May 27, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:
We applaud the emphasis on global poverty reduction and development in President Obama’s new National Security Strategy (NSS), which states, “Development is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative.” We are also delighted that the National Security Strategy calls for “development capabilities [to] be modernized.” This new, integrated approach that harnesses all the tools of American power – including development – will go a long way toward confronting the challenges of today that include extreme poverty, disease, food security, environmental sustainability, and good governance.
The White House and State Department have been studying development issues for months through two major policy reviews, a draft of one which was recently leaked to the press. While the Presidential Study Directive draft is commendable for stressing the need for a coherent, government-wide approach and outlining ways to revitalize and strengthen the U.S. Agency for International Development, we still need presidential leadership that will articulate a clear, overarching vision for U.S. efforts.
Now that the National Security Strategy is in place, we look to the President to outline his policies for international development and how our government’s capabilities in this area should be updated. Key leadership from both parties and in both chambers of Congress have already taken steps that will contribute to more effective foreign assistance. The President should signal that his administration is now ready to work with Congress on driving the reform agenda and making U.S. foreign assistance programs more efficient and effective for U.S. taxpayers in this time of tight budgets.
We understand that the White House intends to develop a first-ever Global Development Strategy to complement the National Security Strategy. We hope that President Obama will be able to deliver this strategy in time for the United Nations Summit in September, so that we can engage our partners and allies – fulfilling another principle of the NSS – in the fight against global poverty.