“Is it working?” is the question most commonly asked of aid. In response, aid agencies feed the public a diet of overwhelmingly “good news stories” to convince them that it is working. This diverts attention from the central question: how to reduce the major gap between what aid currently does and what it could achieve. How donors provide aid is a major cause of aid’s current ineffectiveness.
International aid today and its origins
International aid forms a constituent part of contemporary international relations. Today, over 200 different official donor agencies provide aid and over 150 countries or territories receive aid. Practically every government either gives aid or receives it, and some do both, with China and India now both major donors and major recipients of aid. Governments channel some of their aid funds to and through multilateral agencies, of which the United Nations and the Bretton Woods institutions are the most prominent: the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) being one the world’s largest providers of aid funds (in its case largely soft loans). Latest figures, for 2008, put total ODA at a little less than $120 billion, in current prices, almost double the amount provided ten years ago – still far too little for aid’s strongest advocates, and far too much for its harshest critics
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Stumbled on this excellent blog – The blogger Haroon Akram-Lodhi writes:
… global financial crisis of the past 3 weeks has, in my view, fundamentally changed the landscape of global capitalism. A world that was effectively born on 4 November 1980, with the election of Ronald Reagan as U.S. President (I was in San Francisco at the time) has ended, and a period of untrammelled global neoliberalism will have to change if global finance capital is to survive.
How much has the world changed? Consider this. In the United Kingdom, where, of course, London is the second most important financial center in the world, the Royal Bank of Scotland, one of Britain’s most important financial institutions, will soon be 57 per cent owned by the British state. It is also expected that the British state will own up to 40 per cent of the newly merged (and so far unnamed) Lloyds-TSB-Halifx Bank of Scotland combination, which is also one of the largest and most important British financial institutions. Continue reading
The recent upheavals in the world financial markets were quelled by the immediate intervention of both international financial institutions such as the IMF and of domestic ones in the developed countries, such as the Federal Reserve in the USA. The danger seems to have passed, though recent tremors in South Korea, Brazil and Taiwan do not augur well. We may face yet another crisis of the same or a larger magnitude momentarily.
What are the lessons that we can derive from the last crisis to avoid the next? Continue reading
ndeed in recent years there has been a growing proliferation of aid instruments and a dramatic widening of the range of actors. These new players bring much-welcomed additional resources, but also make the coordination of aid efforts more difficult. For the EU, reforms of its once chaotic and under-performing aid structures have been widely welcomed, but these affect only part of the broader aid picture. What strategies can help tie together the efforts of the different players? And given that European governments account for 55% of ODA worldwide, what role should the EU play in improving the international aid-giving architecture?
The vast majority of development aid specialists agree that recipient countries should be in control of their own development efforts. Yet there is also widespread agreement that the principal aid players do not yet cooperate adequately, thus driving up costs, creating wastage and duplication of effort and adding to the coordination challenges facing developing country governments. In today’s complex aid architecture, what has been the country impact so far of the EU’s attempts to harmonise efforts and implement its “European consensus on development”? How can the broader aid community best help developing countries to take hold of the reins?
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A great article by Simon Jenkins, published May 30,2008 in the Guardian –
GAZING briefly at the Eurovision song contest this week I could not rid my mind of a quite different image, that of Nato’s multilateral force headquarters in Kabul.
There was the same flag-waving and confusion of purpose, the same small-state rivalry and cynical balancing of interests. There was the same belief that, simply by being international, a so-called community of nations was forged.
Today the word “international” suggests tailored suits, tax-free salaries, white Land Cruisers and Geneva. The Eurovision contest is run by the European Broadcasting Union with 400 staff in Switzerland, with no risk of oversight or reform.
It may seem crude to leap from such mundane activities to world peace, but the ruling assumption is the same, that internationalism legitimises itself. It rises above (never below) the nation state and its rulemakers owe allegiance only to an ideal of global community, which means whatever they choose. The ever-more numerous world bodies to which nations subscribe need never pass the eye of any national audit Office.
It was only when America briefly withdrew from Unesco and capped its contribution to the UN that steps were taken to curb that organisation’s waste and corruption, which culminated in Kofi Annan’s obscene 2000 “poverty summit”. The only good thing to emerge from the warped brain of America’s former UN ambassador, John Bolton, was his reform package, and he blew it. Nor can Europe talk. The EU still cannot get its accounts past any reputable auditor nor control the outrageous expenses of its parliamentarians. Continue reading