The Instigator
Con (against)
35 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
0 Points

On balance, it is benificial to place political conditions on humanitarian aid.

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/28/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,732 times Debate No: 60984
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (43)
Votes (5)




After quite literally two months, this debate is actually happening so that's exciting.

A couple definitions which have been discussed with my opponent:
Political conditions- The criteria which are applied to a specific situation regarding the behavior of the government (Summarized from the SDC). To clarify, political conditions muct be actual policy changes.
Humanitarian aid- aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies (
If my opponent has any issues with these current definitions, I urge him to contact me before accepting.

The structure will be:
R1: pro's case
R2: con's case pro's rebuttal
R3: con's rebuttal pro's rebuttal and conclusion
R4: con's rebuttal and conclusion
So, I will not be arguing during this round, and my opponent will not be arguing during the last round. If my opponent posts an argument during the last round, it will result in an auto loss.


Thanks to Liz for this long awaited debate. I hope it will be a good one. I also want to provide one definition that is probably needles, but couldn't hurt anything.

Beneficial: producing good or helpful results or effects : producing benefits

I add this only because I believe that the word benefial is key in this debate.


This question has been debated over and over again throughout modern history and still has no definite answer today. This is partially because it pulls morals and “ends justifying means” into question and partially because it has a great deal of real-world importance. In this debate I will demonstrate that placing political conditions on humanitarian aid is beneficial to the party sending aid, the party receiving aid, and the world at large. Let’s examine the purpose of humanitarian aid. Aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies. The kind of humanitarian aid I will be mostly dealing with in this debate is aid given in the aftermath of emergencies caused by the government or other political organizations within a nation. This would entail any emergencies caused by political actions (non-natural disasters) such as genocide, famine crises, clean water crises, or housing crises, just to name a few. Placing political conditions on aid given in the aftermath of natural emergencies such as hurricanes or earthquakes is more of a political tool, rather than an assurance that the aid does its job and further disasters are avoided. Another important aspect of this debate to consider is that this is not a debate over justice or human rights. This is a debate over the benefit of political conditions on humanitarian aid, and this benefit must extend to both parties in regards to the aid. It must benefit the party receiving aid as well as the party sending aid.


Just as important as solving a problem is making sure the problem never occurs again. Quickly and recklessly sending humanitarian aid to corrupt regimes benefits no one but the corrupt. The disaster of that country will be averted and the current government will remain in power, prone to cause similar disasters. Political conditions can prevent this cycle. By changing the government and policies of a nation, political conditions can help make the nation receiving aid stronger; benefitting that nation, the nation or nations sending humanitarian aid, and the world at large.


Another major problem of this aid is that it is commonly commandeered by the military groups within a nation. By dropping off aid to an unprotected settlement, the humanitarian organization could be making that settlement a target for military groups seeking goods to sell for weaponry or use to sustain their armies. This would actually have a negative effect on the party receiving aid, as they would not receive the initial aid they were entitled to and be exposed to violence and theft. It would also have a negative effect on the party sending aid, as this would only harm the foreign nation and prolong whatever disaster is going on, decreasing global stability. According to a U.N. study in the New York Times(1), “as much as half the food aid sent to Somalia is diverted from needy people to a web of corrupt contractors, radical Islamist militants and local United Nations staff members.” Anothe study found a direct correlation between food aid and civil conflict.(2)This is clear evidence that humanitarian aid must be subjected to conditions lest it fall into the hands of the kind of people that cause harm to needy citizens.


It is very important to carefully consider the resolution in this debate. On balance, it is beneficial to place political conditions on humanitarian aid. The key word in the title is beneficial. The sending of humanitarian aid, or the transaction, must benefit both parties. This is why political conditions are so important. They provide a clear outline of what the party sending aid requires of the party receiving aid in order for the transaction to occur. Just like in a free market, a transaction will only occur if both parties feel that they benefit sufficiently from it. I want my opponent and the audience to remember this: even to prove that political conditions don’t benefit the party receiving the aid is not enough. Both parties must benefit. The protection of human rights or justice is not paramount in this debate. Political conditions ensure that aid has the desired effect on the receiving country.


I have demonstrated three reasons as to why political conditions must be placed on humanitarian aid to make if sufficiently beneficial for both parties involved. First, political conditions ensure that no man-made disaster is repeated by changing the policies of a country to better protect and serve its citizens. Second, the fact that aid theft benefits no one but oppressors and must be protected against by political conditions. Third, and perhaps most importantly, the truth that at least it this debate, both parties must benefit from the transaction of sending humanitarian aid.

The resolution is affirmed.

Off to Con



Debate Round No. 1


These are human beings that need the food. It's not the political system. This shouldn't be argued in a political way." - Lynn Pascoe (U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs)

Though this round is meant mainly for my constructive, but I’m going to go ahead and address a couple of the things pro brought up in his introduction. Pro explains that the humanitarian aid he will be talking about throughout the debate is aid pertaining to the actions of a government or other political organizations within a nation, rather than aid pertaining to the aftermath of natural disasters. The problem with this is that both types of disaster relief are covered by the accepted definition of humanitarian aid. Thus, this debate should cover all types of humanitarian aid. Pro is right in noting that this debate should cover both the wellbeing of the donor country and the recipient country during the exchange of humanitarian aid. Of course, NGO’s can also be taken into account since they often provide humanitarian aid. Pro should be expected to show that political conditions benifit both the donor and the recipient in most cases in order to win this debate. One last thing to remember is that conditionality and political conditionality are two very different things. Political conditions are policy changes, whereas conditional aid pertains to what ought to be done with the aid. I shall now present my case.

