Shoulder to Shoulder » UK-US defence, development & foreign policy blog

Inherited Identities, New Futures

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Diaspora - from Greek, “scattering, dispersion” Identity can be a complicated thing. What does it mean to be part of a diaspora? Do people always carry the old country with them or do they gradually leave it behind? You could read Zadie Smith or Jhumpa Lahiri for some answers. This isn’t a fictional question for me. Over a hundred years ago, facing poverty in Yemen, my great-grandfather Saeed moved his family to … Read more »Inherited Identities, New Futures

We Stand #withSyria in DC

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Saturday will mark the third anniversary of the start of the conflict in Syria. For me, Syria has been a big part of my working and personal life this week and for the last few years. In my day job we’ve been working with the US and others on ways to secure better access into Syria for humanitarian assistance. More than 3.5 million people are living in areas of Syria that are … Read more »We Stand #withSyria in DC

Africa 2014: pessimism, optimism, or both?

Africa has had a “bad start” to 2014. Or so I keep hearing. But I wonder, how does a whole continent have a bad start? Do a billion people collectively have a bad day? What people usually mean is that Africa has experienced a lot of violence this year. No denying that. Horrific atrocities in the Central African Republic or grotesque attacks by Boko Haram in Nigeria or Al-Shabaab in … Read more »Africa 2014: pessimism, optimism, or both?

My New Hero: Dr Denis Mukwege

On Tuesday evening at Georgetown University, the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague, received an award from his friend and former US counterpart, Hillary Clinton. The award recognizes his leadership in steering the energies of the British government into the Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative, an international project to end the use of rape and sexual assault as weapons of war and tackle impunity for perpetrators of such appalling crimes. Secretary Clinton … Read more »My New Hero: Dr Denis Mukwege

Global Forest Watch: Fighting Deforestation with Satellites, Open Data, and Crowdsourcing

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Satellites, open data, crowdsourcing – these are some of the hottest buzzwords in the tech industry right now. But these innovations aren’t just limited to Silicon Valley and start-ups – they have come to dominate much of our everyday lives. Each time we open apps like Yelp and Foursquare to find the closest Starbucks or the best rated restaurant, we rely on these technologies. Now the World Resources Institute has … Read more »Global Forest Watch: Fighting Deforestation with Satellites, Open Data, and Crowdsourcing

Syrian Children Need Our Help

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My children are the most delightful people I know. You probably feel the same about your children, your grandchildren, your nieces and nephews. My son is a mix of winning charm and 3 year old defiance. My daughter, who is 9 months, is smiley, chubby and cuddly. My children live in a protective environment: one where they can grow, develop and learn in safety, that will give them the best … Read more »Syrian Children Need Our Help

Burma, let’s talk

Ever drive onto the Beltway outside Washington DC, or the equivalent in your home town, during rush-hour and wish there were a couple more lanes available? The residents of Nay Pyi Taw, Burma, probably don’t share your concerns. The tiny handful of in-bound motorists has TEN lanes to choose from – as do their out-bound colleagues on the other side. The main road into the Southeast Asian nation’s newly-built capital … Read more »Burma, let’s talk

2013 in Review: Washington’s Development Highlights

This is a joint post by Andrew Preston and Rosanna Kim who work on international development issues at the British Embassy in Washington. We are loving all the different reviews of the past year, with the best and worst from the world of films, books, and music. So we thought it would be fun to put our own spin on the cultural commentary by sharing our 2013 highlights for international … Read more »2013 in Review: Washington’s Development Highlights

Making all voices count online and “IRL”

In my lifetime, the rise of digital communications has changed nearly every aspect of our daily activities. And in foreign policy, the world is changing as a result of digital’s ability to give a voice to so many. We have seen social media play a huge role in regime change in the Arab world, we have seen world leaders tweet at each other after decades of silence, and we have seen … Read more »Making all voices count online and “IRL”

The Philippines Still Needs Our Help

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Washington truly epitomises the holiday spirit. It’s my first holiday season here, and I’m seeing firsthand the spirit of giving across the city. Bell-ringers collecting for the homeless. Toy drives in offices all across town, including our own. Washingtonians’ generosity is making an impact from local neighbourhoods to the far side of the globe. This holiday season we should reflect that, across the Pacific in the Philippines, our generosity is … Read more »The Philippines Still Needs Our Help