PSPD in English Int. Solidarity 2008-03-07   1189

Position Paper of Korean NGOs

Korean NGOs’ Position Paper on Korea’s ODA Policy  


* This was submitted to OEDC/DAC Special Peer Review.


“Including ODA, Korea should make a greater contribution of its material aid”


The remark above is an extract from the presidential election pledges announced when President, Lee Myong-Bak was a candidate for Korea’s 17th Presidential Election. As the world’s 13th largest economy, the Korean government expressed it’s will to increase ODA to a level appropriate for Korea’s economic standing and to bear its full responsibility within the international community.


Despite economic prosperity as a result of globalization and free trade, the problem of extreme poverty and inequality is still escalated in many parts of the world. Thus, the international community promised to spend 0.7% of its GNI on ODA. In 2006, Korea’s ODA was only 0.051% of its GNI while the international development community recommends that the ODA/GNI ratio to be at least 0.7%. Considering Korea’s economic standing and it’s duties as a member of OECD, Korea’s current ODA ratio should be enlarged significantly.


Although the Korean civil society constantly requests the government to increase the volume of ODA and improve aid effectiveness, it’s deplorable that only tardy progress has been made so far.


Therefore we greatly welcome the OEDC/DAC Special Peer Review. We have great expectations regarding the positive outcome of this peer review survey team meeting. We hope this position paper by the Korean Civil Society will help the Review team understand the current Korea’s ODA situation and its future prospects.


 1.      Overall Opinion about Korea’s ODA Policy


1)     Scaling-up Korea’s ODA: The Korean government set a target goal to increase Korea’s ODA/GNI ratio to 0.12% by 2011 and to 0.25% by 2015 respectively. However NGOs will keep demand Korea’s full commitment of achieving the 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio.


2)     No Aid Philosophy: Recently, there were several discussions on aid philosophy, but still many disputes arise that have not been resolved, not to mention the fact that the objectives of Korea’s ODA are still based on national economic interests or diplomatic interests. Nowadays, this tendency is getting stronger with the so-called “Diplomacy to secure natural resources”.


3)     Absence of a Legal Framework: There were several trials of enacting, which resulted in failure because of the very different interests of departments. The failure of not being able to coordinate between departments brings ineffective implementation of Korea’s ODA. There is neither a compressive ODA law nor any policy statement.


4)    Too Much Diversifying of ODA Implementation: Different ministries, government agencies and local governments implement their own development cooperation projects according to their own principles. It’s almost impossible to coordinate between each one. There is an urgent need to reorganize Korea’s ODA implementation system as soon as possible.


5)     Enlargement of Grant Ratio and Untying 100% of Loans. All of this process should be in line with global standards.


6)     Increase Grant Ratio to LDCs and Basic Human Needs (BHN) and Improve their Aid Management.


7)     No Independent Monitoring and Evaluation System: Only individual projects undergo evaluation, while there is no evaluation regarding overall ODA policies and programs. Also, there is no feedback system which makes it possible to reapply to original projects.



2.      Overall NGO Activity


1)    Korea’s NGOs in the International Development Field

      Development NGOs: Korea’s Development NGOs are based on very different principles and focus on various areas such as social welfare oriented NGOs, religious NGOs, NGOs supporting North Korea and KCOC (Korea’s NGO Council for Overseas Cooperation) doing emergency relief, social/economic development in developing countries and community development etc.

Ex) The total budget of 56 KCOC members was calculated;

\ 305,164,000,000(in 2005), \ 370,903,000,000(in 2006),

\ 410,331,000,000(in 2007)

               Advocacy NGOs: They monitor the Korean ODA policy and implementation of the ODA Reform Plan, carry out various international development education programs and strive to increase people’s awareness about ODA

Ex) CCEJ (Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice) ODA Watch,

PSPD (People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy) ODA Watch.


2)     Others: While there is no official estimate for the project and total budget of Non-KCOC member organizations such as churches, private corporations etc, it is expected that the total budget will exceed the KCOC.



3.      Partnership with the Korean Government regarding ODA


1) Partnership with civil society

n       The Korean government needs to put more efforts to get the Korean civil society involved in policy making and implementation of ODA from planning to evaluation.

n       Until recently the Korean government did not consider civil society as an equal partner in international development. NGOs were simply considered as recipients of government’s grants not as partners. 

n       A few NGO representatives serve as advisors to KOICA and EDCF. Two representatives from relief and development NGOs serve as members of the International Development Cooperation Committee (IDCC) and the secretary general of KCOC serves for the working committee for IDCC.

n       There is no regular consultative meeting between the government and civil society. With limited human resources and expertise, the government needs to utilize the expertise and (human and financial) resources of civil society and the private sector in order to enhance ODA policy and implementation.


2) ODA channeling through civil society

n       Korean NGOs demand the government to channel at least 5 percent of ODA through civil society. DAC members spend about 5 percent of their ODA through NGOs according to the DAC report. Currently about 1 percent of Korea’s ODA is channeled through Korean NGOs.

n       The government has to set up a thorough long-term policy towards partnership with civil society. Currently, the government including KOICA does not have an inclusive policy. The government can make the best use of NGOs as follows:

Ÿ          NGOs’ strengths such as reaching out to the poor and marginalized people, empowerment of community and its people should be taking into consideration in making such a policy.

Ÿ          Specialized NGOs in crosscutting issues such as human rights, environment, and gender can contribute their expertise in policy making, planning, monitoring and evaluation of ODA.

Ÿ          NGOs can contribute to raising public awareness of ODA and to public education. 

n       The government needs NGOs’ development education programs in order to broaden public support to ODA. Currently the Korean government does not support education programs.


3) Improving the NGO support system

n       The government should enable civil society committees and NGO membership organizations to establish NGO policy mechanisms rather than evaluating and selecting individual ODA projects directly. Through this process, the independence of NGOs can be guaranteed.


n       Even before this new process is established, the government should cooperate with NGOs in order to reevaluate NGO support mechanisms and the standards of ODA distribution in order to guarantee the independence and individuality of NGOs.  


n       The government should greatly support programs that empower emergency and relief development NGOs. Recently, there has been a sudden increase of NGOs focusing on international work and therefore much support is needed. The government, by supporting the empowerment of NGOs will be able to build up future partners of ODA implementation.



4.      Various Efforts for Public Awareness


1)     Korea’s NGOs has tried to raise public awareness and support for ODA and other international development cooperation issues.

2)     Both the Korean government and NGOs need to provide the public with various information and knowledge through the Internet, media and books etc.

3)     The government also needs to support public awareness programs, educational programs and advocacy activities.

4)     Korea should consider training more aid experts and expand related job opportunities.

5)     It is necessary to support Global Education and adopt it as a formal curriculum.



March 5, 2008

Representatives of the Korean NGOs

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