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Articles by Gordon Brown

The G20’s Historic Opportunity

October 29, 2021

With G20 leaders gathering in Rome to discuss the world’s most pressing problems, there is a historic opportunity to turn the tide against the coronavirus. But to do so, governments must abandon the toxic nationalism that has so far stood in the way of a sufficient global response to the pandemic.

A vaccine for poor countries to inoculate the world against the virus of nationalism. This is the message sent by Gordon Brown, former British prime minister and one of Europe’s most influential politicians, to G20 leaders meeting in Italy this weekend.
To Support Climate Efforts, Support Mayors

Sustainability Now

Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

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The G20’s Vaccine Imperative

October 27, 2021

Dear Prime Minister Draghi,
We congratulate you on your preparations for the G20 summit on October 30. We wish to bring to your attention the issue of the inequitable COVID-19 vaccine distribution plaguing our planet, and to ask you to consider the G20 meeting as an opportunity to address this inequitable distribution.

To Support Climate Efforts, Support Mayors

Sustainability Now

Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images

China’s Journey into the Unknown

PS OnPoint

WANG ZHAOAFP via Getty Images
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A Progressive Monetary Policy Is the Only Alternative

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Education in an Age of Displacement

October 5, 2021

With the number of displaced people on course to double by mid-century, if not sooner, developing their potential is crucial. Extending hope and opportunity to young people at risk of being left behind is a powerful way to advance human rights, promote equality, and foster peace and stability.

LONDON – The ongoing flood of refugees from Afghanistan – now some 2.6 million strong – is sadly no isolated tragedy. Indeed, if all of today’s 82.4 million refugees and forcibly displaced persons were gathered into a single state it would be the world’s twentieth largest country by population. If current trends continue, and climate change adds substantially to the numbers as the World Bank predicts, the number of refugees

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The Global North’s Great Test

September 22, 2021

After publicly committing to help vaccinate the rest of the world, wealthy, highly vaccinated countries have yet to deliver on their promise, and are now poised to let millions of doses go to waste. Without urgent action to correct this injustice, the West’s moral standing will suffer permanent damage.

EDINBURGH – With low-income countries in Africa and elsewhere still imploring rich countries to stop stockpiling millions of unused COVID-19 vaccines, there are still real doubts as to whether the United States and Europe will honor the promise made at this year’s G7 summit to vaccinate the world by the end of 2022.
Biden’s Collaborative Containment Strategy

CHRIS

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Vaccines for All or Vaccine Apartheid?

June 11, 2021

The G7 summit in Cornwall will determine who is vaccinated against COVID-19 and safe and who remains unvaccinated and at risk. Rich-country leaders may be tempted to share excess vaccines rather than finance the extra costs of global immunization, but this will not be enough.

LONDON – The G7 summit starting on Friday will mark the first time that world leaders have met in person for almost two years. It is Joe Biden’s first such meeting as US president and Angela Merkel’s last as German Chancellor. The gathering will also be the first test of what UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s oft-quoted “Global Britain” slogan actually means.
Pakistan’s Taliban Monster

Veronique de

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The G7 Must Act to Vaccinate the World

April 15, 2021

The world’s richest countries are failing to champion the global cooperation needed to defeat the pandemic. At June’s G7 summit in the United Kingdom, leaders must agree on a financial plan to underpin international collaboration on COVID-19, starting with equitable access to vaccines.

LONDON – “Nobody is safe until everyone is safe” is the defining mantra of the COVID-19 era. It captures a fundamental truth. Faced with a virus that recognizes no borders, no country is an island – and there is no substitute for international solidarity.

Build Back the State

Getty/Bettman 

Is Stagflation Coming?

Z. Wei/Getty

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Tackling the COVID Hunger Crisis

February 11, 2021

The choice facing world leaders is simple: act now to tackle the hunger crisis, or pay a much higher price later. Immediate action will be cheaper and save more lives than responding only after multiple famines have taken hold and a generation’s missed education has exacted a terrible toll.

LONDON – Today, 270 million people – equivalent to the combined population of Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy – are on the brink of starvation. This number has doubled over the last 12 months. And it is the world’s children who are suffering most.

