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the global fragility act
The Global Fragility Act of 2019 (H.R.2116/S.727) is one of the first-ever whole-of-government efforts to recognize regions where violent conflict exists or could potentially arise and address those issues through diplomatic, development and security efforts. Its main goal is not only to stabilize these areas but also prevent the emergence of violent conflict in countries that are at a higher risk or are more fragile due to a lack of governance and economic opportunity, as well as extreme poverty.

What Is the Problem?

With the current levels of humanitarian crises and extreme poverty worldwide, there is a great need for a bill like the Global Fragility Act. Globally there are over 134 million people that are in need of aid with the main causes being conflict and natural disasters. Additionally, over 550,000 people die annually as a result of violence, which has led to an increase in the need for aid from $3.5 billion in 2004 to about $20 billion currently. Unfortunately, when some provide assistance to address these issues, places mostly use it to address the consequences of violence rather than the root causes.

What Is the Global Fragility Act?

The Global Fragility Act is a bipartisan measure that will steer away from the focus placed on the symptoms of violence and instead solve the problem before it starts. It covers 12 different goals which will address the causes of fragility such as instability, weak governance and a lack of economic opportunities. The bill will resolve these issues by enhancing stabilization in the areas where conflict is prevalent.

According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the bill aims to “establish an interagency initiative/strategy to reduce fragility and violence, select pilot countries where the U.S. will implement the initiative, provide critical funds for stabilization, prevention and crisis response, [and] mandate evaluation and accountability.”

The inter-agency initiative is the first of its kind and will include the joint efforts of the U.S. State Department, Defense Department and USAID. These agencies will select countries and regions where conflict and violence are the most prevalent based on the most current data available regarding fragility, violence and number of people forcibly displaced, among other indicators. Additionally, the Global Fragility Act will also establish the Stabilization and Prevention Fund and the Complex Crises Fund. The Department of State and USAID will manage these with the intention of taking preventative or responsive measures to crises. Furthermore, the Act will also establish indicators to monitor the progress in the pilot regions, while also requiring the agencies involved to send biennial reports to Congress regarding how the program has developed in each region.

Who Are Its Sponsors?

The Global Fragility Act is a bipartisan effort given that it addresses issues that go beyond party adherence. As has been mentioned there are two versions of this bill, the House H.R.2116 bill and the Senate S.727 bill. Sponsors for the House bill include the following: Representatives Engel (D-NY), McCaul (R-TX), A. Smith (D-WA), Wagner (R-MO), Keating (D-MA) and Rooney (R-FL).

The senators in support of the S.727 bill include Senators Coons (D-DE), Graham (R-SC), Merkley (D-OR), Rubio (R-FL) and Young (R-IN). There are a number of additional supporters, but these are the main sponsors, as well as the ones who introduced the bills to their respective chambers.

Where Does It Stand Now?

Currently, the Global Fragility Act has passed in the House of Representatives; however, it has yet to be approved in the Senate. On June 25, 2019, the Bill went to the Senate for consideration. Once the Senate approves it, it will then move on to the President to sign into law. However, everyone needs to support it for it to receive approval. The U.S. public can involve themselves and help turn this bill into law. U.S. senators are only a call, email or letter away. Constituents can find their senator’s contact information here and they can email Congress here. Voicing support for this bill would not only contribute to raising people out of poverty but also strengthening U.S. national security.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Pixabay

 

foreign aid helps the U.S.
Giving, especially in the form of foreign aid, has shown to cultivate meaningful relationships among people and countries, some that lead to rewarding trading agreements amid other benefits. Recent history has particularly exhibited how foreign aid helps the U.S., which is a crucial consideration in the political dialogue surrounding the current foreign aid budget.

Foreign Aid Helps the U.S. with Trade

One valuable return the U.S. has received in its giving of foreign aid to other developing countries has been the increase in American jobs as well as trade. Foreign aid is much like an investment; it helps to forge the foundation needed for low-income countries to build up and become middle-income, sustainable states. Here are some examples:

  1. After World War II, U.S. foreign aid to Japan helped recover Japan’s infrastructure and highly contributed to the success of American companies like Microsoft.
  2. The U.S. now trades and does business with former recipients of foreign aid, such as South Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Vietnam and Thailand.
  3. The President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) successfully slowed down the AIDS epidemic and countries that received such aid have, in turn, consumed more American goods. Exports rose 77 percent in Tanzania, 189 percent in Zambia and 241 percent in Ethiopia.
  4. PEPFAR is one of the strong determinants of increases in the trade of pharmaceuticals.
  5. Foreign aid has attributed $46 billion more in U.S. exports and 920,000 more jobs in the U.S.
  6. In 2011, 44.6 percent of U.S. exports went to developing countries.
  7. In Tennessee alone, more than $33 billion in goods and services were exported to foreign countries in 2014 and this trade, in turn, supports over 22 percent of jobs, 830,000 local jobs to be specific.

