Archive | July, 2016

A Friend in Need:  The UN declares its intentions on migrants and refugees, Dr. Robert Zuber

31 Jul

dayoffriendshipToday is Friendship Day, a time to contemplate what we mean to and for each other, the many ways in which our lives intertwine, and how we can better accompany friends, family and colleagues as a precondition for staying our own course.

At the UN, this day is intended in part to support the goals and objectives of the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, a “culture” that privileges respect of persons, honors community and international obligations to rights and development, and refrains from any behavior that impedes the ability of others to pursue a life of dignity.

When I was younger, there was a saying that in our 20s we think we’ll be “saved” by love; in our 30s by friendship.  Well into our 40s we realize that nothing will save us.  Indeed, at that point in life, most are encouraged to turn from our preoccupation with personal ambition and emotional reassurance to embrace the challenges of a world not where we want or need it to be, certainly not what we wish to leave as our legacy to those we love and those we’ll never know.

This repositioning of life energy, I would argue, is in itself an act of friendship.  To brave the cold, harsh winds that currently batter our politics and our compromise our best selves, to eschew narrow self-preoccupations and seek to reign in the current madness without creating more of it, these are great acts of courage and kindness worthy of the best of friendship.

Global Action, like many small ventures, survives on such acts.  The confidence that is shown in us, the financial sacrifices that others make for us, the interest that others show in our impact (real and potential), the inspiration that comes to us from the valuable work of others, all are so very deeply appreciated.  Indeed, we recognize that some of these gifts are offered mostly on faith, mostly on the hope that, together with many other voices, we can help steer this partially disabled ship towards calmer, safer, fairer waters.

And these attributes and gifts are in no way confined to the relationship between small policy offices and their benefactors.  In my Inbox this morning is the fruit of many weeks of careful, sometimes painful negotiations towards adoption of a “Political Declaration” to address the question of large movements of refugees and migrants, a declaration that in its final form will be adopted at the UN by foreign ministers and/or heads of state in September.

Ambassadors Kawar of Jordan and Donoghue of Ireland are among the most respected diplomats currently at the UN, and as co-facilitators they carefully steered this General Assembly process through many drafts and some significant state objections; all this with the backdrop of millions of men, women and children on the move while responsibilities for their wellbeing are at present disproportionally confined to a few states that are “middle income” at best – Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon and others.

The Declaration seeks to balance some difficult policy controversies – how to protect internally displaced persons without compromising state sovereignty; how to describe the “burdens” assumed by host states without implicating migrants and refugees as “burdens” themselves; how to calibrate what the UN often refers to as “common but differentiated” responsibilities such that more states are able and willing to extend concrete acts of friendship and protection to persons –especially children – displaced by armed violence, political instability and climate-related impacts that we have collectively not done enough to prevent.

The language of this draft Declaration makes such responsibilities crystal clear: We are determined to save lives.  Our challenge is above all moral and humanitarian.  Equally, we are determined to find long-term and sustainable solutions.  We will combat with all the means at our disposal the abuses and exploitation suffered by countless refugees and migrants in vulnerable situations. We acknowledge a shared responsibility to manage large movements of refugees and migrants in a humane, sensitive, compassionate and people-centred manner.

These are the values that represent the best of what the UN is capable of.   These are also the values on which a durable, dependable, inclusive, global friendship is built.

On this Friendship Day, it might be interesting to note that, in 1998, none other than Winnie the Pooh was named Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations.  Pooh’s fictional “character” has been described elsewhere as a bit naive and slow-witted, but also friendly, thoughtful, and steadfast.  The draft Political Declaration negotiated over many weeks by Ambassadors Kawar and Donoghue resolutely avoids the first set of characteristics but might well serve as a model for the latter.

When asked by others what I need from my friends, my answer is essentially the same as what I imagine they need from me – insight and forgiveness: insight in the form of active attentiveness, challenge to our own status quo, an insistence that we become the best that we are capable of being; forgiveness in the form of confessing how our stubborn judgments sometimes betray our values and commitments, how we are sometimes “in the way” of the objectives of our heart’s desire ( not to mention the needs of a planet under stress), how we sometimes give in to the temptation to treat persons in crisis as though they have a life-threatening communicable disease.

