Friday, December 12, 2008

U.S. Diplomacy in the Americas: A Conversation with the Diplomatic Corps

The Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, led a meeting of the Ambassadors to the Western Hemispheric nations at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He opened by welcoming all the Ambassadors and other guests and explained that the meeting was being held to examine the context of American diplomacy and assess how the hemisphere has changed in the past 8 years.

The majority of the meeting was spent in a question and answer period during which the audience could submit questions to the Ambassadors. The first question was directed to Ambassador Wilkins, from Canada with a request to assess the strengths of the U.S. Canada partnership. Ambassador Wilkins, who made a name for himself when he declared “Bonjour, y’all” in his first meeting as U.S. Ambassador to Canada, declared that the relationship is as strong as ever. Canada is the U.S.’s largest trading partner and they are excited about the incoming Obama administration.

Ambassador Sanderson from Haiti was asked about the UN peacekeeping force there, to which he affirmed the success of the ongoing operation. She asserted that part of its success was due to the fact that 70% of the forces come from Latin American countries, and is led by Brazilian forces. She affirmed that the forces have increased security in the area as well as played an important role in recovery from environmental disasters. They have been training a police force that will be able to maintain security in the country.

Many of the Ambassadors commented on the increased competitiveness within the diplomatic world when recognizing Asia’s increasing influence. Many also addressed the issues of environmental sustainability in the tropical areas as well as the human prosperity difficulties arising from the current economic crisis. The Ambassadors agreed that the global economic situation reaffirmed the interconnectedness of the world, which in turn reinforces the need for global cooperation.

Date: December 5, 2008
Sponsor: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Location: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hall of Flags
Attended by: Emily Riff

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Modernizing Foreign Assistance

Yesterday, in an attempt to utilize the opportunity a change of executive administration presents, Save the Children sponsored a panel entitled “Modernizing Foreign Assistance: Insights from the United Kingdom.” Panelists included Richard Manning, Chair of the Institute of Development Studies and 35 year Department for International Development veteran, Bill Andersen, former USAID Mission Director and career foreign service official, and Caroline Sergeant, Senior Civil Servant at the Department for International Development. Ambassador Michael Klosson who currently serves as Associate Vice President and Chief Policy officer at Save the Children moderated the panel.
The panel looked at the ways the US policies and institutions for foreign assistance to adapt best practices and effective approaches from Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID). All members of the panel spoke candidly about their experiences and opinions, all with the genuine desire to bring about positive change to the currently understaffed, ineffective way the US currently plans and administers development aid. Several recommendations were made in order to hopefully make foreign aid reform a top priority for the 111th congress and the incoming Obama Administration. Richard Manning and Caroline Sergeant pointed out the many characteristics and policies that make DFID so effective: the existence of a Cabinet level Minister in charge of DFID, control of a large portion, 83%, of UK foreign assistance funding, increased degree of autonomy over assistance policy and goals, ability to sign longer term contracts, emphasis on built in monitoring and evaluation, and the ability to adequately explain needs and results for development aid to the British voters. By law, the motivation and objective of all DFID must be poverty reduction.
Bill Anderson drew attention to the so-called “gutting” of US foreign assistance, namely USAID and the Department of State, which are both tremendously understaffed and lacking in clear global objectives and overly constrained by external direction and expectations. All panelists agreed that these US institutions, or whatever institution may be created to replace them, must be significantly better staffed and funded, taking important lessons from the British model.

Date: December 3, 2008
Sponsor: Save the Children
Location: Rayburn HOB 2200
Attended by: Sarah Shebby

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Innovative Approaches to Food Security

The Food Crisis has become what many people call “the perfect storm”. A forecasted disaster, a predicted catastrophe produced by a compilation of factors that many people for sought at least 3 years ago. This monster has become a reality, manifesting itself in forms of extreme poverty and hunger, urging policy makers and different agencies to create new ways to tackle it and embrace new ways to secure our (the world’s) Food.

