Posts Tagged ‘ie international relations club#8217;

13
Jan

One of the most distinctive traits of IE as a community and as a space of intellectual growth, is the opportunity to interact and learn from the exemplary leaders and practitioners in the field, from individuals who actually make and execute policies, projects and who have a unique and firsthand experience of not just what is happening in the world of business, politics, economics, but who often are the agents of change and innovation. So, it was truly a great opportunity and honor for the International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club to host Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, the Minister of Health of the Government of Zanzibar (Tanzania), who shared with us the challenges that the people of Zanzibar are facing in social development and what steps are being taken to tackle these issues.

We customarily treat Africa, and in particular countries from the Sub-Sharan region, as simply underdeveloped and lacking capacity and knowledge to grow and prosper. Often, for many people from the general public, the image of Africa doesn’t go beyond the UNICEF’s donations plea or the random new headline of another corrupt politician being installed in power. However, current socio-political and economic conditions in African countries are qualitatively more complex and sophisticated than that.

Indeed, Sub-Saharan Africa does face many severe problems that we are no longer used to in the West, none more than in the area of general healthcare. As Minister Mahmoud Thabit Kombo shared with us, an issue such as widespread access to potable water is unfortunately still a major challenge in Zanzibar. A large portion of the modest budget of this nation goes to ensure that all citizens have the capacity to satisfy basic need of clean water. Professional medical coverage is another fundamental challenge that Zanzibar is struggling with. For example, there is only one active radiologist for the whole archipelago! We are looking at a one to more than a million ratio. To put this into perspective, just one large hospital in Spain might have over 10 radiologists. As Hon. Mahmoud Thabit Kombo explained to the audience, the underlying reason for this disparity is twofold: on one hand, time and financial means needed to procure appropriate talent for the scale of the healthcare system in Zanzibar are often challenging to meet. Training a medical professional from the local population, which is ultimately a goal as well for the government, takes significant time and requires an input of relatively large investment and the benefits are only seen after many years. On the other hand, retaining these professionals once they trained, becomes even more challenging as the monetary incentive that the government of Zanzibar is able to offer is often not competitive comparing with job opportunities elsewhere. Thus, there talent exodus becomes a substantial impediment in improving the healthcare system. Finally, the simple issue of funding the budget of the ministry is still relevant. Unfortunately, the budget continues to be heavily dependent on the aid: about 40% of the funds come from international aid sources. This puts obvious restrains on the capacity of the government to act at their own will on the all the issues.

Despite all these issues, nonetheless, Zanzibar was able to embark on a number of successful and progressive reforms and policies that are reversing those negative trends. One of the biggest and truly meaningful achievements has been almost virtual eradication of malaria and AIDS in Zanzibar with less than 1% of the population being affected by these severe ailments. It is hard to underestimate the beneficial direct impact of this feat on the healthcare situation in Zanzibar but also indirectly on the whole social and economic development of the archipelago by liberating the people and the society at large from impediments related to these diseases. Furthermore, Zanzibar is in the course of profound re-building and re-shaping of the overall healthcare system with the concentration on primary, basic and prophylactics healthcare which has time and times again been proven to work very successfully in developing countries. There is a focus on extending coverage through educating the population on healthcare fundamentals such as for example family planning, additional built primary facilities and increasing the human talent dedicated to healthcare services. To further this goal the government is annually allocating 300 scholarships for university level studies including health related degrees that are expected, despite the previously mentioned talent drainage, to increase the professional base for the healthcare in particular and for the society in large at Zanzibar.

