Lighthouse Advocacy submission to the International Development Committee’s inquiry into Promoting dialogue and preventing atrocities: the UK government approach
Who we are
- Lighthouse Advocacy is an advocacy organisation which has a particular focus on issues, both domestic and international, that relate to oppressed and persecuted communities. We were first formed in 2011 as Students4Syria but began to expand our work from fundraising to advocacy.
- Our submission relates to those questions where we have a considered point of view.
The role of UK aid programmes in atrocity prevention, including promoting dialogue and reconciliation between communities in conflict, post-conflict and non-conflict settings/Opportunities to bring the UK’s diplomatic and aid work together in atrocity prevention
- The role of UK aid programmes should be strictly limited to humanitarian purposes. Aid should never be linked to political or cultural change in a foreign country. A wider issue of the UK’s role in conflict since WW2 has been a lack of understanding or appreciation for the culture and heritage of the country and region the UK is engaged in. This is evident in the UK and US’ role in Afghanistan and its failure to develop the country in any meaningful way. Aid should be a mechanism to empower local communities and peoples, independent of any attempt to influence or lobby the region for wider governmental agendas, be they political, social or economic.
- The UK has consistently lacked an understanding of different sects and parts of society in foreign countries. It is not possible for the UK to be an effective intermediary and promote dialogue when the Government, military and aid workers do not have an appreciation for the deep-seated differences between two groups.
- The use of aid to promote dialogue, without the appreciation of local differences, only serves to create further issues on the ground for civilians, who all too often bear the brunt of such mishaps through upheaval and/or further socio-cultural unrest. Where the UK pursues its own strategic interests by granting aid in certain areas and certain groups, the difference is felt by the have-nots i.e the civilians who miss out. Any aid the UK provides in foreign nations must be distributed equally, both geographically and demographically.
Lessons learned in atrocity prevention from Bosnia and other contexts since the 1990s (particularly lessons for the UN system and relevant international law)
- The UN’s oil-for-food scandal is well known. But it is critical to highlight the moral depravity in providing a starving country with food in return for a commodity that is of critical importance to developed nations. This is another example of pursuing political and strategic aims through aid. Whilst lessons have been learned since then, it is critical to ensure that aid is provided to those who need it without political conditions.