Aid for “development”? Or instrument conceived to dominate vulnerable economies?

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Samir AMIN

May 2009 


Aid for what development? 

A discussion of aid, regardless of the donor, must begin with lucid consideration of the development vision and strategy adopted by the recipient state in question.  During the 1981 G7 summit in Cancun, western powers, through President Reagan and supported by his European colleagues, proclaimed that they know better than the countries of the south themselves what needs to be done.  The Washington Consensus and structural adjustment programs have translated this position into action that continues do this day, essentially signalling a return to colonisation.  Despite the profound economic crisis, which should, without a doubt, put into question the global vision of liberal globalisation that is not the case.  


Development cannot be distilled to a mere economic dimension – the growth of Gross Domestic Product and the expansion of markets for exports and internal trade.  Instead any analysis must take into consideration its social dimensions, e.g. the extent of inequitable income distribution, access to common goods such as health and education.  

‘Development’ is a holistic process that implies the definition of its political objectives and their articulation such as the democratisation of society and the emancipation of individuals, affirmation of the ‘nation’ as well as power and autonomy of these in the global system.  The choice and the definition of its objectives are at the heart of opposing debates in the long-term vision as well as the strategy and actions proposed for development, including aid.  Importantly, ‘the demise of development’ is general, like that of aid, since dependence increases with time. The search for a positive alternative (‘another aid is possible’, ‘in the service of another, equally possible, development’) should be at the heart of the debate. 

      I   From the Paris declaration (2005) to the Accra Declaration (2008)

The aid debate is confined to a tight framework defined in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) which was written by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and ‘endorsed by’ (read, imposed on) beneficiary countries.  Western powers and international institutions such as the World Bank, through the Accra Agenda for Action (2008), expect to implement the principles that they themselves have unilaterally defined.   

1. Legitimacy

If, as is professed, there are two ‘partners’ in aid – in principle equal – the donor and recipient states, the architecture of the system should have been negotiated between these two ‘partners’.  Yet, the initiative has been unilateral with the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) - a department of the OECD - taking sole responsibility for the drafting of the Paris declaration.  

Like the Millennium Declaration, drafted by the State department of the United States to be read by the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) at the UN General Assembly, the Paris Declaration did not engage the international community.  In fact, ‘non-western’ countries that are not recipients of potential aid, and in particular those that are themselves donors, have, with absolute legitimacy, refused to associate themselves with the ‘donors club’ proposed by the declaration.  To truly engage the international community, a UN commission on ‘aid’ would have to have been created that would have been inclusive from the beginning and truly put each state on an equal footing. However, the process has been inscribed by the triad (the US-Canada-Australia, Europe and Japan) as part of a strategy to diminish the UN and substitute the latter with the G7 and its instruments, which falsely qualifies itself as the ‘international community’.  

2. What constitutes aid?

The DAC definition of what constitutes international aid (ODA) is disputable.  The definition is itself a product of a political strategy, that of ‘liberal globalisation’, established by dominant powers in the global system (the triad) and is fraught with ambiguity and contradiction, since, on the one hand, the definition proclaims some important principles, in particular the right of countries to appropriate aid (defined in terms of ownership) and that of ‘partnership’. But on the other hand it details modalities that render enforcement of these principles infeasible.    

General conditionality, defined by the alignment to the principles of liberal globalisation, is omnipresent: at times with explicit reference to giving preference to liberalisation, open markets and becoming ‘attractive’ to private foreign investors; at other times, through indirect expression such as ‘respecting the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’.  

Within this framework, the Paris declaration is retrogressive as compared to the practices of the ‘development decades’ (1960-1970) when the principle of free choice by Southern countries regarding their system and their economic and social policies was acknowledged.  

The asymmetric relationship between donors and recipients is reinforced by the insistence on ‘harmonisation’ of donor policies. This appealing term  is in reality a call for alignment to the ‘Washington Consensus’ and the ‘post-Washington Consensus’ (barely different), that is to say still within the framework of liberal globalisation.  This harmonisation (the donors club, integrating the World Bank, the OECD, the European Union etc.) reduces the margin of gains afforded southern countries during the development decades. Some Scandinavian countries however, courageously decided not to support the program of centralized development and to support the establishment of autonomous think tanks in the South mandated to freely develop alternative development models.  

