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Nurturing Rule of Law in Young Uzbekistan

Judge John R. Tunheim (U.S. District Court of Minnesota) has traveled to Uzbekistan nine times in the span of 10 years to share his experience in the areas of rule of law and human rights. He returned to Uzbekistan in October and November 2012 to conduct training with Uzbek prosecutors and to participate in a conference marking the 20th anniversary of the Uzbek constitution. His visits were sponsored by a USAID program to improve the technical knowledge and practical skills of justice system stakeholders in Uzbekistan. Judge Tunheim looks back on his experience in working with the Uzbek justice system over the past decade in the following blog.

When I first visited Uzbekistan more than 10 years ago, the purpose was to engage the Uzbeks —government officials, journalists, judges and advocates—in a dialogue about human rights and international standards.

In Tashkent and the lovely regional cities, usually over green tea, we talked. Independent judges, arrest warrants, treatment of prisoners, open courtrooms, criminal defense, free media—these were our topics.

The Uzbeks I have met have always been friendly and welcoming, with frank and open discussions. It takes time and patience to build trust and familiarity. Our wonderful discussions ended in 2005 when doors were closed. But the doors were not locked, and when I returned to Tashkent in 2008, Uzbekistan had made significant changes. The death penalty was abolished and judges must approve arrests. I was impressed!

Judge John R. Tunheim (second from right) and fellow trainer, former prosecutor David Hackney, relax with Uzbek prosecutors as they learn about the American judicial system. Photo credit: USAID

I recently returned to Uzbekistan for my eighth and ninth visits. It’s exciting; the door for conversation is opening and my old friends are talking once again. Working with USAID and its NGO partner, Regional Dialogue, we discussed human rights and the evolving legal system. The Uzbeks have plans for more positive changes.

The Republic of Uzbekistan is barely 20 years old, celebrating now the anniversary of its constitution. Progress may feel slow in a world accustomed to a faster pace, but Uzbekistan is young. It is my hope that we can nurture the rule of law with both patience and persistence. Judges, in particular, need and want human rights training.

I once heard an American diplomat say that we work with our principles and their practicalities. In Uzbekistan, I would modify that wise rule: world principles and Uzbek practicalities. When we understand each other and build trust, we make progress. And I am convinced that progress is ahead in Uzbekistan.

Ten Things You Should Know About the State Department and USAID

This originally appeared in a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of State.

What do the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) do for the American people? With just over one percent of the entire federal budget, we have a huge impact on how Americans live and how the rest of the world engages with America. For example:

1. We create American jobs. We directly support 20 million U.S. jobs by promoting new and open markets for U.S. firms, protecting intellectual property, negotiating new U.S. airline routes worldwide, and competing for foreign government and private contracts.

2. We support American citizens abroad. In 2011, we provided emergency assistance to U.S. citizens in countries experiencing natural disasters or civil unrest. We assisted in 9,393 international adoptions and worked on more than 1,700 child abduction cases — resulting in the return of over 660 American children.

3. We promote democracy and foster stability around the world. Stable democracies are less likely to pose a threat to their neighbors or to the United States. In South Sudan, Libya and many other countries we worked through various means to foster democracy and peace.

4. We help to make the world a safer place. Together with Russia, under the New START Treaty, we are reducing the number of deployed nuclear weapons to levels not seen since the 1950s. Our nonproliferation programs have destroyed stockpiles of missiles, munitions and material that can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The State Department has helped more than 40 countries clear millions of square meters of landmines.

5. We save lives. Strong bipartisan support for U.S. global health investments has led to worldwide progress against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, smallpox and polio. Better health abroad reduces the risk of instability and enhances our national security.

6. We help countries feed themselves. We help other countries plant the right seeds in the right way and get crops to markets to feed more people. Strong agricultural sectors lead to more stable countries.

7. We help in times of crisis. From earthquakes in Haiti, Japan and Chile to famine in the Horn of Africa, our dedicated emergency professionals deliver assistance to those who need it most.

8. We promote the rule of law and protect human dignity. We help people in other countries find freedom and shape their own destinies. Reflecting U.S. values, we advocate for the release of prisoners of conscience, prevent political activists from suffering abuse, train police officers to combat sex trafficking and equip journalists to hold their governments accountable.

9. We help Americans see the world. In 2011, we issued 12.6 million passports and passport cards for Americans to travel abroad. We facilitate the lawful travel of international students, tourists and business people to the U.S., adding greatly to our economy. We keep Americans apprised of dangers or difficulties abroad through our travel warnings.

10. We are the face of America overseas. Our diplomats, development experts, and the programs they implement are the source of American leadership around the world. They are the embodiments of our American values abroad. They are a force for good in the world.

