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Philanthropic Foundations’ Impact on International Relations Research Paper

The role which philanthropic foundations can play in the sphere of international relations has gained major attention recently, accompanied by large donations given to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (especially the $31- billion donation from Warren Buffet). Thus, there are some speculations on the possible changes in the sphere of private foundations that can be compared with the official flows of governmental capital targeted towards development.

Within the landscape of changes philanthropic foundations like the Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller foundations now play a significantly larger role than they used to, working on major issues of international development through an array of different mechanisms ranging from governmental partnerships to direct operations. It is anticipated that this trend will continue to develop, with non-governmental organizations as well as the civil society organizations cooperating with private philanthropic foundations. The foundations investigated on this topic include the Gates Foundations and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Cons and Contributions

Global Health Program

Bill and Melinda Gates have become major players in the sphere of philanthropic donations all over the world. Since the very beginning of the foundation’s development, it continues to make donations over three billion every year, putting a focus on the gap between the health services that exists between rich and poor countries. Among the many goals of the organization are the battle against polio, malaria, as well as taking control over the spreading of HIV and diseases like tuberculosis (Mathiesen, 2015, para. 3).

From the beginning of the twenty-first century, partly with the help of the foundation, four countries managed to battle malaria. Mortality rates from the illness have dropped by forty-two percent, presenting a possibility to eradicate malaria in the course of a generation. Foundation’s next major contribution is connected with eliminating polio in India – in the year 2014, the Gates Foundation officially announced that India was free of polio (Mathiesen, 2015, para. 8).

With the help of an extensive program that included two million vaccinators, that worked in cooperation across India. Such success is crucial since even in 2009 India witnessed more that a half of the cases of polio from the entire world. Thus, this can be viewed as one of the most significant health achievement which provides a prospect of eliminating polio all over the world.

The foundation has developed the Memorandum of Understanding for Strategic Cooperation between the European Commission and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aimed at research, innovation, and science. The Memorandum outline main objectives of strategic cooperation between the EU and the Foundation in which the two parties should work “in concert as partners” (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013, p. 3).

One of the objectives is tightly linked to the sphere of international relations as a whole since it includes providing assistance and support by means of sharing and analyzing technical data, views on appropriate funding budgets approaches to various types of information. Such cooperation is similar to the way governments cooperate towards achieving a specific international relations goal.

The second objective to be mentioned is to encourage the United States of America, the European Union, and African states to induce research as well as the cross-sector technological development to help resource-constrained countries to attain new and improved mechanisms to battle with the disease. With an aim to enable a fast and efficient development of vaccines and drugs in the African region, and getting control over maternal health in cooperation with the EU and the US the foundation has put itself in a place of a significant international relations player that can positively influence the lives of people living in under-resourced countries (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2013, p. 3).

Furthermore, Gates Foundation possesses potential for reducing and eliminating poverty in Africa by means of inducing science, technology, and self-development with the help from other influential international players.

Global Development Program

Apart from putting major contributions into the development of the international development of health, the Gates Foundation is also working towards a goal of helping the poorest people in the world cope with their lives and lift them out of the extreme burden of poverty and hunger. The five areas of focus in this regard include agricultural development, financial services for the population in poverty, hygiene and sanitation provision, establishing global libraries and special initiatives.

Due to the fact that the majority of populations in poverty live in rural areas and solely depend on agriculture as the primary source of food, the foundation decided to cooperate with small farmers in the poorest African regions to boost their ability to produce more agricultural resources thus provide increased income for their families (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011, p. 8).

The financial services for the poor include a number of financial services, loans, savings accounts, insurance, and other services to aid people in poverty improve their lives. The foundation works to provide the poorest people with different types of financial services that are not widely available to them. These services will be beneficial in enabling poor people to live a healthier life and be more productive in their household security as well as risk management.

Unsafe drinking water as well inadequate sanitation offer the largest risk for illnesses and spreading diseases in the developing countries. Thus, the Gates Foundation also focuses on partnering with stakeholders to aid millions of people get access to sustainable sanitation facilities and thus improve the overall qualities of their lives.

Establishment of global libraries is linked to the lack of access to the Internet and other educational resources, leaving poor populations without any powerful mechanism for education, business development, and other opportunities for improving their lives. The Gates Foundation is cooperating with global partners in technology to provide widespread access to computers established in public libraries (Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2011, p. 12).

Lastly, the Gates Foundation explores many other ways for the poor populations in the world get away from the burden of hunger and poverty. To this respect, it makes focused investments into the partnership with stakeholders that can also have a positive impact on the poorest populations’ lives. Furthermore, the foundation helps international agencies deal with responding to various natural disasters in the form of shelter, food, and water. To conclude, the foundation continues exploring other various initiatives targeted at improving the lives of the poorest populations throughout the globe.

The Issue of Accountability

Despite the fact that the Gates Foundation does good work around the globe thus influences the sphere of international relations, the issue of accountability is what is concerning the most. While the strategies of the company are annually reviewed and assessed, the system in which the foundation operates cannot be called democratic. Depending on what Bill and Melinda want, the foundation acts in accordance with their opinions and objectives.

The funding of the foundation operates in a sphere of interconnected organizational networks across all sectors of academia and non-governmental organizations. Such a method of operation provides a group think method; however, the foundation is often accused of diminishing the diversity of scientific approaches, catering to only those scientific methods it agrees with. Thus, the organization is accountable only to itself, without trying to broaden its spectrum of knowledge and scientific approach.