Rather than ‘partnership’ the current aid and development architecture ‘strengthens the control exercised by the collectivity of triad states on recipient states.  Again, this is a regression, compared to the achievements made during the Bandung era.  The term ‘partnership’ has been used precisely because that is not what is wanted.  As George Orwell notes, diplomacy prefers to talk of peace when it is preparing war – it is more effective.  

The Paris and Accra declarations, certainly as an attempt to compensate for the contradictions between declared principles and strategies for implementation, focus on, what the South Centre accurately calls, the ‘litany of false problems’, among them:  

(i) The capacity of absorption

The ‘volume’ of global aid doesn’t depend on this capacity, which is impossible to define.  Rather, it depends on the political objectives of the triad.  When the budget of a country is 25 or 50% dependent on external aid, that country no longer has the means to ‘negotiate’ its participation in the global system.  It is no longer truly independent, analogous to the semi-colonies of the 19th century, thus, extravagant volumes of aid are useful, perhaps necessary.   

(ii) Should global aid volumes be increased or reduced? 

The endless debate on the 1%, become 0.7%, defines the terms of this false question.  The volume of useful aid is that, associated with adequate strategies, which allows gradual reduction until aid is no longer needed.  The terms of the false debate elude the true question focusing instead on doubtful and ineffective terrain regarding morality and charity.   

(iii) Aid performance

The principle criteria for aid performance can only be the appreciation of results.  Has aid enabled growth, employment, improved income, strengthened the autonomy of the productive system nationally with regards to external pressures?  Has the aid itself enabled its own redundancy? Instead of this criteria, the Paris and Accra declarations have created a jungle of twelve (illegible) performance matrices and a rating system inspired by that used for the solvability of banks. This procedure is no doubt attractive to bureaucrats but it is certainly useless for the rest of us.  

The declarations reinforced the means of political control of the triad by the adjunction of general economic and political conditionality of liberal globalisation: respect for human rights, electoral and plural democracy, good governance, amongst others.   

Democratisation of societies is a long and difficult process, produced by social and political struggles within the country itself.  This struggle cannot be replaced by sermons from the heroes of good causes, national and a fortiori foreign, or by ‘diplomatic’ pressure. The declarations attempt to ease the gravity of the consequences of the strategies of (structural adjustment, liberal globalisation) by creating a new discourse: that of ‘poverty’ and ‘poverty reduction’, to which aid should give priority.  

    3. Poverty, civil society, good governance: the weak rhetoric of dominant aid discourse

The dominant discourse defines the objective of aid to be the reduction (perhaps eradication in the most ‘radical’ discourse) of poverty, by supporting ‘civil society’ and replacing governance that is deemed ‘bad’ by ‘good governance’.  

The word ‘poverty’ comes from the old language of charity (religious and otherwise). This language belongs to the past, not the present, let alone the future.  It is antithetical to the language developed by modern social philosophers, looking to be scientific, that is to discover mechanisms that engender an observable and observed phenomenon.   

The way it is proposed, the ‘civil society’ that is called to assist aligns with the consensus that: (i) there is no alternative to the ‘market economy’ (a vulgar expression to substitute analysis of ‘real and existing capitalism’); (ii) there is no alternative to representative democracy founded on an electoral multi-party system (conceived as ‘democracy’) substituting the democratisation of society, which is a continuous process.   

Civil society is therefore the combination of neighbourhood collectives, of ‘communities (the concept being inseparable from ideology of communitarism), of local ‘interests’ (school, hospital and open spaces) themselves inseparable from the segments of crumbling ideologies, separated one from the other (‘gender’ understood in a restrictive sense, respect for nature, equally instituted in objectives separable from the others).  Even if the demands of these assemblies that constitute the claimed ‘civil society’ is perfectly legitimate (and it is), the absence of, whether desired or not, their integration in a united social vision implies the accession to the dogma of consensus. In other words, even if these demands were met, nothing would change. This ideology comes from across the Atlantic and is not derived from the historical political cultures of Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.  Despite their varying degrees of difference, these political cultures are those of recognized conflicts of social interests, attributable to creative democracy and the power to imagine alternatives, not merely alternations in the exercise of an unchanged pattern of power.  

