Chris Nshimbi giving his presentation in Singapore

Voices from Outside: Re-shaping International Relations Theory and Practice in an era of Global Transformation, Singapore 2015

GovInn’s senior researcher Chris Nshimbi took part in the International Studies Association (ISA)’s Global South Caucus (GSCIS) Conference in Singapore (8-10 January 2015). He shares his work and conclusions with us. 

by Chris Nshimbi

At the International Studies Association’s Global South Caucus Conference in Singapore I presented two papers (titles and abstracts below) and chaired a session on “Foreign Investment, Transnational Corporations and Civil Society.”
The theme was “Voices from Outside: Re-shaping International Relations Theory and Practice in an era of Global Transformation.”
It provided a great chance for sharing some of GovInn’s ongoing research and findings from that research with international scholars from the global south. It also provided a wonderful opportunity for the exchange of ideas, networking and establishment of new relationship.
The caucus developed the theme “in view of the mutuality of interest between the caucus and ISA’s
first president from the global south, Professor Amitav Acharya.

Recognizing that international relations research and scholarship is deficient with respect to the inclusion of perspectives from the south, the caucus aims, through conferences such as these, to pioneer the integration of marginalized voices into “mainstream” scholarship.”

I contributed to the conference with two papers:

  • Globalization and the threat of marginalization: towards a definition of marginalization

Abstract: This paper discusses the threat to sideline some actors from the activities that characterize globalization in the contemporary global political economy, in an attempt to definite marginalization. The absence of a definition and literature conceptualizing marginalization motivates this study. To meet its objectives, the paper addresses the question:

How does globalization threaten to marginalize some actors from the global economy?

The paper reviews existing literature on marginalization across disciplines and that literature which employs the term without defining it. The review outlines factors that characterize marginalization and, with the help of conventional regional economic integration theory, examines regional integration among strategies that those threatened with marginalization collectively use to avert the threat. The paper presents marginalization as a condition or process where some areas and actors in the global political economy participate less in and are being pushed to the margins of globalization and corresponding activities. Marginalization emerges as a governance issue where those so threatened engage the global political economy to mediate and negotiate activities on their own behalf, especially when purported global institutions fail them. Moreover, all areas and populations in the world are, without exception, susceptible to marginalization.

  • Oscillations: Short-term domestic policy considerations and regional integration in Southeast Asia and Southern Africa

Abstract:

Do short-term domestic considerations make member states neglect long-term goals for regional integration?

The question is addressed by examining the evolution of regionalism in Southeast Asia and eastern and southern Africa. The IPE theory, realism, provides the core lens for viewing the evolution. A comprehensive outlook incorporating other IPE, historical, and sociocultural approaches is concurrently adopted and the examination conducted at international, state, and grassroots levels. Colonialism, independence, policy reforms, crises and grassroots cross-border interactions affect regionalism. A notable phenomenon is also revealed: if integration represented the opposite of fragmentation, then the evolutionary behavior of, respectively, Asian and African regionalism is comparable to an oscillating pendulum. Members are sometimes keen on regionalism but withdraw at other times. Regional states should turn from claiming state sovereignty against regional goals. Regionalism would also flourish if regional leaders focused less on consolidating domestic power. Authorities should encourage grassroots cross-border activities to promote bottom-up integration.

Call for abstracts: IGU 2015 Regional Conference, Moscow: “Regional integration in Southern Africa”

logo_classic_igumoscow17-21 August 2015, Lomonosov Moscow State University (LMSU)

In 1991, the African Union (AU) through the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) made a commitment towards integrating the African continent. In the AU’s integration agenda, the establishment of the AEC, is the ultimate expression and manifestation of the integration of the African continent. This integration is to be founded on eight regional economic communities (RECs) of which the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is one.

Ideally, successful integration in and of the respective RECs should translate into the success of the continental integration agenda. Africa on the other hand has in the past two decades experienced renewed growth, acquiring tags such as the rising sun. Therefore, this session proposes to discuss the challenges, prospects and opportunities that SADC has against its objective of an integrated southern Africa.

As one of the pillars of the proposed AEC, what are the economic, social, cultural and environmental challenges and trajectories of integration at the regional level in southern Africa?
For example, given the increasing levels of migration and the corresponding desire by some states to tighten cross border movement, is the idea of integration feasible, let alone sustainable?
Is a completely or partially integrated SADC region even possible?
What can SADC learn from the other regional economic communities on the African continent and other parts of the world?
What issues does the SADC region need to address in order to enhance integration?
How and does SADC relate with other RECs in Africa and outside in view of the continental integration agenda?
What can other RECs in Africa and other parts of the world learn from the SADC experience?
What can SADC learn from other regions?

SUBMISSION PROCEDURES:

Interested authors should register and submit abstracts (200-250 words) via the MOSCOW IGU Regional Conference website in the link provided below by selecting “Regional integration in Southern Africa: Changing socioeconomic balances in Africa and prospects for continental integration” under the “Session” drop down menu.

