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Development policy needs to be active peace policy
– by Heike Hänsel
The Left Party wants to promote the creation of value chains in the countries of the global south so that people can make a living from more than just the sale of agricultural products. A quinoa farmer in Bolivia.
Growing social injustice worldwide is the biggest obstacle to development. In the space of a few years, eight individuals have amassed more wealth than the poorer half of the world’s population altogether. The relationships of colonial dependence between north and south have developed even more due to the neoliberal policies of the last three decades, causing hunger and suffering for nearly a billion people. Twice as much capital a year flows from Africa to the industrialised world in the form of loan repayments, interest payments, corporate profits and tax avoidance than flows in the other direction to Africa in the form of official development assistance and direct investment.
Social security now exists for only a tiny minority as a result of the deadly free-trade policy, deregulation and privatisation enacted in many countries of the south. Whole regions have been destabilised by the unfair global economic system. As a result, for a growing number of people the only remaining option is to flee or migrate in despair.
The Left Party thus fights for a fundamental change of policy for social justice as well as a reassessment of our relationships with the global south. No amount of well-intentioned project work can sustainably promote development opportunities without a framework of peaceful foreign policy and fair world trade. We want to strengthen south-south relationships and regional markets, support raw materials processing and the creation of value chains within the countries of the south and work for fair trade structures that protect local producers from price dumping and predatory competition. The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) can only be implemented by solidarity-based cooperation that addresses the structural problems created by the capitalist world economic order.
The Left Party will continue to campaign against the militarisation of German foreign policy and the growing misuse of development cooperation to further the economic, security and migration policy interests of donor countries and international companies. Development policy needs to be active peace policy. We reject the concept of civilian-military cooperation and NATO’s two percent GDP target for spending on the armed forces and military missions. Instead, the instruments of civil conflict prevention and management need to be massively upgraded – for instance by the creation of an additional European civil peace service.
We want to see development and climate financing come from the public purse and are against all instruments for using public development funding to “leverage” private capital, as the G20 “Compacts with Africa” are designed to do. That makes countries of the south massively dependent on financial markets and further intensifies inequality. In our multi-stage model, the emphasis is on:
- a fair and effective international taxation system, prevention of tax evasion and avoidance, and the closure of tax havens,
- increased development funding and financial transfers to countries particularly affected by climate change and
- the creation of a UN compensation fund for the consequences of climate change and colonialism. We see the transition toward sustainable energy as a global public good and want to see a knowledge and technology transfer take place as an act of solidarity.
We want to strengthen self-determined development and food sovereignty in the countries of the south. Land grabbing, food speculation and agro-fuel imports need to be prohibited. Instead, we promote a policy of agro-ecological farming, support for small-scale farmers, adapted technologies and a fair distribution of land and resources – not the intensive farming cosseted by Federal Minister Gerd Müller. Protection for people must take priority over profit: German and European companies need to be obliged to maintain social and environmental standards and observe due diligence along the entire supply chain. To that end, Germany needs to support the UN “Treaty process” in the Human Rights Council aimed at enshrining corporate responsibility in international law.
Heike Hänsel is the development-policy spokeswoman of the Left Party's parliamentary group.