Supporting international co-operation – Co-operative Party

Global co-operative development

The co-operative movement is one of the largest organised segments of civil society with over one billion members, and plays a crucial role across a wide spectrum of human aspiration and need

The government should work with the co-operative Agency for International Development, which will provide support and build international co-operative capacity.

Tackling global poverty

The Co-operative Party is committed to supporting a development agenda that seeks to eradicate global poverty once and for all. This can only be achieved through a rights-based agenda that ensures decent jobs and social protection; access to universal health and social care; universal access to basic utilities; quality primary and secondary education; protection of ecosystems and biodiversity; basic food security and eradication of hunger; and women’s empowerment and gender equality.

International aid

The Co-operative Party remains committed to spending 0.7% of national income on aid.

However, the current trend towards linking the Department for International Development spend on foreign aid to issues of defence and private business development is damaging. The CDC, the private sector arm of the UK’s aid programme, has a record of channelling investment through tax havens and into private sector projects. The recent Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) Act, which saw the cap on funds spent through the CDC significantly increased, only serves to make this problem worse.

The Co-operative Party believes it is vital that the CDC isn’t seen as a stimulus for big businesses to profit from the developing world but as a genuine tool for sustainable economic development and good quality job creation in the communities around the world that need it most.

For this to happen, there must be significant transparency on spend and outcomes, with an onus on the CDC and DFID to demonstrate the impact of their investment. The independent Commission for Aid should be given a much greater role in scrutinising the CDC, with a regular independent evaluation of how the CDC operates and the impact it has, measured in terms of poverty reduction rather than private sector growth.

Debt in the developing world

The Co-operative Party supports the work done to date by the UK and the wider international community on debt relief. The government should continue to drive this agenda, as well as building on previous legislation to clamp down further on exploitative vulture funds. The government should support a concerted international effort to develop a fair, independent and transparent way to arbitrate on debts when governments cannot afford to pay, to reduce the likelihood of sovereign defaults.

As the economies across the developing world grow, they will have easier access to the global financial market. Therefore, as well as debt relief and tackling bad investor behaviour, developing countries should be supported to build their capacity to manage future debt better so that their exposure to unfair deals and unscrupulous hedge funds is mitigated.

Human rights

The Co-operative Party believes that human rights are universal, and that it is the job of strong and mature democracies to support the development of free societies. The government should legislate to provide victims of human rights abuses with access to the British courts for remedy, compensation and criminal prosecution when these are found have been committed by, or in collusion with, UK based multi-national companies.


Following the vote to leave the European Union, the next government is uniquely positioned to develop a trade policy that puts fairness and co-operation at its heart.

Post-Brexit trade agreements should continue to champion an end to trade distorting subsidies and tariffs that stop developing countries being able to sell their goods at fair prices in more economically developed markets. There should be no unintended consequences for developing countries and agreements should include low, or no, trade tariffs on fairly traded products.

Climate change

Britain’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels places an unsustainable and dangerous burden on our environment, as well as aggravating international tensions and jeopardising progress toward social justice. The government should continue to advance international action on climate change, playing a leading role in pressing for and delivering international agreement.