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28 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Political Conditionality and Humanitarian Aid

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Started: 6/7/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
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Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (21)
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As part of my summer debate agenda, I am really looking forward to this debate, and I thank Such for agreeing to discuss this interesting topic with me. It should be fun :)

Full Topic

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


It is Pro's BOP to uphold the resolution on balance. It is Con's BOP to show the resolution to be invalid on balance.


As part of a three debate long, on-going experiment to evaluate the effectiveness of judge voting, I have selected a 10 judge panel for this debate. Provided they all accept, these judges are: YYW, Mikal, thett3, Romanii, Bladerunner, Whiteflame, Kbub, Airmax, JonBonBon, and Oromagi. Con is free to add on judges, or to request the removal of any voter on this panel.


1. No forfeits
2. All citations must be provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss


R1: Acceptance
R2: Constructive Cases
R3: Rebuttals
R4: Rebuttals
R5: Rebuttals, Final Focus


...again to Such for agreeing to take me up of this debate. I look forward to a stellar discourse.


All terms accepted. I don't know any judges, nor people that I would prefer to judge this debate, so I will not contribute to the list. On the other hand, I appreciate that this debate will definitely be voted on by a group of dedicated voters. So far, I feel very good about this.

I imagine there will be a lot to learn from this subject. Cheers; let's enjoy this. ^_^
Debate Round No. 1



Thanks to Such for this debate! I would also like to remark that Such has been on DDO for nearly a year, and has yet to do a debate; I am very, very honored that he chose me to be his first opponent on DDO, and I hope to ensure that he enjoys the debating experience.


Political - of or relating to government, a government, or the conduct of government
Condition - a premise upon which the fulfillment of an agreement depends
Humanitarian Aid - aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering...during and in the aftermath of emergencies
Unjust - not just; i.e., not acting or being in conformity with what is morally upright or good

The above were from [4] and [8].



According to G.W.F. Hegel, autonomy separates us from all other things. A table cannot be blamed for a moral failing because it cannot choose to do something wrong. A human, on the other hand, is morally relevant insofar as we have this autonomy. This moral worth grants every person an inherent dignity that should be respected. "At the heart of [human dignity] is a twofold intuition about human beings: namely, that all, just by being human, are of equal dignity and worth, no matter where they are situated in society, and that the primary source of this worth is a power of moral choice within them, a power that consists in the ability to plan a life in accordance with one's own evaluation of ends." [1] From this analysis, we can conclude that it is a human's rational autonomy that gives rise to human dignity. Autonomy is the brightline that separates personhood from other conditions, and that marks out human beings as worthy of moral consideration.

The impact of human dignity on moral decision-making is very simple: "to be a person is to have a status and worth that is unlike that of any other kind of being: it is to be an end in itself with dignity. And the only response that is appropriate to such a being is respect. Respect is the acknowledgment in attitude and conduct of the dignity of persons as ends in themselves. Respect for such beings is not only appropriate but also morally and unconditionally required." [2] We can justify the impact of human dignity on moral decision-making in two, independently functioning way. First off, when an agent is used as a means to an end, they are treated as a tool by other. This reduces individuals to objects (or tools) and thus devalues them as autonomous persons. Simply put, using people as a means to an end forces us to view them as mere things by which we attain some goal, vice viewing them as actual persons. Secondly, treating people as a means to an end may violate a person's freedom of choice. Consider, I wish to eat some cake (my desired end). I decide that I can use you to do that by baking it for me. If you agree to this arrangement, and are compensated for your work, I haven't used you as a means to an end, because the deal was voluntary and you were allowed to own your labor and abilities. Yet, if I force you to bake the cake, without compensation or freedom, then I have used you as a means to an end. So, when you USE someone, there is no freedom of choice for the person being used; they are no better off than a slave.

So, the framework by which we ought to evaluate this round is (a) deontological in nature, and (b) recognizes the human dignity of persons.


Contention One: Preconditions use Innocent People as Bartering Chips

The purpose of political conditionality is to force some form of governmental change to take place within a country or region. Oftentimes, these changes are resisted by local populations or official; if they were not being resisted, then there would be little need to place the conditions in the first place. Therefore, political conditionality is a mechanism by which change is forced upon a society. This is inherently coercive in itself, and seems to violate the state's national sovereignty, but there is also an impact to human dignity here.

Consider that humanitarian crises pose grave problems. Humanitarian aid is primarily EMERGENCY assistance. When, for example, a war is ravaging a nation, humanitarian aid is sent to alleviate the harm and suffering that results from that conflict.

Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid uses the suffering of the people to pressure government's into giving in. They effectively say to a government: "Look...your people are dying in massive numbers and you're facing massive internal pressure to deal with this crisis. If you want our help, than you need to agree to conditions X, Y, and Z." In this way, political conditions use the suffering of innocent victims as a means to pressure others into action--they treat those people as tools.

Furthermore, "Two important features of political conditionality are its ex ante nature and punitive character: predetermined conditions are set in advance to access development financing and failure to meet these precludes further disbursements of aid.” [3] This evidence just bolsters the idea that the living conditions and suffering of the people is objectified and reduced to nothing more that a tool in the toolkit when political conditionality is attached to aid.

Contention Two: Sovereignty affirms the Unjust Nature of Conditionality

Sovereignty is the concept that a State, not simply a person, has "freedom from external control: autonomy." [4] A sovereign derives its power from its people, and so we can say that a sovereign state earns its legitimacy through the consent of its citizens. This provides us a clear link to human dignity, insofar as we bring things back to the people. I'll explain what I mean.

The U.S. government has no official power in, say, Indonesia, because the citizens of Indonesia have not consented to U.S. governance. The citizens of Indonesia have instead used their autonomy to validate their own government in Jakarta. To disrespect the sovereignty of the Indonesian government, by extension, is to disrespect the autonomy of the people who consented to that government. Essentially, to disrespect Jakarta's sovereignty would be to say that the autonomous choices of a certain person or group of people don't matter, and that their decisions can be ignored, overlooked, or violated. Therefore, sovereignty in a legitimate government is also a matter of human dignity.

Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid violates sovereignty by violating the autonomy of the state. Countries in need of humanitarian aid are oftentimes in no position to refuse that aid; thus, refusing to accept is not an option that can be considered in any meaningful sense. This means that outside donor states are, in many cases, in a position to dictate terms to needy countries--a clear, unjust, and flagrant violation of their sovereignty.

“Of greatest concern, perhaps, is the inherent tension between conditions imposed by an outside lender and the cardinal democratic principle of consent. By their very nature, IMF conditions arise not from debate and discussion within a society, but come rather from unelected foreign experts. Locally made decisions lose relevance as conditionality ties the hands of domestic political actors." [5]


At this time, I would also like to speak very briefly to the efficacy of political conditionality, as this may come up later in the debate.

Point One: Conditionality creates a lack of “ownership," leading to failed reforms.

By "owernship" I am referring to a country's commitment to a reform agenda. When reforms are imposed on a country from the outside--as partially evidenced by the IMF card earlier--local people naturally feel less invested in the reforms. With less interest and focus being dedicated to those reforms, they are more likely to fail; people have no "stake" in their success. “If countries displayed no initial tendency to implement reforms of the desired type, then conditional lending appeared to have little effect in encouraging reform. The only countries that appeared to meet conditions were those whose governments favored the economic policies embodied in the adjustment program; it was government preferences, not aid conditions, that determined reform efforts.” [6] Oliver Morrissey of the University of Nottigham writes, "Decisions on policy-based lending cannot overlook the tensions between limited country ownership and the use of conditionality to ensure that reform objectives are achieved. If a country’s commitment or implementation capacity is weak, conditionality is unlikely to be effective. By itself conditionality cannot lead to the adoption of better policies if there is no consensus for reform.”

Point Two: Conditionality Promote Autocracy

“A recipient government may be able to exploit the infringement of sovereignty inherent in conditionality to arouse national feelings against external interference, thus diverting attention from domestic problems. It is true that a few ruling parties in Africa have actually emerged as stronger from the pressures to democratize, retaining power and even consolidating it...Such examples are Togo, Cameroon, Guinea...[and] the fundamentalist Islamic regime in Sudan.” [7]


1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 - Devesh Kapur & Richard Webb, Harvard University, 2000, Governance-Related Conditionalities of the International Financial Institutions, G-24 Discussion Paper No. 6, August, p. 8
6 - Stefan G. Koeberle, World Bank, 2003, The World Bank Research Observer, Fall, Vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 249-273, p. 260
7 - Gordon Crawford, Centre for Development Studies, University of Leeds, 1997, Democratization, 4:3, 69-108, p. 84
8 -

Thanks, again! Over to Con...



