Session: 10 Rising Powers and Development Politics

The international political dimension has been going through extraordinary shifts since World War II. After the decolonisation process and the creation of many sovereign but dependent new states, came the Cold War that bipolarised the world. From 1989 to 2000 the world had undergone a short period of US hyper-hegemony that finally led to multilateralism, characterised by the new emergence of developing countries economic powers (BRICs), capable to compete and defeat part of the supremacy of the West. The era has also undergone a global war and natural hazard have increasingly had important toll on societies.

Countries such as BRIC and the Asian Easter tigers have been on equal footing economically and in some cases in a better position to negotiate bilaterally with the western countries. Their influence has been quite important at regional level but comparatively modest in the global arena. They are politically more forward looking than outward looking while the Western powers exploit equally both features.

As it was stated in the lecture, we are in a post modernist era. Growth appears not to be unlimited whilst inequality increase and access to technology progress no longer in different parts of the globe but also within countries. China and India both have the largest number of billionaires and acute poverty cases and own the debts of the western and Asian countries. Their economies have grown more strongly than expected but their GNI is still very low. Poverty has reduced quite substantially but economic growth and not equity is on the top of their government agenda.

The BRICs potential and the reality are very distinctive. They are facing internal economic political and social hardship whilst the world is facing energy and water shortage, increasing problem of pollution and climate change. The capacity of the BRICS to influence global dynamics will depend very much on their ability to maintain growth supportive policies (Goldman Sachs, 2005). Gu and Humpherey (2007) expose a point that worries me particularly. Realist theory suggests that the rise of a new global power will sooner or later result in a conflictual balance of power. How to bring together cooperation between China, India and the West can be problematic. Reaching international stability for the good of national prosperity is a win-win situation as it has always been in the mind of sovereign states but the rule is regularly breached due to internal and/or external tension. The challenge also lies in the fact that the consideration as Alden and Vieira (2005) argue that the collision of the emerging powers of the third world have demonstrated little commitment in representing regional interests collectively. The system seems to work on economic rather than ideological sphere but each member do not benefit from it the same ways. The alliance has been reached on disagreement against globalisation rather than sets of policies looking for constructive engagement helping to deal with global challenge

This session has given me the urge to read more about the BRICs, especially China India and Brazil. I want to be able to better understand how a world composed of a Chinese hegemonic power, global interdependence, strategic old powers and emerging developing countries regional powers can interact. It will help me to better position my global analysis. In the next assignment, rather than writing about failed states as planned, I will write about BRICs and N11 capacity to change the international balance of power.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session 9: Fragile States

This session highlighted the fact that the modern international governance system (1648 Westphalia national-state concept) has improved the old states system that provided only temporary alliance between states. The international governance system has however remained imperfect and has been partly responsible for what we call ‘failed states’.

The paradox of the modern international governance system is the tension between states rights (juridical statehood) and its legitimate governance (empirical statehood). Subsequently, countries have increasingling interacted and supported ‘quasi states’ with questionable governance which have had severe and sometimes devastating repercussion on the population and most of all the poor. The system went a step further in the second part of the twenthieth century. International treaties, international financial institutions (expressly the IMF macroeconomic policies and the WB structural policies) and the Official Development Aid (especially bilateral aid) have been established and largely operated by the G7/8. These new structures have facilitated the interventionism of the ‘international community’ in empirical statehoods. After the cold war and more radically after 09/11, the definition of sovereignty of state has evolved. It is no longer concentrated on the rights of state sovereignty and independence but increasingly on their accountability upwards (international community) and downwards (population). In other words, states are required to preserve the global order. Despite obvious real politics’ influence on the progressive international governance system, there is evidence that massive Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law abuses have increasingly played a role in the decision-making process of international interventions. What is happening in Libya is a good illustration. The UN 1973 resolution was past with the prospect of a massacre in the town of Benghazi.

