Hillary Clinton on Global PovertyThe President of the United States, often called the leader of the free world, tops the shortlist of influential politicians. However, those vying for that title are also key players.

Hillary Clinton is more than well known and has been an incredibly successful and influential politician, but as she campaigns for the Democratic nomination it has become increasingly difficult to learn about her positions or platforms amongst the constant news bits of what she wore or the Chipotle burrito she ordered.

Below is a collection of Clinton’s positions on issues surrounding global poverty.

Clinton on U.S. involvement with humanitarian missions:

“I believe strongly that we have to get back to leading on issues like health care and education and women’s rights around the world. I have introduced bipartisan legislation called The Education for All Act, to have the US lead the world in putting the 77 million kids who aren’t in school into school. I believe we should demonstrate our commitment to people who are poor, disenfranchised, disempowered before we talk about putting troops anywhere. The US has to be seen again as a peacekeeper, and we have lost that standing in these last seven years. So I think we have to concentrate first and foremost on restoring our moral authority in the world and our standing in the world.” (2008)

Clinton on foreign aid:

“I think many people are mistaken about how much money we spend on foreign aid. We spend 1%, and many believe we spend 25%. That 1% investment has made a difference in solving problems but also in helping America to be stronger by solving problems around the world. We sometimes learn lessons we can bring home. I want us to continue to be a leader, and you don’t lead from behind walls. You don’t lead by walking away from the world. I think you lead by remaining engaged and trying to shape events.” (1997)

Clinton on micro-finance:

“From the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh to the Self-employed Women’s Association in India, or to the work in Ghana, to banks and programs modeled on these from Indonesia to the Dominican Republic, to my own country, we have seen that microlending works. Women who have received loans from the Grameen Bank, for example, have a repayment rate of 97%, and often within one year. And they invest their money well.” (1995)

Brittney Dimond

Sources: On the Issues 1, On the Issues 2
Photo: Flickr

Saudi Arabia’s municipal elections will be held on December 12 and for the first time, women will be allowed to vote for municipal council leaders.

Municipal council elections occur every four years in Saudi Arabia. Two-thirds of the council members must be voted in and the Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs must appoint the other third.

The late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud granted women the right to vote as well as run as candidates in 2011. Approximately 70 women are intending to register as municipal council leader candidates. Another 80 women are planning on registering as campaign managers.

The Baladi (My Country) campaign is a political campaign run by Saudi women activists. The campaign was planning to bring in teachers and trainers from different Arab countries as well as the United Nations for campaigning workshops.

The Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs stopped Baladi from holding the training workshops in an attempt to unify the election programme.

Women and men will have separate polling centers for voting. In Makkah, there will be 40 polling centers with 14 set aside for women.

Women’s rights in Saudi Arabia have gradually increased and a royal decree issued by Abdullah in 2013 required the Consultative Council to be at least 20 percent women. The Consultative Council is an advisory body that is royally appointed.

Although these rights have made improvements for women in Saudi Arabia, they are still far from equal. A male guardian must accompany the women when they travel or go to school. They are not permitted to drive.

Voter registration for the municipal council elections began on August 22 and will end on September 14. Candidate registration runs from August 30 until September 17.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Al Arabiya News, Al Jazeera 1, Al Jazeera 2, CNN, Saudi National Portal, Time
Photo: Google Images

Mounting Anger over Trash Build-up in Beirut
In early Aug. 2015, protesters stood outside Beirut’s government building demanding that officials deal with the thousand tons of trash piling up on the city’s streets. The most frustrated of the crowd accused the government of acting like a regime, ignoring the city’s demands for change.

Beirut’s former public landfill was based in the village of Naameh. It opened in 1997 and was only built to withstand a few years and about two million tons of rubbish. After 18 years and 10 million tons of trash, Beirut officials shut down Naameh.

The current issue is because the government failed to build a new one. “Everyone knew for the last six months that the landfill would close, but the government did nothing about it,” says one resident. With nowhere to dump it, trash collection for Beirut and its suburbs just stopped.

The city and its surrounding neighborhood generate 2,000 to 3,000 tons of trash each day and it is now cumulating into mounds on the streets. Many people have started wearing face masks. Others are setting fire to the filth, creating pillars of foul smoke and causing temperatures to climb above 90 degrees.

Lebanon rules with a very laissez-faire attitude. In lieu of recent unrest in the Middle East and problems within the country, the government has been unable to elect a new president and remains without a political figurehead that can pass legislation and finalize laws.

