UN reform plans, Germany's aid budget, and harassment safeguards: This week in development

The United Nations headquarters in New York. Photo by: Tomás Fano / CC BY-SA

A “victim-centered” approach for aid sector safeguards, a new job description for U.N. resident coordinators, and Germany’s underwhelming budget plans. This week in development:

The United Nations is moving forward with a plan to restructure the role of its resident coordinators, with the aim of bringing more coordination and authority under one person at the country level. While U.N. resident coordinators are currently United Nations Development Programme country heads, the new plan would see them hold independent offices, to which all of the U.N. branches in a given country would report, Amy Lieberman reported for Devex. “This is a really important agreement for the U.N. It does one thing, which is absolutely key, in that it empowers the authority of the U.N. representatives on the ground in each country, in the field, to be able to have much more strategic direction and control over what the U.N. is doing, and that should have a lot of benefits,” said Sarah Cliffe, director of New York University’s Center on International Cooperation and the former Assistant Secretary-General of civilian capacities at the U.N.

Germany’s latest budget includes a disappointing increase in foreign aid spending in the short term, and an “incomprehensible” draft plan to decrease spending after 2020, according to development advocates in the country. In 2019, the budget for Germany’s Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development — or BMZ — is set to grow by €284 million ($333 million), from €9.4 billion in 2018 to €9.7 billion. That increase is less than many in the German aid community were expecting, and out of synch with a plan to grow German defense and development spending proportionally, experts told Devex. Germany met its target to allocate 0.7 percent of GDP to foreign assistance for the first time in 2016, but failed to do so in 2017. Based on the latest budget, one expert told Devex that allocation could fall to 0.48 percent in 2019. “What we are experiencing here is no less than a clear break with the goals agreed in the coalition agreement,” said Stephan Exo-Kreischer, Germany director of the ONE Campaign.

The CEO of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development is “enthusiastic” about the transformation of the NEPAD Agency into the African Union Development Agency, according to a statement released this week. “A core aspect of the current reforms is to streamline and improve effectiveness and efficiency in delivery in the implementation of AU decisions, policies and programmes across all AU organs and institutions,” Ibrahim Mayaki said. During the African Union Summit, which concluded earlier this month, heads of state approved the creation of the African Union Development Agency as the technical body of the African Union. The new agency has until the January 2019 summit to present itself as an organization with its own legal identity and mandate. The creation of the AUDA is part of wider AU reforms led by Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

The aid sector should take a more victim-centered approach as it works to create a more effective system for safeguarding against sexual abuse and harassment, according to a researcher who appeared before the United Kingdom’s parliamentary International Development Committee in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Corinna Csáky — a former global adviser on child protection at Save the Children and author of the 2008 report “No One To Turn To” — argued that instead of focusing so much on perpetrators, aid and development organizations should look to mitigate the factors that frequently prevent victims from reporting the abuses they suffer. To do that, new safeguards might include training children in humanitarian settings about their rights; creating child-friendly spaces for reporting; offering medical, psychosocial, legal, and financial support to victims; and regular feedback to communities about what actions are being taken to investigate and prosecute claims of abuse, Csáky said.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.