Global Inequalities


To what extent does the government demonstrate an active and coherent commitment to promoting equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries?

The government actively and coherently engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. It frequently demonstrates initiative and responsibility, and acts as an agenda-setter.
Promoting global social justice is an overarching policy goal for Swedish governments regardless of their ideological orientation. Sweden combines bilateral strategies with an active involvement in multilateral efforts toward those objectives. Additionally, public spending for development issues is comparable high. There has been a gradual shift from conventional aid to developing countries, mainly sub-Saharan countries, toward aid directed at countries that are closer to Sweden. This involves, for instance, promoting democratization and civil society in Eastern Europe. There are growing concerns about the effectiveness and efficiency of some foreign aid programs and the risk of aid being used for unintended purposes by actors in the receiving country. That said, the commitment to international solidarity and aid to developing countries remains very strong.

The post-2014 red-green government has launched a campaign of “feminist foreign policy” which has gained international attention. International solidarity has a gender dimension, the argument goes, which has long been ignored. This foreign policy approach has been introduced in different international venues such as the UN and the EU. The new government has also become known for showing less tolerance than its predecessors with what it describes as “medieval” punishment techniques employed in Middle East countries, something which has caused some diplomatic friction. More broadly, the return of the Social Democrats to government has reenergized Swedish foreign policy. It has become more visible, but also more controversial.
Pierre, Jon (ed) (2015), The Oxford Handbook of Swedish Politics (Oxford: Oxford University Press), esp. Section 7.
Assisting developing countries has broad support in Denmark. Indeed, according to the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development index, Denmark is ranked first in respect to overall commitment to development, first in respect to fostering institutions and third when it comes to reducing the burden of poverty. When it comes to efficiency, Denmark sits in the middle among OECD countries. Nearly all political parties support Denmark’s development efforts and want the country to remain highly ranked in comparison with other countries.

Denmark is one of only five countries in the world to contribute more than the U.N. target of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) to development assistance. In 2011, Denmark contributed 0.85% of GNI to development aid. The new Liberal government, which came to power in June 2015, decided to reduce Danish development aid but will still live up to the U.N. recommendation of 0.7% of GNI. However, some of the funds have been redirected to address the increasing inflow asylum-seekers. There will be increased focus on the regions in the Middle East and Africa from where many refugees come. Denmark’s humanitarian aid will not be reduced.
The priority areas of Denmark’s development strategy are human rights and democracy, green growth, social progress, stability and protection. About 30% of Danish aid is provided through multilateral channels.

In May 2016, 40% of the Danes felt that it was very important to help people in developing countries and 49% felt that it was fairly important. At the time of the great influx of refugees in September 2015, 30% of the Danes supported giving more development aid, 35% the same amount, 28% less. Overall, there is still relatively strong support for development aid in Denmark.

The government’s current development strategy for 2018 prioritizes: increased efforts in areas close to war and conflict; increased focus on migration, including the return of illegal migrants to their home countries; increased development financing by mobilizing private capital; and increased support for multilateral efforts for women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights. About 70% of Denmark’s official development aid (ODA) is bilateral, the remaining 30% is multilateral.
OECD, Development Assistance Committee (DAC), Peer Review Denmark 2011. (Accessed 18 October 2014).

Foreign Ministry, “Øget fokus på nærområderne og den humanitære bistand.”

Regeringens udviklingspolitiske prioriteter 2018, (accessed 21 October 2017).

DIIS, Yearbook 2016. (Accessed 22 October 2016)
Estonia actively participates in international humanitarian interventions through the EU and UN. Between 2015 and 2017, Estonia served a second term of membership on the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), which has increased the country’s profile and visibility in the field of humanitarian aid.

A renewed 2016 – 2020 strategy on Estonian development cooperation and humanitarian aid takes the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as a starting point. The strategy contains objectives and main fields of activities, and identifies major partner countries. The priority partners are former Soviet Socialist republics (i.e., Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) and Afghanistan. Estonia is active in various fields, but special efforts are made in transferring knowledge in the policy areas of education, health and e-government. Dissemination of domestic expertise in implementing ICT in public administration and education are areas in which Estonia is a trendsetter. Between 2016 and 2017, Estonia actively participated in providing relief to war refugees in Syria and provided emergency assistance in Ukraine.

In parallel to government efforts, NGOs and private enterprises work in the field of international development. Awareness-raising campaigns in the fair-trade movement offer one example of NGO activity. Due to the country’s open economic policy and the absence of protectionist measures, fair-trade products can be found in most Estonian supermarkets.
At about 1%, the country’s development agency, Luxembourg Development Cooperation (Lux-Development), and accredited NGOs have far surpassed the UN’s industrialized nation contribution target of 0.7% of GDP for development assistance. After Norway (1.11% of GNI), Luxembourg is the second largest official development assistance (ODA) contributor. The country has focused its development aid policy on poverty eradication and energy saving programs as well as on programs to reduce carbon emissions. The Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs manages almost 81% of the total ODA budget, while a remaining 16% is managed by 91 accredited NGOs.

Le Cercle de Coopération, the umbrella organization of accredited NGOs, has stated that budgetary rigor will apply to NGO development aid policies in the coming years, reducing national co-financing costs along with NGO administrative costs.
Luxembourg’s development assistance targets local initiatives, providing education and training in the fields of health care, water treatment, sewage, local economic development and infrastructure projects. About 14% of the cooperation budget aims to provide humanitarian support, including emergency assistance and reconstruction aid, following EU and OECD guidelines.

