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Vincent and Sophia

Vincent and Sophia are second-year Global Studies students.
They moderated panels about “The Legitimacy of International Intervention” and “Moving Away from Westernised Conceptions of International Development” during the Oxford Forum for International Development 2022. The student-led conference "OxFID" creates a platform for collaboration between actors in the field of international development and opens discussions about global topics.

Their Story

Redefining Progress and Navigating Transition - Global Studies Students moderate at this year's Oxford Forum for International Development


How do we redefine progress? This year’s Oxford Forum for International Development found different answers to this question. The Global Studies students Vincent Tadday and Sophia Longwe were involved in conversations that explored possible options for the redefinition of international development. During the panel discussions “The Legitimacy of International Intervention” and “Moving Away from Westernized Conceptions of International Development”, the second-year Global Studies students Vincent and Sophia were confronted with quite contrary views on international development.


On the panel on “The Legitimacy of International Intervention'', Vincent had a constructive discussion with his panel guests Anya Neistat (Clooney Foundation for Justice), Joz Vaessen (World Bank), Devanik Saha (University of Sussex) and Douglas Emeott (Instiglio). They discussed approaches of intervening internationally. For one hour, the panelists analyzed various recent challenges. Anya Neistat gave insights into the perspective of a human rights activist. She challenged the international order established after 1945 and criticized the veto right of the permanent five members of the UN Security Council. Devanik Saha from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex highlighted the tensions between the private and public sectors in planning and delivering efficient interventions. In his opinion, private actors like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation gained too much political clout regarding health interventions in countries such as India. Jos Vaessen, advisor for the Independent Evaluation Group of the World Bank and Douglas Emeott, Project Manager at Instiglio elaborated on the relationship between higher- and lower-income countries. Moreover, they shared valuable insights into measuring and evaluating the efficiency of interventions.


The truly global panel “Moving away from Westernized Conceptions of International Development”, included indigenous perspectives across three continents. Sophia moderated this panel in which the guests problematized the oppression of indigenous peoples and exclusion of indigenous knowledge systems worldwide. Francis Akena Adyanga (Kabale University), a Ugandan Professor for Indigenous Knowledge stated: “There is no one-size-fits-all solution!”. Karla Jessen Williamson, Professor for Inuit Knowledge (University of Saskatchewan, Canada), added that we should find holistic approaches for our education”. Professor Adyanga argued: “When we view development from a purely Westernized lens, the concept has proven to be very limiting!”. “Development, as we know it amongst indigenous communities, is taking away the resources from our lands [...] but we are part of those landscapes”, said Professor Williamson. Whilst not intending to treat all indigenous communities as a monolith, the questions remain similar: What processes does it take for mindsets to change? How can we integrate indigenous knowledge into the discourses around development?


To conclude, there are various standpoints concerning development considering the contextual factors. Both panels had quite different views on the redefinition of development. The panel about “The Legitimacy of International Intervention” differentiated between the legitimacy and legality of interventions. The indigenous approaches to development criticized the delegitimization of indigenous knowledge in discourses about development. Current and future challenges rotate around the navigation of the transition to a more inclusive, just, and legitimate (re-)definition of progress.

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