Lee Hamilton: What our country needs from the press

by PSA Staff | June 13th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Lee Hamilton is director of the Center on Congress at Indiana University. He was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 34 years. Lee Hamilton is also the Co-Chair of PSA’s Board of Advisors. This article originally appeared in the Record Times.

Lee Hamilton: What our country needs from the press

These days, the scandal involving long wait times at VA hospitals can feel like some made-in-Washington spectacle generated by politicians looking for headlines. But it isn’t. It had its genesis in a late-April report on CNN that as many as 40 veterans may have died waiting for appointments at VA hospitals in Phoenix.

This investigative piece was notable for two reasons. It’s been a while since a news story so quickly provoked such a storm of public indignation that a cabinet secretary — deservedly or not — had no choice but to resign. And it’s a reminder of just how important old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting remains to our system of government, especially when it uncovers official misdoing. (more…)

A World Hungry for Food and Solutions: Why We Need Food Diplomacy

by PSA Staff | April 28th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. She also served as U.S. undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and is currently a distinguished fellow at George Washington University. This article was originally published in GW Planet Forward.

A World Hungry for Food and Solutions: Why We Need Food Diplomacy

If there is one truly global issue that unites people and divides them it is food. Food security—or lack thereof, is today on the top of every nation’s priorities including our own. Simply put: There is not enough food to go around in a world that is likely to house 9.6 billion people by 2050. Food insecurity—where someone in the household literally has to reduce food intake—affects people in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East.

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Taking Disability Seriously

by PSA Staff | February 26th, 2014 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine advises World Learning and is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University. She served as a member of PSA’s Board of Directors. The article was co-written by Don Steinberg. The article was originally posted in Foreign Affairs magazine.

Taking Disability Seriously

Sefakor Komabu-Pomeyie remembers having to crawl on the ground to enter her school in Ghana because there were no ramps for disabled students. At times, she even had to urinate on the floor; it was just too difficult to make it to the bathroom. Sefakor’s parents understood that their polio-stricken daughter would be out on the streets begging if she didn’t get an education, though, so they pushed her to stay in school. And she did. Today she is a graduate student and Ford Fellow at the School for International Training (SIT) Graduate Institute in Vermont. She also advocates for disability rights, particularly for those held back from education by lack of physical access.

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A global challenge: aiding those with disabilities

by PSA Staff | October 22nd, 2013 | |Subscribe

Tara Sonenshine is former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and currently a distinguished fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.She is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in CNN Opinion.

 

A global challenge: aiding those with disabilities

Imagine not being able to hear a siren during an emergency or to see a warning sign to evacuate. Imagine navigating knee-high mud in a wheelchair or trying to explain to a child with Down syndrome why he or she must seek higher ground. Those are just some of the challenges facing those with physical and cognitive disabilities — people often least prepared to face a natural disaster.

A largely overlooked report issued this month by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction found that the crucial needs of about 1 billion people living with physical and mental disabilities around the world are not woven into the disaster planning and emergency response plans of governments and civil society groups.

The result is that a disproportionate number of disabled persons suffer and die in disasters because of a lack of attention to their needs. Emergency response systems and shelters are poorly designed to handle their requirements. According to the report, 70% of those with disabilities who responded to the survey in over 100 countries said they did not know how to tap into any existing emergency response system in their communities. They become largely dependent on the good will of families and neighbors. (more…)

Globally, ‘girl power’ should be much more than a slogan

by PSA Staff | October 11th, 2013 | |Subscribe

This article was co-authored by Tara Sonenshine. Tara D. Sonenshine is former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs. She is currently a Distinguished Fellow at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. She is a former member of PSA’s Board of Directors. This article originally appeared in the Christian Science Monitor.

Donald Steinberg is president and chief executive officer of World Learning, which works in 60 countries to empower a new generation of global leaders.

Globally, ‘girl power’ should be much more than a slogan

Investing in the education and health of girls pays huge dividends. Now is the time to recommit to empowering girls and ending child marriage and human trafficking, not just because it is morally right but because it is the smartest way to build a more peaceful and prosperous world.

If you want to change the world, invest in a girl.

Today marks the second anniversary of International Day of the Girl, instituted by the United Nations General Assembly to promote the rights of girls, highlight the unique challenges they face around the world, and reaffirm a global commitment to protect and empower them. Given worldwide violence, extremism, poverty, and injustice, we cannot afford to cast aside the contributions that 850 million girls can make to build a safer, more prosperous, and equitable world.

