Of security council bids, doing our fair share on global issues, and research aplenty

The big news this update of course, is that New Zealand won its bid to be on the UN Security Council. Not only won, but won on the first round with 145 votes. This is a great achievement. Congratulations are due to all those involved over the past decade, not least the hard-working civil servants toiling behind the scenes.

In the lead-up to the Security Council vote Minister McCully gave an evocative speech to the UN General Assembly in which he opened with pointed comments about how New Zealand is a country of action, not words.

Indeed, as the Minister highlighted, we have done a great deal to advance Pacific renewable energy and sustainable fisheries. But the Minister was on shakier ground when he turned to Syria and Ebola, two significant security crises New Zealand will be addressing while on the Security Council.

Here Minister McCully’s words did not match action. New Zealand has contributed far short of its fair share to Syria. On Ebola, until the last few days, technically the New Zealand government had done almost nothing. According to the UN’s financial tracking system (Excel), as of 19 October while New Zealand had pledged just over US$400,000, we were yet to have delivered any funding. It does look like New Zealand will be upping its game here: according to TV3 on 19 October we are in the process of pledging NZ$1.5 million more – but pledges need to be delivered on before they can really count.

Allocating aid for emergencies, and prioritising it amongst competing needs is difficult, and there are other pressing problems which New Zealand is working to mitigate. Yet our ODA to GNI ratio remains stubbornly low by the standards of DAC donors, and recent years have not seen meaningful increases. Credit Suisse recently proclaimed NZ’s wealth had grown more than any other country over the past fourteen years. We can do more. We have a challenging agenda for our time on the Security Council, particularly if we want to advance the idea of reform. No doubt New Zealand won the bid because it is viewed as a somewhat neutral, small, good global citizen that can contribute constructively to global peace and security issues. If we want to maintain this reputation and advance our Security Council goals credibility is paramount. And credibility involves actively contributing our fair share to global crises.

New Zealand Aid Transparency (Publish What You Fund)
New Zealand scores an overall 45.12% in this year’s transparency rating from Publish What You Fund: a drop of 2.54% from the 2013 score. There is no one area where the government has lost points, just a dip across all three (commitment to transparency, publication of organisation level data and publication of activity level data). New Zealand also dropped in the rankings, at 26 out of 68 donors this year, compared to 18 out of 67 last year. We’re going to have to do more to keep up with other donors in the coming years.

As frequent users of NZ aid data, what we’ve found very useful are the pdf documents outlining each activity. However, publication of more activity document information would also be helpful, such as scoping and design documents. This is particularly acute for activities that do not fall under a country Joint Commitment to Development, such as regional programmes or non-core country activities like those in Africa. Publication of performance data is an area where New Zealand has the greatest room for improvement and we look forward to seeing more information available about results, particularly at the outcome level.

Promoting the Private Sector
Onto more prosaic matters: two items of interest to those working on aid and the private sector. Radio New Zealand has a interesting interview with Oxfam NZ on how the aid world and the private sector can better work together. And on the Development Policy Centre’s blog Margaret Callen has a useful blog post on business consultancies and aid work.

Research Reading
Meanwhile here in the NZADDs admin division, while our preference is to focus on the study of things such as the intersection of Habermasian thought and Derrida’s deconstructionism, occasionally we do venture out into the real world. I (Terence) am a co-author of a recent Development Policy Centre working paper (and, as an aside, I’ve started working for the Development Policy Centre) looking at who supports government aid in Australia, and whether this support is also associated with donations to NGOs. You can read a blog post summary here, and the paper here. The Development Policy Centre has more work on public opinion about aid planned, which will hopefully include work in New Zealand.

Also, elections are coming up in Solomon Islands, and via the Centre for Democratic Institutions, I’ve published a paper on the barriers faced by women candidates in elections in Solomon Islands, I’ve also published two-page guides on why voters vote the way they do and electoral quality. Aand — if you are a real enthusiast — I have a draft paper on understanding electoral politics in Solomon Islands.

Also, Caritas has an interesting new research report out on climate aid to the Pacific.

DevNet 2014
And, on the subject of research, remember the 2014 DevNet Conference is on it’s way (27-29 November). Now is the time to register if you haven’t already. More information here.