Vol. 21 No. 2
The toughness of autumn is in The Hague. At this time, it seems a great deal of ‘fire’ has been added to examples of democratic fragility discussed in recent editions of DevISSues. Ecuador and Chile, to name just two countries, have also seen questions being asked about local democracy and regime legitimacy. Brazilian developments have raised questions about the balance between certain economic interests and environmental/ indigenous rights. Following our broader concerns about development prospects, these situations again ask whether ‘developing’ countries’ insertion in the world economy is really helping local development.
This DevISSues considers these processes and impacts – via cases of human and environmental concern at a local level. The articles in this edition represent personal comments by academics and activists (sometimes of optimism, at others of indignation) about how global governance can appear/be very unfair, violent and socially exclusionary.
The two pieces on Brazil (Vandria Borari / Galhera) present a concerned but combative attitude to the impact of project development (and the question of the state’s passive / active support to these) on the environment (e.g. the international soya chain and the agro-toxin debate) and specific groups (e.g. indigenous territories and rights). On the other hand, there are strong signs of countervailing forces. For example, groups such as the Borari and Munduruku are taking local and international standards-based action (e.g. ILO 169 registration on participation) to assert their rights to voice and claims for territory. Moreover, national (Brazilian) demonstrations have led to concerted mobilization by Brazilian and other indigenous groups in most major European countries and international forums since June this year.
From another perspective, in our Focus on ISS feature, the discussion of AIDSOCPRO takes a cross-country view of the political economy of aid finance (especially cash transfers). Results note how complex administration, standardized models and exclusionary local processes question effectiveness. Moreover, these programmes are not so appreciated, often treated as superficial (or budget top ups) and can be seen as reasons for institutional rigidity in receiving countries. Critiques suggesting the continuation of coloniality might be not far from one’s mind in such cases!
Yet the discussion (by Alegado) of the Philippines and the impact (people / environmental) of the plastics and petroleum (e.g. fracking) chains gives more hope that combined efforts of research, advocacy and civic/networked action can give people/localities more voice. It is not just a case of companies pursuing consumer demand; it is more a case for rigorous chain level responsibility adherence. As noted by Professor Arsel in our last edition, taking the case for a more caring society will require social movements to be fierce, sustained and imaginative in their visions/ strategies.
Moving closer to ‘home’ (the ISS Diversity and Inclusion Team), members of our ISS community are (guardedly) optimistic that we can make a difference to equality and voice within the walls of this institution. Along with our regular information on publications, news and our Rector’s personal view, we hope this DevISSues will inspire you with a sense of quiet optimism that we can make a difference with our voices and activism.
Dr Lee Pegler, chair, DevISSues Editorial Board