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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.

 

David Cameron’s Antipoverty Agenda: It’s Post-Gleneagles, Post-2015, and Post-Aid, but is it Post-November 6?

While we are desperately trying to decode a strand of insight into US development policy in the Presidential debates, the British are having a full-throated debate about leadership on 21st-century global issues —and, frankly, making us look bad. In today’s Wall Street Journal, British Prime Minister David Cameron lays out his antipoverty vision in this op-ed.  My three takeaways:

Attn Bob Schieffer: Three Serious Questions to Throw Obama and Romney Off Kilter

From Big Bird to malarkey to binders full of women, it’s been quite the presidential debate series (there was also that whole dramatic shift in the momentum of the race thing).

On Monday, we’ll hear from President Obama and Governor Romney for 1.5 Bob Schieffer-moderated hours on foreign policy. The topics have already been announced, and while it’s possible some development-related questions could come up (mostly likely under the basket of America’s role in the world), the odds aren’t great. Regardless, here are three questions that I’d like to hear the candidates answer.

Identification for Development, US Election Edition

This is a joint post with Julia Clark

On the surface, it’s hard to see how requiring a photo ID for elections could be problematic. What’s the big deal? Nearly everyone we know has at least one photo ID—a driver’s license, state ID, or passport. Plus, preventing double or illegitimate voting is a favorable goal in any democracy. Who could argue with a law that promises to protect electoral integrity?

Latest AGOA Delay Comes from a Surprising Source

This is a joint post with Jenny Ottenhoff.

Last month, one of us wrote that Congress seemed to have compromised and reached a bipartisan deal to extend the rule (known technically but awkwardly as the third-country fabric rule) that allows poor African countries to export clothing to the United States duty-free under the African Growth and Opportunity Act. We should have known better. This week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) was finally ready to bring a package of trade items, including the rule extension, to the floor for passage by unanimous consent when two senators put holds (subscription required) on it over completely unrelated issues – despite the fact that they actually support the extension.

Massive Corruption Revisited: The Value of Portfolio Estimates

Corruption in aid programs is a cyclical topic. Every scandal generates headlines, political reaction, tighter controls and then, usually, silence until the next scandal erupts. Such cycles are not helpful and we never really find out if such corruption is large and systematic or small and isolated.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Congressional Bipartisanship for Developing Countries

Given the harsh tone and general gridlock in the U.S. Congress of late, one might think that signs of bipartisanship and ‘getting things done’ would be welcome, but not always.  We caught a glimpse this week of the good, bad and ugly in congressional activities surrounding the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which grants duty-free treatment to most imports from sub-Saharan Africa , and the U.S. farm bill.

Fresh Ideas for New U.S. Ambassador to Haiti

Update: On March 29, the U.S. Senate confirmed Pamela White to be Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Haiti.

Assuming she is confirmed by the Senate, Pamela White is set to become the next U.S. ambassador to Haiti. In her March 14 confirmation hearing, White and the senators agreed on one message: Haiti’s unstable government is impeding post-earthquake recovery, including U.S. aid efforts. But White could consider alternative approaches—from migration policy to mobile money—that might do more to help Haitians right now.

The Farm Bill Saga Begins (Again): Will Development Be on the Stage, in the Wings, or out of Luck?

Many in the development research and advocacy communities engaged heavily in the mid-2000s debate over what became the 2008 farm bill and were sorely disappointed with the outcome. At that time, the push for farm bill reform was part of a broader campaign to push the Doha Development Agenda round of international trade negotiations to a successful conclusion, including by sharply reducing the levels of trade-distorting support that rich countries provide to their farmers.

Africa on K Street: Lobbying Is Not Restricted to the Developed World

This is a joint post with Julie Walz.

The aid community is well-accustomed to pushing for transparency in foreign aid transactions. But are we missing another key flow of money?

A recent article by Geoffrey York, African bureau chief for the Globe and Mail, described a contract signed a few years ago by the Government of Rwanda with Racepoint Group, which was tasked with doing an image make-over for the Rwandan government for a monthly fee of over $50,000. The rationale was that public perceptions of Rwanda were dominated by the horrific genocide that occured in the 1990s, along with accounts of human rights abuses and media censorship. The contract with Racepoint reportedly aimed to increase the number of stories of Rwanda’s successes and block criticism of the government and its alleged human rights abuses. The effort landed more than 100 positive articles per month in newspapers from the New York Times to BBC, increased discussions of travel to Rwanda by 183%, and decreased discussion of the genocide by 11%, according to Racepoint.

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