WEBSITE FOR REGISTRATION: http://www.igu2015.ru/instruction-abstract-submission

DEADLINE FOR SUBMITTING ABSTRACTS: 31 January 2015

NOTIFICATION OF THE RESULTS OF THE ABSTRACT REVIEW: 1 March 2015

Download the call for abstracts here

For further information please contact:

Dr. Christopher C. Nshimbi
Research Fellow
Centre for the Study of Governance Innovation (GovInn)
Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria
Tel: +27 12 420 4152
Email: christopher.nshimbi@up.ac.za

Or

Mr. Inocent Moyo
Research Fellow
Department of Geography
UNISA, Florida Campus
Tel: +27 72 106 2632
Email: minnoxa@yahoo.com

GovInn joins RISC

RISC logo
We are glad to announce that our Centre has joined RISC, the Consortium for Comparative Research on Regional Integration and Social Cohesion.

Founded in 2007, RISC gathers socially conscious research centres from all over the world. Through the creation of a cross-regional and interdisciplinary network RISC promotes the comparative examination of the human and environmental impacts of various aspects of regional integration across geographic areas and time periods. What sets RISC apart is its commitment to conduct research that could support social action projects in local communities.
GovInn researchers welcome the opportunity to contribute to a better understanding of the global political and economic challenges from the privileged observation point of Southern Africa.

Learn more about GovInn research projects
Learn more about RISC

World needs a new Bretton Woods with Africa in the lead – Business Day 27.11.2014

This week on Business Day, South Africa’s leading business newspaper, GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti reflects on the need to redefine the economic system and the very definition of economic progress.

“After the 2007-08 global economic collapse, we have not yet seen one major reform. Both bail-outs and quantitative easing (a cryptic term to hide the fact that governments have resorted to the old-fashioned, Zimbabwe-esque remedy of printing money out of thin air) have done exactly the opposite: they have condoned business-as-usual practices, providing an incentive for the financial sector to continue speculating.”

Our leaders make public appeals for more growth, but fail to specify what “type” of growth they want. While in the postwar period the world could have been satisfied with economic growth at all costs — most countries had been destroyed by the conflict and the future was simply about rebuilding — the new century has brought some critical reality checks. The planet is in pain, unbridled economic growth has increased inequalities in many countries and environmental damage has become a concern not only for tree-huggers, but for anybody interested in social and economic stability.

Read the full article on Business Day. 

Names and democracy in Southern Africa: the tale of two presidents

GovInn Researcher Chris Nshimbi compares the democratization processes of Zambia and Malawi on his latest post for the Nordic Africa Institut of Uppsala, Sweden.

“A few days after celebrating 50 years of independence in October, Zambia relived a sad history: the death of a second incumbent president to die in office in the space of six years.

Zambia is once again appearing as a beacon of peace in a violent and conflict ridden continent. However, the proof shall be in the transition with elections to be held 90 days after the president’s demise.

There are interesting comparisons to be made with neighbouring Malawi—the story less told about the successes of the evolving democratization in southern Africa.

Southern Africa needs committed politicians and senior bureaucrats that transcend personal interests to apply the principles of democracy and seek the firm establishment of state institutions.”

Read the full article on the Nordic Africa Development Policy Forum

Creative ideas on migration will open the doors to growth -Business Day SA-

“South Africa is the destination of many workers from the rest of Africa and from the rest of the world. We know that about 7% of SA’s workforce is foreign. More than 38% of workers in gold mines are non-South African citizens and more than 22% of mine workers in all sectors hail from Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique.

Data are sketchy and grossly underestimate the phenomenon. Many migrants are employed in informal positions, with precarious jobs, both in terms of safety and social security. Most undocumented migrant workers are poorly captured by official statistics. By all means, migrant workers are a fundamental factor in SA’s economic development. But how supportive and reliable is the present administrative and legislative framework?

What we need is a simple and clear framework to allow citizens of neighbouring countries to seek work and business opportunities in SA. We may even want to consider experimenting with free movement, for instance, within the Southern African Customs Union. In the European Union (EU), where free movement is a reality, most people have not relocated to other countries. As they benefit from clear arrangements that allow them to return regularly to their home country, they need not relocate permanently.”

In his regular column on Business Day, Lorenzo Fioramonti discusses how South Africa could transform its position of African immigration hub into an economic opportunity.

Read the full article on Business Day

Partnership to Explore New Funding Sources for Innovators

leddaThe European Social Innovation Research website features the LEDDA partnership this week.

This first-of-its-kind partnership is envisioned as a global, diverse set of academic, civil society, government, business, and philanthropy groups focused on ushering a new, parallel economic system through the development and pilot trial phases.

says Georg Mildenberger in his article.

“The economic system, called the Local Economic Direct Democracy Association (LEDDA) framework, or synonymously, LEDDA economic direct democracy, represents a rethinking of economic purpose and money. Among other things, it uses money as a democratic voting tool, and distributes voting power by increasing and equalizing incomes. This is a local economic system designed to complement and compete with existing systems within local (city or regional) economies.

A LEDDA itself is a membership-based, community benefit association open to residents, businesses, schools, nonprofits, local governments, public services, and others that choose to participate. Each LEDDA governs its own local framework through an online direct democracy process, and all LEDDAs are networked together within a global association.

