Development Cooperation Handbook/Interviews/Vincenzo Pira/Interview on the MDGs
Vincenzo Pira, employee of Armadilla, has a relevant Expertise in Designing and Managing International Cooperation Projects and Actions, related to Human Rights, Human Development, Human Aid , in Latin America, Syria, Mozambique and Angola. He has been one of the directors of the project Eugad which has collected many knowledge resources that have been collected in this handbook.
Vincenzo Pira, lavora con Armadilla, ed ha una lunga esperienza nei progetti di cooperazione internazionale. E' stato uno dei direttori del progetto Eugad che ha raccolto molte delle risorse di conoscenza utilizzate nel Development Cooperation Handbook.
- Intervista sulle sfide della Cooperazione Internazionale (video) - Playlist on YouTube
- Other contributions by Vincenzo Pira for the Eugad project
- 1 For you, what is important to convey regarding International Cooperation for Development? What are the aims of development cooperation?
- 2 How do you think it is possible to pursue MDGs through a cooperative project?
- 3 The EC annually donates approximately 10 billion euros to International Cooperation for Development: In your opinion why is this?
- 4 What is the communication policy promoted by the EC with regard to development cooperation?
- 5 How much space is dedicated to International Development Cooperation by the media?
- 6 What should characterize decentralized cooperation?
- 7 Example of interaction between local and global spheres?
- 8 What about the concept of development ?
For you, what is important to convey regarding International Cooperation for Development? What are the aims of development cooperation?
Spreading an interest in reciprocity in international cooperation (useful to both rich countries and poor); the ethical duty of implementing it effectively; the need to implement actions that reduce the abysmal gaps between the rich and poor worlds on the planet as a common necessity of survival.
The purpose of international cooperation must be to contribute to the respect of fundamental human rights (enshrined in UN Declarations) in all arenas on the planet. More concretely, to contribute to achieving the Millennium Goals within the time limits established.
Reduce poverty through the complementary objectives of promoting good governance and active participation of citizens. Fighting poverty also requires a balance between activities aimed at human development, protection of natural resources and creating economic growth and welfare in favor of the poorest people on the planet.
Finally, conveying that it is essential to focus on the issue of respect for human rights, not as a charitable concession, but as an ethical duty of direct responsibility toward all humanity. Why is international cooperation useful to both rich and poor countries? International cooperation is one of the most appropriate instruments to create the preconditions of a democratic world government, which the planet is in desperate need of . The problems are global and must be addressed in that dimension. The epoch-making processes that affect environmental sustainability, migration, the fight against extreme poverty, respect for fundamental human rights should not apply only to parts of the planet but the whole.
The rights and sovereignty of nation-states have amply demonstrated the need to resort to supranational bodies to ensure the sustainability of the planet's future.
This obliges a search for new rules based on social justice and respect for the inalienable right of every man and every woman on the planet to be the subject and the end of every action and every decision taken in rich countries as well as in those of the “South of the world”. A system of rules and decision-making mechanisms in which the weak and the strong have equal rights and equal opportunities, where the criterion of “one dollar one vote” is not the only one that is imposed in areas of decision–making.
For this we recognise in the United Nations system, reformed in the light of the criteria of greater democracy, better effectiveness and efficiency and greater transparency, the main institutional body in the protection and promotion of peace and justice in the world.
The authority of the United Nations must be accompanied by an effective desire on the part of single governments to recognise its decisions, and to take responsibility for keeping the commitments undertaken at the international level. But all this would be futile if not preceded and accompanied by concrete measures put in place by governments to reject war and the use of violence to solve national and international conflicts; to implement international agreements banning the use of landmines and light weapons trade as a first step to banning all types of arms trade and for the reduction of the arms race and military spending in the name of unnecessary defense projects .
Solidarity and international cooperation promoted by the peoples and states must be recognized and supported as the most effective way of overcoming conflicts in many parts of the world.
The method of participation and involvement of civil society, from both the Global North and South, should set the goals that characterize future work. Governments and supranational bodies must dialogue and interface with the representatives of civil society in their decision–making, particularly relating to the elaboration of policies regarding international cooperation.
Rich countries can not delude themselves into living well in their locked-up strongholds, leaving out two thirds of humanity in sub-human conditions and without rights. Only by addressing the issue of universal human rights and their effective recognition can we build peace and security on the planet.
And the strategy adopted cannot be charitable but based on justice and the recognition of the rights of peoples and of every individual.
