Civil Society demands international action on aid | Pacific Beat

Civil Society demands international action on aid

Civil Society demands international action on aid

Updated 29 February 2012, 8:45 AEDT

Civil Society Organistions from around the world are calling on developed and developing nation governments to lift their game to ensure that international aid works for the people for whom it is intended.

The call comes as governments and donors prepare for 3 days of talks in South Korea, at the Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness.

In the lead up to the Forum representatives of more than 20,000 civil society organisations came together to finalise their demands.

Presenter:Jemima Garrett

Speaker:Emele Duitutraga, Global Co-chair of the Civil Society Open Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea

GARRETT: Community associations, women's groups, trade unions and faith based-groups are among the 20,000 plus Civil Society Organisations from around the globe that are working to make sure the Busan Forum will be a turning point.

They have come armed with a sobering report which shows that in the six years since governments agreed to the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectivenss only 2 of 21 targets have been achieved.

Civil society leaders say development should be about more than economic growth - that it is first and foremost about fulfilling the rights and needs of the world's poorest people.

Fiji's Emele Duitutraga, is Executive Director of PIANGO the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organistions and Global Co-chair of the Busan Open Forum that drew up the civil society demands.

She says the donors and governments must improve accountability and tackle problems associated with tied aid.

DUITUTRAGA: The analysis from civil society is that a lot of the aid is tied to procurement processes in donor countries, there is a lot of focus on aid modality and the people who are the end result of this aid are still not engaged. And so, we are focussing now on the transparency and accountability, not just of the donors who provide this aid but the government, the state agents, who are partners with donors to this. And so civil society is calling on both governments and donors to make more transparent procurement processes to address the conditionalities where much of that aid money returns to the countries where the aid is coming from.

GARRETT: The world's civil society organisations want to ensure private sector involvement in development contributes to communities and respects international labour standards.

They also want the role of non-government organisations recognised, as demanded by the 2008 Accra Action Plan on Aid Effectiveness.

Emele Duitutaga says the experience of her region is typical.

DUITUTURAGA: Many civil society around the Pacific have found that our space has shrunk, in terms of regulatory ability to operate effectively, less funding, defunding. That is what we are bringing to Busan by saying that governments have reneged on the commitment of recognition and the enabling environment for civil society since Accra.

GARRETT:Why is it that only 2 of the 21 commitments in the Paris declaration have been implemented?

DUITUTURAGA: That's a question that governments should answer, which is why there will be a discussion at this High Level Forum around unfinished business about why is it that those commitments have not been met. In order for this international global agreements to have credibility there needs to be firm commitments that are timebound and a mechanism of monitoring in order to hold governments to account.

GARRETT: The recommendations from the civil society forum will be going through to the main meeting - what chance do they have of being adopted?

DUITUTAGA: We have been part of the negotiations and I think one unique thing we need to celebrate here, Jemima, is that for the very first time at the global level, civil society is at the table, as an equal negotiating with government and donors and that is something that has never happened before. So that gives us a 50/50 chance that our concerns, our demands, are going to be considered. What is being hoped for is a consensus which means getting support from governments and donors and I'd give it a 70% chance. At this stage, we are informed with the negotiations that there is much gain that we have made but that there negotiations are not yet completed on some of the negotiations that we have just discussed.

GARRETT: You are the Global Co-chair of the Open Forum - how will you be working with Pacific governments and what difference will that make?

DUITUTRAGA: We have begun in the last 2 to 3 years to engage quite intensively with the Pac Is Forum Sec, which is the peak body that works with Pacific governments. We also have been advancing at national level to strengthen the involvement of civil society in national government processes, discussions around development assistance. We are looking to this meeting in Busan to give legitimacy to the role of civil society at the national level, at the local level, as development actors in our own right, and consequently expect to create more space and recognition by governments at the ground level.

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