The NSS 2015 & the SDSR 2015: The “Development” parts Part 3

Other developed-related points include the UK partnering with China for global economic movements and the development of Africa (paragraphs 5.74 and 5.75), an EU-led trade agreement to improve India’s economy. This again may be welcomed by many, but also reeks of capitalist-centred. neoliberal-type objectives. Dealing such commercial and economic links with China on the surface benefits both sides and draws China closer to the (market-centric) global economic arena (not that China requires it). This according to some Western-centric scholars like Patrick Porter, may be counterproductive to the so-called Anglo-American “Special Relationship” but that’s beyond the scope of international or economic development here. It remains to be seen what happens with China’s political economy, barring any such economic partnerships.Paragraph 5.80 gives a brief mention of helping Bangladesh fight poverty, but no detailed information how. Paragraph 5.83 says the UK will engage with middle-income and G20 member over green technology and education but that’s it.

A more important section comes in Section C, where the document indicates that the UK places importance on the United Nations (UN), especially since it is where the Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The NSS and SDSR pledged to increase the number of UK personnel on UN Peacekeeping operations. Peacekeeping does help with development, but do not always drive a country towards the status of a ‘developed country’ (paragraphs 5.9.1 and 5.9.2). The next part states a old promise that has floating around for sometime: that the UK would “to build the inclusitivty of the IFIs’ membership and decision-making”. This has been a promise from not just the UK, but from many OECD states and major shareholders of the International Financial Institution (IFIs). The paragraph (5.9.4) gave the pledge that:

The International Monetary Fund agreed reforms in 2010 to enhance the voice of emerging markets and developing countries. The UK was one of the first members to make the statutory changes to put the deal into effect, and remains committed to its full implementation.

It remains to be seen if the UK follows through with this pledge. Still, it alone cannot elevate middle-income or emerging market economies to the ‘top’. It would require a combined effort of many other shareholders to give such states greater votes and/or voting power as well as a voice in IFI reforms and policy directions. Even if this succeeds, decisions by this new architecture won’t necessary be positive. The next small section looks at pledges for the G7 and G20 groups. Again, section 5.95 pledges global cooperation, but again most definitely to preserve the capitalist/neoclassical economics-centred/neoliberal order…

I’ll skip the rest of the sub-sections until 5.118, which states that “[the UK] will spend at least 50% of DFID’s budget in fragile states and regions in every year of this Parliament.” This focus on fragile states by the Conservatives isn’t new; the the previous Coalition government they pledged and spent 30% of their ODA on fragile states issues. A more comprehensive paper was released at the same time as the SDSR, titled UK Aid tackling global challenges in the national interest. (I’ll review this “White Paper” and topic in another post. For now, see stuff like this Center for Global Development article.)

I’ll stop here. This SDSR/NSS is really long….

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What’s ODA? It’s definition has been changed…

I was about to write Part 3 of the 2015 SDSR when

this news release appeared. In summary, the UK along with others Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Development Assistance (OECD-DAC) have altered the definition of Official Assistance (ODA). This is further detailed in by DAC members. DIFD’s news release provides an easy summary of some of the new definitions here:

*official aid can be used to support the military in fragile countries on issues that promote development, such as human rights and the prevention of sexual violence; this means the international community is better equipped to meet Global Goal 16 (of theSustainable Development Goals ) which calls for the stronger governance in developing countries to prevent violence and combat terrorism and crime

*tackling violent extremism is now formally recognised as a development activity; more than 90% of terrorist attacks occur in states with weak governance and poor human rights records

*donors are incentivised to work more with the private sector to boost economic development and create jobs in some of the world’s poorest countries.

My thoughts”

1) Yes, conflict and fragile states are an increasing issue for development agencies and practitioners. It ma sound welcome that ODA will now be considered ODA in military activities, but that comes as a huge U-turn for donors who see aid as development work, not for military purposes. The UK’s DFID was founded based on the principle that any UK aid would be only considered as development aid, not aid for military means. This was specifically noted in legal format through the 2002 International Development Act. But wait, ok, it says that ODA will be ODA now when the military is involved in the “prevention of sexual violence”. That may be development, but opening up the definition still could mean opening up for abuse, especially for other donors. (Hint, the USAID.)

