Select Committee on International Development Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 1-19)




  1. Minister, thank you very much for coming this morning to talk about Africa. Before we start, I think generally as a Committee we welcome the announcement yesterday of the extra £1.5 billion in the overseas development budget to 2006, which I think gets us up to 0.4 per cent of GNI, which although it includes money for debt relief, goes further than the G7 average and perhaps particularly notable and good news was that the amount allocated to international development was double the amount given to the Ministry of Defence. Perhaps there is a signal there for colleagues elsewhere in the world to take note. Of the four horseman of the apocalypse which face Africa, that is famine, AIDS, corruption and conflict, I suspect that the one with which the Foreign Office most closely interfaces is conflict. I just wondered how you and your colleagues in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office saw the international community helping with conflict resolutions in Africa. We have heard a lot about prospects of peace in Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, but I would welcome your thoughts on what progress you think has been made there. We have a large military presence in Sierra Leone but, no sooner do we seem to have resolved one area, than another area of conflict emerges. Clearly the situation in, for example, Zimbabwe is pretty depressing. I welcome your thoughts on how the Office see helping resolve conflict resolution in Africa.

  (Baroness Amos) There is no doubt that conflict has destroyed or has the potential to destroy many countries in Africa. Both in terms of our foreign policy priorities and also in terms of our development priorities, it is absolutely critical that we not only deal with the countries that are currently in conflict but that we try to work to prevent conflict and, in that sense, Africa is the continent where we have to put in our best efforts. The G8 Africa Action Plan makes specific reference to the conflicts in DRC, Angola and Sudan because there was very strong feeling that, with concerted international effort, we could consolidate the very fragile peace in Angola following the signature of agreement between UNITA and the Government of Angola and that there is a real opportunity in the DRC and we saw last week that, in the margins of the OAU meeting in Durban, there were some positive signs about the possibility of greater progress in DRC. We also feel that the work we have been doing with the US and with the Norwegians in Sudan could also bear fruit in the coming year. These are sensitive and complicated areas where we need to work with our African partners, where we need to support the initiatives that are coming out of Africa and where we need to ensure that the role played by the international community is a positive and not a negative one. In saying that, I am thinking particularly about the fact that countries like ourselves and France, and Belgium to a certain extent, have a particular history in those countries and it is very important indeed that we do not bring the negative elements of that history into our consideration of the future of those countries. We have seen the commitment by this Government to work collaboratively across Government with the establishment of the Conflict Prevention Pool and that has been very important indeed. On Sierra Leone, we know that we need to work very hard to consolidate the democratic process there. We are all very pleased indeed at the outcomes of the election and that we managed to have an election process that was broadly judged by the international community to reflect the wishes of the people of Sierra Leone. I myself will be chairing a meeting of the Security Council in New York on Thursday looking at the Mano River Union because we must take on board what is happening in Liberia and Guinea and the potential that continues to exist for destabilising Sierra Leone in that respect. So, we recognise the importance of dealing with conflict, not just in terms of resolution but prevention and consolidating peace when it happens.

  2. Would you like to say a little more about the Conflict Prevention Pool. That is a piece of shorthand that maybe is worth expanding on a little.
  (Baroness Amos) In countries like Nigeria, for example, where we have seen a number of different ethnic conflicts arising over the years, you feel it is important that we not only work with the Government of Nigeria with respect to those conflicts in ensuring that they do not spread across the country—we must remember that a quarter of all Africans live in Nigeria—but that it is important for us to work with the Government of Nigeria to ensure that the right kind of secure and stable environment exists within the country. So, it is working on areas like working with the Nigerian Government with respect to reform of the armed forces and working with them on reform of the police services, for example. It is that kind of work that must improve in terms of conflict prevention.