C1) Inneffective Conditions
A: Conditions that are not accepted.
Countries in need of humanitarian aid generally have a substantial ammount of corruption. This means that there is a high chance political conditions attempting to promote good governance within a corrupt regime will not be accepted. For example, during a food crisis taking place in 2010, North Korea declared they would not abandon their nuclear weapons program. This caused many countries to start denying aid and pushing for political conditions. This caused more harm than good to the poorer individuals in North Korea; of course, as with most corrupt areas, the citizens had no say in the actions of their government, meaning that in places like North Korea (where aid is denied), people are punished for the actions of their government. (1)
B: Conditions that are not followed.
This is the most common problem, and it’s consequences are fairly obvious. African Online Journals states, “Despite conditions not having been met in the past, Western aid to Africa has been kept running, which renders conditionality ineffective.” (1) In this case the countries were fortunate to not have their aid completely cut off. Gordon Crawford emphasizes that 18 out of every 29 country cases (62 percent) are unable to actually meet political conditions donors place on aid. In many of these cases, aid is either reduced, or suspended. In Haiti’s devastating earthquake of 2010, Haiti suffered from aid suspensions and reductions because conditions were not met. (3) The National Academy of Public Administration notes, “Aid suspensions or deep reductions to force accountability were highly problematic in Haiti.” (4) Afghanistan also dealt with this issue. Aid was denied to Afghanistan due to the choices of the Taliban. Curtis said, “The net impact has been the restriction of the right to humanitarian assistance and the inability of the international assistance community to adequately address short-term life saving needs (5).”
Through these points, it is clear that more often than not, conditions are either not accepted or not followed due to corruption. Pro’s impacts pertaining to the promotion of good governance in countries with corrupt regimes can only stand if he first shows examples where political conditions are accepted and followed.

C2) Wellbeing of the Donor
Pro seems to agree that the wellbeing of both parties should be taken into account when looking at humanitarian aid. I would agree with this, and I will show why such conditions actually hurt the donor country. Smith of Beyond Intractability states, “Conditionality is often resented as an invasion of sovereignty, and can backfire on the sender.” (6) Even if the political conditions are set with good intentions, they can seriously cause problems for the donor. In the case of North Korea mentioned earlier, tensions between North Korea and the United States became significantly worse once the aid was refused because North Korea believed that the political conditions were infringing on their autonomy. Oxfam notes that “work that has primarily political or military objectives should not be designated as ‘humanitarian’, because of the risk that one side of a conflict will see it, and potentially all other relief, as part of a military strategy, and take action against it.” (7) When humanitarian aid is combined with political objectives, conflict arises which negatively impacts not just the recipient, but also the donor. Mold states “Donors insisting on policy conditions may soon find themselves sidelined - many developing countries are finding alternative official and private sources of finance that come with fewer strings attached.” (8) Here it is obvious that political conditions will result in loss of credibility for the donor. Also, look to the wellbeing of NGO’s (non government organizations). Daniel Chong explains, “NGO’s generally have less leverage, are insufficiently co-ordinated, and take more responsibility for protecting the most vunerable populations in a conflict. Therefore, attaching conditions to their aid is more problematic.” (9)
Here we see that three negative things that can happen to the donor through the promotion of political conditions. Firstly, the donor has to deal with conflict due to the percieved invasion of soverignty. Secondly, the donor loses credibility which ultimately negatively impacts diplomatic relations. Thirdly, NGO’s will be less equipped to protect the more vunerable populations during a crisis, as well as being impacted by the harms pertaining to humanitarian aid from a government. Since pro has the burden of proof, he must provide evidence that shows (on balance) that the donor country actually benifits from attatching political conditions.

C3) Quality of the Aid
The last thing that shows political conditions are not benificial is the lower quality aid caused directly by political conditions. OECD Secretary Gerald Donald Johnston states, “Untying aid, by restoring the choice to impoverished recipient countries would increase the value of the aid, remove a distortion to world commerce and enhance the dignity of the aid process that has been sullied by the mercantilist attitudes of some in the developed world.” (10) Even if the recipient country successfully follows the political conditions, it must be taken into account that the quality of the aid is being put in jeopardy through the political conditions. Several political conditions force the recipient country to only buy products from the donor country. The recipient country is now required to purchase pricey imports from the donor country instead of using cheaper options to obtain products; as IPS states, the value of the aid can be cut by 25 to 40 percent (11). In addition to this issue, Alastair states, “The amount of aid given and to whom it is given are both consistent with the decisions expected from political leaders who are motivated to enhance their political survival.” (12) Essentially, with political conditions, the aid is based on political survival and not what would actually be successful.

I have shown that both the donor and the recipient are ultimately harmed by political conditions. Donors will suffer from conflict, loss of credibility, and inability to give quality aid. The recipient will ultimately recieve lower quality aid (or no aid at all). Since conditions are not always accepted, how can pro’s ideas of the promotion of good governance stand? If conditions are mostly not accepted / not followed, it is pointess to try alleviate corruption through the form of short term aid, given the negative impacts it has on both the donor and the recipient.
The resolution has been negated.
Good luck Malacoda; I am looking forward to your arguments.
(3)Crawford, Gordon, “Foreign Aid and Political Conditionality: Issues of Effectiveness and Consistency.”
(5)Curtis, Devon. “Politics and Humanitarian Aid: Debates, Dilemmas, and Dissension: Humanitarian Policy Group”
(9)Chong, Daniel “UNTAC in Cambodia: A new Model for Humanitarian Aid in Failed States?”
(11)Shah, Anup. “Foreign Aid for Various Forms of Assistance”
(12)Bueno de Mesquita, Bruce. Smith, Alastair. “A Political Economy of Aid.”


