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Reimagining Africa: A Continent in Transition and Its Implications for World Order  

Clement Adibe

Africa has made significant progress at home and on the world stage that belies its image as the backwater of the global system. Far from being marginalized, African states have exercised their agency in the international system through an extensive mechanism of institutionalized diplomacy—anchored on the African Union (AU)—that they have forged over several decades of collective action. Changes are taking place in 21st-century Africa as a result of these collective efforts. Socioeconomic data from the African Development Bank, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the United Nations, and the World Bank, indicate the economic, political, and demographic forces that are remaking Africa. Finally, the changes in Africa have implications for the evolving world order. Objective conditions warrant a reimagining of Africa as an agent in the international system, rather than as a passive victim of a predatory, anarchical order. Current challenges facing the post-war liberal international order make such reimagination imperative.

Article

The Right to Development  

Daniel J. Whelan

The right to development is an internationally recognized human right that entitles every human person and all peoples to participate in, contribute to, and enjoy economic, social, cultural, civil, and political development. It is a right held both by individual human persons and all peoples. The right was enshrined in the Declaration on the Right to Development, adopted by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in December 1986. It has since been reiterated as indivisible with all other human rights in scores of UN resolutions and summit outcome documents, most notably the 2030 Agenda for Development, adopted by consensus in 2015. The right to development entails a variety of obligations on states (at the domestic and international levels), regional actors, non-state actors (e.g., transnational corporations), and international organizations. Since 2019, the UN Human Rights Council’s Intergovernmental Working Group on the Right to Development has been discussing a draft Convention on the Right to Development to codify these obligations. Since it first came under discussion at the UN in the 1970s, the right to development has consistently generated debate and controversy among scholars and governments, which has frustrated the formation of a consensus around both conceptual issues (the nature and scope of such a right and how it is defined) and practical considerations (the extent of obligations, who holds them, and challenges of monitoring and implementation). There are those, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global South, who view the right to development as rightfully prioritizing the international duty to cooperate, which is a prerequisite for, first, the realization of economic, social, and cultural rights, and then of civil and political rights. This duty obligates developed countries to provide economic, technological, and other resources to developing states, free of conditionalities. In contrast, although generally agreeing that there are important “soft” obligations for development, skeptics, especially (but not exclusively) in the Global North, are wary of making such aid and assistance obligatory, and they are concerned that the right to development may be (or has been) used to justify curtailing especially civil and political rights in the name of “development.” They instead argue for a “human rights approach to development” that entails national-level commitments to good governance, transparency, accountability, and respect for all human rights in the development process.

Article

South–South Cooperation in the 21st Century: An Analysis From Latin America  

Gladys Lechini and Carla Morasso

During the first decade of the 21st century, the international system underwent a process of transformation in which emerging actors gained prominence, promoting a new stage that enabled the resurgence of South–South cooperation (SSC). The field of international relations approached this phenomenon mainly through studies of international development cooperation, but also from a foreign policy analysis approach. Although at the beginning of the century attention was focused especially on emerging countries like China, India, Brazil, and South Africa, among others, the consolidation of SSC between middle-income countries, particularly in Latin America, gave rise to a broad debate on the distinct identities of the Southern partners. Considering the substantial literature produced, and emphasizing a perspective rooted in Latin America, SSC is analyzed with the goals of contributing to understand SSC from its conceptual formulation, link SSC to foreign policy considerations, and, finally, understand how SSC has affected the International Development Cooperation System.

Article

Statebuilding and Nationbuilding  

Catherine Goetze and Dejan Guzina

Since the early 1990s, the number of statebuilding projects has multiplied, often ending several years or even decades of violent conflict. The objectives of these missions have been formulated ad hoc, driven by the geopolitical contexts in which the mandates of statebuilding missions were established. However, after initial success in establishing a sense of physical security, the empirical evidence shows that most statebuilding efforts have failed, or achieved only moderate success. In some countries, violence has resumed after the initial end of hostilities. In others, the best results were authoritarian regimes based on fragile stalemates between warring parties. A review of the literature on statebuilding indicates a vast number of theories and approaches that often collide with each other, claim the exact opposite, and mount (contradictory) evidence in support of their mutually exclusive claims. Still they are united by their inquiry into the general structural and policy-making conditions that nurture or impede statebuilding processes. A problematic characteristic of the statebuilding literature is a lack of dialogue across the various disciplines. Many of the claims in the international relations literature on external statebuilding are a mirror image of the previous ones made on democratization. Another problem is the propensity to repeat the same mistakes of the previous generations.

Article

Sustainable Development  

M. Leann Brown

Sustainable development (SD) is defined as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition is articulated in Our Common Future, a political manifesto published in 1987 by the United Nations’ World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). SD promises to resolve in a positive-sum manner the most daunting economic, environmental, political, and social challenges the world is currently facing. However, it has also become a much contested concept, mainly due to the comprehensiveness, ambiguity, and optimism inherent in its underlying assumptions. Ongoing debates within the literature deal with how to define, operationalize, and measure SD; how economic development and environmental protection are conceptualized as mutually supportive; how “nature” is treated in the literature; equity and overconsumption challenges to SD; and the governance, social learning, and normative transformations required to achieve SD. Reaching some consensus on definitions and operationalization of the multiple aspects of SD will lead to standards by which to assess development and environmental policies. Among the most urgent issues that must be addressed in future research are the roles and influence of the relatively new participants in governance, such as intergovernmental/nongovernmental organizations and corporations; the new modes of governance including public-private and private-private partnerships and network governance; and the impacts of implementing compatible and contradictory policies on the various levels and across policy areas.

