Development Aid: Blessing or Curse

Saturday 25th April 12.00-14.00 in Juhlasali 

An expert discussion on the results and arguments behind development aid. Speakers include Rezaul Karim Chowdhury and Matti Kääriäinen.

Järjestäjinä: Attac ja Into Kustannus

The session entailed a vivid conversation around the questions of development cooperation, global political economy, human rights and democracy. The discussion circled around the theme of the newly published provocative book, Development Aid: Curse or Blessing written by the Emeritus Ambassador of Finland, Matti Kääriäinen who has a long experience in development cooperation in the Finnish embassies in Mozambique and Kenya.The discussion was chaired by Outi Hakkarainen, a development expert from KEPA, and the other guest speakers, Heidi Hautala, the former Development Minister and the current Member of the European Parliament, and Rezaul Karim Chowdhury from Bangladeshi activist network Equity BD/COAST, well provoked the arguments of the book and clarified its key points.

The key point of the book was that development aid, in its recent form, has not resulted in poverty reduction or decreased inequality. The reason is that the structures of the global economy, which also contextualize the Finnish government interests and development policy do not support the developing countries in their genuine development efforts. Thus development aid feeds corrupt governments of developing countries, while simultaneously capital is flown out of the country to benefit the economies of the developing countries. While Heidi Hautala also criticized the book for provoking critiques within the government and outside it, who want to reduce development budget, generally, the co-speakers agreed on the structural problems that still favor the developed country governments and importantly, the multinational corporations. Rezaul Chowdury argued that there is a need for global standards to help curb tax evasion faciliated by the UN, and development aid could rather be seen as a ”reparation” or global tax that the rich countries pay to developing countries.

The human rights based approach to development cooperation was also discussed, and while Matti Kääriäinen in his book critized the approach not being adequate in light of the structural issues, human rights and democracy, eg. in terms of tax transparency, were still seen by all speakers as worthy values and goals to pursue in global cooperation, and importantly as values to be enforced by civil society in holding national governments and multinational companies accountable.