News archive 2005

Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs calls on Government to honour UN aid target of 0.7% of Ireland’s GNI

PRESS RELEASE

13 JUNE 2005

IRISH COMMISSION FOR JUSTICE AND SOCIAL AFFAIRS CALLS

ON GOVERNMENT TO HONOUR UN AID TARGET OF 0.7% OF IRELAND’S GNI

The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs welcomes the forthcoming
publication of the White Paper on Development Cooperation.  It offers the
opportunity to set out the parameters that in our opinion ought to frame any
new Government strategy.

Firstly it must be acknowledged that the Government’s decision not to meet the
target of spending 0.7% of Gross National Income on Oversees Development Aid
by 2007 is deeply disappointing and threatens to significantly undermine
Ireland’s credibility as a nation that has traditionally prided itself in
espousing the Christian ideal of solidarity.  As the late Pope John Paul II
stated:  “Solidarity is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself
to the common good.  That is to say to the good of all and of each individual,
because we are all really responsible for all”.[1]

Secondly, re-instating a binding timetable at the earliest possible date is a
matter of integrity for the Irish Government, and the Irish people, in whose
name that promise was made at the United Nations in 2000.

Finally, the appeals for assistance from those nations whose populations in
many cases lack access to basic education facilities and primary health care
provision cannot any longer go unheard. It is estimated that there are 120
million school-aged children who are not enrolled in any school and as recent
as 2004 11 million children died before reaching their 5th birthday[2].  To
put this in perspective, the most recent statistics put the under-five mortality
rate for Sub-Saharan Africa at 175 per 1000 children whereas for the industrialized
countries the figure is 6 per 1000 children.[3]

These concerns are not motivated by any feeling of vague compassion but out of
a concern for justice. Again, as the late Pope John Paul II stated: “the
acceleration of interdependence between persons and peoples needs to be
accompanied by equally intense efforts on the ethical-social plane, in order
to avoid the dangerous consequences of perpetrating injustice on a global
scale.”[4]

In this context, we are deeply conscious that the widening inequalities in the
world are actually making the problems more difficult to resolve.  The socio-economic
gap encourages those with the highest qualification, often nurses and doctors,
to emigrate in order to fill vacancies that exist in the wealthier countries,
thus exacerbating an already intolerable situation.

We believe that the forthcoming White Paper should:

* Set out a government commitment to reaching the UN target of 0.7%
of GNI no later than 2010.  In this context, we note that not only
have five European countries already reached the UN target figure
of 0.7% but that an additional two, namely Belgium and Finland have
committed to this target date of 2010.
* Publish a multi-annual timetable for achieving this commitment
based on an agreement between the Ministers for Finance and Foreign
Affairs.
* Recommend legislation to guarantee that the Oversees Development
Aid target of 0.7% is upheld.  We further recommend that all parties
– in government and in opposition – should enter a compact to honour
the 0.7% figure beyond the 2010 target date.

The adoption of such proposals would not only give adequate time for the Government
to build up the necessary internal capacity for managing an increased aid budget
but would also offer the possibility of long term planning on the basis of
predictable resources.

Ends

Further information:
Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)
Brenda Drumm Communications Officer (087 233 7797)

NOTES TO EDITORS:
* The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA) is a Commission
of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

* The ICJSA is chaired by Bishop Raymond Field and its role is to support the
Bishops’ Conference in promoting the social teaching of the Church and advising
on issues of social concern both nationally and internationally.
[1] John Paul 11, An extract from his Encyclical Letter, Solliciudo Rei Socialis,
quoted from Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Dublin, 2005, p.110.

[2] A statistic taken from the 2004 UNDP Human Development Report

[3] Statistics taken from UNICEF’s ‘State of the World’s Children, 2005’

[4] John Paul 11, An extract from his Encyclical Letter, Solliciudo Rei Socialis,
quoted from Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Dublin, 2005, p.110.

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