The case against a US retreat from international development

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)

 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

The case against a US retreat from international development

John R. Allen

As an instrument for peace, prosperity, and human advancement, U.S. foreign assistance constitutes one of the most important examples of American compassion. Since the Marshall Plan allowed hard hit citizens and enterprises to return to normalcy after World War II, advancing a new world order in the process, America has embraced its role as a global development leader.

Author

Yet today, aid—and with it, U.S. global leadership—are under threat.

Invigorating U.S. Leadership in Global Development” was the theme of the August 1-3 Brookings Blum Roundtable, which I was fortunate to attend. Now in its fifteenth year, the event annually explores various facets of international development, poverty reduction, and foreign assistance. While there, I heard from business leaders, heads of prominent nongovernmental organizations, lead budget and aid specialists from the U.S. government, and researchers about practical ways of solving big challenges—from supporting refugees, to strengthening fragile states, to making progress on the widely endorsed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Questions about filling development financing gaps and advancing U.S. leadership through multilateral participation were discussed as well.

One of the threads that ran throughout the three-day roundtable discussion was the distinction between U.S. leadership and American leadership. At a time when there is a retrenchment of global engagement and leadership by segments of the U.S. government, hundreds and thousands of organizations across the country—state and local governments, universities, civil organizations like Rotary and Kiwanis, NGOs, corporations—are actively engaged outside our borders. These groups provide an enduring form of U.S. global leadership on issues from human rights, to relief from natural disasters, to climate change.

I’ve always believed the leading edge of America’s influence is defined through our diplomacy and our foreign assistance. Underlying this is America’s leadership as a generous nation imbued with a humanitarian sense of responsibility. Yet today’s political context means we are rowing against a tide of nativism and populism. Even though grassroots and grass-tops support for international development abounds at the subnational level and among some federal government agencies, our current transactional approach to international relations is eroding America’s global reach. And if we retreat too far, our country’s moral authority will also slip away and be filled eagerly by other forces in the world, not least of all China. In the end, nature and foreign affairs both abhor vacuums.

THE ROLE OF THE SDGS IN COUNTERING NEGATIVE MEGATRENDS

In a world beset by worrying demographic trends, rapid urbanization, climate change, and a transactional approach to international relations, the universally agreed-upon SDGs remain the critical roadmap for humanitarian and development activities.

Few goals are more important than eliminating poverty, exclusion, and hunger from the world, educating our children, protecting women from violence, or addressing today’s climate emergency. Any movement on these goals will make the world a safer place and progress will be overwhelmingly in the interest of our national security. If the U.S. Government spurns the SDGs, as it now appears to be doing, we will be doing so at our own peril. Indeed, the Trump administration’s intention to withdraw from the Paris Climate Treaty alone was a bad move in that direction.

My military experience taught me that the roots of radicalization are planted far upstream from the moment that someone picks up a weapon. Indeed, the roots of unrest, terrorism, and insurgency are often linked to hunger, poverty, and lack of opportunity—the very phenomena the SDGs are focused on. It is development solutions that address and can ultimately fix these problems, not military interventions.

An unstable security environment is often a direct result of the failure to satisfy human aspirations and yearnings.  Today’s unrest in the Middle East and across North Africa began in part with the rising up of young people who could no longer accept the realities of their human condition.

From a U.S. global leadership perspective, the more we align ourselves with these important and unifying international norms, the better will be the outcome, not just for the United States, but for the world. Homi Kharas’ brief, “U.S. global leadership through an SDG lens,” provides useful background on the topic. In addition, a new co-edited, co-authored Brookings book by Homi and a diverse set of external contributors, “From Summits to Solutions: Innovations in Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals,” explores distinct solutions related to everything from expanding women’s opportunities to preserving the oceans and setting goals in wealthy countries.

THE SECURITY-DEVELOPMENT NEXUS

In all my missions—whether in Bosnia, Iraq, or Afghanistan—I was mindful that certain fragile states cannot be permitted to fail because the strategic cost of inaction would be too great. In such instances, a coordinated approach between our security assistance and foreign assistance is essential.

In 2016 Jim Stavridis, my classmate from Annapolis, and I wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed, “Expanding the U.S. Military’s Smart-Power Toolbox.”  The piece was focused on the need for combatant commanders to have the requisite authority to allocate their resources so as to leverage the full capabilities of military, diplomatic and development tools integrated with their mission. The authority we sought would have included funding for USAID programs to support youth-development and conflict-mitigation in places like Agadez, Niger, where better opportunities could dissuade young people from joining terrorist groups.