Foreign Aid Helps with Health

Foreign aid helps the U.S. in preventing global epidemics that could otherwise be much worse. While assisting developing countries with their challenges in health, the U.S. also does its duty to minimize any possible health issues and diseases from traveling overseas or across borders to the U.S. There has been a great number of such instances, such as:

  • The U.S. was the largest funder of a number of health workers stationed in Nigeria with the original goal of polio eradication. The workers were later reassigned and succeeded in countering the infamous Ebola epidemic.
  • The PEPFAR program has helped stop the spread of AIDS by supplying life-saving medicines to over 14 million people.

Foreign Aid Helps with National Security

One of the non-negotiable benefits the U.S. reaps from its giving of foreign aid to developing countries is an improvement in national security. To prevent a third world war, the U.S. created what is now the modern development assistance program to avoid further instability in Europe.

Stability in developing countries is key in preventing future political issues from unfolding. The U.S. has defense agreements with 131 out of the 135 countries that it provides foreign aid to.

The importance of international aid lies in economic benefits, such as trading proliferations, as much as health and national security. As evidenced above, it is clear that there is truth in the fact that foreign aid helps the U.S. just as much as it helps other nations.

– Roberto Carlos Ventura
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid Is a Matter of National Security
In February of 2018, the Trump administration released a budget proposal indicating deep 29 percent budget cuts to the state department and steady 13 percent increases to the defense department. These state department cuts materialize into $16.2 billion taken away from the previous $55.6 billion allocated in Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The Trump Administration justifies the cuts by stating that aid will remain in the accounts of “friends” of our future foreign policy decisions.

Ramifications of the 2018 Budget Proposal

Meanwhile, the proposed budget increases the amount of money spent on national defense by 13 percent, raising the $600 billion budget to nearly $690 billion. The increased defense budget will be used to completely update the United States’ nuclear arsenal and increase the amount of ground-based missile interceptors in Alaska working to address the increased threat of the Korean Peninsula.

Assessing nuclear threats is a fair concern and position for the United States government to take, however it should not come at the expense of drastically decreasing foreign aid. In truth, foreign aid is a matter of national security.

Foreign Aid is a Matter of National Security

While it may not appear obvious at first, foreign aid is known and regarded by many U.S. military officials as beneficial to United States foreign policy and national security. To illustrate, in 2017-retired General Mike Mullen and retired Admiral James Jones wrote a piece explaining the hands-on benefits they saw foreign aid bring in leading American troops.

Both officials explain that military power alone cannot prevent despair within vulnerable countries from turning into outbursts of violence and instability. Robust foreign aid should not be looked upon as a no-strings-attached giveaway to the poorest nations in the world, but rather as stability enhancement to places most susceptible to radical influence.

Threat of Extremism

The generals explain that countries with limited social hope and foreign assistance are the most prone to radicalization that materializes into extremism. Terror organizations like Al Qaeda, Al Shabab, Boko Haram and ISIS take root in countries with common characteristics — instability and poor governance. These terror cells bring about a sense of social support that citizens do not believe their public officials and service programs will be able to provide them.

The former military officials further explain that Congress can, and should, fully fund the International Affairs Budget, as the funding leads to active approaches from the U.S. government, non-government organizations and in-country support to provide services that meet citizens’ basic needs.

Foreign Aid and the Military

Moreover, foreign aid goes hand-in-hand with a strong military. Without support after a strong U.S. military presence, countries can remain unstable and vulnerable to extremist influence. Therefore, foreign aid creates proactive conflict-prevention strategies which are far less expensive in resources and expended lives than reactionary use of United States Armed Forces.

In 2013, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis bluntly summarized the words of the retired officials and explains why foreign aid is a matter of national security: “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition ultimately. So I think it’s a cost benefit ratio. The more that we put into the State Department’s diplomacy, hopefully the less we have to put into a military budget…”

Diplomacy is ultimately less expensive than the wars that a lack of diplomacy brings about. While a strong military is considerably important in 2018 and beyond, cutting foreign aid to increase military spending weakens our strength as a nation, a role model and peacekeeper.