In their place, the fashionable and dominant discourse gives eminence to NGOs and sees the state as the adversary. In the ‘third world’, favoured NGOs are often GONGOs (governmental NGOs) or MNGOs (NGOs operating like mafias) or TNGOs (NGOS carrying out donor politics), etc.  

‘Governance’ was invented as a substitute to ‘power’. The clash between good or bad governance is reminiscent of Manichaeism and moralism, substituting scientific analysis of reality. Again, this framework comes from the US, where sermons have often dominated political discourse.   

‘Good governance’ implies that the ‘decision maker’ be ‘just’, ‘objective’ (has the ‘best solution’), ‘neutral’ (accepting symmetrical presentations of arguments), and above all ‘honest’ (including, of course, in the financial sense of the word).  Reading the World Bank literature is like re-reading grievances written by men (and few women!) of religion and/or of law in the ancient Orient to the “just” despot (not even “enlightened”!).  

The inherent visible ideology is employed to evade the real question: what social interest does the power that be represent or defend?  How do we transform power so that it progressively becomes the instrument of the majority, in particular, the victims of the system? Within this framework, the multi-party electoral recipe has proved its limits.  

      II  Geo-economic, Geo-political and Geo-strategic Aid

Aid policies, the choice of beneficiaries, the forms of intervention, their immediate apparent objectives are inseparable from geopolitical objectives.

Sub-Saharan Africa is perfectly integrated into the global system, and in no way ‘marginalized’ as is too often claimed: foreign trade represents 45 per cent of its GDP, compared to 30 per cent for Asia and Latin America and 15 per cent for each of the three regions of the triad.  Africa is therefore quantitatively more, not less, integrated, but the continent is integrated differently into the system.   

The geo-economy of the region rests on two decisive sets of production in the making of its structures and the definition of its place in the global system:

  1. ‘Tropical’ agricultural export production: coffee, cocoa, cotton, peanut, fruits, palm oil etc.
  2. Hydro-carbons and mining production: copper, rare metals,uranium, diamonds.

The first are survival means, beyond the food-production for auto-consumption of farmers, that finance the graft of the state on the local economy and, beginning with public spending, the reproduction of the middle classes.  The term ‘banana republic’ responds, beyond the contemptuous meaning that it carries, to the reality of the status that dominant powers give to the geo-economy of the region.  These productions interest local ruling classes more than they do dominant economies.   

However, what greatly interests the latter are the natural resources of the continent.  Today, hydrocarbons and rare minerals, tomorrow, the reserves for development of agro-fuels, the sun (when long-distance transportation of solar energy will be possible), and, in a few decades, water (when direct or indirect export will be possible).   

The race to rural territories destined to be converted for the expansion of agro-fuels has begun in Latin America.  Africa offers, in this regard, a gigantic possibility.  Madagascar has initiated the movement and already conceded important areas in the west of the country.  The implementation of the Congolese rural code (2008), inspired by Belgium cooperation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) will, without a doubt, allow agri-business to seize large tracks of agricultural land to exploit them, as the Mining Code permitted the pillage of mining resources from the colony some time ago.  Farmers, considered ‘useless’, will pay the price; the aggravated misery that awaits them will perhaps interest the humanitarian aid of tomorrow - the aid programs for poverty reduction! Indeed in the 1970s, an old colonial dream for the Sahel was to expel its population (the useless) to create ranches (Texas-style) for widespread livestock farming for export.  This new phase of history is characterized by the intensification of conflicts for access to the natural resources of the planet.  The triad expects to reserve exclusive access to ‘useful’ Africa (that of natural resource reserves) and prohibit access to ‘emerging’ countries whose needs in this regard are already considerable and will increase. The guarantee of this exclusive access requires political control and the reduction of African countries to the status of ‘client’ states.  

Foreign aid fulfils an important role in the maintenance of states as client states. It is therefore not excessive to argue that the objective of aid is to ‘corrupt’ the ruling classes. Beyond the financial drain (unfortunately well know and for which donors pretend they can’t help it!) aid has become ‘indispensable’ (since it has become an important source of financing for national budgets) and therefore of full political interest.  It is therefore important that aid be reserved exclusively and integrally to the classes in charge, in ‘government’. Aid must also equally interest the ‘opposition’, capable of succeeding the government.  The role of civil society and of certain NGOs finds its place here.  