On the multilateral front, I recently joined World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim at a public event, where we highlighted the broad need to treat development, security, and humanitarian assistance in a more integrated way. Brookings and the World Bank are committed to working together in this area through research and targeted engagement aimed at bringing together diverse actors working on fragile states.

In terms of explaining the linkages between foreign aid and global security, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, an NGO/business/retired military network, is doing terrific work. Fanning out to cities around the U.S., they advocate for adequately resourcing our development and diplomacy activities and I have the privilege of sitting on their National Security Advisory Council. I commend the work of Liz Schrayer, USGLC president and CEO, whose round table brief “Foreign Assistance in the America First Era” outlines the bipartisan support for the development work in the Trump administration.

WOMEN HOLD UP HALF THE SKY

A key takeaway from the 2018 round table was how extraordinarily important women are in conflict resolution, and in achieving development objectives. Indeed, peace outcomes from conflict that involve women typically have a much longer or a much greater probability of success than those that only engage men.

Women in some of the toughest places exhibit entrepreneurial instincts that in many cases far outstrip those of men, making them an excellent investment option. I saw this firsthand in Iraq and Afghanistan, where we made microloans available to women all over the country. Invariably those loans were paid back on time or early and the outcomes stimulated economic progress on the ground, which then reduced conflict and violence.

So the whole idea of future military commanders working closely with USAID and State Department and similar organizations, NGOs, and others, to try to find a way to empower women at the civil society level and women in the governments in these countries is well on track, and should be a “doctrinal” approach as we go forward. It is imperative we expand support for programs and projects that empower women in these societies.

FORGING AHEAD

The global development agenda is daunting, but practical reforms and interventions can ensure progress. Making inroads in tackling poverty and other big problems requires working with the private sector, with civil society organizations, and with other diverse players across the security and development communities. If we navigate wisely and hold to a rational, hopeful outlook, we can achieve great things for America and for the world.

For its part, Brookings will continue researching fragility and what it will take to leave no one behind in the toughest places. Scholars are planning additional mini-roundtables on fragility and are completing a research project on multilateral and international organizations. Work on measuring current trends and gaps on the SDGs is ongoing, along with plans for a future book on dealing with the furthest left behind in the race to meet the SDGs.

This blog was first launched in September 2013 by the World Bank in an effort to hold governments more accountable to poor people and offer solutions to the most prominent development challenges. Continuing this goal, Future Development was re-launched in January 2015 at brookings.edu.

For archived content, visit worldbank.org »

Danish Opposition Pushing Back FM’s Pro-Israel Decisions

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JEWISH PRESS.COM)

 

Danish Opposition Pushing Back FM’s Pro-Israel Decisions

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Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen

After the Danish Foreign Ministry had announced tougher conditions for the transfer of aid to Palestinian Authority-affiliated NGOs, and following criticism of the move in the Danish parliament’s opposition parties, the parliament has summoned Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen to a special hearing to be held Wednesday, where he will be asked to explain why the Danish government has decided to change the criteria for its support of these organizations, and to answer whether Israel was involved in the decision.

Last December, Danish Foreign Minister Samuelsen announced that his government would restrict donations to NGOs affiliated with the Palestinian Authority, by increasing oversight and limiting the number of approved organization that receive Danish support. His decision followed an investigation that began in May 2016, presumably under pressure from Israel’s UN envoy Danny Danon.

The leftwing parties in the Danish parliament claim that the foreign minister has surrendered to an Israeli dictate, but political sources in the coalition government claim that the move is part of Danish domestic politics and that Denmark will not be reversing its decision, to block aid money that goes to NGOs that transfer their allocated budgets to organizations supporting the boycott against Israel and maintain contact with terrorist groups.

The Danish leftwing opposition also wishes to find out whether the FM’s decision was influenced by the reports of NGO Monitor, an Israeli research group dedicated to exposing the relationship between anti-Israeli NGOs and donors abroad, as well as the nature of the activities of said NGOs.

Last Friday, the Danish parliament voted overwhelmingly (81-22) to exclude Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria from Denmark’s bilateral agreements with Israel, and bolster government guidelines against public and private investments in projects in those settlements, as well as in Jewish-run projects and businesses in eastern Jerusalem.

The parliament’s resolution recommended using the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ blacklist of Israeli companies operating in the territories as the basis for deciding which bilateral Danish government projects should be curtailed.

