New budget arbitrations linked to Covid-19 threaten the UK’s development aid commitments. For years, the country has been cited as an example in this area. The UK is the only G7 country to devote 0.7% of its Gross National Product (GNP) to development aid. Notably because this United Nations objective, a resolution whose 50th anniversary was celebrated this year, has become a legal obligation in this country.
“C‘is in part the result of years of civil society mobilization that forced the UK government to enshrine this commitment into law “, confided to franceinfo Africa Robin Guittard, spokesperson for Oxfam France.
By announcing an additional investment of £ 24.1 billion over four years in defense, unmatched for 30 years, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hinted on November 19 that he could cut international aid to preserve a budget already under great pressure due to spending related to the novel coronavirus. This aid could be reduced to 0.5% of GNP. Boris Johnson was however committed in his electoral program to maintain it.
In early September 2020, the head of British diplomacy even denied an article in the newspaper The Times that Britain was seeking to reallocate billions from defense and intelligence aid. “There are a lot of crazy rumors in the media”, Dominic Raab then declared. “I’m not going to prejudge the full spending review, but we are absolutely committed to helping a billion poor people and making sure we link our actions with our most important foreign policy goals, starting with climate change. “.
A promise that 185 associations and NGOs again reminded Boris Johnson last week in an open letter. “Reversing your commitment to maintaining the 0.7% target would signal that we are a nation eager to balance the books on the backs of the world’s most marginalized people, many of whom are facing the impact of Covid. -19 in addition to existing difficulties “, they say, according to The Guardian.
“Taking a step back from our international commitments is not the solution and risks damaging the UK’s position on the international stage as we define our role in the post-Brexit world”, these different organizations still insist. In the same vein, Oxfam Great Britain noted in a statement published on November 17 that “reduced aid undermines moral authority (from the United Kingdom) when she needs it more than ever because she is preparing to welcome (in 2021) the G7 summit and the UN climate change negotiations “.
It is also the British influence which preoccupies former British Prime Ministers David Cameron (2010-2016) and Tony Blair (1997-2007). They called on Boris Johnson to preserve this level of aid in a statement to the newspaper The Telegraph. David Cameron (Conservative Party) and Tony Blair (Labor Party) estimated that this 0.2 point drop, mentioned to offset the costs linked to the Covid-19 epidemic, would jeopardize the “soft power” British. “Abandoning the 0.7% target would be a moral, strategic and political error, denounced David Cameron. We must keep our promises to the poorest countries and not break them “, he added.
Tony Blair argued that this aid was one of the most “great successes of British soft power” and that she had contributed to “reduce the number of deaths due to fatal diseases” in Africa. “Neither the climate challenge nor that of Covid-19 can be met without Africa, he added. Neither those of extremism and uncontrolled immigration. Changer (the level of aid, editor’s note) is a serious strategic error “. The former Labor Prime Minister pledged in 2005 to achieve this 0.7% target set by the UN. It was first released under the leadership of Conservative David Cameron in 2013.
The UK’s new financial priorities are expected to be known on November 25, 2020.