Information and news about foreign policy

India's Center for Policy ResearchEstablished in 1973, the Center for Policy Research (CPR) is a non-partisan nonprofit think tank designed to produce better public policy that shapes Indian life. Its unique team draws from a diverse set of occupational backgrounds to confront social issues with a multi-dimensional lens. Some highlights include Shyam Divan, Senior Advocate for the Supreme Court of India; Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, former Indian ambassador to the EU and well-known historian and Vinita Bali, former CEO of Britannia Industries Ltd.

India’s Center for Policy Research, located in the heart of Delhi, divides its research into five main categories:

  1. Economic policy
  2. Environmental law and governance
  3. International relations and security
  4. Law regulation and the state
  5. Urbanization.

The following will breakdown these subgroups in an attempt to decipher just exactly what the organization supports.

Economic Policy

The think tank recognizes the necessity for growth and productivity for the maintenance of a healthy economy. What makes it stellar is its commitment to equity

For example, one of their most recent projects involves the analysis of India’s “Special Economic Zones” and who truly benefits from their implementation. The organization’s non-partisan and nonprofit approach liberates them from the bias of special interest groups that oftentimes heavily influence the outcomes of these “case studies.”

These sentiments are echoed in another of the group’s economic policy projects. It is a campaign to officially define the characteristics of the country’s middle class. This could serve as a critical step in enhancing the rights of millions of Indian citizens.

Environmental Law and Governance

The goal of India’s Center for Policy Research is to establish a clean and sustainable environment. To address this, the group focuses their programs on pivotal topics such as Delhi’s air pollution, water use in rainfed agriculture, overall water policy and state action plans on environment sustainability.

International Relations and Security

The CPR’s international relations and security division is more in tune with typical slants on the subject than the other divisions. But, it still has some standout components. In the quest to understand India’s past and present role in the shifting global order, the think tank vows to research international relations from traditional and alternative perspectives. This aspect is very important as it deviates from the usual one-dimensional historical viewpoint.

Law, Regulation and the State

This sector of the CPR delivers a sort of institutional examination of the country of India. The purpose is to identify the relationship between laws, institutions and Indian life. It consciously aims to figure out the implications of these entities on basic rights such as land and intellectual property.

This category unites the others to land rights and dialogues on Indian politics. The hallmark project in this section is labeled “Balancing Religious Accommodation and Human Rights in Constitutional Frameworks.” This project is especially important because it targets issues with the country’s constitution that suppress rights, providing a direct opportunity to rework the country’s unequal beginnings.

Urbanization

This final subset is focuses on the rapid effects of urbanization currently taking place in India. The process of urbanization comes with a range of different challenges such as personal issues with governance and citizenship, to material issues regarding infrastructure. Because of this, urbanization holds a very multifaceted array of projects. These aim to work in unison to uncover the connection with urbanization and its effect on how people engage with the state.

Overall, India’s Center for Policy Research is tackling many different issues and challenges that India faces today. If it helps enact effective policies in its five focused areas, it could help boost India’s already growing economy and even eliminate its national poverty.

– Liam Manion
Photo: Flickr

Top Five Facts About U.K. Foreign AidAs one of the most economically developed countries in the world, the U.K. plays a tremendous role in global prosperity. In 2017, the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product per capita was $39,953.60. Here are the top five facts about U.K. foreign aid.

