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Morocco, Algeria, Egypt: Assessing EU plans to import hydrogen from North Africa

May 15, 2022

A new study commission by CEO and the Transnational Institute shows the EU's plan to drastically increase imports of renewable hydrogen from North Africa is not realistic from a cost or energy perspective, and instead diverts renewable electricity away from local needs and local climate targets.The study was written by energy expert Michael Barnard and sees production costs making renewable hydrogen potentially up to 11 times more expensive than using natural gas, and that's before storage and transport costs are factored in.The EU's unrealistic import targets are allowing Big Oil and Gas to sneak hydrogen from natural gas through the back door, using green hydrogen as a trojan horse to keep drilling and selling their main product.

Write for Rights 2021 Campaign Report

April 12, 2022

In 2021 Write for Rights (W4R) was 20 years old. Beginning as grassroots activism in Poland, the campaign now sees over 70 Amnesty entities taking part and people in 120 countries around the world taking action either in person or online.Covid-19 continued to impact campaigning for Write for Rights, with many countries still imposing strict rules around group gatherings. There was however light at the end of the tunnel for some national entities, who did manage to hold in person events. For those who couldn't, the innovations and 'outside the box' thinking continued, with creativity and technology helping make restrictions less restrictive!As we rapidly head into planning for Write for Rights 2022, now is the time to reflect on what we all did together and the amazing ways we worked for positive human rights change in the lives of 10 individuals and communities at risk. 

Weaponized storytelling a la francaise: Demystifying France's narratives around its arms export policies

April 6, 2022

Through the five conflict case studies, the report explores other arguments that make up this storytelling a la francaise. Two of its pillars are the idea that French export control processes are already "strict, transparent and responsible" enough as they are, and the proposition that weapons sales are an intrinsically essential support to the country's strategic autonomy and foreign policy interests. This latter priority include the crucial need to be a reliable long-term supplier and to sustain strategic partnerships often associated with such arms trade.

Breadbasket to Bread Lines: Global Food Security After the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

April 1, 2022

Global food prices were already rising significantly before the invasion of Ukraine. The invasion, however, has set off another round of price increases for basic foodstuffs including grains (notably wheat) and cooking oils such as sunflower oil. As the invasion continues into the spring planting season, pushing many Ukrainian farmers off their farms, the effects could easily become dire: the UN has warned of the distinct consequences of a severe food crisis later this year in many countries around the world, notably in the Middle East and Africa, with millions of people at risk of food insecurity because of higher prices and lack of supply.The Conference Board first addressed this broad subject of food security on March 15 with a paper asking "What If Russia/Ukraine Grain Trade Halts?" That paper stated that Russia and Ukraine together "supply 16 percent of global exports of grains" and examined current global "stockpiles that can be tapped for exports, and the capacity of internal infrastructure and labor to facilitate ramped up trade. India, the US, and the EU appear uniquely positioned to step in to feed the world." However, the paper also noted that "[t]he human suffering of the war in Ukraine could potentially extend out exponentially to the rest of the globe by exacerbating global food insecurity. The armed conflict . . . could seriously disrupt production and exports of grain to very vulnerable countries."This Policy Brief supplements that paper as the war has continued and also focuses on several specific issues regarding the serious prospect of global food insecurity, with particularly strong impacts in regions including the Middle East and Africa. 

The Unfreedom Monitor: A Methodology for Tracking Digital Authoritarianism Around the World

April 1, 2022

Digital communications technologies have been a powerful tool in the advancement of democratic governance, but in recent years there is concern that they are being used to undermine democracy as well. The Unfreedom Monitor, part of Global Voices' Advox project, aims to study and report on this growing phenomenon. This briefing document provides an overview of key developments in digital authoritarianism in a sample of 10 countries, while explaining the theoretical framework and methodology behind the project. The document also provides a basis for expanding this research to other countries so we can deepen our understanding of digital authoritarianism globally as well as its crucial implications for the future.

Targeted Sanctions and Organised Crime

March 23, 2022

Sanctions are increasingly being used to tackle a range of specific issues. These include sanctions to respond to human rights abuses, combat corruption and address malicious cyber activity. As sanctions use has broadened, the question of their application to organised criminal activity has been increasingly raised. Yet, the use of sanctions against organised crime has remained limited to a specific set of issuers, notably the US and, more recently, the UN.In the UK, the government has advanced its vision of an ambitious post-Brexit independent sanctions regime, with the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 allowing sanctions use 'in the interests of national security'. New regimes addressing human rights and corruption have emerged. With serious and organised crime deemed a national security threat by the UK government, there is a case to add a sanctions regime to address this particular threat. The National Crime Agency itself has called for a legislative amendment to reference serious and organised crime as grounds for sanctions use.However, little research or evaluation has been undertaken to assess the impact of sanctions against organised crime. With US sanctions used over almost three decades to disrupt cross-border trafficking, the lack of a body of rigorous relevant research is a key shortcoming. Similarly, few past initiatives have sought to assess the lessons these experiences hold for future sanctions issuers in this space. With interest mounting in the potential use of organised crime-related sanctions, this represents a critical limitation.This paper represents the first effort to target this knowledge gap, by reviewing existing evidence on the use and impact of sanctions to disrupt organised criminal activity. It focuses on two case studies, Colombia and Libya, in differing regions of the world and with different exposure to organised crime-focused sanctions. While Colombia tops the list of states globally for organised crime-focused sanctions on individuals and entities in its territory (with the third-highest number of relevant listings since 2016), Libya's exposure is more recent and limited. Libya nonetheless has experience of listings under UN and US country regimes relating to fuel smuggling, people smuggling and human trafficking. Here, it differs markedly from Colombia, which is the epitome of the historic US approach to narcotics-related sanctions.This paper analyses organised crime-related sanctions data, examines the current state of knowledge on the implementation and impact of these sanctions, and draws on the two case studies. It identifies a number of factors that influence the impact of organised crime-focused sanctions, including:The extent to which the host government of the sanction's target is willing to cooperate with the sanction's issuer.The extent to which the issuance of sanctions is embedded within a coherent broader strategic approach.The overarching focus of the regime within which relevant designations are made.The degree of clarity of objective and purpose of the issuer when applying sanctions against organised criminal actors.Resourcing and engagement of key agencies in both the country of issuance and the target's host country.The targeting strategy adopted, and the extent to which this accounts for the divergent levels of vulnerability of key actors across the illicit trade chain.With these factors and the research's broader findings in mind, this paper concludes with a set of 10 considerations for those countries that may, in the future, contemplate introducing organised crime-focused sanctions:The need to identify where new issuers could have greatest impact.How sanctions fit into broader strategic approaches to countering organised crime.The criteria to be adopted to guide their use.The resourcing required to administer sanctions effectively.The need to balance sanctions use with interventions that address drivers of organised crime.The necessity of creating a dedicated new regime versus using existing regimes.The way in which sanctions address the role of state versus non-state actors in organised criminal activity.The need to ensure that sanctions use does not impede longer-term criminal justice outcomes.The need to account for due process concerns.Individual states should consider how action in this area could offer an alternative to the gridlock in the UN Security Council around sanctions use.

