What the...Bush Hosts Int'l Development Summit

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/21/2008 12:50:00 PM
I keep coming across an Associated Press report that states outgoing US President Bush is set to host an "international aid summit" today. Visiting the White House page listing the summit's schedule of events, it turns out that the AP mistitled the article. You would invite a lot of criticism if you viewed development as synonymous with aid; indeed, there are those like William Easterly who say that aid detracts from rather than bolsters development. Thankfully, this summit is not focused on gathering more aid as Bush himself makes clear.

Moreover, it is not apparent to me why Bush would like to emphasize aid in relation to the other topics to be covered at the summit alike HIV/AIDS and good governance. To say the US is falling short on the aid commitments established at the Gleneagles summit of 2005 would be an understatement. While the US is indeed the world's largest donor, its contributions as a percentage of GDP are dead last among OECD development assistance committee (DAC) members.

Ah well, it's always good to hear a counterpoint, so here's the White House blurb on today's events. Unsurprisingly, emphasis is being placed on demonstrating results (which places the burden of proof on recipients) instead of on meeting aid targets (which places the burden of proof on donors):
"For decades, the success of development aid was measured only in the resources spent, not the results achieved. Yet, pouring money into a failed status quo does little to help the poor, and can actually delay the progress of reform. We must accept a higher, more difficult, more promising call. Developed nations have a duty not only to share our wealth, but also to encourage sources that produce wealth: economic freedom, political liberty, the rule of law and human rights."

– President George W. Bush, 3/22/02

On October 21, President George W. Bush will deliver remarks at the White House Summit on International Development in Washington, D.C. Attended by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, musician and activist Bob Geldof, National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, and other public and private-sector leaders, the Summit will focus on the Administration's core principles that have transformed the U.S. approach to international development by linking assistance with results. This approach is producing historic, life-saving results for millions around the globe.