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Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

Jailed Bahraini Rights Defender Nabeel Rajab Faces Additional Fifteen Years in Prison

Nabeel Rajab (right) and Abdulhadi Alkhawaja at a pro democracy march in Bahrain in 2011. Photo by the Bahrain Center for Human Rights [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons]

This post was written by Khalid Ibrahim, executive director of the Gulf Center for Human Rights, an independent, non-profit organisation that promotes freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly in the Gulf region and its neighbouring countries.Prominent Bahraini human rights defender, Nabeel Rajab, has been in jail for his human rights work since 13 June 2016. He is currently serving a two-year prison term for speaking to the media about the human rights situation in Bahrain. He also faces additional prison time for expressing himself on Twitter.

Rajab is the President of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), the founding director of the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the Deputy Secretary-General of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), and a member of the Advisory Board of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In July 2002, he founded the BCHR with his colleague Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja, who is serving a life sentence for his human rights activities. The BCHR continues to operate to this day despite a decision to close it by authorities in November 2004, and the jailing of its two founders.

When the popular uprising started in Bahrain on 14 February 2011, Nabeel Rajab was at its heart as a human rights leader. When the authorities arrested most of the uprising leaders, he became the only remaining voice outside of prison, which was heard by hundreds of thousands of followers on Twitter and the rest of the world, attesting to the grave violations committed by the government that oppressed the entire population solely based on their demand for freedom, equality and social justice.

For his engagement with the Bahraini uprising and human rights activism, Rajab is paying a heavy price. He was arrested and imprisoned several times and subjected to various types of threats, judicial harassment, abusive media smear campaigns, torture, and travel bans.

On 10 July, he was sentenced to prison for two years after being found guilty of spreading “fake news”, over TV interviews in which he spoke about mounting human rights violations in the Gulf kingdom. In those interviews, Rajab talked about journalists and NGOs being prevented from entering Bahrain, and a lack of judicial independence. On 22 November, a Bahraini appeals court upheld the two-year prison sentence.

In another case, Rajab faces up to 15 years in jail for criticizing Bahrain’s participationin the Saudi-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen, and for speaking out about torture in Bahrain’s infamous “Jaw” prison on Twitter. Rajab was scheduled to appear again in court on 31 December 2017 for this case. However, the hearing was unexpectedly held on 5 December, four weeks earlier than the date originally scheduled by the court. On 3 December, Rajab’s lawyers were informed by the court the hearing would take place on 5 December, under the pretext that a key witness in the case would be unable to attend the hearing on 31 December. Although, Rajab’s lawyers protested this decision, the hearing took place on 5 December and was adjourned to 7 December. Rajab was unable to attend the hearing for health reasons.

– Due to health problems,Nabeel Rajab was not able to attend the hearing

– His lawyers were not given enough time for preparation, only 2 days informal notice

– Court rejected the lawyers request for postponement

– Rushing the case, raises fears of imminent sentence

On 7 December, the hearing has once again been adjourned to 15 January.

Today, the 20th Court hearing against @NabeelRajab was adjourned to 15 January for the defence to submit their final argument.

• Charged for comments condemning the Saudi bombardment in , & exposing torture in 

• Facing 15 Years imprisonment

Rajab faces additional prison time for charges related to two letters he published in the New York Times and the French newspaper Le Monde, while in prison.

In the NYT letter, published in September 2016, Rajab described the conditions of his detention and called on the Obama administration to ”use its leverage” to end the conflict in Yemen, and work ”to secure the release of people who call for peace, and are trying to build democracy in the region”. For this piece, Rajab was charged with “undermining the prestige of the kingdom.”

In the letter published in Le Monde in December 2016, Rajab called on France and Germany to re-assess their support for the Arab Gulf monarchies. Following the publication of this piece, he was charged with “spreading false news and statements and malicious rumours that undermine the prestige of Bahrain and the brotherly countries of the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council], and an attempt to endanger their relations.”

Several organizations and human rights groups have repeatedly called on Bahraini authorities to release Nabeel Rajab. In May, the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed particular concern over Rajab’s solitary confinement and called for his release. Numerous others have called for his release, including European Parliament officials. On 27 June 2017, the Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights Pier Antonio Panzeri issued a statement calling for the rights defender’s release:

Rajab’s detention violates his right to freedom of expression. I call on the Bahraini authorities to grant lawyers and family members access to Nabeel Rajab, to drop all charges against him and to free him immediately

Despite these calls, Rajab remains in prison. He is not the only one in Bahrain to be jailed for his human rights and political activism, or for peacefully expressing himself. In the small island kingdom of just 1.4 million people, there are more than 4,000 political prisoners, according to rights groups.

China And The UK Implement Program To Connect Young Entrepreneurs

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI DAILY NEWS)

CHINA and the UK will implement a program to connect young entrepreneurs from the two countries from next year.

