Memorandum submitted by ActionAid
1. ActionAid welcomes the White Paper and
in particular, its clear and positive policy commitments to increase
the proportion of GNP committed to ODA to 0.33 per cent (although
this will still leave the UK a long way from the 0.7 per cent
target), to introduce a new Development Bill and to support a
greater voice for poor people.
2. ActionAid notes the range of papers that
were commissioned to inform the Government's thinking prior to
the publication of the White Paper. However since these contributions
are overwhelmingly Northern we are concerned that Southern voices
may not have been adequately taken into account in its development.
3. This submission focuses on those elements
of the White Paper where our experience of working with poor and
marginalised people shows that there is more scope for the Government
to take forward the ideas proposed in the Paper.
Education (Paragraphs 104-116)
4. In light of the growing knowledge gaps
between rich and poor, which have profoundly negative implications
for the impact of globalisation, we welcome the Government's greatly
increased commitment to support free, good quality basic and primary
education in the poorest countries. Just as important are the
steps they have taken to put Southern governments back in the
driving seat through sector-wide partnerships.
5. In a globalised world, however, it is
not enough for the Government to rest on the laurels of its own
good policies. The additional spending needed to achieve the 2015
target for universal primary education is in the order of $8bn
per year for the next 10 years (without taking into account the
additional investment needed in adult literacy, lower secondary
education, etc). While some of this should come from increased
investment by developing country governments, a dramatic and urgent
increase in aid to basic education from all sources will
be needed if there is any hope of reaching the 2015 target let
alone the 2005 target for gender equity. That is why ActionAid
and the Global Campaign for Education have been calling for speedy
implementation of a "Global Initiative"as promised
in Dakarto mobilise political will behind EFA and to match
extra resources to good policies.
6. The Global Initiative could make the
difference in deciding whether the 2005 and 2015 education targets
will join the long list of broken promises to the world's children
or become an inspiring example of what the international community
can achieve when it takes concerted and coordinated action.
7. The Government's advocacy efforts towards
the World Bank, the IMF, the UN agencies and the European Union
are extremely important to the success of the Education for All
project. We fully support the Government's attempts to make UN
agencies and international financial institutions more democratic,
accountable and transparent with stronger and more effective participation
of Southern governments and Southern civil society organisations.
Lack of such participation has been one of the main reasons for
the failure of the EFA "movement" led by UNESCO to make
any real progress on education for all during the past decade.
And lack of coherence between macroeconomic and social development
policies of the IFIs (perpetuated by their lack of accountability
for the impact of their actions on the poor) has been a major
barrier even in countries where the will to achieve quality, free
basic education is strong.
Health (Paragraphs 103 & 135, Box 4)
8. We welcome the special attention to "diseases
of poverty", or those that disproportionately affect the
world's poorest people and would like to see a corresponding increase
in the level of funding to allow for research and development
of appropriate vaccines and therapies. Additionally we call on
the Government to scale up its engagement with pharmaceutical
companies to ensure that research takes into account diseases
of global concern. The paper fails to provide specific policies
that ensure effective incentives are in place to stimulate, through
public and private research, the production of vaccines, therapies
and other medical innovations necessary to combat the HIV/AIDS
epidemic and other communicable diseases.
9. ActionAid believes that the threat posed
by the HIV pandemic deserves special attention and calls on the
Government to increase substantially both the overall level of
development assistance and the proportion directed specifically
to combatting HIV. The report would benefit from an explicit commitment
that the Government shall, through negotiation or otherwise promote
access to essential drugs and health care. For example, we believe
that the UK Government is well placed to bring pressure to bear
on pharmaceutical companies so that they demonstrate greater transparency
on pricing and the cost of drug development. Additionally, we
would like to see a commitment from the Government to lead international
co-operation efforts that aim to draw up differential drug pricing
regimes and take a lead in supporting WHO "equity pricing"
Intellectual property regimes (Paragraphs 142-149)
10. The proposal to set up a Commission
on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) to ensure that IPR regimes
"take greater account of the interests of developing countries
and poor people" is most welcome. It would be useful to view
it as a wider Commission for the Public Domain with eminent public
personalities, academics, NGOs and activists, including those
from developing countries on it.
11. The commitment to ensure that there
is an "international agreement on the need to release fundamental
information on DNA sequences of the world's major naturally occurring
food crop and livestock species into the public domain" is
equally important. By the same token we urge the British Government
to fully support the call by developing countries (in particular
the African countries) and small farmers to exclude plant genetic
resources from patenting.
