WASHINGTON (April 2, 2003) - Sustainable human development, which will lead to a more just and peaceful world, should be the objective of a substantially increased U.S. foreign aid program, according to congressional testimony submitted on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services.
In addition to the written testimony, Father William Headley, CRS Deputy Executive Director for Policy and Strategic Issues, also delivered remarks today before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs.
"A principal objective of U.S. foreign policy should be sustainable human development, grounded in respect for human dignity, structured by a commitment to human rights, and carried out by our nation as a sign of leadership in the international community – with specific priority given to the basic needs of the poorest and most vulnerable sectors of the human community," the written testimony stated.
The bishops noted that the growing gap between rich and poor threatens global peace and security. Substantial increases in U.S. foreign assistance dedicated to poverty reduction are necessary to achieve sustainable human development and the peace and security which follow.
"After September 11, we have learned that hate and hopelessness can threaten us, no matter how powerful our military, economic or political influence," they said.
They dismissed the argument that the American public opposes increased foreign aid spending, citing a CareUSA survey which indicated that 72 percent of Americans agreed that it is the "responsibility of the United States government with other governments, as well as charities, to help poor people around the world."
Both the written testimony and Father Headley's presentation outlined a number of specific priorities for the bishops, including:
- funding of at least $1.3 billion for the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a year-old program dedicated to poverty reduction and sustainable human development;
- increases of at least $1 billion above current levels for development assistance to poor countries in Africa that do not qualify for the MCA, but have critical development needs;
- increases in global health funding—bringing total funding to at least $3 billion in FY04—for morally and culturally responsible programs combating HIV/AIDS and other life-threatening infectious diseases, with particular attention to Africa;
- substantial funding for humanitarian needs, reconstruction and peace-building efforts in Iraq;
- increased funds for reconstruction and peace-building efforts in Afghanistan ($675 million, focused on humanitarian and reconstruction needs, for FY04); Sudan ($100 million total for FY04); Democratic Republic of Congo ($100 million total for FY04—channeled through proven partners in the PVO community); and East Timor ($25 million total in both FY04 and FY05);
- an increased proportion of U.S. aid dedicated to the root causes of the conflict and to victim assistance in Colombia, and strict human rights conditions on all U.S. military aid to Colombia;
- increased funding for the Migration and Refugee Assistance and Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance accounts to bring total funding to $927 million and $50 million, respectively to meet the needs of an ever-increasing global refugee population;
- additional funding for debt relief for heavily-indebted poor countries, sufficient to reduce annual debt payments to no more than 10% of government revenues, and, for countries suffering public health crises, to no more than 5% of government revenues;
- reauthorization and increased funding for the International Development Association (IDA) -- $950 million for FY04 and $1,050 million for FY05 – including appropriate implementation and funding of the proposal to finance up to half of IDA's assistance in the form of grants; and
- a decreased emphasis on population planning programs, and continued safeguards against funding organizations that perform and promote abortion.
Click here for full Testimony