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Little interest in governance

D+C/E+Z 2011/10, editorial/focus/letter

Your editorial states: “Donors show more concern for governance today, though they are still prone to make compromises in the case of strategically important countries.” According to my experience as well as that of German development professionals and diplomats who are active today, your assessment is far too positive. Healthy trends towards governance geared to the common good, education and rural development are only evident in a few countries, and these are the “usual suspects” like Rwanda, Mauritius, Botswana, Ghana, Cape Verde and, to a lesser extent, South Africa or Mali.

The problems date back to the year 2000. It was never officially acknowledged that the international community failed to include good governance and respect for human rights in the Millennium Development Goals. However, these criteria would have been relevant for assessing countries, as argued by Hans-Peter Repnik (p. 370 f.). None­theless, they were never applied to the countries in which I served for 17 years as the German ambassador. As a consequence, most of Africa will not achieve the MDGs by 2015, as experts can easily see.

Unlike Sipho Moyo (p. 372 ff.), I have not experienced “effective policy dialogue” of donor agencies with the governments of developing countries. In my view, such events are basically make belief. Dialogue of this sort only makes a difference where those who rule a country are really interested in reforms – and if they are interested, they don’t need advice from foreign ambassadors. I agree with Ralf Ernst Schröder who wrote in his letter from Addis Ababa that German development agencies should not continue programmes that do not enjoy the support of the respective government. What we really need is effective monitoring of the results of development efforts on behalf of Germany’s parliament. That would probably lead to the conclusion that we should leave some governments to themselves.

Volker Seitz, former German ambassador, Six Fours les Plages, France