The Instigator
debatability
Pro (for)
Winning
13 Points
The Contender
Surrealism
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

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

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Post Voting Period
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after 5 votes the winner is...
debatability
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/18/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,464 times Debate No: 54962
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (5)

 

debatability

Pro

This is for Lincoln Douglass debaters only!! Please don't accept if you're going to forfeit.
Round 1: Affirmative Constructive, Negative Constructive + Rebuttal
Round 2: Affirmative Rebuttal, Negative Rebuttal
Round 3: Affirmative Voting Issues, Negative Voting Issues
Note: I realize that in a real Lincoln Douglass debate, the negative does not speak last, but since this is a written debate, the negative can present their voting issues and attack mine in the last speech.

Affirmative
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- The criteria which are applied to a specific situation regarding the behavior of the government (Summarized from the SDC).
Humanitarian Aid- aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies (globalhumanitarianassistance.org)
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 have lead absolutely no 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) (1) Again, in 2012, the United States became reluctant to provide North Korea with aid due certain political conditions being rejected. 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) (3) 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 (3) 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 (5) 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 (6) 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 (7) 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 attached.

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 (8) 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 (9) 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 (10) 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. 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 (11) 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 (12) states, the value of the aid can be cut by 25 to 40 percent. In addition to this issue, Alastair (13) 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.

For these reasons, I affirm the resolution.
Good luck to whoever accepts!!
Surrealism

Con

I negate the resolution.

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

Definitions:

Political condition: Conditionality of or belonging to formal administration.

Conditionality: Something being true or happening if something else is true or happens.

Humanitarian aid: Assisting action that saves lives or alleviates suffering.

Justice: Giving each their due.

Giving each their "due" implies a sense of obligation, and all obligations are essentially moral. Thus, my value is morality.

Morality: A guide to action.

My metaethic is resolvability. To resolve any moral dispute between opposing sides, one cannot use a subjective system. Since a subjective system can consider either side of the dispute under its bias, subjective systems are extremely inconsistent. Thus, subjective systems cannot be used to resolve moral disputes.

Only an objective system can resolve a moral dispute with any consistency. So, to resolve moral disputes an objective system that weighs all inputs according to their equal value must be used. This system is utilitarianism. Mill writes:

"The only proof capable of being given that an object is visible, is that people actually see it. The only proof that a sound is audible, is that people hear it: and so the other sources of our experiment. In like manner, I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people do actually desire it. If the end which the utilitarian doctrine proposes to itself were not, in theory and in practice, acknowledged to be an end, nothing could ever convince any person that it was so. No reason can be given why the general happiness is desirable, except that each person, so far as he believes it to be attainable, desires his own happiness. This, however, being a fact, we have not only all the proof which the case admits of, but all which it is possible to require that happiness is a good: that each person"s happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons."

Thus, my value criterion is creating the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Observation One: The power of a country to place political conditions on humanitarian aid is not a power that is necessarily used in all cases; it is a tool in the toolbox. For example, the president of the United States can veto a bill from congress, but he does not have to every time, it is just a tool in his toolbox. Likewise, countries do not have to place political conditions on all humanitarian aid to foreign countries to place political conditions at all. Thus, the burden is on my opponent to prove that in all cases, political conditionality on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust.

Contention One:

Political conditions reduce poverty. Boone writes:

"Critics of foreign aid programs have long argued that poverty reflects government failure. In this paper I test predictions for aid effectiveness based on an analytical framework that relates aid effectiveness to political regimes. I find that aid does not significantly increase investment, nor benefit the poor as measured by improvements in human development indicators, but it does increase the size of government. The impact of aid does not vary according to whether recipient governments are liberal democratic or highly repressive. But liberal political regimes and democracies, ceteris paribus, have on average 30% lower infant mortality than the least free regimes. This may be due to greater empowerment of the poor under liberal regimes even though the political elite continues to receive the benefits of aid programs. An implication is that short-term aid targeted to support new liberal regimes may be a more successful means of reducing poverty than current programs."

