'New' global development cooperation modalities and the rights of the orphaned child.

Author:Kamchedzera, Garton
  1. Introduction

    There has been growing hope that 'new' development cooperation modalities will result in increased solution of well-being related problems in the countries that are not economically developed (DfID 2004). There are three dominant 'new' modalities, in this regard. The first is direct budget support, where development cooperation is either generally or specially directed towards the implementation of recipient country budgets. DfID is among leading donor agencies that has adopted and is promoting this approach (DfID 2004). The second, known as Sector Wide Approaches or SWAps, aim at directing development cooperation for definite sectors as opposed to projects. The third, known as basket funding, aims at pooling resources into a fund type resource for use in development sector or programmatic themes.

    This article uses the rights of orphaned children and examines whether such a hope is worthwhile. Like all children, orphaned children are vulnerable. The vulnerability of orphaned children is exacerbated by loss of parents, economic deprivation, discrimination, and mental trauma. Cursory reference to globalized human rights and development cooperation discourses might indicate that the orphaned child matters. The Convention on the Rights of the Child encompasses the orphaned child. Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention require that every child must enjoy the rights stipulated in it. Article 20 recognizes rights for the child who has permanently or temporarily been deprived of her or his family environment. Such children, which include those orphaned, according to Articles 20 and 25 are entitled to special assistance from the state, alternative care, and periodic review if alternatively placed.

    To realise such requirements, international law has, among other measures, at least since Article 55 of the U.N. Charter, insisted on cooperation between states. The increasing dominance of a "trade-related" or "market-friendly" discourse of human rights (Baxi 2002) is not centred on the enjoyment of human rights by orphaned children. In such a context, the feasibility of modalities for development cooperation need to be interrogated and judged according to the degree to which they contribute to the dignified life of vulnerable people, such as the orphaned child.

    This paper is in four parts, of which this introduction is the first. The second part notes the trends of orphanhood and increasing levels of development modalities. The third part examines the response of human rights and development cooperation discourses to debilitating orphanhood and notes that the dominant modalities for development cooperation are neither new nor legal nor responsive to the realisation of the rights of the orphanhood. The last part is the conclusion. It calls for a discourse of development cooperation based on practical realisation of human rights and correlative duties at all societal levels. A real test for any development cooperation modality, the conclusion underlines, is to make maximum contribution to the dignified life of the orphaned child.

  2. Human Rights, Development Cooperation, and Orphanhood

    Human rights and development cooperation converge on at least one broad expressed human aspiration: progressive dignified life. The preambles of global human rights instruments underline such aspirations as survival, development, peace, dignity, participation, protection, freedom, progress, equality, justice, and respect. These are human aspirations for everyone. The quality of enjoyment of these life goals is never closed. However, enjoyment of life goals such as these is supposed to be progressive. This is because the goals are based on human needs, which are dynamic.

    Dignified life signifies what every person must enjoy and how such a person should be treated. To these ends, the what and how of life, are dynamic, responding to changed conditions, aspirations, relations, and obstacles. Human rights discourses are about well-being in so far as they posit human goals, values and principles. Indeed, derivatives of the word 'right', 'righteous' and 'righteousness' capture the ideal gist of international human rights norms, one value of which is justice. In this sense, specific human rights such as food, shelter, education, and freedom of expression can be described as need-based entitlements that every human being must normally enjoy for a dignified life. Human rights principles such as universality, non-discrimination, respect for human dignity, participation, interdependence, and accountability relate to how every person must be treated and how decisions and actions must be approached and taken so that dignified life is not just preserved, but advanced. Development cooperation must comply with and promote specific human rights and principles in its contribution to the dignified life of orphaned children.

