Changes in official development assistance in Vietnam as seen through the prism of governance



September 30, 2019


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Romain Bony-Cisternes, « Changes in official development assistance in Vietnam as seen through the prism of governance », International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement, ID : 10.4000/poldev.3204


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Traditionally confined to the pursuit of economic, social and environmental development objectives, official development assistance has moved into less traditional and more sensitive sectors. By making governance a major focus of official development assistance policies, Western powers have reinforced the strategic and diplomatic dimension of aid. In doing so, they have come up against the challenge of exporting Western-inspired governance models to countries whose historical, political, and cultural norms preclude their acceptance, forcing donors to adapt to local contexts. This is particularly the case in Vietnam which, while being one of the most important historical recipients of international aid, and thus to some extent financially dependent on its donors, is distinguished by its ideological and political independence, especially in the way it runs its domestic affairs. Now facing the challenges of good governance, the country is turning a new page in its relations with its creditors, marked by the difficulty the latter experience in supporting public policies of governance, given the sensitive nature of the subject. Traditionally focused on Millennium Development Goals or Sustainable Development Goals, aid in general, and French aid in particular, have moved into more sensitive areas such as governance. Choosing governance as their new target in developing countries, donors have strengthened the strategic dimension of aid. However, they have encountered several obstacles in exporting western governance patterns to developing countries whose history, social and political background are fundamentally different. This phenomenon is leading donors to draw up a more tailored governance aid policy in developing countries. This is notably the case in Vietnam. While it is one of the most important aid recipients in the world, Vietnam has nonetheless preserved its ideological independence vis-à-vis its creditors. Vietnam is now being urged to tackle governance issues in the country to unlock its growth potential, and has embarked on a new era in its relationships with international aid, characterized by the difficulty of implementing public policies inspired and funded by aid, given the sensitive nature of the topic.

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