Mauricio Claver-Carone, the Trump administration’s nominee for president of the Inter-American Development Bank, speaks to the press in La Paz, Bolivia, Jan. 15, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, traveled to Bogota this week, ostensibly to announce up to $5 billion in financing under the White House’s new United States-Colombia Growth Initiative. The money had been pledged months ago by the U.S. Development Finance Corporation, and it is contingent on investment-worthy projects, in any case. But the timing of the visit was hardly a coincidence. One of the officials traveling with O’Brien was Mauricio Claver-Carone, the White House’s point man on Latin America, who is making an audacious bid to lead the Inter-American Development Bank, or IDB. In remarks following his […]

A volunteer sprays disinfectant to help contain the spread of the coronavirus, at the Santa Marta favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 10, 2020 (AP photo by Leo Correa).

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic is testing and revealing the limits of state authority. Simultaneously elevated and enfeebled, the nation-state has been the principal organizing unit behind the global crisis response. But often, it has lacked the legitimacy and authority it needs to manage the pandemic in the territories it purports to govern. In disputed territories and conflict zones, on remote isles in archipelagos, in favelas and urban settlements, citizens may look to the state for protection. But there at the margins, where the world’s most vulnerable populations often live, communities are instead enduring the pandemic without help from, […]

Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, at an EU summit in Brussels, July 18, 2020 (pool photo by Francois Lenoir via AP Images).

Authoritarian leaders have taken advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, intensifying their efforts to undercut the democratic norms that restrain their power. Some of those leveraging COVID-19 for their autocratic agenda are in the European Union, where they have created dilemmas for the bloc for years. And yet, this crisis has also created opportunities. If managed skillfully, the EU can convert the upheaval of the pandemic into a turning point, at long last exerting meaningful pressure to start reversing Eastern Europe’s undemocratic, illiberal tide. Last month, EU leaders managed to craft a muscular economic rescue package to deal with the pandemic’s […]

A Masai girl holds a sign during a protest against female genital mutilation, in Kilgoris, Kenya, April 21, 2007 (AP file photo by Sayyid Azim).

When Sudan announced in April that it would officially criminalize female genital mutilation, or FGM, the news was met with a burst of support and celebration from international observers and activists. UNICEF said the ban signaled a “new era” for girls’ rights, calling it a “landmark move” in a country where around 88 percent of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have undergone genital mutilation. The measure, which amended the criminal code to make performing FGM punishable by up to three years in prison, was immediately hailed as a sign of hope for the country’s fragile transitional government, formed […]