Latest Developments, September 14

In the latest news and analysis…

Moving beyond aid
In a speech entitled “Beyond Aid,” World Bank President Robert Zoellick argued wealthy countries have not yet adapted to a rapidly emerging multipolar world and continue to take a “do what I say, not what I do” approach to international relations.
“In a world Beyond Aid, sound G7 economic policies would be as important as aid as a percentage of GDP. In a world Beyond Aid, G-20 agreements on imbalances, on structural reforms, or on fossil fuel subsidies and food security, would be as important as aid as a percentage of GDP.”

Self-interested aid
Looking into the Canadian International Development Agency’s near future, the McLeod Group’s Stephen Brown and Ian Smillie see funding cuts and shifting priorities that have little to do with improving the lives of the poor in other countries.
“For instance, as Canada winds down its military involvement in Afghanistan, the Canadian International Development Agency will be “normalizing” aid to a level comparable to its 19 other “countries of focus.” This confirms a poorly-kept secret: aid to Afghanistan was always more about Canadians, candy and Kandahar than about sustainable long-term development.”

Resource curse
ECONorthwest’s Ann Hollingshead says the so-called resource curse is too often seen as a problem for the countries with said resources to resolve on their own.
“Above, I said the resource curse is “seemingly” an issue of national jurisdiction. That deserves some explanation. Governance itself is an issue of national jurisdiction, but the extractive industry that drives the supply of these resources is not. Most of these companies are, in fact, American and European and—therefore—are accountable to the governments of America and Europe. It is these companies, with their corrupt practices and lack of accountability, that facilitate the embezzlement and revenue misappropriation, which directly contribute to the resource curse.”

Population
The Overseas Development Institute’s Claire Melamed takes exception to arguments pinning poverty, hunger and climate change on population growth.
“Climate change is not a population problem.  It’s a consumption problem.  People in rich countries, where population is static or falling, consume many hundreds of times more carbon than people in the poor countries where population is still rising.  Let’s start with the problem we have now – consumption in rich countries – rather than worrying about some hypothetical future when everyone in Mali has a washing machine and two cars.”

Drones
University of Ottawa political scientist Roland Paris calls for the establishment of clear international rules regulating the use of drones before the technology becomes widespread.
“The U.S. seems to be taking the opposite course, extending its drone campaign to countries far removed from the war zones of Iraq and Afghanistan – including Yemen and Somalia – and using rules of engagement that are, at best, obscure and, at worst, illegal.
This is a dangerously short-sighted strategy. While execution by drone may appear to be a relatively low-cost and low-risk option for dealing with America’s enemies, it legitimizes methods that other countries may be expected to follow once they acquire similar capabilities.”

Mercenaries
The UN News Centre reports a UN panel has called for tighter regulation of private military and security companies “by both host and contributor countries” in order to reduce the risk of human rights violations and to ensure accountability when abuses occur.
“The panel…noted in its report on Iraq that incidents involving private military and security companies there had dropped since the killing of 17 civilians and wounding of 20 others in Nissour Square in Baghdad by employees of the United States security company Blackwater in 2007.
But it added that Iraq continues to grapple with the grant of legal immunity extended to private security contractors by US authorities after the 2003 invasion, preventing prosecutions in Iraqi courts while the case against the alleged perpetrators is still pending in US courts.”

AfriCom
The Hill reports the head of the US military’s three year-old Africa Command thinks looming Pentagon budget cuts are the biggest, though not the only, reason not to establish physical headquarters in Africa.
“Since AfriCom was formally established in October 2008, Pentagon officials and lawmakers have floated the idea of shifting its main hub from Stuttgart, Germany, to Africa or the United States.
But U.S. officials are hesitant to have a permanent and high-profile U.S. military presence on African soil due to indigenous skepticism about such an arrangement, which has left no clear candidates for its permanent home.”

Banking secrecy
The European Network on Debt and Development’s Alex Marriage says opposition to the so-called Rubik plan, whereby Swiss banks hand over tax money to national governments in exchange for maintaining their secrecy, could scupper a recent bilateral deal with Germany.
“The [Social Democratic Party]’s financial concept note published last Monday rejects the agreement with Switzerland. It is now quite likely that the deal will be rejected by the Upper Chamber, the Bundestat. North Rhine Westphalia’s Finance Minister Walter Borjans argued that effectively giving an amnesty to tax evaders was unconstitutional. Nicolotte Kressl and  SPD finance experts in the Bundestag said the deal should be halted as not to undermine EU efforts to secure automatic exchange of information with Switzerland.”

Corporate transparency
The Wall Street Journal reports the European Parliament has adopted a report that calls for laws to enforce transparency from oil, gas and mining companies.
“The report, which was first released July 25, contains a provision that calls for the EC to “establish legally binding requirements for extractive companies to publish their revenue payments for each project and country they invest in, following the example of the U.S. Dodd-Frank bill,” it said.”

Tobacco
The Guardian reports approximately 85 percent of the world’s tobacco is produced in the global south, often through the use of children as young as five working long hours under poor health conditions.
“The tobacco giants, who all have anti-child labour policies in place, insist they abide by the rules. British American Tobacco (BAT) says on its website that it does “not employ children in any of our operations worldwide”, but admits that using intermediaries to purchase tobacco makes it difficult to trace the country from which they buy the leaf and ensure all farm owners follow the rules.”

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