Governance is a funding priority of the aid program which increased significantly in the post-September 11 security environment, peaking in 2005/06 at 36% of ODA. In the same year health, education and infrastructure spending made up 33% of ODA combined. Of the governance spending, 47% went to “Law and Justice” and a mere 2% for “Improved Democratic Processes”.
The aid program’s focus on governance has allowed for a securitisation of aid through interventionist programs such as the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and the Enhanced Cooperation Project (ECP) in Papua New Guinea. Both programs bolstered Australia’s regional presence with a 2225-strong intervention force initially deployed under RAMSI and $1 billion in funding toward the ECP, primarily for placing Australian police and departmental personnel in PNG with a mandate to promote ‘good governance’.
The PNG Supreme Court ruled that parts of the ECP were in violation of the PNG constitution and the 150 police were withdrawn in 2005.
In the 2010-11 budget ‘Governance’ makes up approximately 21% of ODA. While programs focused on ‘civil society and human rights’ come under the heading of ‘good governance’, so does a great amount of our technical assistance, high levels of which according to the Office for Development Effectiveness “can create problems, particularly in fragile states”. It is crucial we maintain a critical watch on how strengthening governance can become an imposition of western systems of governance which fit with our commercial and strategic interests but may not be compatible with traditional and culturally relevant systems of governance.
Last updated 12 November 2010