To be truly politically effective, aid must equally contribute to maintaining the insertion of farmers in this global system, while feeding the other source of revenue of the state.  Aid is therefore equally interested in the ‘modernisation’ of export cultures and facilitate access to common goods (education, health and housing) of the middle classes and fractions (primarily urban) of popular classes.  The client state’s political functioning depends, to a large extent, on these conditions.   

Nevertheless there will always be projects that will escape these criteria of global political effectiveness, expressed herein with lucidity (that others will call cynicism).  Aid that Scandinavian countries (Sweden in particular) provided, during the Bandung era, to the radical and critical thinking and action bears witness to the positive reality of this type of aid.  During the Bandung era and the decades of development, Asia and Africa began counter-geopolitics, defined by Southern states, to push the geopolitics of the triad back.  The conditions of the era – military bipolarity, global boom and the growing demand for Southern exports – allowed this counter-offensive to flourish, constraining the triad to make minor and major concessions in particular instances.  Specifically, the military bipolarity prohibited the United States and its associates in the triad to strengthen their geopolitical power through a geo-strategy founded on the permanent threat of military intervention.   

The pages of this era having turned, the geo-politics of the triad, at the service of its geo-economy, finds itself strengthened by the deployment of its geo-strategy.  Which is why the UN had to be marginalized and replaced, with cynicism by NATO – the armed branch of the triad.  This explains why the discourse around external security of the triad has taken centre stage.  The ‘war on terror’ and on ‘rogue states’ attempt to legitimise the geo-strategy of the triad and hence take prominence.   

     III   The contours of an aid alternative 

1. An abrupt rupture from the current aid architecture is, alas, not desirable. 

It would signal a declaration of war, aiming to destabilise the powers that be and maybe even, beyond that, the destruction of the state.  This strategy has in fact been, and is, used (the blockades on Cuba and Zimbabwe are good examples).   

The choice is not between aid as it is or no aid at all.  The battle must be waged for radical transformation of the concepts regarding the function of aid, as the South Centre argues.  This is primarily an intellectual battle, which should not have boundaries.  This struggle is relevant to all those that propose the construction of another world (better), another globalisation, an authentically polycentric world system, respectful of the free (and different) choice of states, nations and peoples on the planet.  Let us leave the monopoly on the production of recipes for all to the World Bank and the arrogant technocrats of the ‘north’ to impose.  

The moral arguments in favour of debt in the north with respect to the South, giving all its legitimacy to the principle of ‘aid’ (becoming therefore ‘solidarity’) are not without value.  More convincing, and politically grounded, are arguments related to solidarity of peoples faced with the challenges of the future. In particular, the consequences of climate change.  The project to create a convention on climate change (the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC) is an acceptable starting point to envision financing from opulent countries (responsible in the first instance for the deterioration of the global environment) for programs that benefit all of the peoples of the planet, and in particular those that are most vulnerable.  But precisely because this initiative began within the UN, western diplomats seek, at the very least, impede (if not sabotage) its development.   

The elaboration of a global vision of aid cannot be delegated to the OECD, the World Bank or the European Union.  This responsibility is that of the UN alone.  That this organisation is, by its very nature, limited by the monopoly of states, supposedly representing their people, is what it is. Strengthening more direct presence of peoples alongside states deserves attention, but, this presence must be conceived to reinforce the UN and is not replaceable by NGO participation (pulled out of a hat) at conferences conceived and managed by the North (and manipulated by Northern diplomats).  

I would therefore give priority of support to initiatives taken by ECOSOCC (the Economic, Social and Cultural Council of the United Nations) in 2005 for the creation of a Development Cooperation Forum (DCF).  This initiative began the construction of authentic partnerships within a polycentric global perspective.  The initiative is, as one can imagine, very badly received by diplomats of the triad.   

But, we have to go further and dare to reach a ‘red line’.  Not to ‘reforming’ the World Bank, the WTO and the IMF.  Not to limiting ourselves to denouncing the dramatic consequences of their past and present politics. But to proposing alternative institutions, positively defining their tasks and drawing up their institutional framework.   

