Foreign Assistance

Foreign Assistance


Finding the law: Foreign Assistance in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to foreign assistance, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines foreign assistance topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Categories

One key attribute of U.S. foreign assistance data is the sector assignment, which indicates the purpose of the activity. For example, Agriculture, Basic Education, and Civil Society are three of the 52 sectors possible. These sectors are organized under nine broader foreign assistance categories. All funds are sorted into only one sector and one category, so there is no double-counting of funds. The categories are as follows:

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Peace and Security

To help nations effectively establish the conditions and capacity for achieving peace, security, and stability; and for responding effectively against arising threats to national or international security and stability.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Counter-Terrorism

Expand foreign partnerships and foreign partner capacities and strengthen global capabilities to prevent terrorists from acquiring or using resources for terrorism. Institutionalize the U.S. War on Terror strategy abroad.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Strengthen the global community’s ability to safely destroy, store, apply safeguards to, and transport weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and secure related facilities and materials; control borders and territory to prevent illicit movement of WMD and related materials and technology and to prosecute and punish violators; prevent the proliferation of WMD and related materials, technology, and expertise to states or non-state actors of concern or to potential terrorists; comply fully with international obligations concerning arms control, nonproliferation, and WMD terrorism; deter and prevent WMD terrorism; and respond to a WMD terrorism event.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Stabilization Operations and Security Sector Reform

Support U.S. GOVERNMENT and civilian partners’ participation in ongoing, existing, or potential operations, to include peacekeeping, humanitarian, coalition/multinational, and peace support operations. Support security sector reform through training and operational support. A host nation’s security forces include military, paramilitary, law enforcement (including civilian police, specialized units, border security, maritime security, etc). Security Sector Reform activities are not limited to postconflict situations.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Counter-Narcotics

Combat international narcotics production and trafficking; reduce the cultivation and production of drugs; prevent the resurgence of drug production; and limit the collateral effects of the drug trade through international drug control and demand reduction projects.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Transnational Crime

Minimize the adverse effects of criminal activities on the
United States and its citizens, particularly when these criminal activities involve crossborder connections or have cross-border affects. Promote international cooperation and coordination, and provide training and other technical assistance to help build institutional capacity for combating international criminal activities such as corruption, alien smuggling, trafficking in persons, financial crimes (including money laundering), violations of intellectual property law, and cyber crime.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Conflict Mitigation and Reconciliation

Reduce the threat or impact of violent conflict and promote the peaceful resolution of differences, mitigate violence if it has already broken out, or establish a framework for peace and reconciliation. This is done by identifying the causes of conflict and state failure; supporting early responses that address the causes and consequences of instability and conflict; and developing long lasting solutions to the problems that drive conflict. This includes support for processes and mechanisms for reconciliation and conflict mitigation no matter what the source of the conflict may be.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance

To Promote and strengthen effective democracies in recipient states and move them along a continuum toward democratic consolidation.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Rule of Law and Human Rights

Upholds the rule of law principle under which all persons, institutions and entities, public and private, including the State itself, are accountable to laws that are publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated, and which are consistent with international human rights law. It also requires measures to ensure adherence to the principles of supremacy of law, equality before the law, accountability to the law, fairness in the application of the law, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, legal certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency. Human rights derive from the inherent dignity of the individual and are to be enjoyed by all without distinction as to race, color, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. They include fundamental freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly and religion set out in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They also include rights in labor conventions and provisions of national civil rights legislation. They reflect a common sense of decency, fairness and justice; and states have a duty to respect and ensure these rights and incorporate them into the processes of government and law.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Good Governance

Support avenues for meaningful public participation and oversight, as well as for substantive separation of powers through institutional checks and balances. Transparency and integrity are also vital to government effectiveness and political stability.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Political Competition and Consensus-Building

Support peaceful political competition and negotiation of disputes through a democratic and representative political process. Create and support vehicles for people to debate public priorities, air alternative solutions, win support for proposed remedies and provide input to decisions that affect their lives.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Civil Society

