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Defense, diplomacy, and development strategies have long been used to achieve foreign policy objectives, but increasingly the lines between them are blurred. Some responsibilities traditionally undertaken by, and funded through, civilian agencies are migrating to the military. And in humanitarian situations, the military often provides frontline development assistance. CGD’s previous work in this area focused on the role of the military in helping fragile states. Later work, through the Commitment to Development Index, has examined how the policies of wealthy countries on security issues affect developing nations.
The Secretary of State for International Development, Penny Mordaunt, is giving a big speech this Thursday, setting out her strategic directions on development. She has already impressed many people in development by the way she has embraced the mission of the department while challenging some of its ways of working. She has also won plaudits for her deft handling of the important issue of safeguarding in development.
What I’d like to hear this week is how the government’s new “Fusion Doctrine”, launched last week in the National Security Capability Review, applies to the government’s development objectives.
The “Fusion Doctrine” described in the capability review is that all the levers at the government’s disposal, including aid, should be available to secure the government’s economic, security, and influence goals. It is represented in the review in the diagram below.
In a second blog post coming soon, I will be considering the trend to allow other government departments to manage an increasing share of British aid, and the questions this has raised about the quality of aid. In this post, I want to deal with a different, even more important, point: a whole-of-government development strategy should mean more than letting the whole of government spend foreign aid.
Figure 1: The Fusion Doctrine
The Fusion Doctrine should apply to development too
I’m all for joining up all the government’s instruments and levers to achieve the government’s economic, security and influence goals. These are legitimate and important goals for any nation, and if the manner and scope of our development policy can help us achieve them, then this will be good for our country, and will build support and legitimacy for development cooperation. There is nothing wrong with identifying and pursuing “win-win” policies which benefit us directly at the same time as pursing our development goals, though of course we must be vigilant to ensure that the reasonable pursuit of our national interest does not lead us into significantly less effective development policy.
It is not surprising that the National Security Capability Review should focus mainly on how the instruments of government can achieve the government’s security objectives. I don’t have a problem with that. I hope that Penny Mordaunt’s speech on Thursday will build on that, by explaining how the coherent and sensible concept of the Fusion Doctrine applies also to the government’s development objectives.
None of this is yet in the Fusion Doctrine, at least as articulated so far in the national security capability review. That review focuses on the impact of government policies on UK interests, ignoring their wider impact. To give one small example, the sentence on arms control reads:
We will continue our work to choke off the supply and availability of illegal firearms to prevent their use by criminal or terrorist groups in the UK.
There is no mention here of limiting conflict in other countries, including in developing countries, by better controlling the sales of arms from Britain and other countries. As far as the National Security Capability Review is concerned, the Fusion Doctrine will help prevent criminality and conflict in the UK, not the rest of the world. That’s understandable in a statement about national security, and I realise that the government is determined to justify its aid spending robustly by describing clearly how it protects Britain’s national interests. But from reading the capability review, you could be forgiven for thinking that international development is merely an instrument for British national security, and not also one of the government’s objectives in its own right. Of course it is—or should be—both. And what’s more, given that development does contribute to Britain’s national security, then a true fusion would surely ensure that as many levers as possible are being pulled to accelerate it. That is why I eagerly await the Secretary of State’s opportunity next week to fill in the parts of the picture which were missing from a security-oriented review.
We will ensure that an annual whole-of-government plan is in place across government departments, setting out development objectives for the year with measurable indicators, and signed off by the Secretary of State for International Development. Each government department will be accountable for delivering on their objectives.
That sounds a lot like what you would get if you applied the fusion doctrine to development. (To continue with the example of arms sales, the Labour Party policy statement pledges “we will ensure DFID plays a proactive role on the Export Controls Joint Unit, the government body currently responsible for sanctioning UK arms sales.”) Of course, as Mario Cuomo observed, you campaign in poetry but govern in prose. When in government, development goals are often given low priority compared to other, more politically pressing concerns. The last Labour Government also established the principle that DFID should be consulted about arms export licences, but over the thirteen years when Labour was in power, DFID never once successfully contested the issuing of an arms export licence.
