Resolved: Development assistance should be prioritized over military aid in the Sahel region of Africa.
IntroductionHopefully, this debate will be able to avoid some of the definitional ambiguity that seems to exist in the resolution wording. At least for a term, like 'development assistance', we may be able to agree on what it is not. It is important to note the United States is not specifically named in this resolution so the sources of the development assistance or military aid are non-specific. The only fairly specific term is the applicable region. Oddly, the region is not a political or cultural entity confined to standard political borders. It is a "climate zone" with a shifting, somewhat poorly defined border. The Sahel region can be likened to a finger-swipe across the southern boundary of the Sahara desert which wipes across all or portions of a group of African nations from the so-called horn of Africa, eastward to the Red Sea. This makes the debate particularly, er.., debatable as to whether certain nations such as Chad or Sudan should be included since only portions of those nations are in the Sahel. Generally speaking the Sahel region, is not exactly known for being resource rich. In fact, it is a region marked by extreme poverty where people are very dependent upon favorable climatic conditions for survival. The struggle to survive is exacerbated by political instability and conflicts between rival groups and as we we have recently seen by the deadly siege of French operated gas plant in Algeria by alleged Al Qaeda commandos, the area is a potential refuge for terrorists groups. The attack on the BP plant in Algeria was a claimed reprisal against a French-led crackdown on jihadists operating in Mali. Even as recently as last month, Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the murder of French journalists in the region. These are just some of the more recent examples of volatility in a region long troubled by conflict and exploitation by internal and external power-mongers.
One of the primary sources for the "official" definition of development assistance is taken from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a consortium of 34 nations which provide such resources. Their definition is taken from this source:
Official development assistance is defined as those flows to countries and territories on the DAC List of ODA Recipients (available at www.oecd.org/dac/stats/daclist) and to multilateral development institutions which are:
i. provided by official agencies, including state and local governments, or by their executive agencies; and
ii. each transaction of which:
a) is administered with the promotion of the economic development and welfare of developing countries as its main objective; and
b) is concessional in character and conveys a grant element of at least 25 per cent (calculated at a rate of discount of 10 per cent)
The source then goes on to define which types of assistance are not qualified and explains the meaning of assistance flows and concessional assistance.
Generally we can define development assistance as the transfer of resources (cash, commodities or services) which promote the economic or welfare development of the recipient. Naturally, there is nothing which says the assistance must come from the OECD and certainly there may be other sources for the assistance such as various NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) although for the most part the resources mustered by such organizations tend to be very localized or aimed toward disaster relief, rather than the kind of development which can alter the regional welfare such as the constructions of roads, power-plants, infrastructure and so on. Nevertheless, we must consider the contributions of other sources of assistance.
Merriam Webster gives multiple definitions for should as "used in auxiliary function to express" condition or obligation.
Merriam Webster defines this as, to list or rate in order of priority which means in order importance or need.
Over means above and in the context of the resolution affirms that development assistance should listed above military aid in terms of importance or need.
We can surmise the definition of military aid from the OECD which says, military services or equipment. The Encyclopedia of World Economy says:
"Military aid can take many different forms, including grants, loans, or credits to purchase defense equipment, services, and training. Often military aid is "tied," in that recipients must use the funds to buy defense goods and services from the donor. The aim of military aid is to assist recipients with a variety of security problems. The recipient countries may face a number of different security threats, such as international war, internal rebellion, or terrorism.Military assistance is often supplied to help not only with the recipient’s national security but with regional and global security threats. These international considerations make the study of military aid controversial.
Military aid may imply that this is part of a donor’s official development assistance (ODA). However, aid as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) explicitly excludes military aid. The OECD definition ofODA to developing countries includes grants or loans to countries that are undertaken by the official sector in order to promote economic development and welfare. Grants, loans, and credits for military purposes are excluded."
Sahel region of Africa
From the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
Sahel, Arabic Sāḥil, Sahel [Credit: NSSL/NOAA]semiarid region of western and north-central Africa extending from Senegal eastward to The Sudan. It forms a transitional zone between the arid Sahara (desert) to the north and the belt of humid savannas to the south. The Sahel stretches from the Atlantic Ocean eastward through northern Senegal, southern Mauritania, the great bend of the Niger River in Mali, Burkina Faso (formerly Upper Volta), southern Niger, northeastern Nigeria, south-central Chad, and into The Sudan.
Pro and Con positions will be discussed in the next parts of the analysis (click here).
Natural Resources in the Sahel
Amadou Mactar Konaté
Coordinator, Food crisis & management in the Sahel & West Africa
Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS)
September 21, 2012
Sahel Regional Strategy
United Nations 2013
Chadian troops 'kill' al-Qaeda leader in Mali
Al Qaeda attacks BP plant, takes hostages as revenge for Mali, The National
January 16, 2013
Raleigh, C and Dowd, C 2013. Governance and Conflict in the Sahel’s ‘Ungoverned Space’. Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 2(2):32, DOI