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Common Goals and Differential Commitments: The Role of Emerging Economies in Global Development

Common goals and differential commitments
The role of emerging economies in global development

Neissan Alessandro Besharati

Johannesburg 2013

in cooperation with

Discussion Paper / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik
ISSN 1860-0441

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ISBN 978-3-88985-606-7

Neissan Alessandro Besharati is a programme manager with the Sout h African Institute of International
Affairs and a research associate with several internatio nal think-tanks. He is also a part-time lecturer and
honorary research fellow at the University of Witwat ersrand Graduate School of Public and Development
Management and provides regular policy advice to diverse ministries of the government of South Africa as
well as regional and international institutions in areas of development policy, international cooperation, aid
effectiveness, monitoring and evaluation.

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The following discussion paper explores the heated debate around ‘common goals and
differential commitments’ in international development cooperation. It tries to capture the
views and positions of the so-called ‘emerg ing economies’ on their role and contribution
to global development and the post-2015 agenda. It explains the divergence between
North-South and South-South cooperation with regard to their historical narratives, con-
ceptual paradigms, delivery approaches, func tions and capacity. It highlights the impor-
tance of standard-setting, monitoring, accountabili ty and peer-review but it also explains
the technical challenges and poli tical tensions in bringing the ‘Southern providers’ into the
regimes and systems led by the OECD-DAC and the current post-Busan Global Partner-
ship. The paper explains the challenges of categorising the new development partners, and
defining and measuring the quantum, quality a nd effectiveness of their development coop-
eration activities. It stresses the importance of developing a framework for monitoring and
evaluating South-South coopera tion and the identification of appropriate institutional
platforms for such discussions to take place. The paper is based on empirical research and
engagement with numerous Southern stakeholde rs and offers concrete policy proposals for
the different development part ners involved in the debate.

In preparing this discussion paper, the author would like to express his gratitude for the
manifold inputs received from academics, expert s, officials and diplomats based in Paris,
Pretoria, and in the ca pitals of Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Mexico, India, Indonesia,
South Africa, South Korea, Thailand and Turk ey, who have contributed to this article.
Further inputs were drawn from meetings with experts and officials at the secretariat of
the Busan Global Partnership, the OECD- DAC, the European Union, UK DFID, Ger-
many’s BMZ, conversations with representati ves of government, academia and civil soci-
ety organisations from Zi mbabwe, Rwanda, Mozambique, South Africa, Gambia and
African regional institutions. The paper benefi tted from rich discussions between academ-
ics and experts held in Germany in June 2013 at the Centre for Global Cooperation Re-
search (CGCR) and in Mexico City in A ugust 2013 at the AMEXCID/Istituto Mora work-
shop on ‘Development Agencies of Emerging Po wers’. The author thanks the German
Development Institute (DIE) for providing the o pportunity and generous financial, logisti-
cal and intellectual support for this research initiative. As a final disclaimer, the comments
made in this article reflect th e personal views of the author and should not be attributed to
any specific government or orga nisation. Usual caveats apply.

Johannesburg 2013 Neissan Alessandro Besharati

Summary 1
Introduction: who exactly are these ‘new kids on the block’? 5
2. Implications of reconfiguring the development architecture 11
3. The post-2015 development agenda: how to foot the bill? 15
4. South-South cooperation: different narratives, paradigms and
functions 17

5. Evidence deficit in South-South cooperation 21
6. Standards, monitoring and peer review 24
7. The problematic relationship between the South and the OECD-DAC 28
8. Bringing South-South cooperation in to the aid effectiveness agenda 32
9. Applying traditional norms to emerging donors 39
10. A framework for South-South cooperation: the time has come! 44
11. Finding a ‘home’ for South-South cooperation 47
12. Conclusions: bringing it all together 53

Bibliography 55
Tables and Figures
Table 1: Major middle-income countries compared on various development
parameters 10

Figure 1: Emerging economies in the current aid effectiveness debates 32

AAA Accra Agenda for Action
AE Aid effectiveness
AfDB African Development Bank
Afrodad African Forum and Network on Debt and Development
AP-Dev African Platform for Development Effectiveness
APRM African Peer Review Mechanism
ASA Africa South America (Forum)
AsDB Asian Development Bank
ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
AU African Union
BAPA Buenos Aires Action Plan
BASIC Brazil, South Africa, India, China
BMZ Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (Germany)
BRICS Brazil, Russia, In dia, China, South Africa
CBDR Common but differentiated responsibilities
CCT Conditional cash transfers
CDI Commitment to Development Index
CIVEATS Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Argentina, Turkey, South Africa
CIVETS Colombia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey
CSO Civil society organisation
DAC Development Assistance Committee (of the OECD)
DAG Development Assistance Group
DCD Development Cooperation Directorate
DIRCO Department of International Relations and Cooperation (South Africa)
DWG Development Working Group
ECDC Economic cooperation between developing countries
ECOSOC United Nations Economic and Social Council
EU European Union
FAO Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
FOCAC Forum for Chin a-Africa Collaboration
G8 Group of 8
G20 Group of 20
G77 Group of 77
GDP Gross domestic product
GEF Global Environmental Facility
GIZ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit
GNI Gross national income
GPEDC Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation
HDI Human Development Index
HIC High-income country
HLF High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness
HLP United Nations High Level Panel of Eminent People
IAB Inter-American Development Bank

IBSA India Brazil South Africa Dialogue Forum
IDB Islamic Development Bank
ILO International Labour Organization
IMF International Monetary Fund
ICT Information and communications technology
K5 ‘Key Partners’ (China, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and India)
LDCs Least-developed countries
M&E Monitoring and evaluation
MDGs Millennium Development Goals
MIC Middle-income country
MIKT Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey
MoU Memorandum of Understanding
MPI Multidimensional Poverty Index
NEPAD New Partnership for Africa’s Development
NGO Non-governmental organisation
NSC North-South cooperation
ODA Official Development Assistance
OECD Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
OECD-DCD Development Co-operation Directorate
OEEC Organisation for European Economic Cooperation
PBIG Post-Busan Interim Group
PCD Policy coherence for development
PPP Purchasing power parity
SME Small and medium enterprises
SSC South-South cooperation
SSDC South-South development cooperation
TCDC Technical cooperation among developing countries
TT-SSC Task Team on SSC
UAE United Arab Emirates
UK DFID Department for International Development (United Kingdom)
UNASUR Union of South American Nations
UNECA United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
UNCTAD United Nation Conference on Trade and Development
UNDCF United Nations Development Cooperation Forum
UNDESA United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs
UNDP United Nations Development Programme
UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
USAID United States Agency for International Development
WB World Bank
WP-Eff Working Party on Aid Effectiveness
WTO World Trade Organization

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
“…we now all form an integral part of a new and more inclusive development agenda, in
which actors participate on the basis of common goals, shared principles and differential
commitments” (Busan HLF-4 Outcome Document 2011)
This was one of the iconic sentences capture d in the outcome document emerging from the
deeply debated Busan High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) in December
2011. ‘Differential commitments’, an idea simi lar to ‘common but differentiated responsi-
bility’ (CBDR) emerging from the climate ch ange talks, is a sensitive and highly politi-
cised concept which has frequently been used in recent global policy negotiations. It now
also captures the spirit in which middle-income countries view their role in the interna-
tional development arena.
The following paper discusses the heated topi c around the role of emerging economies in
global development. It unpacks the fuzzy con cept of ‘differential commitments’ and the
sensitivities around ‘accountability’ in international deve lopment cooperation. It explains
how traditional donors have been encouraging a more universal approach to ‘shared re-
sponsibilities’, while emerging partners continue to highlight their specificities and the
ongoing development challenges they still f ace within their territories. As the post-2015
global development agenda is currently being defined, most divergence will be on how the
new development campaign will be implemented and financed, and the specific role ex-
pected from each player.
The paper is prefaced by a discussion on the controversy and complexities around even
categorising such new groups of ‘emerging deve lopment partners’. The author argues that
there is no clear economic logic or development rationale in defining the new group of
‘Southern providers’ and that, rather, this new sub-division emerges out of a political
drive. The consequences of such a re-categorisation process for mi ddle-income countries
(still greatly challenged by poverty and inequality) has been a reduction of aid received,
and intensified pressure to shar e with industrialised countries the burden of responsibilities
for international development. Though acknowle dging the important role and contribution
of South-South cooperation to global development, this paper explains that this cannot be
put on the same level plane as North-South c ooperation (NSC), which is essentially differ-
ent in its historical narrativ e, its conceptual paradigm, f unction, delivery approach and
financial capacity. This is the reason for the call by Southern providers for ‘differential
commitments’ in international development.
The current discussion around S outh-South cooperation versus North-South cooperation is
heavily tainted by polarised opinions and political rhetoric, but overall very little empirical
evidence exists on the quality, effectiveness and impact of South-South cooperation on
Africa and the rest of the developing world. This stems from major information gaps, and
the monitoring and evaluation challenges faced by almost all emerging donors. To conduct
such analytical exercises there is a need to agree on common definitions, standards, norms,
criteria, measurement and reporting systems, which are currently not available for South-
ern providers. The paper stresses the importa nce of standard-setting, accountability and
peer review and goes on to illustrate some of the current systems in place to monitor and
evaluate international development cooperati on, such as the UN, the OECD, and some

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
2 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Southern pilots. It discusses the strength an d weaknesses of these various different interna-
tional regimes of ‘soft law’ and explains the need for combining inclusiveness, technical
soundness, and political engagement in order to ensure an effective monitoring system.
The paper illustrates the OECD-DAC as the ol dest and most seasoned institution to moni-
tor quantity and quality of development assistance, but al so elaborates on the apprehension
of Southern partners to join this system for historical and ideological reasons. It discusses
the evolution of the various High Level Forums (Rome, Paris, Accra, Busan) into gradu-
ally more inclusive platforms and explains the efforts of the DAC to reach out to emerging
economies and bring them into the aid effectiv eness process. It provides rich insights on
the complexities of negotiating the Busan Global Partnership for Effective Development
Co-operation (GPEDC), as a new universa l forum where norms and monitoring frame-
works can be developed for different players and different financing mechanisms for de-
velopment. The obsessive drive to bring emerging economies in the Busan process finally
resulted in a compromised outcome document and the eventual distancing of some BRICS
countries from a process which they still vi ew as very ‘DAC-driven’ and based on an
antiquated ‘Northern’ paradigm which they do not agree with and whose rules they do not
want to follow or be assessed against.
Reflecting G77 sentiments, some middle-income countries are still suspicious of the DAC
and view it still as ‘an agent of Northern hegemony’, while others are more pragmatic and
see the Global Partnership as a space to in fluence development policy and learn useful
lessons from traditional donors. While there are some areas of convergence between
North-South and South-South cooperation, for political reasons and technical constraints,
most emerging economies believe that the nor ms and systems to monitor development
cooperation of the traditional donors are not appropriate to also evaluate cooperation ac-
tivities of Southern providers. While keepi ng a ‘differential’ approach in global account-
ability, the paper discusses some basic principl es such as transparency, untying of aid, and
country-led ownership, which need to be applied for the benefit of the poorest partner
countries during development cooperation.
The paper concludes by emphasising the impor tance for middle-income countries of de-
vising their own alternative framework to the DAC, where they can define, monitor and
evaluate their development cooperation. Such a Southern framework would encourage
learning, improve effectiveness, promote accountability and advance the South-South
narrative. This also implies finding appropria te platforms (inclusive, well-resourced, po-
litically effective) for Southern partners to engage in such discussion. The paper explores
various options for the development of the South-South development cooperation dis-
course, including the use of regional platform s, the GPEDC, the United Nations Develop-
ment Cooperation Forum (UNDCF), the G20 development working group, the BRICS and
the IBSA alliance, elaborating for each of them their pros and their cons.
The exposé captures some of the latest discus sions held in New Delhi (2013) and in other
meetings of the South, where many of these issu es have been debated. It is the result of in-
depth analysis on the topic, empirical rese arch, and inputs received from a variety of
stakeholders involved in the process. It provides policy proposals for th e various partners
and hopes to be a contribution to the upcoming debates leading up to the first ministerial
meeting of the Global Partnership to be held in Mexico in the early part of 2014.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Policy recommendations
Distilled from the discussions that have emerged in the research process, the author offers
some key recommendations to the various stake holders involved in this debate on how the
agenda discussed above can be propelled forward:
 Traditional/DAC donors need to ease the current pressure on emerging economies
to share the burden of responsibilities on global development commitments. They
should demonstrate example and moral leadership by fulfilling their own out-
standing commitments with regards to both quantity and quality of their assistance
to the developing world. This should also include continued provision of
aid to
middle-income countries, still faced with vast poverty challenges. Furthermore in-
dustrialised countries need to take a more holistic approach to policy coherence for
development, insuring also that their dom estic policies benefit (or at least do not
harm) developing countries.
 South-South cooperation providers need to improve the transparency of their de-
velopment cooperation data and strengthen their M&E systems, to provide better
evidence on SSC flows. They should take leadership in developing a common ana-
lytical framework that allows for the definition and measurement of the effective-
ness, quality and impact of their SSC programmes. One or more platforms (includ-
ing the IBSA) could be exploited to conduc t such technical discussions, promote
exchange and peer learning, and consolidate global information on SSC. Southern
providers must be ready to invest political and financial capital in such initiatives.
 Recipient partner countries must urgently develop and strengthen their national
monitoring frameworks, making sure all de velopment partners (North, South, state
and non-state actors) are kept accountable in their development cooperation and
that different types of aid activities are aligned to the host c ountry’s priorities,
norms, and existing systems. Beneficiary countries must basically be in the driving
seat and set the rules of the game for all development players!
 Multilateral platforms (OECD/UN) should consider shifting the operational centre
of any ‘global partnership for developmen t’ away from Paris (and even New York)
to preferably a developing country (ideally in Africa) which should provide strong
political backing as well as host the secret ariat of such a global partnership. Finan-
cial and technical resources should be provided by all partners engaged in the plat-
form in proportion to their economic m eans. International development coopera-
tion regimes need to go beyond the monitori ng of aid to make partners accountable
for broader issues around policy coherence for development (PCD).
 Academia and think-tanks (preferably from the South) need to conduct more in-
depth analysis, field research and rigorous impact evaluations of SSC in benefici-
ary countries (particularly in Africa). Th is will help move away from political
rhetoric to empirical evidence with regards to the role of SSC vis-à-vis NSC and its
contribution to development outcomes for the poorest and most marginalised popu-

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
1. Introduction: who exactly are th ese ‘new kids on the block’?
The development landscape has transformed itself drastically from what it used to be
thirty years ago, or even fift een years ago when the Mille nnium Development Goals were
initially conceptualised. Paradigms, approach es, modalities and players are more hetero-
geneous than ever before, thus the global community is now reassessing t
he roles, respon-
sibilities and accountability of the various stak eholders involved in international develop-
ment processes. In the current political and academic debates there is often reference to
‘emerging economies’, ‘southern powers’, ‘t hreshold countries’, ‘provider-recipient coun-
tries’, ‘South-South cooperation (SSC) providers’ and ‘new donors’ which can often lead
to some confusion. The following paper discusses the role of these new players
in the
international development architecture.
Before embarking on a discussion around ‘differe ntial responsibilities’ in global develop-
ment, one must first of all be clear which gr oup of countries we are exactly talking about.
What distinguishes the so-calle d ‘Southern providers’ from other developing countries? Is
it politics or economics that define this ne w category of countries? Are North-South con-
ceptual divides still relevant? Where do we dr aw the line between ‘developing’, ‘devel-
oped’ and ‘in-between countries’? How do we define and measure a nation’s ‘develop-
ment’ and by what value system? When does a nation stop needing assistance and when
should it start helping others? Th ese are critical questions that are the bases of any further
debate around rights, roles, re sponsibilities and expectations within the international de-
velopment system. This opening section will di scuss the complexities and controversies of
trying to define such new constituents of development partners.
Old school
International development cooperation origin ated in a political and economic landscape
post-World War II in which the world was defined by the Western capitalist block, the
Eastern communist block and the Third Worl d group of (mostly poor) nations contested
between the two major ideological camps. Th ere were wealthy industrialised, ‘developed’
nations mostly in the geographic North, and po or countries in the South that were still
dependent on aid from their former coloni zers and the major powers to support their
economies, infrastructure and nation-building process. Political alliances and organisa-
tions were established in the second half of the twentieth century that assisted different
groups of nations to negotiate better their positions within multilatera l forums such as the
United Nations (UN), Word Trade Organiza tion (WTO), World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (IMF). Among these political constructs, the Organisation for Economic
Co-operation and Development (OECD), par ticularly its Development Assistance Com-
mittee (DAC), become synonymous with the hi gh-income countries and ‘Western donors’,
while the Group of 77 (G77) become associated with the ‘aid-receiving countries’ mostly
in the Southern hemisphere. The G77 has become the common voice of poor countries, a
‘coalition of the dissatisfied’ (Nganje 2013), wh ich rarely missed an opportunity at inter-
national meetings to blame the ‘developed’ countries for their problems and to remind
them of their obligations to provide compensatory assist ance (Atwood 2012). Since then,
the global economic landscape has changed dr astically, calling these old country group-
ings into question; however these historical le gacies still play a major role in the politics
of international developm ent cooperation even today.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
6 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
The usual suspects
The world has come a long way and the develo
pment landscape is not as black and white
anymore. In recent decades some countries ha ve switched from being aid recipients to aid
providers, and some are still in between. This is a new grouping that is not yet well de-
fined, does not have a narrative, a clear cons tituency and thus a common position on world
affairs. Kragelund (2010) has commented on the rise of non-traditional/non-DAC donors
like Brazil, South Africa, India and China as some of the BASIC countries who have for
decades participated in development coopera tion, particularly in Africa. Grimm et al.
(2009) attempt to categorise th is grouping of emerging donors by assessing their activities
in terms of financial volumes, their priorities and aid practices, their relation to multilat-
eral institutions, and the implications of their engagement for the future of European aid.
In the last decade these countries have been associated by recent loose alliances, such as
the Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Af rica (BRICS) association or the emerging coun-
tries who are members of the Group of 20 (G20 ) of major global economies such as Ar-
gentina, Brazil, India, South Africa, Korea, Indonesia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Some include in the category of Southern providers most of the Gulf countries which have
very quickly switched from being developing to being very rich nations because of oil
exports. Some economist such as Ward, Geoghegen, O’Neill
1 have forecasted the upcom-
ing rise of Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea, Turkey (MIKT) and Colombia, Indonesia,
Vietnam, Egypt, Turkey (CIVETS) as the ‘thi rd wave’ of SSC providers (Schulz, 2010).
Different industrialised countries
2 have identified some of these emerging powers as key
strategic players to engage in addressing national, regional a nd global concerns (see more
in next section).
Giving and receiving
South-South cooperation – sharing knowledge, experiences, resources and technical ex-
pertise among developing nations – has existed for decades, even between the poorest
countries. What has caught glob al attention in the recent decade is that once poverty-
stricken countries like China, India, Brazil, Venezuela, South Korea and Turkey, are con-
tributing each year between US $500 million an d US $4 billion in development assistance
(UN-ECOSOC, 2008, 2009, UNDESA, 2010)
3, surpassing in some cases the aid provided
by some of the smaller DAC countries. Para doxically, many of these middle-income coun-
tries are still large recipients of aid from ex ternal partners. Colombia for example, while
being an active South-South provider, is also the biggest ODA recipient in Latin America.
Countries such as Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
are major donors and have among the highest pe r-capita income in the world, yet they are
still part of the G77 represen ting the developing nations. Th is dual role is however not
limited only to the South. During its devastating earthquake in 2011, Japan
received hu-
manitarian support even from very poor count ries such as Afghanistan, Somalia, Swazi-