Whether with colleagues or migrants, we can all “friend” better.   Let’s use part of this day to figure out how that’s done.

Food for Thought:  Diversifying the UN’s Peace and Security Shareholders, Dr. Robert Zuber

24 Jul

Japan as Security Council president for July held an open debate this past week on Council working methods, perhaps my favorite of all the Council meetings.

During the hours of discussion, Council members and other states aired their suggestions for reform, but also their frustrations with the pace of change, the political dynamics affecting the maintenance of international peace and security, the stubbornly uneven power dynamics within the Council, even the degree to which the Council remains reluctant to engage meaningfully on its core mandate with other relevant parts of the UN system.

We have our own suggestions for how the Council should recalibrate itself and have written about these previously.  One more recent suggestion involves restraint regarding what we see as the overuse of “condemnation” as a response to violent incidents or offenses against the international order.  Too much condemning with too little follow up is as likely to breed contempt as compliance, as most any teacher or parent can tell you.  Our preference, to the extent feasible, is for the Peacebuilding Commission’s evolving protocols on conflict and abuse – early and vigorous diplomatic response, steady and disciplined stakeholder engagement, and broad-based capacity support wherever needed.

But one working methods issue that strikes us as particularly noteworthy was raised on Tuesday by several states, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland and the Russian Federation. All made clear that, in this imperfect world, the Council’s agenda is now utterly overburdened with too many crises and competing agendas; too many lengthy ‘canned’ statements and overly complex press notes; too many negotiations producing resolutions of limited impact; too many ‘routine’ engagements leaving insufficient time for the Council to assess urgent conditions on the ground.

Through its thematic obligations, the Council has been (rightly) seized of the peace and security implications of women’s and children’s participation, climate change and drought, poverty and hunger, trafficking in drugs and arms, and much more.  However, states have reason to fear (and have expressed as much during Council debates) that Council involvement in these thematic areas often blurs the line between leveraging response capacity and exercising response control.  In that light, Russia and others have consistently called for the Council to concentrate on state-specific threats and leave thematic matters to the General Assembly, ECOSOC, and UN specialized agencies.

While we agree that the Council is overly burdened, should better respect the aptitude of other parts of the UN, and cease “stepping on the toes” of relevant stakeholders, it is also true that other UN agencies are not always willing to make the reverse linkage in the form of recognizing and articulating the full security implications of their own work.  If the Council is to be convinced to recognize security interests and expertise elsewhere in the UN, it would be helpful to see more evidence by other UN agencies of that recognition in return.

To some degree, this “recognition deficit” was on display in an otherwise fine side event this week hosted by the World Food Program (WFP).  The event  “El Niño-induced Drought in Southern Africa” was a lightly attended follow up to a larger event the day before on “Responding to the Impacts of El Niño and Mitigating Recurring Climate Risks,” featuring HE Mary Robinson, now the UN Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate.  Robinson as many of you know is quite a “legend” around UN Headquarters and she deftly cited the many places in the world –including southern Africa – where drought and flooding in some nefarious, climate-driven combination is creating havoc with communities and livelihoods.

The “southern Africa” event the following day covered a range of issues pertinent to what was described as a “level three emergency” after 2 years of what is now universally recognized as devastating drought in the region.  Conflict implications per se were not a major dimension of the conversation, and speakers seemed relatively uncomfortable examining the larger implicated “complexities” of the southern African crisis, though SADC’s Mhlongo did underscore the links between drought-related economic impacts and levels of gender violence and HIV infection.

Our office attended this event in (for us) large numbers, in part because of our solidarity with affected people in that region, in part because of our respect for the work of WFP, but also in part because of our belief that climate-related drought and hunger are (and will continue to be) major drivers of human conflict worldwide.

People eating their own seeds rather than planting them, people leaving emaciated cows to die in the fields rather than milking them, people staring helplessly into the traumatized faces of their nutrition and health compromised children rather than taking them to school, these are prime candidates for displacement and all of its attendant vulnerabilities, including conflict-related vulnerabilities.

And while it is reasonable for the WFP and others to focus on the areas closest to their mandate and ignore the larger concerns lurking both “on the ground” and elsewhere in the UN system, we explicitly urged them not to take this path.  Indeed, we softly reminded them of some of the relevant realities of the UN system – a system struggling to extract funds pledged to already existing crises, a system struggling as well to grasp and address the many potential ‘sparks’ of conflict — often blithely referred to as “root causes” – sparks to which all of us in this system need to be more fully attentive.

