Peer reviews of DAC members

France (2008) DAC Peer Review of France - Main Findings and Recommendations

 

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> France (2008) Full Report, (116 pages)

 

Summary


France is one of the international community's key players in development co-operation, where it has some specific assets, in particular its close ties with many partner countries and its ability to combine multiple tools in support of their development. The DAC invites France to continue to play its leading role and, to this end, to pursue its efforts, undertaken since 2004, to enhance the impact of its aid and the efficiency of its system. In particular, France could reinforce its strategic approach to development co-operation and ensure that its resources and instruments are guided by a clear policy with a primary focus on combating poverty. Greater geographic concentration on the least developed countries and fragile states would allow France to have an impact commensurate with its weight in the international donor community. France should also ensure that its ODA volume will rise in accordance with the pledges it has given. Finally, France should rationalise its institutional arrangements under a unified aid management strategy and a tighter and more efficient system that assigns a clear mandate to each player. This reform should take account of the need to implement the Paris Declaration. France could also take advantage of its heavy multilateral financial involvement through a more strategic approach and the strengthening of synergies with its bilateral programme. In addition, France could capitalise on its long experience in capacity building to formalise its approach, to develop operational tools, and to contribute to international thinking about this key issue, as it has done in the area of supporting fragile states.

 

 

The framework for development co-operation


Legal and political orientations


A key player in addressing the challenges of development assistance


France, ranked third among DAC members in 2007 in terms of its official development assistance (ODA) volume, is a world leader in the field of development co-operation. In addition to its extensive efforts in favour of peace and security, France has been one of the drivers on the international scene since 2004 in key areas such as development financing, involvement in fragile states and the protection of global public goods. It has also taken innovative approaches at the regional level. For historical reasons, France has close ties with many partner countries, which are reflected in political, economic and cultural terms and also in the different facets of its co-operation, which include development assistance, monetary co-operation, and military co-operation. France can thus combine different approaches involving various stakeholders, including for example the police, and it could build further on this asset by reinforcing synergies among these approaches. France's role in the European Union and its permanent seat on the UN Security Council give it both more weight and greater responsibility.


It is essential that France plays an exemplary role within the international community, at a time when the pledges given in New York in 2000 concerning the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), at Monterrey in 2000 concerning development finance, and at Paris in 2005 concerning aid effectiveness represent challenges to which all aid players are rising. The general review of public policies, and the drafting of a white paper on foreign policy that is now underway, should bolster this positioning and this approach. In doing so, France should take into account both the assets and the constraints inherent in its legacy from the past, which still largely conditions its co-operation system. The geographic and sectoral priorities of French co-operation, its complex institutional arrangements, and the instruments and the nature of its partnership relations all reflect the influence of history in a system that needs to be adapted to the requirements of the new international context for development assistance.


High-level strategic guidance is needed for co-operation policy


The new Institutional Act on Financial Legislation (LOLF), which came into effect in 2006, makes official action in favour of development co-operation significantly more transparent. Yet France has no strategic document setting out its co-operation policy and explicitly defining medium-term objectives and strategy. Strategic guidance comes essentially from ministerial statements and, since 2006, from the cross-cutting policy document attached to the budget. Economic growth, poverty reduction, and access to global public goods thus appear as the three main objectives of French co-operation policy. This constitutes an essential dimension of French diplomacy in contributing to the goals of better global governance, including risk management and prevention.


Within this general framework, each institution pursues its own objectives with the instruments at its disposal, with the result that these objectives translate into a wide range of sectors and types of action, with no real assignment of strategic priorities. This complexity is perceived as a strength, since it means that several objectives can be pursued by combining different skills, with an offering suited to each country. But it is also a source of confusion, and sometimes of tension, between the objectives pursued, and it can reduce the impact of action. A high-level formulation of medium-term objectives and strategy for development co-operation is needed to restore the primary focus on combating poverty. This would allow the various players to co-ordinate their mandates more closely and would give greater strategic guidance to the geographic and sectoral allocation of financial and human resources.


