Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Enhancing an International Reputation?

Jersey legislation next week will "enhance its international reputation." Before I explain what is doing this, I'd like to take a moment to look at other occasions when that exact phrase has been used. The patient reader will soon see why!

Wales has the Ryder cup, and notes that this will enhance their international reputation:

Hosting the 2010 event will enhance the international reputation of Wales in key markets such as Europe, USA and Japan. It represents a massive opportunity to generate long term economic, tourism and sporting development benefits (1)
Australia has an advanced scientific research project in nanotechnology - and notes that this will enhance their international reputation:
This project addresses National Research Priorities in the areas of breakthrough science, frontier technologies and advanced materials. Developing new methodologies to fabricate novel functionalised nano-structured materials with tailored properties has great potential in areas including energy storage, novel catalysts, novel sensors, micro/nano-electronics, etc. This project will enhance the international reputation and impact of Australian research in the internationally focused fields of nanotechnology and hydrogen energy technology. Applying innovative nanotechnology to the area of hydrogen energy will add to Australia's export potential and reduce Australia's reliance on foreign fuel sources.(2)

Specialist work by the Digital  Imaging Group in medical imaging will enhance the international reputation of London and Canada:
The Digital Imaging Group (DIG) of London was established in 2006. DIG is a group of Medical Doctors, Scientists, and Engineers dedicated to improving and advancing digital medical imaging. We are based in London, Ontario, Canada spread across a number of hospitals and research facilities with affiliations throughout the medical and academic communities in London. We believe that, with our partners in medical imaging, the DIG of London will enhance the international reputation of London and Canada for imaging and patient care. (3)

A prestigious science journal has a high ranking scientist coming on board as Deputy editor  - and notes that this will enhance their international reputation:

Nature Publishing Group (NPG) and the Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences (SIBS) today announce the appointment of Dr. Dangsheng Li as the new Deputy-Editor-in-Chief for China's premier life science journal, Cell Research (CR). Dr Li received his PhD (in Molecular Biology) from Cornell University Graduate School of Medical Sciences. After extensive postdoctoral training at New York University Medical Center, he joined Cell Press in 2004 to serve as an Associate Editor for the journal Cell. Tokyo-based NPG Publishing Director David Swinbanks said "Dangsheng's appointment to the Cell Research team will be invaluable in our mission of raising Cell Research to the highest international standards"  "This investment in a top-notch editor will lead to further improvements in quality, will enhance the international reputation of China's best life science journal, and is consistent with the Nature Publishing Group's ongoing focus on editorial development and quality" (4)

A laboratory in Mexico doing cutting edge work on astronomy will enhance the international reputation of astrophysics there:

The Establishment of an Infrared to Millimetre Wavelength Astrophysics Instrumentation Laboratory in Mexico at INAOE. Goal: To develop and pursue a world-class program of infrared-millimetre wavelength (1-3000 microns)  astronomical science and instrument development, with industrial application, within Mexico that will address basic questions on the formation and evolutionary histories of planets, stars and galaxies, leading to an improved understanding of the universe we live in...In addition to many new scientific collaborations that will enhance the international reputation of Mexican astrophysics. (5)

So when you read of a proposition in the States of Jersey, coming up next week that "will enhance the international reputation of
Jersey by sending a strong and positive message", you know it must be something big. In fact, of course, while important, it is something other countries and islands are also doing world-wide! This is what the pre-amble to the proposition says:

P9/2011/ - Geneva Conventions: Additional Protocol III - extension to Jersey.

The purpose of this Proposition is to request the States to consider whether they agree in principle to the Geneva Conventions Act (Jersey) Order 2011 (draft text attached at Appendix 1), which implements in Jersey the Additional Protocol III to the Geneva Conventions. The Protocol introduces a new distinctive emblem, the red crystal, in addition to the existing red cross and red crescent, to be used in situations where the existing symbols might be wrongly perceived as having religious connotations. The Protocol puts the new emblem on the same legal footing as the existing emblems recognised by the Geneva Conventions

and after we have this quite extraordinary piece of flannel:

Extension of the Protocol will enhance the international reputation of Jersey by sending a strong and positive message, demonstrating that Jersey stands alongside the rest of the international community in recognising the importance of the Protocol, as well as reaffirming its support for the institution of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

It is a relatively minor change to accept a new symbol, one that is not really a debatable matter - I imagine it will pass on a standing vote - and yet it will "enhance the international reputation of Jersey" and send  "a strong and positive message"!!

I really hope that whoever drafts such pretentious "Executive Summaries" is not one of the high earning Chief Officers. Did Terry Le Sueur actually believe this ridiculous propaganda fluff when he signed off the proposal? I'd have sent it back, suitable reworded, to say something like "Extension of the Protocol is important to ensure Jersey keeps in line with current international protocols." That, I venture to say, is far closer to the truth!

Now if it was legislation against discrimination in the workplace, which Jersey still lacks, or a Freedom of Information law, which Jersey still lacks - then while more or less just catching up with the international community, that would at least be worth talking up.

But the Home Affairs Minister, Ian le Marquand, says budget cuts mean he can't bring in the law. In fact, Jersey is far behind the UK with its discrimination laws, where they have had strong rules in place for decades. These sorts of regulations are in place not necessarily to make sure everyone is treated the same, but to ensure that everyone is treated fairly, regardless of age, gender, race or disability. Jersey doesn't have that. Maybe someone should write:

Jersey's planned discrimination law has been shelved due to budget cuts and this will enhance the backward reputation of Jersey by sending a weak and negative message.



Nick Palmer said...

Of course, expecting an "enhancement" of Jersey's international reputation by doing something a whole bunch of other countries will be doing too could also be seen as a tacit acknowledgement that we are not actually "in the vanguard" (a phrase from the past) and that maybe we actually lag behind international norms in many ways.

It depends where the powers that be think we are.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid you're absolutely right once again. The States approach seems to be -
Trumpet the trivia; avoid the essential; cover up the unsavoury.