The Donor’s Dilemma: International Aid and Human Rights Violations

  • Citation: Dasandi, Niheer, and Lior Erez. “The DONOR’S Dilemma: International Aid and Human Rights Violations.” British Journal of Political Science 49, no. 4 (2017): 1431–52.
    • Topics:
    • Global Development
    • Keywords:
    • international aid
    • human rights
    • donor governments
    • authoritarian regimes
    • political dilemmas
    • complicity dilemma
    • double effect dilemma
    • dirty hands dilemma
    • human rights violations
    • double effect of aid

Donor governments face a dilemma when providing development aid to states that violate human rights. While aid may contribute to positive development outcomes, it may also contribute to rights violations committed by these regimes. This article provides a conceptual framework for donors to address this dilemma in a normatively justified way. Drawing on recent methodological advancements in normative political theory, it develops a distinctively political framework of dilemmas, suggesting three models: complicity, double effect and dirty hands. It considers this framework in the context of development aid, discussing the relevant considerations for donors in different cases. The article demonstrates that an approach to development assistance that acknowledges political realities does not have to be normatively silent.

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