Luxembourg is an important actor in the micro-finance sector, hosting firms that offer a full range of micro-finance products, and supports more than 50% of the global funds in this area.
Annual Report 2016. Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency, 2016. Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

Development Assistance Committee (DAC) - Peer Review 2017. OECD, 2017. Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

Doody, Justine. “The World’s Top Donor.” Global Policy Journal, 1 May 2014, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“La Coopération luxembourgeoise – Rapport annuel 2016.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, 26 June 2017, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Kleine Schritte, die Milliarden bringen.” Luxemburger Wort, 21 April 2017, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

“Organisations non gouvernementales.” Le portal de l’actualité gouvermentale, Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.

Rapport annuel 2016. La Coopération Luxembourgeoise au Développement, 2017. Accessed 21 Dec. 2017.
New Zealand
New Zealand is highly committed to tackling global socioeconomic inequalities. According to the Commitment to Development Index 2017 (Center for Global Development), which ranks 27 of the world’s richest countries on their dedication to policies that benefit people living in poorer nations, New Zealand is ranked 10th. Its aid program is managed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is coherent and efficient in prioritizing economic development (New Zealand is ranked fifth of 41 countries by the Center for Global Development with regard to the quality of its development assistance), despite being criticized by some NGOs. Free access to global markets for developing countries is high on its agenda. The government openly argues for its development program to be used for diplomatic and trade outcomes, and not solely development outcomes. Geographically, New Zealand focuses on countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in the South Pacific, although significant funding is channeled through multilateral and international agencies.
Aid Statistics – Donor Aid at a Glance: New Zealand: (accessed October 13, 2014).
International Development Policy Statement: Supporting Sustainable Development (Wellington: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade 2011).
New Zealand Aid Programme: (accessed December 4, 2016).
The Commitment to Development Index 2017. Center for Global Development ( (accessed 27 September 2017).
The government actively engages in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. However, some of its measures or policies lack coherence.
In absolute terms, Germany is the second largest global donor of development aid (behind the United States). Aid has increased substantially in terms of official development assistance (ODA) both because increasing spending abroad and financial assistance for refugees within a donor country are included. Relative to gross national income (GNI), Germany has now established itself significantly above the OECD average and, in 2016, reached the U.N. 0.7% spending target (OECD 2017).

The country’s trading system is necessarily aligned with that of its European partners. In trade negotiations within the European Union, Germany tends to defend open-market principals and liberalization. This position is in line with the country’s economic self-interest as a successful global exporter. For agricultural products in particular, the European Union’s Common Agricultural Policy still partially shields European farmers from international competition, thus limiting the ability of developing countries to export their agricultural products to Europe. However, Germany has been more open than peers such as France to a liberal approach that would provide greater benefits to developing countries and emerging markets.

The dramatic increase in refugees arriving in Germany in 2015 has increased the German government’s awareness of the importance of stable social, economic and political conditions in developing countries. This has had a clear budgetary impact: the 2017 draft federal budget, proposes to increase the resources of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development by 15% (€1.1 billion), with a particular focus on fighting the causes of flight in North Africa and helping Syria and neighboring countries (Bundesregierung 2016).
Bundesregierung (2016): Etat für die Entwicklungspolitik, Mehr Engagement für Flüchtlinge und für Afrika, 23.11.2016,

OECD (2017): Development aid rises again in 2016 but flows to poorest countries dip,
Despite the austerity measures that have been taken to correct the imbalances in public finances, Ireland has maintained its spending on overseas development assistance in the region of 0.5% of GDP since 2008. There is a special focus on countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and on poverty eradication, ending hunger and encouraging gender equality, good governance and human rights.

Ireland has consistently supported an international agenda that advances social inclusion. Its support for a fair global trading system is constrained by the overriding role of the EU in framing trading policy and to some extent by concerns about domestic self-interest with regard to certain sectors, including farming.
Norway is a leading contributor to bilateral and multilateral development cooperation activities, as well as to international agencies focusing on development issues. Many Norwegian NGOs play a prominent role in international aid.

Norway’s activities in these areas actively seek to combat poverty, exclusion and discrimination. It is also engaged in global health issues, the promotion of global education and efforts to prevent climate change as well as promoting gender rights and good governance. On the other hand, it maintains a high level of protectionism with respect to the import of agricultural products.

As a response to the increased number of migrants that came to Norway during 2015, the amount of money allocated to developing countries will likely be reduced somewhat. At the same time, voters and politicians alike increasingly recognize the need for development aid in Africa and the Middle East in securing resilient, sustainable and fair development. Similarly, there is a growing awareness of the need for social support measures as part of creating a safe, secure society.
Despite regular objections from politicians, the United Kingdom has been one of the few countries, which has maintained a commitment to devote 0.7% of GNI to foreign aid. In 2016, only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and, for the first time, Germany did the same. Under the coalition government, this spending was ring-fenced against cuts and the recent spending review has reaffirmed the commitment.

Development assistance spending is coordinated by the Department for International Development, whose work is scrutinized by the newly created Independent Commission for Aid Impact.

In general, the United Kingdom is a proponent of open markets and fair access for developing countries, although an attempt in the late 1990s to espouse an ethical trade policy was subsequently quietly dropped.

However, although the UK government has ring-fenced international development aid, this generosity has not been extended to the millions of refugees who, escaping war and poverty, have arrived in Europe over the last year. The UK government has repeatedly refused to shelter any refugee who had already made it to Europe and was reluctant to take more than a few hundred vulnerable children following the closure of the Calais “jungle.” Instead, the UK government has offered to accept 20,000 refugees from camps in Syria over the next five years. Compared to the number of refugees already living in the overcrowded registration and aid facilities of other EU countries, 20,000 is very little. While politically understandable in the context of the EU referendum and recent general election results, this position contrasts sharply to the otherwise generous approach to international aid policy.
Canada’s government has a long history of supporting international efforts to promote socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries, and has shown leadership on critical issues such as nutrition and child health. Canada’s share of official development assistance has declined in relative terms and was only 0.26% of gross national income (GNI) in 2016, ranking 18th in the world. In 2016, the federal government began a review of its existing aid policies, and has now reoriented the majority of international assistance to creating equal opportunities for women and girls in the world’s poorest countries. Investments in gender equality are widely considered necessary to meet the Sustainable Development Goals.

