This is a comparative study of responses to active human rights criticism by two donor countries, Norway and the Netherlands vis-á-vis Kenya and Indonesia, respectively. Six factors are considered: (a) the nature of the cases; (b) the historical context; (c) the contemporary context; (d) the existence of internal opposition in the recipient countries; (e) the geo-political position of the two countries; and (f) the effect of the measures and their aftermath. In both cases the incidents that spurred the crises in these relationships were just the tip of the iceberg or the culmination of tension. Whereas the colonial legacy of the Dutch-Indonesian relationship no doubt had a bearing on the handling of criticism, the absence of a colonial association between Norway and Kenya rendered the historical factor inconsequential. With regard to the contemporary situation it is evident that it is difficult for small nations to act on their own, pushed by vocal domestic opinion. In Kenya there was clear internal opposition, while it was less visible and effective in Indonesia. Relative to their locations in Asia and Africa both Indonesia and Kenya enjoyed important geo-political positions for major powers such as the United States. In the short run the effects of the criticisms were negative in that innocent citizens suffered from the withdrawal of aid. The two cases are remarkably similar in that they caused nearly traumatic reactions in the two donor countries. They also underscore that human rights conditionality is not an easy policy instrument to apply.