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” Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed : everything else is public relations.” – George Orwell


Eric Blair, better known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English author and journalist well known for the works Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm. Eric Blair was born on June 25, 1903, in Motihari, Bihar, in India, during the period when India was part of the British Empire under the British Raj. There Blair’s father, Richard Walmesley Blair, worked for the opium department of the Civil Service. His mother, Ida Mabel Blair, brought him to the United Kingdom at the age of one. He said, ” Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed : everything else is public relations.”

He was a writer for many other publications. Orwell was almost as promiscuous as he was prodigious in his freelance journalism. It’s also fair to say that his output for The Observer, while often first-rate, features few of the works on which his formidable reputation as a non-fiction writer rests. His celebrated ‘As I Please’ column, for example, was written for Tribune. His gentle but sharply observed meditations on English life – how to brew the perfect cup of tea and what constitutes the ideal pub – were published by the Evening Standard. And the groundbreaking forays into popular culture – his examinations of the British seaside postcard and boys’ comics – and the revered polemical essays appeared in periodicals such as Horizon and Polemic.

Even so, the mark he left on this newspaper was arguably far more profound than his legacy elsewhere in Fleet and Grub streets, and not just because Horizon and Polemic quickly folded. What was different about The Observer is that Orwell’s theory of journalistic writing – succinct, provocative, transparent – was designated the house style to which all the newspaper’s writers were expected to aspire during its ‘golden age’ of the Fifties.

As early as 1938, The Observer had called Orwell ‘a great writer’ in its review of Homage to Catalonia, his account of his experience fighting for the Republicans in the Spanish civil war. This was by no means a universally shared judgment, as was shown by the fact that the book – now recognised as a genre-defining classic – sold a paltry 700 copies.

It was not until late 1941, though, that Orwell was asked to write for The Observer. At the time, the paper was edited by JL Garvin, a staunch Churchillian Tory, but it was owned by the Astor family. And it was Lord Astor’s son, David Astor who first approached Orwell, following a recommendation by Cyril Connolly. Astor knew Orwell only by his patriotic call to arms, The Lion and The Unicorn, but already admired his clarity of thought.

In October 1949, shortly before his death, he married  Sonia Brownell. Orwell died in London at the age of 46 from tuberculosis, which he had probably contracted during the period described in Down and Out in Paris and London. He was in and out of hospitals for the last three years of his life. Having requested burial in accordance with the Anglican rite, he was interred in All Saints’ Churchyard, Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire with the simple epitaph: Here lies Eric Arthur Blair, born June 25th, 1903, died January 21st, 1950.




The United Nations founded in 1945 just after the Second World War; was formed to maintain peace and harmony across continents. The five permanent members of the United Nations are the United States of America, France, China, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. They exercise the right to participate in the democratic methods of decision making as carried out by the United Nations.

All one hears about is how miserably the United Nations has failed to ensure world peace and security is maintained and how there have been more and more violence and bloodshed; be it millions of Iraqis being killed by America’s agenda of ‘war on terror’ or be it the Israel-Palestine conflict. Criticism is always at the forefront but here, we are going to look at the success achieved by the UN in bringing peace and security to the countries.
UN has built up an impressive record of peacekeeping achievements over more than 60 years of its existence, and also won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize for the same.

Since 1948, the UN has helped end conflicts whose consequences could have been catastrophic and also in fostering reconciliation by conducting successful peacekeeping operations in dozens of countries such as Cambodia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mozambique, Namibia, Tajikistan, and Timor-Leste. It has also made a significant difference in places like Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste, Liberia, Haiti and Kosovo by providing the basic security guarantees and responding to them in situation of crisis. Through these, UN operations have supported political transitions and helped establish fragile new state institutions and have helped countries to overcome the state of conflict and have a real chance at normal development of the nation at a whole; even if major peace-building challenges within the country remain.

By May 2010, UN Peacekeeping operations had more than 124,000 military, police and civilian staff and there are currently 14 peacekeeping operations and one special political mission the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) led by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations.