Reimagining the Platform Economy

PS OnPoint

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Job Creation Is the New Game in Town

November 13, 2020

Even if a successful rollout of a new COVID-19 vaccine causes the current health crisis to recede by next spring, the unemployment crisis will remain. That is especially true in the United Kingdom, where fiscal stimulus is urgently needed to avert a lost decade – if not a lost generation – of growth.

EDINBURGH/LONDON – In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, both the US and European economies are gearing up for large-scale job creation. US President-elect Joe Biden has pledged to invest $700 billion in manufacturing and innovation, plus $2 trillion in a “Biden Green Deal” to combat climate change and promote clean energy. Meanwhile, Germany has abandoned years of thrift by backing a €750 billion ($887 billion) European

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A Letter to the International Community

August 17, 2020

LONDON – We write to call for urgent action to address the global education emergency triggered by COVID-19. With more than one billion children still out of school because of the lockdown, there is a real and present danger that the public-health crisis will create a COVID generation who loses out on schooling and whose opportunities are permanently damaged. While the more fortunate have had access to alternatives, the world’s poorest children have been locked out of learning and denied Internet access. And with the loss of free school meals – once a lifeline for nearly 400 million boys and girls – hunger has grown.

Deconstructing Donald

PS OnPoint

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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The Deadly Urgency of Now

April 28, 2020

The consequences of lapses in international cooperation in combating COVID-19 over the last few months can now be counted in lost lives. Having failed to stop the first wave of the pandemic, we must not make the same mistake again.

LONDON – “This is not a discrete one-off episode,” Wellcome Trust head Jeremy Farrar has warned. “This is now an endemic human infection.”

What the Stock Market Is Really Saying

PS OnPoint

Xinhua/Michael Nagle via Getty Images

The EU Should Issue Perpetual Bonds

Thierry Monasse/Getty Images

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Debt Relief Is the Most Effective Pandemic Aid

April 15, 2020

Just as the pandemic can be contained most effectively and least expensively with aggressive early action, the lesson from the past is that global recessions and their human costs are best addressed quickly and boldly. A two-year debt-payment moratorium for every emerging and developing economy that needs help would serve both goals.

LONDON/CAMBRIDGE – The nations of the developed world have responded to the COVID-19 crisis by supporting their domestic economies and financial systems in bold and unprecedented ways, on a scale that would have been unimaginable three months ago.

The Invisible Killers

PS OnPoint

Photo12/Universal Images Group via Getty

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Now or Never for Global Leadership on COVID-19

April 7, 2020

During the global financial crisis of 2008, G20 leaders coordinated a global response, and in other emergencies – such as tsunamis, civil wars, or epidemics – coalitions of countries have convened donor conferences to generate the necessary resources. Today, we need both.

LONDON – This week, leaders from medicine, economics, politics, and civil society are uniting to demand immediate and coordinated international action – in the next few days – to mobilize the resources needed to address the COVID-19 crisis, prevent the current health catastrophe from becoming one of the worst in history, and avert a global depression. As a letter to the world’s leaders notes, because we are so far behind the COVID-19 curve, many

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Johnson’s Win Is a Loss for British Power

December 16, 2019

Having secured an electoral mandate, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson will likely barrel ahead with previously outlined plans to abolish the country’s foreign-development agency and assign its duties to diplomats in the foreign office. But while diplomacy and development are both crucial to British soft power, they are hardly the same thing.

LONDON – With Brexit dominating the United Kingdom’s agonizing general election this month, a number of momentous policy proposals have received little to no discussion. Chief among these is right-wing Conservatives’ plan to abolish the UK Department for International Development. Now that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has secured a parliamentary majority, the DFID could soon be

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Closing the Education-Technology Gap

December 2, 2019

As advances in artificial intelligence and automation continue, the distance between high-skilled elites and everyone else will only grow. To counter this bifurcation, we should be using new technologies to educate more people at lower cost.

LONDON – In 2007, Harvard University economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz published The Race Between Education and Technology. America’s once-great education system, Goldin and Katz argued, was failing to keep pace with technological change and the economic disparity that comes with it. Even more concerning, they would likely make the same argument today. As we enter the third decade of this century, students in the United States and around the world are struggling to

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Boris Johnson and the Threat to British Soft Power

July 15, 2019

The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United Kingdom’s last chance to maintain any influence or relevance on the world stage.