And a system that seems to be perpetually in competition within itself to keep focus and attention on matters of greatest urgency.  If Special Representative Kubiš is anywhere near correct in what he reported this past week to the Security Council, the upcoming military liberation from ISIL control of Mosul in Iraq will set off a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions, rapidly drying up available assistance and commanding (at least in the short term) most of the media headlines.

We mentioned the Kubiš prediction at the WFP/southern African event, and it was clearly not comfortable for the presenters to grasp how other global events could steal away attention from the regional, climate-induced crisis on their own agenda. It must be discouraging indeed to have to consider prospects of pledges of support un-made or un-honored, of compounding La Niña storms quickly turning parched fields into seas of mud that will only magnify misery and fuel conflict, and especially of other UN and state officials looking the other way towards more ‘compelling’ violence-inspired crises elsewhere.

Special Envoy Robinson has surely experienced such discouragement from many angles in her long and impact-filled career and she urged her audiences this week to constantly keep our numerous and complex threats in mind, especially as they impact future generations.  The “full-spectrum” response rightly sought by WFP for southern Africa requires commensurate, full spectrum mindfulness – not only of the effects of drought and hunger, but of their peace and security implications and of the sometimes competing capacities and interests of the UN system.   If we want a more focused, less political, more system-sensitive and less burdened Security Council – and we do – all parts of the UN must contribute more to a comprehensive assessment of peace and security risks and responsibilities, especially in times of crisis.  While we might want (or need) to believe otherwise, there simply is no part of our common work – on climate and poverty, on discrimination and justice — that does not also possess relevant peace and security dimensions.

Justice Matters:  The UN Explores Multiple Pathways to Human Dignity, Dr. Robert Zuber

17 Jul


On July 14, Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, president of the International Criminal Court (ICC), spoke to a packed conference room at UN Headquarters.  The event was chaired by Italy’s Ambassador Cardi and was intended as part of the UN’s acknowledgment of the International Day of Criminal Justice which falls each year on July 17.

The president hit many important notes during her address, including reminding the audience that the ICC is a court of “last resort” for the “crimes against humanity” under its jurisdiction, including the use of child soldiers, sexual violence as a tactic of war, the wanton destruction of cultural property, and soon the crime of aggression.  It is up to member states, she rightly noted, to help the ICC establish a “consistent pattern of accountability” for international crimes, in part by taking greater national responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of such crimes and in part through efforts to deter and punish those who seek to undermine the administration of justice through the ICC, including the interference with/harassment of witnesses.

The president did not take up several questions that some of us might otherwise have expected.  The ICC’s relationship to the Security Council, for instance, has been a contentious one that has included untimely referrals, massive security restrictions on investigations, significant budgetary limitations, and the Council’s refusal to sanction states that fail in their responsibilities to arrest indicted criminals.  Moreover, the president chose not to ‘call out’ states parties which have hosted – rather than captured – those very same criminals.

But what she did suggest was important: that credible international justice is essential to the restoration of rule of law, to human development, indeed to the dignity of victims.   She recognized that a “global system of justice” has many facets that are tied to the activities of courts, certainly to the vigorous promotion of internationally recognized human rights but also to a development and conflict prevention system that can uphold dignity and help ensure that the worst of crimes can be addressed in their potential before they unfold in grotesque practice.

As the president also recognized, other UN events during this past week touched on key elements of a global system of justice.   In the General Assembly, PGA Lykketoft convened a high level event to assess the human rights performance of the UN as it concludes its 70th year.   Fittingly, states used the occasion to promote the need to, as New Zealand and others noted, examine the implications of human rights across the three UN “pillars.” States from Panama and Chile to France and Estonia noted the many rights dimensions that affect people in overt conflict situations, but also highlighted those suffering from torture, discrimination, incarceration-related abuses and many other violations.   And while Liechtenstein rightly lamented that disregard of the ‘rules of war’ seems now to be reaching epidemic proportions, there was broad agreement with the Netherlands and others that we can do more  — and must do more — to ensure that people can finally live in a world “free from armed conflict.”

