Foreign Aid: what it is, some of the controversies surrounding it, and where the U.S sends aid the most

By Penny Hoffmann

Foreign aid is a controversial topic for many reasons. One objection to foreign aid is that it can be delivered to the wrong people on purpose or accidentally (for example, theft). However, giving aid can produce many benefits: it can improve the relations between nations and rebuild living standards.

What is Foreign Aid?

Foreign aid refers to humanitarian, international, and usually inter-governmental figures or groups that give economic, military, financial or technical resources, such as weapons, to a nation or nations. This aid can be in many forms, such as bilateral or multilateral.

Some examples of aid programs include George Marshall’s Marshall Plan that began in 1948, the Point Four Program, and the UK’s Commonwealth Development Fund.

This is how the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development defines Official Development Assistance (ODA):

“ODA consists of flows to developing countries and multilateral institutions provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies, each transaction of which meets the following test: a) it is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective, and b) it is concessional in character and contains a grant element of at least 25% (calculated at a rate of discount of 10%).”

In order for foreign aid to work, it must cater to the climate of the receiver of the aid. This means that the hardships of the suffering location or the receiver of the aid must be analyzed to select the correct type of aid and to deliver it at the appropriate time. The objectives of the aid must be specified and the most suitable solutions must be chosen to ensure that the aid will not be given to the wrong people or area that needs improving.

Foreign aid can be used to improve the conduct of allies, to reward a nation for its conduct, or to eventually get a repayment of some sort from the nation receiving the aid.

Types of Foreign Aid

Bilateral Aid

Bilateral aid involves two nations where one government sends aid to another government.

Multilateral Aid

Multilateral is where funding is delivered by two or more nations to international organisations such as the World Bank (also called the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) or the International Monetary Fund who have the role of improving suffering nations.

Tied Aid

Tied aid is a bilateral agreement where the donor nation delivers a loan or grant to the nation receiving it, but specify the nation in which the funding is spent.

Project Aid

Project aid is given to improve a certain project, such as a school.

Military Aid

Military aid is where a nation delivers weapons and the like to nations

Voluntary Aid

Voluntary aid usually refers to charity. One example of this is Doctors Without Borders, “an international humanitarian non-governmental organization best known for its projects in war-torn regions and developing countries affected by endemic diseases.”

Who Gives The Most Aid

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, these nations gave the most Official Development Assistance (ODA) in total in 2015:

 Foreign aid: These countries are most generous

However, when considering it as a percentage of gross national income (GNI), the ranking order of the countries is different:

 Foreign aid: These countries are most generous

The top ten recipients of U.S foreign aid in 2018 are as follows:

10. Iraq – $347.9 million

9. Nigeria – $419.1 million

8. Zambia – $428.9 million

7. Uganda – $436.4 million

6. Tanzania – $535.3 million

5. Kenya – $639.4 million

4. Afghanistan – $782.8 million

3. Jordan – $1 billion

2. Egypt – $1.39 billion

1. Israel – $3.1 billion

Current Foreign Aid Controversies

There are academic disagreements regarding the efficiency of giving foreign aid. These include; the factors that influence the economic efficiency of foreign aid; whether aid should be measured empirically; whether aid should be given to non-government organisations and groups, rather than governments, who then improve the economy from the bottom up; the opposite, top-down approach by delivering aid to governments, the World Bank, and the UN who rebuild suffering nations; and whether aid givers truly know what is needed by aid receivers.

What the Catholic Church Teaches Regarding Capital Punishment

By Penny Hoffmann

Capital punishment is a controversial ethical issue and has been for a long time. In Australia, there has been a recent ressurection of the desire to have the death penalty, and in response Catholic organisations in Australia and worldwide have a history of speaking in private and public arenas concerning this ethical issue. But what is an ethical issue, and what are the guiding principles that inform the Catholic perspective?

Ethics shape one’s values and are what people strive to believe in and put into practice in their everyday lives.

The Catholic Church’s values are shaped by the ethical teachings present in the Bible and authoritative texts and figures. A main ethical concept of the Catholic Church is the Consistent Ethic of Life, which can be explained by Jesus’ “Seemless Garment” where one can not be partly pro life, but instead fully pro-life for every ethical issue where life is relative.

The Consistent Ethic of Life is seen through the Church’s Principles of Catholic Social Teaching which include the Dignity of the Human Person, the Stewardship of Creation, Preferential Option for the Poor, the Common Good, Solidarity, and others. These guiding principles inform the Catholic perspective on ethical issues.

The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching that are applicable to the Church’s teachings on capital punishment include the Dignity of the Human Person and the Common Good. Regardless of age, sex, gender, crime, or anything else, one does not lose their dignity.

Branching from these Principles, other remonstrations that form the Church’s stance on capital punishment include that the death penalty does not allow time for people to repent, there may be judicial errors where someone who is innocent is sentenced to the death penalty, it is not a useful deterrent because criminals may assume that they will not be caught, there have been countless studies that prove that capital punishment is ineffective, and that capital punishment is done by humans instead of God.

Despite the Catholic Church’s teachings, there is still support within the Catholic community for capital punishment:

“Tiniest of cracks were used by Catholic death penalty advocates from Nebraska to the Philippines to claim that the church was not against it”.

The Catholic Church has undergone most of its change concerning the teachings on capital punishment over the last fifty years. For centuries, “the Church has allowed the death penalty for extreme cases”. However, Catholic authoritative figures such as Popes have declared that these extreme cases are so rare that there may as well be none and that there need not be support for it, and that “tiniest of cracks were used by Catholic death penalty advocates from Nebraska to the Philippines to claim that the church was not against it”.

According to the new teaching in the universal Catechism:

 “The Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the Inviolability and Dignity of the Person and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide”.

According to an ABC news article published in August last year, in an accompanying letter that explained the amended stance, the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office stated that the Church’s position on capital punishment was an evolution of prior teaching and that it did not contradict past teachings.

An argument that is commonly used by those who do not find the dignity of a human person important is that criminals who murder do not display that they find the dignity of their victims important, so this cancels out their own life.

There are some situations and contexts which make following the Catholic teachings regarding capital punishment challenging to follow. An example is witnessing a criminal have no remorse for the most serious crimes such as murder. The church responds with teachings that these criminals may repent in the future and that God delivers justice to all.

In a secular world, the Catholic Church provides effective guidance regarding their teachings on capital punishment due to their presence in as many platforms as they can to promote Catholic teachings. These platforms include, but are not limited to, church, protests, blogs, social media, and the news.