Our Perspective

      • Crisis in Syria: Civil war, global threat

        26 Jun 2014

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        Tents at Atme camp for internally displaced Syrians just over the border with Turkey. PHOTO BY JODI HILTON

        The horrific war in Syria continues to worsen and bleed beyond its borders. A cold calculation seems to be taking hold: that little can be done except to arm the parties and watch the conflict rage. The international community must not abandon the people of Syria and the region to never-ending waves of cruelty and crisis. The death toll may now be well over 150,000. Prisons and makeshift detention facilities are swelling with men, women and even children. Deaths by summary executions and unspeakable torture are widespread. People are also dying from hunger and once-rare infectious diseases. Whole urban centres and some of humankind’s great architectural and cultural heritage lie in ruins. Syria today is increasingly a failed state. The United Nations has tried hard to address the conflict’s deep roots and devastating impact. Our humanitarian and other efforts are saving lives and reducing suffering. But our fundamental objective -- an end to the conflict – remains unmet. The bleak prospects for peace have darkened further with the flare-up of violence and sectarian tensions in Iraq. The cohesion and integrity of two major countries, not just one, is in question. The following six points can chart a principled and integrated wayRead More

      • Victims of female genital mutilation make harmful traditional practice a crime

        18 Jun 2014

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        ANTI-FGM MOBILE CARAVANS TO RAISE AWARENESS IN RURAL VILLAGES, EGYPT. PHOTO: UNDP EGYPT

        June 14th is the National Anti-FGM Day in honor of 12-year-old Bodour Shaker, from Minya, who died on the same date in 2007 as a victim of this inhumane practice. In June 2013, 13-year-old Soheir El Batea from Daqahalia suffered the same fate. As heartbreaking as these two tragedies are, their untimely deaths were not in vain: as a result of public mobilization, the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) was criminalized by law in 2008 and the first criminal case is currently under prosecution, respectively. FGM is a grave violation of human rights and one of the worst forms of discrimination against girls and women. FGM has been a taboo for many years in Egypt. Its practice has been widely accepted due to conservative mindsets, particularly in rural areas, and poor socio-economic and public service conditions. While prevalence rates remain high namely among older women, response of younger girls and mothers of new generations to FGM Abandonment Campaigns is much higher.  Data from the Demographic and Health Survey suggest that some improvements occurred over the last two decades; in 2008 among women aged 15-17, the FGM/C prevalence rate was 74% compared to a prevalence of 95% among women aged 30-34.Read More

      • Development at the crossroads: Reflections from the Arab Region

        10 Jun 2014

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        Syrian refugees in Zaatari camp in the village of Zaatari, Jordan. photo: UNDP

        Recent years have seen dramatic changes in the Arab region and two aspects in particular are important for the region’s relationship with issues of development finance.  First, the expanding role of the region itself as a provider of official development assistance (ODA), with the Arab Gulf countries providing more than $3 billion to countries around the world each year - Saudi Arabia alone provided over $100 billion to almost 90 countries since the 1970s. While the volume of Arab ODA has attracted attention, important issues for the future will be a growing focus by Arab partners on development effectiveness, alignment with post-2015 priorities like sustainable access to energy and water, and applying social and environmental quality standards to manage risks in recipient countries.  Furthermore, while most Arab ODA has operated through bilateral cooperation channels and Arab multilateral platforms in the past, there are benefits to connectivity with other Southern donors. The centre of gravity in the global economy is shifting East at speed, and this means shifting lines of development cooperation as well.  Strategic alliances between Asian and Arab donors could be a powerful force for the common goal of supporting new development solutions in Africa, with both Arab and AsianRead More