Last Wednesday in another small conference room, an “A” list of UN officials was brought together by Uruguay and Portugal to discuss the economic and social rights implications of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  ASG Šimonović set a collaborative tone, urging all of us “to bring human rights to the core of our development work.”  ASG Gass went ever farther, noting that the SDGs represent a “new social contract,” while lamenting a “shortage of tools” with which we can hold states (and others) accountable to their SDG promises.   Happily, Gass rightly suggested that the integration of human rights into the SDGs would help make accessible the more fully developed capacities within the human rights community which are already doing much to hold states accountable to rights-based obligations.  As it turns out, tools for SDG accountability need not be created.  They can be borrowed.

As for the convening states, there was enthusiasm for SDG-rights linkages but also cautious tones.  Uruguay’s Ambassador responded to those who see economic and social rights as “vague,” noting that genuinely sustainable development requires ‘dignity work’ in the form of ending gross social and economic inequalities.  Portugal’s Ambassador urged member states to show more leadership on core Charter values while simultaneously urging NGOs to help ensure that values espoused are values enacted.  But he also painfully referenced the many millions of persons in our world for whom rights and dignity remain only “a mirage.”

During his report on Friday in the UN Security Council, Special Representative Jan Kubiš made reference to the upcoming efforts by Iraq and its military partners to liberate the city of Mosul from ISIL control.   While clearly supportive of reducing all manner of ISIL’s influence, Kubiš also predicted that such liberation would likely trigger a humanitarian crisis that could dwarf the already horrific stories of deprivation and rights abuses (including by Iraqi forces) now emanating from Fallujah.  In many instances, it seems, “liberation” bears the potential to create and magnify trauma and deprivation in the name of eliminating them.  The Council, the government of Iraq and the entire UN community must leverage additional capacity to address the psychological and physical dimensions of victim’s assistance in all their aspects.

And of course to do more to ensure that the “pipelines” of trauma are effectively sealed, that relief is more than a fleeting mirage.

As the week’s events underscored, the struggle for sustainable human dignity is a long road, easier to claim than to protect.  As the ICC president noted, we live in a world in which “many perpetrators continue to be untouched.”  Sadly, there are millions more victims in our conflict zones who also remain “untouched.”   Our commitment – on sustainable development and international justice, on poverty reduction and trauma response – is to find the means and the will to touch them all.

Tension Headache:  Attending the demands and aspirations of those who still “don’t matter,” Dr. Robert Zuber

10 Jul

This morning on Twitter, we were alerted by Brian Stelter of CNN (a network I rarely watch) about the contents of the front page of this Sunday’s New York Times (a paper I rarely read).  What was remarkable about that front page is that all of the significant pieces of journalism were focused, in one way or another, on the “above the fold” headline:   America Grieves, Tense and Wary.

We rarely in this space venture into “domestic affairs,” though the nonsense emanating from this presidential election season is sometimes so very tempting.   But today is different – the confluence of anger, confusion, discrimination, weapons access, media bias and more has created a situation that some find predictable but many more find intolerable.  The murders of the Dallas police officers have largely stolen the national headlines, and one doesn’t have to accept the recently-offered narrative of “domestic terrorism” to acknowledge the massive pain inflicted on both families and the reputation of a police department that seems at least to be trying.   But in many news services (not the Times per se) Dallas has become both a watershed moment and a bit of a diversion from a season’s worth of mass demonstrations and senseless shootings by and of police, some of which had their own moment in the media, others merely taking their place on a still-lengthening roster of incidences involving people who are more than weary from the many implications of lives “on the margins.”

This aptly designated “tense and wary” scenario is directly related to activities taking place across the street from where I’m sitting, preparations for tomorrow’s important opening of the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of the UN’s Economic and Social Council.

The agenda and assessment activities for this HLPF are clearly focused on one objective:  “leaving no one behind. “  A noble and hopeful objective, to be sure, though one requiring much and strewn with obstacles both identifiable and unforeseen.

As we have written previously, the UN community is doing due-diligence in getting out in front of the massive responsibilities incurred through the goals and targets of the 2030 development agenda: reducing poverty, ending inequalities of economic, educational and political access; saving ourselves from our own relentless assaults on our forests, oceans and climate; and promoting forms of governance and security that offer inclusive participation and rights-based protection.