It is indispensable to invoke consistency and compliance with what has been freely taken on by governments in signing international treaties (Millennium Declaration) as well as advocacy and lobbying on the part of civil society organizations.
How do you think it is possible to pursue MDGs through a cooperative project?
One of the problems, which is also a challenge, of international cooperation is that of effectively combining the fields and problems of local issues and global ones. Ensure that the planning that is done at the macro level to achieve certain goals reaches the local sphere and is transformed into concrete operations. That the general objectives are transformed into specific objectives, achievable and verifiable at any given time. And this is possible by applying the planning logic summarized in the Project Management Cycle taken on by every entity of international cooperation. To this we add the need of combining the project logic with the processes of partnership that should ensure the continuity of operations. This tool has enabled the definition of objectives and of expected results, but it has the limit of trying to solve complex problems in little time. Hence the need to combine the project logic with processes and partnership. Not just partnership, but strategic partnership that should last. It needs to be built by sharing processes, sharing visions, sharing common struggles with the aim of reaching the end goals, that generally are not easy to achieve. More specifically, the question arises as to how much approved funding reaches the direct beneficiaries. How much should be set aside to guarantee the existence and functioning of the society running the project? The resources are aimed at solving very serious problems: lack of basic food, housing, health. But the partners also tell us develop them politically as organizations in order to become the strong players in the countries in which they are. We are on a ridge where it is necessary to define and choose whether cooperation should be participatory and democratic or whether it should be technocratic and efficient. Everything hinges on these points. Do you take into consideration only the logical frameworks, the indicators of effectiveness and efficiency or do you also count the participatory processes that are created? Democratic and civil growth processes. Gifts have always been very important but they are never free. When you give something, you expect to receive in return, in a different form, never the same. In societies where gifts have a real value the debt circulates forever and is never extinguished. So it is an expression of the generosity of the donor who claims involvement and is never disinterested. I believe the strength of a gift as a reciprocal act is an essential component in the discourse on cooperation and partnership. Reciprocity that is not in the thing given or how much is given. But in the special human quality that the gift represents as relationship. And therefore in the existence of a specific interest in giving life to the relationship between giver and receiver. Building the essence of the gift as reciprocity, in fact. This is the challenge of the partnership. In that there is the value of the bond that brings different parties to meet and discuss. Unfortunately the market, the dominant type of economic relations in the world, takes into account only the useful value and the exchange value of things. Forget the fundamental reality that is not measured in GDP, which are the relational needs that exist. In a world that is becoming ever smaller the problem of relations between humans and the environment is essential. Rediscovering that we live in a world with common problems that we must solve together. I think of the Millennium Goals that the global community has proposed to achieve by 2015. They are clear and defined. Assessments that have been made after four years lead to say that we are not going in the right direction for lack of invested resources and for lack of quality in the operations. So walking together, interfacing with each other, being found in great numbers in this event should not remain an end in itself. It must become a reciprocal invitation to participate more, to discuss and to ensure that the current situation changes. The fragmentary nature of the interventions (mostly in response to emergencies and not directed towards sustainable development) and global objectives: How do we improve the effectiveness and significance of the impact in the long term? None of the major goals of the recent “decades of development” proclaimed by the United Nations has been realized. From the monitoring done in the past nine years even the Millennium Goals are unlikely to be achieved. Many conclude that this is a failure of the various development models that the West has tried to impose at every latitude. Development has always been seen as an economic and financial problem. For years GDP has been the only indicator for verifying the well-being of a country. The proposal of human development that the United Nations has carried out since 1990 changes the point of view to seeing people, all people, as the primary subjects of this process. And the world of cooperation has needed to, and still needs to, update their models and revise their goals. Shelve the logic that the market can be the regulating entity of relationships between people; the “trickle down” logic has failed: the goal of creating wealth that will then spread, automatically delivering prosperity to all. Remove, especially in practice, any doubt about the priority objectives to be pursued through international cooperation, not adding spurious purposes that have often prevailed: cooperation used to enhance the hegemony and control over the world, cooperation used to promote international trade for the donor countries, etc... For years the link between emergency relief, rehabilitation and development has been debated. The analysis from experience has led to the definition of certain principles and methodologies currently used by most actors in international cooperation, and in particular the NGOs. The act of humanitarian action by itself does not