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Richard C.W. Miller

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Fifty Years After Martin Luther King's Great Speech - What Is Our Dream for International Development?

Posted: 28/08/2013 11:49

It is 50 years since Martin Luther King made his defining speech in which he laid out a vision for civil rights with the words "I have a dream". It was a call to action to end the segregation that scarred large parts of the United States.

But his vision of a new and different future is something we could also apply to developing countries.

So what would a dream for international development look like?

At ActionAid our dream is to see a fundamental change in the way we view the human rights of people living around the world.

At present when we discuss human rights they are usually understood to include civil and political rights such as the right to life, to freedom from torture and to be free from slavery.
But too often many other fundamental rights that would guarantee a life free from poverty, hunger, need and fear are not properly recognised.

They include for example the right to food, the right to health, the right to education and the right for women to live free of violence and the fear of violence.

In our dream these rights will become a reality for everyone. They would be seen as part and parcel of what makes us human. And to deny any of these rights would be outrageous, illegal and immoral.

And the role of governments and the international community would be to ensure those rights are respected, protected and fulfilled.

We don't question the right of a five-year-old in the UK to attend school - they go automatically. And it is the job of the government to make sure their right to an education is met by providing the necessary funding for schools and teachers. The international community and governments should together ensure it is the same in developing countries, not least by addressing tax loopholes that deprive communities of the resources necessary to pay for teachers, as well as build roads and hospitals.

Ultimately we are all citizens of one world and there is a minimum level below which no-one on the planet should ever fall, wherever they live or were born.

Of course, at the moment this remains a dream. 57million children are missing out on a primary education. One in three women and girls suffers from violence during her lifetime. One in eight people go to bed every night hungry.

But when Martin Luther King laid out his dream in 1963 - he set down a roadmap which has achieved and continues to achieve concrete change to the lives of millions of people.
We should do the same in international development.

 

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