Accepted paper:

DAC and non-DAC donors at the UN: are they different?


Ana Paula Borges Pinho (University of São Paulo King's College London)
Adriana Schor (University of São Paulo)
Daniela Schettini (University of São Paulo)

Paper short abstract:

This study uses UN data to overcome the lack of official comparative data on non-DAC foreign aid donors to analyze whether they behave differently from DAC donors. The results show authoritarian governments working through the UN system and a concentration of disbursements on few agencies.

Paper long abstract:

In the last two decades, the foreign aid landscape, once monopolized by the traditional OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) donors, has been changing. The most visible actor is China, but other non-DAC donors are increasingly participating in international cooperation activities. Several studies (Dreher et al 2011, Zimmermann and Smith 2011) investigated whether non-DAC donors act similarly to traditional western donors. However, a lack of official data, and comparable definitions and accounting practices on the aid efforts of non-DAC donors stymies comparisons. This study bypasses such limitations by using data from UN agencies, which report all donations the same way. It represents a part of all foreign aid disbursed by both DAC and non-DAC donors, but offers a sound way to compare the behavior of the two groups.

The results show that non-DAC donors play a relative small role in the UN system (20% in 2016), but it is increasing. More importantly, several authoritarian and populist states, some of which systematically contest UN actions and decisions, are among the top non-DAC regular donors to its agencies. However, non-DAC donors (unlike traditional DAC donors) tend to concentrate their contributions on fewer agencies, some very specific to their national interests. While DAC donors fund the most important UN agencies (UNDP, WFP, UNHCR), non-DAC ones tend to concentrate their resources - Brazil on PAHO; China on DPKO and UN; Russia on DPKO, UN and WFP; and Saudi Arabia on UNRWA and WFP.

panel G1
The rise of populism and development cooperation