Bono and Italy

Development Policy12 Jun 2009Frans Bieckmann

There is always a lot of fuzz around Bono. People say he uses his fame in a bad, read political, way. There is a lot to say about the populist politics of VIPs, but since I saw U2 in 1981 at a big rock festival, I am a fan. Of the band, but also of his views. See, and listen to the lyrics, for example the song Bullet the blue sky, written in the mid 80s when the US backed the extreme right wing government and dead squads in El Salvador. The song struck me at that time, when I was in El Salvador and other Central American countries, but it still strikes me. With a good old Star Sprangled Banner at the start.

Anyway, whatever his views, if Bono says something, it is news. No one bothers when we put in the most recent issue of The Broker an article with the title Low scores for the chair of G8 Africa, stating that Italy has a very bad aid record and that it is not worth hosting the next G8 summit. By the way, the author of that article, Iacopo Viciani, also manages a blog about Italian aid policies

But if Bono, or even an organization associated to him, says a similar thing, everybody picks it up. See for example one of America’s most visited blogs, Huffington Post, where the annual report is quoted of ONE, an NGO founded by Bono: “Italy has said it will put Africa at the forefront of the agenda at the G-8 Summit. Based on its performance against the Gleneagles commitments, it has no credibility to host discussions of such global importance,” according to ONE.

The report even obliged several high Italian diplomats, including president Silvio Berlusconi himself, to answer the allegations and acknowledge that they lag behind, at the BBC.

Google ‘Bono One Italy Aid’ and you get a lot of hits all citing the ONE report. Which not only mentiones Italy, but also the very bad aid record of France, and says that some other countries did meet the aid commitments they made in 2005. You can of course also read the report itself.