1 See for instance
VWew, /citydiary/7886195/Geoghegan-digests-and-delivers-
2 See, for example, BMZ (2011), German Strategy for Development Cooperation with Global Develop- ment Partners 2011-2015, BMZ Strategy Paper 6, Bonn (2011).
3 See also

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
land and Haiti 4. In recent years, Mexico provided technical assistance to New York City;
Angola offered to bail out Portugal’s debt crisis; Papua New Guinea and Indonesia helped
Australia during its floods. Does this imply a reversal of roles between donors and recipi-
ents? Though low-income countries, Ecuador, Nigeria and Honduras also provide assis-
tance to other countries, so should they also be categorised as Southern providers? Where
do we draw the line? Such clear-cut categoris ations between providers and receivers are
not possible anymore today. The richest countr y in the world, the United States, has mil-
lions of people living in povert y that require ‘aid’, while even the poorest nations have
people wealthy in resources and in knowledge that can contribute to the welfare of the
global community.
Limits of the definition of Official Development Assistance
The current definition of ‘aid’ was set in 1972 by the DAC and unt
il today governs the
great part of development c ooperation globally. It was delibe rately restricted, as previ-
ously donors would include in their reporting of aid to the developing world expenses
such as military operations, war reparati ons costs and support to former colonies
5, debt
reorganisation, exports promotion, and refugee and student support co sts incurrent in do-
nor countries. The current definition of Official Development Assistance (ODA) (see
OECD Glossary of Statistical Terms) imp lies that the money, goods and technical assis-
tance is provided to other countries with a ‘developmental purpose’ (not commercial or
political), through ‘official’ government channels, and on ‘c oncessional’ terms (with a
grant element of 25%).
This automatically to a great extent restrict s much of the assistance provided by the South,
which often takes the form of peace-keeping efforts, refugee and student support, debt
reorganisation, trade facilitati on, private investment, less c oncessional loans and credit
lines – but still very beneficial to recipient countries. For this and other reasons (explained
later in the paper), South-South development cooperation flows are very difficult to meas-
ure as they are not recorded in a coherent way by the different countries. A large portion
of development assistance from the South is technical cooperation, transfer of technology,
skills, know-how, training and scholarships that are difficult (although not impossible) to
quantify and assign monitory value to, esp ecially when making cross-country compari-
sons. Is training offered by the Americans better than Indian capacity-building pro-
grammes? Are Norwegian engineers and doctors more valuable than South African or
Colombian specialists? The cost s assigned to the technical inputs can vary extensively
between countries, and the quality and outcome of such services are also subjective.
Support is not only in financial terms, but can often be more valuable in the form of peo-
ple, time, knowledge and technology. A lot of countries contribute more generously
through ‘unofficial’ channels – through privat e philanthropy, religious charities, civil
society and volunteer organisati ons rather than government channels. Hence, this is not
recorded as ODA. The Hudson Institute (2012), for example, estimates that American
philanthropy to developing countries reached US $38 billion against the official budget of
United States Agency for International Deve lopment (USAID) of US $29 billion. With

4 Discussion with Japanese academics in Johannesburg, August 2013.
5 As in the case of France and Japan.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
8 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
that same token, Charities Aid Foundation
(2012) has ranked Liberia number 11
in the
World Giving Index, above most of the DAC countries. 6
Growth, power, influence
As we have established that being consider ed a provider or a receiver of development
assistance can be a fairly rela tive exercise, why are some count ries elevated to the ranks of
‘emerging powers’? Many developing countries have certainly caused a shift in the eco-
nomic and political power balances of the world. In certain industries, some middle-
income countries are global leaders and have become serious trading competitors to the
OECD countries. Countries such as Brazil, South Africa and India also exert a significant
political, cultural and economic influence in their surrounding areas and can thus be con-
sidered ‘regional powers’. Some have also extended their influence beyond their region
and now additionally have a significant presence on the African continent (see Chaturvedi
et al. 2012; Alden / Vieira 2011).
In the case of China, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Brazi l, population size plays a huge
role in affecting global tre nds in energy and environmental footprints, food security, life-
style consumption, trade and all other aspect s of global development. Geographic spread
also allows these countries to have access to a wide range of natural resources and main-
tain a diversified base of agricultural and industrial production. Services and manufactur-
ing from these countries are also very co mpetitive due to low costs and high labour pro-
ductivity. Most of these countries witnessed spectacular growth over the past decades, and
hold large reserves of foreign currency (B MZ 2011). However many of these fast-growing
economies are highly driven by oil exports such as Venezuela, the Gulf countries and even
Nigeria. These economies are thus still fragile an d subject to shocks based on shifts in fuel
prices that could potentially cause economic gains to be easily reversed (Roubini 2013;
Sharma 2013).
Aside from economic strength, many of these countries hold significant military arsenals
and nuclear capabilities and exert significant pol itical influence in multilateral institutions.
Notwithstanding their social and economic status they are often considered ‘great powers’
globally or in their regions, capable of exerting their influence in multilateral discussions
and shaping international affairs (Kennedy 2010; Cooper / Antkiewicz / Shaw 2007; Coo-
per / Mo 2013; Buzan / Wæver 2003).
Many of the recent Southern political alliances such as BRICS and IBSA (India, Brazil,
South Africa) are informal clubs aimed at promoting collaboration among the powers of
the South, joining forces to restructure th e global economic and political governance and
realigning power balances. South Africa is far from being comparable to the other BRICS
with regards to population and size of the economy, however its strategic geo-political
location allows it to be the gateway to the rest of the continent. Its legitimacy to be part of
bodies such as G20 and BRICS stems from the important role it plays in Africa, therefore
it feels morally obliged to advocate for the priorities of the continent in every global fo-
rum. Nevertheless, South Africa is closely tailed by other fast-growing economies rising
on the continent, such as Nigeria and Angola, though still at early stages of their develop-

6 See

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Poverty and inequality
Many of the middle-income countries who sit around the table of the G20 do so because
of their overall gross domestic product (GDP ). Yet it would be a mistake to base their
development status only on such a parameter. Using GDP per capita gives a slightly better
indication on the well-being of the general population. Most of such middle-income coun-
tries in fact have extremely high inequality levels and uneven wealth distributions (see
GINI coefficient). This can often be the cause of social unrest and protest as has been the
case even recently in South Africa, Mexico, Turkey and Brazil
7. While at times resem-
bling highly industrialised count ries of Europe and North America, many of these emerg-
ing economies have regions of their countries that resemble some of the poorest countries
in Africa. If we take a peopl e-centred rather than a country -centred approach to develop-
ment (Glennie 2011a; Sumner 2012a/b), most poor people of the world live in middle-
income countries. India alone has almost th e same amount of people living below US $2 a
day than the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. It thus becomes problematic for such govern-
ments to justify with their domestic constitu ency the need to provide aid overseas when
there are so many problems back home to be addressed.
Finally, definitions of ‘development’ and ‘pove rty’ need to go beyond antiquated material
conceptions of income, technology and infras tructure. South Asian economists, such as
Amartya Sen (1999) and Mabub-ul Haq (1995), have proposed more holistic notions of
‘human development’ which have been accompanied by new matrixes such as the Human
Development Index (HDI) and the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI). These are
potentially better indicators than GDP to measure countries’ development progress, and
thus requirements of external assistance.
A confusing picture
As discussed above, defining a new category of so-called ‘emerging economies’ can be
extremely problematic and controversial. Often these lines do not follow an economic
logic or clear development reasoning. While a ttempts have been made by scholars (Krage-
lund 2010; Grimm et al. 2009; Chaturvedi / Fu es / Sidiropoulos 2012), by economists at
Goldman Sachs and at the HSBC Group, and by the OECD to group such middle-income
countries, these country typologies are neither particularly clear nor scientifically consis-
tent. Rather, such a subdivision of the de velopment landscape into traditional (DAC) do-
nors, low-income recipient c ountries, and ‘emerging donors’ merely boils down to more
political manoeuvring (an aspect that w ill be discussed in the next section).
Depending on the political lens they use, diffe rent analysts and policy-makers make their
own conclusions as to which countries to incl ude in the category of emerging partners in
debates around international de velopment. Below is a list of some countries commonly
referred to in academic and policy circles as Southern providers. The countries are com-
pared along a number of economic, political and developmental parameters. While most
of these countries are members of the G77 and consider themselves developing nations,
the reader will observe that, on many of the indicators, they come close or even surpass

7 Mine workers upheaval in South Africa in 2012; teachers strike in Mexico August 2013; public protests in Brazil around the World Cup expenditures 2013; clashes between protesters and police in Turkey in

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
10 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
some of the traditional DAC donors. While Ru
ssia is sometimes lumped with these coun-
tries because of BRICS, the author has deci ded not to include it in the list for obvious
historical and political reasons. Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) is another major Southern donor
that provides between US$ 360-530 million a ye ar in ODA (0.13% of GDP) to other de-
veloping counties
8; however due to its complicated politic al status, it is difficult to gather
the appropriate social-economic data from th e multilateral organisations about the island.
Amounts of aid received originate from OECD databases, and figures of aid provided
come from UN publications, or other academic sources
9. However, as discussed earlier
and later in the paper, such numbers n eed to be treated with extreme caution.
Table 1: Major middle-income countries compared on various de velopment parameters
nominal 10
GDP per
capita 11
cation) 12
living in
poverty 13
HDI 14 Aid
vided 15
age of
G77 17 OECD

Argentina 446.044
Upper MIC 1.9%
0.7 million 44.5 0.811
Very high 14 84
Brazil 2,476.652
Upper MIC 10,8%
million 54.7 0.730
High 300-
1,000 870
Chile 248.585
Upper MIC 2.7%
0.4 million 52.1 0.819
Very high 7 161
China 7,318.499
Upper MIC 27.2%
million 42 0.699
Medium 3,000-
8,000 -796 18 Y N/N Y
Colombia 333.372
Upper MIC 15.8%
7.3 million 55.9 0.719
High 0.4 1,024
Egypt 229.531
Lower MIC 15.4%
million 30.8 0.662
Medium 18.4 412

8 See, for instance,
asp?xItem=182177&ctNode=425 .
9 Some of these figures are drawn from presentations made by various different experts at the workshop on ‘Development Agencies of Emerging Powers’ held in Mexico City in August 2013.
10 Billions of US dollars a year (Source: World Bank statistics, 2011).
11 Figures in US dollars (Source: World Bank statistics, 2011).
12 MIC = middle-income country and HIC = high-income country.
13 Percentage of population and number of people living on less than US $2 a day (purchasing power parity (PPP)) (source World Bank statistics, 2010).
14 Source: UNDP 2013, Human Development Report.
15 Millions of US dollars (Source: OECD, 2013 c; UNDESA estimates; Southern think-tanks &
16 Million US dollars ODA disbursed in 2011 (Source: OECD, 2013c).
17 Y = yes: member of the country grouping, N = no: not member of country grouping
18 Negative because of loan repayments.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
India 1,872.840 1,509
Lower MIC 68.8%
million 33.0 0.554
Medium 700-
3,000 3,221
Indonesia 846.832
Lower MIC 46.1%
million 35.6 0.629
Medium 580 415
S. Korea 1,116.247
HIC 31.3 0.909
Very high 1,550
(0.13%) 118 N Y/Y Y
Kuwait 176.590
HIC 0.790
High 144-283


USA 19
3.8 million
Malaysia 287.937
Upper MIC 2.3%
0.6 million 46.2 0.769
High 17 31
Mexico 1,153.343
Upper MIC 4.5%
5.1 million 47.2 0.775
High 320 963

HIC 0.782
High 5,075
(0.85%) N Y N/N Y
Singapore 239.700
HIC 48.1 0.895
Very high 62 N Y N/N

Upper MIC 31.3%
million 63.1 0.629
Medium 95-3,000
20 1,398
Thailand 345.672
Upper MIC 4.1%
2.8 million 39.4 0.690
Medium 30-180 (500) Y N/N
Turkey 774.983
Upper MIC 4.7%
3.4 million 40.0 0.722
High 2,531
0.32% 3,193
UAE 360.245
HIC 0.818
Very high 1,000
(0.32%) N Y N/N
Venezuela 316.482
Upper MIC 12.9%
3.7 million 44.8 0.748
High 1,000-
4,500 44
Source: Author’s own compilation
Implications of reconfiguring the development architecture
New categorisation: a Northern push?

19 Source: National Poverty Centre, February 2012.
20 Diverse estimates Alden / le Pere 2010; Braude / Thandrayan / Sidiropoulos 2008; Grimm 2011; Vick-
ers 2012 – varying depending on the definition of development aid and what is included in such.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
12 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Defining a new category of development partners as ‘emerging economies’ is a fairly
sensitive undertaking because
in essence it is about reconfiguring the global development
21 Such new categorisation has implica tions and consequences for middle-
income countries as it often leads them, on the one hand, to receive less aid and, on the
other, to be expected to adopt more responsibilities in world affairs. Politically speaking in
fact, none of these countries, including China (the second largest economy in the world),
want to be highlighted as ‘emergi ng powers’ or a ‘donor’ country (Atwood 2012)
22. They
still firmly believe that they are developing countries for all the reasons discussed above.
Having a unified and big const ituency of countries from the South including large econo-
mies (in the G77 for example) provides str onger bargaining power in the UN, WTO and
other international negotiations.
The strongest push to stratify the developing world into low-income countries and ‘emerg-
ing economies’ originates mostly from DAC countries and traditional Northern donors
The OECD has singled out, for example, Chin a, Indonesia, South Africa, Brazil and India
as the ‘key partners’ (K5) for ‘enhanced e ngagement’, and Germany has identified Brazil,
India, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa as its ‘global development partners’ (BMZ
2011). These are also the similar group of coun tries included in the ‘outreach five’ coun-
tries of the G8, proposed by France and the United Kingdom. This allows traditional do-
nors to treat these countries with a divers ified approach. The concept of ‘emerging
economies’ is in fact a constr uct discussed more in Northern circles (academic, govern-
mental and corporate) than put forth by th e actual countries in question. The following
section will discuss the possible political motiv ations and implications behind this drive.
Closing the aid taps to middl e-income countries (MICs)
In 2008 the United States, the largest economic power in the world, suffered an unprece-
dented financial crisis followed by a serious debt crisis that affected the entire Eurozone.
This has led to austerity meas ures across the OECD countries, cuts in public spending, and
thus also to a decrease in ODA budgets
24. ‘The pie has shrunk and cannot feed anymore
everyone.’ 25 An elderly German factory worker might struggle to accept that in these
difficult times his tax money should be spent on providing aid to his competitors in emerg-
ing economies.
26 This has intensified the debate among traditional donors around the con-
cept of ‘selectivity’ where aid budgets are redu ced or eliminated completely for middle-
income countries in favour of prioritising the poorest low-in come countries. This has been
clear, for example, in the ‘differentiation’ policy of the European Union’s Agenda for
Change (Herbert 2013; Koch 2012), or by the recent announcement of UK DFID minister
to cut direct aid to South Africa by 2015
27, or Germany’s decision to end bilateral devel-

21 From an interview with a diplomat from a BRICS country, June 2013.
22 Based also on interviews with va rious Chinese officials and academics.
23 Views of various diplomats from BRICS and OECD countries, interviewed in Paris, Brussels, Bonn and Pretoria, June-July 2013.
24 See .

