This post is part of the series, “This Week in Markets and Democracy.” Each Friday, CFR’s Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Program, will highlight the week’s noteworthy events and articles.
African Progress Report for 2015
This week, the African Progress Panel (APP)—a high-level ten-member group advocating for equitable and sustainable development—released its 2015 Africa Progress Report. Power People Planet: Seizing Africa’s Energy and Climate Opportunities highlights that Africa’s basic energy challenges, starting with the fact that two thirds of the region’s population—some 600 million sub-Saharan Africans—don’t have access to electricity. To ensure universal access by 2030, the APP recommends countries increase their energy sector spending to 3 to 4 percent of their gross domestic product (GDP) and expand private sector involvement. The group hopes to influence discussions at next month’s Third International Conference on Financing Development and at the Paris Climate Summit in November.
European Commission New Transparency Tool
This week, the Transparency International EU Office launched an interactive database—the EU Integrity Watch—to provide information on the lobbying activities at the European Commission, the European Union’s executive body, as part of a larger ongoing campaign to reduce unethical lobbying. Compiling information on meetings with high-level officials, the platform shows that corporations dominate these interchanges: between December 2014 and June 2015, corporate lobbyists comprised 75 percent of European Commission lobby meetings; NGOs, think tanks, local authorities, and a few others made up the rest. Topping the list were Google, GE, and Microsoft (all of which are or have been embroiled in legal cases with the European Commission). While not necessarily surprising, easy open access may spur changes.
Presidential Term Limits
Rwanda’s ruling party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), is backing a constitutional amendment that would allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third presidential term in 2017. Third terms are not uncommon in Africa. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was re-elected in April for his third term, and Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza announced that he will be running for a third term come July. Kagame has not officially announced if he will run again. Yet a recent statement that “term limits have nothing to do with democracy” is inciting much debate between staunch defenders of the democratic alteration of power and those in favor of maintaining stability in the region.
Foreign Aid Transparency
This week, Nepali Prime Minister Sushil Koirala promised zero-tolerance of corruption in how the government will spend the $3 billion in foreign aid pledged to rebuild the country after April’s devastating earthquakes. International donors, led by India and China, remain skeptical. Foreign aid is also proving contentious in the United Kingdom, given recent reports that the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spent $22,000 on an Ethiopian quiz show and $1,500 on a Facebook program. To address worries in the United States, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) maintains an aid transparency tracker, where users can find out exactly where and how aid has been spent in forty-four countries.
UN Report on Possible War Crime Committed in Gaza
In a new UN Human Rights Council report, an independent commission concluded that both Israel and Palestinian militant groups may have committed war crimes in Gaza last summer in a surge of violence that killed over 2,300 people. In response to the UN report, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki delivered to the International Criminal Court (ICC) files describing Israel’s alleged war crimes and breach of international law. The ICC launched a preliminary examination into possible war crimes in January, and the recent UN report may push it to open a full investigation.