Sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

PDF | The role of foreign aid in assisting nations that are grappling with conflicts, nations, such as the interference in local issues which result in the compromised sovereignty. Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship. Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship a right to rule on the one hand and other political issues to do with the national. Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship . A key problem with the three sovereignty arguments surveyed above is that they.

Some participants also raised the question of whether donors genuinely verify democratic conditions in recipient countries, such as Liberia and Kenya. In the case of Liberia, participants suggested U. With regard to Kenya, participants pointed out the inconsistency in application of the good government policy advocated by the British, compared with other bilateral donors.

Despite Daniel arap Moi's initial reluctance to yield to the demands for multiparty politics, Kenya received substantial British investment and was defended by both Foreign Minister Douglas Hurd and Aid Minister Lynda Chalker as having a good human rights record. One participant argued, "Perhaps democracy is being used as a legitimation of intervention.

There is a need for transparency in the advice donors give to African governments. When projects [that have been agreed on behind closed doors] fail, the onus is put on African governments.

Relationships Advice/Sovereign Relationships

Page 38 Share Cite Suggested Citation: One participant stated, "Having worked for several aid agencies, I will add that the donors need to undertake governance reforms. I hope that the progressive and democratic forces in Africa both during and after the transition will demand those reforms of the donors.

For example, demand the publication of confidential reports of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. They are confidential only in lessening the level of accountability of these agencies to populations and opposition. I think there should be much more transparency in the policy-making process, especially during structural adjustment negotiations.

That lack of transparency has satisfied only the donors and the governments, and it will be interesting to see, after the transition, whether newly democratic governments will open up this process to the press, and I think they should, because it will much improve the structural adjustment process. In most African countries, corruption constitutes an important means by which individual wants and needs, especially in patronage-ridden personal regimes, can be satisfied.

Although corruption is a general problem for all governments, governments of developing countries tend to exhibit the problem in a particularly noteworthy way. In countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Zaire, and the Central African Republic, corruption is so extensive that it is viewed as a way of life. Making or receiving bribes in most African countries is considered a practical tactic to look after one's needs and interests, achieving incomes and security far greater than provided by one's monthly salary.

sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

Because of an absence of effective structures with autonomy and strength to check corruption, the governing elites of most African countries have engaged in high and sometimes egregious levels of corruption, increasingly diverting state resources for personal gain. In Zaire, for example, one participant mentioned that corruption has been termed a structural fact, with as much as 60 percent of the annual budget misappropriated by the governing elite.

Foreign aid, noted the participants, although designed to contribute to development, also has served as an alternative source of wealth for corrupt elites. It was also pointed out that, to the extent that government has been immersed in patron-client relations and in cases in which state office is granted as a means to amass personal wealth, corruption has increased in scale and proportion.

One significant suggestion advanced by participants in both the Benin and Namibia workshops was that public monies siphoned off by corrupt leaders and public officials and deposited in the West must be returned.

They made a plea for donors to suggest steps that African countries could take that might help retrieve the stolen money deposited in foreign accounts by these public officials. One participant stated, "Stolen monies do not belong to the few individuals who perpetrated the thefts.

The people of African countries were robbed. If donors were to try to help get this money back, it maybe would contribute to democracy and democratization. Although participants acknowledged that corruption in Africa emanated from the lack of democracy and accountability, they emphasized that corruption is not unique to Africa and also may be found in liberal democratic systems.

Consequently, they were of the opinion that the real issue is the absence of institutions capable of tackling corruption. As one participant argued, "With regard to corruption and stolen money, my own advice is to let sleeping dogs lie and engage ourselves more in how to create institutions that will help make a repeat performance impossible.

I also think we can suggest to donors that we want a change in the form in which aid comes. For example, donors no longer should give direct monetary aid, because this can be misutilized, but could provide assistance in other ways that would ensure it is effectively utilized. For example, it was stated that almost everywhere in Africa "radio and television are under direct government control. Radio is often particularly important in rural areas, and among people not literate in European languages, whereas newspapers are expensive to run and can be subject to government censorship or indirect pressures over matters such as the supply of newsprint.

In countries like Mozambique, the media were assigned a political role as agents of mobilization. In South Africa, although restrictions have been eased, newspapers still retain a high degree of self-censorship. It was acknowledged, however, that professional training is needed for journalists, especially in countries whose press has been under state control. One participant called for African journalists to train younger colleagues, organize themselves into associations and trade unions, and to sponsor conferences around the issue of the press and democracy.

These steps, he offered, "could contribute to the emergence of a free and independent press in Africa, with persistent reporting in turn contributing to improved governance. It also was pointed out that reforms of press laws will be required in a number of countries.

