TLC Newsletter: September 2014 Update
It has been a productive summer at The Lugar Center (TLC), and I am writing to share some of the highlights with you. In August we celebrated our first year anniversary as a 501(c)(3) designated charitable organization. Our core issues – global food and energy security, WMD non-proliferation, and foreign aid effectiveness –remain timely and topical given current events in the world.
We have launched a new focus area – bipartisan governance – an area about which we care deeply because of its impact on government effectiveness, the governability of the nation, and even our leadership in the world. We are nearing completion of a new index tool which measures the level of bipartisanship of Members of Congress in their work on Capitol Hill. The tool will even be able to measure and compare the level of partisanship among Congresses. We believe such a tool will empower citizens to hold their elected officials accountable and will support a more bipartisan dimension to U.S. politics. If you are interested in supporting this work, you can help us here.
I am continuing to raise the issue of global food security and agricultural development at a number of public venues, including events at the Bipartisan Policy Center and the University of Indianapolis. In May, I gave the keynote address to USAID’s Feed the Future global forum, calling for more attention to food aid reform, climate change, and the connection between food security and U.S. foreign policy and national security. I cautioned that the Administration’s legacy in global agriculture could be undermined if it did not seek to have the program authorized in legislation. At the event I also noted the importance of Norman Borlaug’s legacy.
During the U.S. Africa Leaders’ Summit, TLC joined with the German Marshall Fund to co-host an official side event in which we hosted the President of Niger. I keynoted and introduced President Mahamadou Issoufou who spoke on the efforts Niger, one of the poorest countries on the continent, is making to advance its food security. After hearing from the president, TLC program director for Global Food Security and Aid Effectiveness, Lori Rowley, led a spirited roundtable discussion with Nigerien and U.S. luminaries, including Niger’s High Commissioner for Food Security, members of the diplomatic corps, and U.S. government and non-governmental officials.
TLC staff hosted a fun, hour-long Twitter chat as part of the Devex Digital Rally (#TLCreGMO) on food security, with our focus on how science, including genetic engineering, can contribute to feeding the world and raising people out of poverty. TLC Senior Fellow Connie Veillette had the privilege of leading two sessions at Purdue’s Borlaug Fellows in Global Food Security Summer Institute. She focused on the politics of food security and then moderated a panel on the role of women in agriculture. Lori kept up a steady schedule of meetings and speaking engagements including with the Indiana Farm Bureau, the International Policy Summer Institute Bridging the Gap Seminar for leaders in academia, and groups representing civil society in Angola.
And, we continued to roll out a series of new products in our global food security Resources for Researchers program – on the topics of Women in Agriculture, Conflict and Lack of Governance, Food Price Volatility, and Agroforestry. These augment existing Resources on orphan crops, biodiversity, land tenure, and genetic engineering. If you’d like to learn of current and seminal research on any of these topics, please check out what we think are invaluable resources.
On the foreign aid effectiveness front, TLC continues to be active in promoting the role of transparency and accountability. Connie served on an aid reform discussion panel with former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman and President and CEO of World Learning Donald Steinberg at the 2014 Interaction forum on development. Connie also moderated a Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network (MFAN) event releasing its report The Way Forward: A Reform Agenda for 2014 and Beyond. Lori co-chairs a working group on accountability as part of MFAN, which just released a brief on the value of transparency for aid effectiveness. Lori also co-led an MFAN side event to the U.S. Africa Leaders’ Summit on the use of existing aid data by civil society in developing countries. We have also stayed active in pushing for reforms to U.S. food aid programs.
And finally, but certainly not last in importance to world peace, TLC has been active on nuclear and WMD security issues. With unsettling events in Ukraine, North Korea, Syria, Iraq, and ungoverned spaces in several African countries, these issues remain central to preventing conflicts from spiraling out of control. We have just joined the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in supporting MENACS – the Middle East Next Generation of Arms Control Specialists Network. This group brings together young WMD experts from Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey to enhance regional dialogue and work cooperatively on nonproliferation projects. We also continue our affiliation with the Arms Control Association in providing an arena for bipartisan discussions on arms control between Republican and Democratic policy makers. In addition, we are finalizing a series of informative interviews with key practitioners who are experts in the control of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. And we are most fortunate to have Tom Moore join us as Senior Fellow. Tom brings a wealth of expertise, adding his analysis on civilian nuclear cooperation agreements and the role of nuclear weapons in the Ukraine conflict.
We are humbled by the many individuals and organizations reaching out to partner with us and provide us with financial support. Look for some new announcements from us and a redesigned website in the near future.
We remain committed to nurturing new ideas for a more stable and prosperous world.
Richard G. Lugar
President, The Lugar Center
United States Senator (Ret.)