Bring Parliament and civil society organisations more prominently into the strategic dialogue


Parliament's ability to oversee and evaluate foreign policy was strengthened in 2006 with entry into force of the LOLF, and could be further reinforced by technical improvements. The creation of a "parliamentary delegation for co operation" could also be helpful with a view to instituting parliamentary debate that goes beyond budgetary matters and deals with the strategic directions of government policies relating to development, including their multilateral implications. This is all the more important because Parliament, through its legislative work, plays a key role in bringing coherence to development policies. As to strategic consultation with civil society organisations, this should be placed on a new footing with the announced creation of a Strategic Council on Official Development Assistance. The Council's membership and terms of reference, and its relations with strategic co-operation bodies, should be such as to favour wide ranging and constructive dialogue about French co-operation policy as a whole.


Maintain public support through development education


The French are strongly in favour of development assistance, as demonstrated by the many mass membership associations and twinning arrangements with organisations in the South. Yet a portion of public opinion remains sceptical about the effectiveness of ODA, and insists on more information. It is essential to take these demands into account, and also to expand public understanding of development issues, for France is one of the European countries where awareness of the MDG is weakest. France should therefore step up its development education effort, underway since 2004, taking advantage of the strategy it adopted in 2006 and the European Consensus on a strategic framework for development education and awareness raising, launched in 2007, and reinforcing further the development education capabilities of NGOs and decentralised co-operation bodies, which are powerful channels for mobilising the public.


Promote coherent development policies


Make coherence a political priority. The Minister of State for Co-operation has the mandate to promote policy coherence for development within cabinet. Yet France does not have a general framework that provides a basis for structured inter-ministerial work on matters relating to policy coherence issues. France's understanding of policy coherence, which covers both the co-ordinated approach to development assistance and the enhancement of global public goods, is nevertheless limited because it plays down the impact of domestic policies on developing countries. It is important, then, for the government to make development policy coherence an explicit objective, understood as taking into account the impact that every domestic sectoral policy may have on developing countries. France could also enlist Parliament and civil society in a broader debate on these questions, as input to French positions at the national and European levels.


Establish a mechanism dedicated to coherence and reinforce analytical capacities. France has no institutional mechanism dedicated explicitly to development policy coherence. Rather, its co-ordination mechanisms are targeted at specific fields such as development assistance or defining French positions within the European framework. For instance, the Inter-ministerial Committee on International Development Co-operation (CICID), chaired by the Prime Minister, is a key instrument for co-ordinating development assistance programmes, but it is not a tool for policy coherence. The government's institutional approach to dealing with a specific problem is generally to create an ad hoc commission to analyse and propose responses. The drawback is that it does not place sufficient stress on monitoring and evaluating the measures recommended. France would do well to establish an inter-ministerial body with an explicit mandate to promote policy coherence for development. Its mission would be to ensure that coherence issues are systematically analyzed in defining sectoral policies and evaluating their impact on developing countries. France should also strengthen its analytical capacity so that the Minister of State for Co-operation would have the tools needed to champion policy coherence in ministerial discussions. In doing so, France could take more advantage of the research work that is being done in France and internationally, particularly at the European level, where it contributes actively to thinking about policy coherence.


Recommendations

  • The DAC invites France to draw up a co-operation policy framework document that specifies its medium-term objectives and strategy and is applicable to all players involved in official assistance.
  • France should draw up an action plan for all sectoral and cross-cutting strategies, leading to a set of priorities that will be reflected in budget planning at the national level.
  • The DAC congratulates France for the innovative approaches it has developed, based on its long experience in many fields such as fragile states, the regional approach and innovative financing, and encourages it to broaden the dialogue on these subjects internationally.
  • France is invited to ensure that its domestic sectoral policies are coherent with the development objectives of partner countries by giving a clear political commitment and making better use of an existing permanent structure with a mandate to promote and monitor this coherence.
  • France is encouraged to pursue further its dialogue with civil society, in terms of both strategic consultation and the aid effectiveness agenda.


ODA volume, channels and allocations


French ODA stood at USD 9.94 billion in 2007, ranking France third among DAC member countries. French aid rose strongly both in absolute volume and in relative terms between 2000 and 2006 (a year that saw significant debt relief operations), and the ODA/GNI ratio went from 0.30% to 0.47%. This growth path reflected the public pledges announced at Monterrey in 2002 to achieve 0.5% of GNI in 2007 and 0.7% by 2012. However, aid growth has been largely driven by debt relief operations. The level of ODA in 2007, which was down from the USD 10.6 billion recorded in 2006, also marks a retreat in the percentage of GNI, with a rate of 0.39%, placing it in 11th position within the DAC.


