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DFID merger with FCO – a move in the wrong direction

Today, Tuesday 16 June 2020, the UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced that the Department for International Development (DFID) will formally merge with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). The new department is to be called the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Alliance is deeply concerned by this move as was expressed in our open letter on this issue to the Prime Minister back in December 2019 shortly after his election.

The move is yet more alarming as it comes without proper consultation of the UK’s international development and humanitarian sector and only days after the International Development Committee published a new report praising DFID’s achievements and calling for MPs to support it as a standalone department.

We strongly believe that the UK can only maintain its well-deserved leadership in international development by continuing to respect the clear differences in the objectives of development and of foreign policy.

More importantly, DFID’s impact on the lives and life chances of the world’s most marginalised risks diminishment with the planned September merger with FCO.

UK Aid risks becoming more an instrument of our foreign policy objectives and less a means of meeting the internationally agreed Sustainable Development Goals, and perceived as such among the worldwide community.    

In Scotland, a nation that is outward-looking and internationalist by tradition and inclination, this move is likely to be deeply unpopular and cause real dismay.

Jane Salmonson, Alliance CEO said:

“This move is deeply disturbing particularly at this time of grave crises around the world.  The global pandemic threatens to push 100million people into extreme poverty, according to World Bank forecasts, while the climate emergency threatens the lives and livelihoods of those who have done least to cause it. Solidarity with the world’s poorest has never been more needed.

“Now more than ever, our sector must stand up for the work we do. We must keep up the pressure  to ensure transparency and accountability in the way our country uses its aid budget, and ensure that we hold our government to account on the strength of its commitment to eradicating poverty and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.”

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