O'Shea of Goal has long argued that the Government
should cease giving aid directly to governments
in Africa (or anywhere else, for that matter)
that are corrupt or guilty of human rights abuses.
Even aside from the moral issues raised by assisting
such regimes, O'Shea's arguments are sound.
corruption is endemic and aid must pass through
countless layers of officialdom, it is certain
that a substantial amount will not reach those
for whom it is intended. Moreover, if governments
continue receiving assistance regardless of brutal
or dishonest practices, they have no reason to
change and the extra capital serves to strengthen
their grip on power.
of this makes it more difficult to persuade other
neighbouring administrations to embark, or continue,
on a process of democratisation.
concerns are not merely theoretical but based
on 29 years of hard experience in worldwide humanitarian
work and the well-documented realities of African
to African Union (AU) estimates, Africa loses
$148 billion (€114. 28 billion) a year, or
a quarter of its entire GDP, to corruption. An
indicator of how little confidence citizens there
have in the probity of their rulers is the $15
billion in savings (40 per cent of the total)
that annually flows out of Africa into western
is also compelling evidence that international
funding has been used, directly or indirectly,
to finance internal and external conflicts by
governments including Ethiopia, Uganda, Nigeria,
Angola, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Minister of State responsible for aid, Conor Lenihan,
has used a variety of arguments to try to counter
he appeared to question his assessment of the
levels of corruption and human rights abuse among
foreign governments receiving funding from Ireland.
O'Shea's statistics proved to be correct, he then
began claiming that aid encourages recipient regimes
to democratise and uphold human rights.
recently, and somewhat contradictorily, the Minister
has suggested that government-to-government funding
is the only way of ensuring that the neediest
benefit at least to some degree, while also claiming
that all aid money can be accounted for.
a newspaper article last Sunday, he was reported
as saying that 85 per cent of Ireland's aid is
channelled directly through government structures.
the governments involved and the AU statistics
on corruption, it is impossible to believe that
all or even the bulk of this can be properly monitored
or accounted for.
Minister himself came close to acknowledging this
when, in the same article, he said, "We have
to run it [ Irish Aid] through government structures,
no matter how weak."
point is that they don't.
of the present scattergun approach to aid distribution,
O'Shea advocates "adoption" by the Government
of one or two developing countries where aid can
be concentrated and its use strictly monitored
by Government-appointed project managers.
way, he argues, substantial resources can be used
to provide long-term relief and create infrastructure
of real and lasting benefit.
distribution and utilisation, project managers
would work with as opposed to through local representatives.
and respect for human rights would be a basic
requirement, not a hopeless aspiration.
their rush to reach UN targets, western governments
too often do not show nearly enough concern for
where their money goes.
the relief provided is far less than it might
many donors tend to consider official corruption
and widespread human rights abuses as somehow
part of the African DNA and accept them on that
is a fundamentally racist view.
government or powerful institution, regardless
of its location or ethnic make-up, will be as
corrupt and dictatorial as it can get away with.
that is precisely the problem with many African
administrations: they are allowed to behave as
argues that Government aid (set to reach €
813.5 million next year) should be used as a lever
to help change that.
more narrowly focused and better managed and monitored,
it can be of more fundamental and longer-lasting
benefit to a greater number of needy people.
is unfortunate that Mr Lenihan tends to pepper
his responses to O'Shea's points with misleading
and insulting asides.
Lenihan should bear in mind that it is drought,
starvation, poverty, conflict, official corruption
and brutality that are the enemy, not John O'Shea.
is only suggesting better ways of tackling the