With the announcement of the Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy the British Government has set out its vision and its role for the country as a leader globally, it’s goal is ‘to set the long-term strategic aims of our international policy and national security, rooted in our national interests, so that our activity overseas delivers for the British people.’
Whilst Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is pleased to see an acknowledged commitment towards conflict prevention and climate change. We feel it is a significant step away from the sustained responsibility and role the UK has to date taken towards international aid in supporting those nations and communities that are in most need.
It is clear that globally we are facing a time of unprecedented change, and the decision to move investments and support to move investments and support to more explicitly tie trade and security to UK interests is a far cry from the historic role the country has taken as a leader in the development sector and, in fact, is set to undermine rather than enhance its position. The UK has to date held a unique position in the global community due to the importance it has always devoted towards aid and the investment in the development of the poorest communities across the globe fully understand the importance of the influence of soft power, particularly in emerging economies. This strategic position is likely to be significantly diminished if support in development is solely focused on this, much narrower lens of focus.
As academics, we have a specific interest in systemic solutions to solve complex structural global challenges and believe that the review, as Bond has noted, should have been an opportunity ‘to understand how many destabilising factors come together, but some of the most foundational elements of a stable global society are poorly addressed’. The work of our network illustrates that sustained investment in levelling out inequalities and long-term investment are far more effective mechanisms to tackle instability. ASAP believes that the move to focus on a shortlist of issues overlook, the often interdependent, nature of issues that perpetuate poverty and will limit the UK Government’s ability to effectively deliver effective sustainable change or impact. ASAP would caution that this connection risks coming at the expense of the social sciences and arts & humanities. Failure to recognise that complex global problems are not just about tech fixes, and losing investment in these sciences fails to understand complex human behaviours that are also required to affect systemic and structural transformations to tackle the world’s greatest problems, such as climate change.
We offer cautious optimism in the renewed commitment to support international collaboration and hope that the UK Government use this opportunity to use its focus not only on opportunities for trade but to explore ways to use effective systemic solutions like our Health Impact Fund to change the playing field to identify sustainable methods to tackle poverty.
It is our hope and request of the British Government to confirm a renewed commitment and investment in the 0.7% of GNI in order to ensure a sustained commitment to work with communities around the world and we hope UK overseas interests are not only positioned to focus on hard science and technology solutions. We would ask that there is a clear statement of support and investment to not only tackle poverty in the most marginalized communities but also to look at systemic long-term solutions that can level up inequality.
About Academics Stand Against Poverty
Academics Stand Against Poverty (ASAP) is an international community of scholars and researchers working to confront the rules and practices that perpetuate global poverty and advocate for targeted, evidence-based reforms. In a “post-truth”, “alternative facts” world, never has our work been more important.
We focus on structural drivers of poverty such as: illicit financial flows and tax havens; imbalanced trade agreements and intellectual property laws economic policies such as austerity and deregulation regulatory capture and lack of democracy in global governance climate change and ecological destruction human rights abuses like trafficking, slavery, forced migration and statelessness,
We seek to make rigorous, cutting-edge research available to journalists and the broader public to shift conventional narratives about the causes of and solutions to poverty, and to encourage citizen engagement.
ASAP is a truly global association. With a strong presence among universities and academics in the global South, we focus on creating opportunities for those who face barriers to full participation in global academic dialogue. Our wide network links like-minded professors, students, and researchers from different disciplines around the world to formulate and articulate policy reforms at both national and international levels.
 Academics Stand Against Poverty is an international community of scholars and researchers that confront the rules and practices that perpetuate global poverty.