What we’re reading on conflict & governance – Covid-19 edition, 9 April

Threads/News/Blogs/Thought pieces/Research

Aimee-Noel Mbiyozo, Covid-19 responses in Africa must include migrants and refugees

Call for considering the unique needs of migrants and refugees in Covid-19 interventions in order to avoid unnecessary negative consequences

Alex Broadbent & Benjamin T H Smart, Why a one-size-fits-all approach to COVID-19 could have lethal consequences

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website contains no technical guidance on how African governments should approach their considerably different contexts. The advice is the same globally, but the context is not.

Alex Evans & David Steven, Building trust, confidence and collective action in the age of Covid-19

Concrete suggestions for how to build the ‘larger us’ needed to deal with the extensive impacts of Covid-19 on states and societies

Anuška Delić & Matej Zwitter, Opaque Corona Virus Procurement Deal Hands Millions to Slovenian Gambling Mogul

In recent weeks, Slovenia has introduced strict controls on movement and gatherings, while approving tens of millions of euros worth of bids under emergency measures that bypass open tender measures.

Anthrologica, Key Considerations: Online information, mis- and disinformation in the context of COVID-19

SSHAP paper finds that the current media landscape has the potential to facilitate the rapid development and spread of mis- and disinformation.  Social media can also be used to quickly and effectively counter mis- and disinformation.  Such positive opportunities must be identified and maximised.

Arundhati Roy, The pandemic is a portal

Beautifully written, powerful and troubling piece by Arundhati Roy on Covid-19 in India that deftly highlights the political context in which the virus exists in. Impossible to ignore.

Build Up, Digital peacebuilding and the pandemic

This touches on the secondary impacts of Covid-19, in particular on access (or not) to technology and the way in which this will exacerbate conflict dynamics and marginalisation

Centre for Global Development, Flatten the Curve without Flattening the Economy

There is a huge trade off between restrictive measures and widespread and debilitating socio-economic consequences. This pieces from CGD argues: 1) Protect livelihoods now to protect lives in the future 2) Proactively forecast the net health impacts of COVID-19 and use them to inform action and 3) Design an exit strategy.

Claudia Baez Camargo, Rethinking governance in the times of the Covid-19 pandemic 🌟

Claudia argues, “The enormity of the situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic invites – or rather forces – us to reflect on the nature and effectiveness of our systems of governance. And not just of health systems, but more broadly the governance of our very complex societies and their transnational flows.”

Democracy Digest, Democracy in the age of COVID-19: Regression, resilience or ‘radical uncertainty’?

Without a strong foundation for democratic resilience, a global health crisis can offer alluring blank check to governments to curtail individual and collective political rights, note #IFES experts

Diana Mitlin, How is COVID playing out in Fragile and Conflict Affected Settings? 🌟

Some interesting info here, especially on gender (how to manage childcare sharing under a lockdown when responsibilities around caring or the sick are accentuated) and civic unrest in Nigeria and Brazil.

Federica Mogherini, Listening to the pandemic

How the crisis is making short work of nationalist narratives around the world and how citizens can/should call these out.

Financial Times, Virus lays bare the frailty of the social contract

‘Has there been a coup at the FT?’ asked someone on Twitter, which did make us smile. This is one of many great pieces which demonstrates how Covid-19 has exposed the fragility of economies, accountability mechanisms and social protection systems throughout the world.

Frances Z Brown, Saskia Brechenmacher, Thomas Carothers, How Will the Coronavirus Reshape Democracy and Governance Globally?

There are mutually reinforcing negative feedback loops between pandemics and conflict. In fragile contexts, central governments tend to have limited/non-existent reach, health systems tend to already be poorly functioning or are non-existent. Violence disrupt aid flows, as we have witness in relation to the Ebola crises. Governments can co-opt assistance funding and can exploit the vacuum created by the fact that mediators and major powers turn away to domestic problems. People are extremely vulnerable as a large percentage of the population is already displaced. COVID-19 may pose unique logistical challenges to current peace processes. For example, in Afghanistan, the pandemic is exacerbating the underlying political challenges, diverting political attention from the peace-process and placing strains on government’s systems/ability to deliver a response to Covid-19.

Francis Gachuri, DPP, EACC hand over Ksh.2B of corruption proceeds to COVID-19 emergency fund

The Kenyan Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) on Tuesday presented a donation of Ksh.2 billion to the National Treasury as part of efforts to beef up the Covid-19 emergency fund, Citizen Kenya reports. The funds were part of recovered proceeds of crime such as corruption and money laundering.

Foreign Policy, To defeat the coronavirus, stop corruption

Another article reminding donors not to forget the risk of corruption in emergency responses, with descriptions of corruption scandals from previous crises and a few simple recommendations.