The diverse panel for this event featured a representative from each different sector; Thomas Briggs, USAID for government, Ann Tutwiler from the Hewlett Foundation provided the non-governmental perspective, Tres Bailey from Walmart for the private sector, and Howard Shapiro from Mars Inc. for the technological aspect of food security. Each presented and agreed on the factors that led to this crisis and each with different, sometimes congruent, solutions to help gravely affected developing countries.

USAID’s solution includes development assistance to increase food production, meaning investments in agricultural processing facilities, creating access to financing for farmers, and improving agricultural value chains. Mrs. Tutwiler, from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, discussed these solutions as well as increasing foreign direct investment (FDI) through market incentives and improvement of market structures in developing nations. The Hewlett foundation is working on the improvement and investment in roads to reduce transportation costs in developing countries as a strategy to expand markets specifically in Africa. Tres Bailey, Walmart’s representative, spoke about Walmart’s local investment to boost up economies in emerging markets. Mr. Bailey explained the newly formed partnership between USAID and Walmart as well as with Mercicrops.

Another panelist, Howard Shapiro, from Mars, Inc, presented an innovative way of looking at food security. Rather than affecting market infrastructure through FDI or by importing foreign agricultural practices such as fertilizer implementation, looking at how small farms can utilize their local resources. The topsoil in some parts of Africa is too thin for fertilizer, and that it is essential to look at which crops flourish in the natural environment. While we examine market, we must also look at sustaining what is already on the ground. In order to ensure food security, we must embrace nature’s laws and look at sustainable ways to secure food for the poor and for the world.

Date: November 10th, 2008
Hosted by: Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

Monday, November 17, 2008

Whither Peace Operations?

Since the year 2000, critical trends on peace operations and crisis-response missions by both UN and non-UN organizations have shifted. Given the importance of these changes, the US Institute for Peace hosted the launching of “Peace Operations” written by Don C.F. Daniel, with Patricia Taft, and Sharon Wiharta as presenters as well the Special Report: Whither Peace Operations? The book is a much needed summary of the different trends, important progress, and future prospects of Peace Operations. Crisis-responses have taken an incremental path becoming the essential instrument to quell conflicts around the world.

The panel explained the past, present and future of Peace-Operation efforts by each region. Afterwards, a discussion on the different trends took place, touching upon donor country profiles, troop contributions, UN peacekeeping missions focusing on Africa and complex missions, and the rising trends on the use of non-UN peace operations by regional, bilateral and multilateral organizations. They compared both donor and troop contributors, usually developed and emerging countries versus non-contributors, which is often developing countries with the exception of Pakistan, India and Bangladesh who ranked as some of the top contributors. In terms of UN peacekeeping, the panel explained how the organization has become a general instrument to deal with very hazardous peace operations, or, in plain terms, where nobody wants to go or there is no particular interest to interfere, and finally, the UN’s almost permanent presence in African conflicts. The issue of non-UN missions overshadowing UN peacekeeping was brought up as well, and how these non-UN organizations are increasingly willing to participate in the operations.
The current Eastern Congo conflict was inevitably evoked at the Q&A session after the panel concluded the exposition. Attendees at the launch questioned the future and solutions of this complex situation. The panel was very willing to pin-point the different issues present in the Congo: the limited funding, limited quantity of UN blue helmets, and a lack of diplomatic will and political interference from other nations. A representative of the IRC shared her experience in the North Kivu area of the Congo and gave some insight in the situation. She expressed how the UN blue helmets are very much needed and how their presence is essential and helpful. Date: November 6, 2008
Location: U.S. Institute of Peace
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sweden, the United Nations, and the Responsibility to Protect

The Embassy of Sweden held an event this past Tuesday dealing with a relatively new theory concerning the international community’s ability to react to humanitarian emergencies. The ‘Responsibility to Protect’, or R2P, is a concept in international relations in which the international community is called upon to intervene in situations where a state is incapable (or unwilling) to act upon humanitarian crises. The discussion was moderated by the Director of the United Nations Information Center, Will Davis, and featured, as the main speaker, the Swedish Permanent Representative to the United Nations, H.E. Anders Lidén. The panelists included Ambassador Princeton N. Lyman, and editor Tod Lindberg.

