only search

This week’s editor

Tom Rowley is editor of oDR, covering the progressive agenda in Eurasia.

The man who built the WTO: an interview with Peter Sutherland

Does international trade help poor people? The man who created the World Trade Organisation, has no doubt: the answer is yes. In a confident interview, Peter Sutherland champions economic integration, welcomes the entry of China, India, Russia and Brazil into the global economy, and claims that the failure of the latest WTO summit at Cancún needn’t be permanent – provided both north and south are committed to multilateralism.

P2P: revolution or evolution?

The language of anarchy used by Siva Vaidhyanathan to describe peer-to-peer networks cannot capture the nature of the change they represent – no less than the birth of a new epoch of culture.

The WTO, or how patenting crushes Africans

From Cameroon, a passionate cry of protest against the global intellectual property system that holds African citizens in the chains of poverty.

Six billion voices

When poor people can speak, the world will change – and mobile communications technology is giving them the tools for transformation.

Dateline Mumbai: the 2004 World Social Forum

Three years on from the first World Social Forum in Brazil’s Porto Alegre, an organiser of the latest WSF in India presents his vision of the purpose of this global gathering of activists, popular movements and NGOs.

The al-Qaida perspective

What is the current mood among senior commanders of the radical Islamic network?

Running on Empty

We don’t know whether or not oil supplies are running out. Yet even if they are, the world faces bigger problems.

Looking back on Saddam Hussein

What was it like to study the Arab world under the shadow of Saddam? The capture of the former dictator of Iraq leads a respected scholar-activist to recall some of his personal encounters, in the west and across the Middle East and Persia, with the tentacles of the republic of fear.

The fight for good: a reply to K.A.Dilday

The success of the Tolkien phenomenon is rooted in the clear, compelling moral logic of his stories. Against this, disdainful criticism based on race or relativism is a form of vanity.

A fair migration policy - without open borders

The right to asylum and legal “people flow” must be defended against government restrictions. But a policy of open borders would neither protect migrants’ human rights nor support economic development in their countries of origin.

An open debate on open borders: reply to Stephen Castles

Today’s utopia is tomorrow’s realism. Keeping alive the possibility of a free migration, “open borders” policy is an investment in everyone’s future.

A problem with drink?

Britain’s city and town centres float on a sea of alcoholic excess. After years of promoting the benefits of the “leisure economy”, can its public policy help restore alcohol to its truer place as a lubricant of life and laughter?

Ireland's alcoholic curse

Irish people’s high alcohol consumption has been transformed in the public mind from a cultural trait into a major medical and social problem. How did the country’s drinking culture acquire its harder, violent edge?

'War on Terror': a balance-sheet

At the end of the year, where is the ‘war on terror’ going?

Talking democracy: 2003 in our forums

This year we introduced our new discussion forums, now you can find over 11,000 messages from across the globe. This brief overview of the highpoints, by our forum moderator and readers' editor, is both an introduction to those of you who haven’t yet visited, and a thank you to all of you who have contributed.

A drunken kiss, and then farewell

A combination of pagan roots, national traditions, and modern attitudes has shaped the Scottish New Year celebration called Hogmanay. Without the myths, is it any more than an inebriated street party?

Parmalat: Italian capitalism goes sour

A great financial scandal is taking place. Italy’s food giant, and one of the world’s great companies, has collapsed in a cloud of fraud. An Italian financial journalist assesses the causes and global ramifications of “Enron alla parmigiana”.

The internet's future in an aircraft hangar

The World Summit on the Information Society venue was bland, the rhetoric cloudy, the chocolates consoling – but ideas and energy flowed around the fringes.

After Saddam, no respite

Neither the dictator’s arrest, nor Israel's counter-insurgency advice to the United States, will stem the violence in Iraq.

Return to the dark tunnel: the writing cure

Art and healing are intimately linked in the writing of victims of torture and genocide, says a writer whose practice has been transformed by working with them.

The Genie's Revenge: a response to Siva Vaidhyanathan

Siva Vaidhyanathan’s openDemocracy series on peer-to-peer networks raises vital questions about intellectual property in the digital age, but he falls prey to the unsubstantiated revolutionary rhetoric of the copyright-buster. If claims by peer-to-peer distributors that they are supporting free speech and contributing to knowledge want to find a sympathetic ear in the courtroom, then they have to mean it, says this legal expert.

Skellig Michael in the lobster season

“It was an evening to remember, sixty-five years ago.” A 96-year old Irish fisherman and writer recalls an everyday drama at the world’s edge.

The UN in 2003: a year of living dangerously

The crisis over Iraq has brought the United Nations to a crossroads. At the end of a year when diplomacy was felled by force, the institution can regain its influence only by rethinking its core security mandate.

How, then, must we live?

A visit to a young family living from the land in rural England leaves Sara Forsstrom inspired.

In memoriam: Paul Hirst 1946-2003

The full measure of Paul Hirst’s achievement as a public intellectual is still being explored, six months after his tragically premature death. Jonathan Zeitlin, a close collaborator, salutes the ambition and independence of mind of a sorely missed friend.

"We the peoples of Europe..."

Why did the Brussels summit on the European Constitution collapse? Perhaps because it deserved to. The EU must move from government by elites who seek to manage, to one grounded on citizens’ support.

Who did it? Who is responsible for the failure of European heads of states and governments to agree to a proposed new Constitution at their inter-governmental conference (IGC) in Brussels on 12-13 December?

There is a temptingly easy answer.

Saddam and the Fosbury Flop

How high should the bar be set after the fall of Saddam?

2003 Review and Awards

Everything you’d forgotten about 2003 and then some

Those in government

A defiant response from a young Zimbabwean poet to the officially sanctioned language of violence that grips his country.

The capture of Saddam Hussein

The arrest of the Iraqi dictator presents a huge opportunity to the country’s new political figures. Can they seize it?