Tony Worthington

  3. Can we talk about NEPAD and how it is going. When we got to know of it, it seemed like a bolt from the blue; it was very, very welcome. I think that there are two issues, really. For it to succeed, it is going to need a superstructure bringing together the nations of Africa and the previous pan-African organisation has been eliminated and a new organisation is there. Is that going to be the structure for harmonising across Africa? The other and perhaps the most important part is about the ownership of NEPAD. In informal discussions with African politicians, one does not get the impression that it has moved in a very significant way on to their agenda and, if it is not on their agenda, it is not on civil society's agenda. What is your impression of how both these areas are developing, first of all at the pan-African level and within countries about ensuring that it is more than a declaration, it is the involvement of a continent?
  (Baroness Amos) I think there are probably three different elements in there. Can I first of all say that, in a way, NEPAD was not a bolt from the blue in the sense that there was a process that started off with something called the Millennium Africa Plan which was brought through and developed by President Mbeki at the end of the 1990s. That was brought through together with an initiative by President Wade of Senegal which was the Omega Plan, which was very much about infrastructure development in Africa. That then became the New Africa Initiative which became the New Partnership for Africa Development. So, there was a process of development over three years. In terms of the structure and how I think Africans want to see this development developed, there is no doubt that there was a discussion about the best institutional arrangements for NEPAD. When this was first considered, it was very much seen an exclusive process where a number of like-minded governments in Africa could work with a number of like-minded governments in the west and then demonstrate the value of working together in terms of promoting development. By last year, what had happened was that the New Africa Initiative, which was considered at last year's OAU meeting, was brought into the structure of the OAU, so it became an inclusive rather than an exclusive process, but with a small secretariat funded by the South Africans and located in South Africa operating separately to the OAU but delivering a concept that had been endorsed by the OAU. At the most recent meeting in Durban, there was still ongoing discussion as to how this will work in practice. We continue to have the secretariat which will service NEPAD but there is an Implementation Committee which is made up currently of 15 Heads of State and this will be expanded to 20 Heads of State chaired by President Obasanjo. The peer review process which has been agreed will now be brought under the umbrella of the African Union. We do have some concerns about that in the sense that the African Union is growing up now out of the process that was the OAU. We have discussed in the past with our colleagues in Africa the fact that it can be a somewhat bureaucratic structure with which we have to deal. So, we do have some concern that we do not want to see the lightness of touch which we had in developing NEPAD through the NEPAD Secretariat and the Implementation Committee lost by the fact that there is now greater integration into the OAU structure. However, I think it is much too early to say whether or not there will be a superstructure. I think that the core objective for African countries, as it has been explained to me, is that they would like countries to self-select in and recognise that NEPAD will bring them benefits rather than countries being excluded from NEPAD at the outset of the process. In terms of the civil society agenda, concerns have been expressed by civil society organisations in Africa, but also in the UK and in other countries, that there had been a lack of consultation with civil society organisations with respect to the development of NEPAD. One of the things that we have been trying to say is that this is not an exclusive process. While it is important to recognise that the leadership of NEPAD is coming from within Africa and from within African governments, civil society organisations have been arguing over many years that they want to see that kind of leadership demonstrated by governments in Africa. To then argue with the governments that then have a vision and demonstrating that leadership I think is slightly problematic. Having said that, I do think it is important that the consultation processes continue with civil society organisations. There have been some over the last year and African leaders themselves are committed to continuing that consultation.

  4. You referred to the peer review mechanism. I would like to know a little more about the Government's declaration and that peer review mechanism which I understand was to be approved at the meeting of the African Union last week. Could you let us know the outcome of that and what is being said in the declaration on democracy, political, economic and corporate governance.
  (Baroness Amos) The process that has been developed is that the UN Economic Commission on Africa has been working with the NEPAD Secretariat to develop the core elements of a peer review process which would be used within the context of NEPAD. That peer review process is extremely comprehensive and quite lengthy. I would be very happy to ensure that copies are made available to the Committee, but it runs through the structure of the peer review process and the fact that participation will be open to all Member States of the African Union. It is proposed that the operations of peer review process would be directed and managed by a panel of between five and seven eminent persons who would be Africans who had distinguished themselves in careers that are considered to be relevant to the work of the peer review mechanism and it is proposed that the members of the panel would serve up to four years. The paper then goes into the types of the peer review mechanism and the programme of action and identifies four types of review. The first would be a country review which would be the base review carried out within 18 months of a country becoming a member of the African peer review process. Then there would be a periodic review that would take place every two to four years. In addition to that, a member country could ask for an additional review that is not part of the mandated periodic reviews and, if there were early signs of impending political or economic crisis in the member country, that would be sufficient cause for instituting a review. So, it is an extremely comprehensive process. It then goes through what the stages of the peer review process would be. I think the test will be the implementation of this. A considerable amount of work has gone into developing the peer review process, but the acid test will be implementation once the weaknesses have been identified in member countries in terms of political and economic governance and recommendations have been made with respect to ways of dealing with that, the extent to which that is taken on board by member countries and the process that is used by other countries to hold those countries accountable to the recommendations that have been agreed.