Given that countries with more liberal regimes tend to receive humanitarian aid more positively than countries without, and that there is less poverty in those countries as a result of those liberal regimes, requesting a country adopt a specific governmental policy for their own good is not only not morally unjust, it is a moral obligation. Allowing the elite of countries with poor governments to eat up humanitarian aid is a violation of the value criterion.

Contention Two:

Political conditions allow a more functional government. Svensson writes:

"Why has the macroeconomic impact of foreign aid seemingly been so poor? Is there a relationship between the widespread level of corruption and other types of rent-seeking activities and concessional assistance? To answer these questions we provide a simple game-theoretic rent-seeking model. The model has a number of implications. First, under certain circumstances, an increase in government revenue lowers the provision of public goods. Second, the mere expectation of aid may suffice to increase rent dissipation and reduce productive public spending. This result may be reversed, however, if the donor community can enter into a binding policy commitment. We also provide some preliminary empirical evidence in support of the hypothesis that foreign aid and windfalls are on average associated with higher corruption in countries more likely to suffer from competing social groups. We find no evidence that the donors systematically allocate aid to countries with less corruption."

Because donor countries that enter in policy agreements with the recipient country tend to increase productive government spending, the benefits of political conditionality on humanitarian aid are inherently obvious. Once again we see that political conditionality leads to morally beneficial consequences for the recipient country which once again is indicative of moral obligation to conditionality, not moral prohibition, and thus I negate.

On to my opponent's case.

First, my opponent's value criterion is vague. "Dignity" is a key term here which my opponent has provided no definition for. Until my opponent does provide a definition, we should use my value criterion as not only is it well defined, but I have a warrant for it as well.

Now, for the main tagline of my opponent's first contention, "Political conditions placed on humanitarian aid are often ineffective, making them unjust". What my opponent has done here is set up a false dichotomy. Actions are not simply morally obligated or prohibited. Moral actions can be also be permissible, which is a neutral state. Only an action which is morally prohibited is considered unjust, so claiming that aid is often ineffective proves nothing with regard to being unjust. Because aid is "often" ineffective, then there are still some moral consequences which make those circumstances morally obligated for political conditionality. But even if my opponent could prove that there were never any positive consequences of political conditionality, then it would still remain in the realm of permissibility, not prohibition. My opponent, then, must prove that the negative effects of political conditionality ALWAYS (see observation one) outweigh the benefits.

Subpoints A and B follow similarly. Saying that "many" countries follow a specific action is not the same as saying that all do, and most certainly not the same as saying that this causes a negative effect that always outweighs any positive effect.

My opponent's contention two falls due to the following.

The first warrant lists only one example, which, again, does not necessarily apply to all cases or outweigh all cases.

The second warrant warns of a risk, not a certainty. Again, tool in the toolbox deals with this.

The third warrant states that developing countries might develop their own resources and no longer need to purchase aid from the donor country. Because developed countries are more economically stable, this will benefit the developing country far more than it will harm the donor country.

The third contention is effectively dealt with by my Boone and Svensson cards, which both state that there is solid evidence to be seen that political conditionality actually increases the productive use of humanitarian aid.

Over to you, Aff.
Debate Round No. 1
debatability

Pro

I will begin by attacking my con's case, and then I will move on to rebuild my own.

Opponent's Case

Definitions
None of my con's definitions have sources, and con never explains why their definitions should be looked to instead of mine, so my definitions must flow through. I'll touch on several of the important ones.
  • Con defines political conditionality as "of or belonging to formal administration." The problem with this definition is that it does not explain exactly what type of conditions are "political." Political conditions actually have to involve the changing of some policy regarding the behavior of the government in order to truly be considered political.
  • Also, my look to my definition of Humanitarian Aid rather than my con's because humanitarian aid is actually only used during and slightly after emergencies, which is not included in con's definition.
Value/Criterion
Based on resolutionalty, Justice should be the paramount value, but justice and morality essentially achieve eachother, so I'm goingto focus more on the criterion debate.
Con is in no way solving for their criterion of utilitarianism; I will explain why throughout the round. Also, look to preserving of human dignity as the ultimate weighing standard for the round. Con did note that I did not include a definition. I'd like to apologize for not clarifying: my definition is "treating humans with respect because they have inherent worth." My beyond intractability card notes that, "Human rights are the articulation of the need for justice, tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity in all of our activity." Basically, justice achieved through human dignity is human rights, making this value/criterion pair the most important.

