Every four years each of the 24 members of the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) - which also counts the World Bank, the IMF and the UNDP as observers - is scrutinized by its peers within the Committee.
Five different member countries are peer reviewed each year. The aim is to assess the extent to which the development policies, strategies and activities of the reviewed country meet the standards set by the DAC. Members provide constructive criticism and recommendations based on a report that touches on aid policies, volumes, institutions and field operations. There are no sanctions if the country fails to take the recommendations on board. The exercise is meant to encourage positive change, support mutual learning and raise the overall effectiveness of aid throughout the donor community.
This is perhaps the best way we have of measuring how DAC good practice is influencing - or not - donor behaviour in the field and at headquarters. The challenge is to try and consolidate lessons learnt from all peer reviews so that each country benefits from the process.
For example, policy coherence and promoting a development perspective in areas like trade have emerged as key themes in the last few years, and now they are addressed in all peer reviews. In future, Peer Reviews will provide additional feedback on the ways and which DAC members implement the Paris Declaration.
Peer reviews in development co-operation
Policy Brief: Peer Review: a Tool for Co-operation and Change
Effective Aid Management: Twelve Lessons from DAC Peer Reviews
Managing Aid: Practices of DAC Member Countries (Better Aid Series)
DAC Peer Reviews and Harmonisation and Alignment - Overview and Findings in 2004