P1. For political conditions for humanitarian aid to be unjust, the conditions themselves must be unjust, as opposed to the fact that there are conditions.
P2. Political conditions placed on humanitarian aid are not necessarily unjust.
C1. Political conditions for humanitarian aid are not necessarily unjust.

P1. Political conditions for humanitarian aid are not necessarily unjust, which means that it is possible for political conditions on humanitarian aid to be just.
P2. Historically, political conditions placed on humanitarian aid have been just.
C2. Political conditions on humanitarian aid in action is just.

Arguments for C1

Conditions Are Not Necessarily Unjust

It stands to reason that conditional assistance is not, in and of itself, unjust. Although altruism may or may not have its applications, it certainly isn't always practical. Ideally, there will be a mutual benefit in all exchanges. Empowerment comes not only in the form of autonomy, but also in the form of earning assistance when it's needed, rather than relying on the good will of wealthier or more stable nations.

More importantly, conditions can actually improve aid provided by making it more helpful in both the short and long term. Without these conditions, nations that receive aid can become dependent on it, or end up in worse conditions.

Moreover, there is a great deal of humanitarian aid that is needed worldwide by several nations simultaneously. This requires distinctions in both who will receive humanitarian aid (as, what determines what nation needs it or deserves it more than any other?), as well as how humanitarian aid will be of any benefit, both in the long term for the nation receiving assistance, as well as the nation providing assistance. Conditions on the humanitarian aid provided can help make these distinctions (as, those willing or able to meet these conditions can then be deemed eligible for aid) while also make only those who will actually benefit from the aid in the long term eligible, rather than those who will persistently require aid (as, ultimately, that aid would be of benefit neither for those giving the aid, nor those receiving it).

Arguments for C2

Historically, Conditions Have Been Just

The Humanitarian Policy Group (HPG) released a report in 2001 called
Politics and Humanitarian Aid: Debates, Dilemmas and Dissension [1], in which the reasons for political conditions were outlined. These include:

Geopolitical Changes

The last time there was an interest in global influence on a political level, rather than exclusively on an economic level, was the Cold War. At this time, spheres of influence were managed through diplomacy. However, with the end of the Cold War, and with a significant reduction in the colonial approach to global influence, there required another way to maintain diplomacy with the world to maintain security and peaceful relations.

Changing the Nature of the Conflict

Civil conflict in other countries often causes humanitarian aid to be futile. For example, in some African countries, a lack of a stable government results in several splinter factions that war for control, resulting in the civil unrest that causes a requirement for aid. Those splinter factions often use humanitarian aid, such as food rations, as leverage to increase their control over territories. Sometimes, humanitarian aid becomes the only form of currency in an area. Political conditions that can change the nature of such conflict to shift control back to the people or a more stable form of government can help solve the problem, which can serve as another form of humanitarian aid, despite that it's in the form of a condition.

New Definitions of Security

These same factions described above are also rife with criminal activity, which can then turn the country into a channel for drug and human trafficking, terrorism, and refugee flows, which can then become a threat to national security. Political conditions can help to, "change the behavior of populations within countries," [1] thus decreasing security threats while also providing humanitarian aid to those who need it.

The Perceived Failings of Traditional Humanitarian Action

There is a breadth of criticism of past humanitarian aid failings. In Saving Strangers: Humanitarian Intervention in International Society, [2] evidence is given that some governments will turn against their own people in light of humanitarian aid from other countries with which they do not have positive diplomatic relationships.

Moreover, humanitarian aid sometimes functions to actually worsen a civil or economic struggle within a nation. Criticisms to humanitarian aid points this out, citing Haiti as a primary example, as seen in The Moral Hazards of Humanitarian Aid published in The New Yorker. [3]

Conditions can include provisions to ensure that governing bodies take steps to decrease their need for aid in the future, so that they don't remain in the same dire straits, or in an even worse condition.

Domestic Policy in Donor Governments

Domestic policy is a large influence on humanitarian aid. A government can't very well violate it's own ideals for the sake of a country that appears to need help elsewhere. These ideals may not only include commercial interests (such as capitalism) or security interests (such as the elimination of terrorist threats), but also good international citizenship (or, acceptable practices within spheres of influence.

Moreover, conditional humanitarian aid may simply be part of a country's practices. In the United States, for example, welfare is conditioned on whether those that receive it find gainful employment within two years of receiving aid. [4]

Liberal Global Governance in Search of Order

It is often the government or practices of a nation, particularly a developing one, that leads to the requirement of humanitarian aid, usually from civil strife or economic disability. Political conditions can help include non-state actors that would bring skills and resources state actors cannot legitimately include, which can help change the behaviors and attitudes causing the need for aid in the first place. This is tantamount to allowing someone with mental issues to live independently on the condition that he or she receives counselling, rather than committing the person or leaving him or her to their own devices, which can be ultimately harmful.

Risk Assessment and Risk Management

Part of providing humanitarian aid is determining the risks and necessary investment involved. These risks can be mitigated by proposing conditions that will eliminate them, rather than simply stating that potential recipients of aid are ineligible for aid due to the risks involved (such as those that would render the aid inconsequential, or that which would threaten national security of a donor nation, a donor nation's allies, or neighboring nations of the recipient).

On the Power of Conditionality

It is true that conditions do limit the power of the recipient government and increase the leverage of the donor government. But, that is the essence of giving aid: it already admits that one party is weak -- in fact, too weak to take care of itself -- and that the other party is significantly stronger, in that it can take care of itself (generally speaking) in addition to taking care of another (the recipient party). Moreover, although it may not always solve a problem, it is the most moral way to attempt to do so. Without attempting to influence a government to improve its practices or a population to improve its ideals through the use of conditions, there is little a government can do to help them short of forcing them. There is no complete removal or emasculation of a government or nation in the case of conditional humanitarian assistance, as a country can always reject conditions, as some have.


Debate Round No. 2


Once again, I thank Such for this debate. In this round, I will rebut Con's case.


Syllogism 1

There are two key issues with Con's analysis: (1) P2 assumes that Conditions are not, by their very nature, unjust, (2) P1 assumes that the fact that conditions are there is not as relevant as the justness of those conditions themselves; yet the resolution talks about "placing political conditions," implying that the presence and nature of conditions is worthy of consideration.

Syllogism 2

This debate is neither focused on discussing whether, historically, conditions have been just or not. P1 is simply an extension of the first syllogism.


What Con seems to be doing here is setting up a framework for his case. Really, I don't think the syllogisms are as important as some recurring themes in the text of his arguments are. Let's examine these briefly:

- "conditions can actually improve aid provided by making it more helpful"
- "political conditions that can change the nature of such conflict"
- "political conditions can help to, 'change the behavior of populations within countries'"
- "risks can be mitigated by proposing conditions"

We can conclude, from the above, that many of Con's arguments rest on the idea the conditionality actually has positive effects. Whether or not Con is using consequentialist logic to justify his stance--and I would say that he is, at least tacitly, doing so--his impacts rely on it.

CONTENTION ONE: Conditionality is not Necessarily Unjust

The idea that people suffering in humanitarian crises should "earn" assistance is also misguided. Innocent people placed in extreme suffering do not deserve their predicament. There are many things in life that should be earned, but our basic rights and our human dignity are not some of those things--they just inhere within us because of our very nature. If I am suffering famine, I should not have to earn food because I have a right to it. In there most basic sense rights are entitlements [1], and so their conditions should be met sans any action by the right-holder.

Additionally, distinctions as to who to give aid to can be made in ways that do not involve conditions, and so this seems like a rather non-unique point of discussion. What this paragraph really seems to boil down to is this: do conditions make humanitarian aid any more beneficial? Con suggests that they do, but I will endeavor to illustrate otherwise.

