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Italy overhauls its development cooperation system in search for a fresh start

senatoItaly may well now sport a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation; in fact, the good news is that the Italian Parliament gave its final clearance to the legislation to reform the Italian development cooperation system last week, on 1st August. Domestically, the final go ahead was welcomed by many decision makers and interested observers even if the general political context was not helpful as the final vote took place amidst fierce divisions around other legislation the Houses were discussing in parallel, including a substantive institutional reform. Despite divisions across the political spectrum, the aid bill got only two nays in the plenary voting sessions at the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies. This is the final chapter in a story of attempted reforms that has spanned about twenty years. There is also an ironic side to this story: not many seemed to care about Italian cooperation, but, when it came to fixing it, all different sorts of interests coalesced to stop the reformers. Kudos to the current political leadership, in the Government and in the Parliament, that has pushed this reform through at last. Read more ›

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The Donors’ Dilemma, From Charity to Social Justice

donors dilemmaThere is no denying that foreign aid has been and will continue for some time to be an important source of finance of ending absolute poverty and promoting economic development. But the days of the Official Development Assistance (ODA) paradigm as we know it are numbered. Aid is the manifestation of a peculiar historical context. We have built a world order in which there are unprecedented and unacceptable levels of socio-economic inequality. These extreme disparities have led to the creation of our current system of ODA, in which rich countries allocate a relatively small amount to alleviate the extreme manifestations of poverty around the world. We have developed guidelines, rules, norms and systems to regulate what counts and what doesn’t count as aid, all for very sensible reasons. The reasons why aid is unlikely to survive much longer in its current form are well-rehearsed; five stand out. Read more ›

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