25 Words of a Southern diplomat engaged in development cooperation, June 2013.
26 Example provided by Thomas Fues at the workshop of ‘Development Agencies in Emerging Powers’ in
Mexico City, August 2013.
27 See BBC World article of 1 May 2013 availa ble at

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
opment cooperation with China by 2014 28. These policies underestimate the poverty, ine-
quality and development challenges of most middle-income countries, discussed in the
previous section, and assume that such countri es are able to take care of their poor with
their own resources.
Most of the middle-income countries on the other hand have made it clear that ODA is
still welcome and appreciated, to be used in targeted areas and types of interventions,
involving more technical assistance rather th an financial. The South African government,
for instance, has indicated that, though constituting less than 1% of the national budget,
ODA is a useful discretionary supplementary re source which can be used with more flexi-
bility to do experimental work, pilot new id eas, unlock bottlenecks, improve service deliv-
ery and leverage other domestic resources, and thus useful for value-add, risk-taking,
innovation and knowledge transfer (South Af rica National Treasury 2010; Besharati
2013b). As in South Africa, in most emerging markets, ODA represents a tiny fraction of
development finance, and this therefore gi ves more negotiating power to the recipient
country, promoting a more horizontal type of relationship with its development partners.
Not being in a life or death aid-dependency situation, middle-income countries are better
able to oppose conditionality pressures from Northern donors, and set the rules of the
game for their development cooperation better. The Indian government, for example, to
reduce fragmentation and trans action costs, has decided to work with donors only provid-
ing above US $25 million in ODA, driving out ma ny of the smaller donors to direct their
efforts elsewhere (Chaturvedi 2012).
Graduation to becoming a middle-income count ry does not mean that development coop-
eration with traditiona l donors stops completely. In fact th is is usually just ‘redefined’
through other approaches and modalities. Gran t-based giving is transformed into more
loans, concessional or non-concessional (or a blend of the two), technical cooperation,
dialogue and exchange (Bes harati 2011, 2012c, 2013b; BMZ 2011). The bulk of the assis-
tance from traditional donors to middle-income countries tends to focus on priority con-
cerns such as climate change, trade, migrati on, security and combating crime and traffick-
Although governments might not require ODA anym ore, aid to civil society in middle-
income countries can still play a very important role in assisting NGOs to provide services
to the most vulnerable and marginalised members of society, where the government is not
able to reach. Aid to CSOs can also contri bute to the advocacy and watchdog role of civil
society organisation (CSOs) in the promo tion of democracy, accountability and human
rights. This approach is the one followed by the USAID model of aid provision (Herbert
2013; Besharati 2013b).
Additional expectations for emerging economies
The general trend observed from traditional donors has been a shift from doing develop-
ment cooperation ‘in’ middle-income countri es to doing it ‘with’ middle-income coun-
tries. Industrialised countries increasingly seek the support of emerging economies in
addressing global challenges, delivering on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

28 See .
29 Illustrated in particular in aid to Latin Amer ican countries like Mexico, Colombia and Brazil.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
14 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
(and the post-2015 agenda) and in the provision
of global and regional public goods (such
as environmental protection, peace and security, stability of financial markets.) (BMZ
2011). The renewed, more equal relationship of ‘partnership’ encourages more exchange
on a cultural, diplomatic and co mmercial basis. The trend has also been that such middle-
income countries have been used as pivot/a nchor countries in trilateral cooperation in
support of a third low-income country in the developing world (B MZ 2013). Being often
called to cost-share expenses of domestic and international development interventions
with DAC donors, middle-income countries have more to say in setting the terms of the
co-cooperation arrangements.
A common suspicion shared by many emerging powers (Atwood 2012) is that, with their
graduation to their new ‘status’, they not only receive less aid but are also under great
pressure to share with traditional donors the burden of responsibilities (and costs) of inter-
national development.
30 It is thus not surprising that the title of one of the recent strategy
papers (2012) of German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
was entitled ‘Shaping globalization – expanding partnerships – sharing responsibility’.
The North has a large amount of old commitme nts still unfulfilled, which for some coun-
tries stem from historical responsibilities fo r redressing colonial and post-colonial exploi-
tation. Southern diplomats have emphasised that North-South cooperation (NSC) stems
from a moral duty that industria lised countries have towards the developing world of shar-
ing a part of their surplus and wealth (Atwood 2012), while SSC is undertaken in a spirit
of solidarity, friendship and voluntary sharing of experiences among peers
31. Such new
Southern providers are thus extremely cautious to avoid that the historical responsibilities
of DAC donors are not slackened, diluted or brushed under the carpet because of the spec-
tacular economic rise of the South against th e backdrop of financial crisis in the North
(Bhatia 2013b).
32 SSC certainly has a role to play in global development but it cannot
substitute or diminish the commitments made and the responsibilities held by traditional
33. These sentiments have also been pungen tly captured in the recent statement of
South African President Jacob Zuma at the 68th UN General Assembly meeting 34:
“We also wish to emphasize that any development agenda beyond 2015 must be
based on the principle of Common but Diffe rentiated Responsibilities in order to
equalize the international playing field. We raise this point out of concern be-
cause it appears that the global economic meltdown has brought about new de-
velopments that are detrimental to the developing world, especially Africa. Some
of the new developments include the tende ncy to renegotiate the rules of the
game… We wish to emphasiz e as well our expectations that the developed North
and developing South should continue to engage in a genuine partnership. In
this regard, the developed North should st and ready to meet their commitment to
contribute 0.7% of their gross national income towards Official Development

30 Concerns emerged from interviews with diplomats and academics from several BRICS countries.
31 Based on interviews with Brazilian, Indian and South African diplomats between June and July 2013.
32 Based on interviews and remarks from government representatives of several BRICS countries in Addis Ababa, Delhi, Bonn and Paris during the course of 2013.
33 Based on remarks made by Dinesh Bhatia, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Relations, Government of India, at the UNDCF Symposium in Addis Ababa, 7 June 2013, and at the Conference of Southern
Providers in New Delhi, 16 April 2013.
34 New York (24 September 2013) – Full speech available at

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Assistance… The tendency to attempt to delegate some of these historical re-
sponsibilities to new emerging
economies in the South is unacceptable and un-
workable as such emerging nations have their own historical challenges and
backlogs to deal with.”
3. The post-2015 develo pment agenda: how to foot the bill?
The discussion around the what-agenda of international development cooperation is cap-
tured in the Millennium Development Goal s (MDGs) and the post-2015 development plan
that will follow them. These are huge topics th at require a separate treatment and can only
be dealt with very marginally in this paper. Much analysis has already been allotted to the
strengths and weakness es of the MDGs and to what le ssons can feed into the post-2015
development planning process (UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons 2013). The
following section will thus focus on the views of emerging economies on these processes,
and how this relates to the debates around ‘common but diffe rentiated responsibilities’
Lopsided responsibilities
Except for some potential divergences on the climate change debates
35, developing and
industrialised countries should not have much difficulty agreeing to work together for a
better, safer, healthier world with less poverty and inequality, where everyone enjoys
employment, freedom, peace and prosperity. The UN global development debates (MDGs
and post-2015) is where most countries, as po litically apart they might be, will find com-
mon grounds. But the devil will be in the detail. The more important questions will be how
the new global plan will be implemented, what will be the enablers and, more fundamen-
tally, how will it be financed and who will be responsible for delivering which new com-
The previous MDGs were to a large exte nt pre-cooked by the United Nations and the
donor community before the Millennium Summit
36, but eventually significant weight was
placed on the shoulders of developing countri es, responsible for implementing goals 1 to
7. MDG 8, on the other hand, that required serious political commitment and called for the
support of wealthy countries to make important contributions in areas of aid, trade, debt
relief, information and communications tec hnology (ICT), medicine and technology was
more fuzzy, scattered and problematic. As opposed to the other 7 goals, MDG 8 had a
very poor monitoring system (UN High Leve l Panel of Eminent Persons, 2013), weak
quantifiable indicators and no benchmark, t hus making it more difficult to measure per-
formance and hold industrialised countries to account.
While any future global plan will need everyone to play a role in ensuring the well-being
of the entire human family and the preservation of our co mmon planet, each nation’s con-

35 Already clear from the Rio+20 and Durban COP17 debates.
36 Just before the historical Millennium Summit, th e OECD, the UN, the World Bank and the IMF had put
forward a report called ‘A Better World for All’ which proposed a framework of goals almost identical
to what became the Millennium D evelopment Goals. These were in large part based on commitments
made at various major UN conferences in the 1990s as well as the international development goals pro-
posed by the DAC in the 1996 document ‘Shaping the 21st Century’.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
16 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
tribution will have to be commensurate to
its capacities, histories and specific circum-
stances (UN High Level Panel of Eminent Pe rsons, 2013). Every country, whether rich or
poor, will have its own needs as well as experi ences to contribute. The next global devel-
opment plan needs to shift from a country-foc used approach to a people-centred approach
(Glennie 2011; Sumner 2012a/b). Every country has its poor, vulnerable and marginalised,
and at the same time different types of intell ectual and material resources. Thus, all need
to be mobilised in order to protect the pl anet, reduce poverty and advance together as a
unified global civilisation.
How is development financed?
The previous model for financing the MDGs was heavily based on a twentieth century
North-South aid paradigm. In ot her words, international development targets were to be
achieved through developed countries boosting their ODA to the developing world and to
the multilateral agencies (Sachs 2005). Experts had calculated that no less than US $100
billion every year would be required to m eet the MDGs (UNDP 2003). Over the last dec-
ade OECD donors channelled increasing amounts of their funding to social sectors high-
lighted in the MDGs through bilateral aid or through vertical funds such as the Global
37 and the Global Environm ental Facility (GEF).
Today however ODA is dwarfed when compared to other sources of financing to the de-
veloping countries (see Hudson Institute 2012; Greenhill / Prizzon / Rogerson 2013;
Lundsgaarde 2013; Besharati 2012b, Besharati, 2013a), such as climate financing, philan-
thropy, remittances, corporate social investme nts (particularly from the extractive indus-
tries). ODA does not have the same prominence it had in the past anymore with regards to
financing global development. Th ere is now a wide range of technical and financial assis-
tance flows to developing countries which n eeds to be aligned to receiving-country devel-
opment priorities and better re ported in a transparent manner. Development cooperation is
not only about money but also about the ex change between countries of people, goods,
ideas and technology.
The global development discourse of the past few years has emphasised concepts such as
‘development effectiveness’ (Kindornay / Sh annon / Morton 2009) and ‘policy coherence
for development’ (PCD), or the systematic promotion of parallel and reinforcing policy
actions across government departments and agen cies in order to achieve increased devel-
opment results for poor countries
38. Notions of PCD and development effectiveness have
particularly resonated in the South, with exam ples such as the African Platform for Devel-
opment Effectiveness (2011).
Within such frameworks, aid to developing countries is always welcome and Northern
donors are urged to uphold hist orical commitments such as contributing 0.7% of their
gross national income (GNI) to ODA. Howe ver more significant development gains can
occur when aid efforts are coupled with the promotion of peace and stability, the removal
of trade barriers, the creation of an enabling environment for private investment, the pro-
motion of good governance, rule of law and transparency, local economic development
through infrastructure and small and medium enterprise (SME) development, support to

37 To fight AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.
38 See, for instance,

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
migrants and reducing costs of remittance transfers, relaxing intellectual property laws to
assist access to medicine and technology in favo ur of developing countries – to name just
a few of the many simultaneous actions that need to take place to facilitate holistic devel-
opment processes . Within the ‘development effectiveness’ discourse, African institu-
39 have also been advocating for more atte ntion to be given to domestic resource
mobilisation, improving taxation and financial management system, building institutional
capacities and fighting corruption and illegal capital flows. This is why SSC partners have
looked at development cooperation beyond just th e provision of ODA, to include coopera-
tion between developing countries within the br oader prism of trade, investment and infra-
structure development.
Already at the Monterrey Conf erence (2002) the primacy of do mestic resource mobilisa-
tion was established as the main financier of development. This is even truer today. A
recent ODI report (Greenhill / Prizzon / Roge rson 2013) has highlighted that, particularly
in middle-income countries, domestic taxati on and customs revenue constitutes the over-
whelming share of the development financi ng of the nation. The sheer size of the popula-
tion of emerging economies also has a larg e impact on consumer consumption, energy,
food requirements, and of cour se the environmental footprint. During the MDG campaign
the biggest gains in reducing global poverty can be attributed to the economic growth that
occurred in India and China alone (United Nations 2013; Hackenesch / Janus 2013). This
gives an indication that, even in the post- 2015 campaign, the biggest contribution that
middle-income countries can make to any futu re global development agenda would be to
focus on their own national development
4. South-South cooperation: different na rratives, paradigms and functions
In the previous section we have seen how a major contribution that middle-income coun-
tries provide to global development is th rough their own poverty-reduction endeavours
within their territo ries. Nevertheless, do emerging economie s also have a role to play in
assisting other countries? The answer is S outh-South cooperation (SSC) – broadly defined
as the exchange of resources , technology, skills and technical know-how among countries
of the South to promote development – social , economic, cultural, political and scientific
(Besharati 2012c). Just as there is no uniform approach to North-South development co-
operation, SSC is also extremely heterogeneous and different Southern partners approach
the provision of assistance to their neighbours and peers in very different ways. The topic
of South-South cooperation, its diverse forms, features, modalities, actors, sectorial and
geographic focus, niche expertise and comparat ive strengths have been extensively treated
in numerous publications of the United Na tions and by many Northern and Southern
41. For this reason this section will focus on highlighting the ‘polarized ideological
divide’ (Atwood 2012) that argues that the origins, conceptual paradigms, financial vol-
umes and approaches of SSC are essentially different from those of North-South coopera-

39 See, for example, remarks by the Nigerian Minist er of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, at various
GPEDC steering committee meetings, as well as key priorities of the African Consensus (AU-NEPAD
40 Based on interviews conducted in 2013 with va rious academics from China, India and South Africa.
41 See, for instance, works of Alden, Alves, Besharati, Chaturvedi, De Mello e Souza, Grimm, Huang, Milani, Perez Pineda, Naidu, Fues , Schulz, Sidiropoulos, Wajjwalku, Xiaoyun, to name just a few.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
18 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
tion (NSC), and thus cannot be put on the same
level field in terms of roles and responsi-
bilities in global deve lopment processes.
Differing historical journeys
NSC and SSC have evolved over the last six de cades under two parallel but very different
historical narratives. NSC generally suffers from a historical legacy that links it to colonial
and post-colonial dependency relations betw een the industrialised North and the poverty-
stricken South. The roots of SSC, on the othe r hand, are found in the solidarity politics and
alliances pursued by newly independent states in Asia and Africa, along with their coun-
terparts in Latin America, during the Cold War. Concerned that the dominant bipolar poli-
tics of the day would undermine efforts to achieve economic development and sustain
political unity, they came together in Bandung in 1955 to set out an agenda that, under the
auspices of the Non-Aligned Movement creat ed six years later, would lay the foundation
for coordinated action in the decades to come (Alden / Morphet / Vieira 2010).
With the establishment of the United Nation Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD) by the Group of 77 in 1964, a form al institutionalisation of SSC commenced,
focusing on two aspects in particular – tech nical cooperation and economic cooperation.
Subsequent events, such as the UN Confer ence on Technical Cooperation among Devel-
oping Countries (TCDC) convened in Argentina in 1978, sought to refine
the areas of
cooperation. The Buenos Aires Action Plan (B APA), which emerged out of this meeting,
produced more specific terms of reference, po licy guidelines and procedures for technical
cooperation among developing countries. In th e same year, the United Nations Develop-
ment Programme (UNDP) established a special unit for SSC.
Since then numerous G77 and UN meetings a nd conferences (including the most recent
Nairobi Conference in 2009) have been held, and UNDESA has been providing support to
this movement within the context of the United Nations Development Cooperation Forum
(UNDCF). But it was not until th e 21st century that the concept gained more interest in
OECD circles when Southern powers like China, India and Brazil rose to new heights and
increased their economic engage ments with fellow developing countries in Africa and in
their regions. The moral formal convergence of North-South cooperation and South-South
cooperation started around the HLF-3 in Accra, which will be discussed later in the paper.
Incomparable financial envelops
With all the warranted enthusiasm for the new emerging economies, the magnitude of
SSC is often exaggerated and overhyped within academic and political circles. The inter-
national development industry (both governmental and non-governmental) is in fact cur-
rently estimated to be managing over US $200 billion every year
42 in assistance to poor
countries. We have seen previously the la rge amounts of flows to developing countries
which occur through corporate social investme nts and remittances, but even charities,
philanthropy, churches and non-governmental organisations channel between UD $50-60
billion dollars every year to poor countries (Hudson Institute 2008-2012). According to
the latest UN estimates, global volumes of SSC currently reach US $13-15 billion a year

42 Rough estimate based on adding US $129 billion DAC ODA (OECD 2013c) + US $15 billion SSC
flows (UN-DESA 2010) + US $56 billion global private philanthropy (Hudson Institute 2012).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
(UNDESA 2010), which is still quite miniscule compared to the US $120-130 billion a
year of ODA provided by DAC donors 43. It would therefore be inappropriate to place the
same levels of expectations on SSC as on North-South Cooperation in terms of impact, or
to see SSC as an adjunct, supplement or s ubstitution of traditional aid (Bhatia 2013; Nai-
robi Outcome Document 2009). Financing from middle-income countries to global devel-
opment is barely 5% of all other flows. Ho wever, the analysis of financial flows from
industrialised and emerging economies to th e developing world could maybe provide
another picture if trade, investment and remittances were also included in the equation
(Alden / Alves 2008; Roodman 2003)
Volumes aside, contributions of emerging ec onomies to international development are
nevertheless appreciated and well-received by host countries
44. Recipient countries now
have more options to choose from and more diversity in the range of development pack-
ages, modalities and types of collaborations they can forge with various different external
partners. SSC also expresses its elf in areas of peace-keeping, humanitarian assistance and
disaster relief (Perez Pineda 2009; Chaturvedi / Fues / Sidiropoulos 2012) and many coun-
tries such as Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Mexico, Ar gentina, Chile and South Africa contribute a
significant portion of their aid (at times between 40% and 90%) through multilateral chan-
nels (Alves 2013a; IPEA 2013; Figueroa 2013), t hus highlighting their important role in
the delivery of regional and global public goods.
Charity versus mutuality
It would be naïve to assume th at development aid is provided on purely altruistic basis. No
donor is in Africa to just prov ide charity. Development cooper ation (from the North or the
South) is almost always linked to other national interests whether economic, political,
strategic, commercial or diplomatic. While NSC was less direct in expressing its manifold
motives, SSC is a bit more explicit in its strategic objectives.
Under the umbrella of ‘mutual gain’, development engagements between countries of the
South are more open about intere sts, as long as both parties benefit in some way or from
the cooperation arrangements
45. For emerging powers, Africa is not seen as a gloomy
continent, a basket-case of problems, which necessitates help, but rather as a land of op-
portunities where new ‘business’ relations can be established. Investing in infrastructure,
economic development and political capital on the continent will provide important re-
turns from access to raw materials, the opening of upcoming markets and will open doors
for future types of cooperation. For China, South Africa and other emerging powers,
building ‘bridges and roads’ into Africa not only has a symbolic function but also a very
practical one. Brazilian and Indian devel opment contributions in Northern Mozambique,
such as the rehabilitation of the Pro-Savana corridor, the railway system and the deep-
water port of Nacala, are not only useful fo r the economic development of Mozambique,
but also good for the businesses operations of Southern mining giants such as Vale do Rio

43 See OECD reports and trends – http ://
44 Based on a telephone interview with a representa tive from the African Forum and Network on Debt and
Development (AFRODAD) (Zimbabwe) and the Rwanda Ministry of Finance in June 2013, as well as
results from the 4th round of the Afrobarometer survey (2008) available at http://www.afrobarometer.
45 From a focus group discussion held with Northern and Southern academics at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg, June 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
20 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Doce and Jindal Steal (Besharati 2012b). Thus
SSC is often undertaken with a sense of
‘enlightened self-interest’ acknowledging that assisting neighbours and other developing
countries will also contribute in the long run to one’s own national growth. Already in the
days of Mandela, South Africa, for instance, realised that it could never survive within
Africa as ‘an island of prosperity within a sea of poverty’ (Nelson Mandela 1998, quoted
in Besharati 2013b).
This reciprocity and win-win situation is th e foundation of SSC. SSC distinguishes itself
from NSC as a ‘two-way horizontal collaboratio n of equals’ rather than a ‘one way chari-
table relationships of aid’ (Besharati 2012a). The type of cooperation developing countries
would maintain would be similar to a politi cal/economic partnership between France and
Germany or the United States and Japan. Middl e-income countries thus very vehemently
oppose using the word ‘aid’ and calling them selves ‘donors’. The South African govern-
ment refers to its coopera tion as ‘partnership’ and ‘ ubuntu’ (Besharati 2013b; Department
of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) 2011), Brazil as ‘friendship’, China
as ‘gifts’ (Xiaoyun / Guoliang 2009). In the rh etoric associated to South-South partner-
ships, words such as solidarity, brotherhood, trust, equality, reciprocity, peer exchange and
mutual learning are often present (Besharati 2012c). That said, one may question if an
economic giant like China and a small land-locked, low-income country like Lesotho can
really enter a development partnership on an equal footing?
In part also due to the small volumes of th eir assistance, Southern providers are usually
less concerned with development results in the same way that traditional donors are. The
focus is in fact more on building political a nd commercial relations. SSC is actually most
of the time managed by ministries of foreign af fairs and used as a diplomatic instrument to
address other foreign policy conc erns, such as security, and trade and migration, or to gain
support in multilateral forums. Nevertheless, ev en if they do not apply ‘policy condition-
alities’ in the same way as the North does, it would be incorrect to say that South-South
development cooperation was done on a completely selfless basis. Even the mere fact of
being selective in terms of which areas to wo rk in and which countries to support implies
that a certain level of strate gic priorities are also present among Southern providers. In
some countries such as China (and soon also in Brazil
46), development cooperation is
managed by the Ministry of Commerce which gives an even stronger indication of the
important link in the South between development cooperation, trade, investment and other
national economic imperatives.
Demand-driven versus prescriptive conditionalities
A principle which is highly em phasised in discourse on SSC is that assistance must be
‘demand-driven’ and tailored to the recipi ent’s needs (Chaturvedi 2012). As opposed to
development cooperation approaches of tr aditional donors, SSC endeavours to not be
predefined, prescriptive or to attach conditionalities to it (Bhatia 2013a). The historical
roots of SSC have in fact emphasised th e importance of respect for sovereignty, non-
interference in nati onal affairs (Nairobi Outcome Document, 2009), while NSC was often
accompanied by policy conditionalities linke d to democracy, human rights, governance

