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Last month, the UK government announced its commitment to “hold the largest review of the UK’s foreign, defence, security and development policy since the end of the Cold War,” with the review adopting an integrated, whole-of-government perspective.
In global development, we spend a lot of time thinking about cost effectiveness. But what if we step back and look at the broader picture when it comes to the effectiveness of different tools of foreign policy and engagement including diplomacy and defense? What are our most effective approaches to deliver on US national security and future prosperity? My new book is an attempt to answer that question.
Worldwide military spending as a percentage of GDP in the years since the Global Crisis has been at nearly half its level during the Cold War. This column identifies three groups into which spending has been converging. It also shows that external threat levels are a factor in determining military spending, but only in developing economies. The results suggest a significant peace dividend from reducing internal conflicts, with a country that moves from the bottom 25% to the top 25% of developing countries on political stability and the absence of violence/terrorism likely to reduce military spending by about half a percentage point of GDP.
Twenty-five years ago, travel writer and journalist Robert Kaplan wrote an article for The Atlantic, headlined “The Coming Anarchy.” It was an apocalyptic account of Kaplan’s visit to West Africa and his dark vision that much of the world would end up looking like war-torn Sierra Leone. Kaplan suggested recently that he thought “The Coming Anarchy” had stood the test of time. I disagree, and think the fact that Kaplan was wrong matters: global jeremiads are a force for isolationism. I discussed why with The Atlantic’s Matthew Peterson on a new podcast.
Today, the UN and Canada are launching the Elsie Initiative Fund for Uniformed Women in Peace Operations. The fund will accelerate the deployment of trained and qualified women in peacekeeping. It is a fantastic goal and the fund has an exciting design.
How can countries escape the natural resource curse? And to what extent do cohesive and democratic institutions facilitate this process? In a new CGD working paper, we look at Nigeria—often seen as the prime example of a country cursed by its wealth. We show that when political institutions are cohesive and power is shared among the diverse groups in a multi-ethnic society, political contests over resource revenues are less likely to be violent. What produces cohesive institutions? Democratic elections.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize, awarded last week to Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, calls attention to sexual violence during war and civil conflicts—a horror too often unstated and wished away. There’s another largely hidden horror the world needs to reckon with: the toll that civil conflicts, some so local that they rarely make the news, takes on children.
Today, we published the Commitment to Development Index (CDI) 2018, which ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on how well their policies help the more than five billion people living in poorer countries. European countries dominate this year’s CDI, occupying the top 12 positions in the Index and with Sweden claiming the #1 spot. Here, we look at what these countries are doing particularly well in the past year to support the world’s poor, and where European leaders can still learn from others.
The US is going to use aid to shape migration. That’s at least how the president’s remarks seem to have laid it out at an immigration roundtable last month, when he announced his White House is “working on a plan to deduct a lot of aid” from countries whose nationals arrive at the US border. “[W]e may not just give them aid at all.”
The Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, is giving a big speech this Thursday, setting out her strategic directions on development. She has already impressed many people in development by the way she has embraced the mission of the department while challenging some of its ways of working. She has also won plaudits for her deft handling of the important issue of safeguarding in development.