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23 propositions

Excerpt of the Prince’s acceptance speech upon receiving an Honorary Fellowship at the Institute of Social Studies, 1988, reflecting his views on development and equity.

  1. The object of ‘development cooperation’ is to help the recipient countries to achieve greater independence, in particular economic independence, in the light of the realisation that the achievement of political independence alone means very little.
    In reality though, the result of development cooperation in most cases is merely to confirm or even reinforce a state of dependence. One might dub this as ‘neo-colonialism with the best of intentions’.
  2. While money is important as a means of promoting the economic development process, development is essentially a cultural process. It is not a question of material goods but of human resources. In fact it is impossible to ‘develop’ another person or country from outside; people develop themselves, and so do countries. All that we can do is assist that process if asked to do so and then in a particular context or socio-cultural environment.
  3. An awareness of one’s own cultural identity and past is a fundamental condition for sustainable autonomous development. Where support is sought for cultural projects, the development of visual arts, literature, music, dance etc., donor organisations should respond whole-heartedly.
  4. A rich country which sees itself as playing a pioneering role in development cooperation should untie its aid.
    This will increase both the efficiency of aid and the autonomy of decision-making in the recipient country, enabling it to purchase goods – and indeed expertise – from the supplier offering the most favourable terms.
  5. It is not so much a question of how much money you spend on development cooperation but how you spend it. A smaller amount may be made to count for more. I would advocate a system of evaluating aid in gross and net terms. This would mean deducting from the gross aid flow all of the failures, adverse effects (for example in the ecological sphere) and the costs of tied aid – to name just a few – to arrive at a more relevant figure for the genuinely effective, or net, flow of aid.
  6. We talk a lot about relevance in the context of ‘development cooperation’, but we still all too often confuse our own interests with those of developing countries.
  7. When we enter into cooperation, our principle must be that we do not interfere in matters where the recipient country is capable of taking action itself. So if a country possesses adequate manpower we should draw on it and not try to appoint our own national experts.
    Even if we think our experts are more expert we should still recruit and finance more local manpower and expertise. It is better to have a project that is technically only 80% successful but completely integrated in the local environment and thus sustainable than one that scores 100% in technical terms but which one knows for certain will not be sustainable once our own experts withdraw.
  8. In development cooperation, as in many other fields, output is more important than input. We are still far too fixated on input. Sustainability in sociological, economic, and ecological terms should be the paramount criterion of success.
  9. Donor governments should leave aid projects aimed directly at specific – mostly underprivileged – target groups to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) both in developing and industrialised countries.
  10. Developing countries should have a greater say in the way development funds are spent, including the way they are divided between project aid and balance of payments support. If a country so wishes it should be possible to transfer all of the available funds in the form of balance of payments support – untied.
  11. Certain LLDCs are currently only able to absorb emergency aid, such as food aid, and import assistance and should not be saddled with project aid against their will.
  12. Protectionism in the rich countries does more harm than good which development aid even under most favourable conditions can do.
  13. Agricultural policy in the rich countries must take account of the justified interests of the developing countries. Dumping of agricultural produce (such as grain, sugar and meat) on the world market has disastrous social and economic consequences for many countries and undermines their position in world trade. Dumping and protectionism are in fact twin evils.
  14. The provision of development funds is no more than a minor attempt to offset the losses which many commodity-exporting developing countries are suffering as a result of the continuing fall of commodity prices. Their terms of trade are still deteriorating. Their loss is our gain. I therefore regard development aid not as a favour but as a universal social duty.
  15. An international macroeconomic policy aimed at improving the terms of trade of developing countries would be more valuable than any amount of development aid.
  16. The processing  of commodities – for example coffee and cocoa – must not be penalised by protectionist measures which hit imports. The anti-processing clauses must be replaced by a policy encouraging processing of raw materials or commodities in the countries of origin.
  17. The Multi-Fibre Agreement should be abolished and replaced by complete freedom of imports. At the same time we should differentiate more between the various types of developing countries: NICs should be treated differently from LDCs. NICs should be brought under the GATT regulations.
  18. The debt problem is a complex one. Far too many people who know nothing or too little about the subject are voicing opinions. I shall not therefore venture any comment other than this: I do believe that the LLDCs at least should have their official debts cancelled. This is purely a matter of common sense. We should never have burdened them with loans to pay back in the first place.
  19. The suggestion of a Marshall Plan for the Third World is unrealistic and misguiding. The situation in which Europe found itself at the end of the last World War cannot be compared with the very diverse circumstances of the developing countries today. A suggestion of this sort serves to raise expectations which can only lead to disappointment, frustration and disruption.
  20. We must be prepared to lend vigorous support to regional South/South cooperation which would include generating trade flows (for example regional food supplies) and technical cooperation, with a view to untying all development aid from the North.
  21. Much of the human suffering in developing countries cannot be attributed to global power structures, natural disasters, multinational companies, the World Bank, the IMF or other exogenous evil doers and easy scapegoats.
  22. Development in the true sense of the word is impossible without some form of democracy which gives the people some say in the process. It is a question of enabling people to direct their energies within their own cultural context to bring about change, in the belief that this is in their own interests. 
    I am not using democracy here in the formal western sense but in its more basic meaning of ‘by the people for the people’.
  23. Freedom of speech is an essential element in any form of democracy and therefore a prerequisite for true development. The power elite, wherever they may be in the world, cannot be trusted if their country knows no freedom of speech. It is a fact of human life and also essential for the protection of those in power who are worthy of trust.