46 In a recent talk, President Dilma Rousseff announced that Brazil will restructure its development coop-
eration agency, possibly bringing its technical and ec onomic cooperation together in a more substantial
cooperation programme led by the Ministry of Trade indicating possibly a more commercial and strate-
gic drive to Brazil’s cooperation (De Mello e Souza 2013).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
reform, rule of law and economic liberalisation. South-South partnerships on the other
hand encourage the concept of independence, self-reliance, and that recipient countries
need to have the space to define their own polic ies, have ownership and leadership of their
development process, and set the priorities of the development assistance they wish to
This concept however also has it shortfalls. As demonstrated by the experiences of South
Africa and Brazil, the heavy emphasis on dema nd-driven cooperation and the ad-hoc pro-
vision of development projects stemming from diplomatic engagements and state visits,
has sometimes led to a fragmented, scattered and thus ineffective international program-
ming portfolio (Besharati 2013b; De Mello e Souza 2013; Arda 2013). Entering a dev
opment partnership with no cl ear priorities and responding to ad-hoc requests from part-
ners has meant that at times soccer stadiums and presidential palaces were built
48 instead
of hospitals and schools.
While being flexible and adaptable to the need s of recipient countries, Southern providers
still need to ‘communicate’ what they can offer
49 and where their comparative strengths
and experiences lie. Thus the development programmes offered in the Forum for China-
Africa Collaboration (FOCAC) or in the India-Africa Forum need to be assessed and
compared to the development packages offered by DAC donors, so that ultimately partner
countries can ‘pick and choose’, ‘take or leave’ what they find useful for their national
development processes. This likewise implie s accepting the ‘conditions’ attached to the
aid package, whether these may be adopting so me governance reforms or recognising ‘one
China’ in UN fora
5. Evidence deficit in So uth-South cooperation
Heroes or rogues?
The previous section has already started to high light some of the tensions that lie in the
current debates around SSC. Policy-makers, aca demics, media, civil society and the gen-
eral public are divided in their views with regards to the new emerging donors in the de-
velopment landscape, with most of the disput es centred on the role of China in Africa.
Many believe that the emergence of new development players is a positive signal that
allows developing countries more access to development financing and more mechanisms,
modalities and approaches to cooperation. Traditional partners, in both trade and aid, are
losing their monopoly as they are ‘priced out’ (Naim 2007) by the competition coming
from the new emerging partners who often pr ovide assistance in a faster, cheaper and
more flexible manner (UNDESA 2010). As a result, in recent years a great deal of West-

47 From an interview with various African Ministry of Finance officials in September 2012 and August 2013.
48 There are multiple examples of such types of project in Chinese and South African development coop- eration activities.
49 Comments of Mehmet Arda at the workshop on ‘Development Agencies in Em erging Powers’ in Mexi-
co City, August 2013.
50 From a focus group discussion held with Northern and Southern academics at the Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Duisburg, June 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
22 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
ern criticism has surfaced on the
quality of services, safety and environmental standards,
labour practices, and lack of transparency
51 in the operations of ‘Asian donors and inves-
tors’ in Africa, depicted as being rapacious and mercantilist (Holslag 2006) in their ap-
proach to the continent and its natural resources
52. Some commentators such as Naim
(2007) have characterised some of the major Southern donors such as China, Venezuela,
Iran, Saudi Arabia as providing ‘rogue aid’ to corrupt and autocratic regimes, thus under-
mining important governance reforms which trad itional donors have been trying to push
forward through their international developm ent policy. History nevertheless shows that
this is not much different from the support which Northern countries such as the United
States, Russia, Great Britain and France provided in the past to dictators and corrupt lead-
ers in exchange for short-term favours. One is thus left to wonder if emerging donors are
‘saints or devils in disguise’
53, like their counterparts in the North?
Although SSC has been widely discussed for the past decades in many academic and po-
litical fora, the debate sometimes suffers from overtones of political ideology (Atwood
2012) and ‘emotionally-loaded messages’
54. It is not always clea r how much the general
rhetoric is translated into reality on the ground. One can take neither the positive nor the
negative opinions on the role of emerging donors at face value. Views on SSC are in fact
not firmly grounded in evidence but tend to reflect perceptions and political stances. In
fact, not much empirical research has been undertaken on the real contribution of SSC to
development outcomes so far. Is SSC any bette r than traditional North-South cooperation?
There is a serious gap in evidence in the di scourse that needs to be addressed not only
through monitoring and evaluation but through mo re rigorous scientific analysis. Without
sound evidence, learning and future improvements become very difficult and the SSC
debate will continue to remain at the rhetorical level.
Getting the numbers right!
As a start, the exact magnitude of resources for development coming from the South is not
at all clear. UNDESA has done some useful analytical work around SSC through the In-
ternational Development Cooperation Reports and the background studies prepared for the
2008 and 2010 UNDCF reports. Many, neverthele ss, disagree with the UNDESA figures.
Different expert papers and re ports present very large variations in the calculations of
volumes of development cooperation from the various emerging economies
55. This is due
to several problems.
Firstly, to measure South-South development cooperation there needs to be a common
definition and interpretations, which can be applied when aggregating figures from the
various emerging partners. While generally disagreeing with the DAC definition of ODA

51 Comments from an Afrodad representative in a te lephone interview (June 2013) at the BRICS Summit
side-event in Durban (March 2013).
52 See also development.
53 Sentence used by one of the diplomats engaged in international development cooperation discourse, from an email feedback received in September 2013.
54 From the address of Talat Abdel-Malek (Egyptian diplomat) at the High Level Conference on South- South Cooperation held in Bogota in 2010.
55 See, for instance, large discrepancies in figures for the development cooperation of India and South Africa (Chaturvedi 2012; Alden / le Pere 2010; Braude et al. 2008; Grimm 2011; Vickers 2012).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
(discussed in previous section), most Southern providers apply different criteria to meas-
ure their development cooperation. We have se en earlier the challenges of monetising the
technical cooperation from the emerging donors, qualifying the Chinese and Indian loans
and credit lines, or the South African peace -keeping and customs budget support, as Offi-
cial Development Assistance. Depending on ho w much technical and financial coopera-
tion is included, figures relating to the aid fr om Southern partners can vary enormously.
At the core of the evaluation challenge is t hus a conceptual challenge where debates are
still ongoing whether development cooperation is a part of SSC or SSC is part of devel-
opment cooperation?
Another factor contributing to the information deficits in SSC is in the way development
cooperation is managed. In almost all emer ging donors, development assistance to third
nations is provided by numerous different mini stries, public entities, agencies, state-owned
enterprises and academic institutions (Braude /Thandrayan /Sidiropoulos 2008;
Chaturvedi / Fues / Sidiropoulos 2012; De Mello e Souza 2013; Huang 2013). Often these
middle-income countries do not possess an over-arching development cooperation frame-
work and a central agency to coordinate all foreign assistance from the countries’ institu-
tions to other developing countries (Besha rati 2013b; Chaturvedi 2012). As a result, dif-
ferent types of data are produced by each en tity following different M&E systems, report-
ing formats, standards and time-frames, thus making it difficult to produce aggregate fig-
ures and account properly for all the outgoing development assistance.
As a consequence, transparency and rigor in reporting development cooperation is ex-
tremely weak among the emerging donors (Bes harati 2012c; De Mello e Souza 2013; UN-
ECOSOC, 2008; Santiso 2001). A ll these challenges in data management, monitoring and
evaluation, and statistics on South-South de velopment cooperation have been widely ac-
knowledged and discussed at many recent c onferences such as Nairobi (2009), Bogota
(2010), and New Delhi (2013). Several Southe rn governments and academics are endeav-
ouring to address these technical issues, howev er a political dimension to the problem also
exists. Some middle-income countries are relu ctant to publicise the exact figures of their
foreign aid, as this may have repercussion s in connection to their delicate cooperation
arrangements with other countries as well as their domestic stakeholders and tax-payers,
who may question why money is being spent in other parts of the world when there were
so much poverty and so many problems at home to be addressed first (Grimm 2011;
Besharati 2013b; Hack enesch / Janus 2013).
Evaluating impact and effectiveness
When basic monitoring and the collection of simple development cooperation information
are weak or unavailable, it becomes even mo re difficult to conduct more complex analyti-
cal work. Almost all Southern providers ha ve poor monitoring and evaluation systems
Annual reports from emerging donors tend to fo cus more on low-level administrative data
on inputs, activities, missions, and people i nvolved, and sometimes on immediate outputs
(such as hospitals built, how many kilometres of roads have been constructed, etc.). Most

56 Question raised by Elizabeth Sidiropoulos at th e workshop of ‘Development Agencies in Emerging
Powers’ in Mexico City, August 2013.
57 Similar issues raised by all authors at the worksh op of ‘Development Agencies in Emerging Powers’ in
Mexico City, August 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
24 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
of the evaluations are qualitative, subjective,
anecdotal and reflect perceptions and politi-
cal stances. Less attention is put on assessing outcome, quality, sustainability, efficiency
and effectiveness.
Although many low-income and middle-income countries have conducted interesting
randomised controlled trials on their own national policies and programmes
58, not many
rigorous impact evaluations are conducted on SSC initiatives and projects they are sup-
porting in other countries. This is in part due to the fact that SSC activities tend to be rela-
tively small to justify the prohibitive cost of complex impact assessments. Also, as men-
tioned above, much of the SSC is not so centred around development results but rather
around strategic political and economic relations hip-building. This is also reflected by the
fact that most of the offici als in emerging economies engaged in development partnerships
tend to be diplomatic personnel rather that development practiti oners (Cabral, 2010
Besharati 2013b).
Finally when assessing processes, quality and effectiveness of SSC, it is necessary to have
clear criteria and norms of ‘good practices’ against which development assistance from
different partners can be m easured. Southern providers generally do not agree with the
standards and criteria devel oped by the OECD-DAC, which they find difficult to report
against and they do not find appropriate for judging their unique type of cooperation. But,
at the same time, there are no internationally agreed norms and parameters for SSC. Such
norms and parameters would be required if a ny type of quality and effectiveness assess-
ment of the development interventions of Sout hern providers is to be carried out. These
issues will be expanded further in the next section.
6. Standards, monitoring and peer review
The need for accountability
In the arena of development cooperation, accountability comes from many angles. There
is vertical accountability be tween donors and recipients; ther e is tripartite domestic ac-
countability between the government, civil soci ety and the private sector within one coun-
try (Kharas 2012); and there is ‘mutual acco untability’ between development partners.
Accountability comes from donors and tax-payers , who want to make sure they get the
‘best value’ for their investments and that their contributions are effectively spent to
maximise the intended results. At the same time, beneficiaries also wish to ensure that
they reap the greatest benefits possible from the external assistance they are receiving.
When it comes to oversight mechanisms, national accountability systems can be extremely
powerful, as development partners have a mo ral and sometimes legal obligation to follow
the rules of the country in which they opera te. Having said that, domestic accountability
systems require capacities to be in place a nd are usually built around international regimes
that have been universally agreed within global fora.

58 See, for instance, impact eval uations of PROGRESA in Mexico (Behrman et al. 2005); Bolsa Familha
and Bolsa Escola in Brazil (Glewwe / Kassouf 2010); child/women nutritional programmes in Sri Lanka
(White 2009); Dinaledi schools initiative in South Africa (World Bank 2010).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
In international relations there are no legally binding commitments and enforcement
mechanisms as there are at the level of s overeign states. However monitoring and peer
review are important instrument s of global governance that act as ‘soft law’ and exert a
certain diplomatic pressure between count ries (Ashoff 2013). Reporting on global norms
and peer reviews provides countries with in centives, pride and shame, to honour commit-
ments and positively vie with one another, as they are ranked on performance based on
compliance with the global standards. Global monitoring and peer reviews are hence very
useful in promoting mutual accountability, learning and impr ovement in the development
cooperation system.
For peer reviews to be effective they need to engage the highest levels of political powers
and clear roles, rights and res ponsibilities need to be assigned to the various parties in-
volved. It has to be clear who is accountable fo r what and by when, hence clear targets are
essential. They also need to be backed up by technically sound monitoring systems that
use empirical and credible methods of measur ement. Relevant indicators are thus critical
and, with that, also reliable data which can be easily gathered on a timely basis to measure
progress. Obviously capacities need to be in place among all the partners in order to con-
duct such monitoring and evalua tions, and to report transparently to peers and public. And
lastly, peer reviews can only occur once the co mmunity of nations has agreed on the prin-
ciples, standards, criteria and norms upon whic h they are to be regularly assessed. The
following section will delve into the currently available international regimes of monitor-
ing and accountability which exist in the development cooperation space.
The United Nations system
The UN is obviously the broadest , most legitimate forum where almost all countries of the
world are represented. The main development framework that currently drives the United
Nation system is the Millennium Developm ent Goals extracted out of the Millennium
Summit (2000) which was endorsed by 189 Head s of State. The MDGs are accompanied
by a set of targets and indicators that are re gularly monitored by the various UN agencies
and national stakeholders and these form the basis of country-level discussions. At the
global level, periodic events linked to the Ge neral Assembly meetings in New York have
been organised to review progress on the MDGs such as the 2005 World Sum
mit, the
2008 High Level Meeting, the 2010 Summit, and the MDG review meeting of the General
Assembly which took place in September 2013. In addition, the ECOSOC’s Annual Min-
isterial Reviews take stock of progress against the MDGs and the ECOSOC’s National
Voluntary Presentations constitute a soft re view of countries’ efforts towards achieving
the MDGs.
Previously I have explained how the MDGs framework puts a lot of weight on monitoring
progress in developing countries. MDG8, which is supposed to capture the role and re-
sponsibilities of developed countries, has how ever had a poor monitoring and accountabil-
ity framework, and has been criticised for bei ng technically weak and lacking in concrete
targets and quantifiable indicators (Repor t by UN High Level Panel of Eminent Persons
on Post-2015, 2013), and thus also lacking the appropriate political review process to
make it effective.

59 See /ecosoc/amr/index.shtml,

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
26 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
The DAC system
One of the main components of MDG8 (Global
Partnership) has been the need to increase
ODA flows. In this regard the OECD-DAC has been a much better forum than the United
Nations in providing accountability, monito ring mechanisms and peer reviews on aid
flows to the developing world. Following th e Monterrey UN Conference on Financing for
Development (2002) it became clear that, in or der to tackle the MDGs effectively, there
was a need for a regular platform for donors and partners to discuss how to increase the
quantum and quality of development assistan ce. This is what led the OECD-DAC to
spearhead a series of High Level Forums on Aid Effectiveness (HLF) in Rome (2003),
Paris (2005), Accra (2008) and Busan (2011)
60, the implications of which on the middle-
income countries will be di scussed later in the paper.
The HLF process aside, OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) has gener-
ally been the ‘custodian’ of ODA, as it defines and regulat es 90% of the world’s donor
assistance. From its inception in the early 1960s it has been coordinating the post-war
development assistance of the United States, France and the United Kingdom and today its
membership includes 26 donor countries and some of the major multilateral development
organisations as observers (OECD 2013). Amon g the functions fulfilled by the DAC is to
increase the quantity of aid provided by the i ndustrialised world but also the quality and
effectiveness of such development assistan ce, by setting standards and norms, sharing
good practice, providing guidelines, encour aging regular reporting, monitoring compli-
ance, facilitating peer revi ews; thus promoting accountab ility and learning among the
major traditional donors. It also defines which c ountries are to be recipients and the terms
of ODA, and maintains up-to-date records of ODA flows to and from most countries. In
both the OECD and the DAC, each country has the same vote (regardless of size), and
most decisions are made by consensus. Thus member-states have a significant role in
shaping the agenda.
Ashoff (2013) has elaborated on the quality of the DAC peer review system, highlighting
its technical rigor and benefits with regard to providing critical and impartial, yet helpful
and respectful feedback to donor countries. Th e effectiveness of the DAC peer reviews is
demonstrated by the fact that many Northern development agencies have implemented
significant institutional and policy reforms as a result of DAC peer reviews. An example
has been Germany’s move to merge its scattered technical cooperation implemented
through various organisations into one agenc y, the GIZ, in 2010. Similarly, 88% of DAC
recommendations have been partially or fully implemented (Ashoff 2013). Even the moni-
toring and evaluation system of the Paris Declaration, which encompassed decades of
DAC aid effectiveness experience, was demonstrated to have contributed to institutional
and behavioural changes in donor and benefici ary country practices of development coop-
eration (Wood et al. 2011).
The problem with the DAC system is that it still operates on the 20th century paradigm of
North-South vertical aid relati ons in a world where developm ent cooperation is now about
many other elements as well (see previous discussion on policy coherence for develop-
ment). Although the DAC has led to a great many positive results for the developing

60 For more information about the aid effectiveness pr ocess, refer to the articles of Besharati (2013a) and
Bracho Carpizo / Garcia-López (2011).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
world, most of the South generally regards it as a bastion of Northern hegemony 61, the
‘Paris coffee club of donors’ 62, and chooses rather to antago nise it instead of engaging
with it constructively or taking adva ntage of the opportunities it presents 63. This will be
elaborated further in the paper.
APRM: a good Southern model
Peer review is not only an approach comm on among developed countries, there are also
some very good models of such monitoring and accountability systems in the South. One
outstanding example is the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM), which emerged out
of President Thabo Mbeki’s
64 efforts to promote ownership, responsibility and leadership
in the promotion of good governance and ac countability on the continent (Khadiagala
2013). In the APRM process, African leaders have chosen the norms and standards they
wish to follow; and have been regularly as sessing themselves on performance in relation-
ship to those standards. This allows for im portant debates to take place at national and
regional level to encourage policy reforms, ev en in very sensitive areas such as govern-
ance and human rights. The APRM is built around a detailed set of commitments, stan-
dards and indicators for the four thematic areas of democracy and political governance;
economic governance and management; corpor ate governance; and social-economic de-
The APRM has been a very powerful instru ment for peer learning, dialogue and diplo-
macy catalysing policy reform on the con tinent and providing a platform for inter-
government and civil society engagement. Since 2003, 33 countries have joined the
APRM voluntarily, 17 of which have completed th e review process. Interesting cases exist
on how the APRM has contributed to importa nt reforms in Rwanda, Ghana and Kenya
(Turianskyi 2012). The success of the APRM lies in the fact that it engages the highest
political leaders of the countries involved (Heads of State) through the APRM Forum, and
it is an endogenous initiative where the sta ndards set are based on African values, and
countries are reviewed by African peers and local experts. The breadth of the sensitive
subjects tackled is unparalleled with issues su ch as rule of law, individual and collective
rights, democratic political processes, free and fair elections, separation of powers and
independence of judiciary being scrutinised (NEPAD, 2002). It is an outstanding example
of peer review occurring in the South, which rebuts the notion of non-interference with
non-indifference (Turianskyi 2012).