Representative Lidén began the discussion by affirming Sweden’s constant support of R2P; this support standing despite the controversy it stirs in nations with a vested interest in national sovereignty concerning perceived ‘humanitarian threats’. Although he would not name these nations, the discussion turned later to Russia’s opposition to the concept vis-à-vis the situation in Chechnya, and China’s unwillingness to compromise regarding the issue of Tibet. He then elaborated on situations in which international involvement could have prevented great tragedies if the framework for intervention had been in place, citing Kosovo, Rwanda and the Kurdish situation in Iraq. He then quoted Sweden’s speech to the General Assembly, saying “States have the Responsibility to Protect within our own borders…anyone within our borders.” He then clarified that citizens abroad are no longer under the jurisdiction of national sovereignty, but in the realm of that respective nation’s obligation of protection.

The two panelists each discussed their particular concerns and vision for the future of R2P in the short time that followed. Ambassador Lyman stressed that the current understanding of what R2P’s true place is in international affairs is still to be determined, and an agreement as to the definition of the concept has yet to be decided. Citing national sovereignty issues, he emphasized the need for an international coalition that bestows efficiency to the concept without facing a veto from concerned nations. Todd Lindberg then shared his belief that the U.S. is indeed moving forward on this issue, and supporting R2P in some form. He mentioned a discussion with African Union leaders he had, in which they referred to the basic notion of R2P as a “principle of non-indifference”, and that the U.S. is obligated to work towards achieving a consensus on this issue for the good of the nation, as well as people of the world.

Date: November 12th, 2008
Location: The Embassy of Sweden
Attended by: Jon C. McCahill

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Business of Urban Transformation

The Private Sector and Urban Development

Who could’ve imagined Dharavi, a slum in Mumbai, India with a population of 1 million people would be the next gold mine for investment? CHF International, TCG International, and Woodrow Wilson Center’s Comparative Urban Studies Project see the potential, and with this vision they seek to transform urban poverty into a fast growing, productive center for the private sector to invest in and develop. Over the years, urban poverty has been overshadowed by rural development within the international community, but the outstanding growth of the urban population in Indian cities, where 62 million people now live in slums, has companies and foundations creating new projects to help the population improve their living conditions in these shanty towns.

At the event, CHF International’s Senior VP, presented the new program called SCALE-UP (Slum Communities Achieving Livable Environments with Urban Partners Program). This project, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, enables the urban poor to have a meaningful voice in the planning and implementation of slum improvement programs bridging the gap between the local needs of the slum inhabitants and municipal governments.

A great example of this capital investment is LabourNet, an innovative entity which seeks to link the informal sector with the private, attracting blue collar workers in slums to jobs in the city through web and cellular technology. The mission of the company is to provide slum dwellers access to information and technology to improve their living conditions.

The panel discussed many ways the private sector and businesses could benefit from this micro-investing for both short term and long term gains while developing slums and improving sanitary and general living conditions.

Date: October 29th, 2008
Location: The Woodrow Wilson Center
Attended by: Cristina Lopez

Monday, October 20, 2008

Taking Action on Hunger and Poverty

On Friday, October 17, 2008, the United Nations Association hosted a highly informative event at UNIC entitled, “Taking Action on Hunger and Poverty”, as part of the Stand Up and Take Action campaign. The panel was moderated by Anita Sharma, North American Coordinator of the United Nations Millennium Campaign and also included Michael F. Curtin Jr., CEO of DC Central Kitchen and Margot Hoerner, Vice President of Outreach for Friends of the World Food Program.

Ms. Sharma spoke mainly about the challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but also stressed the importance of doing so. Furthermore, she pointed out that it would take just 18 billion to accomplish the MDGs, a seemingly small number in comparison to the recent $750 billion dollar bailout plan adopted by the United States government.