Thanks for the arguments Con. I'll stick mostly with rebuttals this round and reinforce my argument somewhat as well.


While it is true that humanitarian aid can also be aid given after natural disasters, political conditions are not usually necessary for that kind of aid because the disaster had little to do with the nation's government, therefore policy conditions would not improve the situation. However, if the government of a nation caused its citizens to have poor living conditions and that is what amplified the natural disaster, then that would fit into what I am debating for. I would also like to point out that, as this most closely resembles a PF debate, the burden of proof is shared equally. As stated in this guide to PF debating, "there is no presumption or burden of proof in Public Forum Debate. The pro side wishes to convince the audience that the topic should be adopted; the con side wishes to convince the audience that the proposition should be rejected."(1)So my opponent must also work to convince the voters that political conditions are not beneficial.

Conditions that are not accepted
While it may be true that in some cases citizens suffer due to their corrupt regimes not accepting conditions, providing aid to foreign countries without political conditions can sustain and strengthen them. Take the example my opponent used. It is well known now that North Korea is very hostile to the U.S. and even made several, albeit weak, attempts to bomb the U.S. So, it was in the best interest of the world at large and especially the U.S. to do everything possible to dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. Is it really beneficial for the U.S. to aid a country that would in the future threaten to attack the U.S. with a nuclear bomb? Of course not.

Conditions that are not followed
This may be a problem, but it is a problem that must be allowed to persist. It certain conditions are not fulfilled, then the party sending humanitarian aid is not benefited properly, therefore aid should not necessarily be sent. Just because some countries are too stubborn and short-sighted to accept political conditions on humanitarian aid doesn't mean that the system should be forsaken. Also, it is quite possible that some political conditions are unreasonable or impossible to quickly accomplish. Again, just because the political conditions are flawed doesn't mean that the system is. Reasonable and achievable political goals must be set. Also, regarding my opponents example of disastrous aid in Haiti, I would like to point out that humanitarian aid to Haiti was not actually suspended. "The Bush Administration (1989-1993), and other nations at Aristides insistence, embargoed,then blockaded Haiti, suspending all but humanitarian aid."(2)The political conditions were placed on developmental aid, not humanitarian aid, which is a completely different debate.

Well being of the Donor
Once again, my opponent's many sources may appear impressive, but most of them lack substance or even lean in my favor. My opponents first source in this section speaks if referring mainly to political conditions that do not properly take into account local politics. Of course if the political conditions are flawed then the outcome will be flawed. Source two in this section refers to "work that has primarily political or military objectives" (3)As I have already shown, the political conditions placed on humanitarian aid have more to do with the well being of the recipient than the donor. They can be used to prevent aid going to military organizations or corrupt officials and prevent supporting corrupt regimes. One could hardly consider that work to have a primarily political objective. Source three in this section has several problems."For a start, donors have not been consistent in applying conditions." (4)That is obviously a failure of properly applying conditions not of political conditions themselves."They have often been criticized for ignoring local contexts when negotiating policy priorities." (4)Again, a failure of properly applying political conditions. Reasonable and achievable political conditions are the only valid ones. "Donors are right to insist on transparency and good fiduciary practices to guard against the embezzlement of aid monies.Similarly, they should expect aid recipient countries to adhere to international human rights standards. Finally,they are entitled to a degree of quality assurance:without development results to show for their aid, OECD-based taxpayers will withdraw their support for aid programs." (4) These sure sound like political conditions to me. Adhering to human rights standards, insisting on transparency, and being entitled to quality assurance. How could all of these objectives be accomplished by the recipient country without policy changes? If anything, the sources in this round benefit me and provide more validity to my case.

Quality of the Aid
Again, my opponents sources continue to be about developmental aid rather than humanitarian aid. "What is official development aid and how much is untied?"(5)That is literally the heading to one of my opponents sources. This is not relevant to the debate at hand. And even if it was, it still isn't hard to rebut this contention. If the political conditions on developmental aid involve trade agreements, then so be it. The recipient country is being given short term money to stimulate their economy and the country sending aid is receiving a reliable, long-term trading partner. I see no problem with this type of transaction. This might apply in Con's favor in a debate over justice, but this debate is over benefit. Even so, these arguments are all pretty much irrelevant because this debate is over humanitarian aid, not developmental aid.


Although I did not provide an actual section of text this round strengthening my argument, my rebuttals and many of my opponent's sources have done this for me. I have negated Con's claims and bolstered my own. And I do not have the sole BOP in this debate, so keep that in mind during further rounds.

Thanks for the arguments Liz, and I'm sorry, but there is only room for one Kevin G on this site. And I must insist that I am him.

Debate Round No. 2


I'll begin by attacking my opponents case, and then move on to rebuild my own.

My opponent insists that we operate under as shared BoP since this resolution is similar to a PF resolution. Really, one of the biggest problems in PF is the idea of a shared BoP, as well as the idea that con can speak first. If this indeed was a PF debate, I would have specified in R1. I believe the best action is to leave it up to the voters to decide who has the BoP.