Programme ODA increases to honour commitments


The government recently postponed to 2015 its commitment to achieve 0.7% of GNI, in line with the collective undertaking of European Union members. France has pledged to respect this schedule, which is essential for the entire international community. Yet the level reached in 2007 showed that even the interim objective of 0.51% in 2010 will be difficult to achieve. Like many other countries, France faces a severe budgetary constraint, and it is therefore essential that it should plan for the resources that will be needed to honour its international commitments. It should in particular take advantage of the introduction of its first multi-year budget for 2009-11 to ensure that sufficient appropriations are included in the budget law.


In doing so, France should take account of two elements that will weigh negatively on ODA volume: (i) debt relief, which represented as much as 41% of bilateral aid in 2005 06, is going to decline sharply in coming years; (ii) the reporting of certain expenditures as ODA needs to be reviewed. This is the case in particular with tuition fees, which amounted to USD 1.097 billion in 2006, and for which France is urged to identify the specific beneficiaries so that only those outlays that actually meet eligibility criteria will be counted as ODA. France should also respect both the letter and the spirit of DAC concessionality criteria in reporting loans as ODA. On the other hand, the DAC encourages France to include the growing resources resulting from the innovative financing mechanisms that it has helped to introduce, in particular the proceeds from the "solidarity tax" on airline tickets, which are paid to UNITAID and amounted to USD 225 million in 2007.


France should also seek to maintain a high share of grants, where necessary, within its ODA, consistent with poverty reduction objectives. France has been increasing the proportion of concessional lending significantly, and in 2006 loans represented two-thirds of the country's programmable bilateral ODA. These loans can constitute an effective contribution to development when they are well conceived and adapted to the context, and, through their leverage effect, they can increase the volume of financing devoted to development without raising the cost to the French taxpayer. Yet loans are not appropriate in all sectors and in all countries, and it is essential that the choice of the geographical and sectoral allocation of aid should not be instrument-driven to the detriment of poverty reduction goals. This calls for a clearly established strategic framework applicable to all institutional players. In operational terms, France should consider the possibility of establishing fungibility between budgetary items for "loans" and "grants", which are now managed by two different ministries.


France’s programmable aid represented only 29% of its total bilateral ODA in 2005, compared with a DAC average of 46%. When increasing its volume of aid, France will have to select instruments that will give it the necessary margin to assume its full role as a leading player in priority countries and sectors.


Bilateral aid: enhance geographic and sectoral concentration

 

Concentrate bilateral aid on key countries. Bilateral ODA goes mainly to the 55 countries of the "Priority Solidarity Zone" (ZSP). The primary objective is to support achievement of the MDGs, with particular priority to Africa, which received 70% of allocable French bilateral ODA in 2006. Beyond the ZSP, France also extends its co-operation to the emerging countries of Asia and Latin America, through AFD's lending activities, with the objective of preserving global public goods. Therefore, apart from debt cancellation, geographic concentration is not progressing. At the same time, the portion of aid allocated to the least developed countries (LDCs) is declining. It accounted for only 20% of allocable bilateral aid in 2006, and only six LDCs figured among the 20 largest recipients of French aid in 2005-06, apart from debt relief operations. This dispersal tends to weaken France's position with most of its historic partners, and in particular with the LDCs. It is important that France should maintain the means to pursue an ambitious poverty reduction strategy in these countries, where it enjoys a comparative advantage because of its long and multifaceted relationship. It would be useful for France to draw up a geographic strategy targeting a smaller number of countries, especially among LDCs and fragile states. To this end, France should look closely at its value added in relation to the ongoing reflection on the division of labour at the European level.


Makes sectoral strategies operational. France has prepared sectoral and cross-cutting strategies in all key areas of its assistance, and it is attempting to concentrate its aid in three sectors in partner countries. Despite this effort, an examination of sectoral allocations gives the impression that there is no very clear link between French aid sector allocation and its declared objectives. Thus, of the USD 1.6 billion earmarked for education in 2005-06 (or 17% of bilateral ODA), only USD 151 million went to basic education, far short of the amount devoted to tuition fees and higher education grants. France also devotes a larger amount (EUR 164 million in 2006) to cultural diversity, which includes maintaining a network of more than 250 institutions for supporting cultural activities and promoting the French language. France should assess the impact of these different types of support on the development of its partner countries, and on this basis adjust their weighting so as to maximise the impact on poverty reduction and economic development. Because of historical as well as political and administrative factors, French aid in fact remains highly scattered in partner countries. France is advised to adopt a clearer vision of sectoral priorities in order to integrate them more effectively into the programming process. This would help to make sectoral and cross-cutting strategies operational, including the gender strategy adopted in December 2007, which needs a more clearly defined action plan.


