Global Poverty

UK Secretary of State Alexander Delivers Major Address on Development Policy to NDN

Yesterday, NDN hosted a special forum in New York City at which Douglas Alexander, the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for International Development, argued that governments aiding failed and fragile states must do more than work to support economic growth and provide basic services such as clean water, health and education; they must now "support political institutions and processes -- parliaments, political parties, civil society and the media."

In his address to the NDN forum, Alexander underlined the U.S. and British experience in Afghanistan, where U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited yesterday. NDN President Simon Rosenberg introduced Alexander at the New York City event.

Using Afghanistan, Somalia and other countries as examples of why a fresh approach to development work is needed, Alexander outlined a four-point plan aimed at building peace and functioning states in nations plagued by civil war and conflict:

  • Support for secure political settlements that will build the legitimacy of the state -- practical and lasting agreements on power-sharing.
  • Help to build effective juvenile justice systems and to reform the policy and army to offer people genuine safety and ways to resolve disputes.
  • Assistance to ensure states can survive on their own by helping governments to raise tax revenues and to encourage civil society.
  • Increased support for states to deliver basic services like health, education and water to meet the expectations of their citizens.

In his speech, Alexander said:

"I need hardly suggest to an audience such as this that politics matters in all societies. But in fragile states, politics can make the difference between violence and the path to prosperity...

"...Yet in the past, aid agencies have too often been afraid to engage in building political institutions for fear of being accused of interfering in a developing country's politics. But our experience teaches us that we cannot address the challenges we face in fragile environments, in particular, through technocratic solutions alone."

To read the full text of Secretary Alexander's speech, please click here. A video of the event will be available in the coming days right here on the NDN Blog.

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