HLF4 - which took place in Busan, Korea from 29 November to 1 December 2011 - aimed both to evaluate progress already made towards achieving more effective aid, and to define an agenda for the future. The international socio-economic climate has changed greatly since the Paris Declaration for Aid Effectiveness was endorsed in 2005: the economic crisis, the increasingly prominent role played by emerging economies, and the diversification of development co operation flows all mean that focus needed to be widened.
- International co-operation can no longer be understood as simply a relationship between “rich” and “poor” governments, but rather it is a complex network that includes middle-income countries that are both donors and recipients (South-South co- operation), multilateral organisations, international financial institutions, and non-governmental bodies such as the private sector and civil society organisations.
- International development needs to open up to the wider development context; one that also takes into consideration the role of the private sector, the fight against corruption, preventing tax evasion. In these areas countries most in need suffer considerable losses of their domestic resources.After a lengthy and highly participatory negotiation process, the HLF4 concluded with the endorsement of the “Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co- operation” by over 160 countries and around 50 other organisations.
The UNDG has prepared one joint United Nations Paris Declaration Survey response, which allows continuity with previous years and is consistent with the spirit of the United Nations reform agenda and system-wide coherence. In 2011, in addition to a complementary UNDG report on implementing the Paris Declaration, UNDP and several other UNDG members have also been preparing individual agency reports, which globally consoli- date the 2010 results reported by agencies at country level. Given that no disaggregated data is available on UNDP performance in 2005 or 2007, there is no baseline on the basis of which UNDP could establish relative targets. While it is therefore not possible to measure progress between 2005 and 2010, the existing disaggre- gated figures on UNDP’s performance nevertheless provide a useful indication of how UNDP is faring in 2010.With the exception of using country systems where further progress is needed, UNDP is faring well overall in reaching the 2010 Paris Declaration targets on effective aid. Slow progress on UNDP’s use of country systems mirrors the slow progress of most donors in increasing the use of country systems. Equally, UNDP’s implementa- tion of a number of Paris Declaration principles, like use of country systems and direct budget support, hinges on the decisions of its Executive Board, particularly those relating to internal rules and procedures, transparency and disclosure policy. On the other hand, UNDP has made great strides toward aligning aid flows with national priorities and improving the predictability of its assistance. While further efforts on harmonizing its support are needed, ongoing improvements to United Nations and UNDP programming and system-wide coherence are apparently already facilitating improvements in this area.
Uncomfortable truths for development practitionersDevelopment researchers and practitioners alike have argued that it is more productive to seek out what works, rather than what is broken. To do this, they have increasingly looked outside the formal boundaries of the state. There have been local turns, both in peacebuilding and in development practice (Mac Ginty and Richmond 2013; Luckham 2017). These have attracted programme support for a range of grass-roots initiatives, such as decentralisation programmes, local level courts and policing, women’s peacebuilding activities, and many others.A key problem for all of these initiatives, however, is that they easily become hostage to wider national predicaments, such as escalating armed conflict; interacting state and non-state violence; the breakdown of social protections; inertia or corruption in government; and ill-thought-out interventions by regional and international actors.Hence donor agencies must still find better ways of working in, around, and on fragile and authoritarian states. They cannot begin to do so unless they have a more realistic grasp of (a) how these states work; (b) for whom they work; and (c) whom they fail. This may mean facing up to some uncomfortable truths. Not all autocracies are fragile; and some may even be better at ensuring order and delivering public goods than defective democracies. Democracies as well as autocracies may protect vast inequalities in power and wealth, and can sometimes be venal, corrupt, and fragile. Democratisation itself may tip countries into cycles of violence and long-term disorder, and we do not know enough about why this happens or how to reverse these cycles. Even well-consolidated democracies sometimes govern their marginalised peripheries in comparably violent and exclusionary ways to autocracies.In development-land as well as in peace-land, there is little room for political innocence (Autesserre 2014). Practitioners should be politically informed and capable of critical self-reflection. They should consider and be prepared for:
- How to cope with intransigent or self-interested policymakers when negotiating access or supporting development programmes;
- How to identify reliable interlocutors within national governments, without rendering them vulnerable to intimidation and other forms of regime pressure;
- How to re-channel assistance and programming from problematic governments to NGOs and civic organisations;
- What to do when intelligence or national security agencies try to co-opt or subvert the latter;
- and If cooperation is required with dissidents or even armed insurgents, as well as with the regime, how to navigate a way between them. The dilemmas are many, and there are few general answers.Working on authoritarian structures and fragile situations to change them is especially challenging. Governance initiatives supported by development agencies cannot but be politically loaded. They all too easily result in external actors taking on tasks that national governments and others should be performing. National elites may be more interested in the resources that programmes bring in, than in the outcomes they are supposed to achieve. International engagement, especially in governance and security matters, disturbs existing power balances, and is supported or opposed accordingly. Added to this is donor hubris, including the tendency to overestimate what such forms of support can actually achieve in extremely volatile situations.
ConclusionIn sum, there needs to be less emphasis on good practice norms and policy templates, and more on well-informed realism about what can be achieved within the political constraints and dynamics of each local, national, and regional situation.
- Authoritarian developmental states work well only under strict historical and institutional conditions. They are not a panacea for economic catch-up.
- Learning from democratic systems (institutional mimicking) is vital in understanding resilient authoritarian regimes.
- Effective control of capital, labour, and local governments is a complex task that will fail in most state-led developmental ambitions.
- Authoritarian states often face huge challenges when they reach mid-income status, as societies become diversified.
- The resilience of authoritarian regimes depends on how they resolve development challenges, not on adopting specific development models.
- Information technology is likely to further polarise authoritarian regimes between those who can or cannot access data for economic and political control.