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International Development and The Chance to Make the Case. Again.

The recent events in Libya and Morocco have brought home the importance of support for country’s when they are most in need. Coupled with continuous debate in this country over the ‘small boats’ crisis and the human traffickers profiteering off of this trade, it has called into question whether the debate over the UK’s commitment to 0.7% of GDP being spent on foreign aid should be reopened.

In my view, as we approach the 2024 British general election, it is critical for all major parties to not only revisit, but to robustly reinvent the narrative surrounding international aid and development. Not as an act of charity, but as a strategic and humane blueprint to foster stability, both at home and abroad.

For years, we have observed the detrimental repercussions of cutting aids to impoverished nations, a misstep that has, unfortunately, birthed a vicious cycle of instability and mass migration, exerting unprecedented pressure on European infrastructures, including our own. It is crucial, that we understand and convey that international development is not just an interventionist strategy on the global stage but also a preventative measure that safeguards us here at home too.

Historically, international development has been perceived as a generous gesture, a goodwill outreach from affluent nations to those grappling with poverty and developmental hurdles. However, in recent years, the rampant cuts to aid budgets have underscored a grim reality - that reduced aid correlates with heightened instability in poorer countries, which, in turn, sparks a significant increase in the number of people seeking refuge in Europe.

The cyclical nature of this problem cannot be stressed enough; it is a vicious, relentless cycle that threatens to undermine the fabric of societies both in impoverished nations and in the countries that subsequently become destinations for displaced populations.

This migration pathway is not just a strain on economic resources but also a litmus test of social cohesion and infrastructural resilience. The communities that host these migrants and refugees find themselves grappling with the pressures of integrating diverse populations, an endeavour that necessitates substantial investments in infrastructure, social services, and community-building efforts. Take a look right now at hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation around our country’s major airport and you will see some of the world’s most vulnerable people being placed in wholly unsatisfactory and often dangerous situations.

Equally, the climate crisis emerges as a formidable antagonist in this narrative, wreaking havoc and precipitating mass displacements globally. It is no longer just a projection but a reality that many nations are experiencing heightened vulnerabilities owing to climate change. This invariably leads to increasing numbers seeking refuge in more stable regions, including Europe.

It becomes imperative for the British electorate and political parties to understand that international development also functions as a vital tool in combating the adverse impacts of climate change. By fostering resilience and sustainable growth in vulnerable countries, we are essentially curbing the need for mass migrations, a step that invariably works towards preserving global stability.

At a time when Britain’s role in the world is as weak as it has been in Peacetime, international development can be a catalyst for a potent form of soft power that can wield real influence internationally, fostering alliances, and cementing our role once again as a global leader. It is an avenue through which Britain can demonstrate diplomacy, compassion, and foresight, promoting relationships that are based on mutual growth, values and stability.

By investing in international development, Britain can influence positive change, champion human rights, and promote democratic values globally. It not only crafts an image of Britain as a responsible global entity but also proves we can be a trusted partner in navigating the complexities of the contemporary world.

As the 2024 general elections loom on the horizon, it is time for all major parties to radically alter the discourse around international development. It should be portrayed not as a drain on resources but as a strategic investment, one that promises dividends in the form of global stability and domestic tranquillity.

By weaving policies and manifestos that echo this sentiment, political parties have the opportunity to educate the public on the far-reaching benefits of international aid. The 2024 general election presents a golden opportunity to reassert Britain's role on the world stage, as a beacon of hope and a catalyst for positive change. By embracing a more nuanced and forward-thinking approach to international development, Britain can not only alleviate the struggles of vulnerable populations globally but also safeguard its own citizens from the domino effect of global instability.

Let us champion policies that underscore the symbiotic relationship between international development and domestic stability. Let us, as a nation, rise to the occasion, steering the world towards a more inclusive, resilient, and harmonious future.

We missed the chance to make this case pre-2016. We cannot miss the chance to make this case again.

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