The Cabinet is reportedly near collapsing. Terms in office are being extended and elections for new leaders are put off. “The political deadlock is a huge contributing factor to the issue because there is no strong central government who can look at the options and find the most feasible one,” speculates Lama Bashour, director of an environmental consultancy agency called Eccocentra.

Residents claim that the government’s latest decisions have been undemocratic and unconstitutional, and have just exacerbated the country’s problems. “I’m angry, not just this, but at the general dysfunction of the country,” explains one of the city’s entrepreneurs. Some speculate that only radical actions could push the government to rule more effectively. All of the frustration and outrage surrounding this latest trash issue might be enough.

Some trash in rural areas has been removed but people report that it was just dumped somewhere else nearby. Sahar Atrache is an analyst that works for the International Crisis Group. She says that this half-hearted attempt is characteristic of Lebanon’s current government.

It is true that Lebanon’s resources and political power have been strained lately with the 1.3 million refugees estimated to pour into the country as a result of the Syrian crisis. The ICG recently published a report called Lebanon’s Self-Defeating Survival Strategies that explains, “Lebanon is surviving internal and regional strains remarkably well, but this resilience has become an excuse for tolerating political dysfunction.”

The city has been trying to deal with the matter on its own and has been starting to compost and recycle to keep waste build-up down. Some residents have begun their own local trash-pick up service.

Lillian Sickler

Sources: NPR, Crisis Group, UNHCR, LA Times, WSJ, ABC News, Times of Israel, Al Jazeera
Photo: NPR

The remote Nyarugusu refugee camp in Western Tanzania has seen a sharp rise in child refugees from the neighboring country to the east. Children have been flooding over the border to escape violence surrounding the recent elections in Burundi.

The amount of Burundian child refugees arriving to the camp increased from about 1600 at the end of May to approximately 2600 by July 19th.

The children are not just arriving in larger numbers according to Lisa Parrott, interim country manager of Save the Children Tanzania, but they are also reaching the camp in much worse shape physically and mentally, most having walked for days with nothing but the clothes on their backs and no food or water. Many have witnessed atrocious acts of violence in their homes and along the way to Tanzania. Some of the children have even seen their own parents or other family members murdered by militia.

On July 21 2015, Burundian President Pierre Nkurunzizain won re-election after running for a third term. In the wake, violence erupted and gunfire rang out. These elections had been hotly protested with President Pierre Nkurunzizain’s opposition claiming that he was not eligible to run again. After the elections, the opposition boycotted the vote and fighting in the country intensified.

The child refugees arriving at the Nyarugusu refugee camp are not eating properly and are having terrible problems sleeping and interacting with others. About a fifth are infants with severe signs of malnutrition, anemia, malaria, diarrhea and other conditions.

The Nyarugusu camp has become one of the biggest settlements in the world comprised of mostly the Congolese who have lived in the camp since the 1990s. At 60,000 people, the already overcrowded camp has more than doubled with almost 80,000 Burundians entering over the years and the recent influx of children has only made the camp more strained.

The overflow of the population is being housed in churches and schools, causing fears that schools will not be able to operate, starving more children of a valuable education. Competition for resources such as food rations, shelter, cooking facilities and firewood, clothing, health care, and clean water intensifies every day with tensions running high.

Save the Children, an organization working in developing nations to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives, believes that every child has the right to survival, protection, development and participation.

Save the Children is on the ground in Tanzania and, with the help of local partners, are setting up child health services such as constructing Temporary Learning Centers (TLC) and creating Child Friendly Places (CFP), expected to reach 1200 children.

Life in refugee camps like Nyarugusu is difficult for thousands of people already mired in extreme poverty, but with groups like Save the Children, those seeking refuge from increasing violence in surrounding communities can find some relief and access to basic human needs.

Jason Zimmerman

Sources: Save the Children, Reuters
Photo: Flickr

I am embarrassed to admit that before interning for The Borgen Project, I did not have any idea who my Congressman was. I spend most of my time going to school out of state, so I am not too in touch with the politics of my hometown. However, no matter what state I am in, it matters who is representing my interests, so I have done a little research on my House hero.

I live in San Diego, which is in California’s 52nd Congressional district. The Representative for this district is none other than Democrat Scott Peters. Have not heard of him? Not to worry, here are some quick facts on this West Coast politician.

