[Opinion] There are serious flaws in foreign aid
Last week, the final day of the #HearMeToo campaign, dedicated to combating gender-based violence, coincided on International Human Rights Day. The campaign sought to bring attention to abuse faced by women and girls everywhere and created opportunities for dialogue among activists and decision makers.
As part of these efforts, the Canadian government joined the EU, European governments, and UN agencies in signing a statement decrying “gender-based violence in Palestine.” Along with its international partners, Canada has matched its words with deeds, allocating significant resources to helping Palestinians overcome systemic gender discrimination. For this substantial investment to achieve its desired results, it is important that the expenditure is carefully monitored to ensure that the money is used for its intended purpose.
Through international aid, countries like Canada hope to advance the universal values of human rights. Whether providing food to those living in poverty or building infrastructure to create job growth, Western countries see it as their duty to help.
But there is a challenge. Often, the investments made by Western countries are channeled through largely unregulated NGOs that act as intermediaries between generous states and population in need. This is especially the case in conflict zones, such as the Middle East, where aid has the potential to slip into the wrong hands, prolonging violence and hindering peace.
Given the presence of self-interested actors, such as terror groups posing as human rights NGOs or groups promoting particularistic and not universal values, it is crucial that governments remain vigilant and ensure that aid is used to improve the lives of those for whom it’s intended.