The debate on alternative aid (united) must immediately eliminate some subjects retained by the DAC under the rubric of ODA which, in reality, is not aid from North to South but, rather the reverse! 

(i) At the top of the list must be concessional loans provided at below market rates. This is merely aggressive trade policy implemented by triad states (somewhat like dumping) from which Northern exporters are the main beneficiaries.   

(ii) Debt reduction, decided upon almost charitably (as is evidenced by the diplomatic jargon that surround these decisions), should not figure under the rubric of ‘aid’. Instead and as a legitimate response, not only morally, to this issue, an audit should be conducted of the debt in question (private and public, from the side of the recipient and the donor). Debts that are recognized as immoral (for instance those that are associated with corrupt operations in one way or another), illegitimate (for instance that which thinly disguises political support as was the case for the apartheid regime of South Africa), usurious (by their interest rates, decided upon unilaterally by ‘markets’, by the full repayment of their capital and beyond it), should be cancelled, and their victims (debt owing countries) compensated as a result for what has been paid beyond what was owed.  A UN Commission should be created to elaboration the international right, worthy of the name.  Of course, the triad diplomats do not want to hear any proposal to this effect.  

2. Alternative aid is inseparable from the conceptualisation of alternative development. 

Although this is not the subject of our debate here, it is nevertheless useful, and necessary to reflect on some important principles of development so as to give clarity to the proposals for alternative aid that follow.  These important principles are:  

(i) Development demands a diversified system of production, which in the first instance engages on the road to industrialisation.   

The tenacious refusal to recognize this necessity in subtropical Africa is remarkable.  How else can one comprehend the reference to the so called “insane industrial drift”, that should be laughable (which country in Africa is currently ‘over-industrialised’!) unfortunately taken up by people in the alternative globalisation movement who are unaware of the real impact of the Bandung era.  I suspect actually some racism for the peoples in question, within this proposal. On the contrary, is it not plain that it is precisely those countries engaged on the ‘insane’ path who are today ‘emerging’ countries (China, Korea, and others)? 

The incontrovertible industrial perspective does not exclude the call to international capital.  Complex and diverse partnership formulae between state and local private capital (when it exists) or foreign capital are certainly admissible, inevitable probably.  But, it only makes sense when liberalism is excluded, as it reduces the creation of ‘attractive conditions for transnational companies’ as the WTO and aid agencies recommend.  Real partnership in strategic decision-making, control of re-exported profits must accompany industrialisation strategies.   

(ii) Diversification (including industrialisation), incontrovertible, demands certainly the construction of infrastructures that do not exist in recipient countries of aid which has become indispensable to their survival. 

Social infrastructures: No development without quality education, from the base to the summit, and without a population in good health.  Here there is potential for financial and technical aid that is indisputably positive, become solidarity.  The eradication of pandemics, of AIDS, are evident examples.   

(iii) Diversification and industrialisation will demand the construction of forms of adequate regional cooperation.  Continental countries can without a doubt do without it but, for those of ‘medium’ population size (from 50 millions upwards) can initiate the process alone, knowing that they will rapidly reach terrain that they will only pass through with regional cooperation.   

The form that regional cooperation takes must reinvent itself to be coherent with the objectives of the type of development spelt out here.  Regional ‘common markets’, which dominate the institutions in place currently (when they exist and function) are not in line with this development as they are conceived as blocs constitutive of liberal globalisation.  I refer here to my paper ‘Regionalisation, which regionalisation?’.  

(iv) Rural and agricultural development must be at the center of the definition of a strategy for another development, not just presently but even for more strongly in the long succession of advanced phases of development.   

It is not enough here to proclaim the priority of agriculture as many do.  The type of agriculture must also be defined.  Coherent alternative development with diversification as its objectives imposes the translation of some grand principles into concrete policy:

- Give priority to food producers within the food sovereignty (as defined by Via Campesina) and not food security framework. 

The latter, promoted by the World Bank and retained by the Paris and Accra Declarations, is the origin of the on-going food crisis. 

This priority implies not only that farmers produce more to first feed themselves (the majority of under-nourished people are rural), but also to produce the excess necessary to satisfy the urban demand.  This is obviously part of ‘modernisation’ policy certainly different from the models of modernisation that farmers of the developed world today were submitted to. 

