Development, IFIs, Governance, Human Rights, and other things in my head... :: 2008.05.12 11:55

Nomak- Anger of the Earth

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it's not a matter of charity...



So I've finished two of my development exams, and I don't feel completely settled with some issues that I've dealt with. I'll be going on and on about my frustrations....but I needed to write it down somewhere. So excuse me if I tend to babble on...


Earlier this year, I went to the Development Careers fair at SOAS, and one of the themes for panel discussion was "Ethical Dilemma." To what extent do you have to consent to the values of the organisation that you'll be working for? It's quite a hard question to pindown.

But seeing from how these people (ie Stiglitz, Calderisi, Easterly, Collier....hmm hmm, there're all economists!), who've worked for IFIs for years, now criticise the very organisations and assert alternative neoliberalism/or reform at least, makes me wonder: How much faith can we have in IFIs in "saving" the poor?

Some shifts in the development agenda in IFIs are sometimes "rhetorical repackaging" to accommodate for rising voices against them, or to justify their "sacrosanct" macroeconomic reform programmes with euphamisms like "human rights" and "good governance."

"By helping to fight corruption, improve transparency, and accountability in governance, strenghthen judicial systems, and modernize financial sectors, the Bank contributes to building environments in which people are better able to pursue a broader range of human rights."

World Bank (1999) Development and Human Rights: The Role of the World Bank

....sounds wonderful....um, but??? what is "governance"? How will you/ and what mandate do you have in strengthening the judicial system as an IFI? The poorest of the poor, and majority of the population living in rural areas in Sub Saharan Africa, for example, wouldn't even get the slightest benefit (short-term wise) from "modernizing financial sectors"...would they?

So how is economic/financial restructuring going to improve human rights? It's so easy for them to escape the ambit of "politics," because, afterall, they are "financial" instutitions. (Easier said than done!) Reading through official documents—no where do they sufficiently explain the linkage between growth-development-aid-human rights-good governance-democracy-anti corruption. What about the East Asian and Latin American developmental states??  Was it democratic practice? human rights? or financial liberalisation that led their growth? Definately not.

Why are all those ideas regarded naturally as given? Because humans are "rational" beings??
Comparatively, states even in similiar socioeconomical/cultural circumstances make different policy objectives, choices, and experience different outcomes. Then why are countries now being forced to adopt these "universal" set of structural adjustment programmes (SAPs)? Through them, many developing countries have become choiceless, and exclusionary. Is this what we call respecting human rights?

These programmes are determined from above, morally self-satisfying, and in line with maintaining the status quo. (The status quo in which the "Western/Northern" norms are viewed as natural and/or superior, and that they "know better"... This, to me, is such a colonising idea...)
How the MDGs came along has a similar path — its predecessor International Development Goals (IDGs) were devised by OECD DAC.

Though there were some successful cases of SAPs, there were more attendant disasters and failures, and dependent on so much contingent factors. Shortly, they've been largely depoliticised. No regard for institutional capacity, state-society relations, social fabric, leadership, anthropolicy, values...



Robert Calderisi (has a 30 year career in int'l development, principally at the World Bank) explains
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that a complicating factor in foreign aid and development is the basic clash of values between Africans and Westerners.
"African leaders are now willing to talk about "poverty" and will even wrinkle their brows about "governance," but they prefer to have their discussions with foreign visitors rather than their own countrymen. In some countries, poverty studies have been suppressed to prevent leaks of embarassing information. In the meantime, aid agencies keep churning out projects, some African offiials try to cooperate, others try to derive personal advantages, and the African public keeps staring in disbelief at the ineffectiveness of the whole process."

Robert Calderisi (2007) The Trouble with Africa, pp. 163-4.

...so what's the next process?

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absorptive capacity?

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priorities?

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'debt' sentence?


Cf)
My revision outlines on new institutionalism, good governance agenda/democratisation in Africa, neoliberal populism, Robert Bates' urban-bias policy, CDS-thirdwave democracy, MDGs limitations, Rights-based approach (RBA) to social protection, governance-dev linkage...

more..