So I hope we will soon hear something similar from government ministers, including the Development Secretary. The government should make clear that international development is indeed a goal in its own right and not merely an instrument for our security, economic, and influence objectives, and that the Fusion Doctrine will be applied in the same way to this important goal, just as it means that development policy will be applied to other government goals. Distributing aid budgets around Whitehall is not a good substitute for a joined up and coherent government using all of its instruments strategically in pursuit of all its goals.
In my next blog post, I look at how the Secretary of State might address growing concerns about how the government can ensure that aid spent by other government departments is effective and coherent.
Germans have given Chancellor Angela Merkel a fourth term as chancellor, but once again without a parliamentary majority. It seems likely that Merkel will now try to negotiate a black-green-yellow “Jamaica coalition” (referring to the parties’ colors) with the Greens and the pro-business Liberals replacing the Social Democrats as coalition partners. Despite the gain in vote for nationalists, our analysis suggests the Jamaica coalition could actually strengthen Germany’s role in accelerating global development, as well as benefitting Germany.
In this blog, we look at the what the Jamaica coalition means using the framework of our Commitment to Development Index—which ranks rich countries on aid, migration, technology, environment, trade, finance, and security.
Germany’s starting point on Commitment to Development
Overall, Germany ranked fifth (out of 27 countries that we assess) and first on migration, largely because it has accepted so many refugees in recent years. We counted migrants as “1” when they came from the poorest country (Democratic Republic of Congo) and “0” when coming from the richest country (Norway). This method quantified that Germany lifted the equivalent of “880,000 poverty weighted migrants” out of extreme poverty last year! But a ratio of one new migrant for every 92 Germans, contributed to the rise of the far right nationalists (AfD) who have become the third largest party in parliament. Regardless of the election results, mounting public pressure will reduce migration. But a poll of economists thinks the Jamaica coalition is actually more migration-friendly than a continuation of the previous grand coalition would have been.
On aid, Germany met the international commitment of 0.7 percent of national income (GNI) on aid (overseas development assistance) for the first time in 2016. This included high expenditure on hosting refugees—but to maintain 0.7 when fewer refugees arrive, overseas development assistance would have to ramp up quickly.
On environmental policies, high emissions per capita mean Germany might not meet the Paris agreement commitment to reduce emissions by 40 percent by 2020. The global poor will suffer the consequences: climate change might push 100 million people back into poverty by 2030. This is partly due to Germany’s poor policy choices, like burning and subsidising fossil fuels. Both the Greens and Liberals want to phase out these subsidies.
On technology more widely, there has been an increase in overall R&D spending to 0.88 per cent of GDP, but this is still lower than in many other countries. Spending more to create new technologies like mobile phones or biometric IDs can transform development and is a perfect example of investing in global public goods. All major parties want to increase R&D spending to 3.5 per cent of GDP by 2025—a “Jamaica coalition” will not change anything significantly here but this is a positive direction for development.
Germany’s trade policies have a significant impact on developing countries. Free trade agreements such as the EU’s “everything but arms” initiative give poor countries tariff-free access and have the potential to dramatically reduce poverty. For instance, a recent natural experiment suggests trade deals such as these can lower infant mortality by about 9 per cent.
On security policy, Germany has been criticized by the US for failing to spend 2 per cent of GDP on defence. This figure includes spending on UN peacekeeping, for which Germany spends only 0.03 per cent of GDP—less than the OECD average, and this at a time when the UN peacekeeping budget is facing deep cuts. This is a matter of real concern because security and development are closely interlinked—for instance, one study suggests that civil wars decrease GDP per capita by 17.5 percent. Merkel’s conservatives want to double defence spending to reach 2 percent of GDP by 2024. The Liberals also want to increase defence spending, unlike the Greens, who want to specifically focus on increasing support for UN peacekeeping.
Overall then, taking the policy commitments of the Liberals and Greens and adding them to Merkel’s conservative bloc in a “Jamaica coalition” could bode well both for Germany, and development beyond aid.
