Category Archives: Global

The Local Private Sector is Vital to Peacebuilding and Reconstruction

Two women now earn a living producing yams in their field after peace returned to Burundi. Photo by Pamela Beecroft.

By Morgan Frost and Pamela Beecroft

CIPE works with partners in a number of conflict-affected contexts around the world. While political, security and humanitarian issues typically draw the most attention, CIPE has found there are major benefits to working with the local private sector on economic issues at almost every stage of a conflict and recovery cycle. As the examples below illustrate, local businessmen and women can play a unique and indispensable role in reducing violence, building peace, and rebuilding countries and communities.

In Mexico, the notorious Tijuana Cartel, which had gathered strength during the 1990s, dominated large swaths of the city, turning it into a battlefield that endangered citizens and deterred businesses. In 2006 and 2007, local businesses, civil society, and government leaders worked together to develop solutions to effectively reclaim the community from criminal networks. For a time, their efforts succeeded in significantly reducing violence and improving the city’s economic life. In 2015, CIPE led a project that helped Tijuana tell its story, which showed how private sector leadership and collaboration with government and civil society can address high levels of criminal violence. Since then, violence has sky-rocketed again in the city for a number of reasons. CIPE will help Tijuana business leaders and their allies seek to repeat their past success and improve life for citizens and businesses again while refining the earlier model and collecting new evidence about what works.

Even in fragile environments like the Democratic Republic of Congo, economic activity continues, creating an opportunity for a peaceful and sustainable future. Photo by Pamela Beecroft.

In Syria, CIPE helped a group of Syrian business leaders build an economic think tank, now based in southern Turkey, called the Syrian Economic Forum (SEF). The organization is a leading source of information and analysis about the economic situation in Syria, as well as an originator of market-oriented solutions, which humanitarian agencies, local councils, and other stakeholders can use to respond to the situation on the ground. SEF has also expanded opportunities for displaced Syrian businesspeople in Turkey by negotiating access to an underutilized free economic zone and facilitating the transition of Syrian-owned businesses into the formal economy. Other initiatives encourage entrepreneurship, including a new CIPE-led project to incubate food-based enterprises and provide workforce training in the food sector.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #86: Daniel O’Maley and Sarah Moulton on the Importance of Open Internet

From left: guest host Maiko Nakagaki, podcast guests Sarah Moulton and Daniel O’Maley, and host Pamela Kelley Lauder

This week’s podcast guests discuss the relationship between a thriving democracy and an open and accessible internet.

O’Maley is associate editor at the Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), and Sarah Moulton is a senior manager of technology and innovation at the National Democratic Institute (NDI).

CIPE has partnered with CIMA and NDI to launch A Democratic Framework to Interpret Open Internet Principles, an initiative intended to counter oppressive actions and preserve internet openness. The initiative is composed of nine principles that reflect a commitment to inclusion, participation, and accountability in an open and free internet.

In the podcast, O’Maley explains that open internet, without the threat of government surveillance, gives citizens access to independent news media and information. Access to open internet also allows citizens to exercise their right to communicate freely with one another.

Moulton provides examples of authoritarian states that have shut down the internet, or slowed down internet speed, to silence opposition parties during elections.

The public is encouraged to provide feedback on A Democratic Framework to Interpret Open Internet Principles by October 31, 2017.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

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Open Internet Principles for Democracy: Stand Up for Free Online Speech in the Face of Oppressive Governments

Credit: Missoula Current

Over the last two decades, the internet has profoundly changed how societies operate. People around the world now access and share information at an unprecedented rate. The business community, in particular, has used the internet to increase innovation and productivity, spurring global economic growth. In addition, the internet has transformed the relationship between governments and citizens, as many people use e-democracy tools to demand increased transparency and accountability.

