Article first published online: 7 MAY 2010
© 2010 London School of Economics and Political Science and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Volume 1, Issue 2, pages 232–235, May 2010
How to Cite
(2010), Reviews. Global Policy, 1: 232–235. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-5899.2010.00033.x
- Issue published online: 7 MAY 2010
- Article first published online: 7 MAY 2010
Conservation Refugees: The Hundred-Year Conflict between Global Conservation and Native Peoples by . Cambridge, MA : MIT Press , 2009 . 336 pp., £18.95 hardcover, 978 0262012614
Nature conservation has for well over a century been promoted as a self-evidently desirable and universally beneficial activity. In the 1900s, the first national parks were established in the US to preserve ‘wilderness’ landscapes against the destructive advance of settlers, and as a source of leisure and national pride. Nowadays, the conservation of nature has a broader remit involving areas designated for strict protection and scientific study, and those that allow various degrees of human occupation and economic use. They are seen as essential for conserving resources, protecting the countryside from destruction and consolidating state influence over national territory.
Yet this philosophy was, and to some extent still is, imbued with the notion that nature conservation and human presence are incompatible. What appeared on the surface to be a benign activity had a dark side. As Mark Dowie explains, the setting up of protected areas has often involved the expulsion of long-established indigenous peoples, turning them into ‘conservation refugees’. This model of exclusionary wilderness conservation was initiated in the first US national parks, Yellowstone (1872) and Yosemite (1914). However, the practice was soon exported to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Many of today’s 108,000+ officially protected areas around the world have been set up employing violent (or ‘soft’) eviction of native peoples.
Dowie’s 19 chapters take the reader through a number of harrowing case studies, including the Maasai (Kenya/Tanzania), Batwa (Uganda), Karen (Thailand), Advasi (India) and Basarwa (Botswana), among others. Tribals have frequently been expelled with little or no compensation, and unceremoniously dumped away from their traditional lands into a life of poverty, neglected or abandoned by their governments. The author has quite harsh words to say about the head offices of large international nongovernmental conservation organisations (BINGOs) such as WWF, Conservation International and TNC, which he accuses of perpetuating this exclusionary conservation model.
Yet Dowie does give us cause for hope. He points out that native peoples have been fighting back everywhere against this form of ‘eco-colonialism’, from Brazil to Canada and Australia. The rights and roles of such groups, which occupy 20 per cent of the land across 75 countries, have been incorporated into national constitutions and international agreements. There have been botched conservation programmes involving traditional peoples, but there is a growing number of success stories. It is now recognised that traditional peoples have historically played a major role in managing landscapes (thus exploding the ‘wilderness myth’), and that they should be incorporated into protected area design and management rather than being ignored or expelled. This message has been taken on board by the BINGOs, by multilateral organisations such as the World Bank and, perhaps most crucially, by the indigenous groups themselves, which have gained the political influence and self-confidence to pursue their cause for self-preservation.
Exclusionary conservation is not only morally and socially reprehensible but potentially disastrous for humanity. In a post-Kyoto scenario, getting conservation right will be increasingly important since protected areas, especially tropical forests, play such a key role in capturing carbon, in preserving biodiversity, regulating rainfall and supplying other environmental services. Mark Dowie’s well-written and highly readable volume is appropriately directed at a wide audience and is a timely reminder that we ignore the key contribution of indigenous peoples to conservation policy at our peril.
Anthony Hallis Reader in Social Planning in Developing Countries, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics and Political Science.
Institutions of the Global South by . London : Routledge , 2008 . 272 pp., £16.99 paperback, 978 0415365918
The prevalence of a north–south divide in international politics after the end of the cold war is a topic that has divided IR academics for some time now. The differentiation in economic outlook and political influence among states in the developing world, or ‘south’, allied with growing complexity and interdependence in global economic and political systems, has led analysts to dismiss the south, and its main constitutive institutions, as an irrelevant, obsolete or even incoherent dimension of international politics in the 21st century.
In this respect, Jacqueline Anne Braveboy-Wagner’s Institutions of the Global South is a very timely and refreshing book. It provides an empirically competent historical description of the ‘achievements, performance, and responses of major global south institutions to show how and why such arrangements are critical to the south’s efforts to call the international community’s attention to their concerns and to resolve their special problems’ (p. 1). Braveboy-Wagner also offers an innovative categorisation of south institutions in terms of their often overlapping geographical, interest-based and ideational formations. The book is structured in three analytical blocks of three chapters each. In the first three chapters, the author focuses on the ‘tricontinental’ institutional formations of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the Group of 77 (G77) and the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). In the subsequent three chapters, she explores distinct ‘regional visions’ of south aspirations as envisaged by the ideologies of pan-Americanism, pan-Africanism and pan-Arabism/Islam. Finally, in chapters 7 to 9, Braveboy-Wagner elaborates on ‘sub-regional communities’ in Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast, South and West Asia and the Pacific.