Pro's Case

Political conditions ensure that the disaster will not be repeated.
It is pretty obvious that pro is talking about disasters caused by corrupt governments, rather than natural disasters. Recognize that humanitarian aid needed after natural disasters is relevant to this debate, and that this point obviously cannot solve for scenarios such as earthquakes and hurricanes. When evaluating this point, first look to the purpose of humanitarian aid. Humanitarian aid is a short term type of aid, unlike developmental aid. After the aid goes away, there is nothing to make the country continue to follow the political conditions previously placed on the aid. This means that even if a country were to accept the political conditions attached to their aid, once the aid goes away, the government may go back to its corrupt ways. Given the levels of corruption that countries in need of humanitarian aid have, this scenario is probable. Another likely problem that will cause political conditions to be virtually useless is their low acceptance rate. As I showed in my constructive, less than half of all countries actually follow political conditions attached to their humanitarian aid, and this statistic doesn't even answer for countries who don't accept such conditions. For pro's point to stand, he must show examples of political conditions legitimately stopping such disasters from being repeated, or prove that political conditions are usually accepted and followed for a substantial amount of time.

Pro begins by citing an article about stolen food aid in Somalia, assuming that political conditionality will fix this problem. Observe that this article is an example of nonunique evidence because it doesn't include any information relevant to this specific topic. Allow me to clarify; firstly, the article doesn't say whether this aid had political conditions attached to it or not. Pro makes a mistake by assuming that (a) political conditions don't exist in this situation and (b) political conditions will solve this problem. Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid is within the status quo, so it is likely that political conditions were placed on the aid, but the problem still continued to persist. Moreover, the article doesn't mention political conditions in it's list of potential solutions. Rather, the article notes that the problem stems from Somalia's military chief, as well as the flaws in the world food program. Even if this aid was unconditional, there is no way to ensure that political conditions will help, given the corruption in Somalia. Pro's second source has the exact same problem. Indeed, pro is correct in saying that this source shows a correlation between food aid and conflict, but the article presented (like the one before) says nothing to suggest that political conditions will solve this problem, rather the article suggests that countries be more selective about who they give aid to, which has nothing to do with political conditions. To put this in the form of a question: Is it really likely that countries with corrupt regimes that cause food aid to go to places it's not supposed to will accept and follow political conditions promoting good governance? I would think not.

Both parties must benefit.
I totally agree with the point pro is trying to make here, but pro provides no reasons behind the idea that political conditions actually help the donor, whereas I have provided multiple reasons as to why the donor is actually harmed when such conditions are added. Conditionality of a political nature causes conflict, loss of credibility (thus loss of diplomatic relations), and gives NGO's less leverage. Pro must prove that political conditionality has legitimate benefits for this point to mean anything.

My Case

Ineffective Conditions

-Conditions that are not accepted:
Pro explains that sending unconditional aid to North Korea in it's hostile state would be a bad idea. Perhaps sending aid is not the best plan of action, but if aid is going to be sent, it would be better for the aid to have no political conditions. When a donor attaches conditions of the nature that I explained in my constructive, the donor loses all neutrality and actually makes tensions worse. I got into this a bit more in my second contention by explaining how tensions between America and North Korea became worse after the conditions because their government perceived the conditions as an invasion of sovereignty. North Korea is a corrupt regime that oppresses it's citizens; obviously they won't accept political conditions that try to promote a kind of governance that they don't want, just so their citizens get more aid. There is really no point of trying to attach conditions to aid in a situation like that, given that (a) they won't be accepted and (b) they will cause conflict.

-Conditions that are not followed: Pro starts out by conceding that this is a problem, saying that it must be allowed to persist. Note that this causes his impacts about the promotion of good governance insuring that political disasters don't happen again ultimately cannot stand. Every donor has a different idea of what political conditions are "reasonable and achievable" and in a corrupt regime, conditions won't be ignored because they can't be achieved, but rather because the government in such a country doesn't want to achieve them. So, even if conditions are set with good intentions, there is not way to ensure that the recipient will want to follow them, or will perceive them as "good." Pro explains that my brief pertaining to aid in Haiti only covers political conditionality on developmental aid. To quote another area of the document, "Aid then continued to be ineffective as a result of.... inappropriate conditionality (2)." Recognize that this part pertaining to the flaws of the donors is talking about both developmental and humanitarian aid. However, if you as a reader, do buy my opponent's criticisms of my source, look to my examples of aid in West Africa and Afghanistan. Remember that political conditions are not followed over 50% of the time, making them pointless and counter productive, given their obvious consequences.

Well being of the Donor
Let's look back at the accepted definition of political conditions: "The criteria which are applied to a specific situation regarding the behavior of the government" As a judge, don't take pro's claim that political conditions promoting "bad" governance or political conditions made to benefit the donor aren't real political conditions because they must be taken into consideration under the definition I have provided. Remember that political conditions have to be policy changes, which my opponent has also agreed to; things like requesting a recipient to be transparent are not examples of specifically political conditionality. If you as a reader, don't buy this, look again to the unlikliness of such a condition being accepted. To further this idea of conditions promoting good governance being a negative thing, observe that the political conditions placed on the humanitarian aid to North Korea weren't necessarily bad conditions; however, they were perceived as an invasion of sovereignty, thus causing more conflict. Of course, even if the proposed political conditions are promoting something that would ultimately help the recipient, attaching them is still harmful because it's not about how the donor views the conditions, it's about how the recipient views them. Donors have no real way of knowing how recipient's government will react to proposed political conditions, even when taking local politics into account. Pro's examples of good political conditions don't matter because he gives no empirical evidence to promote the idea that such conditions would be accepted or followed, and that such conditions would benefit the donor as well as the recipient. Looking at the idea of loss of credibility, it can be observed even with legitimate conditions (which do not necessarily have to be consistently applied) the donor will lose credibility because of the low acceptance rate pertaining to all conditions, as well as the lower quality aid (which I will address later) pertaining to the recipient. While it may not seem bad for the donor to be sidelined, this will decrease diplomatic relations for the donor which is obviously harmful. I'll go ahead and extend the idea of NGO's being harmed the most, as my opponent never adequately addressed this.

