Here at ONE, we hate to be negative, but it’s a sad fact that not everyone has been an angel—or kept their promises—this year.
Let’s take a look at who is on the naughty list this year…
Sweden and Japan let us down in January
After eight months of campaigning by ONE members (who are firmly on our nice list), we were eager to learn the amounts each country would commit to the GAVI vaccine alliance fund in January this year.
A whopping $7.5 billion was pledged for the next five years, which will set Gavi on a path to supporting the immunization of 300 million more children, saving 5 to 6 million more lives. But there were a couple of disappointments.
Sweden let us down by pledging just 1.5 billion SEK—less than their previous year’s commitment. However, Japan pledged a resounding zero to the fund—especially disappointing as they are hosting the G7 next year.
No thermal socks for YOU, Japan.
EU countries who have diverted aid promised to the poorest
There has been a worrying trend among EU countries in the midst of the ongoing refugee crisis that Overseas Development Aid (ODA) is being diverted to deal with this—albeit hugely important—issue. Usually key players when it comes to ODA, Sweden has stated that it will divert 30% of foreign aid to fund refugee reception. Norway will use 19.6% of its ODA budget, and whilst not committing a figure, the UK has also said it will be using foreign aid to deal with the refugee crisis.
In mid-November the Danish government decided to cut aid by 2.7 billion DKK (€362 million) compared to 2015. Of that figure, 4.4 billion DKK (€590 million) will be spent on refugees at home. This means that 29.5% of the aid budget will be spent on refugee costs in 2016 (up from 9% in 2014).
It’s absolutely right that resources to help refugees are found—and fast—but the world’s poorest must not foot the bill. Reallocating promised aid not only risks the lives of the world’s poorest, it puts past development achievements at risk.
Australia has cut its foreign aid budget
Record cuts outlined in the 2015 federal budget will see Australia’s development aid relative to income fall to the lowest levels since the creation of a formal aid program over 40 years ago. Australia’s ODA budget was cut by $1 billion this financial year and will be cut again each year until 2017-18.
It’s enough to make even Clarence the angel cry.
The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals bought the rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat those with weakened immune systems caused by illnesses like HIV. He then hiked up the price of the drug by 5,000%. After being widely criticised by medical groups, health experts and presidential hopefuls on both political sides, the 32-year-old vowed to lower the cost of the pills but did not specify what this cost would be. It has now emerged that Turing Pharmaceuticals will not lower the drug as it wouldn’t “translate into a benefit for patients” and to quote Shrkeli, attempting to appeal to our sympathies, “we need to turn a profit.”
HUMBUG, Martin. BAH HUMBUG.
Shrkeli has recently resigned as CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals and been arrested for unrelated historical “financial irregularities” during his time as a hedge-fund manager. Maybe karma has beaten us to it…
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Ministry of Defence (MoD)
These government departments ranked “poor” or “very poor” in Publish What You Fund’s last International Aid Transparency Index. We want to see the government commit to making sure all departments are rated as ‘good’ or ‘very good’ by 2020, so let’s keep a watchful eye on them and see how they fare in 2016.
U.S. oil & shell companies
The U.S. government has failed to make meaningful progress to eradicate anonymous shell companies—secretive entities that enable the crooked and corrupt to steal money from poor countries with very little chance of being caught. In addition, many U.S. oil companies are continuing their effort to weaken an important transparency law that would empower citizens to hold their governments more accountable.
HOWEVER… this year the U.S. State Department has issued its first Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) report, which aims to make the oil, gas, and mining sectors more transparent. It’s vital that we continue to lobby the U.S. government to improve on all fronts next year, so stick with us in 2016—we won’t be giving up in a hurry.
Let us know who you think the naughtiest is in the comments section below. And if this list has made you feel at all disappointed, we suggest heading over to ONE’s Nice List to read about the year’s development superstars!