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Foreign Aid in the National Interest

Promoting Freedom, Security, and Opportunity

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More than ever, U.S. foreign policy toward the developing world plays a vital role in the global balance between conflict and peace. Our national security challenges are increasingly complex and the role of development increasingly recognized as pivotal.

"Foreign Aid in the National Interest: Promoting Freedom, Security, and Opportunity" will inform and focus international development assistance - looking back over five decades of work and looking ahead to future challenges. Written primarily by leading development scholars and academics outside USAID, including Larry Diamond of the Hoover Institute, Michael Porter of Harvard, Peter Timmer of University of California-San Diego, and Carol Adelman of the Hudson Institute, the report reconfirms the critical link between national security and foreign assistance. It lays out the scope and nature of the development challenges we face in the next 10 to 20 years. While it is not a policy document, it does include recommendations on how foreign assistance can adapt to meet future challenges more effectively. Comments about the report can be sent to

Chapter Descriptions

Chapter 1: Promoting Democratic Governance
Democracy has spread around the world since the 1989 collapse of communism, replacing both leftist and authoritarian regimes in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. But in many countries, democracy has become shallower and millions remain without real, basic rights.
Chapter 2: Driving Economic Growth
At least for the next generation, U.S. strategy for reducing poverty in developing countries must focus on promoting growth in poor countries. Growth in such countries is good for the poor. New data eliminates any doubt that rapid economic growth reduces poverty.
Chapter 3: Changing Health Needs
In most developing countries, fertility and mortality rates have declined, life expectancy has increased and health care has improved significantly. Increasingly, these countries must cope with aging populations and the growing incidence of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Chapter 4: Mitigating and Managing Conflict
The report lays out in stark terms the growing number and complexity of man-made and natural disasters and it documents a corresponding increase in U.S. humanitarian assistance. It calls for greater rigor in the development assistance community to identify the motivations underlying conflicts and potential conflicts and to look at all development through a “conflict lens.”
Chapter 5: Providing Humanitarian Aid
The international community’s experiences with conflicts and natural disasters in the 1990s led to big changes in the scope, funding, and profile of humanitarian aid. Trends guarantee that humanitarian aid will remain enormously important of the United States—the world’s largest humanitarian donor.
Chapter 6: The Full Measure of Foreign Aid
There has been a major shift in the sources of resources flows from the United States to developing countries. Twenty years ago, Official Development Assistance (ODA) was the largest source of aid to the developing world. Today, private flows from U.S. foundations, private and voluntary organizations, corporations, churches and individuals remittances exceed ODA—primarily because of the unique U.S. tax Structure and the country’s strong tradition of private giving.

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