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Brexit update – September 2018

13. September 2018 - 14:43

Brexit update – September 2018




This note updates the Brexit Update I wrote in April 2018. In an ideal world, I might have incorporated the earlier material and written a new, stand-alone briefing – but I haven’t, so I’m afraid you will have to read the earlier note for background. Look particularly at the 5 big questions, the DFID non-paper from February, and the seven priorities for the development sector.

It is hard to assess how the overall negotiations are going, and harder still to know whether we will actually leave. For what it’s worth, my guess is that things are somewhat more serene than they appear on the surface: kind of the reverse of what happens with ducks paddling furiously below the water while they glide smoothly across the pond. On the surface, all is sound and fury, among and between the political parties, especially about the viability of the Chequers proposals and the subsequent Brexit White Paper, both published in July. Under the surface, the blanks in the Withdrawal Treaty are gradually being filled in, and there have been positive comments recently, both from Michel Barnier, and, in his State of the Union speech on 12 September, Jean Claude Juncker. This may, of course, be too optimistic. It looks like the rubber will hit the road in November, with a special EU Summit pencilled in for 13 November.

Meanwhile, there are two areas to track. One relates to the UK position, especially on contributions to EU aid programmes after Brexit, but also on access to EU funding by UK NGOs. The other is the evolution of development policy in the EU itself, especially connected to the proposals for the Multi-Annual Financial Framework 2021-2027.

The UK position

In February, the UK expressed a desire to participate in future EU aid programmes, provided that it was given a voice in strategy. Key sentences from the Non-Paper read:

‘The EU has the opportunity now to design a set of future instruments which . . . creates an open and flexible enabling framework, within which the EU  and its partners can work together . . .. We suggest that . . . new instruments are designed so that they are open to external partners . . . should be invited to participate at a strategic level, with a seat at the table, where they are able to contribute expertise or resources (funding or in kind). Partners should be able to earmark funding within the geographical funds for Africa, the Caribbean and the Overseas Countries and Territories, and the Pacific, as well as to the neighbourhood.’

In May, the Government published a second non-paper, reproduced below for ease of reference. The willingness to collaborate was again emphasised, but again with a clear signal that this would be selective:

‘we will critically assess the rationale for close collaboration depending on the situation, and be rigorous in our assessment of whether working with the EU offers the best value for money.’

Being more specific, the paper identified three areas where closer collaboration would be attractive: (a) peace and security, including via a European Peace Facility; (b) humanitarian aid; and (c) migration. These, the paper says,

‘are key areas for policy co-operation, close mutual (i.e. side-by-side) programming and could potentially be areas where we may jointly fund in the future if we can create the mechanisms that allow us to do so effectively.’

There was quite a debate about these three areas when the paper was first circulated, with critics asking about the apparent exclusion of e.g. poverty reduction or social sector expenditure. It was not sufficiently made clear that the three areas represent the UK’s Government’s assessment of where the EU has comparative advantage vis-à-vis the UK. There was reference to this when the Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt, appeared before the International Development Select Committee in Parliament, in July.

Thus, the debate should not be about whether these three areas are the most important in development, but rather whether these are areas where the EU can add value to the UK’s own efforts. That is certainly a debate worth having – both whether there is value-added in these three specific areas, and also whether there is value-added elsewhere. For example, it is interesting to compare the business-oriented priorities articulated by Theresa May in her recent visit to Africa, with a very similar emphasis on investment and growth in the new ‘Africa-Europe Alliance’ announced by Jean-Claude Juncker in his State of the Union. Can the EU add value to the UK effort, or does self-interest make that impossible?

It is just worth adding that the Brexit White Paper had only four short paragraphs on development cooperation, essentially confirming the thrust of the Non-Paper (see Box 1).

If this is the UK position, it becomes especially important to track the EU proposals for the next financial framework – on which, see below.

The other main focus of UK policy over the summer has been on access by UK entities to EU funding. This became quite heated, for example when Penny Mordaunt, appeared before the Select Committee  in July (see esp Q 21). The main problem seemed to be that UK, mainly humanitarian, NGOs were discouraged from applying for EU funds, because if the UK left the EU without a ‘deal’, then their funding might be discontinued. This may have been a case of mis-communication by the European Commission, but in any case, the British Government stepped in to guarantee funding. In a letter to NGOs, the Secretary of State, Penny Mordaunt, said

‘I am pleased to announce the Government’s commitment to support UK aid organisations from additional financial liabilities as a result of “no deal’ planning currently being undertaken by ECHO. This contingency plan would apply in the event that ECHO terminates funding to UK organisations when we leave the EU.’

The commitment does not apply in the case of a ‘with deal’ Brexit, however, and there are other actors at risk, including universities and private companies. This is not a new topic. I reviewed it in May 2017, concluding that the main problem lay in restrictive EU rules on tied aid, which would (in different ways) disadvantage UK entities engaged in development aid, humanitarian aid and research. I concluded that after Brexit

‘it does look as though the UK would be excluded from a significant share of EU oda. There might be some special circumstances, and no doubt some UK organisations will establish EU subsidiaries in order to be able to access funding. However, a better option for all concerned, including developing countries, would be for the Regulations to be amended as soon as possible. As noted at the outset, this would benefit all parties, including the EU itself.’

So, pressure should be kept on the EU to untie aid.

Development Policy in the EU

As suggested in the earlier Update, development policy-making in the EU does not stand still. There have been important developments since April.

The most important for our purpose relate to the Multi-Annual Financial Framework for the period 2021-27. I confess to being sceptical of a budget process which sets parameters so far ahead; and wish the political process were timed so that fiscal issues featured prominently in the EP elections in 2019. However, we are where we are. Jean Claude Juncker called in his State of the Union for agreement in principle on the new budget before the planned Sibiu Summit in Romania on 9 May 2019 i.e. before the European Parliament elections.

The Commission has published its proposals in two parts: the first, an overview Communication, published in May, and with an accompanying fact sheet on The Neighbourhood and the World; the second, published in June, with more detailed information about the proposals for development cooperation and humanitarian aid – by the way, with lots of good explanatory graphics.

The Commission has nailed its colours to the mast: more money, despite Brexit; new sources of revenue; and re-ordered priorities. The flag flutters bravely in the wind. Whether it remains undamaged through to the end remains to be seen. Judging by early political reactions, the muskets are lined up and have the Juncker standard firmly in their sights. A smaller EU but a bigger budget, of €1.1 trillion? Revenue raised independently of Member States, for example via a levy on the emissions trading scheme? Smaller shares for agriculture and for transfers to poorer countries and regions? Political conditionality wrt intra-EU transfers? It is not hard to see where the debates are likely to focus.

There are plums in the pudding, too, of course, so perhaps the opposing forces will fight each other to a standstill. That is probably what Jean Claude Juncker and his budget Commissioner, Gunther Oettinger, are hoping for: that the glittering prizes of free inter-rail travel, 10,000 border guards, more for action on climate change, more for common defence,  or more for research and development will overcome objections to other items. It is going to be a busy period for the negotiators trying to reach agreement.

Development issues run through the MFF proposal. For example, a commitment to spend 25% of resources on climate change can be thought of as a global public good. The proposal to allocate €35 bn for border control, migration and asylum will impact many developing countries, though probably not in a good way. There are various proposals for managing Eurozone crises and asymmetric financial shocks which will be important for developing country exporters.

Attention is likely to focus, however, on the proposals regarding aid. There are three main points.

First, it is proposed that the European Development Fund, currently outside the budget, should lose its separate status. This will improve accountability to the European Parliament, but may worsen accountability to the recipients, who currently have separate oversight through the Cotonou Agreement – though the future of the Agreement, which expires in 2020, is currently in play and it is unlikely to survive in its current form.

Second, an increase is proposed in the volume of aid, including the EDF and humanitarian aid. The Commission claims a 26% increase, to €123bn. This is disingenuous, since inflation is not taken into account. In real terms, the increase is more like 13%. Still, this is a bigger increase than is proposed for the budget as a whole, so the weight of external action in the EU budget will increase.

Third, and this may be the biggest change, a single instrument is proposed to cover all development aid. This will be known as the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI), with world-wide coverage. The proposal is complicated, however: within the single instrument, there will be three separate pillars, one geographical, one thematic, and one for rapid response, plus a ‘flexibility cushion’ and new arrangements to crowd in private investment.

