The QDDR: a New Emphasis on Partnerships

  • Dec 17, 2010

    The authors of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review make a strong case for conducting twenty-first-century statecraft, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defines as “seeking to connect the private and civic sectors with America’s foreign policy work by bringing new resources and partners to the table.” Secretary Clinton deserves kudos for elevating partnerships by naming a Special Representative for Global Partnerships and an office directly reporting to her on Global Partnerships.  Partnerships are referenced in the QDDR more than 100 times in the full report.  This emphasis on partnerships reflects three realities:

    • First, development and diplomacy operate in an environment totally different than they did in the Cold War—40 years ago 70 percent of U.S. economic engagement with developing countries was foreign aid dollars and 30 percent was some form of private investment, private charitable giving, or remittances sent home.  Today those numbers have flipped. 
    • Second, the QDDR’s emphasis on partnerships builds on the legacy of almost 10 years of development partnerships at USAID through the Global Development Alliance launched by then-secretary of state Colin Powell and championed by then-USAID administrator Andrew Natsios. 
    • Third, discussions of partnership reflect shifting national security thinking as demonstrated in the 2010 National Security Strategy where the word “partnership” is used 44 times, up from 16 times in the 2006 edition in the Bush administration and up from 7 times in the 2002 version.

    The challenge for the State Department and USAID is further embedding working with private actors into program design, resource planning processes, some centrally managed discretionary funds for opportunities that walk in door, and other incentives to build partnerships for State and USAID professionals—issues not adequately addressed in the QDDR.  If managed correctly, State and USAID will be able to bring about a deeper, more strategic set of partnerships in the coming years.  It is noteworthy that the discussion of partnerships is centered mainly at the State Department and much less so in the discussion on USAID.  One challenge is getting beyond the temptation of one-off partnerships that might be put together as a “deliverable” for a summit and instead seek the larger-scale opportunities that partnerships with USAID, the Global Health Initiative (currently at State), and the Millennium Challenge Corporation can and could offer. The QDDR hardly references the MCC or the other development agencies, something perhaps for the next QDDR to address.

    Daniel F. Runde is director of the Project on Prosperity and Development at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.


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