In other instances, however, it can be debated that peacekeeping strategies and help from the UN peacekeeping and by the international community as a whole have yet not reached places such as Somalia, Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. But these setbacks provided important lessons for the international community for deciding how and when to deploy and support UN peacekeeping as a tool to restore and maintain international peace and security.

Recognizing the need to better prepare and respond to the challenges of peace building, the 2005 World Summit approved by the United Nations encourages the creation of a new Peace-building Commission in which the resolutions such as resolution 60/180 and resolution 1645 (2005)can come into play. The measures decided upon by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council included the mandatory as well as collective effort on the part of all participatory nations to advise on the proposed integrated strategies for post conflict peace-building and recovery; to marshal resources and help ensure predictable financing for these activities; and to develop best practices in collaboration with political, security, humanitarian and development in such countries.

There are certain guidelines/factors that the UN came up with, in order to ensure a fair and successful peacekeeping operation across countries worldwide. It must ensure the following:

  • Every step or measure of the UN should be guided by the principles of consent, impartiality and the non-use of force except in self-defense and defense of the mandate;
  • To be perceived as legitimate and credible, particularly in the eyes of the local population;
  • To promote national and local ownership of the peace process in the host country.

Unique global partnership

The first UN peacekeeping mission was established in 1948, when the Security Council authorized the deployment of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) to the Middle East to monitor the Armistice Agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbours. Since then, there have been a total of 64 UN peacekeeping operations around the world.

UN peacekeeping is a unique global partnership which brings together the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Secretariat, troop and police contributors and the host governments in a combined effort to maintain international peace and security. Its strength lies in the legitimacy of the UN Charter and in the wide range of contributing countries that participate and provide precious resources.

Other achievements of the United Nations:

  • The First and foremost achievement of the United Nations is that it has prevented the occurrence of any further world wars and has been instrumental in the maintenance of international balance of power till date.
  • It has managed to more or less eradicate Apartheid and colonialism and imperialism.
  • It played a Significant role in disarming the world and making it nuclear free. Various treaty negotiations like ‘Partial Test Ban Treaty’ and ‘Nuclear non-proliferation treaty’ have been signed under UN.
  • The UN Acted as vanguard for the protection of human rights of the people of the world, through the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
  • Despite being crippled by the Bretton Woods Institutions, UN played limited but effective role on economic matters and also supported the North-South dialogue, aspiring for emergence of new international economic order.
  • Agencies of United Nations like WHO, UNICFF, UNESCO have keenly participated in the transformation of the international social sector.
  • Peace keeping operations, peaceful resolution of disputes and refugee concerns had always been on the list of core issues.
  • Since 1945, the UN has been credited with negotiating 172 peaceful settlements that have ended regional conflicts.
  • The UN world body is also instrumental in institutionalizing international laws and world legal frame work.


Women may not be the main combatants and perpetrators of war, but they are the ones who have and continue to increasingly suffer the greatest harm in the process.  In contemporary conflicts, it is alleged that among the 80-90 percent of the civil casualties of war, most lives lost are those of women and children. Women in war-torn societies have faced horrific forms of sexual abuse and violence, which have sometimes been carried out for achieving military or political objectives. Moreover, even in today’s age and world, women continue to be poorly represented in formal peace processes and decisions, even when they play a very integral role (direct or indirect) towards contributing and resolving conflicts.

However, the UN Security Council has come to recognise the importance of including women and gender perspectives in decision-making, which can further strengthen prospects for sustainable peace worldwide. This recognition was formalized in October 2000 with the landmark unanimous adoption of Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security, which specifically addresses the situation of women in armed conflict and majorly focuses on two key goals, i.e. to strengthen women’s participation in decision-making on conflict resolution and ending sexual violence and impunity.


