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History of ODA

ODA was initiated after World War II, when many advanced industrialized countries began providing assistance for their former colonies to alleviate poverty, putting into practice the global community’s collective spirit of cooperation. ODA has continuously evolved over many decades due to changes in the global political and diplomatic dynamics.

1940-1950s (The Beginning of ODA)

The United Nations declares that it is important to achieve international co-operation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, or humanitarian character in the UN Charter in 1945.
In the 1950s, international organizations began to provide emergency relief to newly-independent countries, which became a foundation for multilateral aid. On the other hand, bilateral aid began to expand as the United States and the Soviet Union competitively supported the post-war rehabilitation of Western Europe during the Cold War.

1960s (Emergence of a New ODA Regime)

At the 16th Session of the UN General Assembly in 1961, the United Nations designated the 1960s as the “United Nations Development Decade.” Through this announcement, the UN urged the advanced industrialized member countries to provide 1% of their GNP as ODA for developing countries and heightened urgency for the global community to act together to help solve the poverty of developing countries.

1970s (Rights-based Approach to ODA and Emergence of Development NGOs)

The United Nations declared the 1970s as the “Second United Nations Development Decade” following the 1960s, and urged that donors should increase their ODA to GNI to 0.7% by the middle of the decade so as to achieve a 6% of annual economic growth in developing countries. Meanwhile, the international community began to shift its attention toward a social developmental strategy that focuses on the basic rights of the people. The OECD DAC produced policy recommendations emphasizing on poverty reduction, and NGOs started to act as important agents for international development cooperation.

1980s - 1990s (Decrease in ODA and Diversification of ODA Issues)

In 1980, Oil crises and the global economic recession have exacerbated the debt problem of developing countries, and ODA budget was freezing due to the continuing world-wide recession. Debt relief programs provided by IMF and World Bank failed because those did not fully consider varying domestic condition of those countries. Meanwhile, global awareness about emergency relief increased on major disasters and rampant poverty in developing countries.

The end of the Cold War in 1991 provided a golden opportunity for both donors and recipient countries. National level public awareness and participation were highlighted for the sustainable development. In addition, issues in ODA diversified toward environment, women, migration, labor, poverty, and health, whereas previous failures on ODA raised the discussion on efficiency and effectiveness of ODA. OECD DAC began to emphasize “Policy Coherence for Development” implying effective aid aligned with other policy areas such as finance and trade. “Participatory development” pioneered by World Bank and “good governance” received greater attention as new topics of the global discourse on development cooperation.

2000s (Golden Age of International Development Cooperation)

In September 2000, 189 heads of states adopted the “United Nations Millennium Declaration” at the 55th General Assembly of the United Nations and announced the Millennium Development Goals. The MDGs goals are endorsed by the global community to fight against poverty together, and have significance in leading a worldwide consensus by global participants. Under MDGs, the global community began to discuss the expansion of financing for development and effective implementation strategies to achieve the goals. The 1~4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness was held by OECD DAC. Especially in 2011, the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness (HLF-4) held in Busan, Korea and adopted the “Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation.”