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 WHOLE



Dear Colleagues:

We are pleased to present the enclosed report, Reform of

United States Foreign Assistance. The report contains Inter-
Action’s Principles and Values to Guide Foreign Assistance
Programs, and a position paper on how to move forward with
the reform of the U.S. foreign assistance program. InterAc-
tion has for many years devoted its resources to ensuring that
U.S. foreign aid reflects the values of the American people
and relies on sound, effective structures in delivering interna-
tional assistance. This report reflects a broad consensus among InterAction’s members
on Secretary of State Rice’s initial steps in the reform of U.S. foreign assistance.

InterAction members are critical partners in U.S. foreign assistance, serving as the imple-
menting partners for countless programs throughout the myriad of countries that ben-
efit from U.S. programming. [Our work is nonpartisan: based instead on our over-riding
commitment to ensuring the most effective assistance programming that furthers the
interests of the U.S. and the needs of those struggling for a better life and a better future
around the world.] Using our experience, we contribute to many stages of the assistance
process: from roles in program development, to program management and program
evaluation throughout the developing world. It is this experience that leads us to believe
that the need for a comprehensive U.S. foreign assistance approach has never been higher,
and the need for global poverty reduction has never been greater.

We hope that the Administration, Congress and other concerned parties will take into ac-
count the principles laid out in this report: principles based on six decades of experience
working with vulnerable people around the world.

We look forward to continuing this discourse and welcome your comments and


Mohammad N. Akhter, M.D., M.P.H.

As the Administration considers changes in Our members enjoy the confidence of the
how U.S. foreign assistance programs will be American people, who contribute $3 billion
organized and managed, InterAction wishes annually to support their activities. Many
to share the views of its members on the are partners of the U.S. Agency for Inter-
principles we believe should guide that re- national Development and the Department
view and be reflected in its outcome. Inter- of State in the implementation of American
Action is committed to making U.S. foreign government relief and development pro-
assistance resources and programs both ef- grams overseas.
fective and efficient for the benefit of those
we serve and will support the reforms nec- Since World War II, the United States has
essary to achieve this. viewed foreign assistance both as a tool of
foreign policy and as an essential element of
InterAction is the largest coalition of Amer- our moral responsibilities as a world citizen.
ican non-governmental organizations work- InterAction applauds the Administration’s
ing in humanitarian and development as- initiatives that have substantially increased
sistance abroad with 165 members engaged funding for U.S. foreign aid. InterAction also
in every developing country in the world. recognizes that we cannot afford to ignore
We have almost six decades of solid expe- failed and failing states, which are home to
rience in humanitarian relief, post-conflict much of the developing world’s population
reconstruction and long-term development. living in absolute poverty without adequate
access to food, education and basic health ment needs abroad, including those in coun-
services. In addition to the compelling hu- tries and regions experiencing or threatened
manitarian concerns, these failed states, if by instability. And finally, InterAction be-
left unattended, can become fertile breeding lieves any reforms must enhance cohesion
grounds for instability and terrorism. in the implementation of our foreign assis-
tance programs abroad while maintaining a
InterAction recommends that any changes mutually respectful partnership with those
in structures and procedures include safe- non-government organizations that elect to
guards to ensure that funding for humani- assist the government in the implementation
tarian assistance and the achievement of of its foreign aid programs.
the long-term development objectives of
the eradication of extreme poverty and the In our community’s six decades of experi-
fulfillment of the President’s commitment ence, we have learned what is needed for
to the Millennium Development Goals are development to be effective in transform-
protected from diversion to meet more ing the lives of men, women, and children
immediate foreign policy requirements. In around the world. We offer these criteria as
addition, InterAction calls on the Admin- a set of principles to guide the reform of
istration to see that civilian agencies of the development assistance currently under dis-
government receive the support required cussion by the Administration.
for them to continue to respond to develop-
/Principle 1/ Poverty reduction must be a primary objective of U.S. foreign
assistance because it promotes stability.

