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UNDER 17 U.S.C. § 504(C)(2). Resolved: Wealthy nations have an obligation to
provide development assistance to other nations.
FILES THE LD FILE 2
Developmental Assistance The Forensics File
The LD File
Affirmative Extensions 3-13
36-61 Aid has accomplished some great things for poor people.
Wealthy nations can take steps to combat corruption in developing countries to ensure aid can work.
Wealthy countries can help developing nations advance technologically.
Wealthy countries could assist developing nations in the health sector.
With innovation, wealthy countries could provide great development benefit to developing countries.
Wealthy nations could aid simply by allowing for greater labor mobility.
Wealthy countries can provide aid by working to end conflict and spread democracy.
Past aid failures only mean we must reform and be smarter; we cannot abandon developing countries.
Economic growth is not sufficient to ensure that the plight of the poor improves.
Aid must not be subservient to foreign policy goals but should only be assessed on helping the poor.
Wealthy countries could do great things if they all met their obligation.
An obligation to help developing nations can be grounded in the equal concern for the welfare of all.
An obligation to render aid could be grounded in the fact that wealthy countries have often caused the poverty in other.. 45
If a state does not meet its obligation to its citizens, wealthy nations must step in just as they would after an emergency. 46
Affirming is not necessarily an assertion that wealthy countries earned their wealth unjustly.
Wealthy countries have the obligation to aid because they are the ones capable of helping.
For practical purposes, wealthy nations can divide the labor of rendering aid.
An obligation to render aid can be grounded in barriers to migration.
Wealthy nations must render aid because they have driven up food prices.
Failure to provide developmental assistance can choose between development or humanitarian assistance.
If we can prevent something bad from happening without cause an equal bad, we ought prevent that bad occurrence. 52
Moral duties to assist are not lessened due to distance.
The duty to aid is not lessened by the fact that a person is only one who can aid or one of millions who could aid.
Rendering aid to the developing world cannot be viewed as optional charity.
Morality requires us to look beyond societal interests and render aid to prevent suffering.
Advocating difficult moral duties is unlikely to cause a breakdown in morality.
The obligation to render aid takes into account and balances with practical and moral realities.
The duty to render aid is not radical nor inconsistent with Western normative considerations.
We ought render aid to the point of marginal utility.
Extreme poverty is a driver of terror.
61 Negative Extensions 62-85 Altruistic foreign policy leads to political corruption and dishonesty.
Rejecting the ideal of altruism is the only way to create a rational foreign policy.
Foreign aid is a driver of terror and creates enemies.
The affirmative obligation means we cannot distinguish between corrupt and less corrupt countries to aid.
Foreign aid corrupts recipient governments.
Government to government aid must be abolished for the benefit of all concerned.
Use of the word ‘aid’ is a rhetorical device used to silence criticism; this aid is merely a different form of government..
North Korea and Zimbabwe epitomize the problems and effects of foreign aid.
Foreign aid functionally subsidizes and thus encourages poverty.
Even if foreign aid has noble intent, it is corrupting and undermines markets in recipient nations.
The moral thing to do is engage in free trade with less developed nations.
Free trade, not aid, is in the self-interest of wealthy citizens.
Free trade would ease immigration pressures.
The only moral system of aid is a voluntary one.
History demonstrates that foreign aid fails to spark growth.
Successful aid is far from simply committing to more money or a certain level of giving.
Alternatives to aid exist.
The affirmative mindset justifies constant, unending intervention.
Affirming completely undermines our capacity to pursue our self-interest.
Altruistic foreign policies foster terror.
Grounding foreign policy in altruistic duties leads to irrational, self-destructive policies.
Disguising a moral obligation to aid as self-interest does not alter the underlying altruistic moral premise.
Altruistic foreign policy foundations undermines our ability to defend ourselves.
Affirming treats American citizens as serfs.
Only a rejection of altruism in foreign policy can protect individual rights.
Ostracism, not engagement, can sometimes be the correct moral policy.
Altruistic redistribution policies have failed repeatedly for decades.
Altruistic foreign policy leads to constant intervention.
Affirming leads to sacrificing blood and lives as well as money.
Altruistic duty to the other has been used to justify every foreign policy disaster and atrocity for the past century. Blocks
102-105 Back to Index 3
Developmental Assistance The Forensics File
The LD File Topic Overview
Part I: Introduction
The first thing that debaters should notice about this resolution is that the wording
is very problematic. Ostensibly, the resolution is discussing a potential, or debatable,
moral obligation for wealthy nations to provide developmental assistance to other
nations. A closer look at the resolution reveals that the resolution lacks any normative or
ethical language. The topic could simply be read as a resolution of fact. The resolution
could be asking if a factual obligation exists. Factually wealthy nations have committed
themselves to provide developmental aid such as the Millennium Project1 and aid to
combat climate change2 among other commitments. As the resolution stipulates ‘an’
obligation, an affirmative describing one of these commitments would be enough to
prove the resolution, as written, true. Another concern is the resolution does not specify
all developing nations so wealthy nations could potentially help each other further
develop and that could prove the resolution true. The lack of specificity could also mean
the affirmative must defend an obligation to render aid to all developing countries, or
could specify a given group of nations (the US must help Native Indian reservations
within its jurisdiction develop). Little in the resolution would preclude any one of these
interpretations. This has implications for if the affirmative must defend aiding all
developing nations, then the negative can argue something like ‘except Iran’ or ‘except 1
Brad Plumer, “Wealthy nations pledged billions to help the poor adapt to climate change. Where did it
all go?,” The Washington Post, November 18, 2013,
2 Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 4
Developmental Assistance North Korea.’ It also means predicting what debaters will run and thus what to prep
could prove very challenging.
