Eurodad tells OECD DAC it’s time for accountability, transparency and legitimacy in first ever NGO intervention

Added 18 Feb 2016
Read Eurodad's full statement to the OECD DAC High Level Meeting and press release on how the world's poorest should not pay for the security and defence of Europe. 
Today, Eurodad's director Jesse Griffiths spoke at the OECD Development Assistance Committee's High Level Meeting in Paris. This was the first time an NGO was invited to make a formal intervention at this particular meeting.

Listen to his submission, or read the full transcript which is below:

Transcript of submission:

Eurodad is a network of 46 anti-poverty NGOs in 20 European countries. We are also part of a global set of networks with sister networks in Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

I wanted to offer three principles I think ought to guide your work informing the DAC. But before I do, I just wanted to say something about why it’s so incredibly important because, as Eric Solheim says, you’re setting aid rules, and these rules have enormous impact. I can give you a good example and a bad example. 

A good example is your predecessors who came up with the term ‘Official Development Assistance’. This did us all a great favour because that encapsulates some very important principles, in particular that the money should be about development of developing countries. 

And then a bad example – I think your predecessors who set the rules on refugee costs have allowed quite a scandalous situation to develop where next year, $10 billion USD is expected to be counted in ODA as refugee costs, even though we all know this is not about the development of developing countries. And that in no way says that we shouldn’t be spending money, of course we should be spending money on refugees, but it clearly isn’t ODA. 

So, the decisions you make have a lot of impact, and they have a lot of impact on the millions, and the hundreds of millions of poor people that we all care so much about, and we should have them in mind. They also have a lot of impact for the supporters of ODA and the credibility of ODA amongst the public in OECD countries. Some of you have been recipients of a petition with over 70,000 signatures, calling on you all to focus on the purpose of ODA in these discussions.

So, bearing those points in mind, I wanted to offer three principles that, as a group of what I see as very powerful people, might like to bear in mind as you discuss how to reform your group. They are legitimacy, transparency and accountability. And (here are) just some very small, simple examples for each one.

Legitimacy – I think it’s absolutely right that if you’re making rules that affect hundreds of millions of people in developing countries, they ought to be at the table. Of course that brings into question ‘how do you do that?’. And of course that was part of the reason the Global Partnership was set up. I think strengthening that and thinking how to use that is important. And of course one obvious problem with the global partnership was that funding fell when it was created, so it has far fewer resources than its predecessors did. And so maybe you want to think about how to fund the participation of other countries and other stakeholders. 

Second, on transparency – I’m not always the biggest fan of the World Bank Group, but their transparency policy has a very important principle at the heart of it, which is that all documents – everything – should be disclosed, everything should be available, except for a very limited number of exceptions which have to be justified. Whereas I see the way the DAC works at the moment as the other way around. Everything is presumed to be secret until it’s released. So I think turning that around would be a very important step forward. 

And finally, on accountability – it is very hard for people outside this room to know how we can contribute to your discussions, and so having clear consultation policies that allow people to know how they can contribute, what the timeline is and how their inputs would be received would be really helpful. 

Thanks once again for the opportunity to speak. Thank you.