Top 5 Facts About UK Foreign Aid

  1. How much is being spent?
    Since the 1970s, the United Nations has been urging all developing nations to invest 0.7 percent of their gross national income in overseas aid. This is in collaboration with the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve international welfare. The U.K. agreed and reached this target in 2013, along with five other countries. Shortly after, the U.K. included this goal in its legislation. By 2015, the U.K. legally required 0.7 percent of its G.N.I. goes toward foreign development. By 2016, the U.K. spent £13.3 billion ($16.9 billion) on international aid. As the U.K. economy continues to grow, the amount the U.K. spends each year does, too.
  2. What are the goals?
    On top of legislation, the U.K. created an aid strategy. The four primary goals of this strategy include promoting global peace, strengthening crises response, aiding in international development and helping the world’s most impoverished people. The government aims to do so by implementing several tactics. For example, 50 percent of all the Department for International Development’s (DFID) spending goes toward aid in developing nations. Moreover, it funds a £1 billion commitment to global health.
  3. How is funding being spent?
    The DFID spends approximately 74 percent of government spending. Smaller departments within the government spend the remaining 26 percent. Most funding (63 percent) goes toward bilateral aid, sent directly to countries in need. Organizations, such as the U.N., distribute the remaining funds. The top recipients of aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. In 2015, humanitarian projects received the most amount of support. In order to ensure success and public awareness, the DFID site collects data to track foreign aid spending.
  4. What does the government think?
    Conservative parties within the U.K. have argued to reduce foreign aid. Accordingly, these parties believe the money could be better spent domestically. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, concern surrounding foreign aid increased. However, in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May publically supported the 0.7 percent target goal. Bill Gates has also been a large advocate in support of U.K. foreign aid. In several interviews, Gates has expressed the U.K. should be proud of its contributions toward international poverty reduction.
  5. How does U.K. foreign aid compare?
    Since 2013, the nation has become a global leader in humanitarian aid. It is known as one of the first nations to offer assistance during crises. The U.K. provided relief during Hurrican Irma and the Ebola outbreak in Syria. In 2016, the U.K. ranked fifth in international aid, behind Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark. Norway gives more than 1 percent of its GNI to foreign aid, making it a model for other countries.

Overall, the U.K. should be proud of its contributions. These top five facts about U.K. foreign aid demonstrate the nation has contributed billions of pounds to reducing global poverty. For the future of society, may the U.K. continue to grow and prosper, deepening its stance against global poverty.

Anna Melnik
Photo: Google Images

American Foreign Policy in Venezuela
Following the death of Hugo Chavez in 2013, Nicolas Maduro of the United Socialist Party was selected as president of Venezuela and the country has been under his authoritarian rule ever since. Economic crises and major human rights violations have flourished in Venezuela, calling the attention of international human rights organizations and U.S. officials. This crisis has only intensified the maltreatment of poverty-ridden Venezuelans resulting in the influence of American foreign policy in Venezuela.

Human Right Violations in Venezuela and resulting effects on Poverty

The Venezuelan government’s reluctance to listen to its citizens – particularly low-income workers – has led to the growth of poverty and poor living conditions throughout the nation. According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018, Venezuelan workers have been gathering in “sporadic and often spontaneous small-scale protests” throughout 2018 to demand basic needs such as water and electricity. The Venezuelan government used arbitrary detention and strict police tactics to halt protests in 2017. The government repression and suspension of the freedom to peacefully assemble has stalled the granting of aid to those suffering in these poor conditions.

The economic crisis has further exacerbated the maltreatment of Venezuelan workers. In fact, during January 2018, workers in several sectors – such as health, petroleum, transportation, and electricity – held protests and strikes in order to denounce hunger salaries, which are wages insufficient to afford a basic food basket and unable to keep up with the rate of hyperinflation. In response, President Maduro raised the national minimum wage to 1,800 Bolivares Soberanes ($11). However, union leaders from the petroleum, health, telecommunications and electricity sectors stated that this decree did not include wage adjustments. Therefore, people would still not be able to afford a basic food basket.

Basic human rights in Venezuela, such as water, electricity and especially food, have become contingent on political loyalty. In fact, the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018 states that President Maduro has “[conditioned] the receipt of food assistance on support for his government and increasing military control over the economy.” Food shortages have become a severe problem among the poor in Venezuela. A study showed that 64.3 percent of Venezuelans stated that they lost weight in 2017, with the poorest people losing the most. In fact, this study also found that nine out of 10 Venezuelans could not afford daily food.

“Its just government incompetence,” William Meyer, a professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of Delaware, said. “They can’t even run the country officially anymore. They can’t even provide basic services like electricity anymore, the government is so corrupt and chaotic and inept.”

American Foreign Policy Intervention in Venezuela

The U.S. government has already established new rules through foreign policy in an attempt to oppose Venezuela’s authoritarian government. Along with Canada, the European Union and Panama, the United States imposed targeted sanctions on more than 50 Venezuelan officials in response to their implications with human rights abuses and corruptions. Additionally, in 2017, the United States imposed financial sanctions that banned dealings on new stocks and bonds issued by the Venezuelan government and its state oil company.

However, these new changes to American foreign policy in Venezuela may have a negative effect on its people. This is in the hope that the changes will produce long term benefits.

“Unfortunately, all economics sanctions are going to make things worse for all the average people,” Meyer said. “The hope is that economic sanctions will undermine the regime and somehow Maduro will leave and be removed from power.”

