Africa: InterAction Policy Paper, 3/16/97

Africa: InterAction Policy Paper, 3/16/97

Africa: InterAction Policy Paper
Date Distributed (ymd): 970316
Document reposted by APIC

This posting contains selected excerpts from the Interaction Policy Paper on International Development Cooperation. The full paper is available from Interaction (attn: Aliyah Nuri),1717 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 801, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-667-8227; Fax: 202-667-8236; E-mail: It can also be found on InterAction's web site at (56K).
American Values - National Interests:

The New Shape Of International Development Cooperation

An InterAction Policy Paper, March 1997

FOREWORD (excerpts)

"American Values/National Interests" examines the global challenges and opportunities facing the U.S., and calls for a greater commitment to development assistance. The paper's title reflects its central thesis -- that whereas the realities of the Cold War often forced us to choose between our humanitarian values and our national interests, these two motives are now complementary. Programs that help poor people and developing nations also strengthen our economy and support our broader foreign policy goals.

Recent debates about reorganizing the U.S. foreign-affairs bureaucracy have focused solely on organizational structure, rather than on the overall mission, purpose and function of development assistance. This paper aims to fill that gap by assessing the value of these programs and outlining some principles that can make them more effective. We summarize without preference the three organizational models that have been most frequently suggested, weighing the pros and cons of each in reference to a set of criteria that we feel should be met by any institution or structure.


The end of the Cold War, an explosion of international trade, and a series of global threats present the United States with unprecedented opportunities and challenges. Whereas Soviet-era foreign aid often required us to choose between humanitarian values and national security interests, these two motives now complement each other. Development assistance programs that help poor people and nations also strengthen our economy and support our broader foreign policy goals. Despite this, recent years have seen growing isolationism and shrinking budgets that have cut these programs by more than a third. Meanwhile, the legislation and institutions behind these programs have become buried under three decades of often-contradictory statutes and regulations.

Calls to either reorganize the foreign affairs bureaucracy or maintain the status quo have been made without first reviewing the mission, purpose, and function of development assistance. This paper is therefore an effort to assess the rationale for international development cooperation and establish guidelines for development assistance programs and organizational structure.

Renewing U.S. commitment to international development cooperation has five key parts:

* refocus development assistance programs on new development challenges;

* affirm U.S. global leadership by increasing development resources;

* structure our institutions so that they can respond effectively;

* renew the spirit of bipartisanship so critical to a successful foreign policy; and

* restore the Presidential leadership needed to build public and political support.

International development cooperation will be even more crucial in the coming decades because of new global realities: the explosion of international trade means that the U.S. economy is more dependent than ever on the developing world; the end of the Cold War has caused a surge in democratization and internal conflicts; and new global threats like rapid population growth, environmental degradation, and infectious diseases present new challenges.

To meet these challenges, the U.S. must reform its development assistance program in accordance with the following development principles:

* The primary goal of development assistance must be poverty reduction.

* People-centered development requires investments in broad-based economic growth and human development.

* Gender equity is an integral part of development, and a key goal of any program.

* Partnerships among donor nations, NGOs, local governments, and the private sector are of great importance.

* Bilateral and multilateral aid are complementary programs, not an either/or choice.

* Development assistance must be part of a broader policy agenda that includes trade, investment, debt relief, and other issues.

U.S. development assistance programs should focus on four key areas: 1) promoting human development and equitable economic growth; 2) addressing imminent global threats; 3) assisting countries in transition; and 4) supporting emergency humanitarian and refugee programs.

Reshaping U.S. development programs in accordance with these principles and priorities demands increased resources and a reordering of spending priorities. Our overall international affairs budget has fallen by 50 percent since the mid-1980s; total development assistance has declined by a third. Such deep, disproportionate cuts have forced unacceptable tradeoffs and weakened U.S. influence and leadership among donor nations. Moreover, because development programs help prevent much more costly crises, restoring these funds is not inconsistent with the goal of balancing the budget.

InterAction endorses at a minimum the Brookings Institution/Council on Foreign Relations task force recommendations: a $500 million net annual increase for sustainable development and anti-poverty programs; a $700 million increase to the international financial institutions, which includes clearing our arrears; and paying in full our arrears to the United Nations. However, even more resources are needed if we are to respond to the broad scope of our foreign policy challenges.

In recent years, there have been calls to streamline and/or restructure the foreign affairs bureau-cracy. Since most U.S. foreign assistance programs are managed by AID and the State Department, debate about restructuring development institutions has focused largely on these two organizations. Three general options have emerged: 1) retaining an independent, reformed AID; 2) replacing much of AID with an independent foundation and transferring some functions to State; and 3) merging AID, in its entirety, into State.