For a very small investment the State Department and USAID yield a large return by advancing U.S. national security, promoting our economic interests, and reaffirming our country’s exceptional role in the world.

Assistant Secretary Anne Richard and Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg Meet With Syrian Refugees

This originally appeared on the U.S. Department of State’s Dipnote.

Assistant Secretary Anne Richard traveled to the refugee camps in Turkey with Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg. Read more about their trip. 

U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard, and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg visited a refugee camp for Syrians in Turkey. While there, they met with Turkish partners and assistance providers to discuss the needs of Syrian refugees and ongoing humanitarian assistance efforts.

The U.S. delegation commended the generosity of the Government of Turkey and the Turkish people, and recognized the Turkish Red Crescent for its tireless efforts to provide protection and assistance to Syrians affected by the crisis. Assistant Secretary Richard said, “I come away very impressed by the way the Turkish government has provided so much to the Syrian refugees. Many of the Syrians with whom I spoke today are very grateful to the government of Turkey, to the people of Turkey.”

“We are working to ensure that if more people come out of Syria they will also get a reception like this,” Assistant Secretary Richard said. “We are supporting the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. USAID is working with the World Food Programme so we want to continue the ability for refugees to cross open borders and get the help they need. They are not alone, they are supported by the United States and the American funding is coming through international organizations, to reach them, and to help them, and to help their compatriots.”

Assistant Administrator Lindborg said, “…We have prioritized getting critical winter assistance in. It’s cold right now and we know that when you’re displaced and you’ve had to leave your home suddenly that you need essential blankets, carpets, warm clothing, plastic sheeting, ways to help families survive the winter. We will have reached 460,000 people, particularly in the northern parts of Syria with that kind of help by the end of this month. We know that’s not enough. This is a crisis of enormous proportions. We are moving aggressively to provide additional assistance. We call on other countries to do the same.”

The United States is providing food aid, medical supplies, emergency and basic health care, shelter materials, clean water, hygiene education and supplies, and other relief supplies — including blankets and heaters — to help millions of people affected by the crisis in Syria. More than two and a half million people in Syria are in need of humanitarian assistance, approximately 1.2 million people are internally displaced, and over half a million people have fled to the neighboring countries of Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraq.

Germany’s Renewed Support: Another Leap Forward for the Global Fund

Germany’s Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Dirk Niebel, announced at a World Economic Forum news conference in Davos, Switzerland on January 24 that Germany will contribute 1 billion euros ($1.35 billion USD) to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (GFATM) for the period of 2012 to 2016. As the third largest donor to the Global Fund, Germany has contributed $1.785 billion since the Global Fund’s creation in 2002, with approximately $259 million contributed in 2012. Another leap forward for the Global Fund, the Federal Republic of Germany’s commitment and renewed support will allow the organization to continue to further its mission to halt the spread of these highly infectious diseases.

The Global Fund employs an innovative approach to prevent and treat HIV and AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. Based on country ownership and performance-based funding, the Global Fund’s model provides resources to developing countries so that they can implement their own programs. Through more than 1,000 programs in 151 countries, Global Fund support has provided 4.2 million people with antiretroviral treatment, detected and treated 9.7 million new cases of infectious tuberculosis, and distributed 310 million insecticide-treated nets to protect families from malaria transmission.

The Global Fund’s Executive Director Mark Dybul, Bill Gates, and German Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Dirk Niebel announce Germany’s EUR 1 billion commitment to the Global Fund at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Photo credit: The Global Fund

USAID, through PEPFAR, and alongside many donor countries such as Germany, has been a strong supporter of the Global Fund since its inception. Having endured a period of structural transformation and leadership transition, it is more and more apparent that the Global Fund will continue to enact the necessary changes to ensure that grant processes reduce risk and enable countries with the greatest need to access the critical funds they need to continue the fight.

In particular, USAID appreciates the close collaboration with its German Government counterparts in improving Global Fund grant implementation through technical assistance efforts. Since 2007, USAID has provided urgent solutions to countries experiencing bottlenecks in their Global Fund grants through the Grant Management Solutions (GMS) project. GMS has established an effective relationship with the German BACKUP Initiative—Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit. Through the Office of HIV/AIDS, USAID regularly coordinates technical assistance efforts with the German GIZ-BACKUP program to reduce overlap and improve global reach of technical support to the Global Fund. We welcome the opportunity to expand this important collaboration in the months ahead.

Given the positive steps that the Global Fund has taken and is expected to take under Executive Director Mark Dybul’s leadership, we encourage all countries to honor their pledges to the Global Fund, especially during this time of transition to the new funding model.

The Story Behind the Headline: Investments in Implementation Science Tackle HIV Prevention in Swaziland

The incidence of HIV in Swaziland has stabilized, but the country continues to have the world’s highest estimated prevalence rate of HIV-infected adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26 percent of adults aged 15 to 49-years old in Swaziland are HIV-positive. USAID, through PEPFAR, is partnering with ICAP, a global health center at Columbia University, to evaluate an innovative approach to HIV prevention in countries like Swaziland. The study is one of three pilots in the country described in The Lancet article “HIV prevention: new pilots for beleaguered Swaziland,” published on January 12.

The article describes Swaziland’s efforts to answer a critical HIV prevention question: How can the high efficacy of antiretroviral-based prevention found in clinical trials be translated into effective programs? In other words, how can we turn science into practice? By evaluating different approaches to providing HIV treatment for HIV+ women, USAID’s partnership with ICAP will help answer this question for one of the groups made most vulnerable by the epidemic: pregnant women living with HIV.

The story behind the headline? USAID’s partnership with ICAP is part of an over $20 million investment in implementation science made by the Agency and as part of outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision for an AIDS-free generation. Through the Annual Program Statement (APS) “Implementation Science Research to Support Programs under PEPFAR,” USAID supports eight studies in eight of the African countries hardest hit by HIV/AIDS. In addition to addressing the critical HIV prevention question posed in The Lancet article, the scope of the APS provides a unique opportunity to fund cutting-edge research in a wide range of HIV-specific program areas. These studies aim to improve programs across the prevention, care, and treatment continuum. Data gathered will support efforts to prevent new infections and save lives.

As stated in the recent PEPFAR Blueprint (PDF), “Science must continue to guide our efforts” and “it is science that will underpin all our efforts to achieve the goal [of an AIDS-free generation] and save even more lives.” USAID’s commitment and investments in implementation science are a driving force in these efforts.

Learn more about USAID’s investments in implementation science in the Issue Brief “Implementation Science Research to Support Programs under PEPFAR.”

Contribute to the search for innovations to address key implementation science questions. The second round of the APS solicitation is public and the deadline for concept paper submissions is January 30, 2013. USAID anticipates awarding up to an additional $11 million of funding through the second round, with the maximum for a single application set at $1.8 million over three years.

Photo of the Week: State and USAID Visit WFP Distribution Center in Jordan

Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard and USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg visit a World Food Programme Distribution Center in Amman, Jordan, where refugees living in host communities receive vouchers on January 27, 2013. They can use these vouchers to shop for their families in local supermarkets. Photos from  State Department.

Videos of the Week: U.S. Delegation Visits Syrian Refugees at Camp Islahiye, Turkey

These videos originally appeared on U.S. Department of State’s Dipnote.

On January 24, 2013, U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees, and Migration Anne C. Richard, and USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance Nancy Lindborg visited Syrian refugees in Turkey. While at the camp, the delegation had the opportunity to speak with those affected by the violence, to listen to their concerns, and to witness first-hand the ongoing humanitarian assistance efforts.

On January 29, 2013, President Obama announced additional humanitarian aid for the Syrian people.

Call for Video Submissions: Social Media + Development

We are pleased to participate in Social Media Week 2013, scheduled February 17-22 in Washington to showcase our use of digital space for development. USAID will host several events during the week to contribute to the conversation and highlight how we rely on technology for a multitude of reasons, including program management and reporting, and general educational purposes for a range of projects, funded by USAID.

Making All Voices Count (MAVC) supports innovative solutions and harness new technologies to help grow the global movement for open government, transparency and accountability. Photo credit: USAID

As our development partners, we’d like to invite you to showcase your work in using social media for development through video at our #Popcorn + International Development event on February 22. This is a special opportunity for you to amplify a program you are proud of, or one which you feel deserves a louder voice in the public.

Submission Regulations:
1. Only one submission per organization is allowed.
2. Videos must be two minutes in length or less.
3. You must email the YouTube link to socialmedia@usaid.gov  by February 13 at 23:59 EST, including your organization’s name and point of contact.
4. Your video must highlight a project/s, that uses social media to further our collective development goals.
5. All videos must be 508 compliant and include captions (in English) for our participants with disabilities.
6. Videos, of course, should be child-friendly.

The top videos will be previewed at “#Popcorn + International Development”, followed by a short Q&A. We hope you will join us!

Non-selected videos may be compiled to a video stream and made available to the public through USAID’s YouTube channel, to encourage ongoing dialogue about social media and its role in international development.

Please note that USAID reserves the right to use and reuse, in whole or in part, all video submissions for purposes outside of this event. Your submission serves as a “silent” agreement between your organization and USAID of the aforementioned.

Learn More:
To learn more about Social Media Week, please visit their website.

For questions regarding video submissions, please email socialmedia@usaid.gov or Tweet to us using #smwUSAID.