Position multilateral aid more strategically


France allocated 27% of its ODA through multilateral channels in 2006, with a preponderant place reserved for the European Community—France was the largest subscriber to the ninth EDF—and very significant contributions to certain vertical funds as well as to development banks. The remaining third of multilateral aid goes to some 150 institutions, a degree of dispersal that could dilute French influence internationally. The lack of a strategic, medium-term global vision of multilateral aid, moreover, limits the scope and impact of articulations with the bilateral side of French aid. The government would do well to prepare a more explicit strategy covering all of multilateral players, and to re-examine its portfolio of multilateral commitments in that light, in order to target both its bilateral and multilateral aid more effectively in terms of positioning and partnership building.


Recommendations

  • The DAC invites France to respect its international commitments regarding the volume of ODA. To that end, it invites France to draw up a roadmap for moving towards the European ODA objectives for 2010 and 2015, and to take advantage of its three-year finance legislation to record the corresponding appropriations.
  • At the same time, France should seek to bring the allocation of its aid and its choice of instruments into line with its new strategic guidelines.
  • France should ensure that the ODA statistics it reports annually are consistent with the ODA eligibility directives established by the Committee.
  • France should concentrate its aid on a smaller number of countries, especially among least developed countries and fragile states. In so doing, it should strike an appropriate balance between grants and loans.


Management and organisation


Rationalise institutional arrangements and integrate the efforts of all players more effectively


Despite the reforms introduced since 1998, the institutional system remains a complex and fragmented galaxy with a great many players revolving around three key institutions: the Directorate General for International Co-operation and Development (DGCID), the Directorate-General of the Treasury and Economic Policy (DGTPE), and the French Development Agency (AFD)*.  There is some overlapping in the mandates of several entities, none of which is devoted exclusively to ODA. Strategic aid management appears to be scattered among several centres. The 2004 reform improved co-ordination among the various players, particularly with the activation of the CICID and its secretariat, but it has not succeeded in simplifying the system, and this hampers its efficiency. The current combination of institutional approaches and budget allocation mechanisms tends to make the system rigid.


The DAC encourages France to pursue efforts to rationalise its institutional system and enhance its efficiency. This will require a clearly identified strategic management centre that can establish strategic objectives and impose them on all players, together with a single budgetary mandate and a "principal operator" to harmonise the deployment of human resources and aid instruments. In redesigning its system, France should seek to reflect the real priority accorded to development co-operation by positioning the system's senior policymaking institution in such a way as to rally the various agencies around a clear vision. The strengthening of the AFD as the key operator should be accompanied by further attention to its organisation, its human resources and its operating procedures, as well as to its legal status, recognising that the co-operation agency must be accountable to the political level responsible for strategic leadership. Within the DAC there are many models, and France could find these examples useful in defining its own system.


The French aid system embraces many other players, in particular non-governmental organisations (NGOs), research institutes, and decentralised co-operation agencies, with which French co-operation could work more closely. This would require the establishment of stronger strategic and operational partnerships, reflected in greater co-ordination in the field. Specifically, the DAC encourages France to increase significantly the portion of ODA allocated through NGOs, as it has undertaken to do, and to draw greater advantage from the resource they represent, particularly in the poorest and most fragile countries. At the same time, there are some 3 250 local governments engaged in decentralised co-operation projects. This rich profusion is valuable in terms of mobilising development efforts, but it translates into a proliferation of stakeholders and projects in some partner countries, for an often very limited financial commitment, with the exception of a few regional councils. To make this support more efficient and effective, France could encourage greater reliance on common approaches and procedures and the search for synergies among players.