Despite these welcome UN efforts, we are currently far from these goals, in some cases farther than we dare acknowledge.  Even if we have articulated and assembled the right goals to pursue; even if we are sincere in our financial pledges and fidelity to agreed indicators of success; this 2030 agenda is a daunting business.  It will require sustained commitments by national governments, vigilance by the HLPF and diverse UN agencies and then some; for it will also require more of each of us.  Slogans such as “leave no one behind” can galvanize some measure of our collective responsibility, but their overuse can deaden us to tasks that will, if we are to overcome our current epochal violence and planetary disregard, require greater self-scrutiny and more reliable attentiveness to others than we have so far in our collective history demonstrated.

The discouraging events of this past week are hardly unique but certainly offer yet another reminder of how many people in our world are still left behind, still on the margins, still don’t matter.  From Baton Rouge to Juba, from suburban St. Paul to Gaza, people struggle mightily for respect and relief, for justice and stability.  Tension and suspicion are partially understandable responses to what we see and read about so many human struggles at home and abroad; but these are the reactions that prompt us to seek out stronger locks for our doors but also for our souls.  These are the reactions concerned less about reaching those left behind and more about not getting “dragged” by them ostensibly towards some uncertain and indeterminate bottom.

We can identify the collective mood as the Times and others have done; we cannot give in to it.   The challenges of inclusion characteristic of these times imply that our routine forays into petty self-distraction are not so petty after all.   From the physicist Stephen Hawking to the man in the local Bodega who sells me beer and dish soap, many and diverse voices are wondering if we collectively have what it takes to extricate ourselves from this “tense and wary” swamp of our own making.

The hope of the 2030 development goals is that we do indeed have what it takes but only as a grand and collective endeavor that invites and integrates far beyond those currently on the world’s VIP lists.  In this, it will be especially important to keep at bay all those “locksmiths” seeking access to our personal, cultural and community contexts.

The young (mostly black) men who work alongside our church folks in the food pantry each Saturday morning in Harlem are not at all immune from the tension that now routinely flares into discrimination and violence.   These men work hard early on Saturdays when most of their peers are sound asleep, carrying and stocking huge quantities of provisions, providing service to people who don’t always treat them with the greatest of respect.

But they also know that they need to watch their back.  The news splashed all over this week’s media was not news to them; neither the killings, nor the arrests, nor the tension and suspicion that are so-often and inappropriately hurled in their direction.

These young men have much to contribute perhaps currently more in potential mode; but potential is also inspired by invitations to participate and opportunities to practice — and a commitment from the rest of us not to leave them behind.

We’re going to see what we’re made of over these next 15 years as our 2030 development promises take shape.  Transforming rampant tension and suspicion might well be our species’ next major test.

Freedom Trail: Finding the UN’s Path towards Political and Policy Vigilance, Dr. Robert Zuber

3 Jul

It’s a quiet weekend at the UN courtesy of the end of the Holy Season of Ramadan and a long Independence Day holiday weekend in the host country.

It was not so quiet this past week, with important discussions on issues from how to better ensure treaty compliance and improve response to armed conflict and other urban crises to new measures to reign in the DPRK’s nuclear ambitions.   This week’s celebrations, among their other joys, give diplomats and other UN stakeholders a chance to catch their breath and hopefully reflect a bit on the value of political “independence,” specifically the degree to which self-governance is critical to achieving viable pathways towards other “freedoms” and rights which find themselves regularly on the UN’s agenda.

As many of you are aware, self-governance was a core UN preoccupation for at least half its history as nations took on the often arduous task of separating themselves from the colonizers.  A part of that preoccupation is resurrected each year during meetings of the “Special Committee on the Situation with regard to the Implementation of the Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples.”  With leadership largely emanating from the Latin American states – especially Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba, Nicaragua and Bolivia – this Committee took up many still unresolved governance matters affecting many small island territories, but also including more high-profile (and high-controversy) matters such as Puerto Rico, the Malvinas (Falklands), and Western Sahara.   And while 2016 Committee Chair Venezuela complained about a lack of reflection within the UN on “colonialism’s legacies” as well as alleged “stagnation” regarding the UN’s promotion of self-governance,  the passion of Committee petitioners and participating member states bore witness to the belief that self-governance is that important platform on which many other freedoms and capacities depend.