12. While the attention on indigenous knowledge
in the White Paper is useful, we feel it is unhelpful to discuss
indigenous knowledge and intellectual property together. ActionAid
believes in prior informed consent, and equitable benefit sharing
of genetic resources and indigenous knowledge. However genetic
resources and indigenous knowledge should be excluded from IP
protection because of their shared and communal nature.
13. The White Paper mentions that the TRIPs
Agreement allows member states sufficient flexibility to enact
laws appropriate for their own national context (para 143) However,
Article 27.3b requires member states to patent micro-organisms,
a new and mandatory requirement for developing countries. This
will signal a new more industrialised agricultural systemwhich
favours large companies.
14. Similarly, the assistance that the Government
will offer for "countries to develop and implement IPR regimes
suited to their national circumstances" is important (para
145). One way in which the Government can give effective help
is by supporting the regional development of sui generis laws
(of the OAU kind). Neither the Government nor the EU should push
for UPOV to be the effective sui generis system.
15. We welcome the Government's commitment
to monitor the impact of TRIPs and its willingness to consider
constructive suggestions on how to improve the agreement in TRIPs
(para 145). However, we are concerned that if improvements to
TRIPs are linked to a new Trade Round, this will undermine the
existing review process in the TRIPs Council as well as discussions
on implementation in the General Council.
16. The evidence to support the White Paper's
assertion that developing countries should support "intellectual
property protection, as a way of encouraging more investment,
research and innovation from which they should benefit" is
less categorical than the Government suggests (para 143). The
assumption is that IPR is needed to protect private investment
in research and development due to the long term and costly nature
of research in agriculture. While giving due weight to the research
protection of companies, the White Paper neglects the centuries
long research by farmers. ActionAid is concerned that farmers
right to save, exchange and sell seed and their control over their
resources will be undermined by intellectual property protection
17. It is important that countries are able
to make use of the existing provisions in the TRIPs Agreement,
for circumvention of patent rights over pharmaceutical products,
so as to enable life-saving medications to be provided at an affordable
cost in developing countries. We believe that intellectual property
rights should not be allowed to take precedence over the fundamental
human right to the highest attainable standard of health care,
nor should it take precedence over the ethical responsibility
to provide life saving medications at an affordable cost to poor
people in developing countries.
Trade (Paragraphs 216-256)
18. The emphasis on the need to reform the
EU trade regime, especially agriculture and fisheries policy is
very positive, albeit a repetition of long-standing government
policy. However, overall the analysis is informed by an overly
optimistic view of the potential benefits of liberalisation, especially
in agriculture as evidenced by the frequent references to "open
markets". This means that the White Paper's ambition is not
always matched by policy recommendations-changes cannot come about
through national level policy and supply side measures alone,
but require a more fundamental shift in the international system
than the Government seems prepared to contemplate at the moment.
19. The White Paper says little about the
international regulatory framework needed to support liberalisation.
It is optimistic about the role of the private sector, particularly
in relation to public/private partnerships, but does not give
equal attention to the enforceable regulation that might be necessary
for the private sector to have a truly positive effect.
20. The White Paper is also somewhat misleading
on the evidence on trade liberalisation and poverty. Evidence
shows that the impact of liberalisation varies for example by
sector and in relation to existing economic structures. We cannot
assume that it is always the best trade policy. For example the
East Asia success is due to the careful management of trade rather
than liberalisation per se. There is a need to distinguish
trade from trade liberalisation.
21. We acknowledge the Government's commitment
to reducing violent conflict, including supporting tighter control
over the arms trade and overhauling UN peace-keeping operations.
However, we would suggest at the outset that the causes of conflict
around the globe, and specifically in Africa, are highly complex
and therefore a thorough analysis should inform any conflict resolution,
peace building and peace-keeping interventions. Moreover, the
interventions in themselves should be holistic, in the sense that
they engage at all levels, local, national and international.
The Government should ensure that the process followed in designing
these interventions is participatory, meeting the needs of political
systems and structures but more importantly incorporating the
views and aspirations of local populations. This paves the way
for participatory monitoring processes which in themselves serve
to enhance ownership and accountability.
