Member States of the United Nations that provide development assistance directly to recipient countries are often referred to as “bilateral donors”. According to the International Development Statistics of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), major bilateral rule of law assistance providers are: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. These provide assistance in, among others, legal and judicial development, security system management and reform, human rights and post-conflict peacebuilding. Member States fund and organize the provision of bilateral rule of law assistance in a variety of ways and depending on the area involved, e.g., security, police, law reform, judiciary, and the situation in the recipient country concerned, e.g., development, conflict-affected. Depending on the donor, this kind of bilateral assistance can come from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs or equivalent, the national development agency, the Ministry of Justice or the Ministry of Defense, or a combination thereof.
The majority of the major donors are members of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC), a forum of major bilateral donors established to promote the volume and effectiveness of aid. The Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) represents a broad consensus among the international community about how to make international development aid more effective. The Declaration is focused on five mutually reinforcing principles: Ownership; Alignment; Harmonisation; Managing for results; and Mutual accountability.
In the Report of the Secretary-General: Strengthening and coordinating United Nations rule of law activities (2008) it was recognized that the field of rule of law is an area of assistance that has often been piecemeal and donor-driven, resulting in contradictory development of justice and security institutions and short-term gains at the cost of longer-term, sustainable reform. The rule of law community is hampered by technical obstacles, such as incompatible or burdensome funding mechanisms. There is no dedicated donor coordination structure and a poor understanding of the scale and impact of contributions. The collective knowledge base on effectiveness of assistance approaches remains thin and professionalization of the rule of law field is needed.
The Secretary-General has thus urged Member States to work with the UN and other assistance providers, to promote an agenda for the international community to achieve coherence in its rule of law activities. He encouraged Member States to consider a process to reach consensus on donor and assistance policy and strategic frameworks, fortifying commitments made in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness by strengthening their application in the rule of law field, developing tools to share knowledge across institutions, and establishing coordination structures. Towards this end, the Rule of Law Unit organized together with the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) the conference “Enhancing Global Rule of Law Assistance” in April 2009 where participants considered ideas for improving donor coherence, knowledge management and the measurement of the effectiveness of rule of law assistance as well as explored agreement on a process and actions to improve the coordination of rule of law assistance globally.