CONTENTION TWO: Conditions Have been Just

Firstly, this contention seems to provide a laundry list of reasons why political conditions are useful. Why does usefulness translate to justness? Con provides no clear link here. Just because something produces benefits or is practical does not mean it is just. It may be beneficial or expedient to do many immoral things, including killing prisoners, vice trying them, but there is no link to justice. Con's tagline is that these conditions have been just, but why is that so? He never explains.

I will be doing a macro-analysis of conditions' efficacy shortly, but let's look at the micro-level of Con's specific points first:


Why are conditions necessary to maintain security and peaceful relations? Why are they the best way to do this? Why is Pro's world any less safe than Con's? Con never explains, nor presents any reasoning in the text of his debate. Clearly, I do not preclude the use of diplomacy, just conditions.


Perhaps providing security for humanitarian convoys would be a better solution than making aid conditional. Why is conditionality the only way to solve this problem? Why is the best way, morally-speaking? Again, Con never says.


I will make broader arguments about the efficacy of conditionality momentarily. Apply these here.


Con says "some governments will turn against their own people in light of humanitarian aid from other countries." To me this implies that if the U.S. gives aid to an anti-U.S. nation, the nation will turn on their own people. Surely, the nation permitted the aid to flow through its borders? Even so, how prevalent are these instances? Can Con provide some examples?

Again, cross-apply my general utility arguments here. Also, humanitarian aid is emergency relief aid; it is not structural aid. Thus, nations are far less likely to become dependent on humanitarian aid.

Domestic Policy

The rights to life supersede any superficial ideological goals. Simply because Uganda passed an anti-gay law does not mean aid should be withdrawn allowing its people to suffer. Then the donor becomes no better than the immoral recipient.

Liberal Governance

This seems to espouse a neo-colonial paradigm whereby conditions are used to bring about a change in ethics. What gives donors the right to decide what is or is not permissible (in terms of social mores and cultural practices) in recipient states? Neo-colonialism is, in itself a harm, because it otherizes and degrades others and their right to their own belief systems and customs. Con even compares recipients to people with "mental issues," which seems to reflect imperialistic superiority complexes as the seek to "civilize" the rest of the globe.


Again, make the cross-application here.


certainly, there is a power disparity between the donor and recipient. the goal is, however, to avoid exploiting that advantage for the gain of any one side. "Influencing" more so resembles coercion when discussing the strong impacting the weak.


Political conditionality is ineffective. My off-case also supplements the following points.

Conditionality Overwhelms Recipients

“For all the heightened concern with the promotion of 'good governance' in Third World countries, it is quite conceivable that one effect of the various external initiatives and involvements in this regard is, paradoxically, to reduce rather than strengthen Third World governments’ capacity for policy-making and implementation. At the micro-level the externally-induced creation of autonomous institutions for improved management may undermine local government capacity. Diversion of aid flows via NGOs may similarly weaken the government departments charged with responsibility for the areas concerned. Demands for compliance with contradictory instructions from different donors may result in confusion and distortions in addition to overburdening qualified manpower which is in short supply.” [2]

Conditionality Backfires: NGOs

“Political conditionality...has significant implications for [NGO’s] operations in developing countries and relations with governments and donors...the suspension or termination of bilateral aid programs to countries which are judged to have poor records on human rights or repressive political systems can have significant repercussions for NGO programs. The poorest people, who are the principal clients of NGOs, can be adversely affected by political conditionality if aid is reduced or terminated...It can also provoke retaliation against NGOs and human rights agencies by recipient governments.” [3]

Historically, Donors Fail to Acquire Needed Information

“Donor officials are apt to exert pressure on the recipient government to create a context in which policies are formulated without adequate analysis of objective local economic and social conditions. Insufficient attention is paid to the need for consistency between the proposed policy environment and the development goals and needs of the recipient country.” [4]

Conditionality Interferes with Saving Lives

"While donors’ political concern vis-a-vis engagement with an illegitimate authority is understandable to many, what is of concern is that such a policy restricts the capacity of the international assistance community to adequately meet even the short term goals of life saving. This flies in the face of received wisdom…the assistance community may be able to save the lives of Afghan children, of whom one out of four dies before the age of five and 85,000 die each year from diarrhea, if they were able to receive unconditional humanitarian resources and allowed to work with the public health authorities in a principled manner." [5]

Conditionality Backfires: Violence

“Aid shocks…decreases in aid revenue…shift the domestic balance of power and induce conflict. During aid shocks rebels gain bargaining strength vis-à-vis the government…Rapid changes in aid flows—aid shocks—can grow large enough to materially affect the balance of power between a government…and potential rebels…[Therefore] aid shocks…will be associated with a higher likelihood of armed conflict.” [6]

Cannot Determine if Goals are Met

“It is harder to monitor outcomes than policies, and data on outcomes are often not available or are fraught with methodological problems. Finally, even if there is a clear link between government actions and outcomes and data on outcomes are available, outcomes typically change slowly and can be monitored only over the medium term – implying that current governments would be held responsible for the actions of their predecessors. Linking disbursements to outcomes would also be impractical for policy-based lending, which usually involves disbursements over periods of less than three years.” [7]


1 -
2 - Martin Doornbos, Institute of Social Studies-The Hague, 1995, Aid and Political Conditionality, ed. Olav Stokke, p. 386-7
3 - Mark Robinson, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, 1993, Political Conditionality, ed. Georg Sorensen, p. 96
4 - Mosharaff Hossain, Economics Professor, Dhaka University, 1995, Aid and Political Conditionality, ed. Olav Stokke, p. 269
5 -
6 -
7 - Koeberle, previously cited (R2)
Thanks! Over to Con...


Framework, Rebuttals

Utilizing People as a Means to an End

The argument essentially equivocates political conditions with forcing another entity to a desired end without compensation or freedom. This equivoaction is a strawman. Political conditions do not remove freedom. Moreover, they are not a plea for production of any kind. They are conditions set forth to ensure that humanitarian aid is effective, and isn't required long-term. If the qualification for injustice is the removal of compensation or freedom for a desired end, then political conditions for humanitarian aid do not meet this qualification, and can thus be accepted as just.

Contention One, Rebuttals

Pro indicated that the purpose of political conditionality is to force a form of governmental change. This does not make sense; to force something is to apply something against someone's will, free of any choice otherwise. Conditions for aid are never applied against a country or region's will. Humanitarian aid can always be rejected, and it has been rejected; accordingly, there is no force involved, neither through physical means nor through political insistance or pressure, for humanitarian aid, nor the conditions that accompany them. There are organizations that specifically deal with humanitarian aid negotiations, such as the Overseas Development Insitute (ODI) [1], and these negotiations include reprisals of conditions set on proposed humanitarian aid.

Once again, conditions for humanitarian aid are for the purpose of improving humanitarian aid. They aren't for any political gain, but instead to amend governmental issues that are either causing or exacerbating a crisis. For example, the Sri Lankan government collected and imprisoned 270 thousand people in 2009, because the government suspected them of supporting Tamil rebels. The government allowed humanitarian organizations to provide assistance, but that assistance became the only means by which those prisoners of war could receive basic services. The organizations were left with two options: to compromise their neutrality by operating in tandem with UN peacekeeping and international donors, or to make their aid conditional, so that the survival of those people did not require long term aid and sponsorship by the organization, and instead, a reduction or cessation of conflict with Tamil rebels. [2]

To "bolster" this argument, Pro renders the quote: "Two important features of political conditionality are its ex ante nature and punitive character: predetermined conditions are set in advance to access development financing and failure to meet these precludes further disbursements." This indicates two facts that weakens Pro's argument. First, that aid is provided initially despite whether conditions are met, and further aid requires that those conditions are met, those conditions most often being a means to render the aid functional or to mitigate internal problems that led to the need for aid in the first place.