Unfortunately, recognizing that the internet is now one of the most valued ways for people to connect, authoritarian states and declining democracies are increasingly closing the space for open internet. Governments around the world are now taking actions to quash dissent, intimidate independent voices, and prevent the open sharing of ideas in the most significant communication medium of our time. For example, pro-military forces in Myanmar used online censorship to silence independent bloggers and media. Several newspapers have also revealed Russia’s use of troll farms to promote posts of pro-Putin commentaries to harass opponents. At the same time, the new and rapidly evolving nature of the internet means that many citizens are unaware or misinformed of how their fundamental rights such as to speech, assembly, and association apply in a digital world.

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Democracy that Delivers #76: Christina Bain on the Role Business and Entrepreneurship Play in Combatting Human Trafficking

From left: podcast guest Christina Bain, with hosts Kim Bettcher and Ken Jaques

Christina Bain, director of the Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery at Babson College in Massachusetts, discusses the role of business and entrepreneurship in combatting human trafficking.

As a college professor, Bain teaches her students about the types of human trafficking and how to prevent trafficking in their respective fields.

In addition, Bain raises awareness of human trafficking among high school students in the Boston region. Babson’s Initiative on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery launched the Human Freedom Entrepreneurial Leadership Program in 2016. The program visits schools where students are more vulnerable to trafficking and aims to train and inspire the next generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs to fight human trafficking. The program has proven successful. For example, two high school students have created a program to educate preteen girls about the dangers of the Internet.

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.

How Good Governance Got a Bad Name – and Why Governance Still Matters

Local leaders in the city of Talisay in the Philippines used CIPE partner the Institute of Solidarity in Asia’s performance governance system (PGS) to harness the city’s tourism-, agriculture-, and location-based strengths to reshape development and ensure sustainability through community involvement.

At CIPE, we’re accustomed to examining problems of democratic and economic development through a governance lens. We wonder how entrepreneurs can possibly succeed when the policy and regulatory environment is stacked against them. We wonder how good policy and regulation can be made without input and feedback from affected constituencies. We wonder what the point of policy is if government cannot be counted on to implement it. To address these problems of the enabling environment and government performance, we look for systemic change.

Not everyone thinks this way and many are frustrated by the demands and promises of good governance recommendations. They want to see immediate, tangible results from development. They see places where Western-style reforms have not delivered and other places that have done well economically despite a lack of rule of law or freedom. They see obstacles to fixing governance and wonder if it’s worth the effort.

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Democracy that Delivers Podcast #73: Majdi Hassen on Economic Reform Initiatives in Tunisia

Podcast guest Majdi Hassen and guest host Anna Kompanek

On this week’s Democracy the Delivers podcast, Institut arabe des chefs d’entreprises (IACE) Executive Director Majdi Hassen talks with CIPE’s Anna Kompanek about the economic reform initiatives his organization is undertaking in Tunisia. IACE is an independent, non-profit think tank based in Tunis. Since Tunisia’s revolution, Hassen has overseen IACE’s growth into a “think-and-do” tank that plays a vital role in convening diverse political and civic actors to discuss urgent economic problems.

Hassen has developed a series of IACE programs designed to bring leadership skills and civic awareness to young entrepreneurs, policymakers, and stakeholders in Tunisia. He has been instrumental in organizing IACE’s Enterprise Days, Tunisia’s biggest economic forum, which gathers over 1,000 national and international policymakers, business leaders, and experts to discuss critical private sector issues.

Kompanek and Hassen discuss a public-private dialogue effort – the National Business Agenda – that has brought together voices in the business community to provide the government with constructive recommendations for economic reform. They also discuss a hotline that has been set up in Tunisia to help local businesses deal with red tape and bureaucratic hurdles.

Learn more about IACE’s work: http://www.iace.tn/

Want to hear more? Listen to previous podcasts at CIPE.org/podcast.

Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or on your Android device.

Like this podcast? Please review us on iTunes.

