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Archive for December, 2009

FRIDE Founder Diego Hidalgo Wins the 2009 Commitment to Development Award

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009
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The 2009 winner of the Commitment to Development “Ideas in Action” Award–sponsored by the Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine–is Diego Hidalgo, founder of the Foundation for International Relations and Foreign Dialogue (FRIDE).  See below for details of Hidalgo’s commitment to development around the globe, thanks to MFAN partner, the Center for Global Development:

FRIDE Founder Diego Hidalgo Wins the 2009 Commitment to Development Award for Promoting Development Programs Worldwide

Diego HidalgoFRIDE Founder Diego Hidalgo Wins the 2009 Commitment to Development Award for Promoting Development Programs Worldwide

Washington DC: Diego Hidalgo Schnur, a Spanish philanthropist, academic and businessman, is the 2009 winner of the Commitment to Development “Ideas in Action” Award, sponsored jointly by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Foreign Policy magazine.

The award, bestowed annually since 2003, honors an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to changing attitudes and policies towards the developing world.

Hidalgo’s career reflects his resolute dedication to helping the world’s poorest people. He is the founder or key sponsor of numerous organizations committed to promoting development and democracy across the globe. These include: Development Assistance Research Associates (DARA), which produces the Humanitarian Response Index; the Foundation for Research and Investment for the Development of Africa (FRIDA), an NGO that promotes cooperation and development projects in the continent’s poorest countries; and the Toledo International Centre for Peace (CITpax), a Spanish think tank.

Hidalgo also serves as president of the Foundation for Research and Investment for the Development of Africa President of (FRIDE), a Madrid-based think tank that provides innovative ideas on Europe’s role in the international arena. A former World Bank staffer, Hidalgo was the youngest person to serve as a division chief for Sub-Saharan Africa.

He is the author of Europa, Globalización y Unión Monetaria (Europe, Globalization and Monetary Union), and El Futuro de España (The Future of Spain), which remained on the Spanish best sellers list for twenty-three weeks.

“Diego Hidalgo is a generous visionary who became a social entrepreneur decades before the concept was broadly embraced,” said Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy Magazine.

Added CGD president Nancy Birdsall: “Diego Hidalgo has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to evidence-based policy work on development across a wide range of topics, from humanitarian relief to foreign policy. His work is all the more impressive in the European context, where many policy organizations have government ties and independence from government influence is the exception rather than the rule.”

Birdsall and Naím co-chaired the selection committee which also included Evelyn Herfkens, executive coordinator of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign; Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, managing director at the World Bank and former minister of finance and foreign affairs in Nigeria; Sebastian Mallaby, Washington Post columnist and director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and Kevin Watkins, director of UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report.

Previous winners of the Commitment to Development Award include: the European ministers of international development who constitute the Utstein Group (2003); Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair Campaign (2004); then-Chancellor of the Exchequer and now Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown (2005), then-U.S. Congressman Jim Kolbe (R-AZ) (2006), Global Witness (2007), and the ONE Campaign (2008).

Hidalgo will accept the award on February 5 at a public event in Washington D.C.

For more information on the Commitment to Development Award, see

Noteworthy News – 12.21

Monday, December 21st, 2009
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This weekly posting includes key news stories and opinion pieces related to foreign assistance reform and the larger development community.

What we’re reading:

