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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

Fundamental to sustainable and just globalisation, questions of economics, finance and trade are too serious for rhetoric. OpenDemocracy debates and articles get to the heart of the most difficult questions.

Arms and the men: Sweden’s revoked Saudi arms deal

From the outside, the Swedish snub to the Saudi royals looks like a big triumph for women’s rights over commercial pressures. Close up, the ethical picture is a little muddier.

International legal obligation to end trade with settlements

If the political will to bring about justice and peace is lacking, the answer lies in international law. Ending state trade with Israeli settlements is not an economic sanction, but a legal obligation.

Rana Plaza: the struggle continues

A year after the huge loss of mainly-female Bangladeshi garment workers’ lives at Rana Plaza, unions are still fighting for compensation for the victims, safety at work and a living wage

Violence visited on Cambodian garment workers

Cambodian garment workers make around $80 a month, taking on long hours of overtime in harsh conditions. Now workers across the country are standing up for themselves to demand more—but the fight for a better wage in Cambodia is a dangerous one. At least four garment workers were killed this month during a crackdown on protesters demanding a decent wage from the government and international clothing companies. This video shows the workers who are standing up—and the violence consistently employed to keep them quiet.

The mind of the traffickers

Consumer campaigns, self-help methodology and those who risk their lives to defend others cannot match the power of the trafficking industry. Jennifer Allsopp, reporting on the Trust Women conference, looks for the core strategic thread that would take seriously the question of where power, and hence obligation lies.

India Burning

When the rice harvest season finishes in a few weeks, fields in India will turn black as farmers burn thousands of acres. This practice shows one of the failures of the Green Revolution, with devastating regional and global consequences. A food-security-obsessed India cannot ignore these issues for much longer.

The gender gap and the American presidential election

Will the gender gap that decisively helped Bill Clinton and Barack Obama win the presidency again? Only if women remember who waged the 'war against women', against their economic equality and against their reproductive rights, says Ruth Rosen  

Development and religion: ambivalent policy, grounded practice

Development policy seems to swing between a Marmite-style love-it-or-hate-it approach to religion. Yet practice on the ground is more subtle—and more effective. Cassandra Balchin suggests why this gap exists between policy and practice

Chinese companies under scrutiny in Zimbabwe

Ten years into the Look East policy, Zimbabwe is showing itself to be a not-so-satisfied customer of Chinese investment.

Armed conflict, land grabs and big business: Colombia’s deadly pact

The recent assassination of Colombian marxist insurgent group leader Alfonso Cano has been hailed internationally as an advance towards peace, giving Colombia a boost down the path to becoming the latest emerging market of Latin America. A closer look at the history and nature of Colombia's nearly 50 year-long armed struggle, however, tells us otherwise.

Killing aid

Dambisa Moyo's anti-aid thesis is poorly argued, ignores the facts and is unrealistic in its recommendations. That is not to say all is right with the aid system argues the blogger on the Zambian Economist

The curse of commodities

Oil-fuelled growth with child prostitution in Timor-Leste.

If shirts could speak and 'we the people' would listen

The degrading conditions of young women in Bangladesh's textile industry are shocking evidence of the need to force international corporations to observe human, workers' and women's rights. Anita Roddick calls for a new campaign that starts with insisting on maternity leave for those who make the world's clothes.

(This article was first published on 8 April 2004)

Debtonation: how globalisation dies

The global financial crisis exposes the failure of the economic model that rules the world. Ann Pettifor saw it coming.

The end of gentlemanly capitalism

The global financial panic triggered by uncertainties in the United States home-loans market is much more than an institutional wobble, says Tony Curzon Price: it is a system-crisis that requires a radical solution.

Brazil, the United States and ethanol

Biofuel production could offer Brasilia and Washington a source of partnership rather than of conflict, says Rodrigo de Almeida.

How to ease global inequality: Branko Milanovic interviewed

The World Bank economist talks to openDemocracy about globalisation, inequality and labour mobility.