Quality of Aid
Pro explains that my first source is invalid because it deals with developmental aid. While I agree that developmental aid and conditionality is a different debate, the evidence I cited deals with the benefits of untying aid in terms of increasing the aid value and adding dignity to the process which pertains to both developmental and humanitarian aid. The aid value is clearly decreased with things such as trade concessions, which pro seems to agree with. The problem is that pro doesn't see this decrease in aid quality as something that pertains to a debate about benefits. My IPS card elaborates that in Guatemala, trade concessions literally decreased the aid quality by 90% (11). Political conditions often allow for similar behavior in perhaps less severe forms. Even if you buy pro's argument that this cut in the value of aid pertains more to justice than benefit when talking about the recipient, note that the recipient will likely retaliate, causing the conflict I have discussed throughout my whole argument.

The res has been negated.


I'm fine with leaving the BOP in the air, but I want voters to realize that just because in most debates you see on this site Pro has the BOP doesn't mean that Pro always has or should have the BOP. In a topic such as this one, it is perfectly reasonable to share the BOP.


I would first like to point out that I included most natural disaster situations in my previous round by saying that if the natural disaster was amplified by the government in some way then that situation would fit under my argument. Con's argument that once humanitarian aid is no longer needed the government would revert back to corruption is untrue and far too simplistic. The point of political conditions is to enact real change, not superficial ones. Short-term humanitarian aid is usually followed up by developmental aid, so if the country wants to actually right its ship, it will have to follow conditions for the long term. My opponent has asked me multiple times to present countries that have benefited from humanitarian aid and political conditions. This is reasonable, however, the examples are too numerous too count. A majority of countries that receive aid from the U.S. are benefited. A few examples include the Philippines, Niger, and Yemen. These countries received U.S. with political conditions and have benefited from it greatly. The conditions changed and reformed governments and stopped future disasters from occurring.


The point I was trying to prove with this article was that food aid theft was a serious problem. That point I proved beyond a doubt. Con has to solution to this problem, while I do. Political conditions could involve not sending aid to countries where aid theft could be a threat. To answer Con's question of:Is it really likely that countries with corrupt regimes that cause food aid to go to places it's not supposed to will accept and follow political conditions promoting good governance?No, it is definitely not likely. However, is it really a good idea to send food aid to countries where it is most likely to be stolen? The answer is again, definitely not. Con has not addressed this fact. Sending food aid to corrupt countries such as this will only prolong conflict, which is beneficial to absolutely no one and even has a negative effect.

While I am glad that Con agrees with me on this, Con is completely wrong in her claim that I provide no reasons as to why political conditions help the donor. Go back and reread my argument. I clearly provide reasoning behind my claim. Think of it as a sort of global market. One country needs humanitarian aid. Another country has the means to provide that needed aid. In a debate over justice, the country with the means might be forced by the laws of justice and humanity to provide with no benefit back to themselves. However, that is not what this debate is. This debate is over benefit. So, in other words, the country with the means must receive something back from the country with the need. This can be many things. It can be trading agreements, changes in regime, or even changes in form of government. One of America's requirements before sending humanitarian aid is that the government or country that the aid is being sent to is not in control via a military coup. Therefore, if that country wanted to receive aid, it would need to restore the original government or institute a new, fair government. This is where Con's case falters. She shows no benefit to the sender of aid. Rather, she attempts to disprove my claims, which is, depending upon the interpretation of the BOP, not necessarily enough.

Con's Case: Final Rebuttal

Con claims that political conditions, in this one case, failed because they made the regime feel threatened and lashed out at the U.S. because of this. This could be a result of two things. First, because Con didn't include any information as to what kind of political conditions were placed on North Korea's aid, the political conditions in this case may of been unreasonable and impossible to fulfill, causing the U.S. to lose credibility. The second, and probably more likely, reason the North Korea felt threatened is because they have a terribly corrupt government and are afraid of changing to a democratic system. Con's suggestion in this situation would be to send aid despite the corruptness of the government. However, I have shown the grand problems of doing this in my case. My suggestion would be to attempt to coax North Korea to better policies with political conditions. If North Korea's government is stubborn and corrupt, they will not accept the conditions. This is inevitable, but acceptable. At least in this case, humanitarian aid won't be stolen or prop-up the current government. Plus, if aid is sent that has no effect on the stability of the country or some other possible benefit, it would not fit the requirements of this debate.

I don't understand why what I said causes my "impacts about the promotion of good governance insuring that political disaster don't happen again" to fall. Con should explain that correlation in greater detail next round. Of course in an extremely corrupt regime, even reasonable conditions won't be followed, but this is better than sending aid to those same extremely corrupt regimes that will use it to prop-up their current government. Also, a person should definitely buy my criticisms of the source because they are entirely accurate. The article refers to developmental aid, not humanitarian aid. Unless my opponent claims that this whole debate could be cross-applied to developmental aid, the source is invalid. To address my opponents other examples, I would say this. Con's Africa example was mainly criticizing western aid that kept flowing to Africa despite conditions not being accepted. This is not a problem with political conditions, but with upholding them. Also, this source recommends a sort of trade agreement between the sending and receiving country, which sounds very similar to some of my points on mutual benefit. My opponents second example would fit right into the case I've been making this whole debate. Sending aid to unstable regions without political conditions only results in aid theft and increased conflict, which Con has not been able to disprove.