Further, if the resolution is interpreted accurately as a resolution of fact, this will
kill all negative ground because the negative cannot disprove the existence of existing
obligations. Even if the negative were to prove conclusively that we ought to abandon
the current obligations, that would not prove the obligations do not exist. We would have
short, and very dull, rounds. So, this file treats the topic as a moral, ethical question as to
whether a moral duty to aid in this way exists. This provides ground because the
affirmative can prove an altruistic obligation exists. Plenty of authors argue such a duty
exists, probably Peter Singer most famously. The negative has ground and can argue that
such an obligation does not exist, that aid is optional, that aid is very problematic, etc.
Our file also assumes the resolution is discussing developing nations as contrasted to all
nations as any nation could theoretically be developing. Developing nation is a term of
art and has a specific definition, “A nation where the average income is much lower than
in industrial nations, where the economy relies on a few export crops, and where farming
is conducted by primitive methods.”3 Additionally, developmental assistance or aid also
is a term of art with a specific definition, “Financial help given by richer countries to
poorer ones to help their industrial and economic development.”4 So this file treats the
topic as if it were asking an ethical question about the potential obligations of wealthy
nations toward developing nations. We think this is textually justified and likely the most
preferred interpretation. 3 developing nation. Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third
Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005.
(accessed: August 5, 2017).
Source: Financial Times Lexicon Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 5
Developmental Assistance Debaters should realize there is a difference between humanitarian and
developmental assistance. As the definition of developmental assistance demonstrated,
developmental assistance is to help these countries develop economically and
industrially. Humanitarian aid is generally considered for emergencies. Humanitarian
aid is for helping victims of an earthquake, tsunami, or a nuclear meltdown.
Developmental assistance is more for helping countries to build industry, infrastructure,
and whatever else is needed to bring these countries out of poverty and into economic
prosperity. So, discussing emergencies is not clearly topical and thus approaches
indicting lifeboat ethical systems arguably do not apply, though that could depend on the
affirmative approach (some authors do couch the topic in emergency language such as
drowning babies). Additionally, the negative need not defend no aid ever or even that
negating means we do not help countries hit by disaster. The negative need only prove
developmental aid is optional, not obligatory.
This file focuses on a moral approach, specific, seeking the moral obligation in
the topic. This is done because reciting a litany of harms (and there is sadly no shortage
of those) in developing countries does not necessarily prove that wealthy nations have a
moral obligation to solve such harms. Thus, a ton of affirmative cards that list all the
ways people in developing nations are suffering does not seem too helpful. Wealthy
nations could opt to solve for the harms making an obligation moot or irrelevant. The file
does not just provide tons of solvency cards either because proving developmental aid
solves or has amazing advantages would not necessarily prove an obligation exists unless
one wins a utilitarian framing. There is nothing wrong with a utilitarian approach, but it
is only one approach and so focusing on harms, solvency, advantages would be limiting Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 6
Developmental Assistance the file to that approach when this topic has deontological, contractual, egoistic, and
pragmatic ethical concerns as well. The file generally approaches the topic as if the
resolution is considering a government to government type of developmental aid (this is
often how aid is delivered though it can also be government to a third party such as the
UN, the World Bank, or an NGO (non-governmental organization) such as the Red
Cross. The aid could also be in the form of direct cash transfers to people in need.5) The
obligation could also apply to individuals instead of the government of a wealthy nation.
We believe the obligation is the heart of the topic and makes it most interesting for if
there isn’t an obligation, the topic descends into optional aid to this or that country in a
given circumstance or relation to the wealthy countries. The moral obligation implied in
the resolution makes this topic an LD topic.
Part II: The Affirmative
There is no shortage of affirmative approaches. One already mentioned was a
simple utilitarian approach. An affirmative could prove that not only is achieving the
greatest good for the greatest number moral, but morally obliged. Then prove
developmental aid will achieve this. The affirmative could easily defend a more
deontological approach as deontology is all about respecting human dignity and
autonomy and allowing people to wallow and suffer in poverty hardly seems to meet
basic deontological requirements. The affirmative could approach the topic from a
contractual approach such as commitments were made and agreed to by nations through
moral deliberation. The affirmative could use a Rawlsian approach as from behind a veil 5 Lauer & Lepenies 2015, Lorenz Lauer (University of the Basque Country) and Robert Lepenies (European
University Institute), “The poor have no money – so just give it to them! In favour of inclusive aid and
unconditional cash transfers,” European University Institute, Working Papers, 2015,
Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 7
Developmental Assistance of ignorance, few would likely opt for such an unequal world when they might emerge
from their original position into the poor and suffering part of that world. The affirmative
also has access to cause and effect arguments, wealthy nations somehow caused the
suffering of the developing nations through past colonialization, through failing to live up
to their prior commitments to aid, though monopolization of resources, through driving
climate change, etc. In other words, this is a good topic on which to affirm.