InterAction welcomes Secretary of

State Rice’s interest in reforming for- /Principle 1 / The members of InterAc-
eign aid. We share the desire of the tion believe there are both moral and stra-
tegic grounds for making the eradication
President and Secretary Rice that the of extreme poverty and the achievement
U.S. has a coherent, progressive, and of the Millennium Development Goals
effective foreign assistance program. core elements of the U.S. foreign assis-
To this end, we firmly believe that tance portfolio, together with humanitar-
poverty reduction should remain the ian relief and stabilization. History has
core element of the U.S. foreign as- shown that countries not able to meet
basic needs and provide opportunities for
sistance portfolio. Since World War II, their people often have come to require
the United States has viewed foreign greater and more urgent engagement by
assistance as an essential component the United States in later years. A people-
of our moral responsibilities as a centered development approach requires
member of the international commu- both long-term investments in the social
nity. Addressing the systemic roots of sector, such as health and education, as
well as trade, debt, and foreign invest-
poverty and instability overseas will ment policies that promote job creation
allow the U.S. to fulfill its obligations and sustained economic growth. Progress
as a global citizen, while advancing toward democratic reforms by developing
prosperity, freedom, and the security countries is important, and InterAction
of our own people. has welcomed the Millennium Challenge
Corporation’s emphasis on human rights,
the rule of law, and promotion of demo-
We see the reforms proposed by the cratic practices. Gender equity should be
Secretary as the start of what likely an integral part of development practice
will be a lengthy process that ultimate- and a key goal of development programs.
ly will need to involve other elements
of the U.S. government, including the first major overhaul of U.S. gov-
the White House, Congress, and ad- ernment foreign aid activities since
ditional cabinet departments. While 1961. InterAction shares the desire of
focused primarily on the reforms an- the Secretary and many others to see
nounced by Secretary Rice, this state- the U.S. government adapt its foreign
ment is intended to encourage and aid programs to meet the priorities of
help shape what we hope will become the 21st century.

/Principle 2/ Achieving the long-term objectives of global prosperity and
freedom depends upon sustainable development as a long-
term process that should not be sidetracked for any short-
term political agenda.
As the largest alliance of U.S. based
non-governmental organizations pro- /Principle 2 / While U.S. foreign and se-
viding humanitarian and development curity objectives will inevitably change to
reflect new priorities in an evolving world,
assistance overseas, our 165 members
the achievement of long-term develop-
have experience working in every de- ment goals requires a patient and steady
veloping country, in many cases for approach. Balancing short-term political
decades. The American people con- and economic calculations with the long-
tribute $3 billion annually toward the term nature of sustainable development
activities of InterAction members – a approaches requires a proper mix of
short- and long-term objectives. Given
remarkable sign of their interest and
this interdependence, development as-
support. Many of our members are sistance should be designed, managed
partners of the U.S. Agency for In- and evaluated from the perspective of its
ternational Development or the State long-term nature, not only its short-term
Department in the implementation of political impact.
their foreign assistance programs.

We appreciate the importance that For the past nine years, InterAction
President Bush and Congress have at- has advocated a fresh look at how U.S.
tached to foreign assistance programs foreign aid is being managed and de-
in recent years. We have welcomed livered. InterAction is committed to
the significant increases in funding of making U.S. foreign assistance more
these activities in the past five years, as effective and will support reforms
well as new initiatives such as the Mil- that we believe can accomplish this
lennium Challenge Account and the goal. We believe the rich experience
President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS of our members in implementing
Relief. We are proud of the leading development programs qualifies us
role the United States government is collectively to make a well-informed
playing in responding to humanitar- contribution to the discussion about
ian crises around the world. We are how our government funds and uses
heartened by the significant increase foreign aid to support American na-
in funding for Africa, the continent tional interests.
most broadly affected by extreme
poverty. We applaud U.S. leadership in
provision of debt relief.

/Principle 3/ Cohesion and coherence, in place of current fragmentation,
are necessary to achieve the effective use of foreign
assistance resources.

