By Danielle Cave, editorial team, Interpreting the Aid Review (twitter hashtag #aidreview)
On 19 January 2011, The Rt Hon William Hague MP, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the United Kingdom, spoke at the Lowy Institute on opportunities for the Commonwealth in a networked world.
During the Q&A session he was asked the following question on UK’s commitment to foreign aid and public support for the aid program:
Mr Hague, your government has made a commitment to increase foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2013 and I know public support for foreign aid is very high in the UK. I was just wondering if you thought that public support will endure in the face of severe budget cuts in the UK? And if it does flag, how would you go about defending your commitment to spending on aid?
His response was a very insightful snapshot into the current thinking of his government on the objectives of UK's aid program and why they place such a strong importance on giving aid (further reading here). Using Pakistan as an example, he describes the relationship between a foreign aid program and wider foreign policy and global interests such as national security.
Interestingly, he also describes the UK’s aid program as a type of ‘network’ of international influence:
‘…the United Kingdom is one of the leaders in techniques of developments and using the money in a productive and non-corrupt way. And we can work with other nations, we can partner with other nations. It’s another network, if you like, of international influence and working together, and that’s one of the types of relationships we’re looking to expand with other countries.’
To listen to William Hague’s entire response to this question on the UK’s aid program listen to the podcast below.
A podcast of his entire speech and Q&A is available here.