Meyer makes it clear that Venezuela has extremely limited options for American foreign policy and that intervening through other options, such as military intervention, would be a drastic mistake.

“[Humanitarian aid] is about the best that we can hope for right now,” Meyer said.

The United States has donated a sum of humanitarian aid towards the Venezuelan Crisis, as USAID reports having provided $152,394,006 in humanitarian funding. This includes a $40.8 million State/PRM contribution to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to support regional relief efforts. Additionally, USAID funded another $15 million for the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) in order to support Venezuelan refugees in Colombia.

Additionally, there are charities and organizations throughout the U.S. that are donating aid towards the crisis in Venezuela to ease the effect of poverty. One of those organizations is the Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation, which has already shipped over 63,000 lbs of life-saving supplies to Venezuela.

The poverty that plagues Venezuela is dependent solely upon the wrongdoings of its authoritarian dictator. While U.S. foreign policymakers have limitations when it comes to fixing Venezuela’s deep economic and political crisis, it is clear that Venezuela’s impoverished need long-term humanitarian aid. However, it is clear that much of the aid and assistance that goes towards Venezuela is dependent on the donations and assistance of individuals rather than the government. Due to efforts and donations of volunteers, the Cuatro Por Venezuela Foundation was able to quadruple its impact in its second year of operation, sending 60,000 Ibs of shipments to Venezuela.

Healing Venezuela

Healing Venezuela is another charity that helps the country by sending management programs, medical supplies, support and staff to Venezuela. Once again, due to the donations of donors, Healing Venezuela was able to send 7 tonnes of medical supplies, install a water treatment plant, sponsor HIV and provide cancer tests for over 150 low-income patients.

Many human rights violations are occurring in Venezuela under the unchecked dictatorship of Nicholas Maduro, such as the lack of access to free speech, food, water and electricity. American foreign policy in Venezuela can only go so far when it comes to fixing the problem. However, the generous donations and work of successful charities, such as Cuatro Por Venezuela and Healing Venezuela, are helping to relieve the many issues that plague Venezuela.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

Podcasts for Perspective: Three Shows Raising Global Inequality Awareness Since podcasting began to take off, this audio medium has really carved out a significant space for itself in American media with its on-demand, radio-like content. According to Edison Research’s 2018 podcast statistic report, 26 percent of Americans (73 million people) listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Podcasts are easily available online or through any smart device and target virtually every interest and topic, including global inequality awareness.

Whether someone is new to podcasts or a regular listener, they are a great way to learn new things, expand people’s interests and gain perspectives on different topics. Below, are three suggestions for globally-minded podcasts. Though each of these podcasts has a different focus, they all contribute to raising awareness for global inequality issues relating to poverty.

Hacking Hunger

Produced by World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger shares stories about hunger from around the globe. Hacking Hunger connects listeners to the voices of aid workers and families involved with the World Food Program. By highlighting direct experiences, this podcast helps listeners imagine the realities of hunger from refugee camps to conflict zones.

Rarely longer than 30 minutes, Hacking Hunger offers concise, yet poignant stories from the frontlines of countries combatting hunger. According to the M.J. Altman, editorial director at World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger is most successful when it moves and motivates its listeners. By bringing attention to hunger issues worldwide, Hacking Hunger both raises awareness about and generates support for hunger relief funds.

Circle of Blue Podcasts

Circle of Blue is a non-profit, resource advocacy group that focuses on sanitation and water. Circle of Blue’s podcast covers water issues in depth by looking at how water relates to energy production, food, health and environmental topics. Though Circle of Blue has several programs (among them H2O Hotspots and What’s Up with Water), they are combined under “Circle of Blue WaterNews” on various podcast provider platforms.

With news-like quality and tone, Circle of Blue updates listeners on water issues worldwide. This podcast combines case-specific stories with connections to larger trends over time. Circle of Blue is a good podcast for listeners who want to explore how access to water contributes to inequality worldwide. Keep an eye out especially for the H2O Hotspot episodes, which feature in-depth stories on areas in danger of water-related conflicts.

Global Dispatches

From the team of the U.N. Dispatch, Global Dispatches covers foreign policy issues and world affairs. The show highlights policy-makers, aid workers, development experts and global affairs leaders through in-depth interviews. The varying content promotes global inequality awareness in many fields. For example, recent topics have included the link between poverty and vaccines, political conflict in Haiti and “energy poverty” in developing countries.