  • Troops, Taliban race to build up local governments (AP, December 21) The Marines and civilian development officials in Khan Neshin are trying to bypass the corruption and inefficiency at higher levels of government by working directly through the district governor, Massoud Balouch, a 27-year-old former pharmacist who sacrificed a comfortable life in the provincial capital to run one of Afghanistan’s impoverished areas.  Without foreign aid to pay salaries, the governor said, his staff “would leave, and I wouldn’t want them to stay because they would fall into corruption.”  Convincing educated and well-trained people to come work in Khan Neshin is only half the battle. Getting them to stay has proven just as difficult.
  • Raj Shah and America’s Development Future (Roll Call-Bill Frist, December 17)  Changes like these are never easy. But we can’t let inertia drag us down at this moment in time ‹ a moment when the future of the world’s so-called bottom billion, and our own American future, hangs in the balance. Dr. Shah has what is needed to carry on President Bush’s global health legacy and fulfill President Obama’s extraordinary development vision. The Senate should confirm him, and the Obama administration should give him the political support and resources he needs to succeed. Millions of lives will be affected by this choice.
  • Climate talks: Clinton promises aid to poor nations – but China may resist (Christian Science Monitor, December 18)  In an effort to clear a major hurdle toward a new climate agreement in Copenhagen, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today that the United States would take part in efforts to pull together long-term financing for developing countries to the tune of $100 billion a year by 2020.  The money would come from a combination of government-to-government aid, as well as from private-sector sources.  The offer is missing details that would give it credibility, according to representatives for ActionAid International, a non-government organization based in Britain that works closely with developing countries on aid and development issues.
  • Exclusive: New details on Obama’s $7.5 billion aid package to Pakistan (FP Blog-Josh Rogin, December 16)  The biggest chunk of the funds, $3.5 billion spread over five years, will go to “high impact, high visibility infrastructure programs,” according to the report, focusing on the energy and agricultural sectors — “programs that Pakistani citizens can see.” Another $2 billion will be directed to “focused humanitarian and social services,” which includes extending the reach of the Pakistani government to areas where extremists now operate. Of that pot, $500 million will be earmarked for immediate post-crisis and humanitarian assistance, with the rest going to improving the quality and access to health and education.  The remaining $2 billion will go to building up the Pakistani government both at the national and local levels. The money will be split between funding actual government entities and improving the security and legal infrastructure overall.
  • Up to 56,000 more contractors likely for Afghanistan, congressional agency says (Washington Post, December 16)  The tally “could increase further if the new [administration] strategy includes a more robust construction and nation building effort,” according to the report, which was released Monday and first disclosed on the Web site Talking Points Memo.  As the Pentagon contracts out activities that previously were carried out by troops in wartime, it has been forced to struggle with new management challenges. “Prior to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, contracting was done on an ad-hoc basis and was not adequately incorporated into the doctrine — or culture — of the military,” according to the CRS report. Today, according to Defense Department officials, “doctrine and strategy are being updated to incorporate the role of contractors in contingency operations.”

Susan Collins (R-ME) Signs on to S.1524

Friday, December 18th, 2009
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Susan CollinsS.1524, the Foreign Assistance Revitalization and Accountability Act, first introduced by Senators Kerry, Lugar, Menendez, and Corker has gained another Republican cosponsor.  Susan Collins, the Republican Senator from Maine, signed on yesterday–bringing the total number of cosponsors up to 23, with 7 Republican Senators.

See below for a complete list of cosponsors of the bill:

S. 1524 12 18

Former Majority Leader Frist: Confirm Raj Shah, finish foreign assistance reform

Thursday, December 17th, 2009
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Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) published an op-ed today in Roll Call calling for the immediate confirmation of Dr. Rajiv Shah as Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).  In the piece, he also calls for foreign assistance reform efforts by the Obama Administration and Congress to move forward toward a successful conclusion.  The piece comes as Dr. Shah was rumored to have been meeting with Republican Senator Tom Coburn.  The full text of the piece is below:

Bill FristRaj Shah and America’s Development Future

Dec. 17, 2009
By Bill Frist
Special to Roll Call

In most years, Senate deliberations over a nomination for administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, which leads American efforts to fight poverty and disease in the developing world, would pass without note.

This year is different. American efforts to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people have never been so important. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted last week to refer the nomination of Dr. Rajiv Shah for USAID administrator to the floor for a full vote, which is expected soon. Dr. Shah should be confirmed without delay for three key reasons.

First, successful outcomes to our most pressing national security challenges, including the war in Afghanistan and instability in Pakistan, depend just as much on our ability to provide health services and economic opportunity to struggling people as on our combat operations or diplomatic efforts. Both President Barack Obama’s new Afghanistan strategy and the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Pakistan aid package make substantial new commitments based on this idea.

Second, the global fights against HIV/AIDS and other deadly diseases have reached a turning point. U.S.-led programs such as former President George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, have helped poor families and communities move from a moment of crisis toward a moment of opportunity. We need to work twice as hard to maintain and build on this progress.

Third, the Obama administration and bipartisan Congressional leaders are in the midst of a transformative debate about how to make U.S. foreign assistance more effective and accountable. The unprecedented momentum in this debate is on the side of those who believe we need a new development strategy and a more efficient foreign assistance system that produces greater returns for recipients and taxpayers alike.

Given the gravity of these issues and the costs of inaction, Dr. Shah’s development leadership is needed now. He is a medical doctor and health economist who led the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s $1.5 billion vaccine fund and played a key role in launching its global development division, which now disburses hundreds of millions of dollars for agricultural security and financial services for the poor. These experiences, coupled with the fact that he came of age professionally as revolutionary new programs like PEPFAR, the Global Fund, and the Millennium Challenge Corp. drove landmark progress on global poverty and disease, prepare him well to manage America’s development future.

