Tag Archives: international affairs

BREAKING: Critical anti-trafficking law passes Senate

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 is the cornerstone of U.S. policies against modern-day slavery around the world. The TVPA created the first comprehensive federal law to address human trafficking by focusing on both the domestic and international dimensions of this heinous crime. It is what makes the United States the global leader in combating modern-day slavery.

Rebel atrocities in Mali

While French and Malian troops continue their drive to force rebels out of major centers in northern Mali, World Vision communications manager Maria Mutya Frio spoke to those who have fled conflict zones.

A cooperative Congress can save lives

Most will agree that Congress does not have a sterling reputation these days -- in fact, it bears the worst public perception of any of our branches of government. Some words you may hear used to describe the deliberating body: dysfunctional, divided, self-serving, broken.

The most recent approval rating for Congress (as of the publication of this post) is a dismal 14 percent. Has it always been this way? Does it have to be this way now?

An open letter to the presidential candidates

Dear presidential candidate,

I consider myself a good citizen and a patriot. I take pride in my country and care about the well-being of my fellow Americans. I want America to prosper. I hope that the United States will be a global leader for good, far into the 21st century.

From heartbreak to hope in Haiti: Two years in photos

This week marks the two-year anniversary of the 7.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010. It was the most powerful quake to hit the nation in more than 200 years. The impact was devastating, triggering an international relief and recovery response. Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere even before the 2010 quake.

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Combining our efforts to protect victims of human trafficking

It goes without saying that this year has been one of the craziest in the history of Congress. Despite all the ups and downs and swings of momentum in moving the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act forward, one thing has remained constant: our advocates’ dedication to stand up and make their voices heard.

It’s safe to say that neither the House nor the Senate versions of this legislation would be where they are without those voices.

The beginning of the end of AIDS

Last week, the world commemorated the 23rd annual World AIDS Day -- a day in which we remembered the 30 million lives that have been tragically lost, showed solidarity with 34 million people around the world living with HIV, and, most importantly, rededicated ourselves to the cause of ending the epidemic.

I had the privilege to attend a forum sponsored by ONE and (RED) at George Washington University entitled “The Beginning of the End of AIDS” that was simulcast live by YouTube. Among the participants were President Barack Obama, former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Tanzanian President Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., Kay Warren, and Bono.

Where should American Christians stand on foreign aid?

As an American Christian, I like to think I do a fair job caring for the world's poor -- those in my own neighborhood and those around the world who have greater financial need than I do. After all, Americans pride themselves on generosity. And Christians desire to be known for their service to others.

However, recent news (polls, studies, and political campaigns) suggest otherwise. How do we reconcile this?

FWD the facts: Day of Action for the Horn of Africa

There are many goals we have for the future that help define our work as an organization: reducing global poverty, ending preventable child deaths, eradicating malaria, and so on.

But just for today, we have another goal: to inspire 13.3 million Americans to FWD the facts about the drought and food crisis in the Horn of Africa, spreading awareness to ensure that the tragedy no longer goes overlooked.

In partnership with USAID and the FWD (Famine, War, Drought Relief) campaign, World Vision is asking supporters to participate in today's FWD>Day of Action for the Horn of Africa.

How? It's as simple as this: FWD the facts.

Dear G20: Remember the real 99%

Cannes, France, is world-renowned for its glamor, beauty, and opulence. This week, the playground destination for the rich and famous is filled with politicians, media, and NGO representatives, as the leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies gather for the annual G20 Summit. And as the Eurozone crisis deepens and the U.S. economy remains unsteady, the stakes couldn’t be much higher.

These issues must be discussed, and the G20 is a crucial forum to have these discussions. But there’s much more to this story. Right now, in cities around the world, there is a growing protest movement putting the issue of inequality squarely on the public agenda. Regardless how you feel about the movement, I believe there is another 99 percent whom we need the G20 -- and other global leaders -- to remember and prioritize.

Don't leave child health up to chance -- Highlights from the G20 Summit in France

This week in Paris, world leaders are meeting at the annual G20 Summit. I'm here with my media, government relations, and child health colleagues from around the globe who work tirelessly, not just this week but every week of the year, to bring attention to child health issues around the world.

As part of our awareness campaign at this year's G20, World Vision urged Parisians to participate in a game of chance, spinning a colorful wheel to see what kind of life they might live based simply on where they were born.  Chance dictates where each of us is born – and whether or not we will have enough to eat, be able to attend school, or live to see past our fifth birthday.

What our nation’s top leaders have to say – My notes from the FWD campaign live stream

Yesterday I tuned in to the official launch of the FWD (Famine. War. Drought.) campaign following the White House live streamed video web chat. As a representative of World Vision but also as a private citizen, I was interested in what some of our nation’s top officials had to say about the U.S. response to some of the greatest crises yet in the 21st century.

I captured some highlights from the discussion to share with you, and have noted the minute mark for many of the questions asked. This is not an exact transcription, but a paraphrased overview.

The state of play in the Horn of Africa: -- Gayle Smith, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director of the National Security Council

The people in the region are experiencing the worst drought in 60 years. That means that farmers have very little to fall back on. People are literally dying as we speak. Without assistance, they will in fact die.

The importance of acting now:, Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID Administrator

There are 13 million people who are in need of humanitarian assistance in the Horn of Africa. Already more than 30,000 children have lost their lives from starvation or the consequences of severe malnutrition and the disease that accompanies it. The UN estimates that number could grow to 750,000 over the course of the next six months.

Now is the time to act. This is also a moment to acknowledge that when we do these actions, it is an expression of American values. The more Americans that can engage in the response, the better off we will all be in saving lives today and putting in place the systems that can help prevent these tragedies in the future.

Should U.S. give a free pass to countries that use child soldiers?

