Foreign Assistance

Rule of Law Funding Worldwide for Fiscal Years 1993-1998 Gao ID: NSIAD-99-158 June 30, 1999

In the early 1980s, the United States began helping Latin American countries improve their judicial and law enforcement organizations as a way to support democratic principles and institutions. Until 1990, the United States provided this "rule of law" assistance primarily to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. With the breakup of the Soviet Union, Congress has directed that part of the U.S. assistance to Central and Eastern Europe target the development of democratic institutions, including an independent judiciary. In response to congressional concerns about the absence of comprehensive information on U.S. rule of law assistance programs, this report identifies (1) the amount of U.S. rule of law funding provided worldwide (by region and country) in fiscal years 1993-98 and (2) the U.S. departments and agencies involved in providing rule of law assistance.

GAO noted that: (1) based on the funding data cognizant Departments and agencies made available, during fiscal years 1993-1998, the United States provided at least $970 million in rule of law assistance to countries throughout the world; (2) the Latin America and the Caribbean region was the largest recipient of U.S. rule of law assistance over the period, accounting for $349 million, or more than one-third of the total assistance; (3) in recent years, Central European countries received an increasingly larger share and, in 1998, Central Europe was the largest regional recipient, accounting for about one-third of all rule of law assistance; (4) the United States provided at least some assistance to 184 countries--ranging from $138 million for Haiti to $2,000 for Burkina Faso; (5) while most countries received less than $1 million, 15 countries, including 7 in Latin America and the Caribbean, accounted for just over half of the total funding; (6) at least 35 entities from various U.S. Departments and agencies have a role in the U.S. rule of law assistance programs; (7) the Departments of State and Justice and the Agency for International Development are the principal organizations providing rule of law training, technical advice, and related assistance; (8) the Department of Defense, the U.S. Information Agency, numerous law enforcement agencies and bureaus, and other U.S. Departments and agencies also have a direct role; (9) 40 countries in the Latin America and the Caribbean region received some rule of law assistance; (10) more than three-fourths of the $349 million in assistance was provided to seven countries; (11) Haiti received nearly $138 million, or about 40 percent of the regional total, largely in connection with U.S. and international efforts to restore order and democracy after a September 1991 military coup; (12) six other countries in the region--ranging from about $41 million for El Salvador to $12 million for Panama--accounted for about $127 million, or nearly 37 percent of the regional total; (13) most of the rule of law assistance for Latin America and the Caribbean was provided to help the countries reform their criminal justice or law enforcement organizations, including training and technical assistance for prosecutors, public defenders, police officers, and investigators; and (14) a substantial amount was also dedicated to improving court operations, including modernizing court administration and enhancing public access to the judicial system.

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