Tag Archives: Government relations

The moral imperative of humanitarian aid

The following commentary is based on remarks Mr. Hill presented on September 5 at a forum entitled “Reforming Aid, Transforming the World,” hosted by Global Washington at the University of Washington. For more information on Global Washington, visit: www.globalwa.org.


“I think back to what Camus wrote about the fact that perhaps this world is a world in which children suffer, but we can lessen the number of suffering children, and if you do not do this, then who will do this? I'd like to feel that I'd done something to lessen that suffering.” —Robert F. Kennedy, in response to a question, a few weeks before his assassination, about how his obituary should read

From books to blogs, it has become fashionable to focus on the failures of foreign assistance. To be sure, there have been failures, and there is plenty of room for improvement.

That said, it would be a travesty to ignore what has been accomplished. In the early 1960s, preventable child deaths exceeded 20 million per year. In 2011, that number is around 8.1 million. While humanitarian aid may not have been the sole cause, I contend that it was a major factor in reducing these preventable deaths.

Birth registration: The first step in child protection

Editor's note: Birth registration -- documentation that ensures the government knows you exist -- is a growing issue worldwide, especially in fragile states where governments are either unable or unwilling to implement effective birth registration policies. For more on the importance of birth registration, read "Why registration matters: Children are cared for and protected."

When you think about congressional testimony, you think about big rooms, hot lights, and lawmakers peering over their spectacles to ask the hard-hitting questions about the most pressing issues of the day.

When discussing the importance of child protection, you might expect an array of complex and lofty rhetoric that hints at the largeness of the issue, but fails to tackle the concrete steps that a nation, community, or individual can take to ensure that children are protected from abuse, neglect, exploitation, and violence.

In a congressional hearing that deals with child protection, you can expect to hear lots of statements and suggestions. But do you really expect to hear about birth registration?