GEM for MDG 2

By Shruti Parmar

While most countries are on-track to achieve the MDGs by 2015 galvanised despite all differences to help the world’s poor, it is essential to remember that poor people do not need poor solutions. Numbers need to be substantiated with quality when meeting the targets of the MDGs. MDG 2 Achieve Universal Primary Education has a single sub target-

Target 2A: Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling

  • Enrolment in primary education
  • Completion of primary education
  • Literacy Rate

Learning outcomes i.e. the basic quality of education ensued, youth skills and the impact on secondary and post secondary education, that may have negative long-term economic consequences according to a study by Eric A. Hanushek and Ludger Woessmann, are not being discussed in MDG 2. Further, the EFA global monitoring report has said that by current trends we would miss this MDG by a large margin. Add to this, aid to education is on a decline.

However, a Government of Uganda project launched in association with the UNICEF, the Ministry of Education and Sports (MoES) and Forum of African Women Educationists (FAWE) by the in 2001 offers some hope. The Girls Education Movement (GEM) is a project that takes a more sensitive look at the crisis of education and offers a holistic approach to achieving MDG 2. The underlying principle at GEM is to involve girls in achieving their Right to Education through the institution of GEM Clubs in primary schools, thus making it a child-centric and child-led grassroots movement.

The project addresses the hygiene and sanitation coverage in schools to make them girl-friendly and encourage girls’ school enrolment and reduced dropout rates. It also takes into account the bias of parent and teachers against girls’ education (especially in science and maths) and trains teachers in gender responsiveness i.e. to treat girls and boys equally. By an open discussion of girls’ safety and security due to violence, sexual harassment and discriminatory cultural practices, girls are empowered with knowledge, skills and confidence to protect themselves and their peers. Music, dance, drama and debates are also conducted as gender sensitization tools. The GEM club helps keep boys in school as well through peer-to-peer counselling and leadership workshops are also part of the Project.

Community Mapping is another technique that the girls undertake to carry out Go to Stay in school, Back to school, Stay in school campaigns. Gulu district in Uganda for example brought back 199 girls (36 child mothers) and 69 boys in the first quarter 2006 through Community Mapping.

Today, the GEM project is not an organisation but groups of children across Africa who are working, not just talking or discussing, to bring a positive change in the lives of African girls and boys. Through their networking, lobbying, encouragement and facilitation they are creating a critical mass of support for the cause of an MDG that’s struggling to be achieved. There’s a lesson there.

One Idea Can Help Resolve Some of the World’s Most Pressing Problems

By Shruti Parmar

1.4 billion people in our world live on less than $1 a day. Poverty and hunger are violations of human rights and the root causes of a vicious cycle of problems in our society. MDG 1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger seeks to resolve these pressing issues through the following sub-targets:

  • Target 1A: Halve the proportion of people living on less than $1 a day
    • Proportion of population below $1 per day (PPP values)
    • Poverty gap ratio [incidence x depth of poverty]
    • Share of poorest quintile in national consumption
  • Target 1B: Achieve Decent Employment for Women, Men, and Young People
    • GDP Growth per Employed Person
    • Employment Rate
    • Proportion of employed population below $1 per day (PPP values)
    • Proportion of family-based workers in employed population
  • Target 1C: Halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
    • Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age
    • Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption

Ever since its founding, Bangladesh has been known as one of the world’s poorest countries. However, Bangladesh is today well on track to achieving the targets of Goal 1. It has poverty coming down to 40 percent in 2005. Also, the average annual rate of poverty reduction till 2005 has been 1.34 percent against the required 1.23 percent to meet the 2015 target. The poverty gap ratio has also decreased dramatically to 9.0.

The statistics are significantly the result of a story that gave birth to a revolutionary idea. In 1974, Muhammad Yunus was teaching economics at a Chittagong University in southern Bangladesh, when the country experienced a terrible famine in which thousands starved to death. “We tried to ignore it,” he says. “But then skeleton-like people began showing up in the capital, Dhaka. Soon the trickle became a flood. Hungry people were everywhere. Often they sat so still that one could not be sure whether they were alive or dead. They all looked alike: men, women, and children. Old people looked like children, and children looked like old people.” The thrill he had once experienced studying economics and teaching his students elegant economic theories that could supposedly cure societal problems soon left him entirely. As the famine worsened he began to dread his own lectures. “Nothing in the economic theories I taught reflected the life around me. How could I go on telling my students make believe stories in the name of economics? I needed to run away from these theories and from my textbooks and discover the real-life economics of a poor person’s existence.”  Yunus went to the nearby village of Jobra where he learned the economic realities of the poor. Yunus wanted to help, and he cooked up several plans working with his students. He found that one of his many ideas was more successful than the rest: offering people tiny loans for self-employment. Grameen Bank was born and an economic revolution had begun.

