It is little more than three years since the Berlin Wall began to crumble. In that time, the political context and content of development aid to the Third World has changed rather dramatically. ‘Political conditionality’ – the tying of official aid disbursements to the quality of government (or ‘governance’) that recipients provide – has become the norm.
The idea of relating foreign aid to the type or quality of government has a long history. However, it has been applied only sporadically and inconsistently; and, in practice, it was often a matter of supporting one’s actual or potential allies in the Cold War context.