Who's Developing Who?

The common assumption is that the rich countries of the global north, through foreign aid programs and by participating in projects like the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), are helping the less wealthy countries of the global south develop. But how true is this? 

Right now, for every $1 that is given in foreign aid to the global south, around $18 is taken out by other means, most notably rigged trade deals than benefit the most powerful countries and corporations, debt repayment on debts already paid off many times over, and massive tax evasion and other forms of corruption, committed by political and business elites north and south, and facilitated by the large and growing web of tax havens. So in the grand scheme of things, who’s actually developing who?

The answer to this question will also affect your opinion of the SDGs. They don’t have a lot to say about this dynamic, and in fact riff pretty heavily on the basic idea that it’s the north that is the generous party. They do acknowledge both the vast level of illicit finance, and that the global financial system is relevant to their project, but capture their level of concern in vague statements about the need to “enhance global macroeconomic stability” through “policy coordination”. There are no specific responsibilities for anyone, or any actual targets.