Clinton as an Ally for Justice

The Center for Global Development reports that Secretary of State designate Hilary Clinton mentioned “development aid” roughly three more times than Condoleeza Rice did during her Senate confirmation hearing and that global development was a prominent theme throughout.

Here are her development priorities for the administration:

  • Fighting extreme global poverty
  • Achieving the Millennium Development Goals
  • Fighting corruption
  • Eliminating the global education deficit
  • Enhancing U.S. leadership in the effort to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis
  • Improving global health infrastructure
  • Providing sustainable debt relief to developing countries
  • Expanding prosperity through training, partnerships and expanded opportunities for small and medium enterprise
  • Supporting developing countries in adapting to climate changes
  • Reforming the IMF and World Bank
  • Supporting effective, accountable and democratic institutions.

Improving global health infrastructure, providing debt relief to developing countries, as well as reforming the IMF and the World Bank are three of the most intriguing to me on the list – and will perhaps be the most contentious and difficult for the administration to accomplish. However, its about time that the White House use tools such as the IMF and the World Bank to achieve their stated goal of reducing poverty rather than pushing of neoliberal economic policies which ultimately hurt the poor.

Former President Bill Clinton has extensive experience in creating public-private partnerships to achieve great outcomes in development and global health through the Clinton Global Initiative as well as through the Clinton Foundation. I hope that future Sectretary of State Clinton will use the family’s high profile work as political leverage to both get global health and social justice on the political radar.


2 Responses to “Clinton as an Ally for Justice”

  1. 1 Laura January 23, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    Hi Jon! Great post– I have a question for both your readers & you about something you mentioned. You wrote, “…its about time that the White House use tools such as the IMF and the World Bank to achieve their stated goal of reducing poverty rather than pushing of neoliberal economic policies which ultimately hurt the poor.” I agree with you that neoliberal policies are unfit for solving problems of inequality and helping the huge proportion of people employed in the informal sector. When I look at the World Bank and the IMF, though, I see these institutions as instruments for imposing neoliberal policies on poor countries through the loans for infrastructure and the subsequent structural adjustment programs that are used as conditions for either the loan or for their alleged and subsequent debt forgiveness. This is why I’m very hesitant of the op-ed written by Robert Zoellick, President of the World Bank. While I would be the last to oppose a vulnerability package to help poor countries, I’m not sure that I trust that World Bank has the countries’ best interests in mind. Perhaps I’ve been listening far too much to John Perkins (author of Confessions of an Economic Hitman). Do others have opinions on the World Bank and their ability to truly make a difference in impoverished countries rather than use these loans and projects to fund its own agenda? I’m open and interested to hear other opinions to learn more about the topic.

  2. 2 jonshaffer January 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Laura,

    Yes. I completely agree and have some pretty serious reservations about the ability of the World Bank to act as a catalyst for improving equity. I would absolutely love to see the World Bank help create “safety net programs” which work with national governments to guarantee fundamental rights for their citizens, but I worry when I read things like this:

    “…investments in infrastructure can yield huge benefits. Just look at China, which demonstrated 10 years ago that wisely chosen infrastructure projects can create jobs while building a foundation for productivity and growth. The World Bank is increasing support for such projects to $15 billion a year over the next three years. This includes financing for low-carbon technology projects as well as public-private partnerships that will create jobs while improving the delivery of basic services.”

    Yes, big infrastructure projects may have been successful in China and elsewhere, but I think that most have been overwhelmingly unsuccessful – even harmful. Big infrastructure tends to benefit urban (and more often than not, wealthier) populations more than the rural poor. Also, these projects can have tremendous unforseen consequences which are often negative. Take the example of Cange in Haiti, where Paul Farmer has so eloquently linked the construction of a hydroelectric dam to broader structural violence. Upon the completion of the dam, an entire village was displaced forcing the peasants to build lean-to shacks and eek out a living on the poor, rocky hillside soil. This has ultimately led to the decimation of the health of these villagers, and has provided little if any electricity for Port au Prince.

    If the World Bank wants to be successful, it will have to work to support poor governments to provide basic social goods first – then move on to creating the infrastructure necessary to build an economy.

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Welcome to the Students for Global Health Equity (SGHE) blog. Published by university students, the SGHE blog seeks to explore news and issues related to global health.

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