  5. These are early days and I can see the power of the peer review has been missing, but how does that link in with poverty reduction strategies, which is also about reviewing, and NEPAD, which is about partnership which must also be about reviewing? Is there any thinking coming forward about that?
  (Baroness Amos) The link with NEPAD is absolutely clear. From the African perspective, the African peer review mechanism is the core element of the NEPAD process. This is about African leaders talking about holding each other accountable and the peer review mechanism which has been developed for NEPAD is central to that. In terms of the processes which are gone through PRSPs, the relationship between the two has not yet really been thought through and there are elements of the peer review process which are very similar to the elements that countries go through when they are developing a poverty reduction strategy. So, this is further work which I think will be developed as the peer review mechanism comes on stream. May I just say one further thing in relation to that. One of the issues we have been working very hard to ensure is that we do not burden countries too much with respect to PRSP process and I think that one of the issues we would have to work to ensure is that the capacity of resources of African countries is not all channelled into PRSPs and/or doing the African peer review mechanism which actually then prevents implementation of the strategies and policies which will deal with poverty reduction.

Mr Robathan

  6. Minister, I agree entirely with your last comment and also I agree with your acid test because I come to this with a certain amount of scepticism. I understand—and correct me if I am wrong—that the peer review will be voluntary and is it the case that the results will be published?
  (Baroness Amos) It will be voluntary in the sense that countries will choose to opt in and, yes, it will be a transparent process and the documents will be published.

  7. Has there been any discussion about what indicators will be used or is that still in the discussion process?
  (Baroness Amos) There have been discussions about indicators. There are complicated indicators that look at what is happening to a country in terms of its economy, looking specifically at some of the macro-economic indicators but also political indicators including the state of its legal structure, for example whether a country has a parliament or not, how often it has elections and a whole range of indicators that fall squarely within governance criteria.

  8. Can I turn briefly to the idea of a reciprocal accountability which I understand came out of the G8 summit, that donor behaviour would be assessed by African countries. Might the Economic Commission of Africa participate in the OECD's peer review process? Is that planned? I do not know a great deal about that.
  (Baroness Amos) What currently exists is a process within the OECD, which is a peer review process for member countries of the OECD. What has been proposed is that African countries could participate in those peer reviews of those OECD countries with the agreement of those OECD countries. There has been a long discussion within the G8 about the notion of mutual accountability and what this actually means because the core of the G8 Africa is the establishment of a new partnership between the G8 and African countries. What that new partnership is about is that African countries commit themselves through the African peer review process to putting in place and creating the right kind of enabling environment for, for example, investment, putting in place the right kind of structures and policies in terms of governance. What the G8 then pledge to do is to reward those countries that deliver on those improvements in terms of additional support to facilitate their development. The Prime Minister has described it as a `deal'. That is the core of the G8 Africa Action Plan.

  9. I am happy with that as far as it goes. Can I turn to my scepticism. NEPAD, as I recall, was announced by President Mbeki with President Obasanjo and the President of Algeria whose name currently escapes me.
  (Baroness Amos) President Bouteflika.

