definition of justice and fairness inspired by the works of Plato and Aristotle, Corning emphasizes the centrality of the &ldquo;collective survival enterprise&rdquo; to humankind, arguing this compels us to focus on meeting our &ldquo;shared survival and reproductive needs.&rdquo; According to the author, these needs are not only primarily physical &ndash;such as nutrition &ndash; but also mental; fori nstance, the desire for social security and talentdevelopment.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Ultimately, in using cutting edge research in the behavioral and biological sciences to paint a more sympathetic and hopeful picture of human nature, <em>The Fair Society</em> is an appeal for a new collective focus on equality, equity and reciprocity to heal an increasingly fragmented political and social life.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">-AH</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>Who Killed the Hippocratic Oath?2013-01-23T08:09:39Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F36%2Ff6%2F36f68bf07efe6047d5d2d56093168e5b.jpg" alt="Thieves of Virtue" width="388" height="580" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Thieves of Virtue: When Bioethics Stole Medecin, Tom Koch, The MIT Press, &pound;20.95.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Born in the 1960s, bioethics was to bring &ldquo;a specific kind of analytic, moral philosophy to questions of medical care and healthcare delivery.&rdquo; In this well researched book, Tom Koch explains why contemporary bioethics fails to fulfill its role &ndash; to the detriment of patients, research subjects and citizens. Under the old Hippocratic Code, medical practitioners were care givers of the individual as well as society at large. The code was idealistic and simplistic: some acts were encouraged and others &ndash; such as abortion or euthanasia &ndash; prohibited. But the clinical, environmental and social elements of the Hippocratic vision also provided a guide as to how health could be promoted. It was left for societies to find the balance between economic constraint and human necessity.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In the late 19th century, however, the focus shifted from patient care and communal responsibility to individual autonomy and economic efficiency. Practitioners were elevated to authoritative positions as medical judges, including the power to decide whether to give, withhold, withdrawor continue care. The new goal of medicine through fundamental research became &ldquo;the definition of the acceptable person within a population whose composition could be controlled to the advantage of the state and its economies.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Borrowing from Confucius, Koch warns us against &ldquo;thieves of virtue&rdquo; &ndash;bioethicists who promote as universal a perception of medical ethics whose end is moral action. They teach, write, advise hospitals and review boards, and generally serve as &ldquo;surrogates of the general public&rdquo; when ethical issues arise in practice and research. While bioethicists present the scarcity of medical services as natural, Koch argues that scarcity is the predictable result of &ldquo;economic choices and political decisions made with full knowledge of the dire consequences.&rdquo; Scarcity disappears when the US Congress votes to fund dialysis as a national entitlement, or when local healthboards argue for urban sanitation and preventive measures against epidemics.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As political actors and social participants, bioethicists shape health policy. Their assumptions define life, health and normalcy; the care or non-care of persons depends on their perspective on the human condition. Through various case studies, Koch explains that bioethicists can &ndash; and do &ndash; regularly deny care for those with limiting cognitive, physical or sensory attributes, advocating the right to die as an individual choice rather than the right to live with dignity despite difference.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Koch&rsquo;s critique is an appeal for a transformed medical ethics that is humanist, responsible, and defensible. A fundamental question to be revisited is whether we understand society as an economic enterprise in which patients are consumers, or a &ldquo;social covenant in which all are able to participate&hellip;irrespective of their physical abilities.&rdquo;</p> <p>- AS</p> <p><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>When Politics and Disaster Collide2013-01-23T08:07:03Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F68%2F2b%2F682b192174c4d3e606dcf3d90dce94ba.jpg" alt="Disaters without Borders" width="375" height="565" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Disasters Without Borders, John Hannigan, Polity Press, &pound;13.95.