If confirmed, Dr. Shah will face resistance from entrenched bureaucrats in USAID and the dozens of other government offices that oversee development programs. With political support from the Obama administration and Congress, he will need to assert himself immediately to gain control of this fragmented system, or risk being swallowed by it. To do so, Dr. Shah should assume a visible leadership role on foreign assistance reform and help drive it to a successful conclusion, but he must also focus on other specific issues.

For example, U.S. support for PEPFAR and the Global Fund has helped create massive new systems for prevention, testing, and treatment of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria in poor countries. These systems have greatly enhanced the ability of developing countries to meet the needs of their people, and we must figure out whether we can effectively expand them to offer even more life-changing services such as comprehensive family health care, entrepreneurship education and small-business loans. The Obama administration is taking initial steps in this direction through its marquee food security initiative ‹ developed in part with Dr. Shah’s leadership at the Agriculture Department ‹ which focuses on linking food security, a development priority, to nutrition, a global health priority. This is a promising sign.

We must also direct our precious development resources to more effective, low-cost health interventions such as vaccines, breast-feeding and increased access to skilled family care in rural communities. And we must invest our development dollars in programs that are showing measurable results, including multilateral efforts such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the GAVI Fund, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

Changes like these are never easy. But we can’t let inertia drag us down at this moment in time ‹ a moment when the future of the world’s so-called bottom billion, and our own American future, hangs in the balance. Dr. Shah has what is needed to carry on President Bush’s global health legacy and fulfill President Obama’s extraordinary development vision. The Senate should confirm him, and the Obama administration should give him the political support and resources he needs to succeed. Millions of lives will be affected by this choice.

Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a heart surgeon, is a member of the Millennium Challenge Corp.’s board of directors.

Secretary Clinton: “…democracy and development are not three separate goals”

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
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At Georgetown University on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a speech about human rights, in which she outlined the President’s agenda for a new century.  She connected such universal rights to development, noting that hunger, poverty, and education are all freedoms that everyone worldwide should have access to.  Key excerpts below:

Clinton at Georgtown

“Our human rights agenda for the 21st century is to make human rights a human reality, and the first step is to see human rights in a broad context. Of course, people must be free from the oppression of tyranny, from torture, from discrimination, from the fear of leaders who will imprison or “disappear” them. But they also must be free from the oppression of want – want of food, want of health, want of education, and want of equality in law and in fact.”

“To fulfill their potential, people must be free to choose laws and leaders; to share and access information, to speak, criticize, and debate. They must be free to worship, associate, and to love in the way that they choose. And they must be free to pursue the dignity that comes with self-improvement and self-reliance, to build their minds and their skills, to bring their goods to the marketplace, and participate in the process of innovation. Human rights have both negative and positive requirements. People should be free from tyranny in whatever form, and they should also be free to seize the opportunities of a full life. That is why supporting democracy and fostering development are cornerstones of our 21st century human rights agenda.”


“At the same time, human development must also be part of our human rights agenda. Because basic levels of well-being – food, shelter, health, and education – and of public common goods like environmental sustainability, protection against pandemic disease, provisions for refugees – are necessary for people to exercise their rights, and because human development and democracy are mutually reinforcing. Democratic governments are not likely to survive long if their citizens do not have the basic necessities of life. The desperation caused by poverty and disease often leads to violence that further imperils the rights of people and threatens the stability of governments. Democracies that deliver on rights, opportunities, and development for their people are stable, strong, and most likely to enable people to live up to their potential.”

“So human rights, democracy, and development are not three separate goals with three separate agendas. That view doesn’t reflect the reality we face. To make a real and long-term difference in people’s lives, we have to tackle all three simultaneously with a commitment that is smart, strategic, determined, and long-term. We should measure our success by asking this question: Are more people in more places better able to exercise their universal rights and live up to their potential because of our actions?”


“Across our diplomacy and development efforts, we keep striving for innovative ways to achieve results. That’s why I commissioned the first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review to develop a forward-looking strategy built on analysis of our objectives, our challenges, our tools, and our capacities to achieve America’s foreign policy and national security objectives. And make no mistake, issues of Democracy and Governance – D&G as they are called at USAID – are central to this review.”

“To build success for the long run, our development assistance needs to be as effective as possible at delivering results and paving the way for broad-based growth and long-term self-reliance. Beyond giving people the capacity to meet their material needs for today, economic empowerment should give them a stake in securing their own futures, in seeing their societies become the kind of democracies that protect rights and govern fairly. So we will pursue a rights-respecting approach to development – consulting with local communities, ensuring transparency, midwife-ing accountable institutions – so our development activities act in concert with our efforts to support democratic governance. That is the pressing challenge we face in Afghanistan and Pakistan today.”