  10. President Mbeki has famously been rather reluctant to condemn what has been going on in Zimbabwe where we have 46 per cent of the population starving while he is closing down working farms and everything else, not to mention his involvement in lead and diamonds in the DRC. President Obansanjo was of course a military dictator. The Committee recently visited Nigeria and I have to tell you that, having travelled a lot in Africa, I and other colleagues were fairly shocked by what we found. We have a country where, putting it in one simple term, in 1980, the GDP per capita was approximately $1000 each year and it is now somewhere between $300 and $400. Not bad for 20-odd years! Frankly, I was literally appalled and have never been so shocked by the corruption that we saw there in all sorts of ways. I know that Obasanjo is trying but I do not think he has got that far yet. I do credit him with trying. Finally, the situation in Algeria is not good and I am sure your Department's advice to British tourists is not to travel there. I do not know but I suspect it. What I am asking is, what confidence can we have, notwithstanding our optimism, that there will be progress? More than that, if you have a voluntary peer review mechanism, what will happen to the bad performers or those who do not take part in the voluntary peer review mechanism?
  (Baroness Amos) Can I first of all say that the group that is the core group in terms of NEPAD actually involves five leaders: Presidents Mbeki, Obasanjo, Bouteflika, Mubarak and Wade. They are the core, and then there are the 15 who form the Implementation Committee as I mentioned earlier. There has been a great deal of scepticism about the NEPAD process and much of this has been around what is happening in Zimbabwe. I think we all recognise and condemn the continuing levels of harrassment and violence that we see in Zimbabwe. We are all appalled by the humanitarian crisis and the fact that half the population could need supplementary feeding by March of next year. We have been disappointed by some of the reaction by our African colleagues to what has happened in Zimbabwe but we have made progress. The Commonwealth Troika, which included President Mbeki and President Obasanjo, after the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in March, together with Prime Minister Howard of Australia, suspended Zimbabwe from the Councils of the Commonwealth. Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo have worked tirelessly. You will recall that last year, President Obasanjo, facilitated the meeting in Abuja where we sought to deal particularly with land reform in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe made commitments at that meeting which it has not kept and President Obasanjo had worked tirelessly before that process and since that process to actually try and bring about some change in Zimbabwe, and Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo had sought to bring the two sides together by facilitating a process of dialogue between the two parties which had broken down. I know that they have both given fairly strong messages to Robert Mugabe, but I think it is very difficult—and we ourselves have seen this—to fight the degree of international condemnation of Zimbabwe. It is very difficult in a country where those who are taking leadership positions in their country do not appear to care one jot as to what is happening to their people. We have seen the product of economic mismanagement in Zimbabwe which is having terrible consequences on other countries in the region. So, there is no doubt that the situation in Zimbabwe has cast a shadow over the NEPAD process, but it is our strong view that we cannot hold an entire continent to ransom on the basis of what is happening in one country. In terms of peer review process and your question regarding what confidence we have, I think we will have to see what the peer review process delivers. In terms of our own aid budget at the moment, we are already committed to working with those that are committed to the reform agenda. We of course continue to give humanitarian assistance to countries that do not meet the reform criteria, but we will not give significant levels of bilateral assistance to countries that do not meet our reform criteria and that will continue to be the case and that will be the case with respect to NEPAD and the G8 Africa Action plan because the core of the Action Plan is a commitment to good governance, to governing justly, to ensuring that countries adhere to the rule of law.

  11. I do not claim that it is easy and I think the Government's policy is a sensible one. One has to have optimism or one would just retire and, frankly, cry in the corner because of some of the things one sees, but it is not just Zimbabwe of course, is it? Zimbabwe is involved with DRC and I will not go into the details of that. I have recently been in Sudan and there is so much in Africa and of course we want it all to go well, but my constituents ask me, "Why have you been to Sudan?" and I say, "Because a civil war has been going on there for 45 years" and they ask, "Why are we giving money"—not to Sudan but to Africa—"when it is so misspent?" and this is the crux of it, really. It is not just one country. We need to see your acid tests. Do you have any idea how we will enforce in any way G8's views on them if they do not come up to scratch?
  (Baroness Amos) I have two things to say in relation to that. The first and very important point is that Africa is made up of very different countries; they are in very different places and different stages of development. So, you have countries which are in the midst of conflict, countries coming out of conflict and countries which have the potential to be mired in conflict if we do not work on our conflict prevention agenda. We, in the last two years, have seen a number of countries where there has been a peaceful transition in terms of democratic elections. That is not something that we have seen consistently on the continent before. You mentioned specifically Nigeria and some of the difficulties in Nigeria. This is a country that has never, since independence, had a peaceful transition from one democratically elected government to another, which means that the elections which are coming up next year will be a test for democracy in Nigeria. Yes, there are enormous difficulties and great frustrations across a continent where we have seen the capacity of individual countries on the African continent to, for example, meet the Millennium Development goals go backwards. Why should we continue with our development efforts? Because there are a number of countries that are committed to a different agenda; they are committed to a reform agenda, to making sure that they put in place policies which will contribute to total elimination; they are committed to working to clean up public service and to deal with the corruption. It is important that we support those countries to do that and that is an absolutely key element of our development strategy.

