6.7.6 Assistance to Developing Countries

Wealthy countries benefit themselves by offering assistance to developing countries, as well as trying to alleviate suffering

Countries collaborated after the Second World War to establish The United Nations (UN), as described earlier (  Its Charter includes intentions to “promote social progress and better standards of life” and “to employ international machinery for the promotion of the economic and social advancement of all peoples”.  This work is funded through contributions to the UN and associated bodies such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  These organisations help developing countries to become self-sufficient.

When responding to emergencies, the UN bodies are supplemented by, and work with, international charities which are coordinated by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

Governments and businesses in wealthy countries also intervene directly in developing countries for several reasons:

●  Citizens can make politicians aware of their moral concerns (4.3.5). This pressure gives governments an incentive to act generously towards developing countries, especially during an emergency.

●  Governments can help developing countries as part of their projection of ‘soft power’, as described later (

●  Businesses may be able to make a profit from investing in developing countries, whilst also helping them to become economically self-sufficient. There is considerable potential in green energy production, for example, and helping them to adapt to climate change (3.5.7).

These different forms of assistance to developing countries deliver economic benefit to the whole world, rich and poor alike, if done with care (3.5.8).  There are, though, some political issues arising from such initiatives:

●  The receipt of aid has a political impact in the country receiving it ( Aid can be given with conditions, to incentivise good governance – but it can also make a government less accountable for economic performance, or it can fuel corruption.

●  There are governance issues within developing countries as they try to develop ( They need to develop institutions and transform their economies very quickly, but a colonial past may not have prepared them.

●  Developed countries can put political pressure on those who are less developed (, with commercial incentives and economic regulation.

●  Governments and businesses may invest in developing countries ( This helps their economies to grow, and it can alleviate poverty, but it can also result in exploiting or controlling them.



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This page is intended to form part of Edition 4 of the Patterns of Power series of books.  An archived copy of it is held at https://www.patternsofpower.org/edition04/676b.htm.