Poverty reduction should be acknowledged as the

primary objective of U.S. foreign assistance. /Principle 3 / Since 1997, InterAc-
tion has, through the issuance of three
papers, called for steps to address the
The elimination of extreme poverty multiplication of U.S. foreign assistance
and fulfillment of the President’s com- programs and its implications both for
mitment to achievement of the Millen- planning and funding in Washington,
nium Development Goals should be D.C. and for delivery of assistance in
at the heart of U.S. foreign assistance the field. Despite a commitment to cre-
policy. However, poverty reduction ate a more coherent policy framework
for foreign aid as an element of national
was barely mentioned in the recent an- security strategy, the responsibilities and
nouncements regarding transforma- resources for foreign assistance have
tional diplomacy. The White House been dispersed so widely that the deliv-
should give its full support to all facets ery and impact of foreign aid may fall
of its proposed foreign aid budget at ev- far short of expectations, including the
ery stage of the budget process. Despite expectations of the Administration. A
coherent structure for aid would be bet-
the administration’s call for increases in ter equipped to plan for and assess the
humanitarian and development aid in efficient use of aid resources.
the FY 2006 budget, Congress cut these
core accounts in the final budget end-
game. The just unveiled FY 2007 bud- As the President reminded us in his
get further cuts humanitarian aid and State of the Union Address, free elec-
some core development accounts. tions do not by themselves always lead
directly or immediately to policies that
InterAction supports working with promote growth and stability. Most of
our partners in the international com- those countries in Asia and Latin Amer-
munity to build and sustain democratic, ica that have become stable democra-
well-governed states that will respond cies were nurtured by decades of for-
to the needs of their people and con- eign assistance. South Korea is but one
duct themselves responsibly in the in- example. USAID’s recently published
ternational system. Realization of this Policy Framework for Bilateral Foreign
objective will often require long-term Aid envisions roles for development as-
external investments in social sectors. sistance in promoting transformational
/Principle 4/ Building local capacity promotes country ownership and leads
to self-sufficiency.
development, strengthening fragile
states, and supporting strategic states— /Principle 4 / For development as-
three of the agency’s five core strategic sistance to work, it must be directed
toward efforts that its beneficiaries
goals for foreign aid.
identify, design, and value. Country
ownership, through the participation of
The need for long-term investment a strong civil society and effective and
also is evident in the challenge of transparent public institutions, is vital to
achieving results for women. Our building programs and investments that
years of development programming are sustainable for generations to come.
Truly effective assistance must hold all
experience tell us that providing op-
stakeholders in the development process
portunities for girls and women is —donors, civil society, and government
crucial if societies are to escape pov- —accountable for achieving the defined
erty. Furthermore, women are often results that lead to measurable impact
the voice of change and reform. Yet and sustainable changes in well-being.
there has been little mention in recent
pronouncements about the need for
Beyond the reforms announced by the Secre-
more of the educational and employ-
tary of State, further immediate steps could
ment programs that have successfully
be taken to make U.S. foreign aid signifi-
addressed this challenge in countries
cantly more effective.
experiencing real transformation.
Consolidating responsibility for pol-
With a third of the world’s population
icy, budgets, and implementation of
still living in extreme poverty, resourc-
the foreign aid programs undertak-
es to end this situation must be sub-
en by the Department of State and
stantially increased and commitments
USAID should improve coherence in
must be sustained over lengthy time-
the employment of these resources.
frames. Moreover, we strongly urge
The joint State/USAID staff sup-
that development funding be pro-
porting the new Administrator in his
tected from diversion to meet short-
additional role as Director for Foreign
term political or military objectives.
Assistance should give the USAID
Safeguards are needed—especially if
Administrator the ability to reduce
one person is going to formulate, jus-
redundancy and cover critical gaps
tify, and allocate the resources of both
in the USAID and State Department
USAID and the State Department.
programs for which he is responsible.
/Principle 5/ Harmonize priorities among the U.S. government agencies,
multilateral institutions and recipient governments to assure
the best use of resources.
However, the new Administrator will
have no formal authority for the con- /Principle 5 / In order to achieve the
duct of those foreign aid programs greatest impact for each foreign assis-
tance dollar, partnership, collaboration,
beyond his expanded jurisdiction,
and dialogue with other donors, both bi-
including, for example, those of the lateral and multilateral, are critical. Such
Millennium Challenge Corporation, efforts allow humanitarian and develop-
the President’s Emergency Plan for ment programs to build upon best prac-
AIDS Relief, or those administered tices and avoid wasteful duplication. Bi-
by other cabinet departments, includ- lateral and multilateral efforts each have
distinctive contributions and should be
ing Agriculture, Defense, Health and
seen as complementary. Aid works best
Human Services, and Treasury. Pend- when donors work together, each using
ing consideration of further consoli- their comparative strengths to achieve
dation, the cabinet officers and oth- agreed-upon goals to which both govern-
ers responsible for these programs ments and citizens are committed.
could meet with the President once
or twice a year to review major issues
Implementation of U.S. foreign assistance
and trends and take steps necessary
programs should remain under civilian con-
to limit duplication and close gaps in
trol in all but the most exceptional cases.
foreign aid coverage.
The U.S. military has provided life-
Secretary Rice’s pledge to USAID’s
saving assistance in recent natural
staff that they will remain the primary
disasters because it had assets not
mechanism for hands-on delivery of
available from the civilian economy in
U.S. foreign assistance is reassuring.
the required timeframe. We are grate-
But we are concerned that the continu-
ful for this assistance and proud of
ing shortfalls in appropriations to meet
the performance of the U.S. military.
USAID’s operating costs are crippling
There may be circumstances when
an agency that already has lost much
active hostilities in which U.S. armed
of the technical expertise for which it
forces are involved exclude most civil-
once was admired by development pro-
ian relief activities. Under the Geneva
fessionals around the world. This un-
Conventions the U.S. government may
derfunding of USAID capacity should
actually be obliged to use its military
be addressed immediately by increas-
forces to feed and otherwise ensure
ing the agency’s operating budget.
the welfare of local people in territory
/Principle 6/ Humanitarian assistance programs should continue to be
a core part of foreign aid and be guided by the principle of
impartiality to conform with international humanitarian law.
occupied by the American military.
But relief activities by the U.S. armed /Principle 6 / The U.S. government
forces in these exceptional circum- has long been a leader in providing as-
stances do not justify the Pentagon’s sistance to refugees and others affected
recently announced plans to engage by natural disasters and conflict. These
programs should be a core part of U.S.
in stabilization operations across the
foreign aid and continue to be guided
spectrum from peace to conflict. The by the humanitarian imperative, which
lack of capacity within the U.S. gov- dictates that help should be provided to
ernment to undertake non-combat all of those in dire need, regardless of
stabilization operations should be politics and creed. Similarly, programs
cured by providing civilian depart- focused on global health threats such as
HIV/AIDS and avian flu should benefit
ments with the required additional
all of those exposed to risk of illness.
mandates and resources. The key role
assigned to the Secretary of State in
stability operations by National Secu- more ambitious proposals at present,
rity Presidential Directive 44 should fundamental reform is a long process
be reinforced by appropriation of that merits active consideration now.
funds requested by State for the Of-
fice of the Coordinator for Rehabili- The next step in this process could be
tation and Stabilization. to add to the portfolio of the Direc-
tor for Foreign Assistance/USAID
A bolder approach will better serve Ameri- Administrator authority for manage-
can interests. ment of the Millennium Challenge
Corporation, the President’s Emer-
We reaffirm our agreement that a full- gency Plan for AIDS Relief, and the
scale reform of U.S. foreign assistance State Department’s Office for the Co-
management and programs is long ordination of Rehabilitation and Sta-
overdue. The steps currently under bilization. A more ambitious option,
consideration can at best result in in- or a subsequent phase in an iterative
cremental and partial improvements in reform agenda, would be to expand
the ability of the government to coor- further the responsibilities of the Di-
dinate its resources to better serve es- rector/Administrator to include all of
sential U.S. interests. While the legisla- the foreign aid programs run by other
tive climate may not be propitious for cabinet departments and federal agen-