prevent a return to a state of emergency in vulnerable societies in crisis, especially if this action does not emerge, right from the beginning, from potential development routes. Conversely development programs are faced with the constant risk of a returning crisis, even in peacetime. This contiguity between emergency and development involves passing through stages—called reconstruction, rehabilitation or transition—which have their own dynamics. The effectiveness of humanitarian aid is today doubly important in an era in which it increasingly replaces political will and represents the only alternative to ending the suffering of the people who are in mortal danger. Research aimed at better understanding crises and at creating real synergies between emergency relief and development is today the basis of the work of the majority of aid actors.It is a widely held view that NGOs submit cooperation and development projects for the sole reason of being able to rake in funding ... What do you think about that? The role of NGOs in civil society dialogue is a very complex subject that deserves thorough consideration and debate, and requires the ability and courage to face deliberations with consistency and clarity. NGOs are numerous, small, some locked in their niche—criticism aside, one of the main elements of weakness of NGOs (and not only NGOs) is determined precisely by their inability to work together, to coordinate among themselves, especially in the field. On the one hand the quantitative growth of NGOs creates a real competitive race for ever-decreasing financing, on the other hand NGOs are accused of systematically repeating the same type of project corresponding to their specificity and skills, without facilitating exchange and complementarity with their partners, without sharing strategies and information. Experience gained in working with people, economic and productive realities, political, environmental and cultural realities of various countries in addition to partnership and cooperation with NGOs in other countries, in both the Global North and South. The ability to support a central and fundamental role in bringing together people, through better understanding and greater respect for universal human values, solidarity, dialogue and mutual respect The ability to strengthen and promote partnerships for the realization of social and economic development projects, taking into account the different social, cultural, environmental and economic aspects of each country. The ability and attention toward encouraging and supporting the participation of women in the South The commitment to develop the organization and structure of NGOs and in this context to privilege, promote and develop collaboration networks in order to be functional and capable of addressing common challenges. The understanding of the importance of cultural consideration as a means of better understanding and bringing together peoples. NGOs also believe that men and women of the communities involved should, to the greatest extent possible, be responsible for devising, planning, implementing and evaluating projects and programs, and for the policy development in the North. They believe in constant dialogue with local partners and grassroots participation in decisions taken on the expenditure and policies to be followed. NGOs believe that the public has both the right and the duty to be involved in development cooperation and in achieving social justice. For this reason they urge and encourage direct and indirect support of public opinion concerning their work, holding to the fact that this support should be based on the public's understanding of the motives and objectives of NGOs. For this purpose, they are continually engaged in dialogue with their supporters.
We have seen over the past decade the proliferation of innumerable groups, associations and NGOs aimed at promoting and managing social operations, development projects, education projects, service projects etc ... Has this proliferation always been positive and useful?
It is apparently a growing opinion that: “NGOs are unable to coordinate themselves and increasingly in competition with each other.” The lack of coordination has been widely criticised, as underlined by recent evaluations. This issue sometimes affects the final result of the actions, relations with donors and the very credibility of NGOs. This is not just a problem of coordination, but also a weakness of the overall impact of the efforts on the problems and on the level of “political” impact. Cases of corruption in the '80s, followed by increasing bureaucracy and formal approval of projects subject to public funding.
Is this EC practice effective today ? Can it be improved? How?
In Italy the revelation of cases of corruption led to a climate of mistrust and self-harm within the DGDC [Directorate General for Development Cooperation].
It was concluded that Italy was not able to do cooperation and these activities were delegated to the multilateral sector. The little bilateral cooperation is managed by a structure of DGDC that is demotivated, bureaucratic and therefore inefficient.
Operations were blocked as the advice on having efficient offices in Rome and in the various third-party countries was not observed.
The bureaucratic procedures became the only priority, work is done only to fulfill and not to achieve the goals set down in the law.
There are numerous and contradictory rules and the State accounting always wins. Often the order is made not to pay and excuses are found to postpone the analysis of financial statements, to find quibbles for rejecting the accounting records, thus blocking activities for months.
A political debate needs to be proposed, which would result in the drafting of a new law on cooperation.
At the EC level, real coordination of activities should be required, avoiding the return to delegating such matters to the member states.
Sharing at the multilateral level the planning procedures to achieve the overall shared objectives .
Achieve, gradually, the goal of earmarking 0.7% of GDP to international cooperation. The targets set by the United Nations conferences and confirmed by the members of DAC.