When NATO forces entered Afghanistan following the attacks of September 11, 2001, much of the country’s infrastructure, as well as its public institutions and underlying social fabric, had been destroyed by more than two and a half decades of conflict. At the time, landmines were still killing an average of 40 Afghans a day.
Over the last 15 years, the international community, led by the United States, has invested massive resources in an attempt to transform Afghanistan into a more stable, modern, and prosperous country. While most of these resources were directed towards military support, a good chunk went to supporting economic development. In fact, Afghanistan has received more official development assistance than any other country since 2001, except for Iraq (See Figure 1).
Source: World Development Indicators, World Bank
Despite the often well-founded pessimism attached to the international effort in Afghanistan, the average Afghan, and particularly the average Afghan woman, is better off today than he or she was in 2001, according to the data. Consider the following advances made since that time:
Income per capita has more than doubled (though the country's per capita GDP of roughly $600 remains one of the lowest in the world).
Access to primary healthcare has increased from 9 to 82 percent of the population.
The percent of women attended by a skilled care provider at birth has risen from 14 to over 50 percent.
The number of Afghan children attending school has increased from less than 1 million to 9 million and the percent of students who are girls has increased from roughly 10 to 40 percent.
The country had its first democratic transfer of political power in 2014, with both men and women allowed to vote in the election.
These important gains are at risk, as the security situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated over the last several years following the drawdown of foreign troops. Today, the Taliban control 11 percent of the districts in the country and contest an additional 29 percent.* They have also ramped up the number of attacks in major cities. As a result, civilian casualties increased to 11,418 (3,498 deaths and 7,920 injuries) in 2016, the highest on record. At the same time, the country’s ability to provide social services is under strain due to the growing number of the internally displaced persons, which climbed to 1.4 million in 2016, and includes a large number of former refugees who have been repatriated from Europe, Iran, and Pakistan.
The recent announcement by the Trump administration that it would modestly increase the number of US troops operating in Afghanistan improves the chances of achieving stability. However, meeting this goal will also require the international community and the Afghan authorities to learn from past mistakes.
Two steps forward, one step back
Development in Afghanistan has been uneven and the rate of progress has generally tracked the evolution of the security situation. Starting from an extremely low base in 2002, the country achieved rapid progress early on, as technical advisors from USAID, DFID, the IMF, and World Bank helped the government rebuild key institutions essentially from scratch, and as donors implemented projects focused on providing basic health and education services.
During this time, the country enjoyed a brief respite from conflict. By the mid-2000s, however, the Taliban had begun to reassert itself in the south. The group’s resurgence was facilitated in part by the Bush administration’s decision to divert attention and resources to Iraq, and in part by the inability of the Afghan government to exert control and provide services in the provinces. In 2009, the United States and its allies responded to the growing insurgency by settling on a military strategy that relied on a surge in troops and aid aimed at dislodging the Taliban and winning the hearts and minds of rural Afghans.
The strategy temporarily supported growth and allowed the government to regain a tenuous hold on territory but did little to address some of the underlying problems in the country that continue to fester today, including widespread corruption and opium production. When the Obama administration announced a staggered troop withdrawal beginning in 2011, it soon became clear that many of the security and economics gains achieved were illusory.
Most of the improvements noted above were made in the period 2001-2010. But the current decade has been cruel to Afghanistan. In a 2016 poll conducted by the Asia Foundation, 66 percent of Afghans believed that the country was going in the wrong direction, the lowest level of optimism since 2004. The question now is whether the Afghan authorities and international community can arrest the country’s recent slide, stabilize security, and build on the progress made in earlier years. Addressing the long-standing problems that have prevented a lasting peace from taking hold will require changes in behavior on the part of both donors and the government.
