On 1 December 2011, the Busan Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation1 was adopted at the end of the 4th High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, held in Busan, South Korea. This Partnership opens a new chapter in a process which began almost a decade ago to address falling levels of aid and widespread weaknesses in the aid system. In contrast to its predecessors, the Partnership was negotiated with strong input from developing countries, from new donors, and from civil society. It represents a welcome break from an agenda dictated by a few large OECD donors. However, the price of inclusion is a document that offers few firm commitments and that proposes a vision of development which will disappoint many civil society activists and which spells the end of aid effectiveness as we know it.
Representatives of civil society were not involved in the early aid effectiveness summits (see box 1), and it was only at the 3rd High-Level Forum in Accra in 2008 that civil society moved from lobbying outside the conference halls to being part of the process. That inclusion has had both positive and negative consequences. Civil society coalitions and organisations now need to ask themselves where they go next.
This paper offers an overview and analysis of the process leading up to the adoption of the Busan Partnership, the perspectives that fed into the negotiations, the context in which it was played out, what was gained and lost in the final document, and the implications for civil society.