A North-South Institute study makes the case that Canada’s current framework guiding foreign-aid efforts – that is, the focus on improving aid effectiveness and accountability – is insufficient as an overarching framework guiding the country’s approach to development. This is because the focus on aid effectiveness captures only a small part of Canada’s engagement with the developing world. A broader vision that includes aid and non-aid policies is needed in order for Canada to improve the coherence of its development policy and be an effective actor in the international development sphere. In principle, Canada promotes a fair global trading system. In practice, domestic interests are often paramount. For example, the government vigorously defends Canada’s agricultural marketing boards in trade negotiations, even though the removal of the trade barriers related to these boards would give developing countries better access to the Canadian market.
OECD Data, ODA as a percentage of GNI, data obtainable at

OECD, “Gender equality and women’s rights in the post-2015 agenda: A foundation for sustainable development,” posted at

Anni-Claudine Bulles and Sghannon Kindornay (2013) “Beyond Aid: A Plan for Canadian International Cooperation” North-South Institute, May. loads/2013/05/BuellesKindornay.2013.CNDPolicyCoherenceEN.pdf
The Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AGCID) under the Ministry for External Relations has been the national agency responsible for international cooperation, South-South and triangular cooperation since 1990. Its current Strategy for the International Development was defined for the period 2015-2018.

Chile formally follows and promotes the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Agenda (Agenda 2030) and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals in its foreign policies. In practice, those criteria do not necessarily give direction when it comes to decision-making regarding international cooperation with developing countries in the region (Chile cooperates nearly exclusively with Latin American developing and emerging countries). In respect of promoting fair access to global markets, Chile offers virtually no subsidies to domestic producers, and does not maintain protectionist trade barriers to imports.
Agencia Chilena de Cooperación Internacional para el Desarrollo (AGCID):ÓN_26nov15.pdf
Czech Rep.
The Czech Republic is not a major player in international development and devotes a relatively low share of GDP to development aid. As a percentage of gross national income, official development assistance has stagnated in recent years. However, the Czech Republic has pursued a relatively coherent strategy of development cooperation with a clear focus on countries where its own experience of transition can be helpful. The Transition Promotion Program, a centerpiece of Czech development cooperation, puts strong emphasis on the promotion of democracy, human rights and civil society. While the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the main coordinator of bilateral and multilateral development cooperation, a large number of public and non-governmental actors are extensively involved in the selection of program countries and the identification of priority sectors as well as in on-the-ground activities in partner countries. In addition to long-term programs, there is also humanitarian aid for current crisis areas. Also, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has long striven to effectively involve the Czech private sector in development activities.
Based on international humanitarian law, international human-rights treaties and laws regarding refugees, Finnish humanitarian aid is committed to aid principles as laid down by the OECD Development Assistance Committee. However, due to severe strains in the Finnish economy, the government has been forced to decide and implement considerable reductions in the amount of humanitarian aid. In 2016, Finland spent €956 million for development cooperation, accounting for 0.44% of GNI. In 2015, the share was 0.55%. Altogether, development cooperation appropriations decreased in 2016 from the previous year by 18%. Under the 2017 budget, €881 million is reserved for development cooperation appropriations. Finland emphasizes the primary role of the United Nations in coordinating the provision of aid, and in general channels its funds for humanitarian aid through U.N. organizations. In terms of development coordination, such as work to improve the economic and social position of developing countries, Finland’s contributions are implemented through various methods. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs, in conjunction with external consultants, monitor the attainment of goals and the use of funds, and in June 2014 the ministry introduced an online service enabling anybody to report suspected misuse of development-cooperation funds. The overall efficiency of Finnish efforts is not high and the country is not counted among the world’s top aid initiators or agenda-setters. In terms of advancing global social inclusion, Finland is a committed partner rather than a leader.
“Finland’s Development Policy Programme 2012”, Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 6/19/2012;
Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland,
France has a long tradition of offering support to poor countries both in terms of financial support and promotion of policies in their favor. However, this should be qualified. First, France is reluctant to consider that free trade is one of the most effective instruments of support. As a consequence, France is often an obstacle to the lowering of tariffs and trade barriers, for instance in agriculture. Second, French aid is concentrated on African countries, where its economic interests have been traditionally strong. The temptation to link aid to imports from the donor country is quite common.

Within the framework of international organizations, France is active but for the above mentioned reasons, its policy preferences are deeply influenced by path dependency, such as colonization and the global network of French-speaking countries.
Lithuania’s government participates in international efforts to promote socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries through its development-aid policy. Lithuania provides development aid to Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, as well as Afghanistan (where it is involved in the civilian-military mission) through its own development-aid and democracy-support program, as well as through the European Development Fund, to which it provides a financial contribution (representing 65% of the country’s total development aid). Moreover, in 2011 Lithuania joined the World Bank’s International Development Association, which provides loans and grants for anti-poverty programs. Although Lithuania committed to allocating 0.33% of its gross national product to development aid by 2015 as part of its contribution to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, actual levels of government expenditure remain under the target, reaching 0.14% of GNI in 2016. In 2016, preliminary data indicated that development aid reached $58 million in absolute terms, representing an increase of 26% in real terms over 2014. It is hard to judge the real impact of Lithuania’s development aid given the absence of independent evaluations. Over the last several years, Lithuania’s aid has focused on Ukraine and other Eastern Partnership countries.

