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Reframing the issue context : some examples


The Art of Non-Decision-Making (Part #5)


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In the light of the above it is useful to explore some issues in which non-decision-making has been most evident:
  1. Security : Many intergovernmental agreements provide for national security, with the UN and NATO perhaps the foremost amongst them. The past 10 years have made it quite clear that no country can depend on others for effective protection, and that pleas for effective assistance may be acted upon too late, if at all. Bosnia has proven to be the most striking example. Rwanda was another. The failure of the Somalian operation was another. The inability to respond effectively to the conditions of peoples, such as the Kurds or the Tibetans, is another. How has non-decision-making, or deciding not to act, in response to peoples in danger become such a refined art ?

  2. Over-population : If there is a single issue which is systematically undermining national and international efforts to remedy the conditions of society and the planet, it is over-population. The Catholic Church has, aided by a unique coalition of religious groups, has been highly successful in ensuring that this issue is removed from international agendas (as in the case of the Rio Summit on Sustainable Development in 1992) or framed in such a way that action is minimized (as in the case of the Cairo Population Conference of the UN).

  3. Unemployment : This issue, affecting the quality of life of multitudes, is endlessly debated in national and international arenas. No coherent new approach has emerged. Many isolated initiatives are proposed and some are implemented, but with little real hope of responding effectively to the problem. Perhaps most interesting, is the manner in which the official and unofficial debates on the matter are separated. Little attention is devoted to the process whereby some possibilities get on to the official agenda, and others are excluded from it. But whether within the official or unofficial contexts, most significant is the way in which employment itself is framed. The question of the appropriateness of the frame is not addressed. Who controls the framing ? (see /romework_x_h_1)

  4. Cultural diversity : The increasing enthusiasm for 'globalization' and the information society, is accompanied by rising concern about global homogenization and cultural imperialism (whether by the USA over Western Europe, or by the West over other regions). Many language groups feel the dominating pressure of English. Although there are many isolated responses to these pressures, often of a tokenistic kind, there is widespread resignation that little can be done about it. It is not foreseen that humanity may lose as much conceptually (if not more) through this process as it is losing through destruction of the rainforests.

  5. Environment : The Rio+5 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (New York, 1997) focused attention on international inability to decide effectively in response to environmental crises, or having decided, to act. There is widespread failure to ratify or implement international environmental treaties. Action is often articulated in terms of military metaphors such as 'targeting' with the naive assumption that targets are somehow static and passive (see /targets_x_h_1)

In relation to such issues, consideration could also be given to the paradoxical potential of negative strategies (more).


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