Foreign Aid

Be it resolved, foreign aid does more harm than good...

June 1, 2009

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In a world where over 3 billion people live on under $2 a day, where economies and threats are globally interconnected, and where only small amounts of aid are given, should wealthy nations do more?  Or, given the poor track record of aid, the support it provides to dictators and tyrants, and the actual need for individual entrepreneurialism and free markets, should we focus our limited resources elsewhere?

The third Munk Debate explores the opportunities and hazards of foreign aid, by debating the question: Is foreign aid doing more harm than good?

The Results

Pre-Debate

39%

Pro

61%

Con

Post-Debate

41%

Pro

59%

Con

PRO gains 2%. PRO wins

The Debaters

Hernando de Soto

Hernando de Soto

Pro

"If the United States were to hike its foreign-aid budget to the level recommended by the United Nations-0.7 percent of national income-it would take the richest country on earth more than 150 years to transfer to the world's poor resources equal to those they already possess."

Hernando de Soto

Hernando de Soto

Pro

"If the United States were to hike its foreign-aid budget to the level recommended by the United Nations-0.7 percent of national income-it would take the richest country on earth more than 150 years to transfer to the world's poor resources equal to those they already possess."

Hernando de Soto has a simple yet visionary approach to relieving poverty in the developing world. In his groundbreaking bestseller, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else, he explores the reasons that some countries succeed at capitalism while others fail and proposes solutions that have earned him international awards and advisory roles with heads of state and corporate leaders alike.

For his work, Mr. de Soto was named as a finalist to receive the Nobel Prize for Finance in 2002. Time magazine has named de Soto one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century. The Economist deemed Mr. de Soto’s organization, the Institute for Liberty and Democracy (ILD), the second most important think tank in the world. The German magazine Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit named Mr. de Soto one of the most important development thought leaders of the last millennium.

de Soto is currently President of the ILD —headquartered in Lima, Peru— considered by The Economist as one of the two most important think tanks in the world. Time magazine chose him as one of the five leading Latin American innovators of the century in its special May 1999 issue "Leaders for the New Millennium", and included him among the 100 most influential people in the world in 2004. In its 85th anniversary edition, Forbes named Mr. de Soto as one of 15 innovators “who will reinvent your future”. In January 2000, Entwicklung und Zusammenarbeit, the German development magazine, described Mr. de Soto as one of the most important development theoreticians of the last millennium.  In October 2005, over 20,000 readers of Prospect magazine of the UK and Foreign Policy of the US ranked him among the top 13 “public intellectuals” in the world from the magazines’ joint list of 100.

Mr. de Soto has served as an economist for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, as President of the Executive Committee of the Copper Exporting Countries Organization (CIPEC), as CEO of Universal Engineering Corporation (Continental Europe’s largest consulting engineering firm), as a principal of the Swiss Bank Corporation Consultant Group, and as a governor of Peru’s Central Reserve Bank.

Mr. de Soto has published two books about economic and political development: The Other Path, in the mid- 1980s, and at the end of 2000, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else. Both books have been international bestsellers – translated into some 20 languages.

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Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

Pro

"I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model. Sometimes the most generous thing you can do is just say no."

Dambisa Moyo

Dambisa Moyo

Pro

I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model. Sometimes the most generous thing you can do is just say no.

If there is such a thing as a sensation in African development, it would be Dambisa Moyo. The author of the new book Dead Aid, she has taken on many of the conventions of the relationship between the West and Africa--aid, celebrity spokespeople, the "China does bad" storyline. In her book, she argues that government aid has not helped Africa, despite an inflation-adjusted $1 trillion being poured into the continent over the last four decades.

Moyo was born and raised in Lusaka, Zambia. She holds a Doctorate in Economics from Oxford University and a Masters from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She also has an MBA in Finance and Bachelors degree in Chemistry from American University in Washington D.C. She worked for the World Bank for 2 years as a Consultant (from 1993-1995) and at Goldman Sachs for 8 years (from 2001 to 2008), where she worked in the debt capital markets and as an economist in the global macroeconomics team.

Moyo is a Patron for Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), a hedge fund supported children’s charity, and serves on the Board of the Lundin Charitable Foundation that supports microfinance initiatives in developing countries. In November 2008, Moyo was nominated to the of Board of Lundin Petroleum.  She's on the board of directors of Room to Read, a non-profit that provides educational opportunities to local communities in the developing world.

In 2009, Dambisa Moyo was honoured by the World Economic Forum as one of its Young Global Leaders.

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Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis

Con

"It is almost inconceivable that the extravagant promises of Gleneagles are revealed as so fatuous that the Global Fund is now compromised. No one is asking for any more than that which was promised. But the Pavlovian betrayal of the South has already begun. Everything in the battle against AIDS is put at risk by the behaviour of the G8."

Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis

Con

It is almost inconceivable that the extravagant promises of Gleneagles are revealed as so fatuous that the Global Fund is now compromised. No one is asking for any more than that which was promised. But the Pavlovian betrayal of the South has already begun. Everything in the battle against AIDS is put at risk by the behaviour of the G8.

Stephen Lewis is Co-Founder and Co-Director of AIDS-Free World, an international AIDS advocacy organization, based in the United States.  He is Chair of the board of the Stephen Lewis Foundation in Canada and he is a Professor in Global Health in the Faculty of Social Sciences at McMaster University.   Mr. Lewis also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative (IAVI).

Stephen Lewis’ work with the United Nations spanned more than two decades.  He was the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa from June 2001 until the end of 2006.   From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Lewis was Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF at the organization’s global headquarters in New York.   In 1997, in addition to his work at UNICEF, Mr. Lewis was appointed by the Organization of African Unity to a Panel of Eminent Personalities to Investigate the Genocide in Rwanda.

From 1984 through 1988, Stephen Lewis was Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations. In this capacity, he chaired the Committee that drafted the Five-Year UN Programme on African Economic Recovery.  He also chaired the first International Conference on Climate Change, in1988, which drew up the first comprehensive policy on global warming. 

From 1970-1978, Mr. Lewis was leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, during which time he became leader of the Official Opposition.

Mr. Lewis holds 28 honorary degrees from Canadian universities.  He is an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and is a Senior Fellow of Massey College at the University of Toronto.

Mr. Lewis was appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada, Canada’s highest honour for lifetime achievement, in 2003.   The same year, Maclean’smagazine honoured Mr. Lewis as their inaugural “Canadian of the Year.”   In April 2005, TIME magazine listed Stephen Lewis as one of the ‘100 most influential people in the world’.  In 2007, King Letsie III, monarch of the Kingdom of Lesotho (a small mountainous country in Southern Africa) invested Mr. Lewis as Knight Commander of the Most Dignified Order of Moshoeshoe.  The order is named for the founder of Lesotho; the knighthood is the country’s highest honour.

Stephen Lewis’ best-selling book, Race Against Timewas a finalist for the Writers’ Trust Award and the Trillium Book Award. It won the Canadian Booksellers Association’s Libris Award for non-fiction book of the year, and Mr. Lewis was named the CBA’s Author of the Year for 2005.

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Paul Collier

Paul Collier

Con

"I doubt that many of Africa's problems can be attributed to aid. It is, in my view, something of a sideshow. Because it lends itself to a simple morality story of guilt and reparation, it receives more attention than is warranted."

Paul Collier

Paul Collier

Con

I doubt that many of Africa's problems can be attributed to aid. It is, in my view, something of a sideshow. Because it lends itself to a simple morality story of guilt and reparation, it receives more attention than is warranted.

Paul Collier is author of the award-winning book The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It, which is widely viewed, along with Jeffrey Sachs's The End of Poverty and William Easterly's The White Man's Burden, as one of the most prominent works on the foreign aid debate.  His most recent book, entitled "Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places", was published in March 2009.

Mr. Collier is a professor of Economics at Oxford University. He is also director of the Centre for the Study of African Economics, a professorial fellow at St. Anthony’s College, a professor associate at CERDI (Centre for Studies and Research in International Development) at l’Universit√© d'Auvergne; and a Fellow at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) in London, England.

Mr. Collier’s research focuses on a wide range of macroeconomic, microeconomic and political economy topics concerned with Africa. Specifically, he researches the causes and consequences of civil war; the effects of aid; and the problems of democracy in low income and natural resource-rich societies.

Mr. Collier has also served as senior advisor to Tony Blair’s Commission for Africa, has addressed the General Assembly of the UN, given a seminar at 10 Downing St., and been invited to meet with Condoleezza Rice on her recent UK visit.

Mr Collier completed the first-ever external review of International Monetary Fund (IMF) operations for the Board of the IMF. From 1998 to 2003 he was director of the development research group at the World Bank.

His work in microeconomics has focused on labour and financial markets, and on rural development, on which he has written three books and many articles. Within political economy, he has worked on the process of policy reform, and has also published a series of articles on `restraining the state'. He is a Professor Associate of CERDI, Université d'Auvergne; Fellow of the CEPR, London; and was Director of the Development Research group at the World Bank (from April 1998 to April 2003).

He holds a distinction award from Oxford University, and is a past winner of the Edgar Graham Book Prize, which is awarded every two years for published work of original scholarship concerning agriculture or industrial development in Africa or Asia.

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