Posts Tagged ‘Crisis Group’

Americans have been donating in record numbers through new means—from phone texting to social media links—to provide relief to the victims of Haiti’s earthquake. The outpouring has been impressive, as revealed by the combination of on-line giving, the response to George Clooney’s global telethon (including iTunes sales) and the Council on Foundations’ list of its members’ grants.

Ultimately, Haiti’s recovery will be enabled by a similar mobilization of dollars and talent on behalf of Haiti’s long-term needs, for this is a country that has suffered from generations of mismanagement, endemic poverty, political instability, a weak civil society and autocratic governance. Its citizens deserve a better future. Perhaps new donors, inspired by this tragedy, will not only represent the “long tail” of philanthropy’s graph, but will have long memories as well and will be there ten years hence.

Our own country’s stance toward the small nation, which in 1804 produced the world’s first successful slave rebellion, has been wary and ineffectual, according to Mark Danner in a January 21 op-ed in The New York Times. A very different future for Haiti requires not only strategic philanthropy, but also sound U.S. policy, including the opening of our markets to Haitian agricultural produce and manufactured goods, and aid that translates into jobs for the Haitian people rather than patronage for its government.

Private philanthropy can complement good policy if the initial outpouring of support for relief efforts is matched by a longer-term commitment to sustainable development, a need most recently identified by Haiti’s Prime Minister. But re-imagining Haiti is more easily said than done. The U.S. is engaged in state-building in Afghanistan and Iraq. Each offers its own opportunities for public-private partnerships. And each offers is own best practices, and discouraging lessons. Philanthropists point to remarkable and courageous social entrepreneurs, especially among women, such as Afghanistan’s Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, who secretly taught girls throughout the Taliban’s rule. But the enterprise of poppy growing continues to outpace that of schooling young girls. Corruption not only precedes crises. It often follows as well.

How to pivot from immediate disaster relief to a long-term plan for what Secretary of State Clinton refers to as a Haiti that has come back “stronger and better” than before will be on the minds of “new philanthropists” as they gather for their ninth annual Global Philanthropy Forum from April 19-21 in Silicon Valley. This year’s focus on global health, food security and access to safe drinking water and sanitation seems especially apt in the wake of the earthquake’s shocks. Each represents a particularly crying need in Haiti. The philanthropists’ focus on results will likely make them sympathetic in the near-term to the argument made in a post to the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy blog, which called for support of organizations offering impact, rather than low overhead, as their metric for success. As for the medium-term, the recommendations in Arabella Philanthropic Investment Advisors’ Haiti Emergency Update, stressing the importance of the later stages of disaster recovery may resonate. And the Inter-American Development Bank’s President, Luis Alberto Moreno, will surely make the case for investing in Haiti’s water and sanitation infrastructure, education system, housing and building stock, access to healthcare and other needs identified by the Bank over the years. Former High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour of the Crisis Group, will speak to the linkages between civil conflict on the one hand, and state failure on the other. Peter Gleick will shed light on the role that water management or mismanagement can play. Actor Jim Carrey will speak to breakthroughs in sustainable agriculture. David Aylward of mHealth Alliance will speak to new ways to deliver heath care in stressful conditions where infrastructure is lacking. And former Ghanaian President, John Kufuor, will speak to the responsibility of neighbors and regional organizations to strengthen societies before crises occur, so that those societies are able to prepare for or rebound from inevitable shocks.

As they consider the opportunities available to them, the gathering’s new philanthropists and political office holders will consider ways to partner with more recent entrants into the world of giving—the on-line donors, cell phone texters, twitter followers, iTunes purchasers—who are now part of the world of philanthropy. If those who represent the long tail of the giving graph also have long memories, then the tragic past of Haiti, and countries that are similarly weak, need not be their future for generations to come. Instead they can be among those societies that have the resilience to absorb and overcome the shocks that nature has to offer.