Improve aid management


Make further improvements to aid programming. Since the last DAC review there have been three major innovations that should help France to programme its aid more strategically. These are: (i) implementation of the 2006 Institutional Act on Financial Legislation (LOLF) which, together with the cross-cutting policy document, brings greater transparency to co-operation policy; (ii) the introduction of the Framework Partnership Documents (DCP) in 2004, intended to guide French co-operation in partner countries over a five year period; and (iii) the Strategic Guidance and Programming Conference (COSP), which meets to validate an indicative programming schedule for funds allocated to each country and to review the portfolio of operations. These mechanisms are an essential starting point, and they should be further strengthened in coming years as a way of instituting strategic aid programming reflecting France's co-operation objectives and the priorities established in the DCPs.


Strengthen management from the field. France has a very extensive network for diplomacy and co-operation, and there are often several institutions active in partner countries. Management of French aid in the field is essentially shared between the Co-operation and Cultural Action Office (SCAC) and the AFD, under the overall co-ordination of the ambassador. Yet each player retains a broad degree of independence and works according to its own modalities and procedures, in sectors that sometimes overlap. For the most part, the AFD and the SCAC maintain parallel working communications between the field and Paris. France could usefully reform its field arrangements in order to enhance efficiency and to facilitate alignment and harmonisation. It should take into account the following aspects: (i) further transfer of operations to AFD; (ii) inclusion in the DCP of programming frameworks and strategic tools for all public players (research centres, decentralised co-operation institutions etc.) active in the field; and (iii) more delegation of powers to the field for managing and delivering aid.


Maintain and renew the pool of human resources. France has a great wealth of competent and committed personnel in the field of development. The three main institutional players employ some 2600 people, in addition to 1200 technical assistants. Institutional compartmentalisation, however, is such that these resources do not function as an integrated pool of expertise in the service of national development objectives. Moreover, there is no specific human resources policy for development co-operation. Various statutes apply, and some departments are clearly at risk of losing their qualified personnel. Consistent with its action plan for aid effectiveness, France should take steps to upgrade development expertise in its human resource management and to adapt staffing profiles to the new skills required. At the same time, France would do well to strive for greater complementarity among development experts within the system, and with other European or international donors; to offer adequate incentives in support of decentralisation and implementation of the aid effectiveness agenda; and to encourage greater reliance on local managers.


Strengthen results-based management. A performance culture is taking root at all levels of the French administration, as can be seen in the introduction through the LOLF of results-based management tools, the reinforcement of evaluation units, and the implementation of new methodological tools. Further progress is needed, however, in particular the introduction of performance indicators in the DCPs and the establishment of interim and final evaluations. The results of these evaluations should also be used more systematically as strategic input for the decision makers, at both the technical and the political levels. AFD's initiatives to capitalise knowledge could point the way.


Recommendations

  • To make its system more efficient, France should pursue the institutional rationalisation of co-operation, by combining a clearly identified strategic management centre, a single budgetary mandate, and a principal operator, and amending the status of institutional players accordingly. In the field, the redesigned operational system should allow for greater integration of the strategic frameworks and tools of the various players, and to decentralise decision making more thoroughly to the local level.
  • France should make further improvements to its aid programming mechanisms, in order to have available a strategic, medium-term programming tool that reflects the objectives of French co-operation and is consistent with the priorities established in the DCPs.
  • The DAC encourages France to make more use of NGOs as a resource and congratulates France for its commitment to increase the share of ODA allocated through NGOs.
  • France should define a comprehensive strategy for staff working in the field of development co-operation, in order to foster greater complementarity between specialists within the system and with its partners. It should regularly review the profile of its specialists in line with trends in the responsibilities of French development co operation.
  • The DAC encourages France to pursue its efforts to institute a results-based management system and to strengthen "learning through doing" by systematically using the results of evaluations as input to the programming process.


Practices for enhancing impact


Deliver aid effectively


In order to give effect to its commitments under the March 2005 Paris Declaration, France adopted an aid effectiveness action plan in December 2006. However, it has been hesitant in implementing that plan, and the 2006 Survey on Monitoring the Paris Declaration conveys a mixed image of the French performance. France has committed itself essentially on two fronts: strengthening governance in partner countries to ensure proper aid management, and advocating greater inter-donor co-ordination, with active support for formulating the EU Code of Conduct on Division of Labour in Development Policy. France favours the project approach and is little involved in general budgetary support (which accounted for 3.8% of programmable bilateral aid in 2006). It champions the principle of a multifaceted approach to aid management, one that is flexible enough to adapt the full panoply of aid instruments to different settings, and one that is not limited to the governmental domain covered by the Paris Declaration. Some key changes are needed, however, requiring strong political will, if French aid is to be more open to ownership, alignment and harmonisation. This exercise is made more complex by the historical and cultural legacy (particularly in terms of its impact on the nature of bilateral relations), the institutional fragmentation of the co-operation system, and budgetary procedures that make the management of each aid instrument rigid.