Con claims that I said that political conditions that promote bad governance or benefit the donor aren't real political conditions. I do not think that I claimed this at all. I claimed the political conditions can cause harm or conflict if they are unreasonable. I don't think I ever called them unreal. The thing is, is the political conditions are flawed, of course the results are going to be flawed. Con needs to focus on finding examples of reasonable political conditions causing harm. In addition, I never, or at least never meant, to discount political conditions that benefit the donor. All political conditions should do this, at least in this debate over benefit. To address the rest of this argument, I will reiterate the following. While a perceived invasion of sovereignty can cause harm, aid theft and unbridled aid causes even more harm. I won't go into great detail on this again, but reread my previous arguments again if you are unclear. I have now provided several examples of standard political conditions on aid succeeding as well, so my opponent can no longer use the empirical argument against me. To address Con's NGO point, I will use pretty much the same reasoning. It can only be assumed that these NGOs are humanitarian in nature because they wouldn't exactly benefit from diplomatic benefits. However, if these organizations truly want to promote peace and stability in the world, they should also avoid sending aid to dangerous regions. It will only worsen conflict, as I have shown in previous arguments.

I see no real reason why political conditions have to decrease the value of aid, but even if they do, it is better than the alternative. Humanitarian aid without political conditions is subject to theft and can increase conflict. Unconditional aid is also greatly devalued by these factors. I have already addressed my opponents points on retaliation of the recipient of aid, so I will not do so again.

I do believe the resolution has been affirmed.

Really fun debate Liz, we should do it again sometime. Thanks to anyone who has followed this or is reading it now and please vote (Uchiha, this means you!) I'm a novice debater and I may very well suck, so if anyone has any tips on how to improve my debating skill, please message me or comment. I could use as much input as I can get.

Vote Pro
Debate Round No. 3


A big thank you to Luke for doing this debate with me; I really enjoyed it. I'll do a brief rebuttal pertaining to my case as well as pro's. Hopefully, there will be room for a conclusion.

Pro's Case

Ensuring disaster will not be repeated:
Pro explains that my argument pertaining to political conditionality not being followed long term is too simplistic; political conditions enact real change. Simply look at my Gordon Crawford evidence in my constructive. In over 50% of all country cases, political conditions are not followed during the time period that humanitarian aid is given. Given this evidence, it is very logical to predict that such conditions will stop being followed after the humanitarian aid goes away. Even if humanitarian aid is followed by conditional developmental aid, causing the country to ultimately achieve good governance as pro claims often happens, look to the fact that the conditions actually making a difference would be the conditions attached to the developmental aid, not the humanitarian aid. Pro provides a couple country examples where corrupt countries have apparently benefited from political conditionality. The problem with the examples is that they are unsourced, meaning that the voters and myself have no way of knowing what specific political conditions were placed on the aid and what crisis the aid was given for. The strongest reason to ignore these examples is that Philippines, Niger, and Yemen are all highly corrupt. Looking at the corruption perceptions index, it is apparent that all these countries score below a 36 on a scale of 1 to 100 (1 being the most corrupt), Yemen being the most corrupt in the world (1). Therefore, it is fair to conclude that political conditionality certainly hasn't resulted in good governance in any of those countries.

I should note that I accept pro's idea of food aid theft being a legitimate problem; the reason his argument doesn't hold up is that he hasn't shown political conditions are a viable solution to the problem. Pro even concedes that such countries that suffer from a problem like that are unlikely to accept political conditions. Pro ends by making a claim that perhaps *not* sending aid to a country battling food aid theft could be considered a political condition. This is certainly not the case given that political conditions are policy changes the recipient is asked to make. What the resolution is asking is whether or not political conditions should be attached when humanitarian aid is given. If a donor were to decide to give food aid to a country with large levels of corruption (which certainly isn't something they would always have to do in the affirmative world), it would be better to leave the political conditions off of the aid due to the multiple reasons I have provided pertaining to the donor and aid quality.

Donor must benefit:
Pro's idea that I have not shown benefit to aid without political conditionality, but only attempted to disprove his claims is not true. The benefits to taking away such conditions are less conflict, better diplomatic relations, more donor credibility, and stronger NGO's. If a donor was making a condition with the intention to benefit itself, there is a high chance it wouldn't be accepted so the idea of a humanitarian aid being compared to a global market is a bit ridiculous. Really, the only type of political conditionality that could be assumed to help the donor is trade concessions. However, even this type of political conditions will not benefit anyone because trade concessions can severely harm the recipient and the retaliation of the recipient will harm the donor. Lastly, I will note that it is almost impossible to expect a country to form a "new fair government" in attempt to receive aid. If countries currently cannot follow small forms of political conditions, there is no way they would ever agree to institute something the donor considers to be "good governance."