Next, Mr. Curtin described the work of his organization, which works to address hunger with much more than just food handouts. While DC Central Kitchen prepares and distributes about 4500 meals per day, the organization also enrolls individuals leaving the prison system in job training courses, mainly in the culinary and hospitality industry. Mr. Curtin also developed The Central Kitchen Farm Co-Op, a program that benefits both local farmers and the DCCK.

Finally, Ms. Hoerrner gave an in-depth presentation of the invaluable work the World Food Program does, especially in the face of the current food crisis. Currently, 923 million people suffer from chronic hunger, killing more than malaria, tuberculosis, and HIV/AIDS combined. Ms. Hoerrner described the multi-faceted approach WFP uses to combat hunger globally, highlighting efforts to improve maternal and child health, as well as sustainability and self-sufficiency.

Sponsor: United Nations Association
Date: October 17, 2008
Representative Attending: Sarah Shebby

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What do we want? What might we become? Imagining the Future of East Africa

“East Africa is a beautiful girl called Cea, with her natural resources, her people, and her landscape. She is very aware of her beauty since she has plenty of admirers (donors, colonialists and foreign investors) who offer her many promises and proposals but at the same time Cea is very naïve and has become very proud and vain because of all the attention. When the flattery becomes even louder, Cea blinded by it, starts to give herself to these admirers who don’t think twice and rape her. They take all the natural resources, her forests, her carbon, her oil, her precious gems, and finally abusing and distorting all laws to take advantage of her people…”

The East African Scenarios Project consists on the exploration of possible scenarios for the integration of East Africa into a united region. Developed by the Society of International Development (SID), this incredible Panel Discussion adressed three different scenarios in the form of stories of East Africa. The story told above, called “I want to be a star!” is one of the three scenarios East African Scenarios Process developed to unite East Africans from all walks of life, ranging from government officials to students, from civil society to executive directors, inviting them to join in the quest of discovering their desires for the future of their region. There are many issues Africa faces, such as AIDS, extreme poverty, corruption, tradition, differences between tribes and countries, foreign influence, and urban migration, but while this mission seems idealistic, Aidan Eyakuze, Programme Director of the East African Scenarios Project declares, “It’s up to us, East Africans, to talk about where the future of our region is going.”

In collaboration with Arturo Muliro, Deputy Managing Director of the International Secretariat of the Society for the International Development in Rome and Ambassador Robert G. Houdek, the presentation is a perfect summary of past, present, and questions of the future for the East African Region. The scenarios are designed to contribute to the conversation in East Africa on the existing commonalities for a regional prosperity process. Acknowledging lessons from the past and future barriers they will have to overcome, the presentation boasts a realistic optimism and creates a profound look on the uncertainty of the future but at the same time empowers East Africans by providing them ownership of a creative space where they can express their ideas and finally take action of their own lives and countries!

Sponsor: SID (Society for International Development)
Date: October 14th, 2008
Time: 12pm
Representative Attending: Cristina Lopez

The Adolescent Girls Initiative

The Adolescent Girls Initiative was launched October 10, 2008 in a moving ceremony held at the World Bank Headquarters. The program is a collaboration of the World Bank and the Nike Foundation, and aims to empower young girls through access to opportunity to assume leadership roles in their communities. The launch ceremony featured influential people in the field of development, including Grammy winner Angelique Kidjo, the CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, and World Bank President Robert Zoellick. Three young women, representing Guatemala, Liberia and Laos, however, were the stars of the ceremony. These three young women shared their personal experiences growing up in developing areas, and the importance increasing the role of women in society. Their heartbreaking, touching stories set the tone for the important sessions that followed.

The workshops that followed the launch ceremony offered strategic insight into what is necessary to accomplish the goals of the initiative. “The Girl Effect”, as the Nike Foundation has labeled it, was explained in detail. Basically, the underlying concept of the program is that if the world invests in young women, then equality and development will follow. When girls have an opportunity to contribute to the business sector, thanks to loans, they will be come community leaders through their market presence. Then, they will contribute back to their community through infrastructure development and return investment. Finally, they will get involved in the governance of their community, thanks to their accomplishments. All of this leads to more equality, faster development, and a world that is far better off. More information concerning the Adolescent Girls Initiative can be found at the World Bank website, here.

