Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Conference 2005: Motion 4: International Development

March 12, 2005 12:00 AM

Conference 2005

Motion 4: International Development

· Conference notes that 1 in 5 of the world's population live in extreme poverty.

· Conference notes that famine, war and conflict, international crime and diseases such as HIV/AIDS are made worse by global poverty.

· Conference calls for 100% cancellation of debt from the most highly indebted countries and for the UK to commit 0.7% of GDP to development aid.

· Conference calls for the EU and others to lower trade barriers to goods from the developing world.

Proposer, Councillor Naomi Long MLA, will say:

"If we are to begin to resolve the issue of poverty on a global scale then it will require not just short-term aid based interventions but longer term strategic solutions.

"The UN agreed a target of spending 0.7% of national income on aid in 1970 and yet, 35 years on, total UK aid is expected to reach only 0.4% of national income by 2005-06. Alliance believes that the Chancellor's recent promise of reaching the goal in 2013 is for many in the Third World too little too late.

"Additional resources are vital; however, we also need urgently to restructure how this aid is delivered to maximise the effect of each pound on those most marginalised in our world. We need better coordination of aid to avoid duplication, openness and transparency as to how funds are distributed within recipient nations and, most importantly, a delivery programme which is stable and sustainable and which will allow Governments in developing nations to plan ahead for the future.

"Even with aid reform, more fundamental action is needed to shift the balance for developing nations from aid dependence to independence. Currently, for every $1 in grants made to developing nations, they return $13 in debt repayments to the West. This defies logic. It has long been recognised by economists that many of these debts can never be repaid, yet each year developing nations spend vast sums, not paying the debt but servicing the interest

"At the G7 Summit earlier this year, Finance Ministers of the seven leading industrialised nations backed plans to write off up to 100% of the unpayable debts of some of the world's poorest countries, in a move which would bring real and tangible benefits for 37 of the world's poorest nations. Be in no doubt - debt relief works. In Tanzania, it enabled the government to abolish primary school fees, leading to a 66% increase in attendance, and Mozambique was able to offer all children free immunisation against childhood diseases.

"Alliance supported the Jubilee 2000 Campaign, for the cancellation of unpayable Third World debt, yet five years on less than half of the $100 billion promised at that time in debt relief has actually been delivered. There is now a push to make 2005 the year in which we finally address the debt of Third World countries and pressure needs to be maintained to ensure that promises made this year are not like the UN targets of 1970 - good on vision, poor on delivery.

"With these debts must go the unfair economic controls and trade barriers imposed on developing nations. Governments should not be prevented from developing resources for their own people such as health and education, and even from growing food crops, in favour of growing cash crops for the West.

"As well as lobbying the G8 summit in Gleneagles, we can use the spending power we have as consumers, by demanding goods which are ethically produced. FairTrade is not charity, it is guaranteeing producers a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, and ensures safe working conditions.

"3 billion people earn less than $2 per day and without debt cancellation and fair trade arrangements, they will never be able to escape the poverty trap."

Seconder, Jayne Dunlop, will say:

"The Third World and its problems may seem remote and be experienced only through the TV screen. Yet poverty is a daily reality for one fifth of the world's population.

"The richest fifth of the world's population has 86% of the world's GDP, and the gap between rich and poor is widening, particularly in places like sub-Saharan Africa.

"This motion is being proposed at the end of Fairtrade Fortnight, a time when we are made more aware of the struggle that farmers experience in order to survive on an income which is continually being squeezed a fluctuating global market.

"World trade policies in recent decades have been working on the assumption that wealth would trickle down to the poorest, and that free trade and market based competition would benefit all. While some countries have prospered under free trade the developing world has seen little improvement.

"We need to make trade work for poor communities, and this requires trade rules that put the interests of the poor above those of large corporations.

"At present, the World Trade Organization is dominated by the interests of a few countries, particularly the G8 nations, and large corporations; and is hindered from making fair trade rules.

"In order for the World Trade Organization to assist developing countries, these countries should be made active participants in the Organization.

"Decision-making should involve all countries so that decisions are fair for all, not made at the expense of developing countries while improving the lot of developed nations.

"Poor countries should not be forced to open their markets to subsidised imports from developed countries, and should be allowed to manage their economies according to their own economic interests.

"We need trade rules that are part of a broad system of international agreements aimed at sustainable development, poverty eradication and the promotion of human rights.

"Vast lending in the 1970s, when interest rates were low, has caused the huge debts which are now owed to rich country governments.

"Servicing of these debts means that poor countries spend more on debt than on their health and education services combined. Full debt cancellation is required in the poorest countries, in order to free the resources needed for poverty eradication.

"The Jubilee Campaign - which the Alliance Party formally endorsed - succeeded in getting the West to accept the principle of debt reduction but more needs to be done. The debts which cannot be paid and which prevent the economic growth of the poorest countries must be cancelled in full at the earliest opportunity.

"Aid is still required to enable Third World countries to develop their economies. It is estimated that overseas aid would be increased to US$125bn per year if the G8 nations gave 0.7% of their gross national income to foreign aid.

"The UK has made a positive start, in donating 0.23% of GDP in 1999. But it could give more. We call upon the UK Government to give 0.7% of GDP, which is still less that some countries such as Norway and the Netherlands which have given over 0.8% of GDP as aid.

"In the Republic of We also call upon the Republic of Ireland to honour their word that they will reach the 0.7% target.

"2005 is a significant year and offers a series of opportunities for the UK to take a lead in tackling world poverty. The UK will host the G8 gathering, take the EU presidency, and 2005 marks the 20th anniversary of Live Aid.

"I'm pleased to see Alliance Party supporters here today endorsing the 'Make Poverty History' campaign, through your signing of the Young Alliance petition and wearing of the white bracelets.

"This demonstrates how Alliance means what it says, and takes action to fight against world poverty. Together, we will all make poverty history."

Recent Photos

Alliance TV