Gavin Hayman, Emergency procurement for COVID-19 : Buying fast, open and smart

Public procurement professionals across the world are under immense pressure as they shop around to meet the huge demand for medical equipment and supplies — the scrubs, disinfectants, masks, gloves, medicines, and ventilators that are essential to containing the new coronavirus outbreak. Blog lists recommendations.

Google, Covid-19 Community Mobility Reports

Obviously needs to be taken with appropriate caveats, but one way to track the impact of movement restrictions in countries and cities around the world.

Graham Teskey, The Worry of Governance: Coronavirus and Emergency Politics

This piece unpacks the two strains currently concerning governance: democratic vs authoritarian politics and the potential impact of ‘Emergency Politics’.

Human Rights Watch, Waiting for the Storm: The Coronavirus in Africa

This piece explores the possible impact of Covid-19 in Africa and argues for a rights-based approach to addressing this public health crisis.

IDS et al, Key Considerations: COVID-19 in Informal Urban Settlements 🌟

This brief sets out key considerations for protecting informal urban settlements from the spread and impacts of COVID-19.  There is heightened concern about these settings because of the combination of population density and limited infrastructure.

International IDEA, Covid-19 and Democracy

Worth checking out International IDEA’s website, where there is plenty of briefing on how to manage elections and emergency controls in the context of Covid-19. Really useful for country offices where elections are fast approaching or where draconian authoritarian measures have already been implemented. There’s also a database which lists all elections that have been cancelled.

Jeff Cortese, COVID-19 and the coming corruption pandemic

The Hill cautions that opportunities for bribery, extortion, and embezzlement are extensive right now. For the first time, the prevalence of this massive threat is occurring simultaneously around the world at the local and federal levels. There is ample historical evidence to support the claim that outbreak and disaster relief is pillaged by those with sufficient access, namely the Ebola virus outbreak (2014-2016), the flood relief in Bulgaria (2004-2005), and Hurricane Katrina (2005).

Julia Keutgen, Participatory democracy in times of COVID-19

What do we mean by open democracy and a transparent and reliable government in times of crisis and how can we make it a reality? Participatory democracy and civic tech could be part of the answer.

Jodi Vittori, Illicit financial flows will be easier during the coronavirus pandemic

While this sets out a lot of the risks, there are also very concrete suggestions for action now to help

Just Empower, Coronadiaries of the urban poor

Moving video diaries from urban poor storytellers in Nigeria and Benin.

Katherine Shwetz, Apocalyptic fiction helps us deal with the anxiety of the coronavirus pandemic

For those thinking about relaxing (!) during the Easter holiday with a dose of apocalypse on the side…

Keith Ditcham, How Covid-19 is changing the organised crime threat

Expect a lot of diversification and transition to cyber, with an impact on policing needs

Louis Mueleman, It takes more than markets: first governance lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic

Another interesting article on the importance of governance: both building the public sector/state institutions and encouraging governance is effectively contextualised.

Maia King, Why does local agency matter? Enabling the policy space for aid recipients

While we may be chomping at the bit to influence policymaking in partner countries, King argues that might not be the most effective route. Instead, she argues, we should focus on process rather than output – empowering governments by providing policy space and facilitating well-evidenced and balanced decision making.

Meredith Applegate, Thomas Chanussot, Vladlen Basysty, Considerations on Internet Voting: An Overview for Electoral Decision-Makers

IFES report which recommends that internet voting be evaluated according to five parameters: cost, participation, efficiency, trust and security. Due to the high levels of planning, preparation and testing needed, it is unlikely that countries that do not already have the requisite systems in place would be able – or should even attempt – to launch internet voting as an immediate response to a crisis like COVID-19.

Mick Moore, How can African tax collectors help cope with the economic impacts of Covid-19 🌟

With African governments having much far less fiscal firepower, Mick argues for targeted temporary tax measures, waiving taxes on mobile money/airtime/data, stepping up social protection (including cash transfers) and gearing up to raise revenue from under-taxed sources including assets and incomes of the rich to plug deficits in the future.

Mike Jobbins, Peacebuilders aren’t the side dish, we’re the service delivery

A reminder that peacebuilders – more than almost any other group –  have the trust and deep networks that are needed in the fight against Covid-19.

