Jones: Is the folding of CIDA into DFAIT the end or a fresh start for Canadian international development?

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28 March, 2013

It could be either. There’s also a very strong case for tying aid more closely to foreign policy objectives – that is, if our foreign policy objectives recognize that it is a good thing for our businesses and a good thing in values terms if poverty is declining and stability is rising. Tools and techniques are a separate question. There are highly effective aid agencies that are separate from their foreign ministries, and ones that are embedded; and useless ones in both categories. Overall, there’s no question that western aid strategies need a reboot: we’re tied down in a procedural tangle, and a self-referential policy mess. We need a broad spectrum focus on our political, security, commercial, trade, and financial relations with middle income countries, where roughly half of the world’s poor are going to live; and in fragile states, where the other half are going to live, we need a tight focus on the politics and institutions of the rule of law. Both could be accomplished by a tighter CIDA/DFAIT relationship. But both could be mangled, too, if DFAIT neglects the fact that lots of our core partners – G20 countries and beyond – actually care about development outcomes.