Provide mediums (media, civil society organizations, advocacy groups/ associations) through which citizens can freely organize, advocate, and communicate with their government and with each other; strengthen a democratic political culture that values citizen and civic engagement, tolerance, and respect for human rights; empower citizens to participate in decision-making on matters affecting them; and mobilize constituencies to advocate for political reform, good governance, and strengthened democratic institutions and processes. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) include, but are not limited to, human rights organizations, youth movements, religious organizations, indigenous organizations, think tanks, and organizations representing vulnerable populations.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Health

To contribute to improvements in the health of people, especially women, children, and other vulnerable populations in countries of the developing world, through expansion of basic health services, including family planning; strengthening national health systems, and addressing global issues and special concerns such as HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: HIV/AIDS

Reduce the transmission and impact of HIV/AIDS through support for prevention, care and treatment programs.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Tuberculosis

Reduce the number of deaths caused by TB by increasing detection of cases of TB and by successfully treating detected cases, as well as addressing issues of multi-drug resistant TB, TB and HIV, and investing in new tools for TB.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Malaria

Support the implementation of the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), related malaria control programs, and malaria research activities to reduce malaria-related mortality. Develop effective malaria vaccines, new malaria treatment drugs, and targeted operations research.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Pandemic Influenza and Other Emerging Threats (PIOET)

Limit the risk of a human pandemic from influenza or other emergent infectious diseases, and support appropriate humanitarian response.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Other Public Health Threats

Address public health threats posed by infectious diseases not targeted elsewhere in the Framework as well as significant non-communicable health threats of major public health importance.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Maternal and Child Health

Increase the availability and use of proven lifesaving interventions that address the major killers of mothers and children and improve their health status, including effective maternity care and management of obstetric complications; prevention services including newborn care, routine immunization, polio eradication, safe water and hygiene; and treatment of life-threatening childhood illnesses.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Family Planning and Reproductive Health

Expand access to high-quality voluntary family planning (FP) services and information, and reproductive health (RH) care. This sector contributes to reducing unintended pregnancy and promoting healthy reproductive behaviors of men and women, reducing abortion, and reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Water Supply and Sanitation

Ensure broadly accessible, reliable and economically sustainable water and sanitation services for health, security, and prosperity.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Nutrition

Increase availability and use of proven nutrition interventions to reduce mortality, morbidity, and food insecurity, including nutrition education to improve maternal diets, nutrition during pregnancy, exclusive breastfeeding, and infant and young child feeding practices; fortified or biofortified staple foods, specialized food products, and community gardens to improve consumption of quality food; and delivery of nutrition services including micronutrient supplementation and community management of acute malnutrition. Strengthen host country capacity by advancing supportive nutrition and food security policies and improving nutrition information systems.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Education And Social Services

Promote equitable, effective, accountable, and sustainable formal and non-formal education systems and address factors that place individuals at risk for poverty, exclusion, neglect, or victimization. Help populations manage their risks and gain access to opportunities that support their full and productive participation in society. Help populations rebound from temporary adversity, cope with chronic poverty, reduce vulnerability, and increase self-reliance.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Basic Education

Improve early childhood education, primary education, and secondary education, delivered in formal or non-formal settings. It includes literacy, numeracy, and other basic skills programs for youth and adults.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Higher Education

Foster and improve the quality, contributions and accessibility of higher education. Higher education includes but is not limited to: teaching; training; curricula; degree programs; pedagogy; research; policy analysis and participation in policy development; community service; extension; applied technology; professional development; exchange programs; institutional linkages; program linkages; institutional governance; financial planning; administration; management; and policy that is developed, conducted, and/or implemented by universities, colleges, community colleges, teacher-training colleges and institutes, research institutes, and/or relevant ministries.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Policies, Regulations, and Systems

