Italy promotes cooperation with developing countries and supports policies of intervention consistent with United Nations initiatives, which aim to reduce poverty and consolidate institutional structures in developing countries.
Historically, the Italian cooperative commitment in the international field began immediately after the Second World War, in the ’50s and’ 60s, with interventions in the former African colonies and in particular, under UN mandate, in Somalia. After an initial regulation of the subject (Law 38/1979), it was in the 80s that the reference legislation, still in force, for the Cooperation sector, was formulated under Law no. 49 of 1987 (“New discipline of the cooperation of Italy with the developing countries”).
In the 1990s, Italy’s contribution was partly reduced following the cuts in public spending implemented during that period, but it has in fact extended the scope of support programs, with the response to the needs deriving from the new geopolitical structure. As beneficiaries of the protection and development interventions, the Balkan countries have been joined to Africa and, in recent years, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The body which, on behalf of the Italian Government, manages the initiatives in the field of Cooperation is the Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Currently, the guidelines and general aims of the Cooperation are set within the European Union, in a multilateral context that has as its main reference the “Millennium Declaration”, the goal of halving by 2015 the number of people who they live on less than a dollar a day.
In addition to participating in EU support programs, Italy uses, as a tool to promote the economic growth of developing countries, participation in development funds supported by several countries and the direct funding of International Bodies.
In the context of bilateral projects involving Italy and the individual developing countries, the implementation of the cooperation programs involves the collaboration of the Ministry with Regions, Autonomous Provinces and other Local Authorities – coordinated by a special structure – and with Public and private institutions, universities, research centers and non-governmental organizations.
NGOs working in the field of cooperation with developing countries can access contributions for the performance of their activities or receive specific assignments financed by the General Management, only if they have the recognition of eligibility – which, according to D .Lgs. N. 29 of 3 February 1993, is assigned by decree signed by the Director General for Development Cooperation.
The recognition of eligibility can be requested for the following types of activities: implementation of short and medium-term programs in developing countries; selection, training and employment of volunteers in civil service; on-the-spot training of citizens of the developing countries.
The “suitable” NGOs can also request recognition to carry out (in Italy, EU or PVS) educational / informative initiatives or programs aimed at raising awareness and updating teachers on the issues of Cooperation.