Millions of people worldwide are affected by human rights violations, conflict and natural disasters, and even more need support to lift themselves out of poverty.
Now COVID-19 threatens to increase the number of people in poverty around the world.
However, in recent years, the EU’s commitment to eradicating poverty, assisting people affected by crisis, and promoting sustainable development has been undermined by its short-sighted preoccupation with ‘tackling migration’ to Europe.
Other disturbing trends in EU foreign and development policy include the increased securitisation and privatisation of aid, and the initiation of trade partnerships that benefit elites and businesses in Europe rather than local communities in developing countries and crisis-affected contexts.
Prioritising human rights, sustainable development and the fight against inequality throughout the EU’s external action
The EU must change course and prioritise human rights, sustainable development and the fight against inequality in its entire external action agenda. It should focus on the countries and people most in need and enable people to shape the policies and actions that affect their lives, making those in power more responsive and accountable.
The EU should particularly support civil-society and human-rights defenders, especially women’s organisations and women human rights defenders. Women and girls have an essential role in building strong societies yet are at the greatest risk of discrimination, harassment and abuse.
Development aid in EU long-term budget and recovery package key to coronavirus response
The next long-term EU budget, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), and the coronavirus recovery package, are crucial opportunities to deliver EU development aid, but the agreement reached does not go far enough.
The EU must drastically scale up its aid to developing countries to help mitigate the health and economic toll of the pandemic. It should do this by supporting public health systems, and working to fight poverty and inequality in the long-term by supporting education, food security, sustainable agriculture, women’s empowerment and social protection, and by meeting the actual needs of people in developing countries.
Read Oxfam’s report ‘Whatever it takes: aid and the coronavirus pandemic’.
Upholding humanitarian principles over military and geopolitical objectives
In its humanitarian work, the EU must ensure that its interventions are guided only by humanitarian need and the vulnerabilities of those affected. The EU should uphold humanitarian principles and prevent military or geopolitical objectives overshadowing or breaching international humanitarian law.
Read Oxfam’s report ‘Conflict in the time of coronavirus’.