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.

 

12
Jan

ERIC ROSAND is Director of The Prevention Project: Organizing Against Violent Extremism and former Senior Counterterrorism Official at the U.S. Department of State.

The United Nations is not only imperfect, it is also misunderstood. Somewhat predictably, U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans unleashed a torrent of criticism against the UN Security Council’s adoption of a resolution [1] on December 23 condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. To express his disapproval, Trump described the institution as “just a club for people to get together, talk, and have a good time [2]” and went on to suggest that “if it is causing problems rather than solving them … it will be a waste of time and money [3] if it doesn’t start living up to its potential.” Several U.S. lawmakers [4] have since demanded that the United States restrict its funding for the global body over the Security Council vote and former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin even went as far as to call on the United States to leave the UN.

The United Nations’ failures, of course, are well known. Less known is what it gets right, and on this score even Trump should find much to love in the institution. Indeed, if his administration hopes to, as he says, work with all “freedom loving partners [5]” to eradicate terrorism, he will need the UN, warts [6] and all.

In the post–9/11 era—and often at the behest of U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama—the UN has played a central role in globalizing the fight against terrorism and strengthening international cooperation and capacities to defeat al Qaeda, the Islamic State (ISIS), and other terrorist groups. Less than three weeks after 9/11, Bush relied on the UN Security Council to require [7] all countries to reboot or upgrade their counterterrorism laws. As a result, dozens of nations put in place new legal measures to crack down on terrorists and their financiers. Obama likewise went to the UN when he sought [8] to tighten sanctions against and cut off financial flows to ISIS and to push the White House agenda to counter violent extremism around the world [9]. Critical U.S. partners, including China, India, and Russia, and Muslim-majority countries ranging from Egypt to Indonesia, now generally insist that all nonmilitary counterterrorism measures (such as the tightening of border controls, investigating and prosecuting terrorists, or countering radicalization at home) be grounded in some way on the UN counterterrorism framework that evolved rapidly after 9/11. This framework is seen as being in compliance with international law and therefore carries broad global legitimacy, in large part because it is derived from the UN Charter itself. Read more…

www.foreignaffairs.com

10 Jan. 2017

31
Dec

How to make sense of 2016

Written on December 31, 2016 by Waya Quiviger in Foreign Policy, Global Economy, Op Ed

FOR a certain kind of liberal, 2016 stands as a rebuke. If you believe, as The Economist does, in open economies and open societies, where the free exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas is encouraged and where universal freedoms are protected from state abuse by the rule of law, then this has been a year of setbacks. Not just over Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, but also the tragedy of Syria, abandoned to its suffering, and widespread support—in Hungary, Poland and beyond—for “illiberal democracy”. As globalisation has become a slur, nationalism, and even authoritarianism, have flourished. In Turkey relief at the failure of a coup was overtaken by savage (and popular) reprisals. In the Philippines voters chose a president who not only deployed death squads but bragged about pulling the trigger. All the while Russia, which hacked Western democracy, and China, which just last week set out to taunt America by seizing one of its maritime drones, insist liberalism is merely a cover for Western expansion.

Faced with this litany, many liberals (of the free-market sort) have lost their nerve. Some have written epitaphs for the liberal order and issued warnings about the threat to democracy. Others argue that, with a timid tweak to immigration law or an extra tariff, life will simply return to normal. That is not good enough. The bitter harvest of 2016 has not suddenly destroyed liberalism’s claim to be the best way to confer dignity and bring about prosperity and equity. Rather than ducking the struggle of ideas, liberals should relish it. Read more…

The Economist,

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/

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