The primary purpose of ODA is to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. From the perspectives of the donor countries, however, their objectives in providing ODA are not all the same since their national agendas and objectives as well as their historical and cultural relationships with developing countries vary. There are largely three types of motives behind the provision of ODA: political and diplomatic motives, economic motives, and humanitarian motives. In recent years, the rising interdependence among countries fueled by globalization has been highlighted as one of the most important motives for ODA as well.
Political and Diplomatic Motives
ODA is affected by a myriad of factors, including defense alliances, political ideologies, historical relationships, security agendas and foreign policies. During the time of the Cold War, the west and the east were aggressive in using foreign aid as a strategic tool for spreading their respective ideologies. European countries provided development assistance to their former colonies as both compensation to and means of maintaining their influences over them. In recent years, donor countries have leveraged ODA to enhance their relationships with emerging economies and build their soft power to heighten their presences on the global stage. Since the drivers of ODA vary depending upon the donor countries’ foreign policy objectives and strategies, their partner countries as well as the types of their assistance and the targeted sectors tend to differ from one another.
Economic motives are associated with the notion that ODA can lay foundations for economic take·offs in developing countries, and may in turn contribute to expansions of market opportunities for companies in the donor countries that are looking to establish footholds in overseas markets. Since Southeast Asian countries are the destinations for a large of share of Korea’s exports, the economic aspect of ODA has gained more attention here. However, the donors’ explicit and exclusive pursuit of economic gains is not desirable in ODA, which should be used as a means of promoting shared growth between the donor and the developing countries.
Humanitarian motives originate the global moral obligation to end absolute poverty so as to help realize the universal values of mankind (e.g. human rights). The humanitarian viewpoint focuses on the fact that poverty remains prevalent despite the striking development that the world has achieved since the end of World War II. Specifically, it regards helping people in developing countries to secure basic livelihoods to lead fulfilling lives as a moral obligation to meet universal values. This view proliferated and gained prominence in the field of development cooperation after the “Pearson Report” in 1969, which propagated the term “world community.”
Interdependent Global Community Motives
In an age of hyper-connectedness, in which people and information are allowed to flow freely into and out of countries, what happens in one country is no longer confined to within its borders but can have effects that are quickly transmitted to neighboring countries and beyond. Just as environmental degradation, climate change and epidemics of disease are affecting the international community, poverty and political instability can fuel global upheavals by giving rise to terrorism or refugee crises that pose grave security threats to the world as a whole. In this changing global environment, donor countries have begun to recognize developing countries not as the recipients of their aid, but as essential economic and political partners that are inextricably linked to their own long-term prosperity and survival.
Each nation has their own ODA objectives and delivery frameworks based upon their historical, political, social and economic backgrounds. In combination of diverse motivations and purposes as explained above, these factors affect the provision of ODA across the globe. Meanwhile, the United Nations (UN) has recommended to the international community that it engage in development cooperation on the basis of the principles of humanitarianism and the interdependence of the world's countries, in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and build on the successes of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).