NGOs have called on the German development ministry to be strengthened and equipped with overarching, cross-cabinet powers so that all government services can promote human rights in development aid efforts. reports.

The relief organisations 'Terre des hommes' (Human World) and 'Welthungerhilfe' (World Hunger Aid) published their latest annual report on Tuesday (8 October), which takes a critical look at the German government's most recent development policy efforts.

The 40-page paper, 'Reality of Development Policy', calls for the new German government to change course on development policy and proposes that the German Federal Development Ministry (BMZ) be enhanced to become a “ministry for international cooperation and global sustainability”.

“The future ministry should be given a cross-Cabinet, overarching coordination function on issues of global politics, which touch on questions regarding sustainable development and human rights," the NGOs said.

According to the NGOs, the human rights inspection agency in the BMZ, the ‘Menschenrechts-TÜV’ (Human Rights Technical Inspection Association), should not be the only such agency dealing with development policy. "All the ministries, especially economic, agriculture, foreign, environmental and development ministries must move in the same direction," it argued.

"The protection of human rights and the survival of the planet, are issues common to many policy fields,” said Wolfgang Jamann, secretary-general of Welthungerhilfe.

Danuta Sacher, chairperson of the managing board of Terre des Hommes Germany, echoed the call for a more coherent German approach to development. “We cannot delegate questions concerning the responsibility of southern countries and the realisation of human rights to only one ministry, namely BMZ. Here, coherent governance from all ministries is necessary.”

Terre des Hommes expects Germany to play a more active role in negotiating the UN's future development goals, a role which Sacher says would “better fit Germany’s political and economic weight".

“Germany’s development policy is characterised by a multiplicity of qualitatively diverse sector approaches, strategies and position papers,” Sacher said, noting that development issues currently enjoyed a relatively low level of importance in the German government.

Insufficient financial resource

Irrespective of this, Sacher stressed that Germany should observe its financial commitments, including the target of providing 0.7% of its gross national income (GNI) to overseas development. The country was on course to meet just about half that target, she said.

“If our country wants to achieve this, it must gradually increase resources allocated for international cooperation by €1.5 billion per year until 2017. In the meantime, an additional €1 billion is required for international climate change financing.”

Here, the financial transaction tax (FTT) could serve as a welcome source of funds, according to Sacher. Last January, 11 EU countries decided to set up an FTT and called on the European Commission to follow France's example by allocating 10% of the revenue “to the benefit of the poorest in the world". However, it has not yet been implemented due to disagreements over how to allocate the funds.

At the same time, Sacher warned that the 0.7% target did not actually address the question of how to allocate funds and whether they supported human rights or sustainable development objectives.

“On the contrary, all the estimates thus far imply that the required level of financial transfer is much higher [to reach those objectives],” the development activist said.

“We need a fundamental re-founding of the system for public [development] financing”, Sacher concludes. This new definition, she added, should not be based on the concept of charity but should rather be founded on internationally negotiated principles like solidarity, the ‘polluter pays’ principle and shared responsibility.