Article

Teaching Global Development Studies  

Michael Kuchinsky

Several resources are available for teaching global development. Textbooks, for instance, often follow models reminiscent of comparative politics textbooks. In them, space is accorded to the general history of development and the self-determination movements following World War II, a discussion of different theoretical perspectives on development, followed by country case studies or sectoral issues. Other textbooks may choose more regional approaches to analyze development, critical of state-based development theory and practices and who see regional development models as correctives of bilateral and multilateral initiatives. Still others use cross-cutting themes of global development and political economy as their intellectual “infrastructure”, augmented by historical and cultural research across global regions, with concerns about gender, household level development, and non-state actors as stakeholders. Other resources include resources include numerous professional and academic journals devoted to development and development studies, including the Journal of International Development, the Third World Quarterly, and Development and Change. Among nonacademic resources are nongovernmental organizations, international and multilateral organizations, and policy “think tanks” that produce development programming, data, and analysis. Interactive methods, media, and educational resources are also recommended for teaching of global development. Teaching with interactive methods promotes more student directed learning, assists in developing critical thinking, encourages communication and analysis skills, helps to personalize abstract material, and bridges gaps between theoretical material and real circumstances.

Article

Technology and Development in International Communication  

Nanette S. Levinson

Over the last six decades, discussions and approaches to communication and development have evolved considerably. Some of these changes particularly focus on the transformation of the nation-state role, from its initial conception to its current formation, as well as the transition from the study of political and economic progress to the analysis of cultural components and social development today. These major approaches include modernization, diffusion of innovation, dependency paradigm, monistic-emancipatory approach, institutional theory approach, industrial policy, strategic restructuring model, evolutionary paradigm, interorganizational approach, ecosystem approach, and an approach that highlights culture, power, age, gender and disability dimensions. Part of this investigation includes research trends in communication and development. Scholarship identifying such trends highlights newer technologies as well as a continuing presence of digital inequalities. Additional research is needed to capture processes such as cross-organizational and cross-cultural learning and improvisation in terms of communication and development, and to recognize the roles of power and culture in these domains. Furthermore, taking a co-processes approach prevents one from assuming that there is only one correct pathway in the field of communication and development

Article

The Coloniality of the Scientific Anthropocene  

Vishwas Satgar

The discipline of International Relations is not at the cutting edge of dealing with planetary ecological problems such as the worsening climate crisis. The notion of the Anthropocene developed by earth scientists highlights the extent to which humans are a geological force shaping earth’s ecosystems. This official scientific discourse has gained traction in the United Nations climate negotiations process and is beginning to shape the knowledge project even in the academy. However, the discipline of International Relations has not engaged in any serious way with the Anthropocene discourse. Its claim that the Anthropos, the human as a species, and more generally 7.8 billion people on the planet are responsible causally for dangerous impacts such as climate change clashes with how the discipline of International Relations understands and seeks to explain global politics through its theoretical frameworks, relations, dynamics, and institutions. This claim warrants critical engagement from the International Relations discipline. However, mainstream International Relations epistemology reinforces coloniality in international relations such that an oppressive and relational hierarchy between the Global North and South is reproduced while being oblivious to how the ecological substratum of our lifeworld is being destroyed through replicating modes of living central to global modernity. Ecological relations are not part of mainstream International Relations thinking. Within mainstream International Relations, its hegemonic theories and frameworks are the problem. The conception of the international and international relations operating within the Anthropocene discourse also reproduces coloniality. Although the science it furnishes to understand the human–nature relationship is compelling and important, its human-centered explanation of how global power works is inadequate and reinforces the subordination of the Global South. To overcome these problems, a decolonized approach to the discipline of International Relations is crucial. At the same time, given the urgency of the climate crisis, countries in the Global South need to remake the world order and its future through decolonized International Relations. Several Southern decolonial thinkers are crucial for this task.

Article

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and Its Aftermath  

Oscar Palma

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia—FARC) was an insurgent group that emerged in the 1960s as a consequence of struggles between the Conservatives and the Liberals, as well as the consolidation of a Communist party that promoted an armed insurrection. A relative absence of state institutions in farther regions, the uneven distribution of land, and an impoverished peasant class were elements fueling rebellious movements. By the 1980s, however, FARC had become something more complex than an insurgent organization. After initially opposing the idea, the group accepted the generation of income through the taxation of activities in the cocaine-illicit economy. An unprecedented process of growth experienced by the insurgency, with this income, allowed a remarkable offensive against the security forces, in specific regions, by the end of the 1990s. Since then, an explanation of the organization as a “pure” political insurgency would be inaccurate; the motivation and purpose of some fighters within the group was profit. Although an explanation radically separating political and criminal (economic) agendas may be flawed, at least a concept which portrays the organization as something more than just an insurgency seems helpful. The concept of hybrid group, in which armed, political, and criminal dimensions coexist, invites exploring different types of motivations, purposes, and tasks that fighters might have. The observation of these dimensions also contributes to an understanding of the evolution of FARC after the Havana Agreement. A strong military offensive during the 2000s was one of the factors motivating the group to engage in peace negotiations with the Colombian government. With the Agreement, FARC as an armed insurgency ceased to exist, but the continuation of factors which motivated the existence of a hybrid group have triggered the emergence of a myriad of smaller groups, several of which claim to be the real successors of FARC, mixing in diverse ways the political and criminal agendas.

Article

Visual Methodologies: Theorizing Disasters and International Relations  

Marjaana Jauhola

There is an increase in extreme weather conditions due to human-induced climate change. Their impacts are most severely felt by the marginalized and the poor in the Global South. Increasingly, study of international relations focuses on the varied forms of disasters and the global politics that emerge around them. Disaster studies scholarship actively challenges the myth of existence of “natural disasters.” Instead of defining them as being “natural,” disasters are conceived as serious disruptions to the functioning of a community or a society with human, material, economic, or environmental losses. The disaster concept is thus separated, first, from hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones, and floods, and “disaters” are not limited to events resulting from natural hazards. Disasters emerge also as a result of major economic and political instabilities due to the nature of the contemporary global political economy and global financial crises. Disasters also include those that often go unnoticed such as violent conflicts or famines, and also include global pandemics such as Ebola and COVID-19. Disasters understood in this way also include aftermaths of resource extractivism and settler coloniality. The intersection of disasters and visual methodologies offers insights into theorizing International Relations nature, the everyday, and the politics of disasters. This article focuses on such visual and audiovisual scholarship that has predominantly emerged from, and actively engages with, collaborative visual methodologies and a rethinking of research processes. Such works offer insights into critical exploration of academic knowledge production processes and praxis, suggesting that visual is not a method, but a methodological and ethical choice. Research processes adopting photo-elicitation, graphic novels and comics, and films in specific disaster contexts challenge text-dominated scholarship and offer reflection on the roles between the researcher and researched, and on the question of authorship. Turning to visuals also brings to the fore questions of representations and the strategic use of the visual in the overall scholarly storytelling practice. Further, scholars have suggested that instead of focusing on the visual devices, or the visual products, visual methodologies as a process orientation allow questions related to democratizing and accessibility to the research process to be addressed, weighing up whose priorities matter, that is, making research useful for (Indigenous) communities and resisting legacies of the imperial shutter.

Article

What is Development?  

Gustavo Esteva

Development was born as aid, an expression of the modern obsession with “caring” used by disabling professions and the service industry. However, by 1980, it was already clear that there was no correlation between aid and economic growth, and that aid was an obstacle for social transformation. Development was also born in the context of the Cold War. For President Truman, the American way of life was a democratic and egalitarian ideal to overcome the communist “threat” by closing the gap between industrial and “underdeveloped” countries. In addition, development was a reaction to the initiatives of the colonized world, increasingly challenging Western domination. Since Truman, development has connoted at least one thing: to escape from the vague, indefinable, and undignified condition known as underdevelopment. However, the Age of Development—the historical period formally inaugurated in 1949—is now coming to an end. The future of development studies lies in archaeology, to explore the ruins it left behind by looking at development’s pre-history and conceptual history, as well as the development enterprise. Since the 1970s, new campaigns were launched to focus the effort in getting for the underdeveloped, at least, the fulfillment of their “basic needs.” Meanwhile, the “law of scarcity” was construed by the economists to denote the technical assumption that man’s wants are huge and infinite, whereas his means are limited though improvable. Poverty and development thus go hand in hand. Indeed, historical experience reveals that development generates poverty. By 1985, the idea of post-development has already emerged.

Article

Women and Development  

Valentine M. Moghadam

Economic development gained prominence as a field of economics after World War II in relation to the prospects of what came to be called underdeveloped, decolonizing, developing, or Third World countries. The period between the 1950s and 1980s saw the emergence of various theories of economic development and policy strategies, and the growth of “development studies” reflected cross-disciplinary interest in the subject. In the early decades, women received little or no attention. If women were discussed at all in policy circles, it was in relation to their role as mothers, an approach that came to be known as the welfare or motherhood approach. The field of women in development (WID) emerged in the 1970s. Since the 1990s, women’s participation and gender dynamics have evolved as central issues in the discourse and policies of international development. Along with changes in theories and policies of economic development, WID developed with distinct or overlapping fields known as women and development (WAD), gender and development (GAD), the efficiency approach, and the empowerment approach. Several basic themes can be identified from the literature on women and gender in development, including: all societies exhibit a division of labor by sex; economic development has had a differential impact on men and women, although the impact on women has tended to be conditioned by class and ethnicity; economic policy making and institutions have a gendered nature, and the ways in which macroeconomics and the social relations of gender influence each other.