Contention Two, Rebuttals

The second case initiated by Pro states that political sanctions violate a state's sovereignty. However, when a country falls into such crisis as to require aid, that country has already relinquished its own sovereignty. It no longer has ultimate power, merely because that country cannot survive on its own. Requiring the need of another nation is not sovereignty; it is dependence. That dependence does not come with repudiation, merely conditions that can help the nation become soveriegn again. A country has never attained control over another country through humanitarian aid, conditional or otherwise. Unless Pro can give some examples of a country that enacted control over another through conditional humanitarian aid, this argument is moot. From a realist perspective, political agents are hardly moral actors, but are instead responsibile for their countries in general despite ideological claimes:

"Realism maintains that universal oral principles cannot be applied to the action of states in their abstract universal formulation, but that they must be filtered through the concrete circumstances of time and place. The individual may say for himself: Fiat justitia, pereat mundus (Let justice be done,even if the world perish)," but the state has no right to say so in the nae of those who are in its car. Both individual and state must judge political action by universal moral principles, such as that of liberty. Yet, while the individual has a moral right to sacrifice himself in defense of such a moral principle, the state has no right to let its moral disapprobatino of the infringement of liberty get in the way of successful political action, itself inspired by the moral principle of national surivival. There can be no political morality without prudence; that is, without consideration of the political consequences of seemingly moral action. Realism, then, considersw prudence -- the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions -- to be the supreme virtue in politics. Ethics in the abstract judges action by its conformity with the moral law; political ethics judges action by its political consequences." [3]

In this regard, a consequential approach must be made to support the decisions of a governing body, rather than an ideological approach, as ideologies may not be practical when it comes to the lives of the people.

Pro supports the argument for reduced sovereignty further by noting the quote:

"Of greatest concern...ties the hands of domestic political actors."

It is true that conditions result from unelected foreign experts, but this is in the interest of neutrality, which is one of the main tenets of humanitarian aid:

"Humanitarian assistance is aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies. The characteristics that mark it out from other forms of foreign assitance and development aid are that it is intended to be governed by the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence." [4]

Moreover, the fact is that in the absence of a stable governance upon which conditions can be applied, recent humanitarian aid in Syria has been all but completely unsuccessful, resulting in accusations that no humanitarian aid is being provided:

"While security concerns and a country with divided leadership and loyalties have forced us, and virtually all of the groups providing them relief in northern Syria, to maintain an extremely low profile, I am speaking out now because the flawed narrative of "absent aid" threatens to hurt the people of Syria and endanger the aid groups working to help them."

Off-Case Rebuttals

Pro asserts that conditional lending from the IMF has been historically unsuccessful without a preexisting tendency for such reforms. However, the IMF, or International Monetary Fund, is a relief fund that loans money to countries who express a need to bolster funds in order to enact structural changes. Financial aid from the international community and humanitarian aid are not the same thing. [5]

Pro also assedrts that a government may be able to exploit humanitarian assistance to around national feelings against external interference. However, this actually supports the soft approach of conditions, which leads to aid that countries can still profit from, but act autonomously, even against the intentions of the aid itself, and through this, increase their power and influence. That hardly appears to be a lack or removal of sovereignty -- quite the opposite.


Debate Round No. 3


Again, thanks to Such for this debate! I will defend my case at this time.


Con accuses me of presenting a strawman, which is a logical fallacy or debate tactic whereby one engages in "misrepresentation of an opponent's argument." [1] Since I this is my own argument, and not a rebuttal, I cannot have misrepresented Con's case here, and so it is not actually a strawman. Therefore, no logical fallacy was committed.

What Con seems to mean is that I am making an assumption that conditionality does present a choice, and that I have ignored this fact. So long as there is a choice, Con seems to assert, people's autonomy is respected. I have three responses:

1. This argument is totally non-responsive to my actual framework. All my framework seeks to do is establish the importance of autonomy and human dignity in making moral judgment. Con has never rebutted this, and so we can extend it. It is DROPPED.
2. Not all of my contentions rely on the idea that conditionality does/doesn't present a choice. Even if it does present a choice, for example, it still attempts to use people as bartering chips. Thus, Con's arguments don't take out my first contention.
3. I am focusing on a MEANINGFUL choice. Consider that I point a gun at your family and give you the following choice: "empty your bank account and give me the money, or they die." You have a choice, but the choice is not a meaningful one because you have only one real option to take (from a moral POV). Thus, your autonomy is still disrespected.

Additionally, Con says "conditions [are] set forth to ensure that humanitarian aid is effective, and isn't required long-term." Unfortunately, that is not true of all conditions. Some conditions may be exploitative or imperialistic, and Con must defend those too. Con cannot pick and choose what type of conditionality he will defend, since he is called upon to defend conditionality as a broad concept.


A political condition may attempt to improve the efficacy of aid, but that is not necessarily the case. Consider that the U.S. might insist that Nation X open it's economies to the free market more in exchange for aid. This has nothing to do with whether or not the aid is effective, because its concerned with far more "macro" economic policy. Consider also the potential for hegemonic influence. When President Yanucovich was in office in Ukraine, Russia offered him aid; in exchange for that aid, Ukraine had to scrap its deal with the EU. [1] While the aid in this case was not so much humanitarian, it does demonstrate how conditionality can be for a broad variety of purposes, all of which Con must defend. He cannot pick and choose what types of conditionality suit him to support.

The idea that conditionality isn't forced is faulty. In a serious humanitarian disaster, a country often finds itself in pieces. It may be left with two options: take the aid, or collapse/watch millions of people die. Clearly, there is only one viable choice in this scenario. When placed under such strains, this "choice" really isn't a choice--a country must accept the conditions or fail to uphold its primary duty to its citizens: protect their rights. But even if you don't buy this logic, we can still support my contention one without the idea of the donor forcing the recipient into accepting conditions, because of the notion of bartering chips.

Let's say Nation Q approaches Nation C. Nation C is suffering a MASSIVE humanitarian crises, and is in dire needs of assistance. Nation Q offers Nation C an aid package with some conditions that Nation C has long resisted. Nation Q is using the suffering of Nation C's citizens to gain additional leverage on Nation C, to try to get Nation C to accept conditions its rejected in the past. In this case, the suffering victims are being used as tools, as means to Nation Q's end. This is wrong. Insofar as conditions on emergency aid, by their very nature, include provisos that another nation must accept in order to receive that aid, conditions are exploiting the victims of the crisis in order to get what they want. This is a clear violation of the victims' human dignity.

Sir Lanka was cherry-picked, and we fail to learn, from Con's quote, about whether or not the conditions worked.

My quote about political conditionality was specifically referring to ex ante conditions. There are myriad types of conditions, including ex post. Each one comes with its own sets of problems. My specific argument here was that aid--I would personally assert aid with any form of conditions--is necessarily punitive. If aid can be denied or withdrawn, punitively when a country fails to comply with conditions, then conditions entail coercive tactics which violate the sovereign integrity of a nation and which, again, uses the suffering or potential suffering of people as a threat to achieve some goal.


Pro assumes that a country relinquishes its sovereignty in a humanitarian disaster. Frankly, this isn't so. A states has no obligation to be perfect, nor does it have to. When the U.S. was hit by Katrina--a humanitarian disaster--it's sovereignty did not suddenly evaporate. It was not the fault of the state that such an emergency occurred. Remember what humanitarian assistance is--it's EMERGENCY aid. Emergencies occur everywhere, and no nation can be expected to prepare for all emergencies. War is oftentimes an unexpected emergency. Look at the Tuareg rebels in Mali for example, or Boko Haram in Nigeria. Simply because those governments are not doing a good job at handling those rebellions does not mean those governments are illegitimate, because those governments are still trying to ensure and protect the rights of their citizens. Even the U.S. cannot protect its people against all terror attacks. I would submit that the vast majority of humanitarian crises arise not as a result of calculated and deliberate state abuse, but rather as a result of factors like rebel movements, natural disasters, or economic pressures that yield most humanitarian crises. Pro just makes this bare assertion fallacy that because nations have humanitarian crises they're illegitimate--this line of analysis would lead us to conclude that EVERY government EVERYWHERE was illegitimate. That's just not true.

Next, Pro suggests that conditionality is not a means of seizing control of another country; perhaps not in the literal since that country X absolutely controls country Y, but conditions can be used to accrus undue influence in others nations, in a soft-power hegemony. Note, that Pro himself states "spheres of influence were managed through diplomacy," now he suggests that conditions should be used to manage spheres of influence to maintain peace. Certainly, this is an argument in favor of hegemony, and again the supreme authority of a state within its realm that sovereignty requires. Consider that through the U.S.'s massive aid donations to places like Egypt, Rwanda, Myanmar Equatorial Guinea, and Ukraine, we assure ourselves the allegiance (or improve cooperation with), to varying degrees, on the international stage, and acquire influence over how they act internally and externally. Russia does similar things. By giving aid to countries like Belarus, and China giving aid to Malaysia and North Korea, they assure the alignment of these nations.

