Europe’s Three Fault Lines

PARIS – Ten or 20 years ago, the existential question facing the European Union was whether it still had a purpose in a globalized world. The question today is whether the EU can respond effectively to major external shocks.

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How Poor Countries Foot the Refugee Bill

PARIS – The Syrian refugee crisis has focused attention on the need to improve management of refugee flows during times of crisis. One issue is particularly worrying: poor countries may be paying a large indirect price for rich countries’ efforts.

Data show that a substantial portion of the costs associated with the influx of refugees and asylum-seekers in some European countries is being reported as official development assistance (ODA) – the measure the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) uses to track international aid spending. This leaves less ODA available to launch, sustain, or expand economic development projects in poor countries.

In 2015, the European Union’s DAC member states spent $9.7 billion of their ODA budgets on approximately 1.2 million asylum-seekers in their own countries. By comparison, they spent $3.2 billion of ODA in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, and Sudan– the top five countries from which those asylum-seekers had fled.

The rule enabling donors to report so-called “in-donor” refugee costs as ODA was introduced in the OECD-DAC Statistical Reporting Directives back in 1988. At first, few DAC donors took advantage of it. From 2010 to 2015, however, the share of total ODA reported as in-donor spending more than tripled, from 2.7% to 9.1%.

The DAC is working to establish clearer rules for using ODA to cover in-donor refugee costs.It has established a Temporary Working Group on Refugees and Migration to help determine whether donors are targeting their assistance in the right way, in the right place, and at the right time. We expect to be able to communicate the results of this work around July.

The global attention that the Syrian crisis has focused on refugee flows and associated humanitarian needs is a positive development. Yet Syrians constitute only a small portion of the more than 21 million people worldwide listed as “refugees” by the United Nations Refugee Agency (the UNHCR categorizes more than 65 million people as “forcibly displaced”). And while the spotlight today is on asylum-seekers in Europe, most refugees – over 86% – remain in developing countries, close to the countries they have fled. Uganda, for example, took in more refugees from South Sudan in 2016 than the total number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean into Europe over the same period.

Every day, 40,000 people are forced to flee from conflict and persecution. Many more leave their homes in search of a safe and dignified future. An increasing number of these people are displaced for 20 years or more. And many are left behind, displaced within their own countries, living in extreme insecurity and poverty.

Standing by idly while others live in fear is not humane. Yet countries like Uganda, which for decades have generously hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees, increasingly see the principles of tolerance and protection they uphold undermined in the global north. Wealthy countries understandably seek to manage their own refugee populations and reassure their own citizens. Yet the right to asylum is universal and development cooperation must not, under any circumstances, be used for the purpose of containment.

Refugee situations are not new. Together, the top five countries of origin have generated approximately 10.2 million refugees over the past 25 years. The numbers are staggering, but the challenge they represent is by no means insurmountable. Development aid can help to address the longer-term, socioeconomic dimensions of displacement, lending support to ensure that refugees are included in national and local development plans. It can help address the root causes of forced displacement by focusing efforts on reducing poverty and inequality, strengthening peace building, and improving access to justice. The OECD’s temporary working group will seek to identify and deliver better solutions for refugees.

The conditions facing forced migrants today stand in stark contrast to international commitments such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which strive to “leave no one behind.” Failure to address these issues also threatens the international solidarity that underpins the global development agenda.

Developed and developing countries need to work together. They must leave no ambiguity about the right to seek asylum and the responsibility to protect those who exercise it. We need to ensure that “new” funding means extra money, rather than the redirection of funds. And above all, programs for refugees – including responses within our own borders – must have human rights at their core. Jorge Moreira da Silva, formerly Portugal’s Minister of Environment and Energy, is Director of the OECD Development Cooperation Directorate.

By Jorge Moreira da Silva

Data for Development

NEW YORK – The data revolution is rapidly transforming every part of society. Elections are managed with biometrics, forests are monitored by satellite imagery, banking has migrated from branch offices to smartphones, and medical x-rays are examined halfway around the world.

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Why deflation is good news for Europe

BRUSSELS – In today's global economy, there is no price as important as that of crude oil. More than 80 million barrels are produced (and consumed) daily, and a large part of that output is traded internationally. Thus, the sharp fall in the crude-oil price – from about $110 last year to around $60 today – is yielding hundreds of billions of dollars in savings for oil importers. For the European Union and the United States, the gain from that decline is worth about 2-3% of GDP.

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Constitution Review Committee Marches on

The Constitution Review Committee has ended a three days working retreat in the historic City of Robertsport, Grand Cape Mount County which began Wednesday February 13, 2013 and ended February 15, 2013.

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“The Legislature Is Independent”

The Constitution Review Commission’s two days symposium was money spent in the right direction. Since the Liberian civil war, it seems that the review process is the first substantive move to deal with causative factors which led to the Liberian conflagration. The Chairman of the National Council of Chiefs, Chief Zanzar Kawor, with vehemence, spoke the minds of traditional leaders.

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Liberians Expressed Views on Constitution:

Participants at the just concluded constitution review symposium demonstrated interest in the review of the Liberian constitution. The issues raised seem to speak beyond the mandate of the President to the Gloria Scott’s Review Committee. There is no doubt that the timeline of the commission cannot do justice to the numerical preponderance of constitutional contradictions.

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Public Works Rural Agenda: A New Dawn for Rural Cities?

The Republic of Liberia is evidently far behind its neighbors and other African nations in terms of infrastructural development. The Republics of Ghana, Nigeria, and Guinea have outdone Liberia infra-structurally. City roads networks and high ways are in better and modern conditions than Africa’s oldest independent state. It seems difficult to understand why a nation that is 165 years old with lots of natural riches has not paved all of its city streets and highways. Can it be that Liberia is jinxed; or simply the fact that we have lost hold of development priorities?

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MPW and Liberia’s Complex Infrastructural Problems

Liberia is Africa’s oldest independent nation, history tells us so. This position occupied by us is the pride of our and our prestigious boast in international forums. When it comes to development in Africa, we always prefer to remain silent- reason being that we know our backwardness. If we must proffer a reason for being under-developed, our presentation becomes most logical. “We cannot be compared with South Africa. The whites built it before the blacks took over. We cannot be compared with Ivory Coast. The French built it before independence.” The list goes on and on.

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Public Works Minister Kofi Woods Likened to Gabriel Tucker- Amazing Successes; Herculean Challenges

“He is constantly spoken of. He is very uncontroversial and very determined. He is productive and efficient; and above all, his name is becoming synonymous to Public Works just as in the days of Gabriel Tucker. In some ways, the late Gabriel Tucker and Kofi Woods have some character traits. They have easy dispositions and are calculative. Both of them believe in productiveness and efficiency. Importantly, they are, in their own settings and persuasions, people that administrations can count on. Gabriel is no more; but Kofi sits in his seat.” These are the words of a pro-democracy activist who prefers anonymity.

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