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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Les pays riches « oublient »leurs belles promesses

by Damien Roustel

The World’s Big Economies ‘Forget’ Their Big Promises

Translated Monday 1 March 2010, by Claire Scammell and reviewed by Henry Crapo

The OECD has disclosed the promises made by its member states to help the development of the world’s poorest countries in 2010. There is a shortfall of 21 billion dollars and France is lagging behind.

Five years ago, during the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, the world’s wealthiest countries promised an additional 50 billion dollars to help poor countries; half of this sum was pledged to Africa.

Back in 2005, 15 countries in the European Union made a commitment to dedicate 0.51% of their GNI to Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2010. The final objective was to then reach 0.7% by 2015, the deadline set in 2000 for the UN’s millennium objectives, to reduce world poverty by half. Five years later, the promises have not been honoured.

These are the findings of a study published by the OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, headquartered in Paris with 31 member states. “Donors’ mixed aid performance for 2010 sparks concern”, alarm bells are ringing at the OECD. There is a shortfall of 21 billion dollars. “Aid to developing countries in 2010 will reach record levels in dollar terms after increasing by 35 per cent since 2004”, indicates the OECD. World ODA has gone from 80 billion dollars to close to 108 billion. “It is, even so, less than the amount promised” by the main donors 5 years ago (at the G8 Gleneagles and Millennium +5 summits).

Instead of the 25 billion dollars expected, Africa will have to make do with barely half that amount. Sixteen donors have honoured their commitments “but underperformance by the others, notably Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, and Portugal, means overall aid will still fall considerably short of what was promised”, declared Eckhard Deutscher, Chair of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee.

Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Belgium have proved the most virtuous whereas France is lagging behind (0.46% compared to the 0.61% promised). “In a nutshell, France will not be honouring her promises”. In light of this failure, Oxfam France has asked the French government to “put into action an emergency plan to increase ODA in the hope of meeting the Millennium Development Objectives”, as indicated by Sebastien Fourmy of Oxfam France. “Official Development Assistance in France has become an adjustable variable of public spending”, deplored in turn Coordination Sud, a body representing several French NGO groups.

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