Professor Muhammad Yunus established the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in 1983, fuelled by the belief that credit is a fundamental human right. His objective was to help poor people escape from poverty by providing loans on terms suitable to them and by teaching them a few sound financial principles so they could help themselves. From Dr. Yunus’ personal loan of small amounts of money to destitute basket weavers in Bangladesh in the mid-70s, the Grameen Bank has advanced to the forefront of a burgeoning world movement toward eradicating poverty through micro lending. Replicas of the Grameen Bank model operate in more than 100 countries worldwide.

In this way, microcredit allows families to work to end their own poverty – with dignity.

At a macro level, it is because 70 percent of the world’s poor are women. Micro finance ensured another MDG is also silently being fulfilled- that of MDG 3 Promote gender equality and empower women. As Muhammad Yunus says, “all along the way, women have longer vision, want to change their lives much more intensively because if you have a scarcity in the family she misses out. So everything comes in the raw deal for her. So, given a chance she works very hard to make a change to improve her life. And by training she is the most efficient manager of scarce resources. Because with the little resource she has, she has to stretch it as much as she can to look after the children, look after the family and everything else.Unlike men – men want to enjoy right away. Whatever he got, whatever tiny bit of thing he got he doesn’t care for much what’s coming up.”

Un Sustainable America?

By Shruti Parmar

“No nation, however large or small, wealthy or poor, can escape the impact of climate change…The security and stability of each nation and all peoples ‐‐ our prosperity, our health, our safety  ‐‐ are in jeopardy. And the time we have to reverse this tide is running out.”

–  President Barack Obama, September 2009

MDG 7 Ensuring Environmental Sustainability has been a key challenge for our generation faced with a threat to our very survival in the wake of Climate Change. It is also one that interferes with the achievement of crucial goals such as access to clean water and combating the spread of malaria and tuberculosis amongst others. It is also the one MDG whose disproportionate impacts most the poorer countries of the world. The targets of MDG 7 have the following sub-targets:

Target 7A: Integrate the principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources

Target 7B: Reduce biodiversity loss, achieving, by 2010, a significant reduction in the rate of loss

  • Proportion of land area covered by forest
  • CO2 emissions, total, per capita and per $1 GDP (PPP)
  • Consumption of ozone-depleting substances
  • Proportion of fish stocks within safe biological limits
  • Proportion of total water resources used
  • Proportion of terrestrial and marine areas protected
  • Proportion of species threatened with extinction

Target 7C: Halve, by 2015, the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation

  • Proportion of population with sustainable access to an improved water source, urban and rural
  • Proportion of urban population with access to improved sanitation

Target 7D: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers

  • Proportion of urban population living in slums

We do know that the US has regularly resisted pressure on the developed countries to cut-back on CO2 emissions. What is its status when it comes to this crucial sub-target of MDG 7?

The United States of America has traditionally been one of the highest emitters of CO2 in the world accounting for almost a quarter of the world’s CO2 emissions. A study by PBL, the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, found that the US is unlikely to meet its pledge to cut carbon emissions by 17 per cent on 2005 levels by 2020. While news has come in of reduced CO2 emissions by the US in 2012, one must remember a major factor of the same besides the economic downturn has been the fuel-switching from coal to natural gas for electricity generation according to the US Energy Information Administration. This has been due the reduced prices of natural gas which in turn is a result of the encouraged fracking process, one that is inherently harmful to the environment in more ways than one including contaminating ground water and causing earthquakes. Is this just a transitional measure or akin to jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

To maintain its pace of development in a time of economic crisis seems would be impossible with the pressure of environment sustainability, but the urgency of this target has to be understood. The super storm Sandy has been recognised even by President Obama as not just another coincidence. But the US also has strengths that it can leverage in leading probably a more serious and useful War on Climate Change despite practical concerns. Renewable/ clean resources, research and development, a creative use of the provisions of the Clean Air Act as well as a serious consideration of the green economy, sustainable transport and the cap-and-trade as well as the carbon tax.