RSVP:
Reserve your space at “#Popcorn + International Development”!

 

USAID Gives Back to Servicemembers at Home and Abroad

On Saturday, I joined USAID staff and their families to celebrate the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. by volunteering on the National Day of Service. With ten thousand other volunteers, we worked together to make 100,000 care packages for men and women serving our country overseas, wounded warriors here at home, and first responders who risk their lives to save and protect American families.

Administrator Rajiv Shah and daughter on the MLK National Day of Service. Photo credit: Anna Gohmann/USAID

Because we work for an agency whose mission advances human progress and dignity around the world, it was meaningful to join so many people–particularly so many from our USAID family–in giving back to our community here at home. I especially wanted to share this experience with my four-year-old daughter Amna, so that she grows up with an appreciation for the importance of giving back and an understanding of the impact community service can have on the lives of others. But Amna was not the only child there on Saturday.

It was particularly inspiring to see so many young people give up their Saturday to answer President Obama’s call to participate in the National Day of Service. As I have seen on university campuses across the country, this spirit of generosity and sense of responsibility evident in young people today reflects a desire to help advance the shared values that underpin our own agency’s mission.

Our event was organized through a great partnership between the Corporation for Community and National Service, Points of Light Foundation, and Target, among others. By bringing together AmeriCorps volunteers, university students, school groups, and service men and women, it demonstrated what we can accomplish when we come together to reach a common goal.

Please join me and check out opportunities to get involved in your community by visiting serve.gov.

Can Transitional Justice Prevent Conflicts?

Cyanne Loyle is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies at West Virginia University. Photo credit: West Virginia University

On August 4, 2011, President Obama launched the Presidential Studies Directive on Mass Atrocities, or PSD-10, a ground-breaking call for all major U.S. government agencies to engage on the issue of preventing mass atrocities and genocide worldwide. Through this initiative the White House called for action “early, proactively and decisively to prevent threats from evolving into large scale civilian atrocities.”

USAID’s plan to implement of PSD-10 includes launching the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention – a contest to identify new ideas for applying innovations and technology to atrocity prevention efforts; leading listening sessions – an effort to capture the individual voices and perspectives of those who have firsthand experience with atrocity prevention and response in the field; and developing a toolkit describing programming approaches, available resources and operational guidance for strengthening prevention efforts, as well as expanding training options for personnel deploying to high-risk mission countries.

The ideas behind PSD-10 are echoed in what the academic community has researched about mass violence. We know that these activities occur while other forms of violence are ongoing.  For example, the genocide in Rwanda took place under the guise of a civil war between the Rwandan Patriotic Front and the Rwandan government, and the current insurgency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a cover for countless human rights violations on a massive scale. We also know that mass atrocities are much more likely in countries that have experienced violence in the past. This phenomenon has come up so often, academics have given it a name: the “conflict trap.”

The questions now are: What tools do we have available to accomplish the goals of PSD-10? What can we do to prevent mass violence in the future?

Transitional Justice

One option, which has been shown to be effective, is the use of transitional justice.  Transitional justice is defined as any institution put in place following armed conflict to address the grievances and wrongdoings of the past. In practice, this has meant a wide variety of different processes: tribunals, truth commissions, reparations programs and lustration processes as well as less formal approaches such as memorialization efforts. The specific process used in each case has to be appropriate to the cultural and political realities, but the overall goal behind the transitional justice approach is to address grievances that have developed through the conflict among both the general population and former combatants. Governments that implement these processes, as well as the international organizations which support them, use transitional justice as a means of reducing the causes of conflict decreasing the likelihood that violence will occur again.

The use of transitional justice is already prevalent. The Post-Conflict Justice Dataset, which records transitional justice put in place following armed conflict, found 272 processes related to 173 different conflicts between 1946 and 2006. Fifty-three percent of post-conflict countries implemented at least one transitional justice process and 22 percent implemented two or more processes. Transitional justice is increasingly commonplace as a means of reducing the motives for future violence.

New research on transitional justice has turned our attention to the possibility of using transitional justice while conflict is ongoing in an attempt to resolve disputes and grievances sooner, thus bringing the conflict to an end more quickly. Other efforts have focused on the relationship between transitional justice and conflict to isolate the direct effects of transitional justice in order to design more useful strategies to prevent conflict reoccurrence.

We’re still unclear on the long-term effect of transitional justice, whether attempted during the conflict or after violence has ended. However, transitional justice can be a powerful tool for achieving the ends sought in PSD-10. No one claims transitional justice is the only or best approach, but it is one tool that should not be neglected when considering how best to respond to mass violence.

For more information about the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention at USAID, visit our website. Join the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #genprevtech.

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