For this his session, most of the lecture and reading focused on failed states. Jackson (1989) and Morton (2005) explain that failed states are the product of international and national inadequate governance; the competition for the accumulation of capital being the engine. Indeed, in most African countries, the elite reproduced parasitic colonial state systems to the detriment of their own population –ethnic politics, identity politics, endemic corruption and selective justice. Morton (2005) states that it has ‘an ongoing attempt to engage in continual process of primitive accumulation’, one of the ‘relationships between sovereignty and capitalism’.  Another element is the disfavouring context: endemic poverty, little comparative advantage, dependence to fluctuation in commodity price… And last but not least the impact of the developed countries causing political underdevelopment (well explained in Moore 2001 article ‘Political Underdevelopment: What causes Bad Governance’)

It is extremely difficult to identify with adequacy fragile states and even more to rank them. The indicators can be misleading and are very much guided by ideology. The definition of failed state varies very much for one society to another. As we saw with the Failed States Index 2010, the result is very subjective and controversial, too political.

The global governance is more regulated than ever but has its flaws. The interpretation of a failed state as ‘pathology of deviance capable to lead to terrorism’ has been a stigma of imperialism that has been one of the roots of the problem. This session reminds me how sensitive international (western) interventions are and how difficult and questionable international (western) efforts can be in rebuilding or supporting failed states. After the session, I better understood  the necessity to maintain the sovereignty of states and the difficulty in intervening or not in domestic politics and the preceding both cases can have.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session 8: Democracy and Development

It was interesting to look at the Latin American continent post colonisation evolution during the lecture. This time, we were able look at 200 years of post-colonial history. The various political developments of each country have been very dynamic and specific to each context whilst at the same time have been influenced by the regional trend (Moore doctrine).

The reading mainly focuses on how to introduce democracy and the importance and limits of technocratic tools used to build a democracy. In the west, democracy has emerged through a long and complex violent process. To reduce this experience to technocratic tools is quite challenging may be impossible. Carothers and Berman (2007) explain that pre-conditions do not exist in developing countries and that gradualism is not the magic bullet. Domestic and international interests and objectives play an important role in the matter and transitions are not only fragile, they last. I don’t think we should wait for pre-conditions; they can be different from one country to another and can therefore be missed. I believe that rather than looking at preconditions we should adopt a type of ‘do no harm’ strategy. There are contexts that are less appropriate than others. In post-conflict for example, elections may very much be a source of insecurity. It is needed to think twice before introducing any democratic reform. I used to think that elections were a joke in developing countries but I have observed that they do pressure national and local elites and encourage the population to ask for freedom of expression, a multiparty system and progressively introduce the concept of accountability. The 2011 Democratic Spring in North African and the Arab peninsula strengthen the idea that democratisation could be universal. A slow process that goes through different phases that can only improve if the elite have the incentive to do so. Building up a new political culture is complex and time is needed! It is clear however that gradualism will not happen if the elite do not have incentive and a need to democratise the system. This is where the good governance framework of the IFI and donors, and civil society pressure, even if imperfect, are key. Many challenges are ahead though, especially if we take into account that the developing countries’ elites now have access to increasing sources of finance (BRICS countries, specially China) that do not imply democratisation.

In this session we also had to think about the capacity of democracy to bring about development. We saw that the link between democracy and development is not so obvious. Some of the so called new democracies could not produce developmental outcomes and remain unstable.  A democratic regime is expensive and can easily be manipulated to the benefit of the few and also has its flaws.

Looking at development since post World War II, it appears that democracies have not performed better in economic terms than autocracies and partial democracies. It is however difficult to demonstrate the case since there are no definite indicators and global statistics on the subject. Besides, as we saw last week, the three waves of democracies of the twentieth century brought quite a large scope of regimes under the same denomination.  What has become clear since WWII, is that development is not so much dependent on the type of political system (technicality) but more on the quality and capacity of states and their institutions (governance). As Leftwich points out there is however tension between political and economic development and it is difficult to carry both together. Democracy is better to sustain economic growth than to start it up. Another point is that the quality of the leadership is primordial. Panning and decision making are very complex.