Despite the diverse content, the editor of the U.N. Dispatch blog, Mark Leon Goldberg, hosts the podcast and gives it a consistent voice between episodes. Global Dispatches contextualizes the central topic of each episode very well, making it easy to understand without prior knowledge. Episodes are generally fewer than 45 minutes long and updated frequently. This podcast is ideal for listeners who want to keep up-to-date with a diverse range of foreign policy issues.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day because they can be listened to on a walk or in the car. Listening to these podcasts (and others like it) can help people stay updated on different aspects of global issues and poverty as well as increase their global inequality awareness.

Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

female democratic policyThe Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate race is well and truly underway. The Democratic Party recently announced that the Democratic National Convention will be held in July 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Currently, the number of declared candidacies for the Democratic Party stands at more than 200 with Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar being some of the critical players in this field. Here are brief summaries of what has defined these female democratic presidential candidates’ foreign policy agendas so far in their career, and what they have identified as key parts of their presidential campaigns.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren has been a long time supporter of foreign aid with a platform on trade that focuses primarily on re-investing power in the American Middle Class. Subsequently, she is an advocate for anti-corruption measures and cracking down on multinational corporations that prioritize profits over workers.

Furthermore, she has expressed caution about the U.S.’ trade position with China due to the alleged human rights abuses, contending that China upholds no pretense of democracy regardless of its seemingly capitalist motives. She argues that the domestic agenda should not be considered “as separate from our foreign policy” and that creating strong alliances will help ordinary Americans. Foreign policy must be used to address humanitarian crises and boost democracies worldwide.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris’ foreign policy approach has been shaped by her career as a federal prosecutor. She has identified ending human trafficking, fighting climate change and reducing terrorism among her key foreign policy stances. She is a supporter of ‘smart diplomacy,’ which includes the cracking down on international criminal organizations.

She favors creating a multilateral approach to address global climate change and, subsequently, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership on account of it ‘invalidating’ California’s landmark environmental laws. Although she holds a similar stance to Warren on many issues, she has does not support tariffs on China due to the impact on California’s technology industry. She has not joined her colleagues Gillibrand and Warren in condemning cuts to Palestinian; however, she did join them in condemning the funding cuts to refugee programs.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand is a longtime fighter for both women in developing countries and women in the U.S., which has become a key part of her presidential platform. She co-sponsored the Women, Peace and Security Act of 2013, supporting the integration of gender into U.S. Foreign Policy.

She initially co-sponsored the Anti-Israel Boycott Act but withdrew her support several months later in 2017. Similar to Warren, she has supported using U.S. trade authority to discipline nations over the use of military force and, subsequently, she opposes U.S. collaboration with Saudi Arabia due to its role in the Yemen Humanitarian Crisis.

Gillibrand’s foreign policy statements outside of gender have focused on the protection of U.S. industries against unfair competition. Specifically, she has led the fight for U.S. steel manufacturers and fought back against cheap imports that harm U.S. producers of both primary and secondary products.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar has identified a long list of campaign issues on foreign policy centered around advancing American National Security. She is a supporter of foreign aid and the tradition of the U.S. in providing humanitarian assistance, helping to “address refugee crises, preventing radicalization, and promoting stability around the world.”

She has supported sanctions against Iran and North Korea and voted in favor of the Anti-Israel Boycott Bill, which is against the U.N. resolution requesting that states refuse to do business with contractors that engage in business with Israel. She has specifically outlined support for strengthening trade links within North America and with Cuba as part of her foreign policy outlook with the aim of advancing regional interests and investment and strengthening the U.S. position in the global economy. She has favored maintaining a strong military presence more so than several of her female democratic contenders.

Although these candidates, the leading four female Democrats in the race, hold largely similar positions on foreign policy and global trade, there are subtle differences demonstrated by the range of issues they have vocally discussed and highlighted. They are all supporters of foreign aid and all sit largely within the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. However, it is likely that as the race gets further underway, these female democratic presidential candidates’ foreign policy agendas will become more distinct.

Holly Barsham

Photo: Flickr

Department of State
The Department of State (DOS) is an executive office that is responsible for international relations. It serves as an advisory role to the President and represents the United States at the United Nations. But, there’s much more to it than just negotiating foreign treaties and running embassies. Here are 10 cool facts about the State Department.