Mr Colman

  12. In the FCO memorandum which you have submitted to us[2], you say, "The G8 Action Plan announced in Kananaskis on 27 June is a significant response to NEPAD but not the totality of the international response." What is the relationship between the Action Plan and the work going on in the existing institutions such as the WTO and World Bank? What does the Action Plan add to the existing declarations? What is the additionality?

  (Baroness Amos) I think that the first and most important thing to say is that G8 leaders very much wanted to give a political response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development, so one of the core elements of the G8 response is that this is a political response and there has always been a recognition that the G8 is not an implementation mechanism, that we have the UN, we have independently the European Union, we have the international financial institutions and we have the WTO; we have a host of organisations, including the World Health Organisation, all of which have an implementation element to them. So the G8 Africa Action Plan is not going to create an implementation mechanism. What we see are the commitments which have been made by the G8 being implemented through the mechanisms which already exist. So, it is not setting up a whole new super structure internationally.

  13. That sounds a little marginal in terms of the additionality if it is simply a political statement pulling together everything that is existing at the moment.
  (Baroness Amos) It would be wrong to say that it pulls together everything that exists at the moment. If you think about it, the G8 consists of the eight rich industrialised nations. We have the OECD, we have the European Union and we have a whole range of work which is going on in development terms which is not just narrowed and focused on the G8, and what the G8 made absolutely clear at the beginning of this process was that the G8 response would be only part of the response to NEPAD. It is a comprehensive response. There are eight areas which are represented in the document where the G8 want to see additional action. The additionality here is the fact that we are talking about the richest nations in the world taking Africa and taking development seriously and putting these issues at the top of the agenda despite 11 September and despite the pressures in terms of what is happening internationally. For example, at the time of the G8 meeting recently, we had the centrality of the crisis in the Middle East, we had the concerns about what is happening in India and Pakistan, we had the weight of the terrorism agenda and yet Africa retained its place and its weight on the agenda and at least one-third of the time and the discussion at the G8 meeting was on Africa. I believe that we cannot underestimate the importance of having G8 leaders focus on Africa giving them weight to initiatives coming out of other places. For example, the G8 Education For All Task Force mentioned specifically the work that the World Bank is doing on wanting to fast-track a number of African countries to meet the Education Millennium Development Goals. So, the G8 have committed to increasing their own bilateral resources to ensure that those goals are met with respect to education. I do not think that we can underestimate the added value of that, but also the weight of the political commitment which has been given by G8 leaders and they have said that this, for them, is not the end of the process. They have requested a report at their meeting next year to see how far we have reached in terms of implementing the commitment which they have made.

  14. You mentioned it is good that the rich countries are involved in this, but would it not be better if it were in fact put through the OECD, which of course is the normal way of co-ordinating donor assistance? Would the OECD not be a better counterpart to NEPAD?
  (Baroness Amos) I think it is very important we remember that all of the different organisations will have a response to NEPAD. The G8 response is but one response and the G8 themselves have said that this is the beginning and not the end of a process. In the discussions that we, as G8 African personal representatives, had with colleagues in developing the Africa Action Plan, we actually had a meeting with representatives of what we call the 0.7 group, which is a group of donors who have reached 0.7 or have gone beyond 0.7 because they have an extremely important role to play, and they themselves are sceptical of the role that the G8 is playing given that G8 countries are not the ones with the highest GDP ratios. So, I think we are well aware of that but, at the same time, we cannot underestimate the impact that the fact that the G8 have talked about these issues and that these issues have been at the top of the G8 agenda has had globally.