I am very much in favour of the concept of Human Development of the 1980’s. Poverty is no longer defined solely against economic factors. Political and civil rights have increasingly been interpreted as basic rights. I believe, like Sen (1999) that the strength of good democracies is that they offer political rights and social opportunities, transparent guarantees and protective security. For these reasons democracies can be seen as better equipped to bring holistic development than authoritarian regimes.

I have always felt uneasy defending Human Rights (HRs) and democratic concepts with individuals who favour the communitarian approach of society. I feel that human rights and democracy have been misused and that in western countries we have exacerbated the importance of individual rights against values and communities. Democracy and HRs are seen as provocative and tend to promote tension and distorted emotional reaction. During the last six months, I have had time to think over these concepts and values.  I remain convinced that individuals have to accept rules from authorities in exchange for respect of their individual choice, security, social and economic advantages. Now, I will no longer be shy to say that I recognise that authoritarian and democratic models both have their strengths and weaknesses. I will insist on the fact that I perceive democracy and human rights not so much as an ideology but as political system and process. In this sense, civil and political rights and social development can be seen as pillars of an healthy society.  Following this logic, I can also affirm that I think that it is more appropriate to motivate individuals to act properly when benefiting from democratic rights and responsibilities rather than using authoritarian laws that are limiting their choice.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session: 7 Democracy and the Poor

In this session we looked at the condition and political and civil  rights of the poor in India while the reading focused more on the capacity and incentive of democratic developing countries to deal with the poor.

Diamond (2005) points out, the increasing number of democracies since the first wave in 1974 has been quite extraordinary. However, when we look a bit closer to those new democratic countries, it is not difficult to observe that the quality is not there. Many of these new democracies have retained repressive power involving abuse of human rights and endemic corruption. Too often the process has been technocratic to ease international pressure and to increase access to international loans and investments. The range has become so large that it becomes difficult to understand what a democracy is really about. Some only adopted a pseudo free and fair electoral system that open them the door to the denomination of Democracy, in others, the state struggle to support freedom and or economic growth and/or social welfare and so on and so on…  In any case, it appears that the system does not insure equity and social justice and may be less efficient that authoritarian system when it reaches the economic take-off phase.

Democracy Index 2010

The ten recommendations of Diamond to US government, to improve the quality of democracies, are not taking into consideration the recent lessons. Ownership is key and donors need to give more attention to process of governance rather than structural/technocratic dimension. Furthermore, the U.S. has been losing its hegemony and may now have to include other regional powers to be able to influence international/global policies. Finally, empirical studies have shown that free market and free trade cannot ensure sustainable and equitable economic growth in developing countries, even if the concept has undeniable values.

Varshney (2000) explains that the capacity of a democratic system to diminish poverty depends also on the context, which is less favourable in developing countries. In developing countries, the poor represent a large percentage of the population but they do not believe they can be a force to pressure the government. Lack of education, means, time and opportunities limits their capacity to influence the state. We must admit that barriers are important and the poor do not always make efficient use of  their votes. The film ‘In search for Gandhi’ showed that legitimacy is build-up by the people who have the capacity to influence the outcomes of elections and economic growth.

As Sylvia pointed out in the lecture, developing countries that have had relative success in reducing poverty, states have focused very much on economic growth and less on social reform. If we compare the results of developing countries that are capable of reducing poverty with the results from the developmental states, it can be seen that what matters crucially is the extent of which the nature of economic growth is associated with growing inequalities. Structural changes need to generate sufficient opportunities for productive non-agricultural employment (in developing countries up to 80% of the working force work in the agriculture sector). The market (direct method) and the states (indirect method) need to ensure the provision of basic needs and access to essential social services. Government mediation with the integration of domestic and global economic also determines the extent to which economic growth delivers better conditions for the poor.

India’s economic growth experience is higher than for many other developing countries, but shows less rapid growth than that experienced in the developmental states of East and Southeast Asian. The state is still struggling to deliver non-agricultural production and employment. As it has been shown, rural misery and inad­equate creation of employment have emerged as the most significant problems and the low participation of the poor in politics does not give incentive to the elite to further integrate the most vulnerable in the development process. It is also fair to say that India was not an attractive destination for finance capital until 2004 and it is now experiencing the unfortunate collateral damage of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown.

