~ Archive for International Development ~

Russian Law Puts Foreign Aid Groups in Limbo

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By GUY CHAZAN, WSJ, October 19, 2006; Page A6

MOSCOW — Hundreds of foreign human-rights groups and other organizations operating in Russia may have to suspend operations because they are entangled in red tape from a controversial new law.

A law passed earlier this year required all such outside organizations to reregister with the government. The law vastly increased state supervision of outside groups, and was condemned by several Western leaders as a threat to Russia’s embryonic civil society.

Now many are caught in Russia’s bureaucracy. While 175 foreign nongovernmental organizations submitted documentation on time, only 87 had their applications processed by the target date, said a spokesman for Russia’s Federal Registration Service, or FRS. That represents a fraction of the 400-plus such groups active in Russia. …

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116121712420397112.html?mod=world_news_whats_news

México, a la cabeza de América Latina

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CIUDAD DEL VATICANO/MÉXICO D.F., jueves, 13 julio 2006 (ZENIT.orgEl Observador).- México es el país de América Latina que más ayuda económicamente a la labor de la Iglesia universal.

De acuerdo con el informe económico presentado esta semana por la Prefectura de Asuntos Económicos de la Santa Sede –que preside el cardenal Sergio Sebastiani–, la aportación mexicana se sitúa detrás de la de los Estados Unidos, Italia, Alemania, Francia, España, Irlanda, Canadá y Corea, y por encima de la de Austria.

El país azteca ocupa la novena posición tanto en la aportación al «Óbolo de San Pedro» –para sostener la misión apostólica y caritativa del Papa–, como en la que prevé el canon 1271 del Código de Derecho Canónico que refleja la aportación de los obispos en la colecta realizada en sus respectivas diócesis para sostener, en la medida de sus posibilidades, a la Iglesia en su misión universal.

Fuentes eclesiásticas mexicanas consultadas, mostraron su alegría ante esta noticia –difundida por la agencia informativa «Notimex»—, pues en años anteriores, el país, que cuenta con cerca de 90 millones de católicos, no ocupaba lugares destacados en la ayuda a la labor de la Iglesia.

Sin duda las cinco visitas que realizó durante su pontificado Juan Pablo II a México han motivado a los fieles a redoblar su aportación económica al Vaticano, hasta volverla la novena del mundo, según destacó el cardenal Sebastiani.

Giving Charity a Good Name

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… This debate over charity and philanthropy is crucial for America’s foundations. A new and perhaps surprising figure entered the debate in January, when Pope Benedict XVI issued his first encyclical, Deus caritas est (“God is love”), and insisted that there is no substitute for charity—for the direct, personal involvement of individuals and communities in the lives of those who are suffering, those in need of material or educational assistance, or those simply needing the consolation of human contact. Deus caritas est is not, to be sure, a broadside aimed from one side at another in the philanthropy wars. It has things to say, however, that deserve reflection by all concerned, because they challenge us to re-examine our understanding of modern philanthropy…

http://philanthropyroundtable.org/magazines/2006/marapr/blessingsofcharity.htm

The White Man’s Burden

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William Easterly, author of The White Man’s Burden: Why The West’s Efforts To Aid The Rest Have Done So Much Ill And So Little Good,
has added his voice to the growing demand for independent evaluation of
foreign aid. … Easterly said … that development
assistance lacks CIAO: Customer feedback, Incentives, Accountability,
and, therefore, good Outcomes. The solution, he said, is independent
evaluation.

“We need independent evaluation of foreign aid. It’s amazing
that we’ve gone a half century without this,” he said. Truly
independent evaluation of aid would “give feedback to see which
interventions are working and give incentives to aid staff to find
things that work,” he said. As a result, aid agencies would “start
specializing much more in individual, monitorable tasks for which they
can be held accountable.”

… Easterly contrasted two approaches. First, an ineffective
planners’ approach that he said lacks the knowledge and motivation to
achieve overambitious, arbitrary targets. Second, what he regards as a
more constructive searchers’ approach: individuals always on the
lookout for piecemeal improvements to poor peoples’ well-being, with a
system to get more aid resources to those who find things that work.

Global Fund Gets Facelift

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Please see the new globalfund.org, where some of us work. The opinions we express on the blog you’re reading are not necessarily those of the Global Fund.

Besides a completely new design, the
site of the Global Work-Ethic Fund has new content, and some new names: we are
down-playing Work-Ethic. We had
our reasons for this name, and it got some folks’ attention, but … it doesn’t
translate well. So we now highlight:

Iranian Solidarity?

