In times of economic hardship, should a country still be expected to provide financial or material aid to others?

Yes: Countries may have moral, legal and political obligations to other countries and the international community, compelling or encouraging them to provide financial or material aid to other countries despite economic hardships and uncertainties.

  1. International or regional emergencies, such as severe natural disasters, may oblige countries to direct financial and material aid to the stricken countries. For countries facing economic hardship, the aid they give to these stricken countries can be appropriately scaled down to resources available to them. Doing so reflects both a pragmatic measure to help within one’s means and a moral measure to assist one’s fellow men within the community of nations.
  2. Developed countries may have legal obligations established under international law or bilateral arrangements to provide aid to less developed nations and they will expected to do so despite economic hardship. Economically challenging conditions are not sufficient grounds for these countries to repudiate their promises and undertakings, since doing so may irrevocably damage the legitimacy and international standing of the aid-giving country.
  3. The political and occasionally, historical interactions between countries may necessitate aid-giving from one to another despite times of economic hardship within the aid-giving country. Justifications for such aid are often centered on the less salubrious aspects of past political or historical interactions, such as war reparations or compensation for excessive exploitation of past colonies. Meeting such commitments ensures that political relations between aid-giver and beneficiary remain cordial rather than erupting into renewed hostilities.

No: Economic hardship can offer valid reasons and grounds for countries to reduce or even ignore expectations of aid to other countries, provided the conditions of economic hardship are sufficiently severe or desperate.

  1. Countries that are sufficiently distant either geographically or politically from stricken countries in international or regional emergencies would have little need or expectation to provide generous aid. Economic hardship and the need to conserve national financial resources would then serve as legitimate reasons for these countries to provide at best minimum assistance to the stricken countries.
  2. Economic hardship may prevent countries from effectively meeting their legal aid obligations to beneficiary countries. Expectations of aid should therefore be scaled down accordingly. The re-negotiation of treaty and aid terms can be undertaken in such cases by all involved parties to ensure that the reduced aid given would remain helpful to the beneficiary country while preventing it from being excessively onerous or too much of a burden to the aid-giving country.
  3. Political or historical animosities between an aid-giver and recipient may have been aggravated in recent times due to poorly managed diplomacy and interactions between them. The promises of aid from one to another would thus be less binding on practical grounds since the giving of aid is based on reciprocity and mutual respect. The outcomes of giving aid in such politically toxic conditions, coupled with economic hardship may thus be counter-productive or cause public unhappiness, compelling the aid-giving country to put a hold or moratorium on the aid-giving until conditions improve.