Studies show that if a girl stays in school, receives health care, gains skills, and is safe from sexual and other physical abuse, she will very likely marry later, have fewer but healthier children, earn a higher income, invest in her family, and break the cycle of poverty at home and in her community. She will be more likely to use her education to increase agricultural production, improve health conditions for her family, and serve as a leader to resolve conflicts. (more…)

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake’s remarks at an Inequalities Debate

by PSA Staff | July 15th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Anthony Lake is the Executive Director of UNICEF and formerly on the PSA Advisory Board. This speech was originally given on July 8th in New York and then was published on the UNICEF website.

UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake’s remarks at an Inequalities Debate

NEW YORK, 8 July 2013 – “In February, to mark World Justice Day, the Secretary-General remarked that ‘we see far too many places where there are increasing opportunities for a few and only rising inequality for the many.’

These growing inequalities have many roots ― historical or geographic circumstance, long-held cultural prejudices and discrimination, ignorance of ― or inability to see ― a person’s true worth or talents.

But while the root causes are many, the damage is the same: women, children and families being left behind ― stepped over ― on the ladder of progress. Today, we live in a world where the top 20 per cent of the global population enjoys about 70 per cent of the total income and the bottom 20 per cent command a tiny 2 per cent. Two per cent.

We are hearing about some of these people today. An indigenous child denied nutrition out of prejudice and neglect. A girl forced to stay home to do chores while her brothers attend school. Families going without necessary vaccinations or health care for their children because they live in remote, hard-to-reach communities.

This is a global problem. A problem for all of us.

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A Promise Renewed: A Great Global Ambition and Every Father’s Dream

by PSA Staff | June 18th, 2013 | |Subscribe

Anthony Lake is the Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and a former American Diplomat and political advisor. He is a former member of the PSA Advisory Board.  This article was originally published on the Huffington Post Blog.

A Promise Renewed: A Great Global Ambition and Every Father’s Dream

What will you be doing this Father’s Day?

Reading homemade cards? Playing catch with your kids? Grilling in the back yard with the family?

We often take such simple pleasures for granted. But, elsewhere, millions of fathers around the world will struggle to help their children survive and thrive.

In our respective roles, we meet these fathers — in remote villages, bustling cities, and refugee camps. They tell us inspiring stories of their fight to care for their families, but also the heartbreaking accounts of much-loved sons and daughters who have lost their lives to preventable diseases like malaria, pneumonia, diarrhea and HIV.

Every year, 6.9 million children under five die from these and other causes. 19,000 every day. That is equivalent to a stadium like Madison Square Garden filled to capacity.

Even crueler is the geography of fate. A child in sub-Saharan Africa is over 14 times more likely to die before reaching her or his 5th birthday than a child in the United States.

These deaths are more than a tragedy for individual children. They shatter families, diminish communities and hold nations back from progress and prosperity.

But amidst these sad statistics, there is cause for hope. Increasingly, innovations — new products, new technology and new applications of existing technology — help us reach the most disadvantaged communities and the most vulnerable children quickly and inexpensively.

For example, there are groundbreaking long lasting insecticide-treated bed nets that drastically reduce the number of children who die from malaria.

Or the three-drug regimen in one pill daily for pregnant women living with HIV. It protects their own health and helps prevent their babies and partners from HIV infection.

Or new vaccines to prevent pneumonia, diarrhea and cholera.

Thanks to innovations like these, we have an unprecedented opportunity to virtually end preventable child death. And we can do it in a generation.

To reach this goal — one year ago — the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the U.S., with UNICEF’s support, rallied the world behind the Child Survival Call to Action. It inspired a global movement — Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed. Momentum continues to build and, today, 174 countries and over 400 civil society and faith-based organizations have taken up the charge in their own commitments.

In Zambia, First Lady Dr. Christine Kaseba is helping to roll out a plan focused on nutrition and immunization that will save more than 26,000 children each year. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ministry of Health is implementing a plan to save half a million children by 2015. This includes distributing pre-packaged family kits that contain medicines and other supplies to prevent, diagnose and treat malaria, diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Similar initiatives are underway in Ethiopia, Bangladesh, Yemen and beyond, where governments, civil society and the private sector are mobilizing to fulfill the promise to give every child the best possible start in life.

