The Cafés Diplomatiques (Café Diplo)
Cumulative Archive of Cafe Topics for the year 2010
MONDAY JANUARY 25TH
Bosnia-Hercegovina - the crumbling Balkan keystone with Marko Hoare
Bosnia-Hercegovina is a state that was designed not to function. The Constitutional order established by the Dayton Accord of 1995 has proved unworkable; it leaves Bosnia neither truly unified nor fully partitioned. As in recent years international interest in, and support for Bosnia-Hercegovina has waned, so Bosnian Serb secessionism and Muslim discontent have increased. The stage is set for a new Bosnian crisis whose outcome will determine the future of the Balkans. Marko Attila Hoare is Reader at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Kingston University, specialising in the history of the former Yugoslavia. He has published three books so far: The History of Bosnia (Saqi, London, 2007);Genocide and Resistance in Hitler's Bosnia (Oxford University Press, London 2006); and How Bosnia Armed (Saqi, London, 2004).
MONDAY FEBRUARY 8th
Inequality and its Social Impact with Richard Wilkinson
There is compelling new evidence that large income inequalities within societies damage the social fabric and quality of life for everyone, and that inequality has an enormous impact on health. This raises fundamental questions about social and economic policies pursued by governments around the world.
Richard Wilkinson is a leading epidemiologist and his recent book 'The Spirit Level' has received widespread acclaim . He is on the steering group of the Equality Trust, an Emeritus Professor at Nottingham University and an Honorary Professor at University College. He will talk about the evidence on the impact of inequality and the implications for social and economic policy makers.
MONDAY FEBRUARY 22nd
What price Democracy? The hidden forces behind the Honduran coup with Dr Francisco Dominguez
In June last year, Manuel Zelaya, the democratically elected President of Honduras, was kidnapped in a military coup, and flown to Costa Rica. Honduras has long been an ally of the US, which is its chief trading partner, and maintains a military base in the country. However, during his presidency, Zelaya had moved sharply to the left, and there was a strong perception that he was becoming allied to the radical forces in Latin America. Following the coup, in complete contradiction to its avowed defence of democracy, the US took very timid and insubstantial steps against his abductors, and the future remains uncertain. Francisco Dominguez is the Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, and has broadcast and published extensively on issues within the region. He will discuss the current situation within Honduras, and its implications for the global political order.
Monday 8th March - International assistance to countries at war - the Democratic Republic of Congo with Dr Zoë Marriage
Zoë Marriage is Senior Lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she teaches courses on Security and on Violence, Conflict and Development. Zoë has researched extensively into aid and assistance in countries at war in Africa and into security, particularly with reference to the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is the author of Not Breaking the Rules, Not Playing the Game (Hirst, 2006). Zoe will discuss the security situation in Congo and how this has been affected by recent events such as the Transition period and the contested elections. She will then explore what the implications are for international development organisations and the countries in which they are based.
MONDAY, March 22nd
FILM EVENT - A Place in the City with Jenny Morgan and Firoze Manji
Nearly 17 years since apartheid ended, millions of black South Africans still live without sanitation, adequate water supplies, or electricity. In this film, shot in and around Durban, the grassroots shack-dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo – many of whose leaders are now in hiding – makes the case for decent services, and against forcible eviction. Producer and director, Jenny Morgan grew up in Durban and has made numerous films for TV about social injustice. In the discussion following the film, she will be joined by Firoze Manji, the executive director and editor of Pambazuka News, the innovative online newsletter which champions human rights and civil society organisations in Africa.
Monday April 12th - Immigration in the 21st century: facts and misconceptions with Susanna Mitchell
As the financial crisis has begun to impact heavily on the real economy, immigration has become an increasingly emotive issue in the industrialised world. Rich country politicians – not least in the UK – are eager to introduce ever tougher policies, and borders have been considerably tightened. But migration has the potential to enrich the lives both of migrants and of the communities in which they live, and the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that drive excessive migratory flows are frequently the result of global policies that urgently require reform. They cannot be addressed, or controlled, by adopting a fortress mentality or a narrowly nationalistic rhetoric, both of which are extremely counter- productive in terms of social cohesion, economic efficiency and human well being. Susanna Mitchell will outline the facts of the situation and discuss their implications. She is a fellow of nef, the new economics foundation, and has a long background working on international development, with a recent focus on migration issues.