10 Cool Facts About the State Department

  1. The Department of State is the keeper of the Great Seal of the United States. The seal is kept securely under lock and key in a glass enclosure in the Department’s Exhibit Hall. It can be used only with the permission of the Secretary of State. Over the years, the DOS has placed the Great Seal on display for the public, the first time being in 1955.
  2. The DOS has its own Diplomatic Motor Vehicle Office for foreign missions. This office works under the 1978 Diplomatic Relations Act and can issue registrations for foreign diplomats who have immunity in the United States. It also issues license plates, insurance and driver’s licenses.
  3. The State Department sponsors the Fulbright Program. Fulbright was established in 1946 and has had more than 250,000 participants since. The program’s mission is to create opportunities for better interactions and understanding between Americans and people of other nations. This is achieved by providing scholarships to American scholars who are seeking to study, teach or conduct research abroad and to foreign scholars who want to do the same in the United States.
  4. The Department of State as a top entry-level employer. With 1,000 job openings in 2019, the Department of State also offers remote internships called eInternships through the Virtual Student Federal Service program. The positions are open to part-time and full-time undergraduate and graduate students. All majors and backgrounds are encouraged to apply. In 2019, there have already been more than 125 internships offered through many different departments of the DOS, bringing new projects each year for students to participate in. The jobs vary from data visualization and infographic design to English-Spanish translations for the National Archives. The eInternships run from September through May; they are unpaid, part-time and some offer college credit as well as a variety of other benefits.
  5. The Department of State gives Linguist of the Year awards. The recipient of this award is an employee of the Foreign or Civil Service who has achieved a high level of knowledge of one or more foreign languages and who has demonstrated the ability to use that language to further U.S. diplomacy. The award comes with a $10,000 cash prize.
  6. The Department of State houses the Diplomatic Reception Rooms in Washington, D.C. In those rooms, the Secretary of State receives important guests. One historically important and cool fact is that the John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room is home to the desk upon which the Treaty of Paris 1783 was signed, ending the Revolutionary War. The rooms also contain one of the United States’ most rare collections of fine and decorative arts, which have a value of more than $100 million.
  7. The State Department collaborates with USAID. Even though USAID is not part of the government, the DOS has provided USAID with guidance on foreign policy since 1961. The DOS makes sure that foreign aid is distributed according to U.S. policy standards.
  8. The Department of State employs diplomatic couriers. This job requires nearly constant travel in order to escort and deliver diplomatic pouches with classified material between the Department of State and its foreign missions. Diplomatic couriers are covered under the Vienna Convention as they work under international treaties. They spend more than 75 percent of their work time in international or domestic travel. Peter Parker was the first man to be commissioned as a diplomatic courier in 1776. However, it wasn’t until World War I that the DOS started hiring couriers regularly. Today it employs approximately 100 diplomatic couriers.
  9. The Department of State is leading the Global Connect Initiative. Announced at the United Nations in 2015, the initiative aims to provide 1.5 billion people with internet access by 2020. Global Connect stresses the importance of internet access in economic development because it facilitates investment and creates jobs.
  10. The Department of State provides travel advisories with the possibility to sign up for travel alerts. The Bureau of Consular Affairs monitors safety around the world and issues warnings about security levels. Upon registration, people can receive notifications via e-mail or on an app on their phones. The website offers travel advice for people from all walks of life to ensure safety and well-being.

The State Department is responsible for the United States’ foreign policy and international relations. It operates in the United States and in its missions based in other countries. Despite its serious and global role, the State Department does some cool things. These 10 cool facts about the State Department show that it is about more than just policies; it offers adventurous careers, scholarships and awards and even lessons on the United State’s art history.

– Ewa Devaux
Photo: Google

New U.S. Africa Strategy
The National Security Advisor for the Trump Administration, John Bolton, unveiled the new strategy for the U.S. aid and investment in Africa in a speech at the Heritage Foundation in Washington D.C. During the speech, Bolton outlined what the new U.S. Africa strategy will look like. It has three main focuses: advancing U.S. trade and commercial ties, countering Islamic terrorism and making sure that U.S. dollars are used efficiently and effectively. In the text below, the three main objectives of the new U.S. Africa Strategy are presented.

Advancing US Trade and Commercial Ties

Bolton stated in his speech that the United States plans on providing assistance to “key countries” and strategic objectives, with U.S. economic interests at the forefront of any aid given, unlike previous administrations, whose objectives in providing aid were focused on sustainable growth for African countries. In order to achieve this goal, the U.S. plans on enacting a new initiative called “Prosper Africa.” This initiative will focus on growing the African middle class, improving the business climate in the region, and supporting U.S. investments. No details on how the initiative will be implemented were given.

