La labor de la Alianza Mundial con respecto a los compromisos temáticos empieza con mal pie

What could and should have been the official launch of the Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC) turned to be a “business as usual” event that passed by the demands of the partner countries and the civil society. 6 months after Busan, and after an intense work in the Post Busan Interim Group, the OECD-DAC Working Party on Aid Effectiveness was called to conclude business and put in place the GPEDC.

Given the scope of the Busan Partnership, including the emerging economies into the development cooperation world, extending it to the private sector and confirming its inclusive and multistakeholder character, the expectations towards the launch of the Partnership were high in many aspects.

However, the intergovernmental dynamic steamed through the decision making and imposed what for many remains a donor driven “consensus” that neatly corresponded to the ambitionless political positioning on many of the players.

“Global light”: the unbearable lightness of donor figure fetishism…

The global light idea, meaning that the supervisory, monitoring and political framework of the partnership should be focussed on in-country action and that the Partnership should not become another international bureaucracy, made its, in all its simplicity the way in the spirits of many players, especially of the traditional donors.

The Busan dynamics, with the ambitious enlargement of the partners towards emerging economies and partner countries, the opening of new dimensions such as private sector and south-south cooperation, would and should be accommodated by a dozen of steering group members that would prepare ambitious (!) biannual ministerial meetings. So much for the mirage that donors and multilaterals (jealous/proud of their own bureaucracy?) were determined to impose. Increasing the steering group members number up to 18, still a ridiculous figure taking into account the variety of stakes and representations in the GPEDC, was forced however, not by the others partners, but by the donors themselves in the first place. In turn, the legitimate demands from African Union, CSO, trade unions and other partners were simply overlooked and classified without follow up.

From intergovernmental to multistakeholder: the missing link is still missing.

The optimism and enthusiasm that the Accra Agenda for Action generated among civil society, but also with many other partners for a game changing governance setting that would include civil society at all stages of decision making, took a serious revers after Busan. The imposed “consensus”, whilst renewing the single civil society seat in the Steering Committee, took it for granted that 3 governmental co-chairs should as from now lead the process, and simply ignored the demand for a non-governmental co-chair in order to ensure the true multistakeholder process, in spirit and, above all in the practice of conducting business in the partnership. The multistakeholder flag was floating high on the Busan ship, but on the commando bridge only governments are tolerated. No bad will, just “normality” of business as usual.

Inclusive growth and the invisible trade unions

It must have been the faith that is still rampant in neoliberal circles that thought that inclusive growth was a matter of the invisible hand and not the result of policy dialogue and social partnership. That blind enthusiasm trusted that private sector representation by business, was the obvious thing to do. Contrary to what is standard practice in the ILO, the OECD, the G20 and recently also in the OEDC/DAC a balanced representation was not on the radar of the private sector advocates when shaping the management structures of the Partnership. Hence the demand of the Trade Unions to adjust “the consensus” with a more inclusive approaches on social partnership.

But again the “consensus” imposed was unchangeable, although many interlocutors informally agreed that this was an unfortunate situation, due more to the circumstances that to any political choice.

Imposing consensus as the basis for multistakeholder cooperation
The most striking element of the way this Partnership was launched was the method of the imposed consensus. You would expect that if one party states its disagreement (and even leaves the room because of that) the simple fact is that there is no consensus among the parties involved. Not so in this Partnership: African Union, Civil society and others contested the proposals made and asked for adjustments. The Partnership was a difficult but successful operation that opened new, game changing approaches to development cooperation. By imposing a mostly donor-driven consensus, the Bureau clearly showed that this is not about changing the game; this is business as usual and therefore, if no further adjustments are operated, of very little interest for the future.

By Jan Dereymaeker, TUDCN ITUC