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Resolution adopted unanimously by the 118th Assembly
(Cape Town, 18 April 2008)

The 118th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

Recalling the United Nations Millennium Declaration of 8 September 2000 and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which constitute poverty elimination targets mutually agreed by the international community,

Recalling the Final Declaration of the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey (Mexico) in 2002, and the Paris Declaration of 2 March 2005 on Aid Effectiveness,

Recalling the global human development reports issued by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in particular the 2005 report entitled "International cooperation at a crossroads: Aid, trade and security in an unequal world",

Recalling the report on"Investing in development: A practical plan to achieve the Millennium Goals" by Professor Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director of the United Nations Millennium Project,

Recalling the resolutions ofthe Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in particular those adopted at the 92nd Inter-Parliamentary Conference (Copenhagen, 1994) on "International co‑operation and national action to support social and economic development and efforts to combat poverty", the 104th Inter‑Parliamentary Conference (Jakarta, 2000) on "Financing for development and a new paradigm of economic and social development designed to eradicate poverty", the 107th Inter-Parliamentary Conference (Marrakech, 2002) on "The role of parliaments in developing public policy in an era of globalization, multilateral institutions and international trade agreements", the 112th IPU Assembly (Manila, 2005) on "The role of parliaments in establishing innovative international financing and trading mechanisms to address the problem of debt and achieve the Millennium Development Goals", the 114th IPU Assembly (Nairobi, 2006) on "The need for urgent food relief in order to combat drought-induced famine and poverty in Africa, for the world's most industrialized nations to speed up aid to the continent and for particular efforts to be made to reach desperate and poor populations", and the 115th IPU Assembly (Geneva, 2006) on "The role of parliaments in overseeing the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, in particular with regard to the problem of debt and the eradication of poverty and corruption",

Reiterating that gender equality and the empowerment of women are crucial to achieving all the MDGs,

Underscoring that primary responsibility for development lies with the developing countries, whose own efforts are essential,

Recalling that all efforts aimed at sustainable development and the eradication of poverty must necessarily also be based on economic growth in developing countries – a determining factor in the creation of productive jobs, in particular in agriculture,

Emphasizing that recognition by the developing countries of their responsibility is no reason for developed countries and those with emerging economies not to meet their obligation to fight underdevelopment and poverty or to honour their official development assistance (ODA) commitments,

Concerned that the rise in international commodity prices is likely to reduce the capacity of donor countries to provide aid because it causes a downturn in the global economy, although at the same time it improves the economic position of beneficiary countries providing the commodities,

Aware that countries in transition from aid recipient to aid donor status are faced with particular challenges related to budget increases, institutional strengthening and awareness-raising in support of development cooperation,

Recalling the conclusions of the Parliamentary Panel on Governance in the Least Developed Countries, held in New York on 15 September 2006 on the occasion of the meeting organized jointly by the IPU and the United Nations Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries and Small Island Developing States,

Deeply concerned by the fact thatindicators show that the MDGs are unlikely to be achieved in several parts of the world, in particular in Africa,

Recalling that the fight to reduce poverty worldwide will only bear fruit, and be more concrete and more equitable, if the attention paid to the least developed countries does not preclude poverty-reduction efforts in other developing nations, in particular middle-income countries,

Observing that, in many countries, foreign aid is a crucial component of the national budget for effective implementation of the MDGs and the fight against poverty,

Deeply concerned by the fact that, at present, financing for the MDGs, and thus their fulfilment by 2015, is not assured, despite the efforts made by States,

Observing that most countries concerned have yet to honour their pledge to increase ODA to 0.7 per cent of gross national product (GNP), although some have promised to do so in the next few years,

Noting that the rise in volume of ODA, while vital, will only serve a purpose if the donor and beneficiary countries undertake as partners to significantly improve the quality and effectiveness of such aid and to ensure that, inter alia, it does not lead to dependency,

Noting that ODA allocations to economic infrastructure and the production sectors fell from 48 per cent of total ODA pledged to the least developed countries in the early 1990s to 24 per cent between 2002 and 2004,

Aware that parliaments in the donor countries play a major role in shaping decisions on their respective country's budget allocation for development aid and on its geographical and sectoral allocation,

Mindful that beneficiary country parliaments play a crucial part in promoting the eight MDGs, and that they must adopt the requisite legislation, approve the appropriate budget allocations and oversee the use thereof by the executive branch,

Considering that transparent government reporting to parliament on the use and impact of public funds to reduce poverty will further encourage donors to increase their aid,