Monday April 26th - The crisis in Somalia with Michael Walls
Years of fighting between rival war lords and an inability to deal with famine and disease have led to the deaths of up to one million people in Somalia. A third of the population is dependent on food aid and the UN backed transitional government is faced with an insurgency in the south. Somalia is widely perceived as the epitome of a failed state. Michael Walls teaches in the Development Planning Unit at University College London and has worked in development projects in a number of African countries including Somaliland. He has been Coordinator of the election observers for the Somaliland Presidential Election and his research has examined Somaliland experiences in post-conflict reconciliation and state building. He maintains active involvement in the Anglo-Somali Society, Somaliland Focus (UK) and Kayd Somali Arts and Culture. He will talk about the current situation in Somalia and the globalisation of the conflict there, suggesting some constructive potentials for international engagement in the Somali context.
Monday 10th May. Torture, Lawyers and Accountability: with Philippe Sands QC
Philippe Sands QC is Professor of international law at University College London, a barrister at Matrix Chambers, and a regular commentator for the BBC, CNN and The Guardian. He is the author of Lawless World, in which he accused US President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair of conspiring to invade Iraq in violation of international law. His latest book, Torture Team: Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values, was released in May 2008, and has resulted in a criminal investigation in Spain of the 'Bush Six', senior Administration lawyers who crafted the conditions for move to waterboarding and other forms of systematic abuse in Guantanamo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He will focus on the challenges facing the Obama Administration in dealing with a legacy of torture.
MONDAY MAY 24th
FILM EVENT Mundi Romani: the World of the Roma
As a people and as a culture, the Roma have been and continue to be misrepresented, mythologized, stereotyped, and scapegoated. There are at least 12 million Roma scattered throughout the world, yet despite being Europe's largest minority, the Roma have been voiceless for centuries. This evening's two films, Lashi Vita (the good life) and Paradise Lost: the Roma Pavilion at the 52nd Venice Bienale, explain the nature of contemporary anti-Gypsy attitudes, and illustrate the resilience of the Roma people in the face of persecution. Film maker and director Katalin Barsony the co-producer of this documentary series by Duna Television Hungary and the Romedia Foundation, and the International Editor of Mundi Romani, Marion Kurucz will join us for the Q&A, together with Dr Nidhi Trehan whose new book Romani Politics in Contemporary Europe (edited with Nando Sigona) was published by Palgrave Macmillan last year
MONDAY JUNE 7th
Scientists and policy making with Professor David Nutt
The advice of scientists is critical in the big policy issues of our time from energy and climate to health and criminal justice. If policy making is to be evidence based then there must be a major role for scientists. But the relationship has great potential for conflict. Is it wrong to publicise scientific advice if it contradicts government policy? What is the dividing line between the role of the scientist and that of the policy maker? David Nutt has first hand experience of these issues. He is Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College and as Chair of the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs was the government's chief drug adviser until he was asked to resign by the Home Secretary in October 2009. He will talk about the relationship between scientists and policy makers and the role of scientists in evidence based policy making.
Monday September 20th
FILM EVENT ‘The Burden of Peace: Women Speak in the Aftermath of Kenya's Post-Election Crisis’ with Firoze Manji
The Kenyan election of December 2007 gave rise to widespread suspicions of irregularity, especially when the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was inaugurated as president in a privately held ceremony. Violence erupted, with 1,000 people massacred and 650,000 fleeing their homes, but although the country's main rivals signed a political settlement to return the country to normalcy, those responsible remain free. Women bore the brunt of the attacks, from both armed gangs and state forces, and this film,edited by Anthony Kung'u and Peter Ndung'u, tells their story. Firoze Manji, the executive director and editor of Pambazuka News, which champions human rights and civil society organisations in Africa, and co-funded the production, will discuss the film.
