The future of international development?

By Rosa Brown

The International Development Secretary Priti Patel is not one to shy away from controversy. However, last month Patel appears to have outdone herself as she revealed her desire to use the UK’s aid budget for post-Brexit trade deals. In an interview with the BBC, Patel asserted that “We have to make sure that our aid works in our national interest and also that it works for our taxpayers – much more openness, much more transparency and much more accountability.” priti_patel_20161

Patel’s vision for the Department for International Development (DfID) would be concerning had it belonged to any public official. But coming from the current International Development Secretary, it sounds ill-conceived at best. To insert the taxpayer at the heart of DfID’s objectives completely neglects the countries, communities and individuals reliant on UK funding. These are the people Patel should be talking about, many of whom have been empowered by the inter-governmental organisations supported by the aid budget.

The UK’s position on the world’s stage is recognised by Patel but used to justify her take on aid, “we have a strong footprint overseas and it is right that we use that footprint in the national interest”.

Whether the UK will have such a ‘strong footprint overseas’ if Patel gets her way is questionable to say the least. Patel’s crackdown on inefficient use of public money has also inspired the MP to claim that her department should no longer support the UN’s cultural body, UNESCO. This recent move earnt the MP a ‘major rap on the knuckles’ from No 10, according to a senior government official who spoke to The Sun newspaper last week.

Whilst some have wondered whether Patel’s sole objective is to make the UK appear greedy and cruel, I think she is genuinely convinced that free trade agreements are the answer to economic prosperity for the UK. But for poor countries, free trade agreements have been found to drive economies into deeper poverty. It has been over twenty years since the Northern American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was enacted between the United States, Canada and Mexico. Since the agreement, Mexico’s annual per capital growth flat-lined to an average of 1.2 percent, which happens to be one of the lowest rates in the hemisphere. Twenty million Mexicans currently live in ‘food poverty’, with twenty five percent of the population unable to access basic food. This increase in poverty in the country has helped nurture organised crime recruitment and the breakdown of local communities.

Not all of Mexico’s problems can be blamed on NAFTA. But it is possible to trace a direct link between the agreement and the country’s declining economy; as NAFTA was responsible for closing alternative development paths for the economy in its prohibition of protective tariffs. The impact of NAFTA upon Mexico’s economy indicates the dangers caused by the removal of such tariffs, along with the fact that these agreements are rarely ever ‘free’.6624096043_60551c99cb_o

The implications of Patel’s comments on the international aid budget cannot be detached from its post-Brexit context. These comments have come at a time when many political agreements relating to the EU are riddled with uncertainty. Now Patel has used the topic of Brexit trade agreements as a topical soundbite to deliver her stress on ‘value for money’ for the ‘good, hardworking, British taxpayer’. But this is a time when it is more important than ever to look outward rather than in, to work with others, to help others, rather than simply act upon British vested interests.

International development is not currently devolved in Wales. However the National Assembly has asserted its desire to engage in international issues, one shining example of which is the Wales for Africa Programme, launched to work in line with the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals. Now on the tenth anniversary of the programme, is an opportunity for the nation to celebrate Wales for Africa’s successes, but also look to the future to the work that can be done.

On the subject of the Wales for African Programme, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said that the “people in Wales have big hearts. They belong in a small country but, oh man, they really have the kick of a mule!”. Now is the time to nurture our country’s commitment to international development and continue to empower those in poverty. Not for the sake of ‘strong footprints overseas’ but because it is simply the right thing to do.

Welsh party leaders answer WCIA questions on global issues: Q3 of 6 / Arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru yn ateb cwestiynau WCIA ar faterion byd-eang: C3 o 6



UKIP were invited to participate but did not submit responses to the questions by the deadline.

Q3. Despite international development not being a devolved issue, how important is it that Wales plays an active role in overseas aid? What measures should the new Assembly put in place to support this work?

Plaid Cymru

Disparities in wealth between the global north and south are growing, with wars and climate change leading to ongoing crises that the Welsh Assembly must play a part in solving. A Plaid Cymru Government will continue to press the UK Government to honour the commitment to delivering 0.7% of GDP as international aid. However, it is clear that the way aid is delivered currently is not effective enough, as many countries have seen people becoming poorer and growth stagnating, despite huge levels of international aid. This is why we have long campaigned for the cancellation of developing countries’ unaffordable debts, as developing countries are still struggling with unaffordable debts. Plaid Cymru has also supported the idea of a ‘Tobin Tax’ or a ‘Robin Hood Tax’ since the 1980s, the revenues of which could play a valuable role in promoting international development, and could contribute towards realising the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Welsh Liberal Democrats

We must also play our part in supporting those who live in poverty around the world. Billions of people live in unsanitary conditions, are malnourished, or are without a stable education. In Westminster, Liberal Democrats were responsible for ensuring the UK meets the UN target of pledging 0.7% of GDP towards foreign aid, and enshrined this in law. Wales should play our role in international development, building genuine partnerships with the developing world, involving marginalised groups in Wales, supporting cultural exchanges, and helping people out of poverty. We will cement Wales’ position as a globally responsible nation. We would double Welsh Government funding for International Development and ensure Wales’s international public procurement is socially just, focusing on products which support people in poverty (such as Fairtrade goods) and discouraging purchase of things which make poverty worse (such as conflict minerals or unsustainable timber).

Wales Green Party

Encouraging the twinning of Welsh communities and schools with those in the global South helps build relationships and understanding, and can help facilitate campaigning in solidarity with activists, community organisations and social movements in the global South. Ultimately, the best thing we can do to help those in the global South – rather than offering aid to deal with poverty – is to remove the structural barriers to their own development – namely challenge the power of large transnational corporations and reforming global trade.

Welsh Labour

We will continue to support the Wales for Africa programme as a sign of our continuing commitment to international development.

Welsh Conservatives

There are many measures that can be made to make our small country have a big impact overseas and we should do all we can to support others across the world to help end poverty.

A Welsh Conservative government will play its role and make its own contribution to addressing the millennium development goals and supporting other who are less fortunate across the globe. For example, we will continue the Wales for Africa programme. This innovative scheme brings together closer ties with Wales and developing Africa, promoting sustainable development, builds the capacity of NGOs and aid-coordination and supports the work of diaspora communities in Wales.

Join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.


Arweinwyr pleidiau Cymru

Rhoddwyd gwahoddiad i UKIP gymryd rhan ond ni dderbyniwyd ymatebion i’r cwestiynau erbyn y dyddiad cau.

C3. Er nad yw datblygiad rhyngwladol yn fater datganoledig, pa mor bwysig yw hi fod Cymru yn chwarae rhan weithredol mewn cymorth dramor? Pa fesurau a ddylai’r Cynulliad newydd eu rhoi ar waith i gefnogi’r gwaith hwn?

Plaid Cymru

Mae’r gwahaniaethau mewn cyfoeth rhwng gogledd a de’r byd yn tyfu, gyda rhyfeloedd a newid hinsawdd yn arwain at argyfyngau parhaus y mae’n rhaid i Lywodraeth Cymru chwarae ei ran mewn perthynas â’u datrys. Bydd Llywodraeth Plaid Cymru yn parhau i roi pwysau ar Lywodraeth y DU i barchu’r ymrwymiad o gyflawni 0.7% o GDP fel cymorth rhyngwladol. Fodd bynnag, mae’n glir nad yw’r ffordd mae cymorth yn cael ei gyflawni ar hyn o bryd yn ddigon effeithiol, gan fod nifer o wledydd wedi gweld pobl yn mynd yn dlotach a thwf yn rhewi, er gwaethaf lefelau anferth o gymorth rhyngwladol. Dyma pam ein bod wedi ymgyrchu am amser hir i ddileu dyledion anfforddiadwy gwledydd sy’n datblygu, gan fod gwledydd sy’n datblygu yn parhau i frwydro gyda dyledion anfforddiadwy. Mae Plaid Cymru hefyd wedi cefnogi’r syniad o ‘Dreth Tobin’ neu ‘Dreth Robin Hood’ ers yr 1980au. Gallai’r refeniw hyn chwarae rôl werthfawr o ran hyrwyddo datblygiad rhyngwladol, a gallai gyfrannu at wireddu Nodau Datblygu’r Mileniwm y DU.

Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol Cymru

Mae’n rhaid i ni hefyd chwarae ein rhan wrth gefnogi’r rhai sy’n byw mewn tlodi o amgylch y byd. Mae biliynau o bobl yn byw mewn amodau budr, yn dioddef o ddiffyg maeth, neu heb addysg sefydlog. Yn San Steffan, roedd y Democratiaid Rhyddfrydol yn gyfrifol am sicrhau fod y DU yn diwallu targed yr UD o roi 0.7% o GDP tuag at gymorth tramor, a chynnwys hwn mewn cyfraith. Dylai Cymru chwarae ein rôl o ran datblygu ryngwladol, adeiladu partneriaethau diffuant yng Nghymru, cefnogi trafodaethau diwylliannol, a helpu pobl allan o dlodi. Byddwn yn cadarnhau safle Cymru fel cenedl gyfrifol yn fyd-eang. Byddem yn dyblu cyllid Llywodraeth Cymru ar gyfer Datblygiad Rhyngwladol ac yn sicrhau fod caffaeliad cyhoeddus rhyngwladol Cymru yn gymdeithasol gyfiawn, gan gefnogi pobl mewn tlodi (fel nwyddau Masnach Deg) a pheidio â chefnogi prynu pethau sy’n gwneud tlodi’n waeth (fel mwynau gwrthdaro neu bren anghynaladwy).

Plaid Werdd Cymru

Mae annog gefeillio cymunedau ac ysgolion Cymraeg gyda’r rhai yn y De byd-eang yn helpu i adeiladu perthnasau a dealltwriaeth, a gallai hwyluso ymgyrchu mewn undod gyda gweithredwyr, sefydliadau cymunedol a mudiadau cymdeithasol yn y De byd-eang. Yn y pen draw, y peth gorau y gallwn ei wneud i helpu’r rhai yn y De byd-eang – yn hytrach na chynnig cymorth i ddelio gyda thlodi – yw tynnu’r rhwystrau strwythurol i’w datblygiad ei hunain – yn bennaf herio pŵer  cydweithrediadau amlwladol mawr a diwygio masnach fyd-eang..

Llafur Cymru

Byddwn yn parhau i gefnogi’r rhaglen Cymru o blaid Affrica fel arwydd o’n hymrwymiad parhau i ddatblygiad rhyngwladol.

Ceidwadwyr Cymreig

Mae nifer o fesurau y gellir eu gwneud er mwyn gwneud i’n gwlad fach gael effaith fawr dramor a dylem wneud popeth y gallwn i gefnogi eraill ar draws y byd i’w helpu i roi terfyn ar dlodi.

Bydd llywodraeth Geidwadol Gymreig yn chwarae ei rôl ac yn gwneud ei chyfraniad ei hun wrth fynd i’r afael â nodau datblygu’r mileniwm a chefnogi eraill sydd yn llai ffodus ar draws y byd. Er enghraifft, bydd yn parhau i gefnogi’r rhaglen Cymru o blaid Affrica. Mae’r cynllun arloesol hwn yn dwyn cysylltiadau agosach ynghyd gyda Chymru ac Affrica sy’n datblygu, gan hyrwyddo datblygiad cynaliadwy, adeiladu capasiti Cyrff Anllywodraethol a helpu gyda chydlynu a chefnogi gwaith cymunedau gwasgaredig yng Nghymru.

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Development – A Two-way Initiative

How much of the world's development is owed to one side alone?

How much of the world’s development is owed to one side alone?

Despite the wide range of criticism facing it, the United Nations has a good reputation of being in the forefront of peacekeeping, peacebuilding, conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance activities. This fact is proven by the Nobel Peace Prize it was awarded in 2001 and its success in assisting more than 170 peace settlement negotiations that have ended regional conflicts around the world. Even now, the UN is currently working on sixteen peacekeeping projects in places such as Darfur, Lebanon and South Sudan. Continue reading

Negotiating Climate Change: global to local

Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor and UN Messenger of Peace, addresses the opening of the Climate Summit 2014.

Leonardo DiCaprio, Actor and UN Messenger of Peace, addresses the opening of the Climate Summit 2014.

Last weekend and early this week, two big events on climate change action took place in New York. Yesterday, September 23rd, the UN Climate Change Summit took place on the invitation of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. 122 heads of government attended. However, a few key leaders were missing such as those from China, India and Germany.[1] Two days earlier, the streets of New York and other major cities across the world were flooded with the People’s Climate March which the organisers call “a weekend to bend history.” In Wales, the next meeting of the Climate Change Commission for Wales is aiming to move the climate change policy refresh of the Welsh government further. An ideal occasion to take stock of what is happening.

Continue reading

Think of what we’ve achieved


During a recent conversation with a colleague regarding the pessimism that can so easily set in when watching the news, reading the newspapers or viewing other media outlets, it struck us both that not enough was made of all the good works that so many people were doing every day throughout the globe. It is beyond the scope and capability of me here to comment on all those individuals and small groups making a difference, however, a quick look at the major institutions may be possible.

The aim here is to give some insight into the enormous efforts, time, and money that is invested every day, week, month, and year by those that are so often (especially in our country) denounced as ‘doing no good’ but in fact are doing immeasurable good. I am referring to the European Union, the United Nations, and yes, even the United States of America does some great things in the world.

I am not attempting to argue these institutions are perfect, or balance good actions against bad; I am simply seeking to present some positive facts about the global situation to counter the continuous presentation of war, terrorism, famine, drought, climate change, mass inequality and human rights violations. The doom and gloom so often presented is only one side of the story of our age, the other is one of hope and a potential future we could be proud of helping to come to pass. To prove it let us look at those global players.

The United States is often seen in a negative light. However, their foreign aid budget provides around $30 Billion of international aid.[1] It is true, that in percentages terms the United States are by no means the top donor (that honour goes to Sweden and Norway as of 2011 figures) but the United States still occupies a central donor role in real-terms aid rather than percentages of GNI (Gross National Income).[2] Let us look at what this aid means to the people it helps rather than debating figures and percentages.[3]

It means more than 3 million lives saved every year through United States aid funded immunization programs, it has funded HIV/AIDS prevention programs in 32 countries, and is the recognized ‘technical leader in the design and development of these programs in the developing world’. Child survival programs have made a major contribution to a 10 percent reduction in infant mortality rates worldwide in just the past eight years. With the help of United States aid, 21,000 farm families in Honduras have been trained in improved land cultivation practices which have reduced soil erosion by 70,000 tons. These are just a few figures to give an impression of the scale of help and assistance provided. Of course the United States could (and perhaps should) do more, but let us not think they do nothing good in the world.

What of the European Union that gets so much negative press here in Britain? The European Union is involved in the fight against world hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The European Commission has recently adopted a policy which aims to improve the nutrition of mothers and children in order to reduce mortality and diseases.[4]

The EU (and that includes us here in Britain) ‘provides an annual average of €200 million, dedicated to support health programmes’ which amounts to 30% of global humanitarian health funding’.[5] Clean water and sanitation and good hygiene standards are vital to prevent epidemic outbreaks. ‘The EU (and that’s us here in Britain too) allocates around €200 million each year to humanitarian WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) interventions, making “us” the biggest donor in the world.[6] The EU is a major contributor to the global efforts to create a fair, just and prosperous world, and something we in Britain should be proud to be part of and celebrate.

What can be said of the United Nations? So often we only hear of the UN in terms of its inability at preventing war, stop violence or eradicate mass inequality and poverty. However, the United Nations is continuously helping millions of people all over the planet. The World Food Programme is the ‘world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide’ and in 2013 ‘assisted more than 80 million people in 75 countries.[7]

The global community (coordinated by the UN) has reduced hunger and poverty as part of the Millennium Development Goals, with the number of hungry people reduced by 173 million since 1990 with poverty cut in half since 2000.[8] The United Nations has highlighted injustices against the ‘370 million to 500 million indigenous people’ and works to improve their situation ‘all over the world in development, culture, human rights, the environment, education and health’.[9] Through the tireless work of the UN the ‘Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women’ has been ratified by 187 countries and has ‘helped to promote the rights of women worldwide’.[10]

None of these amazing achievements should be overstated, it is certainly not my claim that discrimination against women is in any way a historical issue, or that poverty, disease and inequality is no more. However, we must recognise the gains we, as a global community, have made. I do not believe in a previous “golden age” when all was right in the world.

Inequality, hunger, disease and war have been the lot of the human race since time immemorial. However, we are making the first steps towards a future “golden age” and we must not let all the problems that are still to be resolved distract us or create a sense of futility that may prevent our enthusiasm and action. Let’s not dwell on the doom and gloom that is so often presented to us, the world IS getting better, it’s just a very big world, with a lot of people and a lot of problems to solve, but we have made a good start.

Michael Stagg is a volunteer at the WCIA who recently completed a degree in Politics and History at Cardiff University.

U.S. Foreign Aid  (All data correct as of May 2014, it should also be acknowledged that these are US government figures)

Why gender inequality must not be forgotten post-2015

80-year-old Ratna Maya Thapa from the Central Region of Nepal shows her voter registration card after walking for one and a half hours to cast her ballot in the Nepalese Constituent Assembly elections.

80-year-old Ratna Maya Thapa from the Central Region of Nepal shows her voter registration card after walking for one and a half hours to cast her ballot in the Nepalese Constituent Assembly elections.

The advancement for global gender equality is a movement that has been focused on increasingly by intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and governments in the last fifteen years. The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were introduced in 2000 have highlighted the problems of global gender inequality and its social, economic and political impacts. However, progress has been slow and gender inequality still persists as women face barriers to education, work and participation in government across the world.[1]

The MDGs have entered their last year of activity, with their success being a contested topic for the international community.  While certain countries have achieved the goals, many – particularly in the most needy areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa have made little progress.[2] MDGs related to education have not been fully met; this week a report was published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that stated 175 million young people in poor countries, which is equivalent to 25% of the most vulnerable young population are illiterate.[3] Education links closely with gender inequality, indeed, academics argue that gender inequality will not be eradicated without it.

UNESCO has highlighted the importance of a continued development agenda based around gender inequality. UNESCO believes that “gender equality is a fundamental right, a commonly shared value and a necessary condition for the achievement of all internationally agreed development objectives”.[4] Gender inequality is not only central to alleviate poverty, but is also related to the global quest of sustainable development and global peace.  It restricts the speed of a countries development, by ignoring women, 50% of the countries brainpower, creative genius and economic drivers is excluded.[5]

Justine Greening, the Secretary of State for International Development, has further issued a rallying call to promote the need for a continued emphasis on global gender inequality. “Women make up just 19% of parliamentarians; they perform 66% of the world’s work – but earn only 10% of the income, and own less than 10% of the world’s property; almost two thirds of the 750 million illiterate people in the developing world are women; and one in three girls or women has been beaten or sexually abused”.[6] It is vitally important that the international community remains focused on the issue of gender inequality; if the global community invests in girls and women this means that their children are healthier and better educated.

It is now important as we approach 2015 and the contested suggested completion of the MDGs to continue highlighting the issue of gender inequality. An approach is still needed to combat the problem, as it remains embedded in people’s values in the developing world.[7] Even though sustainability is critically important, issues such as gender inequality must not be forgotten when the expected 2015 sustainability goals are created.

[1] Collier, R. (2012). More support needed to meet Millennium Development Goals. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 184(12), 659.

[2] Africa Research Bulletin. (2013). Millennium Development Goals: Liberia Panel Meeting. Africa Research Bulletin: Economic, Financial and Technical Series, 50(1), 19830.

[3] UNESCO. (2014). Retrieved on 29th January 2014 from:

[4] UNESCO. (2014). Retrieved on 30th January 2014 from:

[5] UNESCO. (2012). From access to equality: empowering girls and women through literacy and secondary education. Paris: UNESCO.

[6] Justine Greening. (2012) Retrieved 30th January 2014 from:

[7] Unterhalter, E., & Dorward, A. (2013). New MDGs, development concepts, principles and challenges in a post-2015 world. International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, 113(2), 609-625.

Where are the women in politics?

Secretary-General Swears in Head of UN Women

According to UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon “Equality for women and girls is not only a basic human right, it is a social and economic imperative.” This speech highlights why gender equality has been recognised as one of eight global priorities in the UN’s 2015 Millennium Development Goals. Although, in such a culturally diverse global community, gender is far from being a unique factor in the division of power, wealth and status it marks a monumental step on to the ladder of equality. It begs the question: how can we implement this common aspiration worldwide?

The political sphere has long been perceived as the pioneer of the social contract and its gift to its citizens has been civil rights. But who deserved these rights has been in question for a long time. Preconceived notions of male dominance written in ancient religious texts and archaic constitutions excluded women from the political domain. In 2013 the suffragettes’ dream of the vote for women has been realised in a large proportion of the globe. Next on the agenda is not only equal representation in legislative bodies, but in decision-making bodies generally.

In Wales, women currently make up 41.7% of Assembly Members, in contrast to a pitiful 17.5% Welsh MPs at Westminster. Only 9 women are tasked with representing Welsh women, a place ravaged with health and unemployment issues, which according to the UN disproportionately impact on women. Even when the status quo that rules Westminster allows the entry of a few women into the legislative core, they have asserted that they must be malleable according to Norris, one in an army of academics currently analysing the under-representation of women in Politics.

There are few women who engage in politics, because there are few women in politics. This catch-22 situation has long challenged the legitimacy of British democracy. However, the promise of all-female candidate shortlists conceals the blemishes on the face of British democracy. This rings like music in the ears of the Feminist movement, which has a new generation of bras to burn. With the resurrection of the Feminist Times this year, it appears that Feminism is back, but has it had a facelift? For a long time the word Feminist has appeared like more of a swear word than a term of endearment. But why is this? The radicalism of the Feminist dialogue during the ‘70s created the misconception that all Feminists were men-hating lesbians. But now is the time to demonstrate that you don’t have to be a lesbian to love women.

If, like over 50 countries world-wide, we require legislatively bound quotas, then so be it. In response to claims that positive discrimination does not promote equality, I offer you this perspective: it is the special treatment of women which puts a stop to the special treatment of men in pursuit of gender equality. But, if as (Norris, 2002) suggests, women are selected according to their willingness to submit to their male peers, then we, women of Britain, need to reinstate girl power and show our support for putting women’s rights on the agenda.

I dedicate this article to Emily Davison, who famously, quite literally laid down her life in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby in 1913, in order for British women to have the vote. Sadly it appears for the 36% of women that didn’t vote in the last election, she sacrificed herself in vain. So mums, sisters and daughters of Britain, don’t just say you believe in equal rights. At every given opportunity, please vote for them.

For more details about the current lack of female presence in decision-making bodies in the UK, please visit: . Last accessed: 24.11.2013.

Lowri Pritchard


Krook, M. (2008). Quota Laws for Women in Politics: Implications for Feminist Practice. Social Politics. 15 (3), 345-368.

Lovenduski, J & Norris, P. (2003). Westminster Women: The Politics of Presence. Political Studies, 51(1), 84–102.

Norris, P. (2002). ‘Gender and contemporary British politics’, in C. Hay (ed.), British Politics Today. Cambridge: Polity.

UN Women. (2013) Available at: . Last accessed: 24.11.2013

UN Women. (2013). Available at: . Last accessed: 24.11.2013

UN Women. (2013). Available at: . Last accessed: 25.11.2013

Wales Online. (2013). Available at: . Last accessed: 25.11.2013.