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2008

UNU Research & Policy Briefs

Briefs are listed latest first.

Research Brief No. 3, 2008

Fragile States

Fragile States
(372 KB PDF)

By Wim Naudé, Amelia U. Santos-Paulino and Mark Mcgillivray

Many of the world’s poorest countries can be described as “fragile states” wherein governments cannot or will not provide an environment for households to reduce, mitigate or cope with poverty and other risks to well-being. Many of these states are in conflict or just emerging from conflict. The UNU-WIDER project “Fragility and Development” explored state fragility and its relationship to household vulnerability, noting that there is a lack of research on the economic dimensions of conflict, aid and development in fragile states.

This research brief provides a summary of the various contributions made by this project, including case studies on Iraq, Kosovo, Palestine and Somalia. It also addresses a number of pertinent questions. When are states fragile? What are the costs that fragile states impose on their people and the international community? Should the sovereignty of fragile states be reconsidered? And how can aid flows to fragile states be made more effective?

Research Brief No. 2, 2008

Vulnerability in Developing Countries

Vulnerability in Developing Countries
(752 KB PDF)

By Wim Naudé, Amelia U. Santos-Paulino and Mark Mcgillivray

The first Millennium Development Goal aims to halve the number of people in the world living in extreme poverty. In this research brief, emanating from the UNU-WIDER project on “Fragility and Development”, the premise is that we should also be concerned about households which are vulnerable to poverty. This includes those who have little likelihood of escaping from poverty and those who are at risk of falling into poverty in the future.

Household vulnerability to poverty is affected by, and affects, vulnerability in other dimensions and levels, such as the vulnerability of a country or region to natural hazards and macro-economic shocks. To address household vulnerability in developing countries requires an understanding of the concept and nature of vulnerability, its measurement and its application. Therefore, this research brief asks what is vulnerability? How can vulnerability be measured? How should households, governments and development agencies respond to vulnerability?

Policy Brief No. 8, 2008

Post-Conflict Countries and Foreign Investment

Post-Conflict Countries and Foreign Investment
(132 KB PDF)

By Nicholas Turner, Obijiofor Aginam and Vesselin Popovski

Economic development is essential for every country but it is especially crucial for those countries in the aftermath of protracted armed conflict, needing peacebuilding, recovery and reconstruction. Development aid alone cannot transform damaged economies, and it is here that foreign direct investment (FDI) can be a valuable tool to revitalize industries, rebuild infrastructures and eventually even eliminate the need for aid.

Regard for history, economic experiences, local cultures and tensions should inform the adoption of a post-conflict private investment regime that is specifically tailored to the country’s needs. Encouraging a form of FDI that benefits post-conflict zones relies upon prioritizing quality of investment, rather than quantity. The task of developing countries, and particularly those emerging from years of conflict, cannot be left solely to market forces – FDI can only be justified if it is high value and makes a real contribution to the host economy, in terms of job-creation and spill-over of knowledge or technology.

Policy Brief No. 7, 2008

Governance through Civil Society Engagement in Asia

Governance through Civil Society Engagement in Asia
(132 KB PDF)

By Vesselin Popovski, G Shabbir Cheema, Cameron Lowry and Mark Notaras

Global challenges have made the world more difficult to govern today, compared to 20 years ago. In this context, states can no longer govern alone; they need assistance. The role of civil society has gradually changed – from a monitor and corrector of states’ actions to an active co-participant in governance. Are civil society organizations capable of playing such a new and vital role? This policy brief explores how the structures and functions of civil society have evolved at the global, regional, national and local levels. It recommends sustainable ways to build capacities and improve the quality of good governance.

Research Brief No. 1, 2008

Measuring Eco-Innovation

Measuring Eco-Innovation
(140 KB PDF)

By René Kemp

Faced with rising costs for producing goods and managing waste products, the competitiveness of firms, countries and even regions is increasingly linked to their ability to ‘eco-innovate’. However, very little is known about the growing global trade in environmentally beneficial goods and services as eco-technologies have been largely neglected in economic statistics. Nor do we know much about innovation efforts to reduce environmental impacts. This research brief reports on a recently completed European project to develop a conceptual basis for measuring eco-innovation and to propose guidelines for its practical application by researchers and policymakers.