In today’s world, great global ambitions require strong partnerships between the public and private sector. In India, a small pharmaceutical company is developing a new zinc syrup to help get a life-saving treatment for diarrhea into rural communities. Through the Helping Babies Breathe Alliance, private sector entrepreneurs and medical professionals are training and equipping over 100,000 health workers in 54 countries with life-saving tools such as affordable resuscitation equipment. The results are impressive. A study from Tanzania showed that these tools led to a 47 per cent drop in newborn deaths during the first 24 hours of life.

For the first time in history, we have the tools to end preventable child deaths. Now, we need to build the momentum.

Through new partnerships and a relentless focus on results, we can give fathers everywhere the same opportunity that so many of us will have today: to watch our children grow and thrive; to cheer them at a ball game; to nurture their curiosity; to support their dreams and take pride in their achievements. Isn’t that what every father wants for his child?

Co-authored by Rajiv Shah, Administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Anthony Lake, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Comprehensive Mental Health Treatment Is A Strategic Imperative

by PSA Staff | September 17th, 2012 | |Subscribe

This article was written by two Spring 2012 Participants in PSA’s Congressional Partnership Program.  All CPP articles are produced by bipartisan groups of Democrat and Republican Hill Staff who were challenged to develop opinion pieces that reach consensus on critical national security and foreign affairs issues.

 

As during past transitions from wartime to peacetime, today’s military and civilian leaders are in a position to reassess mistakes made over the last decade and develop new policies to avoid them in future conflicts.  Among the most important of these is the introduction of a comprehensive strategy to address the devastating impact that mental health issues have had on our force.

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The Things We Left Behind: Fifty Years Later, American Cluster Bombs Continue to Kill in Laos

by Alexis Collatos | August 5th, 2010 | |Subscribe

One of the most striking statistics from the U.S. war in Vietnam doesn’t concern Vietnam at all, but its neighbor, Laos.  Between 1964 and 1973, the U.S. dropped over 2.5 million tons of ordnance on Laos.  This works out to the equivalent of one B-52 load of bombs every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years. The sheer tonnage of explosives dropped on Laos makes the tiny, land-locked nation the most heavily-bombed country in history, with half a ton of bombs dropped for every inhabitant.

This dubious distinction carries a terrible legacy. According to U.S. estimates, approximately 30% of ordnance dropped over Laos failed to detonate upon impact. This unexploded ordnance, or UXO, remains scattered and buried throughout an area that covers one third of the country. In the past five decades over 50,000 Laotians – a fifth of them children – have been killed or maimed by American UXO. Currently, around 300 Laotians needlessly die every year from accidents involving UXO. Particularly deadly have been cluster bombs, which consist of sub-munitions that scatter over a wide area and are notorious for causing indiscriminate civilian casualties. Experts estimate that of the 260 million cluster bombs, or “bomblets” American forces dropped on Laos, 80 million remain unexploded. (more…)

A Call for Action on Burma

by Jamie Metzl | May 14th, 2008 | |Subscribe

As you all know, the crisis in Burma is transforming from a natural disaster to a humanitarian catastrophe due to the xenophobia, incompetence, and malevolence of the Burmese government. With every day that passes, the situation of the up to tow million Burmese people affected by this crisis, almost three quarters of whom have reportedly not received any assistance, is becoming ever more precarious. It is clear that the time has come for bold international action.  My colleague, Brian Vogt, wrote an excellent piece detailing one strategy for getting aid through to those who need it earlier this week.  Brian is quite right to warn that we must not to allow our disgust for the Burmese junta lead us to political posturing rather than decisive action.

Although the Chinese government stated last week that they did not think it appropriate for the Burma crisis to be brought to the UN Security Council, it is becoming increasingly clear that stronger action by the UN and the international community will be required to break this deadly impasse. French Prime Minister Bernard Kouchner was among the first to call for aid drops in Burma, even against the wishes of the Burmese regime. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is now calling for a UN summit on aid to Burma. The United States must continue to take a lead in these efforts, and to build international consensus around a more aggressive assistance agenda with the greatest amount of international legitimacy possible. Clearly, food and aid drops will not be enough as water-borne diseases begin to take their toll over the coming days, particularly on the young and the elderly.  Specifically, the United States can actively support the provision of assistance under chapter 7 of the UN Charter, as was done for Somalia and other recent humanitarian crises.

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All blog posts are independently produced by their authors and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of PSA. Across the Aisle serves as a bipartisan forum for productive discussion of national security and foreign affairs topics.