/Principle 7/ U.S. foreign assistance programs should be under civilian
control and run by development professionals in order to be
appropriate for the public abroad.
cies. While this further consolidation
would promote even greater coher- /Principle 7 / Currently the Department
of Defense has unprecedented influence
ence, it could also make foreign as-
over our nation’s largest and most vis-
sistance accounts more vulnerable to ible development assistance programs:
pressure to subordinate the long-term those in Afghanistan and Iraq. Addi-
goal of poverty reduction to shorter- tionally, there are recent indications that
term political and military objectives. the Pentagon seeks an expanded role in
foreign assistance activities tradition-
ally undertaken by civilian components
InterAction advocates the eventual
of the U.S. government and American
establishment of a cabinet level de- non-governmental organizations. To
partment charged with the mandate remain consistent with American tradi-
of managing all U.S. foreign aid activi- tions and the image the U.S. wishes to
ties. The fragmentation of authorities project abroad, the military should be
and programs that currently has gov- engaged in foreign assistance delivery
only in exceptional circumstances when
ernment agencies sometimes working
they have unique capabilities or respon-
at cross-purposes to the confusion of sibilities, e.g. during natural disasters
our partners and detriment of effec- when the logistical capabilities of the
tive delivery would be ended. Within U.S. military may be crucial in providing
the cabinet there would be a leader life-saving assistance, or during conflict
charged with forewarning colleagues which precludes the presence of civilian
aid workers. In any reorganization, the
of the humanitarian consequences
U.S. foreign assistance program should
of strategic decisions, taking the lead be under civilian control.
in mobilizing responses to foreign
disasters, and advocating for a bud-
get share for foreign aid consistent member, the leader of the foreign aid
with those of other advanced indus- department would be less vulnerable
trial countries, which have committed to pressure to divert funds from de-
themselves to devoting 0.7% of their velopment programs to activities in-
GDP to official development assis- tended only to serve political or mili-
tance. Our partners in the developed tary objectives.
and developing world would have a
single authoritative U.S. spokesperson
with whom to discuss and negotiate
foreign aid issues. As a full cabinet


