Washington, DC—International development and humanitarian organization Oxfam America applauds US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for using her power as chair of the OECD Ministerial Council Meeting to put development front and center on the OECD agenda.
Today, at a panel on Development and Gender, Secretary Clinton recognized that aid alone is not enough for inclusive, sustainable economic growth, and that countries should be enabled to lead their own development agenda. To unlock that growth and support country ownership, she recognized the importance of addressing corruption, transparency, and taxation issues, with an emphasis on citizen participation.
“Secretary Clinton’s remarks were rooted in a core truth; people and countries are the agents of their own development,” said Gregory Adams, director of aid effectiveness at Oxfam America. “The choices that they make are what will guide their path out of poverty. But the choices that we make in rich countries can have a great impact on their success. Developing countries need to be transparent about budgets and revenues. But so do rich countries. Too often, rich country aid is opaque and unpredictable. As a result, we whipsaw poor countries around with our aid, making it hard for them to plan. Investors—whether public sector or private sector—rely on information to make their investments.”
“Developing countries also need to fight corruption,” continued Adams. “But unless donor countries and companies are more transparent, citizens in developing countries only have access to half the puzzle. Citizens in poor countries need more information—and more say—over how resources are generated and spent.”
Research has shown that aid volatility reduces the value of aid by as much as 15 to 20 percent. The Paris Declaration commits rich countries to providing transparent, predictable aid. However, early data shows that OECD members are not living up to their commitments under the Paris Declaration. It's time for rich countries to deliver on their promise.
“As an organization, the OECD needs to continue its emphasis on aid effectiveness,” said Adams. “The OECD shouldn't be watering down its principles just to get new donors into its club; it needs to live up to the standards of Paris Declaration, and reach out to new donors to help them reach that same standard.”
Leading the way is the US government. In December, as part of its far-reaching reform agenda, the US Agency for International Development launched the Foreign Assistance Dashboard, a first step in providing easily accessible information about the amount of money the US is spending on aid. Last year, Congress also passed sweeping legislation that requires oil, gas, and mining companies to disclose payments they make to host governments.
“The European Commission plans to issue a legislative proposal on company-by-company payment reporting in October and we urge other capital markets to quickly follow suit,” said Ian Gary, senior policy manager for extractive industries at Oxfam America. “Transparency over aid and government payments from major investors will make it easier for citizens to follow the money and demand it be spent for their benefit. The US and other countries should also make it more difficult for illicit financial flows from the developed world to be stashed away in overseas banks.”
President Obama’s Global Development Policy recognizes the role that both citizens and governments play in their own development and is committed to supporting civil society space for accountability to the right results. Oxfam America is pleased with Secretary Clinton’s announcement today that the US will host a special session of the Open Government Partnership to support a more participatory process of engagement between citizens and governments.
Additionally, Oxfam calls on the US government to continue to be a leader on these messages of inclusive citizen participation and women’s economic empowerment carrying them forward to Busan, South Korea in November, where the OECD will review efforts to make aid more effective and more driven by the needs of poor people.