Infotmation and stories on diplomacy


Every year Congress must approve the fiscal budget, which includes a request for foreign aid spending from the current Secretary of State. By examining the proposals for foreign aid spending through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) from 2008 to 2020, it highlights the United States’ international goals and concerns. A common thread amongst all three budgets is a concern of national security and instability within foreign nations.

The 2008 Congressional Budget Justification – Secretary Condoleezza Rice

In the 2008 Congressional Budget Justification, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice outlined the international concerns of the Bush Administration. As a whole, Secretary Rice requested $36.2 billion in funding from Congress for the 2008 fiscal year, as well as $6 billion in supplemental funding in 2007 for, as she details, additional expenses from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Secretary Rice stated that the overarching goal of this budget for foreign aid spending is to “mobilize our [the U.S.] democratic principles, our diplomacy, our development assistance and our compassion to win what will be a generational struggle.” As a result of this priority, much of the outlined spending in the report focused on the allocation of funds to programs that support democracy-building programs, peacekeeping, diplomacy and child-health programs. The United States, Secretary Rice details, ought to shift from a historically paternalistic relationship towards other nations in the world and, rather, act in partnership with foreign countries in the hope that it can establish positive and lasting change.

The 2016 Congressional Budget Justification – Secretary John Kerry

In the 2016 Congressional Budget Justification, Secretary of State John Kerry expressed concerns that were similar to those of Secretary Rice under the Bush Administration. In 2016, the international sphere continued to face uncertainty. He places emphasis on this by asking that Congress “begin by understanding what is at stake – by realizing that our overseas actions, the alliances and partnerships that we form, the cooperation we engender, and the investments we make have a direct bearing on the safety of our citizens and the quality of life enjoyed by our people.” The budget that Secretary Kerry requested $50.3 billion from Congress, a marked increase from the proposal of Secretary Rice in 2008.

Despite a change in the party — from Republican to Democrat — the concerns of each administration are the same. In the 2016 proposed budget for foreign aid spending, Secretary Kerry expresses concern on behalf of the Obama Administration for the stability of Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan, as well as for the health, education and safety of families around the world. Secretary Kerry asked for the allocation of $7 billion to Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO), which works to establish stable political environments in volatile regions in which the U.S. involves itself. Also included in this budget is $5.6 billion in humanitarian aid for Migration and Refugee Assistance, International Disaster Assistance and food assistance. On a similar note to the 2008 proposal, Secretary Kerry states that “the United States will continue to do its part to ease suffering and prepare the groundwork for recovery.”

The 2020 Congressional Budget Justification – Secretary Michael Pompeo

The 2020 Congressional Budget Justification from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo strikes a different note from the previous two administrations. While a concern towards international security remains, Secretary Pompeo focuses on foreign aid spending with a more exclusionary approach to international relations.

At the start of his proposal, Secretary Pompeo outlines the concerns for international security that lie in the denuclearization of North Korea as well as the “great-power competition against China and Russia.” Secretary Pompeo currently has requested $40 billion in foreign aid spending, a decrease from the amount requested in 2016. He states that the funds will be “to protect our diplomats and our borders, recruit and develop our workforce, and continue to modernize our IT infrastructure.” The funding for democracy strengthening programs as well as health and education in poor nations continues, but a tone of gradual withdrawal from direct involvement in global affairs persists in the language used by Secretary Pompeo throughout the proposal.

Funding to international organizations has faced cuts with a decrease of $141.46 billion to approximately $2.15 billion. Overseas programs have also faced cuts with a decrease of $69.33 billion to approximately $1.52 billion and requested funding for border security is $3.75 billion. To conclude his budget request, Secretary Pompeo states that “we must continue to put U.S. interests first and be a beacon of freedom to the world.”

Throughout all three administrations, a concern for the changing and uncertain status of the international sphere is present. Foreign aid spending peaked under the Obama administration, but both the Bush and Obama administrations focused on direct U.S. involvement in world affairs as a means of spreading peace and democracy, while the Trump administration appears to have turned its focus on protecting the U.S. from threats abroad.

– Anne Pietrow
Photo: Media Defense

Diplomacy in the Middle East
In a time clouded by violent Middle Eastern conflicts, the spotlight is focusing on how quickly the U.S. can militarize these regions. However, it is important to take note of diplomacy in the Middle East. The following is a list of the U.S.’s current diplomatic efforts in the Middle East and the ones it could potentially make in the future.

