Environment and conflict in Sudan

I’ve moved to the Sudan… and I’m sitting under a fan in Khartoum writing this… I’ve now been here a couple of weeks and am no longer totally lost. I’ve a new job as the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Representative for Sudan. We hail from UNEP’s Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, which addresses the links […]

Atrocity exhibition

There is something stunning in the brilliance of Google Earth [download] – a streaming map of the world in the form of satellite photography with the mean to zoom from planet to street level in scale. ‘Layers’ are overlaid on the map images showing an ever expanding range of surface features: national boundaries, roads, video […]

Diamonds – curse or charm?

Saw Blood Diamond – an action-movie-with-a-message, though laced with clichés (mercenary with a heart of gold, pouting female journalist as searcher after truth, silly shoot-outs etc). But also brutal depiction of what the very dirty end of the diamond business looks like – militarised slave-labour , child soldiers, violent abuse like amputations and, of course, […]

Free trade with Kyrgyzstan

My favourite Xmas present this year is a beautiful shyrdak (actual one pictured) from Kyrgyzistan. A shyrdak is a felt rug originally designed for a yurt. It has a base layer of felt onto the top of which is sewn a second felt layer containing the patterning. No felt is wasted because the artisans produce […]

Second oldest profession in the world – arms dealing

I fear it was a terrible move to axe the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the Al Yamamah (“the dove”) arms deal between UK and Saudi Arabia.

All parties have been stressing (implausibly) that the decision was not economic – supposedly 50,000 arms-related jobs at stake. For example, see SFO’s terse statement. It’s obviously […]