How Foreign Assistance Undermines Democracy: Aid Dependence in Cambodia

Tuesday, November 27, 2012 - 12:15pm - 1:45pm

Okimoto Conference Room

Encina Hall East, 3rd Floor

Sophal Ear 
Assistant Professor, Department of National Security Affairs at US Naval Postgraduate School 

The more a country depends on aid, the more distorted are its incentives to manage its own development in sustainably beneficial ways. Cambodia, a post-conflict state that cannot refuse aid, is rife with trial-and-error donor experiments and their unintended results, including bad governance—a major impediment to rational economic growth. Massive intervention by the UN in the early 1990s did help to end the Cambodian civil war and to prepare for more representative rule. Yet the country’s social indicators, the integrity of its political institutions, and its ability to manage its own development soon deteriorated. Based on a comparison of how more and less aid-dependent sectors have performed, Prof. Ear will highlight the complicity of foreign assistance in helping to degrade Cambodia’s political economy. Copies of his just-published book, Aid Dependence in Cambodia, will be available for sale. The book intertwines events in 1990s and 2000s Cambodia with the story of his own family’s life (and death) under the Khmer Rouge, escape to Vietnam in 1976, asylum in France in 1978, and immigration to America in 1985.


llee888atstanford [dot] edu