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By ROYA HAKAKIAN, March 2, 2006; Page A14, Wall Street Journal
The bomb that Tehran’s mullahs are allegedly building
has already done its damage. … “The bomb” is an ingenious
design by which to divert any global interest in the country’s domestic
matters, giving the ruling clerics free rein to devastate opposition
with all the brutality they can muster. Among the ruins is an event
unprecedented in 27 years: A major strike by the workers of Sherkat-e
Vahed, the Union of Workers of the United Bus Company of Tehran….

The executive committee’s first meeting came under
fire. Baton-wielding thugs shouting “The bus syndicate, the monarchs’
hideout!” charged in, set their office on fire, beat everyone in
attendance, and promised to cut off the tongue of Mr. Ossanloo if he
continued his activities. As a sign of their seriousness, they ran a
blade over his tongue, shaving a layer off. He has spoken with a lisp
ever since.

In every flier and in every interview, the workers
emphasized that they were apolitical and did not wish to topple the
government, asking only to have some very basic demands met. … “In the name of He who created justice,” write the
organizers, “we hope for the people of the world to hear our plea:
Death or Syndicate!” …

Benedict XVI on Volunteers

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From the encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, #30 b: Church
agencies, with their transparent operation and their faithfulness to the duty of
witnessing to love, are able to give a Christian quality to the civil agencies
too, favouring a mutual coordination that can only redound to the effectiveness
of charitable service.

Numerous organizations for charitable or
philanthropic purposes have also been established and these are committed to
achieving adequate humanitarian solutions to the social and political problems
of the day. Significantly, our time has also seen the growth and spread of
different kinds of volunteer work, which assume responsibility for providing a
variety of services. I wish here to offer a special word of
gratitude and appreciation to all those who take part in these activities in
whatever way. For young people, this widespread involvement constitutes a school
of life which offers them a formation in solidarity and in readiness to offer
others not simply material aid but their very selves. The anti-culture of death,
which finds expression for example in drug use, is thus countered by an
unselfish love which shows itself to be a culture of life by the very
willingness to “lose itself” (cf. Lk 17:33 et passim) for others.

Aid Dependency

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From the Center for Global Development, 01/10/2006

Does
foreign aid help develop public institutions and state capacity in
developing countries? In this Working Paper, the authors suggest that
despite recent calls for increased aid to poor countries by the
international community, there may be an aid-institutions paradox.
While donor intentions may be sincere, the authors conclude that it is
possible that aid could undermine long-term institutional development,
particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. … The conclusions are two-fold: countries which receive a
substantial portion of their revenues from foreign aid may be less
accountable to their citizens, and they may face less domestic pressure
to maintain popular legitimacy. The more aid countries receive from
abroad, therefore, the less incentive they have to invest in effective
public institutions. … Also, allocating aid toward alternative development activities
might be most beneficial. Funding the eradication of endemic diseases,
peacekeeping activities, regional or global public goods, and debt
relief would most likely side-step the aid-institutions paradox.

Motherless Russia

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from: Russia Reform Monitor No. 1338, December 30, 2005 American Foreign Policy Council
According to Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the “Delovaya Rossiya”
business lobby is predicting that Russia will lose $400 billion in the
next two decades if the country’s population decline is not dealt with.
The group stated in a report that inadequate government efforts to
encourage immigration, support young families and promote healthy
eating are having a disastrous effect on President Vladimir Putin’s
goal of doubling the gross domestic product. The report concluded that
only drastic measures, such as a 2 percent tax on families without
children, could reverse the trend.

“Delovaya Rossiya” is not alone. The World Bank likewise has warned, in
a study published earlier this month, that Russia, which in January
takes over the rotating Group of Eight presidency for the first time,
will never compete with the other G8 countries if it does not address
its health deficit and demographic decline.

US Stakeholder Gets Short End of Stick

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by William R. Hawkins
Any rational analysis of the decisions made at the recent trade meeting
in Hong Kong would conclude that the United States is being played for
a fool — by the “developing world” (which includes China and India), as
well as by the developed world (the Europeans and Japanese). While
every other WTO member country is trying to gain competitive advantage
and advance its national interests, the United States is looking out
for the “good of the international trading system” — a house of cards
built on exporting as much as you can to the American market. Trees
don’t grow to the sky, and American wealth is not unlimited. The system
will eventually collapse, bringing untold misery, unless some reality
and sanity intervene. However, don’t expect current U.S. trade
officials to be the source of that sanity, compulsively wedded as they
are to the abstract theory of free trade.