Post Article 50 – what now for International Development and Humanitarian Action

04 may 2017

Post Article 50 – what now for International Development and Humanitarian Action

Today, Dóchas' Head of Programme and Policy, Louise Finan reflects on what impact Brexit might have on international development and humanitarian action.

It has been almost 12 months since we began to hear rumblings of ‘Brexit’, a term that has invaded daily life in most corners of the European Union, least of all Ireland. Shock, anger and in some quarters joy at the reality of a Brexit, has in the main morphed into confusion and an endless series of questions and unknowns.

Dóchas has, over the past six months, explored what the likely positive and negative impacts are of Brexit on our sector. Through a series of questionnaires and conversations with members, and conversations with experts in Ireland, the UK and in Brussels, we have teased out those potential impacts in a series of papers and submissions to the Irish Government and the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Defence.

A key overriding message is that Brexit is a huge game-changer, so we had better get ready. While there are still many unknowns, here are a number of key recommendations and actions both for our own sector and for the Irish Government:

1.    We must prepare for the unexpected! Rising inflation, currency wars and political gambles can and will have an impact on every sector. Organisations should appoint a Brexit point person who can analyse and follow trends.

2.    Government and civil society must work more closely together to deliver the development outcomes of the Sustainable Development Goals and to ensure continued support for global agreements such as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

3.    Progressive members of the European Union, such as Ireland, will need to ensure their voices are louder to be heard across the negotiating table. New and bolder alliances of EU member states may need to be formed to ensure there is a clear vision for a just and sustainable Europe.

4.    Ireland needs to remain committed to the poverty alleviation vision of Overseas Development Aid and needs to re-commit to ensuring it meets the 0.7% target for GNI. Now more than ever we need to know there is a multi-annual plan of increases towards this goal.

5.    The goal of reaching 0.7% and of focusing on poverty alleviation and humanitarian action needs to be replicated across the European Union and by the European Commission itself. We need a strong commitment to funding sustainable development programming and humanitarian action, which will benefit all of society.

6.    The norms of the political world have shifted and will require civil society to become more political, connect with people, build trust in institutions and play a more active role within the communities and societies they are rooted in.

Here in Dóchas, we will continue to analyse trends, keep up to date on the latest developments and welcome continued consultations within the sector and beyond.