Browsing articles from "February, 2010"
Feb 28, 2010

Rule of Law in China

Oxford Analytica reports that since 2004 the “protection of constitutional rights have subsided in China.” More specifically, since 2008, a new political doctrine “requires all judges to uphold ‘the Party’s cause, the people’s interests, and the constitution and the law’ as ‘supreme.’ By contrast, an independent rule of law would require supremacy of the constitution only. Courts have also been instructed to follow earlier models of adjudication practised under Mao Zedong (pre-1976), when the party-state saw courts as instruments of ‘people’s dictatorship’ and used legal processes to fight ‘the people’s enemies.'”

The progression of an independent rule of law in China through changes in judicial practice will be enhanced through international instruments in the broader multilnational community. As China assumes broader responsibilities as a stakeholder in the international system, an independent rule of law will be fostered.

Feb 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Aid corrupts: a case study

In my early twenties, I spent two years traveling around Latin America and the Middle East. I lived on a shoestring budget, slept in horrible hotels, and worked the most menial jobs. I thought it was great.

In my late twenties, I worked on foreign aid for the US Department of the Treasury. I went to Africa often and stayed at the nicest hotels. It was a big step up from the days of hostels with cold showers, broken locks on doors, and putrid bathrooms. I appreciated my good fortune.

These days, I consult on aid policy to Africa from time to time. I still stay at the nicest hotels on the continent. The big difference is that I no longer appreciate the hotels, but moan whenever the wireless internet or satellite TV isn’t working.

Take it from me, aid corrupts.

Feb 28, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

A hypothesis for why aid doesn’t work

Because foreigners sitting in the fanciest hotels in the recipient country make the policies without spending much time outside said hotels. How do I know? It’s what I am doing in Tanzania right now.

Feb 26, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

My government doesn’t understand Tanzania

I am in Tanzania for a few weeks doing a political analysis of the country for USAID. I read the US government’s Country Assistance Strategy for Tanzania this afternoon. It was a bit maddening:

  • Even though Tanzania does not have a problem with terrorism, the country’s problem with terrorism was in the first paragraph.
  • Even though Tanzania is politically stable, the first paragraph notes that Tanzania’s (non-existent) problem with terrorism could undermine its stability.
  • Even though there are no extremist movements in Tanzania, the first paragraph highlights this non-existent problem.

As a result of Tanzania’s fictional problems cited above, the US assistance strategy is to help fight terrorism in Tanzania – a problem which does not exist. Ugh!

Feb 25, 2010
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Donors are a pain

I had a great meeting today with a very dynamic Kenyan who is using mobile phone technology to address all sorts of development issues in developing countries. The short version is that he is creating a low-tech mobile phone version of google through SMS. Very cool stuff. The funniest part of the meeting was when he talked about foreign aid organizations. He said that because donors are such a pain to work with (e.g., they move very slow, they have ridiculous and onerous requirements), dynamic social entrepreneurs in developing countries don’t want to work with them. A true laugh out loud moment.

Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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