The words of these military officials should be kept in mind in future policy decisions so as to clearly explain why foreign aid is a matter of national security.

– Daniel Levy
Photo: Unsplash

US Benefits from Foreign Aid to KazakhstanOn Jan. 16, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump held press conferences at the White House with President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan to discuss U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kazakhstan, and trade agreements which favor both countries. “[President Nazarbayev] is working to improve Kazakhstan’s business environment, which will create new opportunities for American companies who are over there, and lots of jobs are being provided to both countries,” President Trump stated.

American businesses are among the largest investors in Kazakhstan’s economy. Both presidents are pursuing opportunities to increase U.S. investment in Kazakhstan and the energy sector, in particular.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has a strong focus on supporting Kazakhstan through its energy sector. USAID assists in strengthening the nation’s green energy policies, improving energy efficiency and increasing renewable energy supply. By improving regional business and trade connections, Kazakhstan’s energy sector enhances trade avenues between Central and South Asia. By diversifying Kazakhstan’s economy, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kazakhstan through the energy sector.

During the press conference, President Nazarbayev elaborated on the key role that economic relations play between U.S. and Kazakhstan, saying “[w]e have major American companies operating for many years. We have Chevron, ExxonMobil. We have General Electric, Halliburton. And all these companies invested about 50 billion into Kazakhstani economy so far. And also, that trade created additional 5,000 jobs in United States.”

In President Nazarbayev’s recent visit to the White House, he signed major trade agreements which consisted of 20 commercial contracts worth $7.5 billion. The trade agreements are set to accomplish the following:

  1. Promote U.S. investment in the technical modernization of Kazakhstan’s economy.
  2. Initiate the purchasing of Boeing planes in Kazakhstan.
  3. Initiate the assembling of 900 new General Electric locomotives in Kazakhstan.
  4. Collaborate with the U.S. in Kazakhstan’s agriculture sector.

President Trump applauded U.S. investment in Kazakhstan as part of the Central Asia Trade Forum and Central Asia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. The presidents are working in providing American products and services in the form of commercial aircraft, railways, medical services, technology and energy.

The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kazakhstan through national security. Kazakhstan has provided humanitarian and technical support to Afghanistan worth $75 million. Additionally, the nation has invested $50 million in providing professional training and education to Afghanis in Kazakhstan, which would have been otherwise unavailable Afghanistan. Kazakhstan plays a crucial role in moving toward a peace process in Afghanistan, which will in turn foster greater stability and prosperity across the Central and South Asian region and minimize national security threats.

National security is central to the foreign powers’ relations. Kazakhstan is a valued partner in preventing the North Korean regime from threatening the globe with nuclear devastation, a direct result of how the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Kazakhstan. President Trump commended Kazakhstan’s voluntary elimination of nuclear weapons in the country, which provides a safer and healthier environment for Kazakhstani children.

President Trump has pledged to offer assistance to improve English education programs in Kazakhstani schools, in part to sustain global competitiveness. The two nations are reaching trade agreements entailing the reciprocity of consular expansion and jobs in both the U.S. and Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan’s economic growth has increased steadily since gaining independence after the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991. However, the nation continues to face developmental challenges, and 25 percent of the population lives below the poverty line. In 2017, the U.S. invested $13 million to Kazakhstan in foreign assistance.

As of January 2018, the U.S. Department of State and USAID plan on funding $1.7 million toward peace and security to Kazakhstan in the 2018 fiscal year, exclusive of the nations’ recent trade agreement. The projected amount of U.S. foreign aid is expected to increase as the year progresses, furthering Kazakhstan’s chance for economic success.

– Alex Galante

Photo: Flickr

The Policy of Foreign Aid: Modern Challenges
In less than a decade, Europe suffered severe destruction and was quickly torn apart due to World War II. Soon after that, a huge foreign aid package known as the Marshall Plan helped European nations overcome modern challenges and seek a path of democracy and sustained peace.

Today, the U.S. continues to invest in foreign aid to advance its national security and global leadership. This has played an indispensable role in strengthening the country’s strategic, economic and moral obligations.

Foreign aid strengthens national security by cutting the roots of terrorism. It also helps in stabilizing weaker regimes, promoting regional security and long-term stability. Foreign aid helped nations such as South Korea and Colombia recover from instability. Nations who receive aid could serve as potential markets and attract investors.

