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  • Author: Ekaterina Stepanova
  • Publication Date: 06-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: Since the tragic events of 11 September 2001, much has been said about potential links between the fight against terrorism and peace-building. In the meantime, the fight against terrorism and peace-building have, by and large, continued to be implemented separately and by different sets of actors. The events of 11 September might have led the world's leading states to reassess terrorism as a security threat, but could hardly fundamentally alter the nature of peace-building operations and tasks, from institution- and democracy-building to post-conflict recovery and reconstruction. It is not surprising that the way the threat of terrorism is addressed by actors involved in peace-building activities is often limited to its possible effect on the security environment for their operations. It is thus seen as a problem to be solved either by the security component of the mission, or by an ad hoc international security force, or by national security structures (if any). A certain reserve towards the fight against terrorism on the part of the peace-building community is not without foundation, and may be seen as a natural reaction to the declaration after 11 September 2001 of a global 'war on terrorism' which goes far beyond traditional anti-terrorist priorities and needs. In fact, many of the adverse effects of this global campaign stem precisely from a lack of clarity about its nature and operational goals.
  • Topic: Security, Peace Studies, Terrorism
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Democratic governments want policies that are in the best interest of their citizens. But how can they - and their voters - be sure they are making the right choices? One answer is by learning from the tried and tested experience of others. One of the OECD's core strengths is its ability to offer its 30 members a framework to examine and compare experiences and discuss "best practices" in a host of areas from economic policy to environmental protection or strategies to create jobs.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Past macroeconomic and structural reforms have been contributing to stronger growth for the last decade. The economy has also become more resilient, weathering the recent global slowdown well. Productivity growth has picked up, although not by enough to have yet moved New Zealand up the OECD income rankings. Its small size and remoteness may be factors, so encouraging global linkages is important, but more remains to be done to strengthen fundamentals. Recent economic performance has been encouraging: buoyant domestic demand has helped maintain output growth in spite of weak trading partner growth, an appreciating exchange rate and a fall in the terms of trade from recent high levels. Monetary policy will need to be vigilant, given that the economy is probably operating above potential and the housing market is strong. In considering fiscal policy options, the focus should be on those that contribute to the growth performance of the economy, whilst remaining firmly based on a prudent assessment of future revenues and of the long-term challenges connected to ageing. In its growth strategy the government appropriately emphasises fostering innovation, skills and talent, and developing global linkages, but it should maintain a level playing field and avoid sector-specific incentives. It should continue to remove regulatory obstacles to investment, particularly in the area of infrastructure, by improving and speeding up the environmental consent process. The decision to resume cutting tariffs is commendable and also furthers the objective of supporting development in poorer countries. Immigration helps to enlarge the pool of available skills and to develop global connections, both of which contribute to enhancing growth potential. Recent changes that focus admis- sions policy more toward skilled and more employ- able immigrants will help, though the temptation to link immigration policy too closely to manpower plan- ning should be resisted. The labour market functions reasonably well, but the government should avoid measures that would reduce flexibility and raise labour costs. The employment rates of marginal groups could be improved by strengthening incentives to move from welfare to work. In short, only through this whole range of efforts to boost productivity growth and improve labour market outcomes can the nation meet its income aspirations.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: New Zealand
  • Publication Date: 12-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: The current economic upturn does not diminish the urgency of continuing with fundamental reforms to lay the foundation for a robust and sustainable expansion strong enough to reverse the downward trend in Japanese living standards relative to other OECD countries and to restore price stability after nearly eight years of deflation. Given the negative implications of falling prices, the Bank of Japan should strengthen its quantitative easing policy by further expanding the range of assets it purchases. In addition, the effectiveness of monetary policy depends critically on resolving the problems in the banking and corporate sectors. The authorities should follow through on the objective of substantially reducing non-performing loans and revitalising the corporate sector, while ensuring that banks are adequately capitalised, using public money if necessary. Moreover, it is important to scale back the role of government financial institutions. Given the likely negative impact of accelerated bank and corporate-sector restructuring on activity and the need to ensure that the recovery is not ended prematurely, excessive fiscal policy tightening should be avoided, while any increase in revenue due to buoyant activity should be used to reduce the deficit. Achieving the moderate fiscal consolidation projected for 2004 is a key to building confidence in the longer-term sustainability of public finances, which also requires a credible consolidation plan for 2005 and the years beyond, including measures to limit spending and boost tax revenues. Moreover, it is essential to prevent increases in spending as a share of GDP, an objective that requires reform of pension and health care pro- grammes in the face of rapid population ageing. Given the constraints on macroeconomic policy, a successful programme to revitalise the economy will require a broad programme of structural reform, focused on strengthening competition to boost consumer welfare and improve the allocation of resources. To achieve such an outcome, competition policy should be improved by making the Fair Trade Commission stronger and more effective and by creating a framework conducive to competition in network industries that have been liberalised, such as telecommunications and energy. Expanded international trade, greater inflows of direct investment and removal of outdated regulations - accelerated through the recently created special zones - also have important roles to play in boosting competition. In sum, a broad-ranging programme of carefully designed macroeconomic policies and far-reaching structural reforms to enhance Japan's growth potential is needed.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Japan