As a member of the European Union, Lithuania is bound by the provisions of the EU’s common policy toward external trade. Although the European Union generally maintains a position of openness with regard to trade and investments, it has retained some barriers to market access and other measures that distort international competition. In rare cases, Lithuania has adopted measures within the European Union’s external trade regime that restrict trade (e.g., along with other countries, Lithuania prohibited import of a specific genetically modified maize, a measure related to consumer- and environmental-protection concerns, rather than being based on new or additional scientific information about the impact of GMOs). Despite being a small and open economy and officially advocating open global trade policies, Lithuania has often aligned itself in trade discussions with the European Union’s most protectionist countries, especially on the application of such instruments as antidumping duties. It has also supported trade protection in the farming sector, backing EU import duties on key agricultural products that hurt developing countries specializing in agricultural exports.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lithuanian development aid, 2013.
OECD, Lithuania’s Official Development Assistance (ODA), 2016:
Elsig, M., “European Union trade policy after enlargement: larger crowds, shifting priorities and informal decision-making,” Journal of European Public Policy, 17:6, September 2010, p. 781-798.
The Swiss government has increased its development-aid contributions since 2000. Currently Switzerland’s contributions are above average when compared to other mature democracies. The Swiss government has set the goal of spending 0.5% of its GDP on development aid in the long run and achieved that in recent years. In 2016, 0.54% of GNI was spent on development aid, excluding the costs of asylum it was 0.43%. Sustainable agriculture, decentralized governance, poverty reduction and vocational training are core issues driving Swiss development cooperation (SDC). In the countries where it supports projects or aid distribution, SDC has a good reputation for maintaining independence from home industrial interests and for making long-term commitments. Nevertheless, it is a small donor with limited impact. SDC is well embedded within international development agencies, and coordinates its activities with their agendas on issues such as poverty reduction, climate change and sustainable economic development. To a certain degree, SDC’s activities differ from general patterns of Swiss foreign policy, which is more conventional. Foreign policy is mainly trade oriented, supporting policies of market liberalization through international agencies like the WTO. In this context, development cooperation policies have become controversial. Whereas the SVP criticizes development cooperation as ineffective and calls for SDC budget cuts, the policy network of Swiss private development-aid agencies advocate a shift in policy that involves the mitigation of north-south inequalities by revising trade arrangements that disadvantage developing countries.
Australia plays a significant role in the region with regard to promoting economic development and poverty alleviation in less developed countries, particularly in the Pacific. Australia is also a strong advocate of trade liberalization, especially in relation to agricultural products, which is critically important to economic development in most developing countries.

However, the 2014 government budget included cuts to foreign aid of 7.6 billion AUD over five years, which arguably represents a backward step in promoting economic opportunities in developing countries.

Due to its status as a middle power, Australia lacks leverage on some issues. It has been unable to provide a major impetus to further develop the multilateral trading system, for example. Australian governments have supported the multilateral trading system rhetorically, but have at the same time contributed to the weakening of the WTO by implementing a number of preferential trade agreements. Australia has concluded free-trade agreements (FTAs) with all major economies in Asia (ASEAN, South Korea, China and Japan).
Iceland is a founding member of the United Nations.

The Icelandic International Development Agency (Þróunarsamvinnustofnun Íslands, IIDA) is a public institution associated with the Foreign Ministry, established in 1981. Its mandate is to cooperate with and assist developing countries. Recently, IIDA reduced the number of countries in which it ran projects (bilateral cooperation) from six to three: Malawi, Mozambique, and Uganda. Additionally, the IIDA is involved in a regional project on geothermal power in East-Africa. In late 2015, the Gunnlaugsson cabinet decided to merge the IIDA with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In 2009, Iceland’s contribution to development aid amounted to 0.3% of GDP. This was reduced to 0.2% in 2012, well below the U.N. target of 0.7%. In 2014 the contribution rate was still the same 0.2% of GDP but increased to 0.25% in 2016 and 2017. Parliament resolved in 2013 to meet the U.N. target but has failed to implement its resolution. In 2013, Iceland joined the OECD’s Development Cooperation Directorate.

Apart from its rather limited development assistance, Iceland has not undertaken any specific initiatives to promote social inclusion in the context of global frameworks or international trade.
The level of official development assistance (ODA) provided by Japan in 2016 increased by 12.7% as compared to the previous year. Part of the increase was earmarked for opening embassies in additional countries, following in the footsteps of China. However, in relative terms, Japan has typically underperformed compared to the OECD average. The quality of the aid provided has improved in recent years, but assistance has been increasingly aligned with Japan’s broader external-security concerns, a trend which may be viewed critically from the perspective of potential recipients or indeed the development community at large. The country’s 2015 Development Cooperation Charter stresses the principle of cooperation for nonmilitary purpose; the important role of partnerships with the private sector, local governments, NGOs and other local organizations and stakeholders; an emphasis on self-help and inclusiveness; and a focus on gender issues. These ODA guidelines also enable Japan to support aid recipients in security matters, for instance by providing coast-guard equipment.

In the 2015 – 2016 period, the government started a Partnership for Quality Infrastructure, through which it plans to contribute $200 billion by 2020 to projects all over the world. Many observers see the plan as a reaction to China’s Belt and Road initiative, with the advantage that Japan can contribute its world-class technological competence.