The NDICI has a proposed budget of €89.2 bn over the seven year period, earmarked as between the different pillars: €68 bn for the geographical pillar, further earmarked for different regions; €7 bn for the thematic pillar; €4 bn for the rapid response pillar; and €10bn in reserve. There are also specific earmarks for horizontal priorities, e.g. 20% for human development and 25% for climate change. It is not clear why the funding has all been merged into one instrument if it is then so heavily earmarked, but presumably there is a case for flexibility.

The humanitarian instrument is separate to this, with a proposed budget of €11 bn. The Commission is also proposing a separate European Peace Facility, for legal reasons outside the scope of the budget; the existing African Peace Facility will be subsumed in this new instrument. .

All these proposals have received detailed scrutiny – among others, from the European Think Tanks Group (here and here), from ECDPM (here) and from the Centre for Global Development (here). It is clear that the negotiations will be complex. There are informal ministerial meetings and like-minded meetings in September, with no doubt others to follow. As usual, however, aid advocates are unlikely to take commanding positions in the final negotiations.


Will UK needs be met?

An important question will be whether the design of the NDICI and Humanitarian Instrument in particular, as well as the proposed Peace Facility, conform to the requirements for cooperation set out by the UK Government: especially for third party Governments, as the UK will be, to have a strategic voice in designing and managing the instruments. The key sentence in the May Non-Paper is this:

‘We need flexible mechanisms that allow for future cooperation in geographic and thematic areas, where it is in our mutual interests; mechanisms for consultation and coordination which we don’t need to take the time to set up in times of crisis because they already exist; mechanisms that are open to the UK and others, to be able to pool our expertise and resources together with the EU and its Member States; mechanisms that give us an equal voice in shaping our approach and oversight of our funds; and mechanisms that allow programmes to be delivered by UK NGOs who are widely regarded as being among the best at delivering aid in the World.’

At present, there are various ways for third party Governments to participate in EU programmes, which offer different degrees of voice and oversight. There may be different roles for EU institutions, including the Commission, the Court of Auditors, the European Parliament and the European Court of Justice. The three main options appear to be: (a) delegated cooperation; (b) participation in Trust Funds, and (c) something called an External Assigned Revenue Facility.

On the first, regular procedures for direct, indirect and shared management ‘modes’ of EU Spending (Budget and EDF) are prescribed by the EU Financial Regulation (see also the Practical Guide on contract procedures). A good source of detail is the ‘Devco Companion’ which sets out procedures for different kinds of funding, implemented through different kinds of implementation ‘modality’. The EU is able to delegate implementation to other entitites, but ‘even if the Commission delegates the implementation of an action to an organisation or partner country in indirect management, it remains accountable to the European Parliament and to the Council for the proper use of the EU funds’ (from the Companion).

Delegated cooperation’ is a mechanism by which funds can be entrusted to the Commission from Member States (through Transfer Agreements), or entrusted by the Commission to Member States (Delegation Agreements). There are, again, many details to consider, but the following text seems to offer a model for future collaboration with the UK:

‘A high degree of involvement implies Commission participation in the policy dialogue, planning, monitoring and annual reviewing, reporting and evaluation processes. Minimum involvement implies for example an observer status in the annual policy dialogue and further reliance on the reporting by the implementing entity - fund-managing donor. In any case, the Commission should lend weight and leverage to negotiations at the request of the fund-managing donor. The Commission's involvement should however not take the form of its participation in the decision-making as this would risk watering down the responsibility of the implementing entity for the implementation of the action.’

Note, however, that ‘no derogation from EU jurisdiction can be granted’.

About €1.5 bn was spent on delegated cooperation between 2008-14, with about 80% being in the form of TAs rather than DAs – so a small amount compared to total EU spending in that period. An evaluation in 2016 concluded that the impact on aid efficiency and effectiveness was ‘limited’.

The rules for delegated cooperation formally apply to Trust Funds, where the EU manages funds on behalf of other donors, including non-EU members. The Emergency Trust Fund for Africa is an example. The Governance is described as in Box 2, with a Strategic Board and an Operational Committee. Both of these allow for the participation of non-Member States as members.

 As far as the External Assigned Revenue Facility is concerned, this is a procedure covered by Article 21 of the 2012 Financial Regulation, and interalia provides for contributions to EU programmes by EFTA countries, including Norway and Switzerland. There is an explanatory factsheet here. In 2016, EFTA countries contributed about €400 mn to the EU budget – so relatively small scale. Additional earmarked contributions from different countries, mostly for  research, but including for refugees in Turkey, amounted to about €3 bn. A

Note that different rules apply to humanitarian aid, particularly for NGOs, which have the option of signing Framework Partnership Agreements.

Finally, it is worth noting that procedures may change when the new Multi-Annual Financial Framework is launched in 2021. The proposals published by the Commission include proposed Regulations for the new Instruments like the NDICI. The latter, for example, contains this paragraph (Pg 12):

‘As regards the choice of partners outside the Union, the Commission may also decide to work with international organisations, partner countries or entities from other third countries under indirect management for the implementation of a specific action, when this is in the interest of the Union and of the objectives of such action, and subject to the rules and conditions laid down in the Financial Regulation. This choice would require a Commission decision. Furthermore, Members States and third countries may contribute to the External Action Guarantee and therefore their entities could become potentially eligible counterparts for its implementation. For third countries other than contracting parties to the Agreement on the European Economic Area, these contributions require the prior approval by the Commission. The conditions for such contribution should be reflected in an agreement between the Commission and the third country.’

A key question in all these arrangements is whether participation by the UK is project-based or at a strategic level. It is easy to imagine that the UK would wish to be involved in overall management committees for the various instruments, preferably with a vote, but otherwise as an observer. Governance could well be a sticking point in the negotiations.

To summarise, it does look as though there may be options for UK-EU cooperation after Brexit, although constrained by EU Regulations, and, it has to be said, somewhat on the EU’s terms. It will be interesting to learn more of the UK’s success in negotiation. A task for the International Development Select Committee?



Why it makes sense for the UK and the EU to continue to work together on development

In our February non-paper, the UK set out the reasons why a flexible, open and responsive EU is in everyone’s interests. This paper sets out further thinking, and will be followed by further detail on the particular issues raised as discussions progress.

The UK will continue to share the same overall objective after we leave the European Union: to meet the SDGs and to eradicate poverty. We will continue to be like-minded on policy and approach and we are fully behind the European Consensus on Development in addressing, in an integrated manner, the main focus points of the 2030 Agenda: people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership. While we may not agree on every detail, every time, we do believe that our collective impact in addressing specific development challenges is greatest when we work together.

We are clear that we wish to be able to cooperate strategically with the EU in the future, but there is no doubt that this future cooperation will look, and feel, different. When the UK no longer contributes to all of the EU’s development programmes by virtue of its membership of the EU, we will critically assess the rationale for close collaboration depending on the situation, and be rigorous in our assessment of whether working with the EU offers the best value for money. It may not make sense to join up on everything, but where a UK contribution through the EU makes sense to both parties in the interests of best addressing poverty, we will need frameworks and mechanisms that enable us to do so.

Let’s focus for now on three thematic areas where there is a strong case for continued close collaboration between the UK and the EU: peace and security, humanitarian aid, and tackling migration.


Peace and Security

The UK’s 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) and the EU’s 2016 Global Strategy confirmed the UK and EU’s visions for addressing the poorest and most conflict-affected countries are closely aligned. The UK provides global leadership in delivering aid and building stability in fragile and conflict affected states, through actions such as stabilisation, governance and conflict sensitive programming and we welcome the EU’s increased focus and investments in these areas. This is important for the world’s poorest, it is also important for Europe’s own security.

The Commission’s proposal for a European Peace Facility (EPF) could provide a mechanism for continued UK and EU strategic cooperation in this area. However, the current proposal does not appear to cover all requirements for Capacity Building in support of Security and Development, in line with the EU’s commitment to the Integrated Approach which aims to address conflict and fragility in a coherent and comprehensive way. It also potentially makes it difficult for non-EU partners to participate.

Designing an EPF that is broader in its approach would improve policy coherence and efficiency in delivery. Enabling third countries to participate would also increase the ability of the EU and the UK (and possibly other non-EU donors) to work better together in fragile and conflict affected states. We would argue this makes good development sense.


Humanitarian Aid

The UK works with a wide range of partners to deliver aid and respond to crises in the most effective way possible. We have worked closely with ECHO, the humanitarian arm of the Commission, in humanitarian crises throughout the world, coordinating our efforts as like-minded donors. ECHO and the UK are closely aligned on humanitarian policy and response. We are both leaders on humanitarian reform, not least via our mutual leadership on Grand Bargain commitments, including increased use of cash transfers that are more efficient and provide greater dignity to those in need. We also have a shared approach to protracted crises, which sadly are increasingly common.

