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Just AID - Foreign Assistance Reform
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Just AID - Foreign Assistance Reform



Fact: Only two of the world’s poorest countries are among the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign assistance. ...

Fact: Only two of the world’s poorest countries are among the top 10 recipients of U.S. foreign assistance.

In this presentation, Sarah Meyer -- an AJWS education officer and expert on foreign assistance -- discusses the U.S. government’s convoluted, outdated and misguided system for allocating and distributing global aid. Highlighting the system’s lack of focus on addressing poverty in the Global South, the lack of transparency and the lack of accountability, Sarah also explains why the time for reform is now and the key role individuals can play.



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  • Why should AJWS be involved? AJWS’s mission is to foster civil society, sustainable development and human rights for all people. Foreign assistance reform would go a long way toward aligning U.S. foreign assistance programs with this mission. Jewish values strongly support ending poverty and injustice. Foreign assistance reform is a key strategy toward this end. Leviticus 25:35 says: “And if your kinsman becomes poor and falters with you, you should strengthen him; whether he is a stranger or a settler he should live with you.”
  • Answer – nearly 25%
  • U.S. foreign assistance is made up of five components: Bi-lateral development aid - 30.1% Of development spending, not all is poverty-focused development aid. For example, reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan count as development spending but may not be aimed at reducing poverty Humanitarian aid—Pakistan earthquake, tsunami funding - 12.3% Military aid—Ghana, Israel, Bangladesh, etc all get military financing—building armies, fighting terrorism, etc. - 23.3% Multilateral economic contributions – Global Fund, UNDP, etc- 8.2% Economic assistance supporting U.S. political and security goals - 26.1% Economic Support Fund: ESF is an aid category designed to advance American strategic goals with economic assistance. Since the 1979 Camp David accords and especially since the end of the Cold War, most ESF has gone to support the Middle East Peace Process. Since 9/11, ESF has targeted countries of importance in the war on terrorism.
  • The U.S. government is currently at a turning point in this debate, with increased political will aligning with the opportunity presented by a new administration. Congress is planning a major revision of foreign assistance in 2009. Conversations have already begun between non-governmental organizations, think tanks, advocacy groups and members of Congress on this issue. Various coalitions already exist or are forming to look at the structure of foreign assistance, grassroots and public messaging, and integration of key content areas, including global health, gender and education. The Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act was introduced on April 28 by Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Congressman Mark Kirk (R-IL). In brief, the bill calls for the President to develop a U.S. national strategy for global development, suggests an amendment to the current Foreign Assistance Act to incorporate monitoring and evaluation systems for foreign assistance and promotes transparency. It calls on the President to respond within 90 days by developing a national strategy for development. What Berman is trying to do is force the Obama administration to prioritize and articulate its global development strategy. This could force Obama to articulate his priorities and lead to further legislation which is the full re-write of the 1961 FAA

Just AID - Foreign Assistance Reform Presentation Transcript

  • 1. What is foreign assistance? • Support given to other countries, in the form of money (grants or loans), goods and/or technical assistance, that is designed to promote economic development and welfare. • Foreign assistance can be given directly from one government to another (bilateral) or through international organizations, such as the United Nations Development Program (multilateral).
  • 2. How does the U.S. give foreign assistance? • U.S. foreign assistance has the following components:  Development aid  Humanitarian aid  Military aid  Funding to support the UN and other multilateral organizations  Economic assistance supporting U.S. political and security goals What percentage of U.S. foreign assistance is military aid? a. Nearly 5% b. Nearly 10% c. Nearly 25%
  • 3. Allocation of U.S. foreign assistance Bi-lateral development assistance Humanitarian aid 26.1 30.1 Military aid 8.2 12.3 Multilateral aid 23.3 Economic assistance All figures in % of foreign assistance
  • 4. Why get involved now? Domestic political considerations • New administration • Increased political will—Initiating Foreign Assistance Reform Act introduced April 28 • NGO mobilization • Grassroots support key to ensuring that AJWS policy priorities are included in the eventual legislation
  • 5. Take Action! • AJWS supporters can engage with these efforts through  Visiting and calling members of Congress to lobby on this issue  Educating friends and community members  Writing, speaking and organizing