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This week’s front page editor

Rosemary Bechler

Rosemary Bechler is the mainsite editor of openDemocracy.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Everyone likes the idea of fair, accountable and effective international institutions to cope with global economic, environment and security issues. But what form should they take? David Held and Paul Hirst argue for gradual reform within. George Monbiot advocates root and branch democratisation of the UN, and the creation of a new economic order. Other contributors identify key dilemmas and suggest creative solutions.

The UK migration debate: lessons from America

Why have US activists have been more successful than their British counterparts in building a constructive immigration dialogue within mainstream politics, asks Katy Long.

Poverty: a human rights abuse in the UK

Internationally poverty has been recognised as a violation of human dignity and, when a consequence of government policy, a violation of human rights. What does this mean for women seeking asylum who are forced into poverty in the UK, asks Amanda Gray.

Paraguay: Brazil’s dirty little secret

Paraguayans' resentment of their giant neighbour draws on both long memories and modern inequities. A shady new president may fuel not dampen it, says Andrew Nickson.

Egypt’s coup, liberals' dark chapter

The military's deposition of Egypt's elected president has been welcomed by the Muslim Brotherhood's liberal opponents. This is a historic error that carries big costs and risks, says Khaled Hroub.

Anti-immigrant sentiment: time to talk about gender?

The way in which gender figures in the picture of anti-immigrant sentiment is rarely discussed, yet anti-immigrant sentiment, wherever it is found, represents a rejection of ‘feminized’ populations and a concern with a national illusion that is distinctly masculine.

UKIP on the march in Britain

The success of the UK Independence Party in local elections indicates a lack of trust in mainstream politicians on migration. This leaves the pro-migration lobby with a bigger role than ever, and some challenging questions about how to impact on public opinion

Venezuela: legacy of populist revolution

The transition of power in Venezuela raises the question of how populism and democratic institution-building can coexist. This has a wider relevance across Latin America, say Fabian Bosoer & Federico Finchelstein.

If only it were fiction ...

In a few months, the EU will decide whether to sign an Association Agreement with Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych is, however, focused on a different agenda - how to win a second term in 2015. He's ready to go to any lengths to bring that about, reports Sergii Leshchenko. 

Investigator Bastrykin and the search for enemies

Alexandr Bastrykin, head of Russia’s influential Investigative Committee, is one of the most powerful individuals in the Putinite power system, but his biography is relatively unknown. Richard Sakwa has, however, been tracking the rise of this shadowy figure.

Iraq: ten years of hubris and incompetence

Many of the problems that afflict Iraqis today are rooted in the rushed and undemocratic constitution of 2005, says Zaid Al-Ali. 

Hugo Chávez's afterlife: three scenarios

The death of Venezuela's president raises the question of his place in the labyrinth of Latin American populism, say Fabián Bosoer & Federico Finchelstein

The Mali effect

Many evolving disputes in north Africa and the Sahara fuse religious language and political impulse to powerful effect, says Stephen Ellis.

Russian NGOs: the funding realities

Continuing oDRussia's debate on the future for Russian NGO funding, now a view from the coal face. Pavel Chikov is chair of one of the country's most respected NGOs: he argues that foundation grants remain the simplest way to let human rights activists get on with their work. 

Funding Russian NGOs: opportunity in a crisis?

Russian NGOs have traditionally looked abroad for their funding, and are dismayed at recent legislation setting up new barriers to this practice. Almut Rochowanski argues, however, that this should be seen as a challenge to increase the involvement of the Russian public in the development of civil society.

What do Russians think of their ‘foreign agents’?

In Putin’s Russia, NGOs funded from abroad are now officially considered ‘foreign agents’. However a recent poll suggests that the Russian public’s attitude to them is rather less one-sided. Vladimir Zvonovsky reports from Samara. 

Is Putin afraid of the Caucasus?

Russian lawmakers have given preliminary approval to a law to allow governors to be appointed in the country’s 83 regions, reversing last year’s move to restore direct elections. As Daniil Kotsyubinsky reports, this issue is unimportant in itself, but it exposes the regime’s soft underbelly, unrest in the Caucasus.

Ukraine: Yanukovych's 'Family' spreads its tentacles

Last October, Ukraine’s ruling Party of the Regions won only a slim election victory, but President Viktor Yanukovych has taken the opportunity to pack his new government with members of his ‘Family’ – and to level new and grave charges at jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. Sergii Leshchenko reports. 

