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

Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,784 times Debate No: 49494
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (11)
Votes (1)




LD DEBATERS ONLY. I am practicing for regionals!!!
Speech 1: Aff Constructive/Neg Constructive
Speech 2: Aff Rebuttal/Neg Rebuttal
Speech 3. Aff Voting Issues/ Neg Voting Issues

I agree with Lynn Pascoe, the U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, when she stated “These are human beings that need the food. It's not the political system. This shouldn't be argued in a political way." Therefore, I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution which states resolved: Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust.

For the clarification of today’s round, I offer the following definitions:

Political Conditions- Political conditionality refers to the linking of aid to administrative and political reform in recipient countries, in the pursuit of what is termed ‘good governance.’ (Robinson, University of Sussex)

Humanitarian Aid- material or logistical support provided for humanitarian purposes, such as relief following a natural disaster (Nicholas Diego, College of Charleston)

Unjust- not behaving according to what is morally right and fair (Oxford Dictionary)

The highest value for today’s round is justice. Justice, defined by Oxford Dictionaries is “the quality of being fair and reasonable.” This value is important because, as the resolution implies, we are debating whether political conditions on humanitarian aid is just or unjust.

The criterion which best supports my value is preserving human dignity. Preserving human dignity is vital because humans are worthy of fundamental respect and have inherent worth. This criterion best achieves my value because we can achieve fair and reasonable treatment of citizens in foreign countries through the preservation of human dignity. This is only achieved on the affirmative because human’s dignity is only preserved through the provision of humanitarian aid without treating humans like bargaining chips.

I offer the following contentions to support my value and criterion:

Contention 1: Political conditions placed on humanitarian aid are often ineffective, making them unjust.

Point A: Many foreign countries do not accept political conditions.
Political conditions can result in aid being completely denied to those who need it most. This is very obvious in the case of North Korea. Various political conditions have been placed on the aid which can lead absolutely humanitarian assistance for the country. In 2010, when North Korea declared they would not abandon their nuclear weapons program, countries began to deny aid. (CNN, Tom Evans) Again, in 2012, the United States became reluctant to provide North Korea with aid due certain political conditions being rejected. (Congressional Research Service) The citizens of North Korea are essentially being punished for the decisions of their government. North Korea is not the only country to undergo problems with political conditionality. Countries with similar amounts of corruption (Corruption Perceptions Index) such as Haiti and Afghanistan have suffered due to political conditions placed on humanitarian aid; these issues will be discussed later in the contention.

Point B: Many foreign countries do not follow political conditions.
The ineffectiveness of political conditions can have very disastrous effects for foreign countries. 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.” 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. The National Academy of Public Administration notes, “Aid suspensions or deep reductions to force accountability were highly problematic in Haiti.” 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.”

The impact of these two points is that corruption results in citizens in the recipient countries either getting no aid at all, or aid suspensions and reductions. Justice is not achieved in scenarios such as these because it is unfair and unreasonable to deny citizens aid due to their corrupt government’s decisions. In order to preserve human dignity, aid must be provided without political conditions attatched.

Contention 2: Political conditions cause more harm than good for the donor country.

When looking to whether political conditions on humanitarian aid are just or unjust, the wellbeing of the donor country must be taken into consideration. Smith of Beyond Intractability states, “Conditionality is often resented as an invasion of sovereignty, and can backfire on the sender.” 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.” 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.” Here it is obvious that political conditions will result in loss of credibility for the donor. The impact of this is that removing political conditions from humanitarian aid is important because it will positively impact the donor country. Justice is achieved because the citizens of the donor country are being treated fairly and reasonably because they will not suffer the repercussions of their country’s government invading another country’s sovereignty. The country’s dignity is preserved because the donor will not suffer from a loss of credibility.

Contention 3: The quality of aid is improved when political conditions are removed.

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.” 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. 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.” Essentially, with political conditions, the aid is based on political survival and not what would actually be successful. The impact of this is that political conditions must be removed from humanitarian aid in order for the aid to live up to its full potential. The citizens receiving the aid will be positively impacted by receiving the highest quality of aid possible, achieving justice and preserving human dignity.


Note, in the comments it has been agreed between my opponent and myself, that we may follow standard LD speeches, which means I will post a rebuttal at the end of this, and she will have the last speech.

