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Donors agree new 'transparent' aid partnership

02 december 2011, 14:08
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OECD chief Angel Gurria (C) speaks  during a press conference on the outcome of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in the city of Busan. ©AFP
OECD chief Angel Gurria (C) speaks during a press conference on the outcome of the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in the city of Busan. ©AFP
Donors from 160 countries including China agreed on Thursday to form a worldwide partnership to ensure tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid goes to help the neediest, AFP reports.

Their declaration came at the end of the world's premier aid forum, at which Western countries tried to bring emerging donors like China -- which does not co-ordinate with other major aid-givers -- into the international fold.

But private groups expressed regret that the deal was not binding.

The agreement "will only live up to its historic potential if nations follow through on their promises", said BetterAid, a coalition of private aid organisations.

It said an initially reluctant China had supported the declaration on condition it was voluntary.

"It's a big step forward that China is at the table but it's a pity that they aren't yet ready to promise to act on what they say," said Antonio Tujan, chair of BetterAid and the "sherpa" representing NGOs at negotiations.

Officials at the three-day Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness said that both traditional aid-givers and emerging donors had signed the closing document, which promises greater transparency and efforts to fight corruption.

About 3,500 government and private officials took part, debating ways to spend aid better and to co-ordinate efforts by traditional donors with emerging economic powerhouses like China, Brazil and India.

"Never before has there been such an inclusive and fully engaged process behind international development," said Angel Gurria, chief of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which co-hosted the event.

"I've been joined by Brazil, Russia, India, China and many others who have endorsed the Busan partnership for effective development co-operation."

All of them, he said, share the ultimate goal, "which is to make the lives of the more vulnerable and neediest in the world better".

The conference also brought together US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak.

Clinton had on Wednesday cautioned developing nations to be "smart shoppers" and to beware some donor countries which might be more interested in extracting natural resources than promoting development.

Without mentioning China by name, she urged developing countries to avoid "quick fixes" that fill short-term budget gaps without lasting benefit.

Thursday's closing document pledged to "establish a new, inclusive and representative global partnership for effective development cooperation" whose working arrangements would be agreed within six months.

Aid-givers are already "united by a new partnership that is broader and more inclusive then ever before", the document said.

The UN's Millennium Declaration, it noted, identified the promotion of human rights, democracy and good governance as a key part of development efforts.

It added that aid-givers would let recipient nations set development priorities and would focus on results, transparency and accountability.

The agreements in Busan would be the reference "for South-South partners on a voluntary basis", it said, referring to aid from emerging nations to developing countries.

"We'll know six months down the line whether there's any meat on the bones of this deal," international charity Oxfam said in a statement, urging donors to act quickly to flesh out the promises.

"One billion poor people are waiting for more than words -- they want measurable action."

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