â€˜Mediatingâ€™ the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness
By Fackson Banda, SAB-UNESCO Chair of Media and Democracy, Rhodes University, South Africa
The role of the media in public finance management in aid-dependent countries is increasingly becoming an agenda item during meetings about development assistance. A recent workshop called by the OECD Global Forum on Development brought the issue into sharp relief. At the core of the discussion was the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, adopted in 2005.
The OECD meeting did not discuss the media as a central theme. And yet the workshop theme of â€˜ownership in practiceâ€™ suggests strong citizen engagement in the development process. Perhaps, the â€˜silenceâ€™ on mediation typical of most official documents accounts for the uncertainty usually exhibited about the place of the media in the matrix of development financing.
Indeed, the Paris Declaration does not acknowledge the role of the media. But it spells out many commitments which only active media engagement can help actualise. For example, it urges aid-reliant countries to elaborate â€˜national development strategies through broad consultative processesâ€™. It reiterates this by enjoining upon such nations to â€˜encourage broad participation of a range of actorsâ€¦â€™ It urges both donor and partner countries to curb â€˜corruption and lack of transparency, which erode public supportâ€™.
These commitments are central to media engagement in creating a dialogic environment in which civil society can hold national leadership accountable for the utilisation of development assistance. And yet the declaration only assumes this. Its emphasis on broad consultative processes is much more than one-to-one consultation. It implies civic engagement on a large scale. While foregrounding the ends of consultation, ownership and participation, the declaration omits the means through which such processes can be realised broadly.
It is important, therefore, that any exposition of the Paris Declaration explicitly analyses the role of mediation in strengthening citizen participation in development financing.
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