Address society-wide norms, policies, laws, and capacities to develop or reform safety nets except as covered in other more specific sectors (e.g. health sectors above). Build the frameworks for identifying populations in need or at-risk; devise criteria for eligibility; direct resources to public and private organizations for program administration; set standards for the delivery of effective assistance and services; and track the impact on target populations.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Social Services

Assist special populations which may be vulnerable or at-risk on a temporary or chronic basis whose needs are not addressed under emergency humanitarian assistance or other programs. These include groups such as the disabled; orphans, children and at-risk youth; victims of trafficking; victims of gender-based violence; refugees, returnees, ethnic minorities, internally displaced or other socially excluded groups; the elderly; and female heads of household. Depending on circumstances, services may intend to protect groups; mitigate adverse conditions they face, or to remove barriers to help integrate them into society. Components may include measures to increase the capacity of local service and advocacy NGOs and/or professional social workers; to establish public/private service delivery partnerships as well as family and community focused service models; to establish effective referral networks; to develop appropriate service protocols and methods for screening prospective recipients; or to improve public understanding and sensitivity to the needs of the vulnerable.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Social Assistance

Cash or in-kind transfers to the poor or to those suffering from temporary shocks.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Economic Development

Generate rapid, sustained, and broad-based economic growth.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Macroeconomic Foundation for Growth

Establish a stable and predictable macroeconomic environment that encourages the private sector to make productivity- and growth-enhancing investments. A solid macroeconomic foundation for growth consists of stable fiscal and monetary policies and institutions and the ability of the government to utilize these tools, in concert, to manipulate the economy.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Trade and Investment

Support the institution of international agreements and trade facilitation techniques which allow countries to exchange goods and services and make financial investments without fear of loss. This is done through supporting public and private sector efforts to participate effectively in international trade and investment agreements and institutions, implement international agreements, adjust to changing trade conditions, and take full advantage of trade and investment to generate economic growth and reduce poverty.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Financial

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category

Support the establishment of a sound private, well-functioning, equitable financial sector that fulfills critical roles in a market economy, most importantly financial intermediation – the efficient generation and allocation of savings to their most productive use.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Infrastructure

Support the creation, improvement and sustainability of physical infrastructure, and related services, in both urban and rural areas, to enhance the economic environment and improve economic productivity, including for women. The main infrastructures include energy, including electric power transmission lines and distribution networks, oil/gas terminals, refineries, storage facilities and pipelines; telecom and ICT; and transport, including roads, airports, railways, and ports.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Agriculture

Agriculture is the science and practice of food, feed, and fiber production (including forestry, wildlife, fisheries, aquaculture and floriculture) and its relationships to natural resources, processing, marketing, distribution, utilization (including nutrition), and trade.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Private Sector Competitiveness

Improve policies, laws, regulations, and administrative practices affecting the private sector’s ability to compete nationally and internationally. All the sectors include not only the adoption and implementation of policies, but also their oversight by elected officials, NGOs, and the private sector.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Economic Opportunity

Support efforts aimed at helping poor households (especially female-headed household as they are often the most disadvantaged) connect to the economic opportunities created by growth. It includes both efforts to enhance the current income-earning prospects of poor households, as well as efforts to ensure that they can accumulate and protect productive assets.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Labor Policies and Markets

A sector definition is currently under development by the Interagency.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Manufacturing

A sector definition is currently under development by the Interagency.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Mining and Natural Resources

A sector definition is currently under development by the Interagency.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Environment

Activities that support the sustainability of a productive and clean environment by: ensuring that the environment and the natural resources upon which human lives and livelihoods depend are managed in ways that sustain productivity growth, a healthy population, as well as the intrinsic spiritual and cultural value of the environment, and conserving biodiversity and managing natural resources in ways that maintain their long-term viability and preserve their potential to meet the needs of present and future generations.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Environment

Ensure that the environment and the natural resources upon which human lives and livelihoods depend are managed in ways that sustain productivity growth, a healthy population, as well as the intrinsic spiritual and cultural value of the environment.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Natural Resources and Biodiversity

