Busan aid forum is most inclusive ever

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Busan aid forum is most inclusive ever

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OECD chief Angel Gurria, center, speaks as Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-Hwan, third from left, listens during a press conference at the close of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in the southeastern port city of Busan yesterday. Donors from some 160 countries have agreed to form a new worldwide partnership to ensure that tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid helps poor countries develop. [YONHAP]

BUSAN - A major forum on international aid in Busan agreed yesterday to create a new partnership to use the billions of dollars donated each year to hasten the development of poor countries.

The Busan Declaration, adopted at the end of the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, stated that the “new, inclusive Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation” will come up with working arrangements, including targets, by June 2012.

Existing forums on aid effectiveness initiated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development since 2003 will be phased out by June 2012, according to the declaration.

“We have been able to launch a partnership in the true sense,” said Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan at a news conference yesterday.

“Given that various parties involved in development cooperation have participated, provided visions for development cooperation and agreed to establish a new global partnership to push forward the visions, I expect this will be a new milestone in the history of development cooperation,” Kim said.

The three-day forum, attended by more than 3,000 representatives of 160 countries, 70 international organizations and 300 civic groups, was more inclusive than the three previous forums in Rome, Paris and Accra.

Various challenges, such as independent aid philosophies by donors and cuts in aid amid the global financial crisis, have raised the necessity for more coordinated and effective cooperation among donors and recipients of aid.

New donors from formerly poor nations, including the BRIC countries - Brazil, Russia, India and China - received particular attention during the Busan forum. Longtime aid donors warned against “bribing” developing countries with aid to get access to natural resources.

Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the OECD, said the Busan forum was the most inclusive and fully engaged of the OECD forums so far.

“I am joined by Brazil, Russia, India, China and many others in endorsing the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation,” Gurria said at a news conference. “We are thanking them for their presence here, for their commitment to make development more effective.”

Gurria emphasized the importance of following through on the principles and actions decided on in Busan.

“If the Busan Declaration is to increase the effectiveness of development, it is most important that we implement what is agreed here in Busan,” said Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik at the closing ceremony yesterday.

“We are gathered today to close our discussions, but the outside world is still full of difficulties,” Kim said, referring to the 1.4 billion people living in poverty around the world.

Civic organizations attending the Busan forum said it made only “limited progress,” pointing out scant emphasis on women’s empowerment.

“We surely made an important step to adapt to a new world architecture,” said Jan Dereymaeker, representative of the International Trade Union Confederation. “But poverty and inequality have not changed, so we will have to deepen our responses and be much more active to fight poverty.”

The Busan forum, held a year after the G-20 Summit in Seoul, brought attention to Korea as a country that went from being an aid recipient to an aid donor. U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi praised Korea as a model for many developing countries to follow.

Cho Tae-yul, Korea’s ambassador for development cooperation, described Korea’s development in a plenary session yesterday.

“Korea is symbolic,” said Brian Atwood, chair of the Development Assistance Committee, an OECD aid body. “It is a successful country. It is proof that it can happen.”

President Lee Myung-bak reaffirmed during the opening ceremony of the forum Wednesday that Korea will double its official development assistance by 2015.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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