NGOs gather in Busan to speak truth to power, once more
As 500 representatives from civil society meet in Busan today for the Global Civil Society meeting (twitter hashtag #BCSF), setting the scene for next week’s summit on better aid, there was much talk of how the Busan summit could do for the private sector what the Accra summit did for civil society: include them formally in the “recipe” to eradicate extreme poverty.
Even as the 5th draft of the summit outcome document was still being debated, some already drew their own conclusions. Tony Blair, for instance, wrote in the Washington Post about the end of overseas aid.
In the Huffington Post, meanwhile, Ben Phillips argued that better aid can help save the world, and NGO representatives had their hopes pinned, as they did in Accra, that the “traditional donors” of the European Union would save the summit, and save the emphasis on the role of citizen action within the overall “Development” process.
And UN boss Ban Ki-Moon also reminds us that aid should be more targeted directly at the “poor and marginalised wherever they are”.
It seems that at this summit of aid donors, there will be many questions asked about the Aid Effectiveness process’ central premise that better coordination is the key to improving the impact of aid.
Coordination of donors is a useful, but technocratic solution to what is inherently a political problem: Governments’ unwillingness to take the bold steps required.
NGOs have for a long time now argued that it is unreasonable to expect Aid to promote Development, as long as so many other international policies continue to deepen, not alleviate, poverty, and as long as many developing country governments do not embrace the principles of democratic, inclusive and rights-based forms of governance.
Good thing that the Global Civil Society Forum is there to, once more, stir the conscience of the world’s leaders.