Proponents of efforts to reform US foreign assistance policy and create a cabinet level Department of Global Development are asking for help from the faith community to send a letter to both presidential candidates, relaying this message at this most crucial of times.
A similar letter just a few months ago expressed the role of the faith community in foreign assistance initiatives, as well as the need for new positions of leadership in government to address development goals. This newest letter is an updated version that urges the candidates to follow through with their proposed development goals, and strongly insists the creation of a Department of Global Development. Rev. Carolyn Boyd-Clark of the Global AIDS Alliance (one of the organizations involved in this work) stresses the urgency of involvement by faith-based organizations and leaders, with this new letter aimed at ensuring that the faith community is heard.
To learn more about this effort, read the Principles for Reform.
The letter is provided below. To sign on to the letter, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, organizational affiliation (for identification only), phone number, and e-mail.
Sign-on Letter from Religious Leaders to the Presidential Candidates
Senator Barack Obama
Obama for America
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, IL 60680
Senator John McCain
John McCain for President
P.O. Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215
We, the undersigned religious leaders, from across the United States, wish to emphasize our full support for an approach to US foreign policy that is grounded in compassion and justice, in accordance with our faith traditions. We welcome the proposals you have made on such urgent issues as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and access to basic education.
It would be a terrible mistake to delay or cancel the proposals you have made on these issues because of the financial crisis now affecting the United States. These problems cannot wait because the lives of millions of people are at stake, disease threats know no borders, and true US security depends on our full participation in the effort to reach the Millennium Development Goals. In addition, the funding required to implement your plans is a relatively tiny portion of the overall US budget; thus, delaying their implementation would not free up significant money for other purposes.
It is essential that the funding that is provided for foreign assistance be used wisely. Therefore, as you develop and refine your own foreign policy proposals, we urge you to consider backing the establishment of a US Department for Global Development, in order to ensure the full success of a compassion-centered approach.
US assistance to address poverty and disease has saved millions of lives around the world – as shown, for instance, by the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Yet, US foreign aid is executed by at least 12 departments, 25 different agencies, and almost 60 government offices, which can lead to confusion and competing agendas. Cost-inefficiencies in aid delivery and poor coordination hamper US efforts, and US procedures undermine the sense of local ownership needed for development to succeed.
For instance, a recent study by Oxfam found that US aid to Afghanistan, provided by eight separate US agencies, is poorly coordinated, ineffective and wasteful.
To solve these and other problems, we need a Department for Global Development to ensure that the funds allocated to reduce poverty across the globe are spent intentionally, wisely and with full accountability.
A Cabinet-level Department for Global Development would bring together the numerous U.S. government agencies and departments now working to reduce poverty throughout the world. It would have a streamlined organizational structure with empowered, high-level leadership and a clear mission focused on poverty alleviation and broad-based economic development.
Establishing a U.S. Department for Global Development would permit the U.S. government to put global assistance where it belongs — on an equal footing with national security and diplomatic relations – thereby making development a key priority for the President.
It would give the President a stronger voice in negotiations with Congress for the resources and policies needed to ensure the US lives up to its international commitments on poverty reduction. And, on the basis of a unified effort on global poverty, the US could better leverage resources for development from Europe, Japan and other key donors and support effective international institutions.
This is not a new idea. Several commission reports have recommended that we move in this direction. A new presidential administration provides the opportunity to make a change of this magnitude.
Please consider making the establishment of a U.S. Department for Global Development a central component of your foreign policy plan.
(Organizational Affiliation for Identification Purposes Only)