Peer reviews of OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) members are based on the two principles of peer pressure and peer learning. The reviews are the only international process to examine regularly key bilateral development co-operation systems and offer constructive commentary for their reform. In doing so, peer reviews constitute a yardstick against which the DAC can measure the influence – or lack of it – of its good practice principles on donor behaviour, both in the field and at headquarters.
The ultimate aims of DAC peer reviews are to:
1. help improve the quality and quantity of aid;
2. provide credible analyses based on common principles that can be used by both OECD countries and the wider international community;
3. enable donors to share experiences, identify good practices and improve co-ordination.
In 2012, peer reviews of development co-operation celebrated their 50th Anniversary.
“The DAC peer review was a deciding factor for the biggest reform in development politics in Germany in history” – Hans-Jürgen Beerfeltz, State Secretary of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Germany
Over the last two years, 88% of DAC peer review recommendations have been either partially or fully implemented
There have been 109 full peer reviews of individual DAC members since 1990. Before that time, all members were reviewed on an annual basis. Peer reviews are an obligation of DAC membership – as is serving as an examiner to review others
Since 1990, 156 field missions have been made to 58 countries to “ground truth” what has been learnt about each donor. Tanzania has had the most missions (13), followed by Mozambique and Vietnam (8 times each).
Since 2002, 18 observers – from institutions and donors outside the DAC – have participated in peer reviews, to learn more about how DAC donors function. In 2012, all peer reviews had an observer.
5 special reviews have been conducted since 2008. Newer donors can request special reviews to help improve their systems and learn from the experience of others.
The peer review team for New Zealand in 2010 came from 8 different countries: Austria, Spain, Italy, United Kingdom, Norway, Ireland, France and South Africa. Spain was reviewed by an all woman team in 2011 – the only time this has happened
Korea is the newest DAC member – its first peer review took place in 2012.
“A review is successful when both the country being reviewed, and the reviewers, want to learn from each other and support each other to help deliver real change” – Anthony Smith, Director, DFID
“I want to encourage all my peers to participate from time to time in peer reviews and I am certainly going to do that” Peter Moors, Director General, Belgian Development Cooperation
Peer reviews: encouraging positive change and supporting mutual learning
“Peer reviews are an essential policy instrument” Peter Moors, Director General, Belgium Development Cooperation
Each year, the DAC conducts peer reviews of four to five members’ development policies, strategies and activities, offering constructive commentary for reform. The new peer review framework has a broad scope, including:
– The member’s comprehensive development effort “beyond aid”
– Policy vision and strategic orientations
– ODA allocations
– Organisation fit for purpose
– Delivery modalities and partnerships
– Results, transparency and accountability
– Humanitarian assistance
Peer reviews encourage positive change and support mutual learning so as to raise the overall effectiveness of aid throughout the donor community. The information they provide helps to build common understanding of today’s bilateral aid practice and provides timely feedback on innovations and achievements in aid management.