Seamus Jeffreson

Seamus Jeffreson

CONCORD Director

Article written by Seamus Jeffreson, CONCORD Director.

I was invited to speak on October 27th at the International Conference “Development and Democracy” in Bratislava, organised by the Pontis Foundation in the framework of the Slovak Presidency.

Find below my full speech as well as the background document for the conference.

How can development cooperation and humanitarian assistance work better together to address current migration and security challenges?

The first point to make is that neither development cooperation nor humanitarian aid are designed specifically to ‘address migration and security challenges’. Development cooperation is aimed at fighting poverty and inequality while humanitarian aid is there to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable in emergencies and crises.

Some of us in civil society working on development cooperation begin to get the impression that talk of the ‘modernisation’ of development policy – as Jean Claude Juncker called it in his ‘State of the Union’ speech – is a move by European states to re-fashion development and other policies to ‘manage’ or somehow ‘stop’ movements of people to our shores.

My colleagues have addressed the issue of humanitarian aid – I would just underline the question; do we wish to re-direct humanitarian aid from the most needy cases to countries and situations that European governments feel meet their migration control objectives?  If the answer is no, we should support mechanisms to monitor how humanitarian aid is directed to ensure we are not taking from those that need it most.

Development cooperation can best help address root causes of forced migration when the principles to make development effective are met.  These principles have been the subject of many years of experience and hard work among donor countries, partner governments, civil society and other actors.  They are enshrined in the Busan agreement. Because experience shows us that if we do not have programmes that support national development plans in partner countries, if donors pursue their own objectives (trade promotion for instance), if people affected are not involved in decisions – our efforts will not be successful.

As the CONCORD AidWatch report 2016 (published yesterday) points out – European donors are not making sufficient progress on the implementing these principles – indeed in the effort to manage movements of people, our very principles are called into question.

Development cooperation cannot address the challenges we and our partners in neighbouring countries face if not properly resourced.  I think sufficient public understanding and support can be built around the need to tackle issues that affect us whose origins lie beyond our borders.  We can make the case on the need to invest in these root causes.  What we see in reality is that European governments are trying to pay for numerous and related but different challenges from the same pot.

Funding inside Europe on refugees, support for security and support for climate adaptation and mitigation is all coming from the same aid budget.

More resources are needed and they need to be provided in a way that is additional to existing needs and commitments for development assistance – anything else, an approach that ‘robs Peter to pay Paul’ seems simply short-sighted. It will catch up with us in the long run.  Creative ideas of how to raise this money to meet the ambitions of the agenda 2030 for sustainable development and to leave no one behind are needed.  The European Commission is proposing to leverage loans from the Banks to increase investments in Africa – welcome, but the early results of the in-Europe investment plan seem to indicate investment going to wealthier countries and even to investments – like support for fossil fuel infrastructure – that go against Sustainable Development Goals.  So, we need to make sure that the funds we raise do not work against our objectives.

There are other ideas about ways of using the EU’s creditworthiness to raise funds for the investments needed to address the challenges we face (George Soros). And a source that has received surprisingly little attention given the potential for public support is ensuring a more just taxation system. In addition to encouraging external foreign investment Europe’s governments should be taking more robust steps together to reverse the outflow of resources from Africa.  – Sub Saharan African countries lost US$75 billion in illicit financial flows in 2013 – 6.1% of GDP.

Finally, development policy needs to be working in tandem with other policies – in the case of migration, the opening of credible, visible and efficient channels of regular migration.

Development cooperation has its part to play in tackling the migration challenges we face in Europe and more dramatic challenges that countries of origin or transit face.

In our world of interconnected and universal challenges – a modern ‘development cooperation’ policy needs to increase the emphasis on Cooperation and on securing the resources that exist, but that we allow to be so unequally distributed.

A background document of the conference, I was asked to reflect on the impact of last year’s European Year for Development and on the challenges for NGOs of the current movements of people to Europe. Find the document below.