Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Foreign Economic Assistance and Respect for Civil and Political Rights: Chile-A Case Study *

Academic journal article Texas International Law Journal

Foreign Economic Assistance and Respect for Civil and Political Rights: Chile-A Case Study *

Article excerpt


The question of whether foreign economic assistance to states grossly disregarding human rights has an impact on the enjoyment of civil and political rights in those states is undoubtedly very complex. The nexus between economic assistance and human rights is often indirect and subtle. In addition, there arises the thorny question of evidence: Upon what elements can one show the multifaceted yet elusive nexus between foreign economic aid and various forms of human rights that on the surface appear to have few economic implications?

Without attempting to address all problems that fall within the purview of the subject-matter, I have limited the discussion to five questions that appear crucial:

1) Have human rights violations within a state discouraged governments, international agencies, or private institutions from sending economic assistance to that state?

2) Might a state's human rights violations actually attract foreign economic assistance in some situations?

3) Have restrictions on civil and political rights caused inefficiencies in or had an adverse consequence on the utilization of foreign economic aid?

4) Do the benefits of foreign economic assistance reach those persons who have been victims of human rights violations, particularly the families of persons arbitrarily detained or imprisoned?

5) To what extent has foreign economic assistance supported the recipient state's social and economic policies which have an adverse impact on the enjoyment of civil and political rights?


This article will briefly address these five questions specifically in regards to Chile. The reasons for this choice stem from the fact that there is sufficient documentation available, both from the Chilean authorities and from the United Nations, to analyze the relationship between foreign economic assistance and civil and political rights in that nation.

This analysis assumes that the various pronouncements of the U.N. General Assembly regarding Chile's poor human rights record are indeed correct.

A. Violations of Civil and Political Rights in Chile and the Withholding of Foreign Economic Assistance

The first of the five questions referred to above can be broached on the basis of replies of various governments to information requests sent in 1977 by the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations1 and by the Rapporteur on Chile of the SubCommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.2 Reference is made here only to the official comments of a few Western governments concerning their economic relations with Chile since the military golpe de estado of September 11,1973.

In its reply to the Secretary-General's information request, the Federal Republic of Germany stated that as a consequence of the disregard for human rights in Chile, "[T]he Federal Government has not provided Chile with any more development aid. It has discontinued supplies of weapons and military equipment. In negotiations for the rescheduling of debts, harder terms have been imposed. University partnerships have not been continued."3

The government of Italy, in response to the request for information of the Rapporteur on Chile, stated:

Economic, financial, and cultural and technical cooperation between Italy and Chile have been strongly influenced since September 1973 up to the present-both at the multilateral and the bilateral level-by the attitude adopted by our country towards the military Government [ric] headed by General Pinochet. In keeping with the unequivocal positions it has taken at the political level, Italy has gradually broken off all forms of collaboration, so that it can now be said that official aid by Italy to the Chilean Government is virtually non-existent.

As to economic and financial co-operation within the competent multilateral organizations in regard to loans granted to Chile... Italy's position has always been negative; in particular, [in the World Bank] Italy voted against the grant of a loan to Chile in January 1974 and in May 1975 ($20 million for an agricultural reorganization programme), and it abstained from voting on the decision concerning three other loans to Chile in February ($33 million) and December 1976 ($25 million and $35 million). …

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