PS: I will comment the article of Menocal (2007) in the next session

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session: 6 Is Zimbabwe Pro-poor Politics still be an illusion?

From the reading and the lecture, it appears that the famous Land Redistribution  in the 1980’s has been a strategy to gain legitimacy before alleviating poverty. Mugabe politics have been instrumentalist. Behind the feature of Marxist politics, the state remained a de facto instrument serving the interest of the domestic elite. The land reform that had the potential to revolutionise the country resource allocation and economic growth lacked strategy.  Has the governance politics improved the last decade?

Human Development Index: Trends 1980 – present

The rhetoric of the state has sill not matched its actions. The two strong figures in the country, Robert Mugabe (ZANU-PF) and Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) have shown to be opportunists rather than visionaries. Their developmental approach is imperfect. Their link with the Zimbabwe’s population has remained weak. The state has shown difficulty in balancing vested interest against good enough governance. The capacity of both men must also be questioned with regards to making the right decisions to effectively allocate the resources of the country and to ensure those resources reach the poor. The state has however implemented policies that are going in the right direction.

My worry is that developmental politics must be a comprehensive process to be efficient. There have been too many inconsistencies to affirm that the state has adopted pro-poor politics. The reality is complex though. While the wealth of diamonds mining is overwhelming used to increase personal wealth of the well-connected elite, as Professor Ian Scones pointed out, in the last decade, some poor people have benefited from the policies put in place and the situation is slowly improving. It could be considered that the state’s recent pro-poor policies are a window of opportunities. If those policies end up having a positive outcome whilst not putting at stake the elite power, opportunities to cooperate and interdependence between the elite and the poor may start to happen

One lesson that can be drawn from the Zimbabwean experience is that it has become obvious that sanctions are not fulfilling their objectives and affect the population.

In 2002/2003 I studied a Masters degree in Loughborough University. One of the students was from Zimbabwe.  After a few months the government that sponsored his study was no longer able to provide the monthly money transfer to pay his fees and living expenditure. Financial transfers were no longer tolerated due to sanction.  After three months, the university informed him that it was no longer possible for him to continue his Masters since sanctions were not going to be lifted. The young man committed suicide.

This session showed how difficult it is to design and implement politics that will include the poor and reduce poverty. Domestic and international stockholders tend naturally to monopolise resources for their benefit and they are most likely to exclude the poor from the equation. Solidarity cannot happen without interdependence. How the poor can make themselves needed by the decision makers is the real challenge. In the case of Zimbabwe the session also highlighted that the quality and ambition of the elite mastermind the rule of the game and the game.  The case of Zimbabwe makes me angry. It reached the eighth of greed and cupidity of local, national and international elites. I don’t want to get involve in such context.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session: 5 Aid, Politics and Development

Are conditionalities effective ways to bypass incoherent domestic politics? At first I thought as Becky expressed in the lecture that conditionalities are inherent to loans and grants. Upon reflection, it appears however that they also show that there is tension between the recipient countries and donors. Progressively I have come to the conclusion that, at the end of the day, the core problem has not been so much involved with conditionalities but the nature of policies. I associate conditionalities mainly with the IMF macroeconomic policies and the WB Structural Adjustment policies that have had mix results and have even been counterproductive in SSA. Bilateral donors for political reason have not rigorously used sanctions (withholding, suspension, reduction). With the IMF and WB programmes, as expected the economic growth slow down which hurt the poor, especially the urban poor that are more dependent on public spending but did not generate the expected economic growth. David Dollar’s findings, that influenced the WB strategy for more than a decade, have been proven partially wrong. Aid does not work only if or when countries apply good fiscal, money and trade policies.  Even if policies and institutions matter they cannot influence development and poverty reduction by themselves, other factors need also to be taken into consideration. The imbalance created in the 1980s and 1990s has been corrected with the introduction of the PRSPs that officially allow recipient countries to adapt policies to their context. Has the lesson been learned or should I say has the lesson been attractived enough to decision makers? When I read a few PRSPs, their similarity were apparent. It wes obvious that they included some of the core components of the Washington Consensus (macro economic stabilities, economic and trade liberalisation…). It was difficult to believe that they reflected the views and priorities of the recipient countries. We have to take into consideration that they have to be approved by the WB. It is not a secret that some of them are even written by staff of the WB. Which brings me naturally to the fatal and uneasy question Does Aids really works?