61 Views gathered from many policy-makers, civil society and academics throughout the developing world.
62 Humorous nick-name given to the DAC by some African government officials.
63 Interview with a middle-income country diplomat in Paris, July 2013.
64 Of South Africa.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
28 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
7. The problematic relationship betw een the South and the OECD-DAC
Background and strength of the OECD
The Development Assistance Committee (DAC), previously known as Development As-
sistance Group (DAG), has been hosted since the beginning by the OECD, which provided
secretarial support to the Committee’s work through its Development Cooperation Direc-
torate (DCD). As a result the DAC, though offi cially a separate organisation, has always
been intrinsically associated with the OECD, which also had its roots in the early Organi-
sation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), set up to implement the Marshall
Plan and supervise the distribution of ai d during the post-war reconstruction period.
It functions as a forum for agreeing on standards and norms , sharing policy experiences,
identifying good practices and finding answ ers to common problems (OECD 2013). It
monitors trends and facilitates different instru ments, treaties and peer reviews that allow it
to implement ‘soft law’ and improve the polic ies of its member states. At any given time
around 200 committees
65, working groups and expert gr oup discussions are taking place
dealing with a variety of policy areas such as economics, trade, education, the environ-
ment, taxation, public governance, and social affairs. The OECD is like a ‘mini-UN’, a
global public good, an inte rnational think-tank, serviced by 2,500 staff engaging in in-
depth analytical work and pr oducing guidelines of good practic e for countries, which can
still pick and choose what they find useful for their context
As discussed earlier, another important functi on played by the OECD is that it coordinates
the domestic and international policies of its members, thus facilitating common positions
of the industrialised world in bigger multilate ral fora, such as the UN, the WTO and the
Bretton Woods institutions. In this way it is a very important forum for global decision-
making. As it is a much smaller group than th e UN and security is not addressed, discus-
sions in the OECD are less politicised and c onsensus is achieved more quickly. However,
contrary to popular belief, even the OECD is a very heterogeneous group of nations and at
times decisions are reached after long and painful negotiations (Atwood 2012)
The OECD and the South
Since its establishment in 1961, 34 countries have joined the OECD. Over the years,
membership to the OECD has included more and more non-European countries, however
the general expectation is that of ‘like-mindedness’ of its member states. This means in
practical terms a commitment to democracy, free market economy, and human rights.
The 34 OECD member states account for 60% of the world’s GDP. OECD countries tend
to be highly industrialised and high-income eco nomies and therefore it is understandable
that in international politics the OECD has become tantamount to the Northern industrial-
ised ‘developed’ world. It is however this very reason that has historically caused the
apprehension by the South towards the OECD as an institution: the organisation is seen as
the stronghold of ‘Western hegemony’, ‘capitalism’, ‘imperia list and neo-colonial powers’

65 Interview with an OECD official, Paris, July 2013.
66 From an interview with a diplomat from a K5 country in Paris, July 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
– the ‘Paris club of rich countries’ 67. The South and civil society often criticise the OECD
for being too prescriptive in developing sta ndards and policies which originate from the
conceptual framework of the North.
Nonetheless, the OECD is not a stranger to developing countries. Turkey, Greece and
Ireland have been members of the organisati on since 1961, although at that time they were
all poor nations and recipients of foreign aid. The first major breakthrough however oc-
curred when Mexico joined the OECD in 1994, followed shortly after by South Korea in
1996. Both countries still feel connected to th e Southern tradition, and find themselves ‘in-
between’, that is, part of the developing world but also of the industrialised world. In this
way they play a brokering role between the North and the South. Arguably both countries’
engagement with the OECD can be justified as a function of their close relationship with
and dependency on the United States as regard s to security, migration, trade and economic
partnership. While their hear t is still with the South, both countries had to practically
withdraw from the G77 when they became members of the OECD. What has however
been unprecedented in history is Chile’s recen t accession (2010) to the OECD, while still
retaining membership to the G 77. This signals a drastic shift from the previous ‘black and
white’ global political economy that had ch aracterised the development community. Fol-
lowing Chile, other emerging economies are in the pipeline to join the OECD. These in-
clude Costa Rica, Colombia and even Russia, which was once the powerful centre of an-
tagonism to the western neo-liberal block.
The DAC and the South
While becoming a member of the OECD is a political statement of the place countries
want to have in the international development landscape, becoming a member of the DAC
carries even more implications as it means th at the country joins a club of major tradi-
tional donors. DAC membership requirements are fairly simple and straightforward. They
include a) possessing a development cooperation strategy and institu tional framework, b)
demonstrating a measure of aid effort (pr oviding at least US $100 million in ODA a year
or 0.2% of the country’s GNI), and c) havi ng a system for monitoring and evaluating the
performance of development assistance (OECD, 2013a). Once countries have joined the
DAC they are expected to progressively untie th eir aid, report their aid statistics regularly,
attend DAC meetings, participat e in peer reviews (as subjects as well as examiners) and
endeavour to follow DAC recommendations – thus constantly improving their develop-
ment cooperation.
Not all OECD countries were in a position to do this straight away. ‘Graduation’ to DAC
membership was only possible for Ireland in 1985, Spain in 1991, Greece in 1999, and the
Czech Republic and Iceland in 2013. For South Korea, joining the DAC in 2010 was a
statement of a success of how a poverty-ridd en, war-stricken country transformed itself
over a couple of decades into a wealthy count ry able to give back the support it had re-
ceived from the rest of the world. Generally speaking, there are 9 OECD countries that are
not part of the DAC, and recently they have been encouraged to use DAC concepts, stan-
dards and systems, undertake a lighter peer review, rationalise their development coopera-
tion, and endeavour to quantify and report their aid transparently. This trend has been
particularly strong for countries like Turkey and the Eastern European member states that

67 Various comments uttered by government and civil society representatives in developing countries.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
30 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
are part of the EU, which for geo-political re
asons need to gradually engage and conform
more with the DAC. Among the non-OECD c ountries that endeavour to follow DAC
reporting systems are also Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The Latin American middle-income countries which are part of the OECD, such as Mex-
ico, Chile and Colombia, do not have the same capabilities as industrialised countries to
fully follow the DAC regulations and they also do not want to project themselves as donor
countries yet, as they are st ill facing major poverty challenges domestically. Nevertheless
Mexico is an ‘active observer’ of DAC meetin gs, trying to influence the aid effectiveness
agenda, learning what it can from the experi ences of traditional donors, and adapting what
it can to the particular Mexican contex t (Bracho Carpizo / Garcia-López 2011).
More serious apprehension in engaging with the DAC is felt by the BRICS countries,
many of which constitute the pillars of the global South with in the G77, historically seen
as the anti-OECD movement. For most Southern partners, even the word ‘aid’ (the main
business of the DAC) is a dirty word
68. These middle-income countries do not want to
project the image of being donors 69 and still wish to continue receiving aid. They believe
in the horizontal cooperation of equals rather than vertical, one-way provider-receiver
relationships (Besharati 2012c). Their SSC does not fit into the traditional ODA definition
and the DAC parameters (see previous discussion). They insist that their cooperation is
different, and thus should not have the same re sponsibilities as that of industrialised coun-
tries or feel pressured to report according to the DAC norms (Bhatia 2013a/b). Overall,
middle-income countries still consider themse lves developing countries, economically and
politically different from the OECD countries, which they view as still stuck in an anti-
quated paradigm of development
Outreach efforts
The DAC has been aware of some of these c oncerns and since 2009 it has endeavoured to
reach out to the emerging economies by becoming more flexible and open in its ap-
proaches for accommodating the engagement of middle-income countries in its work (At-
wood 2012; Bracho Carpizo / Garcia-López 20 11). On 6 April 2011, the DAC issued a
statement ‘welcoming new partners in inte rnational development cooperation’, acknowl-
edging diversity and the dual role of many count ries as providers and receivers, opening
dialogue to new partners without ‘preconditions’, and clarifying explicitly that countries
can become members of the DAC while cont inuing to receive aid. Brian Atwood, then
Chair of the DAC, travelled all the way to Beij ing to provide a mandarin translation of this
statement to the Chinese government and Comm unist Party. In these debates, Mexico has
been very instrumental in persuading its OECD peers of the specificities of middle-income
countries and the need to create a ‘comfort zone’ where new partners can engage (Bracho
Carpizo / Garcia-López 2011; Atwood 2012). A year later, in December 2012, the DAC
High Level Meeting in London released a comm uniqué, reaffirming the need to involve
more actors in the development landscape who do not necessary follow DAC norms and

68 Comments from many African and South American officials involved in development cooperation.
69 This has been repeated many times by representativ es of countries such as South Africa, China, Brazil
and Mexico, for instance.
70 Comments made by several Brazilian, Indian, Sout h African and Mexican diplomats engaged in the aid
effectiveness debates since Paris (200 5) up to the current post-Busan discussions. Confirmed also in re-
cent interviews in Paris and Pretoria (June-August 2013).

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
rules. With this it acknowledged the need to look at policy coherence and development
effectiveness and agreed to re-visit the defini tion of ODA in order to take into account
different forms of development finan ce that benefit recipient countries.
Since 2007, the OECD and the DAC have been assiduously courting Brazil, China, India,
Indonesia and South Africa, identified as key partners (the K5) in a process of ‘enhanced
engagement’, to encourage outreach and the sharing of knowledge with these major global
players as well. For most of these countries the doors of the OECD are wide open with a
red carpet and high hopes for membership. Th ese Southern powers, however, while being
in most part technically ready, are hesitant to formally join the OECD and the DAC for all
the political reasons discussed above. They do not want to be bound to the obligations of
OECD members as they are keen to retain the freedom of space to make their own policy
71. Nonetheless, Brazil, Indonesia, India, China and South Africa still see the bene-
fits of engaging closely with the OECD, lear ning and drawing from its vast experience,
knowledge and resources
72. While not being officially me mbers of the organisation, the
K5 countries have diplomats in Paris perm anently assigned to the OECD. The K5 coun-
tries are each engaged in 10 to 35 bodies, tr eaties, projects and instruments of the OECD,
including contributing substant ial fees for participation in such mechanisms. Even in
committees where they are not official member s, they attend meetings as observers includ-
ing the DAC and many of the peer reviews
An interesting example of collaborative in itiatives has been the China-DAC study group
which was formed in 2009 to exchange knowle dge and experiences in promoting growth
and poverty alleviation in developing count ries (Atwood 2012). South Africa has been
engaged with the OECD in such a way that, apart from Foreign Affairs officials, it has
recently even posted a National Treasury attaché to Paris to d eal with the manifold OECD
74. While there could be political reperc ussions in becoming an official mem-
ber of the Paris-based organisation, South Africa and the othe r K5 countries have realised
that they can still reap all th e benefits of the work of the OECD without necessarily be-
coming part of the organisation
Politically scattered, emerging economies
Overall, Southern partners see the value of engaging with the OECD as a space to gather
good practices from other countries, seek high- end analytical and technical advice, learn
what is useful from the Northern experien ce and adapt to their own country contexts.
Many of the middle-income countries, such as Mexico, Chile, South Africa and Brazil, are
of the opinion that participating in OECD a nd DAC meetings, even as observers, allows
them the opportunity to engage in important decision-making processes, influence devel-
oped countries’ policy, shape th e common benchmarks – and ba sically change the system
from within
76. But, at the same time, most K5 countri es are also aware of the implications

71 From an interview with a diplomat of one of the K5 countries in Paris, July 2013.
72 Feedback provided by representatives from Indonesia, Brazil, China, South Africa in interviews held in
Paris in July 2013.
73 Interview with an OECD-DCD official, Paris, July 2013.
74 Interview with South African Treasury officials in Pretoria, August 2013.
75 Interview with a South African diplomat in Paris, July 2013.
76 Interview with Mexican and South Korean diplomats in Paris, July 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
32 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
of joining the OECD, which is more of
a political challenge than a technical one
77. G77
ideologies still dominate the diplomatic corps of Southern nations heavily. The result is a
scattered situation among middle-income countr ies, some sticking more to a historical
North-South dichotomous view of the world and some blurring the lines and joining the
ranks of the traditional development partners. In connection to Table 1, Figure 1 highlights
the political orientation of some of the majo r Southern providers which hover between the
G77, the G20, the OECD and the DAC. This al so gives a rough indication of the orienta-
tion of emerging economies in the Busan Globa l Partnership discussed in more depth in
the next section. K5 countries are highlighted in bold and BRICS countries have an aster-

Figure 1: Emerging economies in the current aid effectiveness debates

Source: Author’s own design.
8. Bringing South-South cooperation into the aid effectiveness agenda
We have seen previously that SSC and Nort h-South cooperation have different historical
evolutions and were progressing on two fairly separate paths until the second half of the
2000s, when middle-income countries started to have a more prominent role in the global

77 Feedback from several South African officials gathered in interviews held in Pretoria and in Paris be-
tween 2010 and 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
political economy. Many DAC donors now want the Southern providers to also comply
with the same rules of engagement with developing countries. The German government,
for example, has stated:
“It is becoming increasingly apparent that our global development partners
[emerging economies] are now also acti ng as ‘donors’ – makers and drivers of
global development agendas… [They] do not always operate in accordance with
the same development policy principles and procedures as DAC donors. Differ-
ent interpretations and degrees of respect for the principles of development co-
operation, such as good governance, are increasingly causing the recipie
countries to feel that double standar ds are present within the donor commu-
The underlying question which is now arising is: Should emerging economies that are now
also giving substantial support to other developing countries be included in the monitoring
and peer-review systems of traditional deve lopment partners? If they are both donors and
recipients at the same time, where do they f it in to the global accountability frameworks
for development cooperation?
The legacy of Paris
For the last five decades up to the first Hi gh Level Forum in Rome in 2003, aid effective-
ness debates were a territory exclusive to th e Northern donors, and Southern counties were
passive recipients of decisions made in Paris. This began to change in 2005 when develop-
ing countries were invited to be part of the second High Leve l Forum and to participate in
shaping this debate. At this event, the renow ned document of the Paris Declaration on Aid
Effectiveness was produced. It summarised decades of DAC norms an d standards of good
practice of development coopera tion. Although the intention was to come up with a joint
compact on development cooperation principles agreed by donors and recipients, develop-
ing countries were only involve d last minute, with some Southern diplomats complaining
they received the draft document only a day before the conference
79. As an African offi-
cial narrated, ‘developing count ries were invited to Paris to have coffee and cookies with
the donors’
Nonetheless, the Paris Declaration – together with the subsequent Accra Agenda for Ac-
tion –became the new ‘bible of aid effectiven ess’. It was built around 5 principles, 12
indicators, and target s to be achieved by 2010. A rigorous monitoring process was set in
place managed centrally by the OECD-DAC s ecretariat. While an outstanding 134 coun-
tries and 26 international organisations ha d endorsed the Paris Declaration, the mecha-
nisms were built on a dichotomous paradigm where there were commitments to be
achieved by donor countries and commitments to be achieved by recipient countries (Bra-
cho Carpizo / Garcia-López 2011) with nothing to capture the nuances in-between. India,
South Africa, China and Mexico signed the D eclaration as aid recipients, while Brazil and
Venezuela did not ratify the document (Br acho Carpizo / Garcia-López 2011). Brazil
refused to conform to what it considered an obnoxious system based of antiquated vertical

78 BMZ Strategy Paper 6/2011, Strategy for Development Cooperation with Global Development Partners
2011-2015, Bonn, p. 12.
79 Interview with Mexican and Brazilian delegates involved in the Paris process, July-August 2013.
80 From a speech given by an Af rican official at an SAIIA event in Pretoria in December 2012.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
34 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
aid relationships, conditionalities,
and rating systems contrary to the core values of its
To guide the aid effectiveness process, the OECD-DAC had established the Working
Party on Aid Effectiveness (WP-Eff), with an executive committee made up of representa-
tives of multi-laterals, donor countries and recipient countries, named respectively ‘devel-
opment partners’ and ‘partner countries’ to reflect the new paradigm shift. Some of the
Southern countries deeply enga ged, and at times taking even leadership on various WP-
Eff processes, included South Africa, Egypt , Colombia, Indonesia, Thailand, Mexico,
Ghana and Turkey. Some of these same MICs ha ve also been some of the prime partners
of trilateral cooperation arra ngements with the OECD donor s. At the same time, G77
representatives gathering at Nairobi at th e High Level Conference on South-South Techni-
cal Cooperation would continue to express relu ctance to engage in the aid effectiveness
agenda (UNECA 2011), seen as an imposition of Northern rules on international devel-
opment relations.
Accra and South-South working groups
Although, in Paris, the particul ar role of middle-income countries in development coop-
eration was not taken into se rious consideration, the third High Level Forum hosted in
Africa in 2008 was the beginning of the marri age between SSC and the Aid Effectiveness
processes. The famous paragraph 19 of the Accra Agenda for Action (AAA) stipulated:
“We welcome the role of new contributors and will improve the way all devel-
opment actors work together by taking the following actions:
a) We encourage all development actors, including those engaged in South-South
co-operation, to use the Paris Declaration principles as a point of reference in
providing development co-operation.
b) We acknowledge the contributions made by all development actors, and in par-
ticular the role of middle- income countries as both providers and recipients of
aid. We recognise the importance and par ticularities of SSC and acknowledge
that we can learn from the experience of developing countries. We encourage
further development of triangular co-operation.
c) South-South co-operation on development aims to observe the principle of non-
interference in internal affairs, e quality among developing partners and respect
for their independence, national sovereignt y, cultural diversity and identity and
local content. It plays an important ro le in international development co-
operation and is a valuable comple ment to North-South co-operation.” (Accra
Agenda for Action, 2008, par. 19)
The AAA paved the way for a more visible e ngagement of developing countries in the
global aid effectiveness debates (Brac ho Carpizo / Garcia-López 2011; Atwood 2012).
Shortly after Accra, Colombia put forward a proposal to the WP-Eff and in 2009, backed
by Mexico and Spain, to establish the Task Team on SSC (TT-SSC). The TT-SSC, chaired
by Colombia and Indonesia, had the triple func tion of 1) enriching the Aid Effectiveness
(AE) agenda with practices fr om SSC; 2) adapting the AE principles to SSC; and 3) ensur-