2) Linking to the first part about conflict/fragile states, ODA will now be ODA if it curbs extremism. Again, this is a murky area–yes, extremism inhibits development. But calling finances to stop development could mean throwing money to projects that are for ad-hoc purposes and may just stop the action for a short term. It might further mean financial flows to groups that only prevent violence, not consider the eventual progression or development of the society or country.

3) Private sector. Well yes many donors have been focused on the private sector, especially since neoclassical economics and neoliberalism says the private sphere is the better way for development. DFID itself established a Private Sector Team for this purpose. Yes, the private sector do aid in development, but no, it is also susceptible to failure (basic development economics.) ODA now will be a financial boost for the private sector (I’m still not sure what is point is a bout). What about OOF (Other Official Flows?) And to take the Ha-Joon Chang argument, a focus on the private sector should not ignore the public sector or state.

ODA ‘s definition does need a change, but changing it opens up more questions, chief of which, is this really development?

More on this at a later time.

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The NSS 2015 & the SDSR 2015: The “Development” parts Part 2

Another also quite obvious development initiative proposed was to continue developing global or international development arena is brought up on page 48, paragraph 5.9 which states that the UK has and will continue to play a leading role in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UK indeed has been the forefront on the successor(s) to the Millennium Development Goals, as seen in this UN High-level panel news release, this blog post by David Hallam and David Cameron’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It of course increases the UK’s political standing by being a leader in forming the SDGs, but it is the quality that counts.

This brings us to the the next paragraph, 5.10 which reads:

Our development programme helps to drive economic development and prosperity overseas, enabling a permanent route out of poverty while creating markets for future British business. Our assistance focuses on improving peace, security and governance; equality of opportunity for girls and women; access to basic services for the poorest; and building resilience to crises and responding to disasters when they occur. We promote the golden thread of conditions (own emphasis added) that drive prosperity all across the world: the rule of law, good governance and the growth of democracy.

The “golden thread” is a term that PM Cameron formed around 2012, whereby you only get real long-term development through aid if there is also a “golden thread of stable government, lack of corruption, human rights, the rule of law, transparent information.” In essence, only if you follow these strict rules, you will be able to improve your overall development. It sounds like a simple formula to follow but it also sounds like theWashington Consensus policies of the 1980s and early 1990s and the post-Washington Consensus policies of the 1990s such as the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPS). As my old Development Studies lecturer Ha-Joon Chang would say, the UK is a “bad Samaritan” and is “kicking away the ladder” (the route it took in (economic) development) for these developing countries. If the UK wishes to improve the global arena, it must diversify its “golden thread” and allow states with different local institutions to develop in their own time. (You can read more about Cameron’s “golden thread” in this
gGoogle thread, this House of Commons International Development Committee publication and Simon Maxwell’s articles .)

To Be Continued

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The NSS 2015 & SDSR 2015: The “Development” parts Part 1

Author’s note: Devex won’t accept this so here it goes…

So the much awaited National Security Review and Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015 is out. As the title(s) imply, it’s not just a military-centred document, but one that covers defence, foreign affairs and yes international development approaches.

The UK has a strong but not excellent record in the field of development since the formation of the Department for International Development (DFID). Continued by the 2010-2015 Coalition government and now the Conservative-led government, DFID is projected to be a key mechanism for the UK’s development and wider diplomatic efforts. The document gave a substantial amount of focus on development, particularly in Chapter 5. The first main open comes on page 48, paragraph 5.6. It reads:

We administer and fund the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholarship schemes through DFID and FCO, which create lasting relationships with the global leaders of our current and future partners. We will fund and administer approximately 2,200 awardsa year for young people of high ability to study in the UK through the Chevening, Marshall and Commonwealth scholarship schemes.

That’s an easy way to promote development; after all educating people from developing countries is a common route to development and sort of within Official Development Assistance (ODA) guidelines. Of course, scholarship recipients will still need to pay the Home Office a fee for Tier 4 visas.

Another major and well known point the review made in paragraphs 5.8 to to 5.11. These emphasise on DFID’s “enormous” aid budget, most-notably the 0.7% of GDP/GNI United Nations (UN) ODA target. It is a no-brainer to some that this percentage target is quite outdated. Nevertheless the term “0.7” appears 7 times in the whole document, especially in the foreword by the Prime Minister and it being mentioned in the the second paragraph of Chapter 1. While aid as “0.7 of [UK’s] GDP/GNI” is the phrase sine 2010, the document did give indications how this portion of aid would be utilised. With the title “A Secure and Prosperous United Kingdom” the document indicates that a good portion of aid would be used to address activities in fragile and and conflict states. This is mentioned in the PM’s foreword and the term appears around fifteen times in the document.

Fragile or conflict states have of course been a critical area of interests for donors and organisations. The Fragile State Index index gives a great picture of the range of extreme and possible fragile states. This move by by DFID is not new; they have, since 2010, made it a policy to spend 30% of ODA in conflict and/or fragiel states. DFID might have done that across the Coalition government years, but aid effectiveness from such aid projects is always questionable. The UK plans to increase the percentage of its ODA towards such states, so it is really dubious what impact ODA in those countries will achieve.

To Be Continued due to own schedule.

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My Guest Article on Europe Asia Security Forum

Take a look, read and comment please

My Guest Article .

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Links for thought 11

Haven’t done this series in a while so here we go:

1) Jin Liqun: From the lines of Lord Byron to AIIB’s corridors of power

A Devex article on Jin Liqun,the first leader of the recently created, non-Western dominated, non-neoliberal (hopefully!), Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

2) DFAT’s International Development Minister

Although the old independent AuSAiD was merged with Australia’s Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), there wasn’t a specific minister for international development under Tony Abbott. Now with Malcolm Turnbull in charge, there’s a minister for international development and the Pacific, namely Steve Ciobo.

3) SDG celebration over, now the hard part begins

So instead of examining what went right and wrong with the Millennium Development Goals, the “world community” formed an even more complex set of goals called the Sustainable Development Goals. Everyone from the media-picked Malala to world leaders have welcomed it. Well, the fun is over. Implement them–if you can.

4) Are Mobility and Fragility Here to Stay?

Phil Vernon writes on mobility or rather migration and fragility, that is, unstable regions or countries.

5) Ha-Joon Chang mentioned

Not exactly a development-related article, but my old and great professor, Ha-Joon Chang is featured in this Telegraph article on the 11 types of professors you’ll meet in university.

6) 2030s and development then

The Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) or German Development Institute has a series on note worthy articles on the SDGs and the world out to 2030

7) Does Africa still need the UN?

Nice BBC article on Africa and why the UN matters there.

8) CSSF bidding

Or rather, the constant news on what the UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF) is and nowit isan improvement over the old Conflict (prevention) pool.

9) Come on Senate confirm someone for USAID

With the talk of the SDGS, it is still amazing that up to now (October 2015), the US Senate has not confirmed anyone, or rather, Gayle Smith to be the next head of USAID. This key US aid department has still an acting administrator in charge.

10) Economy, Climate, no longer neoliberal in framework?

You be the judge in this speech by Christine Lagarde.

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My take on Diane Abbott’s speech at the Labour Conference 2015

My comments in brackets and bold.

Conference I am proud to stand before you as Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for International Development. (You are very lucky to get this high position.)

Because there is no issue that better illustrates the internationalism that is at the core of progressive politics than our commitment to international development. And in an era that has seen the rise of toxic xenophobic politics across Europe it is worth reminding ourselves that an outward looking internationalism is not an “add on” to our Socialism, it should be at the heart of our Socialism.

Labour in government should be proud of its leadership on international development. It is a Labour government which in 1964 set up the first Ministry of Overseas Development. The very first Cabinet level Minister of Overseas Development was Barbara Castle. She was followed by illustrious names like Judith Hart and Clare Short. But we should never forget the contribution of Gordon Brown who put development issues at the heart of his government, tripled the aid budget and works tirelessly on these issues to this day.(So no praise to Valerie Amos, Hilary Benn, Douglas Alexander, Harriet Harman or Mary Creagh who held the Development SoS or Shadow SoS roles????)

This summer we have all seen the horrifying images of migrants and refugees trying to reach safety in Europe. For thousands of desperate people the Mediterranean has become a graveyard.

It was the Labour party that forced David Cameron to take action, inadequate though it has been. (And how about the SNP, Greens, Liberal Democrats???)

I would particularly single out my colleague Yvette Cooper for her leadership on the issue and look forward to working with her refugee taskforce. But many of those people attempting to cross the Mediterranean or in the camp at Calais are economic migrants fleeing desperate poverty. It is right to face our responsibilities to refugees. (Funny s I said above, no praise to Creagh?)

But you would expect me, as the child of economic migrants, to say that economic migrants should also be our care and concern. Barbed wire, armed troops and letting people drown is not the solution to waves of economic migration. Still less is it the politics of UKIP. Ultimately the only way to check the flows of economic migration is international development promoting growth and prosperity worldwide.

We need “woman centered” development policies.

Around the world 62 million girls are not in school. Globally one in three women will experience gender-based violence in her lifetime. And this includes female genital mutilation. In the developing world one in seven girls are married before their 15th birthday, with some child brides as young as eight or nine. Each year more than 287,000 women, 99 per cent of them in developing countries, die from pregnancy and childbirth-related complications. (I find this interesting since the history of development showed that girl or men, successful development still occurred–eg East Asian Development.)

Whilst women make up more than 40 per cent of the agricultural labour force only three to 20 per cent are landholders. In Africa women owned enterprises make up as little as 10 per cent of all businesses. In South Asia the number is only three per cent.

We need to reach those women. The test of the next Labour government’s development policies will not just be getting money out of the door or how many highly paid consultants we employ, but how we change the lives of women in some of the world’s poorest countries.
We also have to recognize that war and conflict are a primary impediment to development. (Done long ago in Labour’s 2009 White Paper).

Just last week the United Nations Sustainable Development goals were adopted. They set out 17 goals around which we can develop our aid policies and improve the lives of the poor globally as well as holding agencies and NGO’s to account. Yet the Government has yet to say how, or even whether, they will report on their work on the Millennium Development Goals which are about to expire. (Really? Have you not seen the evidence from DFID’s website, under Labour and the Tories?)

In the coming months I and the team will be holding this government to account on development. They have been paying lip service to the issues, whilst covertly diverting the budget to non-development purposes. This is a government which is as callous to the poor around the world as they are to the poor here in Great Britain.

International Development for David Cameron is mere window dressing. (Right so far, I’ve only see you say stuff and not propose any concrete policy.)

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What’s new with ODA and the UK armed forces

Suddenly defence journalist Jonathan Beale is surprised to find out that HMS Bulwark’s operation to rescue migrants in the Mediterranean is paid for by the Department for International Development (DFID’s) budget, or what we development people know as Official Development Assistance (ODA). What’s so surprising?

…. Drum Roll …

Operation Patwin’s (UK military response to Typhoon Haiyan) was counted as ODA and borne by DFID’s coffers

DFID has always reimbursed the MOD for Humanitarian and disaster relief work, even before the 2010 Conservative-Liberal Democrat Alliance and before the cuts-filled Strategic and Defence Security Review (SDSR)–see Baroness Northover’s reply.

Yes, the UK armed forces has been hit hard, yes DFID has an arbitrary target (as does NATO member states), but no, what on earth is new about DFID taking up the costs of HADR work? Celebrate don’t call it interesting!!!

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Some people still don’t get the AIIB or…

they are dumb neoliberals or just dumb.

Take is crappy forum page article for instance by a certain Mr. Teo (Singaporean or someone from Singapore).

IT IS regrettable that the United States and Japan have not joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) because they are afraid that China has the intention and clout to shape the new world order (“Banking on infrastructure of the future”; April 20, “S-E Asia and the shaping of China’s new world bank”; last Thursday, and “China-led bank ‘to fill funding gap, but hurdles remain'”; yesterday).

First writer, you don’t start off with a clear argument why it is regretable that the US and Japan don’t want to join. Then you write some supposedly omninous statement–“the new world order” as if the AIIB is about a black government. Are you saying China is a “black government” ready to take over the planet” with the AIIB?

This has indirectly cast a shadow on the structure and administration of the AIIB.

What an idiotic line First you say it is regrettable due to the threat of a new world order. But is it to you or is it “indirectly”? Make up your mind!

The US worries about whether the AIIB will weaken the governance, operations and efficiency of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

One, is the World Bank and IMF really efficient? I what sense? Helping to advance development? Evidence? And how do you know the true mind of the US?

It is also concerned about the AIIB’s governance standards and China’s environmental and social complications.

However, these fears have yet to be proven true.

This is call shooting-yourself-in-the-foot. Say it in one word!

China, as the initiator of the AIIB, needs to clearly put on the table the core framework and detailed plans of the AIIB development programmes.

What? You think the creation of an international orgainsation is like a magic trick? How about you read about the creation of the International Development Association (IDA) if you even know what that is?

It also has to identify and lay down how it is going to fairly and transparently distribute its capital and development funding, to allay the worries and suspicions of all the founding members.

Ahem, 57 nations have signed up. How many of them have “worries and suspicions” whne you started off with two countries who declined to join?

China has a long journey ahead and a lot of hard work to do.

Idiotic since it is uncessary.

The mark of the AIIB’s success is whether China can convince all the founding members to cooperate, work and contribute seamlessly and assiduously towards the principal objectives of the AIIB, and thereafter, share the fruits of the harvest.

Wait, do you even know why the AIIB was proposed in the first place? Or are you some dumb neoliberal?

Asean should persist in its longstanding policy of neutrality, non-alliance and non-interference (“AIIB may ‘speed up Asean plans for fully unified economic bloc'”; yesterday).

Irrelevant–see below.

It should not get involved in the hegemony and tussle of the superpowers.

Why? Who are you to say that?

Most importantly, Asean should focus on the core priority of economic development, especially infrastructure development.

Why? And besides, ASEAN has that objective in mind since its beginning. But it can’t exactly reach that, due to the political and cultural differences of each member state.

Nevertheless, I hope Singapore, with its good track record, expertise and experience, can play an active role in setting up the AIIB.

It can help to bridge the cultural differences and communication gap between China and the Western member countries.

Perhaps the regional headquarters of the AIIB could even be based in Singapore.

Wait, this is really weird. You start off with moaning the US and Japan for not joining the AIIB, cause that might be a way to a “black government”. Then, you attack China for not detailing the AIIB’s details, when in democratically accountable IOs, it is not just one state to detail the Articles of Agreement (if you know what that is!). Then you jump to talk about ASEAN with no logical flow. You abruptly then say that the AIIB should be based in Singapore with no logical argument, with a one liner about brining the gap?!!!

Please please, some one write a logical forum letter on the AIIB next time…

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AIIB headquarters location should not like those of past MDBs

While the argument that “S’pore should be AIIB’s regional headquarters” (April 11) has merit, it should be up to the planners and the final list of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank participants and shareholders to decide on the bank’s headquarters.

First the writer arrogant implies that the AIIB’s headquarters should be in a country with pristine financial excellence. He fails to note that other regional development banks, such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the African Development Bank, are headquartered in less developed cities such as Manila and Abidjan, yet have a pretty successful development record.

Second, the writer cites Beijing’s poor environmental record for why Singapore should also host the AIIB. That is an unqualified and against arrogant argument almost suggesting that polluted cities should not be centres for development banks. Manila is not exactly a lean, non-polluted city, but that did not stop the ADB from being hosted there. New York isn’t exactly a clean city in many areas, yet it hosts the main United Nations Headquarters!

China, the proponent of the AIIB, will most likely be the strongest shareholder. In my view, the AIIB should not be in a city that of a dominant superpower, or it will risk becoming another International Bank for Re-construction and development (IBRD), or even a International Development Association (IDA). Time will tell though.

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