Players and Issues in International Aid

Players and Issues in International Aid

Players and Issues in International Aid

Players and Issues in International Aid


• A lucid primer on the complex topic of foreign aid written for a wide readership including introductory level students

• Spells out the players in development assistance: the IMF, World Bank, United Nations, governments and NGOs

• Differing perspectives on the timeless "aid debate" offer clarification on the subject of international aid

In a political climate where international assistance is under attack, it has never been more important that the general public understand the debate. Players and Issues in International Aid is a one-stop source of vital information on the politics, players, and issues surrounding international development assistance.


Foreign aid has never been popular, but never before has it been the politically contentious issue that it is today. Elected officials describe international assistance with the most disparaging remarks. The agency charged with administering U.S. foreign aid is struggling to avoid dissolution by a hostile Congress and an apathetic public. And in wealthy countries throughout the world, governments are dropping their levels of aid contributions dramatically, following the example of the United States. What has prompted this antiald atmosphere? The need in the developing world for international assistance has certainly not abated; thirty-five thousand children die every day from malnutrition and related diseases, and fifty million people live in extreme poverty. And notwithstanding the economic difficulties of the 1980s, it is not a question of donor nations being unable to afford foreign aid; foreign aid budgets rarely constitute more than 3 percent of donor nations' federal budgets -- in the United States, the international affairs budget is a mere percent. The fact that international assistance has never precluded or even detracted from domestic assistance is often overlooked in the argument. In the United States, over 20 percent of federal spending in 1996 went to social security, and over 15 percent went to defense. But the 1 percent spent on international affairs is referred to so often that the American public's gross overestimation of international affairs spending is hardly surprising.1

It is not economics or a question of unmet needs in the global South that fuels the current attack on international assistance. Typically, it is the often heard exhortation that the United States should concentrate on its own problems before looking overseas to solve foreign problems. However, the weakness of this isolationist argument is exposed when these so-called foreign problems that supposedly do not merit our attention or resources are looked at more closely. In this time of revolutionary globalization and unprecedented interdependence, the so-called third world can no longer be perceived as a distant reality beset with problems that have little or no bearing on our comfortable lives here in the first world. Advances in technology as well as the meteoric growth in private capital flows and international trade have challenged the notion of distance, bringing cultures and . . .

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