Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

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“No superpower that claims to possess the moral high ground can afford to relinquish its leadership in addressing global disease, hunger, and ignorance,” said former US senator Richard Lugar. “Our moral identity is an essential source of national power… We diminish ourselves and our national reputation if we turn our backs on the obvious plight of hundreds of millions of people who are living on less than a dollar a day and facing severe risk from hunger and disease.”

“The United States must be a leader in forging global partnerships and developing the most effective practices to achieve development goals,” the six-term GOP senator from Indiana added. “Further, we should be forthright in explaining that diplomacy and development are two distinct disciplines… Development must be a goal that is independent of diplomacy, not merely its servant.”

Lugar’s arguments for US leadership in global development came in a wide-ranging speech he delivered at the Center for Global Development (CGD) in accepting the 2012 Commitment to Development “Ideas in Action” Award. The award, bestowed annually by the Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine, honors an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to changing attitudes and policies of the rich world toward the developing world.

Pictured left to right: Peter Scoblic, Ed Scott, Senator Richard Lugar, Nancy Birdsall

Praising Lugar’s service in the US Senate, during which he served as chairman and as ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, CGD president Nancy Birdsall said: “Senator Lugar used the bully pulpit of his office to push for a more honest look at what works and what doesn’t in development. And he had the guts to lead on issues like Pakistan, even when these were not popular, pushing for US policies that strengthen long-run American security by investing in people and institutions in the developing world.”

“I hope that Senator Lugar’s example, in terms of his interest and action on development issues will be remembered and replicated by his successors in the US senate and the next generation of US leaders,” Birdsall added.

Foreign Policy executive editor Peter Scoblic said that the senator: “has displayed a dedication not only to improving foreign assistance programs but ultimately to the millions of lives that those programs serve.” A former senior Senate staffer who worked on arms control, Scoblic also paid moving tribute to Lugar’s contributions to reducing the risk of nuclear war.

Presenting the award, CGD founding board chair Edward Scott said: “It’s very fitting and appropriate that we should give this award to someone as distinguished as Senator Lugar, who’s done so much for the country in so many spheres of endeavor.”

Highlights from Lugar’s speech:

On the US budget environment: “We must recognize the economic challenges that cast a shadow over the development work of our Federal government... it is vital that all of us use every opportunity to explain why foreign assistance is an indispensable tool of US foreign policy and to support reforms of foreign assistance that ensure it is effective.”

On development and diplomacy: “Although diplomacy and development often can be mutually reinforcing, at their core, they have different priorities, resource requirements, and time horizons.”

On the US Farm Bill: “If we’re hobbled by one subsidy after another, that is not morally defensible”

On the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act also known as Kerry-Lugar-Berman or “KBL”: “Instead of a five-year bill we ought to be thinking in terms of a 10-year plan, the time factor bring the critical issue…Pakistan will continue to be a very important country, security wise for us, but likewise in opportunities for the development of human beings.” (Lugar’s remarks are in keeping a key recommendation of a recent CGD report.)

On the prospects for bipartisan cooperation on development on Capitol Hill: “This is going to be a considerable problem, at least as the Foreign Relations Committee moves ahead….I’m not predicting gloom and doom, but I think this is going to have to be a building session.”

Previous winners of the Commitment to Development Award (CDA) include: the European ministers of international development who constitute the Utstein Group (2003); Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair Campaign (2004); then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown (2005), then-U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) (2006), Global Witness (2007), the ONE Campaign (2008), Diego Hidalgo Schnur (2009), Publish What you Pay (2010), and Geeta Rao Gupta (2011).