Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category

23
Jan

 

 

Written by Alejandro Pereda, MIR 2017 Candidate

One of the most distinctive traits of IE as a community and as a space of intellectual growth, is the opportunity to interact and learn from the exemplary leaders and practitioners in the field, from individuals who actually make and execute policies, projects and who have a unique and firsthand experience of not just what is happening in the world of business, politics, economics, but who often are the agents of change and innovation. So, it was truly a great opportunity and honor for the International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club to host Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, the Minister of Health of the Government of Zanzibar (Tanzania), who shared with us the challenges that the people of Zanzibar are facing in social development and what steps are being taken to tackle these issues.

We customarily treat Africa, and in particular countries from the Sub-Sharan region, as simply underdeveloped and lacking capacity and knowledge to grow and prosper. Often, for many people from the general public, the image of Africa doesn’t go beyond the UNICEF’s donations plea or the random new headline of another corrupt politician being installed in power. However, current socio-political and economic conditions in African countries are qualitatively more complex and sophisticated than that.

Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa does face many severe problems that we are no longer used to in the West, none more than in the area of general healthcare. As Minister Mahmoud Thabit Kombo shared with us, an issue such as widespread access to potable water is unfortunately still a major challenge in Zanzibar. A large portion of the modest budget of this nation goes to ensure that all citizens have the capacity to satisfy basic need of clean water. Professional medical coverage is another fundamental challenge that Zanzibar is struggling with. For example, there is only one active radiologist for the whole archipelago! We are looking at a one to more than a million ratio. To put this into perspective, just one large hospital in Spain might have over 10 radiologists. As Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo explained to the audience, the underlying reason for this disparity is twofold: on one hand, time and financial means needed to procure appropriate talent for the scale of the healthcare system in Zanzibar are often challenging to meet. Training a medical professional from the local population, which is ultimately a goal as well for the government, takes significant time and requires an input of relatively large investment and the benefits are only seen after many years. On the other hand, retaining these professionals once they trained, becomes even more challenging as the monetary incentive that the government of Zanzibar is able to offer is often not competitive comparing with job opportunities elsewhere. Thus, there talent exodus becomes a substantial impediment in improving the healthcare system. Finally, the simple issue of funding the budget of the ministry is still relevant. Unfortunately, the budget continues to be heavily dependent on the aid: about 40% of the funds come from international aid sources. This puts obvious restrains on the capacity of the government to act at their own will on the all the issues.

Despite all these issues, nonetheless, Zanzibar was able to embark on a number of successful and progressive reforms and policies that are reversing those negative trends. One of the biggest and truly meaningful achievements has been almost virtual eradication of malaria and AIDS in Zanzibar with less than 1% of the population being affected by these severe ailments. It is hard to underestimate the beneficial direct impact of this feat on the healthcare situation in Zanzibar but also indirectly on the whole social and economic development of the archipelago by liberating the people and the society at large from impediments related to these diseases. Furthermore, Zanzibar is in the course of profound re-building and re-shaping of the overall healthcare system with the concentration on primary, basic and prophylactics healthcare which has time and times again been proven to work very successfully in developing countries. There is a focus on extending coverage through educating the population on healthcare fundamentals such as for example family planning, additional built primary facilities and increasing the human talent dedicated to healthcare services. To further this goal the government is annually allocating 300 scholarships for university level studies including health related degrees that are expected, despite the previously mentioned talent drainage, to increase the professional base for the healthcare in particular and for the society in large at Zanzibar.

The most important aspect that was discussed by Mahmoud Thabit Kombo that is encompassing all of the mentioned above, was probably the fact that African countries and societies are fundamentally repositioning themselves within the international community and in the way how they approach international cooperation and internal challenges. Countries in region are moving more and more towards local emphasis and ground up approach to design and implementation of development solutions using local talent rather than simply consuming international given tools that often have very limited impact on the given local community due to low compatibility with native conditions and which often benefit foreign interest primarily. Thus, the programs that Zanzibar for example engages now are always filtered under internal priorities before they are being accepted for implementation. This is accompanied by a central change in international partnerships that African countries are engaging: when before Europe and in general the West have been the primary sources of international aid and support in Sub-Saharan Africa, contemporarily what used to be coined as South to South cooperation is becoming more and more prevalent. New giants such as China and India are becoming the chief partners of development efforts in many of the countries of the region, more and more replacing the role of the traditional Western influence. For example, China is increasingly investing in Zanzibar not only from a purely economic perspective, but is additionally actively sponsoring large healthcare projects as well, for example by donating 16 million dollars for a construction of a hospital in the archipelago. Furthermore, China is opening travel and study opportunities to African societies that are translating into changing attitudes in new generations towards what they see global centers. The challenge for Europe in this case as the Minister mentioned is that the lack of sufficient interest and involvement in Africa by Europe and West in general with increasing Chinese participation will significantly undermine the economic and political capabilities of the West in the region.

International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club would like to thank Jose Piquer, Executive Director, Undergraduate Studies in International Relations, IE School of International Relations, Campus Life team all the participant sfor making this event possible.

 

20
Dec

Why America was bound to fail in Syria

Written on December 20, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Op Ed

The fall of Aleppo is a human catastrophe. It’s also a demonstration of the perils of choosing the middle course in a military conflict. Sometimes it’s possible to talk and fight at the same time. But in Syria, the U.S. decision to pursue a dual-track, halfway approach made the mayhem worse.

A battered Secretary of State John F. Kerry made one more plea Thursday for a peaceful evacuation of what’s left of Aleppo. At a State Department briefing, he used the strongest language to describe the situation: “Another Srebrenica . . . nothing short of a massacre . . . indiscriminate slaughter . . . a cynical policy of terrorizing civilians.”

