Britain in the World
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On May 4th 2007 the Greater Manchester Trade Justice/Jubilee Debt Campaign Group held a public event at Manchester Town Hall. Delegates were invited to take part in the Labour Party’s Britain in the World consultation. In small groups they discussed international development issues that were important to them and put questions to guests Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn MP, then Secretary of State for International Development, Rt. Hon. Hazel Blears, then Chair of the Labour Party and Phil Bloomer, Director of Campaigns and Policy for Oxfam GB.
Rt. Hon Hazel Blears MP, whose Salford Constituency office helped organize the event, invited the Greater Manchester Trade Justice/Jubilee Debt Campaign Group to submit a report to the Britain in the World Commission outlining the main points that delegates raised. Delegates understood that their opinions would be counted as part of the overall research to inform the Party’s next election manifesto.
Seventy delegates took part in the event; what follows is based on notes taken by facilitators at each of the six tables. A summary of the table notes is also available, as well as a transcript of final guest comments.
UK Government taking the lead
By taking part in the Britain in the World consultation, delegates send an important message: that they value their democratic responsibilities. More importantly, they value how their opinions are interpreted and acted upon by the UK Government. Delegates believe the UK Government has a moral obligation to do its utmost to improve the lives of the poorest people. For example, not only must the UK Government stay on track to commit 0.7% GNI to official development assistance by at least 2013, but they must also put pressure on other European Union Governments to achieve these targets and ensure that this is distinct from already-agreed debt relief. Furthermore, the UK must robustly champion the pledge that the Group of Eight industrialized nations made in 2005 to double aid to Africa by 2010. Without achieving these targets in the very least, the Millennium Development Goals will be goals in name alone.
The role that UK Government plays on the European and international stages was raised in relation to different areas of concern. For example, during trade negotiations the UK Government must ensure that justice for poor countries is central and cannot be negotiated; that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights ceases to be credible unless governments take a rights-based approach to international development, and that the social and environmental responsibilities of trans-national businesses must be regulated and not left to chance.
As you read this report, know that those taking part recognize the role they must play in bringing about change: from ethical and sustainable consumption to lobbying their MP. On their behalf, thank you for considering the points raised as part of Britain in the World.
Updated 24 September 2007
hits since Sept 2007