Development without freedom: how aid underwrites repression in Ethiopia

BC10A550-835F-40A6-AA23-9E0D3CC9AC59_w640_r1_sAUG 12,2014

HRWDonor strategy toward Ethiopia needs fundamental rethinking

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Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries in the world, and is also one of the world’s largest recipients of foreign development aid. Foreign donors insist that their support underwrites agricultural growth, food security, and other non-political programmes. However, Human Rights Watch research shows that development aid flows through, and directly supports, a virtual one-party state with a highly questionable human rights record.

The paper states that Ethiopia’s practices include jailing political oppositionists, silencing critics and media, and enacting laws to undermine human rights activity. This politicisation has a direct impact on the livelihoods of people for whom access to agricultural inputs – the intended use of aid – is a matter of survival.

The author underlines that Ethiopia’s foreign donors are aware of this discrimination, but have done little to address the problem or tackle their own role in underwriting government repression. In this sense, donor policy has been remarkably unaffected by Ethiopia’s deteriorating human rights situation.

The document concludes that the Ethiopian population pays a heavy price for this approach to development. Accordingly, it draws the following recommendations:
•donor strategy toward Ethiopia needs fundamental rethinking
•in light of the government’s human rights violations, direct budget support to the government should not even be considered
•programs supported by international funds should be independently monitored
•credible audit institutions should examine aid to Ethiopia in the context of whether it contributes to political repression
•external donors must be more vocal about the steps Ethiopia should take to ensure that its citizens enjoy the rights to which they are entitled under the country’s constitution and international human rights law
•donor countries will exert far more influence on the government if they act together rather than separately.

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posted by Daniel tesfaye


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