Time for some South to North cooperation?
If you are in the development aid or cooperation field, I am sure you have heard of the North to South cooperation – the one where developed countries tell developing countries how to do to solve their problems. Then came the idea of South-South cooperation, where developing countries talk to each other to find solutions to their own problems and learn from each other.
Well given that for the better part of last year, the workings of the supposedly largest democracies in the world has been like watching car crashes in very slow motion, I think it’s high time for another kind of cooperation – South to North.
Given the rise in developed western countries of populism and nationalism, which are really very vaguely veiled terms to hide the rising tide of hatred, political rhetoric’s feeding fear and misinformation, intolerance of diversity, denial of responsibility to the crisis and misery caused by these countries direct military actions in other parts of the world, I believe its high time for the Western countries to use some of their own Development Aid to implement programs on Governance, Rule of Law, Right to Information, overhauling of a failed education system, reformation of justice system, social security, medical coverage etc. Programs that improve their citizen’s right and access to information on their government’s activities in order to be able to make informed choices and decisions. Projects that bring the political machines closer to the people by opening that feedback loop that is clamped down on by despotic autocratic rulers.
In the South we have a lot of experience dealings with autocratic rulers, dictators, pathological liars and narcissists who will say anything to gain power and then do anything to hold on to that power. Perhaps its time to turn those experiences into case studies to be taught to our Northern partners in development.
Cutting down on Development Aid budget in my view is not a total bad idea. If you think about it, most of these aid money flows back to the countries that give them. The money flows in through NGO’s that are based in their own countries, which then proceed to recruit their own nationals, paying them exorbitant salaries and benefits for working in hardship countries with every comfort imaginable provided at their finger tips, including frequent fully paid R&R’s because life continues to remain so hard even with all your bills paid.
Then there are the restrictions on procurement, spending, collaborations that can only be done with their own businesses. Even if you want to fly in to headquarters for meetings, company policies will make sure that you book an airline of their choice. I am not even going to get into how development loans and grants ensure that any money generated continues to flow back into their own coffers through long term high interest rates even for those so-called ‘soft’ loans.
Now, when the citizens of our Norther partners are murdered in racial hatred or domestic terrorism, homeless dying on the roadside by hundreds of thousands, millions living outside of any social or medical support safety net, that spending really should go into taking care of their own people. Who wants their tax dollars going abroad into god knows what activities when the problems in your own hood are so overwhelming that you fear for your own safety and move your families out of your own country. This migrant outflow from the North should be stemmed before the floodgates open and the rest of the world (read South) is overwhelmed.
The UN is dysfunctional, a puppet in the hand of its masters, denying the genocide being committed by Israel in Palestine, persecuting it’s own whistle blowers, dismal failure in ensuring women’s right and access to reproductive services in ‘developed’ countries, failing to respond to the biggest humanitarian crisis of our times in Africa and Middle East caused by its biggest financial contributors. The Bretton Woods Institutions, NATO, UN etc, need to take a close hard look at what is going on in their own backyard and put their own house in order. It will require formulating policies and programs to tackle these very real, very urgent crisis to bring about some modicum of stability and potentially avoid a third world war. The North really needs the help of the South, we have enormous experience in these matters and we stand ready to assist in every way possible, including being a Watch Dog to your every action.
p.s. Totally irrelevant (or not) for GoT lovers: Winter has set in and the white walkers are ruling, it’s time to bring in the dragons and reclaim the north.