However, the foreign aid budget planned for next year is only $34 billion. This number is expected to decrease further in coming years.

Furthermore, there have been more conflicts in the 21st century that gripped the attention of the U.S. War in Afghanistan and Iraq, coupled with a rising global trend of terrorism, are some of the factors that challenge foreign aid programs. Hence, there comes a greater target zone for aid programs and more communities to address.

Such challenges make the process of development and the execution of programs a lot harder. Agencies are put under pressure as they have to provide support for a lot of people in a short time. Furthermore, political dilemmas and conflicts complicate the tasks of agencies to access data and effectively manage aid programs.

With all the modern challenges of the 21st century, the U.S. aims to make the process of foreign development programs more transparent, accountable and effective. Over the last decade, Washington has succeeded in creating new standards and metrics as part of foreign aid reform. Such transparency and accountability reforms can be expanded into developmental programs such as delivering aid packages and managing educational programs.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) understands the modern challenges regarding foreign aid. It aims to address such challenges by aligning resources with goals to transform development. It also tailors programs according to need and opportunities.

USAID has also adopted the hopeful policy of selectively increasing resource allocation to improve their capacity to handle modern challenges.

Noman Ashraf

Photo: Flickr

Education for All Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Education for All Act of 2016 on September 7 — five days after it was initially listed on the House Schedule. This bill, which promotes quality universal basic education, now moves on to the Senate.

In July, Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced a near-identical companion legislation to the Senate which is currently being considered in the Foreign Relations Committee.

This low-cost, bipartisan bill aims to amend the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, asserting that multilateral education aid to developing countries is essential to protecting U.S. national security interests.

The bill requires that the United States government develop a comprehensive strategy, beginning with the designation of a Senior Coordinator of U.S. Government Actions to provide basic education assistance within USAID. This position will coordinate international resources in order to promote universal access to education.

If the Education for All Act continues its momentum, once signed by the President, the bill has the potential to change the lives of millions of children.

Currently, 59 million primary school-aged children are not enrolled in school. Furthermore, 250 million children who do attend school are unable to read, write, or do basic mathematics. Many drop out before the fourth grade.

Gender discrimination, conflict and extremism continue to limit the educational growth potential for at-risk children.

Guided by coordination, sustainability and aid effectiveness, the Education for All Act will support national education plans in developing countries worldwide, creating specific indicators to measure educational quality.

Additionally, the bill focuses on the equitable expansion of education in marginalized or conflict-affected populations, in an attempt to keep schools safe from violence.

“An education is the fundamental tool with which boys and girls are empowered to increase their economic potential, improve their health outcomes, address cultural biases, participate in their communities and provide for their families”, said Nita Lowey (D-NY-17), the original sponsor of the House bill.

According to the bill text, the legislation would promote and contribute to an overall increase in economic growth for underdeveloped countries, improve democratic institutions of government, encourage empowerment for women and young  girls while “ensuring that schools are not incubators for violent extremism.” As such, focusing on improving access to education across the globe would promote U.S. national security interests.

Congressional Budget Office estimates indicate that the Education for All Act is low-cost initiative, requiring less than $500,000 per year. Enacting the bill would neither increase net direct spending nor budget deficits in the future.

The Borgen Project applauds the House for passing this important legislation and urges readers to call and email their Senators to support the Education for All Act of 2016. Let’s get this bill to the President’s desk and give millions of children access to quality education.

– Larkin Smith

Photo: Flickr

 

Learn about the READ Act.

 

Importance of Foreign Aid
Here at The Borgen Project, we are often asked why foreign aid is important. Foreign aid can save the lives of millions of people living in poverty around the world. It addresses issues such as health, education, infrastructure and humanitarian emergencies.

Foreign aid is a broad term. In a wide sense, it can be defined as “financial or technical help given by one country’s government to another country to assist social and economic development or to respond to a disaster in a receiving country.”

 

2 Ways Foreign Aid Helps the U.S.

 

donate_poverty
Creates Jobs

 

world_hunger
Improves National Security

 

There are numerous reasons why foreign aid is important to help impoverished countries; discussed below are the six key targets.

