Norway has long been among the world’s biggest donors of foreign aid and will likely remain so, but Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg thinks developing countries receiving the aid also need to take on more responsibility themselves. In an address to the United Nations General Assembly, he said the donor countries can only support poor countries’ own plans to fight poverty.
Stoltenberg has no intention of reducing Norway’s foreign aid, which amounts to more than 1 percent of the country’s gross national product and thus far exceeds the relative amount given by countries like the US and other industrialized nations.
Stoltenberg noted that other countries have “defaulted” on their own promises, and he urged them “to follow our example,” adding that “many have the capacity to do so, also in difficult economic times.”
The Norwegian premier, who was among those invited to address the UN during this week’s meeting of world leaders in New York, made it clear, though, that the biggest burden of tackling poverty rests on the developing countries themselves.
“I call on the developing countries to mobilize more of their own domestic resources,” Stoltenberg said in his UN address. He specifically urged them to broaden their tax bases, fight corruption, increase transparency and improve accountability. “Illicit financial flows” from developing countries, he said, are a “drain on vital resources” that “must be stopped.”
The heads of state meeting at the UN are assessing the status of the UN’s so-called “Millennium Development Goals” to, among other things, fight poverty, reduce child mortality and improve health. Stoltenberg worried that member countries are “lagging behind” in several areas, but said Norway “has tripled its aid for global health since we met here 10 years ago.”
Again, he stressed that “partner countries must do their part,” and that both “donors and tax payers” need to see results from their investments. He called for “concrete political and financial commitments” to meet the UN’s millennium goals by 2015.