In our group there was no consensus: it was sometimes yes and sometimes no, in other words we did not really know. One of us however was clearly negative toward Aids, affirming that developing countries should find the answer themselves. My instinct was to say that it would be worse without Aids. Solidarity should not be disregard. The lecture and the articles of Peter Brunell (2004) and Moss and Walle (2005) and Stephan Brown (2005) explain diplomatically the ways that Aids has had positive and negative impacts, what could be done… The view of Moore is more colourful, he affirms that donors (states) have been schizophrenic, while pleading for development they informally support underdeveloped politics.

To answer the question I want to focus on the outcomes. In the book of William Easterly (2006), it is outlined that the most recent success (1980-2002) in the world economy happened in East and South Asia and this was mostly due to domestic initiatives (they also benefitted from a favourable international environment). Five out of those ten best success stories were never completely colonised by the West and did not or only partially followed WB policies (South Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, India, Japan, Hong Kong, Mauritius, Malaysia). On the other hand, the ten developing countries with the worst economic growth were former colonies which were compelled to followed IMF and WB strategies (Sierra Leone DRC, Liberia, Haiti, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Zambia, Togo, Niger, Nigeria). Looking at all those cases it stands out that:

  • Other factors than Aid can provide development,
  • Aids may not be necessary to reduce poverty
  • Long term development such as macro-economic policies has not been very effective and in some cases has even proved to be inadequate.

From experience, I would say that short term aid, such as life threatening aid (emergency aid), has an impact and makes a difference (even though efficiency and effectiveness of distribution, type and quality of aids, and allocation are questionable). Small projects implemented by NGOs can have successful outcomes but it is not prouved that they can influence the national trend and governments’ politics. They may not be sustainable and don’t really create wealth aside from micro projects (their sustainability is also questioned). I also observed that there have been successes on long term policies and programmes (access to education and basic health for example).

My point of view is that in a world of interdependence, Aids transpire as inherent to the context. It is about solidarity. It aims at the integration and support of societies, creating bounds that can reduce hardship, dangerous and irrational behaviours.What is at stake is not so much if aids is needed or work but how we use aid and its efficiency. On these last two progress is urgently needed. 

This session showed that aid is complex and poverty reduction goes against the odds. I better understand the importance and difficulties involved in designing effective policies and the need for coherence amongst stakeholders. Since no one has the answer, and donors policies have had a negative impact, I start a clear idea why donors should be less assertive in their recommendations and encourage developing countries to design their own policies and institutions to facilitate the ownership, responsibility and accountability. I just realised that I am an adept of the Paris Declaration :).

The session reinforces my view that the nature and implementation of pro-poor politics can be easily distorted by either sides and in some cases can arm the beneficiary.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session 4 The Elite and Develpment

Hossain and Morre (2002) reveal the drivers of change that led to social improvement in European countries during the industrialisation era.  Security, economic gain and solidarity favour the democratic transition that in turn delivered civic and social rights. The process was long and not linear and much still remains to be done. As the authors do, I consider economic interdependence and social forces as universal drivers of change, capable to underpin poverty and recognise that the means to reach them varies according to context. Perception is key to influencing and facilitating the integration of equitable developmental politics.