As a humanitarian worker, a child protection expert, and as a U.S. citizen, I have certain expectations -- some call them naive ideals -- that the U.S. government will work to reduce the vulnerability of children around the world and here in the United States.

Laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the PROTECT Act, and the Child Soldier Prevention Act have all set in place strict policies that made America the global leader in working to prevent and respond to vulnerability among children.

That’s why, on October 4, I was angry, and, to be honest, feeling slightly betrayed. On October 4, the Obama administration announced the latest round of guidelines outlining how, for the second year in a row, the federal government will provide military aid to countries whose armed forces recruit and use child soldiers.

French first baby already a winner in the geographic lottery

Maybe you're like me: You have a sudden feeling of joy every time you hear of a baby being born, or a newly announced pregnant mother-to-be. Two months ago, I sat in the hospital, awaiting the birth of my new nephew, ready to hear the sweet melody of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" that's played each time a baby is born.

It's the same feeling of joy I had earlier this week, hearing the announcement of the birth of the daughter of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. I recall when we heard the wonderful news in May that the Sarkozys were expecting -- around the same time G8 leaders gathered in France to discuss issues of economic and global development.

At the time, my colleague, Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz, was in France, representing World Vision at the G8 Summit. While there, she hand-delivered a baby gift basket intended for the French first lady. The basket included everyday items readily available to women in Western European or North American pharmacies and grocery stores -- such as hygiene supplies, safe birthing kits, and nutritious foods -- that are often inaccessible to pregnant women living in poverty in developing countries.

In a press release yesterday from my colleagues, World Vision congratulates the Sarkozys on the newest addition to their family.

Q & A with USAID's Raj Shah on the Horn of Africa and foreign assistance

On Tuesday, Dr. Raj Shah, administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), visited World Vision's U.S. headquarters in Federal Way, Washington, to talk to our staff about faith and global development. After his speech -- which included a call for Americans and the American church community to continue supporting the United States as a leader in bringing relief to those suffering from poverty around the globe -- I had the great privilege of talking to Dr. Shah for a little more in-depth Q & A.

Here is the transcript of our conversation:

JAMES: Did Horn of Africa governments respond quickly enough to early warnings [of the food crisis and famine]?

DR. SHAH: It’s important to put this in context and recognize that the famine early warning system did generate knowledge of this crisis before it happened. The Ethiopian and Kenyan governments -- and the United States and a range of other partners, including the World Bank -- did work together in advance of this to put in place poverty safety-net programs that today are effectively protecting millions and millions of people. This is why we are not seeing large-scale child deaths in Kenya and Ethiopia, despite the fact that this drought is actually worse than previous ones. In Somalia, it’s a very different story, because access for humanitarian partners has been highly impeded by militias and al-Shabaab. The direct consequence of this is a famine that has taken tens of thousands of children who otherwise would not have died. The United States is doing everything it can, working with a broad range of international partners, both to save lives now and to put into place our Feed the Future programs so that future droughts don’t lead to these catastrophes. And we are already seeing some important policy reform measures that the Ethiopian and Kenyan governments are taking to liberalize their agricultural economies and allow for more agricultural development to achieve their own degree of food security.

Your chance to fight human trafficking [Livestream]

It’s easy to get disillusioned with political debate. Frequently, it degenerates into petty point-scoring and partisan bickering. Constructive dialogue, it seems, often disappears out the window.

So it’s nice when an issue comes along on which nearly everybody can agree. One such issue is the problem of human trafficking -- the use of fraud, force, or coercion to exploit a child or adult for profit. It’s estimated that there are more than 12 million trafficked people in the world today -- a $32 billion industry. Every day, children are forced to perform sexual acts or work long hours in filthy, dangerous conditions for the financial benefit of someone else.

Sometimes, I imagine my own children forced into this position, and my mind almost blanks out at the horror of it.

In 2000, Congress unanimously passed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- widely regarded as the most comprehensive piece of human-rights legislation in U.S. history. The act has done much to protect the vulnerable and support trafficking survivors. At the same time, it has given law-enforcement agencies the tools to prosecute traffickers -- both for crimes committed in the United States and abroad.

The success of the world’s greatest to-do list

Every morning, I begin my day by writing a to-do list in my diary. I can’t remember when I started this habit, but I’m certain my productivity has increased exponentially as a result.

I write down irksome duties that nevertheless must get done; I break down complex tasks into several simpler ones -- and, whoa, what looked like an impossible mountain to climb suddenly appears as a series of manageable mole hills. Every time I complete a task, I put a check next to that item on the list.

I’d be lying if I said I manage to get everything done every day. If I did, I’d probably be running for president by now. All the same, at the end of the day, I have a record of achievements, plus an itemized account of what needs more work -- something that will inform the to-do list for the following day.

Perhaps the greatest to-do list of all time is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that all United Nations member states agreed to work toward in September 2000. The object of this to-do list is nothing less than the radical reduction of the most extreme forms of poverty by 2015.

The moral imperative of humanitarian aid

The following commentary is based on remarks Mr. Hill presented on September 5 at a forum entitled “Reforming Aid, Transforming the World,” hosted by Global Washington at the University of Washington. For more information on Global Washington, visit: www.globalwa.org.


“I think back to what Camus wrote about the fact that perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I'd like to feel that I'd done something to lessen that suffering.” —Robert F. Kennedy, in response to a question, a few weeks before his assassination, about how his obituary should read

From books to blogs, it has become fashionable to focus on the failures of foreign assistance. To be sure, there have been failures, and there is plenty of room for improvement.

That said, it would be a travesty to ignore what has been accomplished. In the early 1960s, preventable child deaths exceeded 20 million per year. In 2011, that number is around 8.1 million. While humanitarian aid may not have been the sole cause, I contend that it was a major factor in reducing these preventable deaths.