Beginnings and Endings. Or, What Goes Around Comes Around. Issue 39 March 2018
UNRISD is an autonomous institution within the UN system that carries out interdisciplinary research and policy analysis on the social dimensions of contemporary development issues.


UNRISD is starting on an exciting new adventure: We are seeking out the smartest, most innovative scholarship and the best-crafted policy and practitioner experience with our open Call for Papers and forthcoming International Conference: Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Between Elite Power and Social Mobilization.

Our concern with inequalities is of course not new; in fact, UNRISD considers its research on multidimensional inequalities, culminating in the 2010 Flagship Report Combating Poverty and Inequality, to have been not just ground-breaking but also influential in putting the fight against inequality squarely onto the development agenda.

Now, moving with the times, we are adjusting our focus to include not just the bottom of the pyramid, but also the top: elite power and all its ramifications, as well as the sources of these power imbalances, the fractures they've wrought, and the drivers of policy change to level out social stratification and devolve power and resources from elites to non-elites. Take a look at the Call for Papers to find out more, and note these key dates:
  • Deadline to submit abstracts for the Call for Papers: 20 April 2018
  • Conference dates: 8-9 November 2018
Other beginnings in this eBulletin are our new research stream on the “Just Transition”, or how to add the social dimension to the switch to low-carbon development; and From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development, our new think piece series on how we conceptualize and practice human rights in the face of technology-driven change on a global scale.

Take a look around, and we look forward to receiving your abstract by 20 April!


Submit your abstract for Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World !

It's here: the full Call for Papers for our major international conference Overcoming Inequalities in a Fractured World: Bewteen Elite Power and Social Mobilization is now available! Please start preparing your abstract, to be submitted by 20 April, and clear your diaries for the conference which will be on 8-9 November 2018.

We'd also appreciate your help spreading the word: email or tweet to your networks, talk about it at parties—please help us make sure as many people as possible know about the Call and are gearing up to send us an abstract. This is the handy link to the Call for you to use:; and we're using #OvercomingInequalities and #FracturedWorld on Twitter if you want to join in there. Thanks!

New Research: Just Transition Research Collaborative

UNRISD is delighted to announce the Just Transition Research Collaborative, a space for exchange and discussion of the different understandings and narratives surrounding a “just transition” to equitable, low-carbon development, an eco-social concept combining environmental with social goals which is enjoying growing popularity and uptake. The project is run jointly by UNRISD and Edouard Morena (University of London Institute in Paris), and supported by the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung. 
The Collaborative will launch with an online forum in partnership with the International Social Science Council (ISSC). It will then undertake a collective mapping exercise that will culminate in a report with policy recommendations exploring how the idea of a just transition can be better embedded in debates and policies.

As a Collaborative, the project is open to new partners and inputs. To find out more about how you can participate, please get in touch with Ms. Dunja Krause.

Sweet Success at Swiss International Career Day in Basel

Students queued to speak to colleagues at the UNRISD stand at Swiss International Career Day, on 15 March at the Congress Center in Basel, and there was a full house for the presentation given by Kelly Stetter. Organized by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the event hosted over 50 international organizations and attracted the brightest and best from Swiss universities. UNRISD was delighted to have this opportunity to share its work and connect with the next generation of development specialists.

Asma Jahangir

UNRISD regrets to announce the recent death of former Board member Asma Jahangir, a Pakistani human rights lawyer and social activist. She led campaigns for the restoration of democracy, against persecution of religious and ethnic minorities, and for women and children's rights. Ms Jahangir served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom, Religion and Belief from 2004-2010.

Enrique Oteiza

UNRISD was sad to learn of the death of former Director Enrique Oteiza, who led UNRISD from January 1984 to July 1987. Born in Argentina, he dedicated his life to higher education and research, particularly ensuring the autonomy of research and respect for democratic principles. During his time at UNRISD, his research focused on migration and poverty, following on from his previous work on immigration to and emigration from Argentina. After leaving UNRISD, he became Director of the Gino Germani Research Institute at the University of Buenos Aires.


World Social Work Day 2018

Over 100 visitors came to UNRISD to celebrate World Social Work Day with us this year, together with a consortium of local and international partners. The theme in Geneva was “Social Work and Youth. Towards Inclusive Sustainable Development”, and the 2-day event featured interactive workshops on topics like Youth and Marginalized Minorities, Youth and Extremisms, as well as UNRISD's contribution Mobilizing Youth for Transformative Change. After the expert panels and speeches, there was even an occasion for the local and the international communites to network and socialize at a "Mix & Mash" event, with live music and a quiz.

