German Development Institute: Origins, Evolution and Future of Global Development Cooperation – The Role of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC)

The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) was a child of the post- World War II global settlement and celebrates its 60th birthday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, both inflection points in world history.

Since its foundation in 1961, the OECD/DAC) – nerve centre of the aid effort of the “rich” countries – has played a central role in the Post-War aid system. This book traces the history of the institution and reflects on its future. How intense diplomacy led to the creation of the OECD itself and the DAC is disclosed here for the first time. How the DAC works, how it shaped development finance by defining and measuring Official Development Assistance (ODA), and how it has pursued its founding mission to increase the volume and effectiveness of aid, are key to the story.

This study follows the three periods in the DAC’s evolution. In Part I, “Mobilising Donors and Building the Aid System”, we cover the DAC’s creation and evolution in the Cold War/decolonisation period during which it built an aid system centred on the ODA concept, as well as structures and mechanisms to monitor and review it. In Part II, “Revitalising the Aid Effort through Responsive Policy Communities”, we look at the DAC’s orientations and actions during the post-Cold War years when support for development assistance initially faltered and needed to be revitalised in the face of acute policy challenges. In Part III, “Adapting Development Cooperation to New Geopolitics and Challenges”, we address the DAC’s current adaptation to fragmentation, contestation and its own waning influence in the field of development cooperation. The “Concluding Thoughts: The DAC and the Aid System in Retrospect and Prospect” chapter draws out the dilemmas and elements of learning that can be applied to future development cooperation efforts within and beyond the DAC.

* The German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) is a multidisciplinary research, policy advice and training institute for Germany’s bilateral and multilateral development cooperation.

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