My Case

Ineffective Conditions:
Conditions not accepted: To elaborate on my North Korea example a little bit: the political conditions were asking North Korea to abandon their nuclear weapons program. My suggestion would not necessarily be to send unconditional aid, nor does taking the affirmative require me to take that position. I am simply saying that every donor faces three choices: political conditions, no political conditions, and no aid. I am arguing that the first option is not beneficial. My opponent's suggestion of simply not sending aid can actually be turned over to my side because the affirmative position does not advocate for the sending of humanitarian aid in every situation. Looking back on the North Korea situation, obviously not sending aid is a viable option. Remember that sending no aid whatsoever is not a political condition. However, if aid were to be sent, is must be sent without political conditions if it is to cause more benefit than harm.
Conditions not followed: What causes pro's impacts pertaining to the promotion of good governance in countries to fall is his concession that political conditions are often not followed. If such conditions are not followed, how can a recipient achieve good governance long-term? Looking at my source on Haiti, remember that the section I quoted in R3 was about both developmental and humanitarian aid. Pro criticizes my West Africa example saying that this is not a problem with political conditions, but a problem with upholding them. Recognize that even if pro is correct in saying that the only occurring problem is political conditions, this is enough to negate his case because without such conditions being accepted, pro cannot solve for anything. Pro continually harps on the idea that conditionality is going to fix problems like the one in Afghanistan, yet again, sending conditions that wont be accepted or followed to a country is legitimately worse than sending unconditional aid. I'd also like to cross apply what I said in response to pro's theft contention where I talked about exactly what it means to affirm/negate this resolution.

Well being of the Donor:
Pro explains that while abusive political conditionality is still conditionality, my examples must reflect legitimately good political conditions causing harm. Look to the fact that a lot of my examples are of good political conditions. The political conditions on aid to Afghanistan were good, but they were not followed, raising tensions. The political conditions placed on the aid to North Korea were good, but they were not even accepted, again raising tensions. Remember that my Smith card is referring to all types of political conditions, not just ones that could be considered abusive. Again pro brings up this idea of no aid being preferable to aid without political conditions. This is not what the resolution is about.

Quality of Aid
Pro basically drops this point by talking about how this doesn't matter since he has shown that political conditions lessen theft and conflict. First, look to my point above about well being of the donor and remember my North Korea example. Conflict is significantly worsened by political conditions because donors give up their neutrality the moment the propose conditions of a political nature. Also, pro hasn't yet shown that political conditions are a viable solution for theft because he has provided no empirical evidence that shows political conditions lessening this form of corruption. Even if you as a voter don't buy this, recognize that pro has basically dropped the idea of lower quality aid. Conditionality like trade concessions lowers aid value by huge amounts, ultimately taking away from the benefit of the recipient.

When voting, take these points into consideration.
1. My opponent may be able to show that political conditions are made with the intention of benefiting the donor and recipient, but if they are not accepted and followed, none of that matter. Less than 50% of all political conditions are followed (and this doesn't even begin to talk about the amount that aren't accepted).
2. Political conditions, whether effective or not, can be perceived as an invasion of sovereignty. This causes my opponent's point on conflict to fall because it is decreased when the resolution is negated since the donors become neutral.
3. The perceived invasion of sovereignty ultimately causes loss of credibility. This extends further when looking at the impact on diplomatic relations.
4. NGO's have less leverage, making political conditionality more dangerous for them.
5. Specifically looking at the benefit of the recipient, untying aid is going to make the aid worth more, since conditions such as trade concessions severely decrease aid value.

The resolution has been negated. Vote con.


No round as agreed upon.
Debate Round No. 4
43 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Malacoda 2 years ago
Also, I think the lines between humanitarian aid and developmental aid were pretty blurred by both my opponent and I. Most sources and even our arguments didn't provide clear distinctions.
Posted by Malacoda 2 years ago
By the way iamanatheist, the debate made to include all types of humanitarian aid, government and NGO.
Posted by Malacoda 2 years ago
Thanks for these great RFDs everyone. I am definitely picking up a lot of stuff that I will carry into future debates. One question YYW. Why do you think that it is not necessary for both parties to benefit? I thought that that was a pretty key area of the debate. I think that the resolution clearly demands benefit for both sides.
Posted by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 2 years ago
General comments:

I agree that BOP should be shared in this debate. This is something that should have been hashed out before the debate started. So both Pro and Con leaving up to the voters was very admirable.

I was confused as to whether this debate included both types of aid givers i.e. governments or NGOs and governments. Essentially NGOs cannot place restrictions of politics on a country, so I have to think its only governmental. Regardless this does not effect my decision. Partly also maybe I am just being dumb.

Pros case relies heavily on developmental aid coming after humanitarian aid and as such the debate is literally lost in this sense. As there is no way to enforce what Pro is suggesting. While I agree with what Pro is saying, a stronger position was needed or the debate proposition needed to include developmental aid. However, this is not the proposition and so the win lies clearly with Con.

I will add here for Pros benefit. The following is a point you should have hit hard on. I don't believes Con position that not sending aid should count as a non-political condition on humanitarian aid. Non-political would be send aid regardless of the situation. I do not think this would have won the debate for you, as really it was a difficult resolution to defend, but it would have made things more interesting and maybe a lot closer as both side would have been having to do damage control.
Posted by debatability 2 years ago
@YYW what you said about tag lines was interesting; i've never heard that before. the way i made my latest case had one word contention titles, which i prefered to a full sentence. is that what you are advocating for?
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
Part 6) (Rounds 4-5)

It is very often that in debates, the winner is sealed -absent some catastrophic upending- by the penultimate round. This was the case, here. Debate had clearly won, at that time. The reason for this is very straightforward:

1. Even if conditions are placed with the best of intentions, they do not do what they purport to do.
2. Political conditions result in some bad things, which CON articulated sufficiently. (The mention of sovereignty was off place here, but it was off place with both debaters so neither benefited from or suffered a loss from it)
3. Aid that is not conditional does more and better things than aid that is conditional, as is sufficiently shown by CON's case and her rebuttals.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
Part 5) (re: round 3)

A brief word about BOP's. When resolutions are normative (that is, they ask opinion questions) the BOP is always shared/equal/equivalent/whatever because to do otherwise is to unduly advantage one position at another's expense. BOP's are zero-sum, in that sense. If we were entertaining a question of fact, that would be different -but we're not. We're talking about subjective perspectives, and no opinion may be justifiably favored over the other, even if one opinion is the status quo. Edmund Burke's fiction that the status quo is self justifying does not apply in the world of debate.

