Ethics & International Affairs Volume 8 (1994): Articles: Can Foreign Aid Be Used to Promote Good Government in Developing Countries? [Abstract]

Dec 3, 1994

Since 1990, the allocation of foreign development aid has come to be shaped by donors' concerns about promoting "good government" in developing countries. Yet the aid donors adopt a wide variety of implicit and actual definitions of "good government " and a variety of positions as to how such goals should be advanced. Some donors focus on human rights. Others concentrate on democracy, military expenditure and the procedures of policy making and administration. In many cases, formal policies cannot be implemented for geostrategic or other reasons. The result is a "good government" policy regime that is confusing, contradictory and devoid of both ethical standing and legal backing, which may not attain the goal of improving government in developing countries. Worse, the principle of "good government" has become a pretext for reducing foreign aid budgets. It is possible to construct a policy regime that would be more effective and, ethically, more defensible. This would require aid donors to collectively harmonize their policies so that the observance of human rights becomes the central criterion of "good government," and thus the main standard against which aid allocations to developing countries are determined.

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