The aid effectiveness action plan should be the driving force in improving conditions for implementing the Paris commitments. In particular, as noted above, France should move ahead with the renewal of its programming process, begun in 2004, by strengthening the partnership aspect and enhancing ownership of the DCP by the partner country, and by linking that exercise more closely to resource programming, in order to make aid more predictable. Promoting ownership and alignment also requires reviewing the ways in which the national partner is associated with implementation of projects and programmes contained in the DCP. Moreover, France should re-examine its intervention modalities and, if necessary, revise them so that they can be integrated more readily into the sector approaches, consistent with the objectives of the Paris Declaration. France could also pay more attention to the division of labour, both in terms of geographic concentration on certain countries and, within those countries, the selection of sectors of concentration. In the field, there are still few examples of French participation in delegated partnerships, particularly those where France is a "silent partner".


France is seeking to shift the nature of its relations with the governments of some partner countries where its colonial history still weighs heavily, by involving new donors. In these countries, France is therefore reluctant to accept the role of leader, which its expertise might entitle it to play, within the donor community. It should ensure that the renewal of bilateral relations encourages a dialogue that embraces all donors, without avoiding its own responsibility. In close consultation with the donor community in each country, France could examine just what its role should be, given each party's comparative advantages.


Learn from experience with priority issues


Strengthen national capacities


France has a long tradition of supporting national capacity building through training, technical co-operation projects, and institutional support. France has no global strategy for capacity building, but it is aware of the need to adapt its tools and to approach this dimension as a cross-cutting concern. Thus, there is major emphasis on capacity building both in the aid effectiveness action plan and in France's governance strategy. The latter calls for a global approach that takes into account the need to strengthen the capacities of all local players and to foster interaction between stakeholders and institutions. Pursuit of this governance strategy could allow France to continue its support on the institutional front (public service reform, improved fiscal management) while exploring other approaches to capacity building (use of local experts and South-South co-operation, greater complementarity between the public and private sectors) and taking greater account of the efforts of players such as decentralised co operation agencies and civil society organisations, including immigrants’ associations.


In the field, France has long had a high profile in capacity building, through its important technical assistance presence. Staffing has now been cut back, and technical assistance is provided increasingly in the form of targeted, short-term expertise. France should press ahead with this repositioning of technical assistance in order to promote the development of local expertise and integrate it more thoroughly into joint approaches to capacity building that will encourage ownership and reduce the risks of substitution.


France could usefully formulate a framework strategy that embraces all its priorities and establishes operational guidelines together with progress indicators in the field of capacity building. Such guidelines should apply to all players to ensure the relevance, coherence and complementarity of their interventions. They should be established on the basis of the results of perception surveys and impact evaluations of the various approaches to capacity building. Therefore, France should reinforce its evaluation effort and capitalise on its actions in this field.


Conflict, peace, security and fragile states


France has long and broad experience with fragile partner countries, and it has given much thought to the most effective forms of aid in such settings, both internally and within the DAC. That thinking was distilled in 2007 in a French position document on "Fragile States and Situations of Fragility", and preparation of a diagnostic tool, the Grille de lecture des fragilités ("Fragilities Grid"). France's approach is to create an environment conducive to reducing poverty and fostering sustainable development, by restoring the legitimacy of the State and rehabilitating the deteriorated relationship between the State and civil society. Like other donors, France faces problems in putting these ideas into effect. Moreover, in some countries classed as "aid orphans", France finds itself as virtually the only bilateral donor, and faces the challenge of avoiding dependency and guiding the donor community when it returns to these neglected countries. Consequently, as suggested in the document on fragile states, France will have to remain involved in situations characterised by weak performance, and to differentiate its approach country by country.


