The Right (and Prudent) Thing To Do

  • Paul D. Williams


While in opposition, Labour consistently criticised John Major’s government for its ‘indifference to Britain’s obligations to the world community’. Labour, in contrast, argued that ‘Membership of the world community carries with it responsibilities as well as rights. No responsible member of the world community can accept an outcome in which much of mankind lives and dies in hunger, and in which too many children are denied their chance to grow to adulthood.’1 Having assumed power, Blair’s government re-established a separate department, DFID, under Clare Short’s stewardship to help meet these obligations. With Blair’s support, DFID quickly set out a series of powerful moral and prudential arguments about the need to tackle underdevelopment and promote global justice. Short put the moral argument in the foreword to DFID’s 1997 White Paper. ‘It is our duty’, she wrote, ‘to care about other people, in particular those less well off than ourselves. We all have a moral duty to reach out to the poor and needy.’2 The prudential case appeared in the foreword to DFID’s 2000 White Paper. Here Blair highlighted the links between underdevelopment, injustice and the UK’s security arguing that, ‘Many of the problems which affect us — war and conflict, international crime and the trade in illicit drugs, and the spread of health pandemics like HIV/AIDS — are caused or exacerbated by poverty.’3


Security Council Rome Statute International Crime Absolute Poverty Debt Relief 
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Copyright information

© Paul D. Williams 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul D. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamUK

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