The European Union has now decentralized to local delegations most of the cooperation activities and functions on the system of Call for Proposals or Tenders with time limits in ways that claim to be more transparent.
The EC annually donates approximately 10 billion euros to International Cooperation for Development: In your opinion why is this?
“The European Consensus” for the first time in fifty years defines cooperation, the framework of common principles within which the EU and its member states implement their development policies in a spirit of complementarity. In the first part of the statement is an outline of the objectives and principles that member states and the Community agree to observe within the backdrop of a common vision. Since the primary objective is to eliminate global poverty as a part of sustainable development, the EU seeks to achieve, by 2015, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by all countries of the UN.
The Union believes that the main objective of poverty reduction is based on the complementary aims of promoting good governance and respect for human rights, common values that underpin the EU. Fighting poverty also requires a balance between activities aimed at human development, at the protection of natural resources and at creating economic growth and welfare for the poor. The common principles that govern development cooperation activities are ownership, partnership, a close political dialogue, participation of civil society, gender equality and an ongoing commitment to preventing the fragility of states. Developing countries have the primarily responsibility for their development, but the EU takes on its share of responsibility in the joint efforts under the partnership framework. The EU is committed to increasing aid budget to 0.7% of gross national income by 2015, with an intermediate collective target of 0.56% by 2010; half the increase in aid will be earmarked for Africa. The EU will continue to give priority to supporting the least developed countries and those with low and medium income. The resources will be allocated according to objective and transparent criteria based on needs and performance of recipient countries. All the national and regional planning of the Community will follow the principle of concentration, which envisions the selection of a limited number of priority areas for action. The quality of aid will be crucial for the EU, which will monitor compliance of its commitment to ensuring the effectiveness of aid, in particular setting concrete targets for 2010. The fundamental principles in this context are national ownership, coordination and harmonization of donors (starting with the local level), alignment to recipient country systems and results orientation. More predictable mechanisms of aid will be developed that will help partner countries to plan efficiently. The EU will promote better coordination and complementarity among donors, focusing on joint multi-annual planning, based on the strategies and procedures of partner countries, on common mechanisms of implementation and use of co-financing. This will also foster policy coherence in various sectors. In this area, the Community policy and the policies pursued by Member States should be complementary. Through its global presence, its expertise in dispensing aid, its role in promoting policy coherence and best practices and in facilitating coordination and harmonization, its commitment to democracy, human rights, good governance and respect for international law, and its role in promoting civil society participation and the North-South solidarity, the Community brings added value to development. The Commission therefore proposes a series of concrete measures, namely: • Closer coordination among EU donors in policy development; • Closer coordination of multi-annual planning and analytical work; • The development of a common framework for aid implementation procedures; • The development of a Community Action Plan for the coordination and harmonization in any partner country, by which two or more EU donors have a program of cooperation.
What is the communication policy promoted by the EC with regard to development cooperation?
One type of projects that the European Commission funds focuses on raising public awareness across Europe to development problems and relations between industrialized and developing countries.
These actions should place emphasis on the interdependence between Member States and developing countries, promote cooperation between NGOs and enable the active participation of partners in developing countries. The Commission has an interest in emphasizing and highlighting the projects it finances, but delegates to partners their implementation. It funds NGOs' education campaigns, campaigns to fight racism, campaigns to bridge the digital divide. It does not have a dominant role in this area of communication even though it is the first donor in the world in terms of the amount of investments in the sector. Each local delegation and entity of the Union has its own website, a source of highly valuable information, but only for those who look for it. There is a lack of information geared toward the public at large.
Is the inadequate EC communication deliberate (and why?) or unintended (really? The EC has no experts in the field of communication?)
Policies on cooperation and humanitarian aid are a marginal part of EU policy; policies on agricultural, trade, fisheries, and of course, fiscal policies prevail. In the area of cooperation the European Union (and therefore the Commission) is paying a heavy price for not having defined a common foreign policy and joint cooperation for the 27 member states. Methods for aggregating the various member states have not been defined, which makes the EC seem a 28th mega state. Each state has its own policy on cooperation and participates in the Community policies through commissions. Hence the difficulty in effectively communicating a shared position and policy.
How much space is dedicated to International Development Cooperation by the media?
