Bi-weekly roundup

The first analyses (guesses?) of US development foreign aid policy under President Trump are coming in. Likely? Budget cuts, a weakened USAID – maybe merged into the State Department -, and a shift away from many of the priorities of Presidents Bush and especially President Obama. Via Devex: “The big losers will likely be investments in multilateral institutions; democracy, rights and governance; women and girls; and climate. The U.S. will likely simultaneously become more assertive in and less supportive of the United Nations, the World Bank and other key multilateral bodies.” This is leaving aside other external or global policy issues that are strictly speaking not about “aid” but can have a tremendous impact on developing countries – such as trade, climate change, or international security policies.

As for last week’s topic: we did not discuss trends in democracy and “good governance” around the world much, but some of them have been problematic for a while now. Marina Ottaway (who authored one of this week’s articles) has warned of global democratic reversals back in 2000. Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Reports have been chronicling the rollback in civil and political rights around the world for almost a decade now. Even so, 2016 has been a particularly tough year for liberalism, democracy, and the rule of law around the world. The Economist is worried about the weakening of liberal democratic institutions and norms. Thomas Carothers urges US democracy promoters to “look homeward“. The Monkey Cage has a series of articles discussing the world-wide rise of (authoritarian) populism. Few solutions to stem the tide have been advanced. A “political” approach would suggest more activism, especially around civil and political rights. A “developmental” approach would suggest investing more in human capital development – especially more and better education.


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