Discussion Paper
No. 2009-18 | March 05, 2009
Helmut Reisen
The Multilateral Donor Non-System: Towards Accountability and Efficient Role Assignment
(Published in Policy Paper)


Global governance refers to several pillars; one important pillar is the multilateral aid architecture. Its reform can be discussed under the perspectives of representativeness, inclusiveness, and efficiency (of aid delivery). A prerequisite for efficient aid delivery is to map the rising complexity of multilateral development finance, to help identify areas for consolidation, address fragmentation and poor co-ordination at country level, and help identify comparative advantages for an institutional role assignment among multilateral agencies. After doing just that, the paper explores why the multilateral donors have proliferated and provides broad recommendations for a more efficient and accountable multilateral donor system.Paper submitted to the special issue Global Governance—Challenges and Proposals for Reform  

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Cite As

[Please cite the corresponding journal article] Helmut Reisen (2009). The Multilateral Donor Non-System: Towards Accountability and Efficient Role Assignment. Economics Discussion Papers, No 2009-18, Kiel Institute for the World Economy. http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/discussionpapers/2009-18

Comments and Questions

Anonymous - General comment
March 11, 2009 - 12:35
While the paper provides a useful review, largely descriptive and based on fairly well known material, of problems relating to the lack of (multilateral) donor coordination, it does not offer value added. Having in effect stated the problem, the paper needs either i) recommendations of what can (and is likely) to be done (and how, with illustrations) or ii) an assessment of the implications if no effective action is taken. Regarding i), there could be a critical assessment of the Paris Declaration - is this likely to result in any real improvement in coordination, and is there any evidence of real progress. Regarding ii), one could argue that donors are unwilling and unable to coordinate effectively (the paper alludes to this). If so, what are the implications. A general comment on donor fragmentation is that there appears to be an implicit assumption, in the paper and the literature, that the costs to recipients are monotonic in the number of donors. Whilst it is true that transaction costs tend to increase monotonically, recipients can benefit from some 'competition' between donors, either because it increases their policy space or because certain donors focus on aid of particular types or in particular areas (e.g. health, education, private sector). A minor note is that in the third paragraph of page 11 I assume it should be the percentage of salary to financing (aid), not the ratio (the salaray costs of bilateral donors are not twice the value of their aid).

Winfried von Urff - Comment
April 09, 2009 - 11:02
see attached file

Helmut Reisen - Toward accountability
April 10, 2009 - 14:19 | Author's Homepage
I thank Prof. Winfried von Urff for his very valid and helpful comments. My paper was meant at a first thought experiment and is definitely far from producing operational instruments that would foster devision of labour and accountability among the multilateral donor organisations. As von Urff rightly points out for MDG 2, interactions are highly complex so that traceability will be a hard problem to come by. Add to this the accountability that lies with the recipient countries themselves. However, both these arguments render any success claims by development agencies and multilateral donors pointless. And as long as these organisations continue to claim success, we must instill some degree of accountability. The MDGs at least have the advantage to break down into targets so that may actually facilitate traceability; moreover, they are timebound which opens the opportunity to try different organisational responsabilities over long time spans.

Kurt v. Rabenau - Comment
April 28, 2009 - 15:51
see attached file

Anonymous - Referee Report
April 29, 2009 - 08:42
see attached file