- Conceive development policy on agriculture founded on the maintenance of significant rural populations. 

As equal access as possible to land and the correct means to exploit it, commands this conception of farmer agriculture. This implies agrarian reform, strengthening of cooperation, adequate macro-economic policies (credit, provision of inputs, commercialisation of products).  These measures are different to those put in place historically by capitalism in Europe and North America which was founded on the appropriation of land, its reduction into a merchandise, a rapid social differentiation of peasantry and the rapid expulsion of ‘useless’ rural surplus.   

The option recommended by the dominant system, not put into question by the Paris and Accra Declarations, is situated at the antipodes of advanced principles.  Founded on the financial profitability, short-term productivity (rapidly increasing production, at the cost of accelerated expulsion of farmers in surplus), it responds certainly well to trans-national interests of agro-business and of an associated new class of farmers, but not to that of popular classes and the nation.   

- Radically put into question liberal globalisation of production and international commerce of agricultural and food products.  On these important questions, we can only refer to Jacques Berthelot’s remarkable work which provide the best analysis of the catastrophes that liberalisation has produced, and continues to produce, the best arguments notably concerning the fundamental asymmetries that characterize the Cotonou Convention, the so called projects of “economic partnership”, the debates on the subvention of exports from the North and more generally the negotiations at the heart of the WTO.  The rebirth of farmers movements in francophone west Africa, organised within the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa, a stakeholder in our debates, bears witness that the option for the farmers path is necessarily in conflict with the dominant productivist options in the circuit organized by the OECD, the WTO and the EU.  The alternative passes by national policy of construction/reconstruction of national stabilisation funds and support for the concerned products through the implementation of common international funds for base products, permitting an effective alternative reorganisation of international markets of agricultural products.  I would also refer here to the propositions made by Jean Pierre Boris.   

(v) Alternative development framework provided here imposes a true mastering of economic relations with the exterior, amongst them the abandonment of the ‘free trade’ system claimed as ‘regulation of the market’, to the benefit of national and regional systems of control of rates of foreign exchange.  Beyond the impossible reform of the IMF, the answers to the challenges invites one to imagine the putting in place of regional monetary funds, articulated in regards to a new system of global monetary regulation, which the current crisis makes more necessary than ever.  ‘Reform’ of the IMF doesn’t respond to these necessities.  In a more general sense, the understanding of external relations, which isn’t self-sufficient, defines the contours of what I have qualified as ‘delinking”, to be constitutive element incontrovertible of the emergence of a negotiated globalisation.  This development equally demands control of national natural resources.  Alternative development is founded on the principle of priority given to national and regional internal markets and in this framework to the markets that respond in the first instance to the expansion of the demands of the popular classes, not to the global market. This is what I can an auto-centred development.


     3. We should, taking as a point of departure the criteria in the preceding section, do an inventory of the aid that countries receive. 

(i) the principle of international solidarity of peoples, which I defend, legitimizes support for struggles for democratisation of societies, associated with social progress and efforts of critical radical reflection.  Does aid currently inscribe itself within this perspective?  Aid provided to ‘NGOs” that accept submission to dominant conceptions regarding ‘democracy’ that is reduced to multiparty-ism, dissociated from social progress and even associated to social regression produced by liberalism, certainly does not.  But it is not impossible that movements in real struggle for democratic and social progress can benefit from material support expressing moral and political solidarity.  

(ii)An important fraction of aid to NGOs is inscribed within a strategy of substituting the state for ‘civil society’ in regards to meeting the essential needs of public services.  The danger is obvious: this form of ‘aid’ entails the ‘destruction of the state’.  The Mozambican example is a well-researched case.  What is necessary is a transfer of this aid towards the reconstruction of the state and its capacity to fulfil its functions (public service in education, health, providing water and electricity, public transportation, social housing, social security) and which neither private (who would reserver for themselves the only profitable margins), nor the associative (even benevolent) can respond to correctly.   

(iii) There will always remain a zone of intervention in the name of universal human solidarity that is perfectly legitimate. Assistance to victims of natural disasters, to refugees produced en masse by war, can never wait.  It would be criminal to refuse aid under the pretext that nothing has been established to avoid the deterioration of the underlying causes of these catastrophes (notably wars).  However, unacceptable political exploitation of ‘humanitarian’ situations nevertheless poses a danger. Numerous examples exist.   

