The new Cooperation Law will establish, 50 years after Spain assumed the commitment, the obligation of all Administrations to dedicate 0.7% to Official Development Assistance (ODA). The preliminary draft presented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been approved this Tuesday in the Council of Ministers, and will oblige by law not only the central government of Pedro Sanchez, but rather those of the Autonomous Communities and the Town Councils, the fulfillment of this agreement.
At least, on paper, half a century will have passed since Spain participated in the 1972 United Nations Summit on Trade and Development. Although in reality, the law foresees that it is in the year 2030 when the State, the CCAA and the local corporations must comply with this precept, until now only theoretical.
It was the early 90s when Madrid’s Paseo de la Castellana was filled with tents for months, in one of the first non-politicized peaceful youth mobilizations. Talks were organized, food and clothes were collected … and everything shouting “Zero seven now, solidarity!”.
That song had its origin in the aforementioned UN agreement that committed developed countries to deliver 0.7% of their Gross National Income to international cooperation. Spain – like almost all United Nations countries – did not comply with it and does not comply with it. But now it will be law.
The Sahel, key point
The norm not only has this key and symbolic point, but it is a complete revision of the entire Spanish cooperation system.
For example, according to sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it establishes the Sahel as a cooperation region, which gives a main political key to the redesign: from now on, Spain will not focus only on development aid, but will focus its “cooperation international “in concepts that have been detected as main, but until now consisted of secondary: health, security, immigration and the fight against mafias.
Focusing on the border region between North and South Africa confirms the strategic importance of the region for the department of Jose Manuel Albares. Since his arrival at the Ministry, last July, he has had to face and go back to the enormous crisis opened by his predecessor, Arancha González Laya, with Morocco, after the dire Ghali operation.
In the tensions of Morocco Y Algeria and in its relations with Mauritania, Senegal and other actors in the region, Spain will play, in the coming years, a large part of its economic, security, immigration interests …
In any case, the sources clarify, the focus of cooperation with traditional partners is not lost sight of, “including, of course, Latin America and the Caribbean.”
Old law and commitments
The rule still has one step in the second round by the Council of Ministers, and its referral to Congress, for its parliamentary processing and final approval. Executive sources believe that by the end of this year it could be published in the Official State Gazette… 30 years after those camping trips, which spread to other cities in Spain.
Since the 1972 commitment, the proposal to allocate 0.7% of GNI has been ratified in subsequent UN Summits -such as that of Rio in 1992-, ratified at the Monterrey Summit in 2000, and in the Millennium Goals for 2015.
Now, the new concept of cooperation is referred to the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda. In addition, the commitment was permanently reaffirmed in Spain and assumed by all political parties, even in specific national agreements – such as the Solidarity Pact, signed by Loyola de Palacio in 1995, three months before the first victory of the PP in the general elections.
The new law replaces the one of 1998, promulgated by the first Government of Jose Maria Aznar. According to sources from the Ministry of Albares to this newspaper, the norm had become outdated. As of the approval of the new text, the objective is set “for the set of actors in the system to reach 0.7% of GNI as Official Development Aid, with the rank of Law.”
And for this, Foreign Ministry reforms the entire governance of the state cooperation system. Thus, the Ministry sources explain, a new architecture is created “that improves the coordination and efficiency of the system”, creating a Sector Conference with the Autonomous Communities and local governments “as a space for coordination, dialogue, agreement and collaboration with decentralized cooperation. “.
In addition, the current Cooperation Council is strengthened to become the Higher Council for Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Global Solidarity. And the Interministerial Commission rises in rank to the level of Secretary of State. The current Development Promotion Fund (FONPRODE) will be replaced by the new Spanish Sustainable Development Fund (FEDES), to make it more agile and effective in coordination between ministries.
The main objectives in the management go through “the co-responsibility of all the actors in the system” and the preparation of a “multi-year indicative planning based on the availability of the General Budgets”.
And the political objectives make it clear that “the model will be completely changed, which will become based not exclusively on ODA”, but embraces the model of “development in transition” -that is, not only attending to economic issues, but also to health, safety, just ecological transition, gender equality, etc – and the needs of middle-income countries.