The Iraq-U.S. Alliance

Iraq is proving itself to be a key alliance for the U.S., as America seeks to put an end to the Islamic State of Iraq. The importance of preserving this alliance is more vital now than ever. To nurture this alliance, U.S. aid goes to the government of Iraq in the hopes of helping the country attain its domestic goals. This aid will hopefully allow Iraq to respond to pressing matters such as finding living quarters for the displaced and putting reforms in place to meet the needs of its people. As Iraq continues to stabilize domestically, it will help both the U.S. and Iraq militarily by giving them the ability to build up their security forces.

Natural Disasters in Iran

In 2019, a flood struck Iran which resulted in over 60 deaths and only succeeded to add on to the country’s existing troubles. The country was already in an economic crisis as a result of President Trump’s decision to impose secondary sanctions. While the Trump administration has been harsh in its stance toward Iran, there are steps the U.S. can take to aid Iran in its recovery.

Many developing countries, like Iran, constantly face under-preparedness for natural disasters which then adds to its existing financial pains. If the U.S. were to aid Iran in preparedness by providing access to better weather monitoring technologies, the country would be better equipped to handle natural disasters. To help Iran accomplish this and save lives, the U.S. government could consider creating a new general license to allow for access to this technology.

Military and Economic Aid to Israel

Israel has been a longstanding ally of the U.S. In fact, America sends Israel over $3 billion in military and economic aid each year. Through strong diplomatic relations with Israel, the U.S. prevented radicalism movements in the Middle East. Israel also provided the U.S. with valuable military intelligence. The U.S. remains committed to this alliance, and as of August 21, 2019, the U.S. Agency for International Development released a statement indicating that it would be increasing efforts to create employment opportunities and stable communities in Israel. The U.S. also committed to continuing to provide “water, education, technology, science, agriculture, cyber-security and humanitarian assistance.”

Humanitarian Efforts in Syria

After President Trump’s targeted airstrike, humanitarian efforts in Syria have begun to garner interests again. The airstrike was in response to Bashar Al-Assad’s usage of chemical weapons on his people. Since the airstrike, the U.S. discussed different ways to aid Syria through helping displaced refugees, coordinating with other countries and giving more aid. People consider the crisis in Syria to be one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times.

If America wishes to aid Syrians in this humanitarian crisis, the U.S. could make it easier for Syrian refugees to enter the country. Since the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis, the U.S. has only accepted 20,000 refugees. There are still millions of Syrians in need of resettlement. The U.S. could also provide insight and intelligence to countries that are dealing with refugees on the frontlines. Countries like Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan need help learning how to deal with a mass influx of refugees.

While the world has shown more interest in U.S. militarization, the U.S. government demonstrated its interest in facilitating diplomacy in the Middle East, indicating that diplomacy in the region is never off the table.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

The Politics and Diplomacy of Global Health
“Pure science is not pure anymore; if it ever was,” says former U.S. diplomat Judith Kaufmann. The Borgen Project recently had the opportunity to attend a lecture given by Kaufman where she discussed her views on the politics and diplomacy of global health. She spoke of global health issues and how they have evolved, and analyzed multiple examples of these issues in recent years. She had one overall message: “Every skill is needed, and everyone can make an impact.”

 

Political Background

Kaufmann graduated from Miami University in 1969 with a degree in Political Science. In her own words, she says she was “backed into public health.” She had no prior experience in these fields, but she had been a foreign service officer and knew how to interact within and between countries. When she was hired in the field of public health, she learned what was necessary about each health issue to craft proper policy.

She was told, “you can’t always teach doctors diplomacy.” She went on to work for the State Department, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the World Health Organization; she now acts as an independent consultant for groups like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Past Global Issues

Kaufmann gave several examples of how multiple disciplines and skill sets have been required to tackle issues involving global health. The first instance involves the Nigerian polio vaccine boycott. In 2003, states in Northern Nigeria boycotted the polio vaccine introduced to the area by the World Health Organization that resulted in a resurgence of the disease.

WHO did this due to a lack of trust in the organization caused by divisions within the Islamic community and between the North and South. According to Kaufmann, the WHO believed “Nigeria would be easy,” and waited until later in the campaign to target the country because it didn’t factor in the Nigerian history of conflict and division.

Kaufmann believes this could have been prevented if there had been someone involved in the vaccination campaign actually familiar with the culture of the region.

Another example she gave involving the politics and diplomacy of global health occurred within the United States. She describes how the second Bush administration used politics to gain funding for the emergency plan for HIV/AIDS relief.