Wealth versus health - the Thai frontier

Affordable drugs are crucial for fighting AIDS in developing countries, but the United States puts their availability at risk through its harsh trade agreements. Will Thailand stop the US in its tracks, and help protect access to life-saving treatments for citizens worldwide?

Gleneagles, 7/7 and Africa

The effect of the London bombs was to aid the powerful and damage the weak. Campaigners for global justice must not be deflected, says Ann Pettifor.

Wonderful shrinking world

The pundits who embrace or reject globalisation too often live in an eternal present and ignore the lessons of the phenomenon’s deep past, says Alex MacGillivray.

Free trade? When it suits us

The world's leading trade powers are seeking to carve out a new deal on globalisation. Tom Burgis suspects the rich world is hoping to have its cake and eat it.

The Brazilian hat-trick

Brazil's growing trade power requires tricky new skills of the country's leaders. After hearing foreign minister Celso Amorim speak in London, Alex MacGillivray examines the challenges facing Brazil's trade diplomacy. 

The trade gangs of Hong Kong

The ultra-competitive world of trade negotiations sees multiple alliances battling for preference and interest. Alex MacGillivray maps the maze, and reports on a new responsibility-based approach evolving behind the scenes in Hong Kong.

The WTO's raw deal

As another global trade summit ends in a raw deal for the poor, Tom Burgis reports from Hong Kong on the changing dynamics between protest and power.

Why the poorest countries need a WTO

The pessimism surrounding the World Trade Organisation meeting in Hong Kong contrasts with the feelgood outcome of the Montreal climate-change summit. But Ehsan Masood argues that even a flawed WTO compares favourably with other United Nations institutions in giving the poorest nations voice and influence.

The siege of Hong Kong

As thousands of ministers, trade mandarins and protesters gather for this week’s crunch World Trade Organisation ministerial, Tom Burgis reports from Hong Kong, where the stakes could not be higher.

Tamil Nadu after the tsunami: hopes and obstacles

Their world turned upside down in the great Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004. Six months on, the fishing communities of southeast India struggle to rebuild their lives. Kirsty Hughes reports from a forgotten frontline of reconstruction.

Tony Blair and Africa - old images, new realities

A proclaimed "year of Africa" is deaf to the ways that the most global of 21st-century citizens – Africans living in the rich north – are reinventing their home countries' economies, says David Styan.

Trade and justice: time to choose

Global security is about inequality, injustice and livelihood – and trade connects all these issues, says Britain’s international development secretary. The cycle of international trade talks, which reach a critical point at the end of July 2004, is a key element in the progress towards a fairer world.

Can trade work for the poor? The challenge for UNCTAD

Oxfam’s Amy Barry attended the eleventh United Nations Conference on Trade And Development (UNCTAD) in June 2004. Her daily dispatches to openDemocracy, now gathered here in compendium format, trace the personal experience of one participant in a summit whose global impacts on the lives of millions are unseen but real.

America's choice: inequality or democracy?

A report by respected American Political Science Association scholars argues that social inequality is damaging American democracy. Godfrey Hodgson sees political implications in the United States election year.

The cost of good intentions: 'solidarity' in Bangladesh

How can the lives and conditions of women garment workers in Bangladesh be improved? Naila Kabeer questions whether the workers themselves benefit from the campaigning approach of Anita Roddick and the National Labor Committee.

Defending Bangladeshi workers: a response to Farida Khan

Anita Roddick recently visited Bangladesh with the New York-based National Labor Committee to investigate the conditions of women garment workers there, and wrote about her trip on openDemocracy. The economist Farida Khan offered a different interpretation of Bangladeshi experience. Now, the National Labor Committee sends this response to Farida Khan.

The dumping-ground: Africa and GM food aid

Unequal power relationships in the world economic system mean that hungry Africans often have no choice but to eat genetically-modified food. Patrick Mulvany argues that food aid policies can be driven by the commercial policies interests of rich nations rather than the interests of the most vulnerable people.

Getting real about globalisation in Bangladesh

The ready-made garment industry is the backbone of economic growth in Bangladesh and an important factor for future development, argues Farida Khan in this reply to human rights campaigner Anita Roddick.
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