Tariffs for agricultural products remain high, as are those for light-industry products such as footwear or headgear in which developing economies might otherwise enjoy competitive advantages. On the non-tariff side, questions about the appropriateness of many food-safety and animal- and plant-health measures (sanitary and phytosanitary measures) remain.
Ken Okaniwa, Changes to ODA Charter reflect new realities, The Japan Times, 29 May 2015,

Tridivesh Singh Maini, Japan’s Effort to Counter China’s Silk Road, The Globalist, 6 April 2016,
Regarding free trade, Mexico is supportive of open trade agreements and actively seeks good relations with any country that might counterbalance its heavy economic dependence on the United States. Mexico has also been active in financing international development, providing modest levels of foreign aid. Moreover, foreign policy continues to embrace the topic of south-south-cooperation and supports regional development projects. The Mexican government has also been a supporter of the U.N. Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) and Agenda 2030, launched in 2015.

However, Mexico could do more to promote and advance social inclusion beyond its borders. The treatment of Central American immigrants, and more recently, Haitians, needs to be greatly improved. Diplomatic relations between Mexico and its southern neighbors are very good, but there is room for improvement in trade treaties in the region and Mexico could lead efforts to increase the economic integration and global competitiveness of Latin America. An excessive dependence on trade with the United States has prevented Mexico from looking south.
Slovakia ceased to receive World Bank development aid in 2008, and has been a donor of development assistance ever since. In September 2013, the country became the 27th member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. However, official development assistance (ODA) has remained substantially below the EU target of 0.33% of GNI. Slovakia’s top priorities with regard to ODA, as formulated in an official strategy for 2014 – 2018, include education and health care as well as the strengthening of stability and good governance in regions and countries that are of special interest to Slovakia. In line with this strategy, Slovakia focuses its bilateral development cooperation on three countries (Afghanistan, Kenya and South Sudan) as well as on several countries in the Western Balkans (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia), Eastern Europe (Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine) and Africa (Tunisia), which it shares similar experiences of transformation. In 2017, the Slovak government approved an extraordinary contribution of €1 million to the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa aimed at tackling causes of illegal migration.
South Korea
South Korea is a relatively new donor in the field of development cooperation. In 2016, the country provided $1.96 billion in net official development assistance (ODA), representing 0.14% of gross national income (GNI). Increase in ODA spending stalled under the Park administration, and Korea failed to achieve its goal of increasing spending to 0.25% of GNI in 2015. It has set a new ODA target of 0.30% of GNI by 2030. Korea’s aid also fails to meet the recommendations of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), for example when with respect to the share of grants and both untied and multilateral aid. It remains to be seen whether the Moon administration will revitalize Korean development cooperation.
With regard to activity supporting a fair global trading system, South Korea has shown weak initiative. It has largely focused on negotiating a number of preferential trade agreements with the European Union and the United States, as well as with many developing countries. Market access for products from developing countries also remains limited in Korea.
OECD, Development Co-operation Report. 2017.
OECD, KOREA Development Assistance Committee (DAC), PEER REVIEW 2012, s/Korea%20CRC%20-%20FINAL%2021%20JA N.pdf
During the period under review, Turkey used development assistance to advance social inclusion and development beyond its borders. The government expanded its annual official development assistance (ODA) disbursements considerably from $967 million in 2010 to $6.2 billion in 2016. Turkey, thus, has become one of the leading countries in humanitarian assistance in the world.

Turkey’s development cooperation is provided in line with the Statutory Decree on the Organization and Duties of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA). TIKA designs and coordinates Turkey’s bilateral development cooperation activities and implements projects in collaboration with other ministries, NGOs and private sector partners. In 2015, Turkey provided the largest share of its bilateral development cooperation to Syria, Somalia, Kyrgyzstan, Albania and Afghanistan. The main sectors for Turkey’s bilateral development cooperation were humanitarian aid and refugee support, governance and civil society, education, health care and population.
The United States is an important player in global social policy because it provides a large share of the world’s development assistance. Relative to the size of its economy, however, its efforts lag behind those of most OECD democracies. For most of the postwar era, U.S. foreign aid has had four features that have reduced its impact on economic development and welfare in poor countries: It has been modest in amount relative to national income; it has been heavily skewed toward military assistance; it has not always been coordinated with assistance from international organizations; and – at least with regard to food assistance – it has often been designed to benefit U.S. agricultural, shipping and commercial interests along with aid recipients.

Presidents Bush and Obama have both made major efforts to reorient U.S. foreign aid. The Bush administration accomplished a transformation of aid policy by reducing the emphasis on military spending, increasing health-related assistance, and focusing economic assistance on countries with stable democratic political systems and a commitment to long-term pro-business development strategies. President Obama continued the Bush-era effort focusing aid efforts on economic development, food security and poverty. In 2016, Congress passed a bipartisan Global Food Security Act committing U.S. foreign policy to focus on hunger and poverty in developing countries. The Trump presidential campaign stressed economic nationalism and the president is pushing to reduce foreign aid by up to 37% and there are reports that some officials in the administration are seeking to merge USAID with the State Department.
The government shows limited engagement in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. Many of its measures or policies lack coherence.
Austria often gives rhetorical support to agendas seeking to improve the global social balance. However, when it comes to actions such as spending public money to improve development in poor countries, Austria is often slow to fulfill its promises.

Austria’s role in the European attempt to control mass migration is overshadowed by the multifaceted phenomenon of migration. To distinguish between political asylum-seekers, war refugees and economic migrants (as would be, according to the legal norms, necessary), the general political tendency is to put all migrants in one basket. Austria’s role in closing the land route to the European Union (“Balkan Route”) has been seen (and promoted) only from the viewpoint of an immediate Austrian national interest – not as an all-European or global matter. The significance of global inequalities as the main reason for mass migration is mentioned usually only as a rhetorical ritual.

As an EU member state, Austria’s position concerning tariffs and imports is defined by the European Union’s position. This body also represents Austria in the World Trade Organization. To prevent certain agricultural products from entering the Austrian market, the Austrian media and political parties (including agricultural interest groups) use environmental rather than specifically trade-focused arguments.