But for five years, the United States’ actions haven’t matched its rhetoric. Kerry’s only real weapon now is the gruesome suffering of the Syrian people and the shame it engenders in everyone who watches. That shame hangs over this administration, too.

Kerry’s critics argue that his efforts to negotiate a settlement were always doomed to failure. Maybe so, but after the Russian military intervention in September 2015, the administration concluded that diplomacy was the only viable strategy in Aleppo. Having made that decision, officials needed to make it work. Instead, they continued to toy with an armed opposition they weren’t prepared to fully support. Read more…

 Opinion writer December 15

www.washingtonpost.com

16
Dec

By this time next year, the eurozone could be defunct. Despite the small chances of it actually happening, the fact that the collapse of the currency union is even possible speaks volumes about the size of the problems Europe faces. Since financial, economic and political crises descended on the Continent almost a decade ago, Europe has endured many difficult moments. But 2017 will be the most important year yet for the continuity of the eurozone as political and economic risk reaches the bloc’s very core in Germany, France and Italy.

Threats to the European Union and the eurozone become more acute as they spread to the bloc’s key members. While Europe’s supranational structures could probably survive Greece’s departure from the eurozone or Britain’s exit from the European Union, for example, they probably couldn’t overcome the withdrawal of Germany, France or Italy. These countries not only have the largest economies in Europe, but they are also the main forces driving the process of European integration.

Next year, a series of events will put the European Union’s foundational structures to the test. The bloc’s most serious challenges will come from France and Italy, which are dogged by low economic growth rates and relatively high unemployment. Anti-globalization sentiments are strong among large swaths of their populations, who want to protect their economies from the perceived threats of immigration and free trade. Meanwhile, many French and Italian voters are skeptical of the European Union and the mainstream political parties that back it. Both countries are fertile ground for political forces that vow to fight globalization and reverse the process of European integration. Read more…

By Adriano Bosoni
December 15, 2016; http://www.realclearworld.com/

12
Dec

The long wave unfurled at last. Perhaps it is no surprise that the two societies that felt its furious force — the United States and Britain — are also the open societies at the hub of globalized turbo-capitalism and finance. For at least a decade, accelerating since the crash of 2008, fears and resentments had been building over the impunity of elites, the dizzying disruption of technology, the influx of migrants and the precariousness of modern existence.

In Western societies, for too long, there had been no victories, no glory and diminishing certainties. Wars were waged; nobody knew how they could be won. Their wounds festered. The distance between metropolis and periphery grew into a cultural chasm. Many things became unsayable; even gender became debatable. Truth blurred, then was sidelined, in an online tribal cacophony.

Jobs went. Inequality thrust itself in your face. What the powerful said and the lives people lived were so unrelated that politics looked increasingly like a big heist. Debacle followed debacle — the euro, the Iraq War, the Great Recession — and their architects never paid. Syria encapsulated the West’s newfound impotence, a kind of seeping amorality; and, in its bloody dismemberment, Syria sent into Europe a human tide that rabble-rousers seized upon. Read more…

www.nyt.com

24
Nov

IR Club US Election Debate

Written on November 24, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Americas, Democracy & Human Rights

ir-club-event

Written by Alejandro Pereda, MIR 2016/17 Student

The results of the US elections on November 8th were to many spectators and voters, especially among the young and middle aged constituencies, quite surprising and possibly even shocking. The so called ideological divide created during the campaign and the uncertainty of the policies of the new President-elect have created a vast confusion and left many of even specialist wandering how will the trajectory of the US politics both internal and that of the foreign affairs change in the wake of the elections and the new Presidency…Considering the still pivotal role of the US in international matters of security, trade, development and many others, how will the world in large respond, if it will react at all, to what seems to be (at least at face value) a turn back to the good old American isolationism and protectionism. Are we seeing a “right” turn in the moods of the US population following suit of the previous Brexit and other populist movements in Europe and elsewhere?

All these questions warranted comprehensive and critical analysis and in that sense, it was perfect occasion for the IE International Relations Club to organize its first event of the academic year in an attempt to start the dialogue among the IE community about the consequences of the US elections. The event which took place on November 15th at IE, asked the question of “what’s next” and also how we got there. It featured two keynote speakers – Dr. Daniel Kselman, Academic director of the MIR, who focuses in his research on democratization, economic development and political governance and Dr. Eliah Bures, who investigates intellectual conservatism as international movement. The panelist invited us to review the historical similarities of the populism’s rise in the US before with the current situation, the economic and social realities of the US in the last few decades, the overall change in global political attitudes, in an effort to understand the possible underlying causes of the results we saw. While further offering their expertise in the exploration of the practical policy decisions that the new administration will take, casting, for example doubt, on the possibility of immediate dismantling of trade deals already in place, however warning at the same time of the possibility of deterioration of the political tolerance and atmosphere in the US.  

The event then transformed rapidly into a very high quality debate with all the participants and spectators which allowed to really dig dip on the subject and review it from multiple perspective. The interest and the academic passions shown by all the participants carried the event well past the original scheduled one and a half hour and really made the conversation memorable. It was really amazing to see our fellow students and other invited guests to express unique and comprehensive perspectives and to engage with our distinguished panelist in a critical and truly collaborative discussion in not just trying to review the individual aspects but to build a holistic understanding of the issues revealed during and after the US elections and further to offer ways on how to address later what seems to become an immense field of policy debate and analysis.

IE International Relations Club would like to thank Dr. Kselman and Dr. Bures, all the guest and participants, the Campus Life team for not just making this first event possible, but making it a success! We hope this to be just first of many interesting and notable events to come from the IE International Relations Club!

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