August 5, 2010 (WASHINGTON) – This statement is delivered on behalf of the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) by Co-Chairs David Beckmann and George Ingram:
Forty days after President Obama pledged to issue a new development policy “in the near future” – and with no word yet on when it will be released – MFAN, joined by more than 200 partner organizations and individuals, has published an Open Letter urging the President to show much-needed leadership to reform foreign assistance and strengthen America’s commitment to global development. The letter, published in today’s issue of Politico, urges President Obama to:
- Create America’s first-ever Global Development Strategy – which is referenced in the leaked Presidential Study Directive draft, “A New Way Forward on Global Development”; and
- Partner with Congress to rewrite the outdated Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, a working draft of which House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman recently released.
We applaud the steps taken by the Obama Administration thus far to elevate development as a pillar of U.S. foreign policy, which will help us do a better job of reducing poverty and spurring economic growth worldwide. But these efforts, including initiatives such as Feed the Future and the Global Health Initiative, will not reach their full potential unless our country has an overarching Global Development Strategy.
“The volume and variety of signatories – from NGOs, think tanks, and corporations to former U.S. government officials and private-sector leaders – indicates the widespread support and urgent need for the President to take definitive action toward reforming our foreign assistance system,” said Co-Chair George Ingram. “We must have a Global Development Strategy to clearly state what we are trying to achieve, how different actors within the U.S. government will contribute to that mission, and who will be in charge of – and accountable for – achieving results. Likewise, the Cold War-era Foreign Assistance Act no longer provides a realistic and understandable framework for the U.S. foreign assistance system, and the President must be engaged with Congress in a collaborative effort to rewrite the legislation. The stakes – for U.S. national interests and for the health, prosperity, and stability of the developing world – are too high for continued inaction.”
The Open Letter is the centerpiece of our Reform Within Reach campaign, which is also focused on sharing development success stories and educating the American public about the important role U.S. development efforts play in our national security. Individuals can still sign on to our Open Letter by clicking here.