Permanent Delegation of the Czech Republic to the OECD in Paris

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The Czech Republic has become a member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee

The accession of the Czech Republic to the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) was on the agenda of the 964th DAC meeting taking place in Paris on May 14th, 2013. The Czech Republic was represented by a delegation headed by Mr Jiří Schneider, the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic. (On the picture, you can see, from left to right, Rintaro Tamaki, OECD Deputy Secretary General, Pavel Rozsypal, Czech Ambassador to the OECD, Erik Solheim, DAC Chairman, Jiří Schneider, First Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic).

The formal accession procedure was preceded by a brief debate on the particularities of the Czech development assistance. Deputy Minister Jiri Schneider outlined and discussed the main facts and figures of the Czech foreign assistance as well as the overarching idea of Czech Republic´s focus on poverty reduction, improving quality of life in general, fulfilment of Millenium Development Goals, good governance and human rights.

In 1995, the Czech Republic was the first Central European "transitional" economy to become an OECD member state. This year, it has become the first post-2004 EU member state to join the DAC as a full member. The membership is a major recognition of the accomplishments the Czech Republic has made in development cooperation and humanitarian aid since 1995. The Czech Republic´s long-term bilateral as well as multilateral development activities are aimed at improving the living conditions in 10 priority countries (Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Moldova, Mongolia, Georgia, Cambodia, Kosovo, Palestine and Serbia). In terms of sectoral focus, the Czech Republic aspires to strengthen the capacity of governments and support civil societies throughout the world, and it engages in topics such as water supply, agriculture, environmental protection, energy production and supply, and, last but not least, education and health. For more information in English, please visit the official OECD website and read the speech by Jiri Schneider just below.

You can also read the speech by the First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jiří Schneider, at the DAC on May 14, 2013:

Dear Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Colleagues and Guests,

It is my pleasure to be here today at the meeting of the OECD Development Assistance Committee. I am even more delighted to address you at a moment when the Czech Republic is hopefully going to become very soon a full member of the Committee after having been a member of the OECD since 1995. First of all, let me thank the members of the OECD secretariat for their continued support of the Czech Republic during our observership in the Committee and for being helpful and reliable partner throughout these times. I am sure that this working relationship will be carried forward also after our accession to the DAC. Many thanks to Chairman Erik Solheim for being so insistent, and supportive, at the same time, on new members arriving as soon as possible. I should also mention at least several previous chairmen of the DAC and point out a few names at the secretariat, but that would be extremely hard, so I will just extend our sincere appreciation to everyone who has helped to make our plan to become a full DAC member a reality. Last, but not least, I would like to thank all DAC Member States for accepting our application for full membership and for your support for our prospective accession. As we have already promised, we will make every effort to be an active member of this important OECD body.

As you have heard the basic facts from Ms. Jorgensen, let me just highlight a few facts about Czech development cooperation. I will try to be brief and, at the same time, to cover some important aspects of the Czech Republic´s development cooperation.

Development cooperation is an integral part of the Czech Republic’s foreign policy with the strategic objective of eradicating poverty and promoting security and prosperity through effective partnership, enabling poor and undeveloped countries to achieve their development goals.

Nowadays, the Czech Republic is among the 35 most affluent countries in the world, so it is morally obliged to help less prosperous and less fortunate regions. The growing economic potential of developing countries contributes to the stability of the global economy and the development of prospective markets. Development activities strengthen bilateral political, economic and cultural relations with individual countries. Effective development cooperation helps improve security situation, both at the regional and global levels.

The recommendations from the first special review conducted by the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD in 2007 triggered a crucial transformation of the Czech ODA system. The reform, completed in 2012, clearly divided roles between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic – responsible for policy formulation and strategic guidance - and the Czech Development Agency – responsible for implementation.

During those years, the Czech Republic took a number of steps to build an effective system of development assistance. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs now coordinates bilateral grant aid, manages the Czech Development Agency as well as Czech involvement in the multilateral aid, prepares strategic documents and manages independent evaluations to name just the most important activities. I invite you to find out more details in the documents provided for this meeting.

