Considerations on Power and International Aid Relations

Michael Kelly, SJ

 Michael Kelly, SJ
 Daniel Solymári / Politics / 8 September 2021

Paid Article

This present study considers international aid, that is, the institutionalized forms by which people’s conditions are improved. It examines charity systems from the point of view of political power, starting from the concept that international aid was historically born along with the appearance of the idea of public affairs and public service, in the spirit of international relations. Therefore, in this sense, aid is an element of politics, whose original scope was born out of the interaction between nations and right up to the present it occurs significantly among states and political institutions.

But to what extent does political power determine this element within its own scope? Can aid be a political operation that does not function according to the logic of power? Can we talk about selfless, vested interest-free relations in a superstructure drawing on dominance, building on dominance? Is there any such thing as selfless aid that is without power, without political-economic considerations? That is, can we ever “give” without “asking” something in return for it?

The choice of subject matter for this study springs from our hypothesis that the strength of the party offering support (that is, the donor) and their power position toward the supported party or recipient is perhaps the most significant characteristic of aid relations, a key element of successful cooperation.

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