Coalition Urges Bush to Consider Aid Criteria | Freedom House

Coalition Urges Bush to Consider Aid Criteria

New York

The Honorable George W. Bush President of the United States
The White House
Washington DC 20500

Dear President Bush,

We welcome and applaud your Millennium Challenge Account initiative, which calls for increased foreign aid based on standards of "ruling justly, investing in people and encouraging economic freedom." We feel this initiative holds great promise for advancing development and alleviating poverty. Moreover, we congratulate you on the inclusion of ruling justly as a key criterion for the allocation of that assistance. We believe that it is particularly important that respect for human rights, adherence to the rule of law, and rooting out corruption be key elements in helping to determine where the U.S. invests its resources.

We have learned from past experience in countries around the world, including Egypt, Somalia, Cambodia, and Zaire that if democracy, human rights, and governance concerns are ignored, U.S. assistance efforts are simply wasted. The bottom line is that these issues matter.

Listed below are simple and transparent examples of criteria for ruling justly that we would respectfully ask you to consider in choosing beneficiaries of the Millennium Challenge Account.

Respect for human rights

  • Freedom of expression and the media
  • Freedom of association, assembly, and public demonstration
  • Freedom from torture, arbitrary arrest, and detention without trial
  • Right to choose own representatives through free and fair elections

Adherence to rule of law

  • Effective, impartial, and independent judiciary
  • Primacy of the rule of law in civil and criminal matters
  • Equal treatment of the population under the law
  • Accountability of security forces to political/judicial authority
  • Adequate procedural due process protections

Rooting out corruption

  • Existence of laws and ethical standards and boundaries between public and private sector activity, i.e. financial disclosure and prohibitions against conflict of interest
  • Legal, regulatory, and judicial transparency
  • Timely publication of information on government expenditures and rule-making
  • Opportunities for public participation and comment

Governments should only be considered for the Millennium Challenge Account if they are making substantial progress in guaranteeing, in practice and over time, such fundamental freedoms as freedom of expression and association, the right to free and fair elections, and equal treatment under law. We believe that once those elements are in place, adherence to the rule of law and anti-corruption efforts are more likely to follow.

While we understand that the Millennium Challenge Account will consist primarily of government-to-government assistance, we would like to reiterate the critical role that civil society plays in ensuring a functioning democratic system and broad-based economic development. Therefore, we urge you to ensure that assistance from other development sources to the civil society sector be maintained and indeed increased.

We welcome the opportunity to be of any further assistance to you in the formulation of criteria and the implementation of this important initiative.

Sincerely,

Alexandra Arriaga, Director, Government Relations, Amnesty International USA
Nancy Birdsall
Malcolm Butler, President, Partners of the Americas
Bob Chase, Vice President, World Learning
Morton H. Halperin, Director, Washington Office, Open Society Institute
David Hoffman, President, Internews
Todd Howland, Director, Center for Human Rights, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial
Tom Malinowski, Advocacy Director, Human Rights Watch
Aileen Marshall, Senior Advisor, Global Coalition for Africa
Robert Orr, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Mark Pomar, President, International Research and Exchanges Board
Michael Posner, Director, Lawyer's Committee for Human Rights
Walter Raymond, President, Council for a Community of Democracies
David Tolbert, President, ABA-CEELI
Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director, Freedom House

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