The President continued his campaign strategy of “compassionate conservatism,” but what really gained support for the program, in Kaufmann’s opinion, was his choice to frame the issue as a matter of national security. According to Kaufmann, “he realized you have to appeal to emotion and rationale.”

 

The Path Forward

In Kaufman’s view, the politics and diplomacy of global health will only continue to grow in complexity. As an example, she cites China’s “New Silk Road” project and the health impacts on the multiple countries it passes through, and that these must be addressed by the World Health Organization in order for the project to move forward.

She also addressed the problem with U.S. apathy towards global health. In her words, “support for global health has flatlined in the United States.” Her hope is that the youth continue to care about and give their skills to addressing global health because “the problems have gotten too big and global health is too complex to be left only to doctors.”

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

Palau_Poverty
The Pacific islands are susceptible to poverty due to their remoteness, geographic spread, frequency of natural disasters, high level of exposure to overseas markets, small internal markets and limited natural resources. However, of these Oceanic nations, the island of Palau seems to be struggling the least. Here are six facts about poverty in Palau.

  1. Palau has one of the highest standards of living of Pacific countries, with a GDP of $287.4 million, an adult literacy rate of 99.5 percent and life expectancy of 69. However, the Micronesian nation still relies heavily on United States foreign aid through the Compact of Free Association. The compact includes a wide range of federal programs set to continue until 2030.
  2. Of the population of nearly 21,000, an estimated 4,939 individuals are affected by poverty in Palau, and 1,555 are children. Most of those affected are among the rural population, who rely on small-scale agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods.
  3. The mortality rate for children under the age of five is 18 per 1000 live births. In comparison, the United States’ child mortality rate is roughly six per 1,000. Skilled health personnel attend nearly all births.
  4. In 2014,  the amount of Palau’s population considered obese was 47 percent. A 2006 school health survey found 35 percent of children were either overweight or at risk. The prevalence of obesity and malnutrition can be attributed to the introduction of the western diet which provides consumers more calories for less money and nutritional value.
  5. For nearly two decades, Palau has sought legal reform regarding domestic violence. While there are statutes prohibiting and punishing violent behavior, no statute specifically addresses domestic violence. However, the Palau Family Protection Act aims to offer protection and deter further acts of family maltreatment, including violence, abuse and neglect. The Act also seeks to expand police officers’ ability to assist victims and enforce the law effectively.
  6. Following the El Nino weather phenomena in 2016, Palau declared a national state of emergency due to drought conditions. UNICEF provided the Ministry of Health with pre-positioned emergency health and nutrition supplies including a comprehensive health kit that could serve 1,000 people. In response to the drought, household water containers were distributed to community health centers to be used for drinking water storage.

Greater commitment to development initiatives has played a key role in keeping poverty in Palau at bay. In a broader context, the principles of emphasizing foreign aid and diplomacy can possibly be applied to other Oceanic nations and eventually strengthen the autonomy of the respective nations.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

The Role of Unofficial Diplomacy in Peacekeeping
The role of unofficial diplomacy, also known as Track II diplomacy, became increasingly helpful for state crafting. This method of diplomacy started in the U.S. by a group of academics, state department bureaucrats and public intellectuals during the 1970s.

The methods grew out of the conflicts of the Cold War including Soviet-U.S. spy scandals and the Arab-Israeli conflict. By the 1980s and 1990s, many individuals and public institutions were taking part of unofficial diplomacy. Currently, Track II diplomacy is taught in several graduate programs.

The method encourages negotiators and private individuals to meet in an informal and unofficial setting to make common ground where normal diplomatic negotiators can’t.

Governments started worrying that Track II diplomacy is taking over freelance diplomacy but scholars insist that unconventional problems require unconventional solutions. Track II diplomacy efforts help to bring solutions to problems such as in Kashmir, China and North Korea.

An example where Track II diplomacy is used to resolve conflict is in India. For decades, India and Pakistan are fighting for the disputed Kashmir. The tension could escalate again into a conflict between the two countries.

In order to prevent such a situation, Track II diplomacy could bring more stakeholders to the negotiations table. According to the Diplomat, a genuine people-to-people approach would only help reach long-term peace among the two nuclear countries.

In order for unofficial diplomacy process to succeed in the conflict of Kashmir, Track II efforts should include groups who are not necessarily on either side. This includes diverse media and not just local media of both sides.