  15. When you gave evidence to our sister committee, the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, on 14 May, you were quoted as saying, in relation to G8's response to NEPAD, that ". . . at its core, lies the notion of selectivity." What are the implications of such selectivity for poor performers and what will the G8 do to ensure that poor performers are not further marginalised?
  (Baroness Amos) The G8 identified three different categories, as it were. There is the notion of working with what are called enhanced partnership countries and, if I can quote from the document, it talks about G8 countries focusing their efforts on countries that demonstrate political and financial commitment, good governance, the rule of law, investing in their peoples and pursuing policies for economic growth and to alleviate poverty, and it goes on to talk about matching African countries's commitments with a G8 commitment on our part to promote peace and security in Africa, to boost expertise and capacity, to encourage trade and direct growth orientated investment. The document then goes on to talk about the kind of relationship that we would see with countries that do not meet those enhanced partnership criteria and it includes the fact that the G8 would work as a matter of strong principle with countries where the humanitarian need remains universal and the G8 has committed to working with those countries independent of what the particular political regime in those countries might be. On the NEPAD side, part of the reason that they wanted this to be an inclusive and not an exclusive process is that they would like to demonstrate to countries that are not committed to the reform agenda the benefits of the reform agenda and that is very important for them. So, the G8 and NEPAD come at it from slightly different perspectives but, at the heart of the initiative is wanting to ensure that poor performers actually recognise that there are benefits to be had from governing justly and from putting their own people at the heart of their agenda.

  16. Are you suggesting that the donor policy should be in fact to have less overseas aid go to those countries who are poor performers despite the fact that they may be the countries with the very poorest individuals?
  (Baroness Amos) The evidence is that if a country has a poor policy environment, then the impact of the work that we are able to do in those countries is not as great as in countries with a better policy framework and that has been the basis of the way in which we in the United Kingdom have been developing our policy for some time.

Hugh Bayley

  17. I am still not quite clear whether our Government see the G8 as driving the process or whether they see the G8 as having done its part of the job and it would just have a report next year to see what others have done too. So, specifically, is it the G8's intention to present its Action Plan to all the implementation bodies that you have mentioned, to the UN, to the OECD, to WHO, to the EU, to the WTO, to encourage those bodies to support the plan and to play our own parts in implementing it and to seek their commitment that they will do so, since we are members of all these bodies, and then will we be seeking reports back to the next G8 meeting on what the G8 has persuaded others to contribute? In other words, is the G8 leading this process or is it just one of many corks bobbing about in the sea seeking to respond to NEPAD?
  (Baroness Amos) The G8 is driving its own process but it does not see itself as the G8 as driving the process in other fora although individual G8 countries will drive the process in other fora. So, for example, in the context of the European Union, we have four EU countries around the G8 table that will want to bring some of the issues that were agreed around the G8 table and, in particular, for discussion around trade and market access and will want to see that discussion brought into the centre of discussion at the European Union. It is no secret that there is a difference between the European Union countries and indeed between the European countries that sat around the G8 table with respect to trade and market access issues. This is an area where the UK Government have really sought to bring about change. We would like to see fundamental reform, for example, of the common agricultural policy and we want to see greater market access. We will need to persuade our EU colleagues that that is the case. So, there is a G8 agenda. The process will continue in terms of the African personal representatives who were appointed by each of the G8 leaders and we have now been asked to pursue the Action Plan in terms of ensuring implementation by our individual governments, but also to meet collectively to ensure that the G8 as a whole is meeting its commitments to report back to the G8 next year.

