Dear Friend of LCID,
LCID is pleased to begin its 2014 events programme with a discussion on issues of human rights in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In Autumn last year LCID member Melanie Ward served as a Human Rights Observer in the West Bank. For 3 months she lived and worked in Hebron, one of the most tense areas in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In this event she will share and discuss experiences of life under military occupation, the humanitarian impact on the local population and the work of Israeli human rights groups.
When: 6.30pm-8pm, Tuesday 11th
Where: House of Commons, Committee Room 5 (enter via the Cromwell Green entrance)
Please note that there can be delays going through security, visitors are advised to allow extra time when arriving at parliament.
You do not have to be a member of LCID to attend this event but you will be able to sign up on the evening. You can also join as a member here.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Bill and Melinda Gates release their Annual Letter today. At a time when aid is getting no shortage of bad press, it is a refreshing reminder of just how much aid can achieve.
If Bill and Melinda are proven right, there will be almost no poor countries left in the world by 2035. Or at least no countries that are suffering the poverty levels of those classified as ‘low income’ by the World Bank today. Poor countries do not stay poor, they argue; that’s a myth. Already, seven of the world’s ten fastest growing economies are in Africa. By 2035, the vast majority of the world’s population will live in middle income countries.
And while foreign aid isn’t the only factor that has made this transformation possible – far from it – Bill and Melinda make a strong case that foreign aid has helped to lay the groundwork for growth. Yes, we are a long way from a world without inefficiencies or corruption. But foreign aid is not a big waste, they argue; that’s also a myth. Between 1997 and 2010, Labour lifted 3 million people out of poverty through its aid programmes. These people are not only leading healthier and more fulfilling lives. They are contributing skills and knowledge to national economies that are now standing on their own two feet.
It has become a tradition for Bill to set out his plans through his Annual Letter, but this year Melinda has co-authored the letter for the first time. The third big theme of the letter is her personal cause, namely to end the myth that saving lives leads to over-population. If the moral argument for saving lives isn’t enough, Melinda has an answer to Malthus too. More children living through their early years doesn’t mean more people in the world, because the reality is that parents will have smaller families if they think their children will survive.
Busting these myths doesn’t mean the end of development, or the end of the debate.
No more poor countries does not mean no more poor people. Too many middle-income countries still have too many people below the poverty line. Reducing inequality, be it within low-income or middle-income countries, is more important than ever.
And while foreign aid isn’t a waste, it is an ongoing challenge to ensure that aid is spent well, and spent where it matters most, in areas like tackling climate change that are far from top priority for the Tory government.
But while the debate will continue, we should take note of this important message from Bill and Melinda Gates. Poor countries have a way out. Aid helps lay the path. And a progressive and ambitious government in the UK can help achieve that.
The Missing Link? Trade unions and tackling poverty in the global south
To coincide with the publication of a book entitled “The Global Development Crisis” by Ben Selwyn of Sussex University, in which he makes the case for ‘labour-centred development’, the TUC is sponsoring a debate on the evening of Thursday 23 January 2014 at 6.00pm (refreshments from 5.30pm).
On the panel will be two of LCID’s Honorary Vice-Presidents. Gail Cartmail, who is also Assistant General Secretary of Unite and TUC Spokesperson on international development will be charing the debate, whilst Alison McGovern, who is also Labour MP for Wirral South and Shadow Minister for International Development, will be speaking.
Also speaking on the panel will be Ben Selwyn, the book’s author; Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, General Secretary of the African Regional Organisation of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-Africa)
On behalf of the whole LCID executive committee, I’d like to wish all our supporters and members a Happy New Year!
2013 has been an incredible year for LCID, with a record number of blogs, tweets, events and members. The year was crowned in September by our formal affiliation to the Labour Party, a platform we intend to use next year to have even more impact on the direction and priorities of the Party as we head towards the General Election.
Now in 2014, watch this space for a raft of new activities, events, and ways to get involved. We’ll be working with the shadow development team to help shape Labour’s policy and manifesto commitments, supporting our PPCs up and down the country, and providing a space within the movement for people to get together who care about and work in development.