Major media (newspapers and TV) devote little space to this issue. They deal with it when something unusual happens or following a major international event (kidnapping of aid workers or volunteers, summits of heads of government aimed at dealing with world poverty, etc.). An tear-jerker approach that creates pity prevails. The emotions of the people are lightly glossed over in order to move the public to give alms. Not to understand the complexity of the phenomenon or to find the causes. Helder Camara, a good soul, Brazilian archbishop of Recife used to say: “When I help the poor by giving them something to eat they call me a saint, when I ask something about the causes that make them poor they accuse me of communism.” In addition, even in the communication made by NGOs, superficial emotion predominates: the dirty little boy with flies around him, asking to be adopted or for a contribution to feed him or to buy him a school book. This leads to legitimizing the charitable strategy that has totally failed in reaching its objectives. It does not save lives but, in some cases, it helps mere survival in unsuitable conditions and without citizenship rights. It is hard to change this process as it is convenient for too many different interest groups. Emergencies and humanitarian disasters are profitable to fund raising. People in these situations become good and donate. The structural reality does not change and events are repeated over and over. As is the communication.
The charitable strategy: who benefits? Why?
Under certain conditions humanitarian aid is the only solution (unforeseen disasters, effects of war, epidemics, etc.). But they are also a symptom of weakness, because enough has not been invested in prevention. Emergencies also tend to perpetuate themselves: they become permanent emergencies. And so we continue to distribute food in camps that have existed for decades, keeping generations in a precarious situation and dependent on aid. Humanitarian aid for some has become a business. It is easier to manage: you can buy goods and distribute them. They require large investments, public opinion is always favourable in the face of emergencies and is mobilized more easily, and gives generously. Speaking of the complexity of the processes of sustainable development, of the causes of poverty is more difficult, and mobilises less. It takes more effort to convince, it takes more time, more attention, more involvement. Few are willing to do that. And then the legitimization of such interventions is more complicated and difficult. It involves more parties and getting them to agree and coordinate themselves is never easy.
What are the big powers with which media workers clash when they want to promote information to support international cooperation?
According to the predominant opinion this is an issue that interests few people, the masses want something else. We have house-keeping problems and we must first solve these: security, Gypsies, lack of jobs, traffic. Foreign policy and international cooperation are niches for a few fans in the industry. An article on this theme every now and then is published, but is not a priority to anyone, except those directly involved. Are there significant powers that influence the interests of people and make it such that certain issues are not addressed properly? Taking on the logic of the respect for rights entails embarking on a process of redistribution of global wealth and loss of privileges that for too many years have been the preserve only of the West or small local minorities in various countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
I reiterate the extreme urgency of democratic governance in the world. For this reason multilateral actions and the United Nations were created. Unfortunately, for too long it has functioned as the UN of the stronger states that, after winning World War II, were granted the special status of permanent members with veto power. A power that too often has been used to protect vested interests, a power that allows the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China not to be bound by the same rules others play by. But if a rule is not the same for all, it is no longer a rule. Thus, states are constantly tempted to use the UN as and when they wish: to defend vested interests or to do what they can not do alone because it requires the recognition and legitimacy based on consent rather than force.
Even the strongest countries need the UN but generally do not tolerate interference and meddling in their affairs. Thus some unresolved issues in the international arena cannot be democratically decided: be it about exiting the quagmire of the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, coordinating humanitarian assistance in South Asia or in sub-Saharan Africa, respect for human rights in China, or the persecution that the Kurdish people suffer from the Turkish government; resolutions to resolve the conflict between Israel and Palestine or of the American embargo against Cuba. The list of atrocities covered by the principle of non-interference is infinite. On the one hand, governments have approved forty international conventions on human rights and on the other ignore them within their borders without the UN's intervention. This duplicity is the source of many of the contradictions which we are discussing in the UN.
On one hand the UN is asked to “ensure world peace” and on the other it is denied the means to act; it is entrusted with the task of “promoting economic and social development for all peoples” and then it is excluded from every real decision center. It is charged with tackling all the worst troubles of our time, to promote freedom and human rights, to regulate international life, prevent conflict, assist refugees, combat hunger, poverty, drug trafficking, etc.. and then the Secretary-General is made to declare bankruptcy because the member governments do not pay their quotas. So while there is a growing demand for UN services in the world, criticism and accusations of failure are also on the increase. Lately we have seen also the inclination toward unilateral decisions by the American power in the name of its security and to combat terrorism. It believes it has the right to break every rule of humanity whether it is declaring war or monitoring the compliance to the respect of the rights of the people involved or of prisoners of war. Suffice it to mention the non-ratification by the U.S. of major international treaties (from the Kyoto Protocol on CO2 emissions, to control of trade in small arms, anti-personnel mines or accession to the International Criminal Court) or the different treatment of prisoners sent down from Afghanistan to Guantanamo, depending on their nationality of origin.