The most important aspect that was discussed by Mahmoud Thabit Kombo that is encompassing all of the mentioned above, was probably the fact that African countries and societies are fundamentally repositioning themselves within the international community and in the way how they approach international cooperation and internal challenges. Countries in region are moving more and more towards local emphasis and ground up approach to design and implementation of development solutions using local talent rather than simply consuming international given tools that often have very limited impact on the given local community due to low compatibility with native conditions and which often benefit foreign interest primarily. Thus, the programs that Zanzibar for example engages now are always filtered under internal priorities before they are being accepted for implementation. This is accompanied by a central change in international partnerships that African countries are engaging: when before Europe and in general the West have been the primary sources of international aid and support in Sub-Saharan Africa, contemporarily what used to be coined as South to South cooperation is becoming more and more prevalent. New giants such as China and India are becoming the chief partners of development efforts in many of the countries of the region, more and more replacing the role of the traditional Western influence. For example, China is increasingly investing in Zanzibar not only from a purely economic perspective, but is additionally actively sponsoring large healthcare projects as well, for example by donating 16 million dollars for a construction of a hospital in the archipelago. Furthermore, China is opening travel and study opportunities to African societies that are translating into changing attitudes in new generations towards what they see global centers. The challenge for Europe in this case as the Minister mentioned is that the lack of sufficient interest and involvement in Africa by Europe and West in general with increasing Chinese participation will significantly undermine the economic and political capabilities of the West in the region.

International Relations Club in association with the Africa Club would like to thank Jose Piquer, Executive Director, Undergraduate Studies in International Relations, IE School of International Relations, Campus Life team all the participant for making this event posible.

Alejandro Pereda Shulguin

International Relations Club

15
Jul

On May 31st, 2016, the IE International Relations was proud to host Ambassador of Lithuania to Spain: Skaistė Aniulienė. Ambassador Aniulienė took us through the history of Lithuanian and its current role in the region today. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Lithuania gained its independence in 1994. However, the Russian army still remained in its territory. In order to fully disconnect, state building became the main priority.

Since Lithuanian was newly independent, they needed recognition from other countries in order to be legitimate and Iceland was the first country to do so. Later, in 2004 Lithuanian joined the European Union and NATO for a peace program. The mid 1990s to mid 2000s were known as a Return to Europe Era, historically, culturally and economically.ir2

Lithuania is a leader in the Baltic States and in North-eastern Europe because of its geopolitical position. Ambassador Aniulienė explained that Lithuania is very active in shaping the EU’s agenda. They take the threats in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea very seriously and have high surveillance in both regions.

After the presentation, the floor was open for questions, where students asked about current Russia-Lithuanian relations. In addition, questions concerning the Ukrainian War were discussed.

It was a great privilege to have the Lithuanian Ambassador on campus because it gave students a new perspective on the region from a country that is not always a huge actor in global news.

15
Jul

IRWhat is Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)? Female genital mutilation or ablation involves the partial or total removal of the external sexual organs of women. FGM is a custom that is currently practiced in many countries in Africa and Asia. This brutal practice is to control female sexual desire and what is more, to get the total submission of women to the family and the husband (Fundacion Kirira).

FGM’s Prevalence: According to the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 200 million girls alive today have undergone FGM and there are 3 million girls at risk of undergoing the practice every year, with the majority of girls being cut before 15 years of age (2013).

On May 31, the International Relations Club had the honor of hosting a Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) seminar at IE. The seminar featured Estrella Gimenez the President of Fundacion Kirira, which is an NGO in Spain that helps fight against FGM. In addition to Estrella’s presentation, we also had a MIR student Lula Tensaew tell her touching story about the daily struggles she faces having undergone this practice. Estrella started by sharing the story of how the foundation came about and in a sad tone Estrella said, “One summer in August, I went on a typical safari trip to Kenya and couldn’t help but realize that something was wrong”. The shocking reality was that August was the month of female mutilations in the Tharaka village and all the young girls were being mutilated. When someone in the village asked her why she had not been mutilated, with astonishment, Estrella realized that there was a deep underlying problem. Many girls were dropping out of school to undergo mutilation as early as 12 years of age to prepare them for marriage. Estrella started her NGO in 2002 and 14 years later, thanks to the Kirira Foundation, FGM has been reduced drastically from 90% to less than 5% of FGM cases in the village of Tharaka. Estrella and her team have truly been successful in saving many girls’ lives and they are true heroes.