Also, diplomacy efforts should be conducted in local areas of the conflicts. This includes suburban towns that are not major cities. Agendas for prospective agreements should be open and not limited to biased goals.

A more practical example of the use of unofficial diplomacy is the resolved disputes between the U.S. and Iran. The tensions were high after the Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis.

However, during the time from 1997 to 2005, Track II diplomacy efforts were taken to provide space for productive talk. These talks provided ground to discuss topics that government officials were not ready or willing to discuss. This was unique since the governments were not willing to discuss many issues.

Through implementing frequent use, the role of unofficial diplomacy will aid in the ability to civilly resolve disputes.

Noman Ahmed

Photo: Flickr

Ferry-Between-Cuba-and-Florida
For the first time in half a century, diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. are being restored. Ferry operators in Florida are quickly receiving the approved licenses to begin offering transit to and from Havana. It is estimated that as early as this coming fall, the once popular U.S. travel destination will no longer be off limits for tourists after more than half a century.

During this time, hundreds of thousands of Cubans have attempted to brave the 90-mile ocean journey between Cuba and Florida. In lieu of proper aquatic vessels, many of these migration attempts have been made on makeshift rafts and old converted cars.

Since the renewing diplomatic discussions, there has once again been a recent surge of Cubans attempting to make the voyage to the U.S. This past year alone, the U.S. Coast Guard detained almost 4,000 Cubans in the waters off the coast of Florida. In fact, during the past two years, the number of Cubans attempting the journey has doubled.

In 1965, Fidel Castro opened the port of Camarioca, which allowed almost 3,000 Cubans to flee, before he suddenly announced its closure and revisited restrictions. Once more in 1980, Castro opened the port of Mariel, and a mass exodus of over 125,000 Cubans took their chances in the open water.

In 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed, a severe economic downfall in Cuba happened. This resulted in hundreds of thousands fleeing the country and making the perilous sea journey. This influx of immigrants and detainees caused President Clinton to amend the Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA) in 1994.

The revisions effectively limited asylum to refugees who were not intercepted by the U.S. Coast Guard. Refugees who made it to dry land were allowed to stay; all others were detained and sent back to Cuba. This distinction became known as the “wet foot-dry foot” policy.

In 2013, Cuba altered its own travel policy, allowing Cubans to travel and work abroad for up to two years without losing their citizenship. While this policy provided leeway, it did not provide transportation due to the travel ban, and Cubans were also subject to the “wet foot-dry foot” policy in the U.S.

For a long time, hopeful refugees had been left with few options: brave the seas themselves in homemade water crafts or rely upon human smuggling networks who charge upwards of US$10,000. Since Cuba’s annual GDP is approximately US$6,000, the former option proved to be the most common. Cubans had to wait for months to save enough money to buy parts and to build their own makeshift water crafts.

Like migrants from many poor countries, Cubans have been fleeing their country in efforts to find economic opportunities and escape Communist oppression. Many also have been seeking to provide for their families who still reside in Cuba. These severe risks that come with the journey combined with the adverse conditions clearly state the desperation of Cuban citizens. These ferry services offered are symbolic of the new era of cooperation and could signal the end to a tragic side effect of the 50-year standoff.

Renewed relations between the two nations will provide Americans a chance to visit Cuba, but, more importantly, desperate Cubans will have the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. One-way tickets will be starting at around US$150. The combination of the relatively inexpensive ticket price coupled with Cuba’s reformed travel policy provides desperate Cubans better chances of economic opportunity.

– Frasier Petersen

Sources: Daily Signal, BBC, Miami Herald, The New York Times
Photo: Tampa Bay Times

Foreign Policy
Foreign policy is the manner in which a country behaves toward other members of the international community. It involves a state setting an agenda and using its resources to achieve established goals. Nations strive to achieve foreign policy goals with a combination of the instruments discussed below.

 

Effective Tools for Achieving Foreign Policy Goals

 

Diplomacy
Diplomacy is the act of working and negotiating with representatives of foreign nations to reach consensus and set the stage for future rules. This can involve working on the development of accords, treaties, alliances and conventions. Diplomats form relationships with officials from other countries to understand their perspectives, while simultaneously portraying and promoting the values and position of the United States. Although there are many images in the media depicting diplomatic meetings regarding large-scale foreign policy decisions, most diplomatic relations — especially those of particular importance — occur behind the scenes through private discussions and negotiations. In addition to discussing issues with foreign officials, diplomats meet with many other members of foreign societies, ranging from business officials to representatives of nongovernmental organizations. By cultivating connections throughout civil society, diplomats can gain a better understanding of a country’s culture in order to find common ground on which to base relations and actions.