For these reasons, we see ECHO as a strategic partner on humanitarian issues. Standard third country access through Externally Assigned Revenues provides a useful funding option in some humanitarian crises and we hope this mechanism will continue. However, we believe we can go beyond that and combine our networks, expertise and resources where it makes sense, so that we can work together to deliver most impact. We believe it makes sense to provide for this close and effective collaboration to be able to continue.



Migration is a significant challenge that will continue to affect all European countries for many years to come. We will see ongoing impacts on countries of origin and transit and on migrants themselves, including their continued exploitation by traffickers. This is a huge development, as well as a political, challenge, to which the UK remains fully committed to addressing.

The EU has established frameworks for coherent regional engagement, and the UK plays a leading role in these. We value the whole-of-route approach, linking upstream migration to other migration programming along the route, including programmes to address Organised Immigration Crime, support protection in refugees’ regions of origin and transit, and work with regional governments on returns and reintegration. We share technical expertise and partnership networks that enable the EU and all its partners to deliver at scale politically and programmatically. We believe the scale of this challenge means it would be best addressed by the EU and the UK working together, including with partners from outside the EU. Open and enabling partnerships which give a voice to all key actors and allow the pooling of resources will be essential.


The way forward

We suggest these three areas – peace and security, humanitarian, and migration - could form the basis of a strategic partnership of development cooperation between the UK and the EU. These are key areas for policy co-operation, close mutual (i.e. side-by-side) programming and could potentially be areas where we may jointly fund in the future if we can create the mechanisms that allow us to do so effectively. But we should not limit ourselves to these three areas if other thematic or geographical challenges emerge where a close partnership is also the best approach.

We can’t know now what challenges we may face in five or ten years’ time. We need to future-proof our options, so that – when needs must – we are able to flex and respond strategically and effectively together. This is not about joint programming or setting up a specific time-bound trust fund. Both of these can be useful tools, but they are most useful when set up to tackle a specific issue or deliver a certain outcome. Clearly regional priorities may well change over time and it does not make sense to lock in specific long term commitments to regional partnerships between the EU and UK now, but it does make sense to make sure the door to strategic cooperation remains open through EU regulation that promotes flexible, inclusive and responsive collaboration.

The UK believes that it is in the interests of developing countries that the UK and the EU should develop a partnership that goes further than existing standard third country partnerships. We need flexible mechanisms that allow for future cooperation in geographic and thematic areas, where it is in our mutual interests; mechanisms for consultation and coordination which we don’t need to take the time to set up in times of crisis because they already exist; mechanisms that are open to the UK and others, to be able to pool our expertise and resources together with the EU and its Member States; mechanisms that give us an equal voice in shaping our approach and oversight of our funds; and mechanisms that allow programmes to be delivered by UK NGOs who are widely regarded as being among the best at delivering aid in the World.

With creativity and flexibility we believe this is possible and desirable. Furthermore, we firmly believe it is in the interest of the EU and Member States to enable this to happen – not just because of the expertise and resources that this could bring to the table – but because it will result in better development programmes and better impact. The UK works with many development partners to tackle poverty and achieve the SDGs. We want the EU to continue to be one of our closest partners in this. And we want to work together to make this possible.

24th May 2018

Kategorien: english

Trumped-Up Aid and the Challenge of Global Poverty by Tony Vaux

11. September 2018 - 16:43

Trumped-Up Aid and the Challenge of Global Poverty by Tony Vaux




Tony Vaux has written a blistering attack on aid and aid agencies – especially powerful because of his high reputation and long experience as an aid practitioner and analyst. All are fingered: Government agencies and NGOs; development programmes and humanitarian; African contexts, Caribbean, and Asian. You might not normally see this book, privately published in 2017 via the e-book partnership, but you should. It is available on Amazon.

The key to the book is an anecdote from the early 1980s, when Tony Vaux is an Oxfam Field Director in then Calcutta. He travels to Bihar, to meet a poor community of landless labourers and try to work out some kind of income-generation project Oxfam might support - perhaps growing a few vegetables around their houses. He is shocked to discover that even this poor group, degraded by having to eat snails, is better off than a neighbouring poor widow, with no income at all. Then, he hears about another group in a nearby village, labourers who have been deliberately blinded by landowners because they asked for an increase in wages. ‘I began to see’, he says, ‘that poverty, however extreme, is not as bad as the threat of losing even the little that poor people had – the risk of violence and death. I learned that poverty walks hand in hand with violence’ (Pgs 5-6).

The theme is developed through 12 chapters, which draw on Vaux’s field experience with Oxfam, but also a long career spent carrying out evaluations or writing conflict analyses for different agencies. We travel with him to former Yugoslavia and Kyrgyzstan, to Sudan and Somalia, to Nepal and Sri Lanka, to Haiti, to Nigeria. The key generalisation at the end is that ‘poverty is at most a minor contributory factor to violence. It is not the anger of poor people that starts wars, but the greed or ambition of elite leaders who then choose to exploit the vulnerability of poor people as the means to achieve their ends’ (Pg 183).

Aid agencies turn out mostly to be poor at dealing with conflict; and, indeed, often make it worse.

Government agencies are blinkered by concepts like the ‘War on Terror’, and by the lack of local knowledge and long-term engagement on the ground. In former Yugoslavia, for example, ‘the West . . . precipitated the war’ (Pg 20); in Somalia, the US mismanaged its intervention (Pg 19); in South Sudan, an ineffective humanitarian response is ‘worse than no response at all’ (Pg 134); and in Northern Nigeria, the UK’s DFID failed to take local advice, was ‘foolhardy’ in its pursuit of western-style education for girls, and perhaps contributed to the emergence of Boko Haram as a global security threat (Pg 86). Multiple errors in Afghanistan and Iraq are also identified.

NGOs are also culpable. Here, the main problem is that they have lost their vocation as advocates of political change and citizen action, and instead been coopted as agents of Government, overly reliant on Government grants, especially in so-called humanitarian emergencies, and constrained by Government legislation to limit political campaigning. They have become too big to fail, and have lost the ability to ‘speak truth to power’. Indeed, Vaux argues, ‘the atrophy of many Western charities has reached a point at which they are part of the problem rather than part of the solution’ (Pg 64).

This was perhaps not inevitable. Vaux charts the early pioneers of non-Governmental action, for whom political activism came first, and fundraising a distant second. Henry Dunant (the Red Cross) . . . Florence Nightingale (army medical reform) . . . Eglantyne and Dorothy Jebb (Save the Children) . . . Edith Pye (Oxfam) . . . Eglantyne Jebb was arrested while demonstrating in Trafalgar Square against a British embargo on food supplies to Germany after the First World War; Edith Pye campaigned on a similar issue after World War II. So what happened? New funds were established, and grew, and spawned bureaucracies and interests, and we ended up with an aid system that has become ‘institutionalised, inward-looking and self-serving’ (Pg 3).

Vaux is uncompromising in his solution to the problem, which is essentially to ‘dismantle the architecture’ (Pg 30). There should be no more ‘projects’, development or humanitarian. Instead, people themselves should be empowered by citizen action and supported by a universal basic income, or universal social welfare distributed in the form of cash transfers. Indigenous NGOs, like India’s Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), will take political action. Governments, in short, should be required to face up to their responsibilities.

And what if they don’t? Vaux is an enthusiast for the Responsibility to Protect, adopted by the United Nations in 2005. The rules of intervention need to be re-shaped, he argues, so that ‘intolerable’ wars, like that in South Sudan, can be ended: ‘a tiny fraction of the world’s determination and arsenal could bring it to an immediate stop’ (Pg 234).

Frankly, it is alarming to find such enthusiasm for liberal interventionism at the end of a book which is profoundly, and probably rightly, sceptical about the way interests play out in international affairs. If only we could point to Syria, or Libya, or the Rohingya, or Yemen, as case studies of success. R2P has never seemed more difficult to deliver, the UN never weaker on these matters, than it does at present.

Perhaps a first step is to campaign against, for example, arms sales which exacerbate the conflict in Yemen. Interestingly, Save the Children, one of Tony Vaux’s targets in the book, is doing exactly this, in the context of its campaign to protect children in Yemen.  Its first call is for children to be protected from violence, including from UK-made weapons, arguing that the UK Government must immediately suspend arms sales to any party involved in the conflict. Kevin Watkins, SCF’s Chief Executive, has been outspoken on the topic. Eglantyne Jebb would be proud. Oxfam, too, is campaigning on Yemen, as well as on refugees, and on topics like injustice in the food industry. Edith Pye, too, can be satisfied.

