'Parties hide behind poverty aid'

16 April 2010 - 3:31pm
Press release


NEWS PEG: Sunday, 18 April 2010 Political parties debate world poverty in election

NOTE TO EDITORS: War on Want executive director John Hilary is available for interview

Voters urged to press leaders for action

The charity War on Want is urging British voters not to let political parties hide potentially damaging policies behind their aid commitments in this Sunday's debate on global poverty.

War on Want is pressing for the bigger issues of international development to take centre stage in the debate, on the day the parties have designated World Poverty Day (18 April).

Executive director John Hilary said: "In all three of the major party manifestos, aid is given as the primary factor defining Britain's relations with the countries of the developing world.

"But development is determined by historical forces and political choices at a far higher level than aid.

"We should be looking towards those UK policies which really affect a country's hopes of forging a path to long-term, sustainable development.

"These include policies on trade and investment, which have arguably done more to prevent the world's poorest countries from developing than anything else over the past 30 years, and where the UK's track record is appalling.

"Equally, we need to look at official UK complicity in tax dodging by multinational corporations, facilitated by the City of London and known to cost developing countries anything up to £250 billion a year in lost revenue.

"And what about the rights of workers and communities that continue to be harmed by British companies operating or sourcing from overseas?

"The damage done as a result of continuing UK arms exports? The grave injustices inflicted on civilian populations through UK foreign policy in Afghanistan, Iraq and Palestine? The UK's support for illegitimate institutions such as the World Bank, IMF and WTO?

"The political parties have agreed to devote this Sunday to debating world poverty.

"We must not allow them to rest easy on their aid commitments while their other policies threaten to condemn hundreds of millions of people to extreme poverty in the long term.

"Let's use this opportunity, and the three weeks still left to polling day, to go beyond aid. Instead, let's talk – and vote – development."

CONTACT: Paul Collins, War on Want media office               (+44) (0)20 7549 0584        or               (+44) (0)7983 550728       


Note: War on Want is independent of any political party, and should in no way be seen as endorsing the positions of any party fighting the general election.


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