As far as the legal basis is concerned, the Act on Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Aid, effective from July 2010, has defined the concepts of development cooperation and humanitarian aid, as well as the roles of various actors in its implementation. The Development Cooperation Strategy has defined the forms and modalities of Czech assistance, its key geographic and sectoral priorities, that is several groups of priority countries, sectors and cross-cutting principles. The Strategy also aims to deepen understanding of development cooperation as an instrument of foreign policy which bears in mind security, economic, environmental, social and migration aspects, as well as promotion of specific experience and skills of the Czech Republic.

The number of “programme” countries, i. e. those with the highest priority, has been reduced to five: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Moldova and Mongolia. Bilateral development cooperation is further pursued with project countries: Georgia, Cambodia, Kosovo, the Palestinian Autonomous Territories and Serbia, as well as with the former programme countries Angola, Yemen, Vietnam and Zambia, that continue to receive assistance with redefined focus and scope.

We strive to fulfil our commitment to increase the ODA volume. In 2012, the Czech official development assistance totalled USD 219 million. But simultaneously we put the emphasis upon the improvement of aid effectiveness. The principles of Czech development cooperation are based on the European Consensus on Development, the Paris Declaration and the Accra Agenda for Action. The Czech system of bilateral development cooperation respects democratic ownership of the development process by partner countries, harmonization, alignment, managing aid for results and mutual accountability of donors and partner countries. We work towards the introduction of indicators based on post-Busan High Level Forum regime and we are actively engaged in global efforts to find an alternative paradigm for international development cooperation going beyond aid,.

We also strive to put into practice the Policy Coherence for Development within our government system. As the first step to this end, we try to raise the interest and awareness of the ministries, as well as to coordinate ODA policy guidelines with other policies such as trade, agriculture, migration, and investment. The Czech Republic seeks to introduce innovative ODA approaches that are needed to respond to entrenched development challenges such as poverty and gender inequality. 

Czech development cooperation gives considerable emphasis to the promotion of joint innovation and inclusive business models in the partner countries.The Czech Republic has devoted much effort to implementation of development programs aimed at building competitive economies such as capacity building, technical assistance and strengthening expertise in industrial sectors, especially by transfer of technology and know-how in the recipient countries. Another long-term goal of Czech economic development projects is to support small and medium-size enterprises and farmers and to develop the labour market and trade. We support initiatives aimed at increasing the participation of the private sector in development cooperation, such as  “Business Call to Action“ launched with the objective to accelerate progress towards the MDGs by challenging companies to develop inclusive business models that offer the potential for both commercial success and development impact.

The Czech Republic follows with great attention the DAC involvement in the UN-led process of formulating the post-2015 development agenda. We consider this discussion highly valuable in view of the deep changes in the global development landscape since the year 2000. The DAC’s experience in supporting economic development is a significant source of lessons learned and, even more importantly, a basis for the application of poverty reduction policies in the context of a rapidly changing world. The Czech Republic is ready to actively contribute to DAC role in improving our understanding of new global development trends. 

We agree that the post-2015 development framework should include both the poverty agenda as set out in the current MDGs as well as goals relevant to sustainable development. We believe that inclusive social development, inclusive economic development, environmental sustainability and peace and security should remain the core dimensions of the new MDGs.

For the Czech Republic, there is yet another important element in this particular context, and that is the respect for democratic values, promotion of democracy and strengthening the rule of law and the respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms. These values are promoted through the Transition Promotion Programme which has been since 2004 one of the key components of Czech development cooperation.

I would also like to point out that the DAC might consider giving more room to transition cooperation programmes. Without their proper inclusion in the future development framework, our approach to development will not be comprehensive and coherent. The DAC could draw on our country’s experience and expertise, which has been recognized as our comparative advantage. Given the new context and increased aspirations of the recipient partner countries as regards their transition and democratization processes within the framework of the new post-Busan and post-2015 development architecture, we are now ready to provide greater support for transition cooperation. We are ready to share with developing countries our wealth of past experience with privatisation and building of business environment. We can help create strategies for public administration reform, private sector development, new forms of public private partnership, democratic governance, institutionalisation and a fair judiciary.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am quite sure that I have not exhausted the entire topic of  Czech development cooperation, and I certainly hope that I have not exhausted you by trying to provide an enormous amount of valuable facts in such a limited amount of time. I am at your disposal for any questions you may have, thank you once again for admitting my country into the Committee and thank you for your attention.