Perhaps Eglantyne and Edith would be horrified by the scale of resources their organisations are spending, or the way they spend them. I guess I am not quite as jaundiced as Tony Vaux, certainly about the intentions and professionalism of aid workers in both Governmental and Non-Governmental Organisations, and their many counterparts in developing countries. On effectiveness also, there is a stronger case to be made than Vaux allows. Oxfam, for one, has long championed and supported the citizen action that he advocates, including to organisations like SEWA.

Aid, however, must every day look to make the case, evolve, and be better. Violence and conflict are big current topics in development, for example in DAC work on States of Fragility, and via the World Development Report. Governance and Institutions remain central, including in research on ‘Doing Development Differently’.  New aid modalities are being created, like the UK’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, or the EU Trust Fund for Africa. In all this work, Tony Vaux’s book is a valuable and often challenging resource.

Kategorien: english

Re-thinking the concept of fragile states

29. August 2018 - 12:20

Re-thinking the concept of fragile states




The argument

This is the story of how I was intrigued by the different definitions of ‘fragile states’. I wanted to understand how we could be talking in the same breath about war-torn countries, like, say, Yemen; and climate vulnerable countries, like, say, the Marshall Islands; and countries with weak institutions, like, say, Burundi. I quickly became frustrated, and finally reached some radical conclusions:

First, that there are too many lists, with too many different definitions, and insufficient country overlap. Furthermore, some of the definitions are too wide, and some of the lists are too long. There are lines of causality linking different kinds of fragility, of course, but a conversation which puts all into the same pot loses focus. The debate risks sinking into a morass of generalisations.

Second, that the main challenge to traditional ways the aid industry does business is in conflict countries, and that it would be no bad thing to restrict the class of fragile states to those currently or likely to be conflict-affected, and possibly those just recovering from conflict. In these cases, there are genuine dilemmas about: tackling the drivers of conflict; the interface between development and humanitarian actors and warring parties; the role of peace-making and peace-keeping forces; and the transition from war to peace.

Third, that even here there are multiple and competing criteria, with different lists and different country coverage. The whole business of drawing up top down, data-driven categories and lists is fraught with difficulty.

Fourth, a better approach would be to use expert panels and participatory methods to develop flexible, up-to-date and relevant targets for analysis and intervention.

Fifth, the over-burdened concept of fragile states has become debased; and the concept of conflict-affected states should be restricted to the egregious cases.

And, sixth, this would allow everyone to focus bottom up on the dilemmas listed above, wherever they occur.

Reviewing the approaches

I began by assembling the lists from the World Bank, DFID, the New Deal, and the recent OECD/DAC States of Fragility Report. There are others, as we shall see. Interestingly, the Cameron Commission on fragile states, which reported earlier this year, eschewed lists altogether. In the four cases cited, there are 80 countries listed (plus, in DFID’s case, three whole regions): that is well over half the total number of countries on the OECD/DAC aid recipients list (currently 143). Only 13 countries appear on all four lists, and only a further 15 on three of the four. See the Venn diagram in Figure 1 (for country abbreviations, see Appendix 1).

Figure 1

Venn diagram of fragile and conflict-affected states

Sources: see text

For reference, the table in Appendix 1 shows which countries appear on which list – and this table is the source for the Venn diagram in Figure 1.

As noted, the Cameron Commission did not have a list.

The New Deal is a voluntary agreement involving fragile and conflict-affected states, to which countries sign up. According to the website, there are 18 developing country members.

The World Bank ‘Harmonized List of Fragile Situations’ is based on CPIA scores (CPIA being the Country Policy and Institutional Assessment), also including countries with UN or regional peace-keeping or peace-building missions. It includes data from the African and Asian Development Banks.  There is more detail in the footnotes to the table in Appendix 2.

The DFID list is taken from the 2016 Bilateral Development Review, with the key information found in the background Technical Note. The relevant page is reproduced in Appendix 3. Fragile States are divided into three categories (high, medium and low), with an additional list of eligible countries which neighbour high fragility states. This gives a total list of 64, plus three regions designated as ‘fragile’, namely the Middle East, South of Sahara and North of Sahara. The Note cites data sources, but does not spell out the methodology. It also says that the list will be updated regularly: I have no information on whether this has yet been done. Independently of DFID, the UK Foreign Office runs the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which has operations in 70 countries, some of which (e.g. Morocco) are not on the DFID list. See Appendix 4.

The DAC list comes from the State of Fragility Report, first published with this title in 2015, and designed to provide a more comprehensive view than previously attempted of political, societal, economic, environmental and security-related fragility. Some 60 countries were scored on each of these five dimensions, giving a multi-dimensional picture of fragility. The data were updated in 2018, giving the picture in Figure 2. The methodology is summarised in the 2016 report (which incidentally was focused on violence): Pgs 74 ff and Appendices from Pg 152. Inter alia, one learns that quite a few countries were missed out for lack of data (Figure 3): some of these appear on other lists of fragile states. In a key feature, the DAC scores each country on each of the five dimensions of fragility, allowing for disaggregated analysis. The 2018 scores are given in Appendix 5.

Figure 2

OECD Fragility Framework 2018


Figure 3


In sum, there is a great deal of heterogeniety. Sebastian Zaja and Javier Fabra Mata review the problems. They note that the criteria vary and that data are hard to acquire. When it comes to constructing indices, they identify other methodological problems, like the issue of weighting or the definition of thresholds.

Is a categorisation limited to conflict easier?

As noted earlier, the main challenge to traditional ways the aid industry does business is in conflict countries. Would it be easier to break the overaching concept of fragility back down to its basic elements, and focus on conflict?

To clear the decks, two useful definitions of conflict-affected and high risk areas are in Box 1, provided by the OECD and the EU (and sourced from the Responsible Minerals Initiative). Note that the EU but not the OECD references post-war fragility.

Box 1 " width="610" height="245" />Definitions of conflict-affected and high-risk areas

The World Bank includes a country on the list if (inter alia) there has been ‘the presence of a UN and/or regional peace-keeping or peace-building mission during the past three years’. 17 countries are identified as meeting this criterion: Afghanistan, Central African Republic, DRC, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Haiti, Kosovo, Liberia, Mali, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, West Bank/Gaza, Iraq, Lebanon and Libya. Several of those are not in the first two categories on the DAC list (for example, Liberia, Gambia, Lebanon).

If peace missions are an indicator, the EU currently has 16 ongoing military or civilian missions (Figure 4), including Moldova and Georgia: both are eligible for oda; neither is on the DAC high priority list.

Figure 4


The DIFD list of fragile states refers to the ‘World Peace Index’, presumably the Global Peace Index produced by the Institute for Economics and Peace. There are 16 countries scored red in the 2018 edition of the Index, including Ukraine and Russia (Figure 5). Ukraine is not on DFID’s list, though it is a country eligible for oda.

Figure 5

Global Peace Index 2018


The Global Peace Index is not the only option DFID might have chosen. The Responsible Minerals Initiative has a list of resources and tools to help companies identify conflict-affected and high-risk areas. Useful resources listed include the Global Peace Index, and also: the Heidelberg Conflict Barometer; the Control Risks Worldmap; and the INFORM Worldmap. The States of Fragility 2016 Report mentions other sources: The George Mason University State Fragility Index; the Fragile States Index from the Fund for Peace; the Country Indicators for Foreign Policy (CIFP) fragility index; the Index of State Weakness in the Developing World; the Global Conflict Risk Index (by the way, an EU initiative); and the Peace and Conflict Instability Ledger. This begins to look like an industry. Note the enthusiasm for ranking and the construction of indices. Google ‘”fragile states” index’ and there are 250,000 hits. Check on Google Scholar and there are 16,500.

There is only limited overlap on these lists and indices also, as Sebastian Zaja and Javier Fabra Mata showed in their paper for the German Development Institute (albeit with data from 2008). The most important ‘controversial’ cases, which appeared on some lists but not others, included Cuba, Israel, Saudi Arabia, China and UAE.

The DAC, as noted, is best in class in our sample for the transparency of its classification. The key source is a series of Appendices in the 2016 States of Fragility Report. To cut a long story short, a list of indicators is subject to statistical interpretation using principal components in order to produce the classification. In the case of security, there are seven risk factors, potentially offset by five coping elements (Figure 6). Battle-related deaths, deaths by non-state actors and terrorism all feature on the list of risks, alongside criminal activity and the homicide rate. These can be offset by numbers of soldiers and police officers, among other things. When the principal components are calculated, the key indicators are rule of law and state control of territory, followed by armed conflict, terrorism, organised crime and interpersonal violence.