Countering Islamic Terrorism

The second objective of the new U.S. Africa strategy is to counter Islamic terrorism in Africa. Bolton highlighted three nations specifically: Mali, Libya and Sudan, where Al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates have taken hold. Rather than giving money or aid directly to fighting the radical groups that have taken hold in these and other nations in Africa, the new plan will focus on strengthening the economies of African nations. This will allow African nations to be more self-sufficient and will make them better prepared to address a range of security threats, including terrorism.

The goal of the Trump administration in the new U.S. Africa strategy is to help African nations become more self-sufficient and better able to take ownership of the security of the region. This strategy is closely aligned with the Department of Defense’s plans to reduce troop presence in Africa by 10 percent.

Efficient and Effective

In his speech, Bolton stated that the new U.S. Africa strategy will revisit the foundational principles of the Marshall Plan. Enacted in 1948 after World War II, The Marshall Plan was an American initiative to give aid to and help rebuild Western Europe. It legitimized U.S. foreign aid programs and opened markets for American goods. One way in which the Trump administration plans on making sure U.S. dollars are being used effectively and sticking to the principles of the Marshall Plan is by bypassing the United Nations. Coincidentally, the government will also reevaluate its support of U.N. peacekeeping missions.

What this Means for Africa

The economic focus of the new strategy has the potential to improve conditions in Africa. Under the new U.S. Africa strategy, United States aid must be invested in health and education, transparent governance and follow the rule of law. If these tenets are followed, the strategy may help African nations to become more self-sufficient and therefore better equipped to handle their own security issues.

Unfortunately, Bolton provided few details as to how the government plans on making sure the tenets are upheld. More information and examples of how the U.S. Africa strategy is to be enacted are needed to know if the new Africa strategy will be beneficial to all African nations.

– Peter Zimmerman
Photo: Google

Progress in U.S. Foreign PolicyRecent months have seen several instances of progress in U.S. foreign policy, specifically in terms of foreign aid initiatives. In the span of little over a month, from mid-June to late-July, four such initiatives have come one step closer to making it through Congress. These initiatives are described in the text below.

Global Food Security Reauthorization Act

On June 19, 2018, the Global Food Security Reauthorization Act of 2018 passed in the Senate, and is currently under consideration by the House of Representatives. If passed, the bill will renew the Global Food Security Act of 2016, allowing for continued U.S. assistance in efforts to eradicate chronic hunger and poverty in developing nations.

In 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) cited the number of people suffering from chronic hunger at 815 million, which is 10 million more than when the initial legislation was drafted. Of this number, 489 million people were living in areas experiencing conflict.

U.S. foreign assistance seeks to install agricultural development programs in target countries that will use innovative science and technology to make the most of agricultural resources. In fostering food security and economic growth, increased productivity in agriculture will alleviate both hunger and poverty, in addition to stabilizing populations that are especially vulnerable to conflict and environmental hardship. The stabilization of these countries ultimately bolsters U.S. national security.

Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act

The House of Representatives passed the Women’s Entrepreneurship and Economic Empowerment Act of 2018 on July 17, 2018. It is now under review by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Globally, discrimination impedes women’s financial success in a number of ways:

  • Lower wages mean smaller incomes.
  • Laws and practices in some countries keep women from their rightful ownership of assets, as in the case of inheritance.
  • Gender-specific constraints have left over 1 billion women worldwide out of the formal financial system, depriving them of opportunities such as access to credit.

These factors all contribute to the reality that women comprise the majority of the world’s poor, rendering them more susceptible to violence, exploitation and poor health.

If this bill is implemented, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will work with countries to develop standards for gender equality and reduce gender violence. The agency will also support programs that establish and ensure equal rights to ownership and equal economic inclusion.

In 2016, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that women’s equal participation in economic activity would add $28 trillion to the global GDP by 2025.

Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILD) Act

July 17, 2018, saw another instance of progress in U.S. foreign policy with the House of Representatives also passing the BUILD Act. The bill has gotten through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is under further consideration by the Senate.

The BUILD Act would combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) with certain functions of USAID, creating the United States International Development Finance Corporation (USIDFC) to replace OPIC.

