Monday, December 14, 2009

Conference: The Future of Development - Yale Law School, April 8-9 2010.

The recent, devastating global economic crisis will have a lasting impact on the efforts of international development organizations and the world’s governments to reduce poverty and improve living conditions in the developing world. While reduced funds for global development initiatives is one immediate consequence of the crisis, there may be other far-reaching consequences as governments and organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund evaluate how market-based development strategies impacted developing countries as the crisis unfolded. This year, with support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, the Bernstein symposium will explore the intersection of human rights and issues in global economic development. We hope to focus the attention of the human rights community on the impact of the financial crisis on existing development efforts, as well as on emerging strategies, so that the current urgent challenges may create opportunities for re-examining international development models and fostering a fruitful exchange between development and human rights perspectives.

Some proposed topics on the agenda:

Keynote Lecture by William Easterly, Professor of Economics, New York University

Assessing Development Debates from the Ground
Practitioners from aid and development organizations working in developing countries will consider how debates in policymaking and academic circles reflect and impact their experiences on the ground, and contribute their own perspectives on what best promotes development.

The UN Millennium Development Goals at Ten YearsThe 2009 United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report indicates that while important progress has been made toward some targets, many others will likely not be attained by 2015, due to the global economic crisis and the failure of world governments to fulfill pledges for increased aid.  Some have questioned whether the MDGs even represent an approach worth pursuing, while others have argued that the goals are virtually unmeasurable, and that because of a lack of scientific rigor in the monitoring and evaluation of development programs, it is difficult to know how much progress has really been attained, and to what the progress is attributable.

Aid, Corruption, Conflict, and Democracy
Two recent provocative books have focused new attention on the relationships between aid and governance. Paul Collier, in Wars, Guns, and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places, argues that western governments and institutions promote superficial democracy in aid-recipient countries in ways that lead to unrest and instability, holding back development and increasing poverty. Dambisa Moyo in Dead Aid argues that western aid to African governments has kept dictators in power and caused rampant corruption, themes echoed by Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda. However, their policy prescriptions are very different.

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