 

Top 6 Benefits of Foreign Aid

 

  1. Infrastructure: roads, bridges, institutions and sewer systems get built, giving people the ability to be mobile and have access to basic necessities such as electricity and running water.
  2. Agricultural technology improvements: improvements enter the infrastructure within the agricultural businesses within recipient countries.
  3. Education: classrooms get built, teachers receive training and children gain basic educational needs.
  4. Health: vaccinations, mosquito nets, safe drinking water, access to hygiene education and basic sanitation are all brought in.
  5. Humanitarian issues and natural disaster emergencies: life-saving support comes to those affected and possibly displaced due to natural disasters, emergency shelters are built for people affected by violence, and counseling services are made available.
  6. National security: recipient countries can combat terrorism with the help of foreign aid as it decreases poverty, weak institutions and corruption and can help strengthen good governance, transparency and the economy.

Another reason why foreign aid is important is how it fosters a conducive diplomatic relationship between the donor and the recipient.

Impoverished nations receiving aid can eventually become independent and move towards democratic fundamentals with the help of donor countries.

There are hundreds of different donors of foreign aid. One of the most well-known donors of foreign aid comes in the form of Official Development Assistance (ODA).

It is provided by the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Development Cooperation. The ODA provides foreign aid to poor countries in the form of grants and loans.

The ODA is important to impoverished countries as it provides specifically the materials needed to build effective infrastructure and expand educational programs and the access to schools. Additionally, it provides efficient responses to humanitarian emergencies.

One of the most well-known and largest providers of foreign aid is the International Development Association (IDA), which is part of the World Bank. It has 173 shareholders that provide grants and loans to 77 countries around the world, 39 of which are located in Africa.

The main goal of the IDA is to reduce inequalities, increase economic growth and improve the living conditions of those in poverty. These goals are addressed as IDA funds are given directly to the sectors of education, water, sanitation, agriculture and infrastructure.

The IDA provides little to no interest on its grants and loans and allows for a grace period of up to 10 years. It also allows the recipient country to make debt payments of up to 40 years.

Since 1960, the IDA has provided $312 billion in investments in 112 impoverished nations. In the last three years alone, there has been an average of $19 billion in grants and loans.

Foreign aid truly makes a difference to people living in poverty. It provides access to basic necessities and provides people essential conditions for living a peaceful and secure life.

Kimber Kraus

Photo: U.S. Navy

soft_power
Many people view foreign aid programs as acts of charity. However, through “soft power” and preventative measures, international assistance can play an important role in national security as well.

Poverty Reduction as Soft Power

Influential political scientist Joseph Nye coined the term “soft power” in 1990 to describe the ability of one nation to influence another without resorting to force. It’s the alternative to “hard power,” which includes military force and economic sanctions.

Cultural influence and moral authority are important aspects of soft power. When a country is seen as being morally upstanding by the world community, it achieves greater influence. For instance, if a country is strongly democratic, it can influence others by promoting democracy abroad.

In a similar way, soft power can improve national security. In a world that is increasingly democratic and interconnected, national reputation has grown in importance. Through soft power, a country can seek to influence world opinion to prevent acts of aggression or terrorism.

Foreign assistance is an important tool to improve national reputation. When a country takes the lead in humanitarian relief or international development, it improves its standing and influence. It makes cooperation more likely and conflict less so.

Poverty Reduction as a Preventative Measure

It’s no secret that violent extremism tends to flourish in desperate places. Poverty grinds down civil society and weakens government institutions. Without strong governance, many people turn to armed rebel groups for services. For instance, during the civil wars in Afghanistan, many turned to extremist schools for education and to the Taliban for protection.

The U.S. Department of Defense has long recognized this reality. Robert Gates, former defense secretary, viewed international development as a way to prevent conflicts from starting.

“The way you do that is through development. Development creates stability, it contributes to better governance,” Gates said in 2010. “If you are able to do those things, if you are able to do it in a focused and sustainable way, then it may be unnecessary to send soldiers.”

Global poverty causes conflict and perpetuates it. While the United States has the strongest military in the world, it can only react to dangers as they arise. Increased spending for foreign assistance would improve national security by reducing the likelihood of conflict and unrest.

That’s a sentiment that President Obama agrees with as well. In a recent interview with Vox.com, the president conveyed his view of foreign aid as a “tool in our national security portfolio, as opposed to charity.” The president proposed strategic investments in key countries to reduce the need to deploy the U.S. military abroad. “We would be in a better position,” he stated, “to work with other countries to stamp out violent extremism.”