Through loans, investments and partnerships with American businesses, the USIDFC would encourage and facilitate the investment of American private sector resources in developing nations. In financing business endeavors in these countries, the bill serves to create jobs, thereby stimulating their economies. This economic stimulation would make developing countries capable to afford infrastructure development projects.

The ultimate aim of the BUILD Act is to reduce the need for U.S. foreign aid by catalyzing modern development and bringing relations closer to an equal partnership. Congress expects that the USIDFC will go beyond self-sufficiency to bring in revenue to the U.S. Treasury.

Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act

The Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act made it through the House of Representatives on Oct. 3, 2017.  On July 26, 2018, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee finally passed the bill along to the Senate for consideration.

As of June 2018, disaster and conflict have displaced upward of 68 million people, out of whom 25 million are refugees. Over half of the refugee population are children, and almost four million of these children lack access to primary education. The average length of displacement is 26 years, meaning that the affected children are at risk of never receiving an education. And yet, as of 2016, under 2 percent of all foreign aid has gone toward ensuring education for children in need.

If enacted into law, the bill will mandate the U.S. to work with other countries in making education accessible to all displaced children. By educating children, countries combat poverty, exploitation and extremism, which thrives in areas of hardship. As its name suggests, the legislation would give special priority to girls, who are both economically disadvantaged and more vulnerable to sexual exploitation, human trafficking and child marriage.

Benefits of US Foreign Policy

Although these initiatives are designed to directly impact nations in need, each of them would also have an indirect positive impact in the U.S. and around the world.

Whether helping to stimulate the global economy, improving overall global health or ensuring that human rights that are upheld around the world, global interdependence means that progress in U.S. foreign policy could lead to progress around the globe.

The recent steps that Congress has taken to approve the foreign aid legislation cited above have brought hopes for this goal of becoming reality.

One simple way to find out more about these and similar issues is the direct contact with the Congress, which is easily possible through The Borgen Project, more specifically, through this link.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

Multilateral Aid Review ActThe Multilateral Aid Review Act calls for a complete review of The United States system for foreign assistance. It would also serve as the foundation for a Global Development Strategy for foreign aid and would assist in any potential reconstruction of U.S. developmental programs and efforts. Ultimately, the importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act is that the bill provides a positive move towards evidence-based reforms as well as offers a potential substitution to the proposed budget cuts for international aid programs.  

A Bipartisan Group of Supporters

The importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act can be seen by the bipartisan group of Senators who introduced the bill. Two Senators from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.), introduced the legislation that will review and potentially enhance the effectiveness of The United States participation in foreign organizations as well as improve accountability. The Multilateral Aid Review Act is also cosponsored by a number of Senators including Todd Young (R-Ind.), Tim Kaine (D-Va), Marco Rubio (R-Fla), Michael Bennet (D-Colo), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga) and Bob Casey (D-Pa).  

According to Senator Bob Corker, “American taxpayers deserve to know how our involvement in these organizations benefits this country (…) Establishing an interagency review process will give us a more thorough and objective way to evaluate the performance of these institutions.” Senator Chris Coons stated, “At a time when some question the value of foreign assistance, I am proud to lead this bill which will provide data to analyze the effectiveness of our investments with these agencies and others.”  

Oversite of How the Money is Allocated

The importance of The Multilateral Aid Review Act is that it will establish an “interagency task force” that will review the organizations that receive federal foreign aid assistance. The proposed task force will be led by The Department of State, but it would have to consult with Congress and various outside experts. It would assess each organization’s financial management practices. There are three specific areas that would be evaluated:

  1. The degree to which the organization meets their declared goals
  2. Ensuring those goals align with U.S. policies
  3. The effectiveness of pursuing U.S. objectives multilaterally

In March 2018, President Trump announced, as a part of his proposed budget, that an estimated 28 percent of current spending on foreign aid would be cut. Obviously, this would have an astronomical impact on countries facing extreme poverty and the organizations hoping to put an end to this issue.

To put this in perspective, there would be a 25 percent cut in global health programs, the impact of which would be seen across all sectors. A 68 percent cut would slash The Bureau for Food Security, which works to eliminate world hunger.  

Helping Countries in Need As Well As US Interests

The importance of the Multilateral Aid Review Act is that it allows for the possibility of protecting countries receiving foreign aid as well as organizations and programs working towards solving world issues. The truth of the matter is that The United States investing in foreign aid not only helps countries in need but it also can help America in several ways.