Date: October 10, 2008
Location: The World Bank Group Headquarters
Attended by: Jon McCahill

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Can the Middle East Reform?

Hind Aboud Kabawat spoke at the Woodrow Center for Scholars on Friday, October 10 on the subject of Middle East Reform. She opened by questioning why, in the Middle East, autocratic governments have remained the norm rather than the exception. Despite the unprecedented transfer of wealth to these governments, they have not matured; they still exercise complete and arbitrary power over their people. There is a direct connection between the immature government and the lack of social development evidenced by an inferior education system, inferior health care, and the lack of economy outside of the oil sector. Despite the accumulating wealth, most people remain stuck in ignorance and poverty.

Ms. Aboud Kabawat then moved on to discuss how to change this problem. The change she would like to see take place is the creation of an environment in which dissent is tolerated, there is political accountability, an independent judiciary, free press, and a government that serves the interest of all the people and is free from systemic corruption. She explained the problem of crediting the lack of current democracy to the absence of historical democracy. There is nothing in Arab societies, she argues, that inhibits democratic maturation. Another argument she discounts is that the presence of Israel in the region is some kind of external hindrance to democratic development. There has been too much time and energy, she stated, devoted to fighting when efforts could have been directed towards creating a fair and just society.

Then, what are the real causes of governmental immaturity? One, there is a lack of secular, Westernized elites who are not members of the ruling elite standing at the vanguard of society, creating a new pillar in the Arab world. Two, everyone is worried that fanatic Islam would be what the masses want. Both of these hindrances to democracy stem from the culture of fear that political elites foster through jailing and exiling advocates for change.

The signs that the government is immature are evidenced by the lack of infrastructure, and a lack of accountability to the people. There is no independent judiciary, free press or other checks on the government. There are no open elections, no transferring of power, no transparency. The shortage of transparency allows corruption to become systemic and further inhibit economic growth. The entire world is willing to pay for oil wealth, she stated, and these countries need to use this money transfer to develop other technologies and future wealth opportunities. This change will not happen effortlessly. The government is reluctant to embrace change because their absolute power gives them security and stability. However, change will happen. The Middle East is plagued by poverty, corruption, discrimination and unemployment.

So, what can be done? We can get a better future if we create a society where all can work together. There are four pillars Ms. Aboud Kabawat stated are important for maturing democracy in the Middle East. First, the rule of law must be established. There must be independent judges. Currently, the government does not want to share power, and results in suppressed civil institutions. However, the government should work with civil society and work on engaging everyone. She also asserts that secular government must be the norm; there must be a separation of state and religion because the state must be for all. The rule of law must stand free from religion.

The second pillar is the empowerment of women. This, she argues, is an essential part of modernization. In the Middle East, women have very few rights and the empowerment of women would lead of liberalization of the entire political system. Women are capable of doing great things, she states, we must let them do it. The third pillar is education. The current education is substandard. There must be quality education for all. This would result in more discussions and more ideas. Poverty, ignorance, and terrorism go well together. Fighting ignorance defeats poverty and the next generation of terrorists.

The fourth pillar is peace. Countries in the Middle East are spending money killing each other, while this money is spent on a fruitless war, it cannot benefit society. The U.S. is also guilty of this; money is being spent on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, instead of building institutions. The poor are the ones suffering for this misappropriation of resources. There must be peaceful coexistence with Israel and the rest of the world. While fighting increases, there is a decrease in money spent on reform and chances for the country to improve.

She quotes Gandhi who says, “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.” There is a need for an environment of change, a need to get everyone working together. The Middle East intellectuals must play a primary role in change. Even in jail, or oppressed, they can never give up. They must keep trying to improve society. This will help convince leaders that change should happen. These four pillars must become the norm, and there must be engagement with the Middle East in order to see reform.

