For the background to this post please see Testament of Yoof (1)
“Third, a Liberal is an Internationalist. He realises that the inequalities that exist in this country are nothing compared with the inequalities between this country and the developing world. He believes that our rich country should, as one of its highest priorities, play its full part in assisting the Third World in its fight for economic development. In practical terms this means that he will not only press for the raising of Britain's Aid Bill to 1% of our G.N.P., at once, but he will also fight for trade agreements which will help the poor countries , and against those (like the Labour Government's new Cotton Tariffs last year) which hamper them. "
Well, I certainly stand by all that. It is shameful, after forty years, how relevant it remains. As far as I can remember Britain signed up to the UN call for rich countries to devote 1% f their GDPs to development aid in 1967. Three years later Liberals were calling for this target to be achieved "at once." We still haven't got there though, to his credit David Cameron has agreed to honour the Labour government’s promise to reach the government's share of the target (0.7%) by 2013.
Progress on the reform of the international trading system has been equally modest Still today international trade agreements, supervised by the World Trade Organisation, remain heavily skewed in favour of the rich.
However, a great deal has been achieved in bringing the subject of world poverty on to the political agenda, not least through the Jubilee 2000 campaign to cancel much Third World Debt. Unfortunately the promises made at summits are rarely honoured in full.. For example, Egypt, where more than 18 million people live below the poverty line, still has an international debt of $30 billion, much of it borrowed by Hosni Mubarak, not for development but to prop up his regime. Mubarak has been overthrown but the people of Egypt are still required to pay his debts. Details of a "Dictator Debt Day of Action” in London on the 31st October can be obtained from the Jubilee Debt Campaign.