"One of the main findings if this analysis is that well-targeted, timed, designed, and delivered programs with strong conditionalities are a good substitute for the dollar amounts of assistance," Marek Dabrowski.

I stand in firm negation of the resolution, "Resolved: Placing political conditions on humanitarian to foreign countries is unjust."

My value is Government legitimacy. Government legitimacy will be defined as a virtue of political institutions and of the decisions"about laws, policies, and candidates for political office"made within them.

My value criterion is upholding state autonomy. State autonomy will be defined simply as the right of a state to govern itself.

For a better understanding of the resolution, I offer the following definitions:

Political conditions: The criteria which are applied to a specific situation regarding the behavior of the government (Summarized from the SDC).

Humanitarian aid: "Aid that seeks to save lives and alleviate suffering of a crisis-affected population" (World Health Organization).

I will now support my position with the following contentions: The resolution itself cannot be upheld and there is no injustice in conditional aid to be claimed by the affirmative.

Contention 1: The resolution itself cannot be upheld.

Subpoint A. In at least one situation it is justified for political conditions on humanitarian aid.

According to Joanna Macrae from the Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute:
"[Macedonia] is a case where political and military actors had a comparative advantage over humanitarian actors and their involvement secured humanitarian objectives. Political and military actors had at their disposal important assets bargaining chips that UNHCR clearly lacks. These include: political legitimation in the international community; access to key decision-makers in the host government; diplomatic infrastructure in the shape of embassies; and a significant stand-by capacity for logistics and engineering work. In the case of Macedonia, a further important incentive that diplomats could offer was with regard to burden sharing, under the HEP, which relied upon agreement from ministries of the interior in the respective home countries."

Subpoint B. Effectiveness can justify political conditions on humanitarian aid.

In the case I"ve read, the only way the humanitarian aid would"ve gotten to the citizens is if there were political conditions in place. The infrastructure and organization needed to distribute the aid needed political involvement. Humanitarian actors by themselves would not have achieved the goal of humanitarian aid. Since humanitarian aid was the objective, if political conditions are capable of increasing the effectiveness of distributing the aid, it would be just to put those political conditions on the government.

Subpoint C. It is impossible for the resolution to be upheld.

The resolution presents a clear universal statement. It should be assumed that the resolution is applicable to any case where political conditions are placed on humanitarian aid. As such is the case, the resolution only one example to be disproven. For example, if I say that all horses are solid black, and I find at least one horse that is not solid black, it would be intellectually irresponsible to claim that all horses are black.

2) There is no injustice in conditional aid to be claimed by the affirmative.

Injustice implies some sort of oppression of human rights. Every state is first obligated to their own people and not to another states' people. It is not the fault of a foreign state that another state's people are suffering. The foreign state is not causing an injustice, and if they offer help they have no moral obligation to offer it without any strings attached as they are not required to give it in the first place. A government's duty is to the benefit of its own nation. A government is each obligated to its own populace and is not responsible for the lives of another governments populace. It may be morally good to give a populace of another country humanitarian aid, but as it is not obligatory, the government may place conditions on what the other government must do to get that aid. This is not unjust. Giving handouts to other nations is not to the benefit of one's own nation. This means it would be unjust for them to be in any way restricted, either by a moral principle or by a law, in the manner which it presents its humanitarian aid.

Now, I will address my opponent's case.

Address her value of justice and her value criterion of preserving human dignity:

These are values that the resolution would naturally support as being important, however, my opponent has not upheld the resolution to the fullest extent. There is not generalizing phrase in the resolution, such as, "on balance" or "in general" thus the resolution is universal. Now my opponent must either refute the examples I give where conditional aid was just or show why the resolution is not universal. Until then, I have adequately negated her position and even upheld her value and value criterion in some cases, while she upholds it in other cases.

Her contention one actually agrees with my contention one, subpoint B in a manner of principle.

Her contention asserts that because of the ineffectiveness of conditional aid in certain cases, it is not just to place political conditions on humanitarian aid in those cases. On the other side of the coin, if I give scenarios where conditional aid was more effective and unconditional aid, I have proven it to be just in some cases or scenarios. Therefore, in principle it has been agreed that my examples are valid and just.

Her subpoint A and B thus fall under that central point.

Her second contention uses a poor example to support her point.