Peters was actually born in Ohio and raised in Michigan, but he has spent the entirety of his political career serving the people of San Diego. He received his Bachelor of Arts at Duke University, and went on to graduate from law school at New York University. Peters then moved to the Golden State, and after a 15 year career as an environmental lawyer, was elected to San Diego City Council. He later became the city’s first City Council President.

I am extremely proud of my beautiful city. Little did I know that I can attribute much of this to Peters, who helped lead the $2 billion redevelopment of downtown San Diego and the widespread cleanup of the beaches and bays.

After a storied City Council tenure, Peters was elected to the House of Representatives in 2012. He currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Judiciary Committee, and previously served on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He is a member of the House Democratic Caucus, the New Democrat Coalition and the No Labels Caucus.

Peters is listed as the fourth most independent Democrat in Congress and is a known problem solver. He often brings people together in order to resolve complex issues. His office is very responsive to constituent recommendations and requests, and I have been pleased with the in-depth emails I have received.

As a resident of San Diego for 21 years, I finally figured out who my voice in Congress is, and I encourage all of you to find out for yourself what distinguished individual is making your case on the Hill.

– Katie Pickle

Sources: US House of Representatives, Scott Peters
Photo: Times of San Diego

Wondering how the two Democratic presidential candidates match up in terms of foreign aid support? As always, foreign policy is one of the key issues in the upcoming election. But perhaps in this election, a key focus will be put on foreign aid, rather than the military.

During the two candidates’ times as Senators and Representatives, they voted on many of the same bills. Here is how they match up:


Overall, Clinton and Sanders both voted to support foreign aid bills. The only exceptions — Clinton not always voting and Sanders rejecting emergency aid bills.

Both Clinton and Sanders are solid in their support of foreign aid. According to an article by, Clinton strongly stressed that U.S. foreign aid is an investment. As for Sanders, a concern is that he will avoid voting for aid to any organizations that register or tax American guns.

– Clare Holtzman

Sources: ONE, Slate, Vote Smart 1, Vote Smart 2
Photo: People

what is development
The definition of development has been controversially contested, complex, ambiguous and unstable. The most common theme among the definitions put forth is that development, as a whole, encompasses change of the human condition.

Since the 1990s, development has come to relate to policy objectives and performance indicators. Some examples include social and psychological development as well as more economic-related factors such as per capita income.

Poverty involves a wide range of concerns, all of which cannot be counted for when considering income alone. With regard to a person/family’s quality of life, countries with similar incomes may differ extensively.

Development cannot just be summed up by the prosperity of an economy, brought about by making the people of that economy more fortunate. Development carries a connotation of change that is long-lasting. Instead, development should be looked at as Nobel-prize winning economist Amartya Sen would define it: the capacity of economic, political and social systems to provide the circumstances for well-being on a sustainable, long-term basis.

According to Owen Barder, a global development specialist from the Center for Global Development, “I argue that development is an emergent property of the economic and social system, in much the same way that consciousness is an emergent property of the brain.”

Barder’s argument suggests that development is the result of human interaction within three systems: economic, political and social. If development can provide sustained improvements in all three systems, then systemically, it is a success. Otherwise, it is a failure.

As the accepted definition of development continues to change, it is important to remember that development encompasses the long-term transformation of  societies in addition to those short-term desirable outcomes.

– Ashley Riley

Sources: Sage Pub, Center for Global Development
Photo: Time for People

sandinista revolution
On July 19, Nicaragua’s ruling FSLN party, led by President Daniel Ortega, gathered at Plaza La Fe in the capital city of Managua to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the successful Sandinista Revolution and the fall of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

The Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (Sandinista National Liberation Front), or FSLN, is today the leading social democratic party in Nicaragua. The political body, however, has its roots in a military movement that surfaced in 1962 to overthrow U.S.-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza DeBayle.

The Sandinistas took their name from General Augusto C. Sandino, a national hero who led an army of farmers and workers against an armed U.S. intervention in the late 1920s and early 30s. Sandino’s forces were able to outlast the U.S. Marines, but the general was betrayed and killed soon after in what he hoped would be a peace negotiation with Anastacio Somoza García, the military strongman left in charge by the Marines and the father of Anastasio Somoza DeBayle.

The Sandinistas and the FSLN are part of the leftist, anti-imperialist front in Latin America, which includes the likes of Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba and Venezuela’s recently deceased Hugo Chavez. The Castro brothers sent their greetings to the Nicaraguan people on the revolution’s anniversary and lauded the country as “an irreversible stronghold of the anti-imperialist fight.”