Wu Chen, deputy director of The Great Britain China Center, the British partner behind the initiative, told Shanghai Daily yesterday the first steps toward realizing cooperation include talking to potential partners, determining mechanisms of cooperation and working out concrete programs.

The initiative is jointly fostered by the All-China Youth Federation and was announced at the Sixth China-UK Young Leaders Roundtable, an event during the Fourth Meeting of the China-UK High-Level People-to-People Dialogue in Shanghai.

“Encouraging exchanges of entrepreneurs and organizing startup competitions are just some of the ideas at this stage‚” Wu said.

“We’re looking to bring British universities and government organizations working to promote innovation on board because they’re interested in cooperating with China.”

Pei Huan, deputy secretary-general of the China Foundation for Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment and a panelist at the roundtable, said the foundation’s first overseas China Community for Youth Entrepreneurship will open in London tomorrow.

He said the community underlines the growing interest and efforts in establishing incubators benefitting young entrepreneurs from both countries.

Pei said the incubator, run by London-based Cocoon Networks, will help startups access foreign markets and drive international equity investment.

Representatives from politics, NGOs and business at the roundtable discussion also suggested establishing joint venture capital funds between China and the United Kingdom.

Congress: Please Consider Trying Refugee Camps

 

 

Folks this is a wild idea that crossed my mind yesterday and as I pondered the physical and financial responses needed, it still seems like to me to be a better idea than anything that I see being done currently. This idea may be known to everyone else on earth and I’m  just the last one to catch on, or maybe it is something. Yes, I know that I have been putting off telling you what the idea is, so here goes, please ponder the whole picture before you decide to commit me.

 

As we all know there is a huge  crisis going on all across America’s southern border with Mexico. This fact is one well known to all of the current, and one would think, that all of the living former Governors of these southern border states also know, this Border Sovereignty problem is many generations old.

American taxpayers spend billions of dollars every year in faraway countries helping build Refugee Camps and then helping in the physical and financial realms along with many N.G.O.’s such as the Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, and the good old United Nations, plus many others helping out the best they can.

I have a question for you, why can’t these camps that we are having to conjure up, be conjured up on the Mexican side of the border? Folks, it isn’t just our borders that are an issue here, look at the condition of Mexico’s totally open border on their side and they seem to be doing very little in preventing their citizens to just walk away totally unknown and undocumented to their government. The Mexican government seems to be doing nothing in their responsibility of taking care of these thousands of children (and thousands of other starving homeless people) and making sure that proper protocol with neighboring countries laws are honored before you allow what has been being done! Friends, these thousands are just the tip of the iceberg of the many millions of destitute human beings/brothers and sisters who will follow more quickly if we continue the current porous policies. This current border condition needs to be a major priority of both Federal governments.

 

Why can we not work with the Mexican government (and why not the U.N. ?) to set up refugee type camps in multiple locations along Mexico’s borders with each of our southern states. We can help make sure that these camps are very humane with safe places to eat, sleep and play while they are being documented as to who they are and exactly where they are from. Then the two governments along with the U.N. have to come up with a policy that will work for everyone. If the Mexican government wants to complain that not all of these northbound people are from Mexico that there are many who are from countries to Mexico’s south, to this I would have to reiterate to the Mexican government, secure your Southern border also.

 

Folks I don’t know all of the updated information from the U.S. government (if there really is such a thing) on their policies of how many people they allow into the country each year from each country. I do believe that if our government would allow more legal immigration from our southern brothers and sisters to where these people who want to move here can feel that they have a reasonable chance of migrating here, legally! I do suggest that once the Camps are up and running that both Governments shut down their Borders and stop this migration. I know that this will cost millions to get these camps up and running but that is chicken feed compared to what we are already committed to spending on this issue. We and the  Christian/Judeo World must be humane in what we do here or we deny the essence of our own Souls. America is going to be front and center in the world’s TV screens regarding this issue, now how will we perform on this stage?

 

Folks what do you think about this idea, good, bad, really ugly? If you are blessed with a very good quality Congressman such as I have in Congressman MD Phil Roe here in east Tennessee then please make some noise very soon to your Congressman. People let’s try to get this humanitarian crisis stemmed quickly and safely before the tidal wave that lies behind the one we see now get here, yes I do believe that there are many millions waiting in the wings waiting to see what these two Governments are going to do here on the ground now. A good friend from my past used to have a saying that I liked and since we are now dealing in the realm of politics her saying fits the situation “we shall see what we shall see”. You see, people can say anything, it’s what they do that counts the most.

 

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Hi, my name is Ashley Ferguson. I feel like my very own blog is a great way to express my thoughts, opinions and experiences in life.

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