Russia as a Humanitarian Aid Donor

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This paper addresses the role of Russia as a humanitarian aid donor in the context of the increasing participation in international aid of so-called
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  OXFAM DISCUSSION PAPER 15 JULY 2013 Oxfam Discussion Papers   Oxfam Discussion Papers are written to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy issues. They are ‟work in progress‟ documents, and do not necessarily constitute final publications or reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views and recommendations expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam. For more information, or to comment on this paper, email Daria Ukhova [dukhova@oxfam.org.uk] www.oxfam.org   ANNA BREZHNEVA AND DARIA UKHOVA This paper addresses the role of Russia as a humanitarian aid donor in the context of the increasing participation in international aid of so- called ‘new’, ‘emerging’ (or ‘re - emerging’) , or ‘ non- traditional’ donors. In the recent years Russia has made a number of international aid commitments, for example within the G8, marking its re-emergence as an international donor since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. In line with Russia’s increasing international aid commitments, the level of Russian humanitarian aid has also been increasing over recent years. Nonetheless, the country still faces several obstacles in developing its donor capacity. RUSSIA AS A HUMANITARIAN AID DONOR  Russia as a Humanitarian Aid Donor 1   CONTENTS Summary ............................................................................ 2   1 Introduction .................................................................... 4   2 Institutional arrangements .............................................. 5   3 How much aid? ............................................................... 7   4 Types of aid .................................................................... 9   5 Aid recipients................................................................ 13   6 Russia and other donors ............................................. 15   The BRICS countries and other „new‟ donors  .......................................................... 15   The G8 .................................................................................................................... 19   7 Russia as a donor: Self-perceptioon .......................... 20   8 Conclusion .................................................................... 22   Notes ................................................................................ 24    2 Russia as a Humanitarian Aid Donor    SUMMARY This paper addresses the role of Russia as a humanitarian aid donor in the context of the increasing participation in international aid of so-called „ new ‟, „emerging‟   (or „re - emerging‟) , or „ non- traditional‟  donors, such as the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South  Africa) and others. Much debate in recent years has centred on such questions as the impact of these donors on patterns of international aid provision and the rationale for their aid efforts. This paper aims to answer these questions from the standpoint of Russia by drawing on official statistics and secondary literature. It examines Russia‟s  institutional arrangements for humanitarian aid provision; the types and volumes of aid sent; the recipients of this aid; the differences and similarities between Russia and the other members of the two main global donor groups  –  the G8 (and the wider Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC)) and the BRICS countries; and finally the Russian government ‟s  and public ‟s perceptions of the country‟s role as a donor  . In the recent years Russia has made a number of international aid commitments, for example within the G8, marking its re-emergence as an international donor since the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Yet the country‟s  involvement in aid also has clear limitations  –  crucially, it has still not signed up to the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) Principles and lacks a single international development agency, with the Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergencies (EMERCOM) currently playing a dominant role in the area of humanitarian aid provision. In line with Russia‟s increasing international aid commitments, the level of Russian humanitarian aid has also been increasing (with some fluctuations) over recent years, though both in absolute terms and as a percentage of GDP it still remains far below the levels achieved by most „traditional‟  donors and some „ new ‟ donors . Another notable characteristic is that Russian humanitarian aid is primarily in-kind, consisting predominantly of processed foods, transport, shelter, and so on. The majority of this aid is directed towards the former Soviet republics, highlighting Russia‟s traditional regional focus in terms of aid giving. Russian aid tends to be implemented through multilateral organizations rather than bilaterally, and the country is also reluctant to work with non-governmental organizations. Nonetheless, something of a break with old traditions is evident, with Russia acquiring new partners outside the region and beginning to send more significant amounts of aid to countries struck by natural disasters.  After considering these developments, this paper goes on to compare Russia‟s humanitarian aid-giving patterns with those of other BRICS and G8 countries. On the one hand, just as in other BRICS countries, the Russian aid budget has only recently begun to increase. On the other hand, Russia is the only BRICS country that is not also an aid recipient, and it has also been more ready to provide humanitarian assistance to nearby countries engulfed by conflict. Some experts have therefore suggested that while the aid policies of other BRICS countries are influenced primarily by the principle of South  – South co- operation, Russia‟s ar  e far more influenced by Realpolitik  . It has also been argued that Russia does not perceive itself as a member of the global South, instead prioritizing its position among the developed Northern states. This view is in part supported by the attitudes of the Russian public, among whom the view of aid as demeaning is prevalent, while countries that are aid donors are perceived as strong. Overall, Russia holds a unique middle-ground position between the developed and the developing world.  As such, it has the potential to play an important role in introducing new ideas on aid discourse and practice.  Although the provision of humanitarian and development assistance is perceived in Russia as an indicator of strength, and a number of experts have emphasized the importance of geostrategic  Russia as a Humanitarian Aid Donor 3  influence and economic interests as driving forces behind Russia‟s development as a donor, there is much that is positive in the country‟s efforts to adopt good practice in humanitarian assistance provision. The aid commitments it has made as a G8 member, its endorsement of several key aid effectiveness initiatives (such as the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, the  Accra Agenda for Action, and the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation), and its moves to join the OECD and start reporting official development assistance expenditure are all examples of this. Nonetheless, the country still faces several obstacles in developing its donor capacity, namely its lack of a designated aid agency; its low level of humani tarian aid volumes compared to „traditional‟ and even „ new ‟ donors; the significant prevalence of in-kind aid over cash assistance; the public‟s predominant concern for national interests; and the failure to date to sign up to and apply the core GHD Principles. Thus, Russia still has some way to go to realize its full potential as an effective and efficient humanitarian donor.
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