Foreign Aid
States can use foreign aid to achieve foreign policy objectives abroad, build relationships with other nations and address issues of humanitarian concern. There are various forms of aid, including foreign military aid, humanitarian assistance, food aid and general development aid. Foreign military aid involves augmenting another nation’s supply of military equipment and technological capabilities. Military aid can help a state indirectly influence the balance of power in areas abroad, therefore increasing a country’s sphere of influence. Military aid can also serve to help another country defend itself based on commonly shared ideals and values. Alternatively, states can give economic aid to other countries in order to stimulate growth or help with specific project development. The United States currently spends less than one percent of its budget on foreign aid.

Sanctions
Countries can use sanctions in an attempt to change another country’s behavior. Sanctions can be used to express dislike for a current behavior, limit opportunities for such behavior to continue and deter other countries from taking similar courses of action. Different types of sanctions include arms embargoes, trade embargoes, asset freezes and travel restrictions. Historically, sanctions have been put in place in an attempt to take a stand against human rights violations.

Military Force
Using military force — or hard power — in foreign relations involves states using their military to influence the behavior of weaker nations or directly involve themselves in the c0untry. The United States currently has the most powerful military in the world.

Deterrence
States can deter other states from taking an action by convincing opponents that the costs will exceed the benefits. This can happen through diplomacy or the threat of military action.

When making decisions that affect the international community, as many decisions do, states either behave unilaterally, bilaterally or multilaterally. Unilateral action indicates that a state is acting alone, independent of common norms or rules of world order. Unilateral actions tend to be based on self-interest rather than on international standards of behavior. Meanwhile, bilateral action indicates that two states are acting together. Finally, multilateral actions indicate a multiplayer coordination of efforts based on commonly shared norms. A nation’s approach toward cooperation with other nations in dealing with its foreign policy agenda is very influential in the effectiveness of each of the tools.

The foreign policy tools actually used are largely dependent on a nation’s foreign policy agenda. Most contemporary issues are seen to be multifaceted in nature, and will thus need to be approached with a combination of these instruments. The established goals of a state’s foreign policy agenda will also affect the choice of tools. In reality, the actual usage of these tools is not only dependent on what goals are being pursued, but on what resources are available.

– Arin Kerstein

Sources: Global Issues, Government of the Netherlands, United States Diplomacy Center
Photo: Council on Foreign Relations

health_diplomacy
The United States government has led the world as one of the largest supporters of global health efforts, with foreign assistance investments in over 80 countries. Health Diplomacy is vital in maintaining strong relationships with the international community and is crucial in advancing foreign policy.

But what is health diplomacy exactly? Although defined in many different ways, in essence, it is a multi-level process that involves international stakeholders and local organizations that are aimed at improving healthcare delivery by exporting medical equipment, expertise and human resources to those who need it most.

As an interconnected global community, health diplomacy is demonstrated to help out the allies of the United States in creating sustainable health programs to meet the needs of the people. The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Global Health Diplomacy uses diplomatic outreach to promote the shared responsibility for the well-being of the world’s citizens.

In cases where diplomatic efforts may be strained or negotiations are hard to come by, health diplomacy can open doors to foster new dialogue and create more partnerships on a non-political level.

On the other hand, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services brings in much needed technical expertise and scientific research to the interrelated fields of public health and international development. By exchanging scientific and evidence-based knowledge with leaders and health educators abroad, the United States continues to maximize its objectives in security, development and health.

One of the greatest examples of health diplomacy is the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Started in 2002, this international financing institution spurred a multitude of partnerships between foreign governments, civil societies and non-profit organizations to fight these three pandemics. From 2002 to 2016, 56 donor governments have pledged an astounding $42 million to the fund, with the U.S. being the largest donor. These donations will allow local experts to tackle the infectious disease issue whether it is by distributing mosquito nets to protect people from malaria, training health personnel or providing medical equipment for the diagnosis of tuberculosis.

– Leeda Jewayni

Sources: Global Health Diplomacy Net, Global Health, U.S. Department of State, The Global Fund
Photo: Flickr

history of diplomacy
Diplomacy is a crucial aspect to the success of any modern society, and it has existed since the inception of even the earliest civilizations. But the political activity and history of diplomacy go beyond harboring friendships abroad; diplomacy is used as a pathway to negotiate and exchange ideas, strategies and goods. In an increasingly globalized world, it is easy to see why diplomacy has become such a fundamental aspect of governments around the world.