Date: October 10, 2008
Location: Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars
Attended by: Emily Riff

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Amnesty International Brings Attention to Pressing International Women’s Issues

Today, in an informative event hosted by Amnesty International and the DC Women’s Bar Association, panelists Daphne Jayasinghe, Acting Advocacy Director Violence Against Women for Amnesty International USA, Mercedeh Momeni, Former Associate Legal Officer for the Judicial Chambers at United Nations Tribunal for Rwanda, and
Nicky Smith, Deputy Director Government Relations and Advocacy for International Rescue Committee, spoke on the topic of violence against women in conflict and, also, the International Violence Against Women Act.

First, Mercedeh Momeni spoke, mainly from a legal perspective about the past, present, and future of justice for victims of gender-based violence, especially sexual violence. A lack of a venue or mechanism for “redressing crimes” was highlighted as a significant obstacle for facilitating justice and closure for victims of gender-based atrocities. Ms. Momeni discussed the historical progression of judicial practices regarding gender-based violence, specifically norms and procedures established in different post-war eras. Most notably, she addressed the issues of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes as crimes to be addressed within international jurisdiction. Also, Ms, Momeni mentioned a highly relevant case from the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, which recognized rape as an international crime, a crime against humanity and as a genocidal crime, because it was systematically employed with the intent to destroy a specific group.

Next, Nikki Smith recounted her extensive experience working in refugee camps and other international settings in the aid field. Ms. Smith described horrific tales of the abuse of what she called, “unequal power”, where vulnerable women and girls suffer tremendously; they are faced with the difficult choice of becoming refugees, plunging face-first into the difficulties of camp life, or staying behind and running the risk of being captured, raped, or killed. No matter what choice is made, essential services and supplies are always scarce.

Finally, Daphne Jayasinghe addressed the important International Violence against Women Act, which has been introduced in both the House of Representatives and Senate. This legislation, which effectively addresses education, economic opportunity, health care, legal and judicial initiative funding, and funds for programs that seek to change social attitudes, would authorize one billion dollars in funding over five years and create a coordinator position which holds the rank and status of ambassador at large. While bipartisan support exists, more must be done to rally support and ensure the IVAWA’s success.

Date: October 7, 2008
Location: Vinson & Elkins LLP 1455 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Attended by: Sarah Shebby

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Advancing Democracy through the United Nations" Panel Discussion

On October 2, the United Nations Development Program Roundtable series held a panel discussion called Advancing Democracy through the United Nations: The Challenges on the Ground. The panelists at the event included: Erica Barks-Ruggles, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, Douglas Gardner, Deputy Director of the Bureau for Development Policy at the UNDP, and Harold Hongju Koh, who is the Dean and Gerard C. & Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale. Each panelist offered a unique perspective concerning the current state of democracy initiatives being undertaken by the United Nations, and offered a balance of opinions from those involved in the field, the scholastic realm and government of development policy.

Erica Barks-Ruggles, of the Department of State, discussed the U.S. government perspective regarding advancing democracy in a multilateral system. She stressed that promoting democracy is linked with conflict resolution, poverty alleviation and is vital to American foreign policy interests. She noted that democratic governance is far more important than ‘just holding elections’, but that a truly responsible elected body is necessary. Secretary Ruggles made it clear that a strong judiciary (along with a capable civil society) is key in advancing the goals of democracy.

Next, Douglas Gardner was to speak, and focused his time discussing the importance of the legitimacy of the international community through the United Nations. He said such legitimacy is ‘indispensible in achieving democratic goals’ and that human development should be the prime measure of success. The way to achieve this success, according to Deputy Director Gardner, is the Millennium Development Goals.