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">As international attention on natural disasters increases, John Hannigan examines the latest trend in international politics to resolve&ldquo;borderless&rdquo; issues. Conceived as a textbook reviewing contemporary debates, <em>Disasters Without Borders&nbsp;</em>presents a comprehensive account of the failures of diplomacy in the realm of disaster management. The book views the field through an intense politicosociological lens, from the emergence of Disaster Risk Reduction in the 1980s, to the recent integration of climate change debates into humanitarian relief strategies.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>Disasters Without Borders</em> provides a critical look at the political discourse of disasters as a thinly veiled disguise for hegemonic agendas. Hannigan&rsquo;s text culminates with a presentation of two competing theoretical approaches that explain the diffusion of norms and ideas by non-state actors beyond a Realist perspective. In a rather anticlimactic fashion, however, he finds that both fall short, but does not present an alternative, leaving readers empty-handed.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The book concludes with the &ldquo;SCPQ Configuration&rdquo; (Securitization,Catastrophe Scenario Building and Modeling, Privatization, and Quantification) embodying the currentstate of disaster institutions. Overall, <em>Disasters Without Borders</em> is an enjoyable, easily accessible read, but lacks new insight into tackling the dismal failures of environmental cooperation.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">- KC</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>The Road to Ruin2013-01-23T08:00:17Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/photos%2F2013%2F01%2Fe5a30322b9a25246.jpg" alt="Roads to Ruin- Syria " width="300" height="300" /></p> <blockquote> <p>Syria: The Fall of the House of Assad, David W Lesch, Yale University Press, $28.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">David W Lesch, a historian specializing in the Middle East, is among the handful of Westerners to have gained exclusive, private access to one of the world&rsquo;s most elusive and despised leaders: Bashar al-Assad. An informative and personal account, <em>Syria</em> tracks the early rise of the young ophthalmologist &ndash; once nicknamed &ldquo;The Hope&rdquo; &ndash; before a deluded decline,culminating in one of the bloodiest repressions in recent history.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">An easy read, the book showcases the sympathy brought about by the author&rsquo;s former proximity to Assad, though he remains clear and carefully nuanced when charting the internal transformation and foreign power-play that accompanied the decline of the regime. Lesch is particularly successful in his description of the violent turn that has commanded international attention over the last year and a half, documenting the behind-the-scenes activities of a man who did not so much change the system as be himself changed by it.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Unsurprisingly, Lesch&rsquo;s outlook for Syria is as dire as his disappointment: a failed state with extremist elements situated on Middle East fault lines. Ultimately, the book offers an insightful look into a nation caught in a tragically inevitable downwards spiral. &ldquo;When a domestic threat appears, there is a push button response of quick and ruthless repression,&rdquo; Lesch writes. &ldquo;The real story&hellip; would have been if Bashar had not pressed that button.&rdquo;</p> <p>- CT</p> <p><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>The Boundaries of Life2013-01-23T07:44:43Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F6c%2F79%2F6c799e60b6b1b6dd43996c08ccf1db90.jpg" alt="On Borders" width="414" height="580" /></p> <blockquote> <p>On Borders, Ostkreuz Agency Photographers, Hatje Cantz, &ETH;38.00.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">They offer protection, lead to war, limit freedom or enable it; they have always been there and will continue to exist: borders. Hardly anything else is as socially ambivalent, as timeless and as relevant. The Ostkreuz Agency was founded when what was probably the most important border in the history of Germany &ndash; the Berlin Wall&ndash; disappeared. Two decades later, its photographers set out on a search for today&rsquo;s frontiers. Their pictures portray groups of indigenous peoples battling for their land in Canada, homosexuals in Palestine seeking exile in the enemy country of Israel, and the discovery of state identity in South Sudan. The focus is always on people: how do boundaries influence their everyday lives?