Observations
Con explains that I must prove that in all cases, political conditionality on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust. I agree with this. Placing political conditions is ultimately unjust because the donor/recipitent countries ultimately never know what is going to happen when such conditions are placed. There are negative impacts for both the donor and the recipient, and it is unjust to take such a risk. This is especially true because we are talking about humanitarian aid, a short term cause that is desperately needed by foreign countries after disasters.

Contention One
Con explains in their first contention that that countries with more liberal regimes tend to positively respond to humanitarian aid in comparison to countries with oppressive regimes (note that the evidence never explains whether this aid was conditional or not).
Also, con explains that countries with liberal regimes tend to have less poverty. I would agree with these points, but my opponent cannot prove that countries with oppressive regimes will actually accept conditions that aim to change the way the government works. The one choosing whether or not to accept the conditions is not the people in the recipient country who need the aid, but the government in that country. The flaw with the evidence my opponent shows, it that there is no actual proof that oppressive countries will accept and follow such conditions. I have provided multiple examples (North Korea, West Africa, Haiti, and Afghanistan) of countries not accepting/following such conditions, showing that political conditionality on humanitarian aid is inneffective.
Con states in the end, "Allowing the elite of countries with poor governments to eat up humanitarian aid is a violation of the value criterion." The evidence says absolutely nothing about this. Generally countries with large amounts of corruption do not possess much money, and if they do, that money certianly does not go to the people. This means that they actually need unconditional humanitarian aid more because that way the citizens will have some means of survival during an emergency.

Contention Two
Con's second contention goes over how in theorey political conditionality will lead to two things: productive government spending and productive public spending. Again, look to the fact that if the country is at a level of corruption that would result in negative government spending will most likely not accept such conditions. This evidence, like the card con used in their first contention, give no example of a country who has seen long term or even short term benifits from political conditionality.
Also, there is no example given of exactly what type of political conditions are solving these problems. In fact, many times the spending promoted by political conditions is rather counterproductive. My third contention notes that policy changes that make sure the recipient country only buys products from the donor country often end up decreasing the value of the aid by up to 40%. My IPS card notes that in the Netherlands, 90% of the aid was used up due to trade concessions.

To end the attack on con's case:
It actually is very possible to give successful unconditional aid to corrupt countries. For example USKUP notes that Turkey has given unconditional and bilateral humanitarian assistance (in the form of military aid) to Macedonia, positively impacting the country. Macedonia (as noted by the Corruption Perceptions Index) would be considered corrupt, yet the aid is still successful. This shows that unconditional aid has potential to work out well, rendering it to be the just option.

My Case

Value/Criterion
I'd like to cross-apply what I said when attacking my opponent's case. I'll go over the criterions a little more during the conclusion.

Contention One
Con attacks this contention by explaining that inneffectiveness of the political conditions does not make political conditionality itself unjust. It is not the inneffectiveness itself that makes such conditions unjust; it is what is caused by the inneffectiveness: either no aid at all or aid/suspensions and reductions. This was the primary reason foreign aid to Haiti failed. So essentially, if the country does not meet or accept the conditions aid will either not be given or be suddenly cut off, ultimately punishing the citizens in the recipient country for the actions of their government. Here human dignity is not preserved, making political conditions unjust. I reconize that this will not happen all the time, but there are multiple negative impacts that I listed in my other contentions.