Miranda Forsyth & Gordon Peake, Thinking collectively, acting individually: governance in a time of Covid-19

More thoughts on collective action, this time from the Pacific

Naomi Hossain, Fear of a fragile planet 🌟

Naomi captures so many worries here and does so with beautiful writing

Norman Loayza, Smart containment and mitigation measures to confront the COVID-19 pandemic: Tailoring the pandemic response to the realities of developing countries

The Director of the 2014 World Development Report on Risk says “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of lockdowns” in developing countries, pointing out the costs and benefits are entirely different in poor countries than rich ones. He suggests some alternative strategies (which would bring their own challenges for governments). Might we need to be ready for shift of strategy? How do we help governments make this decision?

OECD Development Matters, Global response to COVID-19 in Africa must protect lives, livelihoods, and freedoms

Afrobarometer data used to look at trust in governments, urging against repressive or violent tactics to enforce lockdowns.

Project Syndicate, Will Covid-19 remake the world?

Dani Rodrik pours cold water on ideas COVID19 will bring a political revolution, arguing that is mostly confirmation bias at work and so far “countries have in effect become exaggerated versions of themselves” and that “rather than putting the world on a significantly different trajectory, [the crisis] is likely to intensify and entrench already-existing trends.”

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, Reuters Institute, What will the coronavirus pandemic mean for the business of news?

The coronavirus pandemic will impact every part of our lives and societies, including our news media. Even in the best-case scenario, there will be major disruptions in many countries for months, with economic and social consequences felt long after.

Richard J Goldstone & Mark L Wolf, Coronavirus presents bonanza for Kleptocrats

The Boston Globe writes that corruption has devastating consequences for human health and lists various examples from the past. 1/3 of the funds allocated in 2014 by Sierra Leone to combat Ebola could not be accounted for (some were found in the bank account of an individual involved in the effort). The minister of health in the DRC was found to have embezzled more than $400,000 from that country’s Ebola response funds.

Stewart M Patrick, The Multilateral System Still Cannot Get Its Act Together on COVID-19

Article in Council on Foreign Relations.  “In the absence of U.S. leadership, multilateral responses to COVID-19 have been inadequate to date.”

Tammy Kupperman Thorp, To Defeat the Coronavirus, Stop Corruption

Humanitarian crises including Hurricane Katrina and the Ebola outbreak show that graft can dilute the best donor intentions. More vigilance is necessary.

Thomas Wright, Stretching the international order to its breaking point

A reminder that though it is by far the biggest, Covid-19 is one of 4 major global crises in the last 10 years with a huge number of cracks in the international order, and this won’t be over in the next few months.

Transparency International Secretariat, Governments and corporations need to guarantee safety of COVID-19 whistle-blowers

Transparency International joins dozens of other civil society groups calling on all public authorities and private sector organisations to guarantee the safety of those who expose harms, abuses and serious wrongdoing during the COVID-19 crisis. Whistle-blowers are one of the most effective ways to detect and prevent actions that undermine the public good, and this is especially critical in times of crisis when the normal oversight of decision-making can be weakened.

Vanda Felbab-Brown & Paul Wise, When pandemics come to slums

Highlights in particular the role that criminal gangs are already playing in trying to maintain order in slums and the huge risks that this poses for governance post-crisis

Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Participatory Democracy in the time of Covid-19

The evidence suggests that locally developed and owned responses are essential for the mitigation of the spread of Covid-19. Participatory democracy is an important element of this – check out this workstream by WFD for more information on how civic space and voice can be broadened during this pandemic.

World Bank, Smart containment and mitigation measures to confront the COVID-19 pandemic: Tailoring the pandemic response to the realities of developing countries

The Director of the 2014 World Development Report on Risk says “I have serious doubts about the efficacy of lockdowns” in developing countries, pointing out the costs and benefits are entirely different in poor countries than rich ones. He suggests some alternative strategies (which would bring their own challenges for Governments). Might we need to be ready for shift of strategy? How do we help Governments make this decision?

Useful sites & twitter threads curating content to follow

Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, Tools for governments in responding to Covid-19

RUSI, Coronavirus resources

Canadian Association of African Studies, Thread on Covid-19 article by African authors

GAB Blog, Commentaries on corruption and coronavirus

K4D, Covid-19 Resource Hub 🌟

Global Voices, Covid-19: Global voices for a pandemic

ICNL, COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker (Will Taylor)

ECPR Standing Group on Organised Crime, Controcorrente (dedicated Covid-19 blog series)

The Syllabus, The politics of Covid-19 readings

Various, Crowd-sourced cross-disciplinary coronavirus syllabus

Political Settlements Research Programme, Conflict, development and Covid-19 resources 🌟

IDS, Covid-19: the social science response to the pandemic 🌟

GI-TOC, Covid Crime Watch

Jorge Mantilla (UC-Chicago), Twitter thread curating pieces on Covid-19, conflict and crime

CGD, Coronavirus preparedness & response

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