Barack Obama’s second term as president of the United States officially began on Sunday, although he was sworn in again the next day at a public ceremony on the steps of the Capitol.
The president’s inaugural address focused on domestic issues; most surprising, perhaps, was his vocal support for gay rights and climate change mitigation. On international development, Obama said only:
“We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom. And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice – not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.”
Global development leaders have already been pushing hard on challenges they want Obama and his team to tackle in the next four years, from streamlining international cooperation across government departments to speeding up procurement.
In the runup to the inauguration, Devex published a series of guest commentary by nonprofit leaders. These op-eds, assembled in collaboration with InterAction, touched on a range of issues, from human rights to money laundering and beyond. They’re a great reminder of the challenges and opportunities the aid community faces, and the hope it places in Obama’s leadership:
Darius Mans, president of Africare, on how the Obama administration can help turn the corner on the private sector’s perception of Africa as an unattractive place in which to invest and operate: ”Dear President Obama: Africa is calling”
Ritu Sharma, president and co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, on keeping the fight against gender-based violence as a U.S. foreign policy priority: ”Dear Mr. President: Make your legacy last by investing in women”
Erin Jeffery, advocacy and international development coordinator at InterAction, on urging the United States to mainstream water, sanitation and hygiene issues in foreign aid programs: ”Why clean water is crucial for effective development”
Shruti Shah, senior policy director at Transparency International-USA, on why the United States should strengthen compliance to international money laundering agreements: ”A case for more integrity in the financial sector”
Jesse Eaves, senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision, on how the United States can make a difference in ending what is considered modern-day slavery: ”Worth the struggle: How President Obama can curtail human trafficking”
What global development issues do you want the Obama administration to focus more – or less – on in the coming years? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.
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