Aid is meant to alleviate poverty, not to help sell fighter jets

Aid is meant to alleviate poverty, not to help sell fighter jets

Date: 2 February 2012

The news that the Indian government might choose to buy French fighter jets instead of British Typhoon jets should have nothing to do with the UK’s development aid. But thanks to comments from development minister Andrew Mitchell, aid has become entangled in the media story about the arms trade.

Really? So is it OK, Mr Mitchell, to use aid as a tool to help sell weapons?

No, it’s not OK, and it’s also illegal. The World Development Movement’s exposé of the Pergau dam affair back in 1994 prompted a judicial review that made this emphatically clear.

The UK government had planned to spend £234 million of aid money on the Pergau Dam project in Malaysia, as a sweetener to encourage the Malaysian government to buy arms from British companies. The World Development Movement took the government to court and won, and this landmark case made it clear that UK law does not allow aid to be used as a political tool.

The law hasn’t changed, and the only legal purpose of aid is still to alleviate poverty and promote the welfare of the recipient country’s people.

We’d really rather not have to take the government to court AGAIN on this matter, as we have plenty of other battles on our hands at the moment…