Thursday, July 19, 2007

And He's Right -- and a Brit

I can't help but put my foreign policy hat on some days. Today is a day like that, having recently read the speech by the new secretary of development for the UK -- delivered just last week at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C. In his speech, Douglas Alexander talks of climate change, population migration, the moral and political imperatives facing all nations -- and ultimately the role that international development can play to bring about positive change. He espouses ideas and solutions that I wish an American development director would bring to the table. His approach is straightforward and common sense, given the senselessness that seems to surround us each day, from Baghdad to Ramhallah to Darfur.

"It can be right, when certain conditions are met, to intervene in the affairs of countries to prevent genocide, crimes against humanity, humanitarian suffering or threats to democracy. We believe that our collective responsibility to protect individuals transcends the right of nations to absolute sovereignty. And, finally, we must be driven by core values, not special interests. Our place in the world depends on us making choices based on values – values like opportunity, responsibility, justice. It’s these values that inform our enduring commitment to human rights, democracy and good governance. It is these values that call us to ensure that power, wealth and opportunity are distributed more equitably. And it is these values that remind us that we have a responsibility to act as global stewards of the environment for the sake of future generations."

We must try to take to heart his comments, not just those working in international relations and foreign development, but those around the world trying to make a difference.

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