What Con's realism essential advocates is a cost-benefit analysis over rights. I've gone to great lengths to show that conditionality doesn't work, so even if you buy this framework, Con is still losing. However, the idea is faulty. We have rights for a reason--to act as trumps. My right to freedom of speech is meaningless if the government can violate it in the sake of some oft-nebulous "greater good." Think of how many atrocities have been justified by the idea that states are political first, moral second. The internment of the Japanese in WWII is an excellent example of this; so is apartheid or the Holocaust, or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In each case, leaders believed they were considering "prudence--the weighing of the consequences of alternative political actions--to be the supreme virtue in politics." To prevent such atrocities, we must recognize the trump value of rights deonotologically...and, on the international stage, sovereignty is a right. My own evidence shows this. So, to prevent the atrocities that occurred through colonial oppression, we need to acknowledge sovereignty as a trump, esp. at it is anchored in human dignity.

Con also dodges the point of my quote, with states that outside actors infringe this sovereignty, which he agrees, and that they lack ownership as a result. this clearly undermines the tenet of independence inherent to aid.


Whether it is the IMF or another organization, the LOGIC behind the analysis holds. And, since oftentimes humanitarian crises can unfold over several years. structural adjustment programs made be part and parcel of conditionality packages.

(A) Pro cannot choose to only defend the "soft-approach" since he is defending a vary broad, umbrella concept. I've already addressed the power dynamic betwixt conditions and recipients. Finally, Con never seems to rebut the underlying argument about ownership and autocracy that I am making.

Thanks. Over to Con...


Thank you Bsh1, likewise, for this debate.

I will now present my defense.


Syllogism 1

P2 is not actually an assumption, but rather, an extension of P1 -- if P1 were true, then P2 is also true. It logically follows that conditions must be unjust, rather than the fact that there must be conditions for humanitarian aid to be unjust, and if that were the case, then conditions are not necessarily unjust.

However, these syllogisms are not meant to stand alone. They are meant to provide a framework for my case -- a simple statement that sums what my argument is. To hold my position, I must be asserting what those syllogisms present. The rest of my argument does not stand on its own, but is instead evidence and support for the syllogisms I begin with, so they are not left as assumptions, but rather, statements that logically follow in consideration of the provided proof.

Syllogism 2

It is true that P1 is an extension of the first syllogism. This is because my argument is cohesive. In other words:

Syllogism 1 indicates what my position in the argument is.
Syllogism 2 is why I hold that position within the argument.
The conclusions that follow are what I defend within the remainder of my argument, and this is why they're labelled "Arguments for C1" and "Arguments for C2."

It logically follows that if something isn't necessarily unjust, and it hasn't been unjust historically, then it isn't unjust in general, although there may be exceptions (as there are exceptions to everything). This is the basis of scientific perspectives and reasonable beliefs. In other words:

If: A (as a thing) can be B (as a characteristic).
And: A is usually B.
Then (Functionally): A is B.

On Dismissing Premises on the Own

Once again, my opponent's argument is a Strawman:

"A straw man argument is one that misrepresents a position in order to make it appear weaker than it actually is, refutes this misrepresentation of the position, and then concludes that the real position has been refuted." [1]

In the first attempt to present a Strawman argument, Pro asserted that defending political conditionality on humanitarian aid is tantamount to defending an attack on liberty and sovereignty. Here is an example of a Strawman argument:

"(1) Trinitarianism holds that three equals one.
(2) Three does not equal one.

(3) Trinitarianism is false.

This is an example of a straw man argument because its first premise misrepresents trinitarianism, its second premise attacks this misrepresentation of trinitarianism, and its conclusion states that trinitarianism is false. Trinitarianism, of course, does not hold that three equals one, and so this argument demonstrates nothing concerning its truth." [1]

Likewise, Pro's initial argument was an example of a straw man argument because its first premise misrepresents political conditionality (by assuming that it is a means to force a desired end without compensation or freedom), its second premise attacks this misrepresentation of political conditionality, and its conclusion states that political conditionality is unjust.

In this incarnation of a strawman argument, Pro oversimplifies my argument rather than misrepresents it. In this case, Pro assessed an entire argument, disregarded its support, and asserted that it, alone and removed from its support, is an argument based on assumptions. This is fallacious.


I impress upon the judges that the syllogisms are important to contextualize my arguments. The recurring themes in my arguments are there to support the fact that generally, political conditions on humanitarian aid are just, and therefore, placing them is also just.

This does not necessarily assert a consequentialist stance, as there is no channel between the application of political conditions and the benefits or detriments of the humanitarian aid that frames those conditions. In other words, consequentialism asserts that the consequences of an act is morally justified by the outcome of that act. In other words, if there were a country ruled by a corrupt regime, a consequentialist might defend warring with the country and killing enough of its military, and even civilians, to bring the regime to its knees and ends its corruption. So, the objective is to end corruption, the channel in that example is war. However, in the case of providing humanitarian assistance, political conditions aren't a channel. They are part of the assistance, to render it more functional. They, in and of themselves, are neutral, and are unjust based on the nature of what they impose on a country receiving assistance.

Humanitarian assistance is a failure if it does not actually assist a country. Therefore, something that increases the benefit of that assistance is not utilitarian, per se -- it is logical.

CONTENTION ONE: Conditionality is not Necessarily Unjust, Rebuttals

There seems to be an assumption in Pro's rebuttal that earning something implies that one deserves the consequences of not earning it before one has even attempted to earn it. I made no indication of this.

I agree with Pro's assertion that basic, unalienable rights should not need to be earned. However, humanitarian assistance is not a provision of those rights, which include:

  • Right to self-determination
  • Right to liberty
  • Right to due process of law
  • Right to freedom of movement
  • Right to freedom of thought
  • Right to freedom of religion
  • Right to freedom of expression
  • Right to peaceably assemble
  • Right to freedom of association[2]
However, the ability to earn assistance when needed is an unalienable right -- it is the right to self-determination. Therefore, my assertions that support my argument that conditionality is not necessarily unjust stand.

Pro also asserts that distinctions can be made for who receives aid without conditions, but gives no examples. Accordingly, this is the logical fallacy "Argument by Assertion," or a blind assertion. [3]

CONTENTION TWO: Conditions Have Been Just, Rebuttals

Pro indicates that I have made no connection between conditions improving the benefit and/or success of humanitarian aid and justice. Pro compared this with a mysterious benefit or expediency to killing prisoners as opposed to granting them due process. However, at the close of my argument, titled "The Power of Conditionality," I explained how conditions are the most moral (just) way of rendering humanitarian aid successful. I must impress upon Pro and the judges that I have not rendered a series of arguments in one round, but rather, entire arguments, with layers of support.


- I never indicated that conditions are necessary to maintain security and peaceful relations, but that they are a way to do so, and have been used to do so. I know nothing of Pro's world, and Pro's proposed world is largely irrelevant to this debate. Is that a world without political conditions for humanitarian aid? That is an interesting world indeed, and perhaps, one that can functionally maintain security and peaceful relations. However, this does not detract from the fact that political conditions that ensure security and peaceful relations are just.

- Security for humanitarian convoys are likely effective in protecting humanitarian organizations in an area with civil strife, but it does nothing for the civilians in the country with the strife that now need humanitarian aid to fill gaps in needs. Are political conditions the most moral way to approach this problem? I do not know, and I assert that Pro doesn't, either, but that does nothing to detract from the fact that political conditions that protect humanitarian organizations and civilians from countries suffering from civil strife are just.