Contention Two
Con explains that since I only listed one example, it does not apply to all cases. This is not necessarily the truth; it is common sense that if the donor tries to force a country to change a policy to obtain aid, conflict is likely to occur.
Con goes on to say that the second warrant only warns of a risk; not a certainty. It is important to realize this debate is not over political conditions on humanitarian aid, rather it is about placing political conditions on humanitarian aid. There is a difference. Basically, when a donor attaches conditions to the aid, there is no way of knowing what will happen, making it unjust due to the multiple risks attached. Also, this action goes against the very principle of utilitarianism, since the end result is unknown.
Con misunderstands my last point which talks about the credibility of the donor. I am not talking about countries no longer needing assistance. I am simply explaining that if unreasonable conditions are placed on aid, conflict and rejection of the conditions will occur. Recipients of the aid will go somewhere else to obtain unconditional aid, and ultimately the donor will lose credibility; this actually decreases diplomatic relations.

Contention Three
Con references the Boone and Svensson cards; for this point please cross-apply my attacks on their first and second contention.

Conclusion
Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid (has resulted in) and always has the potential to result in.
    • no aid
    • suspensions and reductions
    • conflict
    • loss of credibility of the doner
    • low quality aid
Really, political conditions cause more problems than they even aim to solve, and often times the goals of the political conditions are not reached, proving them to be unjust when applied to humanitarian aid.
Surrealism

Con

Surrealism forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
debatability

Pro

Extend my arguments.
I'll go ahead and provide voting issues in case con decides to post an argument next round.

1. Human Rights = Justice through Preserving Human Dignity
Here we can see that justice and preserving human dignity are the best value/criterion pair because they directly relate to human rights, which is obviously important. Aid free of political conditions must be rendered unjust because of the reasons I will list in the next few voters.

2. Conditions not being followed or accepted at all
There are serious consequences when this happens. Firstly, if the political conditions are not accepted, there will be no aid. Secondly, if conditions are not followed, suspensions and reductions can become and issue and the aid ultimately will fail. What makes this unjust is the fact that the people in the foreign country do not have a say in whether the conditions are accepted/followed. The government is the one making the decisions (often with no input from the people). Human dignity is not preserved; thus, justice is not achieved.

3. The donor country is harmed
When aid has political objectives, conflict often occurs. If citizens and also the government of the recipient country see that a donor country is only giving aid for political benefits, then they may lash back. This (along with suspensions/reductions/no aid/low quality aid) makes the donor lose credibility, which can result in even more conflict, and decrease diplomatic relations. This is unjust because, the government (and the people) of the donor country will ultimately suffer from their own decisions.

4. Low quality aid
I gave examples of humanitarian aid's value being cut due to political conditions. This is unjust because the country (if they even accept/follow political conditions) has to make changes for very little in return.

For these reasons, vote pro.
Surrealism

Con

Surrealism forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by debatability 2 years ago
debatability
@surrealism
Would you like to debate this from the pro side?
Posted by debatability 2 years ago
debatability
I'd love to finish the debate. Let me know when you have the time.
Posted by Surrealism 2 years ago
Surrealism
I would just like to apologize, time constraints prevented me from being able to finish the debate. I realize that this gives my opponent the victory and frankly I deserve losing this one for not managing my time better. If you'd like to challenge me some time in the future we might be able to debate this again.
Posted by debatability 2 years ago
debatability
That other account belonged to my friend. We had very similar cases. The only other account I have ever used is the one that the guy linked below, and that one is deactivated and will stay deactivated.
Posted by Kc1999 2 years ago
Kc1999
oops sorry lol....I saw that argument four or five times.... thought you c and p'ed :P
Posted by Kc1999 2 years ago
Kc1999
http://www.debate.org...

You have many accounts
Posted by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
Could be an interesting debate. Too busy to accept right now, but my counter argument would probably rely heavily on the difference between justice and charity.
Posted by debatability 2 years ago
debatability
I had that account a little while ago, but I didnt realize it could be reactivated until I had already made a new one. I still really wanted to debate this though. My apologies for any confusion.
Posted by JohnMaynardKeynes 2 years ago
JohnMaynardKeynes
This first argument seems familiar....http://www.debate.org...
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by Raymond_Reddington 2 years ago
Raymond_Reddington
debatabilitySurrealismTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by bsh1 2 years ago
bsh1
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by Zarroette 2 years ago
Zarroette
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Reasons for voting decision: A solid debate until Con started forfeiting rounds.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.