Figure 6

Security indicators from the DAC States of Fragility methodology


A relatively small number of countries on the DAC list are highly fragile for security reasons. They are: in the highest category, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya (8 countries); in the second category, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Brazzaville), DRC, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Haiti, Iran, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Palestinian Territories (22 countries).

Finding a way forward

A few points.

First, there are A LOT of lists. It is important to be pragmatic. People draw up lists for different reasons, and donors, in particular, may benefit from a certain amount of constructive ambiguity. On the other hand, it is hard to have a sensible conversation when everyone has their own list. At the very least, people need to make their criteria explicit. Better, more harmonisation would be helpful, in order to have the kind of global conversation to which  Sebastian Zaja and Javier Fabra Mata point. They observe that indices, and by extension lists, have legitimate objectives. They

 ‘could be of use for development policy as a tool for:  determining which countries need a different aid approach; monitoring larger trends of global political stability; evaluating the overall impact of development aid; and for investigating the dynamics of state fragility.’

Second, however, the quest for quantitative rigour is very hard when data are lacking or out-of-date in many of the worst-affected countries. An alternative approach is to be less dependent on data, and to deploy it in the context of intelligence on the ground and expert knowledge. It is quite easy to imagine an exercise using the definitions in Box 1, perhaps using a panel of specialists to sift data and reach judgements about countries in conflict or at risk. James Surowiecki describes such an approach in The Wisdom of Crowds and it is being used by organisations like the World Economic Forum for the annual Global Risks Report. There are also echoes of approaches used in participatory development, giving a voice to people in affected countries.

Third, using qualitative data does not rule out constructing an index, if that is thought useful. The Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index is an example of a global index constructed from qualitative data.

Fourth, a balance is needed between, on the one hand, recognising the complex inter-relationship between the different drivers of ‘fragility’, and, on the other, keeping the focus narrow enough to be useful. The risk of drawing the boundaries too wide can be seen in the OECD States of Fragility Report 2018, the key messages of which include very general statements like ‘We will invest in more and smarter aid in fragile contexts’, ‘We will invest in the data to better understand, anticipate and respond to multiple states of fragility’, and ‘We will step up our efforts on prevention, peace and security’.

Furthermore, the universal approach risks losing sight of the underlying problems in conflict situations, which may be especially prominent in war zones, but which appear also in other places. These include, in addition to tackling the drivers of conflict: the interface between development and humanitarian actors and warring parties; the role of peace-making and peace-keeping forces; and the transition from war to peace. There is much policy-relevant work on all of those.



It turns out, then, that I am sympathetic to the argument that there are complex interactions between the different aspects of fragility, but sceptical about the conceptual and practical problems of building statistical models which will describe and, importantly, predict fragility.

It is possible to think of alternative approaches, using expert panels and participatory approaches, tailored to the needs of different actors. These should definitely be tried.

The focus, however, could usefully be redirected to the substantive issues which arise in conflict states, but also elsewhere.

Which raises the final question, of whether the term ‘fragile states’ has become debased. Too much has been loaded onto it. The term ‘conflict-affected state’ has longer legs, but also needs to defined with care and restricted to the egregious cases.

Appendix 1

Appendix 2


Appendix 3

DFID Fragile States Methodology


Appendix 4

Countries of operation of the UK Conflict, Security and Stability Fund

‘The CSSF is in over 70 countries including: Afghanistan, Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Burma, Burundi, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Georgia , Iraq, Jordan, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Mali, Morocco, Moldova, Nepal, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan , Peru, Serbia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine and Yemen. The CSSF also works in the UK Overseas Territories.’


Appendix 5



Note: a pdf version of this piece is here, with slightly more readable graphics.

Kategorien: english

Finding meaning in Theresa May’s Cape Town speech

28. August 2018 - 17:56

Finding meaning in Theresa May’s Cape Town speech




Theresa May described her speech in Cape Town on 28 August as ‘representing a fundamental strategic shift in the way we use our aid programme’. That is a bold claim. Does it stack up? We need to read between the lines.

The speech is pasted in at the end for ease of reference. There were six pillars to the argument:

  • First, that Africa faces new challenges, particularly the challenge of jobs and the challenge of conflict.
  • Second, that the private sector will provide the engine of growth and employment creation.
  • Third, that African states need support to deliver growth, strong institutions, and peace.
  • Fourth, that the UK has unique comparative advantage in supporting growth and in helping strengthen institutions.
  • Fifth, that the UK will deploy its resources, including via the aid programme, in ways which play to its strengths and build new partnerships.
  • And sixth, that in doing so, the UK will legitimately benefit itself

None of this comes as a surprise. The argument is consistent with the aid strategy of 2015, entitled ‘Tackling Global Challenges in the National Interest’, which, apart from the message in the title, interalia highlighted the importance of spending on prosperity, and also committed the UK to spend 50% of the aid budget in fragile states. My comments here. The comments on conflict and fragility are consistent with the setting up of the Conflict, Security and Stability Fund (my comments here). The argument also finds echo in DFID’s bilateral and multilateral aid reviews (see commentary here), in the research strategy (here) and in the economic development strategy, published in January 2017 (commentary here). There has also been subsequent legislation to increase the capacity of the CDC, and the CDC itself has a new five-year strategy, in which it commits to invest only in Africa and South Asia. So, at first sight, not that much news in the Cape Town Speech.

Of course, the very fact of the speech is important, signalling Theresa May’s continued commitment to aid, and to favoured causes like anti-slavery. That is not trivial. The speech also plays to the Global Britain narrative post-Brexit. But is there more going on?

It may be that the strategic shift lies a layer below the pillars, and will be seen in spending allocations or geographical priorities. It is notable, for example, that Theresa May committed to spend more money in Mali, and to open new embassies in Chad and Niger.

In addition, there were some important messages, delivered between the lines. These provide hooks for a conversation about the future of UK development policy, perhaps also the basis for a ‘fundamental strategic shift’.

First, recognition that there are new challenges. Jobs and violence, yes, as noted, but also an interesting passage on the uneven impact of globalisation:

‘While free trade and globalisation have brought huge benefits, they have not been felt by everyone and too many of our citizens fear that they will be left behind. From the great Financial Crisis of 2008, to the advent of artificial intelligence replacing human labour, people are questioning the model of economic development we seek to defend.’

Second, rejection of what might be thought of as President Trump’s approach to international questions. In another interesting passage, Theresa May said:

‘For some, the solution lies in seeking to halt or reverse change. Undermining the institutions of global co-operation, rebuilding the barriers to trade, viewing global competition as a zero sum game.

I disagree.

Because these are not challenges faced by a single nation alone.

The ideology that inspires vicious terrorist attacks does not respect borders. A chemical weapons attack does not only harm its victims but weakens the rules that protect us all from such behaviour. In a more connected world we must all deal with the consequences, for good and ill, of increased mobility – not just of people through migration flows, but also of money, of data, of ideology. And we should recognise that competition and cooperation are not opposites. They can be mutually reinforcing.

So now is the time for the nations of the world to come together. To co-operate. To view international competition as a process through which both sides can benefit. To work as partners, sharing our skills, our experience and our resources to tackle the challenges we face, to contain and direct the forces shaping the world and to deliver prosperity, security and success for all our people.’

We might add climate change, referenced in the speech, to the list of issues on which Theresa May disagrees with President Trump.

Third, making the case for Western, specifically British, investment and commercial relationships rather than, say, Chinese, because of our commitment to transparency, the rule of law, fairness, rules-based trading, anti-corruption, and regulatory standards:

‘while we cannot compete with the economic might of some foreign governments investing in Africa, what we can offer is long-term investment of the very highest quality and breadth. Something that will deliver more for Africans for longer.’

And fourth, the idea that the UK has a presence independently of the EU, at least as important as other Western powers, especially France – not least because of the strength of the City of London. The target that the UK should be the largest UK investor in Africa by 2022 can be read in this light. The commitment to carry over the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique is also relevant.

These four ‘hidden messages’ are more interesting, to my mind, than the obvious headlines. Africa’s leaders, listening to the speech, may be forgiven for reflecting on the UK’s real comparative advantage and partnership potential. China, after all, invests tens of billions in Africa, and the EU, through its External Investment Plan, intends to mobilise 44 billion euros of investment into Africa by 2020. Further, they may think, the contribution of the UK to peace in Africa needs to be seen in the context of UN and EU efforts: for example, the UN-World Bank Fragility and Conflict Partnership Trust; IDA funding, including the State and Peacebuilding Fund; the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund; the UNDP Crisis and Prevention Recovery Trust; the EU Africa Peace Facility; and the EU Emergency Trust fund for Africa. African leaders may also ask what the UK can do better outside the EU than it could inside, and indeed what the EU could do better with continued UK membership.