On the other hand, immediate assistance doesn’t exclude the opening of the file regarding the causes of the catastrophe.  On the contrary, critical independent reflection of these problems and engagement in necessary social struggles needed to redress these deteriorated struggles must be supported beyond the immediate ‘humanitarian’ intervention.   

    4.   North-South cooperation is not exclusive. 

South-South cooperation existed during the Bandung era and demonstrated its effectiveness within the conditions of the era.  Support by the non-aligned movement, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), China, the Soviet Union and Cuba, for liberation movements of Portuguese colonies, in Zimbabwe and South Africa, was important and at times decisive.  At the time, cooperation of triad countries was absent other than from Sweden and some other Scandinavian countries, as their diplomatic priority was to NATO (which includes Portugal) and support of apartheid.   

Today ample opportunities exist to renew South-South cooperation.  The South has the means to break the monopoly upon which the supremacy of the triad rests.  Certain countries of the South have become not only capable of assimilating the technologies that the North seeks to over protect (precisely because they are nevertheless vulnerable) but also to develop these themselves.  If they wish to push these towards a different model of development, more apt to the needs of the South, this could open a large field in South-South cooperation. Countries of the South could equally give priority of access to the natural resources that they control, to the strengthening of their own industrialisation and to that of their partners within South-South cooperation.  Certain Southern countries have financial resources that instead of being placed on the financial markets and monetary control of the triad, themselves collapsing, could shatter the monopoly of the North in this domain and the bribery of aid that accompanies it.   

These propositions are not romantic.  Diplomats of the triad have taken menacing measures in aligning themselves with the insane project of ‘military control of the planet’ nevertheless become necessary to perpetuate the supremacy of their economies in crisis.   

The South can do without the North, the reverse is not true.   

But for that, the elites of the South must liberate themselves from their internalised dependency thinking, stop thinking that aid is a condition for development of their societies.   

The South Centre insists, with reason, on this major point of debate regarding the future of development.  


In the order of their appearing in the text 

  • Yash Tandon, Ending Aid Dependence, South Centre, Genève 2008.
  • Samir Amin, The Millenium Development Goals, Monthly Review, March 2006.
  • Georges Orwell, 1984..
  • Samir Amin, Africa in the Global System, in, Helen Lauer (ed), History and Philosophy of Science, Hope Public, Ibadan 2003.
  • Samir Amin et Bernard Founou-Tchuigoua, Les régionalisations, quelles régionalisations ? Site Web FTM ; partiellement in S. Amin et alii, Afrique, exclusion programmée ou Renaissance, Maisonneuve et Larose, 2005, pp 129 et suiv.
  • Abdourahmane Ndiaye, L’avenir des sociétés paysannes en Afrique de l’Ouest, critique des travaux du Club du Sahel, Site Web FTM.
  • Jacques Berthelot, TWF Web site
    1. WTO and the South
    1. The Agrarian question
    2. Démêler le vrai et le faux dans la flambée des prix agricoles
    3. Cinq bonnes raisons pour ne pas signer l’APE-AO

Jacques Berthelot , L’agriculture , talon d’Achille de l’OMC.,  web site Third World Forum

   Jacques Berthelot, Quels avenirs pour les sociétés paysannes de l’Afrique de l’Ouest ?,ibid 

  • Jean Pierre Boris, Le roman noir des matières premières, Pluriel, 2005.
  • Samir Amin et alii, Les luttes paysannes et ouvrières face aux défis du XXI ième siècle ; les Indes Savantes , Paris 2005 ; ref peasant struggles in Asia and Africa
  • Mahmood Mamdani, Citoyen et sujet, l’Afrique contemporaine et l’héritage du colonialisme tardif ; Karthala 2004.
  • Archie Majeje, The agrarian question, access to land and peasant responses in Sub Saharan Africa, UNRISD
  • Issa Shivji , interviewed by Marc Wuyts
  • Sam Moyo, Land in the political economy of African development

  More can be read in the French document under the title:

  “L’aide au développement, instrument de soumission des économies vulnérables, le cas du Niger »

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