81 Interviews with Brazilian officials in Paris and Pretoria in July 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
ing synergies between SSC and NSC. One of the first enterprises of the TT-SSC was a
large analytical undertaking in close collaborati on with Southern academia to review more
than 100 case studies of good SSC experiences (Task Team on South-South Cooperation
2010). The analytical work was show-cased at the High Level Event on SSC and Capacity
Development held in Bogota in March 2010 which gave the opportunity to discuss the
contribution made by SSC, explore regional pers pectives, and flag out the challenges of
coordination and information management.
Over the next years, the Task Team made c oncerted efforts to reach out to diverse devel-
opment fora, including the G20 and the UNDCF. In the lead up to the HLF4 in Busan, it
facilitated various regional consultations an d made sure SSC featured high on the agenda.
In Busan, the Task Team evolved into what is now known as the Building B
lock on
South-South and Triangular Cooperation, however the work has lost much of its momen-
tum. Despite the fact that the process was supported by several Northern partners led by
the World Bank Institute, both the Task Team and the Building Block lacked some legiti-
macy as certain major Southern powers such as Brazil, India and China did not participate.
The frantic effort of Busan
Hosted by South Korea, the new ‘poster child of the OECD’, the 4th High Level Forum in
2011 set out as its main objective to bring a now large spectrum of development actors
together under the same roof (Besharati 2012a). OECD countries, emerging economies,
low-income countries, internati onal organisations, the private sector, parliamentarians and
civil society, all renewed their joint commitm ents towards internationally agreed global
development goals, while at the same time acknowledging the different roles they played
in the process. The idea wa s to reach common ground and to find ways to harmonise all
types of development cooperation under unive rsally agreed norms, explore complemen-
tarities and provide a space for exchange and learning. This implied also bringing in SSC
into the DAC-like approaches to monitoring, evaluation and peer review, but within a
more legitimate, broad-based and inclusive platform.
The most challenging and complex political engagement of the Busan High Level Forum
on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) was to bring into the system the major emerging econo-
mies, which until then had firmly kept themselves at armed length from the OECD-DAC
processes. Some of the Southe rn ‘hard-liners’ such as Venezuela and Cuba were not even
invited to the HLF-4, probably because of their links to North Korea
82. In Busan getting
China to join the club became the new obsession of the DAC countries83. Having said that,
all major Southern partners had major concer ns with the political and technical implica-
tions of being put on the same-level plane as traditional donors. While Brazil finally
agreed to come to the table, China signalled before the conference that it would not en-
dorse the Busan Agreement, which gave fu rther support to also India’s position. After
protracted negotiations leadi ng up to and into the late hou rs of the Busan HLF-4 – and
through some very serious British and South Korean diplomatic efforts (Atwood 2012) –

82 Informal discussion with a Southern diplomat, August 2013.
83 Comments made by an official from a multilateral organisation closely involved in the negotiation of the
Busan Outcome Document, July 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
36 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
India and China finally agreed to si
gn the Busan Global Partnership document
84 with the
last minute additional paragraph which they proposed adding to the first page stating that:
“The nature, modalities and responsibil ities that apply to South-South co-
operation differ from those that apply to North-South co-operation. At the same
time, we recognize that we are all par t of a development agenda in which we
participate on the basis of common goals and s hared principles. In this context,
we encourage increased efforts to s upport effective co-operation based on our
specific country situations. The principl es, commitments and actions agreed in
the outcome document of Busan shall be the reference for South-South partners
on a voluntary basis.” (Busan HLF-4 Outcome Document 2011, par. 2)
This stems from the belief that SSC and NSC are essentially different in their approach,
features and historical functions. This political stance, coupled with many technical limita-
tions (already discussed in this paper), made Southern prov iders assert that it would not be
fair to assess their development cooperation with the same standards and criteria set for
the traditional donors. In the Busan negotiati ons, the Rio Declaration (1992) discourse
around ‘common but differentiated responsibi lities (CBDR)’ re-emerged during the de-
bate. In order not to replicate the exact same language of the climate change talks (Atwood
2012), Busan sherpas agreed to use the terms of ‘differential commitments’
85. Busan ac-
knowledged the important role emerging econ omies play in global development, high-
lighting their specificities and acknowledging their dual role as South-South providers and
aid-receivers. The underlying rationale behind the concept of ‘differential commitments’
was captured in the paragraph proposed by Mexico and backed up by Brazil which
stressed that:
“Today’s complex architecture for development co-operation has evolved from
the North-South paradigm. Distinct from the traditional relationship between aid
providers and recipients, developing nations and a number of emerging econo-
mies have become important providers of South-South development co-
operation. They remain developing countries and still face poverty at home. As
such, they remain eligible to benefit fr om development co-operation provided by
others, yet they have increasingly taken upon themselves the responsibility to
share experiences and co-operate with other developing countries. The Paris
Declaration did not address the complexity of these new actors, while the Accra
Agenda for Action recognized their impor tance and specificities. While North-
South co-operation remains the main form of development co-operation, South-
South co-operation continues to evolve, providing additional diversity of re-
sources for development. At Busan, we now all form an integral part of a new
and more inclusive development agenda, in which these actors participate on the
basis of common goals, shared principles and differential commitments.” (Busan
Outcome Document, par. 14)

84 Based on accounts of various diplomats and officials closely involved in the Busan negotiations; various interviews held between 2011-2013.
85 Based on accounts of va rious diplomats and officials closely i nvolved in the Busan negotiations, July-
August 2011, interviews held in Paris and Mexico City.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
All in all, the final Busan Outcome Document was a much diluted and weaker text than
the Paris and Accra commitments (Besharati 2012a) 86. The Australians, Canadians, the
Americans and civil society delegations were not happy with the Chinese/Indian additions
(Atwood 2012) but compromises needed to be fi nally made in order to accommodate the
new actors. The platform has been very clever ly called the ‘Global Partnership’ to link it
back to the initial MDG8 process. The word ‘aid’ had almost disappeared from the dis-
course (it had been replaced by ‘developmen t cooperation’) and traditional dichotomies
between NSC and SSC had been blurred. The new Busan Global Partnership transformed
the ‘aid effectiveness’ agenda into a broa der ‘development effectiveness’ agenda, which
looks at diverse sources of development fina ncing, policy coherence and a range of issues
advocated by the North, the South and non-State actors.
Southern providers in post-Busan
A more detailed analysis of the overall de velopments post-Busan can be found in my
previous paper (Besharati, 2013a). Because of that this section will focus only on the en-
gagement of the Southern providers in the post-Busan debates. Throughout all these dis-
cussions, emerging economies who are members of the OECD, such as South Korea and
Mexico, have tried to play a mediating role between the traditional donors and the South,
which they still feel strongl y a part of. Korea organised the HLF-4 and Mexico is now
planning to host the 1s t post-Busan ministerial meeting in April 2014 which will build on
their solid international diplomacy experi ence gained from the Los Cabos G20 Summit
(2012), the Cancun Climate Change talks ( 2010) and the Monterrey Conference on Fi-
nancing for Development (2002).
Interestingly, the Busan Partnership for E ffective Development Cooperation is the only
OECD-sponsored mechanism which (at least on paper) is endorsed by all 5 key partners
(Brazil, India, China Indonesia and South Af rica). But one of the weaknesses of the out-
come document was that it left a lot of impor tant details (time-lines, targets, indicators,
and the monitoring framework) to be decide d and operationalised in the post-Busan dis-
cussions. Shortly after Busan, an interim group (PBIG) was set up to assist the old Work-
ing Party on Aid Effectiveness to transfor m itself into the new Global Partnership for
Effective Development Cooperation (GPEDC ) steering committee that would follow up
on the Busan commitments. India and China fo llowed this delicate transition process as
silent but attentive observers, while South Africa, Mexico and Brazil were more active and
vocal in the post-Busan discussions
87. After an initial few meetings, however the major
BRICS economies gradually lost interest in the process and went back to their default
Shortly after the HLF-4, Argentin a wrote a formal letter to the OECD secretariat express-
ing its non-endorsement of the Busan Partnership
88. In the subsequent Spring 2012 meet-
ings of the UN in New York, several of the Latin American and G77 countries debated if
they should withdraw their endo rsement and avoid future references to the Busan process,

86 See also the views of commentators su ch as Maxwell (2012) and Owen (2011).
87 Based on accounts from OECD of ficials and Southern diplomats engaged in the post-Busan talks.
88 Account given by one of the diplomats heavily involved in the Busan and GPEDC processes, August 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
38 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
which they did not view as legitimate and implemented within the correct UN apparatus,
but rather as an agenda driven
by the rich countries (Atwood 2012).
As a result of long-standing and recent histor y, many of the Southern powers still view the
Busan Global Partnership with caution and suspicion, concerned that this might be a ‘trap’
through which DAC commitments and standards are imposed on them and they are pres-
sured into a monitoring and accountability system with rules they do not agree with
Brasilia has historical grudges against the aid effectiveness process which go back to Paris
HLF-2 (see the section entitled “The legacy of Paris”) while Beijing has serious technical,
conceptual and political problems in applying DAC norms to its particular approach to
cooperation (see for instance Xi aoyun / Guoliang 2009; Hackenesch 2009) and Delhi is
still strongly engrained in an ideological North-South divide, which stems from antagonist
G77 views towards the Busan Global Partnership and the concern that the
UN would be
the more appropriate and legitimate forum to discuss development cooperation issues
(Bhatia 2013b; Nairobi Outcome Document 2009)
91. All three countries have made it very
clear that they do not want to be ‘monitored’ or ‘rated’ with indicators and criteria made
by and for Northern development partners (Bhatia 2013; Atwood 2012)
Among the BRICS peers, South Africa stands out as different because its foreign policy is
very closely tied to the position of the rest of the continent. Though not agreeing to many
DAC approaches, Africa all-in-a ll appreciated and pro-actively utilised the WP-Eff plat-
form (Atwood 2012; Besharati 2013 a) and now the Global Partnership, as a space to voice
its concerns and as a mechanism to keep a ll development partners accountable in their
development cooperation commitments with the continent. As such, South Africa contin-
ues to engage in the GPEDC processes though, like its other peer Colombi
a, it has tempo-
rarily stepped back from the global debates to sort out the internal restructuring of its de-
velopment cooperation strategy (Besharati 2013a ). Nonetheless, South Africa and Mexico
played an active role in faci litating the nomination of Indonesia as co-chair of the GPEDC
steering committee (Atwood 2012).
On the steering committee of the Global Partne rship, Indonesia and Peru represent the so-
called ‘provider-recipient countr ies’. But despite this, there is virtually no proper channel
of consultation, coordination, information- sharing, and position-building between the
constituency of middle-income countries an d their representatives who sit on the GPEDC
steering committee. This problem of comm unication between GPEDC steering committee
members and their constituency does not only re late to middle-income countries but also
to Africa, the private sector and ironically even the DAC countries, many of which have
complained that they are not receiving e nough information on progress with the Global
92. This calls for an urgent re-visi ting of the assumptions upon which the
GPEDC was built, particularly to check whethe r capacities are truly in place to allow for
the envisioned constituency-based mechanisms to work

89 The same story was accounted by a UNDP New York o fficial at a meeting in Pretoria in February 2013.
90 Comments made by many Southern academics and policy-makers from discussions held in Shanghai, Delhi, Addis, Duisburg and Paris during the course of 2013.
91 Based also on an interview with a South African offi cial explaining the role of their BRICS peers in the
Busan process, July 2013.
92 Based on interviews with OECD officials and diplomats from DAC and non-DAC countries, June-July 2013.
93 See discussion in my previous paper Besharati (2013a), and Atwood (2012).

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German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
On paper, developing countries are more numerous than donor countries so, in theory, the
South should have a greater bargaining power in the Global Partnership. In practice,
though, recipient countries have far less resources at their dis posal and thus less capacity
to engage in the debates than industrialised countries do. The system is thus still very
DAC-dominated, using definitions, categories, tools, methods and measurements estab-
lished by the traditional donors. Just as it has been in the past for the aid effectiveness
process, the bulk of the funding for the GP EDC activities comes from DAC donors, which
even end up subsidising the travels of Southe rn representatives to come to international
meetings. Although the GPEDC was designed to be independent from the OECD-DAC,
the secretariat of the Global Partnership still operates from within the OECD Development
Cooperation Directorate. The United Nati ons Development Programme (UNDP) who in
Busan was also invited to provide technical support to the system and to assist in the out-
reach and support to developing countries, does not have the same level of experience as
the OECD and is not able to mobilise the required funding to support its GPEDC secretar-
ial role. This might also indicate the low leve l of interest of middle-income countries in
supporting the GPEDC process. As a result, most of the substant ive work is still directed
from Paris which adds strength to the conclu sion from the South that “the Busan Global
Partnership is the same old DAC-run show”
9. Applying traditional norms to emerging donors
An impossible union?
The political processes described in the previ ous sections have provided vivid examples of
the enormous tensions which exist in trying to integrate the emerging economies into the
traditional development cooperation architecture . There are some political forces (mostly
Northern) that push for ‘universality’
95 in development cooperation norms that expect
NSC and SSC to follow the same rules of en gagement and be evaluated under the same
framework. Other views (mostly Southern) strongl y advocate the ‘specificity’ of each type
of cooperation and tend to highlight the inco mpatibility of NSC and SSC that originates
from different histories, follo w different inspirations, paradi gms and premises, and operate
under different models, approaches and deliv ery mechanisms (Bhatia 2013). Development
cooperation from middle-income countries is th erefore a completely different beast, and
some have even gone to the extreme to argue that SSC should not even be considered
ODA (Nairobi Outcome Document, 2009).
Representatives of Southern providers are thus very empha tic in underlining that they
should not be expected to carry the same re sponsibilities and obligations as traditional
96 The understanding is that their small co operation with other fellow developing
countries is done on a ‘voluntary basis’, in the spirit of ‘solidarity’ and free from the con-

94 Almost the exact words were taken from an interview with a Southern diplomat in Paris in July 2013.
Similar comments were made by Southern academics ga thered at a conference in Shanghai in January
95 Highlighted by Elizabeth Sidiropoulos at the workshop on ‘Development Agencies in Emerging Pow- ers’ held in Mexico City, August 2013.
96 Views gathered through interviews with numerous officials from various BRICS and other middle- income countries in Pretoria and Paris between 2012 and 2013.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
40 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
straints and pressures of externally imposed
rules and accountability mechanisms set by
the North (Bhatia 2013). The old promises of traditional donors do not apply to them,
hence the argument of ‘differential commitments’ (see discussion above on Busan). As
many of the targets of the traditional donors are still unfulfilled, this puts the spotlight on
the emerging economies but this is also seen as a way to distract attention from the his-
torical commitments of the developed countries which are still outstanding
97. These are
some of the many Southern political stances that have animated the debate. However,
there are also some clear tec hnical problems to be addressed. Traditional donors have been
engaged in development cooperation for almost fifty years and have had time to develop
experience and a mature complexity in thei r systems. Middle-income countries, on the
other hand, are still fairly new to this field a nd are still learning and developing their infant
development agencies. Thus capacities are very different: it would be just as inappropriate
to ask an elementary school student to fo llow the same rules as a university student
African governments acknowledge the emergence of new ‘Asian’ donors on the continent,
and appreciate the options they now have of engaging in a variety of development partner-
ships both with old and new pl ayers. Although they acknowle dging the pros and the cons
of these diverse ‘cooperation packages’, recipi ent countries nevertheless do feel that the
basic rules of engagement still a pply to all development partners.
99 The following section
will explore some of these specific deve lopment cooperation principles and discuss
whether they should, or should not apply to Southern providers.
Some common grounds
Politics aside, not all traditi onal aid effectiveness principles are necessarily bad. They
exist for a reason
100 . They are based on decades of e xperience in North-South cooperation
and on what evidence has been shown to work in favour of recipient countries. Hence
Busan and previous HLFs remain a useful fr amework from which all partners (emerging
economies included) can pick and choose what is useful for their pu rposes. Most of the
commitments and principles agreed in Paris, Accra and Busan were in fact requested by
the developing world (including the Southern providers when they were recipients of aid).
Why, then, should they disagree with the same principles when it comes to their outgoing
development cooperation?
Often the same principles and values for development cooperation contained in documents
from the OECD-DAC community are the same as those also contained in SSC documents
produced in Bandung (1955), Buenos Aires (1 978), Nairobi (2009), Bogota (2010) and
other major Southern conferences. NSC and SS C converge for example in beliefs such as
national ownership and that development assist ance should be aligned to the priorities of
recipient countries; in the idea of inclusiven ess and multi-stakeholder participation; the
importance of capacity development; and in th e principle of transparency and mutual
accountability (see Ling 2010; H ackenesch 2009; Chaturvedi / Fues / Sidiropoulos 2012;

97 From interviews with representatives of BRICS countries in Paris and Pretoria from June-July 2013.
98 This analogy was made by an academic and expert in Chinese development cooperation in an interview
in Duisburg in June 2013.
99 Based on interviews with various representatives of low-income recipient countries in Africa, July-
September 2013.
100 Comments of a UK DFID official during an interview in Pretoria, June 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Tortora / OECD-DCD 2011 for more in-depth comparative analysis). North-South and
South-South experiences have al so frequently come together in successful ‘triangular co-
operations’ where many middle- income countries, such as Chile, Mexico, South Africa,
Brazil and Colombia, have played a ‘pivotal’ role by partnering with traditional donors in
the provision of assistance to other third developing countries.
Transparency, accountability and results
Transparency in development cooperation is of important value to all partners: tax-payers,
beneficiaries, civil society, parliaments, ac ademia and the general public, whether in the
North or in the South, all have the right to know how their governments and agencies
manage their development finance. In previ ous sections we have already discussed the
weaknesses of the information management sy stems of the emerging donors, and the im-
plications this has on transpar ency, accountability and reporting.
The shortfalls in upholding this principle is therefore often not the result of a deliberate
political decision but simply of a lack of t echnical capacities and resources in Southern
providers to undertake the thorough reporting ex ercises on a regular basis and at the stan-
dards currently expected by the seasoned development agencies. For the majority of
emerging donors, the real challenge is to ge t an accurate overview from the manifold
agencies in their country engaged in differe nt development cooperation activities interna-
tionally (Besharati 2013b; De Mello e Souza 2013; Huang 2013). In most middle-income
countries, the general population is also more concerned with accountability and corrup-
tion vis-à-vis domestic public spending and less with that related to the relatively small
foreign aid provided in coope ration with other countries.
The Chinese case is, however, an exception wher e the entire political system is not as
interested in democratic acc ountability and the detailed in formation sharing on govern-
ment finance. The exact figures of Chinese ai d to specific partner countries is a ‘state
guarded secret’ (Grimm et al . 2009; Afrodad, 2008), that not ev en beneficiaries or Chinese
academics are able to access
101 due to the sensitivities surrounding the publicising of such
figures and the concerns of repercussions this might have on local constituents (as dis-
cussed in previous sections). The situation has improved slightly however with the recent
public release in 2011 by the Chinese government of its White Paper on foreign aid which
summarises 60 years of Chinese assistance to the developing world and attempts to re-
verse some of the negative publicity that Chinese cooperation has been getting interna-
tionally (see early sections).
While, in their international development assistance, Nort hern donors and their citizens
are increasingly giving attenti on to ‘value for money’ and ‘res ults’, the drivers of SSC are
often of more political and diplomatic nature and are thus less concerned with the actual
development impact. In NSC, the results-ba sed orientation encourages a more serious
utilisation of monitoring and evaluation systems, while in the Southern model, the costs of
undertaking rigorous and complex evaluations might not be justified in relationship to the
small amounts of resources which are being spent on conducting SSC. Rigorous M&E and

