Development days must focus on essential human rights


EU development days is a well-intended initiative, and potentially a major event in defining the goals of the global development agenda.

We are at an important crossroads for the future of international development policy – the deadline for the 2015 millennium development goals (MDGs) is approaching and negotiations are on the table for a new EU legislative and financial framework for international development

Building an EU based on peace and solidarity goes hand in hand with efforts to establish the political will for more development. This goes for both inside and outside the union.

A humanitarian crisis has unfolded within member states hit by austerity measures, as well as all over the world. International solidarity, peace, democratic values and people’s sovereignty and freedom are top of my political group’s agenda.

This year’s conference should therefore place special emphasis on several aspects.

DevDays should recognise the special circumstances that individual countries, groups or individuals are under to withstand severe shocks caused by financial hardships, natural disasters and other crises and respond accordingly.

It is also important to ensure that the conference is not only a communication toolkit, but also an important step in tackling global challenges.

And, the hybrid notion of “top-down” and “bottom-up” needs to be very well understood when deciding who is contributing to the global development agenda.

Essential human rights such as access to water, land, energy, health and education must be recognised – they cannot depend on market rules.

DevDays should also recognise the right to food and food sovereignty. Additionally, the conference should defend and promote labour law while rejecting the repressive nature of EU immigration policies.

Europe must assume its responsibility for the situation that has been created in countries of origin and draw up a real cooperation policy with and not for them.

The forum also needs to set ambitious targets to tackle climate change, as well as measures to help developing countries through technology transfer and other means.

Climate change, loss in biodiversity and pollution all have profound impacts on agriculture, farmers, indigenous people’s lives, lands and oceans throughout the world. Environmental deterioration considerably increases levels of poverty and inequality.

It is true that we are confronted with hard facts that are very difficult to reverse. But this year’s conference is a strong message to all those people who have ignored the efforts made thus far.

People and nations can transform their destinies if they chose to. It’s time to turn a new leaf, removing self-imposed limits and daring to believe in real values.

About the author

Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL, HL) is a vice-chair of parliament’s development committee

Article posted on The Parliament Magazine, on June, 4th 2015.

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