Given its major involvement in fragile states, France should consider ways to strengthen inter ministerial co-operation, both at the strategic level, in defining guidelines for government action in fragile states, and at the direct operational level. This could be done by establishing formal financing structures and mechanisms involving the entire administration, and ensuring that interventions are coherent, which is essential when it comes to reforming the security sector. To this end, France could continue to draw upon the tools developed by the DAC in this field.


With respect to tools, France should consider ways of making the DCP mechanism more flexible in fragile states and to include the humanitarian dimension. In other countries, it could use its "Fragility Grid" to make programming sensitive to conflicts in the process of formulating the DCP, and to strengthen its capacity to monitor and adapt programmes as the context evolves. France should also profile and position its technical assistance so that, to the extent possible, it will no longer rely on substitution to address institutional capacity shortcomings. France is also advised to consider the means at its disposal for building civil society, which is bound to become a key element of its programmes, according to the positioning document. Finally, the DAC encourages France to strengthen its support for multilateral programmes in fragile states, in playing a more active role in international forums and in developing joint strategies with international agencies.


Recommendations

  • France is invited to establish a schedule and to make appropriate provisions to implement its aid effectiveness action plan. In particular, it should reinforce the partnership nature of the DCP and take the operational steps necessary to use the most appropriate means, including general or sectoral budgetary support, within its bilateral aid and pay greater heed to the division of labour among donors.
  • The DAC encourages France to play a leading role in partner countries where it enjoys a special relationship, working in close consultation with the other donors and taking into account its comparative advantage.
  • The DAC encourages France to capitalise on its experience with capacity building in order to establish a framework in this area that combines institutional support for strengthening public systems—essential if the impact is to be lasting—with other forms of capacity building.
  • The DAC appreciates the key role that France plays in many fragile states. It encourages France to step up inter ministerial collaboration on issues relating to the fragility of states, both at headquarters and in the field in order to better combine the different approaches and tools, particularly when it comes to reforming the security sector, and to adapt the DCP procedures to achieve the greater flexibility needed in unstable situations.


Humanitarian action


France was one of the first countries to endorse the Principles and Good Practice of Humanitarian Donorship in Stockholm in June 2003. It is considered a reliable donor and one that is engaged in the field, and it participates actively in the various forums dealing with humanitarian aid. A high proportion of its humanitarian aid is not earmarked in advance, and this facilitates an appropriate response to emergencies. France is currently preparing a plan to align its action with the Stockholm principles. From this perspective, the DAC invites France to take into consideration the following aspects.


France would be well advised to adopt a general policy statement on humanitarian action, setting out the objectives and the strategy for humanitarian aid and covering all players and all resources. This could lead to a strategic framework that would integrate these strategic orientations into the systems and procedures of French aid. As well, given France's role within the international humanitarian community and the universal scope it gives to its humanitarian action in the name of humanity and solidarity, the overall amounts allocated to the sector appear modest. In fact, with 1% of bilateral aid allocated to humanitarian assistance in 2005-06, it is well below the DAC average (8%). However, these amounts are to some extent underestimated, and should be more accurately assessed. In this light, France should consider increasing the volume of aid allocated to humanitarian action, as the Stockholm principles call for sharing the humanitarian effort among donors.


In institutional terms, support for humanitarian action is divided among three funding windows managed by different divisions within the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. Other institutions deal with prevention, early warning and transition aspects. France could rationalise the management of humanitarian aid by consolidating responsibilities within a single division. As well, it could review institutional arrangements and funding procedures to integrate development assistance and humanitarian aid more closely and achieve greater continuity. This effort should be reflected operationally by incorporating crisis prevention and mitigation activities into the DCP, in order to keep a close link between humanitarian and development components in the programming of aid. The evaluations should also be taken into greater account in defining the programmes, as was the case with the French response to the Indian Ocean tsunami.


Recommendations

  • The DAC invites France to formulate a general policy statement defining the strategic objectives and priorities of government humanitarian action, as well as an implementation plan.
  • France should consolidate institutional responsibility for managing the response to humanitarian emergencies, and examine ways of articulating it with development assistance.

 

 

*  Since 2007, the Ministère de l'Immigration, de l'Intégration, de l'Identité nationale et du Développement solidaire (Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-development.

 

Related Documents

 

List of Peer Reviews of DAC Members

France (2004), DAC Peer Review: Main Findings and Recommendations

 

Countries list

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