United Nations International Children ' s Emergency Fund

Abused by Hope

Famine and Foreigners: Ethiopia Since Live Aid By Peter Gill (Oxford University Press, 280 pp., $27.95) In the fall of 1994, James P. Grant, the executive director of UNICEF, sent a message in the name of his agency to the upcoming Cairo conference on population and development, in which he declared that the world had within its grasp the means to solve “the problems of poverty, population, and environmental degradation that feed off of one another in a downward spiral [bringing] instability and strife in its wake.” Grant was a great man, a giant of the development world.

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Pakistan continues to suffer from devastating floods that have killed more than 1,000 people and left millions without access to basic necessities. The United Nations estimates that about eight million people need immediate emergency aid; roughly one-third of them are children. “Money is not coming in as fast as we would like,” Maurizio Giuliano, a U.N.

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The Reactionary

Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers By Arundhati Roy (Haymarket Books, 230 pp., $20) In 2009 The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, published a study on death by fire. In the country under review, approximately one hundred thousand women perished over the course of a single year. Victims of domestic violence and participants in dowry disputes were being murdered, and the government was doing hardly anything to intervene.

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The Reactionary

Field Notes on Democracy: Listening to Grasshoppers By Arundhati Roy (Haymarket Books, 230 pp., $20) In 2009 The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, published a study on death by fire. In the country under review, approximately one hundred thousand women perished over the course of a single year. Victims of domestic violence and participants in dowry disputes were being murdered, and the government was doing hardly anything to intervene.

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Calling the Ex

Last Saturday, President Obama tapped the unlikely duo of George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to lead a massive campaign to help Haiti. It isn't the first time former presidents (and political rivals) have led major relief efforts: Clinton and George H.W. Bush worked together after the 2004 tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Ike. "This is a model that works," Obama noted. But how, exactly, does that model work? Why do we call on former presidents to help after disasters? 1) They Get People's Attention. They're presidents. They have high profiles. People listen to them.

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The Quality of Mercy: Cambodia, Holocaust, and Modern Conscience by William Shawcross (Simon and Schuster, 464 pp, $19.95) Great human disasters, natural or manmade, put bureaucrats to a test not only as public officials but as human beings. Normally insulated from the consequences of their actions by layers of government, and accustomed to the abstractions of statecraft, they suddenly are forced to deal with a problem in which every action (or inaction) can have an immediate effect on whether people will live or die.

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