In my work, in Southern Sudan, Burundi, Rwanda, Nepal, and Azerbaijan, I witnessed a constant tension between Aid donors and elites. They often did not speak the same ‘language’ (different culture and values) and have both specific vested interests. I must admit that the organisation I worked for, the ICRC, is also confronted to a similar situation. IHL does not appeal to groups or individuals that are not accointed to Western culture or are breaching those laws. Out of the five countries mentioned, Rwanda’s head of state, Paul Kagame, was the only head of state with the ambition and a clear vision of how to develop his country (even though much can be said about his potentially hazardous politics of exclusiveness). In the other four, the reduction of poverty was not really at the top of the agenda of the elites. In southern Sudan (2007) the state was only two years old, the elite were in the process of learning to run a modern state and seemed quite willing to improve the life of the poor but have had an ethnic/tribal rather than a national approach which is a threat to the stability of the newly independent country. In Azerbaijan, in 1999, the President Aliyev (father) and the elite did not consider the poor in their agenda. The relationship between the elite and donors were oil driven. In Rwanda, due to the non-intervention of the international community, during the 1994 genocide and impressive economic growth, donors have been shy and had difficulties to pledge more inclusive  pro-poor politics. When I was in Nepal in 2004, the King Gyanendra Shah was still in power. He and the elite had a feudal vision of the society and neo-liberal concepts were very much foreign to them. In every context I worked in, the competition between multilateral and bilateral donors and the private sector and even between departments of a same agency, was unproductive and often used by the elite. Elites were also surrendered by predators. In addition, even if they showed to be united in public they were challenging each other beyond belief. In developing countries, kidnapping, accident, torture and murders of family members are not rare.  Mafia, illicit commerce (drugs and diamonds) are also a barrier to the implementation of pro-poor politics (e.g Colombia, Bosnia-Herzegovina).

I must admit that I found the case of Saif Al-Islam Gaddfi quite interesting. Was LSE trying to change the behaviour of this ‘charming young man’ by educating him, giving his family advice to better invest their profit, reforming the country civil services and accepting a large donation to be more competent for the next elites’ offspring? This example brings the question of how far can we go without becoming a party of corruption and bad governance?

I enjoyed thinking about the strategic importance of the elite and consideration and reflex needed to influence equitable developmental politics (DfID, 2010). Experience shows that top-down pro-poor politics is necessary but is not enough. It fails to prevent corruption and have had difficulty in establishing adapted policies in developing countries. The lesson learnt has been that top-down politics are out of touch with the complexity. The bottom up approach is complementary. Development politics involved not only elites and donors but other actors of the civil society who struggled to play a role.

It reminds me that donors, and for this matter any external actors can only play a limited role in reshaping domestic politics into developmental politics. Historically, donors have not been very successful in positively influencing the elite. Many scholars (e.g. Rodney, Moore…) have argued that western governments have had a tendency to strengthen the capacity of the elite to maintain an oppressive political system, while the elite have tried to break away from external pressure. Do I really wish to work for donors???

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session 3: Pro-poor Politics

Is the expression ‘Pro Poor politics’ appropriate? The intention is good but sends the wrong message. It is too exclusive and could in turn be the means to an opportunistic end. Politics should be about finding the right balance in an asymmetric world and not segregating types of politics into the pernicious fragmentations of the society.

Mike Moore et al (1999) reinforce my convictions. The recipe for reducing poverty is:

  • a few visionaries,
  • a window of opportunity,
  • a pinch of luck,
  • hard work,
  • lot of patience,
  • the whole thing should be ingrained in the conviction that it can be done.

This explains why reduction of poverty is not the exquisite product of the so called democracies. Institutional outcomes are dependent on processes.

To participate in politics is not easy. It requires access to information, good communication skills, leadership, knowledge, time and conviction. This is why it has remained, especially in developing countries, the privilege of the elite, who have all of the above mentioned points. The empowerment of the poor has been particularly difficult in countries where poor people and those living just above the poverty line represent the majority of the population and where the middle class is small. In middle income countries opportunities are indeed greater but the agenda of the elite continues to be vital in the process. Inclusive politics is not a linear process. Tension between the haves and the have-nots creates passionate actions and reactions. Negotiations and mutual interests are not easy to reach.

I wish that the reading and the lecture focused also on the role of the middle class as the attitude and actions of the middle class are vital in the process. Development involves mthe all society.

