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Aid, Debt & Development

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UN: International Development Cooperation Today
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Calls for debt relief, emergency aid and a transfer of technical and financial resources to the Global South have become increasingly commonplace in recent decades. But what are the criticisms of these forms of aid, and what role do the UN and NGOs have in this 'development cooperation'? By UN NGLS.

International Development Cooperation Today - Preface

Report Introduction

Link to Report: International Development Cooperation Today

Further Resources

25th June 09 ~ STWR

International Development Cooperation Today - Preface

October 08 - Elisa Peter, UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service 

Governments have over the last several years adopted and committed to a number of internationally agreed development goals, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These commitments build upon and consolidate the outcomes of the world summits of the 1990s that focused on the environment, human rights, population, social development and women.

Today, the MDGs provide a common framework for the normative and operational activities of the United Nations in the field of international development cooperation. As this book goes to press, the world finds itself in a myriad of ‘crises', from issues related to food security, climate change and energy sources. People are faced with pressing shortfalls, volatile commodity markets and a general lack of clarity on how best to address these various and inter-related challenges.

The current economic downturn and financial turmoil add to the complexity of the response needed as they affect the capacity of the international community to achieve the MDGs and to provide for the types of programmes and policies needed to build a more sustainable future. Thus, the concept of ‘international development cooperation' becomes all the more important.

Development cooperation can take many forms, including financial and technical assistance as well as emergency aid. It involves an increasing variety of institutional actors, such as governments, international organizations, non-governmental groups and private foundations.

However, as the world marks the mid-point to the achievement of the MDGs, several developing countries remain poorly equipped to manage the challenges of global economic integration and to meet the MDGs. And as the developed world struggles with its own economic and monetary policies, many developing countries are finding it increasingly difficult to cope with this evolving set of new challenges.

The achievement of MDG 8, which is to ‘Develop a Global Partnership for Development' and which embodies the concept of development cooperation, is more urgent than ever. In this regard, the United Nations plays a key role in mobilizing political support to strengthen the concept of global partnership for development.

Crucial in any effective partnership for development is the involvement of people and people's organisations. It is being increasingly recognized that policies that lack the input of those people who are affected by them will ultimately prove less successful than those that do. NGLS supports multi-stakeholder processes to build a strong and robust partnership for development.

I hope this book will prove useful to a wide variety of development actors in better understanding international development cooperation and the opportunities to add a multitude of voices to discussions around it. In this way, policies can be better crafted and implemented.

Link to original source

Report Introduction

October 08 - UN Non-Governmental Liaison Service

The landscape of official development assistance (ODA) has shifted in the last few years. This has taken place in the midst of debates on the quantity and quality of aid, and the effectiveness of international institutions. These in turn have unfolded against a larger backdrop of global political and economic changes, including the rapid expansion of the world economy and the emergence of some former aid recipients as new aid donors.

Finding enough money to fulfil the development commitments made in UN-sponsored international conferences throughout the 1990s remains a critical question. ODA, while only one source of development financing, is an important factor. But discussions about financing in general have been complicated by the noticeable lag in connecting newly agreed international standards to action and progress.

Other concerns relate to the fundamental validity of current development paradigms. Many remain focused on a narrow set of macroeconomic variables, rather than the broader agenda of human development that encompasses social equity, gender equality and fair access to economic resources such as decent employment. Recent deliberations on the effectiveness of ODA have mostly sidestepped these dimensions.

The issues at stake suggest the need for a renewed focus on improving the system of international development cooperation towards the achievement of human development goals, including through broad-based, multilateral debate reflecting diverse perspectives.

The United Nations is one forum where this can happen. The role of the UN includes providing space for the full spectrum of Member States to work towards agreement on common principles. To support countries in implementing these commitments, the UN operates programmes through its family of development agencies, and conducts research and statistical analysis to inform development policy and practice.

NGOs contribute expertise to many of these processes. Some carry out programmes as partners of UN agencies. Others advocate for new national and international policy directions, with a substantial track record on gender equality, human rights, poverty reduction and sustainable human development, among other subjects. NGO voices are particularly critical at the current moment, when changes in the global political and economic environment present both risks and opportunities. 

Link to original source 

Further Resources: 

Link to STWR's key facts page on Aid, Debt and Development

A Development Charter for the G20 - Overseas Development Institute

Taxation and Financing for Development - Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations