Simon Maxwell

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Only inside the European Union can the UK help fight global poverty

I was glad to help organise a letter to the Guardian, published on 24 February, arguing that the UK leaving the EUEuropean Union would harm UK efforts to tackle global poverty. The text of the letter, signed by many of the UK’s best known leaders in international development, can be found here and is reproduced below. The Guardian also published an article about the letter, quoting me as follows:

‘Simon Maxwell, the former director of the Overseas Development Institute who helped to organise the letter, said: “The signatories to this letter represent the UK’s global leadership in international development. As practitioners and advocates in international development, our strongly held view is that the EUEuropean Union needs UK heft and engagement to achieve its global goals – and that the UK multiplies its impact when it works with and through the European Union.

We now urge the huge numbers of people who support development work in the UK, locally and nationally, to give the EU’s role in international development the profile it needs as we campaign to remain in the EU.’

The letter has also been posted on the website of Britain Stronger in Europe, here.

Only inside the European Union can the UK help fight global poverty

The UK is a global leader in international development. Our work fighting poverty, disease, climate change and conflict embodies British values, and is also in our national interest. We are writing not about the domestic political implications of Britain’s membership of the EU, but about the international implications. In our view, EUEuropean Union membership is a practical way to extend our reach and multiply our influence. Every pound of aid the UK spends through EUEuropean Union institutions is matched by £6 from other member states. This larger pool delivers better lives for the poorest people. It also helps tackle problems in areas where the UK has no large presence, for example in the Sahel and parts of west Africa. EUEuropean Union aid complements activities that other aid agencies cannot undertake, like police and security missions in fragile hotspots. Cooperation within the EUEuropean Union will be essential to tackling the humanitarian emergency in Syria, the migration crisis, and the wider issues of peace, security and development in the Middle East and north Africa.

Beyond aid, partnership within the EUEuropean Union helped the UK achieve an ambitious outcome at the climate talks in Paris; and provides a platform for further work on trade, financial flows, corruption and human rights. In all these areas, the EUEuropean Union demonstrates the value of collective action on a global scale. Of course, there are things we want to change in the way the EUEuropean Union works. But British engagement raises standards and improves performance. In September last year, the UK and 192 other members of the UN signed up to the new sustainable development goals. These set the whole world, rich countries and poor, on a new path towards peace, prosperity, justice and sustainability. The values underlying the global goals are shared by the UK and embedded in EUEuropean Union treaties. Withdrawing from the EUEuropean Union would diminish the UK’s role in the world and set back our efforts to end global poverty.

Signed in a personal capacity
Michael Anderson
CEO, Children’s Investment Fund Foundation
Valerie Amos
Former UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator
Owen Barder
Director of the Center for Global Development In Europe
Tanya Barron
Chief executive, Plan UK
Mark Malloch Brown
Former UN deputy general secretary
Andrew Cahn
Chair of WWF
Rose Caldwell
Executive director, Concern Worldwide
Margaret Casely-Hayford
Chair of board of trustees of Action Aid UK
Paul Collier
Economist, University of Oxford
Brendan Gormley
Former CEO of the Disaster Emergency Committee
John Holmes
Former UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator
David Hulme
President of the Development Studies Association
Richard Jolly
Former assistant secretary-general of the UN
Frank Judd
Former director of Oxfam and VSO
Melissa Leach
Director, Institute of Development Studies
Simon Maxwell
Former director of the Overseas Development Institute and former president of the Development Studies Association of the UK and Ireland
Daleep Mukarji
Former CEO Christian Aid
Simon O’Connell
Executive director, Mercy Corps Europe
Ann Pettifor
Director of policy research in macroeconomics, co-founder and former Director of Jubilee 2000
Martin Tisne
Investment partner, Omidyar Network
Kevin Watkins
Director, Overseas Development Institute
Rob Williams
CEO, Warchild
Jasmine Whitbread
Former CEO of Save the Children
Professor Myles Wickstead
Visiting professor (international relations), King’s College London

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