President Reagan’s Call for a Campaign for Democracy Still Applies Today

By Andrew Wilson, Managing Director, Center for International Private Enterprise

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

When President Reagan delivered his Westminster address to Members of the British Parliament 35 years ago today, he predicted the downfall of the Soviet Union and called for a campaign to support democracy around the globe. What Reagan could not have predicted when he made that famous speech was that his campaign to support democracy would be as needed in 2017 as it was in 1982.

The violent extremism, conflict between states, unequal economic opportunity, and migration crises afflicting the world today are causing some to question the continued viability of the liberal-democratic values that Reagan championed. The belief that democracy, economic freedom and rule of law provide the “not so-secret sauce” for sustainable human progress is being openly questioned in capitals around the world.

In a results-based world we should be ready to scrutinize liberal-democracy’s track record.

To be certain, one outcome of liberal democracy – globalization- has done an impressive job of alleviating human suffering in the last quarter century.  Our global health indicators, poverty reduction goals, and literacy rates all figure in the plus column.  Societies are more resilient when disaster strikes, and the emergence of global standards on labor, environment, and anti-corruption are all leading to a more ethical and sustainable development pattern driven by the private sector.

However, while strides have been made to ensure a basic level of human existence, many societies still fail to provide their people with a path to a better life. In many countries citizens live in a world of governance failures and inequalities perpetuated by vested interests, corrupt elites, and authoritarians who understand that broad-based opportunity threatens their status-quo.  Indeed, if we look at where we see the greatest threats to global stability we see the hand of corrupt authoritarians, be that in the Middle-East, Venezuela, or Russian aggression in Ukraine.

It’s notable that those regimes most likely to cause instability are those which are quickest to point towards liberal democracy as the cause of the world’s problems. Our cold war of times past, in which liberal democracy and communism fought for supremacy, has been replaced by a new war in which our values are now questioned by those whose only ideology is that of authoritarianism and kleptocracy.

Looking back on the experience of the last 35 years, many of the world’s problems don’t stem from the failure of liberal democracy, rather a failure to more actively pursue its consolidation, and ensure that the economic and social benefits of democracy penetrated throughout societies.  As the causes of disorder are man-made, so are the solutions.  Support for economic development overseas must continue its emphasis on getting governance right, providing opportunity for all to participate in an economic life, and encouraging open societies to reinforce values and institutions that include respect for property as a human right, free media, and democratic space.

When governments get these things right, all citizens benefit. The proof of this lays in what we can take from the current migration crisis in the Mediterranean.  Migrants making the perilous boat journey to Italy’s southern shores are not coming from Tunisia where a democratically oriented government seeks to build democratic consensus on economic growth, but from its neighbors where poor governance and lack of opportunity drive desperate people to do desperate things. Tunisia shows us that the goals of the Arab spring, when consolidated in democratic values can bring relative stability. Tunisia’s goal now is to wring greater economic opportunity from the governance and democratic strides made by a revolution whose roots lay in economic discontent.

Globalization must also come to represent opportunity for all – technology, such as EBay and other online trading platforms, is breaking down international barriers to trade for micro and small entrepreneurs, and the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, if enforced, will smash non-tariff barriers that keep the little guys from trading across borders.

A quarter century of democracy support has shown that the most effective path forward is not to export nation building, or embrace foreign models, but rather to support and encourage the development of local voices for reform, and domestic expertise that can guide societies on their own path to good governance.  In many countries these brave voices are now at risk, as years of neglect have led to their increasing isolation and in many cases repression.  These are the world’s authentic voices of moderation, they alone are in a place to counter local extremism, advocate for opportunity, and chart paths for good governance.

While not always perfect, liberal democracy offers the most sustainable and equitable path to confronting the challenges facing the world, and it’s the best way we know to create long lasting jobs. An employed and prosperous people rarely resort to violent extremism, conflict, or emigration. For our government to reach its policy goals, it would be well served to look to the wisdom of Ronald Reagan who understood that markets and democracy were the best responses to the challenge of his time, and are timeless in their relevance today.