Without endorsing any particular model, InterAction endorses a set of criteria against which each of the models may be measured. Any organizational structure for development assistance should:

* follow a clear definition of program purposes and objectives;

* make development assistance a key component of foreign policy;

* provide a framework that can effectively manage substantial resources;

* be cost-effective, streamlining procedures and eliminating duplication;

* protect development assistance from short-term political agendas; and

* provide a field presence to build partnerships and monitor results.

The general features of each of the three models are outlined -- omitting management choices that are independent of overall structure -- and the major advantages and disadvantages of each model are summarized in reference to the above criteria.

Before policymakers decide which model to pursue, however, they need to decide what they want in a development agency, and ensure that the benefits of restructuring outweigh the costs. Finally, we should keep in mind that what is truly important is not how we arrange organizational charts, but whether we renew our national commitment to development assistance, which is the key to preserving our leadership and protecting our prosperity in an increasingly interdependent world.

[Outline follows]



The U.S. Economy and Global Interdependence ...

New Global Political Trends ...

New Global Threats ...


What We've Learned: A Set of Guiding Principles ...

What We Should Do: Program Priorities and Objectives ...



CONCLUSION (complete)

During her confirmation hearing, Madeleine Albright noted that international affairs is only "one percent of the federal budget, but that one percent may well determine 50 percent of the history that is written about our era." Indeed, the direction of that history will in large measure depend upon the leadership, values, and vision of the United States.

This leadership and vision must come from the President, and should aim to renew the bipartisan spirit so crucial to successful foreign policy. With Presidential leadership and bipartisan support, the American people will rally behind a vision of global cooperation that helps other nations and benefits our own. For its part, Congress must help create an enabling environment, ensuring access to resources and removing the obstacles it has imposed through extensive statutory constraints, earmarking, and micro-management.

The central message of the NGO community is that development assistance must be a key element of our foreign policy. We have written this paper to promote our vision and priorities for development assistance and to focus attention on the need to revitalize a national commitment to bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We believe this document will contribute to important discussions about the framework through which such cooperation is carried out.

What is truly important in the coming decades is not how the organizational charts are arranged, but something more fundamental -- an understanding that ours is an increasingly interdependent world, and a commitment to the leadership and resources that such a world demands.


Appendix 1 OECD Development Goals

In May, 1996, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's 21-nation Development Assistance Committee agreed on a set of basic goals as a vision for the future. Among them:

* The proportion of people living in extreme poverty in developing countries should be reduced by at least one-half by 2015. (The World Bank uses the standard of $370 per capita in annual income, or about $1 per day, as the threshold of extreme poverty.)

* There should be substantial progress in primary education, gender equality, basic health care and family planning, as follows:

o There should be universal primary education in all countries by 2015.

o Progress toward gender equality and the empowerment of women should be demonstrated by eliminating gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005.

o The death rate for infants and children under five should be reduced in each developing country by two-thirds the 1990 level by 2015. The rate of maternal mortality should be reduced by three-fourths during this same period.

o Access should be available through the primary health-care system to reproductive health services for all individuals of appropriate ages, including safe and reliable family planning methods, as soon as possible and no later than the year 2015.

* There should be a current national strategy for sustainable development, in the process of implementation, in every country by 2005, so as to ensure that current trends in the loss of environmental resources -- forests, fisheries, fresh water, climate, soils, biodiversity, stratospheric ozone, the accumulation of hazardous substances and other major indicators -- are effectively reversed at both global and national levels by 2015.

The DAC also noted that: "Sustainable development needs to integrate a number of additional key elements, not all of which lend themselves to indicators along the lines suggested here. [...] While not themselves the subject of suggested numerical indicators, we reaffirm our conviction that these qualitative aspects of development are essential to the attainment of the more measurable goals we have suggested....

"We now see a much broader range of aims for a more people-centered, participatory and sustainable development process: reducing poverty while achieving broadly-based economic growth; strengthening human and institutional capacities within nations to meet internal challenges and help avert further tragic cases of social disintegration and `failed states'; improving the capacity of developing countries to contribute to the management and solution of global problems; and reinforcing the transformation of institutions and enabling environments to facilitate the emergence of developing countries and transition economies as growing trade and investment partners in the global economy."


From: Message-Id: <> Date: Sun, 16 Mar 1997 13:33:07 -0500 Subject: Africa: InterAction Policy Paper

Editor: Ali B. Ali-Dinar

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