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David Miliband on DFID’s independence and role in Global Britain

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Today (Tuesday 30 July), David Miliband, President and Chief Executive of the International Rescue Committee wrote in The Times’ Red Box column on the importance DFID’s independence.

He wrote “DFID is a British success story of impact and influence” and “has never been more necessary.”

Mr Miliband said a well-resourced and independent DFID is the UK’s “best contribution to global stability and humanity” in a world where civilian deaths account for 90% of all war casualties. He added that this would remain true whether Britain was in or out of the EU.

Mr Miliband noted the importance of the 0.7% aid target, which is enshrined in UK legislation, but said “the aid system is struggling to keep up with the scale and complexity of needs” and “constant Ministerial turnover” was challenging the UK’s ability to lead change in the global system.

He said: “The aid system needs clear targets to drive effective programming, more coherence among donors to tackle the fragmentation of effort, better support from international financial institutions for countries hosting refugees.”

Mr Miliband noted DFID’s leadership in innovation and research but called for more to be done to create a truly feminist global humanitarian aid system that tackles “the structures of power that create inequalities between men and women and boys and girls.”

He welcomed DFID’s close links with the Foreign Office and called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to use the UK’s influence for good, and to learn from the past, such as in the case of Yemen which he called the “world’s largest humanitarian crisis”. Mr Miliband said UK leadership would be important if the world is to achieve the UN’s Global Goals, particularly at a time when the US is retreating from its international leadership role.

Last week, International Development Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Investing 0.7% of GNI on international development shows we are an enterprising, outward-looking and truly global Britain that is fully engaged with the world.

“I am committed to transforming the lives of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, giving them access to quality education and jobs, while promoting Britain’s economic, security and foreign interests.”

The UK government’s commitment to spend 0.7% of our national income on aid is enshrined in law and contributes to Britain’s reputation as a development superpower. DFID is a standalone department, but works closely with other departments which spend aid, including the Foreign Office, to ensure UK aid reduces poverty and supports the UK national interest.

DFID has played a key role in pushing for changes to the rules around international aid set by the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee. For example in October 2017 the UK secured an increase in the proportion of aid spending which can be contributed to peacekeeping missions from 7% to 15%.

UK aid works. It lifts millions of people out of poverty by creating jobs and opportunities to help people to stand on their own two feet and countries to move away from a dependence on aid. This is a win for the developing world and win for the UK too.

You can find out more about the Global Goals here.

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