Sunil Bastian

(1997) The “New” Consensus in Development Assistence, Good Governance and Civil Society Politics.

In: M. Somasundaram, ed. The Third Wave, Governance and Public Administration in Sri Lanka. New Delhi:ICES/Konark Publishers.

The focus of this paper is what can be called a "new consensus"1 on development assistance that has emerged among OECD countries, of which the notion of "good governance" is a part. In a forward to a very recent publication of the OECD titled "Participatory Development and Good Governance", the chair of the Development Assistance Committee of OECD states that, "A broad consensus is emerging on a coherent model for sustainable development. While specific application will vary with local conditions, the model is characterised by an integrated process of political and economic stability, good governance, popular participation, investing in people, reliance on market forces, concern for the environment and a vigorous private sector." 2 The document that follows spells out in much more detail the principal elements of this new consensus of development, and it includes notions of participatory development, democratisation, good governance, and human rights, in addition to promoting markets.

There is no doubt that this consensus on development assistance has the twin objectives of promoting a market economy and a liberal representative democracy. It is a consensus that has evolved to promote structures and institutions of a capitalist social formation. After the momentous changes in Eastern Europe and the collapse of the Soviet Union, liberalism in economics, as well as in politics, has become the dominant ideology. As argued by "world system" theorists, this has become the single dominant reality covering the entire world. What is happening through development assistance is the promotion of various elements of this dominant liberal ideology in developing countries through foreign aid. Any discussion of individual elements of this consensus on development assistance needs to take into account not only this overall context, but also to look at the inter-relationships between these elements. This will be the approach taken in this paper when looking at the notion of "governance" or "good governance"3, which forms one element of this consensus.

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