The scale of the humanitarian disaster in Venezuela is almost inconceivable. Despite the world’s largest proven oil reserves, the economy barely functions. People struggle just to survive. Store shelves are nearly empty of food, medicine and other necessities. The few goods available are out of reach for most people because of hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates reached a shocking 1 million percent in 2018. An estimated 3 million Venezuelans have already fled to neighboring countries, and more will likely join them.
CGD Policy Blogs
The controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Venezuelan government bonds by Goldman Sachs is a great reminder of the role that “preemptive contract sanctions” could play in the struggle against odious regimes like that of Nicolas Maduro. In 2010, CGD released a working group report explaining in detail how this new sanctions tool could work. The Maduro regime in Venezuela could be the perfect candidate.
International norms matter. Citizens of the more than 80 nations where polls have been conducted do, think, and act taking into account global realities and norms. Most could be called “global citizens”, not in opposition to, but along with their self-identity as citizens of their own country.
The news from Syria just continues to get worse and there is no glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said this week that the death toll now exceeds 100,000, making it this century’s third deadliest conflict for civilians.
The conflict in Syria has dragged on for 26 months, and the international community has seemingly exhausted its options for non-lethal aid and support to the Syrian opposition. Now, with new allegations that chemical weapons were likely used by the Assad regime, the United States and others may be inching closer to putting boots on the ground.
During his first overseas trip as the United States’ top diplomat, and in advance of this week’s Friends of Syria meeting in Rome, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke forcefully in response to concerns from the Syrian Opposition Coalition that the United States is not providing sufficient support to the opposition:
Yes, but not necessarily in the way most people think. Peter Reuter addressed this question at the Center for Global Development last week based on research in Draining Development? Controlling Flows of Illicit Funds from Developing Countries – a volume that he edited for the World Bank. It is clearly the most thorough assessment to date in assessing the channels by which illicit flows affect development.
With relentlessly bad news out of Syria, the search continues for what the world can do to put pressure on Assad’s regime and to lay the groundwork for a future, legitimate Syrian government. The case for preemptive contract sanctions is becoming ever more compelling. Under this approach, the United States, United Kingdom, and other members of the Friends of Syria, would declare that new contracts with the Assad regime are illegitimate and that our courts should not enforce them if a legitimate successor government in Syria repudiates them. This could deter new loans and investments in Syria’s oil or other sectors and send a signal to the Assad regime that the economic pressure will not loosen.
I argued three months ago that donors should refinance rather than cancel Burma's $11 billion debt. The logic: the reforms underway in Burma, while remarkable and welcome, are also delicate, reversible, and incomplete. The country's famed opposition figure Aung San Suu Kyi called early this year for the suspension rather than termination of the economic sanctions against her country.