WASHINGTON, D.C. — Back in 2010, United States President Barack Obama envisioned the Global Development Council through the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development. However, it was not established until February 2012 by executive order. It was slated to hold its first meeting in May 2013, but it was cancelled due to scheduling issues. The meeting was rescheduled for July 2013, but it was also cancelled.
Holding that the third one is a charm, the council, whose focus is foreign aid, held its first public meeting on April 14. During the meeting, the council presented its policy recommendations. These included “a development bank, a major conference on development policy and a move toward innovation, transparency and evidence-based policy.”
While attendees had little knowledge on what to expect from the meeting, it proceeded with great engagement from the 10 members of the council. Different members took charge of each part of the seven-page policy document. However, according to George Ingram from the Brookings Institution, “the panel gave no indication of how the proposed recommendations had been arrived at, or whether they’d been voted on, or about what the council’s future plans were. There was nothing about next steps. … They didn’t say if they were putting together another set of recommendations or if there would be more meetings,” he said.
In response to this criticism, council members said that they had held information sessions where they solicited comments from interested parties. However, as the panel moved into a private session with the president in the afternoon, criticism grew. Audiences expressed concern about the lack of publicity given the to the sessions.
Notwithstanding some unfavorable judgement of the council, especially considering how long it took to consolidate, it shows the Obama Administration’s commitment towards foreign development. Understanding that now more than ever, American prosperity is linked to the well-being of the rest of the world, the Global Development Council shows how “the administration is eager to use development policy to tackle inequality, conflict, hunger, and disease to promote prosperity and security around the world and at home.”
The council counts with high powered members from the offices of John Kerry and Chuck Hagel. While the panel cannot cover every aspect of foreign assistance, this should give it an edge when it comes to influencing changes in U.S. foreign policy. While not in full swing yet, the Global Development Council promises to overhaul the way foreign policy aid is currently conceived, hopefully for the better.