The process of democratization is not simple: there is strong opposition to change on the part of states that do not tolerate any control over their domestic and international policies. Therefore it is important to reaffirm that the UN does not belong to the states, but must be truly of the people. And they must put pressure so that it becomes a truly democratic tool that fulfills the purpose for which it was created.
The rights and sovereignty of nation-states have amply demonstrated the need to resort to supranational bodies to ensure the sustainability of the planet's future. This obliges a search for new rules based on social justice and respect for the inalienable right of every man and every woman on the planet to be the subject and the end of every action and every decision taken in rich countries as well as in those of the “South of the world”. A system of rules and decision-making mechanisms in which the weak and the strong have equal rights and equal opportunities, where the criterion of “one dollar one vote” is not the only one that is imposed in any area of decision making.
For this we recognise in the United Nations system, reformed in the light of the criteria of greater democracy, better effectiveness and efficiency and greater transparency, the main institutional body in the protection and promotion of peace and justice in the world. The authority of the United Nations must be accompanied by an effective desire of individual governments to recognize the decisions, take responsibility and keep the commitments undertaken at the international level.
What strategy can be put in place to open a passage in the media (newspapers, TV, etc.)? How can the balance of power be changed?
Create a network of practitioners and journalists interested in the topic with whom to share a strategy for dissemination and communication of information and ideas that do not pass through traditional media. There are a myriad of people and entities that seek to change the situation. Those who work in communications, who with dignity and freedom to seek to create counter-information and to expose situations they deem unfair and wrong for the interests of humanity.
And thus little that everyone is able to do is not lost. I think that this is the positive energy that has allowed the world to survive, In the face of so much injustice and negativity, the relations of solidarity between people, in the family, in the community, in politics helps to feed the hope that change is possible and that efforts to create a different world should go on forever. Despite the many setbacks, despite the dominance of a few forces, despite few successes. Making campaigns, enhancing the positive experiences, insisting on creating networks, coordinating, working together, repeating attempts and continuing to believe that change is possible. For this reason we are doing this project and spending our time in this process.
Quite often, in campaigns such as those to raise funds for international cooperation, the Other is presented in a negative way as a child, which implies a paternalistic attitude often decontextualized, lonely, poor, dirty, in the midst of disaster ... What sense does it make to think of helping someone whose image you have destroyed? Can we can speak of solidarity, if the premise is to present the other as a person totally incapable of getting out of that situation without outside help? What sense does this kind of solidarity make?
There is no positive way. No critical reflection, no analysis on the causes, no structural response to resolve the problem. Only assist the poor who were left behind and that in that place should remain. The preservation of the privileges and the position of hegemonic and subaltern social groups also involves the control of the production of wealth. Subordination and obedience, resignation and patience, the inability to react to injustice, the acceptance of their condition, comes from a consolidation of a mindset of what is natural, the result of fate. And that salvation is only at the individual level, we hope that I make it, or patterns of self-made man. Did you see that (s)he has broken through because (s)he's good (athletes, actors, show-girls, politicians)? Maintaining social control means imposing appropriate cultural models and controlling the apparatus of education and information. Fighting for change is risky, you pay a very high personal cost, fighting against powers stronger than you is pointless . The world works this way, better to adapt and receive what is possible. Favors not rights, concessions not personal achievements. A cooperation that upholds universal human rights, freedom of peoples and of individuals, is dangerous if carried out for the balance of existing powers . But it must not be fought openly: better to say yes, promise, sign international treaties that recognize this, and then empty them in practice, not fulfil them, not keeping commitments made, finding excuses and justifications in credible unforeseen difficulties presented as objective truth.