Finally, as events go from bad to worse in both South Sudan and CAR, I’m sure you’ll join me in wishing all the best to the citizens of both countries, and to people in conflict-affected places around the world. For many people Christmas – and it’s promise of peace and goodwill on Earth- has represented a bitter irony. We hope that 2014 brings with it peace, justice, and greater prosperity for our brothers and sisters all over the world.
Claire Leigh, Chair, Labour Campaign for International Development
by Alastair Osborne, LCID Scottish Officer
When it comes to the debate over Scottish independence, we believe strongly that the return of a Labour Government in 2015 would provide the best opportunity for progressive post 2015 international development goals to be pursued and achieved. We do not feel this should be put at risk by going down the unmarked road of Scottish Independence.
We welcome debate on this issue, writing about it here on our blog. This week the cross party International Development Select Committee has published its report on “Implications for development in the event of Scotland becoming an independent country.” (published 19 December 2013)
Read the full report here. According to the report, an independent Scotland would no longer be able to make a ‘transformational’ contribution to international development.
Sir Malcolm Bruce, Chair of the Committee and MP for Gordon, said:
“The UK’s aid programme, much of which is delivered from Scotland, is genuinely transformational. The UK provided £8.7 billion of aid in 2012/13, but it is the quality of this aid – not just its quantity – which sets the UK apart.
DFID [the Department for International Development] is a world leader in its field, and as a big player on the world stage, the UK also wields considerable influence in multilateral organisations. One example is the World Bank, where the UK has the power to appoint one of the Executive Directors.
As part of the UK, Scotland makes a tremendous contribution to all this. Scots have served as development Ministers in the UK Government and three Scottish MPs, including myself, sit on the International Development Committee.
If Scotland were to become an independent country, its development agency would inevitably be a much smaller player.”
From 2013 onwards, the UK Government plans to spend 0.7% of Gross National Income on Official Development Assistance. If Scotland were to become independent, the UK’s overall GNI – and the amount of money it spends on ODA – would fall.
Scotland has 8.3% of the UK’s population share, so we estimate that the UK’s ODA would fall by around 8.3%, or £1 billion. DFID’s work – either its bilateral programmes or its funding to multilateral organisations – would inevitably then be subject to cuts.
MPs are also concerned that during any transitional period, the restructuring of DFID and the setup of an independent Scottish development agency would divert management attention towards restructuring and away from frontline delivery by both agencies.
In addition, the report notes that a significant proportion of DFID’s workforce is based at its Scottish office in East Kilbride, including a number of senior staff. By contrast, the number of jobs available with an independent Scottish development agency is likely to be relatively few (or the new Scottish development agency would be heavily overstaffed). Estimates indicate the new agency would employ just over a hundred staff in its headquarters, compared to the 604 staff and contractors currently working in DFID’s office in East Kilbride.
by Joe Walker, LCID Vice-Chair, Policy
They came in their thousands, defying the African summer rain storm, to celebrate, remember and honour the man who had led the struggle for all South African’s freedom. But amongst the tributes from world leaders, there was one speaker, regarded as a ‘son of Africa’ and the most powerful leader in the world, who captured the mood and man who he described as ‘giant of history’ who would “emerge as the last great liberator of the 20th century.” In his address President Obama said “His struggle was your struggle. His triumph was your triumph. Your dignity and hope found expression in his life. Your freedom and your democracy was his cherished legacy.”
Mandela was an emblem of freedom, reconciliation, justice and hope, but he was also a rebel, freedom fighter and political leader. He was instinctively a politician who was able to bring with his political calculation a level of integrity, but his humanity always shone through that inspired a new generation to act on behalf of justice and peace and uphold a belief that the world really could be changed.
