Clegg to UN: ‘Match Britain’s resolve’

By Peter Wozniak

Nick Clegg will challenge other countries to match Britain’s leading role in working towards the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in a speech in New York today.

The deputy prime minister is representing Britain at a major international event for the first time. He is expected to use his speech to outline the coalition’s approach to international development and to criticise the limited global political will towards the MDGs by holding up the UK as an example to follow.

Mr Clegg will say: “The new coalition government has committed to reaching 0.7% of GNI in aid from 2013 – a pledge we will enshrine in law. That aid will be targeted in the ways we know will make the biggest difference.

“Today I call on others to show equal resolve. The Millennium Development Goals must be a priority for each and every nation present in this room.

“Developed nations must honour their commitments. And developing nations must understand that they will not receive a blank cheque…That they will be expected to administer aid in ways that are accountable, transparent, and responsible.”

The deputy prime minister will defend the decision to ring-fence and increase spending on aid, despite the spending squeeze being imposed on almost all other government departments at home.

“While we are experiencing hardship on our own shores, it does not compare to the abject pain and destitution of others”, he will add.

“When the world is more prosperous, the UK will be more prosperous. Growth in the developing world means new partners with which to trade. And, equally, when the world is less secure, the UK is less secure with it.”

He will also announce a new strategy on tackling malaria in Africa at the summit, committing the UK to halve deaths caused by the disease in at least ten African countries by 2015.

The deputy prime minister will go further to link the commitment to development goals to Britain’s self-interest and security, arguing that “we do not see the Millennium Development Goals just as optimistic targets for far-away lands; they are not simply charity, nor are they pure altruism. They are also the key to lasting safety and future prosperity for the people of the United Kingdom”.

Mr Clegg is attending the summit whilst Liberal Democrats continue their conference in Liverpool, and may be glad of the opportunity to briefly escape the tribulations of domestic politics by playing the global statesman.