In an International Cooperation project people of different cultures interact. This is especially true if one thinks of a cooperation projects between Global North and South, or between realities whose business models and values are completely different (the dominant economic model in the countries of the South is based on gift economics while the typical Western model is based on a monetary economy; one is based on the importance of relationships and deliberate dependencies between people, the other based on the value of independence and making it on your own) In light of these “multiple frames” what kind of dynamics are established between the different individuals who interact within a Cooperation Project? To what extent can you build a relationship of equal exchange and mutually sharing?“First of all, justice. Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity, and intrinsic to it.” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, introd. No. 6)
So far, international cooperation has only partially expressed the possibility of collaboration and coordination between different actors with the peculiarities of fragmented specific niche experiences prevailing, with limited resulting global impact. For this reason the eighth development goal contained in the Millennium Declaration envisions “Develop a global partnership for development” which sees all the countries engaged in pursuing the other 7 goals. Partnership must therefore involve the sharing of a vision of the world and the will to realise together actions that bring about the achievement of those objectives that are the basis of international cooperation, summarized as: globalize human rights and eradicate poverty from the planet. This is possible if among the partners there is a common commitment to consolidate a relationship of solidarity, respect and mutual esteem that lasts over time. Give priority in the planning to a logical process, which inherently binds to the focused centrality of the project. This means working with a clear strategic perspective, never losing sight of the goals in place. It means, keeping in mind and operating in the framework of a Country Programme, consistent with sectoral planning in which all entities present in a territory should reference; it means to privilege in each intervention attention to the aspects of vitality and continuity of the same; it means strengthening local organizations and creating conditions of transparency, greater independence, participation and self-determination. It means that if you start a cooperation activity in a particular region or country with the intention of settling there for an extended period, to collaborate in incisively solving the problems of that area and not only to complete projects efficiently. The logic of the process requires the setting of partnership with local organizations right from the beginning, based on mutual interchange. It presupposes a transition from a logic of emergency to one of sustainable development, with all the organizational and methodological consequences that it entails. This logic requires a continuity of presence and consequent specialization on local knowledge and actors who operate in it . This allows the consolidation of relations with partners and local authorities, gaining trust and guaranteeing the aim of “Institution Building ” it allows local knowledge (particularly of micro-realities) and thus the identification of real needs and how to meet them; it allows for better logistical organization and management while avoiding costly investment; it avoids wastage and increases the impact of interventions. Another important aspect is how partners choose each other. That choice must be made emphasising reliability and managerial ability, as well as a recognized democratic structure, strong presence in the local realities and a clear commitment to solving social problems. In the various realities one cannot fail to consider with due attention the state and governmental institutions. It is, however, more important to create conditions such that local authorities and civil society organizations increase their influence and become privileged partners. The ideal would be to identify “strong partners” in each country with whom to share all aspects of strategic analysis, planning, management, exchange of cooperation activities. Consider then the aspects of subsidiarity and complementarity of actions that local partners and international NGOs need to take on in lobbying and strategic planning activities. Corporate attitudes that give priority to “workshop” claims are harmful to everyone. It would be more fruitful to jointly address the level that relates to policies and that more directly linked to the operating rules of cooperation. Do not forget the strategic goals (globalize the rights, eradicate poverty ...) and demand that the practices and projects are consistent and appropriate to achieve these goals. Doing it together, sharing methodologies and tools, creating the conditions for partnership and ensuring that international cooperation responds effectively to its own purposes. The fragmentation and lack of continuity of planning operations, often concluded without the guarantee of sustainability and vitality of what has been built. Management models are often imposed by the donor entity. It cannot be that relations are created in which those who have the money decide the future of all stakeholders involved. Years ago I read a cartoon in a Mozambican newspaper that depicted an international cooperation worker saying to his local partner, “He who pays, commands!” Our vision of partnership needs to go in the opposite direction to this statement.
What should characterize decentralized cooperation?
It is simplistic to say that decentralized cooperation is that made by local authorities. It is something more important and ambitious. It means promoting the genuine decentralization of functions from a central state entity to local realities where participation and involvement of different actors is more effective. But this new approach is based on certain key and innovative issues: • Recognizing the multiplicity of actors in the field of development cooperation: public, private, local, national and international; • Engaging in dialogue, consultation and seeking common goals between these different actors; • The widest direct participation as an aim and as an operational methodology; • The support for institutional development and training of these actors; • Local and decentralized management of operations; • Constraints and interaction defined between the local and the global • The transition from a purely quantitative view of development (the increase of wealth will bring prosperity to all) to a vision of quality (respect for human rights and sustainable development). This vision leads to a commitment to review our ways of life, to formulate the work of solidarity with local roots but with a global vision. Building permanent partnerships between areas that share common goals.
Example of interaction between local and global spheres?