The gap between political rhetoric and political activity with respect to socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries has grown wider during the period under review. Austrian politics and public discourse have reacted to the ongoing volatile economic and fiscal situation by concentrating even more on internal demands. The debate regarding the EU-U.S. negotiations concerning a transatlantic free trade agreement has been dominated by a parochial outlook with little room for global arguments. According to critics, Austria’s standards are among the highest in the world and any free trade agreement would result in a decline in quality for Austrian consumers. Nonetheless, after some heated debates, the government has at last agreed to CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Europe and Canada.
Until the onset of the economic crisis, Greece used to be active in assisting less developed countries, but later focused on managing its own national social policy problems. Still, under the crisis, Greece participated in all of the European Union’s decision-making efforts related to global social policy. In 2016, Greece’s development aid budget increased by 10.8% as it increased its contributions to the EU development budget. Yet, at 0.14% of GDP, Greek aid is far below the OECD average (0.32%).

Overall, because of the constraints of the ongoing economic crisis, Greece has not helped curb inequalities in developing countries, but has done more than its share to help people who arrive in Europe from developing countries. Even though the reception (refugee camps, and medical and social care) which Greece offers to incoming refugees is far from ideal, it continues to receive and help desperate people landing on Greek territory.
The engagement of the Italian government in promoting socioeconomic opportunities internationally is generally rather limited. Over the years, the Italian level of international aid has been among the lowest for developed countries, but has increased recently from 0.13% of GDP in 2012 to 0.26% in 2016, according to the OECD and other sources. A special sector where the current and past governments have displayed a significant activity is that of providing help at sea through the Italian navy for illegal immigrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea on unsecure boats belonging to traffickers. In order to address the rapid increase in immigration across the Mediterranean Sea and the humanitarian catastrophes produced by this increase, the Italian government has proposed an EU “immigration compact,” which should strengthen long-term EU help to African countries and develop bilateral agreements for the regulation of migration.

On a more qualitative and organizational level Italy has stressed the importance of fighting hunger and developing food production and distribution. Probably because of this activism it hosts three major U.N. food agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Program (WFP).
Development cooperation has become a more relevant issue in Poland since EU accession, even though it is still not a priority of the Polish government. While Poland became the 28th member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) in October 2013, it remains one of its smallest donors. In October 2015, the Kopacz government had agreed to implement its new development program for 2016-2020 which aimed primarily to support projects with NGOs in Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Moldova, as well as projects in East Africa and South America for a total of PLN 1.5 billion annually. The new PiS government has paid less attention to development cooperation than its predecessor. At the EU-Africa summit that took place in Valetta, Malta on 12 November 2015, however, it promised to contribute €1 million to address reasons for migration from Africa.
OECD (2017): Development Cooperation Peer Review Poland 2017. Paris.
There has been virtually no change in this area vis-à-vis previous reporting periods. Foreign aid remains very much a secondary consideration in foreign policy, with the main interest being in economic diplomacy promoting the Portuguese economy and its exports. That does not mean that Portugal is disengaged – it still participates through the provision of foreign aid, especially in the Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa and East Timor. However, while there is some funding for foreign-aid projects, there is little concern with overarching aid policy, which means that coherence has not been as strong as it might be. This lack of interest has also percolated through to the design of international policies and the lack of international leadership in that regard. It must also be kept in mind that Portugal is a follower, not an international leader, and has very few resources. Therefore, while Portugal is supportive of good intentions, it is in fact marginal with regard to the implementation and design of foreign assistance.

However, if the question were to be shifted to include foreign involvement beyond the financial and economic sphere, then Portugal is a “supplier of security” through its fairly limited participation in U.N., NATO, and EU security- and humanitarian-support missions. Furthermore, in specific instances such as Guinea-Bissau, Portugal is relatively very active in attempting to stabilize national governments, promote security and ultimately promote development. Despite Portugal’s limited resources, it is providing the first professional military education to the armed forces of Guinea-Bissau.

While it represents public opinion, and has nothing to do with the commitment of resources, the Special Eurobarometer 455 of April 2017 indicates that the Portuguese place a very high importance on “tackling poverty in developing countries,” with 76% of respondents seeing this as an important EU task, but just 51% seeing it as a task for the government of Portugal. The first figure was considerably above the EU mean of 68%, while the latter represented the EU mean for opinions about individual governments
The European Commission, Special Eurobarometer 455 “EU Citizen’s views on development, cooperation and aid. April 2017.
With EU accession in 2004, Slovenia’s status changed from donor to recipient of official development assistance. However, Slovenia has not been very active in international efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries. The few initiatives that exist are mostly focused on the former Yugoslavia. The prevailing attitude is that Slovenia has its own measure of socioeconomic problems to tackle and that potential Slovenian international influence is negligible. Still, Slovenia’s official development assistance comes close to the EU target and has risen substantially in recent years.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2017): International Development Cooperation of Slovenia. Ljubljana (

OECD (2017): Development Cooperation Report 2017: Slovenia. OECD: Paris, 126-129 (
Budget cuts severely restricted the funding available for policies and instruments designed to enhance Spain’s influence abroad; development cooperation suffered, as did more general contributions to global public goods. Since 2009, the country’s official development aid (ODA) budget has declined by 70%. Currently, Spain gives just 0.21% of its GDP (2017) to official development assistance. In November 2016, the Spanish parliament approved a non-binding resolution to increase ODA to 0.40% of GDP in 2020. Since 2011, the focus of Spanish international action has been more business-oriented. As a consequence, less political attention has been given to development and fewer contributions have been made to global public goods. In 2017, the multiannual Cooperation Director Plan (2013 – 2016) was still the basic planning element of Spanish cooperation policy seeking to improve the coherence of development cooperation with other policies (e.g., trade), fostering specialization and better aligning the country’s efforts with other EU member states’ development strategies.
Donor Tracker: Spain ountry/spain