EDINBURGH – Since the United Kingdom’s Department of International Development (DFID) was created 22 years ago, it has lifted millions out of poverty, sent millions of children to school, and saved millions of lives through vaccination programs and other innovative initiatives. Most recently, it has been a world leader in delivering development aid to poor countries facing the ravages of

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Britain’s Renewal After Trump and Brexit

June 5, 2019

US President Donald Trump’s long-postponed state visit to the United Kingdom has now come and gone. He leaves in his wake a Britain that is consumed not only by a stalled Brexit and the unending debate about it, but also by a far more profound crisis of identity that Brexit has exposed and aggravated.

LONDON – After three days of pomp and ceremony that presented an image of a seemingly unchanging Britain, US President Donald Trump has now departed London. But beneath the veneer of pageantry, Britain is consumed not only by a stalled Brexit and the unending debate about it, but also by a far more profound crisis of identity: a struggle to rediscover what it is to be British.

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Making “Generation Educated” a Reality

May 29, 2019

Year after year, the international community falls further behind in upholding its commitment to provide quality education to all children by 2030. With the number of out-of-school children having far surpassed crisis levels, it’s time to adopt a new approach.

LONDON – Continuous declines in international education aid are depriving half of all young people in the developing world – some 800 million children – of the education they will need to secure meaningful employment in the future. Having fallen from $13.2 billion to $13 billion this year, total education aid (from bilateral and multilateral sources) now accounts for just 7% of the world’s total aid budget.This means that all the

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Can a “No-Deal” Brexit Be Avoided?

January 28, 2019

British Prime Minister Theresa May’s party is divided, her cabinet is split, and perhaps half its members are jostling to succeed her. To ensure an orderly withdrawal from the European Union, her government has only one option.

EDINBURGH – It is a near-tragedy that the United States and the United Kingdom – the two countries most identified with long-established stable constitutional frameworks – are now ranked among the world’s most dysfunctional democracies.

Fred Dufour – Pool/Getty Images

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In the past, when Britain’s Parliament faced crises and appeared deadlocked, it proved capable of breaking the stalemate. Over two centuries, battles over

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Globalization at a Crossroads

January 9, 2019

Over the course of the past decade, the world has changed more than at any other time since the World War II era. And, as economic and geopolitical power seeps away from the West, the United States, rather than leading a new multilateral front, has embarked on a self-defeating project of atavistic unilateralism.

LONDON – Whether or not one realizes it, 2018 may have been a historic turning point. Poorly managed globalization has led to nationalist “take-back-control” movements and a rising wave of protectionism that is undermining the 70-year-old American-led international order. The stage is set for China to develop its own parallel international institutions, auguring a world divided between two competing global-governance

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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70

December 26, 2018

When it was adopted in December 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights sent the unequivocal message that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. But the UDHR remains constrained by a lack of consensus about why the rights it includes should be regarded as fundamental, let alone who should protect them and how.

LONDON – Seven decades after its adoption, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) remains a beacon of hope for the world, sending out an unequivocal message that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, and that no abuse of human rights can be allowed to continue without challenge.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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The Great Disruption

December 25, 2018

As new technologies, globalization, and growing inequality fuel a populist backlash across the West, 2018 could be remembered as a turning point for the liberal world order. Rising nationalism, widening trade wars, and the overall weakening of international cooperation are symptoms of a deeper struggle over what international arrangements will come next.

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Education’s Moonshot Moment

September 26, 2018

Great feats of human ingenuity and social progress do not happen through half-measures. If the international community is going to meet its commitment to provide a quality education to all children, no matter their circumstances, then it must confront current funding gaps with the boldness that the situation demands.

NEW YORK – Starting in the late 1940s, an exceptional group of visionaries responded to the devastation of World War II by coming together to build new institutions for a new world. Looking back two decades later, former US Secretary of State Dean Acheson said it was like being “present at the creation.” He was not wrong. The international community had come to a new understanding that prosperity is indivisible and must be

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Europe’s Refugee Scandal

September 18, 2018

Long-term educational and employment needs have historically been severely undervalued in humanitarian planning. But, as much as refugees need proper food, shelter, and health care today, they also need the knowledge and tools to build new lives and contribute to society tomorrow, whether in their home country or in a new one.

