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Human Security and Aid Effectiveness: The EU's Challenge

Time (GMT +01) 11:30 12:30


Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Affairs and European neighbourhood Policy


Simon Maxwell, Director, ODI


Rt Hon John Battle MP, Chair, APGOOD

Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner started by thanking the organizers of the series for inviting her to speak. She then proceeded to explain that according to some in the development and foreign policy worlds, the distinction between development and foreign policy, and between foreign and domestic policy is hard to make. Indeed, she asserted that these distinctions are already losing their meaning.

This understanding, she continued, informed the recent report, "Europe in the World", published by the Commission in June this year, which called for increased coherence of policies among the various institutions, sectors and member states. Such coherence would not only increase aid effectiveness but also help the EU to achieve its political objectives because security, human rights and development are inextricably interlinked.

The Commissioner therefore proposed the notion of 'human security' as encapsulating this human-centred approach, defining it briefly as 'freedom from fear and freedom from want'.

She then explained that while many EU aid policies which focus on food security, health protection, conflict resolution and democracy promotion were important contributions to the human security agenda, they still remained disparate activities rather than part of an overarching human security programme.

She then outlined five policy challenges faced by the EU:

  1. The conflict prevention and crisis management agendas, to ensure that the gap between short-term reactionary measures and longer-term preventive solutions is bridged;

  2. The concept of 'humanitarian disarmament'. This nascent concept concentrates on small arms, landmines and other weapons, rather than focusing instead on large scale arms control and anti-proliferation of WMDs;

  3. Vulnerable populations such as women and children;

  4. International humanitarian law at the macro-level, in order to protect civilians and to end impunity;

  5. At the global level, a determined international action against climate change to find a long-term solution that is "technically feasible, economically affordable and morally just".

On the allocation of EU development aid, the Commissioner explained that although more than half of EU aid is directed to the poorest countries (Africa in particular), poverty alleviation is not the only priority of EU development assistance. Political realities demand that aid money is also channelled to the enlargement countries, the Western Balkans and the Neighbourhood states, as well as to Afghanistan and Iraq.

She also explained that the structure of the new financial instruments aims to increase transparency with regard to both the purpose and destination of EU funds.


Simon Maxwell, Director of ODI was the discussant. He raised the following points:

  • The human security agenda outlined above might lead to the diversion of funds away from direct poverty alleviation and MDG-focused projects, into conflict prevention, peace-keeping and/or 'pseudo-development aid' to the enlargement countries.

  • He proposed a separate EU development fund that would specifically focus on the MDGs, but that could also be in line with the Commissioner's human security agenda.

Other questions/points from the audience included:

  • Tackling political realities in the former Soviet Union, i.e. the lack of political will with regard to the MDGs and civil society;

  • European Neighbourhood Policy and promotion of democracy (political conditionality);

  • Aid effectiveness assessment mechanisms in the EU;

  • The EU and NATO;

  • The liberalization agenda (trade versus aid).


This meeting in the 'What Next in International Development' series discussed human security and aid effectiveness.

Committee Room 15