    2.1. Orphanhood Vulnerabilities and Global Divisions

    Orphanhood is often an example of an antithesis of dignified life or vulnerability (UNICEF, 2003). Indeed such is the situation in the countries most affected, such as Tanzania (Mhamba and Ndyetabula 2004; de Waal et al 2004; Chungu and Msuya 2004). Others have referred to Africa's orphaned children as 'a generation at risk.' (Foster, Levine, and Williamson 2005) or a 'lost generation' (Caruso and Cope 2006). This however needs not be the case. There exists a type of orphanhood that does not threaten individual and human development. Such is the case when biopolitical systems are adequately responsive to orphanhood. The second type of orphanhood, however, threatens individual and human development or well-being. This type of orphanhood can be described as debilitating. Viewed in this way, orphanhood is very much a social construct, constructed at particular societal levels through the failure or actions of duty bearers to prevent incidents of orphanhood, tackle its manifestations, and rehabilitate those adversely affected.

    Debilitating orphanhood results in other vulnerabilities for children. Due to the absence of parents, many orphaned children are heads of households, fending and providing for siblings. Child headed households and others affected by orphanhood, tend to be destitute. Old and often poor grandmothers are increasingly left with the responsibility of caring for orphaned grandchildren, as a result of AIDS. Many orphaned children are likely to be or work on the street. Deprived children are vulnerable to be in conflict with the law. Orphaned children are likely to be overburdened with domestic work in foster homes or suffer exploitative child labour. They are further likely to be subjected to or in especial danger of being physically and sexually abused or exploited. Many girls are forced to marry early and or to become teen mothers. Orphanhood is pervasively exacerbating global divisions between rich and poor countries.

    The debilitating incidents of orphanhood are largely experienced in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. With improved health and general quality of life, the levels and trends of orphanhood should have been decreasing (UNAIDS, UNICEF, USAID 2004). That trend has however been reversed in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. In 2003, 93 countries from Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean had 143 million orphaned children, largely because of AIDS (UNAIDS, UNICEF, and USAID 2004). The impact of AIDS is so great that between 2001 and 2003, the global number of orphaned children due to AIDS rose from 11.5 million to 15 million. Sub-Saharan Africa, hardest hit by AIDS and poverty, has the highest proportion of orphaned children, at 12.3%, 43.4 in absolute numbers. This was an increase of one third since 1990. By 2010, one in three children in the hardest hit 25 countries will be orphaned. Of these 25 countries, only one is not Sub-Saharan., with the highest country proportion in Botswana, at 20%. Although the rate for Asia is lower, at 7.3%, the region had the largest absolute number of orphans in 2003, 87.6 million (UNAIDS, UNICEF, and USAID 2004). The trends further show that not only is there disproportionate burdens on women, but that more and more female carers will die leaving orphaned children. Whilst there were more paternal orphaned children in 2000, there will be more maternal and double orphaned children by 2010. All these trends are not shared by any of the G8 and other high human development ranked countries.

    The causes of debilitating orphanhood are largely mirrored in the structural causes of underdevelopment that prevail in most Sub-Saharan Africa. The persistent immediate causes of orphanhood include HIV and AIDS and its effects (UNAIDS, UNICEF, and USAID 2004). From AIDS and other preventable diseases, parents die. Many of those who die because of having been infected by HIV contract the virus mainly because of careless sex. The result is absence of or weakened duty bearers, when parents or willing relatives are dead or unable to care for the child due to illness. Governments are still unable to facilitate adequate access to ARVs. Health systems are weak in their management of illnesses, especially opportunistic diseases. In cases where the economy is in decline, such as Zimbabwe, orphanhood can easily become a major developmental problem (Government of Zimbabwe undated; Government of Zimbabwe 2003); UNICEF-Zimbabwe 2001(a); UNICEFZimbabwe 2001(b); UNICEF-Zimbabwe 2001(c)), (Bicego, Rutstein, and Johnson 2003), (Foster et al. 1997).

    These global divisions make orphanhood one attribute that weakens Sub-Saharan Africa countries in their relationship with rich countries. . The need to counter debilitating orphanhood makes these countries vulnerable to the control of those that have resources to give. The susceptibility of many orphaned children to disease, death, illiteracy, discrimination, and exploitation entail extra state expenditure and loss in...

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