Philosophical Gaps: Major Roadblocks to Achieving Coherence in Busan

    A nighttime view of Haeundae Marine City in Busan, South Korea. Photo by: Byoungkin Kim / CC BY-ND

    Current negotiations on the language and content of the outcome document to be released at the end of the high-level aid effectiveness forum in Busan, South Korea, hint at deep differences among key players that observers say are not likely to be resolved in time for the forum, which is set to start Nov. 29.

    “It is clear that fragmentation is the order of the day,” the Guardian’s Mark Tran notes, adding that where Busan is expected to produce a “global agreement on basic principles to govern all major forms of development finance,” more philosophical gaps among key players are exposed.

    Among the sticking points identified by Tran is China’s position that the “principle of transparency should apply to north-south cooperation, but that it should not be seen as a standard for south-south cooperation.” This position, Tran notes, shows how hard it would be to achieve coherence in Busan.

    Brazil’s preference to stay outside of the Paris principles of aid effectiveness is another major roadblock to achieving Busan’s ambitious goals, he says. The South American country, which belongs to the so-called BRICS group of emerging donors along with China, has maintained that its aid programs are based on solidarity instead of strategic goals.

    Countries promoting the principles of transparency and mutual accountability also have differences to resolve, Tran notes.

    “The U.S. is cool towards making too much information available and objects to a paragraph to ‘make the full range of information on publicly funded development activities, their financing and contribution to development results, publicly available’,” he says. “Japan is reluctant to move beyond current monitoring frameworks of aid programs that would provide more detailed information on aid flows.”

    With these different directions of key players, the hope that Busan brings order to the international aid system appears to be a tall order, Tran notes.

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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.