Blair legacy mixed on global justice, says Christian Aid

By staff writers
June 27, 2007

On the day Tony Blair stood down as British Prime Minister, the relief agency Christian Aid joined many others in applauding his achievements but also expressing disappointment at "a job half done" on global poverty and development.

They urged incoming PM Gordon Brown, the former chancellor, to be even more determined on issues of poverty, global justice, climate change, debt, and Israel-Palestine.

Eliot Whittington, Christian Aid’s political relations advisor said: "Tony Blair has invested considerable personal energy into fighting global poverty and has transformed the UK political landscape on the issue."

"Bringing real ethical concern to bear on foreign policy he lead successful interventions in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, and this concern is still apparent today in his call for action on the situation in Darfur," said Mr Whittington.

He added: "By putting Africa at the top of the agenda in 2005 he won real progress in terms of cancellation of unpayable debts for poor countries and an acknowledgement from the G8 that the poorest countries have the right to set their own economic policy. And he has expended huge efforts to keep climate change on the international agenda."

But, Mr Whittington added that Mr Blair’s many achievements in this area had been undermined by notable failures.

He commented: "Despite commitments made by Tony Blair, of the 66 countries that the UK government has accepted need debt relief, only 20 have so far received it. At the same time the World Bank and IMF remain unreformed global bullies dictating economic policies to poor countries."

Mr Whittington said that although the prime minister had championed international diplomacy on climate change he had actually presided over an increase in UK carbon emissions of 1.5% in the past year.

"For all the commitment he has put in to addressing crises in Africa, his foreign policy has been marked by deep flaws like the war in Iraq, the failure to call for a ceasefire in Lebanon and the lack of an even-handed approach required in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories," said Mr Whittington.

"It is undeniable that some of the high hopes raised by Blair have been fulfilled with real achievements. But there have also been significant failures which have left poor people around the world without the reforms they need."

No explicit mention was made of Iraq, but NGOs have been widely critical of Mr Blair's policy on the Middle East.

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