These challenges include:
Reducing corruption. Afghanistan was ranked 169 out of 176 countries in Transparency International’s 2016 corruption perceptions index. The belief that public servants are corrupt has sapped popular support from the government and provided an opportunity for the Taliban. But the Afghan government does not hold all the blame. The international community pushed billions of dollars of aid into a country that lacked public sector capacity, a strong judiciary, and robust financial supervision—and then often failed to monitor where funds went. More strikingly, many actors in Afghanistan, including the US government, frequently paid off Afghan elites and power brokers to win their allegiance and gain information. The result was a country awash in dollars with little oversight about how they were spent.
Taming opium production. Afghanistan supplies roughly 90 percent of the world’s illicit opiates and the opium trade fuels both corruption and the insurgency. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that potential opium production increased by 43 percent in 2016, despite the more than $8 billion spent by the US government in counternarcotic programs in the country since 2002. Efforts at eradication have stalled in recent years, as the Taliban presence in poppy cultivating provinces has increased, and there is currently no credible strategy to deal with the problem that does not require improved security.
Reaching a political settlement. Both Afghan authorities and US officials now recognize that the terminating the war in Afghanistan will likely require some form of political settlement for two reasons: first, the United States does not have the appetite to wage a full campaign in the country again and second, even if it did, the Taliban has proven repeatedly its ability to bounce back. Indeed, US Secretary of State Tillerson has stated that the administration’s new strategy is to put enough military pressure on the Taliban to bring them to the negotiating table. Any political settlement would have to involve Pakistan, which continues to provide safe haven to insurgents.
Reducing aid dependence. Although clearly a secondary goal compared to enhancing security, the Afghan government must find a way to reduce its dependence on foreign aid. A recent World Bank report suggests that the country will not achieve fiscal sustainability—defined as occurring when domestic revenues cover operating expenditures—until well after 2030. Until then, the country will continue to rely on donors to cover most of the costs associated with security and development. Enhancing sustainability will require taking steps to both enhance growth and improve revenues, which start from a very low base of 10.5 percent of GDP.
A shot at stability
The international community’s inability to secure a lasting peace in Afghanistan after 15 years of engagement has naturally produced impatience in both Afghanistan and its partner countries. However, a full withdrawal of international assistance would leave the development gains made since 2001 at the mercy of the Taliban. The continued presence of US troops in Afghanistan preserves the possibility that the Afghan government can make inroads in governing—and that a fair political settlement, which pacifies the Taliban without giving them the power to roll back the freedom of women, for example, can be reached. In doing so, it can help to improve the outlook for one of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations.
*Focusing on territory gains alone overstates the Taliban’s advances. While the number of districts controlled by the Taliban has risen in recent years, a stalemate has set in more recently, and most of these districts are sparsely populated: 21.4 million Afghans live in districts controlled by the government, while only 3 million live in districts controlled by the Taliban.
How well do your country's policies make a positive difference for people in developing nations? That’s the question CGD seeks to answer each year in our Commitment to Development Index (CDI). It’s a ranking of 27 of the world’s richest nations based on seven policy areas: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security, and migration.
The team behind the CDI, deputy director of CGD Europe Ian Mitchell and policy analyst Anita Käppeli, join me this week on the CGD podcast to discuss why these rankings matter and how countries stack up.
In first place this year is Denmark, followed by Sweden, Finland, France, and Germany. Greece, Japan, and South Korea rank at the bottom—though South Korea actually ranks first on the technology component.
Among the countries in the middle are the UK, tying with the Netherlands for 7th place, and the US, all the way down at 23rd. In the future, how might these scores be impacted by the changing politics of the two nations?
“On Brexit, there’s real potential for this to affect the CDI score,” Mitchell tells me in the podcast. “The UK will take control of its own migration policy more fully and it will have its own trade policy and it will take control of agricultural policy form the EU. All of those things feature in the Commitment to Development Index.”
As for the the Trump Administration’s America-first approach, Mitchell says, “It’s surely in the interest of countries to see other countries developing to reduce the security risk, to make sure there’s lower risk of disease emerging . . . and the CDI is a framework for prioritizing action on that.”
Overall, Käppeli tells me, the CDI is a reminder to countries that “policy coherence is an issue; that they should not pursue policies in [only] one field—for instance, give a lot of aid, but then close the boarders for products from developing countries.”