In what sense does a vision of this type give rise to a review of our way of life?Proper focus of international cooperation: demanding respect for Human Rights. Taking on the centrality of the right to demand one's human rights revolutionizes, or should revolutionize the practice of international cooperation. We overcome the logic of aid, assistance, alms-giving, subjective charity, to take on a different perspective: the ethics of responsibility, the duty to respect the internationally endorsed standards and procedures, reaching goals within the set time-limits. The international community has made specific commitments that it must maintain. When you sign a protocol to respect the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the Millennium Declaration, it should be respected and translated into consistent operational decisions. Almost all states have fully incorporated into their legislation the first generation of human rights: civil rights and political rights. Nobody questions that these must be pursued and states must be criticized for the use of torture or unlawful imprisonment due to political or religious views. When serious violations to political and civil rights occur outrage is such that it demands immediate action for an international embargo on the offending country or the intervention of international courts sanctioning these crimes.
But it is unrealistic to expect this?
Even among experts in international law there are differing opinions. Law makes the man and, now, it is essential to initiate political action, strengthen international opinion campaigns that ensure that the DESC and justice are payable and executable and also finally to succeed in seeing to it that international law declares the illegality of poverty. Almost all of the states that are part of the United Nations have incorporated the DESC in their constitutions, laws or international commitments through treaties. Nevertheless the courts, tribunals and the national legislation implemented do not recognize, in most cases, measures of protection for these rights. And if there is no penalty when you do not meet a standard that has been approved and endorsed in the legislation, it is normal that the respect for rights will fail and other methods and interests will prevail. At the expense of civil and democratic growth and the welfare of all humanity.
What about the concept of development ?
This section aims to define development and understand the conditions that are favourable to its success. Development is an action which ideally should result in a change for the better, without overhtrowing the identity and value systems of the socieities in which it occurs. It is a process in which progress and tradition remain in harmony with each other. For this reason, development cannot be imposed.
One of the risks of development aid is that the donors and the recipients have different cultural identities. If the former are insensitive to the value system of the latter, this will be detrimental to development.
Authentic development assistance aims to develop the potentialities of the beneficiaries, and directly involves them.
Many scholars have attempted to develop a theory of development, including Malthus, Marx and Schumpeter. A prevalent contemporary view is that of development as modernisation/westernisation. The modernisation theory was elaborated in the U.S. after World War II. This was a period shaped by the Cold War and the proces of decolinisation. Experts were therefore looking into ways of promoting economic growth and political stability in the newly-born states. Modernisation is characterised by innovation and change,
and results in a transformation of societal structures and patterns of social organisation.
Each single country goes through different stages of modernisation, and at different paces. A common factor that occurs at the beginning of this process is the transformation of the society's economy, characterised by a decrease in agricultural activity and an uptake of industrial activity. In the social dimension, there are changes in demographics (in particular,
birth rates), in urbanisation and in migration patterns. The relationships between people also change, passing from relationships based on affection to functionally-based relationships.
A number of variables distinguish the "modern" socities from the "traditional" ones. In traditional societies, status is ascribed (that is "given" to you by others); people develop relationships that satisfy a large range of needs; relationships between people arel argely based on love, trust, close personal involvement, etc; people act differently towards
particular people based on the nature of their relationship (for example, you may trust your immediate family, but not a stranger); people put the interests of the social groups to which they belong before their personal interests. In modern societies, on the contrary, status is achieved through personal merit; people enter a wide range of relationships, each of which
satisfies a specific need (for example, the relationship between a shop assistant and a customer); relationships are largely based on what people can do for us, and what we can do for them; individuals act according to values and norms that are universal in their society; people give primacy to the pursuit of their own interests rathe than those of the group to which
This comparison of ideal traditional and modern societies in addition to being descriptive, also aims to explain the mechanisms and situations that may help or hinder the process of change. In fact, development in some countries is not hindered by lack of resources (economic, logistical, etc), but by social resistance.
Modernisation is a contradictory phenomenon: the changes it brings about are often traumatic and result in conflict, giving rise to previously unknown phenomena such as unemployment, crime, etc.
In order to overcome and expand the traditional meaning of development that focused only on economic growth, the UNDP developed the concept of 'Human Development'. This approach puts people, not economic growth at the centre of development. Thus, it takes into account previously-overlooked aspects such as health, education, a healthy environment, and the freedom of action and expression. It remains to be elaborated how economic growth contributes to human development and vice versa.