But take the messages out of the shadows and Theresa May has (could have?) a strong narrative: a progressive and inclusive industrial policy, which takes account of the disruptions associated with globalisation and the impact on losers; a strong commitment to a rules-based order, including to the WTO, but also Africa’s own institutions like the African Union and the African Development Bank; more multilateralism, with more spending through the UN; a high profile position on climate change (mitigation and not just adaptation); a commitment to enlarge legal migration pathways; and a new partnership in which the UK offers to be held accountable for its commitments.



PM's speech in Cape Town: 28 August 2018

Good morning everyone, and thank you all for joining us today. It’s a pleasure to be here in Cape Town, a city whose recent past lends it a special resonance for many around the world, and which symbolises the transformation experienced by South Africa.

Out in the bay lies Robben Island, where for so long so many were unjustly imprisoned for dreaming of a country in which the colour of your skin made no difference to your rights and opportunities.

Foremost among them was, of course, Nelson Mandela. As the world marked the 100th anniversary of his birth earlier this year, a memorial to the great man was unveiled in Westminster Abbey. There it sits alongside tributes to the kings and queens, poets and scientists who have shaped my nation’s history – a fitting recognition of the lasting impact Mandela made on the world.

Mandela’s walk to freedom – and that of South Africa – was long and arduous. But 28 years ago, barely a mile from here at Cape Town City Hall, he spoke for the first time following his release from decades behind bars.

Four years later, on Grand Parade, the newly inaugurated president of South Africa spoke of his election not as a victory of party, but of people. Of the power of democracy, and the necessity of unity, of equality, of universal rights.

He spoke of the need to transform not just the culture and politics of South Africa, but its economy too. Of his desire to “change South Africa from a country in which the majority lived with little hope, to one in which they can live and work with dignity, with a sense of self-esteem and confidence in the future … building a better life of opportunity, freedom and prosperity.”

It was a bold vision, one shared not just by millions of South Africans but hundreds of millions of people across the world.

People including Kofi Annan. His unlikely journey from Ghanaian suburbs to global leadership took a very different route to that of Mandela. Yet, like your former president, Annan’s impact, influence and values spread well beyond the borders of his beloved homeland. And, like Mandela, the world is a poorer place for his passing - but all the richer for his legacy.

The life stories of these two great men encapsulate the ebbs and flows of history. They demonstrate just how much can be achieved over the course of a lifetime. But also that progress can never be taken for granted – the fight to secure our gains is constant.

Mandela was born in 1918 with the world on the brink of peace from a war that was meant to end all war. But when Annan was born just twenty years later, those dreams of a lasting peace were about to be shattered once again, claiming millions of lives, including many from this continent.

It was in the aftermath of this devastation that the United Nations – the organisation that half a century later Annan would go on to lead – was founded. And despite false starts and mistakes along the way, global institutions and co-operation established in this period have delivered great gains for development.

It was at the same time, that independence movements of a generation of new nations, took on a renewed urgency. People across the world won the right to self-determination, constitutions were written and countries were born.

And the embrace of free markets and free trade, which accelerated further with the end of the Cold War, has acted as the greatest agent of collective human progress the world has ever seen. In those countries that have successfully embraced properly regulated market economies, life expectancy has increased and infant mortality fallen. Absolute poverty has shrunk and disposable income grown. Access to education has widened, and rates of illiteracy plummeted. And innovators have developed technology that transformed lives.

The progress that we have made over the past century is remarkable. The opportunities for the next generation even more so. But to deliver on that promise we need to recognise new challenges.

As war and state-based conflicts have declined, it has been replaced by new threats. In the past five years, terrorists have killed around 20,000 people in Africa – from the 2013 siege in Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre to last year’s horrific truck bombing in Mogadishu and March’s al-Qaeda attacks in Burkina Faso. Whether in Europe or Africa, non-state actors are threatening our lives and radicalising our people.

And today, malign state activity is on the rise – from cyber attacks on national infrastructure and institutions, to the use of chemical weapons on the streets of the UK and Syria.

While free trade and globalisation have brought huge benefits, they have not been felt by everyone and too many of our citizens fear that they will be left behind. From the great Financial Crisis of 2008, to the advent of artificial intelligence replacing human labour, people are questioning the model of economic development we seek to defend.

And as we face such troubling questions, the capacity for governments old and new to provide the answers is being challenged.

For some, the solution lies in seeking to halt or reverse change. Undermining the institutions of global co-operation, rebuilding the barriers to trade, viewing global competition as a zero sum game.

I disagree.

Because these are not challenges faced by a single nation alone.

The ideology that inspires vicious terrorist attacks does not respect borders. A chemical weapons attack does not only harm its victims but weakens the rules that protect us all from such behaviour. In a more connected world we must all deal with the consequences, for good and ill, of increased mobility – not just of people through migration flows, but also of money, of data, of ideology. And we should recognise that competition and cooperation are not opposites. They can be mutually reinforcing.

So now is the time for the nations of the world to come together. To co-operate. To view international competition as a process through which both sides can benefit. To work as partners, sharing our skills, our experience and our resources to tackle the challenges we face, to contain and direct the forces shaping the world and to deliver prosperity, security and success for all our people.

This week I am visiting three countries – South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya – that I regard as key partners in achieving this goal. With thriving democracies, strong international ties, including through the Commonwealth, and fast-changing economies, they are typical of 21st century Africa. An Africa very different to the stereotypes that dominated previous centuries, and that some people still believe even today.

In 2018, five of the world’s fastest-growing economies are African. The continent’s total GDP could well double between 2015 and 2030. By 2050, a quarter of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s consumers will live here.

From the Western Cape to the Mediterranean come stories of increasing stability, growth, innovation and hope.

South Africa, for so long blighted by the evils of Apartheid, is free, democratic, and home to one of the continent’s largest economies.

In Cote D’Ivoire, United Nations peacekeepers have gone home and GDP is growing three times faster than in Europe.

And Ethiopia – for a generation of British people often associated only with famine – is fast becoming an industrialised nation, creating a huge number of jobs and establishing itself as a global destination for investment.

Yet, in a situation familiar to nations around the world, progress has not been uniform.

As well as emergent democracies and growing economies, Africa is home to the majority of the world’s fragile states and a quarter of the world’s displaced people.

Extremist groups such as Boko Haram and al-Shabab are killing thousands. Africa’s ocean economy – three times the size of its landmass – is under threat from plastic waste and other pollution.

Most of the world’s poorest people are Africans. And increasing wealth has brought rising inequality, both between and within nations. For example, much of Nigeria is thriving, with many individuals enjoying the fruits of a resurgent economy. Yet 87 million Nigerians live on less than $1.90 a day – making it home to more very poor people than any other nation in the world.

Achieving not just growth but inclusive growth is a challenge faced by governments in the UK, Europe, North America and beyond. And as African economies become more successful it is an issue that is being confronted here too.

Because, in the years ahead, demographic change will present further economic challenges and opportunities for this continent. Before arriving here this morning I visited the ID Mkize Secondary School in Gugulethu. The teenagers I met there were an inspiration, full of ideas and enthusiasm about their own futures and full of pride about the future of their country and their continent.

It’s an outlook they share with so many Africans, 60 per cent of whom are aged under 25. Such a young population represents a phenomenal level of human capital and potential. With their innovation, dynamism and creativity, Africa’s young people could enrich not only this continent but the world economy and society at large.

But to make the most of this promise it needs to be properly harnessed. Between now and 2035, African nations will have to create 18 million new jobs every year just to keep pace with the rapidly growing population. That’s almost 50,000 new jobs every single day, simply to maintain employment at its current level.

That would be huge challenge for any continent, let alone one where economic growth is still fragile and markets are still developing.

And it is indicative of the need to redouble our efforts to ensure the forces shaping our world deliver for all our people. Because the challenges facing Africa are not Africa’s alone. It is in the world’s interest to see that those jobs are created, to tackle the causes and symptoms of extremism and instability, to deal with migration flows and to encourage clean growth.

If we fail to do so, the economic and environmental impacts will swiftly reach every corner of our networked, connected world. And the human impacts – from a loss of faith in free markets and democracy as the best way to secure global growth and human rights, to greater conflict and an increased susceptibility to extremism – will be similarly global.