In this contention, my opponent provides the example of North Korea to prove why conditional aid harms the donor country. I have two responses:

1) She uses inductive reasoning to apply this to all cases. One example does not in any way cover all possible situations of conditional aid. There are too many variables in governments for one example to be able to be applied universally. She must prove why the actual act can be considerably harmful in all cases by principle of the act itself, not because in one country it was harmful to the donor country.

2) North Korea is among the most corrupt governments on modern day earth. The people of North Korea experience severe oppression of human rights, and they have an extremely low quality of life. The government itself, being a corrupt autocracy, can be expected to stockpile humanitarian aid rather than distribute it to the people if political conditions aren't placed on the aid. A condition of the aid can simply be that the government distribute the aid to its people equally. That is a just example of placing political conditions on humanitarian aid that can be considered. This is more effective than simply giving the aid, which justifies the conditions.

Her third contention does not render conditional aid unjust.

The aid itself is not obligatory. As my second contention points out, a government's duty is to it's own populace and not to another government's populace relieving them of any sort of responsibility. Since it is not their responsibility to give the aid, if they choose to give it, charging another country for it is just. If the country refuses to pay, then the situation remains unchanged. If the country pays, then the donor state receives money for their product. Looking back at my own value and value criterion, we must accept that before anything else, each government is obligated to uphold virtue to their own people. This means if a country wants something in return for the aid, they are justified. Giving handouts to another nation does not help the donor country.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for instigating this debate, itslizyall. Best of luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you to TheOncomingStorm for accepting this debate!!

I will start by attacking my opponent’s case; then I will move on to rebuild my own.

Opponent’s Value: Governmental Legitimacy- virtue of political institutions and of the decisions over laws, policies, and candidates for political office made within them.
With this value, we must look to the fact that most of the governments within countries that need humanitarian aid are not legitimate. The negative side is doing absolutely nothing to solve or even lessen this problem. Most attempts will be seen, like my Smith card stated, as an invasion of sovereignty, and they will be rejected by either the government or the people. Governmental Legitimacy is not something that can be achieved with political conditions, and since we are debating weather political conditions are just or unjust, we must look to justice as the highest value.

Opponent’s Criterion: Upholding State Autonomy- the right of a state to govern itself.
Political conditions are a direct invasion of a state’s autonomy. Only with unconditional aid can autonomy actually be achieved. Forcing states to do something in order to obtain something their citizens desperately need is highly unjust.

Opponent’s Definitions
My opponent provided no reason as to why their definitions should be held higher than mine, so my definitions must flow through. However, I will go ahead and provide a reason why my definition of political conditions must be looked to.

Opponent’s Definition: Political conditions: The criteria which are applied to a specific situation regarding the behavior of the government (Summarized from the SDC).
With my definition, we are actually talking about administrative and political reform in respects to humanitarian aid in recipient countries. My opponent’s definition does not specify that we are looking to changes in the recipient country which is important because when political conditions are placed on aid we have to look to the reaction of the recipient country and how that reaction affects the donor country.

Opponent’s Contentions

1. The resolution itself cannot be upheld.

A. Political conditions can be justified it at least one circumstance.

The situation in Macedoniawas not just. The USKP observes that Turkey provides successful unconditional aid to Macedonia since 1991. To be exact, 15.8 billion dollars of aid has been provided and used successfully. It is unjust to put political conditions on aid when the aid could be successful without such political conditions. This situation even goes against my opponent’s criterion of upholding state autonomy in this situation because it goes against Macedonia’s right to govern itself.

B. Effectiveness can justify political conditions.

I would like to turn this argument on my opponent because since political conditions are not effective, they cannot be justified. I have proved through my examples of Western Africa,Haiti, and Afghanistanthat political conditions are not effective. With the high amounts of corruption in countries, we must look to the fact that the conditions cannot be followed, thus they must be considered unjust due to the risk of suspensions and reductions in aid.

C. It is impossible for the resolution to be upheld.

Here in this sub point, my opponent basically claims that they win the debate if they can prove that political conditions are just in at least one circumstance. This argument is highly abusive and allows the affirmative almost no ground. Thus, this argument cannot be taken into account.

2. No injustice in conditional aid to be claimed by the affirmative.

My opponent claimed that injustice implies some invasion of human rights. I would like to again refer to my Smith card which states that human rights are defined as “the articulation of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity in all of our activity” In order to attack this contention, I am going to explain how political conditions result in the violation of several of these things.

