UK Aid programmes: heart and head, generous altruism and self-interest, must go hand in hand. These are the “smart power” reasons for sustaining our development programmes. Yes, improve oversight, root out corruption and get value for money – but don’t turn the clock back.

Nov 25, 2020 | Featured

In 1970 the United Nations passed Resolution 2626. It stated that “Each economically advanced country will progressively increase its official development assistance to the developing countries and will exert its best efforts to reach a minimum net amount of 0.7 percent of its gross national product … by the middle of the Decade.”

Many of my generation committed themselves to campaigning to reach that target and I nailed my colours to the mast and fought six parliamentary elections in Liverpool committed to reaching the aid target. Paradoxically, in the poorest neighbourhoods that I represented people were often the most passionate in their belief that we had to do more to help the world’s poorest. They got it.

But I also argued that it was in the UK’s interests, as a global power, to do so – pointing to how heart and head, generous altruism and self-interest, must go hand in hand. These are the “smart power” reasons for sustaining our development programmes.

Today’s announcement to overturn the law and to reduce the 0.7% commitment will mean that promises already made will now be broken – without any indication of how these cuts will be managed or prioritised. And this is happening in the context of a cake which has already significantly shrunk because of the economic downturn. Its already 0.7% of a much smaller cake.

It would be crazy if, in the middle of a pandemic, we endanger our life saving health programmes. And what will happen to programmes aimed at preventing conflict and the horrendous increase in the number of fleeing refugees – with over 70 million people displaced worldwide.

I have been deeply critical of the failure to exercise sufficient oversight of some of the programmes in countries like Pakistan and Nigeria – and have challenged examples of corruption, mismanagement, and how the money is sometimes spent. But these are all reasons for getting value for money not for turning the clock back- and that we have a duty to play our part in helping others achieve the prosperity with which we are blessed.

Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

Social Media

Site Search

Recent Posts

In advance of Monday’s House of Commons forthcoming vote  on the All Party House of Lords Genocide Amendment, Parliament was told that the Government is hiding behind the fiction of an imaginary judicial mechanism that will hold the CCP accountable for its genocide of the Xinjiang Uighurs. Last night, speaking to a Webinar organised by the Faiths United Youth Network David Alton said that trade deals had become more important than Genocide- “a word which dares not speak its name.”

In advance of Monday’s House of Commons forthcoming vote on the All Party House of Lords Genocide Amendment, Parliament was told that the Government is hiding behind the fiction of an imaginary judicial mechanism that will hold the CCP accountable for its genocide of the Xinjiang Uighurs. Last night, speaking to a Webinar organised by the Faiths United Youth Network David Alton said that trade deals had become more important than Genocide- “a word which dares not speak its name.”

In advance of Monday's House of Commons...

Government Questioned Today about massacre at Axum in Tigray, and allegations of crimes against humanity. In written replies it says it is unable to “verify reports that this includes the transfer of military equipment and money by the Government of Ethiopia to the Government of Eritrea”; “condemns the destruction of the Hitsats and Shimbella refugee camps in Tigray” and forced return of refugees would contravene the 1951 Refugee Convention; and says ” We are keeping the provision of aid to Ethiopia under constant review.”

Government Questioned Today about massacre at Axum in Tigray, and allegations of crimes against humanity. In written replies it says it is unable to “verify reports that this includes the transfer of military equipment and money by the Government of Ethiopia to the Government of Eritrea”; “condemns the destruction of the Hitsats and Shimbella refugee camps in Tigray” and forced return of refugees would contravene the 1951 Refugee Convention; and says ” We are keeping the provision of aid to Ethiopia under constant review.”

Government Questioned Today about massacre at...

For the Uyghurs, Genocide is a word which dares not speak its name. For the sake of women like Rahima Mahmut, Gulzira Auelkhan, Sayragul Sauytbay, and Ruqiye Perhat – whose heart-breaking, shocking, stories are recorded here – it’s time that the crime of genocide was given definition in the UK. On January 19th Parliament can use its voice and speak that name – insisting on justice for victims of Genocide and refusing to make tawdry trade deals with those responsible for the crime above all crimes.

For the Uyghurs, Genocide is a word which dares not speak its name. For the sake of women like Rahima Mahmut, Gulzira Auelkhan, Sayragul Sauytbay, and Ruqiye Perhat – whose heart-breaking, shocking, stories are recorded here – it’s time that the crime of genocide was given definition in the UK. On January 19th Parliament can use its voice and speak that name – insisting on justice for victims of Genocide and refusing to make tawdry trade deals with those responsible for the crime above all crimes.

For the Uyghurs Genocide is a word which dares...

Share This