Tag: State Department

 

How to Tackle the Refugee Reform Dilemma

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Speculation about the future of the State Department’s Population, Refugees, and Migration bureau has swirled following the Trump administration’s moves to curtail refugee admissions, and a proposal to eliminate the bureau and distribute its components to the Department of Homeland Security and USAID. But I fear that diminishing or removing an empowered humanitarian voice from the State Department weakens humanitarian priorities in US policy writ large. And I believe there are ways to address legitimate concerns about the existing structure without dismantling PRM.

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CGD’s US Development Policy Initiative (DPI) has assembled five proposals to do foreign assistance better, drawing on both new and long-standing work and analysis from the Center. We believe there should be a shift in mindset to embrace “doing better” in a way that can be applied in times of budget-cutting or even budget expansion. The ideas we promote here offer ways in which our aid enterprise can pursue qualitative improvement alongside budgetary savings.

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The lack of well-defined core priorities has enabled structural fragmentation across the more than 20 agencies that together constitute the US development architecture, making resource optimization and policy coordination nearly impossible.

A No More Tiers Formula to Clean Up Corruption

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A bipartisan group of eight Senators led by Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) has just reintroduced a new version of a bill designed to identify and combat corruption overseas. The Combating Global Corruption Act of 2017 ties some potentially useful anti-corruption measures to a less-than-useful exercise in corruption ranking that will blunt their impact. That’s a shame, but it also suggests an easy fix: junk the ranking.

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State Department guidance underscores the importance of its work in furthering development: “The surest path to creating more prosperous societies requires indigenous political will; responsive, effective, accountable, and transparent governance; and broad-based, inclusive economic growth. Without this enabling environment, sustained development progress often remains out of reach.”

Cutting UN Funding Will Cost the US

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The New York Times reported yesterday that the Trump Administration is considering a new Executive Order that mandates cutting all funding to bodies that give full membership to the Palestinian Authority and fund abortion amongst other categories, but also suggests “at least a 40 percent overall decrease” in remaining US funding towards international organizations. The proposed cuts would do almost nothing to reduce the deficit while weakening US national security and international leadership.

The Warlord and the Ambassador: A Review of Dante Paradiso’s "The Embassy"

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The Embassy: A Story of War and Diplomacy by Dante Paradiso tells the inside story of how US Ambassador John Blaney and his team kept the Liberian embassy open, risked their lives to cross the front lines to meet with General Cobra, and played a crucial role in negotiating a complicated sequence that included Taylor being forced into exile, the rebels allowing ECOWAS peacekeepers to reopen the port, and getting peace negotiators back to the table. Paradiso, a foreign service officer who served in that embassy, skillfully tells the story through the eyes of several unsung heroes.

What Tillerson’s Leadership Could Mean for US Development Policy

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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted yesterday to give the greenlight to Rex Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State. Assuming he is confirmed by the full Senate—which at this point is all but certain—Tillerson will play a critical role in shaping US foreign policy from the helm of the State Department with important implications for global development. While, like other nominees, some of Tillerson’s stated positions appear out of sync with those espoused by President Trump, it’s worth examining where Tillerson is on the record when it comes to issues of development and humanitarian relief.

The Tillerson Hearings

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No one expects to hear much on development-related matters during next week’s hearing for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson. But even if they aren’t asked outright, I’ll be listening closely to Mr. Tillerson’s testimony for answers to some fundamental questions about what we can expect from the next four years for US development policy.

GAO Report Misses the Point on USG Ebola Response

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Having tried and mostly failed to track what was going on with US Government performance and spending on Ebola, I welcome the GAO’s overview of obligations and disbursements by appropriation account and strategy pillar. Now the scope of this report appears to be narrow, so let’s hope there’s more to come. A performance audit should go beyond the money to look at what actually happened; what organizations, activities and products were funded; what were the results on the outcomes that matter—Ebola transmission, rapid control of Ebola outbreaks; whether second-order economic impacts were mitigated; and how outbreak preparedness has evolved over time.

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