Sunday, September 12, 2010

Accountability to the Poor: Liberal Democrat policies on international development

With my impending trip to New York, it is timely that a new policy document on overseas development - Accountability to the Poor - will be debated at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Liverpool:

We see the problem of poverty as fundamentally political. Barriers to the poor’s development are political and social as much as economic. Sustainable development and poverty reduction can ultimately only be achieved through political empowerment in and for developing countries.

We will take a political approach to development processes at all levels. A Liberal Democrat Department for International Development (DfID) will remain independent but be better integrated with other departments as part of a government-wide development strategy, focused on poverty reduction and social protection.

We will improve transparency and accountability in UK development spending and demand it in multilateral agencies and transnational corporations. We will aim to enable poor communities to participate in their own development and to hold their governments to account. We will support local government, civil society and political processes in developing countries – especially in fragile and conflict-affected areas.

We will make development assistance more demand-led and encourage governments and societies to reduce their need for aid. Liberal Democrats recognise that development is difficult and that there are limits to what can be achieved through external support.

We will commission local research into obstacles to development; and monitor the impact of our efforts in terms of broad impacts over time.

I am not going to pretend to be an expert on international development. One of my reasons for going to New York is so that I can learn more about the issue - and share that process through this blog. But I do like the thoroughly Liberal emphasis on political reform here.

The Conference debate on Accountability to the Poor will be on the afternoon of Sunday 19 September.


Matthew said...

Do you think that this was compiled in reference to the Tory policies on international development?

The integration idea is very open adn seems similar to thre Tories idea of getting aid to work alongside British FP objectives (potentially dangerous) and a move away from poverty reduction.

Anonymous said...

It does seem to run along Tory lines. I do not think poverty matters to the Liberal so much as power, and of course if labour ever wins again the Liberals will be socialist.

Boy oh boy I think my next vote will be hard I do not think I have a party anymore.

oneexwidow said...

An eminently sensible motion. I wouldn't think it'll have many problems in being adopted.

Jonathan Calder said...

Matthew: This document was approved by the Lib Dem Federal Policy Committee, which is elected by Conference representatives and is not under the thumb of the leadership.

In any case, the doucment began life well before the general election. You can read the original consultation paper, which was published in January.

Matthew said...

@jonathan - interesting that the tories and Liberal positions on development had so much in common - but in fairness Lab weren't that far away. Is development becoming an area of cross party unity??

See if that holds as the cuts come in across Whitehall