LONDON – It has long been known that the Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos is plagued by overcrowding, unsanitary conditions, and rampant violence, including riots that have left many injured. But when aid workers reported in April that children as young as ten were attempting suicide, another tragic facet of the refugee crisis was highlighted: 30 million children around the world are currently

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Trump’s Assault on Refugees

September 7, 2018

The consequences of the Trump administration’s decision to stop funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East will be severe. Beyond reducing the agency’s capacity to deliver basic services to Palestinian refugees, it will threaten the region’s already tenuous stability.

LONDON – The decision by US President Donald Trump’s administration to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has politicized humanitarian aid, threatens to add yet more fuel to one of the world’s most combustible conflicts, and jeopardizes the futures of a half-million Palestinian children and young people.

Nicolas Asfouri/AFP/Getty

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A Man for All Diplomatic Seasons

August 21, 2018

Kofi Annan’s journey is over. But the legacy of this leader of leaders will live on in the impact that his work on behalf of the environment, education, and poverty reduction continues to have on the lives of people on every continent.

EDINBURGH – Kofi Annan will be mourned on every continent. Under his leadership of the United Nations, internationally shared goals for development (the Millennium Development Goals) were agreed for the first time. But there were other important firsts that occurred on Annan’s watch: The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria was created; $100 billion of African debt was forgiven; aid to the poorest countries rose fast; the Responsibility to Protect principle moved from one man’s

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Maintaining the Momentum Toward Universal Education

May 13, 2018

By 2030 – the year when the world has promised to provide universal primary and secondary education for all – an estimated 800 million people will enter adulthood without the qualifications necessary for the modern labor force. Many of them will be illiterate.
LONDON – On the surface, mass illiteracy seems like an evil that should be easy to eradicate. Achieving that goal requires neither a technological breakthrough nor a scientific discovery. With funding for good teachers and schools, we can provide an education for all children. We need only muster the political will to act.

Xinhua/Xie Huanchi via Getty Images

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The New Global Youth Movement

April 3, 2018

Almost a century ago, Eglantyne Jebb, who founded Save the Children, said that the only language everybody could understand was the cry of a child. But as today’s young people connect, communicate, and assert their rights, their cries are less likely to be tearful pleas for charity than defiant marches demanding justice.
LONDON – The recent March for Our Lives in the United States inspired millions not just across America, but also around the world. Until the nationwide demonstrations on March 24, most people thought that little new could be added to the conversation about the seemingly endless rounds of gun killings.

The Year Ahead 2018

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart

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America Shuts the Schoolhouse Door on Refugees

March 9, 2018

The US has decided to withhold more than half of its planned funding for the UNRWA – $65 million of the $125 million earmarked for the agency. The move, which has been called a death sentence for the agency, will deal a devastating blow to efforts to confront the education emergency that the world already faces.
LONDON – No international institution has done as much for children’s schooling on the ground for as long as the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). And yet, no international organization has suffered an overnight funding cut as devastating as the one UNRWA now faces, after 70 years of serving the displaced and the desolate.

The Year Ahead 2018

The

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Nigeria’s Schoolgirls Are Under Attack Again

March 2, 2018

The international community must do everything possible to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to locate and rescue the 110 girls recently abducted by Boko Haram terrorists in the village of Dapchi. It must also redouble its efforts to prevent the recurrence of such incidents, by investing more in building truly safe schools.
LONDON – They lie about 150 miles apart in the vast brushlands of northern Nigeria, but the towns of Chibok and Dapchi have a tragic bond: both have been targets of large-scale kidnappings of schoolgirls by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram. Following a three-year global campaign to free the 276 girls kidnapped from Chibok in 2014 – an event that brought Boko Haram’s sadistic agenda to the world’s attention – 110 girls in Dapchi vanished

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Universal Education’s Moment of Truth

December 21, 2017

Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that every child should have access to free primary education. Yet, 69 years after that pledge, a record number of children – some 70 million – are caught in the crossfire of humanitarian crises that are denying them schooling and placing their futures in jeopardy.
LONDON – For nearly seven decades of a tumultuous century, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has served as a beacon of hope worldwide. But some of its finely crafted provisions have come back to haunt us in the form of some shocking new statistics.

The Year Ahead 2018

The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what

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