Peter Hardstaff, Head of Policy at the World Development Movement said: "The Commission falls well short of the radical break with the past that is necessary if Africa's fortunes are to be turned round. However in a few areas its language is reforming and its recommendations are positive. On the issue of trade the final report is an improvement on the leaked draft and represents a robust challenge to existing UK policy."
"There have been numerous commissions on the state of the developing world which have delivered tens of thousands of carefully considered words. They have been warmly welcomed then put on the shelf to gather dust. What matters is action and if the UK is not prepared to immediately meet those recommendations which go beyond existing policy then the Commission will be proved to have been nothing more than a pre-election PR exercise and a distraction from real action for Africa."
"Overall the report is a mixed bag. Much of it, while not negative, contains nothing particularly new, innovative or radical. There are also some serious omissions. There are no recommendations on climate change, no action to deal with the collapse of commodity prices and it endorses a discredited voluntary approach to regulating multinational corporations."
"Many of the demands are less far reaching than those proposed by the Brandt Commission over two decades ago on which Edward Heath sat. That commission called for rich countries to give one per cent of their national income as aid by the year 2000. It was heralded as a fresh start and marking new relationship between rich and poor countries. Its recommendations were ignored. The big question today is does the same fate await the Commission for Africa?"
The Make Poverty History coalition welcomed the report, saying there was now no excuse for a failure to act on these critical issues. They said the report confirmed what many campaigners have been saying for years, that forcing poor countries to liberalise their economies has been a disaster. However they criticised the report for some major omissions, including the failure to call for effective regulation of multinational corporations operating in Africa. Others criticised the lack of focus given to Climate Change.
Other major NGOs have said the report must be traslated into a change in the way that International Financial Institutions deal with poorer countries. Specifically there must be significant change in policies at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings in Washington next month, and at the WTO meeting in Hong Kong in December. Others put the spotlight onto the need to make progress on the International Arms Trade Treaty to curb flows of weapons into African conflict zones by the next UN arms conference in 2006.
Putting some of the figures into a more global prespective, the total debt of 52 indebted poor countries amounts to something like $375 billion. And while the G8 itself has promised to cancel up to $100 billion, the amount cancelled so far only exceeds $45 billion.
Fine words are fine. But action is what counts.
Download the full report here:
Download WDM's briefing on the final findings and recommendations of the Commission for Africa is available at:
justice for all