March 2017, Marca España: “Sustainable development, central to the new Spanish Cooperation Plan” s/we-are/sustainable-development-ce ntral-to-new-spanish-cooperation-plan
From 2011 to 2014, Dutch real development aid (total budget minus 23% for increasing expenses for refugees and asylum-seekers) was cut to 0.7% of GDP or €4.5 billion, then to 0.52% of GDP or €3.5 billion in 2015, and to €2.7 billion in 2016. In addition, costs for climate policy will be allocated to development aid budgets. Expenditure on international conflict management has added to the diminishing state budget for development aid. In the Commitment to Development Index, which ranks the 27 richest countries, the Netherlands ranking has been generally stable, although it has fallen from two out of 21 countries in 2005 to four out of 27 in 2015.

Aid is no longer focusing on poverty reduction alone, but also on global sustainable and inclusive growth, and on success for Dutch firms in foreign countries. The driving idea is that “economic diplomacy” can forge a coalition between Dutch business-sector experts (in reproductive health, water management and food security/agriculture) and business and civil society associations in developing countries. No cutbacks in the areas of women’s rights or emergency aid have been made. Good-governance aid will be focused on helping developing countries to improve taxation systems. Following OECD guidelines, there will be a reassessment of the negative side effects of Dutch corporate policies in developing countries.
The Dutch policy response to the recent refugee crisis has mimicked Denmark’s efforts, seeking to discourage refugees from coming to the Netherlands.

All of this shows declining commitment by the Dutch government to global policy frameworks and a fair global-trading system; the aspiration is instead to link development aid to Dutch national economic- and international-safety interests.
WRR (2010), Minder pretentie, meer ambitie. Ontwikkelingshulp die verschil maakt, Amsterdam University Press

Nieuwe agenda voor hulp, handel en investeringen, april 2013 (…)

Center for Global Development, Commitment to Development Index, 2015 (consulted 8 November 2016))
Ontwikkelingsresultaten in beeld 2016, (consulted 29 october 2017)

Additional references:

Aanbiedingsbrief Meerjarige Strategische Plannen, 5 February 2014

Volkskrant, 24 september 2015, ‘Blamage’: budget ontwikkelingshulp daalt tot 0,52 procent bnp ( consulted 7 November 2016)

De Correspondent,Nederland steekt het meeste ontwikkelingshulpgeld in…Nederland ()De Correspondent B.V., consulted 8 November 2016)
The economic crisis has placed continued pressure on the government’s development-aid efforts. International-development policies, which are now split between the federal and federated entities, are increasingly being seen as an instrument to help Belgian firms export to developing countries. Unrelated aid is being cut, and Belgium has repeatedly missed its own spending targets despite recognized Belgian expertise in the field, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. At the international level, Belgium has been part of efforts to push for more fair-trade arrangements, but has not been an agenda-setter.
The Croatian government takes part in the activities of international organizations to which the country belongs; these are mostly in the field of international security and involve armed-forces personnel in various roles. The government does not have a well-developed international-development policy and is little more than a passive participant in most other joint international activities. Trade policy is mostly focused on regional and EU relations, with the government lacking an independent policy beyond this context. For trade issues related to international development, the government follows the policy of the European Union and other international organizations. Since joining the EU, Croatia’s international assistance policy has improved. The National Strategy for Development Cooperation 2015 – 2020 has been adopted, and the country aims to increase its development aid to 0.33% of GDP by 2030. This includes funds for the European Development Fund, which distributes aid at the EU level.
Cyprus participates and contributes in development-cooperation programs within the context of its membership in major international organizations. Its main policy is tied to that of the EU as well as manifested through international-cooperation and bilateral agreements in various fields. Cyprus is a contributor to UNITAID, participates in financing mechanisms for climate change, and provides assistance for infrastructure development, social services including health and human development, and environmental protection. Its official development assistance (ODA) amounted to 0.1136% of GDP in 2012 with an ODA target set at 0.33% by 2015. However, the last update of the CyprusAid website was in 2013.

Actions and policies do not appear to form part of a specific national strategy; rather, they take place primarily within existing international frameworks. The government appears to have little agenda-setting ambition in terms of pursuing specific initiatives of its own design.
1. Data on ODA, Cyprus,
Israeli policy regarding global inequalities mainly consists of offering assistance in humanitarian, medical and financial aid to developing countries during emergencies. In recent decades, this aid has been expanded to technological and agricultural knowledge-sharing. For example, in May of 2016, the Ministry of Economy and the Israel National Cyber Bureau organized a workshop to teach and share the country’s cybersecurity expertise with developing countries (such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, India, Zambia, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Montenegro). The government’s Center for International Cooperation (MASHAV) oversees cooperation with other developed countries, and is responsible for launching emergency-assistance missions.

