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Aiding and Abetting Egypt: The Impact of U.S. Foreign Aid on Human Rights Conditions in Egypt from 2001 to 2010

Atanda, Oluwadamisi

Since the 1980s, the United States has promoted human rights and democracy as a major part of its foreign policy. This was an important departure from the traditional US foreign policy posture that relied on authoritarian governments as the most expedient means to ensuring American influence abroad, especially in the third world. But the post-Cold War era ushered in a new approach: the US began promoting its values vis-a-vis democracy and human rights abroad with the use of foreign aid. Following the September 9, 2001 terrorist attacks, US foreign aid to the Middle East strengthened its emphasis on democracy, human rights and socio-economic reforms. The reorientation was premised on the idea that an Arab world with these reforms would be less likely to serve as breeding grounds for radicalism and possibly counter existing extremism. For decades, policymakers and scholars have grappled with the question of whether or not US aid indeed has any impact on the improvement of human rights conditions, and the Middle East has been of particular relevance in this context because of historical US interest in the region. This study examines the impact of US foreign aid on human rights, specifically physical integrity rights, in Egypt during the intermediate years after the 9/11 attacks (2001) and before the Arab Spring unrest (2010). The objective is to determine whether or not the distribution of US democracy aid had a positive or negative-or any noticeable-effect on physical integrity rights in Egypt during that period. It uses the Political Terror Scale (PTS) as the main measure of the outcome of interest, and the findings reveal indiscernible to a near negative relationship between US aid (democracy aid) and physical integrity rights in Egypt.

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Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Petrova, Tsveta
Degree
M.A., Columbia University
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