101 Based on feedback provided by Afrodad resear chers and academics and experts of Chinese coopera-
tion in private discussions held in Shanghai, Delhi, Duisburg and Johannesburg during the course of

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
42 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
reporting systems utilised by Northern donors ca
n thus become too burdensome for some
Southern providers.
The 0.7% target
One of the most contentious debates is th at concerning the commitment of developed
countries to provide 0.7% of the donor count ry’s GNI to development assistance. The
origin of such a target goes back to the 1960s/70s. The in itial proposal, which came from
the World Council of Churches, was furthe r refined by Tinbergen and by the Pearson
Commission until it was officially endorsed by the UN General Assembly as a parameter
of what was expected from rich count ries to help the poor in the world.
Although in general there is no real push for mi ddle-income countries to adopt such stan-
dards, some analysts have suggested that em erging donors could have a similar target such
as 0.2% (Grimm 2011; European Report on Development 2013). Most Southern policy-
makers and academics have rebutted that this was a standard set by the North for the
North and should not apply to development cooperation from the South
102 . Emerging
donors, in fact, do not have the same historic al baggage as the developed countries, but
rather provide the little they have on a voluntary basis in a spirit of solidarity, friendship,
ubuntu (DIRCO 2011), and neighbourly support. B ecause of this, it would be inappropri-
ate for Southern countries to be pressured in to quantitative targets for external assistance
when they still have so much poverty and soci o-economic challenges at home to address.
And, finally, it would be out of place for trad itional donors to expect a similar effort from
new partners, when only a few European countries (such as the Nordic countries, Luxem-
bourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) ha ve managed to fulfil the 0.7% target in
decades of development cooperation. Interest ingly, some of the middle-income countries
such as South Africa have already surpassed th is amount and are providing near to 1% of
their GDP in development cooperation ac tivities (Grimm 2011; Vickers 2012).
Tied aid
One aspect closely linked to the fair measurem ent of volumes of assistance to the develop-
ing world is the issue of ‘tied aid’. It can ha ppen that a donor country reports that it is
providing a lot of money to a developing count ry although very little might actually go
into the hands of the government and people of the recipient country. This is because
development cooperation is provided in conj unction with contractors (NGOs, companies,
technical specialis ts), overpriced servi ces and products and goods from the donor country.
This is clearly ‘counter-developmental’ as it leads neither to national ownership, capacity-
building nor to the use of local expertise, ma terials and resources. Although it is accepted
that both parties can theoretical ly gain from development cooperation, in principle most of
the benefits of the partnership s hould go to the poorer country.
Tied-aid practices have been longed the subj ect of criticism from civil society and devel-
oping countries (Jepma 1991) and this is why DAC donors have been endeavouring to
gradually ‘untie’ their aid for decades. The ne w donors for their part are starting to grapple
with the same challenges as the traditional don ors, especially as much of the South-South

102 Based on interviews held with Indian, Chines e, Brazilian and South African academics and govern-
ment officials between 2012 and 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
support is provided through technical cooperation which is extremely prone to being pro-
vided via home country institutions and human resources. What is highly criticised, for
example, is Chinese development assistance (e specially financial assistance) to Africa
which is almost entirely provided with Chinese contractors, technology and personnel,
giving little room for the development of loca l capacities and the support of the recipient
country’s industries.
Tied aid undertaken by emerging economies is however to some extent more justifiable
than that from industrialised countries. As discussed earlie r, emerging economies are still
nations that are developing and therefore also need to take care of the development of their
own economies and local industr ies and to assist their experts, companies and banks to
expand their presence in the global markets. The same trend was visible in industrialised
countries at the early stages of their deve lopment cooperation. Prior to the 1990s, aid from
the United States, the United Kingdom, Japa n and Germany was very tied, and even now
smaller DAC donors such as Spain, Greece and Italy continue to provide assistance linked
to their local NGOs and country personnel. This has often been justified on the ground of
having to win the support of local constituencies and electorates in order to release more
Parliamentary (or Congress) funding for foreign aid.
At the same time, while claiming to have untied their aid, many traditional donors require
in their procurement policies service providers who are able to comply with tight regula-
tions, speak the home language and be officially accredited in the donor country’s data-
bases, thus making it almost impossible for co ntractors from third countries to apply for
such tenders (Besharati 2011)
103 . From this perspective, Chinese academics are currently
discussing with their government (Huang 2013) th at, even if China were to untie its devel-
opment cooperation, Chinese products and its workforce would still be competitive in the
global development industry due to low cost s, high productivity and quick and efficient
implementation periods. In prin ciple, South Africa and Brazil disapprove of the practice of
tied aid and officially provide cooperation that is untied; nonetheless de-f acto assistance is
almost always connected to the institutions , technology and experts of the provider coun-
tries, similar to the approach undertake n by traditional donors. The DAC countries’
agreement in 2001 to untie their aid excludes scholarships, food aid and technical assis-
tance (Atwood 2012) which ironical ly constitutes the overwhelming majority of the assis-
tance that Africa still receives from most of its donors (Collier 2008; Besharati 2011).
Coordination and monitoring – a country-led thing!
Coordination and harmonisation have been prin ciples of aid effectiveness discussed by the
DAC community since the first HLF in 2003. Th e rationale of donor coordination is to
avoid duplication, promote coherence, reduce fragmentation and facilitate division of
labour. While the purpose is to reduce transac tion costs to recipient countries, sometimes
coordination can also be costly and time-c onsuming and might not be worth the invest-
ment. For this reason, DAC donors sometimes d ecide to coordinate their aid activities
because it allows them to have a united approach when exerting policy conditionalities on
recipient countries. In recent years, however , coordination and harmonisation have been
generally in decline due also to increased donor concerns wi th visibility (Vollmer 2012).

103 See also

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
44 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
For the reasons discussed above, emerging dono
rs operating in developing countries are
often reticent to coordinate their efforts w ith those of the traditional donors. This has
sometimes led to emerging donors operating in diametrically opposed ways to the tradi-
tional development partners – both positively and negatively (see early discussions). As
emerging donors do not follow the norms estab lished by the community of traditional
partners, their activities in Africa are often criticised for not following the correct envi-
ronmental norms, safety standards, labour re gulations, and quality of service delivery
(Naim 2007; Grimm 2011; Afr odad 2008). Although many universal principles have been
set in the UN, WTO, World Bank, ILO and other international convent ions, much of the
implementation of such standards are subject to the legal and regulatory frameworks of the
partner countries.
The other side of the story is that the em ergence of new donors in Africa is a positive
thing, as it provides partner countries with access to different choices, options and devel-
opment packages. This also gi ves the recipient country more bargaining power as it lever-
ages the strength of each development partner in order to maximise returns on its local
For effective coordination of development cooperation activities to occur, recipient coun-
tries must be in the driving seat and ensure that all the support they receive is aligned and
contributing to their national development priori ties. They must set the rules of the game
and the standards to be followed in the count ry – and enforce them on every development
partner, whether North, South, public or privat e. Strong ownership and leadership is re-
quired by recipient countries in establishing appropriate forums and frameworks which
bring together both traditional donors and new donors under ‘shared principles and differ-
ential commitments’, but nevertheless base d on partner-country development planning,
budgeting and monitoring and evaluation syst ems. National level accountability frame-
works can be extremely powerful and effective – hence the rationale for the Busan call f
‘global light and country-focused’ m onitoring of development cooperation.
Country-level accountability works when ther e are sufficient capacities in the recipient
country to manage the diverse development partners working with them. However it is
easier to build national monito ring systems and exert pressure on partners if there is a
global framework universally agreed in multilat eral fora which partner countries can con-
tinually refer back to in th eir engagements with their donor s. Hence the usefulness of
global and regional standa rd-setting, monitoring and peer re view fora, discussed in earlier
sections of the paper.
10. A framework for South-South coop eration: the time has come!
The bold step of Delhi
The issues, tensions and peculiarities of South-South cooperation in relationship to the
North-South aid system had been discussed as far back as the Bandung (1955) and Buenos
Aires (1972) conferences and have been on the agenda of the United Nations institutions
(namely UNCTAD, UNDESA, UNDP) for decade s. However the movement has picked
up a great deal of momentum in recent year s through conferences such as Nairobi (2009),

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Bogota (2010) and the UNDCF processes. 2013 has likewise been a year filled with de-
bates around the emerging economies in the global development agenda with thought-
provoking discussions held at Addis Ababa, Shanghai, Beijing, Pretoria, Durban, Johan-
nesburg and Mexico City, to name a few mee tings, often organised with the support of
Northern partners.
But one outstanding gesture of leadership coming from the South was the April 2013
Delhi Conference on Southern Pr oviders, entirely funded by the government of India. This
included academics, officials and representati ve from all major SSC partners around the
world, and participation by hi gh-level political figures such as UN Under-Secretary-
General Wu Hongbo and Indian Foreign Secret ary Ranjan Mathai. The Delhi Conference
called for the intensif ication of dialogue and collaborat ion among Southern academics and
policy-makers to encourage better evidence-bas ed analysis, systematic collection of data
and evaluation of SSC. It empha sised the need to share experiences, promote peer learn-
ing, the exchange of knowledge and thus the institution-building of the new emerging
development agencies. It underlined the need to streng then regional and multilateral sys-
tems in order to provide Southern partners with more platforms on which to engage with
one another on issues of common concern in order to help them build common positions
and take up more proactive roles in the larger global fora where developed countries also
participate, includi ng the Busan Global Partnership (see more in RIS/UNDESA/MEA
report, 2013). Some of the ideas discussed in De lhi, as well as at other recent meetings of
the South, will be elaborated on further in th e next few sections, outlining a number of
potential proposals on how to advance the agenda further in the upcoming years.
Improve evidence for learning, ef fectiveness and accountability
Nobody questions the constructive role that So uth-South cooperation can play in interna-
tional development, but notwith standing the stacks of literature on the subject and the
decades of debates, real evid ence of the impact of SSC on the ground is still extremely
thin. As a result, discussions are dominated by the rhetoric of both critics and supporters
of the new donors in the global development lands cape. We have seen in earlier sections
of this paper that major knowledge gap still exist when it comes to precise volumes, im-
pact, effectiveness and the quality of the development cooperation from emerging devel-
opment partners. For all inte nts and purposes, strengthening the evidence of SSC coopera-
tion is now a high imperative.
The development cooperation packages from So uthern partners are gradually increasing
(UN-ECOSOC, 2008-2009, UNDESA, 2010-2013), and thus also the influence of middle-
income countries on the rest of the developi ng world. If emerging economies want to be
taken seriously on the global scen e, they need to be more organised and systematic with
regard to their development cooperation. Ma ny middle-income countries are at embryonic
stages in the establishment of their interna tional development agencies (Chaturvedi / Fues
/ Sidiropoulos 2012), hence it is important that they ‘get it right’ and learn from their own
past experiences, that of their peers, as well as the experiences of traditional development
partners, whether positive or negative. Evaluation is thus key to ongoing learning, refine-
ment and improvement.
Effectiveness’, a word often associated with the OECD-DAC processes, is actually a neu-
tral concept that can also be app
lied to SSC. It is about making sure that objectives are

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
46 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
met, and that desired results are accomplished successfully. The resu
lts and objectives of
traditional donors or emerging economies might be different from one another, however
both want to make sure that their aims are achieved. Thus the evaluation of the effective-
ness of a cooperation programme of any development agency is a necessary exercise. This
is usually done within the framework of th e country’s foreign policy objectives, whether
these are developmental, co mmercial, or strategic.
Related to effectiveness is also the concept of accountability, where both Northern and
Southern donors need to justif y to their citizens, their parliaments and their domestic con-
stituents the ‘investments’ that are being ma de overseas. Accountability towards the bene-
ficiaries or partner countries of the cooperation programme is also critical. Some recipient
countries, particularly in Africa, have reporte d to have experienced similar issues with
Southern providers to the ones they have experienced in the past with Northern donors
104 .
Thus building strong m onitoring and evaluation systems a nd institutional capacities to
provide ongoing evidence for the design and improvement of future cooperation pro-
grammes with the rest of the developing worl d is a priority for all emerging development
A frame of reference for SSC
Having established the need and importance of monitoring, evaluation, evidence and ac-
countability, there needs to be clear parame ters by which these analytical exercises are
conducted. Without clear definitions and repor ting guidelines we cannot come to grips
with the exact volumes of S outhern flows, and without standards and norms we cannot
empirically evaluate the quality and contri bution made by emerging economies to interna-
tional development. By what criteria are we supposed to judge the impact and effective-
ness of SSC?
We have seen earlier in this paper that th e OECD-DAC has spent over 50 years defining,
guiding and creating standards for ‘effective’ development cooperation. For political and
technical reasons, also discusse d earlier, we have also seen that emerging donors experi-
ence major discomfort (to say the least) in fo llowing the ‘Paris aid effectiveness systems’
as their modus operandi. Southern actors in development cooperation do not believe it is
appropriate to assess their inte rnational development activities using the rules, standards
and principles of NSC because this emerged fr om a different historical path, conceptual
paradigms and delivery approaches. They do not want to subject themselves to the peer
review, accountability and norms of a system wh ich they did not take part in devising. It
would thus not be appropriate to judge development cooperation from Southern providers
with the same criteria and standa rds set by the traditional donors.
Although these concerns are all valid, it is not good enough to just refute anything coming
from the DAC, without having an alternative proposal to put on the table. Middle-income
countries need to develop for themselves a fra mework that they are comfortable with in
the evaluation of their development cooperation activities. To build such a framework, one
could begin by distilling the principles discusse d at historical South conferences such as

104 At an Oxfam/NEPAD/Afrodad side-event during the BRICS Summit in March 2013 in Durban, repre-
sentatives from African countries mentioned challeng es with regard to transparency and tied-aid prac-
tices which they had been experiencing with some of the development assistance from BRICS coun-

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Bandung, Buenos Aires, Nairobi, G77, ASA (Africa South America (Forum)), AU, etc. In
order for it to be effective, it would requi re a technically sound monitoring system with
clear indicators and empirical measurement systems. The methodological details on how
to measure the quality of SSC could be ela borated by the rich pool of technical experts
and academics already present in developing countries.
What are the ‘differential commitments’?
Once a framework for defining, measuring and asse ssing SSC is in place, the next big and
sensitive question would then be: Are em erging economies ready to make promises,
commitments and assign targets to their deve lopment cooperation efforts? This speaks to
the concept of ‘responsibilities’ that is a highly politically loaded word. On the one hand,
the traditional donors are quite k een to share the burden of their international development
obligation with the new emerging economies wh ich have gathered much momentum in the
recent decade in the light of slow growth (o r even recession) in industrialised countries.
On the other side, middle-income countries conti nue to insist that they are still developing
countries with lots of poverty, inequality a nd domestic issues to address before worrying
about global public goods. They argue that SSC should be free from any form of ‘obliga-
tion’ (Bhatia 2013) and on the contrary should be implemented on a voluntary basis and in
the spirit of solidarity. As middle-income countries still have fairly limited capacities, it
would be unfair to expect the same level of duties from them as from seasoned donors.
Although there can be a certain degree of tolerance and flexibili ty when applying rules to
the new partners, at some point it will still be important to define exactly what the ‘differ-
ential commitments’ are that are expected from middle-income countries in international
development. Following Busan, Mexico has been urging its Southern peers to demonstrate
leadership in unpacking the concept of ‘differential commitments’ by outlining clearly the
role of middle-income countries in international development, so that traditional donors no
longer have an excuse to slide back on their own unfulfilled responsibilities
105 . African
recipients are also increasingly demanding mo re transparency and accountability in their
cooperation activities from all developmen t partners, both traditional and emerging
106 .
11. Finding a ‘home’ for South-South cooperation
The last few sections have summarised some of the major debates currently taking place
and have highlighted the pressing need to establish a forum where emerging donors can
define, measure, regularly analyse, monito r and account for their development coopera-
tion. An information hub dedicated to the collection, coordination, compilation, process-
ing and dissemination of development coopera tion data from middle-income countries is
needed (UN-ECOSOC 2009). Moreover, a framew ork needs to be created with criteria,
standards, principles and norms to guide effective cooperation among the nations of the
South. Having such a system in place would then encourage peer review, accountability,
exchange and the distil ling of good practices among Southern providers: in short, an entire

105 Remarks made by Geraldo Bracho Carpizo (Mexican diplomat engaged in the GPEDC) at the work-
shop on ‘Development Agencies of Emerging Powers’ held in Mexico City, August 2013.
106 Based on remarks made by government and civil society representatives from Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa (March-September 2013).

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
48 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
system similar to the DAC is also required for the South
107 . The bottom line is that one or
more platforms (Bhatia, 2013) need to be esta blished where Southern partners can jointly
define, monitor and evaluate their devel opment cooperation, encouraging learning and
further development of South-S outh development partnerships.
Such a process will require political suppor t and the engagement by the highest govern-
ment quarters within the Southe rn providers. In previous sections we have seen how for
decades traditional donors have utilised the OECD-DAC as the main forum to systemati-
cally gather aid data, monitor trends, set sta ndards, evaluate effectiveness, review and
learn from one another on how to improve their development assistance programmes.
Notwithstanding the effort of the DAC to ope n up to emerging partners, the earlier work
around the TT-SSC, and finally the Busan effort to create a new more inclusive platform,
most of the big emerging economies are still relu ctant to engage as they see the process as
still very DAC-driven, following a Northern paradigm which they do not agree with.
Different narratives, different approaches an d now ‘differential commitments’ probably
also require a ‘different house’. This implies both a new institutional home as well as a
new physical location where discussions are con ducted. There is still too much historical
legacy linking the GPEDC to the OECD aid ef fectiveness apparatus and this turns major
Southern partners off. For a development c ooperation discourse to assume more legiti-
macy and inclusivity, the policy-making and ope rational centre needs to shift away from
Paris and move towards a country in the South (ideally in Africa).
Critical in all of this is th e issue of who is going to fund such a platform and the entire
system that comes with it? In the past many similar attempts have been initiated, sup-
ported and financed by Northern donors, but this has also made them lose legitimacy. For
the process to retain credibility it is importa nt that the financial and human resources for
establishing and maintaining such a platform also come from the South. The financing of
such a multilateral system needs to be comm ensurate and proportional to the economic
capacities of the participating countries. At the same time, resources in the developing
world are very limited and, although some of the big middle-income countries could po-
tentially afford the bill, there also needs to be enough political will to invest in creating
such new structures.
The issue is indeed very complex. Initial thoug ht must naturally be given to utilising the
current structures existing globally and possibly to starting with fairly loose, informal and
virtual arrangements, before formalising thes e into more solid institutional structures.
Many different Southern experts, academic s and policy-makers have expressed many
different views on how and where to take th e SSC agenda forward. In the next few sec-
tions, I will illustrate a few di fferent options of where such discussions could be hosted
and where the development of a South-South development cooperation framework could
eventually take place.

