London (Brussels Morning) Ireland has ranked number one in the Principled Aid Index, followed by Norway and Sweden.
The survey has been compiled by the Overseas Development Institute, a think tank focused on international development and humanitarian issues.
Based on 29 Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors’ aid allocation decisions, the index analyses how the advancement of values and protection of national interests play into their determinations.
According to the organisation’s updated assessment, wealthy countries are increasingly using foreign aid for individualist geostrategic and commercial returns, rather than reducing global poverty, with overall index scores falling among donors.
The ODI says aid can been used to influence elections, trade deals and arms exports, as well as to pursue nationalist agendas.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, justified the merging of the state’s development and diplomatic missions as a better way to advance the UK’s strategic interests, notes ODI’s report, ‘Principled aid in divided times: Harnessing values and interests in donor pandemic response’.
It also cites the US Trump administration and its leveraging of aid for punitive measures rather than as a positive tool.
Out of 29 countries, the UK ranked 10th, while France ranked 19th place, the lowest among the G7 countries.
The downward trajectory of principled aid has also been reflected in the international community’s response to the coronavirus crisis, says ODI.
While states have focused on addressing the immediate health emergency, the socio-economic impact of the virus across the world has been neglected.
“All countries now need to collectively focus on addressing the systemic global inequalities laid bare by the coronavirus crisis, and the tenets of principled nationalism can guide these efforts”, said Nilima Gulrajani, Senior Research Fellow at ODI and the report’s lead author.
ODI describes the idea of “principled nationalism” as pursuing strategic national interests by advancing shared collective interests, which should yield indirect returns through more forward-looking measures such as plugging development gaps and investing in global institutions and challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Until now countries have reacted to the pandemic as though they were in a plane in freefall securing their own oxygen masks before helping others”, said Gulrajani, “While perhaps an understandable first response, donors must now urgently look to assist others in need”.