- In terms of the failings of humanitarian aid due to governments turning against their own people in light of humanitarian aid, this is most often committed by a government that has already turned on its people in light of civil strife. Examples include the Bosnian crisis [4], the Darfur crisis [5], and most notably, the current civil war in Syria. Also, humanitarian aid is meant to be temporary, leading to steps taken, almost exclusively in the form of political conditions, to ensure that the aid is beneficial in the long term, rather than something that can exacerbate a continuous problem. A serious question that threatens the very practice of providing humanitarian aid altogether is whether it actually prolongs wars and increases suffering:

"All too frequently, according to Polman, the result is not what it says in the charity brochures. She cites a damning catalogue of examples from Biafra to Darfur, and including the Ethiopian famine, in which humanitarian aid has helped prolong wars, or rewarded the perpetrators of ethnic cleansing and genocide rather than the victims." [6]

- The right to life does supercede superficial ideological goals. However, countries do not receive humanitarian aid due to superficial ideologies. They sometimes receive them due to damning domestic policy, which requires contingency to correct.

- It is not part of a neo-colonial paradigm to instigate a change in a situation that initially necessitated humanitarian aid as part and parcel to that aid.

- Pro has made no case whatsoever for how political conditions are advantageous to any one side.

I have no more room for argumentation.

Debate Round No. 4


Thanks to Such for a great debate! In this round, I will review the key arguments in this debate, and conclude with some reasons to vote Pro.




Con says that P2 is not actually an assumption. The point I am making is that in Con's first syllogism he is assuming--in both P2 and P2--that conditions are not inherently unjust. He has yet to show that they are not.


Essentially, what Con is saying here is that his syllogisms are not arguments in themselves, but rather previews or outlines of what his arguments are. As Con writes, " these syllogisms are not meant to stand alone. They are meant to provide a framework for my case." Therefore, even if Con's syllogisms make sense, they cannot be used to negate the resolution because they presuppose that Con is winning the contentions.


My argument regarding sovereignty was not a mischaracterization of Con's argument, rather it was a construction of my own. My C2 makes the argument about sovereignty before Con even gives his first speech; Con seems to be confusing constructive cases with strawmans. I am allowed to put forth arguments as part of a separate case which Con needs to address. It is my argument that, by their very nature, conditions violate sovereignty. Con needs to address that argument, not just dismiss it as a strawman--which it is not. I have already addressed and defended my contentions in this debate. Con's claims about strawmans are unresponsive to my arguments.


Con makes the argument that political conditionality is not a channel, but an integral "part of the assistance, to render it more functional." Again, Con may not pick and choose what types of conditionality he will defend--not all conditionals are designed to make aid more functional. Secondly, if political conditions render aid ineffective, then they are not neutral as Con suggests, because there is a "channel between the application of political conditions and the benefits or detriments of the humanitarian aid."

Ultimately, though, Con claims that for conditionality to be unjust, the "conditions themselves must be unjust, as opposed to the fact that there are conditions." (A) The mere presence of conditions can be wrong if they violate human dignity, and (B) the conditions may be unjust if they increase suffering. Notice how all of Con's arguments rely on the fact that conditions bring about some positive benefits. Thus, if Con is unable to show that conditions do actually reap those rewards, then the conditions--insofar as they prolong or increase suffering--are unjust. Con does rely on consequentialist logic to justify the reasons for and benefits of utility; notice how Con is always talking about how conditions impact the efficacy of aid.

C1: Not Unjust

I would argue that Con's argument that humanitarian assistance does not arise out of concerns for our most basic rights is faulty.

If we grant that the right to life--our most basic right--is endangered in a humanitarian crisis, assistance is necessary, and constitutes a provision of those rights. As I noted earlier, if I am starving to death due to a famine, I do not need to earn food, since I have an unalienable right to my life, and by extension, to basic sustenance needed to sustain my life. Therefore, people do not need to earn humanitarian assistance, because it is essential to maintain life.

Also, such assistance is key to meeting our most basic needs [1], such as food, water, shelter, etc. Without these needs, it is hard if not impossible to access other unalienable rights. It is hard for me to engage in self-determination, when I have no water to drink and am exposed to the elements. I am focused merely on survival, with little opportunity to steer the course of my own existence.

Therefore, insofar as Con agrees that "that basic, unalienable rights should not need to be earned," and insofar as we acknowledge that life is an unalienable right, we agree that humanitarian assistance, which is often essential to life, should not need to be earned. Let's display this logic as follows:

1. Humanitarian disasters (war, natural disasters, disease epidemics, etc) threaten lives
2. I am entitled to that which I need to maintain my right to life
3. I am entitled to humanitarian assistance

Recall what Con said last round: "The right to life does supercede superficial ideological goals."

Distinctions could be made on the basis of urgency assessments, for example. There need not be conditions to make such triage calls.

C2: Historically Just

Let's keep this in mind as the round continues. But, moreover, Con's response to my prisoner example is inadequate. He says he wants to justly maximize consequences--so what constitutes "just?" I consider imperialistic conditions to be unjust, yet Con seems to think that such conditions are just. So, Con leaves us with no idea of what he means by "just" except for the fact that he wishes to make aid effective. So, it seems under that paradigm, a nation could impose unjust conditions (since Con's criteria for justness is vague) and justify those conditions by claiming they were net beneficial. In that case, the conditions are still unjust.

Con agrees that "perhaps, [in Pro's World] one that can functionally maintain security and peaceful relations." If that is so, then why is geopolitical stability a unique piece of offense for Con? Remember, Pro's world is merely against political conditions on aid, and does not preclude diplomacy or other avenues of maintaining stability. Since Con has no evidence showing that conditions make the world any more stable than the world would be without them.

Con admits that he is unsure if conditions are the most moral way to ensure the proper distribution of aid. He also admits that security details for aid convoys would reap some positive benefits by ensuring the safety of aid organizations. But, keep in mind my world still allows for other types of solutions to humanitarian crises, not just aid. Peacekeeping forces oftentimes, in tandem with unconditional aid, would work in many cases, I think, largely because it would work to minimize the civil strife, while simultaneously ensuring safe aid disbursement. Ultimately though, this reaches beyond the scope of the debate. Suffice it to say that Con's argument about civil strife does not necessarily apply, and moreover, Con has failed to show that conditionality actually improve the effectiveness of aid in unstable regions.

Con's argument here is ridiculous. If a government "has already turned on its people in light of civil strife" then it seems that humanitarian aid isn't the cause of the government turning on its people, because that turn has already occurred. Again, Con offers no evidence that shows that conditions actually work to make aid more effective. Con says that aid prolonged conflicts, but why does conditional aid not prolong conflicts? Con never explains. Con's evidence is against aid in general, and can be turned to rebut Con's case just as much as my own. It's non-unique.

If the right to life supersedes ideology, then it would be immorally to violate that right to maximize less important ideologies. It is neo-colonial to impose foreign ethical systems on nations. Foreign ideologies are pushed onto recipient nations via conditionality--that's wrong.

Con drops that there is an unfair power dynamic between the donor and recipient. This reinforces my argument that there is oftentimes little meaningful choice open to recipients.

General Utility

Con drops all of these points. Con may not attempt to rebut these points next round as any such points would be new arguments, and I would have no chance to respond to those new arguments. Therefore, again, Con may not rebut these points because it is against the rules and would be unfair to me. Extend all of the following points:

1. Conditionality Overwhelms Recipients - conditions overwhelm recipient nations rendering conditions ineffective as recipients are unable to enforce/implement them.
2. Conditionality Backfires: NGOs - conditions make it harder for NGOs to operate, often cause retaliations against them
3. Little Information - donors fail to acquire information needed to craft effective conditions
4. Conditionality Interferes with Saving lives - conditions prioritize ideology over concrete moral rights
5. Conditionality Backfires: Aid Shocks - conditions increase violence in nations
6. Conditions create unclear thresholds that donors cannot analyze


1. Consequentialism

Con conveniently summarizes his argument as follows: "[conditions] are the most moral (just) way of rendering humanitarian aid successful." This is false, as all of my dropped utility arguments show (and my ownership arguments). In fact, conditionality increases violence an retaliatory acts, and are highly ineffective.

2. Rights

Con says: "that basic, unalienable rights should not need to be earned." The right to life is unalienable, and should not need to be earned. Insofar as conditions interfere with saving lives, they violated people's basic rights and are immoral.

3. Human Dignity

By using people as bartering chips, conditions wrongly treat people as objects--a flagrant, immoral violation of human dignity.

4. Other

Sovereignty, the risk of sliding into autocracy, and Con's total failure to provide sufficient evidence as to the efficacy of conditionality are all reasons to vote Pro.

Conditions are inherently wrong, they produce harmful consequences, and failing to increase the efficacy of aid. Thus, I ask you to VOTE PRO! Thank you.



Thank you, Bsh1, for this debate. In this final round, I will render my final rebuttals and final focus.


Pro continues to assert that my arguments are based on the assumption that conditions are not inherently unjust, and that they must be unjust by the nature of what those conditions are, rather than simply unjust because they're conditions. This is a specious argument. What if a condition were, "the humanitarian aid must be applied to the crisis for which it was provided, rather than for profit or the growth of a regime"? Surely, although it is political in nature, that is not an unjust condition. It is simply a condition that assures the purpose for the humanitarian aid is met, as all political conditions that accompany humanitarian aid are.

This is also why Pro's assertion of force behind humanitarian aid conditionality is also fallacious. Not only is there no force or loss of sovereignty whatsoever (as those conditions do not result in any transfer of power or allegiance), but those conditions are there to increase the success of the humanitarian aid, not for any provisions that benefit the donor in any shape or form. Pro has not shown otherwise, nor has Pro rendered any proof that there is any benefit to any party other than the recipient. At best, Pro has asserted that political conditions "do not work." This may be true in some cases, but it is not true in all cases, and I gave examples of cases in which it was beneficial. The best that Pro has done to prove this stance is provide quotes of others with an unknown degree of authority on the subject that illustrate their opinions. The majority of my support, on the other hand, provided real-world examples of application, successes, and failures in addition to accompanying beliefs.

A Strawman argument regards a position, not necessarily an opponents argument directly. My position is that political conditions for humanitarian aid is not unjust. Pro attempted to paint those conditions as something that forcefully removes sovereignty and impugns on human rights, which is outright false. Therefore, it is tantamount to asserting that my position is "something that forcefully removes sovereignty or impugns on human rights is not unjust," which is a Strawman. Pro can claim that Strawman arguments must misrepresent a given argument within a debate, but as proven with support, it is not so. A Strawman argument can misrepresent a position as well, and this is precisely what Pro has done.

Pro also claims that not all conditions are designed to make aid more functional, but Pro has not proven this, nor even rendered a single example of a political condition that was not meant to render aid more functional. Pro simply attempted to claim that it did not make aid more functional.

In this way, Pro did nothing to prove any of Pro's assertions, and instead, attempted to disprove my own. Therefore, even if it may be perceived that Pro did disprove any of my arguments, Pro did not fulfill Pro's burden of proof.

Pro also suggests that there is some entitlement to humanitarian aid. This is outright false. The "right to life" does not mean that a person is entitled to the preservation of his or her life no-matter-what and at any cost. It means that a person has a right to be protected from murder or the removal of that life if he or she so chooses. The preservation of every life is the responsibility of every autonomous human being. NGO's and sovereign countries, even those that provide humanitarian aid, are not actually responsible for other countries, even in the event of a crisis. It is human kindness and a degree of altruism that result in humanitarian aid. There is nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't mean that any conditions placed on such aid are suddenly unjust.

Pro has even gone so far as to say that Con offered no examples of how political conditions work to increase the efficacy of aid, after having approached a "grocery list" of examples, refuting each with arguments such as "but, is there any other way to do this?" That is irrelevant. That is how they are done, and there is nothing wrong with that (at least, Pro did not show how there is anything wrong with it).

There are some arguments that Pro proposed that I did not directly approach. However, previous arguments satisfactorily approached the nature and ideas behind those arguments. Nonetheless, I cannot render a rebuttal here -- I will simply note, as I did in my previous rebuttal, that I ran out of space -- I exceeded the character limit, and could not approach those arguments directly. Therefore, I extend my previous arguments, which Pro has already had the opportunity to rebut.

Ultimately, it boils down to whether it is accepted that improving humanitarian aid through political conditions is just, or whether it is believed that political conditions, in some mysterious and unexplained way, actually remove rights, profit donors, and make humanitarian aid any less effective than it already is.

If it is accepted that improving humanitarian aid through political conditions is just, VOTE CON!

Thank you.

*drops mic*
Debate Round No. 5
21 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Re: Sri Lanka, I also said: "we fail to learn, from Con's quote, about whether or not the conditions worked."

My argument was that Nation Q was using the situation, and Nation C's emergency, to their advantage. In other words, Nation C is already under duress, and Nation Q self-interestedly capitalizes on that duress. I think saying that all choices entail some duress reduces my argument to a rather absurd extreme, in the sense that clearly we shouldn't pray on people when they are at their most vulnerable.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago

Sorry if it seemed harsh!

Your response to Sri Lanka was just to note that it was cherry picked, IIRC...

On the "duress" point, I think the problem is that almost all choices can be argued as being under some form of duress, and there's a difference between PUTTING someone into duress (breaking into their house and holding a gun to their head) and there just BEING duress (Say, for example, you got yourself stuck somewhere, and I offer to help free you for $20). Now, you could make the case that the latter is wrong, but I don't like the idea of using the former example to prove the latter wrong.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago

Certainly this is a pragmatic issue in that many times int'l relations involves using people as bartering chips, but morality does not have to be pragmatic. Moreover, Con never brought up this point. Finally, not ALL interactions require using people as bartering chips--many, but not all.

My case may be universal, but I can win by out-impacting Con under his framework as well, which is a non-universal stance. Moreover, I pointed out how the Sri Lanka example did not show how/if conditions were effective. Con's card only explained that conditions were put in place--that says NOTHING about whether they worked. So the card is insufficient to negate anyhow.


Remember, some of the BOP was placed on Con as well to show that conditionality was just. Con cannot do that if he can pick and choose what types of conditions are effective. If Conditionality is X, Y, and Z, Con cannot just defend Z, and then say that X, Y, and Z are all just. Con does have to defend all types of conditionality.

Furthermore, I only need to show that conditions are unjust on balance. My case tries to do more, but I don't have to prove an absolute to win.


I responded to Con's examples, of which there were almost none. I fail to see what examples I dropped.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
Wow...that was a pretty harsh RFD, Blade. I just wanted to discuss some of your criticisms to see how I could improve, because I felt like I did some of the things you were looking for. Obviously, I didn't communicate those things well enough, so I'd like to see if I can improve the way I convey those arguments.


The imperative of humanitarian assistance was grounded in the idea that people have a basic right to life and dignity. It was simply an assertion of the right to life, but based on Con's case, I didn't think he would challenge the existence of this right. I had warranted human dignity earlier in my case as well...


The gun example was meant to illustrate that unless a choice was meaningful, it could not respect a person's human dignity. When a choice is made under any form of duress, it does not respect a person's inherent autonomy.

I did two things in this round. My case tried to show that ALL conditions were wrong, but my Off-Case and General Utility Answers just tried to show that most conditions were wrong. I felt that if either approach worked, even if the other failed, I would've won, since my burden was to uphold the resolution "on balance."

It does matter if the choice is meaningful. I thought I devoted quite a bit of time to explaining how situations where one is placed under duress cannot fully respect one's autonomy, and thus, non-meaningful choices don't respect dignity.

I think it is a legitimate moral stance insofar as I spent massive amounts of time warranting the need to treat people as ends in themselves, and not as means. Moreover, Con said nothing about the invalidity of the Kantian approach. It certainly would be wrong to use the welfare of someone's children to coerce them into cutting their hair.


It is not my job to show that donors MUST donate. I only need to show that if they do donate, they should not attach conditions to those donations. I never took the position that they must donate at any po
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 1/6:

With apologies for coming in so close to the wire with my RFD.

R2 was each side laying out their respective cases. Pro argued that placing conditions on humanitarian aid removed autonomy. Con argued that placing conditions could be beneficial.

In the next round, Pro came out swinging. He argues that the provision of humanitarian aid is an imperative--that if there is a famine, the people starving have a right to demand sustenance from other countries. This is a bare assertion, and one that I don't think Pro CAN support. He most certainly does NOT support it with argumentation. He moves on, arguing that Con had failed to uphold his side in terms of justice.

Con dropped the assertion of Pro's, that food is a right which can be demanded. He responded to the other points by arguing that there was no loss of sovereignty in the voluntary acceptance of humanitarian aid with conditions, and that humanitarian aid may be rendered moot without them on some occasions, noting Syria. He also argues that the financial aid rendered by the IMF is not humanitarian aid.