In responding to Secretary Rice’s re-

form initiative with this statement of
Addressing the
its appreciation and of its concerns systemic roots of
and recommendations, InterAction
looks forward to the continuing en- poverty and instability
gagement of the NGO community in
a national discussion on the future of
overseas will allow
U.S. foreign assistance. the U.S. to fulfill its
obligations as a global
citizen, while advancing
prosperity, freedom,
and the security of our
own people.


/Cover and inside cover/

“Sudanese woman” Karl Grobl, www.karlgrobl.com

/Page 6/
“After the tsunami” Karl Grobl, www.karlgrobl.com

/Page 8/
“The hands that feed the hungry” Diana Barnett, www.facesoftomorrow.com

/Page 10/
“A girl studies” Darcy Kiefel, Heifer International, www.kiefelphotography.com

/Page 12/
“My black finger shows I’ve voted!” Rebecca J. Vander Meulen

/Page 14/
“Aceh, Indonesia” Kim MacDonald

/Page 16/
“Hope in Darfur” Barbara Ayotte

/Page 18/
“Oranges” Jon Warren

/Page 20/
“Living a better life because of our cow” Darcy Kiefel, Heifer International,

Daniel E. Pellegrom, Chair Jo Luck

Pathfinder International Heifer International
Geeta Rao Gupta, Vice Chair Charles MacCormack
International Center for Research on Women Save the Children
John Schultz, Treasurer John McCullough
Christian Children’s Fund Church World Service
Ruth Messinger
Board of Directors American Jewish World Service
Nancy A. Aossey Steve Moseley
International Medical Corps Academy for Educational Development
Ken Bacon Sarah Newhall
Refugees International Pact
David Beckmann Raymond Offenheiser
Bread for the World Oxfam America
Sekyu Chang Linda Pfeiffer
Korean American Sharing Movement INMED
Amy Coen William Reese
Population Action International International Youth Foundation
Julius Coles Yolonda Richardson
Africare CEDPA
Chris Dunford Leonard Rubenstein
Freedom from Hunger Physicians for Human Rights
Neal Keny-Guyer George Rupp
Mercy Corps International Rescue Committee
Lee Hamilton Ritu Sharma
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars Women’s Edge
Lelei Lelaulu Richard Stearns
Counterpart International World Vision
Lavinia Limon Sam Worthington
U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants Plan USA
1717 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Suite 701
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: (202) 667-8227
Fax: (202) 667-8236