Monday, October 4th -
Stifling debate: libel laws and the price of free speech with Robert Dougans and David Green
English libel law, and the use of ‘super-injunctions’, are becoming a global disgrace, with a profoundly negative impact on freedom of expression, both in the UK and abroad. Human rights campaigners are often forced to edit and retract articles in the face of potential libel action. Robert Dougans acted for the science writer Simon Singh in the libel case brought against him by the British Chiropractic Association. In a landmark ruling from the Court of Appeal, England’s most senior judges held that Singh had the right to use the defence of “fair comment”, which they renamed “honest opinion”. After the ruling, the chiropractic association dropped the case and Robert won Assistant Solicitor of the Year for his conduct of the case. David Allen Green is a lawyer and writer living in London. His blog Jack of Kent became well-known for its detailed and accessible coverage of the Simon Singh case.
Monday October 25th
PEOPLEQUAKE: population myths unravelled with Fred Pearce
Many fear an unsustainable explosion in global population, but in fact the population bomb is being defused round the world by women making new choices about their own lives. By mid-century the world's population could be falling. Fred Pearce, is an international speaker, journalist and author on environmental issues, and was recently described as ‘one of Britain’s finest scientific writers’. He will explore our emerging new demography, a world of massive migration and rapid ageing, where some societies may face extinction through having too few babies, not too many. What does this mean for our environment - for our species? Fred is currently Environmental Consultant to the New Scientist, and his recent book ‘Peoplequake Mass Migration, Ageing Nations and the Coming Population Crash’ was published this year.
Monday November 8th
The US Militarisation of Latin America with Dr Francisco Dominguez
The Latin American social democratic model, which places the fight against poverty and exclusion at the centre of its policies, is perceived as a threat by the neo-liberal economic and political hegemony, and the emergence of left wing governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Uruguay and Cuba, and of left-leaning governments in Brazil and Argentina, has greatly alarmed the US. In response, the US has progressively militarised the region, and in addition to its many bases in neighbouring countries, has recently signed a ‘Defence Cooperation Agreement’ with the right wing government of Colombia establishing seven bases within its borders. The US Fourth Fleet has also been reactivated, and patrols the surrounding seas. Francisco Dominguez, Head of the Centre for Brazilian and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University, has broadcast and published extensively on the region, and will discuss this alarming development and its implications.
Monday November 22nd
The Future of Yemen? with Professor Fawaz A Gerges
Will the crisis in Yemen, a state characterized by failing institutions, lawlessness, social and political instability, abject poverty, and foreign intervention lead to its breakup with unforeseen consequences for the whole region? Fawaz A. Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern Politics and International Relations at LSE is the author of two recently acclaimed books on the Muslim world: Journey of the Jihadist (Harcourt Press, 2007) and The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (Cambridge University Press, 2005). His forthcoming book is titled The Making of the Arab World: From Nasser to Nasrallah (Public Affairs) He is well known for his articles and editorials which frequently appear in prestigious publications worldwide. No armchair historian, Gerges has recently completed a field study of the Middle East where he interviewed scores of civil society leaders, activists and mainstream and radical Islamists.'
Monday December 6th 2010
Microfinance: high hopes and grim realities with Milford Bateman
Thirty years after its emergence, microfinance still lays claim to being one of the most important poverty reduction and sustainable ‘bottom-up’ local economic development policies of all. Milford Bateman explodes this myth. He shows that to the contrary, microfinance has largely undermined sustainable local economic and social development, and has essentially been valued and promoted because of its supreme ideological and political usefulness in the era of neoliberalism. Until joining the Overseas Development Institute as a senior research fellow in the summer of 2010, Milford was for many years a freelance consultant on local economic development. His book ‘Why doesn’t Microfinance work? The destructive rise of local Neoliberalism’ was published this year by Zed Books.