Finally, Harold Hongju Koh finished the panel discussion by offering his perspective on democracy advancement through the context of someone in the academic field. Dean Koh reaffirmed that the U.N. has done amazing work in the field, but has been working under a huge handicap, thanks in part to the attitude of the current administration. He predicts that much of that handicap will be alleviated come inauguration day 2009. Concerning the future of democratic advancement through the U.N., he made it clear that cooperation among global democracies is vital, especially as far as transnational problems are concerned (terrorism, disease etc.).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philip J. Rutledge Seminar: Leadership and Governance in Africa

The National Academy for Public Administration (NAPA) created the African Working Group (AWG), whose mission is to “enhance public administration in Africa through strategic collaboration with African partners.” In order to achieve this mission, the AWG holds meetings and symposia to foster an environment of collaboration and learning. This event was focused on Leadership and Governance in Africa: Developing High Performing Public Administrators to Manage Economic Growth and Social Prosperity.

The keynote speaker, Dr. John-Mary Kauzya focused on governance, economic growth and prosperity in post-conflict countries. He explained that the post-conflict environment is a unique atmosphere because it has different challenges and opportunities than other political situations. He further elucidated that post-conflict issues are of special importance in Africa due to the high number of African nations in a post-conflict state. Dr. Kauzya first clarified that for the purpose of his speech, governance meant accountability. Governance is crucial in post-conflict situations because even pouring money into a problem will not fix things without a disciplined public administration.

Dr. Kauzya then moved on to talk about the issues confronting post-conflict governments. The first challenge of the government is to restore trust in the government, or establish trust in a new government. Post-conflict political leadership must reconstruct capacities in public administration, as it is the public administrators who carry out the daily tasks of governing the country. The second challenge is to assess the reality of the situation, and ensure a shared understanding of challenges facing the country. Through this challenge there is an opening for the third critical function of government: design and create a national vision and strategy.

The fourth critical function of the government is to sustain development oriented leadership and nurture future leaders for the country. The fifth critical function is to provide a framework for managing diversity and inclusivity in public administration. It is essential that all sectors of society are represented and have a voice in the public administration sector so that the new situation is free of the tensions that came before. Finally, the government must maintain and promote self-reliance. This is tied to promoting a message of hope: “we have been through so much and made it through, we have been poor for a long time, if no one will help us in the way that we want, on our terms, we will not be forced to submit, we will endure.”

Because post-conflict situations are highly tenuous, there are four political capacities required in a post-conflict world. The first is integrative leadership: one cannot govern a society that is fragmented and must work to integrate all facets of society. The second is entrepreneurial leadership: the leader must look at the country and establish a goal for how the country should be and map a path to get there. The third capacity required is administrative leadership: post-conflict everyone is used to an environment where the law is suspended, the leader needs to establish administerial procedure that is known to everyone. The fourth is operative leadership: the government needs to take action. In order for a post-conflict government to be successful these capacities must be integrated into one system.

Dr. Kauzya closed by defining two post-conflict faults that need to be corrected in order to create an effective government. In the process of public service reform and modernization issues related to the undeveloped professional status of human resource managers in the public sector is often neglected and there is often inadequate attention given to the strengthening of institutions responsible for building and sustaining public administration capacities.

Following Dr. Kauzya, a panel spoke about their lessons learned and experiences working in public administration in Africa. The first was Dr. Bernham Mengistu, who has worked in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. In order to promote public administration and managerial standards while in Ethiopia, he held book drives, provided technical support to universities and NGO’s, provided technical training to government, trained in comprehensive post-conflict parliamentary analysis, trained government officials for national and regional level offices, and graduated 35 people in public administration from the University in Addis Abba.

The second panelist was Dr. Jeanne-Marie Col who worked in Uganda. She explained that she has learned three important lessons while working in public administration. The first is that training in teams and organizations is more important than training individuals. The second is that sensitivity to cultures and neighborhoods is more important than theories and skills. The third is that data driven results that are tracked over time is more important than management fads. She concluded by explaining that with an increase in public administration there is more possibility for success.

