Aid-Effectiveness and Donor Coordination from Paris to Busan: A Cambodian Case Study

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International Humanitarian Law, aid effectiveness, the law and justice sector in Cambodia, Paris Declaration process, the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness


Discussions of aid effectiveness have, since 2005, been dominated by the Paris Declaration process. The Paris principles were revisited in Accra in 2008 and, most recently, in Busan in December 2011 at the fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness. While it is too early to say what Busan’s significance will be, it is timely to take stock of the progress and shortcomings of the entire Paris Declaration process, of which Busan is a part. This paper contributes to that inquiry by considering aid-effectiveness principles and processes in a specific context: the law and justice sector in Cambodia. The evidence for our analysis comes from interviews with Cambodians and non-Cambodians - donors, government officials, aid workers, academics, and private citizens - conducted from 2008 to 2011. We find very limited success in the Paris Declaration process, confined mainly to a lessening of duplication and ‘donor chaos’. We explore the reasons for these modest results, including the fundamental flaw in aid-effectiveness discourse and activity of a too polite, if not naïve or even cynical assumption that donors and developing country governments are speaking the same political language. We identify and explore two challenges for the law and justice sector in Cambodia. The first is for donors to think about how to change the way they ‘do business’ and the second is how to achieve this in circumstances of weak local governance, institutions and political will. We conclude that, as donors regard the law and justice sector as high risk, most will be sorely challenged to live up to their Busan commitment to try to manage risk rather than avoid it.


Form the selected works of Camille Cameron.

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