22. With respect to the trade in conflict
diamonds, for example, "the commitment to helping producer
countries control better the mining and export of diamonds"
(para 89) is not enough. Effective implementation of the internationally
agreed measures is necessary. We suggest that the Government push
for the immediate establishment of an international treaty to
ban trade in conflict diamonds and for the immediate establishment
of an independent international certification system.
23. Further, the Government should immediately
standardise its statistics and customs codes to enable monitoring
of the movement of illicit or conflict diamonds by the relevant
authorities. UK customs officials should as a matter of urgency
be monitoring all diamond imports into the UK, perhaps by establishing
a recognised and independent diamond control centre. The Government
should also consider the licensing of diamond buyers in the UK,
so that diamond purchases can be tracked from mining region to
the market more closely. This could extend to requesting companies
to declare the real origin of diamonds entering into the UK.
24. Alongside supporting regional bodies
in various continents (paras 353-359) it is essential to support
civil society movements, strengthening their capacity to participate
in efforts to stop trade in illicit diamonds. In Sierra Leone,
one of the positive outcomes of the conflict has been the formation
of a strong civil society movement spearheading the Campaign for
Just Mining. This civil society movement in a press release titled
"Stop the War by Controlling the Diamond Areas, October 2000"
highlighted the need to enhance the capacity of civil society
to help transform the mining sector.
25. Whilst we support the Government belief
that the international community should take action against governments
violating human rights law, we urge it to ensure that the policies
of various departments are not at cross-purposes, particularly
with respect to protection of human rights. In implementing this
White Paper, the Government needs to take cognizance of the fact
that some of its internal policies can in themselves cause or
26. To further support conflict resolution
efforts, emphasis should be placed on supporting local initiatives.
This goes beyond restructuring security forces and international
trading systems to supporting local resolution initiatives. In
a recent publication, Peacebuilding in Africa: Case Studies
from ActionAid, we recommend the need to identify and promote
traditional peace making structures (example of the Bashingantahe
in Burundi), the importance of acknowledging and promoting the
role of women in conflict resolution, the need to engage young
people and the importance of maintaining communication channels
that are inclusive and participatory.
27. Peace building is not a post war activity
(para 357) but an integral part of development and should be incorporated
into any sustainable development programme.
28. ActionAid welcomes the Government's
announcement that from 1 April 2001 UK aid will be untied (para
323). This is a major step forward in ensuring that the development
interests of poor countries are put above domestic commercial
interests. In line with the Government's commitment to the 2015
International Development targets, Britain now stands a far better
chance of ensuring aid is used directly to support poverty eradication.
29. Of crucial importance is the promise
not only to untie aid, but also "to strengthen procurement
capacities in developing countries" (para 324). Wherever
possible, we hope that this will lead to the awarding of newly
untied funds to contractors in developing countries and that aid
procurement will be used as a resource for development and poverty
reduction. The Paper's commitment to pro-poor procurement must
now be backed up by a strategy for implementation.
30. We welcome the Government's commitment
to supporting negotiations aimed at untying aid both in the OECD
and at a European level with respect to the bilateral aid programmes
of other Member States (para 323). We urge the Government to ensure
also that the Community aid programme managed by the European
Commission is fully untied and works to support private sector
capacity building in the South through its aid procurement. Ongoing
efforts to this effect within the European Commission should be
The European Community Aid Programme (Paragraphs
31. ActionAid welcomes the Government's
commitment to a more effective Community programme and to the
on-going reform process. ActionAid believes that Member States
can best contribute to this reform process through ensuring that
the Commission has access to sufficient human resources to implement
the reforms, by working to incorporate the European Development
Funds (EDF) into the Community budget and by promoting reform
of the decision-making process under which EDF is granted. The
Government should also promote more fundamental co-operation between
Member States and the Commission in those areas where the Commission
has identified its comparative advantage.
32. The White Paper is a considered and
constructive contribution to the debate on globalisation's effects
on poor and marginalised people. Its broad perspective and general
direction indicate that the Government is committed to ensuring
the UK contributes usefully to the elimination of poverty and
social injustice. The Government is also clearly committed to
ensuring that other governments and international institutions
are similarly focused.
33. However, it is more optimistic about
the benefits for poor people offered by greater trade liberalisation
than ActionAid believes is warranted under the current international
trading rules. Thorough on-going reform in this area in addition
to working to ensure a more effective development policy will
both be necessary if globalisation is to be made to work for the