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Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

Equatorial Guinea Dictator to Lead the African Union

Yesterday, the African Union chose Equatorial Guinea’s dictator of 31 years, President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, to serve as their chairman; a move that will undoubtedly undermine the AU’s attempt to bring stability to the African continent and to confront leaders who cling to power./

Obiang has been criticized for violating the basic human rights that the AU swears to uphold and is consideredone of the world’s worst dictators. Having ruled the country since 1979, Obiang claims to have won 97 percent of the vote in 2002 and 95 percent in 2009. And despite their oil wealth, the people of Equatorial Guinea have seen little benefit. Life expectancy is a mere 50 years, half of the children who live in that country do not complete primary school, and about 15 percent die before age of 5. The country ranks 118 out of 182 in the UNDP Human Development Index.

Youth in the Middle East: Nowhere to Go but the Street

The firestorm of events across the Middle East over the past few days can't be explained by long-term development factors: the link between politics and economic development (or lack thereof) is complex in the extreme.  Still, the staggering lack of opportunities for young people, especially young entrepreneurs without political connections, is clearly an important part of the mix.

Restoring U.S. Financial Markets in a Credible Way: Comments on Feldstein and Yellen

From January 6-9, I participated in the annual ASSA (Allied Social Science Associations) conference in Denver, Colorado.  I was part of a high-level panel discussion with a number of distinguished economists including Janet Yellen, the Federal Reserve’s Vice-Chair; Martin Feldstein, of Harvard University; Andrew Brimmer, former Governor of the Federal Reserve Board; and Alan Krueger, former Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, among others.

Despite Domestic Focus, the State of CGD State of the Union Bingo Remains Strong

This is a joint post with Kaci Farrell

Last night’s State of the Union address, like the mid-term elections, was not about foreign policy. Development aid was MIA, but President Obama’s remarks about the environment, trade, security, investment, technology, and migration—the six other areas measured in CGD’s Commitment to Development Index—allowed a handful of diligent guests to finally spell B-I-N-G-O!

South Africa to Launch Development Aid Agency

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

South Africa announced last week that it will launch its own development aid agency in 2011 - the South African Development Partnership Agency. This move places South Africa ahead of other emerging donors such as India and China , who have yet to create separate agencies to dispense aid.

No longer just a recipient of aid, South Africa has quietly ramped up its role as a leader on the African continent, largely via peacekeeping, post-conflict reconstruction, and even analytical work.

Two Lessons from Tunisia

Recent events in Tunisia suggest two lessons.  First, the west is wrong to think of old dictators as useful allies.  Like other longstanding authoritarian despots before him, President Ben Ali managed to convince the United States (and also western allies like France and the UK), that the repressive nature of his regime was essential for regional stability.  In this case, his bloated police state was viewed as a necessary inconvenience by western diplomats, given the alleged threat of radical Islam, even if it meant that the West was maintaining close diplomatic relations with a corrupt and

Endorsing the No-Exit Strategy in Pakistan, and Patience on the Hill

This is a joint post with Wren Elhai.

Vice-President Joe Biden is way ahead of the U.S. foreign policy community on the basics of what the United States can do in Pakistan. Let’s review two things he said during his recent visit to Islamabad, speaking to reporters from the perspective of someone who, during his time in the Senate, helped develop and championed the 5-year, $7.5 billion aid package now called Kerry-Lugar-Berman. First:

“The one last misconception I'd like to address is there are those who point to America’s history in this region and claim that eventually we will abandon Pakistan . . .we have learned from the past that . . . the only productive way forward is a long-term enduring partnership.”

Baby Doc Return to Haiti!? Let Bill Clinton Run for President!

This post is joint with Julie Walz

The surprise return of ousted dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier to Haiti has thrown more uncertainty into a country already struggling with political paralysis from the November election and a painful recovery from last year’s quake. Duvalier returned after nearly 25 years in exile and was arrested in Port au Prince for charges of corruption and embezzlement. The following day, a lawsuit was filed against him for torture and crimes against humanity. Duvalier is blamed, along with his father Francoise “Papa Doc” Duvalier, for the torture and rape of thousands –between 40,000 and 60,000 Haitians are thought to have died under their rule from 1957 – 1986. Despite this horrendous record, some young Haitians are drawn to Baby Doc, believing that he might bring some relief from the desperate conditions in which they find themselves.

It’s That Time Again…Play CGD State of the Union Bingo!

Thank you to everyone who played CGD State of the Union Bingo last night! We had a terrific crowd at our event and want to hear about your festivities. Click here for our reactions and commentary on President Obama’s speech.

It’s January in Washington. Time for New Year’s resolutions, extra outerwear and…CGD State of the Union Bingo!

How Quickly Are Countries Progressing Toward the MDGs? A New Interactive Web-App from CGD

This is a joint post with Ross Thuotte.

The United Nations recently published the 2011 World Economic Situation and Prospects report, which asserts that Sub-Saharan Africa, and possibly parts of South Asia, are off-track for halving extreme poverty levels by 2015. This must sound alarmingly dire and discouraging for those laboring long and hard to reduce poverty rates in countries within these regions.

But this picture was painted by a highly simplistic brush. Despite doomsday generalizations, almost two-thirds of Sub-Saharan African countries are on-track (or nearly on-track) to halve poverty during the MDG period (1990-2015). A few of them – such as Ghana, Uganda, and Burkina Faso – are on the short-list of the highest-performing countries. These so-called MDG Trailblazers (both in Africa and beyond) are the subject of my recent CGD working paper.

Based on popular requests, we have launched a new interactive MDG web tool that visually represents each individual country’s progress towards the highly ambitious MDG targets.

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