Pro opens the next round by objecting to Con's statement regarding having made a "strawman". While he is correct, in that it is certainly not a strawman of Con's position, since it was presented prior to Con's position, it was nonetheless a bare assertion regarding loss of sovereignty. Pro focuses on the issue of choice. Pro argues that "autonomy and human dignity in making moral judgment" has been dropped. That may be true, but Con DID respond to the notion that political conditions precluded autonomy. Pro says he's focusing on a "MEANINGFUL choice".
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 2/6:

He argues that placing conditions on humanitarian aid is analogous to pointing a gun to the head of someone's family. I find this analogy a bit distasteful, in that embedded in it is the presumption that the circumstance only exists as a direct result of the actions of those providing humanitarian aid, which seems rather to misrepresent the situation. I don't think that Pro really intended that aspect of it, but I think his use of this analogy was ill-considered. Pro's argument regarding the use of people as bartering chips does seem to stand, as Con has not responded to it.

Pro argues that not all conditions are "set forth to ensure that humanitarian aid is effectig, and isn't required long-term". That may also be true, but Pro is positing that ALL conditions are unjust. That some specific ones might not be just is irrelevant to that notion.

Pro gives an example where a political condition might not help the aid be effective. As a hypothetical, I found this wanting. Again, Pro is stuck with the universal case. Any specific examples like this do not a universal case make.

Pro says that "the idea that conditionality isn't forced is faulty". He argues that refusing the aid is not a viable option. But that doesn't really matter--the choice is still present. He reiterates the bargaining chips notion.

When Pro makes his case regarding "Nation Q", I find myself drawing an analogy in my own head, a simplificaiton away from nations and to people in specific. I find his example to be similar to a jobless parent with kids to feed, who is told to cut their hair to get a job which will allow them to feed their kids. It seems the kids would be a similar "bartering chip" in this scenario, and so by Pro's logic the scenario would be immoral. But that doesn't seem a legitimate moral stance.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 3/6:

Pro, thus far, has failed to support something central to his case: The notion that humanitarian aid a moral imperative. MUST the outside nation help? Pro took the position that they must, and that thus, a failure to do so is immoral, and placing conditions which imply a failure to do so if they aren't met is immoral. This was assertion on Pro's part, but it hasn't been responded to by Con.

Anything involving any benefit for a nation's people is going to involve them as "bartering chips", so I just find Pro's entire argument regarding bartering chips to be lackluster. However, Con needs to respond to it.

Pro complains that Sri Lanka was cherry picked. As Pro is locked into the universal case, that doesn't negate the harm to his case that it does. How would Pro have solved the dilemma that Con has presented? He doesn't answer, which leads me to believe he doesn't have a response to it. This is catastrophic to his case, as this is a concrete and real-world example where Con argues for the necessity of political conditionality. If Pro can't answer the example, his case suffers greatly.

Pro asserts that disaster does not negate sovereignty.

Con opens the round by defending his syllogisms and defending his charge of Pro strawmanning. He argues that if there is a misrepresentation of the opposing position, it is necessarily a strawman, and that by Pro's arguing that "it is a means to force a desired end without compensation or freedom" is a misrepresentation.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 4/6:

He argues that Pro oversimplifies his argument rather than misrepresenting it. This seems a poor turn of phrase--Con's saying his argument was NOT misrepresented? But that it was oversimplified? Isn't oversimplifying a misrepresentation?

Con argues that "Humanitarian assistance is a failure if it does not actually assist a country. Therefore, something that increases the benefit of that assistance is not utilitarian, per se -- it is logical"

Con argues that humanitarian aid is not a right, and therefore may be justly earned instead of given.

Con argues that conditions aren't necessary, but that they are a means of maintaining security and peaceful relations, and have been used to do so.

Con argues that "A serious question that threatens the very practice of providing humanitarian aid altogether is whether it actually prolongs wars and increases suffering"

Con says that "It is not part of a neo-colonial paradigm to instigate a change in a situation that initially necessitated humanitarian aid as part and parcel to that aid."

We reach finally the last round of argumentation.

Pro once again defends himself from the straw-man charge.

He then makes the curious argument that "Con may not pick and choose what types of conditionality he will defend--not all conditionals are designed to make aid more functional". He seems to be indicating here that he feels Con has the burden to defend ANY political conditions, no matter what they are. Here we run into a problem, as far as I'm concerned. Pro clearly has to negate ALL political conditionality. He's arguing that it's always unjust.

The resolution was: "Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust."

Pro's burden is to prove that true. Con's burden is to prove that false. The standard is "on balance". This means that a single example does not necessarily invalidate either side.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 5/6:

However, Pro has thus far failed to respond to Con's real-world examples of issues that Con presents as solvable only through political conditionality. Further, Con's argument has been that conditionality isn't inherently unjust, but rather that "the conditions themselves must be unjust". This seems a reasonable stance to take in the face of the resolution.

Pro says that Con must show that there are rewards. I find this interesting, given Con's unresponded to real-world examples, and given that Pro has made several examples of his own, non-real-world ones, of hypothetical nations where conditions suited his purposes. His rewards are hypothetical, Con's thus far have been concrete. Pro may have a response to them, but he hasnt' given it yet. He's making the general philosophical position that ALL political conditions are unjust, by their very nature, and ignoring practical effects. Yet, Con has noted several reasons to consider that as not true.

Pro moves on to argue that the provision of aid is necessary and required, and that nations have an obligation to provide the right to life. Pro argues that "if I am starving to death due to a famine, I do not need to earn food, since I have an unalienable right to my life, and by extension, to basic sustenance needed to sustain my life." He presents a syllogism, arguing that humanitarian aid is an entitlement.

Pro makes some utilitarian arguments which seem to suffer, in light of his failure to respond to Con's examples.

Con opens his final round by giving a simple political condition--that "the humanitarian aid must be applied to the crisis for which it was provided, rather than for profit or the growth of a regime". He argues that though "it is political in nature, that is not an unjust condition. It is simply a condition that assures the purpose for the humanitarian aid is met, as all political conditions that accompany humanitarian aid are."
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
RFD 6/6:

He had me up until the last sentence, where he asserts that all political conditions that accompany aid are for the purpose of furthering the goal of that aid. While his sample condition is strong, and seems to stand against Pro's case, the last sentence just isn't plausibly true--I think we can all agree that there are undoubtedly "bad" political conditions.

Con notes he's presented cases where conditions were beneficial.

Con tries again to defend his use of strawman. This is really irrelevant, and a distraction overall. It doesn't matter whether it's really a "strawman" from Pro or not. What matters is whether hte reasoning is valid. It eithe ris or isn't.

Con argues that Pro didn't prove his assertions, but merely attacked Con. Largely, this is true. But this is partially because of the swaths that Con dropped.

Con argues in this final round that there is no right to humanitarian aid. This is a new argument, and must be discounted. It was originally brought up by Pro in R3, and merely restated in R5. While I think Con sufficiently rebuts it here, I can't count it--so Pro's assertion stands.

And fundamentally, though Con makes some final rebuttals to Pro, it is this point, which was dropped by Con until the final round, that forces me to give the win to Pro. It was a close call, though, given that Pro failed to address Con's real-world examples, and given that the contention that Con failed to address was such a mere assertion. Had Con addressed it sooner, I think he would have won. But by introducing a new argument in the final round, I think he would have lost conduct under the old system. Under the new, I merely disregard it and move on. But disregarding his rebuttal means there IS no rebuttal to this element of Pro's case--and with this element just granted, Pro gets the win.

As always, happy to clarify this RFD.
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD 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 YYW 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: PRO shows how political conditionality's negative implications lead to bad consequences. CON could not overcome that argument, as PRO also articulated how, even if politically conditional aid was well intended, it's ineffective. Where conditionality risks the consequences PRO outlined, it therefore cannot be said to be just especially in light of PRO's deontological argument and subsequent implications that political conditions have on human dignity. CON's effort was laudable, but he had a lot of difficulty responding to PRO's case and his own points just didn't carry a similar level of gravity that PRO's did. Arguments to PRO.
Vote Placed by Romanii 2 years ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.