“The CDI is holistic,” Mitchell adds, pointing out that the CDI’s focus on policy is “complementary” to the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on outcomes: “If you think about how we’re going to achieve the SDGs, then looking at the CDI [is] a great way to do that.”
How well do your country's policies make a positive difference for people in developing nations? That’s the question CGD seeks to answer each year in our Commitment to Development Index (CDI). The team behind the CDI, deputy director of CGD Europe Ian Mitchell and policy analyst Anita Käppeli, join me to discuss why these rankings matter, how countries stack up, and how their scores may be impacted by the shifting political environment.
Today, we published this year’s Commitment to Development Index (CDI), which ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries in how well their policies help to spread global prosperity to the developing world.
We will be presenting the Index and our recommendations at the high-level period of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) later this month. As political leaders prepare to meet for UNGA, here are some key takeaways from our research that should help guide their policies and discussions.
1. Leadership on global development isn’t only for the richest!
The CDI analyzes the policies of 27 of the world’s richest countries in seven key areas: aid, finance, technology, environment, trade, security, and migration. The indicators adjust for size and economic prosperity—and the results demonstrate that country wealth does not determine the results. The wealthiest countries—represented by the G7—rank anywhere between fourth and twenty-sixth. Income per person averages half that of the United States in Visegrád countries (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and the Slovak Republic), but all four now rank higher in their commitment to development. Portugal, who ranks sixth, performs well in most components despite being less prosperous than many of the CDI countries. Smart policy design is not a matter of prosperity only. Therefore, our first key message to all the leaders of the 27 CDI-countries:
Domestic economic challenges needn’t prevent leadership on smart policies to increase global prosperity.
2. Development is about much more than aid
The CDI draws attention to the fact that global development is about so much more than the amount or quality of foreign development assistance provided. Policymaking in various policy fields directly affect the lives of poor people around the globe.
For example, the design of our policies on technology or finance affect the prospect for people living in poorer countries. Both research and development policies and investment policies are mainly pursued for domestic goals. However, they have a lasting effect on developing countries. Smart intellectual property rights can enable knowledge sharing and technology transfer. Also, bilateral investment agreements with developing countries recognising specific public policy goals such as labour rights, environmental standards, or human rights can have an important effect on the prospect for development.
The commitment to implementing balanced and sustainable policies domestically also sends a strong signal about their importance globally and irrespective of countries borders. Money spent on foreign development assistance does not have the same lasting effect if countries don’t recognise the international impact of their actions in other policy areas. Therefore:
In our integrated world, your policies and decisions as a leader of a rich country have an important bearing on the lives of people in developing nations.
3. Even the bottom-ranked country has smart policies we all can learn from
Like the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the CDI recognizes development has many angles. But while the SDGs cover all nations and their outcomes, the CDI concentrates on the richest countries and emphasizes how policies can make a huge difference to development globally. The fact that we limit our evaluation to high income countries means that policy recommendations are more tailored and relevant. Even the best-ranked countries have weaknesses where they can learn from their peers. Overall leader Denmark performs weaker on migration and could learn from the migration policy designs from countries as varied as Luxembourg, New Zealand, or neighbouring Sweden. Similarly, bottom-ranked South Korea could advise all other 26 CDI countries on how to build long-lasting support for research and development. Accordingly:
Use the CDI as a tool to learn from others and to inspire change through your own best-practice policies.
4. Some overall progress on the Environment component but stronger commitments are needed
Tragically, Hurricane Harvey has reminded the United States how vulnerable we all are when natural disasters hit. Further, people in South Asia were left suffering after massive flooding and devastation affected millions, while earlier this year we saw how the unprecedented drought in Africa affected the lives of millions facing malnutrition. These tragic events, sadly far from unique, remind us that we all need to do more to combat climate change.