That is why I want to create a new partnership between the UK and our friends in Africa, one built around our shared prosperity and shared security.

As Prime Minister of a trading nation whose success depends on global markets, I want to see strong African economies that British companies can do business with in a free and fair fashion. Whether through creating new customers for British exporters or opportunities for British investors, our integrated global economy means healthy African economies are good news for British people as well as African people.

That’s why I’m delighted that we will today confirm plans to carry over the European Union’s Economic Partnership Agreement with the Southern African Customs Union and Mozambique once the EU’s deal no longer applies to the UK.

As a Prime Minister who believes both in free markets and in nations and businesses acting in line with well-established rules and principles of conduct, I want to demonstrate to young Africans that their brightest future lies in a free and thriving private sector. One driven and underpinned by transparency, high standards, the rule of law and fairness. Only in such circumstances can innovation truly be rewarded, the potential of individuals unleashed, and societies provided with the opportunities they want, need and deserve.

And as Prime Minister of a global nation, I’m all too aware that our domestic security is reliant on stability worldwide, not just in our immediate neighbourhood. From reducing drivers of illegal migration to denying refuge to terrorists who would strike our shores, in 2018 African and British security are inextricably linked and mutually dependent. That’s one of the reasons why I continue to support calls for a permanent African presence on the UN Security Council.

So of course there is an element of national self-interest in what I’m proposing. I want to do what’s right for my country, just as President Ramaphosa wants what’s best for South Africa.

And I see no distinction between national self-interest and global co-operation. For when the multilateral system works, it does so on behalf of nation states and our people, allowing us to harness the best we each have to offer, preventing the large dominating the small, and reinforcing fairness, transparency and the rule of law.

It is not about extending geopolitical influence or creating lopsided dependent relationships. It is about the UK seeking to work more closely with the more than 50 nations of Africa to deliver our shared security and prosperity, and through this strengthening a global system that is capable of delivering lasting benefits for all.

At the very heart of that partnership should be job creation. Every African leader I speak to identifies jobs as the number one demand of their people and their greatest political priority. Indeed, it is also at the centre of my agenda in the UK.

It is the private sector that is the key to driving the growth that will deliver those jobs – transforming labour markets, opening up opportunity and unleashing entrepreneurial spirit. And the UK has the companies that can invest in and trade with Africa to do just this.

However, for a variety of reasons the private sector has not yet managed to deliver the jobs and investment that many African nations need.

So I want to put our development budget and expertise at the centre of our partnership as part of an ambitious new approach – and use this to support the private sector to take root and grow.

And I can today announce a new ambition: by 2022, I want the UK to be the G7’s number one investor in Africa, with Britain’s private sector companies taking the lead in investing the billions that will see African economies growing by trillions.

We have the tools to do so. The City of London makes the UK the unrivalled global hub for international investment, with more than £8 trillion of assets under management. We are home to cutting-edge science and technology and world-class defence, diplomacy and development. We are a trusted and trustworthy partner: our legal system is second to none, including some of the toughest anti-corruption laws in the world. Where our companies fall short, they are held to account, in the courts if necessary. And our commitment to free and open trade under the rules-based order means our international partners know they will be treated fairly.

So a driving focus of our development programme will be to ensure that governments in Africa have the environment, knowledge, institutions and support to attract sustainable, long-term investments in the future of Africa and Africans.

And to help bring those investments about, I can today announce an additional £4 billion programme of UK investment in African economies that will pave the way for at least another £4 billion of private sector financing.

This includes, for the first time, an ambition from the UK government’s Development Finance Institution, CDC, to invest £3.5 billion in African nations over the next four years. And next year London will host an Africa Investment Summit, helping investors and African governments forge closer ties with one another.

And because markets and economies need people as well as capital, we will also be sharing our expertise – supporting partner countries in developing their business environments and institutions, integrating into global value chains, building ties with investors and tackling barriers to growth.

To do so, we will radically expand the UK government’s presence in Africa, opening new missions and bringing in trade experts, investment specialists, and other policy experts.

We will continue to invest in the human capital that underpins future prosperity, ensuring that young African men and women have access to the quality education, healthcare and skills they need to fulfil their potential.

And we will use our influence and global standing to encourage other developed nations, and the global institutions of which we are a leading member, to take the same approach.

The ability to do this – to bring so much more to the table than just government funding – is what marks out the UK’s development programme as so effective.

Aid is a crucial part of the equation, but it is accompanied by our ability to leverage huge sums of private sector investment from our capital markets. By our world-class professional services. By our unrivalled expertise in financial services and education. By our investment in science and research and the experience of some of the world’s most innovative companies.

And it is all underpinned by our respected legal system, regulatory standards and values: British investors respect ethical practices, comply with local laws, contribute to local economies and build long-term local capability.

So while we cannot compete with the economic might of some foreign governments investing in Africa, what we can offer is long-term investment of the very highest quality and breadth. Something that will deliver more for Africans for longer, and which can only be achieved when the government and private sector work together.

At the same time, investment cannot be attracted nor growth achieved in the absence of security and the stability it brings. So, we also need to target our development assistance to build that stability and tackle the drivers of fragility.

By 2030, 80 per cent of the world’s extreme poor will live in fragile states. Even in countries considered relatively stable and prosperous, pockets of fragility persist.

The UK is already providing support for African governments that are meeting this challenge head-on. Nigerian troops on the frontline against Boko Haram have received specialist training from Britain. Counter-terror operations in Mali are being supported by British Chinook helicopters. British troops in Kenya have trained African Union peacekeepers heading for Somalia, while also working with international partners to reform the Somalian security forces for the long-term.

UK law enforcement works hand in hand with their counterparts across Africa to tackle the destabilising menace of organised crime, from people traffickers to drug smugglers.

But the answer to security challenges is not purely military or operational – it is also political. The new partnership I am proposing means working with African leaders who are driving progress, taking on the political challenges and vested interests to ensure that benefits flow to all their people. And it means building strong institutions, and helping to build trust between those institutions and the people who are governed by them.

Because it is from those institutions – the building blocks of nation states – that all the benefits I have described today ultimately flow. Without the stability and certainty provided by reliable legal systems, enforceable contracts, recognised standards and so on, it is impossible for responsible private sector companies to make long-term investments. It is impossible for economies to create sufficient numbers of skilled, jobs. And growth cannot be fair and inclusive if markets, whether domestic or international, are not governed by transparent and effective rules that are actively enforced.

This is particularly important in the fight against corruption and dirty money, both of which have the potential to push development off course by undermining the rule of law and diverting money out of the economy. That’s why, later this week, the UK will be signing a new agreement to repatriate huge sums of money that have been illegally removed from Kenya – allowing this money to be returned to its rightful owners and invested in the future of their country.

And we must also support governments as they work to ensure development is not stalled by other threats. This includes boosting resilience against climate change and tackling demographic challenges by empowering women and girls with access to safe, voluntary modern family planning, enabling access to education and skills.

In setting out this new partnership with Africa, I am making a broader proposition for how we will use our development assistance across the world, led by my excellent International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt.

And as we reorient our development programme, I want to be clear: foreign aid works. Since 2015, UK aid in countries around the world has paid for more than 37 million children to be immunised, saving more than 600,000 lives. We’ve helped almost 11.5 million young people get an education, and given more than 40 million people access to clean water or proper sanitation. As I stand here today, people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are being treated with an Ebola vaccine developed with support from the UK.

The UK’s role in international development is something of which I am immensely proud, as I believe the nation as a whole should be. We will remain a global champion for aid spending, humanitarian relief and international development. We will continue our commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of gross national income on official development assistance. And we will not falter in our work to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

But I am also unashamed about the need to ensure that our aid programme works for the UK. So today I am committing that our development spending will not only combat extreme poverty, but at the same time tackle global challenges and support our own national interest. This will ensure that our investment in aid benefits us all, and is fully aligned with our wider national security priorities.

In practice, this will mean helping fast-growing frontier markets like Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal to sustain their development progress and create opportunities for investors, including British companies.

It will also mean supporting countries and societies on the front line of instability in all of its forms. So we will invest more in countries like Mali, Chad and Niger that are waging a battle against terrorism in the Sahel – including by opening new embassies in Niger and Chad and having a much larger presence in Mali.

We will do more with countries like Jordan, who are facing the threat of Daesh’s dispersal and the burden of the tragic conflict on their border with Syria, and to reinforce democracies facing state-based threats, as we recently did through our Western Balkans summit.

