Report from the Fringe by campaigner Rachel Kean
Diane Porter Public Affairs Co-ordinator, north of England
9th Oct 2012
Campaigner Rachel Kean went along to a fringe event at the Labour Party Conference called "Is Peace-building Child's Play?" organised by World Vision UK. She heard Ivan Lewis, Shadow International Development Minister talking about his vision for aid.
As part of the Labour Party Conference 2012 Fringe, World Vision UK hosted a panel discussion entitled 'Is Peace-building Child's Play?' Chaired by Richard Darlington from the IPPR, the panel comprised of Ivan Lewis MP, Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, David Thomson, World Vision UK and Messah Kamara from Sierra Leone Child Rights Centre.
During the debate, the discussion turned to international aid. Meeting the commitment for 0.7% GNI for life-saving international aid has been supported by all major political parties in the UK.
Shadow Secretary of State for International Development, Ivan Lewis MP, argued that those of us working together in the development sector share a belief in the capacity of aid, but outside of this 'bubble' we must be smarter in defending aid and development. In his view a large section of British society does not comprehensively understand what aid entails, and remains unaware of the broader development agenda. It is a challenge for both politicians and NGOs to articulate what aid is, and to do so in a more open debate with a more robust
Ivan Lewis proposed that while we need to explain aid from a 'national interest' argument, we must also argue from fairness and what is morally right. We must also focus on aid effectiveness and be as passionate about what is done with the aid budget, as we are in campaigning for 0.7%.
He said the changes needed to make poverty history are profound. He discussed the need for responsible capitalism by emphasising the compatibility of ethics and profits, and underscored the need for free global access to quality health care and education.
It was uplifting to hear Labour's commitment to the 0.7% promise. However, we must remain vigilant and vocal in our campaigning to ensure these commitments are honoured by all parties and keep on showing how aid is saving and transforming lives.