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Supporting Liberia's Reconstruction and Development
This work has now concluded.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's inauguration as the President of Liberia in January 2006 marked a watershed in the country's tumultuous history. Twenty-five years of corruption, misrule, and civil war under Samuel Doe, Charles Taylor, and successive interim governments had left Liberia in ruins. President Sirleaf, the first African woman to be elected head of state, has energetically set the country on a new course, putting accountability, transparency, good governance, and economic opportunities for all Liberians at the center of her agenda. CGD advised President Sirleaf as she prepared to take office on issues ranging from debt relief to donor relations.
Former CGD Senior Fellow Steve Radelet and others from the Center advised President Sirleaf and senior members of her administration in December 2005, the month before she took office. Their work included aid coordination, aid quality, debt relief, poverty reduction and growth strategies, capacity building, and civil service reform, among other issues.
CGD support to the Liberian government also included helping to arrange the Scott Family Liberia Fellowships. From its launch in 2007 to its end in 2010, the Scott Family Liberia Fellows Program provided an opportunity for five or six young professionals to work for one year as special assistants to top officials in Liberia. The program was funded by a generous $1 million contribution from the family of CGD chairman and co-founder Edward W. Scott, Jr.
This level of engagement in a developing country is unusual for CGD because the Center's primary focus is on improving the policies and practices of the rich world towards development. In addition to being of use to Liberia, the relationship provided CGD with a unique opportunity to observe the complex interactions between donors and a developing country in the early stages of recovery from conflict.
Analysis of the U.S. budget reveals a chasm between Washington rhetoric about the potentially large threats arising from weak and failing states and the paucity of resources devoted to engaging with these troubled countries. The authors argue that the U.S. should think creatively about how and when to engage and should boost the $1.1 billion requested for these countries in the 2007 budget, regarding it as a form of venture capital, with high risks but potentially high rewards. Learn more
The Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI), the latest phase of debt reduction for poor countries from the World Bank, the IMF, and the African Development Bank, will come close to full debt reduction for at least 19 and perhaps as many as 40 countries. Debt relief proponents see it as a momentous leap in the battle against global poverty. CGD research fellow Todd Moss argues that actual gains in poverty reduction will be modest and slow.
This new collection of essays sets an agenda for increased American effectiveness in dealing with failed states to promote economic development and international security. It includes an overview of the poorly understood challenge of weak and failed states and case studies by regional policy experts, then offers recommendations for reform of U.S. foreign and development policy to better meet the challenges posed by weak states.
In this new working paper, CGD visiting fellow Ethan Kapstein and Nathan Converse analyze the economic performance of young democracies around the world and find that stagnating economic performance is a good indicator of imminent democratic reversal. The authors also find evidence suggesting that the design of political institutions significantly influence their probability of survival.
In this new working paper, CGD Research Fellow Stewart Patrick urges analysts and policymakers to look more deeply at the links between failed states and global threats such terrorism, weapons proliferation, organized crime, and global pandemics. He then provides the tools: a framework for determining which types of states are associated with which dangers.
Helping ex-combatants re-join society is a critical step in war-to-peace transitions. CGD Non-Resident Fellow Jeremy Weinstein analyzed a large sample of ex-combatants in Sierra Leone to evaluate disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programs. Surprise finding: participants' age and gender, the main criteria used in program design, had little to do with success. Past experience - including abuse - mattered more.
A Report of the Commission for Weak States and US National Security
Terrorists training at bases in Afghanistan and Somalia. Transnational crime networks putting down roots in Myanmar/Burma and Central Asia. Poverty, disease, and humanitarian emergencies overwhelming governments in Haiti and Central Africa. A common thread runs through these disparate crises that form the fundamental foreign policy and security challenges of our time. These crises originate in, spread to, and disproportionately affect developing countries where governments lack the capacity, and sometimes the will, to respond.
These weak and failed states matter to American security, American values, and the prospects for global economic growth upon which the American economy depends.