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The U.S. Congress should fully fund the administration's $47.8 billion request for base international affairs for Fiscal Year (FY) 2014. This request represents a 6% reduction from FY 12 funding levels and a 14% reduction from the FY 13 request, reflecting the difficult budget environment that lawmakers currently face. The foreign affairs budget, which represents less than 1% of the annual U.S. budget, provides an invaluable set of tools for advancing U.S. foreign policy interests. The relatively modest investments that fall under the international affairs budget bear great returns, as the American government helps develop stable, democratic partners that cooperate on trade, security, immigration, and economic issues. Amid weariness among the American people with military engagement overseas, diplomacy is an inherently less costly means of advancing interests.
In repressive countries, the smallest amount of U.S. assistance can bring hope and provide a lifeline to those who face imprisonment, torture, or even death for speaking out in support of freedom, while helping to engender the next generation of potential leaders. Recent developments in the Middle East, Russia, Burma and elsewhere show the importance of robust, strategic, and flexible funding for the United States to respond effectively to quickly changing situations on the ground and continue to play a leadership role in the international community.
The budget plans produced by the House and Senate for FY 14 differ greatly from one another and from the President's request. The House Republican budget resolution would fund international affairs at $38.7 billion for FY 14, 20% less than the President's request, and a staggering 29% less than the FY 12 actual numbers. Cuts of that magnitude would have a devastating effect on the ability of the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to carry out their diplomatic work and assistance programs. While it is important at present for every federal agency to eliminate redundancies, streamline operations, and reevaluate priorities, such sweeping cuts to an already miniscule budget would do great and needless harm. The Senate budget resolution proposes $45.6 billion in base international affairs funding.
Funding for Democracy and Human Rights represents 9% of the total request for foreign assistance for FY 14, less than 1/10th of 1% of the total U.S. budget. The administration's proposal will support important initiatives that protect and promote democracy, rule of law, and human rights, including:
Flexible funding to support democratic change in the Middle East through a Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund.
Increased funding for priority regions, including Asia and Africa.
Robust funding for priority countries and territories including Afghanistan, Mexico, South Sudan, the West Bank and Gaza, and Burma.
Increases in some areas are balanced by decreases in others, including:
The elimination of the Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia Account (AEECA) and decreases in the Europe and Eurasia region overall.
Large decreases in democracy funding for Iraq and Pakistan.
Regional and country-level decreases in the Western Hemisphere and in South and Central Asia.
While the administration understandably has had to make difficult tradeoffs to reach budget goals, there are some areas where decreased funding would be harmful to achieving U.S. strategic policy goals and Congress can provide additional support:
Congress should fund the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and USAID's Bureau of Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA) at the FY 12 levels. These two bureaus provide leadership within their agencies on democracy and human rights policy and require adequate resources to continue doing so.
Congress should allow the administration to meet the United States' assessed obligations to the United Nations for FY14. Moreover, Congress should reinstate funding for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which supports many cultural, social, and educational programs in line with the U.S.'s own values.
The administration must work with Congress to identify innovative ways to support civil society in countries with difficult operating environments, including Russia, Bolivia, Egypt, and Ethiopia.
Robust funding for international affairs in FY 14 will give America's diplomats the tools they need to advance U.S. interests abroad and maintain the United States' role as a global leader. Such funding alone is not enough, however. The administration must match a strong budget with clear policy decisions and a consistently forceful message, communicated both publicly and privately, that democracy and human rights are of the utmost importance to the United States.
This report summarizes the most notable requests, changes, and new developments within the administration's democracy and human rights budget for FY14. It also offers policy recommendations and suggestions for budget adjustments to better align funding allocations with U.S. interests.
Search For Common Ground;
The case studies in this book were prepared by members of Search for Common Ground's Middle East Chemical Risks Consortium (CRC)-- a group of Egyptian, Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian research centers that agreed to reach across political lines and cooperate to address the problem of chemical risks.
Each research center partcipating in the CRC chose a recent case of a local accident involving toxic chemicals. The cases highlight legal, technical, operational, and human factors contributing to the accident and draw lessons applicable in any country. Unlike the notorious 1984 Bhopal chemical factory accident in India, these incidents received relatively little media coverage and almost no publicly available analysis.
World Bank, The;
This volume is intended to serve as a water handbook. It represents the collective knowledge about water resources management acquired over recent years, both within the World Bank water team and with counterparts working in the Arab countries of North Africa and the Middle East (MNA). The chapters offer a cornucopia of ideas and themes. Some chapters are based on background papers prepared for the 2007 "MNA Development Report on Water." Others draw on sector work prepared at the request of client countries. Yet others summarize observations based on study tours or other learning events sponsored by the World Bank. Upon reviewing this lodestone of embedded knowledge, we realized that bringing together our observations and analyses could serve a useful purpose for public officials, other practitioners, academics, and students who are interested in learning more about the complexities of managing water resources management in one of the driest parts of the world.
Pew Global Attitudes Project;
Focuses on the reaction to the war in Iraq, attitudes around the world towards the war on terrorism, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, Syria, and North Korea, and views on American unilateralism.
Carnegie Corporation of New York;
In 2007, a team of international security experts and researchers at the Henry L. Stimson Center launched an initiative to build an effective model for sustainable nonproliferation of biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. The project represented an exciting and innovative way of thinking about security: a "dual-use" approach that operated at the nexus of the security and development communities. The team's ingenuity paid off. After less than six years, the Stimson Center is phasing out its involvement in the successful program, which will now be government funded. This paper shows how a novel idea, supported with modest grants from Carnegie Corporation, went on to secure millions in support from international sources, achieving real-world policy wins.