With a development model imitated by most, the Unites States must lead the way with sustainable development initiatives in the 21st century beginning with achieving the goals of MDG 7.

Media’s game on the Israel- Palestine Conflict

Everyone is aware of the Israel-Palestine conflict and all the violence that still continues there, but people are only aware of the side, based on what has been portrayed by the media. Not many realize that there is propaganda behind the sort of coverage and reportage done by the media. Once this was realised by a few people articles and books were written on the same. The Israeli propaganda has been strong enough to intimidate other journalists who would want to report to report the truth. The Book ‘News From Israel’ by sociologists Greg Philo and Mike Berry, examined and analysed four separate periods of news coverage by the BBC and ITN, Britain’s two main TV news channels(during the conflict). They examined around 200 news programmes and compared them against the national press and other programmes such as Channel 4 (C4) News and BBC2’s current affairs programme, Newsnight. They also interviewed over 800 people and brought well known broadcasters and programme makers to take part in discussion groups with ordinary viewers and know what their view was on the conflict.

In their analysis they found out that while the news item consisted of little explanation about the origin of the conflict, they did not mention how the establishment of Israel had taken place and how the following war had led to thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes, both because of the horrors of war and the forced eviction organised by the official Israeli military forces and Zionist terrorist groups authorized by the then Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

They pointed out that while news coverage focused on the day to day details of the Palestinian armed uprising, few reporters described how Israel had seized the West Bank and Gaza 37 years ago and illegally occupied it.  There was no explanation of the meaning of that occupation: that the Palestinians lived under military rule, had no civil rights and suffered enormous economic and social deprivation. Without any background information, most viewers did not appreciate that the Israelis had seized the Palestinians’ land to build the Zionist settlements, as this is what was told to the viewers. If the journalists did make passing reference to such abuses, they failed to point out that all of this was illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Due to a lopsided reportage only 10 percent of the groups of British students, who were interviewed in 2001 and 2002 knew that it was Israel that had occupied Palestine. Some even thought that the Palestinians were the occupiers. Many saw the conflict as some sort of border dispute between two countries fighting over land. A massive 80 percent did not know where the Palestinian refugees had come from or how they had come to be dispossessed.

The language used regularly by reporters was studied and it was then revealed that it favoured the occupying Israeli military forces over the occupied Palestinians. Words such as “atrocity”, “mass murder”, “lynching” and “slaughter” were used to describe Israeli deaths, but not the Palestinian deaths. Journalists used the word “terrorist” to describe Palestinians, but “extremists” or “vigilantes” to describe an Israeli group trying to bomb a Palestinian school. It was also noted that that the impoverished and humiliating conditions faced by Palestinians for decades under the military occupation were almost ignored. The bias was quite blatant. In the sample of news items in 2001, the news coverage was six times more likely to show the Israelis as “retaliating” to Palestinian “terrorism”, which led the viewers to blame the Palestinians.  There was more coverage of Israeli deaths than the Palestinian ones, even though three times the number of Palestinians had lost their lives. The evidence to this is with the journalists.The demand by the commercial news channels for 24 hour news “as it breaks” means that journalists spend more time in front of the camera than collecting and analysing the news. It makes them more reliant on easy-to-source and cheap information, meaning official sources of information.

‘The Palestinians were described as the worst enemy ever’- such a perspective of the media had become the perspective of the people.  But the reason for such one sided reporting is due to pressures some journalists face from those who are at the ‘Israeli position’. The political pressure on the media sometimes end with reporters being threatened, losing their jobs and their lives. This however, is the side of the journalists, those at an authoritative position have continued with this propaganda due to the advantages it would get from the Israelis.

This sort of reportage and work is against the ethics of journalism as it creates an unfair public opinion based on certain media propaganda.

