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Free Democrats

Self-determined lives

by Christiane Ratjen-Damerau


Christiane Ratjen-Damerau

Christiane Ratjen-Damerau

Ahead of the general elections in late September, D+C/E+Z asked the international-development spokespersons of the parties represented in the Bundestag to elaborate their programmatic ideas. Christiane Ratjen-Damerau responded on behalf of the Free Democrats.

To live in liberty and better opportunities for all people of the world to take their fate into their own hands – these are the two goals that mark my work as international-development spokesperson for the Free Democrats in the Bundestag.

Poverty always means a lack of freedom, as I know not only from my travelling in developing countries. The core aim of our development policy is to exterminate the causes of poverty. All people must be enabled to live self-determined lives in dignity.

Self-determined lives in dignity are only possible  where the rule of law is guaranteed and fundamental human and civil rights are enforced. Countless people around the world suffer marginalisation, discrimination and violence however. Therefore, we should continue to check systematically how developmental projects relate to human rights. I am especially interested in safeguarding the rights of women and girls.

It is essential to cooperate with the people in our partner countries at eye-level. We must trust their stength and support them to improve their situation with their own means. Accordingly, we will stay the course of involving both the private sector and civil society more in development cooperation (DC). In the next legislative term, I'll do my best to make our Federal Government create the right environment for more private investments and more civil-society activity. Otherwise, there can be no guarantee that developing countries enjoy the kind of sustainable growth that will allow them to end their dependence on official development assistance (ODA).

We still want to achieve the goal of spending 0,7 % of GNP on ODA. Governments, however, will never be able to rise to the developmental challenges humanity faces on their own. Therefore we must continue to improve the effectiveness of development cooperation. The current coalition of Christian Democrats and Free Democrats has made the set-up of Germany's development agencies more effective. Now we must strive to reduce bureaucracy, streamline structures and speed up the procedures at European and international development agencies.

In coming years, for instance, the system of what counts as ODA must be reformed. ODA must not only be assessed in terms of quantity in the future, but in terms of quality too. Moreover, I'll work towards the successful conclusion of the negotiations on the follow-up agenda for the Millennium Development Goals. We have to move beyond separate and competing sets of goals, and we must make sure that we have common, but differentiated obligations for developing countries, emerging markets and advanced nations.

Not least, I'll do my best to focus German DC even more on the least-developed countries. We must keep on checking whether classical, poverty-oriented DC still makes sense with emerging markets and move on to innovative forms of cooperation. One option is triangular cooperation, involving a developing country, an emerging market and an advanced nation.

We will be best advised to invest our money where it is most needed, for instance in rural development and in fragile states in sub-Saharan Africa. At the same time, we must pay attention to conveying a postive image of Africa that is not defined by catastrophes, hunger and need. I primarily see developing countries in Africa and elsewhere as opportunities for young and capable societies. We should join hands in tapping that potential.

Christiane Ratjen-Damerau is Free Democrats' spokesperson on development in the Bundestag.