</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>On Borders</em> covers many borders dissecting the planet, but there are some that seem less recognized: European borders. Many European Union (EU) citizens have experienced a changing and expanding border as EU territory is extended. Most who enter the EU illegally still elect to take the route from Turkey to Greece, which leads across the Evros River or along a country road. But the days when countries tried to halt these migrants with barbed wire, police and guard dogs are over. Ever since the advent of the Frontex Agency, a kind of common EU border patrol, technology is being upgraded along the edges of Europe.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><img style="margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-left: 10px; margin-right: 10px; float: left;" src="/s3/cache%2F5c%2F07%2F5c071f2babf0bd8778938fc335c255b7.jpg" alt="Borders" width="180" height="219" />Using infrared cameras, motion detectors and electric fences &ndash;alarmingly resembling human traps&ndash; more and more immigrants are being turned away. But still more are taking their chances. In 2011, according to Frontex&rsquo;s report, the number of individuals arrested rose by 35 percent from 104,000 in 2010 to 141,000 in 2011. In the future, the organization plans to use robots and drones. Walking in Athens today, one can see an increasing number of illegal immigrants wandering the streets, looking for any opportunity to eat and make a living.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><em>On Borders</em> is made by exceptional journalists using their cameras to inspire us to observe and reflect. We need more books like this.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">- JCN</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">Subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></p>A Dictatorship’s Success Stories2013-01-23T07:31:53Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F1e%2F03%2F1e0363a39ce5072d547cec6599da80f2.jpg" alt="Belarus" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Aleksandr Lukashenko is resilient. The President of Belarus has stood firm against the European Union (EU) and its renewed political and economic sanctions in response to his increasingly autocratic rule. In six months, he has freed two political prisoners while a dozen remain in custody. On September 23, nation wide parliamentary elections ran smoothly in an atmosphere of total indifference from the great majority of the population. Russia, for its part, supports Belarus with financial subsidies, ready to buy out everything possible at discounted prices.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The village was still part of the Soviet Union when Yuri Chizh &ndash; today one of Belarus&rsquo; richest businessmen, with close links to President Aleksandr Lukashenko &ndash; preferred to run around in the neighboring forest rather than attend school. To get up to childhood mischief, he had to carefully avoid his family&rsquo;s bright yellow home, which stood only a few meters between the school and the kolkhoz. At that time, it seems, the two intersecting streets of Sabali in Biarozovsky district, 250 kilometres south of Minsk, were full of life. Forty years later, while the petrified Soviet Brezhnev era has disappeared into history, the village has plunged into a kind of hibernation. The school has been dismantled, and families with children have fled to the cities. Most of the wooden houses lie empty &ndash; indeed, only 70 pensioners remain. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The kolkhoz holds on unconvincingly, with two or three old tractors languishing in a yard. The endless wet and flat countryside, dotted with familiar birch trees, has become noticeably sadder. The yellow house is slightly less colorful. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Chizh had to leave for Minsk relatively early, in order to commence studies in electronics at the Belarusian Polytechnical Institute. From then on, everything moved quickly. He had a chance to exercise his entrepreneurial skills during perestroika, and now heads a business empire based on the Triple holding, which reprocesses and exports oil products bought from Russia at discounted prices. Chizh has also diversified into civil engineering, construction, manufacturing, restaurants, food production and a network of hypermarkets &ndash; the Prostore chain. He has been especially prominent in media headlines in recent times for building the first luxury Kempinski hotel in central Minsk, just behind the Circus and near the unchanged Sovietera Gorki Park. Although associated with the Slovenian Riko Group in the context of that project, Chizh has failed, however, to escape the EU&rsquo;s sanction list. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Blacklisted since March, Chizh is undoubtedly paying for his close links with Lukashenko, and, by implication, for his impressive success. Yet in compensation for the European punishment, his boss has just granted Chizh a 99-year concession over his native Sabali village. Essentially, this means that every single square inch of the land where he grew up ultimately belongs to him. After years of fruitful wanderings in the capital, the oligarch has returned home. He has brought with him an immense sponsorship project focused on building a large complex boasting a hotel, restaurant, ethno-museum and a host of other infrastructure. In theory, Sabali will benefit as a revitalized rural center. At the very least, the faded paintwork of the wooden houses will be refreshed. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>Belarus is not devoid of successful private companies. Chizh&rsquo;s Triple ranks among the leaders, but many others follow close behind. Alexander Moshensky&rsquo;s Santa Impex for food &ndash; particularly seafood &ndash; processing, Pavel Topuzidis&rsquo; Tabak Invest, Alexander Shakutin&rsquo;s Amkodor for road-building machinery, or Anatoly Ternavsky&rsquo;s Univest-M group &ndash; with activities ranging from petrochemical exports to banking, restaurants and construction &ndash; have no reason to be ashamed. Among these business leaders, only Ternavsky has been the subject of EU sanctions. Notably, the other three have significant investments in neighboring European countries. The old Belarusian economic clich&eacute;s of arms traders linked to rogue states (such as fellow oligarch Vladimir Peftiev &ndash; blacklisted) and manufacturers of heavy machinery have faded away. Now engaged in more conventional enterprises, most &lsquo;normal&rsquo; Belarusian businesses owe their success to efficient and skilled CEOs, whose first talent is to maintain close, loyal and &lsquo;friendly&rsquo; relations with their unique common business boss: Lukashenko. Ironically, in the few remaining post-Soviet dictatorships, the Marxist economic model has been reversed. Political superstructures today prevail over the base.&nbsp;</span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>The new bourgeois class of Belarus, owners of the means of production, have been reduced to acting as presidential &lsquo;wallet persons,&rsquo; or koshelki as they are nicknamed in Russian. They cannot even pretend to stand alone as independent partners or shareholders in the national wealth. Lukashenko usually considers these individuals as simple business managers tasked with implementing his instructions. Their dependence is as prodigious as their efforts to maintain the President&rsquo;s confidence. Ternavsky, for instance, has been obliged to employ Lukashenko&rsquo;s daughter-in-law, Anna. He also sponsors the Presidential Sport&rsquo;s Club, headed by Dmitri Lukashenko, Alexander&rsquo;s son and Anna&rsquo;s husband. Meanwhile, Chizh seems to prefer playing ice hockey on the same team as the President. He cannot refuse to sponsor the cultural resuscitation of Belarus&rsquo; birch-dotted countryside in the south, and when, for mysterious reasons, several of his top managers were arrested, he remained silent. The new Christian cross presented recently to Sabali by a Polish historical society, commemorating the Polish-Belarusian insurrection against Tsarist Russia in 1863 &ndash; and which will hardly be a tourist attraction in the middle of the kolkhoz &ndash; has a poignant political meaning. </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>In Belarus, Lukashenko decides almost all matters. The 58-year old former state farm manager assumed power in 1994, and recently described himself in a widely publicized interview as &ldquo;the last and only dictator in Europe.&rdquo; Though most infamous internationally as a result of accusations of torture and other human rights abuses &ndash; often focused on opposition figures &ndash; his political choices also determine business strategies. Chizh may have willingly agreed to allocate some money to his childhood village so long as he could also run his business according to his own interests and economic rationale. Now on the EU sanctions list, he has fallen as collateral damage in the President&rsquo;s acrimonious relations with Europe, entrapped within Belarusian diplomatic strategies.<br /></span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span>To read the full report,&nbsp;</span><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">subscribe</a> or order a copy of <em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal</a></em>.