All of the cases we offer defend the value of morality due to the word obligation
in the resolution which Merriam Webster defines as meaning “something that you must
do because it is morally right.” So, the resolution is asking as to whether or not wealthy
nations have a moral obligation to provide development assistance. We should look to
the resolution for our values because doing so ensures the question of the resolution is
answered; the topic is resolved. As the resolution contains no other normative language,
morality is the only value we can find in the resolution. Additionally, morality is an
overarching value that informs other values and morality is a very common value in
debate which both sides have easy access to. So, all of our cases again vary on the
criterion level. The first case takes the global warming approach arguing that people in
developing nations are suffering (and are likely to suffer the most) due to global warming
and then that wealthy nations have pledged to help aid developing nations, that past
voluntary contributions have proven to paltry to actually help these developing countries,
and finally that global warming is caused by wealthy nation’s use of resources and so
wealthy nations are obliged because they are causing the harm.
The second affirmative case we offer argues that the way to achieve morality is
through treating people with equal dignity arguing, “We would need to say that each Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 8
Developmental Assistance person has both a right against another and a duty towards him too. It is surely less
complicated and parsimonious to think that everyone has an obligation towards all others
to treat each other with dignity and respect, not to unnecessarily harm one another, etc.
etc. Thus, in their regulative aspect human moral obligations serve as the foundation of
morality since they are instrumental in regulating the action of human beings.”6 The first
point in this case argues that failing to render aid disregards the autonomy and equality of
the other. The second, that failure to render aid is morally equivalent to letting multiple
babies drown. The third, that developmental aid can significantly reduce famine and
poverty. So, this case attempts to show that we must aid to respect human dignity and
that aiding can and will alleviate the suffering so again, respecting human dignity.
The last point in the second case addresses the most significant weakness that the
affirmative side of the resolution will experience, the fact that there are all kinds of
solvency issues with foreign aid. Very often, foreign aid seems to fail for a variety of
reasons. The most common is that corrupt governments coopt all the aid and very little
makes it to the people for whom the aid is intended. Another issue is that planned aid
often fails because it does not readily address actual issues on the ground in these
countries, instead adhering to some third party’s ideal of what aid should look like or
what a donor specifically wants their aid to do. Another issue with aid is it can destroy
emerging, indigenous markets within a country. Imagine a young shoe maker in a
developing country trying to build a market in shoes and so is making and selling shoes.
The entrepreneur is doing well, begins hiring personnel, and this is having the 6 Motila 2011 Shashi Motila (Department of Philosophy, University of Delhi), “Human Rights, Human
Moral Obligations and Moral Cosmopolitanism,” Paper submitted for publication in Volume on Human
Rights edited by Jay Drydyk and Ashwani Peetush to be published by OUP India, September, 2011,
Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 9
Developmental Assistance consequence of building industry among the shoe makers suppliers. Economic growth in
this market is happening and people are pulling themselves out of poverty. Then a
church group from the US comes in and dumps a gazillion free shoes into the country.
The shoemaker’s fragile business fails as there is no one to sell shoes to, the suppliers fail
as the shoemaker is no longer buying the supplies, and the market fails creating more
poverty. Now imagine this on a grand scale, with every market, where everything people
need is provided by well-meaning people in the first world. There is market collapse all
across these countries. Debaters could checkout the documentary Poverty Inc. for more
on how developmental aid can actually prevent economic growth. Affirmatives should
be well prepared on solvency arguments as even if judges in your area are not prone to
thinking affirmatives in LD need solvency, negative arguments that affirming makes
things worse will likely be well received. Finally, another weakness affirmatives might
want to prepare for is the idea that the affirmative mindset justifies military intervention
as a type of aid to overthrow corrupt governments. This is a less common, but potentially
potent, objection that could cost affirmatives debate rounds.
Part III: The Negative
The negative has access to many arguments, especially the one described in the
immediately prior paragraph. Negatives should focus on solvency failures as it seems
odd to think an obligation would exist to act in a way that worsens the situation for the
poor and suffering. Negatives should also focus on solvency, especially if they debate in
an area that accepts plan debate, because a sly affirmative will argue that their plan is
different/new and so avoids any generic solvency problems the negative can point to.
Most forms of aid have been tried and so a well-prepared negative should be ready to Back to Index The Forensics File
The LD File 10
Developmental Assistance argue that government to government aid fails, that loans from the IMF fail, that aid
directed through NGO’s fail, and so does any other method that an affirmative might try
to advocate. In other words, an affirmative could defend working through NGOs and
negative arguments that government to go...
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- Fall '15
- United Nations , Developed country, Development aid, Development Assistance Committee, developmental assistance