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India against imposing developed nations’ norms on aid by developing nations

By Arul Louis,

United Nations : Aid provided by developing countries to their counterparts cannot be subjected to the same norms set for assistance from developing countries, India told a UN General Assembly committee that deals with economic and financial matters Wednesday.

Amit Narang, a counsellor at India’s UN mission, criticised what he said were attempts to develop “universal norms for all development assistance in order to have standard benchmarks for the identification, delivery and evaluation of South-South flows on par with North-South aid.”

“South-South Cooperation is demand-driven, free of conditionalities and responds to the developmental priorities of partner countries,” he said, laying out objections to imposing similar standards. “While perhaps both models can learn from each other, such an approach of binding down uniform standards, if pursued obsessively, runs the risk of diluting the richness and diversity of development experience-sharing between developing countries which is the hallmark of South-South cooperation.”

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank is an example of an institution facing criticism over “uniform standards.” The financial institution set up last week by India and 20 other countries for enhancing South-South cooperation, has met with objections from the United States, reportedly because it may not have the stringent uniform environmental,
labor, social and lending standards that Washington requires for such institutions.

Differentiating the two types of aid, he said the cooperation among the developing countries of the Southern hemisphere – or South-South – “is more in the nature of a voluntary partnership among equals” and those flowing from the industrialised North to the South – North-South – is due to “a historic responsibility.”

“It is also for this reason that both these trends, of trying to get South-South flows replace North-South aid and to attempt to harmonize their standards are misplaced,” he said.