President's Global Development Council Finally Set to Meet

Monday, 14 Apr 2014 10:54 AM

By Melissa Clyne

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Nearly four years after announcing its creation and two previous meeting cancellations, President Obama’s Council for Global Development is scheduled to gather Monday for its first official public meeting at the National Press Club, Politico reports.

The council’s purported purpose is to advise the president and senior government officials on U.S. global development policies and practices and to identify new and support existing public-private partnerships for worldwide economic development.

When announcing the council’s creation in September 2010, Obama stressed that global development is "vital to national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States."

The White House has come under fire for everything from taking so long to nominate the council’s members to missed opportunities "to have the input and advice of a high-level, presidential advisory group on global development policy" while the president traveled to key locations, including Africa last summer, according to a 2013 blog post from the Center for Global Development, a Washington think tank.

"The three-year wait for the first meeting risks losing an opportunity to elevate development alongside defense and diplomacy at the highest levels of U.S. policymaking," according to the post.

The council's chairman is Mohamed A. El-Erian, the former CEO of global investment group PIMCO. El-Erian is the son of an Egyptian diplomat and is fluent in English, French, and Arabic, and holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Oxford University, according to Bloomberg.

The council has idled so long that two of the appointees have resigned to take jobs in the Obama administration, according to Politico. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the former Office of Management and Budget Director, has replaced Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, and former Center for American Progress President John Podesta now works as a senior White House counselor to Obama.

The council was established for administrative purposes and operates within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) subject to the foreign policy and budgetary guidance of the Secretary of State.
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