  18. I appreciate that the G8 cannot commit other countries and bodies. That must be clear. One would have to go to those other bodies and seek to persuade them that they should support the agenda. This is not an easy project. There have been plans to generate Africa's development in the past which have failed and making this one work is enormously important and it will be enormously difficult. When you have a difficult political goal, unless there is absolute clarity about where the leadership is coming from, it will not happen. I remember six months ago in one of the debates that we had about NEPAD during the formulation process expressing worries about where the leadership in Africa was coming from: from the Economic Commission for Africa, the five Presidents, or from Mbeki's Secretariat. Some progress has been made in Africa; there is the group of 15 and there is the Secretariat, but surely African leaders are asking, "Where is the donors' high command? Where is the centre of leadership?" Who are the people to whom we look to deliver a response from the developed world? If it is a little bit or response that comes from the World Health Organisation and a little bit of response that comes from the EU and a little bit of response that comes from the OECD and others will do their part, there will not be the political leadership and drive on our side of the bargain to make the bargain delivered.
  (Baroness Amos) I was going to come on to that. The Africa Action Plan is a comprehensive document. If I just, for example, go through four areas. The peer review element of this which sits squarely within NEPAD in terms of the African element of it is that we would expect the OECD to work with our African colleagues on the elements of the peer review that apply to the G8. On the elements in the Africa Action Plan which relate specifically to peace and security, there are large elements of that where the G8 and the individual countries within G8 will be working with the UN to deliver on those commitments and in fact there is a proposal with respect to the conflicts in DRC, Angola and Sudan to establish contact groups, which is a proposal that actually came from the UN Secretary General. So, the UN would have an absolutely core role. On trade, I mentioned the European Union but clearly the Doha/post-Doha negotiations through the WTO will be the mechanism for delivering on the commitments made in the Africa Action Plan with respect to trade. On education, the G8 Education Task Force produced a comprehensive report looking at education and endorsing the World Bank fast track proposals with respect to ensuring that a number of African countries, 11 in the first wave, are able to meet the Millennium Development Goals with respect to education. That will be a bilateral commitment by individual countries actually upping the amount they give to education but the body that will oversee the achievement of that will be the World Bank. It is absolutely clear in the document and it is stated in the document, although I have to say that I cannot find where at the minute, that the implementation mechanisms will be through these different fora. In terms of your question about the political leadership, the fact that African personal representatives in individual countries plus our leaders in a year's time will be wanting to know exactly what has been achieved and where and how in terms of the commitments that were made in Kananaskis I think is a driving force behind the G8 element of that. I think it is also really important to distinguish between what G8 leaders have committed, and this is not a response to the totality of NEPAD. I think that is the other point I would like the Committee to understand. The G8 always said that they would think about the areas where they, as the G8, could add value. So, there are areas of NEPAD that are not reflected in this Action Plan in terms of the priority that our African colleagues have given it and that is because those are areas where the G8 do not necessarily feel that they can add value to those areas. It is very important to remember that the NEPAD process and NEPAD itself will have a response from different parts of the international system. I think that does lead into what I believe is at the base of your concern, which is that you can then have a number of different initiatives popping up all over the place which, in totality, do not actually deal with the major problem of development on the African continent. We recognise that we do have to watch that very, very carefully indeed, but one of the important things that we all see about this G8 Action Plan is that it has not fallen into the trap of being about small individual initiatives and is much more a comprehensive document focusing on the elements of the new partnership and not focusing on money; it was never intended to be a pledging conference, it was very much about defining the new partnership. We wanted to see some more in this document, not just on the trade aspect but also on some of the aid effectiveness and some of the aid coherence agenda, which we think can really drive through and make change in the way that donors work with African countries, but again it is the first step, it is not the end of the process—I would really like the Committee to understand that—it's the beginning of a process.

Mr Battle

  19. While it is a fact that our Prime Minister brilliantly took the initiative to get Africa on the agenda at the G8, listening to the debate and discussion, I am less clear as to what G8, as G8, actually adds through the Action Plan. I think they actually go a little further, certainly in the preamble of the Action Plan in terms of driving a process. You said that it was pledging but in paragraph 9, there is a reassertion, ". . . substantial new development assistance commitments were announced at Monterrey. By 2006, these new commitments will increase ODA by a total of US$12 billion per year." It goes on very boldly to say, ". . . we believe that in aggregate half or more of our new development assistance could be directed to African nations . . . This will help ensure that no country genuinely committed to poverty reduction, good governance and economic reform will be denied the chance to achieve the Millennium Goals through lack of finance." Yet there is no reference to finance in the whole document apart from the reference to the HIPC shortfall that was not allowed for originally and should have been there and has been put back in. It does say in paragraph 10, "We will pursue this Action Plan in our individual and collective capacities . . ." and I wonder what those collective capacities are. Then it says, "We will take the necessary steps to ensure the effective implementation of our Action Plan . . ." What are those steps to ensure the effective implementation? What is the Action Plan adding to NEPAD that our own Government are not already doing, for example?
  (Baroness Amos) Let me try and go through those areas. You mentioned paragraph 9 and the commitment that half or more of the Monterrey money could be spent in Africa. At Monterrey, it was agreed between the European Union and the United States that there would be an additional $12 billion for development assistance. That commitment was made at the Financing and Development Conference, not at the G8. Where the G8 has added value is by G8 leaders saying, "We have made that commitment in terms of $12 billion. We are now making it clear that in terms of the enhanced partnerships and countries in Africa which commit to governing justly, abiding by the rules and so on, that half or more of that money could go to Africa." So, in March, we have the $12 billion—

2   Ev 1. Back

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 20 September 2002