Sponsor: National Academy of Public Administration
Date: September 23, 2008
Time: 1:00pm – 5:30pm
Representative Attending: Emily Riff

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Pakistan’s Leading Reporters: Revolutionizing the Information Flow

This past Tuesday the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars invited seven of Pakistan’s leading Journalists and News Anchors to speak on the progression of the information flow in Pakistan. Before the discussion even began, the audience already had a brief understanding of the limitations facing Pakistani journalists, as two of the seven journalists where not able to obtain visas in time for the week-long summit.
This first journalist to speak was Zaffar Abbas, a resident editor in Islamabad for the Dawn newspaper. Zaffar focused on the strong pull of Pakistani news, and that journalists from surrounding countries always migrate to Pakistan because “that’s where the news is”. Zaffar mentions the dangers of journalism in Pakistan, but attributes that as one of the effects or having the freedom to publish controversial news articles, a freedom that Pakistani journalists have fought for, for years. The newly found press freedom has changed much of the political profile in Pakistan, which is why there are still debates, and politicians against many news agencies.
The second speaker, Massoud Ansari, is a political correspondent with the Herald. Having previously worked out of England, Massoud focused on the rush behind investigative journalism, and what drives many Pakistani journalists to risk their lives, as well as their families, in order to produce the controversial ground breaking news. Massoud stressed that in addition to the competitiveness between news agencies and constant pressure, there is a temptation to become famous, and to have the power to distribute the information to the mass public. For him, the biggest part of the job is assessing the consequences for ones-self and whether the story is worth your life. Massoud had once interviewed a man regarding his research on suicide bombing, and the following day the interviewee was shot dead, leaving him with the thought: at what point do you risk it?
Mazhar Abbas, the third speaker, deputy news director of Ary One World Television and 2007 recipient of International Press Freedom Award, elaborated on Zaffar’s mention of previous oppression of Freedom of Press, and told the audience his personal story revolving around the Press revolution. In his eyes, the Pakistani journalists are some of the most courageous, as many have been jailed and flogged, and had families killed in their efforts to liberate the press. Mazhar is part of a union that protested the day that the government banned Electronic Media. The Intelligence Office personally warned Mazhar that his life was in danger due to his publications and affiliations with the group. However, the personal charges against him were later dropped. Nevertheless, the Union protested (irregardless of the government’s zero tolerance), and the Pakistani court currently has a case against 200 journalists in the Union, Mazhar included. Mazhar concluded his personal account with the sobering fact that 45 journalists have been killed within the last 8 years, some just for the title of their articles, and others are still missing.
Ejaz Haider, the fourth speaker, and op-ed editor for the Daily Times and political talk show host for Dawn news, discussed his experience as a more main stream, non-radical journalist. While he opened his discussion by offering much praise for Mazhar Abbas’ work, and accrediting him for much of the freedom of Pakistani press, he himself chose the path of government cooperation simply because he was not willing to risk his life or be jailed. Ejaz focused on the difficulties of getting the true political story, or even facts, when working along side of the government. In his experience, there are only three ways to get the facts about the government/military activities. One is to be embedded with the military, where they can select what information to tell you, and edit what they want you to publish. The second is to go under the protection of the Taliban, where you get the insurgent opinion, however due to the sub divisions and cleavages within the Taliban your protection only goes so far as the guarantor’s control; the third being to be free-lance and risk being killed by the military and the Taliban as neither is protecting you. In any case, your news is going to been slanted, which is why it is such a novelty to get the facts in Pakistan.
The fifth and final speaker, Asma Shirazi, is the host of ARY One World’s “Second Opinion” talk show, and offers a unique perspective as Pakistan’s first female war correspondent and leading female journalist. While she did focus on the challenges provided by the military’s desire for secrecy, she also stressed the issues she faced as a woman, including various levels of harassment from colleagues, and the obstacles she occasionally faced while traveling. In her assessment of the current state of journalism in Pakistan, Asma stressed that with the greater freedom comes greater responsibility. That the journalists are at a point where they need to take full responsibility regarding how to report and convince people about certain political news, rather than just repeating a story.
All five journalists echoed Asma’s point, emphasizing that now that the journalists have achieved the next step in freedom, it will be interesting to see where they go with it, and how the next administration supports or denounces their field.

Sponsor: Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars
Date: September 16, 2008
Representative: Daria Willis