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Development Agencies: Interaction With Corrupt Governments Essay



Governments bear the responsibility of governing societies that rely on them to ensure the maintenance and promotion of happiness for the general population. As such, it is imperative for governments and their agencies to ensure the procurement of measures that result in the growth and overall development of society through legal channels available to them. One of the main avenues for the promotion of development, especially in developing countries, is government collaboration with development agencies, both local and international. Although such liaison may seem straightforward to most people most of the time, it sometimes creates situations that raise controversy.

For instance, people hold varied opinions regarding the issue of whether development agencies should knowingly involve themselves in interactions with corrupt governments. This paper aims at a concise explanation underscoring why development agencies should participate in interactions with governments that most people think of as corrupt with ‘corrupt governments’ in this context used to mean governments that do not prioritize the interest of the citizens. It consists of arguments for and against the notation and reasons for the conclusion.

Moral aspect

Although some people view it as immoral to interact with a corrupt government, it is worth noting that the morality of the development agencies does not depend on the morality of the government. Judgment for every entity should be in terms of own actions and thus judging the morality of development agencies based on the morality of the governments they associate with amounts to a faulty criterion.

Governments have a duty of ensuring that the population they rule over is satisfied through the appropriate and adequate provision of necessities such as security, justice, accountability, and transparency. A well-functioning government also provides social amenities for its people and opportunities that allow for access to such amenities. In accomplishing these duties, most countries around the world, especially in developing countries, employ the use of local and international government agencies (Allen & Thomas 2000). The basic roles for the agencies include but are not limited to the provision of financial aid, research activities, the establishment of developmental projects for governments and individual citizens, and the creation of links for further aid from other organizations.

Theoretically, government-development agency relationships appear straightforward. However, in practice, certain aspects create complexities, morality being one of them. Some people have the view that development agencies should not work with corrupt governments as they serve to aggravate the problem. This concern usually relates to the role of development agencies to provide financial assistance for government projects.

Philosophically, the application of the social contract theory requires governments to act in the best interest of their subjects. John Locke, a proponent of the theory, explains that in most societies that elect their leaders, the people entrust the power to govern their own actions in the government in order to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance in opportunities such as property ownership and security provision (Boucher & Kelly 1994).

Therefore, in such a scenario, the government holds power in trust for its subjects. Considering Locke’s opinion, it goes against the social contract theory and morality for a government to tolerate corruption, thus making it wrong and illegal. John Stuart Mill, a proponent of the utilitarian theory, which is a subset of the social contract theory, presents the opinion that a government bears the obligation to ensure that its actions portray the people’s will through decisions that bring its subjects the greatest happiness (Boucher & Kelly 1994).

In Doing development research, authors Mansoor Ali and Andrew Cotton explain that the relationship between a government and a development agency is essentially a partnership where both parties agree on terms of reference, especially for finance-related issues (Desai & Potter 2006). In order to ensure that government organs do not abuse their power through corrupt dealings, most governments form independent institutions that serve as watchdogs.

The same case applies to development agencies and thus failure of one party to check its own activities does not usually affect the competence of the other. Additionally, both parties in the relationship have their own goals separate, albeit similar to each other, which create a necessity for development agencies to look out for their interests. It makes sense that such agencies would not allow the corrupt ventures of any government to interfere with the individual goals of the agencies.

Economic perspective

The relationship between development agencies and governments from an economic perspective emphasizes the reason why such agencies should associate with a government, despite allegations of corruption. Apart from being two different entities in terms of moral standing, it is important to consider the association in terms of economic benefits in contrast to disadvantages (Utting 2003). For instance, even though most governments in developing countries appear corrupt, without financial aid from development agencies such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has greatly contributed to the growth and development of most of those countries (Allen & Thomas 2000).

By providing financial aid to developing countries, the agency reduces the unnecessary burden that refugees create for countries with better economies. Although there is indeed a risk of misappropriation of funds by governments in those countries, follow-ups by the agencies ensure that the funds largely achieve their objectives, some of them being the creation of job opportunities and fostering innovation and education. Therefore, curtailing the efforts of such agencies to assist citizens in developing countries based on actions by government organs constitutes an injustice.

The economic relations between governments and development agencies are also symbiotic in nature, in the sense that the agencies invest in the development of countries for gain while governments obtain access to funding for development projects (Utting 2003). For several years, citizens in the United States have projected the public opinion that their government should cease funding development programs, especially in countries that are infamous for corruption (Moss, Roodman & Standley 2005). Although the concern of such citizens, as taxpayers, is understandable, looking at it as a symbiotic relationship creates a different perspective.

For instance, African countries are rich in resources in the form of raw products while the United States possesses an endowment in terms of capital wealth. The provision of capital for the exploitation of raw products enables industries in the US to obtain essential products at a lower cost while creating a friendly environment that allows for the expansion of America’s market for finished products. In return, the profits and loans that governments in African countries obtain enable them to expand development projects, thus creating jobs and funding the creation of vital social amenities such as infrastructure (Allen & Thomas 2000).

Therefore, instead of looking at foreign aid by development agencies to foreign countries as a burden on the economy, American citizens should consider the same as an investment for the expansion of the economy. Such an investment also proves helpful in instances where the economy is slow in one country and good in another as the returns supplement tax revenue for governments in which development agencies undergo incorporation.

Political perspective

Although the task of making appropriate policies lies within government organs, the involvement of development agencies aids in the creation of policies that represent the best interest of citizens in a country. Policy-making is one of the most important functions most governments bear. The lack of proper or adequate policies to safeguard financial organs in any government directly encourages corruption, thus leading to negative consequences for the economic development of a country. Development agencies reduce the likelihood of the occurrence of corrupt engagements by governments through the provision of terms and conditions of use for funds they provide.

For instance, the creation of a specific period for the repayment of a loan and substantial supervision by agencies ensures that governments follow through with their objectives. In addition, development agencies carry out extensive research, which in most cases proves essential for the establishment of viability for government projects and profitability for the agencies (Desai & Potter 2006). In most cases, when development agencies agree on a partnership with a government, they conduct independent research on the project and share the findings with the government. This aspect allows the government to obtain an objective perspective on issues that would otherwise suffer prejudicial treatment. In essence, development agencies help in reducing cases of corruption, hence making it plausible to associate with corrupt governments.


Although the issue of whether development agencies should work with a corrupt government usually elicit negative responses, a look at the matter from various perspectives suggests that the outcome of such interactions would do more good than harm. Some of the benefits that such relationships exhibit include the reduction of corrupt engagements by such governments, benefits for the individual citizens of the corrupt governments, and expansion of revenue for countries in which such agencies undergo incorporation. The pros outweigh the cons thus making such interactions commendable.

Reference List

Allen, T & Thomas, A 2000, Poverty and development into the 21st century, Oxford University Press, New Jersey.

Boucher, D & Kelly, P 1994, The Social Contract from Hobbes to Rawls, Routledge, New York.

Desai, V & Potter, R 2006, Doing Development Research, Sage Publications, London.

Moss, T, Roodman, D & Standley, S 2005, . Web.

Utting, P 2003, Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Development Agencies: Interaction With Corrupt Governments." March 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/development-agencies-interaction-with-corrupt-governments/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Development Agencies: Interaction With Corrupt Governments'. 22 March.

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