The other g7


Click on the image to see the Dili Declaration

This post is contributed by Rory Clarke, editor of the
OECD Observer

With the G20 ending with a whimper more than a bang last weekend, it seems a good time to turn the focus back to countries at the other end of the spectrum.

“Crisis” is a condition which many of the world’s most fragile states are permanently used to. Already, during the heady boom years, their development prospects looked dim, but now, given global budget pressures, any lingering hope of their reaching the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for cutting poverty and improving welfare by 2015 has all but evaporated. 

Corruption, conflict and institutional under-capacity are often blamed whenever development aid fails to deliver results in these countries, but is this explanation enough?

Not according to the aptly lower-cased g7+, a grouping of fragile states that met with donors in Dili, Timor-Leste, last April 2010. To be sure, much of the blame, the g7+ acknowledges, lies with their own circumstances, but also with how donors engage in their countries.

The g7+ countries cite several problems, including a lack of trust between developing countries and donors, overlapping plans, weak leadership, approaches that favour capitals and some regions, a lack of involvement by women, and a lack of emphasis on growth and job creation, particularly for young people.

The group believes that if international aid is to be effective, g7+ countries must lead their own development agendas and define their own priorities.

A call to action, the Dili Declaration, A New Vision for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding, identifies seven peacebuilding and statebuilding goals for fragile states. And it focuses on capacity issues, aid delivery, planning and political dialogue.

Buzzwords indeed, but what’s different this time is that they come from the g7+ recipient countries, and not the donors or other agencies. Though the g7+ is by no means equipped with any of the power of the better known G7 of major industrial countries, the Dili Declaration and the ongoing Dili International Dialogue that involves the OECD  at least reflect the very same urge for cooperation as a source of strength for building a better future. As Timor-Leste’s prime minister, José Ramos-Horta, put it, “walking together, fragile states and their development partners can minimise the suffering that results from conflict and extreme poverty.”

 The g7+ was established in 2008 and includes: Afghanistan, Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Nepal, the Solomon Islands, Sierra Leone, South Sudan and Timor-Leste.

 Useful links

Video interviews of Dili Dialogue participants

OECD work on fragile states

OECD Observer on Africa