Observing that many beneficiary country parliaments do not fully play their role in promoting the MDGs and overseeing the use of ODA, in particular because they lack the necessary institutional, administrative and legislative resources,

Convinced that the effectiveness of financing for development will only be enhanced if the beneficiary countries promote democracy, the rule of law and good governance and fight corruption,

Stressing that, insofar as the donors are increasingly reluctant to tie aid and more likely to resort to sectoral budget aid, budget oversight bodies must be developed in the beneficiary countries, in particular in parliaments, that are independent of the executive branch so as to ensure that the aid received is used effectively,

Considering that oversight by a democratically elected parliament cannot be effective if opposition groups are barred from participating in parliamentary bodies,

Underscoring that the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness provides that:

  • The role of parliamentary bodies in drawing up and overseeing national development strategies must be strengthened;
  • The donors and the partner countries have a mutual responsibility in terms of development outcomes;
  • Aid must be aligned on the national development strategies, institutions and procedures of the partner countries,

Recalling that the Third High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness will be held in 2008 in Ghana and that the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD IV) and the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit will be held in 2008 in Japan, with a view to strengthening foreign aid for African countries,

Underscoring that the increasing amount of development aid offered to poor countries by NGOs and foreign charity organizations can in no way justify the significant decline in ODA in recent years, as confirmed by the United Nations,

  1. Invites donor country parliaments to pursue their efforts to honour the long-standing commitment reaffirmed in Monterrey to increase ODA to 0.7 per cent of GNP, based on the schedule of annual increases in the cooperation budget needed to attain that goal, and to guarantee that they will sustain that effort beyond 2015;

  2. Invites donor country parliaments to ensure that their governments pledge to increase real aid, i.e. not or only partly to take into account operations that "inflate" official ODA levels, such as debt cancellation and reduction and, generally speaking, all forms of aid that do not constitute an actual transfer of resources;

  3. Requests the parliaments and governments of donor countries to increase ODA in response to the steep rise in world food, energy and drug prices of over 40 per cent, as well as the rapid fluctuations in the exchange rate of foreign currencies, in particular the US dollar;

  4. Strongly encourages donor country parliaments to make use of the mechanisms for converting debt into investment that serve as a concrete counterpart to debt cancellation, promoting growth and development in the beneficiary country;

  5. Invites donor country parliaments to continue giving thought to alternative modes of financing for development that make it possible to increase aid beyond the amounts pledged as ODA;

  6. Invites donor country parliaments to ensure that their respective governments act transparently and do not impose conditions that undermine the recipient countries’ development when allocating budget resources earmarked for development cooperation;

  7. Invites donor and beneficiary country parliaments to strengthen parliamentary oversight of their respective government’s foreign policy while ensuring that the policies of other ministerial departments likely to have a direct or indirect impact on developing countries are aligned with it;

  8. Invites donor country parliaments to promote gender mainstreaming in development cooperation in support of gender equality and the empowerment of women, as key factors for growth, poverty reduction and the achievement of all MDGs;

  9. Recommends that parliaments further require that their respective governments provide annual reports on their development policy, the strategies implemented to achieve the MDGs and the results of negotiations with the beneficiary countries;

  10. Urges donor country parliaments to require that their respective governments set aside a portion of their annual budgets for the MDGs and for the poorest countries and people, in accordance with the Millennium Declaration and the Monterrey Consensus;

  11. Invites donor country parliaments to take appropriate measures to limit the possibility of foreign aid being reallocated as circumstances change;

  12. Invites donor country parliaments and governments to take the requisite legal and administrative measures to untie their development aid, and requests beneficiary countries to ensure that the proposed aid helps to promote local employment;

  13. Encourages donor country parliaments to debate whether to concentrate their aid on a limited number of countries and sectors, in particular beneficiary countries which exert their own efforts, so as to heighten its effectiveness, and to acquire expertise and specialized knowledge while ensuring that certain countries are not excluded from international aid;

  14. Invites donor countries to take into consideration and develop the capacity of certain beneficiary countries to absorb and use the financial assistance provided to them in order to maximize its effectiveness;

  15. Requests donor country parliaments and governments to help eradicate poverty in middle-income countries as well, not only through financial aid, but also through partnership with these countries, with a view to enabling them to fight actively against poverty;

  16. Suggests that donor country parliaments set up specialized committees or working groups to actively monitor and oversee their government’s development aid activities;

