Press Notice 5b, Session 2004-05

The Commission for Africa and Policy Coherence for Development

G8 governments must not take with one hand what they give with the other

The International Development Committee (IDC) will publish its report on the Commission for Africa and Policy Coherence for Development (HC 123) on Thursday 16 December at 00.01. This report forms the Committee’s input into the Commission for Africa.

The Commission for Africa is a bold initiative to create an agenda for action for the G8, to make 2005 a turning point for Africa. But Africans do not want to see more empty promises; they want to see the rich world honour its existing commitments. If nothing changes as a result of the initiative, it will be rightly judged a failure, but it is too soon to make such an assessment. The Commission’s report will primarily have recommendations for the G8 and the European Union, so as to complement the work of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development and the African Union. The IDC endorses this focus, and in its report emphasises the importance of rich country governments working harder to build a global partnership for development.

Action on aid, debt and trade is essential, but attention must also be paid to policies on other issues - agriculture, arms exports, money laundering, corruption, climate change, intellectual property rights - which have an impact on developing countries. If policies on these issues undermine development goals, the developed world will be giving with one hand and taking away with the other and wasting money.

Policies which lack coherence and undermine development are all too easy to find. Aid is undermined by protectionist and trade-distorting agricultural subsidies. The poaching of doctors and nurses from countries which can not afford to lose them hampers progress on health and HIV/AIDS. Higher tariffs on processed goods hinder developing countries’ industrial development. Fishing subsidies damage fisheries projects supported by aid. A reluctance to put in place strong anti-corruption laws and to tighten up against money laundering in the developed world, encourages and facilitates corruption in developing countries. A legislative net which fails to catch arms dealers leads to the proliferation of small arms and fuels conflict. Such policy incoherence is wasteful, and in many cases totally unnecessary.

Governments committed to enhancing policy coherence for development need to make more progress in:

• Recognising the importance of policy coherence in a world of interdependent challenges and issues;

• Understanding better the nature and strength of relationships between issues;

• Specifying the impacts of the developed world’s policies on developing countries;

• Assessing the scope for enhancing policy coherence; and,

• Modifying objectives and policies so that there is more coherence.

The UK Government recognises the importance of policy coherence for development and has a variety of mechanisms in place to enhance coherence. Their effectiveness varies. Other countries have clearer mechanisms to take them further along the path to coherence. Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden have produced reports on their contribution to building a global partnership for development. Sweden has gone further still and now has an integrated global development policy.

The Policy Coherence for Development agenda is not a magic bullet which will transform the priorities of the developed world. But by increasing understanding of policy overlaps and by enhancing transparency and accountability, it can play an important role in enabling and pushing governments to ensure that their policies are truly supportive of the needs of developing countries.

The Commission for Africa can do much to shame and encourage the G8 into keeping its promises, taking policy coherence more seriously, and changing the policies which undermine Africa’s ability to prosper in the global economy. With UK leadership of the EU and the G8, the year 2005 can be a turning point. The opportunity must not be missed.


Tony Baldry M.P., the Chairman of the International Development Committee said: “The Commission for Africa is a bold and welcome initiative, but if nothing changes as a result of it, it will have been a waste of time. What Africa needs is not empty promises, but action. Action on aid, on debt and on trade is essential, but governments in the developed world also need to ensure that their policies on a range of other issues - arms exports, agriculture, money laundering, corruption, climate change and migration - are supportive of development goals. Otherwise, we are simply taking with one hand what we give with the other.”


Detailed enquiries to Alan Hudson, Committee Specialist:


Embargoed copies of the Report (First Report of Session 2004-05, HC 123) will be available for collection by witnesses, Government Departments and the press from the Reception Desk at 7 Millbank, London SW1P 3JA and from the Press Gallery from 11.00 a.m. on Wednesday 15 December.

The Report may also be purchased from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, SW1A 2JX, Tel: 020 7219 3890) or from The Stationery Office (Parliamentary Hotline, Tel: 0845 702 3474). It will also be available on the internet, from 4.00 p.m. on Thursday 16 December, at:


Further Information:

The membership of the Committee is as follows: Tony Baldry (Chairman) (Conservative), John Barrett (Liberal Democrat), Mr John Battle (Labour), Hugh Bayley (Labour), Mr John Bercow (Conservative), Ann Clwyd (Labour), Mr Tony Colman (Labour), Mr Quentin Davies (Conservative); Mr Piara S. Khabra (Labour), Chris McCafferty (Labour), and Tony Worthington (Labour).

Media Enquiries: Adele Brown, 020 7219 0724 or

Committee website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications/Reports/Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge Street, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474)