This year’s CDI points out that progress has been made—CDI countries report progress in curbing new greenhouse gas emissions and the amount of Ozone-depleting substances has been cut significantly. However, many environmental challenges remain. We need to see an even bigger commitment to development from the CDI countries in the future, such as a complete support for the Paris Agreement and the willingness to tackle issues such as overfishing and deforestation. Thus, our final recommendation:
While progress has been made, many global challenges remain. We ask this generation of world leaders to strengthen and deepen their commitment to development.
These findings show that we and our governments can do so much more to spread prosperity to poorer countries. The CDI serves as a useful tool to identify which national policies still have potential to be designed in a more development friendly way. We hope world leaders use the opportunity of UNGA to discuss ways to make further progress in all policy fields, inspiring each other to achieve more on global development.
A few months ago, I wrote a note calling for financial incentives to increase the number of women in (military) peacekeeping operations from its current level of about 4 percent closer to the UN Security Council target of about 20 percent. Along with colleagues here at CGD, I have since discussed the idea with a number of people who work on peacekeeping—both as researchers and practitioners—that has led to a lot of incredibly useful feedback. Not least, that the idea of financial incentives had also been discussed by UN Women in a 2015 Policy Brief—apologies to them for my oversight in the initial literature review! Below are some (hopefully more informed) thoughts about the idea, around what to use financial incentives for and how to fund that.
The UN Women brief suggests two options for payments. First, a higher reimbursement rate for the deployment of military women, which is the option I discussed. Second would be a “gender balance premium” if the troop contributing country’s contingent meets certain criteria covering both the number and role of women in that contingent. After the discussions of the last few months, I’m drawn to that second model, or at least a hybrid of it. It is important not just to increase the number of peacekeepers but ensure they are more equally represented in roles that will take them off-base and in leadership (see Sabrina Karim, Cornell professor and co-author of the book Equal Opportunity Peacekeeping, on that issue here). A “balance premium” alone or in combination with a pro-rata payment might help achieve these multiple objectives better than a pro-rata payment alone.
Even with a balance premium, incentives would still need to be nested in a broader set of initiatives to ensure impact (a topic of this chapter by Kim and her co-author Kyle Beardsley). For example, US Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Shelley Moore Capito have introduced bipartisan legislation that will ensure continued US support for overseas military training on issues including sexual exploitation and abuse. Norway and the UK have related programs. Jamille Bigio and Rachel Vogelstein have suggested that the US institute a 30 percent minimum requirement for female participation in US-offered training related to peace and security issues. Commitments to additional initiatives in the areas of training and force development would complement the financial incentive approach.
The UN Women brief focuses on financing through additions to the peacekeeping budget through larger assessed contributions, but does also note the possibility of a special fund with voluntary conditions. In part thanks to political changes since 2015, I’d argue the second approach is more practical and realistic. At a $303 per month payment to for each female peacekeeper, trying to reach 20 percent of total peacekeeping operations would cost $77 million a year. This compares to a total peacekeeping budget closer to $8 billion—100 times as large. And many of the biggest contributors—in particular the United States—are considering cuts not increases to that budget. A coalition of willing contributors could move far faster at far less diplomatic cost than the Security Council in consensus. And trust fund financing for this initiative would avoid a further drain on increasingly scarce peacekeeping funds. The fund could still be hosted within the UN, even if outside the Office of Peacekeeping. If payments were made as general budget support to contributing countries, this might allow contributions to count as overseas development assistance.
Finally, at the moment, this proposal is limited to military personnel, not police. In part because that is where the problem of gender balance is particularly acute. But there is no particular reason why it might not be expanded to cover policing. This may require smaller payments—given India has already deployed an all-women police unit to Liberia, and Bangladesh did the same in Haiti, respectively.
I have hugely benefited from the conversations about this idea, and I’m still looking for more reactions—so very grateful for any comments below or by email. In particular, whatever the design of the incentives or the financing model, any mechanism to incentivize more women peacekeepers would require the input of both troop contributors and potential funders. We have only just started that process. But, reassuringly, those who we’ve talked to are positive about the broad idea that financial incentives might have a role—so watch this space for more updates.