For the sixth consecutive year, internet freedom throughout the world has continued to decline. Although efforts to close the digital divide by bringing more people online has continued, 67%, or two-thirds of all internet users, fear the unprecedented penalties from living in countries with high levels of censorship. According to Freedom House’s latest report, Freedom on the Net Report 2016, Estonia, Iceland, and Canada are the most open countries when it comes to internet freedom, while China, Syria, and Iran are the most restrictive.
The 2016 report gathered information from 65 countries, measuring each individual country’s level of internet and digital freedom by using a variety of indicators. Since 2015, Turkey and Brazil have continued to move away from internet freedom, and just 14 countries registered overall improvements from the previous year.
Podcast guest Claude Fontheim (left) with hosts Julie Johnson and Ken Jaques.
In this week’s Democracy that Delivers podcast, CIPE Board member Claude Fontheim talks about how the rule of law, transparency, and good governance underpin strong, inclusive development. Fontheim explains that investment alone is not enough and says that support for public institutions is needed to ensure that the benefits of trade and economic growth reach all segments of society. He further discusses the direct link between development around the world and U.S. national security interests.
During the episode, Fontheim also talks about how U.S. companies contribute to the good governance of countries they invest in, and how they partner with NGOs and civil society to support initiatives in sectors such as health, education, and women’s rights.
Fontheim also discusses his early work with the Democratic Leadership Council and how he was inspired by Bill Clinton’s vision of “globalization with a human face.” He also shares how his family’s experience during the Holocaust shaped his world view and generated his interest in the forces that knit societies together and create peace.
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This article originally appeared in Arabic on cipe-arabia.org
As I prepared for the final paper of my college years, I recall my unwavering conviction in the infamous saying by Muhammad Yunus – Founder of Grameen Bank – that, “Once poverty is gone, we’ll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations.”
Multiple public policies and methods have been devised, yet the primary objective has always remained unchanged: provide citizens with a decent standard of living. This, I believe, can be achieved through paving the way for entrepreneurial initiatives and creating a just and equitable investment environment, where investors, citizens, workers, and employees alike are familiar with their respective rights and obligations.
From Left: CIPE Chair Greg Lebedev, with discussion moderator Andrew Wilson, and speakers Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Chris Maloney, and Beth Tritter at the Democracy and Governance event on September 15, 2016.
Democratic governance and development go hand in hand. Transparency and the rule of law provided by well-functioning democracies create favorable business environments where firms of all sectors and sizes can thrive. In turn, inclusive economic growth lifts populations out of poverty and strengthens public expectations of accountability. To celebrate the International Day of Democracy, CIPE and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) held a joint event on September 15, titled “Democracy and Governance: Key Foundations to Sustainable Development.”
From Left: Discussion moderator Andrew Wilson, with speakers Alicia Phillips Mandaville, Chris Maloney, and Beth Tritter.
The International Day of Democracy was observed on September 15 with a theme of “Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.” Created by the UN General Assembly in 2007, the Day of Democracy was intended to provide an opportunity to recognize the importance of democracy in upholding human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and to review the state of democracy around the world.
From environmental degradation to food insecurity and energy shortages, today’s global development challenges are complex and multifaceted. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) lay out ambitious yet vital targets for addressing these challenges from ending all forms of poverty and tackling climate change, to improving living standards across the spectrum, and reducing inequalities. Of these goals, SDG 16, which focuses on governance, peace, justice and strong institutions holds a unique place among the rest.
In Ukraine, thousands of companies are still owned and operated by the government — a legacy of Soviet central planning that bleeds money from the already strained state budget. With the country in economic crisis, there have been renewed calls for Ukraine to speed up its privatization process and sell these firms to private owners who can restructure them and run them more efficiently.
Ukraine’s former Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Aivara Abromavicius, recently made a well-reasoned argument for faster privatization on the Atlantic Council’s blog. Similarly, the IMF has also urged Ukraine to speed up the pace of privatization.
However, focusing on the pace rather than the quality of privatization will likely result in a botched privatization process — which will undermine the little bit of faith Ukrainians have left in the free market and state institutions, potentially leading to the growth of populist movements and destabilizing the current government.
Ukrainian state-owned enterprises (SOEs) remain a drag on the national budget. They serve as incubators for corruption and gray market deals and in some cases serve as piggy banks for Ukrainian politicians. While I agree with Abromavicius that “simplicity, clarity, and transparency,” must be maintained in order to successfully privatize Ukrainian state owned enterprises, his concept of creating a simplified privatization procedure (without advisers) through an online auction of over 1,000 smaller SOEs will likely lead to public anger over a process that would surely enrich insiders.
Without independent advisors overseeing the due diligence process and hiring independent auditors, bidders will not have transparent access to information about the companies listed. This would, in effect, be like buying from an unrated seller on eBay with only a vague description of what is for sale – something that would not inspire confidence in potential buyers.
A lack of independent advisors–and the transparency and investor assurances they would bring to an auction—can lead to lower realized prices for the Ukrainian government, attracting only those bidders with inside knowledge of the true status of the enterprises for sale.
Photo credit: Lithuania Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Flickr
By Eric Hontz and Marc Schleifer
In a stunning announcement in Kyiv on February 3, Ukraine’s Minister of Economic Development and Trade Aivaras Abromavicius submitted his resignation to President Poroshenko. The Lithuanian-born Abromavicius cited several factors contributing to his resignation, including pressure to appoint questionable individuals to his team or to key positions in state-owned enterprises. In particular, he named Igor Kononenko, considered a Poroshenko ally in parliament. President Poroshenko has reportedly urged Minister Abromavicius to stay on, and has promised that the National Anti-Corruption Bureau would investigate his claims against Kononeko.
A public statement signed by 10 ambassadors to Ukraine, including from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France, released hours after the resignation, emphasized deep disappointment and noted the importance of Ukraine’s leaders setting aside parochial differences and the necessity of putting the vested interests that have hindered progress for decades in the past.