I kind of laughed when CON said "For pro's point to stand, he must show examples of political conditions legitimately stopping such disasters from being repeated, or prove that political conditions are usually accepted and followed for a substantial amount of time." because indeed, that is the case -and there is no possibility that acts of God may be averted by the imposition of political conditions. Aid may be less likely to be squandered if it's conditional, but, generally... that was amusing.

Regarding the "theft" point, CON encounters some problems: assuming that there were conditions placed on aid, absent evidence, is not good. However, it is true that PRO offered no indication of how conditions would have prevented aid from being appropriated in Somalia, or in any other example.

CON reconstructs her case (first and second contentions) with little difficulty, and finally ads some substance to her third contention.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
PRO opens his rebuttal that "foreign countries without political conditions can sustain and strengthen them." That sounded like it had a lot of potential, but it ultimately was a warrantless claim. Here, PRO could have talked about how giving aid to North Korea would have compromised US interests by (1) showing how it would strengthen North Korea, (2) talking about the impact that might have had to Chinese relations, (3) discussed the conflicting message that non-conditional aid would give North Korea with regard to its nuclear program, or (4) anything else. But, he didn't do that. He just made a claim, with no warrant.

PRO's attempt to draw a distinction between developmental and humanitarian aid didn't cut it, either. The two are conceptually different, but not mutually exclusive. Even still, he's got to show, how the 'reasonable policy goals' he wants can be achieved with conditional aid -especially given CON's evidence that conditionality is ineffective to that end.

PRO likewise attempts to talk about different kinds of conditions that can be placed on aid, but he doesn't clearly distinguish between them. CON's point still carries, because PRO doesn't explain what makes a condition "Reasonable and achievable."

The quality of aid point is irritating me, at this point.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
Part 3)

CON's second contention was very compelling. Aside from her employment of tag lines (which I assume is because that's what her coach taught her -a tragic mistake if she wants to be competitive at the national level), CON makes an excellent point that "When humanitarian aid is combined with political objectives, conflict arises which negatively impacts not just the recipient, but also the donor."

I'm not sure that "Here it is obvious that political conditions will result in loss of credibility for the donor," however, because 'credibility' is not what's immediately jeopardized, but 'legitimacy' of humanitarian inattention.

Blurring the distinction between political and humanitarian ends makes humanitarian aid seem more like an exercise of state power, traded on the suffering of innocent people, rather than something given for authentically humanitarian reasons. That is more a semantic issue, though, and the implication to diplomatic relations and impact to NGO's is well taken -though CON might have expanded more on the NGO point.

I'm not sure CON should have included her third point... or at least it should have been made more clear.

PRO's theory point was irrelevant: "I would also like to point out that, as this most closely resembles a PF debate, the burden of proof is shared equally. As stated in this guide to PF debating, "there is no presumption or burden of proof in Public Forum Debate. The pro side wishes to convince the audience that the topic should be adopted; the con side wishes to convince the audience that the proposition should be rejected."(1)So my opponent must also work to convince the voters that political conditions are not beneficial."

Duh. It's a normative resolution, so clearly the burden is equal.
Posted by YYW 2 years ago
Part 2)

CON's statement that "One last thing to remember is that conditionality and political conditionality are two very different things. Political conditions are policy changes, whereas conditional aid pertains to what ought to be done with the aid" was unnecessary. Within the context of this debate, we're assuming that the only kind of conditional aid being discussed is that in which the conditions are political; lest it becomes extraneous to the debate.

As a rule, I hate tag lines for several reasons: (1) they empower shitty judges to draw obnoxious arrows between tag lines to see 'if' there was a response rather than consider whether the response was sufficient (again, as I have said before, tabula rasa judging is a fantasy invented by policy debaters to justify arbitrary decisions based on their own intellectually schizophrenic whims rather than the reality of what too place in a debate), (2) they do not directly introduce the substance of what's being said but rather only mention a "key word" which may or may not be salient to the argument that follows, (3) they encourage judges not to listen/read because whenever a tag line is introduced the judge immediately attributes the arguments they are familiar with to the tag line rather than listen/read the arguments presented, (4) they facilitate the straw-manning of arguments on rebuttal and (5) they are stumpy and awkward. But I digress...

Returning to the debate, Debate argues that conditional aid (realize that I am referring to aid upon which political conditions have been placed -and that is how I will refer to it for the remainder of this RFD) is ineffective because conditions may not be accepted, or not followed. If the conditions on conditional aid are not accepted or followed, then people who need aid that might have otherwise been given will definitely not get it. Debate had good evidence to support her claims, and that was generally well structured.
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by iamanatheistandthisiswhy 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD comments.
Vote Placed by YYW 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Very clear CON win. RFD to follow in comments.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by Jonbonbon 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: In the end it came down to the balance of benefits and harms. While pro gave some legitimate benefits, con was able to at least weaken them. Con also provided some legitimate harms, and the balance came out to being that con had proven it to be more harmful than it is to be beneficial, and that's all the con was burdened with. Nothing else worth mentioning really unless I were to go into an in-depth analysis, which isn't really necessary.
Vote Placed by UchihaMadara 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.