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Bribing public officials to obtain international business raises serious moral and political concerns, undermines good governance and economic development, and distorts international competitive conditions.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Information and communication technologies (ICTs) can play a key role in development and poverty reduction. ICTs can help promote economic growth, expand economic and social opportunity, make institutions and markets more efficient and responsive, and make it easier for the poor to obtain access to resources and services. It can also make it easier to make the voices of the poor heard in the decisions that shape their lives.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: A stable institutional framework in Chile has provided the foundations for growth and confidence of international markets. While a comprehensive social agenda is putting pressure on resources under the recent economic slow-down, the Chilean government should be praised for having maintained a sound fiscal and monetary stance and building on its unique institutional framework based on the freedom of choice. The current challenges are to strengthen the coherence of this development policy agenda with a vision to long-term growth and broader social consensus. Chile is a small open economy, for which international competitiveness is the cornerstone for sustainable growth. The latter is the outcome of the multiple policy synergies discussed above. The first important link is to continue preserving a sound macroeconomic framework avoiding distortions that may produce excessive real exchange rate appreciation, which could hinder the incentives to invest and expand employment in the tradable sector. The deepening of financial intermediation and development of risk capital are needed to support the emergence of new and more innovative firms. A better functioning of the labour market is critical to the development of the enterprise sector. In particular increased female labour participation would support the development of light industries and services. Investment in human capital, in particular education and workers' training, is needed to develop products with a higher technological content. The administrative conditions and regulation of product markets should also be improved, notably by reducing administrative barriers to enterprise creation and removing distortions in the tax treatment of cross-border interenterprise financial flows. These policy link-ages would help increase product variety and intra-industry trade that could contribute to reduce the vulnerabilities associated with an excessive reliance on natural resources and export concentration. In all these areas of reform, Chile is now in a position to emulate and converge towards the more advanced benchmark of OECD countries.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Chile
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Trade and investment, coupled with transfers of knowledge and technology and an appropriate institutional framework, have been major engines of global economic growth in developed and developing countries over the past 50 years. From the mid-1980s, the pace of global economic integration and growth accelerated significantly. Sustaining global economic growth and achieving a better sharing of its benefits will further the interests of all countries, developing and developed alike. Recognising this, the international community has committed itself to specific Millennium Development Goals and to ways of achieving them.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Fiscal rectitude, progress towards macroeconomic stabilisation, and past structural reforms have been necessary and desirable, but have not yet been sufficient to raise potential growth to rates that would allow closing the gap in living standards with other OECD countries. Prolonged cyclical weakness, with no unambiguous signs yet of a vigorous upturn, has depressed private investment, which is also hampered by legal and regulatory obstacles in key sectors, electricity in particular. Mexico's catching-up is further hindered by low human capital accumulation. The administration has insufficiently solid and stable revenue to finance necessary social spending and public infrastructure investment on the required scale. Policies should therefore give priority to broadening the tax base and creating conditions - economic, financial and legal - in which a competitive private sector has the ability and incentives to invest more. It is also important to spend more productively in areas such as education; efforts there should concentrate on making the existing school system, and the teaching body, more effective, and on allocating more resources to the training of adults. Although the large informal sector provides a kind of safety valve for many of the low-skilled, the formal sector must become a more attractive place in the longer term in which to work and to employ. Emigration also provides a safety valve, and remittances lift many households out of acute poverty. A migration agreement between the United States and Mexico would bring benefits to both. Levels of water and air pollution are unacceptably high in Mexican urban areas, and though policies are addressing this, the (implicit or explicit) pricing of natural resources and of polluting activities is far from optimal. Overall, Mexico needs to move ahead with comprehensive structural reforms, including most immediately approval of the tax, electricity and labour reforms, so as to fully release the country's growth potential and provide resources to deal with important issues of human capital and poverty relief.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Mexico
  • Publication Date: 11-2003
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Abstract: Violent conflict undoubtedly affects West Africa's prospects for economic development and integration. However, the nature of these effects is still poorly understood. As part of the SWAC regional programme on conflict and stability, the SWAC Secretariat undertook a literature review and an electronic consultation of southern and northern agencies and specialists in summer 2003. This aimed to assess the economic consequences of violent conflict at multiple levels; identify operational lessons on how best to deal with these effects; and highlight key areas for further work where the SWAC can add value. The core findings of the review are presented in this note.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, Environment, Human Rights, International Organization, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: West Africa