Trump calls out Pakistan, Bloomberg moves up, and Cambodia cracks down: This week in development

Michael Bloomberg, former New York City mayor and founder at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Photo by: UNclimatechange / CC BY

Bloomberg moves to fill Clinton’s CGI vacuum, Trump puts Pakistan aid on notice, and India’s highest court says privacy is a fundamental right. This week in development:

The New Development Bank — or “BRICS bank” — opened its first regional office, an Africa Regional Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. “The ARC will be the face of the NDB in Africa. It will progressively undertake a growing range of the bank’s work, beginning with project identification and preparation,” said NDB President K. V. Kamath at the agreement signing ceremony, which South African President Jacob Zuma attended. The new center will focus on identifying and preparing infrastructure and development projects in South Africa, according to an NDB press release. The NDB’s Board of Directors has so far approved seven projects in the bank’s member states, focused on renewable energy and transportation.

Bloomberg Philanthropies plans to fill the vacuum created by the Clinton Global Initiative’s decision to end its star-studded September annual meetings in New York. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s philanthropic venture is holding a Global Business Forum on September 20, to coincide with events surrounding the United Nations General Assembly. Bloomberg has assembled a powerhouse lineup of heads of state, business leaders, and global development luminaries, and the event is rumored to include an informal “passing of the baton” from former President Bill Clinton to Bloomberg. Bill Gates, Jim Yong Kim, Christine Lagarde, António Guterres, Aliko Dangote and many others will speak at the gathering. The forum will feature sessions focused on shared prosperity, globalization, new opportunities — such as China’s Belt and Road Initiative — and the future of multilateralism. Devex will be on the ground in New York to bring you all the latest from a week when global development takes center stage. Sign up for our daily morning briefings.

President Donald Trump singled out Pakistan in his Monday speech on U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, suggesting that U.S. aid to the country could be jeopardized if Pakistan does not work more aggressively to stamp out terrorist safe havens. "Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists,” Trump said. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson elaborated: "We have some leverage that's been discussed in terms of the amount of aid and military assistance we give them, their status as a non-NATO alliance partner. All of that can be put on the table," Tillerson told reporters in Washington, D.C. The U.S. government plans to send more than $742 million in foreign assistance to Pakistan in FY 2017. As part of our Rise of Chinese Aid series, we looked into Pakistan's $100 billion deal with China.

India’s Supreme Court ruled that citizens have a fundamental right to privacy, a decision that could complicate the country’s push to establish a comprehensive biometric identification system. The “Aadhaar” system is an effort by the Indian government to route huge segments of the population’s financial life through a digital identification system that supporters hope will improve security, stem corruption and enhance access to financial and welfare services. Critics of the plan — which has shifted from voluntary to mandatory — worry that sensitive personal data could be put at risk. The Supreme Court’s decision overturns two previous rulings that privacy was not a fundamental right.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs ordered foreign staff members of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute to leave the country on Wednesday, giving them one week to do so. NDI, which supports democratic elections and institutions around the world, has been critical of Cambodian President Hun Sen’s 30-year hold on power. In a statement, the ministry said, “while this decision has been made with NDI and its foreign staff, the competent authorities are geared up to take the same measures against any foreign association or non-governmental organization that fails to abide by [relevant NGO laws].” Human rights activists have charged that the government uses allegations of unspecified tax impropriety to, “repress the opposition party, civil society and the media.”

U.N. Secretary General António Guterres appointed Jane Connors to a new U.N. role aimed at stamping out sexual abuse committed by U.N. peacekeepers. Connors, currently Amnesty International's advocacy director for law and policy, will support an “integrated, strategic response to victim assistance,” Guterres said in a statement. As Devex reported, the U.N. fielded 65 allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse involving U.N. civilian staff in 2016, in addition to 80 allegations of sexual abuse by uniformed personnel. Guterres made addressing sexual abuse by peacekeepers a key promise during his campaign to lead the international organization last year.

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About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.