The Rockefeller Foundation. Contributions, Cons, and the “New World Order”

Created in 1989 by David and Peggy Rockefeller, the foundation focused its work on the sphere of arts with an intense focus on engagement; environmental improvements with a focus on sustainability and climate change; providing better criminal justice through the support of programs that target the provision of a humane system of criminal justice. Nowadays the Rockefeller Fund develops various programs on providing economic justice for women as well as the improvement of their employment opportunities.

Furthermore, the Foundation provides substantial support for organizations participating in the policy development. Thus, the Rockefeller Foundation works towards the encouragement of civil participation as well as support organizations that want to hold governments accountable to their citizens, gaining influence in the sphere of international relations (Szanto, 2011, p. 20).

Climate Change and Agricultural Challenges

The majority of current work of the Foundation is targeted at dealing with the impact of climate change on the global community with the help of encouraging innovation to meet the existing challenges. The modern world is largely challenged by food insecurity caused by the shifting patterns of water, a search for the solution of alternative energy, as well as quickly changing dynamics of the global market.

Seeing that the infrastructure of large cities is surrounded by urban migration as well as the growth of viruses that become much more resistant to vaccines, the foundation is developing plans for bringing cross-disciplinary experts together to develop innovations.

By recognizing that the African region is greatly challenged by agricultural issues, the Rockefeller, and the Gates foundations cooperated to establish an Alliance for a Green Revolution in the region. Through the means of bringing governmental leaders, experts in agriculture, and policy makers together, the Alliance aims at creating a secure future for the small farmers of Africa. Aiming to reduce food insecurity in Africa at the same time with increasing the income of agricultural smallholders, the Alliance has occupied an important place in the sphere of international relations as a major influencer of improving the lives of millions of people (The Rockefeller Foundation, 2011, p. 7).

Dealing with Healthcare Challenges

The Rockefeller Foundation recognizes that insufficiency of the global resources with regards to dealing with healthcare challenges. Experts that work in the sphere of human as well as animal health care, are often uninformed about the work of each other and the rapidly spreading diseases from animals to people. To this respect, the Rockefeller Foundation has established the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network in Asia which encourages the collaboration of leading medical professionals to slow the spreading of various diseases. Apart from the financial support, the foundation provides assistance to support the creation of innovative technologies for tracking the patterns of outbreak patterns (The Rockefeller Foundation, 2011, p. 20).

The foundation sees grand opportunity in promoting strategies that encourage the development towards achieving the aim of better heath care outcomes. For this reason, the Rockefeller Foundation focuses on “transforming health systems by brokering new partnerships, searching for sustainable solutions, and fostering innovation” (The Rockefeller Foundation, 2011, p. 17).

Cons and the “New World Order”

While the Rockefeller Foundation is one of the primary stakeholders in the sphere of international relations with regards to improving the lives of people throughout the globe, it still has some disadvantages that can be improved in the future. For instance, there is an issue of the moral hazard which is connected to the lack of clarity about what choices are rational and which are not. Such choices relate to perceived patronage and associated dangers of the patronage. Similar to the issue of accountability in the Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Fund also faces uncertainties as to how to make sure that the invested funds are spent on the set objective.

The concept of the “New World Order” has been widely used by its supporters in various federalized governments throughout the world. The Rockefeller family is also associated with the term, which was supported by David Rockefeller, the last member of the family who said: “Some believe the Rockefellers are ‘internationalists conspiring with others around the world to build a more integrated global political and economic structure – one world, if you will. If that’s the charge, I stand guilty, and I’m proud of it” (Burr, 2016, para. 5).

Thus, the idea of the New World Order is linked to dissolving the global borders between countries to create a totalitarian global government that replaced the sovereign nation states. While the majority of information about the creation of the New World Order was kept secret in the past, nowadays the ideas and intentions are pretty clear. However, it is important to note that the members of the government that participated in plotting the conspiracy of a unified totalitarian government were the people chosen by countries’ citizens.

Had the plot was widely known to the general public before, it would have never been planned for long, as mentioned by David Rockefeller. However, Rockefeller admitting to fooling people can be viewed as unethical. Overall, the actions of New World Order conspirators cannot be attributed to honest people wishing better to the world; to some degree, the Rockefeller Foundation could have been created to cover for the actions of the family to create a plot for the unified government.

Concluding Remarks

To conclude, philanthropic foundations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation possess the full capacity to become major players in the sphere of International Relations with regards to working in cooperation with global stakeholders towards improving the lives of people around the world. The number of funds foundation spends on research and provision of help to the populations in need often exceeds the amounts spent by countries’ governments.

Furthermore, the cooperation with non-profit organizations as well as professionals in the sphere of research reinforces the role philanthropic foundations play on the global scale. Despite the issues with the accountability, philanthropic foundations of any scale remain effective methods for improving the lives of populations in need, providing them with shelter, adequate education, food, improvements in the sphere of education and healthcare.


Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2010). Every person deserves the chance to live a healthy, productive life. Seattle, WA: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. (2013). . Web.

Burr, E. (2016). . Web.

Mathiesen, K. (2015). Web.

The Rockefeller Foundation. (2011). The Rockefeller Foundation annual report. Web.

Szanto, A. (2011). Rockefeller philanthropy: A selected guide. Sleepy Hollow, NY: Rockefeller Archive Center.

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"Philanthropic Foundations' Impact on International Relations." IvyPanda, 28 Sept. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/philanthropic-foundations-impact-on-international-relations/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Philanthropic Foundations' Impact on International Relations." September 28, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/philanthropic-foundations-impact-on-international-relations/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Philanthropic Foundations' Impact on International Relations'. 28 September.

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