Some participants advocated that a code of ethics for the press be instituted simultaneously with such new laws. As one participant illustrated, "ultimately, freedom of the press reflects the freedom of society itself. In countries such as Swaziland and Zambia, the refusal of the press to be coopted was a major factor contributing to an open society.

In Nigeria, there are over 50 newspapers and lots of magazines, with many of them in local languages and dialects. Generally, the more press there is, the greater the difficulty government has in suppressing it.

Participants indicated that regular indigenous institutions for monitoring should be established, although assistance from international civil society also could be very supportive, ideas that will be discussed further in the next chapter. The use of alternative media, such as drama, news murals, and posters to educate people about rights was also recommended. Participants noted that, in politically fragmented countries, decentralization might allow the various political, religious, ethnic, or tribal groups greater representation in development decision making, thereby increasing their stake in maintaining political stability.

One participant convincingly argued, "With reference to decentralization, I would simply like to say that we have to look at things from the point of view of democratic society. Are we going to tolerate diversity? If it's a dialogue among peers, then we can't concentrate the political and economic power in the hands of just a few people. I think we have to tolerate this diversity, and political and economic decentralization should be admitted as having the right to exist.

We do not have to try to achieve uniformity because it is perhaps not the best thing. I think that decentralization of power is not bad. It will, of course mean that there is a limitation on the centralization of power in both the political and economic fields. Political centralization has led to economic centralization, which has led to economic crisis.

Institutionally, because most African countries are overly centralized, there needs to be both horizontal and vertical decentralization of power. Participants further pointed out that the power and authority of most African heads of state blatantly override the powers of the legislature and the judiciary. In other words, because of the personalization of power by the rulers, an enormous gap exists between the rulers and the people.

In some African countries, constitutions and other laws have been revised to give rulers the right to exercise exceptional powers. Most participants believed that, in the future, it would be necessary to limit the excessive concentration of power in the hands of the executive in order to ensure some level of accountability through the other branches of government.

There was a clear sense that the role of the centralized state must be limited.

sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

As one person suggested: The state's monopoly control must be broken down. The formal structures in the state are highly centralized, whatever way you look at it. This is the problem as far as the issue of centralization is concerned. One participant advocated that the state communicate with societal elements, such as clans and tribes, and not just with one ethnic group in society: Decentralization will be territorial and ethnic based.

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Another participant, however, cautioned that decentralization should not be allowed to result in the replacement of authentic, grass roots leaders with party members. In short, the participants agreed that decentralization could be useful in encouraging local autonomy, strengthening civil society at the grass roots level in both rural and urban areas, and providing ways for women to participate in issues of immediate local concern to them.

The discussions on decentralization also focused on the devolution of power. One participant argued that "decentralization has been cloaked in rhetoric without devolution, resulting in the further illegitimacy of the state and the weakness of civil society. As African states became increasingly incapable of delivering [on their economic and political promises], associational life emerged at the local level.

This often took the form of a shadow state, where people organized themselves to provide basic services that, in their communities, had been ignored by the state. In this bubbling up process, these groups would then try to extract necessities from the state in order to provide services.

Civil society, therefore, emerges in this form to meet basic human needs at the local level, not resulting from macro-level concerns. If there is to be an efficient link between state and society, with effective articulation by associations, then local government, in the form of devolution, would be most appropriate.

In this way, devolution could provide the missing link between the center and periphery in rural areas. Yet autonomous local governments hold out important prospects, not only in rural areas, but also in urbanized areas, such as those in South Africa.

In such situations, there is an inordinate amount of stress on certain ethnic communities or characteristics. This may not always be optimal, as far as the Africa of tomorrow is concerned. But, if we are aware of these dangers, I think we can overcome them. He maintained, "When we talk of decentralization, I can tell you that I participated in a number of discussions in my country in which the people of certain regions said they were opposed to decentralization because they were the rich sections of the community and they had the mineral resources.

Therefore, they argued, they should have more money and their incomes should be bigger than the other areas, as they supply the resources. Consequently, if centralization were developed in some areas, it was because it was the cheapest way out.

Democracy, of course, calls for money and for financing. Many participants argued that federalism might be the best known mechanism, although not the only method, of giving autonomy to different societal groups, thereby accommodating what participants termed the "ethnic variable.

Yet the difficulty in coming to any clear agreement concerning representation was illustrated by one participant, who asked, "On what does one base federalism? If one resorts to ethnic groups, which primarily are territorially based, then people worry about ethnicity. They see that disputes can lead to intergroup conflicts when groups live in proximity, such as is the case in Lebanon.