Since 1989, improvement in education and increasing interest in civic and political rights, have provoked ‘revolutions’ in some of the countries where the state has not created adequate opportunities (Tiananmen Square: Apr/Jun 1989, East Germany: Sept/Nov 1989, Russia: 19-21 Aug 1991, Indonesia: 12-21 May 1998, Serbia: Sep/Oct 2000, Georgia: 2-23 Nov 2003, Ukraine: Nov/Dec 2004, Lebanon: Feb/Apr 2005, Iran: Jun/Aug 2009, Tunisia: 17 Dec 2010/14 Jan 2011, Egypt: 25 Jan/11 Feb 2011).

Those ‘Revolutions’ were not real revolution. They have not yet driven an appreciable change of governance and opportunities. Inequity has increased and poverty reduction has on average been modest. Nevertheless, since 1989, populations excluded from economic growth and politics are more and more demanding for legitimate states. In a few decades, we will be in a better position to evaluate if the empowerment of the middle class and the poor is an instrument capable to influence side-effects of political social and economic reforms.

To come back to Mike Moore et al (year) in the field, we are dealing with people and not concepts. It is extremely difficult to have a clear picture of what is happening and most of all, who is doing what, how and why. Individual politics and opportunism are too often the informal rules of the game.

As Paul Collier claims in his book ‘The Bottom Billion’ (2008), the situation can largely be blamed on the elite of the poor countries for the misuse of the aid. But in the same way, I agree with the position of Roger Riddell (2007) in his book ‘Does Foreign Aid Really Work?’ The missing link between politics and poverty can also be found in the agenda of donors that is influenced by real politics (political, strategic and commercial interests). Last but not least, as Dambisa Moyo (2009) explains in her book ‘Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and how There is Another way for Africa’, we should keep in the equation that half a million people are employed by the aid industry and some of them may have a strong enough incentive to maintain the status quo.

Lessons from this session are:

  • Creativity is needed to convince the poor to be involved in politics
  • Economic growth is important for poverty alleviation but it is insufficient and therefore direct targeting of the poor is also necessary but we should be careful to not separate them
  • Efforts to integrate inclusive developmental strategies in all sectors and at all levels should continue
  • Interdependence and interrelation are part of the solution.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session:2 Politics for Development, what’s else?

Is politics relevant for development? Do politics matter?  Good questions! My point of view has changed over the years. When I was living in developed countries, I used to think that politics did not matter so much. The fact is that I did not perceive the full impact of politics because they had no potentially threatening outcomes. I was taking it for granted that societies functioned well and good quality and affordable services were available.

When I started working in conflict and post conflict zones, people felt that violence was the result of ‘politicians being too greedy’, ‘incapable’, or even being ‘manipulative’. They felt ‘cheated’, ‘ betrayed’, ‘sidelined’, ‘persecuted’ etc… Armed conflicts are reactions against actions of states, or should I say leaders. Chaos made me realise how much life was dependent on rights and responsibilities and that it was a privilege to enjoy both of them. We need rules to have order and opportunities (game) to evolve. Life is about politics.

I also recognise that politics has always been important for development and increasingly so since the 1990’s and even more since 2001. Indeed, since the end of the Cold War, politics have become more prominent due to the changing relationships between aid and politics. After World War II, development and development aid used to be a relatively minor concern of states. Today, in a world of growing interdependence and the threat of terrorism, aid issues have become one of the central focus  of attention of world leaders. With the implementation of what David Chandler call the International State Building Paradigm, politics have increasingly addressed and opened new and different roles for aid often mixed with military assistance. Since 09/11 aid is politicised further and their is a risk to securities the development aids.

The article of Leftwich (2005) summarises ideas we have been exposed to in the module: ‘Governance, State-building in Developing countries’. The author sees the neo-liberal policy as bias and affirms that it has become clear that ‘what mattered in the legitimacy of authority is less the regime or its constitutional form’ but rather ‘the character and capacity of the regime’. (ibid, p.579). In the article ‘Debate Democracy and Development: A contradiction in Politics’ (2002), Leftwich also argues that good governance and development are not so much dependent on the organisation and management of states (democratic vs. authoritarian) than the quality of their leaders and advisers.

