What Rwanda may gain from OECD

Last week cabinet approved plans to apply for the membership of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). This organisation was founded in 1961 to stimulate economic progress and world trade.

Under its statutory framework, OECD commits to promote policies designed to among other things achieve the highest sustainable economic growth and employment and a rising standard of living in member countries, while maintaining financial stability and contribute to the development of the world economy.

It also aims to contribute to sound economic expansion in member as well as non-member countries in the process of economic development and to contribute to the expansion of world trade on a multilateral, non-discriminatory basis in accordance with international obligations.

In a bid to achieve its core mandate, OECD created a forum in 2000 to discuss the key economic and social challenges on the international agenda.

It organises such forums to engage with policy-shapers and influencers from across all sectors from Member States to bulid network, exchange experiences, discuss initiatives and create solutions.

OECD has 36 member countries and none is from Africa. If Rwanda’s bid for membership is admitted, it will be the first African country to join the organisation. So what’s expected benefit?

In terms of policy and practice, OECD uses a flurry of approaches, namely data collection, analysis, Discussion, Decisions, implementation, and finally peer reviews (mutual examination by member states).

The organisation uses multilateral surveillance to assess the performance of an individual country.

Basing on the wealth of information on a broad range of topics, OECD helps member states foster prosperity and fight poverty through economic growth and financial stability.

It indeed helps ensure the environmental implications of economic and social development are taken into account.

In this regard, Rwanda would benefit from these critical economic and social analyses to re-shape its policies to meet the current needs.

Rwanda, in many ways, would draw lessons from OECD’s wealth of experience in crafting policies that can turn things around.

More importantly, OECD assesses prospects for member and major non-member economies, provides individual national analyses and policy recommendations, presents comparative indicators and evaluations of national performance and provides a tool for every country working on economic and policy issues.

For a dynamic and forwarding-looking country, like Rwanda, it is quite imperative to join such an organisation that has good policies designed to change lives of Member States, dubbed as ‘better lives for better lives’.

Most memorably, OECD is the brainchild of the Polluter Pays Principle (PPP). This principle was adopted in 1972 as an economic principle for allocating the costs of pollution control. In other words, PPP was designed to make the party responsible for producing pollution responsible for paying for the damage done to the natural environment, rather than being borne by State authorities.

The Polluter-Pays Principle, an important development in environmental law, requires the polluter to bear the expenses of carrying out the measures to ensure that the environment is in an acceptable state.

In other words, the cost of these measures should be reflected in the cost of goods and services which cause pollution in production and/or consumption.

The polluter pays principle underpins environmental policy such as an eco-tax, which, if enacted by government, deters and essentially reduces greenhouse gas emissions. This principle is based on the fact that as much as pollution is unavoidable, the person or industry that is responsible for the pollution must pay some money for the rehabilitation of the polluted environment.

Secondly, perhaps most importantly, OECD, in 1980, developed eight guidelines governing the protection of privacy and transborder flows of personal data, generally referred to as “OECD Privacy Guidelines”.

The development of automatic data processing, which enables vast quantities of data to be transmitted within seconds across national frontiers, and indeed across continents, has made it necessary to consider privacy protection in relation to personal data.

These principles are: Collection Limitation Principle, Data Quality Principle, Purpose Specification Principle, Use Limitation Principle, Security Safeguards Principle, Openness Principle, Individual Participation Principle, and Accountability Principle.

Moreover, the protection of privacy and individual liberties constitutes perhaps the most widely debated aspect in the current digital age.

In fact, these Guidelines have influenced significantly the national legislations on data protection and privacy across the world.

Objectives of these principles are: to achieve certain minimum standards of protection of privacy and individual liberties with regard to personal data; to reduce differences between relevant domestic rules and practices of OECD member countries to a minimum; to ensure that in protecting personal data they take into consideration the interests of other OECD Member countries and the need to avoid undue interference with flows of personal data between Member countries; to eliminate, as far as possible, reasons which might induce Member countries to restrict transborder flows of personal data because of the possible risks associated with such flows.

Indeed, OECD membership is very important given the organization’s commitment to promoting policies that can improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.

More interestingly, it provides a forum in which governments can work together to share experiences and seek solutions to common problems.

The writer is a law expert.

The views expressed in this article are of the author.