Gordon Brown, in his tribute in parliament on Monday said that Mandela himself had written that he had climbed one mountain to end apartheid, but now in his later life he wanted to climb another great mountain to rid the world of poverty, and especially child poverty. Mandela often spoke about the oppressed; he spoke for the oppressed, the poor and marginalised in South Africa, but believed in the liberation of all humanity. In 2005 at the launch of the Make Poverty History campaign in London, Mandela said “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural, it is man-made and can be eradicated and overcome by the actions of human beings.” Mandela knew full well that the political liberation of South Africa’s people was just the beginning, and until poverty and inequality was eradicated and people’s human dignity was fully restored, the full fruits of freedom could not be fully realised.
Coming out of retirement to champion the cause of global poverty must be seen as one of Mandela’s enduring legacies. Just as the Labour Party stood in solidarity with the people of South Africa in the struggle against apartheid, so we should now as a party and a movement stand up for global justice, equality and peace. In his tribute in Soweto yesterday, Obama’s challenge to the world was this, “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba’s legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality.” We must pick up the batton and pledge ourselves to continue Mandela’s legacy, for he was the man that taught is that no injustice can last forever. Mandela’s words to the assembled crowd in Trafalgar Square in London in 2005 ring true today as they did then: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom. Of course the task will not be easy. But not to do this would be a crime against humanity, against which I ask all humanity now to rise up”.
Our Honorary Co-President Glenys Kinnock remembers Nelson Mandela and the work of the anti-apartheid movement
I have been privileged to have met Nelson Mandela on several occasions, and have been inspired by him and marvelled at his strength and courage. I am also proud to report that he poured a cup of tea for me at his home in Soweto soon after his release. And I have been hugged by him!
From the 1960s to the end of the 1980’s in the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM), we struggled with the idea that apartheid could be overcome peacefully. But we knew that it would eventually end as a political system, leaving in its wake the misery and suffering it had created. We watched from afar those barricades of burning tyres and the street battles fought in the townships by unarmed youngsters against a well armed and brutal police force set upon destroying black opposition.
It is indeed regrettable that the AAM did not enjoy the support of the UK government, or the Prime Minister of the day. However, I do believe that the world is a better place because of the solidarity that was shown with those South Africans seeking justice and freedom. And Mandela himself very publicly emphasised the contribution made by those efforts to isolate the apartheid state.In desperation Nelson Mandela advocated and engaged in the armed resistance in the early 1960’s, but it was he who insisted upon peace and reconciliation when the white minority eased its grip on power 30 years later. I joined the AAM in that same decade. Through every form of persuasion – from letters to newspapers to mass picketing and demonstrations, to rugby and cricket pitch invasions – the movement was able to play a part in shifting public opinion, and in exposing the apartheid regime as an international pariah.
As we now mourn the man who challenged the might of white minority apartheid and forged a new rainbow nation after 27 years in prison, we are again realising how much respect and affection he has earned across the world. He was much loved and will be missed. Not least by his beloved wife Graca Machel, of whom Nelson himself said made him “bloom like a flower”.
When, as the first democratically elected President of the Republic of South Africa, Mandela spoke to the joint Houses of Parliament in July 1996, he said:
‘We are in the Houses in which Harold Macmillan worked – he who spoke in our Houses of Parliament in Cape Town in 1960 shortly before the infamous Sharpeville Massacre and warned a stubborn and race blinded white oligarchy in our country that “the wind of change is blowing through this continent”, South African cartoonists paid tribute to him by having him recite other Shakespearean words – “Oh pardon me thou bleeding piece of earth, that I am meek and gentle with these butchers!”’
“We have come as friends”, Mandela said, “to all the people of the native land of the Archbishop Trevor Huddleston who, in his gentle compassion for the victim, resolved to give no quarter to any butcher.” He went on, “Archbishop Trevor’s sacrifices for our freedom in, South Africa, told us that the true relationship between our people was not one between poor citizens on the one hand and good patricians on the other hand, but one underwritten by our common humanity and our human capacity to touch one another’s hearts across the oceans.”
No one could have articulated the great cause of liberty and solidarity better. And no one did.