 Alice Peter

Education- Scarce and still not available to all in Pakistan

“Education is a matter of life and death for Pakistan.”- Mohammad Ali Jinnah’

Pakistan is one of the countries that made quite an attempt to meet if not all at least some Millennium Development Goals. As per the 2012 report launched by UN Secretary- General Ban Ki- Moon, Pakistan has met three important targets on Poverty, Slums and Water, three years ahead  of 2015. But in certain targets they are terribly lagging behind. With the recent Malala incident we all were very well made aware of the situation on education in Pakistan. After Malala, a Pakistani school pupil and education activist was shot by Taliban gunmen in the head. There was quite a furore regarding this and the issue of education was taken up as a serious matter that needed to be paid attention to. But still there has not been much of a change.

Education is accepted as a basic right of everyone both at national and international level. The Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan, 1973 clearly lays down the provision in Article 37 (b) that:

“The state of Pakistan shall… remove illiteracy and provide free and compulsory secondary education within minimum possible period”.

Pakistan has 25 million out of school children and spends less than 2% on its GDP on Education. Education is a fragmenting infrastructure for which a good budget is required, sadly, the budget is constantly shrinking. The government had recognised this problem early and has been working hard on it especially with their major partners (British Government) to improve their situation. Most of the investment goes in teacher training, infrastructures, providing textbooks and other materials, etc.

In Islamabad (Pakistan’s capital), children gather at a small playground, not to play but to study. Every evening for three hours, free classes are held for anyone who wants attend. Mohammad Ayub, began teaching children whose parents couldn’t afford to send them to school in 1988. Such primary schools are state-run, do not charge fees and many provide free textbooks, stationeries, uniforms, conveyance, etc. and rely on volunteers and donations. The school is one of dozens of informal institutions in the capital which are helping to educate children. Many who have finished Ayub’s informal school have gone ahead and completed high school and college and have jobs that they could not have ever dreamed of. As per his estimation 20 percent of the students finish grade 10, with around 10 percent going on to complete degrees at colleges.

Despite making education a fundamental constitutional right in 2010, Pakistan seems to have a bleak chance of fulfilling its Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal education by 2015. Over seven million primary-aged children do not attend school, according to a 2011 report by the Pakistan Education Task Force (PETF), a body which includes senior education officials and independent experts. Millions of children are still missing out on schooling altogether in what the governments of Pakistan and the United Kingdom have termed an “education emergency.” In 2010, The UN Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said that 30 percent of Pakistan’s population lives in a state of “extreme educational poverty”.

With politics and terrorism being involved with education many are scared to take up the responsibility to teach. Private schools are preferred by most parents because of thee quality education but they are expensive. Those who cannot afford it opt for the state-run ones. Government schoolteachers are paid quite an amount for teaching and protected by political connections and Unions. The issue is clearly of governance. According to Ayub, the problem is not the lack of resources but it is the will to improve the situation that is missing.  Experts agree that by throwing money at the situation the problem will not be solved. The government needs to take a stand and do much more.

Pakistan has not made much progress in improving the quality and reach of its education system. With all the political connections and Unions that are there, not much can be done. Malala is one of the few fighting for universal education, but what about the rest? Its high time Pakistan wakes up and makes this a target to reach not for the MDG, but for the betterment of Pakistan!

Alice Peter

Helping the Cambodians gain a voice

The kingdom of Cambodia is located in south Indochina peninsula, South East Asia. The political structure of Cambodia is that of a Constitutional Monarchy; i.e. the Prime Minister is the head of the Government and the Monarch is the head of the state. Also, the Prime Minister is appointed by the king. However, in spite of the king being the head of the state, unlike most monarchies, the monarchy in Cambodia is not necessarily based on heredity. In fact, the king does not have a say in the selection of his successor. A new king is selected by the Royal Council of Throne; comprising of the President of the National Assembly, the Prime Minister, the Chiefs of Order, and the First and Second Vice Presidents of the Assembly.

