By William Walker
South Korea has witnessed a swift political and economic modernisation during the last half century, equalled only by the giant economy of nearby China, so it is no surprise that it will be at the forefront of a progressive series of talks aimed at modernising aid effectiveness in the most impoverished countries later this month.
Following on from the Paris Declaration in 2005, which underlined an improved series of philanthropic principles for donor countries to adhere to, South Korea will host, in the city of Busan, a fourth in a series of High Level Forums to discuss wide-ranging issues such as aid transparency and the current Millennium Development Goals.
As Asian economies continue to flourish the sphere of influence seems to be shifting towards the East, as even the world’s largest donor of international aid; the US, is seeking to reform the UN to remove compulsory contributions in favour of voluntary ones. A controversial decision designed to curtail the potential for corruption, it claims.
Seoul’s placement in between the economic powerhouses of China and Japan, and neighbouring the diplomatically hostile North of the peninsula puts these talks in a highly symbolic position. The 6 most prominent Asian nations were assessed in a series of dialogues by The Asia Foundation and Korea Development Institute, and findings indicate that the region administers aid on an economic rather than altruist basis, and that there is a degree of resentment that the development goals are effectively out of their control.
Hosting these talks in a fertile region in which co-operation is paramount is seen as a big step towards bringing these influential nations closer towards a pandemic solution, and moving further away from a localised dominance that would see aid and development focused solely on one’s own back garden.