The government has announced that a certain part of the aid funds will be used to help the refugees who come to Sweden from Ukraine. But the fact that Sweden is one of the world's largest donors remains. It is written by Kenneth G Forslund, chairman of the Riksdag's Foreign Affairs Committee (S), and Anders Östberg, Member of the Riksdag and head of development policy (S). Photo: Ministry of Defense of Ukraine / Nathalie Beser / Swedish Parliament. Source: Wikimedia Commons / Socialdemokraterna / Sveriges riksdag.

Debate

The Social Democrats: Sweden's development aid model works well

We Social Democrats know that a world with great inequality, hunger and more conflicts is a more insecure world for all. Not least the covid-19 pandemic and Russia's war of aggression have shown this. The world is connected and when it burns in your neighbor's house, it also concerns you, whether it happens in Ukraine, Yemen or Sudan - therefore is development aid policy important and we Social Democrats see it as part of security policy. It is written by Kenneth G Forslund, chairman of the Riksdag's Foreign Affairs Committee (S), and Anders Östberg, Member of the Riksdag and head of development policy (S).

After 24 February 2022, the world has found itself in a new security policy situation. The war of the Russian troops in Ukraine is taking place with an awful brutality. At the time of writing, about 10 war crimes are being investigated and more are expected to be added. In addition to the horrors of war for Ukraine with thousands of civilians killed, infrastructure destroyed, ruined cities, looting of private homes and sexual violence, it has also given Sweden and Finland a new security policy debate. Both countries have now applied for NATO membership, something that was not relevant before 000 February.

It is still difficult to see all the consequences of Russia's war of aggression in Ukraine, but an effect that is already visible is that food production in both Ukraine and Russia has been affected. As a result, those who are already hungry today will be even hungrier. Even more will starve, not only in Ukraine and Russia but also in Africa and the Middle East. This in turn will contribute to more conflicts and wars in the world and more people being forced to flee their homes.

International solidarity is an important part of the Social Democrats' policy and tradition. A large part of the work on international solidarity consists of development aid policy. Whether people are forced to leave their home countries due to war, poverty or climate change, it is important to work nationally and globally with long-term development cooperation. This is to be able to bridge the causes of involuntary migration.

After almost a quarter of the century has passed, an increasing proportion of the world's poor live in conflict zones. Freedom of expression has declined in all regions of the world since the middle of the twentieth century. Freedom on the Internet has also declined as political leaders use the Internet to monitor people and spread propaganda. Authoritarian regimes are strengthening their grip on the media and the number of countries that are safe for journalists to work in is declining. Every year since 00, more countries have declined in their democratic development compared with the number of countries that have become more democratic. Civil society has also found it more difficult to work, especially the organizations and people who work for gender equality, trade union issues, LGBTQ + issues, the environment and land rights.

The war in Ukraine unequivocally shows the importance of robust, high and secure aid. Just before the war, Ukraine was described as one of Sweden's most successful aid countries with strong democratic and economic development. It also shows the importance of long-term development assistance. Sweden has more than doubled its humanitarian aid to Ukraine and more will be given according to the needs of the country. Money used to help people forced to flee their homes, with things like food, medicine and somewhere to sleep.

Sweden also needs aid that is smart and effective. We can feel reasonably confident that Swedish development assistance is of a good standard. It was evaluated as late as 2019 by the DAC (OECD Assistance Committee) which found that it is of very good class. In fact, it is world class.

In accordance with the DAC's regulations, donor countries can use part of the aid for refugee reception. The government has announced that a certain part of the aid funds will be used to help the refugees who come to Sweden from Ukraine. But the fact that Sweden is one of the world's largest donors remains. The government has safeguarded humanitarian aid and support for the poorest countries. This does not change the view of the one per cent target that remains unchanged, nor does it mean that we believe that settlements for expenditure outside what is traditionally counted as development assistance should be used restrictively.

Our Social Democratic policy for aid and development focuses on giving people the conditions to be able to get out of poverty themselves, improve their living conditions and live in security, and have power and influence over their lives. All development assistance must contribute to achieving gender equality, which means, among other things, that we work to ensure that resources are distributed in an equal manner and that it must also have a strong child rights perspective.

For us Social Democrats, it is obvious that Swedish development assistance should contribute to reducing the gaps in the world, promoting democracy and human rights, strengthening the rule of law, combating corruption, promoting gender equality and economic, social and environmentally sustainable development. Supporting the construction and development of important institutions and social security systems is essential for building a democratic, sustainable and just society. Functional tax systems, a fair distribution policy, investments in schools, healthcare and social safety nets are crucial for reducing poverty and combating inequalities in the long term. We want to see solidarity aid that fights poverty, contributes to long-term development and demands democratic progress.

Sweden must continue to be a leading humanitarian actor and contribute where help is needed most, while at the same time we must have long-term development cooperation. A government led by Magdalena Andersson will be a guarantor of this. Why? Well, because we Social Democrats think that the development aid model that Sweden now has works well. Therefore, we are concerned that the one percent level is being questioned with increasing force by the right-wing conservative side. The effects of reduced aid would be far-reaching and its only task would be to assist in humanitarian crises. Long-term development cooperation would almost disappear. It is an irresponsible and navel-gazing policy that we oppose. 

 

The Riksdag parties' view of Swedish development cooperation

Utvecklingsmagasinet has contacted all eight parliamentary parties and offered them to write debate articles about their views on Swedish development cooperation - how they view the one percent goal and how they want development cooperation to look in the future. The articles and any replicas will be published on an ongoing basis www.fuf.se/magasin.

This is a debate article. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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