  • justice- the quality of being fair and reasonable
    • It is unfair and unreasonable to place political conditions on humanitarian aid because both the donor and the recipient are negatively impacted because the aid (if any is provided at all) is low quality and the donor suffers from invading the recipient country’s sovereignty and losing credibility.
  • human dignity- recognizing that humans are worthy of fundamental respect and have inherent worth
    • Political conditions result in denying aid at some time or another. This results in loss of lives, thus human dignity cannot be preserved.
    • Even when the political conditions are accepted, humans within the recipient country are being treated like bargaining chips; thus, human dignity is not preserved.

Through the loss of human dignity and justice, human rights are violated with political conditions. My opponent talked about how it is not to the benefit to the donor country to give away handouts. For this argument we can look to my second contention which proves that the donor country is actually harmed with political conditions. Loss of credibility and conflict are two things the donor country will run into with political conditions.

I now move on to rebuild my own case.

My value and criterion (which my opponent attacked at the same time)

My opponent agreed that justice and preserving human dignity are important values within the resolution. My opponent stated: “Now my opponent must either refute the examples I give where conditional aid was just or show why the resolution is not universal. Until then, I have adequately negated her position and even upheld her value and value criterion in some cases, while she upholds it in other cases.” I did this with my opponent’s example ofMongolia, showing that is it unjust to place political conditions on humanitarian aid when the aid could have been successful without political conditions. As I mentioned before, it is abusive to claim that the resolution is impossible to uphold. If you, as a reader, do not buy this argument, look to the fact that in rare instances that political conditions are actually followed, the humans within the country are still being treated like bargaining chips; human dignity is not preserved, thus justice is not achieved.

My Contentions

1. Political conditions on humanitarian aid are ineffective. (countries not accepting political conditions and countries not following political conditions)

To attack this contention, my opponent claimed that I agreed with their sub point B of their first contention. Basically what their sub point said was that effectiveness justifies political conditions. I do not completely agree with this statement because we have to look to much more than effectiveness to justify political conditions. In addition to this, because political conditions are highly ineffective, they cannot even be partially justified. This is because the governments of many foreign countries are highly corrupt, resulting in little or no aid.

2. Political conditions cause more harm than good for the donor country.

To attack this contention, my opponent attacks my example of North Korea in two ways. I will cover them both.

1) My opponent said we cannot apply this to all cases. This is partially true, but the point I am trying to convey is that when political conditions are rejected, it can cause conflict. This is a fairly logical conclusion. My Smith evidence also supports this point.
2) My opponent says that because North Korea is highly corrupt, conditions would be beneficial. For this I would like to provide the example from my Kwon card of China giving unconditional aid to North Korea. This aid is going to the people. Due to corruption, some of the aid may be misused, but in situations with highly corrupt governments, we must look to my first contention where I have shown that either no aid or aid suspensions and reductions are going to be major problems with political conditions.

My opponent also never addressed my argument talking about loss of credibility of the donor. It is vital to take this into account because it becomes a major problem when political conditions are placed on humanitarian aid.

3. Quality of the aid is improved when conditions are removed.

My opponent said that there is no justice based impact to this because the aid is not obligatory. We can cross apply my attack on their second contention to this where I talked about how loss of lives results in an invasion of human dignity because humans have inherent worth. Basically, denying aid does not preserve human dignity; thus, it is a human rights violation. This makes it unjust for the donor country to provide low quality aid to the citizens of a recipient country due to political conditions. We have to look to the fact that in some cases, literally 40% of the aid is spent on fulfilling the political conditions. This is completely unreasonable.

For these reasons, I affirm the resolution.



Thank you, itslizyall for that response. Now, I'll move on to my final speech, where I will respond to some of the major points in the round, and go over some of the reasons I believe I've won them.

Value debate:

My opponent addresses my attacks on her value and value criterion by saying my interpretation of the resolution is abusive. However, it should be clarified that without a defining word in the resolution to specify anything, we have to assume it applies to all cases. Under my case the resolution cannot be upheld. She can possibly win this debate, but only if my case is false. Of my case is true, then I adequately negate her position.

Now, regarding the attacks on my value, she states that the governments who can't supply the aid are not legitimate. She provided no reasoning or evidence for this, and thus the attack is a bare assertion. Further into the attack she says I cannot solve the situation. The attack would be good for a policy debate, but as are the rules of Lincoln-Douglas it would actually be illegal for me to provide some sort of a plan to solve the problem of human suffering. All I must do is prove that the resolution is not always true.

