CCIC 2008 AGM in Ottawa and Official Development Assistance Accountability Act (better aid bill)

May 25, 2008 | By: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) Mark Blumberg
Topics: News

I am just back from the 2008 AGM of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation.  It was awe inspiring to see some of the wonderful work being done by Canadian charities in the international development realm.  Not only was this a celebration of CCIC’s 40th anniversary but it was also a celebration of a very important legislative victory in the realm of international development. 

The House of Commons has just recently unanimously passed Bill C-293. Bill C-293, An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad (Official Development Assistance Accountability Act) also known as the “better aid bill”, makes ending poverty the goal of Canadian foreign aid, introduces greater accountability and transparency in Canadian official development assistance.

Some of the highlights include:

*The purpose of this Act is to ensure that all Canadian official development assistance abroad is provided with a central focus on poverty reduction and in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values, Canadian foreign policy, sustainable development and democracy promotion and that promotes international human rights standards.

* “international assistance” means funding provided by government for international development, international financial institutions, global peace and security, crises overseas and international development research.

* “Canadian values” means, amongst others, values of global citizenship, equity and environmental sustainability.

* “international human rights standards” means standards that are based on international human rights conventions and on international customary law.

* Section 4 provides:
4. (1) Official development assistance may be provided only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it   (a) contributes to poverty reduction;
  (b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and (c) is consistent with international human rights standards.

Needless to say in the past ODA often had little to do with poverty reduction and did not take into account the perspectives of the poor.  This is a significant improvement.


Section 4(2) provides:

In arriving at the opinion described in subsection (1), the competent minister shall consult with governments, international agencies and Canadian civil society organizations.

There are also requirements under Section 5 for the Minister of International Cooperation to provide regular reports to parliament. 


For a link to the Act see:
http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=3116967&file=4

For further information visit ccic.ca or http://www.parl.gc.ca/LEGISINFO/index.asp?Language=E&Chamber=N&StartList=A&EndList=Z&Session=15&Type=0&Scope=I&query=5091&List=toc-2

The Better Aid Bill is really short - here is the text of it.

Official Development Assistance Accountability Act

2008, c. 17

O-2.8

[Assented to May 29th, 2008]

An Act respecting the provision of official development assistance abroad

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE
Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Official Development Assistance Accountability Act.

PURPOSE
Purpose

2. (1) The purpose of this Act is to ensure that all Canadian official development assistance abroad is provided with a central focus on poverty reduction and in a manner that is consistent with Canadian values, Canadian foreign policy, the principles of the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness of March 2, 2005, sustainable development and democracy promotion and that promotes international human rights standards.

Official development assistance

(2) Canadian official development assistance abroad shall be defined exclusively with regard to these values.
INTERPRETATION
Definitions

3. The following definitions apply in this Act.

“Canadian values”
«valeurs canadiennes »
“Canadian values” means, amongst others, values of global citizenship, equity and environmental sustainability.

“civil society organization”
«organisme de la société civile »
“civil society organization” means a not-for-profit or charitable organization whose governing structure is independent of government direction, and includes, but is not limited to, registered charities, non-governmental development organizations, community groups, women’s organizations, faith-based organizations, professional associations, trade unions, self-help groups, social movements, business associations, coalitions, human rights organizations and advocacy groups.

“competent minister”
«ministre compétent »
“competent minister” means the Minister of International Cooperation, the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs or any other minister who is providing official development assistance.

“democracy”
«démocratie »
“democracy” includes, but is not limited to, political and civil rights as defined by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

“international agency”
«agence internationale »
“international agency” means any organization whose objectives include global poverty reduction or international human­itarian assistance.

“international assistance”
«aide internationale »
“international assistance” means funding provided by government for international development, international financial institutions, global peace and security, crises overseas and international development research.

“international human rights standards”
«normes internationales en matière de droits de la personne »
“international human rights standards” means standards that are based on international human rights conventions to which Canada is a party and on international customary law.

“Minister”
«ministre »
“Minister” means the Minister of International Cooperation or any other minister designated by the Governor in Council as the Minister for the purposes of this Act.

“official development assistance”
«aide au développement officielle »
“official development assistance” means international assistance

(a) that is administered with the principal objective of promoting the economic development and welfare of developing countries, that is concessional in character, that conveys a grant element of at least 25%, and that meets the requirements set out in section 4; or

(b) that is provided for the purpose of alleviating the effects of a natural or artificial disaster or other emergency occurring outside Canada.

OFFICIAL DEVELOPMENT ASSISTANCE
Official development assistance

4. (1) Official development assistance may be provided only if the competent minister is of the opinion that it

(a) contributes to poverty reduction;

(b) takes into account the perspectives of the poor; and

(c) is consistent with international human rights standards.

Disaster or other emergency occurring outside Canada

(1.1) Notwithstanding subsection (1), official development assistance may be provided for the purposes of alleviating the effects of a natural or artificial disaster or other emergency occurring outside Canada.
Consultation

(2) The competent minister shall consult with governments, international agencies and Canadian civil society organizations at least once every two years, and shall take their views and recommendations into consideration when forming an opinion described in subsection (1).
Calculation of contribution

(3) In calculating Canada’s official development assistance contribution in Government of Canada publications, the competent minister or the Governor in Council shall consider only official development assistance as defined by this Act that meets the criteria in subsections (1) and (1.1).
No limit or restriction imposed

(4) Nothing in this Act shall be construed so as to limit the funding or restrict the activities of the International Development Research Centre.
REPORTS
Report to Parliament

5. (1) The Minister or the competent minister shall cause to be submitted to each House of Parliament, within six months after the termination of each fiscal year or, if that House is not then sitting, on any of the first five days next thereafter that the House is sitting, a report containing

(a) the total amount spent by the Government of Canada on official development assistance in the previous fiscal year;

(b) a summary of any activity or initiative taken under this Act;

(c) a summary of the annual report submitted under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act;

(d) a summary of any representation made by Canadian representatives with respect to priorities and policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions; and

(e) a summary of the Departmental Perform­ance Report of the Canadian International Development Agency.

Statistical report

(2) The Minister shall issue a statistical report on the disbursement of official development assistance within one year after the end of each fiscal year.
Report to Parliament

(3) The Minister of Finance shall, in addition to preparing the report required under section 13 of the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, contribute the following to the report submitted to Parliament under subsection (1):
(a) the position taken by Canada on any resolution that is adopted by the Board of Governors of the Bretton Woods Institutions; and

(b) a summary of the manner in which Canada’s activities under the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act have contributed to carrying out the purpose of this Act.

Information not to be disclosed

(4) Despite subsections (1) and (3), information shall not be reported under this section if its disclosure is prohibited by the policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions.
COMING INTO FORCE
Coming into force

*6. This Act comes into force 30 days after the day on which it receives royal assent.

* [Note: Act in force June 28, 2008.]

 

GlobalPhilanthropy.ca was created by Mark Blumberg, a lawyer at Blumberg Segal LLP in Toronto, Ontario.  If you have legal questions about non-profit organizations or charities in Canada he can be contacted at or at 416-361-1982 x. 237. To find out more about legal services that Blumbergs provides to Canadian charities and non-profits please visit the Blumbergs’ Non-Profit and Charities page at http://www.blumbergs.ca/non_profit.php or http://www.globalphilanthropy.ca

 

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