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Busan: A “New Deal” for Foreign Assistance
International aid donor countries and recipients typically have five basic issues of concern: ownership, alignment, harmonization, results and mutual accountability. The Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea, has recently sought to address these issues. Busan follows three previous conferences in Rome, Paris, and Accra. Paris focused on establishing specific guidelines for donor countries based on these issues, and Accra marked the inclusion of civil society in international aid efforts.
Busan emphasized political engagement in lieu of specific targets and promises rather than firm commitments. Emerging countries, most notably China, signed the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation, but on the condition that their participation was voluntary. The agreement also states that a common set of monitoring standards which apply to new and traditional donors, as well as poor countries receiving aid, will be decided upon by June 2012. British international development minister Andrew Mitchell characterized the participating countries as “ships moving in the same direction albeit at different speeds.”
However, the Busan agreement gave significant attention to fragile states by drafting the “New Deal.” The New Deal states that aid to developing countries should prioritize security and justice issues, because “investing in resilience and risk reduction increases the value and sustainability of our development efforts.”
The Busan conference has received both positive and negative responses in the press, and it remains to be seen how effective the agreement will be. What do you think? Is an agreement enough to change the way donor countries operate? Is the June 2012 deadline reasonable, or are countries avoiding the issues?
See The Guardian’s Busan Conference section for more information.