Policy Brief No. 6, 2008

Food Safety and Trade Liberalization in an Age of Globalization

Food Safety and Trade Liberalization in an Age of Globalization
(140 KB PDF)

By Obijiofor Aginam & Christina Hansen

While globalization brings opportunities for economic growth, international trade creates opportunities for the globalization of unsafe food. As trade liberalization opens the territorial boundaries of nation-states for traded goods and services, frequent and recurring instances of food contamination threaten the health, trust and confidence of consumers.

To guarantee sustainability and social responsibility, the implementation and enforcement of food safety standards should effectively involve multiple actors: states, international organizations, the food industry, consumer groups and civil society. This would create an opportunity to balance trade and food safety concerns, enabling consumers to make informed choices.

Today, certainty over food safety may also prevent a downturn in the volume of traded food as a consequence of staggering energy prices that discourage expensive transport. Better and broader access to systematic food safety information may be part of an answer to the quest for optimised consumer choice.

Policy Brief No. 5, 2008

Legality and Legitimacy in International Order

Legality and Legitimacy in International Order
(132 KB PDF)

By Vesselin Popovski & Nicholas Turner

In extreme circumstances, legitimacy can introduce constructive flexibility in international law, as illustrated by the 1999 Kosovo intervention. In contrast, the 2003 Iraq war demonstrates the dangers of abusing such flexibility. In the past the absence of a legitimacy discourse brought the immediate condemnation of legally uncertain acts. Today flexibility exists and claims for legitimacy are made more often, either reinforcing or challenging legality.

Legitimacy can strengthen legality, enhancing the authoritative power of treaty-based or customary rules. However, the legitimacy of law can be undermined by its structural inability to respond to urgent problems. When laws are seen as limited, obsolete, or harmful to people, legitimacy can be a corrective force, invoked for global justice, human dignity, emergency protection, or environmental security. Legitimacy needs law as much as law needs legitimacy — law cannot be respected if seen as illegitimate, while appeals to legitimacy must be based in law to prevent opportunism.

Policy Brief No. 4, 2008

Poverty Reduction in China: Is High Growth Enough?

The slowdown and in some years reversal of poverty reduction in China forcefully demonstrates that growth is not sufficient for combating poverty even if that growth is of unprecedented magnitude. Policy initiatives should take into consideration inequality, especially urban-rural disparity. This Policy Brief provides a summary of the research findings from UNU-WIDER’s project on Inequality and Poverty in China. It also offers policy recommendations for tackling the poverty-growth-inequality inter-relationships in the short- and long-run. In particular, it is suggested that the only long-run policy option for the Chinese government is to encourage urbanization.

Policy Brief No. 3, 2008

The Human Rights Regime in the Americas

The Human Rights Regime in the Americas
(148 KB PDF)

By Vesselin Popovski, Nicholas Turner, Thomas Karl Wagner and Greg Lowden

This policy brief examines the context, development and future of the human rights regime in the Americas—a region where people in many states have suffered brutal repression on a massive scale. It argues that the changing nature of human rights violations in Latin America demands a refocusing of international and domestic policies, building state capacity and improving the implementation of judicial reforms. The significant progress achieved in protection of civil and political rights should inspire and guide strategies to promote economic, social and cultural rights.

Policy Brief No. 2, 2008

Political Parties in Conflict-Prone Societies: Encouraging Inclusive Politics and Democratic Development

Political Parties in Conflict-Prone Societies
(184 KB PDF)

By Benjamin Reilly, Per Nordlund and Edward Newman

There is a growing trend for developing democracies to attempt to shape their party systems by regulating the way parties can form, organize and behave. This policy brief surveys attempts at party regulation and considers how to promote stable, non-sectarian political parties—an essential component of democracy—whilst also allowing free political expression and minority representation.

Policy Brief No. 1, 2008

Can We Eradicate Hunger?

Can We Eradicate Hunger?
(192 KB PDF)

By Basudeb Guha-Khasnobis

World hunger is prevalent yet receives relatively less attention compared to poverty. The MDGs have taken a step to address this with the resolution of halving the number of starving people in the world by 2015. A substantial and sustainable reduction in hunger will also greatly improve the chances of meeting the MDGs related to poverty reduction, education, child mortality, maternal health, and disease.

Hunger though is not a straightforward problem of producing enough to feed the world's population; it has many cross-cutting dimensions. This study addresses a combination of economic, social, and political perspectives, drawing upon academic research of the economic factors and the experiences of international organizations and civil society.

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Page last modified 2011.06.07.




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