Her attack on my value criterion would be true, if it didn't rely on the necessary condition that this statement is true: all nations are necessarily tied to each other's populace. That statement is not true. Each government is tied to its own people. It does not abridge state autonomy to place conditions on another country in order to retain such autonomy to one's own nation. We cannot assert something as true when its prerequisites aren't true.

The basic arguments:


My opponent had agreed that effectiveness can make an action just or unjust. My opponent actually denies this in response to my attack on her first contention, but that poses a problem for her. Either we throw out her first contention as it does not adequately uphold the position that conditional aid is unjust, or we accept it and my position can be declared just.

Regarding my example, it has not been adequately refuted that conditional aid did a better job in Macedonia than unconditional aid. All that has been said is that unconditional aid supplied money but not that it was more effective than conditional aid. As effectiveness is a valid method of determining humanitarian aid to be just, this must be a serious point of consideration.

As a refresher, if the goal of humanitarian aid is essentially to relieve suffering, and conditional aid effectively relieves suffering in some cases, under my opponents own case, these situations must be seen as just.


My opponent's fatal move in this debate is using inductive reasoning to uphold the resolution. Inductive reasoning is a process of determine universal law by using specific examples. Empirics is an example of inductive reasoning. While my opponent can uphold the resolution in some cases, she cannot in others. My burden is not to universally negate the resolution, only to remove surety that the resolution is true in all cases.

As I've brought up with the incident of Macedonia, there are cases where a country experiencing unrest needs political involvement in order for humanitarian aid to be distributed properly. Other examples include countries where a government has fallen and regimes will block humanitarian groups from getting the aid to other regimes where people may be suffering. Political and military actors need to be involved, and this happens when political conditions are put on humanitarian aid.

Duty of Government:

This has not been a strongly debated point, but keep in mind my points made about each government. My point is not to be heartless about human suffering, but a government is only tied to its own people. They are not obligated in any way to the populace of another state. This means it is not unjust for a government to entirely ignore the foreign state. If they give humanitarian aid, they have no obligations with it and may dictate either how that aid is used or what must be done to get the aid. It is a nation's own resources being used that do not belong to another nation.

Now, my opponent argues that conditional aid actually harms the donor countries, but her argument only applies where a certain necessary condition is met, which is when the conditions are rejected. As it stands, I still do not need to address this as it does not apply to all cases. We can't assume under the resolution that all countries will reject the conditions and thus not uphold the entire resolution.

Closing Statements:

So far, my opponent has not adequately upheld her position to affirm the resolution. As is the case, I have adequately negated her position. We must keep in mind the duty of government, which is to its own people not to another's, and the burden under the resolution. My opponent has not been able to adequately disprove these points. I ask that you vote in my favor, and thank you for reading.
Debate Round No. 2


itslizyall forfeited this round.


Extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by itslizyall 2 years ago
Yes. Although I wasn't able to finish, this debate definitely helped me have a feel for various arguments I would run into. I got 4th alternate for state, which is pretty good for a freshman haha.
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 2 years ago
It's alright, did the debate help you any?
Posted by itslizyall 2 years ago
I'm very sorry I am going to have to forfeit this round. I am not feeling well.
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 2 years ago
Same on my part!
Posted by itslizyall 2 years ago
Alright. Looking forward to debating you!!
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 2 years ago
I'll post my speech tomorrow. I have a constructive and everything, so I'll just have to type up a rebuttal tomorrow to follow it.
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 2 years ago
Alright, I'll follow typical speaking order, but we won't worry about length.
Posted by itslizyall 2 years ago
It ultimately is your choice. I dont really have a preferance. I am just trying find new arguments and try and see what I could possibly run into, so I'm not really picky on following the standard speaking order.
Posted by TheOncomingStorm 2 years ago
Yeah, I think I'll just try to do that instead. I understand the notion, but it might be better practice for you too that we follow standard speaking order. You can shorten your speeches so you can say them out loud in the allotted time too, but I really don't care about that if you don't want to do it.

It's unfortunate that we can't do CX, but that's just one of those things you gotta live without on DDO.
Posted by itslizyall 2 years ago
Since this is a written debate, i thought it would be better for us to both do voters for the last speech, but if you would rather do your voting issues during your rebuttal like it is normally done, that works well too.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: FF...