The current Royal Government of Cambodia recognizes that good governance is required for poverty reduction and economic development. The United Nations works with the Government of Cambodia in the areas of local accountability, women’s empowerment, youth civic participation and inclusion of marginalized groups. One of the goals of the United Nations for Cambodia is to bring in the democratic form of government and decentralization of power.

Cambodia saw it’s first general election in 1993. Since then, there have been gradual steps in making Cambodia a more participative society. After a history of being extremely politically unstable, since the mid 1990s, the Government of Cambodia has started to make an effort to move from a centralized government set up to decentralizing power. The United Nations relates decentralization of power with other goals like poverty reduction and improved gender roles.

The United Nations works to increase the interaction and accountability of the elected members to the citizens at a local and national level. Since 1996, the United Nations have pumped in about 252 Million USD as small scale investment at a local level. 1600 elected commune councils now plan the local level, small scale infrastructure of Cambodia. The 2008 elections saw a voter turn-out of 75%. There was also a significant rise noticed in the number of women MPs. The number went up from 12% in 2003 to 22% in 2008.

However, a blog post for undergraduate students of Cambodia, titled Khmer Campus, while acknowledging the efforts out in by the United Nations, also mentions a small criticism. The blog post quotes, “On the one hand, modest progress towards some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is concentrated in specific regions and dependent on local circumstances. On the other, Cambodia possesses significant unexploited potential. Notably, some of its strongest assets are localized just where poverty and exclusion is the greatest. For example, despite its strong tourism and construction industries, Siem Reap remains one of the country’s poorest provinces.” The author of the blog further adds, “This local perspective may not be the solution to Cambodia’s economic, social and environmental challenges. But it is certainly part of the solution. Anyone who has travelled across Cambodia knows that this is a land of immense opportunities. A future is possible where rural areas thrive and where Cambodian cities act as hubs for development. But for this to happen, efforts need to be localized: Economic growth in Phnom Penh does not automatically translate into development in Ban Lung. In other words, growth is necessary, but it doesn’t necessarily imply balanced, sustainable development. If sustainable development is the objective, key actors need to act collectively, strategically and deliberately towards it.”

The Khmer Campus blog:


Shruti Shenoy



United Nations is an international organisation founded in 1945 after World War II to stop the war between nations and to give platform to them to talk with each other.

The UN Security Council is the main organization of the United Nations dedicated to the resolution of conflicts and peacekeeping. It is comprises of fifteen members, five of whom are permanent, that is China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States and ten of which are elected by the General Assembly in every two years.

UN Peace-keepers provide security and the political and peace building support to help countries make the difficult, early transition from conflict to peace. UN Peace-keeping is guided by three basic principles:

  • Consent of the parties
  • Impartiality
  • Non-use of force except in self-defence and defence of the mandate

Peace-keeping is flexible and over the past two decades has been deployed in many configurations. According to UN website, currently, there are 15 UN peace operations conducted on four continents.

There has been a thin line between conflict prevention, peacemaking, peace-keeping, peace-building and peace enforcement and this line is blurring rapidly. Peace operations are rarely limited to one type of activity. When the Security Council is confronted with a problem that can represent a threat for international peace and safety, it first tries to resolve the problem peacefully. In the past, the Security Council has acted as mediator or, in cases of armed conflict, proposed a cease-fire. The Council can also reinforce its decisions by enacting sanctions.

Peace-keeping missions allow the Security Council to watch over the cease-fire and participate in the creation of conditions for peace. On a few rare occasions, the Security Council has authorized member States to use all the necessary means to keep the peace, including collective military action.

According to General Indar Jit Rktye, the former president of the International Peace Academy who has participated in several peace-keeping missions, peace-keeping is “the prevention, limitation, moderation and cessation of hostilities between or within States due to the intervention of a third party, which is organized and directed at the international level and which calls upon military, police and civilian personnel to restore peace.”[1]

While UN peace-keeping operations are, in principle, deployed to support the implementation of a ceasefire or peace agreement, they are often required to play an active role in peacemaking efforts and may also be involved in early peace-building activities.

Today’s multidimensional peace-keeping operations facilitate the political process, protect civilians, assist in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former combatants; support the organization of elections, protect and promote human rights and assist in restoring the rule of law.