Conserve biodiversity and manage natural resources in ways that maintain their long-term viability and preserve their potential to meet the needs of present and future generations. Activities include combating illegal and corrupt exploitation of natural resources and the control of invasive species.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Clean Productive Environment

Improve sustainability of a productive and clean environment by reducing risks to the health of the workforce and the population in general, communities, and ecosystems from environmental pollution and other environmental risks associated with industrial and agricultural production, urbanization, energy use, transport, and other human activity.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Humanitarian Assistance

To save lives, alleviate suffering, and minimize the economic costs of conflict, disasters and displacement. Humanitarian assistance is provided on the basis of need according to principles of universality, impartiality and human dignity. It is often organized by sectors, but requires an integrated, coordinated and/or multi-sectoral approach to be most effective. Emergency operations will foster the transition from relief, through recovery, to development, but they cannot and will not replace the development investments necessary to reduce chronic poverty or establish just social services.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Protection, Assistance and Solutions

The provision of effective protection, assistance, and durable solutions for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other victims of conflict and disasters.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Disaster Readiness

Improve the capacity of the U.S. Government, host countries and the international community to reduce vulnerabilities to disasters and respond better to humanitarian emergencies.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Migration Management

Build the capacity of governments and civil society for effective, orderly, and humane migration management policies and systems at the national and regional levels, including programs and activities to protect and assist vulnerable migrants.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Program Management

To provide the general management support required to ensure completion of U.S. foreign assistance objectives by facilitating program management, monitoring and evaluation, and accounting and tracking for costs.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Direct Administrative Costs

Supports the following illustrative program-funded costs: salaries of personnel working for the US Government managing, administering, and supporting programs and their program-funded benefits such as housing, travel, transportation, education allowances etc; institutional contractors that provide such staff, rent, IT services, the program-funded share of utilities, staff training costs and the cost of developing and administering training programs, equipment and supplies, vehicle fuel and maintenance, and maintenance contracts.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Monitoring and Evaluation

Develop and conduct needs assessments, baseline studies, targeted evaluations, special studies or other information-gathering efforts specifically for the design, monitoring and evaluation of U.S. Government-funded programs.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Category: Multisector

Multi-Sector is used when a sector cannot be identified and/or aid may be cross-cutting across several categories.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: International Contributions

This sector captures the U.S. Government contributions to the multilateral development banks (e.g. World Bank, regional development banks). These contributions are made to international institutions with governmental membership which conduct all or a significant part of their activities in favor of development and aid recipient countries. They include multilateral development banks, United Nations agencies, and regional groupings (e.g. certain European Union and Arab agencies).

Note: In most instances, International Contributions made by U.S. Government agencies (e.g. State, USAID) are mapped to the existing sector framework (e.g. economic development, environment etc…) and captured under the respective sector. Therefore, this sector currently captures only international contributions managed by the Department of Treasury (“Treasury”), in addition to U.S. Government contributions to trust funds for climate change and food security housed at the World Bank.

U.S. Foreign Assistance Sector of this Category: Debt Relief

Debt relief is any action taken to relieve all or part of a debt obligation. A reduction in the present value of debt-service obligations or a deferral of the payments due, thus providing smaller near-term debt service obligations, are both common examples of debt relief used by the public sector.

Foreign Assistance

In Legislation

Foreign Assistance in the U.S. Code: Title 22, Chapter 32

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating foreign assistance are compiled in the United States Code under Title 22, Chapter 32. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Foreign Relations (including foreign assistance) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Foreign Assistance of the US Code, including foreign assistance) by chapter and subchapter.

Foreign Assistance: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Foreign Assistance. This part provides references, in relation to Foreign Assistance, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Foreign Assistance by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Foreign Assistance and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Foreign Assistance or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Foreign Assistance and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Foreign Assistance. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Foreign Assistance should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Foreign Assistance when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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