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1Public policies implemented in industrialised nations have an increasingly direct impact on developing countries. In the past two years food, financial and economic crises have highlighted this interdependence in a striking manner.

2There is ongoing debate about the decoupling of emerging and developing economies from industrial economies. In any case, vulnerable people in poor countries have been severely hit by the impact of these crises that originated in rich countries. Prices of primary commodities have fluctuated wildly with sometimes dramatic consequences in terms of food security and extreme poverty. At the same time emerging economies have continued their ascent, presenting serious challenges for the governance of global environment, finance, security and development cooperation policies.

3It is against this backdrop that the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies has decided to launch the International Development Policy Series. This new publication succeeds the Swiss Yearbook of Development Policy, published from 1981 to 2008, and continues to enjoy the support of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). It benefits from a strengthened Editorial Board, from collaboration with Anglophone and Francophone publishers and from exchanges with researchers and academic institutions in developing countries. It is published yearly, and each issue is divided into two separate parts: the first consists of a thematic dossier, while the second focuses on an annual review of major trade, financial and development cooperation policy trends.

4The ambition of this new International Development Policy Series is to become a key reference tool for policy-makers, practitioners, researchers, journalists and students interested in international cooperation and development policies. The publication intends to offer an analysis of those policy trends with significant impacts on development; each year it will also focus on a particular theme in depth. A dozen authors drawn from a variety of disciplines will contribute to each issue. The Series will facilitate exchanges between researchers from industrialised countries and those from the South by, for example, creating editorial partnerships on specific topics. Furthermore, its publication in English and in French ensures that sensitivity to both linguistic worlds is covered.

5The thematic dossier in this first issue focuses on Africa 50 years after decolonisation, since a whole range of countries in Sub-Saharan Africa achieved their independence in 1960. Africa occupies a unique place in the global landscape. On one hand, it is courted for its resource wealth; on the other, it lies at the centre of endeavours by the international community to combat poverty. At the time of independence 50 years ago the continent numbered some 250 million people, or 8% of the global population. Today the continent’s population has reached the 1 billion mark; demographers predict that this figure will double between now and 2050. One in five people will then live on the African continent. With a younger population than that of other continents, migratory movements are expected to increase.

6While we celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence, it is time to step back and analyse with hindsight to what extent Africa owes its current predicament to colonial history. Do colonial legacies and the relations with former colonial nations explain the current situation, or should these take a back seat while we focus on pre- and post-colonial history? The thematic dossier “Africa: 50 years of independence” offers comparative analyses of the paths followed by former British and French colonies. It also focuses on the emergence of development cooperation agencies in former colonial powers as well as in donor nations with no colonial history. It examines the transformations brought about by the growing presence in Africa of emerging economic powers along with the risks and opportunities engendered by the intensification of South-South relations. Finally, an African observer highlights some of the major challenges facing the continent 50 years after independence, in particular in the area of leadership.

7The International Development Policy Series also offers an annual analysis of development policies. This first issue focuses in particular on efforts to establish a “new world food order” in the aftermath of the 2007–08 food crisis. It examines the consequences and the room for manoeuvre available to developing countries in the face of the global financial and economic crisis. It also looks at the challenges and prospects of the Doha Round with regard to agriculture and the bearing of climate change on the agenda of the World Trade Organization (WTO). International development cooperation is examined through the lens of aid effectiveness and overall policy coherence.

8A scientifically rigorous publication, the International Development Policy Series is intended as a reference tool on development policy issues and aims to provide a rich variety of analyses. It also draws on the expertise of international actors based in Geneva and illuminates the policy debates and negotiations that take place in the city on issues such as trade, migration, health, human rights and the environment. It is our hope that this publication will contribute towards stimulating reflections and exchanges on development policies in years to come.

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Electronic reference

Philippe Burrin and Gilles Carbonnier, “Foreword”International Development Policy | Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 1 | 2010, Online since 09 March 2010, connection on 24 June 2021. URL:; DOI:

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About the authors

Philippe Burrin

Director, The Graduate Institute

Gilles Carbonnier

Editor-in-Chief, International Development Policy Series

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International Development Policy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

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