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Canada's Foreign Aid and Human Rights

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Sara Klassen

on 25 January 2013

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Transcript of Canada's Foreign Aid and Human Rights

The Issue Most Canadians would agree that those who are living in extreme poverty should benefit from our foreign aid programs like the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Yet, people who benefit from these programs often live under governments accused of abusing human rights.
Late in 1979, Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan and caused a war that killed between one and two million Afghans. The troops left in 1989 and civil war broke out. A group called the Taliban, or Religious Students Movement took over 2/3 of the country.
The Taliban enforced a strict interpretation of the Islamic law. Women weren't allowed to appear in public without being covered from head to foot. They had to stay home behind blacked-out windows and were only allowed to work as doctors in women's hospitals. Eventually, a ban was put on female education. Women found guilty of adultery were stoned to death. People guilty of religious offenses could be publicly whipped. Thieves could have their hands and feet amputated publicly, too. Deny Aid There are some people who feel that Canada should withhold aid from countries that have records of human rights violations. They feel that the best way to change the practice of these governments is to deny aid whenever human rights abuses occur. They say that it is not enough for Canada just to support United Nations conventions in order to create pressure for changes in governments. There is no guarantee that the aid will go to those who need it the most. If the government violates human rights, it isn`t certain that they will put the aid where it is needed. In order to bring about change, there has to be discipline. The Issue In June of 2000, a United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization reported that millions of Afghans had little or no access to food. They also reported that the situation was likely to deteriorate because of a severe drought. This was added to the fact that more than twenty years of war had destroyed the country. It was clear the Afghanistan was in dire need of Canadian aid. Yet, some claimed that the human rights violations of the Taliban government should be an issue in granting aid to the country. They thought that Canada should withhold aid until the Taliban changed its law.
This is only one example of the issue. Should Canada link its foreign aid to human rights? If so, should violations be ignored, or should Canadians use the situation to bring about change? Give Aid Those who feel that Canada should give aid regardless of human rights violations give the reason that different cultures have different interpretations of rights. They claim that the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights is a Western interpretation that doesn`t represent the rest of the world. They think that people should be allowed to follow their own culture`s teachings. They also say that good causes are not made better by confusing needs with rights and that change can be seen more often through cooperation than opposition. They think that some basic rights should be agreed upon, such as putting racism, sexism, and anti-Semitism on eternal ban, but that there shouldn't be a denial of aid due to other human rights issues. My Opinion Personally, I agree with the opinion that Canada should give aid regardless of human rights violations. Although I do think that there needs to be a change in how some of the world views human rights, I do not believe that withholding aid will see this. For a true change of heart, there needs to be something more. In Matthew 5:43-45 Jesus addresses this issue. He calls us to love our enemies so that we are seen to be children of God. Paul also talks about this in Romans 12:20-21. He writes that we can overcome evil with good and that by treating out enemies with kindness, we can change their nature.
The gift of grace can cause powerful changes in situations that are thought to be impossible. It is grace that brings people to Jesus, and it is grace that brings about a change in hearts. By giving aid to countries, regardless of their human rights violations, we show this grace. In doing this, we open up a door for Holy Spirit to work in lives and bring about God's will. What seems impossible for us to do, God can do if we give Him the opportunity. Foreign Aid and Human Rights "Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
St. Francis of Assisi Works Cited Cranny, Michael; Moles, Graham. Counterpoints. Toronto: Pearson Education, 2001. Print.
Chazelle, Bernard. "What's With the Burqa?" A Tiny Revolution. N.p. July 7, 2009. Web. January 13, 2013. Chazelle, Bernard.
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