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Nicholas van Praag
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NICHOLAS VAN PRAAG manages the communications and advocacy program for the next World Development Report (WDR2011
). His previous assignment was as Director of External Relations at the United Nations High Commission for Refugees where he was on external service from the Bank (2006-09). At UNHCR, he was responsible for framing the communications agenda and mobilizing financial support for the agency. He also had oversight of the agency's governance bodies and relations with a range of partners in and outside the UN system.

Van Praag began his career with the European Commission in 1977 and joined UNHCR in 1981 where he served in Geneva, Sudan, and Washington DC. He left the UN in 1986 for the Aga Khan Development Network and moved to the World Bank in 1990 where he held a number of positions including Head of External Affairs in the World Bank's European Office and Manager of External Affairs for Europe and Central Asia.

Blog Entries by Nicholas van Praag

Aid Agencies Must Listen to the People They're Helping

Posted April 21, 2011 | 17:08:13 (EST)

The following post first appeared in the Guardian's Poverty Matters blog.

Lord Ashdown's review of how the UK responds to humanitarian emergencies points to a major shortcoming in today's humanitarian aid system: the absence of a systematic effort to assess whether beneficiaries are satisfied with the efforts made on their...

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Universal Principles in Revolutionary Times

Posted February 25, 2011 | 15:19:50 (EST)

I remember a Russian diplomat in Geneva in the 1980s telling me that his country believed strongly in the centrality of human rights. It was just that back in the USSR the hierarchy was different from countries on the other side of the iron curtain: individual rights mattered but less...

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From Finger Pointing to Building Confidence in Haiti

Posted January 24, 2011 | 15:45:30 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict blog on January 19, 2011.

The first anniversary of Haiti's earthquake has seen a lot of finger pointing. The country's Prime Minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, faults the donors for failing to open...

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A New Beginning for Southern Sudan?

Posted January 10, 2011 | 10:58:49 (EST)

This guest post was written by Ian Bannon and originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict Blog on January 10, 2011.

This weekend we saw people lining up all across southern Sudan to vote in a referendum on whether they should remain part of...

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Whither Côte d'Ivoire?

Posted December 30, 2010 | 12:54:33 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict blog on December 30, 2010.

The stand-off between Messrs Laurent Gbagbo and Alassane Ouattara in Côte D'Ivoire highlights the new role of regional organizations in dealing with the challenges of irresponsible leadership in...

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To Vote or Not to Vote

Posted December 22, 2010 | 13:22:14 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict blog on December 16, 2010.

The wisdom of elections in fragile places is questioned by those who fear they will exacerbate tensions and provoke the kind of violence we saw in Côte d'Ivoire and Haiti...

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Was Keynes Right About Fragile States?

Posted December 1, 2010 | 10:13:31 (EST)

Keynes said that "In the long-run we are all dead." But for people living in fragile states affected by violence, the short run can be deadly too.

The challenge is to balance swift action with long-term stability and security. The two must be carefully paced and sequenced if we are...

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Encouraging Leaders to Do the Right Thing

Posted November 9, 2010 | 12:37:17 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on November 9, 2010.

"Spare the stick, spoil the child." That was the advice from proponents of the tough love approach to parenting that prevailed in Victorian times.

Plus ça change. Looking around the...

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Overcoming past traumas to build a stable future

Posted November 5, 2010 | 11:52:57 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict and Development blog on November 5, 2010.

If your child is murdered or your friend is tortured or someone tries to kill you, it is tough to forgive and forget. Animosities that spring from these kinds...

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How to assist fragile countries challenged by weak governance

Posted October 28, 2010 | 16:21:21 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict & Development Blog on October 28, 2010.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is in the headlines again. This time it's not about rape and escalating violence in the eastern provinces but because donors are threatening to withhold...

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World Development Report 2011 Launches New Website

Posted October 14, 2010 | 12:59:19 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Bank's Conflict & Development Blog on October 14, 2010. Esabel Khoury co-authored this post.

After months of reconstruction, we are pleased this week to unveil our newly revamped WDR 2011 website. Designed to be more user friendly and to...

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Prevention Is Better Than Post-Conflict Catch-Up

Posted October 1, 2010 | 16:32:09 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on September 22, 2010.

Violence is the antithesis of development. It tears down what's been built up. It destroys lives, shortens horizons, and inflicts huge psychological and physical pain.

Once violence ends, it takes...

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Bob Geldof and the Food Riots in Mozambique

Posted September 7, 2010 | 11:55:29 (EST)

Last Friday, Bob Geldof's face gazed pensively from the front page of the FT's business section over a story that he was seeking to raise a billion dollars for a venture capital fund for Africa.

The front page of the main paper, meanwhile, told of...

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Media freedom and violence prevention

Posted September 1, 2010 | 13:59:28 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the Conflict and Development blog on September 1, 2010.

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True believers in press freedom.
Photo: Brooks Kraft/Sygma/Corbis


How often it's happened. Standing at the podium, almost finished with the press conference, when the...

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Inequality of Mercy

Posted August 19, 2010 | 12:46:21 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on August 19, 2010.

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Waiting for the aid tide to turn

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called a special session of the UN General Assembly today to...

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Promises of Change: Reconciling Reality and Expectations in Fragile States

Posted August 16, 2010 | 11:24:14 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on August 16, 2010.

I was listening to a report on the radio last week about winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan. You know, all the stuff about moving from the number of insurgents killed...

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The Yemen Challenge

Posted July 29, 2010 | 20:40:04 (EST)

This guest post was written by David Craig and originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog on February 9, 2010.

January's High Level Donor Meeting on Yemen in London reminded the international community once more that we have to support this country...

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Nairobi's Slums

Posted July 21, 2010 | 16:30:07 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog.

Urban violence has reached unprecedented levels in many cities around the world, destabilizing whole societies and making life miserable for its victims. It is a trend we are looking at in detail in the upcoming

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Navigating the maze to peace

Posted June 24, 2010 | 19:05:49 (EST)

This guest post was written by World Bank Chief Economist and Senior Vice President Justin Yifu Lin and originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog.

While much of the world has made rapid progress in building stability and reducing poverty over the...

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Glimmer of hope in Central Asia

Posted June 18, 2010 | 13:40:35 (EST)

This post originally appeared on the World Development Report 2011 blog.

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Happier Days in Osh Market

Osh was a bustling, dynamic border town when I first visited Kyrgyzstan a decade ago. Today

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