Note to British MPs: think before criticising the European Court

A growing appetite to limit the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights has emerged among British MPs. Their criticism is mistaken, and undermines the very important work the Court does in areas like Chechnya, says Philip Leach.

On the streets in Spain: not only the homeless

The monarchy, the political and economic systems, even the judiciary and the church appear to be failing the people of Spain as they face what amounts to a right-wing coup by a Government that legislates by decree. Their only option seems to be to protest on the streets, says Liz Cooper.

Militarising Education

The incursion of the military into the British education system will mean that alternatives to war and peaceful ways of resolving conflict will be more difficult for young people to explore. In the long term we will all pay a heavy price, says Emma Sangster.

The perilous slide: towards an Islamist dictatorship in Egypt?

President Morsi’s latest constitutional declaration, even if it is cloaked in democratic and revolutionary rhetoric, presages a slide to authoritarianism, argues Mariz Tadros.

Le système éducatif tchadien en pleine décadence

91% de recalés à l’examen du baccalauréat 2012 au Tchad pour seulement 9% d’admis. Réorganiser le baccalauréat n’est pas la solution. Il faut revoir le système éducatif et sensibiliser les différents acteurs à une prise de conscience.

Education in Chad: in a state of decline

This year in Chad only 9% of students passed their high school leaving exams. Reorganising these exams is not the solution. We need to re-examine the whole education system, encouraging all those involved to wake up and take stock, says Kagbe Rachel.

Syria: neo-anti-imperialism vs reality

Much leftist analysis of Syrian events is trapped by a dogmatic outlook that combines a warped view of geopolitics with inattention to local realities, says Vicken Cheterian.

North Korea: change of signs

Pyongyang looks and feels different under Kim Jong Un's leadership, but how much do new buildings, markets and facades reveal about the direction of policy? Charles K Armstrong, who recently visited North Korea, reflects.

An Argentine fable: Cristina Kirchner's tall stories

The successive presidencies of the Kirchner couple, Néstor and now his widow Cristina, have led Argentina since the country survived near-collapse in the early 2000s. Now, Mrs Kirchner's ideological ambition and uncertain grasp of reality are taking her political experiment in worrying directions, says Celia Szusterman.

State feminism: co-opting women’s voices

Feminism is being used by some states as a political proxy to gloss over economic policies that hurt women, meanwhile, grass roots women’s rights activism is looking for new ways to reach parliament. Jennifer Allsopp reports from UK Feminista Summer School 2012

The incredible Dilma Rousseff

Brazil's president is facing great challenges in a great manner, says Arthur Ituassu.

A global democracy manifesto

"We want to be citizens of the world and not its mere inhabitants." A group of leading intellectuals has composed a document arguing that deeper and more extensive forms of democracy are essential to cope with the demands of globalisation and its associated transformations of governance. The document is being launched in a series of international events that begin at the London School of Economics (LSE) on 27 June 2012. It is published here, followed by a list of the fourteen author-signatories (eight of whom are also openDemocracy authors).

François Hollande and France: the big test

The new French president has consolidated his authority with a decisive win in the legislative elections. But the challenges he faces now get much steeper

Iran's nuclear question: a wider lens

The valuable experience of Latin American states on key nuclear and conflict issues needs to be heard in the dialogue over Iran, says Juan Gabriel Tokatlian.

France, a political tightrope

The aftermath of the presidential election is also the prelude to a parliamentary vote whose outcome is crucial to Francois Hollande's leadership, says Patrice de Beer.

Libya: oil, the state and the revolution

The surge of political expectation in post-revolution Libya contrasts with the lack of realistic assessments of the country's economic - and therefore democratic - prospects, finds Vicken Cheterian.

Argentina’s energy politics: context of crisis

The decision of Argentina’s president to take a controlling stake in the country’s main oil company by outright expropriation is an act of political and economic populism that will do nothing to solve the country’s mounting economic problems, says Celia Szusterman.

The United States and "atrocity prevention"

The formation of an official agency charged with helping Washington identify and address threats of atrocity around the world is notable. But the United States's own foreign-policy record raises serious questions over its likely impact, says Martin Shaw.

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