Jonathan Glennie: Paris Declaration Flawed But Still Necessary

Should the international community cast off the “flawed” Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, whose targets donors have largely missed as shown by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s latest monitoring report? Not yet, a U.K.-based development expert argues.

“Despite its many flaws, the Paris Declaration is the best we have,” Jonathan Glennie of the Overseas Development Institute explains. “For donors to seek to reduce their commitments now, against the explicit wishes of aid-recipient countries, would be self-serving and shortsighted”

Glennie says the declaration is “deeply flawed” because it has narrowed down the meaning of aid effectiveness into technocratic targets. The indicators it uses to measure its targets are also weak and it does not take into account country context, he adds.

But despite these flaws, Glennie notes the declaration and its targets have produced improvements in the relationship between donors and aid recipients.

“Recipients, armed with a list of promises, are better able to demand that donors improve their practices. There has been a subtle rebalancing of power,” he explains. “So we should not exaggerate the importance of a list of voluntary commitments, but nor should we overlook its usefulness.”

Meanwhile, Glennie suggests what a new compact on aid effectiveness should include. Any new agreement, he says, should attract the interest of countries like China, Brazil and others that haven’t signed the Paris Declaration. Any new compact should also be made at a country level, with the measurements developed by recipient countries countries themselves.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.