The World Bank presidency and a peace agreement in Colombia: This week in development news

By Michael Igoe 25 August 2016

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos Calderón shakes hands with Commander of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia Timoleón Jiménez at the ceremony in Havana, Cuba for the signing of a ceasefire and the laying down of arms between the government of Colombia and FARC-EP. Photo by: Eskinder Debebe / United Nations

Colombia’s historic peace agreement sets the stage for a massive development push, Syria’s volunteer rescue workers find some international recognition amidst ongoing danger, and the Clinton Foundation’s partners look to the future. This week in development news:

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew  announced the nomination of Jim Yong Kim to serve a second term as president of the World Bank. The nomination came on Thursday, just after midnight, the first day of a 21-day nomination period few believe will produce any challengers to Kim. Devex  spoke with Hafed Al-Ghwell, a former bank official with close ties to the institution's executive directors, about the process. Al-Ghwell said that Kim has been citing the upcoming U.S. presidential elections — and the possibility of a Donald Trump presidency — as reason to move the reappointment forward quickly. Al-Ghwell also described his experience during the 2012 World Bank presidential appointment, which brought Kim into office. The World Bank cites the 2012 process as an example of a merit-based, open competition for the position, which the bank intends to replicate this year. But to Al-Ghwell, the 2012 appointment process was hardly an example to be celebrated.

The Colombian government and the FARC rebel group signed a peace accord Wednesday in Havana, Cuba after 52 years of conflict — the longest war in the Americas. As Devex reported last month, “the accord is premised on a fundamental trade: In exchange for FARC renouncing violence, demobilizing, disarming and dismantling the illicit drug trafficking network that has funded its insurgency, the state will address the grievances that first bred conflict a half century ago.” While most Colombians appear to be in support of the treaty, some remain divided over its terms, which will allow the FARC some political representation and allow rebels to avoid jail time for crimes committed during the war. Now, the government of Colombia faces the difficult task of reaching out to those communities that have been cut off from government services for decades. The government has also agreed to undergo a major land restitution process, which could take a decade to complete.

The Clinton Foundation remains in the U.S. election year spotlight as questions about whether Hillary Clinton rewarded foundation donors with access to her office when she served as secretary of state continue to circulate. While recently released emails show Clinton granted meetings to people who have worked with her family’s foundation, others point out that many — if not the vast majority — of those people were figures a U.S. secretary of state could have been meeting with in the conduct of her job. Meanwhile, the Clinton Foundation’s partners are considering what life will look like after the election, now that the foundation has announced it will change its donor policies if Clinton wins the presidency. As Devex reported, many Clinton Foundation initiatives might consider spinning off into their own separate legal entities, thereby distancing themselves from the Clinton family — and from the foundation’s new policies.

The White Helmets, a group of roughly 3,000 volunteer rescue workers in Syria, have been nominated for the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize. The group has the support of some 130 nominating organizations to win the recognition, which could prove a fundraising boon for the volunteers, and would mark the first time in history the Nobel Prize is awarded to a group of local humanitarian responders, wrote Devex London Correspondent Molly Anders. This week, after World Humanitarian Day on August 19, Devex published a recorded interview with one of the White Helmets’ earliest volunteers, Khaled Omar Harah. Only days before news of the Nobel nomination reached the White Helmets in Syria, Harah was killed amid shelling in Aleppo while removing the dead from a battlefield.

The European Commission is reporting its highest-ever aid budget, reflecting a 20 percent hike in the regional bloc’s funding, and raising the total amount to $1.25 billion for 2016, of which about 40 percent will go to victims of the Syrian crisis, according to Deutsche Welle.

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About the author

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Michael Igoe@AlterIgoe

Michael Igoe is a senior correspondent for Devex. Based in Washington, D.C., he covers U.S. foreign aid and emerging trends in international development and humanitarian policy. Michael draws on his experience as both a journalist and international development practitioner in Central Asia to develop stories from an insider's perspective.

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