MIR student Lula Tensaew, shared that when she was a young girl living in Eritrea she was mutilated at 2 years of age. She wanted to shed light on this horrible practice and also believes that by educating, the lives of many girls could be saved. Throughout her life, she has dealt with many health issues due to FGM and emphasized that, “there are many women like me worldwide living with this pain in silence”. We thank Lula for sharing such a personal and deep story. She is truly an admiration.

Written by: Susan Guarda, Rimpal Kumbhani, Nina Volaric

26
May

Loyybing – Where Business Meets Politics

Written on May 26, 2015 by Campus Life in Professional

In an increasingly complex world, where politicians are required to make decisions without having a detailed understanding on often very technical issues. A dialogue between politicians on one hand and corporations and society on the other, is necessary to guarantee the best possible regulatory framework.
At the same time, lobbying is too often handled in ways that lack transparency and therefore often connected with bribery.

Mrs. Rotondo and APRI are great supporters of a more transparent process, in line with the OECD recommendations. Unfortunately in almost all countries the process needs to be improved. According to Transparency International, only some Scandinavian countries, Canada and the EU bodies have transparent and well functioning mechanisms in place.
Other challenges lobbyist are confronted with, include building trustworthy relationships with a large number of legislative bodies.  Not only are these entities constantly changing, but they are also present at the local, national and international level.
Another challenge is to help your clients understand that shaping legislation is a process that is often very time consuming and the impact is relatively limited.

Mrs. Rotondo highlighted that besides understanding the political / legislative process, the main skill-set required is communication and the ability to build up trust. Unlike the popular TV series “House of Cards”, it is absolutely clear that in almost all cases a company cannot just argue with its own interests. Instead it is important to connect these interests with those of the society. Only then will companies have a realistic chance at shaping the legislation.

Lobbying and dealing with the non-market strategies is a very interesting field likely to grow in Europe in the next couple of years. Lobbying is considered a very important job by corporations, as one can ultimately have a huge impact on the business and bottom line P&L. However the impact and influence is much more indirect and subtle.

21
Jan

taleb rifaiIE’s International Relations Club started off 2015 on a revolutionary note; a travel revolution, that is. We had the privilege of welcoming Dr. Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the United Nations World Tourism Organization, who shared his perspective on the matter. In attendance were some of Dr. Rifai’s esteemed guests: the Malta Delegation with Tourism Minister, Dr. Edward Lewis, the Ambassador of Malta to Spain, Dr. Mark Micallef, and, of course, students, alumni, faculty… all travelers, I’m sure.
 
Just as the 20th century came to be known as the Industrial Revolution, the 21st will be synonymous with travel; not just of information but also of people. These were the words with which the UNWTO Secretary General began his hopeful story. In 1950, tourism was an elite club whose members included the world’s wealthiest 25 million people. Fast-forward a mere 70 years and you now have 1 billion tourists wandering every corner of the world… now that is a revolution. And if anyone accuses me of hyperbole, just think of the ways that tourism has been transformed as a development tool. It generates vast economic wealth and accounts for 9% of the world’s GDP. It allows countries to rediscover themselves in an effort to showcase their culture to global visitors. But most importantly, it brings together people of all walks of life fostering respect, knowledge, and human well-being.
 
Of course, with great opportunities come great challenges. An informal sector is developing that not only lacks regulation but protection, as well. In the coming years, a solution will be needed in order to establish a fair playing field between the businesses who play by the rules and the individuals currently untouched by them. Furthermore, it must also be understood that a visitor cannot enjoy a country if it is not enjoyed first by its own people, that if there is not enough food to feed the population how can there be enough for a tourist. Lastly the difficulty of promoting sustainable tourism must be considered, how does one open up the world’s door in such a way that future generations will be able to look through and enjoy the same beauty.
 
We are starting to experience the fruits of the travel revolution today; but it is our duty, aided by agencies like the UNWTO, to nurture the benefits of tourism so that it can help create a better and more mobile world for tomorrow.

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