On the whole, Braveboy-Wagner accomplishes the main objective set out in the book; that is to use a particular conceptual/analytical framework to summarise/describe the main institutions of the global south. However, there are a number of important weaknesses in the study. Most important is the lack of a contemporary discussion of the challenges facing south institutions in the context of changes in the global order after the end of the cold war and 9/11. Similarly, the author entirely dismisses the new diplomacy and institutions of the south. The emergence of smaller groupings of like-minded middle powers, as reflected in the India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum (IBSA), established in 2003, is clearly a new model of south–south activism in the early 21st century. In this sense, it is somewhat disappointing that an examination of the role of these emerging powers in either reshaping or undermining traditional south institutions is missing from the book.
The book’s theoretical discussion is patchy and limited to a few pages in the introduction and conclusion. The author does not apply consistently any theoretical perspective to the empirical description of south institutions, even though the book claims that ‘critical institutionalism’ is ‘the best explanatory approach to understanding the global south’s actions’ (p. 214). Moreover, it does not thoroughly engage with key theoretical questions such as why south institutions, like NAM, have persisted after the end of the cold war.
That said, Institutions of the Global South is a valuable contribution to the rather limited scholarly work on south–south institutions. It will have a particular appeal to graduate students of international relations, international organisations and development studies.
Marco Vieirais Lecturer in International Relations in the Department of Political Science and International Relations, University of Birmingham.
The United Nations and Civil Society: Legitimating Global Governance – Whose Voice? by . London : Zed , 2009 . 220 pp., £22.99 paperback, 978 1848132757
Owing in good part to shortfalls of legitimacy, contemporary global governance is not up to the major tasks required of it. One important way to construct more legitimate global governance – and through it increased capacity and effectiveness – is greater and better engagement of the regulatory institutions with civil society. How might these improvements be achieved?
In this study Nora McKeon offers a searching critical examination of the potential contributions as well as the possible pitfalls of relations between civil society organisations (CSOs) and the United Nations (UN). Written by a former senior civil society liaison officer in the UN system, the book offers a rare full-length analysis of these issues by a policy insider. The book combines a discussion of large themes about the role of civil society in global governance with detailed case analysis, particularly in relation to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and its World Food Summit process. In addition, the third chapter and accompanying annex provide a very useful overview of institutional arrangements for civil society liaison of two dozen intergovernmental organisations.
At its core the book argues that ‘the UN system has indeed opened up to civil society voices since the early 1990s … but that it has failed thus far to move from generic and often episodic participation to meaningful incorporation of these actors into global political process’ (p. 2). McKeon further underlines the differential access to the UN/FAO of different parts of civil society, with business groups and professional NGOs often having privileged entry and people’s organisations and social movements often facing exclusion. As a result, ‘what is missing are the voices of those most affected by the inequities of current global governance’ (p. 174). McKeon also highlights tendencies towards cooptation of civil society into the predominant agendas and policy discourses of global governance.
As action-oriented research, the book also offers various suggestions for ways forward in a project ‘to build more equitable and inclusive global governance’ (p. 189). What is needed, says McKeon, is more and also different kinds of engagement of civil society by the UN and other global governance agencies. Consultation processes want improvement. More openings are needed for people’s movements such as Vía Campesina. More space must be created for alternative discourses such as food sovereignty. Greater efforts are required for in-country consultation of CSOs, as distinct from global exchanges in summits and at headquarters. More communication and collaboration among civil society liaison officers of the various global governance institutions would also be fruitful. And CSOs themselves need to upgrade their own consultations of stakeholders.
All of these points are well taken, and McKeon documents them carefully. That said, the book says rather less regarding specific steps to achieve the desired changes. Future work might also go further in analysing the substantial forces that stand in the way of realising the advances. One might in addition query the author’s persistent faith in the UN to lead the way towards more effective and more legitimate global governance. Arguably some of the more innovative approaches to civil society involvement in global public policy are being developed outside intergovernmentalist constructions, for example in more hybrid institutions such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM), the Education for All process (EFA) and the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).
Jan Aart Scholte
Jan Aart Scholteis Professor Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick and Centennial Professor in LSE Global Governance at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
An Anthropology of War: Views from the Frontline by ( ed ). New York : Berghan Books , 2009 . 204 pp., £16.50 paperback, 978 1845456221
One of the unexpected casualties of the United States’ recent military interventions has been the peace among the anthropological community. Since 2006, the Pentagon’s Human Terrain System (HTS) project has been embedding anthropologists within military units operating in Iraq and Afghanistan to enhance their understanding of local cultures and has thereby reopened old sores over the (mis)use of the social sciences in past counterinsurgency campaigns in Vietnam and Latin America. Fierce criticisms have been expressed through the American Anthropological Association with the view that, behind calls for a constructive engagement with the military, anthropology’s ethical code is being fatally compromised and the discipline made complicit in illegitimate military occupations.
