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Reclaiming Internationalism


On 25th September we held an event at the Labour Party Conference called Reclaiming Internationalism: Moving UK Development Policy Beyond Empire 2.0.

Labour Party Conference

Wealth redistribution, colonialism and an ‘NHS for the world’ were just some of the topics discussed at our fringe meeting. The event – organised in conjunction with other members of the Progressive Development Forum – was chaired by filmmaker and journalist Ashish Ghadiali.

Kicking off, Asad Rehman, Director of War on Want outlined the failures of successive approaches to international development. Most have focused on addressing the symptoms rather than the causes of poverty.

This was followed by a video presentation from Lidy Nacpil from the Asian People’s Forum on Debt and Development. Lidy gave her perspective on the concept of ‘Empire 2.0’  – the term that has been used to describe the British government’s ambitions for its relationship with Commonwealth countries post-Brexit. Lidy described this concept as ‘dangerous’ and proposed an alternative approach to the UK’s post-Brexit relationship with countries of the Global South. This alternative recognises the UK’s economic and ecological debt to other countries, creates trade agreements that are fair, and works to end racism.

Next, our own Head of Policy and Campaigns Natalie Sharples outlined the need for a new narrative on development that breaks away from a frame of charity and builds solidarity to address the causes of poverty that affect people everywhere. She also highlighted solutions to issues we need to address if we want to achieve global economic and social justice. This included cleaning up tax havens, making UK loans to other countries more transparent, and implementing a public health approach to illicit drugs. She was followed by Aisha Dodwell from Global Justice Now who outlined the ways that aid spending should be reformed in order to achieve social and economic justice.

Finally, Kate Osamor MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development spoke of the need for a new narrative based on human rights and justice. She talked about how we can provide an ‘NHS for the World’, to ensure that people everywhere can access health care.

Around 70 people attended the event. Questions from the audience sparked an interesting debate on issues including the Sustainable Development Goals, the role of technology and the mechanisms needed to ensure all UK government departments are held accountable for their impacts on global poverty.

We look forward to continuing these debates with all political parties about how they can set out a fair and inspiring vision to address global poverty.

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