Although Israel has signed a number of international cooperation agreements with parties such as the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), it is not considered to be a leader or an agenda setter with regard to global fair-trade policies. However, it is improving its regulatory structure to reflect international trade agreements and WTO standards. In response to the 2011 social protests, it dismantled some import barriers and has begun to eliminate and reduce import duties on items such as electrical appliances, textiles and apparel, and recently, many food items.
Hayut, Ilanit, “Israeli gov’t expands meat imports to spur competition” Globes, 24.03.2016,

“Israel and World Bank Group sign agreement to share innovative best practices in water,” The World Bank website 17.6.2015:

“Israel shares cybersecurity expertise with World Bank client countries,” The World Bank Website, 22.6.2016:
The Maltese government has very limited opportunities to help shape or advance social inclusion beyond its borders. What little influence of this kind it has acquired is related to its participation in international organizations (such as the UN and WHO) and EU Ministerial Councils. In 2004, Malta committed itself to allocate 0.33% of GNI to Official Development Assistance (ODA) by 2015. However, Malta’s foreign affairs minister recently stated that Malta was pledging only €900,000 in 2017, even though the 2016 national contribution should have been around €30 million. Malta has also received criticism from CONCORD (a European confederation of Relief and Development NGOs) regarding the actual share of the funds that reach these developing societies at the grassroots level. An analysis of the 2016 funds indicates that a large percentage was put toward domestic use. Transparency in the distribution of funding may decline with the recent disbanding of the ODA advisory board. On the other hand, Malta is supportive of EU efforts to address the refugee crisis and is the only EU member state to have fulfilled its asylum relocation commitments, accepting 131 refugees and asylum-seekers. Moreover, through the EU, Malta contributes to the EU Emergency Trust Fund supported by the Joint Valletta Action Plan and the Malta Declaration during Malta’s EU presidency in 2017. Private sources also contribute significantly to development projects in other countries. Indeed, 12 projects financed and/or implemented on a voluntary basis by Maltese Non-Governmental Development Organizations (NGDOs) have been selected for co-financing by the government in 2016. Malta is also attempting to take the lead in development education and has introduced a master’s degree in humanitarian action, targeting field workers in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.

Malta’s development policy attaches special importance to countries in the Horn of Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, the main source of asylum-seekers and clandestine immigrants to Malta. Malta’s development policy also seeks to assist with development in Mediterranean states, notably North Africa and the Palestinian territories, providing scholarships and other forms of aid. Malta also actively assists other small states through the Commonwealth by making available its acquired experience and expertise as a developed small island country. In general, Malta follows the lead of the European Union; its policies on tariffs are in line with those agreed to in Brussels.

Since 2015, Malta has used its role as Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Governments Meeting to press for development in a number of areas, including polio eradication, financial support for poorer Commonwealth states, combating climate change and women rights. Malta also hosted the Commonwealth Local Government Forum in November 2017.
Official Development Assistance Policy and a Framework for Humanitarian Assistance 2014 – 2020 p.8
Malta Today 06/09/2017 Malta’s overseas development aid way off €30 million target
The Malta Independent 03/01/2016 Malta ‘inflates’ official development aid figures by 50%
Times of Malta 22/09/2015 Updated: Malta to get 189 refugees as part of EU relocation plan velopment-Assistance-2016.aspx
ttps:// alestine.pdf
Times of Malta 26/11/2015 Commonwealth trade facility to be set up
Times of Malta 28/11/2015 Commonwealth can bridge divide on climate change
Times of Malta 25/11/2015 Malta to host Commonwealth Center to help small states, contribute €100,000
Times of Malta 27/11/2015 Financial services: ‘some of best growth opportunities in Commonwealth’
Malta Today 25/09/17 Malta the only EU country to fulfill asylum relocation quota
European Council 03/02/17 Malta Declaration by members of the European Council on the external aspects of migration
Romania remains a minor player on the global stage when dealing with issues of global inequality. In 2016, the Cioloș government put development assistance on a new footing. Among other things, Law No. 213/2016 created a new Agency for International Development Cooperation, “RoAid,” which is responsible for implementing development cooperation and humanitarian aid-related activities. In 2016, official development assistance rose by 71% in real terms. Romanian bilateral development cooperation has focused mostly on Moldova, Turkey, Serbia, Ukraine and Syria. In 2017, the cooperation with Moldova has been strengthened through the Romanian Economy Minister’s bilateral meetings with his Moldovan counterpart to discuss projects to further integrate the two countries’ natural gas and electricity networks, noting the success of the Ungheni-Chisinau pipeline. Moldova’s ailing political and economic systems, as well as its proximity to Romania and geopolitical importance to Europe vis-a-vis Russia make it an attractive area of political and economic engagement.
The promotion of equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries is not on the agenda of Bulgarian society and its government. Bulgarian officials take positions on this issue only when they are required to do so by the agendas of international bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations. On such occasions, the behavior of Bulgarian officials is reactive and not proactive. However, Bulgaria does not resort to protectionist trade barriers beyond the structure of such barriers imposed by the European Union, and does not impede or attempt to undermine efforts by the international community to promote equal opportunities in developing countries.
Hungary pays only relatively little policy attention to developing countries. The Orbán government adopted a strategy for international development cooperation and humanitarian aid for the period 2014-2020 in March 2014. Hungary’s development cooperation focuses on countries which have a large Hungarian minority and strong trade links with Hungary (Serbia, Ukraine) or in which Hungary has been militarily involved (Afghanistan). About 80% of all funds go to Serbia and Ukraine. Hungary’s net ODA has fallen short of the official EU and OECD targets and has further declined relative to GDP in recent years.
OECD (2017): Development Co-operation Peer Review Hungary 2017. Paris (
As a result of government austerity programs, funding for bilateral development cooperation was reduced to a minimum between 2009 and 2011. This reduction has meant that Latvia’s ability to directly contribute to efforts to tackle global social inequalities has been negligible. In 2016, Latvia’s official development assistance (ODA) expenditure was €19 million or 0.08% of GNI, down from €21 million or 0.21% GNI in 2015. Latvia has adopted a multi-year ODA strategy, which foresees increasing contributions to 0.33% of GNI by 2020.

Bilateral development cooperation focuses on the three top-priority countries of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
1. State Development Cooperation Policy Plan (2016 – 2020), Available at (in Latvian):ības-politikas-pamatnostadnem-2016-2020-gadam. Last assessed: 10.11.2017
The government does not contribute (and often undermines) efforts to promote equal socioeconomic opportunities in developing countries.
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