An Anthropology of War has clearly been assembled with this context in mind. HTS is admittedly only explicitly referred to once but the characterisation of its role as ‘enabling the kill chain’ and supporting the ‘gory structures of empire’ (p. 27) should leave no doubt as to the volume’s editorial line. Indeed, as if to atone for the sins of her fellow anthropologists, editor Alisse Waterston declares that its goal is nothing less than ‘to undermine war, to help bring an end to war and the US imperial project’ (p. 14). Originally a journal special issue, the volume sets out on this modest mission through the individual contributions of eight anthropologists whom Waterston does not hesitate to herald as ‘among the great thinkers and moralists of our time’ (p. 21).
The collection broadly divides equally into general global considerations of war today and more specific regional studies. Unfortunately and despite exhortations to recognise the inherent complexity of the phenomenon of war (p. 73), the overt political commitment of the authors frequently renders the analysis single minded, heavy handed and desperately short on nuance. Stephen Reyna tells us that America’s ‘global warring’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Somalia, Chad, the Sudan and Colombia can all be attributed to its limitless thirst for oil (pp. 61–64). Jose Vazquez suggests that the US military deliberately withholds cultural and linguistic training to prevent its soldiers identifying with the local Iraqi population (p. 94) – never mind that, for good or for ill, the purpose of HTS has been to address these deficiencies. A few pieces dealing with specific localities do offer some empirical insights into the potential functional roles played by violence in Palestine (Avram Bornstein), Guatemala (Beatrice Manz) and Columbia (Lesley Gill) but readers with specific interests in these regions will likely find these accounts too cursory to yield significant illumination. Among all this, Carolyn Nordstrom’s thoughtful contribution on ‘global fractures’ and the complex networks in which acts of violence are embedded is the clear stand-out piece.
Given its promise to report from the front line, the collection surprisingly omits any substantial discussion of the men and women who actually fight in wars, or of their motivations, beliefs and social interactions. Anthropology would seem like a discipline well equipped to conduct this kind of investigation and provide valuable insights into the ways armed force is organised in the world today. Aside from potentially adding some much needed nuance, such analysis must surely be one of the prerequisites to achieving anything approaching the volume’s stated ambitions. It may yet be that such studies turn out to be the most valuable outcome of anthropology’s fraught relationship with the military.
Antoine Bousquetis a Lecturer in International Politics, Birkbeck, University of London.
The Politics of Global Regulation by and NgaireWoods ( eds ). Princeton, NJ : Princeton University Press , 2009 . 312 pp., £16.95 paperback, 978 0691139616 .
This impressive new volume demonstrates some of the best new thinking on global regulation and the ways in which the context and process of policy making affect the rules, standards and institutions that increasingly govern people’s lives. Walter Mattli and Ngaire Woods provide the analytical centrepiece of the volume, which seeks to explain which interests are likely to be represented in global regulation. They argue that two factors work together to produce global regulatory outcomes, these being institutional supply in which regulation is formulated and developed on the one hand, and the context of demand for global regulation on the other. Specifically, if the institutional setting in which global regulation is supplied is limited and exclusive, it is more likely to favour conditions for regulatory capture by narrow interests. Conversely, open and transparent processes of institutional supply are expected to favour global regulation in the common interest. When demand for global regulation is broad, and thus involves a number of different actors who can challenge the status quo, a regulatory outcome is expected to be more in line with the common interest.
Each chapter in the volume speaks to this common analytical framework in a dialogue that is rare in most edited volumes. Empirical case studies reflect on the politics of sovereign debt restructuring (Eric Helleiner), the global regulation of human rights violations (Kathryn Sikkink), global safety in shipping (Samuel Barrows), business regulation and corporate conduct (David Vogel) and international trade (Judith Goldstein and Richard Steinberg). Kenneth Abbott and Duncan Snidal also provide a rich discussion of the standard-setting nature and the multistage process of global regulation. Miles Kahler and David Lake complete the volume with an examination of global regulation in terms of the variety of institutional contexts in which global regulation has occurred, and confront the puzzle of why so little of it takes the form of supranationalism.
The volume offers two central contributions to scholars and practitioners of global governance. First, it provides a sustained and analytically powerful challenge to the functionalist view of global regulation, in which such regulation is the result of the need for coordination and communication in the context of globalising interdependencies. Instead, the volume provides an account of the inherently political nature of global regulation – that is, that the character and extent of global regulation are a function of the distribution of social power, broadly defined. Such a contribution may be unsurprising to many, but it does provide a useful set of new cases and rich theoretical innovations. The second central contribution of the volume is the particular analytical framework that Mattli and Woods put forth. Yet while the authors utilise everything from public choice theory to sociological institutionalism and international political economy to build their model, some central concepts are left somewhat fuzzy. In particular, the notion of capture is defined very broadly. At times what are essentially interest groups are referred to as ‘capture actors’; and instead of focusing on how global regulatory capture operates, they define only a broad set of expectations under which regulatory capture is most likely. However, thanks to this impressive volume, future work in this area will no doubt have a richer analytical grounding than before.
Kevin Youngis LSE Fellow in Global Politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.