The other night, at the Occupy Wall Street "General Assembly", I announced the formation of a new working group to examine alternatives to the current banking system.
The idea is to explore existing alternatives to mainstream high street banks (credit unions, cooperative banks etc), think about an ideal system, then try to set it up. No small ambition. But you've got to start somewhere.
At Zuccotti Park, I asked those interested to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if they wished to...
Independent Diplomat was really pleased to help with this visit. JB is making a documentary about the Western Sahara, and has a long-standing interest in the issue (he has visited the refugee camps in Algeria).
He visited the UN this week to address the 4th Committee, which deals with decolonization (the Western Sahara is regarded as a decolonization issue by the UN: its status is undetermined). And this pic shows him speaking (with me behind him looking stern). You can...
Here are some suggestions for a manifesto for the Occupy Wall Street protests, which are currently taking place. The manifesto attempts to summarize common concerns about current banking practices and articulate a new agenda for a better system. The banks are busy lobbying lawmakers and the Administration every day. The public must be given equal access to demand a better system. I discussed some of the problems, and in particular the inadequacy of current and planned...
After talking with a lot of people at the UN, and in the leader- and diplomat-packed corridors and lobbies of various mid-town hotels in a rainy New York City, the likely early outcomes of the Palestinian initiative are becoming a bit clearer. Any observations now however must be stated with a very clear proviso that things are moving fast, and the diplomacy is hectic. Things may change very suddenly.
It is becoming pretty clear that some of the major powers are intending to...
There's a lot of confusion about the PLO's likely attempt this week to gain full membership of the UN. In particular, many commentators (and the PLO itself) often refer to the initiative as an attempt to gain "recognition" by the UN, which it is not. The UN does not recognise states; only other states can recognise states (however, UN membership would undoubtedly boost Palestine's claim to be a state).
As a British diplomat at the UN, I helped negotiate Palestine's last "...
My cousin told me about this remarkable story. It illustrates perfectly the arguments of "The Leaderless Revolution": a tragic and difficult problem which an appeal to conventional insitutions could not solve; instead this brave and resourceful couple took matters, peacefully, into their own hands and addressed the problem, with great compassion, directly...
From shipwreck to solidarity
By Rafael Estefania BBC News, Hansala,...
I was very privileged to be invited to give a lecture about my newly-published book at the London School of Economics. It was a great audience, and a very interesting discussion. You can view a video of the talk here and can hear a podcast of the talk here (the talk lasts about 35 minutes, the Q & A about the same again).
In the US and Europe, disillusion with politics is feeding the far right. We need a radical response that returns power to people
The recent debacle in Washington, where wrangling over the debt limit has triggered a downgrading of American debt, has underlined the deep incompetence of the US political system. Thanks to needless brinkmanship, particularly by the Republicans, confidence in US debt has been undermined, thereby likely increasing the cost of borrowing – a price that will eventually...
One of the arguments of my forthcoming book is that one sign of the failure of government to agree necessary legislation is the seemingly arcane but vital issue of capital requirements for banks. I discuss this issue in this recent column for The Guardian. Such requirements arguably would have prevented the recent financial crisis. Even though the crunch was now two or so years ago, governments worldwide have yet to impose new requirements in most cases, and the so-called...
Somalia: victim of war, famine and a pestilence of policy
Facing starvation and instability, Somalia needs the international community to stop propping up a failed status quo and rethink
The news from Somalia is grim. Last week, the UN declared a famine in two southern areas, calling the food crisis Africa's worst since 1991-92 (which was also in Somalia). The UN estimates that a staggering 3.2 million people need urgent assistance.
The immediate cause of the crisis was the...