107 Remarks made by an African official at the Delhi meeting (April 2013) and an Indian diplomat in Addis Ababa (June 2013) have also warned against making reference to the idea of ‘Southern DAC’ or
‘DAC of the South’ because of the negative historical connotatio ns of the institution ‘DAC’ and also in
order not to give the impression that Southern providers are now repeating the same antiquated models
of the North.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Regional systems
A very important role in norm-setting and the accountability of development cooperation
is played by regional organisations that c oordinate the work of several countries and
stakeholders within a particular region. They serve as useful intermediaries between the
national and global frameworks, also stimul ating a good deal of South-South cooperation
among neighbours (Nairobi Outcome Document 2009). In this regard institutions such as
the African Union (AU), the Pacific Islands Forum, the Association of Southeast Asian
Nations (ASEAN), the Union of South Am erican Nations (UNASUR) and the Arab
League (to name but a few) have played an important role in promoting collaboration and
knowledge exchange among developing nations. We have also previously discussed the
role of the APRM as a powerful platform fo r the promotion of accountability between the
African nations. The AU-NEPAD has also f acilitated the development of the African
Platform for Development Effectiveness (AP-De v) and its subsequent mutual accountabil-
ity framework. The African Consensus (2011) emphasises the complementary role of
North-South and South-South cooperation, both needing to be led by recipient country
priorities. Such platforms also allow developing countries to consolidate their views into a
unified and stronger voice which will in turn al low them to negotiate better with bigger
development partners and engage more effectively in other multilateral fora.
A similar platform for development planning, monitoring and cooperation discussions is
similarly provided by many regi onal banks and development finance institutions such as
the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Asian Development Bank (AsDB), the Inter-
American Development Bank (IAB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), to name a
GPEDC: constructive dialogue with the North?
While regional forums are useful, in esse nce the big emerging powers of the South are
scattered across different continents and necessitate the existe nce of wider global fora to
discuss their common approaches to development cooperation. The OECD-DAC has tried
very hard to reach out to the developing world, first through the Working Party on Aid
Effectiveness (WP-Eff) and currently through the Busan Global Partnership for Effective
Development Cooperation (GPEDC ). We have seen earlier how this process benefits from
the decade-long analytical expe rience and resources provided by the OECD, but how at
the same time it also discourages major Southern powers such as China, India and Brazil
from engaging in it because of historical legacies.
Some middle-income countries, however, have c hosen not to take an ‘anti-DAC approach’
and instead to engage with Northern partners in a positive, constructive and collaborative
manner. Countries like Mexico , South Africa, Colombia, Indonesia, Chile, Peru and Tur-
key have recognised the value of engaging in the aid effectiveness process and have also
taken leadership in initiatives such as the Task Team and Building Blocks on SSC and the
GPEDC Steering Committee. Although they share similar concerns to the rest of their
Southern peers, they are engaging proactivel y with the system of the Global Partnership
by trying to change it from within and to use it as an opportunity and space to influence
the development policy of traditional donor s. The view of a such group of ‘OECD-
friendly middle-income countries’ is to thus to improve coordination with one another in

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
50 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
order to consolidate a more unified and cohere
nt position, as they continue to engage in
the GPEDC debates
108 .
Development cooperation by traditional donors has also evolved, improved and come a
long way since the beginnings in the 1970s. A good deal of North-South cooperation is
worthy of merit, and important lessons can be drawn from the experience of traditional
donors especially in connection with transp arency, accountability, results orientation,
monitoring and evaluation. At the very least, emerging donors can ensure that they do not
repeat the same mistakes that traditional donor s encountered in the evolution of their de-
velopment cooperation. This is w hy it would be useful for Southern partners to keep chan-
nels to the OECD-DAC open, learning what th ey can from decades of experience by tradi-
tional donors, and picking and choo sing what is of relevance to their context. Paris, Accra
and Busan remain very useful ‘reference point s’ for emerging economies as well, as long
as such regulations are not imposed on them ri gidly and they are not pressured into inap-
propriate expectations and unrealistic responsibilities to be borne in the global develop-
ment campaigns.
The United Nations
When declining to engage in OECD-led proc esses, countries such as India and Brazil
always refer back to the United Nations as the natural, legitimate and universal forum
where most international issues, including de velopment cooperation, should be discussed.
Historically, in fact, the UN has always been an important platform for the nations of the
South providing support services to the work of the G77. UN bodies such as UNDESA,
UNCTAD, UNIDO, the FAO and UNDP all have units specifically dedicated to support-
ing SSC. Since Busan, many have suggested th at the United Nations Development Coop-
eration Forum (UNDCF) should be a better, more legitimate and inclusive space in which
development cooperation could be discussed. The recent UNDCF symposium in Addis
Ababa (2013) for example hosted a meeting of the Directors-General of South-South Pro-
While being a more broad-based forum in its representation and more closely connected to
the MDGs, there is also a substantial degree of scepticism and concern as regards its his-
torical inefficiencies. The massive UN bureaucr acy has its limits because it operates very
slowly and suffers from the influence of multiple political forces that pull it in different
directions. The sheer number and diversity of stakeholders often make it difficult to reach
consensus and to agree on clear and bold action fo r the future. This has led to a decrease in
political interest in UN forums which are often characterised as mere ‘talk shops’.
Other useful platforms where developed and developing countries come together to dis-
cuss global challenges of common concern are the World Trade Organizations (WTO), the
World Bank (WB) and the International M onetary Fund (IMF). However, once again,
such institutions are also criticised for be ing Northern dominated because voting powers
are usually commensurate to financial contributions.

108 Based on remarks and interviews with diplomats from Mexico, South Africa and Colombia between April and August 2013.
109 Based on interviews with various BRICS officials, June-August 2013.

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Advancing the agenda in smaller ‘Gs’
A powerful forum of world leaders where international development and poverty allevia-
tion has been discussed over the past decade has been the various G8+ meetings (i.e.
Evian-les-Bains, 2003; Gleneagles, 2005; Heiligendamm, 2007), which often included
leaders of the developing South. More recently the G8
110 has evolved into the Group of
Twenty (G20), which has also constituted a Development Working Group (DWG). The
G20 members represent 2/3 of the earth’s popul ation, 90% of global trade and 80% of the
world’s GDP. The G20 is an ‘informal club’ of the world’s economic giants which in-
cludes the major traditional donors (G8), the BRICS countries, and other emerging
economies such as Mexico, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey.
The strength of the G8+, the G20 as well as the BRICS and IBSA (discussed later) is that
they carry very strong political clout as they engage Heads of States at the yearly summits.
Although development cooperation is brought in to the debate, and sometimes even SSC
(see G20 Seoul Summit communiqué 2010), the di scussions tend to focus more on manag-
ing the global financial crises, and there is ge nerally very little appetite for accountability
and peer review (see the outco me of Bali G20 meeting, 2012).
But the main criticism of the G20 (and also s ubsequent groupings discussed next) is that,
at the end of the day, they are still just ‘cl ubs’ representing a smaller group of nations and
are far from being legitimate or adequate in representing the concerns of the majority of
the developing world. As I have discussed in other papers (Besharati 2013a), the tension
of effective international decision-making fr equently lies somewhere between ‘operational
efficiency’ and ‘broad-based representation’. The international development agenda often
moves forward faster with smaller groups of similar nations, hence the successes of the
OECD-DAC and G20. While processes in bigger multilateral forums such as the UN, the
World Bank and the GPEDC are important and need to continue, there is often value in
the work of smaller groups to reach consensus quicker, to make more substantial progress
on certain issues, and thus to a dvance the agenda more rapidly.
In the current political economy, when one trie s to think of a counterweight to the tradi-
tional Western powers, the firs t thoughts go to the Brazil, Ru ssia, India, China, South
Africa (BRICS) formation, the new major alli ance of emerging economies aimed at rede-
fining and rebalancing global pol itical and economic order. At the BRICS summits in
New Delhi in 2012 and Durban in 2013, the announcement about es tablishing a potential
BRICS-South Development Bank raised a great d eal of hopes as regards the expansion of
development financing mechanisms, especially for Africa. Moreover the establishment of
a BRICS Bank would
imply the need for a common international development policy and
an operational framework based on principles and standards which all five countries
would have to agree on. BRICS could therefor e theoretically be a good place to establish a
development cooperation framework for the Sout h – except that most of the focus of de-
bates is currently on financial governance and less on development. In addition, the group

110 The Group of 8 (G8) countries include United States, Italy, Germany, France, Russia, United King- dom, Canada, and Japan.

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
52 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
is technically not a real repr
esentation of the South as it contains Russia which was once
considered one of the imperi alist powers of the North.
A more appropriate platform on which to ha ve discussions surrounding South-South de-
velopment cooperation is possibly the India-Br azil-South Africa (IBSA) Forum. The three
countries have been working very closely fo r some ten years, exchanging knowledge and
experiences among themselves. A ll three countries have strong Southern credentials, a
common history of struggle against oppressi on, and similar challenges of fighting poverty
and inequality. They are all successful pluralis tic democracies that cherish the principles
of accountability and multi-stakeholder participation. Moreover all aspire to playing a
stronger role in a more bala nced global governance system. Although they share the same
challenges of inequality, they also have well-articulated experiences in poverty alleviation
and social protection systems.
Together with China, all three countries ar e among the largest Southern providers, main-
tain significant development cooperation programmes particularly in Africa, share a simi-
lar vision and approach to South-South coope ration, and thus can learn a lot from each
other’s experiences. The three countries have also agreed to undertake more systematic
exchanges between their development cooperation agencies
111 . Since 2003, IBSA has
established a Joint Facility for Poverty and Hunger Alle viation (aka the IBSA Fund 112 ) to
finance development projects across the world. The allocations from the IBSA Trust Fund
are governed by 10 effectiveness criteria that could potentially be refined and expanded
upon in order to develop a development cooperation framework for the South (Sidiropou-
lous 2012; Besharati 2013a).
One strong political drive that brings India, Brazil, and South Africa together is the com-
mon aspiration of creating an appropriate coun terweight to the dominant Northern powers
in order to restructure the in ternational order and create a better representation of the
South in global governance institutions. Hence this sentiment could be cultivated and
channelled to advance more effectively th e SSC agenda. While IBSA could be a very
good platform on which to initiate such debates, the problem lies in the fact that it would
exclude China, which is a very important player and possibly the biggest Southern pro-
vider in the world. Also, the initial enthusiasm around IBSA has also been recently over-
shadowed by the more sensational BRICS alli ance. The decision of President Rousseff of
Brazil to forgo the 2013 New Delhi IBSA summit is also an indication of the loss of mo-
mentum in IBSA
113 . The development of a common cooperation framework between the
three countries could thus poten tially inject some spirit into the process and maybe resur-
rect the almost defunc t Southern alliance.

111 Feedback from various IBSA diplomats, April-July 2013.
112 Every year each country contributes US $1 million to the joint Trust Fund managed by UNDP.
113 See http://globalpublicsquare.b
1/#comment-1196840 and http://www.postwes

Common goals and differential commitments: The role of emerging economies in global development
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
The ‘poorest’ to the forefront
The fora discussed above all have their strengths and weaknesses. This is why to a certain
extent all of them need to be explored a nd exploited to advance the South-South develop-
ment cooperation agenda. Synergies between th ese platforms can also contribute to the
increased accountability of va rious players in the development cooperation landscape. As
most of these ideas are still at early conceptu al stages, we therefore need to observe care-
fully how the political and ec onomic landscape evolves in th e next few years and what
dynamics will emerge in the lead up to the GPEDC minister ial meeting in Mexico in
2014, and shortly after that.
The OECD, the G20, the BRICS a nd the IBSA are all useful, but ultimately they remain
‘exclusive’ groups. Even if th e objective is to include the major ‘Southern providers’,
these groups still exclude a large number of im portant SSC players in Latin America, the
Middle East and South-East Asia. Even if – for the sake of efficiency – work begins in a
smaller group of emerging powers, such as BRICS or IBSA, it will eventually have to be
brought back to the bigger UN forum in order to seek engagement, legitimacy and en-
dorsement by the broader gr oup of developing nations.
Yet, what is maybe more important than i nvolving all the key middle-income countries is
the importance of involving the least-develope d countries (LDCs) who are the prime re-
cipients of development assi stance programmes. Any platform, whether Northern or
Southern, which endeavours to alleviate global p overty, needs to ensure that the voices of
the poor are properly captured, and that the main beneficiaries of development cooperation
are at the ‘driving seat’ of the partnership. Although this has not always been the case
historically, at least on paper traditional donors have also affi rmed this important princi-
ple. Emerging economies clearly do not want to distance themselves from the rest of the
developing countries and crea te arbitrary lines between low-income countries and middle-
income countries which are ne vertheless still the largest basins containing the world’s
That is why, ultimately, country-led account ability frameworks, and monitoring and
evaluation systems to assess th e performance of all development partners is the key way
forward. Better evidence needs to emerge fr om developing countries themselves, particu-
larly in Africa, of the contribution both tr aditional donors as well as new partners are mak-
ing to the lives of the most deprived a nd marginalised populations of the planet.
12. Conclusions: bringing it all together
The exact role and responsibilities of emer ging economies in international development
cooperation have been and still are being much debated in the political and academic are-
nas. To a large extent, definitions, principl es, standards and monitoring frameworks to
assess the quality and impact of SSC still require to be elaborated by the stakeholders
concerned so to increase the effectiveness a nd accountability of such new forms of devel-
opment cooperation.
Although the Busan process has evolved very rapidly, the emerging economies have not
had enough internal discussions to consolidate a common position and understanding on

Neissan Alessandro Besharati
54 German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
these issues and to be able to engage cons
tructively in the Global Partnership debates.
Middle-income countries need more time to develop their own narrative
114 , to consult their
constituency, to develop a clear framework, to define their approach better, and to formu-
late their position on internat ional development cooperation.
Developing a framework and platform for SSC providers would have to be clearly owned
and led by the South (including low-income r ecipients) while the political and financial
investments need to be available for such a process to take place. The process could com-
mence with increased communication and the shar ing of information before evolving into
dialogue, coordination, the setting of common norms and standards, and eventually in-
creased peer review and accountability among partners.
Establishing a framework for South-South development cooperation will advance more
rapidly if it is elevated from political and em otional rhetoric to the engagement of the
technical expertise from academics, economists, think-tanks, civil society and develop-
ment specialists present throughout the deve loping world. Southern technocrats could
assist in the development of appropriate para meters, criteria, indicators and metric systems
to measure the quantity, quality, effectiveness and impact of the development initiatives of
Southern providers. Once the technical blueprints have been developed these would be
discussed and endorsed in the diplomatic ci rcles of the various emerging economies, by
building consensus at summits such as IBSA , BRICS, regional institutions and the United
Nations fora.
While it is important to have a separate Sout h-South cooperation narrative, this eventually
needs to also come together with North-South cooperation to form a consolidated interna-
tional development process which includes i ndustrialised, emerging, low-income countries
and other important development pa rtners (civil society, the private sector, and so on) in a
joint global endeavour. Development cooperation needs to be seen through a more holistic
lens, looking beyond just aid and including cohe rent responses to other important areas,
such as trade, investment, infrastructure, capacity-building, governance reforms, domestic
resource mobilization, remittances and other sources of financing for development. The
debates in the GPEDC and in the UN fora n eed to transcend the old ideological North-
South divide and explore how the flow of money, people, goods, ideas and technology
from both developed and developing countri es can contribute to reducing poverty and
inequality, and help the international comm unity successfully complete the MDGs and
embark with resolve and a united vision on the next post-2015 global development plan.

114 Remarks made by both Mexican and Indian diplomats engaged in the GPEDC.

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Publications of the German Development Institute
78 Reeg, Caroline: Micro, Small and Medium Ente rprise Upgrading in India:
learning from success cases, 299 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-88985-585-5
77 Mahn, Timo: Country-Level Aid Coordination at the United Nations – Taking
the Resident Coordinator System Forward, 146 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-
76 Loewe, Markus et al.: Which Factors Determine th e Upgrading of Small and
Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)? Th e case of Egypt, 288 pp., Bonn 2013,
ISBN 978-3-88985-583-1
75 Mallik, Vidyadhar: Local and Community Governance for Peace and Develop-
ment in Nepal, 179 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-88985-582-4
74 Brandi, Clara et al.: Sustainability Certificatio n in the Indonesian Palm Oil
Sector: Benefits and ch allenges for smallholders, 258 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN
73 Klingebiel, Stephan: Entwicklungszusammenarbeit – eine Einführung, 86 pp.,
Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-88985-580-0
[Price: EUR 10.00; books may be ordered from the DIE or through bookshops.]

Discussion Papers
24/2013 Zulueta-Fülscher, Kimana: Contributing to democratic consolidation and
sustainable peace in El Salvador and th e Philippines. Overcoming the quest for
stability, 33 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-88985-607-4
23/2013 Burchi, Francesco: Women’s political role and poverty in the educational
dimension. A district-level analysis in India, 27 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN 978-3-
22/2013 Wennubst, Pio / Timo Casjen Mahn: A Resolution for a Quiet Revolution:
taking the United Nations to sustaina ble development ‘beyond aid’, 50 pp.,
Bonn 2013, ISBN 97 8-3-88985-603-6
21/2013 Hampel-Milagrosa, Aimée / Markus Loewe / Caroline Reeg: Which Factors
Determine the Upgrading of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises?
Evidence from Egypt, India and the Ph ilippines, 24 pp., Bonn 2013, ISBN
20/2013 Schmitz, Birgit: Macroprudential Financial Market Regulation, 38 pp., Bonn
2013, ISBN 978-3-88985-602-9
[Price: EUR 6.00; books may be ordered from the DIE or through bookshops.] A complete list of publications available from the DIE can be found at: