The sweet and sour of Busan

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Negotiations in Busan have ended and a new global partnership on aid effectiveness has been endorsed. The end result is a mixture of positive and negative according to ACT Alliance, a global network of 125 churches and church-based organisations working on humanitarian assistance and development in 140 countries.

Small achievements on human rights and the protection of civil society - the civic and social relationships, organisations and institutions that are central to functioning democracies - were reached. China has got its own way. Civil society now demands action from all development agencies to fulfill the promises of previous conferences alongside the Busan meeting on aid effectiveness.

The final outcome document – The Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation - has been approved today. Suzanne Matale, Secretary General of Christian Council of Churches in Zambia, is hesitant about its value: “I am not sure that poor people in my country will benefit from the Busan Conference.”

Matale continues: “Busan has seen a rearrangement of the power among the donors. The expectations of the private sector are high, but whether the sector will really contribute to development remains to be seen. It is great that human rights are now written clearly in the principles of the Outcome Document, but they are not in the indicators or practical rules, which makes their implementation uncertain.”

ACT Alliance has - together with a large network of civil society organisations – advocated for a protection of an enabling space for civil society and faith based organisations to protect civil society’s fundamental rights in Busan. Peter Lanzet, of the German Church Development Service (EED), representative of ACT Alliance in the Better Aid Coordination Group, which negotiated the Busan Outcome Document on behalf of Civil Society said “Civil society has achieved an agreement that its international rights will be protected. Still, we would have preferred a specific reference to civil society’s freedom of assembly and speech.”

Martin Pedersen, representing DanChurchAid in ACT Alliance's working group on development effectiveness, says “China is now part of the new global partnership, endorsing all common goals and shared principles, and that is positive. However, China is not ready for transparent and accountable cooperation, based on multi-stakeholder dialogue. China has taken a cautious step forward. ”

Donors wanted results and value for money to be at the heart of the new agreement. In practical aid management practice, however, that is perceived as donor-driven, however, said Malcolm Damon, of the Economic Justice Network/FOCCISA in Southern Africa. “Results agreements and performance based finance models have been seen as something imposed on developing countries. No developing country has actually planned for such systems.”

Despite ACT Alliance's slight disappointment - a priority is now to ensure that in the post-Busan period all development partners live up to the agreed common goals and shared principles for effective development.

For more information, contact:

Martin R. Pedersen, ACT Alliance media spokesperson in Busan +45 29 91 69 30 /