Building true ownership

Over the last decade – and in particular, following the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness – the EU and other major donors have turned the principle of ownership into the cornerstone of the international system of aid delivery. But what exactly is meant by national ownership? In other words, who should own the national agenda for reform in a given country? Giving “partner” governments this exclusive prerogative has proved to be a recipe for consolidating authoritarian regimes all over the world. The only way to counterbalance the natural tendency of power holders to act exclusively according to their own self-interest is to open decision-making to other actors in society.