  17. Suggests that such committees undertake a more general review of national aid policy, with the involvement of civil society, by organizing hearings, conferences, etc.;

  18. Invites the members of specialized parliamentary committees in the donor countries to visit projects and other cooperation initiatives so as to ascertain the impact of aid programmes and obtain better information on the needs and challenges on the ground;

  19. Recommends that donor country parliaments ensure that a sufficient portion of the budget is set aside for efforts to heighten public awareness of the MDGs and their financing;

  20. Invites donor country parliaments and governments to establish innovative initiatives with a view to maintaining and strengthening civil society’s solidarity with the countries of the South, for example by establishing a voluntary development cooperation service;

  21. Encourages donor country parliaments to help actively reinforce – via bilateral or multilateral mechanisms, including the IPU technical cooperation programme – the effectiveness of parliaments in the beneficiary countries;

  22. Considers that donor country parliaments must ensure that some of the aid goes towards improving the working conditions of beneficiary country parliamentarians and building their capacity to analyse public finances, budgets and development programmes;

  23. Invites beneficiary country parliaments to find the necessary tools to oversee ODA at the national level;

  24. Invites beneficiary countries to establish national ODA governance and management institutions with parliamentary oversight;

  25. Considers that beneficiary country parliaments must be systematically associated with the programming, follow-up and evaluation of the impact of cooperation, and that their involvement is essential to the continuation of aid and to guaranteeing the achievement of the goal to reduce poverty;

  26. Encourages beneficiary country governments to develop incisive growth strategies for the elimination of poverty, which, once approved by parliament, must be used to hold the government to account;

  27. Invites beneficiary country parliaments to ensure that their respective governments promote a macroeconomic and sectoral policy that stimulates growth by encouraging the spirit of entrepreneurship and private investment on which sustainable development is predicated;

  28. Recommends that beneficiary country parliaments consult civil society when evaluating and overseeing aid programmes, so as to take into account people’s genuine needs;

  29. Invites beneficiary country parliaments to debate, within the framework of the IPU, the role they effectively play in defining their country’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and overseeing its implementation;

  30. Requests that the oversight capacity of such parliaments be strengthened, in particular by creating or reinforcing a national audit office or other independent body able to oversee public finances and budget implementation;

  31. Asks the political groups in parliament to ensure that both the majority and the opposition take part in the conduct of such parliamentary bodies;

  32. Stresses that, insofar as the increase in ODA is a necessary but insufficient condition for the achievement of the MDGs, it is essential for both donor and beneficiary country parliaments to ensure that such increases are backed by a gradual but substantial improvement in good governance and the fight against corruption throughout the community of nations;

  33. Invites donor and beneficiary country governments and parliaments to ensure that a substantial part of the public aid received each year serves to strengthen the democratic institutions and core functions of the State;

  34. Invites donor and beneficiary country governments and parliaments to adopt transparent procedures in awarding procurement contracts related to the allocation of ODA to tangible development and humanitarian aid projects, and to ensure that goods and services are sourced locally, whenever possible, while respecting the aforementioned procedures;

  35. Recommends that governments adopt and implement and all parliaments ratify the international and regional conventions aimed at preventing and fighting corruption, in particular as concerns money laundering and regulation of tax havens;

  36. Recalls that parliaments and governments must ensure the quality and independence of the judicial institutions required to fight corruption effectively;

  37. Invites governments and parliaments to ensure that the penalties applicable to persons convicted of active and passive corruption serve as deterrents;

  38. Recommends that an institutional dialogue on the conditions likely to render aid more effective be initiated among donor and beneficiary country parliaments, both bilaterally and multilaterally, within the IPU in particular;

  39. Recommends that governments and parliaments supervise activities and follow-up of development cooperation commitments, using peer review mechanisms (like those of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the New Partnership for Africa's Development) that allow the members to examine each other’s practices;

  40. Invites regional and sub-regional parliaments to promote and immediately initiate an exchange of information and best practices in terms of cooperation strategies and initiatives, with a view to strengthening the role of parliaments, and further invites governments to facilitate such exchanges in cooperation with national parliaments and the United Nations system;

  41. Encourages the committees in charge of development policy in donor and beneficiary country parliaments to exchange information and coordinate their policies;

  42. Advocates a more active role for the United Nations, reinforcement of the Economic and Social Council's Annual Ministerial Review, and consideration of the Development Cooperation Forum as the best framework for strengthening the coherence and effectiveness of global development cooperation.

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