Global aid agreement on a knife-edge

By Oxfam

WASHINGTON, DC -- Donor government negotiators meeting in Paris tomorrow [Friday November 18] are considering scrapping the global aid monitoring system that keeps donors honest and improves the quality of their foreign assistance, international humanitarian and development organization Oxfam America warned today.

Two weeks away from a crucial global aid effectiveness meeting in Busan, South Korea, which will be attended by more than 2000 delegates including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN head Ban Ki-moon, donor countries  are pushing to drop aid effectiveness deals that have been struck with recipient countries over the last decade.

“Donors have performed badly on improving the effectiveness of their aid, and now they’re trying to change the rules of the game,” said director of aid effectiveness Gregory Adams.

At stake is the ‘Paris declaration’ of 2005 where donors and poor countries struck a deal: recipients would tackle corruption, strengthen their institutions and take other steps to better manage aid. In return, donors would make their aid more coordinated and predictable, and give developing countries greater control over how the money is spent. And both agreed a global monitoring system which would keep track of progress and revise and improve future aid.

Six years later, that countries receiving aid have done well on keeping their promises. Donors have not. The OECD’s latest monitoring report shows that developing countries have made ‘significant’ progress, particularly in improving their planning and financial management. But donors have made significant progress on only one of their 13 targets: improving coordination among themselves.

Scrapping the mutually agreed and global monitoring system, as donors are proposing, would “fatally weaken political pressure to make aid more effective, and make it extremely difficult to continue to uphold the Paris principles in practice,” said Adams.  

“Rather than trying to negotiate their way out of their commitments, donors should grasp the opportunity to fix what’s wrong with aid. There are more hungry people in the world than live in North America and Europe combined. If done right, a Busan aid agreement will deliver real results for people living in poverty.”

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