Germany’s international aid programmes: her contribution to the different UN aid programmes

Hausarbeit, 2006

21 Seiten, Note: B+ for the whole course



Following the Second World War and in the context of the Cold War, reconstruction in Europe has led to the beginning of aid programme under American sponsorship. About a decade later, the European colonies, in the wake of independence and the years onwards, were the ones in need for aid mainly due to the gap in economic development leading to their poverty. Interests would still be the overriding aim for the donor to provide loans and other forms of assistance to the recipient countries. Also taking into consideration some advantages for the donors, international organizations such as the United Nations (UN) would become important means via which the funds would be transferred. Within this framework, this paper addresses German aid policy and its role in the UN.


1.0 Some definitions

First of all there is a need to define several key terms which are going to be used throughout this paper. The definition of the following concepts derived from J. White[1]:

- ‘Foreign aid’: actions taken by people or institutions in one country towards people or institutions in another country which help, or are at least intended to help, the latter
- ‘Aid’: resources transferred between nations
- ‘Development’: the endeavours that aid supported
- ‘Underdeveloped/developing/less developed countries/Third World’: countries in which the institutions that received the resources were located

1.1 The recipient’s perspective of aid

In the wake of independence, several factors led to developing countries’ demand for aid. According to Clifford and Little these were: the fall in the prices of commodity from 1952, the running out of their external reserves by 1958, the cessation of grant aid due to independence, the different expenditures brought along with the phase of independence (e.g. overseas representation, new buildings for government and parliament, compensation for expatriates), and “the growing demands for demands for a better material standard of living”.[2]

1.2 The donor’s perspective of aid

On the other side, from the donor’s perspective carrying out aid implied some national interests in return. For instance, “commercial motives have been strong; Germany, Italy, and Japan, began in the 1950s to compete for new markets, and export credit (frequently confused with aid) has been a major weapon”.[3] Commercial interests still somehow depends on humanitarian concerns, i.e. “the whole benefit of aid to the donors arises via the enrichment of the recipient”[4]. Then, the interest in economic development is also taken into account since, “the primary self-interest of the Western powers lies in promoting the kind of régime which will be both viable and as non-aggressive and favourable to Western ideas as possible, and that reasonably egalitarian economic development is a means to do this”.[5] However despite the involvement of bargain in aid, in the end the recipient was the one to abide to the obligations. The political or strategic factor was also to be considered not only during the Cold War scenario, but also with the argument that “development possibilities in a country depend very much on the political situation”.[6]

1.3 Germany’s aid policy

Germany’s international aid programme is carried out within the context of German development policy, which was to become an independent aspect of German foreign policy. According to Perroy, Germany’s aid doctrine has been set in terms of economic efficiency with the economic survival as the aim. Public funds were the means and aid was undertaken in the form of technical assistance from the Länder, industrials and private organizations. Private investments were seen to benefit both investors and host countries.[7] For Germany undertaking capital aid programme in the 1960s, meant also that “Germany as a legally re-established and respected state, was once again able to take its place in the world and to assume wide international responsibilities”.[8] Indeed, the ideological context of the Cold War also influenced the promotion of “private enterprise in developing countries” since aid was considered to be “an essential political and commercial tool for any important power”. Hence, “it was inevitable that Germany should become a donor on a substantial scale”.[9] Germany’s aid contribution or capital inflow was mainly in the form of: financial, commodity aid, and technical assistance.[10] Aid policy laid on the principle that “aid should promote indigenous private enterprise” so that financial aid was to be used on projects, especially “for revenue-earning projects at commercial rates of interest, or for infrastructure investment at subsidized rates of interest”.[11] By 1980, Germany was therefore to become the third largest DAC (Development Assistance Committee) contributor after the USA and France, with 13% of ODA (Overseas Development Assistance).[12]

German development policy however evolved since the 1950s. By the 1970s it needed to be redefined and the following principles were to be considered:[13]

- improvement of the financial conditions for aid measures (easier credit, more technical help on a grant basis)
- minimal tying of loans to procurements from West Germany
- upgrading the multilateral provision of loans via international organizations
- co-operation with a series of partner countries to be carried out on a long-term basis which were to take the form of comprehensive country programming

In the year 1980, following the Report of the Independent Commission on International Development Issues chaired by Willy Brandt (known as the Brandt Commission), the Development Policy Guidelines included these issues[14]:

- giving priority to combating extreme poverty
- rural development (in particular to guarantee the provision of food)
- the use of conventional and non-exhaustible energy sources
- the protection of natural resources

In 1986, the coalition of Democrats and Liberals considered the following points[15]:

- development can only take place through the mobilization of the “creative energy of the people in the countries concerned”
- the necessary framework for “help towards self-help” must be established by the developing countries themselves
- without formally imposing the principles of a market economy, recipient countries with a free market orientation and an open social system should be given priority
- whenever deliveries from industrialized countries are necessary in order to sustain or set up projects, they should come primarily from West German suppliers
- education and training, which should not follow inappropriate Western models and curricula
- the role of women in the development process, which must be considered more clearly
- support in the field of structural adjustment, which is to gain more importance

By 1988, Germany, with its ODA amounting at $4.7 billion, ranked fourth among the largest aid donors, after the USA, Japan and France.[16]

1.4 Criteria for foreign aid

With regard to the criteria to be taken into consideration for foreign aid, the respective Ministry referred to[17]:

- the general economic and social situation
- the potential for foreign trade
- effects made by developing countries to help themselves
- the capacity for absorbing foreign capital
- population size
- political aspects

1.5 Increasing the budget for development cooperation

In 2005, Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development's (BMZ) budget is 76 million euros larger than last year, an increase of 2 percent. The Development Ministry is thus one of the few ministries that the German government wants to strengthen, also showing the importance German parliament gives to development cooperation.[18]


[1] White J., The Politics of Foreign Aid, pp.7-11

[2] Clifford J. M. & Little I.M.D, International aid, p.18

[3] ibid., p.20

[4] ibid., p.79

[5] ibid., p.90

[6] Clifford J. M. & Little I.M.D, op.cit., p.85

[7] Perroy H., L’Europe dans le tiers-monde, pp. 105-109

[8] Perroy H., op.cit.,p.42

[9] ibid., p.43

[10] ibid., p.159

[11] ibid., p.43

[12] Selim H., Development assistance policies and the performance of aid agencies, p.97

[13] Malek M.H., Contemporary issues in European development aid, pp.45-46

[14] ibid., p.48

[15] ibid., p.49

[16] Malek M.H., op.cit, p.51

[17] ibid., pp.55-56

[18] <>

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Germany’s international aid programmes: her contribution to the different UN aid programmes
University of Malta
German Foreign Policy
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Jennie Robinson (Autor), 2006, Germany’s international aid programmes: her contribution to the different UN aid programmes, München, GRIN Verlag,


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