If groups live in the periphery, it can lead to separatism. If groups are interspersed, then violent conflict can emerge, as it has in the Balkans and in Nagorno-Karabakh. There are no simple solutions. Can a country, like Ethiopia, staff about 15 different governments? Moreover, I fear that tribal and ethnic problems could emerge, perhaps leading to disintegration, as in Yugoslavia.

Therefore, maybe a regional state organized along economic units might make more sense. As with any categorization of this sort, reality is more complex and the lines between categories are not hard and fast.

Sovereignty for any state is established and upheld by the practices and norms of the international system as well through the actions of states and the relations between rulers and ruled domestically.

Accordingly, sovereignty is about the establishment and reproduction of an ultimate authority over a territory and people, not absolute power or comprehensive control of all areas of social life. Rulers are both representatives of and answerable to domestic populations in a way that is different from non-sovereign entities.

Such cases of military intervention or withdrawal of recognition, for example in response to widespread rights abuses, illustrate the idea that abrogation of sovereignty itself remains a qualitatively different act from other forms of external influence. External influence of any kind is potentially controversial and I will return to controversies over aid below. However, it should be noted here that, viewed within this broader framework, aid is a particular form of external influence. It is a particular kind because at least in the form of Official Development Assistance, ODA it is overtly public, undertaken by states and by agencies authorized by states.

To the extent that influence is successfully exerted it is therefore more deliberate and hence more directly political than that of, say, the cumulative influences of a series of private commercial actions.

The influence of aid is mainly located in relation to the middle two columns of the table, influencing policy choice and constitutional make-up.

The latter is much less well established in terms of the extent to which donors consistently seek to apply such influence and the extent to which they do so effectively.

The attempt to influence policy choices is the mainstay of debates around conditionality, post-conditionality and ownership.

sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

Rendering oneself unable to make distinctions between issues of sovereignty and the different issues of control actually obscures what we are able to see when analysing aid relationships. The political and legal basis of the aid relationship The foregoing analysis suggests that the focus of our assessment of aid should be on areas of national control, not sovereignty as a right to rule.

This claim is further strengthened when considering the role that sovereignty as a right to rule plays in constituting the aid relationship and in the material effects this has on the parties' ability to engage in negotiations over the terms of aid. In terms of the day-to-day practices of aid, sovereign authority is in fact the basis of both the granting and receipt of aid.

For donors, often quite elaborate procedures and rules exist to authorize the granting of aid. Furthermore, donors require the identification and agreement of national authorizing agents in the recipient country. While African policy autonomy may indeed be severely compromised by the aid relationship, the recognition of the right of African states to govern their own societies is not seriously questioned by donors through the aid relationship. Whatever other powers donors have, a socially recognized right to rule African societies is not one of them, nor is it sought: As for aid recipients, many have clear guidelines establishing precisely which ministries and representatives have the authority to act on behalf of the state in aid negotiations and implementation.

Indeed one of the effects of the Paris Declaration has been to clarify such roles. It therefore plays a central role in coordinating the framework of aid management and dialogue. Even where NGOs are involved either independently or as conduits for bilateral aid, their presence and actions within a recipient country are subject to the legal imprimatur of the state concerned.

Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship

Sudan's expulsion of thirteen NGOs in is a prominent example. The GoR [Government of Rwanda] retains a fundamental duty to ensure that all such [NGOs] — regardless of whether their activities are financed by ODA — act in a manner that is transparent and accountable to the Rwandan citizen.

sovereignty matters africa donors and the aid relationship problems

The GoR's regulatory role in this respect is detailed in its Laws regulating the activities of national and international non-governmental organizations operating in Rwanda.

These examples all illustrate ways in which recognition of sovereign rights of recipient states creates the basis through which the aid relationship is conducted — it defines who the actors are and important aspects of their respective roles. However, by doing this, sovereignty also shapes the way in which aid relationships are conducted. The need for negotiation in the first place comes about precisely because any aid programme requires the agreement of the recipient, because that recipient possesses sovereign independence and with it the right to agree or refuse aid programmes.

Conditionality, after all, is a means of offering incentives and threats to an independent party to persuade them to act in a certain way because donors cannot instruct them directly.

Sovereignty matters: Africa, donors, and the aid relationship | African Affairs | Oxford Academic

Imperial fiat will not work in this circumstance. Sovereignty as a right to rule is therefore critical to the ability of recipient states to exercise agency within the inequalities of the aid relationship. Tanzania as a state subsumed beneath donor influence, Rwanda as an example of a state able to retain some control over aid relations. In fact, in neither case do we see a loss of sovereignty understood as a right to rule.

Rather, it is the changing use that is made of this right, under changing conditions, that lies behind their fluctuating relations with donors.