UK general election: What should our sector hope for from manifesto commitments?

UK general election: What should our sector hope for from manifesto commitments?

In the coming days, all the major UK political parties will publish their election manifestos and campaigning across the country will get into full swing. But what should those who want to see a strong UK international development and aid sector be looking for from those contending to form the next government?

First and foremost, we should expect a continued commitment from all major parties to the 0.7% GNI spend on Overseas Development Assistance. This is a likely feature in all major party manifestos, but we should not take that for granted.

Beyond this, we should all be looking for our next government to commit to making the UK an optimistic and outward-looking country, working to create an equal and sustainable world where everyone can live a healthy, safe and prosperous life, regardless of where they are born.

In a fast-changing world, the UK can be a major force for good in the world, promoting good quality jobs, better healthcare, more children in education, and tackling climate change. But to achieve this we need to radically change the economic, social and political system so future generations can live in a world free from poverty, where human rights and the environment are respected, and no one is left behind.

The Alliance was involved in the development of a manifesto put together by Bond over the past few months and is committed to asking any future UK government to:

  1. Strengthen UK’s voice and influence on international development by targeting poverty and inequality

    • ​​This means all UK aid must reduce poverty and inequality, and support sustainable development goals, in line with the International Development Acts, ensuring resources are targeted towards the people and places that need them most.
    • This means promoting DAC rules that entrench the purpose of aid spending on improving the lives of other in partnership with the global souths, rather than the UK’s own national security interests, aligning aid efforts with development effectiveness principles to ensure positive and sustainable development outcomes for people around the world.
    • This means government-wide, political consensus to continue to meet the 0.7% GNI target for ODA
    • This means maintaining a cabinet level minister for international development with oversight of all government development policy and aid spending, and an independent and fully resourced DfID.
    • This means committing increased public spending on essential services, such as health, education, and clean water and sanitation that can reduce poverty and inequality at a national level. ​​​
  2. Make global economic and financial rules work for the public interest in all countries

    • This means demonstrating that trade and investment agreements are designed to improve the lives and reach those most at risk of being left behind, excluded or marginalised, including women, girls, older people, ethnic, linguistic and religious minorities, and persons living with disabilities.
    • This means demonstrating that the UK’s financial sector drives global prosperity rather than global inequality, and the benefits of development, including the distribution of global and national tax revenues, are shared among countries and people - and do not leave anybody behind. ​​​

  3. Tackle the climate and environmental emergency, with a coherent, consistent, cross-government approach, where efforts to combat climate change are not undermined by support for fossil fuels.

    • This means ensuring all ODA is aligned with the Paris Agreement, bolstering efforts to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
    • This means any additional funding allocated to conservation, climate change and/or biodiversity has poverty reduction as the primary objective and has strong DFID management and oversight;
    • This means declaring a moratorium on any further UK ODA investments in fossil fuel power generation, exploration, production and distribution. This should have immediate effect.
    • This means UK aid programming does no harm to the natural environment, and where possible contributes to the rehabilitation of degraded natural resources and strengthening of the ecosystems upon which lives, and livelihoods depend.
  4. Be at the forefront of promoting peacebuilding and humanitarian principles in global emergencies, and demonstrates that foreign and security policies enhance rather than undermine those core humanitarian principles.

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​This means the National Security Council producing a detailed plan and guidance for how a long-term approach to stability and conflict prevention will be maintained and mainstreamed in practice across government departments.
    • This means aid spent on security prioritises support to partner governments and local civil society organisations (CSOs) to promote human rights, as well as accountability to civilian populations, in line with OECD Principles for Good International Engagement in Fragile States and Situations and the Peacebuilding and State-building Goal.
    • This means reducing the rising burdens on the global humanitarian system by investing in disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and interventions building the resilience of communities in disasters and protecting humanitarian workers. 

    • This means hosting the UK’s fair share of refugees and ensure that poorer countries receive adequate support to host refugees, and refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs) get the help they need to address the wide-ranging consequences of their displacement, including through humanitarian and long-term development efforts.
  5. Strengthen democratic and public accountability at all levels of international development.

    • This means strengthening legislation and mechanisms to promote civil society, trades unions, and other stakeholders’ participation in policy-making, and champion their right to campaign and bolster public debate, with a particular focus on women and other excluded groups to ensure all voices are heard.

    • This means demonstrating a commitment to leave no one behind and translating policy into practice by investing in human development for all, gender equality, women’s rights, disability rights, minority rights, LGBT rights and social equality.

    • This means working in direct collaboration with relevant communities and civil society and embracing inclusive, deliberative and meaningful engagement.

    • This means demonstrating that financing to, and engagement of the private sector in development is accountable, transparent, and is underpinned by respect for human rights and contributes to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals. Extreme caution should be exercised in any approach to promoting private sector delivery of essential services

    • This means demonstrating a commitment, in line with the Agenda 2030 obligations, to policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD), whereby all policies, whether domestic or international, contribute to, rather than undermine the achievement of sustainable development in the UK or in other countries, particularly in the Global South, and consider their consequences for future generations.

​​​​Our friends at Bond have also taken the time to provide some information and tips on how the government works during an election period and how you can continue your advocacy and campaigning efforts to make sure our future government commits to the above. Check out their article here.

Get involved in analysis of manifesto commitments on the Alliance Community

As manifesto pledges are made by all the major parties, we will offer our members some analysis and opportunities to discuss the important issues on a dedicated thread on the Alliance Community here.