Atlantic Council of the United States;
Evaluates the relationship between the United States and the Gulf states as they face democratic transitions in the Arab world as well as security challenges in the Gulf.
Civil society is increasingly coming under assault around the world, as authoritarian governments grow more bold and sophisticated in stifling independent groups that monitor elections, expose corruption, or otherwise give citizens a voice in how they are governed. In response, senior U.S. officials have reaffirmed their support for universal rights, including freedom of association, while mid-level officials have criticized specific abuses against civil society. However, only modest U.S. government efforts have dealt systematically with the global nature of the crackdown on civil society. This weak U.S. response to the crackdown hurts U.S. interests and undermines U.S. credibility abroad. The U.S. government needs to respond to the threats against civil society more forcefully.
To curb the global crackdown, the United States needs to systematically oppose efforts by authoritarian governments to control civic space, take vigorous political and diplomatic measures to support civil society organizations that come under threat, and get around government restrictions designed to isolate local organizations from the international community. Effective U.S. policy to defend civil society needs to respond comprehensively to the global nature of the crackdown and, at the same time, turn the tide in key countries where repression of civil society has significant regional repercussions. While bipartisan collaboration is critical to make such policy effective, a strong U.S. response to the global crackdown on civil society must begin in the White House.
Use our interactive data tool to compare the press freedoms of regions and countries over time.
Examines regional, multilateral track two dialogues focused on arms control and other cooperative security measures in the Middle East and South Asia. Assesses regional security trajectories in both regions and makes suggestions for improvement.
Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School;
Digital communication has become a more perilous activity, particularly for activists, political dissidents, and independent media. The recent surge in digital activism that has helped to shape the Arab spring has been met with stiff resistance by governments in the region intent on reducing the impact of digital organizing and independent media. No longer content with Internet filtering, many governments in the Middle East and around the world are using a variety of technological and offline strategies to go after online media and digital activists. In Tunisia, before and during the January 2011 protest movement that led to a change in government there, Internet service providers were apparently logging usernames and passwords to hack into and dismantle online organizing and information sharing among protesters. In early June 2011, Google reported a phishing attack targeted at military and human rights activists to gain access to their Gmail accounts. In Syria, a well organized effort known as the Syrian Electronic Army has been carrying out attacks to disable and compromise web sites that are critical of the Syrian regime. These stories are only a few selected from the set that have become public, and an unknown number of attacks go unnoticed and unreported. Many of these attacks are impossible to attribute to specific actors and may involve a mix of private sector and governmental actors, blurring the lines between cyber attacks and government surveillance. In such an environment, maintaining online security is a growing challenge.
In this report we describe the results of a survey of 98 bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) carried out in May 2011 in order to study bloggers' perceptions of online risk and the actions they take to address digital communications security, including both Internet and cell phone use. The survey was implemented in the wake of the Arab spring and documents a proliferation of online security problems among the respondents. In the survey, we address the respondents' perceptions of online risk, their knowledge of digital security practices, and their reported online security practices. The survey results indicate that there is much room for improving online security practices, even among this sample of respondents who are likely to have relatively high technical knowledge and experience.
Freedom on the Net 2013 is the fourth report in a series of comprehensive studies of internet freedom around the globe and covers developments in 60 countries that occurred between May 2012 and April 2013. Over 60 researchers, nearly all based in the countries they analyzed, contributed to the project by researching laws and practices relevant to the digital media, testing the accessibility of select websites, and interviewing a wide range of sources, among other research activities. This edition's findings indicate that internet freedom worldwide is in decline, with 34 out of 60 countries assessed in the report experiencing a negative trajectory during the coverage period. Broad surveillance, new laws controlling web content, and growing arrests of social-media users drove this overall decline in internet freedom in the past year. Nonetheless, Freedom on the Net 2013 also found that activists are becoming more effective at raising awareness of emerging threats and, in several cases, have helped forestall new repressive measures.
Women's Refugee Commission (formerly Women's Commission for Refugee Women and Children);
It is widely believed that economic opportunities provide women with life options, greater participation in decisionmaking and more equity within the household. As a result, they are assumed to protect women against gender-based violence, including sexual assault and exploitation and domestic violence. The Women's Refugee Commission* (the Commission) traveled to Cairo, Egypt to learn if and how this assumption held for refugees from Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea, who live and work in Cairo. Although recognized refugees and asylum seekers are eligible for a work permit, in reality they are hard to obtain. Most women the Commission met with reported great difficulty in finding employment and meeting their basic needs. Often they are forced to work in unregulated sectors, such as housekeeping and child care, which exposes them to exploitation, abuse and harassment. There are very limited services for women who have been raped or abused, or women who have experienced domestic violence. The Women's Refugee Commission did see examples of promising livelihood interventions, including programs that include vocational training and job placement components. Such programs should be emulated. Key FindingsRefugee women in Cairo report great difficulty in meeting their basic needs, immense obstacles to obtaining employment, and many report incidences of racism and xenophobia.Lack of legal access to the labor market forces refugee women to work in the unregulated, informal sector, thereby increasing their risk to gender-based violence).Existing skills training and job placement programs serving refugee women do not include sessions on gender-based violence, nor referral linkages to gender-based violence programs.Very few refugees will be resettled despite the expectation of many that resettlement in a third country is a viable durable solution. Key Recommendations: Livelihood interventions must be brought to scale and more funding should be provided for livelihood programming for vulnerable refugee women.UNHCR and partnering agencies must include considerations for gender-based violence in all programming.Efforts to identify durable solutions (voluntary return to country of origin, integration into host country or resettlement in a third country) must be intensified.The Government of Egypt should reduce impediments to securing work permits for refugees and asylum seekers, enabling broader access to the labor market.