– Kevin McLaughlin

Sources: Department of Defense, Foreign Affairs, Vox.com
Photo: Flickr

foreign aid

1. Why does the U.S. give foreign aid?

The U.S. gives aid for several reasons: economic interests, national security and American values. Economically, aid builds trading partners and supports the demand for U.S. goods. For national security, U.S. aid can sustain efforts to reduce injustice and poverty, which can contribute to instability and social tensions. Providing aid can also validate the kindness of the American people, advance democracy and human rights and build a better world.

2. What types of U.S. assistance does foreign aid include?

Foreign aid is a very comprehensive term. It incorporates several types of assistance, from the international affairs budget to poverty-focused assistance. The international affairs budget includes the resources to finance U.S. endeavors abroad. For example, it provides funds for USAID and the Department of State’s diplomatic costs and expenses that are sustained in protecting the interests of U.S. citizens and businesses abroad. In addition to helping people in poor countries, foreign aid provides money to allies for strategic purposes. Poverty-focused assistance concentrates on promoting economic growth and providing services like education and health care.

3. How much does the U.S. government spend on poverty-reducing foreign aid?

The U.S. government spends around $80 per taxpayer on foreign aid. To put that into perspective, compare that number to what Americans spend on other items: $204 per person on soft drinks, the $126 per person on lawn care and $101 per person on candy.

4. What is Americans’ understanding of how much the U.S. spends on foreign aid?

Americans think the U.S. spends more money on foreign aid than Medicare and Social Security – as much as 30 percent. However, only 0.7 percent of the U.S. federal budget is spent on poverty-focused foreign aid.

5. How can we ensure development aid is not wasted by corrupt governments?

Most poverty-reducing foreign aid is not actually provided directly to foreign governments. Around 85 percent goes through NGOs and U.S.-based government contractors. Foreign aid may actually force governments to increase transparency and accountability.

6. What is the U.S. doing to make foreign aid more effective?

The U.S. is doing many things to make foreign aid more efficient, such as defining aid’s purpose, modernizing USAID, developing new models of providing aid and making foreign aid more transparent. In 2010, President Obama put forth the first U.S. Global Development Policy which clarifies that the main purpose of U.S. development aid is to pursue global economic growth to fight global poverty. For modernizing USAID, USAID Forward is a new reform agenda that is working to make USAID more efficient, transparent and accountable. President Bush introduced the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) during his presidency. MCC is a “United States foreign aid agency that is applying a new philosophy towards foreign aid.” The MCC model demands that countries to meet criteria in three areas: investments in people, economic freedom and good governance.

7. How can the U.S. improve foreign aid to better fight poverty?

There are a few ways. The United States could focus aid more on combating poverty worldwide, provide more transparent information about their foreign aid and give more aid to effective local leaders.

– Colleen Moore

Sources: Alliance for Peace Building, Oxfam America, The Borgen Project
Photo: The Spectator

biosecurity
The spread of infectious diseases is not only a threat to global health, but also to global security.

In recent years, diseases such as mad cow disease, avian flu, antibiotic-resistance tuberculosis and  antibiotic-resistant malaria have spread around the world. In a global age, the spread of disease becomes very easy. Eradicating infectious diseases and establishing effective ways to combat their spread is becoming important to national security.

In February of this year, the President Obama began the Global Health Security Agenda. Led by the United States, this agenda is a collaboration of 30 countries that is seeking to establish a world that is not threatened by the spread of infectious diseases.

In order to reach the goal, the Agenda  seeks to implement better systems of prevention, detection and response for infectious diseases around the world.

As part of prevention, the Agenda is creating laboratories around the world that are able to identify antimicrobial-resistant organisms, enhance biosecurity and biosafety, encourage the elimination of diseases spreading from animals to humans and improve access to vaccinations.

The Agenda is improving detection through improved biosurveilance and diagnostic tests and is also funding the placement of epidemiologists around the world.

In addition, the Agenda is working to set in place a coordinated response to any threats of infectious disease outbreaks.
Most of the efforts that organizations, such as the World Health Organization, are involved with laboratory practices. By providing safe and secure laboratories, much of the spread of infectious diseases is reduced. In addition, through increased training and education, many of the threats can be reduced.

Although biosecurity is often not a focus of national security, diseases can eradicate the human population as effectively as man-made weapons. By working to improve the resources available as well as improve worldwide practices of prevention, detection and response, much of the biosecurity risk can be eliminated.

– Lily Tyson

Sources: World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2
Photo: Science Media Centre