  • Foreign aid is an investment that can be returned by creating strong trading partnerships that will eventually bring both employment and income back into The United States.
  • The United States is safer because foreign aid helps resolve the conditions that led to instability, therefore, reducing the threat of violence and even terrorism.
  • Investing in foreign aid helps prevent epidemics, which ultimately save thousands of lives, not to mention thousands of dollars in aid in the event of an epidemic.
  • The United States participating generously in foreign aid boosts the country’s reputation, which opens up several opportunities, including allowing U.S. goals to be pursued.  

The Multilateral Aid Review Act is an extremely important piece of bipartisan legislation that will allow a more detailed review of where The United States foreign aid budget goes, therefore, ensuring it is spent in the right way. If passed, this bill will not only help The United States but also countries around the globe facing extreme poverty.

– Olivia Hodges
Photo: Flickr

Japan’s foreign policy

Japan has an advanced transportation system, outstanding outcomes in the field of technology research and a matured business development model. As the world’s third-largest economy, Japan has been expanding its foreign policies to aid developing countries and boosts the global economy.

From Japan’s international cooperation on Pandemic Influenza to NERICA (New Rice For Africa), Japan plays an essential role in solving urgent and consistent poverty issues. Its foreign policies promote the progress of eliminating poverty worldwide. There are three cases of how Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems.

Examples of Japan’s Foreign Policy

  1. NERICA: Food shortage is a continuous problem in Africa. The main reason is low production field. NERICA stands for New Rice for Africa. The Japanese government cooperated with the Africa Rice Center to introduce this program in 1992. This program is applied extensively in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).The Africa Rice Center cooperated with its partners to produce interspecific hybridization, which can combine advantages of two species to increase the yield of rice. In the meantime, the interspecific grains have better ability to tolerate drought, pest and disease. These grains have higher nutrition as well. Japan has adopted various plans to apply different irrigated rice production technology in Tanzania since the 1970s, which has boosted the yield of rice to three times larger than the national average.In 2014, the total production of milled rice in Uganda was 154,050 metric tonnes, but the consumption rate was 215,707 metric tonnes. NERICA plays a vital role to ameliorate the Ugandan food shortage problem by increasing rice varieties. Most farmers are planting NERICA rice because its mature time is shorter, the yield is higher and it is more tolerant to drought and viruses. For example, NERICA 6 is immune to Yellow Mortal Virus and NERICA 1 only takes 100 days to mature.NERICA is a typical example of how Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems. It ameliorates African food shortage problems efficiently and provides an alternative way for people in SSA to access higher-nutrition and larger-yielding grains.
  2. STI: In September 2015, the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The 2030 Agenda lists 17 goals to eliminate global poverty issues in sustainable ways. Japan continuously contributes itself to achieve the 2030 Agenda.Japan has abundant human resources and advanced technology. It can help reach the agenda through STI, which stands for science, technology and innovation. STI can contribute to boosting development by using limited sources.Japan will contribute its extensive database, which covers from the ocean up to space, to facilitate the efficiency of international cooperation. In addition, Japan will facilitate people-centered development by offering consistent assistance in areas of information and communications technology, research and development, industrial human resources development and vocational training.In 2015, the Council for Science, Technology and Innovation was established to solve social issues and boost economic growth. The Japanese government will spend $1.8 billion on STI in the next three years mainly on high technology development which has international benefits.For example, outbreak alert innovation can reinforce surveillance of infectious diseases, and mobile innovation can facilitate the urban transportation system by using wireless communication for extension of green light. STI acts as a “bridging force” to connect Japan with the globe by assisting technology training processes and sharing developing STI experiences.
  3. Infrastructure Aid: Japan has consistently been sharing its sources on infrastructure building with other countries. For example, in September 2017, Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail was launched when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited India. This high-speed railway corridor stretches from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, which is a total of 508.17 km.This project is the symbol of cooperation between Japan and India. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered $12 billion in loans to build India’s first bullet train. In the meantime, the Japanese government agreed to bear 80 percent of the total project cost when Prime Minister Abe visited India in September of 2017. Assisting in building infrastructure is another way Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems.

Overall, Japan’s foreign policy helps solve global poverty by sharing resources and advanced technology. For Latin America, Japan will promote its development by improving trade and investment to create a more comprehensive environment for economic growth. For the Middle East, Japan works on overcoming peace-building and human resources development, as well as a sustainable and stable energy supply. Japan’s foreign policy solves global poverty problems through science, technology and innovation.

– Judy Lu
Photo: Flickr