In case you couldn't make it, you can watch the Facebook live of the session on Promoting Youth Inclusion for Sustainable and Resilient Communities. Note that you don't need a Facebook account to view the video.

From UNRISD to UNICEF: Research to Transform Children's Lives

It will soon be easier for UNICEF policy makers to use UNRISD research to make their policies for children transformative and fulfil the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, thanks to progress made at a successful project workshop held at the UNICEF Office of Research-Innocenti in Florence on 9 March. The project provides policy makers with pointers on how to assess the transformative potential of policies, based on the UNRISD Flagship Report Policy Innovations for Transformative Change. The final report could be an important tool to push discussions within UNICEF on the need for integrated approaches that extend beyond the traditionally child-focused policy areas such as social policies. Watch this space to find out when the public seminar to launch the report will be held.


Towards a Green Public Bank in the Public Interest

Thomas Marois This paper discusses the rediscovery of public banks and their potential to finance low-carbon, climate-resilient development, and as a public sector alternative that can overcome the shortcomings of the private sector and market approaches. The paper suggests an ideal-type public bank that would be needed for a green transformation that is also in the public interest, and contributes important insights to the current debates on sustainable development and a just and equitable green transformation.

Courting Resilience. The National Green Tribunal, India

Rita Brara Confronted with a slew of environmental challenges, the number of green courts is growing worldwide. By according exclusive attention to environmental disputes, adjudication by these courts and tribunals is linking up democratic and ecological processes synergistically. This paper provides an analysis of how the National Green Tribunal (NGT) of India has enabled local publics, affected by the pollution of air, water, soil (and more), to mobilize and fight back in defence of their rights to a better environment.

Global Approaches to Social Policy: A Survey of Analytical Methods

Nicola Yeates Can social policy still be understood as the outcome of sociopolitical forces exclusively rooted in and playing out through domestic spheres of governance? In emphasizing the promise of an analytical approach focused on the co-production of social policies, this paper opens up the path for a productive dialogue among methodological nationalists and methodological transnationalists in relation to social policy and development. This dialogue could hold the key to profound insights into the sources, dynamics and consequences of the increasing interconnectivity and interdependence which characterize contemporary social policy development and change.

Publication by UNRISD Senior Research Associate

Bangura, Yusuf. 2017. "Bargaining for Development: The World Bank's 2017 World Development Report, Governance and the Law." Development and Change, 49(2):644-661. [paywall]


New Series: From Disruption to Transformation? Linking Technology and Human Rights for Sustainable Development

We are facing technology-driven change on a global scale. So what does that mean for how we conceptualize and practice human rights? This think piece series  invites experts from academia, think tanks and civil society to engage with the topic of linking technology and human rights, and to share their experience at the front lines of policy-driven research and advocacy aimed at leaving no one behind in an increasingly digital, automated world. Here are the pieces online so far:

Environmental Justice in the United States—What’s Missing?

Dunja Krause, Doreen Akiyo Yomoah Poor communities, in which ethnic and racial minorities are overrepresented, are disproportionately impacted by pollution and extreme weather events. But does this environmental injustice affect poor communities because they are non-white, or does it affect non-white communities because they are poor? Focusing on examples from the United States, this Think Piece explores this interconnection and how it relates to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


The Human Right to Social Protection

 Social protection and labour policies need to be grounded in human rights, but how to make that work in practice? In this video of the UNRISD Special Session at the 5th Regulating for Decent Work conference, speakers discuss their use of empirical evidence drawn from concrete examples to deepen knowledge on the linkages between social protection and human rights.
  • Magdalena Sepúlveda: Ensuring Inclusion in Social Assistance Programmes: The Human Rights Principle of Equality and Non-Discrimination
  • Valeria Esquivel: Care Policies as Part of Social Protection: Lessons from Uruguay and Costa Rica
  • Gabriele Köhler: The Politics of Rights-Based, Transformative Social Policy in South and South East Asia
  • Catalina Devandas: Leaving No One Behind: Disability-Inclusive Social Protection
The presentations were also published in a Special Issue of the International Social Security Review. [Open Access]


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