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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.

 

Cape Town at morning rush hour

Anarchy Undelivered

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.  

 
Stock photo of oil pumpjacks

How Can Countries Escape the Natural Resource Curse? Answer: Democracy

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.

A map of Nigerian conflict deaths in 2012 by state

Another Hidden Horror of 21st Century Conflict: Children’s Suffering

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.

Five Reasons Nigeria’s Election Delay Is Fishy

There was a whiff of something rotten in my kitchen on Saturday – and it wasn’t the cooking. No, it was emanating from the press conference I was watching live on my smartphone, in which Nigeria’s election commissioner announced that polling, scheduled for February 14, was to be postponed by another six weeks.

What Cash Payments Can’t Do: Lessons from #BringBackOurGirls

I have had the privilege of living and working in West Africa for the past 15 years. In 2007, I spent several months in northern Nigeria, interviewing grain traders in cross-border markets. These markets were some of my favorite places in West Africa—bustling, chaotic, open-air markets that brought together hundreds of farmers, traders and consumers, all from different villages and cultures, to exchange, talk and trade. I enjoyed walking through those markets, observing, negotiating and asking questions.

What to Expect from Secretary Kerry’s Visit to Africa

Last Friday (hmmm…), the State Department announced that Secretary Kerry will travel to sub-Saharan Africa April 29-May 5, his first visit to the sub-continent as Secretary of State. First stop is Addis Ababa to meet with the African Union and the Ethiopian government “to discuss efforts to advance peace and democracy in the region”. Next up is Kinshasa to “discuss how the DRC government’s progress in neutralizing some of the dozens of dangerous armed groups that victimize the Congolese people can be consolidated and how to best advance the DRC’s democratization and long-term stability.” Last stop is Luanda to “commend President dos Santos for Angola’s leadership of…the Great Lakes peace process.”

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