Confronting the Climate Crisis with Food Systems Transformation: Stories of Action from 14 countries

March 22, 2022

Integrating food systems transformation into the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) – the national climate actions at the heart of the Paris Agreement, is critical to delivering on interconnected ecological, biodiversity, health, economic, social, and cultural goals. Taking a food systems approach builds climate resilience and results in a diversity of context-specific solutions for food production, distribution, consumption, and waste. Yet, food systems are rarely prioritized in climate policy. This catalogue of global Case Studies complements a suite of publications that are designed to centre food systems transformation in future climate debate and policy.

Untapped Opportunities for Climate Action: An Assessment of Food Systems in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

March 22, 2022

A summary report providing a synthesis of the 14 country assessments with recommendations and priority actions.

Positive Peace Report 2022: Analysing the factors that build, predict and sustain peace

January 20, 2022

Peace is much more than the absence of violence. Positive Peace describes the attitudes, structures and institutions that underpin and sustain peaceful societies. The Institute has developed a conceptual framework, known as the Pillars of Peace, that outlines a system of eight factors that work together to build positive peace. Derived from a statistical analysis of over 4,000 datasets, the Pillars of Peace provides a roadmap to overcome adversity and conflict, and to build lasting peace.

How have corporate industrial food systems been entrenched into the Arab region?

November 23, 2021

* This report examines the rapid growth of agribusinesses and corporate food systems in the Arab region since the 1980s, especially the underlying political and economic factors. Egypt, Morocco, and Lebanon are used as case studies.* The following characteristics are highlighted and explained: 1) The critical function of capital and investment funds that come from three main sources - Gulf region; Western multinationals; local companies. 2) Agribusinesses in the region must be understood as a system, relying on personal relationships and informal ties among the region's elites, organized as joint ventures and partnerships, with large companies monopolizing market shares, and exerting considerable power over consumers and smaller suppliers/producers. 3) The centrality of political connections and government support in the agribusinesses' smooth operation.* Companies discussed include: Savola, Al Marai, Danone, Nestle, Juhayna.* Understanding the roots and key features of these corporate industrial food systems is very important because of implications for policy discussions and for actions to address concerns. For example: How does government support for free market rather than smallholder farmers affect food sovereignty? How best to address avian flu outbreaks in Egypt that usually leave large intensive poultry agribusinesses in stronger positions? Instead of focusing activist actions on Gulf and local companies which are less likely to be swayed by publicity, it is more effective to lobby multinational companies headquartered in Europe and the U.S. that have entered markets in the Arab region.

The Decade of Defiance & Resistance: Reflections On Arab Revolutionary Uprisings And Responses From 2010 – 2020

May 26, 2021

The dynamics fostered by the wars and revolutions plaguing many Arab states today represent the most consequential national transformations since World War I, culminating in a period of civilian defiance and resistance that was especially distinct between 2010 – 2020. Despite being pauperized by predatory governments, citizens have challenged their heavily militarized states, emerging to fight battles that have been brewing for decades. Both the protesting citizens in the streets and the hardline governments that try to blunt their momentum are highly motivated. The outcome of these historic confrontations remains unclear. Yet, it is already possible to identify the causes, actors, motivations, and tactics on both sides that have fueled the waves of rebellion and repression over the past decade. Since the start of the 2010 – 2011 uprisings across the Arab world – the so-called "Arab Spring" – long-term transformations in the mindsets and actions of citizens have emerged that have the potential to catalyze political change across the region for decades to come, shaping political relationships between the governed and governors.

Strengthening A Region Through Education

September 16, 2019

This GrantCraft case study, developed for Candid's scholarshipsforchange.org portal, explores Al Ghurair Foundation for Education's STEM Scholars Program. The scholarship aims to increase access for underserved populations to high-quality education throughout the Middle East & North Africa region. Two years into its journey, the Scholars program strategy has made measurable progress on three student outcomes: expanding underserved youth's access to education, improving their college and career readiness, and increasing skills development; as well as three community outcomes: cultivating a new cadre of young leaders, empowering youth to rewrite the Arab story, and encouraging scholars to take part in regional philanthropy.