We will use our aid programme to support a major new crack down on illicit finance and organised crime, deploying expertise in financial centres around the world and increasing our work with law enforcement to return more of the billions of dollars that have been stolen from countries in Africa and elsewhere.

And we will invest more resources into countering illegal migration, modern slavery and trafficking in people.

These new priorities will represent a fundamental strategic shift in the way we use our aid programme, putting development at the heart of our international agenda – not only protecting and supporting the most vulnerable people but bolstering states under threat, shaping a global economy that works for everyone, and building co-operation across the world in support of the rules-based system.

We will use our future spending plans to set out these proposals in more detail.

True partnerships are not about one party doing unto another, but states, governments, businesses and individuals working together in a responsible way to achieve common goals.

Delivering such long-term success will not be quick or easy. But I am committed to Africa, and committed to using every lever of the British government to support the partnerships and ideas that will bring benefits for generations to come.

When President Mandela addressed the Cape Town crowds in 1994, he spoke not only of the immense challenge facing South Africa, but also of his certainty that the people of this country would rise to meet it.

As the world once again faces great uncertainties, I am confident that all our peoples can rise to the moment. That, together, we will tip the balance of change from challenge to opportunity. And that – as friends, partners and equals – we will secure a more prosperous future for all our people.

Published 28 August 2018


Kategorien: english

‘Advancing Human Development: Theory and Practice’ by Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis and Emma Samman

6. August 2018 - 12:32

‘Advancing Human Development: Theory and Practice’ by Frances Stewart, Gustav Ranis and Emma Samman




The sting of this book on human development is in the last five pages. The first 220-odd pages deal with the history, intellectual underpinning, delivery pathways and political strategies of human development. The last few pages of the last chapter identify three key deficiencies of the approach: that it deals poorly with the macro-economy; that it does not fully incorporate sustainability; and that it privileges a focus on individual welfare rather than societal aspects. I would add a fourth deficiency: that the human development approach does not have enough to say about future global challenges. These deficiencies are important because they illuminate the inadequacy of the contemporary development paradigm, as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is brave of the authors to end on deficiencies (their word), even honest, since all of them are or were deeply embedded in the human development community. Frances Stewart and Gus Ranis were in at the beginning, in the 1980s, along with Mahbub ul Haq and other collaborators; and Emma Samman, who is younger and joined later, has contributed especially on multi-dimensional poverty measures and on social policy; Gus Ranis sadly died in 2013.

Most of the book, of course, does not deal with deficiencies. It consists of papers published elsewhere up to a decade ago, updated for this compendium. There are chapters on: the emergence of human development as a concept in the late 1980s, drawing especially on the work of Amartya Sen; measurement through the Human Development Index; pathways and transitions, especially on how to escape vicious cycles and lopsided development; and the political drivers of progress. On all these topics, the authors draw on philosophy and on political and economic theory, and back up their frameworks with statistical analysis and detailed empirical case studies. An additional chapter explains why the authors think ‘happiness’ is a poor substitute for human development: eat your heart out, Aristotle.

This is a serious and influential body of work. The book is a useful reference and a practical guide. The key takeaways are that: the concept of human development captures many of the key elements of human capability and well-being; measurement through the Human Development Index is imperfect and incomplete (as the designers always emphasised); growth and human development are interdependent; and there are no recipes for success, except that over-emphasis on either growth or social development should be avoided (this is lopsided development).

That is an over-simplification: the book is rich in analysis of the impact of growth, the sequencing of social policy investments and the need to manage the Polanyi Swings of the political and policy cycle. Still, the simplification summarises important lessons about development, often forgotten in reliance on GDP growth as a target and income poverty as an indicator of progress.

Today, the key messages of the human development approach may seem self-evident. That was not the case in the 1980s, when structural adjustment dominated the agenda. The seeds of an alternative approach were sown by Amartya Sen, as noted, by Frances Stewart herself, with Richard Jolly and Andrea Cornea, in Adjustment with a Human Face, and by those working on livelihoods, participation and food security, including but not only at IDS in Sussex. The Human Development Report in 1990 marked a new beginning, alongside the publication in the same year of the World Bank’s World Development Report on poverty. Writing shortly afterwards, Michael Lipton and I described this as The New Poverty Agenda – to be distinguished from The New New Poverty Agenda, which came a decade later, at the time of the Millennium Development Goals.

In the present day of the SDGs, pretty well all the 17 goals and 169 targets can be thought of as legitimate expressions of the human development approach. Income and nutrition are represented, alongside health and education. Equality features, in multiple dimensions. Peace and justice are listed, associated with strong institutions. This is then a legacy of which to be proud. The framework is underpinned by a commitment to sustainability.

But what then are we to make of the ‘deficiencies’, the authors’ three and my fourth? Stewart et al provide some of the answers themselves.

First, they bemoan the way the global economy is structured and managed, calling for reform of the global capitalist economy, and the adoption of Keynesian macroeconomic policies to reduce macro-fluctuations and protect social expenditures. They would like to see a switch from a capitalist system to a sharing economy, where resources are owned and controlled by workers, consumers or the community. Human development thinking is disconnected, the authors argue, from this kind of debate, and so are the SDGs.

Second, Stewart et al say that human development thinking and measurement paid too little attention to sustainability, especially the responsibility of present populations to future generations. The SDGs, they say, remedy this deficiency, but human development concepts, measurement and policy-making need to catch up. In a key sentence, they say that ‘ways need to be found of promoting human development either without economic growth or with a pattern of growth and innovation that reduces the adverse environmental effects’ (Pg 233).

That is quite a challenge, and it may not be enough to say, as they go on to do, and actually as I have also argued, that the problem can be finessed by allowing poor countries but not richer ones to grow. What happens if the growth of poor economies depends on the growth of the rich? A serious debate is needed about how to deliver deep decarbonisation on a global scale. Is ‘growth agnosticism’ the answer, as per Kate Raworth (whose credentials include a stint as employee of the Human Development Report office, but whose doughnut book was published after this volume went to press,)? Or is the de-growth paradigm the answer, as promulgated inter alia by authorities like Tim Jackson at the University of Surrey?

Third, the authors note the ‘strongly individualistic basis of the capabilities approach . . (which) diverts attention from social or collective well-being’. (Pg 234). ‘Methodological individualism’, they say, ‘masks the importance of groups, collective action, social institutions, and social norms . . .’. (ibid). Stewart’s work on horizontal inequality and violence is reflected here. It is worth noting that Goal 16 of the SDGs, which is to ‘Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels’, has 12 subsidiary targets, which genuflect in the direction of accountable institutions and representative decision-making, but fall some way short of the social organisation implicit in Stewart et al’s formulation.

The fourth deficiency is my own, and relates to the fact that reaching all or some of the SDGs means hitting a moving target, because the world is changing fast. There are three fundamental drivers. First, the uneven impact of globalisation, driving political discourse in many countries as some citizens advance and others are left behind. Second, automation, which will create and destroy jobs on a global scale. And third, climate change, with mountains to climb if Paris targets are to be met, again with global consequences. This is about ‘Taming Cerberus’, Cerberus being the dog with three fierce heads, but a single body, who guarded the underworld in Greek mythology. Indeed, in all these cases, the test facing policy-makers is to manage disruptive change on a world scale: in effect to deliver an industrial revolution which manages the social disruption associated with transformation, and manages public policy and the sequencing of interventions so as to deliver benefits to all. Neither neoliberalism nor populism provides answers. And neither the human development framework nor the SDGs provide much help on the global collective action needed to tame Cerberus.

It goes without saying that the challenges to human development thinking will come as no surprise to those mostly closely involved in promoting the concept. Indeed, the family of global, regional and national Human Development Reports have touched on many similar themes: human security (1994); globalisation (1999); climate change (2007/8); new technology (2001); the future of work (2015); and so on. There is more to do, however. Thus, the concept of human development requires further advances in the years to come.


Advancing Human Development was pubilshed by Oxford University Press in 2018

Kategorien: english

The challenge for global think tanks in 2018

6. August 2018 - 12:21

The challenge for global think tanks in 2018





I am pleased to sit on the Advisory Council of IDDRI (the Institut du Developpement Durable et Relations Internationales). IDDRI is the leading French think tank on international development, with a special focus on environmental issues. It is a member of the European Think Tanks Group. This year, I was asked to contribute an 'editorial' to the IDDRI Annual Report. I wrote on the theme of the challenge to global think tanks in 2018, which is to win the argument for progressive and foward-looking collective action. You can read my (short) contribution here (Pg 5). The rest of IDDRI's Annual Report is well worth reading.



Kategorien: english