What began as sending high-ranking officials to foreign entities via ship or horse-drawn carriage has turned into the existence of thousands of permanent embassies worldwide. In the times of ancient Greece and Rome, diplomats were often sent to negotiate issues related to war, peace and commercial tactics. Today, however, diplomats remain in designated countries in order to constantly negotiate issues of peacekeeping, trade, environment and human rights.

In the United States, the history of diplomacy stretches back to the revolutionary period, during which figures like Thomas Jefferson maintained a great legacy by serving as the Minister to France from 1785 to 1789 and as the first Secretary of State from 1790 to 1793. America’s diplomatic relationships during this period were essential, as they gained the U.S. the credibility that it needed coming out of the American Revolution.

While government officials were responsible for maintaining diplomatic relations around the world in the post-revolutionary period, the Constitution was interpreted in such a way that using the taxpayers’ dollars for foreign aid was disallowed. Since then, however, foreign aid has been adopted and convincingly used as a political tool that brings great results to the U.S.

Today, partly as a result of Jefferson’s early diplomatic successes, there are only a small handful of nations with which the U.S. has no relations. At the same time, there has been a ton of political contention over what the focus of U.S. foreign policy should be. Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio stated in a speech last year his belief that diplomacy and foreign aid should be the backbone of American foreign policy rather than the precedential focus on military intervention.

Each year, the U.S. doles out approximately $50 billion to foreign aid, with roughly a third of that money going into training, supplying and aiding foreign militaries. If the government pulled just half of this foreign military assistance budget and allocated it to USAID–about $10 billion–clean water could be provided to the world’s entire population.

That $10 billion is half of what the U.S. spends on pet food each year. One-tenth of what Europe spends on alcohol. Solving the issue of global poverty is not a matter of money; it is a matter of priority.

It was said in the U.S. State Department’s 2014 budget proposal, which was approximately $48 billion, that “deploying diplomats today is much cheaper than deploying troops tomorrow.” As bipartisan an issue as it may be, being on the same page about American diplomatic efforts can shift a lot of focus toward the foreign aid necessary to maintain everyone’s best interest, solving the poverty that is plaguing billions around the world.

Conner Goldstein

Sources: U.S. Office of the Historian, Huffington Post, NY Times, U.S. Department of State
Photo: NPS

u.s.-africa leaders summit
From August 4 to August 6, the White House is hosting the first ever United States-Africa Leaders Summit. During the summit, U.S. President Barack Obama aims to strengthen ties with Africa’s leaders and engage in conversation on investing in the future of the continent.

The summit, hosts 50 African leaders in good standing with the U.S. and is focused on trade and investment in Africa. They are also discussing food security, availability of clean water and sustainable housing.

With the continent in the midst of a serious Ebola outbreak, some gears may be shifted toward providing reliable healthcare facilities to the millions who suffer from health problems due to impoverished conditions throughout rural Africa.

Healthcare is a hopeful topic of discussion for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, as the healthcare inequality gap proliferates in both countries. In South Africa, healthcare for the impoverished is increasingly difficult to attain, as no one seems to be making the initial investment to build a hospital where effective healthcare can be provided on a public scale.

Another significant highlight of the summit is climate change. Africa’s rural agriculture relies on the rain. In recent years, Africa has suffered from harsher and more frequent environmental changes, and so Obama has opened a dialogue on implementing sturdier agricultural infrastructure to positively impact food security among African nations.

This has big implications for Africa’s impoverished population, as 65 percent of the entire continent relies on agriculture as their source of livelihood. If environmental conditions can be dealt with more productively, agricultural output will increase. This will have real and beneficial effects on conditions by raising wages and lowering the price of food. Thus, Africa’s impoverished population will have greater buying power.

Obama is also hopeful that his discussions on trading partnerships will have a positive impact on job markets in Africa. In doing this, African companies will be seeking foreign investment and will prove that the continent has more to offer than just commodities and natural resources. If significant investment is secured, many tangible benefits will be brought back to American soil, as these companies will be capable of expanding the economy and beginning to employ Africa’s promising youth.

All in all, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit has a lot of potential for aiding Africa’s population.

Conner Goldstein

Sources: UCSF, WhiteHouse.gov, The World Bank, The Guardian
Photo: The Guardian