Cuban Vice President Ramiro Valdes was present at the celebration in Managua, in the company of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, President Salvador Sanchez Ceren of El Salvador and President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras. The Guatemalan human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu also attended the ceremony.

In a dramatic turn of events, the celebrations on July 19 ended in bloodshed as armed gangs claiming to be “contras,” the U.S. supported counterrevolutionary forces that took up arms against the Sandinista government after the 1979 revolution, ambushed bus caravans carrying party supporters home from the anniversary celebration.

Five people were killed and 25 wounded in two separate but seemingly coordinated attacks. FSLN officials have called the attacks “a terrorist act.” These troubling developments surrounding the Nicaraguan Revolution’s 35th anniversary reveal the heated political climate and rampant violence that still causes so much suffering in Nicaragua and throughout the Central American region.

– Kayla Strickland

Sources: Christian Science Monitor, ViaNica, La Prensa, Escambray
Photo: Counter PsyOps

On July 16 the Senate passed an international child abduction bill by voice vote. The bill, inspired by David Goldman’s five year struggle to bring his son Sean back to the United States from Brazil, aims to enhance the federal government’s ability to aid U.S. parents in rescuing their children abducted abroad.

Aptly titled the Sean and David Goldman International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act, the bill is now headed to the House of Representatives for approval. It was first introduced by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Mendez (D-NJ) and ranking Republican Bob Corker (R-Tenn.). Commenting on the bill’s Senate approval, Menendez stated, “I encourage my colleagues in the House to act swiftly to protect our children.”

The Sean and David Goldman bill serves to bolster a similar bill passed unanimously by the House in December of 2013. That bill, H.R. 3212, was sponsored by New Jersey Republican Chris Smith. The bill currently headed to the House would provide funds for the training of foreign officials in abduction matters for the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years. The bill also requires the State Department to produce a comprehensive annual report detailing international parental child abductions.

It is reported that over 1,000 children from the United States are noted missing in international abduction cases annually. This figure, and the impending fissure of families which it entails, is evidence of the urgent problem of kidnapping on the international level. It also raises concern over the communication, or lack thereof, between the U.S. and foreign officials to locate these children and assist in their safe return to their families. The pressure to ensure this process occurs as efficiently as possible is now upon the House.

– Taylor Dow
Sources: APP, Political News, Tennessean
Photo: Hukuk de Ner

A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that countries that become more democratic achieve about 20 percent higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in the long run. Evidence showed that democracies were better at implementing economic reforms, investing more in public goods like education and reducing social unrest, all of which, to some degree, are tied to increasing GDP.

The researchers, Daron Acemoglu, Suresh Naidu, Pascual Restrepo and James A. Robinson, studied 175 countries between 1960 and 2010. Their study tackled the difficult task of comparing apples and oranges. There are countries that recently transitioned into a more democratic state, while others have had a long history of an established democracy. There are countries that hold elections, but practice only single party rule. There are countries that have been in and out of conflict. And there are countries with political institutions and economies that ebb and flow with a change in leadership. Nonetheless, Acemoglu, Naidu and Restrepo took on the challenge of creating a baseline for comparing different countries by developing an improved version of a democracy index.

Another challenge the researchers took on was to address the question, “does democracy need development first?” Some critics suggest that democracy would be economically costly when certain preconditions are not satisfied. For example, it is suggested that a benevolent dictatorship may be preferred when it comes to simple economies and poverty ridden-countries (or what some economist may label as those with “low human capital.”) Others argue that democracy promotes redistribution of resources that would discourage economic growth, or interest groups may end up dominating economic policies at the cost of the majority and hence increase inequality. The example of communist China and its economic powerhouse is often used to support the argument that political rights are not essential for economic growth.

However, Acemoglu, Naidu and Restrepo demonstrated that democracy does not have a negative effect for countries with low levels of economic development. Evidence showing increases in GDP were associated with democracy, no matter the stage of the country’s development. The researchers did note on the side that a population’s level of education did matter, but not in contradiction to their finding. Democracy had a stronger effect for economies with a greater fraction of the population with secondary schooling.

In sum, Acemoglu, Naidu and Restrepo found that there is a statistically significant positive correlation between democracy and future GDP per capita and this was especially so when examining countries that have switched from non-democracy to democracy into their next 30 years.

– Maria Caluag

Sources: NBER, The Regional Economist

Photo: TCF