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Rising to the Humanitarian Challenge in Iraq

November 3, 2010

Armed violence is the greatest threat facing Iraqis, but the population is also experiencing another kind of crisis of an alarming scale and severity. Eight million people are in urgent need of emergency aid; that figure includes over two million who are displaced within the country, and more than two million refugees. Many more are living in poverty, without basic services, and increasingly threatened by disease and malnutrition. Despite the constraints imposed by violence, the government of Iraq, the United Nations, and international donors can do more to deliver humanitarian assistance to reduce unnecessary suffering. If people's basic needs are left unattended, this will only serve to further destabilise the country.

Survival of the Fittest: Pastoralism and climate change in East Africa

November 3, 2010

Climate change is having a destructive impact on many groups around the world. Pastoralists in East Africa have been adapting to climate variability for millennia and their adaptability ought to enable them to cope with this growing challenge. This paper explains the policies required to enable sustainable and productive pastoralist communities to cope with the impact of climate change and generate sustainable livelihoods.

Do as I Say, Not as I Do: The Unfair Terms for Viet Nam's Entry to the WTO

November 3, 2010

In 2005, its tenth year of accession negotiations, Viet Nam hopes to achieve full WTO membership. After 15 years of implementing legal, institutional, and economic reforms, together with the gradual liberalisation of international trade, Viet Nam has achieved macroeconomic stability, solid economic growth, and a halving of the incidence of poverty, from 58 per cent in 1993 to 29 per cent in 2002. However, significant numbers of Vietnamese people still live in great hardship. A large part of the population has an income only just above the poverty line, and could easily be pushed back below it by external economic shocks.

Making the Case: A national drought contingency fund for Kenya

November 3, 2010

The critical failure in Kenya's system of drought management is its slow response. A national drought contingency fund should be established to ensure timely, appropriate, and adequate intervention aimed at mitigating the impact of drought-related crises. Recurrent drought may be an inevitable fact of life in Kenya, but the human suffering it causes is not.

21st Century Debt Relief

October 29, 2010

Oxfam welcomes the IMF and the World Bank's drive to increase the number of countries receiving debt relief at the end of last year. 22 out of a possible 41 qualifying countries are now receiving debt relief - this is a good start. However, there is still much to be done to ensure that debt relief is deep enough to make a real difference to poor people living in the recipient countries. Research carried out by Oxfam last year analysed the implications of enhanced HIPC for government finances. It suggests that all but three of the twelve countries studied will continue to spend far more on debt servicing than on health and primary education after they have received debt relief.

Delivering the Agenda: Addressing chronic underdevelopment in Kenya's arid lands

October 29, 2010

Due to economic and political marginalisation, the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) are today the most under-developed areas of Kenya. The pastoral inhabitants of these lands have both the right and the ability to maintain a decent livelihood but have been denied an appropriate and effective development policy for decades. The current drought-related crisis has put their plight into the international spotlight, and now is the time for the Kenyan government to deliver on its long-promised development agenda.

Everything But Arms and Sugar

October 29, 2010

Oxfam welcomes the UK Government's support for the EC's proposal to improve access to the EU market for all products, except armaments, exported from the world's 48 poorest countries, dubbed the 'Everything But Arms' (EBA) proposal. We dispute the claims of the powerful lobby against the proposal to include sugar, launched by the National Farmers' Union and the multinational sugar industry, who have labelled it a threat to UK sugar beet growers. Research commissioned by Oxfam from the Institute of Development Studies shows that their claims are massively over-stated.

Getting the Fundamentals Right: The Early Stages of Afghanistan's WTO Accession Process

June 28, 2007

Afghanistan should be in no rush to join the World Trade Organisation. Rapid accession would have few benefits and could undermine efforts to reduce poverty. Careful planning and negotiation is the only way to avoid onerous commitments that have been forced on other very poor countries and to make the best of the potential benefits that membership of the multilateral system can offer. Given the country's severe poverty, massive reconstruction effort and ongoing security concerns, all parties involved in the process should promote an appropriate, pro-development accession package for Afghanistan that is in line with its least developed country (LDC) status.

Mind the Gap: Countdown to Viet Nam's Accession to the WTO

December 1, 2005

Viet Nam is entering its final stages of accession negotiations. Although it is unlikely that it will achieve the goal of joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) by the time of the Hong Kong Ministerial Conference in December, negotiators want a swift end to the process. Analysis of progress made between the two Working Party meetings of April and September 2005 reveals that Working Party members are continuing to demand further concessions from the Vietnamese negotiators. If agreed to, these concessions could have potentially damaging consequences for Viet Nam's ability to safeguard the livelihoods of its poorest people.

Extortion at the Gate: Will Viet Nam Join the WTO on Pro-development Terms?

October 1, 2004

As Viet Nam negotiates entry to the World Trade Organisation, the world's most powerful countries are working hard to exact the onerous 'WTO-plus' commitments which have become characteristic of accession proceedings. Membership could help Viet Nam to benefit from international trade, supporting its efforts to reduce poverty, but the demands from rich countries for excessive liberalisation of imports and foreign investment threaten to undermine this goal and to destroy livelihoods, particularly in rural areas.