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Foreign Policy Foreign Policy

Reform multilateral institutions, especially in how development funds are distributed

Last updated: 08:44pm 11 December 2019

We shall continue to seek to reform multilateral institutions, especially in the way they distribute development funds, so that money is used to greatest effect to protect and help the world’s most vulnerable people.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.38

Our verdict

The UK government works with multilateral institutions to distribute official development assistance (ODA or overseas aid) to fight poverty and promote development. Many charities, international bodies and branches of government are focused on trying to make sure ODA is effective, both in terms of achieving value for money and helping as many people as possible. This policy is a promise to work towards greater effectiveness by reforming multilateral institutions.

Under this government, the principle focus of this policy has been the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Transparency Agenda, which promotes “transparency across our developing country and international programmes”. DFID’s Open aid, open societies strategy, published in February 2018  set out its aims:

“With multilaterals such as the UN and the International Financial Institutions, we will… [encourage] them to be more open about their own spend and promoting open procurement… We will improve current processes for reporting and checking on multilateral spend and results…”

A progress update on the Transparency Agenda a year later said:

“In 2018 the majority of multilateral organisations that we fund published information to the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI). We will press for further progress from those who are not yet publishing, and for greater quality from those that do.”

The government initiated the Transparency Agenda, which incorporates plans to reform multilateral institutions involved in distributing ODA. This was a promise to “continue” with reform efforts and we think ongoing work under the Transparency Agenda is evidence that this policy is ‘done’.

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