Millennium Challenge Act

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The Millennium Challenge Act of 2003 established the U.S. mechanism for meeting the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations. It created the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to administer targeted foreign assistance, judged for effectiveness in improving governance, economic freedom and human capital development. "MCC’s mission is to reduce global poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth." [1]

Role in democracy promotion

MCC is often seen as one of the democracy promotion activities of the United States, based on the assumption that strengthening governance and economic institutions is a prerequisite for democracy.

While it was an innovative method to overcome the limitations of some of the lending policies of organizations such as the World Bank, putting the responsibility on the recipient country rather than the aid agency to define and execute the programs being funded. [2] Within the George W. Bush Administration, it has had problems with execution, as a unilateral U.S. program, and even conflicting with other U.S. programs. [3]


Eligible countries are designated as lower middle income country in the then most recent edition of the World Development Report for Reconstruction and Development published by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and has an income greater than the historical ceiling for International Development Association eligibility for the fiscal year involved.

A candidate country should be considered to be an eligible country if the Board determines that the country has demonstrated a commitment to:

  • just and democratic governance, including a demonstrated commitment to:
    • promote political pluralism, equality, and the rule of law;
    • respect human and civil rights, including the rights of people with disabilities;
    • protect private property rights;
    • encourage transparency and accountability of government; and
    • combat corruption;
  • economic freedom, including a demonstrated commitment to economic policies that—
    • encourage citizens and firms to participate in global trade and international capital markets;
    • promote private sector growth and the sustainable management of natural resources; strengthen market forces in the economy; and
    • respect worker rights, including the right to form labor unions; and
  • investments in the human capital of the country, particularly women and children, including programs that

Needs it does not cover

MCA became a flagship of the Center for Global Development's operations. Yet because the MCA was focused on the “good performers,” weak states were understandably left out of the conversation—and in this case, their absence underscored the dearth of strategic thinking on the challenges they posed. [4]


  1. Millennium Challenge Act of 2003, Council on Foreign Relations, 2003
  2. Steven Radelet (May 1, 2003), Challenging Foreign Aid: A Policymaker's Guide to the Millennium Challenge Account, Center for Global Development
  3. Francis Fukuyama (2006), America at the Crossroads, Yale University Press, ISBN 0300113994, pp. 147-153
  4. Stuart Eizenstat, Co-Chair; Congressman John Edward Porter, Co-Chair; Jeremy Weinstein, Project Director, ed. (8 June 2004), On the Brink: Weak States and US National Security, Commission on Weak States and US National Security