UN peace-keeping operations may use force to defend themselves, their mandate, and civilians, particularly in situations where the State is unable to provide security and maintain public order.

United Nations celebrates the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29.





A Bangladeshi woman in her tea stall

 In the last ten years, Bangladesh has reduced its poverty by half, rapidly decreased family size by two-thirds, ensured that roughly 90 percent of its girl children are enrolled in schools.

The story of Shyamola Begum, 43, is one example of Bangladesh’s success in MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOAL 3.

Shyamola and her husband came to this city looking for a better life but her husband Jamal had to struggle to find work. He finally ended up as a cycle-rickshaw puller. When she got pregnant and gave birth to a daughter, he was not happy.

Less than a year later, Shyamola got pregnant again, with another girl. Soon after, Jamal left for work one day and never came back. He left her, under the pressures of poverty, with too many members to feed.  

For several weeks a pregnant Shyamola, searched for Jamal in hospitals and morgues but the people from the slum knew that her husband had deserted her. Several women share the same situation, whose husbands, fed up by poverty and lack of employment opportunities, abandon their partners every year.

The United Nations Development Programme has forged a partnership  the United Kingdom’s Urban Partnerships for Poverty Reduction.Three years ago, through this project, Shyamola was awarded an entrepreneur grant of Tk 2,500 (roughly US $30) decided for the extremely poor. She matched this money with the $30 she had managed to save working as household help and set up a small tea stall in the slum where she lives. In just two months, Shyamola’s profits doubled her own investment. She said that until she experienced the situation that she was in, she did not realise that she could be independent and successful.

Over 55,000 families like Shyamola’s have received such grants over the past five years, with encouraging results. In many places, these men and women have started making monthly contributions to local savings groups, so that there is a source of a larger loan in cases of emergency.


Baby Parveen’s grocery store brings in more than USD10 in profits for the family every day. Photo Nader Rahman/UNDP in Bangladesh

Baby Parveen’s  is another story of women’s empowerment from Bangladesh.

Mussamat Baby Parveen was eighteen when she  wed the man her parents had chosen for her . By her 19th birthday she was pregnant and ran away from her husband’s home. He was a drug addict who would beat her, so she feared that soon he would kill her as well as the child. Parveen moved back in with her father, who died soon after her child was born. She had to beg and borrow from close relatives and friends to feed her child. With increasing debts, she had to lie about her skills in desperation to join a textile factory.

 But the day before she was to join the factory, Parveen’s name came up in a lottery for participation in a United Nation Development Programme cash-for-work programme for destitute rural women. She was one of 24,000 women selected to repair roads in villages across Bangladesh in exchange for daily wages and job training.

With the money she earned, Parveen made some smart investments.

 She saved money every week and in two years gathered enough and bought some land which she leased out to sharecroppers. She also bought a cow and goat, reared them and sold them for a profit. In two years’ time, Parveen had enough money to set up a grocery store in her village, earning her a steady income of more than US$10 a day.

 Ninety six percent of women who participated in the UNDP project invested in small businesses, with two third making capital gains and 81 percent able to feed their families on a daily basis. The UNDP programme has resulted in 17.9 million work days in total, leading to road repairs for 25,000 kilometres of road that connect local communities to important facilities such as schools, markets and hospitals.

The latest Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Progress Report indicates that less than a third of people in Bangladesh now live below the national poverty line, this was achieved in just 10 years. New research has shown that women have been at the core of this impressive human development turnaround. The women, who were empowered, prioritized their children’s education and nutrition over other spending.

Important Progresses:

•Women, whether the four million working in the thriving textiles export industry or those with micro businesses such as backyard poultries and vegetable patches, are at the heart of this success.

•Thanks to a UNDP cash-for-work programme for poor rural women, 91 percent of the children of participating women now attend school, compared to a previous 57 percent.


By Mahtab Haider, Communications Analyst at UNDP Bangladesh, and Nader Rahman, Communications Associate at UNDP Bangladesh.…/mdg/mdg-reports/