—Jane Wales

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Gareth Evans, a former Australian Foreign Minister and President of International Crisis Group, joined us yesterday for a noontime program to explore why the world has stood by so many times while governments failed to protect their own people from genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity.

As the co-chair of the international commission that initiated the Responsibility to Protect idea in 2001, Evans spoke yesterday with our CEO & President, Jane Wales on the implications for R2P in the Obama Administration.  Listen to the full program here.  You can hear Evans speak more on the development of the R2P norm and its prospects for implementation in this video from last year’s GPF conference.

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After seven months of deliberation, the ICC announced this morning that it has released an arrest warrant for President Bashir of Sudan.  A NY Times article today writes of the celebrations of Sudanese around the world at this news, but also of the fear held by many in the international community that this will only further complicate the  situation. Many fear that it “could provoke renewed violence in the country and put at risk the pivotal peace deal that ended an even more deadly civil war in southern Sudan.”  It now remains to be seen whether Sudan will actually arrest its President as it is obliged – very unlikely.  And if not Sudan, then who? The ICC has no police force of its own.

Crisis Group today released a media statement applauding the Court’s decision, but warning that urgent action is needed by the international community if the decision is to carry any weight.  They’ve also released a more in-depth report analyzing possible implications of the indictment and what should be done by all actors involved.

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Celia Dugger of the NY Times filed a story just moments ago reporting that one of Mugabe’s inner circle, Air Marshall Shiri, was shot in the hand on Saturday night during a night-time ambush.  Mugabe is calling it a failed assassination attempt, while the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) believes it is the result of an increasingly tense (and violent) battle among Mugabe’s core supporters over who will succeed the President. If the MDC is correct, this points to further cracks in Mugabe’s core support, with significant implications for the stability of the country. (See our December 1st post) Zimbabwe may wake up soon to a military coup, or a state of emergency – both with dramatic consequences.

Crisis Group released a new report today calling on leaders in Zimbabwe to accept that the power sharing deal is “hopelessly deadlocked,” and urging them to implement a non-partisan transitional government that will govern for 18 months leading up to new presidential elections. The report calls for Mbeki to step aside, and allow for a new SADC negotiator to take his place – someone that is perceived as more neutral. “With the meltdown of vital social services, a cholera epidemic that has claimed 1,000 lives, the flight of a third of the population and a third of its remaining citizens facing starvation, Zimbabwe urgently needs a credible and competent government able to inspire confidence at home and abroad”, says Francois Grignon, Director of Crisis Group’s African Program. “A non-partisan transitional administration directed by a neutral Chief Administrator could achieve this”. Watch Crisis Group President, Gareth Evans, speak about the role of philanthropy in Zimbabwe and the responsibility to protect at our GPF conference last April, with colleague Samantha Power.

Meanwhile, The Elders continue to put pressure on regional and international governments to help find a solution to the stalemate, and even more so, to help alleviate the drastic humanitarian situation described above by Grignon. There has been a lot of focus on the political situation. In the process the needs of the people were forgotten. We came to focus on the people and make a judgment on what we can do,” said Elder Kofi Anan of their visit to the region. Read more about the Elders mission here. Jane Wales, our CEO & President, served as Interim CEO for the Elders during its first year, from July 2007-2008.

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Today, the Council on Foreign Relations hosted the first session of the Center for Preventative Action Symposium on preventative priorities for the next administration. Madeleine K. Albright, Principal, The Albright Group and former U.S. Secretary of State, moderated the event with CFR President Richard N. Haass. Interestingly, panels throughout the day did not focus heavily on the global financial crisis, threats posed by Al-Qaeda, wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, Iranian or North Korean nuclear ambitions, climate change, or any other major threats that the news has focused on so heavily. Rather, the day focused on the importance of crisis prevention – of anticipating threats not even yet on the horizon, rather than on immediate issues. Madeleine Albright and other panelists make a thought-provoking case.

Watch the event here.

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