Tuesday, July 14, 2009

UK political skirmish on the international aid target of 0.7% GDP

An election is to be held in Britain next week. David Cameron of the conservative Tories is defending increasing international aid for poverty relief to his own party. Conservatives in the party are critical of the government making pledges to increase aid during the global recession.

Cameron knows that keeping the aid promise will win him votes amongst liberals next week. In making his point, Cameron is saying something very true, poverty eradication will lend to less terrorism.

From the Time Online, we hear the case from David Cameron, and reaction from aid watchdog groups.

An incoming Conservative administration would tie cash to proven results, fund a wider variety of projects and give the public a greater say in where aid was spent, he said yesterday.

Mr Cameron said that abandoning the UN target for countries to increase their aid spending to 0.7 per cent of GDP by 2013 would be a serious long-term mistake.

“When you look at some of the major threats to our security today — from terrorism to climate change to war — you know they will only get worse unless we help fight poverty and boost the development of struggling nations,” Mr Cameron said, as he announced the party’s aid strategy.

But although aid charities gave a general welcome to the Tory aid policies, Mr Cameron was pressed on whether he would divert some of his proposed aid budget towards mitigating the effects of climate change.

“David Cameron must be clear that the sole purpose of these funds is poverty eradication. Funding specifically to deal with climate change must be additional,” said Melanie Ward, the senior UK political adviser to Christian Aid’s senior UK political adviser, Melanie Ward.

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