Rich countries must not use the banking crisis as an excuse to backpedal on aid commitments, leading charities have said in advance of a Doha-hosted United Nations summit on development.
The UN conference on financing for development, which opens on Friday, was intended to be a landmark event to review progress made on the 2002 Monterrey Consensus that established key global development principles.
But top aid organisations fear rich countries may be preparing to step back from their aid and development targets because of the global economic crisis.
Sasja Bökkerink, the head of the Oxfam delegation to Doha, told Al Jazeera: "We would like to see a clear statement that the financial crisis cannot be used as an excuse to renege on aid commitments.
"If it is possible for rich countries to actually put $3 trillion on the table in a matter of weeks to save their banks ... why is it taking them more than four decades to actually reach the target of 0.7 per cent [of gross national income given in aid]?"
"If G20 heads of state can reshuffle their agendas in a matter of weeks to attend an emergency summit in Washington, they could have planned ahead to attend this one"
Nuria Molina, European Network on Debt and Development
Bökkerink said it would cost developed nations $140 billion to donate 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) each year, something she described as "a drop in the ocean" compared to the cash raised for the banks.
The 0.7 per cent target was originally set in the 1970s and is also one of eight Milleniumn Development Goals agreed in 2000.
In addition, many developed nations are not sending heads of state or government to the Doha summit, prompting concerns attendees will not have the political clout to make decisions on policy and budget commitments.
Neither the head of the World Bank nor the president of the International Monetary Fund are to attend.
'No political will'
Nuria Molina, representing the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) at the summit, said: "If heads of state of the G20 countries can reshuffle their agendas in a matter of weeks to attend an emergency summit in Washington, surely they could have planned ahead to attend this one?
"When it comes to funding for developing nations, it seems the political will isn't in place."
Molina said the absence of the World Bank and IMF heads indicates they may be "dismissing the UN-led process that ... gives a greater say to the world's poor countries".
Luca De Fraia, the head of ActionAid International's delegation in Doha, also said the "level of representation is not as high as it should be" at a time when the global economic crisis threatens to hit poor countries hard.
"Financial resources are available when there's the political will and that's an important argument that we need to build upon," he said.
An IMF spokeswoman said the fund would be represented by its deputy managing director, adding it was "deeply involved in the financing for development process".
A World Bank spokeswoman also said the bank was sending a "very strong delegation" to the summit.
"The World Bank is a huge supporter of the finance for development process, just today [Thursday] we called on donor countries to further boost aid as investment in developing countries falls off," she said.
A spokeswoman for the UN said the attendance list was still being finalised but that it expected "over 40 heads of state" to attend.