Elsewhere online
July 01, 2015

Do 'Global Statesmen' Like Clinton and Blair Help Charity?

The emergence of former political leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair as world statesmen using philanthropy to pursue their agendas — and the phenomenon's impact on aid organizations and other charities — is examined by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Some experts say Mr. Clinton and Mr. Blair, in taking on lucrative roles as consultants and public speakers while leading their global foundations, have blurred lines among philanthropy, business, and politics. Associating with high-profile ex-leaders can also have consequences for humanitarian groups operating in countries where local actors might be suspicious of their motives.

"Hyper-empowered individuals" such as Mr. Blair and Mr. Clinton "know how governments work, they know such a wide variety of people ... and they can operate in this freelance entrepreneurial way around the world without very many barriers," said Andrew Cooper, a political-science professor at the University of Waterloo in Canada. That freewheeling approach to tackling global problems can be appealing but also "somewhat worrisome," he said.