Neo-liberal paradigm has indeed undermined the importance of politics to the benefit of (economic) growth. The paradigm is embedded in liberal political economic values that are dependents on sophisticated and well functioning social political and economic environments. This explains partly why western technocratic reforms have failed to reach their potential in developing countries. To be fair, it should be underlined that technocratic reforms are an answer to the post-colonial environment. Influencing politics have always been controversial and even more so in a world made up of sovereign states, where international laws favour the authority of states over the rights of individuals.

This said, we should recognise that if the concept of sovereignty remains important, sovereign nation states have had to  be careful not to go against the ‘new world order’. A new definition of state sovereignty is being designed (Post Westphalia: ICISS, 2001, The Responsibility to Protect; Brahimi report 2004). States are losing a part of their sovereignty in proportion to the gravity of their impact on ‘the new world order’. The strategy to wait for self-implemented domestic solution is replaced by international military and aid interventions justified by uncontrollable consequences of failed states.

As Hyden, Court and Mease outline, ‘governance is the result of formal and informal rules that regulate public realm’ (Leftwich, year ? p.581). The difficulty in developing countries is that the neo-liberal rules of the game are often not accepted and/or not really adaptable to national contexts. Neo-liberalism is not a universal concept and elites may have a different agenda. In addition, the implementation of law is patchy in most of those countries. The cost of obeying the law is not perceived as outweighing the benefits which strengthen the informal rule of the games that lead to corruption and acute inequity thus inefficiency.

My French cynical side would conclude that the argument of Leftwich –“it is necessary to privilege specific over universal model”– is understood. The author’s recommendations — to ask the right questions and use political economy perspective– to facilitate building developmental states are interesting and already of actuality but the process is more of an art than a science. This is where the problem stands. Subjectivity, limited means (finance, human resources, and time), need of short term results and difficulty to get hold of correct data and information, all challenge the quality of the process. It is important to be willing to back up policies that will benefit the country but too often the underlining strategies are all influenced by models (one side fits-all) that support similar sets of assumptions. I am afraid questions and political economy perspectives are biased (Wade, 2009). This is politics! The passionate part of me remains optimistic. It is not a secret that there is no easy answer and this is what makes it so interesting. Theoretical approaches help us to simplify the complexity of reality and identify strategies to reach objectives.

 The position of Leftwich reinforces my future career  plan. The approach for development is different than the one for conflict. Complex and structural strategies have to be put in place and need constant adjustment.  It is needed to acquire an inside perspective and create strong links with stakeholders to influence the political process. The concept of the two dimensions in (developmental) states :

  • (i) structural: Construction of effective and efficiently institutions that will design and implement adequate policies and
  • (ii) process: Promotion of developmental elite and bureaucracy that is committed to national development rather than a fragmented plural political culture

will help me in the futrue to better understand of policies and programmes.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Session 1: Development Theories and their Relations to Development Politics

I very much enjoyed taking the CAD module last term. Theories are needed to have a comprehensive understanding of the field. Many theories have evolved since World War II: Development economics, modernization theory, dependency theory, alternative development, human development, neo-liberalism, post-development and the millennium developments goals. We went from having an emphasis on macro-structure/structuralism towards a more agency-oriented views/ constructivism, an explanation of social realities (Pierterse, 2010). Shifts of theory and policies over time can be seen as a change in relation to changing circumstances and sensibilities. And as Ruttan (1991) mentions, we can wonder what have we learned from the development field and if anything has really changed. The classical liberal economic theories are very much leading the IFIs and donors politics and modernisation theories have remained powerful frameworks despite the physical limits of the world to coop with more growth and climate change.

Reading and learning about development theories and policies outcomes have been quite an emotional process.

I have realised that my thoughts are also very much influenced by liberal economic and modernisation theories. That I was understanding towards donors unperfect policies. I enjoyed learning about the Human Development theory that I have adopted. I have been a bit frustrated by the criticism towards the alternative development framework and the criticism toward international national and local NGOs but I do agree it is important to strengthen the governments’ role.

I believe that the limitation of development is that it is a by-pass of political processes and not of an intellectual one. In such a context development politics is vital to the developmental process and I am impatient to learn more about it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment