Monday, February 17, 2014

LD Mar/Apr 2014 - Political Conditions on Humanitarian Aid - Definitions

Resolved: Placing political conditions on humanitarian aid to foreign countries is unjust.


placing - Oxford American English Dictionary
the action of putting something in position or the fact of being positioned

political - Oxford American English Dictionary
1. of or relating to the government or the public affairs of a country
2. of or relating to the ideas or strategies of a particular party or group in politics

conditions - Oxford English Dictionary
a situation that must exist before something else is possible or permitted

There are other meanings of the word conditions related to the state or well-being of something but it is clearly not the intent of this resolution.  We know from the context that "political conditions" are related to the idea of preconditions which are political in nature. Thus, humanitarian aid to foreign countries would be contingent upon some political requirements under the definitions given. I will clarify this later.

humanitarian aid
There are several good definitions for humanitarian aid which all mean essentially the same thing. This one is taken from the Humanitarian Innovative Fund which in turn, references the definition of humanitarian assistance as given by Global Humanitarian Assistance, a non-governmental agency.

"‘Humanitarian aid’ is aid and action designed to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain and protect human dignity during and in the aftermath of emergencies."
This definition for humanitarian aid is taken from Global Humanitarian Assistance. The definition excludes any long term development assistance. The definition provides some useful examples of traditional responses to humanitarian crises:
  • Material relief assistance and services (shelter, water, medicines etc.);
  • Emergency food aid (short-term distribution and supplementary feeding programmes);
  • Relief coordination, protection and support services (coordination, logistics and communications).
  • Reconstruction relief and rehabilitation (repairing pre-existing infrastructure as opposed to longer-term activities designed to improve the level of infrastructure;
  • Disaster prevention and preparedness (disaster risk reduction, early warning systems, contingency stocks and planning).

foreign - Oxford American English Dictionary
of, from, in, or characteristic of a country or language other than one’s own
dealing with or relating to other countries

unjust - Oxford American English Dictionary
not based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair


I think it is intuitive, the topic looks to the fairness or moral correctness making the distribution of humanitarian aid contingent upon some undefined political requirements which must be carried out by the recipient foreign country.  For example, a foreign country experiences a major devastating earthquake and a donor country says, we will help you but must agree to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.  We must recognize, however, that humanitarian aid comes from many sources such as Non-government Organizations (NGOs) and governments. Further, we must note the United States is not directed specified. Therefore, while we can cite specific examples, such as assistance provided by the U.S. or China or the Red Cross, it is probably best to examine this resolution as a principle applicable to any state or organization with respect to the delivery of humanitarian aid. I am not sure if the framers of this resolution intended the debate to center on the actions of governments which often do attach political conditions to their actions. but I am sure, even NGOs may also act in similar fashion under certain circumstances.  According to our definition of "humanitarian aid", it is in response to some circumstances which threaten human lives and thus any delays resulting in waiting for the conditions to be met could result in deaths or suffering.  Also, according to our definition, the aid is intended to be temporary, that is, no longer required when the crises is over.  Not every condition which prompts the distribution of humanitarian aid develop suddenly.  We have seen countless examples of how war or revolt result in waves of refugees which tend to develop into humanitarian crises over the course of weeks or months.  Finally, we must see that humanitarian aid and developmental assistance (or aid) are not the same thing.

Even if no government or NGO has ever placed political conditions on the giving of humanitarian aid, the debate is still legitimate and one may, perhaps, consider it is the intent of the framers to debate this topic as one of general principles; "It is unjust for any donor to attach political conditions to humanitarian aid".


  1. Thanks for finally posting!! :) When are you going to post the aff and neg?

  2. Thanks for posting. I'm relying quite a bit on you posting evidence for the aff and neg because the Victory Brief is late. I could purchase the other briefs but those are almost always powercut, and I don't like supporting that. My first tournament on this topic is this weekend so hopefully through your postings and my own research I will be prepared.

  3. Are there any specific examples of countries that helped others without the strings attached?

    1. As for "countries" there are very few which actually provide humanitarian aid and it depends on the circumstance of the recipients as to whether conditions apply. It is more common, to see some nations refuse aid when strings are attached, and there are examples of both. For example, the US provided aid for victims of the Armenian earthquake without strings and Myanmar has refused to accept aid which has strings attached so any aid they have received would be without preconditions.

  4. What are some examples of aid being given with strings attached?

  5. the definition provided has many examples of hum.aid but none say simply "money" money, etc. considered humanitarian aid

    (for the possibility one may say strings need to be attached to make sure the money goes where it is supposed to)

    1. Thinking about the answer to your question, I would suggest that money is not humanitarian aid, for example: people can't eat money. Money is a tool for enabling the acquisition, delivery and distribution of aid but the people in need never receive money.

    2. thank you so much that is very helpful!


Feel free to leave comments relevant to the topics and activity of competitive high school debate. However, this is not a sounding board for your personal ideologies, abusive or racist commentary or excessive inappropriate language. Everyday Debate blog reserves the right to delete any comments it deems inappropriate.