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">By Laurent Vinatier </span></p> <p style="text-align: justify;"><span style="color: #888888;">Photography courtesy of Alexander Vasukovich</span></p>How The World Came To Save Haiti And Left A Disaster2013-01-23T07:28:02Z<p><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="/s3/cache%2F7e%2F8a%2F7e8a32f1bf2b1291d0be2e45560e4a19.jpg" alt="haiti" width="580" height="387" /></p> <blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">On 12 January 2010, the deadliest earthquake in the history of the Western Hemisphere struck Haiti. In a country already struggling with huge developmental challenges, the disaster killed more than 300,000 people and left over one million homeless. Yet, despite an unprecedented outpouring of global generosity, the relief &ndash; and later reconstruction &ndash; effort has floundered. In this &lsquo;Republic of NGOs&rsquo;, good intentions have often gone wrong, and those driven by a humanitarian impulse have inadvertently contributed to an international response that will be remembered most for promises unfulfilled.</p> </blockquote> <p style="text-align: justify;">Long before January 2010, when the sky above Port-au-Prince swarmed with foreign aircraft and aid caravans proliferated in the rubble dust, Haiti had been known for one of the world&rsquo;s thickest concentrations of aid groups. The country&rsquo;s ever-worsening poverty and proximity to the United States (US) and Europe&rsquo;s island holdings, combined with an absence of major conflict, had for decades made it a place where aid workers felt needed and free to work. A persistent lack of local governance meanwhile meant that managers could experiment as they pleased. Many of the most successful projects, by their own criteria, had long since become essential providers of public services, further supplanting and weakening the state.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">This weakening of sovereignty was a bitter pill for the second-oldest independent republic in the Western Hemisphere. Snide references to the Caribbean nation being governed as a de facto &lsquo;Republic of NGOs&rsquo; date back to at least the 1990s. Moreover, experienced aid workers themselves knew that the cycle of dependency and despondency undermined their own goals. A persistent lack of coordination among NGOs ranging from offices of the world&rsquo;s pre-eminent international actors to one-man shows seemingly improvised on the spot made an effective aid regime impossible. When in mid-2009, less than a year before the earthquake, former US President Bill Clinton was appointed the United Nations (UN) Special Envoy for Haiti, one of his primary missions was to improve NGO coordination, eliminate redundancies and see to it that coverage gaps were filled. His attempts ended in exasperation.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">When the earthquake struck, longtime Haiti hands and clear-eyed aid leaders thus faced a paradox. They knew that outmoded, uncoordinated assistance had not only failed to help in the past, but also helped create the fragility exposed by the disaster. On the other hand, there was now an unspeakably dire emergency, to be followed by long-term, resource-exhausting reconstruction. To add final fuel to the fire, even more NGOs &ndash; many with no experience in Haiti whatsoever &ndash; were rushing into the disaster zone, lured both by a genuine desire to help and a bonanza of donations pouring in from shocked observers around the world. In the US alone, private donations reached $1.4 billion by year&rsquo;s end &ndash; equating to approximately $6 per American adult. Ultimately, more than $3 billion would be donated to international NGOs after the quake, part of a gargantuan pledged total of $16.3 billion in all. Coordination would be more crucial, yet harder to achieve, than ever.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The approach chosen after the catastrophe was to coordinate aid actors through a system of humanitarian &lsquo;clusters&rsquo;, in which efforts would be organized by subject area, such as housing or sanitation. Representatives from aid groups of all sizes and provenances &ndash; from M&eacute;decins Sans Fronti&egrave;res to the newest aid-group leader of all, the movie star Sean Penn &ndash; gathered for regular meetings to share data, discuss results, and agree on new strategies. The system&rsquo;s top-level coordinators were in turn to liaise with deployed military and other government agencies in hopes of achieving a consistent response. Variations on this basic strategy had been employed after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and elsewhere, including at a smaller scale in Haiti after a series of deadly tropical storms in 2008.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As I trace in my new book, <em>The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster</em>, the system failed. A critical moment came at the beginning of February 2010, toward the end of the first month after the quake.</p> <p><span>To read the full report,&nbsp;<span>&nbsp;<a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">subscribe</a>&nbsp;or order a copy of&nbsp;</span><span><em><a rel="nofollow" href="" target="_blank">The Global Journal.&nbsp;</a></em></span></span></p> <p><span style="color: #888888;">By Jonathan M Katz</span></p> <p><span style="color: #888888;">Photo &copy; UN/Logan Abassi</span></p>