Withholding Foreign Aid From Countries that Violate Human Rights
Withholding Aid: Restructuring Foreign Policy to Advocate Greater Standards for International Human Rights
Even in the modern era, there are gross violations of human rights taking place all over the globe. Unfortunately, most programs put in place to persuade nations committing such violations to stop such inhuman activities are relatively ineffective at actually securing greater protection for vulnerable populations. As a result, many nations continue to be in violation of international laws, yet go relatively unpunished. The primary purpose of this research is to examine the current situation, and how international aid strategies are dealing ineffectively with particular nations that are clearly violating human rights. From a general understanding of the current situation, an idea of where the true problems lie can be extrapolated, highlighting specific elements of international policy strategies that have proved least productive in helping influence nations to take a stronger stand against human rights violations within their borders. From this, the research then moves to help present potentially viable strategies that the international community should adopt in order to help influence particular nations to adopt international human rights practices within their own borders. Essentially, withholding economic aid to such nations, regardless of our relationship based on security or economic ties, is the most viable strategy to try and persuade autonomous states to fall in line with international sanctions on violations of human rights.
Background of the Problem
Even today, there are gross violations of human rights occurring throughout the international community. Despite several decades of increased international policing and heightened regulations against such activities, many states continue to disregard the international community's mission to protect human rights for the good of all mankind. Thus, the true problem analyzed here is the inability for the international community to successfully impose international protection of human rights. Prior efforts to dissuade such states have been unorganized, unequal, and therefore ineffective. As such, prior efforts to solve the problem have failed to produce significant results that are equally seen across the board. Rather, what has been occurring is the favoring of particular nations over others, despite disregard for human rights.
Scope and Severity of the Problem
Despite past attempts to get violators in line with international agendas, the problem still continues. It is disheartening to think that despite all the progress the international community has made in regulating war and peace time activities, there has been no where near the levels of success that one would hope for. Rather, ongoing strategies have been only mildly successful, as many of them have been adapted unequally based on individual nations formulating their foreign policy on national interests, rather than a more universal commitment to the abolition of human rights violations across the globe. Specific policy measures have been enacted in trying to hold countries accountable for human rights violations, yet these continue to prove successful only in small degrees.
The concept of international regulation of individual state activities is relatively new. For generations, nations did not try much to change moral issues in other states. According to the research, "realist scholars argued that it was inappropriate for states to consider moral issues in foreign policy" (Allendoefer 2010 p 7). Essentially, international programs were weak because of a reigning ideology that favored state autonomy and therefore promoted only small efforts to set up internationally recognized regulations against human rights violations. These ideas of state sovereignty were crafted in a world that was not yet so globally interconnected, as we find the international environment to be. Before the onset of the two major World Wars, most states favored an isolationist approach to the construction of their foreign policies, with the trend being to leave individual states to govern themselves without any sort of international policing that would hold all nations accountable for human rights violations. However, this ideology was eventually replaced with a more globalized concern for the protection of human rights all over the globe, despite the presence of clear national boundaries. The atrocities in both wars created a growing demand for restrictions of certain activities in the name of protecting and governing over human rights. Beginning with the League of Nations and eventually evolving into other international organizations like the United Nations, there has now been an increasing trend for nations to work together to impose more international regulations in order to protect the basic rights of mankind no matter what country one would find oneself in.
A positive progression of international cooperation and regulation has now dominated international policy formation and execution. There are now more international laws regarding the protection for basic human rights since any other generation. After the atrocities of World War II, many internationally held laws have taken aim at human rights violations. Here, the research has shown that "through a variety of human rights agreements, states have committed themselves to respecting the human rights of their own citizens" (Allendoefer 2010 p 2). Most of this cooperation stems from a state's desire to hold membership to crucial international organizations that prove mutually beneficial. For example, organizations like the European Union prove to have incremental financial and economic benefits for its members, but require that such members adhere to policies that are accepted as the norm for within the EU. Out of a desire to further development strategies and increase economic stability, nations like Greece and Turkey have revamped many of their own internal policies in order to fit the EU standards. Greece is now a member of the EU, with Turkey being a potential future member. Thus, such nations readjust their own policies and practices to adopt more progressive stances against human rights violations. This has been a typical strategy to try to influence nations into adopting stricter regulations and enforcement measures.
Moreover, there are already reports which show that aid is restricted to many nations that are considered to be violating basic human rights. The notion that foreign aid distribution can be levied in order to produce desired policy changes in particular nations is not a new one. In fact, it has been a strategy that has been used, yet this use has often proved to be unregulated and uneven, costing crucial effectiveness. The United States spends over $2 billion annually on economic support funds (Lum 2008). These funds are often used as a strategy to help get crucial nations on board with pro-American international policies and procedures. Here, the research suggests that "it has become increasingly commonplace for states to consider the human rights records of other states in foreign policy decisions, such as official development aid (ODA), or to publicly criticize other states' human rights records" (Allendoefer 2010 p 2). Currently, the United States has been imposing aid restrictions on several Asian nations based on such states' violations of human rights. Nations such as Burma, Cambodia, and Pakistan have all witnessed such aid sanctions that have been imposed in order to increase these nations' cooperation with human rights policies that are being written by the larger international community.
Yet, many of these restrictions are not very well understood, and even less regulated in a structural system. Unfortunately, such aid sanctions are levied unequally depending on specific interests of donor nations, and thus send a mixed message to the international community regarding the seriousness of enforcing protective measures to ensure a greater quality of standards meeting international expectations. According to the research, "there is a wide range of assertiveness: from cutting aid entirely to withholding only new aid to simply placing vague conditions on aid" (Allendoefer 2010 p 3). Most donor nations only set up the more vague regulations in terms of how they restrict aid, with very few being willing to take such a staunch stand against dealing with human rights violators through complete cutting of foreign aid. Additionally, there are a number of different international agencies with extremely differing policies that create confusion and contribute to the sending of mixed messages to those nations violating common standards for human rights. International organizations like the International Cooperation Administration, Development Loan Fund, and the Export-Import Bank each have their own individual sanctions, that often times are not imposed in conjunction with one another in order to increase the overall effectiveness of the aid restrictions.
Even American initiatives and programs often prove ineffective as well. For example, there is the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 which was created under the Kennedy Administration. This act was fundamental because it was supposed to set a standard for which the United States expected its aid recipients to follow in order to continue receiving American funded aid programs and initiatives. It essentially formalized the process of giving foreign aid, which was not only meant to streamline the process but also set up clear and definitive guidelines as to what cases warranted restriction of aid based on human rights violations. The act also helped set up more definitive boundaries between civilian and military aid. The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961…