How the Private Sector Helped Make Tijuana Safe Again

Learn more about the private sector’s role in reducing insecurity in Tijuana with this short video (10 minutes, Spanish with English subtitles)

Between 2007 and 2010, Tijuana was one of the most violent cities on the planet. Kidnapping, extortion, and homicide became commonplace occurrences, and the notorious Tijuana Cartel, which had been gathering strength during the 1990s, dominated large swaths of the city.

The city’s main thoroughfare, Avenida Revolución, which had previously been full of street vendors hawking their merchandise and U.S. tourists, was deserted. Citizens stayed in their houses after dark and the city’s renowned nightlife ground to a halt. The Mexican government sent troops to the city in a bid to restore order, leading to violent confrontations with criminal elements.

It was with this image of a violent and crime-ridden city that I traveled to Tijuana in April 2015. Instead, however, I was surprised by what I found. Tourists were slowly starting to trickle back to Tijuana, families with young children enjoyed evening strolls in the balmy weather, and federal troops were absent from view. What led to such a drastic change in a mere five years?

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Pakistan and Afghanistan Work to “End the Blame Game” and Increase Trade Ties

The Afghan-Pakistan border. (Photo: EPA)

The Afghan-Pakistan border. (Photo: EPA)

Afghanistan, being a landlocked country, depends on its trading route with neighboring Pakistan to get its exports to world markets. However, these two countries have an unstable political relationship.

Due to increase in political instability between the two countries in the last couple of months, Pakistan’s top foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz paid a visit to Afghanistan in order to reduce the ongoing friction between the two countries.

The foreign affairs adviser to the prime minister visited the Afghan capital Kabul on September 4 for a regional economic conference and also held meetings with the president, foreign minister and national security adviser.

In his statement on state television about his meeting with Ghani, he said,  “The main thing that the both side agreed upon was to restore trust, end the blame game against each other and create a positive atmosphere.”

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With More People Than Ever Online, Internet Freedom Continues to Decline

Source: Freedom House

Source: Freedom House

Out of the three billion internet users today around the world, most live in countries where the internet is not free. According to Freedom House’s latest report, Freedom on the Net 2015, which examined internet freedom in 65 countries, global internet freedom has declined for the fifth year in a row. The freest country is Iceland, and the least free is China. The report was compiled by analyzing laws and practices relevant to the internet, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing various sources.

Overall, governments around the world censored information of public interest, while expanding surveillance and limiting privacy tools. Some key figures include:

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Benchmarking Public Procurement


Did you know that public procurement — goods and services bought by governments — accounts for around one-fifth of global GDP? Or that in most high-income economies public procurement takes up a third of total public spending, and in developing countries even more – about half?

These figures represent a significant share of national wealth. If channeled properly, public procurement provides indispensable benefits to a society, such as infrastructure, hospitals, and schools. Yet, if squandered, public procurement can set back the economy and contribute to massive corruption. In fact, the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) estimates that corruption drains 20-25 percent of procurement budgets globally, which amounts to staggering $2 trillion per year.

The World Bank’s recent report, Benchmarking Public Procurement 2016, goes beyond the aggregate numbers to compare data on regulatory environments that affect the ability of companies to do business with the government in an open and transparent way.

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What to Do About Post-Soviet “Frozen Conflicts”

Over the past several months, CIPE intern Ann Sander Nielsen conducted in-depth research and analysis of one of the most troubling features of the break-up of the Soviet Union: the secessionist wars of the early 1990s, which ended without clear military or political resolution, leaving behind so-called “frozen conflicts” and leading to the emergence of new, unrecognized, separatist states.

These issues are topical today, with the unrecognized Russian annexation of Crimea, the annexation of South Ossetia, and the ongoing separatist conflict in Ukraine’s Donbas region, among other developments, demonstrating that the post-Soviet space is still struggling to chart its political direction and settle on its borders.

The recent signing by Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova of Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements with the European Union, viewed by some as the first step on a long road toward eventual European integration, may create additional pressure to resolve the status of the breakaway regions in these countries.

I worked with Nielsen to publish her research in this month’s Economic Reform Feature Service article, which looks at the political and economic factors that shape the de facto states of Eurasia’s frozen conflict zones.

Nielsen has also used her research to prepare a series of case studies, which CIPE will be releasing on this blog over the coming weeks, analyzing specific conditions in a number of the separatist regions in more detail. The first of those will look at Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria region.

Read the article here.

Marc Schleifer is the Regional Director for Eurasia & South Asia at CIPE.

Ready or Not? Assessing Change Readiness is Crucial for Implementation of the SDGs


By Stephanie Bandyk and Laura Van Voorhees

As the U.N. General Assembly delegates return to their countries after setting the 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda, members now face the task of making this ambitious set of goals a reality. Despite the rigor put into crafting the goals and indicators, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Therefore for effective implementation that takes into account each country’s respective set of challenges, public and private enterprise, governments, and people and civil society can use KPMG’s 2015 Change Readiness Index (CRI) to advise their implementation strategies.

“Change readiness” is defined by the index as the capability of a country – its government, private and public enterprises, people and wider civil society – to anticipate, prepare for, manage and respond to a wide range of change drivers, proactively cultivating the resulting opportunities, and mitigating potential negative impacts.

The CRI tagline, “no government, business, or society is immune to change,” reflects that siloed improvements — for example, rise in GDP without strong governance and rule of law mechanisms — may merely be temporary developments. In fact, some overall findings of the 2015 CRI show that wealth generation alone is not enough for change readiness. In order for the post-2015 development agenda to indeed be sustainable, it is crucial to build resilience from the community to global levels to both overcome financial and social shocks as well as capitalize on political and economic opportunities such as technology, competition, and transitions in government.

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The Voice of Youth in Economic Policymaking


Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of presenting at the 2015 Global Youth Economic Summit in Washington, DC, where over 450 leaders and practitioners from 50 countries came together. The theme of the overall summit was “Scale in Practice,” and it examined how best to design youth economic empowerment projects that maximize impact, scale, and sustainability.

My session was “The Voice of Youth in Economic Policymaking: How to Advocate for the Right Reforms” and I presented with Simon Van Melick from SPARK (a Dutch-NGO specializing in youth entrepreneurship in conflict affected societies) and Hania Bitar from Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALRA). Unlike the other presenters at the Summit, who focused on the initiatives like vocational programs, microfinance, and innovations in mobile-based educational games, my panel focused on how to engage and empower youth to be involved in political and economic reform of their local communities.

CIPE’s strategy for youth programming is to prepare young people to become self-dependent and take initiative. To empower and engage youth as leaders of tomorrow, CIPE takes four approaches: teach civic education, equip youth with leadership skills, empower civil society to be inclusive and engage youth in the policymaking process, and provide platforms for youth to share ideas on reform.

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