The unarguable case for action, protecting children in crises
Labour in government wont just make the case to protect children caught up in conflicts, we will ensure our whole of government strategy demands it. We cannot, and should not, wait any longer, says Dan Carden MP.
Since its foundation, the Labour Party has had equality and social justice at its core. From the creation of the National Health Service, the establishment of the Department for International Development, and the decision to cancel debt for the world’s poorest countries – we have always put people at the heart of what we do both at home and abroad
International solidarity, rising to meet global challenges and responding to them collectively is in our party’s DNA. Since establishing a fully independent Department for International Development in 1997, we have seen UK aid save millions of lives, deliver emergency aid and help eliminate disease, and reduce violence against women and children.
But there remain challenges that still need addressing. That’s why the next Labour government will set a second key objective in development: to reduce global inequality, alongside reducing and alleviating extreme poverty.
According to Save the Children’s report, over 350 million children live in areas affected by conflict – that means 1 in 6 children are at risk of being killed, injured, abducted, raped and abused. According to the UN in 2017, there were at least 6,000 verified violations by government forces and more than 15,000 violations by non-state armed groups. These statistics hide the harrowing personal stories of what children live through.
So here’s what the Labour party will do to respond.
The next Labour government will make sure that UK aid plays a vital role alongside a wider ethical foreign policy to promote long-term solutions to protecting children and their families in crisis and conflicts.
That involves building effective and sustainable peacebuilding and conflict prevention measures. New research in a global poll published by the British Council and International Alert last week shows that 32% of the British public agree ‘dealing with the reasons why people fight in the first place’ should be the Government’s first approach to peace building.
It also includes working across government to create an integrated human-rights based foreign policy that we would deliver with international partners. This includes reviewing and developing strategies to protect civilians in conflict, including expanding cross-departmental capacity to respond rapidly to gender-based violence in emergencies and consistently calling out violations wherever they occur.
Britain has a strong role to play as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, a leading member of the Commonwealth and a member of NATO. We have a special responsibility to behave in a consistent manner to champion an international rules-based system.
We have put our global influence to good use by being at the forefront of initiatives to combat sexual violence in conflict and to ban the use of landmines and cluster bombs. And we have seen that changes in policy and practice can make a difference for children. Yet this government’s record on development and aid is shamed by its incoherence across its international policy framework. How can it make sense or be morally justifiable to sell arms to the Saudi-coalition, whilst at the same time sending aid to Yemen. The next Labour government would ensure policy coherence across international affairs rooted in social justice and human rights.
The UN General Assembly meets this week and Britain must take this opportunity to change course. As the penholder on Yemen at the UN Security Council, this government has so far abdicated its responsibility to lead an international push for a ceasefire to allow political talks. Yemen’s manmade humanitarian crisis requires the political will of others to show real intent for a resolution.
Labour in government wont just make the case to protect children caught up in conflicts, we will ensure our whole of government strategy demands it. We cannot, and should not, wait any longer.
Dan Carden is Labour MP for Liverpool Walton.
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