Martin Campbell cast Clive Owen because he was unknown in the US at the time. It made the character of Dr Nick Callahan seem more real, and a more famous actor would have detracted from that. He didn't even need to screentest. Campbell knew Owen was right after just meeting him.
Although Beyond Borders (2003) was critically panned, on the film's official website, the president of an international relief organization commended the film: "Beyond Borders is an accurate portrayal of the desperation of the people on both sides of the equation - those who are in need and those who are trying to help them."
The scene where Angelina Jolie's character chases a vulture away from a starving little girl is almost certainly a reference to the Pulitzer Prize winning photograph "The vulture and the little girl" by Kevin Carter which caused huge public outrage.
Prior to making this film, Angelina Jolie did volunteer work for the same United Nations organization her character plays in the film. She was ultimately named a UN goodwill ambassador and in 2003 published some journals she wrote of her experiences, titled "Notes from My Travels", to raise funds for refugee relief. Some of the places she writes about are featured in this movie.