The LEDDA framework is comprehensive, including as elements a novel local electronic currency, intellectual property pool, financial system, online direct democracy governance system, socially responsible business model, and buy local program. According to Boik, who outlines the framework in his 2014 book Economic Direct Democracy: A Framework to End Poverty and Maximize Well-Being, “the framework diversifies, strengthens, and infuses a local economy with democracy, and in so doing empowers residents to address local and global issues of interest.”

One key characteristic is that the LEDDA framework employs new motivations for economic decision-making. Rather than focusing attention on strict self-interest (by rewarding individuals who strive for higher corporate profits and investor returns), it focuses attention on cooperation, via a process of maximizing community well-being. A LEDDA assesses and forecasts social, economic, and environmental well-being using modern data collection and computer modeling tools. It uses the results to guide decision-making, especially in the LEDDA financial system, called the Crowd-Based Financial System (CBFS)”.

Know more about the CBFS and read the full article on the SIR website

Lorenzo Fioramonti presents his latest book in Heidelberg

Lorenzo Fioramonti presents his new book in Heidelberg, Germany

Numbers dominate global politics and, as a result, our everyday lives. Credit ratings steer financial markets and can make or break the future of entire nations. GDP drives our economies. Stock market indices flood our media and national debates. Statistical calculations define how we deal with climate change, poverty and sustainability. But what is behind these numbers?
GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti presented his new book at the German American Institute in Heidelberg, Germany on 14 October 2014.

In How Numbers Rule the World, Lorenzo Fioramonti reveals the hidden agendas underpinning the use of statistics and those who control them. Most worryingly, he shows how numbers have been used as a means to reinforce the grip of markets on our social and political life, curtailing public participation and rational debate.Lorenzo Fioramonti presents his latest book in Heidelberg

Lorenzo Fioramonti presents his latest book in Heidelberg

Lorenzo Fioramonti presents his latest book in Heidelberg

“Competing with Capitalism to Maximize Well-Being” LEDDA framework on Thruth Out

What would you do to reinvent capitalism, to make it less destructive and more focused on what people really need?
It’s not that the benefits of capitalism are undesirable – jumbo jets and smart phones are sheer wonders – it’s that the collateral damage is growing untenable. Democracy and the commons are being sold off to the highest bidders.

GovInn Director Lorenzo Fioramonti and John Boik, creator of the Principled Societies Project present on TruthOut the Local Economic Direct Democracy (LEDDA) framework.

A LEDDA, Local Economic Direct Democracy Association
, is a membership-based, community benefit association open to residents, businesses, schools, nonprofits, local governments, public services, and others that choose to participate. The LEDDA framework is the local economic system – comprised of software, policies, standards, and procedures – that a new LEDDA implements. Once live, the membership can alter the local framework as desired.

In effect, the framework offers a secondary level of organization on top of an existing local economy.

Each LEDDA governs its own local framework through an online process of direct democracy, and all LEDDAs are networked together within a global association, which is also governed through online direct democracy. Thus the focus is both local and global.

The LEDDA framework integrates and builds on numerous initiatives already existing in cities and regions around the world, including buy local, local currency, open source, crowdfunding, socially responsible business, open data, smart cities, and participatory democracy. It contains its own monetary system, which issues a local electronic currency, called the token. And it has its own financial system, called the Crowd-Based Financial System (CBFS), which resembles crowdfunding and participatory budgeting. The framework is sophisticated, and there are many more elements.

The LEDDA framework is synonymous with LEDDA economic direct democracy, an economic system that offers all participants roughly equal and direct opportunity to influence their local economy. The framework infuses a local economy with democracy, in part by using money as a voting tool and by increasing and equalizing family incomes.

A computer simulation model has been published that illustrates the process. Inflation-adjusted mean family income more than doubles during the twenty-eight-year simulation period. As incomes rise, they become more equal. By the end of the simulation, every member family receives a pre-tax, take-home income equivalent to about $107,000, just above the 90th percentile of baseline income. Even very wealthy families would see a small direct gain.

By the end of the simulation, the LEDDA, located in an averaged-size US county, channels the equivalent of more than $2 billion dollars annually toward local businesses, schools, public services, and nonprofit organizations. Tax revenues for the county markedly rise. With such abundant resources, and democratic control over funding decisions, a community could remake its economy into one that best suits its needs.

The LEDDA framework is still theoretical, and the partnership is just forming. Over time, we hope to provide answers to the host of questions that such an approach naturally raises. In this, we invite your participation.

Imagine a democracy-infused economic system that maximizes well-being. The long-run social and environmental returns might be valued in the trillions, thousands of times greater than the costs of development and pilot trials. Isn’t it worth the effort?

Read the full article on TruthOut

How Moving Beyond GDP may Help Fight Poverty in Africa

In this policy brief for CROP (Comparative Research Programme on Poverty) GovInn director Lorenzo Fioramonti explains how alternative indicators are likely to highlight the important contribution of social cohesion and natural welfare to economic development, thus helping to eradicate poverty in the continent.

Click here to read the CROP Poverty Briefs in full