El cambiante escenario de la cooperación internacional: una visión geopolítica

Helen Milner

Durante la tercera sesión plenaria de la 12ava Conferencia Anual del GDN, la profesora Helen Milner, directora del Centro Niehaus de Globalización y Gobernanza en la Escuela Woodrow Wilson School de Princeton, se refirió a la cooperación internacional para el desarrollo desde una perspectiva geopolítica. A diferencia de los anteriores participantes de alto perfil, la Dra. Milner viene del mundo de la Ciencia Política. En su presentación sostuvo que la cooperación internacional es una parte integral de la política exterior de los países, y explicó cómo los cambios en el sistema internacional están transformando esta ayuda.

Milner inició por bosquejar la historia de la cooperación internacional y ubicar su inicio en el Plan Marshall para la reconstrucción de Europa. Destacó como los donantes tradicionales (EE.UU., Japón, Europa occidental) durante los últimos 20 años han creado un “régimen” para de Cooperación Internacional a través de acuerdos, tales como: los Principios DAC, la Declaración de Paris, el Conceso de Monterrey, las Metas del Milenio y la Agenda Accra. Sin embargo, anotó nuevos donantes, como China, Brasil e India no parecen estar siguiendo estas directrices.

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The emerging landscape of aid

Helen Milner

Helen Milner,  Director of the Niehaus Center for Globalization and Governance at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School addressed foreign development aid from a geopolitical perspective in the fifth plenary of GDN’s 12th Annual Conference. In contrast to the previous high-profiled participants who were economists, she comes from the Political Science world. Her presentation argued how aid is an integral part of countries’ foreign policy, and how changes in the international system are transforming aid.

Professor Milner started by sketching the history of aid and locating its origins in the Marshall Plan. She highlighted how an ‘international aid regime’ has been created by the ‘traditional donors’ (USA, Japan, Western Europe) during the last 20 years through agreements, such as: DAC principles, Paris Declaration, Monterrey Consensus, Millennium Development Goals and the Accra Agenda, among others. However, new donors such as China, Brazil and India do not seem to be following these guidelines.

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Building business: Chinese aid to Africa

There is a great deal of mystery surrounding the exact nature of China’s aid to Africa. However, China continues to dismiss the criticism that its aid programme supports repressive regimes, preferring to see aid arrangements as business, without a political agenda.

China pledged $10 billion in loans to Africa in 2009 without any political preconditions. Despite much optimism over Beijing’s efforts to support development and investment on the continent, critics have been quick to highlight the lack of transparency over the deal. Read more of this post

China and Africa: Aid and Trade

Wen Jiabao, Premier of the People's Republic o...

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Together, China and Africa account for over one-third of the world’s total population. China’s economic engagement with Africa has in recent years become a highly reported issue, not least due to developments in aid relations.

The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) outlines that:

China is the largest developing country in the world, and Africa is home to the largest number of developing countries. Promoting economic development and social progress is the common task China and Africa are facing.

During the 2009 opening ceremony of the FOCAC at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao pledged $10 billion in concessional loans to African countries. Another marker in on-going relationship that has seen Africa’s exports to China grow by nearly 40% every year between 2001 and 2006 and become South Africa’s largest export market.

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The Future of Aid

As 2010 comes to an end, the effectiveness of the fundamental mechanisms of the current foreign aid system has become a much discussed and ever more pertinent issue. Robert Riddle in his 2007 book Does Aid Really Work? highlights the traditional principle that underpins all foreign aid as:

Those who can should help those who are in extreme need…What could be simpler?

However, as Riddle elaborates, the realities of foreign aid are far from simple. Indeed, the current global financial crises, climate change challenges, natural disasters and political volatility are all contributing factors in an increasingly complex international concern.

These issues have resulted in an extensive diversity in both the attitude and approach to aid.  Some, such as William Easterly and Dambisa Moyo, argue that foreign aid has stunted the growth of countries in Africa and instead created a circle of aid dependency, corruption and further poverty.

Other aid practitioners believe that aid can be successful, but only if delivered correctly.

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GDN 12th Annual Conference Plenary Speaker: Professor Helen Milner

Plenty of leading scholars will address the key issues relating to this year’s conference theme, Financing Development in a Post-Crisis World. Five plenaries top and tail each of the three day’s proceedings, with one of the most exciting taking a particularly topical theme of Development Aid: The Emerging New Landscape.

The international context of foreign aid has changed profoundly in the last few years due to multiple, interrelated global crises and challenges. Food insecurity, volatile energy and commodity prices, climate change, and above all, the global financial crisis, have recently left many fragile countries struggling to cope. This session asks the demanding question of what the next decade might hold for aid effectiveness; explores how ‘aid’ is defined; and promises to look at the macroeconomic impact of aid and the recent emergence of new donors from the South.

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