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General information

DAC Annual Report

The annual report of the OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) for 1993, entitled 'Development Cooperation: Aid in Transition', has recently been published. In the first part of the report, given over to a global analysis, the director of the DAC sees the new international context as a source of hope but also one which poses significant new threats. On the one hand, the end of the East-West conflict and the democratisation that is under way in many Third World countries offer an opportunity to rationalise the criteria for development assistance and, in particular, to limit the scope of purely political motivations. On the other hand, the proliferation of conflicts and the growing problems associated with refugees, population movements and peace-keeping operations threaten to divert attention away from long-term development objectives towards more immediate crises requiring aid operations. All this is taking place at a time when economic recession in the industrialised countries is making it increasingly difficult to mobilise aid for development purposes. According to the DAC, in the face of the current global challenges, the donor countries should introduce new priorities into their aid policies. The first of these should be to increase the resources allocated for development purposes. While one might not perhaps expect ODA (Official Development Assistance) to rise, it ought to be possible to rely on growth in private capital flows such as has been seen in Asia and certain Latin American countries. At the same time, it needs to be recognised that a number of developing countries, notably in sub-Saharan Africa, remain dependent on ODA, given the continuing absence of growth and economic stability. An increase in the resources of developing countries could be achieved by giving priority to their exports, by developing their private sectors and by persuading them to reduce their military spending.

A second priority should be to look again at the way in which aid is allocated and used. K should be shared out between the East and the South in such a way as to avoid one losing out at the expense of the other, and a distinction should be drawn between those countries that are in a position to attract private investment and those that are wholly dependent on aid. In any case, there should be an emphasis on human development and participation while at the same time avoiding the situation whereby the countries in question find themselves ever-more dependent on aid.

Improvement of aid efficiency should be the third priority. Faced with increasing demands for assistance without an increase in the resources allocated for development, donor countries need to make an effort in such' areas as technology transfer and the untying of aid. There also need to be improvements in respect of parliamentary accountability in the donor countries, and in information to the public, with a view to broadening understanding about the aims and achievements of development policy. As far as recipient countries are concerned, making institutions more democratic and improving the management of public affairs are prerequisites for more efficient aid.

Following this general analysis, the report looks at the major challenges associated with development - population growth, urbanisation, migration, drug-abuse, AIDS and political, ethnic and regional conflicts. It then goes on to review development priorities region by region, in which context it underlines the need for two complementary approaches: a thematic one, which is needed to tackle the growing number of transnational problems, and a regional one, which must take account of regional specificities and focus on establishing suitable priorities at this lower level.

The second part of the report gives an account of the development policies currently pursued by the DAC member countries and provides figures on financial transfers, debt levels, ODA volumes and the way in which the aid is divided up. The third section takes the form of a statistical annex containing all the basic facts and figures that are available on development assistance.

20th NGO General Assembly looks at the role of NGOs in conflict situations

The annual General Assembly of the European development NGOs, which is organised by the NGO Liaison Committee, was held in Brussels from 7 to 9 April. The Committee, which is the body that represents the NGOs before the European Commission, consists of members of national organisations from all the countries of the EU. Its main functions are to ensure ongoing consultation and cooperation between the Commission and the NGOs which receive EU funds to cofinance various operations. The role of the Liaison Committee as the political 'spokesperson' for more than 700 NGOs is increasing in importance. The 20th Assembly, whose central feature was the presentation of the Liaison Committee's activity report and its programme for 1994, highlighted the growing focus on emergency aid at the expense of long-term development assistance. There was also an emphasis on the need for NGOs to maintain their identity and autonomy and to avoid becoming merely the instruments of government policy. The Assembly was followed by a conference on 'Conflict, Development and Military Intervention' which focused on the experiences, role and position of development NGOs in these areas. The theme reflected current concerns and attracted a good attendance from interested parties. It has become necessary for NGOs dearly to define the scope and limits of possible action that they can undertake in countries suffering from internal conflicts, the frequency of such conflicts having increased since the end of the Cold War. After a general presentation of the problem, a closer look at four specific cases (Somalia, Haiti, Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia) and more detailed discussion by the participants, a number of principles and proposals were set out by the conference. These will form the basis of future representations by the Liaison Committee to the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the EU, and can be summarised as follows: - Much greater efforts must be made to prevent conflicts breaking out, and NGOs should put pressure on governments to take positions and act before a crisis blows up. In order to do this, sufficient financial resources must be made available to provide for the implementation of a systematic policy aimed at both conflict prevention and the stabilisation of countries that have suffered wars. More generally, it is stressed that although conflicts exacerbate the problems of under-development, development nevertheless remains the best way of combating the causes of conflict.

- When a conflict does break out, international military action should only be considered as a last resort (this is not the same as taking such action 'at the last minute') where the population is under threat. The forces intervening must be given a mandate and objectives that are clearly defined and they must remain impartial from the humanitarian standpoint.

- In certain cases, NGOs may have to have recourse to military protection in order to carry out their work, but they must always make sure that their functions and those of the military remain distinct from each other.

- Military intervention should not be limited to preventing war but should also contribute to achieving peace and to re-establishing a process of sustainable development.

- Due to their strong links in the field and their profound knowledge of the people concerned, the NGOs have a particular experience which must be brought into play at all stages in the prevention, tackling or resolution of conflicts.

- Finally, the NGOs take the view that an effort must be made by the 'West' in the area of international arms control. They seek, in particular. a prohibition on the production, trade and use of anti-personnel mines as well as the establishment of an international fund, managed by the United Nations, for demining operations and the destruction of mines. The resources for this purpose should come from those states where the mines are manufactured.


Aid decisions

The Commission has recently taken the following decisions to provide humanitarian aid (including emergency and food aid):

ACP countries

Burundi: ECU 13.5 million as the second tranche of a wider aid package for the refugee camps.

Burundi: ECU 14 million as a contribution to the aid programmes carried out by humanitarian organisations to help victims of the conflict. Liberia: ECU 995 000 in food aid for populations that have fled to the Gbarnga region as a result of the recent fighting south-east of Buchanan. Liberia: ECU 1 million for a supplementary food programme for 125 000 people living in the counties of Bong and Grand Bassa and in the Upper Marghibi region. Madagascar: ECU 670 000 for basic essentials and medicines for people affected by the floods and other damage caused by the cyclones which struck the east coast of the country. Mauritania: ECU 400 000, of which ECU 300 000 is for the transport of essential goods and medicines from Nouakchott to the southeast of the country where 60 000 Tuareg refugees are currently living. The remaining ECU 100 000 is for medical/nutritional assistance to very young children in Nouakchott itself. Mozambique: ECU 860 000 in the form of medicines and basic materials for a number of health centres which have recently become accessible for the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Rwanda: ECU 500 000 for victims of the latest wave of interethnic violence. Somalia: ECU 1 051 million for four medical projects to bring hospitals back into use, produce artifical limbs (including associated retraining of the disabled) and provide vaccinations, as well as to cover the costs of transporting personnel and medicines from Djibouti to various de*inations in the north of the country. Sudan: ECU 17 million as a contribution to a global humanitarian aid scheme for victims of the conflict, with particular emphasis on people in the south of the country. Sudan: ECU 490 000 for three months' worth of medical/nutritional aid for displaced people in the Mundi and Marindi regions. Haiti: ECU 850 000: ECU 500 000 for the purchase of fuel and ECU 350 000 for an urgent vaccination programme against measles. Mayotte: ECU 500 000 for initial help to the population affected by the earthquake which has struck both the south and the north of the island.

Non-ACP countries

Bolivia: ECU 410 000 for the purification and deepening of wells providing drinking water, as part of measures to combat the cholera epidemic in the province of Cordillera. Peru: ECU 500 000 to provide basic essentials for victims of the floods in a huge area of the country covering the cities of Lima, El Callao, Pucallpa and Cuzco. Mexico: ECU 360 000 in the form of food and medical aid, and basic equipment, to help Guatemalans who fled the civil war in the El Quiche district of their own country resettle. Ex-Yugoslavia: ECU 24.15 million to cover the food needs (from March to June) of refugees, displaced persons and other disadvantaged groups in Croatia. Azerbaijan: ECU 850 000 in the form of basic essentials for the functioning of hospitals, to help the people of Nagorny Karabakh, following the upsurge of fighting between Armenians and Azeris. The Caucasus region: ECU 9.5 million for refugees and displaced people, notably in Georgia, in the form of bulk food supplies and family food parcels. Ukraine and Belarus: ECU 1.3 million to help victims of the Chernobyl nuclear accident, through the supply to hospitals in Kiev and Minsk of the equipment needed for the detection and treatment of thyroid cancers, from which some 400 children currently suffer. Afghanistan: ECU 1.985 million, in addition to the aid previously granted in January, in the form of medical and nutritional assistance to dispossessed people in the capital and to refugees on the recently dosed Pakistan frontier. Palestine (the Occupied Territories): ECU 2.3 million to purchase 8500 tonnes of flour for Palestinians suffering from a shortage of basic foodstuffs in the aftermath of the Hebron massacre. Cambodia: ECU 1 million to continue demining activities in the Angkor region for a further six months. Philippines: ECU 200 000 for the provision of food aid and other basic essentials to the victims of four cyclones which struck during December and January.