But of course, self-governance represents only an initial step on the “trail” towards building what we refer to as “stable, peaceful and inclusive societies.   As the UN understands fully, it is difficult to talk meaningfully about freedom, inclusiveness or stability with those who have been forcibly displaced due to indiscriminate armed violence; whose communities have been battered (or baked) by climate-related shocks; who endure grave trauma in the aftermath of needless, horrific abuse; whose ethnic or personal identities have kept them in perpetual fear of discrimination or even worse.

While the UN might have some “stagnation” on political independence, it certainly has shown increasing robustness on addressing these other matters germane to fairness, freedom and abundance.  This week, as a follow up to the Istanbul Humanitarian Summit, the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) convened three highly valuable sessions which sought to streamline the inter-linkages that define our collective responsibilities to development and humanitarian relief.  To some in the ECOSOC audience these linkages have been apparent for some time, though it was reassuring to have them explored sincerely and at such a high policy level

For most of the panelists and many of the responding UN member states, the sessions in part took on the mood of a confessional – relationship struggles long apparent but rarely acknowledged in formal settings.  Most of us already realize, as Brazil noted, that stopping conflict and the massive flows of weapons that exacerbate conflict is a core UN contribution to all development and relief work.  Most of us also recognize the intrinsic value of policy, as urged by Argentina and others, which “leaves people in control of their own well-being.”  And we mostly all nodded when the Philippines asked “where is the logic” in spending so much on response to crisis and so little on preparedness, meeting development needs more proactively and thus helping communities build their resilience to any shocks that might come along?

Many especially resonated with calls from UN Relief Chief Stephen O’Brien for “mindset change” in support of new (for some of us) modalities for coordinated development and humanitarian response.

Part of that “change” has to do with shifting our response-obsessive logic, our “business-as-usual” mandates with which responders (and their funders) are still mostly comfortable; and this despite the growing “confession” that there is clearly a better, more comprehensive way to relieve the threats that drive despair, undermine governance and eliminate personal and community options.  To that end, as a representative of the International Rescue Committee reminded us this week, we must find the means to revise our objectives such that our collective goal is not how much food we deliver but how “food-secure” people feel.  Not the quantity of aid in and of itself, but the quality of lives assisted.

But part of this mindset shift, I think, also has to do with a certain loss of general skill around matters of vigilance.  On this Independence Day holiday, there are too many entertainment distractions, too many people wishing for political or social sanity (perhaps even blithely assuming their inevitability) but not striding in that general direction, not allowing themselves to be sufficiently attentive to the threats and opportunities that define this current moment.

Many years ago, when I was young and even more foolish, Joni Mitchell hit me between the eyes with this refrain:  Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.  Why can’t we cherish more of what we have before it’s lost?  Why do some of us take so much for granted?  Why are we often so careless with things we say matter to us?  And, specifically in the policy realm, why can’t we do better at fostering (and supporting) cultures that help us to prevent and prepare for risk rather than mourn and attempt to recover from its consequences?

As many of you probably saw, there were photos this morning in the British press of massive crowds gathering in London to “support Europe.” One might well wonder where this level of political energy was before the Brexit vote, why so many apparently couldn’t figure out what they were risking until after risk evolved into an unalterable reality.

In those same press pages, tributes flowed to the late Elie Wiesel, a moral giant of our times.  Wiesel had many quotable moments in his challenging life, but it was his rejection of “silence” and “neutrality” in the face of human horror that spoke to so many of us.

We must, he insisted, be willing to “take sides” when it comes to “torment” and oppression; but such requires vigilance applicable to caring for victims, restoring dignity and opportunity, promoting resilience and self-reliance, eliminating impunity for abuse.  All of these responses require active voices and attentive mind-sets, along with the disposition to ignore the metaphorical rest areas and continue to walk the trail.

This week, perhaps more than others in recent memory, the UN system seemed to take to heart the words of its (now former) Messenger of Peace: a bit more vocal, a bit more thoughtful, a bit more vigilant.  We collectively seem more determined to walk the trail, shedding outmoded policy preferences, cherishing our essential responsibilities, and doing more to open political and development spaces for more of the world’s people.